By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LV) 06/07/21

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.

For Dr. F. F. Bruce (1910-1990), the antichrist spirits in the Apostle John’s Day were the “forerunners” of the Antichrist who will eventually arrive. Since John is the only one in the Final Covenant to use this term, only he can describe his definition of the Antichrist. However, John says, “You have heard” that the Antichrist is coming. The Apostle Paul warns the Thessalonians not to be misled by other doctrines that do not identify the Antichrist as the “man of lawlessness.”[1] It appears that both John and Paul were referencing the Lord’s warning about a very sinful manufactured god standing in the house of God.[2]

Rudolf Schnackenburg (1914-2002) points out that in the Greek text, the article (“the”) is missing. The Greek conjunction hoti is better translated as “that because, since.” So, the rendering should be, “My children, we are near the end. You have heard (that, since because) Antichrist is coming.” The missing article (“the”) underscores the decisive importance of this sentence. In this way, they are warned not to look for a person, but an anti-Christian spirit is beginning to sweep through the world and among God’s people.[3] Unfortunately, many books, articles, and media presentations concentrate on the antichrist as a man instead of a movement in recent decades.

Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014) talks about the close of the Present Age. Within this present age between the two advents of the Anointed One, God is bringing to fulfillment two distinct programs: One will come to an end with the Church’s rapture. The other with Israel will end after the rapture at the second advent of the Anointed One. Both have descriptive passages concerning the end times of their respective programs. There are references for the Church.[4] There are references for Israel.[5] In the Apostle John’s Gospel, there is a reference to the “last days” for Israel. The usage of “day” can refer to a program rather than for a particular time frame. In these observations, it is vital to notice that the references to any period must be related to the program of which it is a part.[6] John clarifies that these forerunners once professed to be Church members, but they were so in name only.[7]

Donald W. Burdick (1917-1996) notes that at this point, the Apostle John turns his attention from the ethical factors of faith and fellowship with God to love one another to the doctrinal aspects that test faith and fellowship with God and each other. The standard, which he uses as a reliable test. The truth about the person of the Anointed One, the truth about fellowship with the Anointed One, and the truth about the relationship between the Father and His Son. Since John is concentrating on the Christian life as a community, there can be no fellowship without knowing the truth about all three of these doctrinal issues.[8]

D. Edmond Hiebert (1928-1995) In the preceding portion of the epistle, [9] John presented grounds for assurance through the test of fellowship. He wrote of the contrasts between light and darkness, truth and error, obedience and disobedience, things temporal and things eternal. In the long section beginning with 2:18, John turned to offer his readers’ assurance through their conflicts of faith.[10] We can draw confidence concerning our Christian faith from the nature of the enemies he encounters. John insisted that we must expose these enemies for what they are and encourage believers to understand the dangers they present and defeat them with God’s spiritual equipment. We see these conflicts portrayed under four aspects: (1) the conflict between truth and falsehood (2:18-28); (2) the conflict between the children of God and the children of the devil (2:29-3:12); (3) the conflict between love and hatred (3:13-24); and (4) the conflict between the Spirit of God and the spirit of error (4:1-6).

Hiebert goes on to give a more detailed explanation of the term “Antichrist.” He points out that the word occurs only in 1 and 2 John, [11] but the concept is essential in Scripture.[12] As a compound term, the prefix anti may mean either “against” or “instead of.” The Biblical picture of the “antichrist” suggests that both thoughts are involved in the designation. The term is synonymous with Paul’s “man of lawlessness. . . who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship.”[13] Hiebert agrees with Alfred Plummer (1841-1926), [14] who remarks, “The Antichrist is a usurper, who under pretenses assumes a position which does not belong to him, and who opposes the rightful owner. The idea of opposition is the predominant one.”[15]

Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) asks what did the Apostle Paul have in mind by referring to the “last days?” Early Christians certainly regarded the whole period between the first and second advents of Jesus as constituting the final days. In Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the prophecy of Joel concerning the outpouring of the Spirit is deliberately linked with the closing days.[16] Now that the coming of Jesus had inaugurated the last period in world history, it could not be long before the end. However, it is also possible that John was thinking of the final stage in the ending of days.[17] A lot of time has passed since the beginning of the Church. Now it was the last hour before the end – most commentators adopt this view. It fits in with the fact that John saw various events which Jesus prophesied would happen were still in the future.[18]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) notes that John speaks in verse eighteen of the appearance of “many antichrists” as a sign of the end. He points out that in the original Greek manuscript, the article “the” is not present. So, John is saying, “you have heard that antichrist is coming.” He removes all doubt by following this with, “already many such antichrists have appeared.” The Apostle is not speaking of one man but a movement full of people with antichrist feelings. In fact, some of them already left the local congregation to go out and spread their false doctrine that while Jesus was God’s chosen Messiah, He was not God’s Son.[19]

William R. Loader (1944) believes that the Apostle John speaks as though his readers were already familiar with the antichrist figure. While this only appears in John’s letters, [20] the people may have based their awareness on earlier predictions of false prophets[21] and the writings in the Qumran scrolls. According to research, the first wicked priest was named Menelaus.[22] So, it wasn’t some wild idea that John had. He wanted to give it a creative twist to bring it away from myth into reality. Although John did not identify it with any particular figure, past, present, or future, he did say the spirit of this antichrist was already at work in the world and making headway in the Church.[23]

I like the way Marianne Meye Thompson (1954) composes a warning against the antichrist. She says that now and then, a story appears in the newspaper or TV about counterfeit money. The person who tries to pass such fake bills may purposely do so, or some unsuspecting customer who received it unknowingly. It may look like real money, but it isn’t worth anything. While a counterfeit bill is not worth the paper it’s printed on; real money can be redeemed in silver at face value – whether $1, $10, $100, or $1,000. So, it is with those counterfeit preachers and teachers and their doctrines. You cannot take what they say to God’s bank for deposit; He will reject it. Only the absolute truth taught by the Anointed One and written in God’s Word is genuine spiritual currency.[24]

David Guzik (1984) makes a point to which we all can easily relate. We often consider Political leaders as the face of the nation they represent to the world. Josip Stalin was Russia’s Iron Man; Adolf Hitler the face of Nazi Germany; Mao Tse-tung the image of Communist China; Benito Mussolini, the icon of fascist Italy; and Franklin D. Roosevelt as Uncle Sam. As a result, their citizens were automatically considered Communists, Nazis, Fascists, or Americans. Likewise, says Guzik, with the Antichrist. He has not yet come, but those who follow his antichrist ideals are already antichrists in the world.[25]

[1] 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10

[2] Mark 13:14-21

[3] Schnackenburg, Rudolf, The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., p. 132

[4] 1 Peter 1:5, 20; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18

[5] Daniel 10: 14; Deuteronomy 4: 30 Isaiah 2: 2; Micah 4: 1; Acts of the Apostles 2: 17

[6] Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Kindle Locations 2876-2883)

[7] Bruce, F. F., The Epistles of John, op. cit., (Kindle Location 1143-1233)

[8] Burdick, Donald W., The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 40

[9] 1 John 1:5 – 2:17

[10] Ibid. 2:18 – 4:6

[11] 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7

[12] Daniel 7:11-14; Matthew 24:24-28; Mark 13:14-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13:1-10; 19:19-20

[13] 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

[14] Plummer, Alfred E., Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 107

[15] Hiebert, D. Edmond, 1 John, Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March 1989, p. 76, 79

[16] Acts of the Apostles 2:17; Cf. Joel 2:28; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20

[17] Cf. 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:18

[18] Marshall, I. Howard. The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 148

[19] Smalley, Stephen, S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 101

[20] 1 John 2:18, 27; 4:3; 2 John 1:7

[21] Deuteronomy 13:2-5; 18:20; Mark 13:22

[22] Menelaus, in Greek mythology, king of Sparta and younger son of Atreus, king of Mycenae (Argolis, Greece); the abduction of his wife, Helen, led to the Trojan War. 

[23] Loader, William R., The Johannine Epistles, op. cit., p. 27

[24] Thompson, Marianne Meye, 1-3 John, op. cit., p. 71

[25] Guzik, David: Enduring Word, op. cit, loc. cit.

About drbob76

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