The Last Hour

In his first epistle, John declares it is the last hour, a period elsewhere called the “last days.” As evidence of this, he points to the false teachers that are disrupting his churches. They are products of the “spirit of antichrist” that is active already in the world. And these deceivers are forerunners of the final “Antichrist.

The idea that the church is in the “last days” occurs multiple times in the New Testament. This period is the final stage of history that began following the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • (1 John 2:18-22) – “Little children! IT IS THE LAST HOUR. And just as you heard that an antichrist is coming, even now, many antichrists have come, whereby we perceive that it is the last hour… Who is the false one, save he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? The same is the Antichrist, he that denies the Father and the Son.

MANY DECEIVERS


To substantiate his claim, John points to the very deceivers that are active in his congregations. Jesus himself warned his followers that “many deceivers” and “false prophets” would come and “deceive many,” including the “very elect.”

Thus, the activity of false teachers IN THE CHURCH is irrefutable evidence that the final period of this fallen age is underway. And it will end inevitably with the return of the “Son of Man on the clouds,” and in the destruction of all his enemies - (Matthew 24:4-5, Mark 13:5-6, Luke 21:8, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1).

John labels these deceivers “ANTICHRISTS,” using the plural number. They are not proponents of pagan religious ideas from outside the church, but false teachers propagating false doctrines in it (“They went out from among us”). And, in this case, they are identifiable by their denial “that Jesus is the Christ.”

In his letter, John does not directly connect the activities of these false teachers with any expected final events or signs. His immediate concern is the present damage being inflicted on his congregations, though the very presence of such deceivers and false prophets demonstrates that the “last days” have arrived - (1 John 4:1-3).

His second epistle is more personal and quite brief. It does not discuss the return of Jesus, but its key concern is the dissension in the church caused by false teachers, especially their denial of Christ’s GENUINE HUMANITY.

And once again, the activities of deceivers in the church show that the “last days” are underway - (2 John 7-8).

ABIDE IN JESUS


And, as before, John links these deceivers to the coming “Antichrist.” His reference to “many deceivers” echoes the words of Jesus in his discourse on the Mount of Olives, especially the warning about coming deceivers:

  • (Matthew 24:4-5, 11-13, 23-25) – “And answering, Jesus said to them: Beware lest anyone deceive you; for many will come upon my name, saying: I am the Christ, and will deceive many… And MANY FALSE PROPHETS will arise and deceive many… For there will arise FALSE CHRISTS AND FALSE PROPHETS, and they will show great signs and wonders; to deceive, if possible, EVEN THE ELECT.

Considering the present conflicts in the church, as well as what is coming, believers must “abide” in Jesus so that “when Jesus is manifested, we may have boldness and not be shamed away from him at his arrival.”

  • (1 John 2:28–3:3) - “And now, dear children, ABIDE IN HIM, in order that if he is made manifest, we may have boldness and not be shamed away from him by his ARRIVAL… We know that if it should be MADE MANIFEST, shall we be like him, because we shall see him just as he is. And whosoever has this hope IS PURIFYING HIMSELF, just as He is pure.”

The call to “abide in him” is a summons to holy living – “purifying oneself” - especially considering the future arrival of Jesus and the rewards that he will bring with him.

By “abiding” in him, the disciple prepares for the final day and immunizes himself from the wiles of the Devil and his earthly agents, in this case, the false teachers - the many “antichrists” already running rampant in the church.

And in the passage, the Greek term rendered “manifested” translates the verb phaneroĊ - “manifest, appear, make known, become visible.”  The Apostle Peter applies the same verb to the coming of Jesus in his first letter, as does Paul when writing to the Colossians - (1 Peter 5:2-4, Colossians 3:4).

HIS ARRIVAL


Arrival” in verse 28 translates the Greek noun ‘parousia’. It denotes the actual arrival of someone. This is the only instance in his letters where John uses the term. It occurs in Matthew’s version of the ‘Olivet Discourse’ when Jesus applies it to his future “arrival” - (Matthew 24:3, 24:27, 24:37-39).

The world does not understand Jesus, and therefore, it does not understand those who belong to him. For now, his disciples look no different than other human beings, though their conduct may strike many as nonconformist, even antisocial.

But despite appearances, believers are the “children of God.” And when Jesus is “manifested,” they will be transformed and become “like him,” and they will see him “just as he is.” Those with this hope “purify themselves” in preparation for that day - (1 John 3:1, Hebrews 9:28).

Believers must “abide in Jesus” so they will be able to stand in “boldness” on that day. Since they are the “children of God,” they constitute a people distinct from the rest of the world.

Regardless of how far along we are “in the last days,” the return of Jesus is certain. The apostle’s concern is with how believers live in the interim between the present and the return of Jesus. And the very fact that “many antichrists” are present means that sooner or later the ultimate and final Antichrist will appear before the termination of the “last hour.”


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