1 John 2:12-19
Introduction: In this Session, we will continue John’s theme of giving the Church in Ephesus encouragement for how to fellowship with a God who is Light. We will be exploring 1 John 2:12-19 in this Session, and we will see John addressing the following subjects:
1 – Spiritual Maturity
2 – The Examining our hearts to determine that which we love
3 – The definition of what antichrist is
John approaches these 3 subjects in 1 John 2:12-19, because fellowshipping with a God who is Light can only be accomplished by being in the Light, or by us being spiritually illuminated by Him. Jesus said that our approach God was to be in “spirit and in truth”. John highlights this by urging his hearers to be aware of the state of their spiritual development, examining their hearts to know whether they are in truth and in the Spirit, and to be able to discern truth from error about Jesus Christ. These things have a bearing on how much fellowship with the Lord we experience in walks with Jesus and our fellowship with the Father.
1 John 2:12-14
a) We should note the tone in which John continues to address his hearers, it is a tone of endearment, authentic love and concern for the church in Ephesus. In verses 12-14 we see a progressive revelation concerning the experiential knowledge of God in the life of the believer. John gives us 3 stages of our spiritual growth in the Lord.
b) The first stage of our spiritual development of faith is “children”. This is the entrance into discipleship; the knowledge of saving faith. The entry into relationship with Jesus Christ is the confession of our sins and our receiving the grace of Jesus Christ that He demonstrated on the cross. Our sins were forgiven on account of His Name, not the great things or works we have done. Titus 3:4-5 – “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,”
c) The second stage of our spiritual growth is “young men”. This is where discipleship has grown to the point where fruit is being produced in our lives. Our lives are marked with authority, and our ability to sin less, and to manifest selfcontrol and the fullness of the fruit of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you
are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. See Romans 8:9-13.
d) The third stage of spiritual maturity is “father”. This is the disciple who has developed deep intimate knowledge of the Lord. John describes this level of spiritual advancement in terms of “knowing Him who is from the beginning”. 1 John 1:1-2 defines this as being Jesus. We break into the realm of spiritual father or mother when we have experienced grace in its fullness, overcome the enemy, and have cultivated deep experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:15-17
a) As a faithful apostolic father, John presents truth to his spiritual children with a contrast between the world and kingdom culture values. The warning is to not love the value system of Babylon (corrupt world system). In John’s time the Roman Empire was the manifestation of the corrupt world system. Today it is our common culture. The exhortation is to love the value system of the rule of Jesus Christ in our lives. The temptation of God’s people from generation to generation to conform to the pattern of the world, is a temptation that all Christians in any culture need to overcome. Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
b) John defines the love of the world in terms of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Let’s look at the Greek words, so that we have clear definition of what love for the world is. Greek – Love – AGAPAŌ – to love dearly, be contented with, to be well pleased with a thing, to entertain.
c) Greek – Lust of the flesh – EPITHYMIA – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust. Greek – Flesh – SARX – the sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature”, the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God. The Greek definitions of these words show us that this manifestation of love for the world relates to the pleasure of the sin nature. Galatians 5:19-21 – The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
d) Lust of the Eyes – Greek – EPITHYMIA OPHTHALMOS – metaph. the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing – This manifestation of love for the world relates to empty philosophies or sins of the mind. 2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
e) Greek – Pride of Life – ALAZONEIA BIOS- empty, braggart talk, an insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights, an impious and empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthly things.
f) John tells us that our depth and scope of love for the Father is measured by the amount love we give to Him or the amount of love we give to the world.
1 John 2:18-19
a) To understand 1 John 2:18-29 properly, one needs to understand the context of the occasion of this Epistle. 1 – John was writing to the church community of Ephesus that he dearly loved and they dearly loved him. They were intimately acquainted with each other. 2 – The Church of the Roman Province of Asia was struggling with the brand of Christian Gnosticism coming from Cerinthus who was a false teacher. His heresy was that Jesus was not fully Man and fully God. His heresy followed the Greek Platonic philosophical concept that the flesh was totally corrupt and the spirit was totally pure. This type of paradox allowed for immorality to be accepted because it was flesh. Cerinthus also taught that Jesus’ birth was not a supernatural event, and that Jesus became Christ at His baptism. Cerinthus denied Jesus being Immanuel/God in the flesh, from the beginning. The theological themes of 1 John are distinctly directed at the heresy of Cerinthus. John is quoted by Irenaeus saying, “”Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”, when John learned that Cerinthus was in the same building. 3 – John was leaving an apostolic record of truth that future generations of the Church would be able use to discern false teaching about Jesus, and to make judgments on doctrines to see if they agree with truth or not.
b) We should also know that there are only 4 instances of the word “antichrist” used in the Scriptures. They are 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, 2 John1:7. There is no mention of antichrist in Revelation. The Greek word for “antichrist” – ANTICHRISTOS – the adversary of the Messiah. We can see that definition of antichrist in the context of its 4 mentions in Scripture is as follows:
1. 1 John 2:18 – Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. NASB – Antichrist is coming – the accumulative effect of things that oppose Jesus Christ are coming and are presently present when John wrote his Epistle. The last hour in the Greek is a reference to the New Covenant Era being God’s last arrangement with humanity before the Eternal Order at the Second Coming of Jesus. 1 John 2:19 tells us that antichrist came out from the body of believers. This is clearly a reference to false teachers like Cerinthus.
2. 1 John 2:22 – Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. – Antichrist is
the lie that opposes the true revelation of the identity of Jesus Christ. This is a direct attack against the Gnostic Heresy of Cerinthus and others who presented Jesus through the lens of Greek Philosophy.
3. 1 John 4:3 – and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. – Antichrist is a spirit/demonic that is a lying spirit regarding the true identity of Jesus Christ.
4. 2 John 1:7 – For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. – Antichrist are false teachers who do not acknowledge the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. They essentially deny that Jesus was both God and Man. This is another attack against Christian Gnosticism. The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed were developed as way to keep Apostolic truth regarding the virgin birth of Christ, His life, ministry and real death on a cross.
c) To summarize, we can see from each of the 4 mentions of antichrist in Scripture that the context and occasion of the use of antichrist is not eschatological. But its context and occasion is John, confronting Cerinthus and other false teachers from presenting Jesus Christ in a false way to people. Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, we can see that antichrist cannot have an eschatological context because antichrist originated in the Church of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:19). We can rest assured that the only antichrist we will war against is the demonic spirit of religion operating in false teachers and Christian cults.