Note in having a true understanding of the meaning of the word "fellowship" in this study, please refer to the study on this site entitled: " ".
Also refer to the study "" to get a better understanding of what the true meaning of "Church" is and all it's ceremonial and ritualistic expressions, which have nothing to do with being one with Christ. Now when you hear the word "Church" and "Fellowship" used in this study you can put it in its spiritual context and not in the worldly order of mans understanding and doctrinal falicies. Remember John 6:63 the words of Jesus Christ: "“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."
True Christians and Antichrist’s
The Proliferation of the Antichrist
1 John 2:18-27
To John, antichrist is another word for false teachers. The Lord gave fair warning to the church about them. He said, "False Christ’s and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22). There will be a proliferation of antichrists in the last days--and that is true today. Jesus also said, "Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Mark 13:6). Paul warned the Ephesian elders, saying, "After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things" (Acts 20:29-30). There will be many deceivers, false teachers, and antichrists. Some of us aren't very aware of that because our knowledge of the true Christ insulates us from them.
By the time 1 John was written, there were many antichrists: "It is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, by which we know that it is the last time" (1 John 2:18).
John warned the church about antichrists. The church cannot function unless those people are exposed. A church that puts its head in the sand and doesn't deal with those who deceive and teach false doctrine will be undermined--and John knew that. So he wrote to believers in Asia, saying, "You've got to unmask the antichrists. You can't let them remain in your fellowship." Sometimes the false Christ isn't in the form of a person; it's a false view of Christ.
Throughout his epistle, John gives tests for distinguishing between true and false believers. There are two basic tests: the doctrinal test and the moral test. You can identify a true Christian by his doctrine and he will obey the commands of God.
We see the first part of John's doctrinal test in 1 John 1:9: true believers confess their sins. The second part begins in 1 John 2:18. We learn the primary difference between antichrists and Christians is that Christians believe in the true Christ, while antichrists oppose Him or substitute a false Christ. The opposition is represented by the gnostic heresy that infiltrated the church in the first century. They taught that Jesus was not God in human flesh. Some thought He was only a man; others thought He was some kind of phantom. So John reaffirms that a true Christian confesses that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh. That is his emphasis in 1 John 2:18-27. There are only two people to consider in this passage: antichrists and Christians.
I. THE ANTICHRISTS (vv. 18-19, 22-23, 26)
A. The Introduction of the Antichrist (v. 18)
"Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, by which we know that it is the last time."
1. The victims of false doctrine
John used two different words for "little children." The Greek word he used in 1 John 2:12 and 28 is teknia; the one he used in verse 13 and here in verse 18 is paidia. What's the difference?
a) The different terms
Teknia means "offspring." It's a broad term that has nothing to do with age. However, paidia refers to an infant. The English word pedagogy comes from it, which means "to instruct someone who is unlearned." We can conclude that John is talking to spiritual babies in verse 18.
b) The deliberate warning
John is warning spiritual babies about false teachers because they are most susceptible to confusion. We know it is not possible for the elect to be ultimately deceived from following Christ (Matt. 24:24), but it is certainly possible for them to be confused. Why does John speak only to spiritual babies about false teachers? Because those who have matured into spiritual young men are no longer victimized by false doctrine. First John 2:14 says, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you." Ephesians 4:14 says the spiritually immature are "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine."
2. The validation of Christ's presence
a) The period
The apostle John informs his little children that it's "the last time" (1 John 1:18). Commentators have various opinions about what that means. Some believe John was two thousand years off in his calculation. Others think he meant it was an important hour. But I believe every Christian born since then has been living in the last days. The Jews knew the Messiah would come in the last days, and they also knew there would be terrible opposition to Him. The fact there is opposition helps to verify that Jesus is the Messiah and that it is indeed the last time.
b) The presupposition
The word Christ means "anointed one." It was used to translates the Hebrew word Mashiach (Messiah) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. If there is no Christ, there can't be an Antichrist. That there are antichrists in the world tells me the true Christ is here.
First John 2:18 says, "Ye have heard that antichrist shall come." Where did they hear that from? Probably from their teachers, the apostles. Second Thessalonians was written long before 1 John. It is likely that John's readers had either read or heard Paul's teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:3- 12 about the coming man of sin, who would exalt himself above God, sit in the temple of God, and show himself to be God. But John adds, "Even now are there many antichrists" (1 John 2:18). Here he is referring to all deceivers and subverters of apostolic teaching. Their widespread activity is an indicator that these are the last days.
That liberal churches and cults operate without any opposition while we struggle against false teachers and deceivers is evidence to me of who is right. One of the validations of Christianity is the continuing worldwide hatred of Christ and the multitudinous attempts to counterfeit Him.
B. The Identification of the Antichrists (vv. 19, 22-23, 26)
John gives three characteristics of antichrists.
1. They depart from the fellowship (v. 19)
"They [antichrists] went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest they were not all of us."
a) Their origin
Antichrists originate in the church and then depart from it. The church doesn't suffer so much from attacks outside it as it does from those inside. John says antichrists left the church. Perhaps they failed to win over the leaders to their view. The churches remained unmovable because they were true to the Word. When the antichrists were unsuccessful, they bailed out. Notice John distinguishes clearly between those who left--antichrists--and those who remained--Christians.
b) Their defection
(1) Unmasking the character of the antichrists
The defection of the antichrists gives clear evidence of their true character. God had them leave to manifest that they were not believers. Luke 12:2 says, "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known." God will unmask the deceivers.
(2) Revealing the perseverance of the saints
John says, "If they had been of us, they would ... have continued with us" (1 John 2:19). Mark 13:20 says, "Except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days." If allowed to continue, the tribulation could destroy even the people who are to be saved during it. So God will shorten it to make sure the elect are secured. Verse 22 says, "False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." There we see it isn't possible to seduce the elect. Yet Satan will continue to work through false Christs to try to seduce them. God never allows anything to happen to the saints that would cause them to be lost. If someone departs the fellowship to follow false doctrine, you can be sure he was never saved. God uses his departure to manifest that fact.
Salvation is not the reward for endurance, but endurance is a mark of salvation. If the antichrists had been of us, they would have continued with us. The ultimate test of true Christianity is perseverance. True Christians remain in the fellowship.
c) Their manifestation
All will be made manifest. Some false teachers might not be manifest until the judgment, but many of them leave the fellowship, thus exposing themselves to the community of believers. People have asked me about someone they assumed to be a Christian, but who has now joined a cult or become an atheist. I simply tell them to read 1 John 2:19. I'm thankful to God that He sent them away so we might know the truth about them. Don't be disturbed--this knowledge isn't designed to make you doubt your security; it should give you absolute confidence because God manifests the false people to you.
1) Jude 19--Jude says false teachers "are they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." If they don't have the Spirit, are they Christians? No. They separate themselves because they are false from the beginning.
(2) 1 Corinthians 11:19--Paul said, "There must be also heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you." Heretics reveal who is true by contrast. When they depart and you stay, you can know they weren't true. You may think they were true, but that's not a judgment God wants you to make. You can't distinguish the wheat from the tares--that's why only God and His angels can separate them at the judgment (Matt. 13:28-30). There will even be those who say, "Lord, Lord" (Matt. 7:22), but Christ will say, "I never knew you; depart from me" (v. 23). God wants the distinction clear, so He marks the phonies by their departure from the fellowship.
When you see someone who has come to church for a long time suddenly bail out in favor of some false doctrine, know that God is manifesting to us that he was false all the time. What's even more tragic is when the false believers become so comfortable in a church that eventually the true believers all leave. What remains is the typical liberal church of today--the entire fellowship is nothing but antichrists.
2. They deny the faith (vv. 22-23)
a) The denial of the Son (v. 22a)
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?"
Anyone who denies Christ is an antichrist. All lies are alien to the truth. John has in mind the great lie--that Jesus is not the One He claimed to be. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that during the tribulation, "God shall send ... strong delusion, that they [unbelievers] should believe the lie." What is the lie? That Christ is not who He claimed to be. I don't care what people claim to believe. If they do not believe Jesus is God in human flesh, they are antichrists. That is John's doctrinal test--the acid test of a man's salvation.
b) The denial of the Father (vv. 22b-23)
"He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also."
Implicit in denying Christ is denying the Father. Some people say they believe in God in spite of not believing in Christ, but their God is not the God of the Bible because He is manifest in the Son. Anyone who denies the Son denies God. Whoever denies Christ's deity opposes the revelation that authenticates the credentials of the Messiah. To deny Jesus is to deny God. People who say they believe in God blaspheme His name by their failure to believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate.
3. They deceive the faithful (v. 26)
"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you."
Antichrists try to seduce believers. We know it's impossible for them to ultimately deceive the elect, but they sure give it a good try. First Timothy 4:1 says their weapons are "seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons." Satan is busy trying to seduce Christians.
The apostle John jealously guarded the welfare of Christ's sheep. He said, "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth" (2 John 4). He also said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4). John was thrilled that the believer was secure in truth.
II. THE CHRISTIANS (vv. 20-21, 24 27)
A. Their Faithfulness (vv. 20-21, 25, 27)
John presents a picture of the Christian in contrast to the antichrists. Unbelievers depart from the fellowship, deny the faith, and try to deceive the faithful. They are unsuccessful in their deception for two reasons: Christians accept the faith and remain faithful.
1. They accept the faith (vv. 20-21, 27)
a) The anointing of the Spirit (v. 20)
"Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."
(1) The words of the deceivers
Two words Gnostics commonly used to describe their religious experience were knowledge (Gk., gnosis) and anointing (or, unction). The Gnostics would say, "We have received a special anointing of God that has given us a superior knowledge." They claimed God lifted them to a higher level of understanding.
(2) The words of the believers
John says Christians have an anointing from God Himself and that they know all things (v. 20), thus contradicting the Gnostics. It's the Christians, not them, who have the anointing and the knowledge. The Lord has made a glorious provision for His own--He preserves them from embracing error. John had no fear that true saints would become apostate. When someone does leave the fellowship, it proves they never were saved. Now you might think a few of those who leave may be Christians. But that can't be because John says, "Ye have an [anointing] from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth" (vv. 20-21). Saints will not depart the fellowship and become apostate because they have an anointing from the Holy One and know the truth.
(a) The role of the Spirit
The Greek word translated "unction" is chrisma. It is only used here and in verse 27 in all the New Testament. It literally means "ointment." The anointing the believer receives is clearly the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul said, "Now he who establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:21-22). The believer is granted the Spirit of God as if He were an ointment, or oil, placed on him. Acts 10:38 says God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit.
(b) The role of Christ
Who is the anointer? According to 1 John 2:20, it's "the Holy One." That's a reference to Christ (e.g., Luke 4:34; Acts 3:14). Christ anoints the believer with the Holy Spirit. Then the Spirit gives us the knowledge of all things.
The Christian's preservative against error is the indwelling Holy Spirit. You don't need to go somewhere to pray for an anointing--you already have one. You have received the Holy Spirit, and He preserves you from error.
b) The teaching of the Spirit (vv. 21, 27)
(1) The substance of the teaching (v. 21)
"I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth."
How do believers come to know the truth? Christ gives the Holy Spirit to them, and He becomes their resident truth- teacher. That means knowledge of all things pertaining to spiritual truth is available to the believer through the Holy Spirit. Before Christ left the disciples He said, "The Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance" (John 14:26).
John is saying in verse 21 that the Holy Spirit teaches them the lies of the apostates have no part with the truth. Some may fall into heresy and apostasy, and that manifests they never were saved. True believers will never fall into apostasy because the Holy Spirit is the Christian's built-in lie detector.
(2) The effect of the teaching (v. 27)
"The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
Why does a Christian continue in Christ and not follow after false doctrine? Because of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. God has so endowed the Christian with discernment that he ultimately will not be deceived by lies. He may become confused at times, but he will always abide in Christ. He won't decide in favor of false doctrine because he can't. Verse 27 speaks of "the anointing which ye have received of him." That statement is in the past tense--you received the Spirit when you were saved and he continues to abide in you (Rom. 8:9). The Spirit never leaves a Christian; true Christians never depart from the faith. If they ever did, the Holy Spirit would have failed in His ministry of teaching the truth.
Do We Need Human Teachers?
What did John mean when he said, "Ye need not that any man teach you"? Obviously it doesn't mean we shouldn't have a human teacher. The Lord has given teachers to the church. First Corinthians 12:28 refers to those who have the gift of teaching. John is not saying we don't need human teachers; he is saying we don't need human teaching. We are not to be dependent on human wisdom but on God's Word, whether it's taught by spirit-filled human teachers or the Spirit Himself as He works on our hearts. The thing we don't need is human teachers teaching human philosophy. We need Spirit-filled teachers.
Antichrists will deny the faith and try to deceive the faithful. But the true Christian has the anointing of the Holy Spirit to preserve him from error. He will never defect. He may get tossed around a little, but he will never leave because Christians accept the faith through the Holy Spirit.
2. They remain faithful (v. 24)
"Let that, therefore, abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father."
a) The effort
You need to consciously hold to the truth--to contend for the faith (Jude 3)--and the Holy Spirit will make sure you do. It is your responsibility to contend for the faith with all your being, and it is the Spirit's responsibility to keep holding on to you. I wouldn't need to preach a sermon or write a book if all you had to do was let the Holy Spirit keep you from error. We must be involved. That dichotomy occurs in every aspect of the Christian life.
The three English words abide, remain, and continue are all translated from the same Greek word: men[ma]o, which refers to continued dwelling. John is saying if you continue in what you have heard, then what you have heard will continue in you. Our part is to continue abiding in God's Word; the Spirit's part is to keep us.
b) The exhortations
True Christians hold to the faith and tenaciously defend the truth.
(1) 1 Corinthians 15:1-2--"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and in which ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you."
(2) John 8:31--Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
(3) Colossians 1:22-23--Paul said Christ will "present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight, if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature that is under heaven."
(4) 2 Timothy 3:14--"Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned."
The Word of God is clear: the Christian life is not automatic. It is true the Holy Spirit secures us and guarantees us against defection. But at the same time the Bible instructs us to fight for the faith and continue in the Word. The contrast is simple: true Christians hold to the faith; antichrists deny it.
B. Their Future (v. 25)
"This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life."
That is the future of Christians. What is the end of antichrists? It's terrible--just read 2 Peter 2.
Christians have two safeguards against heresy: the Holy Spirit and God's Word. The Holy Spirit is doing His part. Your part is to be obedient to Scripture. In some cases true believers drift away from the fellowship for a little while, but they are drawn back. There may even be some believers who drift away and die before they come back. God may have had to discipline them--He alone knows whether they're genuine or not. But the majority who depart from the fellowship were never believers to begin with. What about you? Are you a phony who will depart some day? Or are you a genuine Christian who has been secured by the Spirit and is continuing in the faith?
Christians have two safeguards against heresy: the Holy Spirit and God's Word. The Holy Spirit is doing His part. Your part is to be obedient to Scripture.
Although you have supernatural help in your resistance to false doctrine, you also are responsible to consciously fight for the truth (Jude 3). In what ways have you been contending for the faith? In what areas have you been depending on the Holy Spirit only? Take a closer look at those areas. What are some things you can do to be better equipped to resist false doctrine? Remember, the Holy Spirit will ultimately keep you from error, but you need to make the commitment to be ready to defend the faith.
A word on Fellowship and what that truly means in a Spiritual sense:
God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor 1:9
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
2 Coe 6:14
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 Jo 1:3
If we say that we have fellowship wiht Him,and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 Jo 2:6-7