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A. (:18) We are living in the age of antichrist — of apostasy and final opposition to Christ

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.”

Anti-christ = one opposed to Christ; cf the gnostic false teachers who are a type of the ultimate Anti-Christ who is yet to appear

Contrast between the world which is passing away and the one doing the will of God who abides into eternity

Ryrie: “Thus, an anti-christ is one who opposes Christ under the guise of Christ. Such are empowered by super-human Satanic forces; they may be part of the Christian assembly outwardly; and they teach false doctrine (2:19; II Jn 7). The presence of antichrists in the world proves that it is a last hour. Since they were present in John’s day and have been present throughout church history, the ‘last hour’ must be the entire period between the first and second advents of Christ.”

This should impart some sense of urgency/ responsibility to our walk with Christ.

B. (:19) Departure from the truth unmasks antichrists

“They went out from us; but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

1. no inward fellowship of life — not truly saved

2. doctrinal departure

3. visible departure from the body of true believers

abiding (continuing in the visible fellowship) is one sign of genuine life;

not changing churches or denominations — but renouncing the fundamentals of the faith and leaving the communion of the saints

4. active attempts to deceive the true believers and lead them astray

Shows that the writers of the NT addressed churches as groups of professing believers, while recognizing that all were not genuinely saved. This explains a lot of the severe warnings and problem passages.

Play on words:

“went out from us” — separation

“were not really of us” — source, origin — pointing back to the common

possession of the new nature that marks the family members of God and those who posses eternal life

Stedman: “Notice that the fourth mark of an antichrist is that he will finally break away from the New Testament Christianity. All such invariably do. And when they do they will insist that they are the true mainstream of Christian truth and that we are living in the backwaters of Christian doctrine. John puts this very plainly, does he not? ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.’ That is the mark of genuineness — continuity in the truth, continuance in true faith. What does he mean by us? Surely not Christendom in general.

He means, of course, as he makes clear in the context of this whole letter, those who love the Word of God and who possess the Spirit of God, those who seek to obey the Word in the power of the Spirit. This is the emphasis he has been making all along. Those who share the life of Christ, by the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit of God. Heretics will invariably cut themselves off from these people.”


A. (:20) All Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One and you all know.”

Since the anointing is actually the person of the Holy Spirit Himself, this construction is unusual. Is God the Father or Christ in view here?

“Anointing” = word for “Christ” in the Greek — 2 Cor. 1:21-22; speaking to all Christians here … not just a special group of elite who are the “abiding type” of Christian; another proof that the concept of abiding applies to all believers

Is the belief of those who have not seen and yet have believed inferior in point of certitude to that of the original witnesses? John assures them that they are in no such position of inferiority. They have the testimony and the teaching of the Spirit.

B. (:21-23) All Christians know the truth that is adequate for abiding

God’s revelation = the Apostolic Word about Christ

Textual problem:

KJV — “you know all things”

NIV — “you all know” = my preference

1. (:21) All Christians Can Discern Fundamental Truth From Error

“I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” This ability to rightly discern truth does not belong to a privileged few. The more sensitive we are to the Holy Spirit, the clearer will be our insight. We are not at the mercy of the false teachers with regard to the fundamentals of the faith.

Stedman: “One of the glorious things about God’s secret purpose, i.e., the restoring of the life of God to the spirit of man, is that it also re-establishes standards of absolute values and makes possible moral judgments.”

2. (:22) Denying or Confessing Christ is the touchstone of truth

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

3. (:23) This Confession of Christ is fundamental to a relationship with God

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Both of these two resources are essential:

– Without the Spirit, the knowledge of the Word becomes dead intellectualism

– Without the Word, the emphasis on the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives can result in some damaging emotional excesses where zeal runs wild


A. (:24-25) Hold On to The Apostolic Word About Christ

1. (:24) The Key to Abiding

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”

Note the emphatic emphasis on “you” — as opposed to the liars mentioned above.

Stedman: “Now, John is urging toward this. He is saying let the Word grip you. Let it confront you intellectually first, that is always the gateway through which God makes his appeal to man. Understand what God is saying. Meditate on these passages until you see the truth, you know what God is saying. Read them again and again and let them burn into you, muse and meditate upon them until they grip you. Then as you find you understand the truth you will discover that it has done something to your emotions. It has moved and gotten hold of you, you are captivated by it, you are held by it, you are compelled by it. When that happens, that moving of your emotions, then respond to it: submit yourself, obey it. This is what the Scripture calls acting or living by faith; obeying the truth made known to the mind, gripping the emotions, and thus moving the will. That is the Word of God abiding in you, possessing you.”

Stott: “Christians should always be conservative in their theology. To have ‘itching ears,’ ever running after new teachers, listening to anybody and never arriving at a knowledge of the truth, is a characteristic of the perilous times which shall come in the last days (2 Tim. 3:1, 7; 4:3). Christian theology is anchored not only to certain historical events, culminating in the saving career of Jesus, but to the authoritative apostolic witness to these events.”

2. (:25) The Promise of Eternal Life

“And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.”

B. (:26-27) Exercise the Discernment Provided by the Indwelling Holy Spirit

1. (:26) Warning Regarding False Teachers

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.”

2. (:27) Assurance Regarding Access to Discernment

“And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

Wuest: “This does not set aside the usefulness and necessity of God-appointed and equipped teachers in the Church (Eph. 4:11, … Acts 13:1), but merely means that the saints are not at the mercy of these Gnostic teachers or at the mercy of any teachers, for that matter. No teacher, even a God-appointed one, is the only and ultimate source of the saint’s instruction. He has the Holy Spirit and the Word.”

C. (:28) Persevere Until We Reach the Goal

1. Perseverence is Required of All Believers

“And now, little children”

2. Abiding in Christ is the Essence of Perseverence

“abide in Him”

3. The Finish Line = The Second Coming

“so that when He appears”

“at His coming”

Ryrie: Re Parousia — “The only occurrence of the word in John’s writings. Often it is used in connection with judgment which accompanies his return (Mt 24:3, 27, 37; I Cor 15:23; I Thess 2:19; 3:13; 5:23; Jas 5:7, 8).”

4. Confidence or Shame are the Only Two Grades on the Final Report Card

a. Confidence

“we may have confidence”

Vaughan: “‘Confidence’ translates a word whose primary meaning is ‘freedom of speech,’ unreservedness of utterance.’ It was the appropriate word to use of the entire freedom with which intimate friends unburdened their hearts to one another. At least one ancient writer used it of the attitude of children to their father in contrast with the attitude of a slave to his master. Used by John nine times in his gospel and four times in this epistle (here, 3:21; 4:17; and 5:14), it connotes, in this context, unreserved confidence, boldness, and courage. It vividly depicts the joyous abandon and the glad fearlessness of those who have an assured conscience.”

b. Shame

“and not shrink away from Him in shame”

Most commentators take this as a sense of loss that believers will experience at the Judgment Seat of Christ; but the context seems to indicate rather that this is the shame of false professors of faith having their lack of genuine righteousness exposed.

Stott: “For a description of the shrinking of unbelievers from the presence of the divine Judge see Matthew xxii. 12 and Revelation vi. 15-17.”