Deceivers - Sign of the Last Days

SYNOPSIS - The presence of false teachers in the church provides a clear sign that we are in the period known as the “last days” - 2 John 7-8

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The second and third letters of John dealt with a real and present danger to the churches of John - False teachers had risen from within these congregations and were causing dissension among some members. Among other things, the deceivers denied the real humanity of Jesus. The Apostle labeled them “deceivers” and “antichrists.” In the process, John provided his understanding of just what an “antichrist” is: - [Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash]
  • (2 John 7-8) – “And this is love that we should be walking according to his commandments: This is the commandment, even as ye heard from the beginning that therein ye should be walking. Because many deceivers have gone out into the world, they who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in flesh: This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Be taking heed unto yourselves, lest ye lose what things we earned — but a full reward ye may duly receive.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The reference to “many deceivers” echoes a warning given by Jesus in his ‘Olivet Discourse.’ It was in response to the question – “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?

In his ‘Discourse,’ Jesus warned repeatedly about coming “deceivers” - “False prophets” and “false messiahs” intent on deceiving the “very elect” and spreading false information and expectations about the “coming of the Son of Man.” And there would be “many” such deceivers:
  • (Matthew 24:4-5, 11-13, 23-25) – “And answering, Jesus said unto them — Be taking heed, lest anyone deceive you; For many will come upon my name, saying — I am the Christ — and will deceive manyAnd many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray. And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold. But he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved…Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you beforehand.
In his first letter, John declared that “it is the last hour,” the same period called the “last days” elsewhere in the New Testament. At the time he wrote his letter, this era already was well-underway:
  • (1 John 2:18-22) – “Little children! it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that an antichrist is coming, even now, many antichrists have come, wherefore we perceive that it is the last hour.
The claim that Christians were living in the “last days” is found several times in the New Testament. Very often, the commencement of this period is linked to the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus - (e.g., Acts 2:15-22, Galatians 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 1:1-4, 1 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 3:1-3).

As evidence that the “last days” had arrived, John pointed to the many deceivers that had originated from within his congregations, just as Jesus had predicted - (“Even now many antichrists have come whereby we perceive that it is the last hour”). Their presence and activities demonstrated that his congregations were living in the “last days” - (Compare - Matthew 24:4-5Mark 13:5-6Luke 21:81 Timothy 4:12 Timothy 3:1).
  • (1 John 2:20-22) – “From among us they went out, but they were not of us; for if of us they had been, they would in that case have remained with us; but it came to pass in order that they might be made manifest, because all are not of us…Who is the False One, except he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? The same is the Antichrist, he that denies the Father and the Son.
John labels the false teachers “antichrists.” They were not pagan deceivers from without the church but false teachers operating within it - (“They went out from among us”). According to John, the false teachers could be identified by their denial “that Jesus is the Christ” and had “come in the flesh.”

The Greek term rendered “antichrist” occurs only in the letters of John. It signifies “instead of Christ,” not “against Christ.” That is, a replacement for or counterfeit of Jesus. Most likely, John formed this term from the warnings of Jesus against future “false prophets.” Noteworthy is that John does NOT portray these “antichrists” as political leaders; instead, they are false teachers working within the churches of Jesus Christ.

 

But most relevant today is that the very presence of deceivers and false prophets in the church is irrefutable proof that the “last days” are underway.




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