Reflections on 1st John 2:18-27

1st John 2:18–27 (CSB) Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. By this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well. 24 What you have heard from the beginning is to remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he himself made to us: eternal life. 26 I have written these things to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him.

The beloved apostle focuses his writings up to this point by calling his readers attention to the reality of their time, their advantage in Christ, and their need to remain with God in the gospel that they have had from the beginning so that they are not mislead by the deceiving spirit of this late hour.

The Hour is Late

John’s gospel sees a progression of “hours” from where Jesus tells his mother that his hour had not yet come (John 2:4; cf. John 7:30; 8:20), to the dawning of an hour when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23), to the hour when the Son of Man must be glorified (John 12:23), and onwards to Christ’s prediction of the hour of judgment coming upon the whole world (John 5:25-29).  In John’s first epistle, there is no definite article, “the”, in this expression, meaning that John is not simply saying that we have come to the last hour chronologically, but rather that the time is late.

Many hours have passed as the gospel has moved from “Jerusalem”, “Judea”, “Samaria”, and “into the ends of the earth”, and identifies the natural feeling that the time continues drawing late.  Therefore, even as many antichrists abound and deceptions grow stronger, the beloved apostle calls his spiritual children to remember the anointing they have received from the Holy One, by whom they know the truth and abide in the truth.

Theologically, John strengthens the exclusivity claim of Christ by stating that no one can have the Father without the Son.

The Anointing

John also reassures his spiritual children that if they remain in the simple gospel message that they have heard from the beginning, then they will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And it is in this blessed state of communion with God that the promise of eternal life is experienced and fulfilled in those who believe.

The great expectation of the Christian faith is that each believer is taught by Christ to take off their former way of life and be clothed in the newness of life with every expression of Christian love.  We are to be taught by the Holy Spirit in real terms to follow Christ in all holiness and truth.

Theologically, John warns his disciples about the dangers of spiritual deception and seduction by admonishing them to remain in God through the teaching of truth that they have received from the Holy Spirit in the apostolic gospel that has been once and for all proclaimed to the Church.

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