WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LII) 06/03/21

2:18 My dear children, the end is near! You have heard that the enemy of the Anointed One is coming. And now, many enemies of the Anointed One are already here. So, we know that the end must be near.

It’s what motivated Paul to send a message to young Timothy, saying, “The Holy Spirit clearly expressed to us in plain words that in the last days some people will turn away from the true faith, and start paying attention to what is said about spirits and follow the teaching about demons. Those teachings come through people who lie to trick believers. The problem is that these people preach as truth what they know is a lie. It is like their conscience has seared with a hot iron. They will forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods which God created to be eaten with thanksgiving by those who have come to trust and to know the truth.[1] And the Apostle Peter warned of the same thing, noting that these people’s whole purpose and goal is to destroy the faith of everyone who looks up to the Anointed One as their Lord and Savior, especially His second coming.[2]

COMMENTARY

Irenaeus (130-202 AD) tells us that the Gospel knew no other son of man but Jesus, who was Mary’s child, who suffered and died; He was not occupied by some divine Anointed One who flew away while He was on the cross. The Messiah who was born, that we know as Jesus the Anointed One, the Son of God, suffered and rose again. The Apostle John, the beloved disciple of the Lord, verifies this, saying: “But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing in Him, you will have life by the power of his name.”[3] John foresaw these blasphemous systems which tried to divide the Lord, saying, He was two people in one, formed of different substances. For this reason, John has also testified to us here in his Epistle.[4] [5]

Roman Catholic theologian and historian Jerome (342-420) asked why the Lamb of God was offered up in the evening and not during the day? The reason is plain enough, for our Lord and Savior suffered His passion at the close of the ages, which is why John called it here in verse eighteen, the “last hour.”[6] Evidently, Jerome is referring to late afternoon. It is clear from the Gospels that Jesus died during the day. Not only was the sun suddenly hidden to cause darkness to come over Jerusalem, but according to the Jewish tradition, the body of any person executed must be taken down and put in a tomb before sunset, which was traditionally around 6:00 PM.

In one of his homilies, Augustine (354-430) uses verses eighteen through twenty-seven to indicate that John is addressing children that they may make haste to grow because “it is the last hour.” Age or stature of the body is not at one’s own will. No person can decide when to be respected any more than when to be born. But when an individual is born with a desire to be respected, the growth will depend on their determination. Likewise, no one is “born of water and the Spirit,”[7] except they are willing. Subsequently, if they desire to increase, they will grow. If they have no desire, they will decrease. What is it to develop further? To go onward by proficiency. What is it to reduce? To go backward into deficiency. Who knew everything the moment they were born? They learned as infants. They experienced what it is to go from their mother’s breasts to a bottle.

Now our Christian mother is the Church, says Augustine, and her breasts are the two covenants of the Divine Scripture. They are to be nourished by the milk of spiritual truths in time for their eternal salvation; that they may begin to eat solid meat.[8] If we use the Bible to interpret itself, the words “meat” and “strong meat” refer to more profound, more complex Christian teachings, while the word “milk” refers to the basics of Christian teaching. The milk is for new Christians, while the meat is for mature believers.

Theodoret of Cyrus (393-458 AD) shares a dialogue between the Orthodox view of the Anointed One coming in the flesh in his work called “Eranistes.” The orthodox view was that the Anointed One was sent from God to be born of a woman who was then a God-Man. The opposite view was that the Anointed One was a man chosen to morph into the form of the Messiah, who was man being used by God.

Theodoret argues that the Messiah did not come to take on the image of a human, but human nature. The terms “form of a servant” and “form of God” are understood to mean its nature. The entire time the Son of God was here on earth, He lived, ate, slept, and worked as a human. It was only in His miracles that He showed the nature of God. It was all done so that Jesus qualified to be the sacrifice needed to pay the ransom for sin for the whole human race, something a god could not do. Not only that, but it was one of John’s main points here when he said, every spirit that confesses that Jesus the Anointed One has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus the Anointed One had come in the flesh is not of God. It is the spirit of the antichrist.[9]

Gregory the Great (540-604) mentions that the Apostle John, here in verse eighteen, spoke about it being in the last hour, just as the Truth Himself predicted – Gregory does not tell us if what he is about to describe was current in his day or if he saw it prophetically. He says pandemics and wars raged throughout the world; nation rose against nation shaking the earth, dissolving the gaping planet of its inhabitants. All that was foretold is coming to pass. The king of pride is near, and (awful to be said) there is an army of priests preparing to greet for him since those appointed to be humble leaders have enlisted themselves under the domination of pride’s king. However, in this matter, he did not speak out in protest. Those who oppose the vice of pride are called into battle with opposing power.

It is written, says Gregory, God resists the proud but gives grace unto the humble.[10] Also, whoever exalts their spirit is unclean before God.[11] For this says it all, the only begotten Son of God took upon Himself the form of our weakness[12] so that the invisible might become visible and even despised.[13] That allowed Him to endure mocking and humiliation, accusations and scorn; the torments of suffering;[14] that God in His humility might teach people not to be proud. How great, then, is the virtue of humility for the sake of showing how He alone, He who is majestic beyond compare, reduced Himself to die as a sinner on our behalf! Since the devil’s pride was the origin of our punishment, the humility of God became our redemption.[15]

Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) points out that as Jesus indicated in the parable of the vineyard. The laborers who were in the vineyard from the first hour cultivated the Lord’s vine, which means that by teaching and living righteous lives, they served the will of their Creator. The laborers who entered at the third hour are those who came in after the time of Noah. The sixth hour was the time of Abraham. The ninth hour was the time at which the law was given. The eleventh hour is the time from the incarnation of our Lord until the end of time, which is described by divine revelation as follows: “During the eleventh hour, the Savior will return in the flesh, and the plague of the antichrist, who will attack the messengers of salvation, will follow.”[16]

Someone once asked Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) whether the time of the future judgment is still unknown? One source says that the time of the future judgment is not hidden. For just as the holy fathers looked forward to the first coming, so do we look forward to the second. But the sacred fathers knew the time of the first coming, as proved by the number of weeks mentioned by Daniel.[17] That is why the Jews are admonished for not knowing the time of the Anointed One’s coming.[18] Therefore, it would seem that we should be entrusted with the time of the second coming when God will come to judgment.

But Aquinas begs to differ. On the contrary, he says, it is written, “Of that day or hour no man knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”[19] The Son, however, is said not to know in so far as He does not impart the knowledge to us. Further, it is written: “You know for sure that the day the Lord comes back to earth will be as a robber coming at night. God is the cause of things by His knowledge.”[20] John communicates both these things to His children. He both endows some with the power to make things happen and others the ability to be the cause for action. But in both cases, He reserves something to Himself, for He operates within a sphere where humans are incapable of knowing what He is planning even if He told them.[21]


[1] 1 Timothy 4:1-3; See 2 Timothy 3:1-6; 4:3-4

[2] 2 John 1:7

[3] John 20:31

[4] 1 John 2:18-23

[5] Irenaeus Against Heresies, Bk. III, Ch. XVI, p. 441

[6] Jerome, Bray, G. (Ed.)., op cit., 1-3 John, p. 187

[7] John 3:5

[8] Augustine: Ten Homilies on First Epistle of John, Homily 3, pp. 945-946

[9] Theodoret of Cyrus, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, Vol. 3, op. cit., Dialogue 1, The Immutable, p. 337

[10] James 4:6

[11] Proverbs 16:5

[12] See Philippians 2:7

[13] See Colossians 1:15

[14] See Hebrews 12:2

[15] Register of the Epistles of Gregory the Great. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12, Bk. 5, Epistle 18 to John, Bishop of Constantinople, pp. 817-818

[16] Bede the Venerable: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, p. 187

[17] Daniel 9:24ff

[18] Luke 12:56

[19] Mark 13:32

[20] 1 Thessalonians 5:2

[21] Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica, Vol. 6, p. 905-906

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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