By: J. Dale Weaver, M.Div., M.A.
“Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18).
The second subject the Apostle John addresses in his first letter, that he pointedly said we should know, is one that is very pertinent to us today. If it was essential to understand in John’s day, how much more in ours?
What John says here, in Greek, if we literally translated it word-for-word in the order it was penned, goes something like this: “Little Children, the last time: it is and as ye have heard that [the] Antichrist shall come, even now antichrists; many are there whereby we know that the last time. It is.”
First things first. Biblical students who study carefully understand that we are in the “Last times” now, and indeed we have been since the first advent of the Lord Jesus. The writer of Hebrews makes that clear in Hebrews 1:1-2 – “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”
It cannot be argued Biblically that we are not in the Last Days, though we as Christians may disagree on the finer points about how this present age will finally be brought to an end. There are, however, many things’ Christians can agree on regarding what happens in the very last of the Last days.
John here identifies one sure sign that the Last Days have arrived. It’s not new to our time, but these days, it seems the examples are even more widespread and plentiful than in the time of the Apostles. John notes, “as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last time.” John wasn’t saying anything that hadn’t been said before. In fact, he was affirming what the Lord Jesus said some 60 years before would be the case: “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).
I was reading an article the other day about a California man (I know, go figure) who, in 1989 began to “channel” the entity “Kyron” who, allegedly is a part of the family of Michael the Archangel. And this guy isn’t alone. Even more famous is JZ Knight, who earlier in the 1980’s began to “channel” the spirit of “Ramtha,” a 35,000-year-old enlightened spirit. She’s made millions of “Ramtha’s teachings,” and spread his words on books, tapes, and the internet to 30 different countries. When someone else claimed to be channeling “Ramtha” some years ago, she slapped a lawsuit on them. And she won. I guess you can “own” exclusive rights to some “enlightened ones.”
Perhaps these “antichrists” are obvious to us. Less so are those who profess the faith, who remain in “the Church,” who go through the motions – maybe even preach from pulpits or lecture in Divinity Schools, yet they have deserted the faith and denied Christ long ago. These are the most dangerous of “antichrists” in our world today – and they are, and John says here, “many.”
But John also points out that “the Antichrist is coming.” Some later texts leave out the definitive article, which is interpreted “the.” It hardly matters, though. The meaning is the same. “Antichrist” is singular, and future. There is one coming into the world who will be the antithesis of Jesus. It is that one Jesus warned the Jews of when He said, “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; but if someone else comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43).
We should know that we are in the last days. We are surrounded by false Christs, antichrists, those who lead many astray through deception and fraud. We should also know that the Antichrist, the single individual antithesis of all that Jesus is, will come. He could be alive today, waiting in the wings to walk out onto the stage of history.
However, we as followers of the one True Christ have this assurance: We are out of reach of the Antichrist. He cannot touch us. Paul the Apostle makes this clear when he says, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming…” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
The “He” of verse 7 speaks of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the Body of Christ, and each individual Christian. The Holy Spirit, as He operates in and through the Body of Christ on earth restrains the evil Satan can do now. His “lawless one” (or “wicked one”) cannot be revealed until the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth in the sense that He works right now – and that is through the Church. So, if He goes, we go. And that, we are assured, is the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:51-54).
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).