You may have heard of the Antichrist, a specific end-times figure mentioned in the Bible (see Dan. 9, 2 Thess. 2:1–12, Revelation 13). But John said there will be “many antichrists” (v. 18). What did he mean? An “antichrist” is any person who denies Christ and tries to deceive others with lies about Him (vv. 22–23). Such an individual follows in the footsteps of Satan, whose native language is lies (John 8:44).
Here, John is pointing to those who were denying the Incarnation, the doctrine that Christ came in the flesh (2 John 7). This heresy was called “Gnosticism”, the belief that physical matter is corrupt or evil, while the spiritual is good or pure. A Gnostic believes that Christ, who is completely good and pure, could not have a real physical body. This is in contradiction to what the Bible teaches. God created the physical world, declared it good, and plans to redeem it (Rom. 8:19–22). Jesus existed in the flesh. And, both Jesus and we will have glorified bodies for all eternity.
The Gnostic teachers had at first appeared to be genuine Christians, but by denying orthodoxy and leaving the church they’d proved otherwise (v. 19). The recipients of John’s letter didn’t need to worry. He was confident they knew the truth and would not fall away. True believers have an “anointing from the Holy One,” are eternally chosen by God, and safe in His hands (vv. 20–21; Eph. 1:11–12).
But this passage serves as an important warning to us today. We need to be on guard against false teachers. We’re living in the "last hour” (v. 18) or the “last days” (2 Peter 3:3), the time between the first and second comings of Christ.
>> What false teachings have you seen creep into our world and even our churches today? If we are indeed in the “last days”, how does that change the way we live? What will you do differently today?
The only way we can be safe from false teachers is by intimately knowing You and Your Word. Bless us with rich relationships with You. Give us discernment to recognize twisted truths. Give us courage and wisdom in confronting deceivers.