on 1-john 2 :18
Little children, it is the last time - This place is variously understood. This is the last dispensation of grace and mercy to mankind; the present age is the conclusion of the Jewish state, as the temple and holy city are shortly to be destroyed. But as there are many who suppose that this epistle was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, consequently the words cannot, on that supposition, refer to this. Others think that εσχατη ὡρα should be translated, a most difficult, perilous, and wretched time; a time in which all kinds of vices, heresies, and pollutions shall have their full reign; that time which out Lord predicted, Matthew 7:15, when he said, Beware of false prophets. And Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:12 : Many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many; and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. And Matthew 24:24 : There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders. And Matthew 24:25 : Behold, I have told you before. Now the apostle may allude to these predictions of our Lord; but all these refer to a time antecedent to the destruction of Jerusalem. I am therefore inclined to think, whatever may be here the precise meaning of the last time, that the epistle before us was written while Jerusalem yet stood. See what is said in the preface on this head.
Antichrist shall come - Who is this αντιχριστος antichrist? Is he the Emperor Domitian, the Gnostics, Nicolaitans, Nazareans, Cerinthians, Romish pontiffs, etc., etc.! Ans. Any person, thing, doctrine, system of religion, polity, etc., which is opposed to Christ, and to the spirit and spread of his Gospel, is antichrist. We need not look for this imaginary being in any of the above exclusively. Even Protestantism may have its antichrist as well as Popery. Every man who opposes the spirit of the Gospel, and every teacher and writer who endeavors to lower the Gospel standard to the spirit and taste of the world, is a genuine antichrist, no matter where or among whom he is found. The heresies which sprang up in the days of St. John were the antichrist of that time. As there has been a succession of oppositions to Christianity in its spirit and spread through every age since its promulgation in the world, so there has been a succession of antichrists. We may bring this matter much lower; every enemy of Christ, every one who opposes his reign in the world, in others, or in himself, is an antichrist; and consequently every wicked man is an antichrist. But the name has been generally applied to whatever person or thing systematically opposes Christ and his religion.
Many antichrists - Many false prophets, false Messiahs, heretics, and corrupters of the truth.
Whereby we know that it is the last time - That time which our Lord has predicted, and of which he has warned us.
on 1-john 2 :18
Little children - See 1 John 2:1.
It is the last time - The closing period or dispensation; that dispensation in which the affairs of the world are ultimately to be wound up. The apostle does not, however, say that the end of the world would soon occur, nor does he intimate how long this dispensation would be. That period might continue through many ages or centuries, and still be the last dispensation, or that in which the affairs of the world would be finally closed. See the Isaiah 2:2 note; Acts 2:17 note; Hebrews 1:2 note. Some have supposed that the "last time" here refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the Jewish economy; but the more natural interpretation is to refer it to the last dispensation of the world, and to suppose that the apostle meant to say that there were clear evidences that that period had arrived.
And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come - The word "antichrist" occurs in the New Testament only in these Epistles of John, 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7. The proper meaning of (ἀντί anti) in composition is:
(1) "over-against," as ἀντιτάσσειν antitassein;
(2) "contrary to," as ἀντιλέγειν antilegein;
(3) reciprocity, as ἀνταποδίδωμι antapodidōmi;
(4) "substitution," as ἀντιβασιλεύς antibasileus;
(5) the place of the king, or ἀνθύπατος anthupatos - "proconsul."
The word "antichrist," therefore, might denote anyone who either was or claimed to be in the place of Christ, or one who, for any cause, was in opposition to him. The word, further, would apply to one opposed to him, on whatever ground the opposition might be; whether it were open and avowed, or whether it were only in fact, as resulting from certain claims which were adverse to his, or which were inconsistent with his. A "vice-functionary," or an "opposing functionary," would be the idea which the word would naturally suggest. If the word stood alone, and there were nothing said further to explain its meaning, we should think, when the word "antichrist" was used, either of one who claimed to be the Christ, and who thus was a rival; or of one who stood in opposition to him on some other ground. That which constituted the characteristics of antichrist, according to John, who only has used the word, he has himself stated. 1 John 2:22, "who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 4:3, "and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist." 2 John 1:7, "for many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
From this it is clear, that John understood by the word all those that denied that Jesus is the Messiah, or that the Messiah has come in the flesh. If they held that Jesus was a deceiver, and that he was not the Christ, or if they maintained that, though Christ had come, he had not come in the flesh, that is, with a proper human nature, this showed that such persons had the spirit of antichrist. They arrayed themselves against him, and held doctrines which were in fact in entire opposition to the Son of God. It would appear then that John does not use the word in the sense which it would bear as denoting one who set up a rival claim, or who came in the place of Christ, but in the sense of those who were opposed to him by denying essential doctrines in regard to his person and advent. It is not certainly known to what persons he refers, but it would seem not improbable to Jewish adversaries, (see Suicer's Thesaur. s. voc.,) or to some forms of the Gnostic belief. See the notes at 1 John 4:2. The doctrine respecting antichrist, as stated in the New Testament, may be summed up in the following particulars:
(1) That there would be those, perhaps in considerable numbers, who would openly claim to be the Christ, or the true Messiah, Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:24.
(2) that there would be a spirit, which would manifest itself early in the church, that would strongly tend to some great apostasy under some one head or leader, or to a concentration on an individual, or a succession of individuals, who would have eminently the spirit of antichrist, though for a time the developement of that spirit would be hindered or restrained. See the notes at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-7.
(3) that this would be ultimately concentrated on a single leader - "the man of sin" - and embodied under some great apostasy, at the head of which would be that "man of sin," 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10. It is to this that Paul particularly refers, or this is the view which he took of this apostacy, and it is this which he particularly describes.
(4) that, in the meantime, and before the elements of the great apostasy should be concentrated and embodied, there might not be a few who would partake of the same general spirit, and who would be equally opposed to Christ in their doctrines and aims; that is, who would embody in themselves the essential spirit of antichrist, and by whose appearing it might be known that the last dispensation had come. It is to these that John refers, and these he found in his own age. Paul fixed the eye on future times, when the spirit of antichrist should be embodied under a distinct and mighty organization; John on his own time, and found then essentially what it had been predicted would occur in the church. He here says that they had been taught to expect that antichrist would come under the last dispensation; and it is implied that it could be ascertained that it was the last time, from the fact that the predicted opposer of Christ had come. The reference is probably to the language of the Saviour, that before the end should be, and as a sign that it was coming, many would arise claiming to be Christ, and, of course, practically denying that he was the Christ. Matthew 24:5, "many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Matthew 24:24, "and there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets; and they shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." This prediction it is probable the apostles had referred to wherever they had preached, so that there was a general expectation that one or more persons would appear claiming to be the Christ, or maintaining such opinions as to be inconsistent with the true doctrine that Jesus was the Messiah. Such persons, John says, had then in fact appeared, by which it could be known that they were living under the closing dispensations of the world referred to by the Saviour. Compare the notes at 2 Thessalonians 2:2-5.
on 1-john 2 :18