Believers prepare for the “apostasy” and the coming “man of lawlessness” by “standing firm” in the apostolic tradition.
Having explained the coming “apostasy” and “man of lawlessness,” Paul then provided instructions on how believers avoid the coming deception and find themselves standing “blameless” before Jesus when he “arrives with all his holy ones.” And above all, they must “stand fast” and cleave to the teachings received from the apostles.
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The presence of false teachers in the church demonstrates that we are in the “last days,” and the “last hour” is almost upon us – 2 John 7-8.
The second letter of John is personal and brief, and it does not discuss the return of Jesus. Its key concern was the false teachers that were causing dissensions among believers, especially the denial of Christ’s genuine humanity. Moreover, their activities within the church demonstrated that the “last days” were underway even in John’s time.
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SYNOPSIS – John labeled false teachers within the church “antichrists” whose activities demonstrated that the “last days” had begun (1 John 2:18).
In the New Testament, the term “antichrist” occurs only in the second and third letters of John. Whether John envisioned a coming global political leader, he applied the plural noun to deceivers who had emerged within his congregations. These individuals had caused dissension in John’s churches. He labeled them “deceivers” and “antichrists,” and their presence constituted evidence that the “last days” were underway:
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The Antichrist is a deceiver intent on destroying the church through deception, apostasy, and if necessary, persecution.
In many interpretations, the Antichrist is a global political leader bent on world domination. In the end, that may be the case. However, Jesus and the Apostles expressed far more concern about the many deceivers that would practice their trade within the church. For that matter, in passages about the Antichrist, the concern is about his deceptions that target believers.
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The Discourse opens with warnings about coming deceivers who propagate false expectations about the end – Mark 13:5-13.
Jesus began his Olivet Discourse with an ominous warning about coming deceivers, men who will claim his authority and spread rumors about calamities, thereby “deceiving many.” This warning is repeated at pivotal points in the discourse. For example, prior to the coming of the Son of Man, “many false prophets will arise and deceive many,” including the employment of signs and wonders.
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On Olivet, Jesus reiterated key information that is necessary for his followers to avoid being misled by deceivers.
Christ’s final block of teaching is commonly called his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ a series of instructions given to the disciples shortly before his arrest, trial, and execution. In it, three warnings are repeated that disciples must heed to avoid deceit and disaster, warnings about deceivers, the timing of his return, and the need for constant vigilance.
Continue reading REPEATED WARNINGS