1 John 2:18-23 - It Is The Last Hour
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.(1 John 2:18-23)
Thursday evening I arrived home and stood on the sidewalk leading to the front door. As I stood there I admired the fact that there was not one dandelion in the yard. I was surprised because I expected to see some sticking up out of the grass. The next morning, however, I walked by the living room window and I was discouraged to find that the yard was full of bright yellow dandelions. I was so annoyed by their presence.
It seems to me that there are two ways to view dandelions in the yard. First, you can see them as weeds and try to deal with them. Secondly, you can view them as a beautiful perennial flower that grows quickly and spreads profusely.
Just like I had concluded that my yard was free of dandelions we can all too easily become convinced that there are no weeds within the church and that there are no tares among the wheat. But this is not true at all. There are many weeds and many tares among the true believers. In time, they will be revealed just as these dandelions eventually made themselves known.
Having said this, let me clarify the difference between a pagan and an apostate. A pagan is someone who has never professed Christ and who has never claimed to have a relationship with Jesus. An apostate is someone who has claimed at one time to have a relationship with Christ but then turns away and rejects the faith that was once and for all handed down to the saints. Such a person may even speak against these things.
Every church, and each person in the church, has certain beliefs that may be wrong. This week I was talking with someone and they said, “We need to major on the major things and not on the minor issues.” In other words, we better not apply a bandage to the cut on someone's finger while they are experiencing a heart attack. There are some issues that we have to get right from the beginning. There are other issues and beliefs that are corrected over time (Romans 12:2 – ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.)
A believer will be teachable and will conform their beliefs to God’s word but an antichrist will not. Let me give you an example.
Consider Apollos in Acts 18:24-28. He came to Ephesus and he spoke eloquently, boldly and was scriptural about many things. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him and realized that he was not fully accurate, they pulled him aside and explained to Him the way of God more accurately. Apollos received the instruction and his ministry greatly helped other believers. We are told, “...for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” (28) Apollos proved to be a true believer. The Jews who he tried to correct with Scripture and would not repent were not believers and had not received the grace of God.
This is how we ought to deal with one another in the church. None of us are always right. When it is discovered that there is an issue that does not line up with the Scriptures, another believer ought to lovingly and patiently correct and teach them with the Scriptures. Those who are teachable like Apollos will grow and be more usable. And those who are not teachable, who will not receive the teaching of the Scriptures, will become plain to everyone.
As we consider these things let’s consider 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14. Paul says, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the LORD and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
An antichrist has not received the grace of God. They reject the scriptures and the grace of God. Consider Acts 13:42-46, “As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the LORD. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, sayings, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to your. Since you thrust it aside and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.’”.
So let me ask a question. How are you responding to the antichrist’s who have risen up among us? Do you see them as a threat and a danger, whose false teachings are the worst threat the church faces? Or are you unconcerned, apathetic and indifferent about these things? Are you attracted to them and their teachings? Do you find that you are being drawn to the fast growth and spreading of their teachings?
The apostle John wants these believers to know the dangers. Look at 1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.”
John addresses these believers as ‘children’ because they need to be instructed for their own safety. John is like a parent who is instructing his children about how to cross a busy street. He says to them, this is the rush hour (‘last hour’). This is the time of day when the streets are the most dangerous. This is the time of day when you need to be the most careful, the most cautious, the most observant, be on your guard. This is the hour when there are ‘many’ subtle threats so be aware, be diligent, be observant.
The term ‘last hour’ has theological significance and it is not stressing the chronological significance. There are other terms that are used in the New Testament that speak in a similar manner to express this: last hour, last days, last times. This is the time between the death and resurrection of Christ and His second coming. Victory was achieved at Calvary but it will be fully consummated when Jesus comes again. At that time every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. We live in the last hour, the last days, the last times. Let me give you three scriptures that speak of this.
Acts 2:17 – And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh...
Hebrews 1:1-2 – Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son,