Reading Through the Bible, Wednesday, December 21. 1 John 4 – 2 John

The word “antichrist”only occurs in the first two letters of John in the Bible and whoever they were, they were a part of the Christian fellowship being addressed.

    Popular religious preachers and authors commonly describe “the antichrist” as some world leader, a messenger empowered by Satan, who has yet to arise to lead the world against Christians and deceive Christians into leaving the fold.  Customarily, the “antichrist” is paired with the “man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians.  But in describing the antichrist, authors and teachers would do well to confine themselves to the texts where the specific identification is made.  An antichrist is anyone who undermines our submission to the authority of Jesus.  It can be a nonchristian, but it is likely also to be a Christian.

    Second, this attempt to identify the “antichrist” as some well placed political figure, and the attempt to see him in our own history, leads Christians away from focusing on their own behavior, submitting to the will of Jesus.  In doing that, they (and we) ignore the primary message of First John – how we behave determines whether Christians are really disciples, or just hypocrites.

    Third, John ties “belief” to behavior.  “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” he writes.  We get side-tracked here into the discussion of whether “belief” is enough to be a Christian, or whether one must be baptized.  But that is a mistake of huge proportions.  John doesn’t write simply that the one who believes is “born of God,” but rather, that the one who believes and is born of God loves those others who are likewise born of God and keeps God’s commands (note 1 John 4:19 – 5:2).  John is not discussing how one becomes a Christian, or how one is saved, but how the saved person acts toward other saved people.  After all, John is not writing to the unsaved, but to Christians.