The Last Hour

The presence of false teachers in the church demonstrates that we are in the last days, and the LAST HOUR is almost upon us.

John declares it is the last hour,” the period elsewhere called the “last days.” As evidence of this, he points to the false teachers that are disrupting the churches, products of the “spirit of antichrist” that is active in the world. And each one is a forerunner of the final “Antichrist.”

Clocks - Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash
[Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash]

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

  • (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 have appeared in his congregations. Jesus himself has warned his followers that “many deceivers” and “false prophets” will come and “deceive many,” including the “very elect.”

Thus, the activity of false teachers in the church is irrefutable proof 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” in great power and glory, 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).

And John calls these deceivers “ANTICHRISTS,” plural. 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 false teachers with expected final events and signs. His immediate concern is the present damage being inflicted on his congregations by them, though their very presence demonstrates that the “last days” are here - (1 John 4:1-3).

His second letter is more personal and quite brief. It does not discuss the return of Jesus, but its key concern is the dissension 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” have arrived - (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 from his discourse on the Mount of Olives, especially his 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 he 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 himself” - especially considering the arrival of Jesus and the rewards that he will bring with him.

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


Twilight Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash
[Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash]


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’, which 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, Christians 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” rather than shame on that day. They are the “children of God,” and consequently, 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 present in consideration of this and the “lateness of the hour.” And the very fact that “many antichrists” are present means that sooner or later the ultimate and final Antichrist will appear.



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