Notes on I John 2:18-29
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
This is the first mention of “antichrist” by that title, three times alone in this verse. Jesus had prophesied, during the last few days of His earthly ministry, that there would be “false Christs and false prophets (Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22).” John now states that now “it is the last time” because “many antichrists” had made their appearance. He will give additional information in the next verse about these “antichrists”.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would (no doubt) have continued with us: but (they went out), that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
John continues with the description of the “antichrists” of his time, certainly not the Antichrist who will come later (this person is featured in the Revelation). Peter in the past and Jude, whenever he wrote his epistle, both mention false prophets and John may be at least comparing, if not equating, false prophets and false teachers with antichrists. He says the false teachers “went out from us”, meaning, perhaps, they claimed to be members of the True Church; but were “not of us”, meaning they were not genuine believers or at least did not hold to the true doctrines of God, Jesus, and other things taught and revealed by the apostles.
Examples: one “church” denies the Deity of Christ (they do not believe He is God, only a special Man of some kind) and denies the reality of Hell, insisting all people will be saved—and yet call themselves Christian! At least two cults had founders who had departed the genuine Christian faith and taught certain doctrines that have no basis in Scripture at all, yet still consider themselves Christian, as well. Before this, Paul had warned the Galatians (and all believers, by extension) about false brothers who “came in privily to spy out (the believers’) liberty (Galatians 2:4)”.
John then explains that they—the false teachers—departed or perhaps left fellowship with true believers in order to be revealed as to who they really were. Eventually a false teacher will declare what is claimed to be the truth, but it is not the same as God’s Revealed Truth.
20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
“Unction” means an anointing according to https://www.dictionary.com/browse/unction
It is not clear what John is attempting to state here. One concept is that the Holy Spirit is Himself an anointing, instead of a physical anointing by oil or some other substance. Only a relative few in the Bible received a special anointing (Saul,1 Samuel 9:16; David, 1 Sam 16:12; even Jehu the son of Nimshi, 2 Kings 9; to name three). The various anointings our Lord received (His feet and His head, at least three times) are probably not in view here. Another is that the Holy Spirit is guiding believers into all truth (see John 16:13) instead of false teachers or antichrists teaching falsehoods. There may be other opinions and viewpoints. Comments welcomed.
21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
Paul had written and preached a new, perhaps distinctive, gospel, different from the gospel of the kingdom preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Himself, and others. His ministry was to the Gentiles, whose knowledge of God’s revealed truth varied, increasing from minimal. They were also relatively unaware of the new doctrines of their new faith, so Paul was led to write letters explaining in detail the truths these new believers were to learn and a new lifestyle to live. John seems to be the apostle to all people, as his writings speak to all believers. BTW, compare the closing words of his Gospel, in chapter 20,
where he wrote so that the reader might believe on and in Jesus (John 20:31, paraphrased); here, he is writing to those who had already believed!22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
Already some were denying that Jesus was the Christ. John says that anyone doing so is an antichrist!23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
John has already stated that anyone who denied Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, were antichrist. Now he says that those who deny the Son did not have the Father either. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
What John seems to be saying here is, whatever you heard from the beginning (and he does not specify just what the “beginning” really means), let it stay or remain with you. He adds that if what we heard remains with us, we will continue with the Son and the Father.25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, (even) eternal life.
There is no real difference between eternal life and everlasting life. In one sense, all life is eternal because once a person is conceived, he or she immediately has a body, soul, and spirit—and the soul and spirit will never die, even though the body will one day cease to function (“die”, in other words). David spoke of his eternal life in Psalm 16:10 and other scriptures; Jesus said to Martha, at the tomb of Lazarus, that whoever believed in Him (Jesus) would never die.
Consider the rich man in Luke 16 who asked only for a drop of water to cool his tongue, and for Lazarus to return to life so he could warn the rich man’s five brothers about the awfulness of hell. Lazarus received comfort, being taken to “Abraham’s bosom”, the place of the righteous dead. The important thing is that this earthly life is not the only life any person will encounter. Hebrews 9:27 says that it is appointed for every person to die and there is a judgment afterwards. Other scriptures could be cited to prove the existence of life beyond this life, but in only two locations: Heaven or Hell. 26 These (things) have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
“Seduce“ is a very interesting word. According to an on-line version of Strong’s concordance (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4105&t=KJV ), “seduce” means “to lead astray” as well as other definitions of the one Greek word. John had already mentioned those who were denying, and had denied, the Father and the Son, proving heresy had already become evident even in the early days of the Church. Sobering, too, is the influence of Christians being led astray physically, as in Corinth, earlier, with its 1000 “priestesses”. Later, in Thyatira and perhaps other places, the teachings of “Jezebel” gave an okay for believers to live in a sinful life style (Revelation 2:20-23).27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
John also reminds us that Jesus will appear, even though there is no set time for this, and some may be truly ashamed when He comes again.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)