by Spiros Zodhiates
"Children, this is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, now many have emerged to be anti-christs. This is how we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18 AT).
Again, as in 1 John 2:13, the Apostle calls the believers paidía , young children who can learn. He wants them to know what to expect in the last hour.
Éscháte\ is the feminine of éschatos (2078), last. It does not necessarily mean hústeros (5306), concluding, terminal, final. When used with a noun of time such as "day" (John 6:39-40, etc.), "days" (Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; etc.), "time" or "times," (1 Pet. 1:20; Jude 1:18), éschatos refers not necessarily to the very end time when Jesus shall come back, but the period of time since the first coming of Christ. During this time, the power of sin in this world is broken in part, but it will be wholly destroyed when He comes again. John calls the time he wrote this epistle the "last hour," and it continues to be so.
"As you heard" probably points to John's oral teaching, since this teaching about the Antichrist, referred to by name, occurs only in John's epistles (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). Paul refers to "that man of sin" and the "son of perdition" (2 Thess. 2:3). John describes him as one who will try to displace God, because "in lieu of" is the first meaning of the prepositional prefix antí–. The Antichrist will consider himself to be the equal of Christ. Thus the Antichrist will first present himself as the Messiah in lieu of Christ. But antí also means "against" and that is the second phase of the Antichrist's activities when he will furiously set himself against Christ (2 Thess. 2:3–12).
Although the coming of this Antichrist is definitely future, the tense used is present (érchetai, he is coming), of the verb érchomai. And yet when Paul speaks of the Antichrist, he says, "and that man of sin be revealed" (2 Thess. 2:3). The verb is apokaluphtheâ, the aorist subjunctive passive of apokalúpto\, to reveal, which implies a definite future appearance as an enemy and a destroyer. However, he does not begin thus. He evolves from a benign individual to an enemy.
It is to be noted John's phrase "and now many anti-christs have emerged" is so translated because the verb used is gegónasin, the perfect indicative of gínomai, to become. It is not the same verb érchomai used by Paul when he speaks of the final Antichrist. The anti-christs seek a following by claiming to be for Christ, but then they emerge in opposition to Him. That is why I have translated gegónasin as "have emerged."
John stresses that there are already many such anti-christs around. At the outset, they make a pretense as being for Christ, but then they turn against Him. When such begin to multiply, it is a sign for us to realize that it is the last hour.
Such anti-christs are the would-be miracle performers who are finally proven to be false prophets (Matt. 7:21–23). John explains this in the following verse, probably having in mind Judas, with whom he served in the group of the Twelve.
From The Epistles of John, AMG Publishing, ©1994 by Spiros Zodhiates
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