TEXT: 1 John 2:18-23
Last week, as we began our journey into John's teaching on the antichrist, we found that while many look toward a future "man of sin" who will one day rise on the world stage, John tells us that there are "many" antichrists or many who have the spirit of antichrist present in the world today. He also tells us that the prevalence of this spirit is a sign that we are living in the "last time" or the "last hour."
Today, as we continue in this passage, John begins to identify for his audience these antichrists who are among believers. Which group of believers is John writing to? We don't know for sure because it is not stated in the epistle. Dr. W. Hall Harris III says, "First John itself contains no hint of the identity of the Christian community to which it was addressed, nor does it give any specific clue to the identification of the locale involved where these believers lived. The only thing that can be said for certain about the intended readers is that (1) they were Christians, (2) they appear to have been well-known to the author (and he to them), and (3) they were facing a threat from false teaching, a threat which was both serious and which appears to have arisen from within their Christian community."
John proceeds to give these believers the marks, or the profile, of an antichrist. First, he says, "They went out from us..." The fact that they left the church shows us that they were once in the church. When we think of an antichrist or of someone who hates and opposes the church of Christ, we usually view this person as being outside of the church from the beginning. But, we see here that there can be people in the church who have the spirit of antichrist.
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