The term antichrist has been used to describe everything from rebellious personalities to pure evil to particular theological figures. The word antichrist occurs only five times in the New Testament (all in the letters of John), and in 1 John 2, the term refers specifically to the secessionists who have departed from the Christian community. In fact, the term antichrist literally means “opposed to Christ,” and that is exactly what defines these separatists. Scripture warns against them and offers advice about how to resist their deceptions.
First, Scripture explains exactly what makes these secessionists “antichrists.” The root issue is their denial of “Jesus as the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son” (v. 22). You cannot choose to believe in God the Father and reject that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. These antichrists don’t believe Jesus is God, and therefore they deny who God is.
Second, Scripture reminds the community of their own “anointing [chrisma] from the Holy One” (v. 20), which leads them to the truth. Most likely, this refers to when they received the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised (see John 14:26). Our English language doesn’t capture the intended word play here. Because the Greek word christos means “anointed one,” Scripture is actually reminding the community that their own chrisma (anointing) should enable them to correctly identify the true Christos (Anointed One).
The claims and lies of the secessionists should not be believed. Their denial of the true Christ counters the truth each believer knows in their heart: Jesus is the Christ. We must remain in Him, and in doing so receive “what he promised us—eternal life” (v. 25).