Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are thee many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They 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 that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction 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. Who is liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 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.
“Antichrist” - This is a term that both religious and irreligious alike have come to know and even to some extent fear. The portrayals through film or in modern novels often show a charismatic figure who swoons the world with his charm only to reveal his evil, hellish intentions in the end through massacre and misdeeds. In short, “Antichrist,” and more specifically, “the Antichrist,” is not a concept with which people are unacquainted. John, however, speaks here of “antichrists.” These are precursors to the real one that is coming at some point in the future. So what defines a modern day “antichrist?” The one who is an “antichrist” is the one who “denies that Jesus is the Christ,” or that says that Jesus is not the Messiah and Redeemer of mankind. Any who say that Jesus is not the only way, is “antichrist.” John says, in essence, “the real Antichrist is coming some day, but for now, there are many replicas of him travelling about peddling his false teaching and lies.” He then warns his readers to watch out for these little antichrists who are trying to destroy the church with their false teaching. They peddle the lie that Jesus isn’t the only way to God. They mislead others with the false concept that right standing before God comes through anything other than the propitiating work of Jesus. They do this in a number of ways. Some will say that Jesus is “a way,” just not “the only way.” Others will say that “Jesus was a good teacher, but not in any way Divine (God).” Still yet others, will just pollute the gospel and make the work of Jesus ineffectual by saying that it is “Jesus + something else (good deeds, church membership, baptism, reading your Bible, prayer) that will accomplish the redemptive work of God in your life.” This just simply isn’t the case, and any of the things that substitute the simplicity of Jesus singlehandedly accomplishing the work of salvation for fallen men, is a lie of the Antichrist and is being peddled by his miniature “antichrists.”
Food For Thought: Why does John use the term “antichrist” to describe the false teachers who are undermining God’s work?