I don’t know if it was John’s age at the time when he wrote this letter or his sense of the times, but you can feel the intensity build as he continues with our verses for today in chapter 2:
Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. By this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.1 John 2:18-20 CSB
The Antichrist is a culmination of many who preceded him.
Jesus spoke of false Christs and false prophets who were to come, as did Paul in his letters, while the prophet Daniel gave descriptions through the visions he shared. John, having walked with Christ Jesus, knew the importance of being alert to those whose goal was to deceive the flock. As he shares in this letter, many had already come, were already stirring up confusion and attacking those who followed the Way.
Yes, “antichrist is coming” and we know what to look for, but in the meantime, we need to be cautious not to fall prey to the little antichrists who precede him. Their damage to the cause of Christ can be disastrous to the faith of those who are not firm in the Word and don’t maintain fellowship with other believers. The more we separate ourselves from the love of the world, as he talked about in the earlier verses, and instead walk in Christ’s love, the better we are able to spot those whose aim is to hurt the cause of Christ.
Antichrists can take the form of a fellow-believer until they show their true colors.
The closer we grow to the Day of the Lord; the more deception will come from within. Yet, as God’s people remain firmly established in the Word and live by that Word, these little antichrists find no way to maintain their cover from within the church. They will become so uncomfortable in trying to pawn their deception that they will flee the Body, knowing that they’ve lost the game.
This requires prayer, wisdom, and discernment on our part, as we seek the Holy Spirit’s help to be aware of those who twist the scriptures or seek to pull the young in faith away from the centrality of Christ. It’s not impossible to spot, John tells us. Why? Because we have “an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”
As the days grow darker, may we grow stronger—filled to the full of the Holy Spirit and truth. Stand firm in your anointing and be alert to the wolves in sheep’s clothing in your midst. Keep speaking the truth and they will surely flee.
Grace and Peace