1 John 2:21-23
Who Is an Antichrist?
Continuing our thought from yesterday, when someone we know and respect leaves the faith he once lived, preached, taught, shared, and encouraged others to embrace, it leaves question marks in the minds of fellow-believers. John is aware of this and he very much wants to reassure his readers. Thus, having explained that those who left us were “not of us,” implying that they were never with us or born again to begin with, he writes: “But you have been anointed by the Holy One and you all have knowledge.” The Apostle is certain that these have been reborn and have received the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is both the one who anoints and the anointing, just as Jesus was both he who offers the sacrifice and the one sacrificed. This anointing provides the knowledge that believers need of their own salvation, for he is the Spirit who bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). And he is the Holy Spirit who bears witness saying, “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and will write them on their minds, ‘then he adds,’ I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more” (Hebrews 10:15-17). So, the Spirit’s anointing is that assurance of salvation that believers have through the Spirit’s indwelling which is further confirmed by obedience and love for God’s way and will. John is certain himself of their salvation as he plainly tells them implying that believers themselves bear witness to the salvation of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Indeed, that is one of the purposes of the local church—to affirm, encourage, and hold accountable the saints of God.
Then John lays down some very simple instructions about how to tell an antichrist: “Who is the liar but the one 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.” Nothing could be plainer. To speak colloquially, there is no daylight between the Father and the Son (nor the Holy Spirit). Here, the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, and the Trinity by implication, is revealed. No one comes to the Father except through the Son; indeed, Jesus could even say, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14: 6, 9). He is the Son who reveals the Father, and he is the Son who takes us into the Father’s presence through the veil of his own flesh. And he can do all of this because he is the co-equal Son of the Father, begotten of his Father before all worlds. He who denies this has not God, however nice he may be. We are not all God’s children. Choose your friends well and know your antichrists.