John labels false teachers in the church as “antichrists,” and their deceptive teachings confirm that the “last days” have commenced.
The term “antichrist” occurs only in the second and third letters of John, and he applies the plural noun to deceivers that are causing dissension in his congregations. Their very presence constitutes irrefutable evidence that the “last days” have commenced. These troublemakers are “antichrists” and forerunners of the “Antichrist” who is to come.
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The New Testament warns of a future apostasy caused by deceivers that will precede the day of the Lord.
The New Testament warns repeatedly and consistently that before Jesus arrives at the end of the age the church will find itself under assault from within by deceivers. And before the “day of the Lord” comes, his disciples will be confronted by the “man of lawlessness,” a figure linked inextricably to the coming “apostasy.”
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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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