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The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 14 June 2007

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the 16th part in an ongoing series on the Epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν, καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν.

To me, this is an extremely enigmatic verse. In subsequent verses we will learn more about who these antichrists are. However, here, we have the juxtaposition ἀντίχριστος (antichrist — singular) and ἀντίχριστοι (antichrists — plural).

Is John talking about some Anti-Christ other than these little antichrists running around? The Anti-Christ?

Well, it is notable that for both of these words the definite article is missing. But, I’m not sure that does much for us. Coupled with the fact that this same John is held to be the author of Revelation, it is no surprise that many interpreters would equate the singular antichrist with the beasts of Revelation 13. Is this appropriate? I’m not sure.

Either way, the arrival of these various antichrists is, for John, a signal that the last hour is upon us. What this can mean to us, more than 1,900 years later is a bit of a mystery. To those reading this epistle in the first or second century, it certainly represented an imminent eschatology—the belief that the end was at hand. However, we’ve hung around for nearly two millennia. What do we do with this information?

For me, it creates a sense of urgency in my commission. When compared to the vast expanse of time that God knows, my 80-year lifespan (if I’m lucky) is fleeting. I’m a mere fruit fly on the cosmic scale. I only have this short time to impact the world. All of this makes it sound as if I’ve been listening to too many commencement addresses lately. But, it’s true…life is short.

The “last hour” comes for each of us, and quicker than we might expect. If we are to fulfill our purpose, which according to John might be community with God, now is the time to do it. We can’t sit on our hands and plan to do it in the future. It has to be done now.

How differently are attitude toward God might be when we begin to realize that we’re not going to live forever.

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

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