Treasures From the Original

2nd John: Christ and Antichrist

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The One whom Christ sent to act in His place in the Church on earth is not the Pope of Rome, but God the Holy Spirit indwelling every true believer.
From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part four of a five-part series. Read part three.

The One whom Christ sent to act in His place in the Church on earth is not the Pope of Rome, but God the Holy Spirit indwelling every true believer.

The Elder,

To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.

And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

A Little Word With a Big Meaning

Conjunctions are very important in the original language of Scripture. In Second John verse seven we find a significant instance of this. In the preceding verses John has told the lady to whom he is writing that he rejoices in the fact that she and some of her children whom John encountered were walking in the truth of Christ and His Word.

He has also reminded them of the need for truth to be coupled with agape love - a love for Christ and for our fellow believers that is rooted in God's love for us. Truth and love are inseparable. Agape love is rooted in settled facts and not adrift on a sea of variable opinions or mere personal feelings.

And now, in verse seven, John states why he has these great dual concerns: "For [Greek hoti, because] many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

Deceivers Who Are Antichrists

The word "deceivers" is of special note. In the original it is a plural form of the Greek planos, which means "a roving imposter who leads others into error through corruption and deception." John says that, even in these early decades after the death and resurrection of Christ, many such men have gone forth into the world teaching falsehood. The particular heresy against which John is warning is the teaching that Jesus Christ was not both fully God and fully man, two natures unmixed in one person. John spoke of this also in his first epistle:

By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)

Paul also emphasizes the necessity of the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ in two great passages in his epistles:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:15-23)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

John declares that anyone who teaches contrary to these doctrines "is a deceiver [planos again] and an antichrist."

The Meaning of Antichrist

The word "antichrist" in the English Bible is a direct transliteration of the word in Greek - antichristos. Although the prefix anti means "against" in present-day English, in New Testament Greek it meant more. It also meant "in place of" or "usurping." John is saying that the one who teaches heresy concerning Jesus Christ is not only opposed to the true Christ, but is also usurping the authority and position of Jesus Christ. John speaks of this also in his first epistle:

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us - eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you." (1 John 2:18-26)

"Even Now, Many Antichrists Have Come"

Dear friends, there have been many antichrists throughout church history, and we live in a time of many antichrists today.

Many in the postmodern Evangelical church, are diminishing - and thereby effectively denying - the full deity of Jesus Christ by emphasizing His humanity in a way that reduces Jesus to a sinful caricature of the true God-man. I heard of a so-called Evangelical preacher who said that Jesus was "the kind of guy you could go have a beer with on Saturday night." Blasphemy!

Many contemporary men and movements, by inventing and promoting man-made doctrines, are usurping the rightful position and authority of Christ as Head of His Church. As Paul puts it in Colossians, such an imposter is "vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God" (Colossians 2:18-19).

In our day Roman Catholicism continues its centuries-long history of usurping the authority and position of Jesus Christ through the falsehood of the papacy. Indeed, Rome calls the Pope "the vicar of Christ" which is rooted in the Latin for "the vice-Christ" or "the one in place of Christ" - in effect, the Latin form of antichristos. This is a large subject for full exposition at another time, but I believe that Scripture strongly indicates that the Roman papacy is the Antichrist, and that the Beast and False Prophet of Revelation will be the final manifestation of Antichrist in a one-world religion under the auspices of Rome.

Christ Sent Not a Pope, But the Holy Spirit

Dear friends, the One whom Jesus Christ and God the Father sent into this world to act in the place of Christ in the Church on earth is not the Pope of Rome, but God the Holy Spirit indwelling each and every individual who is truly born from above. Thus, as we have seen, John says to the believers that they have the discernment to know who is a deceiver and an antichrist. It is because they have the indwelling Spirit at work within them: "you have an anointing from the Holy One...the anointing you have received from Him abides in you" (1 John 2:20, 27).

And so we have now seen three of the four key elements of John's great theme in his second epistle: Truth in love under Christ. Christ is the truth Himself. Christ is the one who has demonstrated God's love for us, in that while we were yet sinners He died for us. And thus we must walk in both truth and love under the authority of Christ.

And, we must do so without compromise. That is the fourth element of John's great theme, and he takes it up in the remaining verses of his second epistle.

Next: Truth in Love Under Christ Without Compromise


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