1 John 2:18-28
Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. I write these things to you concerning those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming.
The author is writing here to a specific church – this church had a group of people leave. This was not just a church split; we know about those – when someone gets mad and leaves a church for another across town, taking people with him or her. In this case the people have not just left, but they are going around the country preaching a false doctrine, denying that Jesus is from the Father. Perhaps the false doctrine was an early form of Gnosticism. But because they teach a false doctrine, and deny that Jesus is the Christ, they are considered “Antichrist”. This designation is not something with precedence in the Old Testament, or in the Jewish literature. Still, the author identifies the coming of an “Antichrist” with the coming of the end-times. (Eschatology is the word for that; discussions of the “end times” and beliefs about them are called eschatological discussions.) But how the world has latched onto that term! Who is the Antichrist? Everyone from Hitler to Ben Laden has been called that – perhaps even the Godzilla rising out of the sea in the commercials we’re seeing on TV right now – and each one has been said to signal the end of the world. But what did Jesus say? He said no one knows when the end will come – and that is true for our own personal end times as well. The thing to do is to be prepared, to love God and our neighbor, always – not just plan to do it tomorrow!
The people remaining in the church are urged to hold onto the faith, and the teachings they heard from the beginning. Allow faith to keep them strong, to abide in them, and they will have eternal life – in the present and the future. They are encouraged to remember the truth, which abides in them through Christ, and not the lie, which those deceivers would have them believe. (Look again at the contrast: truth vs lie.) And so, whenever Christ comes, we may abide in him in confidence, as do those whom the author affectionately calls “Little children.”