Last week, we were introduced to the Antichrist. In fact many antichrists had come already. John goes further do describe them as coming out from the church itself. The source of their teaching might have come from the pit of hell, but the actual antichrists were those who had left the fellowship of the church, indicating they had no part in the life of God. The source of their being was rooted in the world and was demonstrated by the selfishness which is the rule of the world—Me first!”
This week, we shall see John expand on this idea of antichrist and say in more idea who the Antichrist really is. This will be followed by the positive promise given to the church who remains faithful and lives in Him. In other words, the life of Christ likeness is portrayed opposite the selfish life and lies of the Antichrist.
Exposition of the Text
Verse 22: Who is a liar if it isn’t the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the Antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
Again we have the word “liar” used in conjunction with the Antichrist. Jesus called the devil a liar and a source of every lie in the Gospel of John. Last week when we discussed the idea of antichrist, it was someone who stood in the place of Christ and claimed to be the Christ. So obviously then, if someone would be so bold to claim to be the Messiah, then what would that person have to do with Jesus? Obviously there can not be two Messiahs. An impostor would have to make Jesus to be something other than He claimed. This is what Mohammed did. He reduced Jesus to being a man and a great teacher and prophet, but not God. He had to be less than Mohammed, as Mohammed is considered by the Muslims to be “The Prophet of Allah”. And for since Mohammed clearly indicated that he was not God but only the greatest of Allah’s prophets, this would make Jesus less than Mohammed and less than God as well. And Allah would never be called “Father” in any sense by a Muslim, so they have to deny that title as well.
Others like Sun Yung Moon claim that Jesus failed in His mission because He died on the cross before He could marry and introduce perfect children into the world. Obviously, Moon was sent to fix this situation by replacing Jesus and finishing the mission that Jesus intended to fulfill, to make the human race perfect by putting God’s genes into the gene pool rather than dying for our sins on a cross. These are only a couple of examples of antichrists in history. Either they claim to be some reincarnation of Jesus, a superior replacement to Jesus, or in some way to represent the true Jesus. So then, the Antichrist is not an Atheist. He might even use the lingo of the Christian faith as a means of deception. The Antichrist does not directly ridicule Christ, but uses Jesus to fit his purpose of deception, truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Such are groups like the Mormon’s too. They use both the Father and the Son. But the Father has a Father who created His world and gave birth to the Father of Scripture and sent the Father into His universe to create and have a Son, Jesus, who also has children, etc. The Mormons are not at all unlike the people who had left the fellowship in Ephesus.
Verse 23: Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either.
How can a father be a father without a child? If one denies the Son of God, the Only-Begotten, they are denying the Fatherhood of God. Jesus made it abundantly clear that He who has seen Him has seen the Father. Hebrews 1 calls the Son the Express Image of God, an exact likeness. Jesus says in John 14:6 that no one can come to the Father but by Him. There is not other way to God than through Jesus. Anyone who claims contrary to Christ's express claims is both a liar and an antichrist. Anyone who claims there are many ways to God is a liar and an antichrist. Anyone who claims that there is any way to be saved except through the shed blood of Christ and faith in His name is a liar and an antichrist. So much for tolerance! I am not going to persecute anyone in this world, but neither am I going to compromise on this point. Jesus is the only way.
Verse 24: But YOU have heard this all along. And this truth must be alive in you. If you all are living what you have heard all along from the beginning, then you are living in the Son and the Father.
The literal translation from the Greek is: “YOU ALL, that which you have heard from the beginning, in you must remain. If in you all remains that which you have heard from the beginning, even you all are in the Son and in the Father remaining.” From this you can see that I have had to translate the idea which John is saying to make it clear to us. The Greek word μενω, men-oh, has the idea of a home or dwelling place. So the English word “remain” which often translates this verb can be misleading. The idea here is that the believer not only hears the truth, but lives it as well. The truth has a home in the believer’s heart and remains (lives) there.
I have translated the phrase “from beginning” (Greek: ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, ahp ar-keys, ) “all along” for emphasis. John frequently uses this phrase. What is meant that the gospel does not change. There is not some secret gospel code hidden under the text that only the initiate of “perfect” can understand. The true Gospel is the one they have heard all along. And if this message is alive in their heart, they can be assured that they are living both in the Son and the Father. So the exhortation to the church is to keep on keeping on the same course. There is not need to change direction. And this applies to us as well. We don’t need some new Gospel. We need to remain faithful to as the phrase says to the Gospel which is the one believed by all Christians at all times and in every place. This is in a sense the equivalent of “Apostolic Tradition”. What the Apostles taught is what we need to be teaching. We do not need novelty, a new gospel, or to conform to the spirit of this age.
Verse 25: And this is the promise which HE Himself promised to us all, life eternal.
This is the true goal of every Christian, the life of the age to come, to begin to appropriate the promises of God which are safe and sure and live them even not in this life. The literal translation of “eternal life” here (τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον, teen zoh-een teen eh-oh-knee-on) puts life first, then eternal or age, so “the life which is of the quality of the age to come”. Yes it is unending as well, but the emphasis is on the quality of life. This is the same root idea as the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: “I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.
A caution is in order here. The theologians describe what I have just said by the words “realized eschatology” which could be construed that all the promises of God are for living in this world. This would be the interpretation of the liberals, to make this life worth living or living an authentic life of service to humanity without necessarily looking for resurrection after death or the actual return of the Lord. We must be careful to state that what is meant is that we can start living the promises which God has promised in its fullness when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom, now.
Another mistake to avoid is a “Health and wealth” interpretation or “realized eschatology”. This is the idea based on a materialist view of heaven, that true life consists in the abundance of riches. One might say, “For since we are all going to live in mansions in heaven and walk on streets of gold, let us then realize this future in the here and now.” But one who knows the truth will notice that gold will be paving stone under our feet. It will be so common that it will be valueless in heaven. What we fight so many wars here on earth for because the scarcity of certain resources makes them valuable will be nothing at all in heaven to speak about.
And about those mansions—I hate to disappoint anyone, but the correct translation of mansions in John 14:2 (Greek μοναὶ, which comes from the same root word as μενω, men-oh, which we discussed earlier) is not mansions but “rooms” in the Father’s house. There is only one mansion in heaven, only one place to live, and this is in the Father’s house. There will be no cabins in the corner of glory land either. The only place there will be to live in heaven will be in the house of the Father. What Jesus is really describing in John 14 comes from the Jewish concept of marriage. After a proposal was arranged between the father of the bride to be and the father of the groom to be was ratified by the groom to be offering a cup of wine to the bride to be with a pledge of protecting her even with his life and blood. When she drank the cup, it was her acceptance of the engagement. Think of this the next time you take communion!
After the engagement was accepted, and remember, that Jesus was talking to the disciples at the last supper and the first communion, it was the groom-to-be’s responsibility to make an addition to the family dwelling, the house of his father for the new couple to live. When this was complete, the groom would return for his bride.
So the model of the kingdom of heaven and the life to come is the metaphor of marriage and love, not gold, silver or corruptible things. So anyone who has a materialistic view of heaven does not really understand what the “life of the age” to come is really about. Instead of living this life, they continue to live the life of this world.
The life of the age to come is that of love and being with the Father and the Son and the Spirit in God’s house. Since this is true, then God must be living in us right now. Every time we take the cup, we remember that the groom is returning and leading us to His house where he will drink that cup anew with us in the Kingdom of God to consummate our eternal life together. It is a marriage based on love, not on possessions and material gain. So the very things we covet after now must be laid aside. They aren’t important. What is important is the One we love.
Verse 26: I have written you these things, because of those who are deceiving you all.
The people who had left, and perhaps some who remained in the fellowship physically were wooing those who remained to find out these greater secrets and knowledge. The present participle in Greek, πλανώντων, plan-own-tohn, deceive, indicates that this was an ongoing attempt to deceive and not just a one-time attempt. They were still trying to draw the Christians away to their new “truth” which was no truth at all but a lie. This Greek word comes from the same root as our word “planet”. The use of this term was used because these planets changed there position in the sky in relation to the fixed stars of the constellations. They were wandering stars. In the same way, the people who had left the church had wandered from the true light. Just as patterns of stars are called constellations because they remain fixed in relation to each other, at least to our perceptions here on Earth, we only have identity so long as our life is fixed in Jesus Christ. When these left, they lost their identity as Christians. Whether they ever were really Christians or not I will leave to the theologians.
Verse 27: But you have received the anointing from Him. Live in Him and you will not have any need for someone to teach you differently. BUT as the same anointing teaches you about everything and is the truth and not a lie. And even as He taught you all, live in Him.
John again refers to the anointing which refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. So as long as we are in the Spirit, we are in the truth. The Holy Spirit is fully God. His being in us tells us that there is nothing that God has held back which is essential to our well being. There are no secret and hidden “truths” we need to seek. The truth is already in us. And the Spirit teaches us everything which means there is no further need of these secret revelations
We are also reminded in this verse, that God has taught us already. I think in this particular case it is a reminder of the teachings of Jesus which we have in Scripture. We are to live what we already know because it is the truth. There is no need to look farther.
Verse 28: And now dear children, live in Him so that when He appears we might have boldness and not be shamed by him at His coming.
John tells us again that the truth must be lived. It is not just something mental or in the head. Sound doctrine and sound living are one and the same. It is in faithful or true living of the true doctrine that will give the church boldness when Jesus appears. Love knows no fear, so if we are living in love, why should we fear. But if we are not, then there is fear, knowing that the Father knows what we have done. We would be like children who fear for having to give account. It is kind of like the words: “Just wait until your father comes home. The word for “shame” here is passive indicating we will be put to shame when He comes. This is intensified by the phrase “from Him” (ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, ap ahv-too). Here the sense of the phrase is the source of our being put to shame. The idea is “He will put us to shame by His coming is we are not living for Him and in Him.
So we have a choice of how we will be greeted when Jesus comes home and how we will feel about His return. Either we can live in Him and be joyfully expecting His return or we can wait in fear of a whipping. Seeing that this is the case, why should we do anything but what is right and what He expects us to do?
Verse 29: Since you know that He is righteous, and that everyone who does righteousness has been born of Him.
I suppose the saying “Like father, like son” describes this verse pretty well. Our lives tell us who our father is. If we live like the devil, guess who our father is? But this verse is stating it entirely from the positive side. We have been born of the Father in heaven who is righteous if we are demonstrating the truth in our lives by acting as He does, righteously. Jesus has shown us the way. He said as His Father showed Him and told Him, he had done for the disciples and also to the world. He acted in character to the Father and represented the Father faithfully on this Earth. We must do likewise.
“Begotten” (Greek γεγέννηται, geh-gehn-nee-the) is in the perfect tense which not only states the fact we have been begotten of the Father but also the abiding result that we are still truly His children, because we walk in His light.
It should be abundantly clear from this passage how important the correct understanding of God is, and how important it is for us to live what we believe. We must also recognize that we have already been given through the life and teaching of Jesus and the understanding of Scripture given by the Holy Spirit, everything we need to live life even now in this world the way God intended it to be. This life is based upon the purity of love for God and demonstrated in our love for each other. This leaves no room for selfishness. We must remember that marriage isn’t about good food and getting gifts or material profit. It isn’t a marriage of convenience, but out of true love.
We must remember that there are no competing mansions in heaven. There is indeed only one house in heaven, and we are all going to have to live together in the same house. How should this reflect on our sharing together in the same church. If we can’t get along here for the short time of our pilgrimage, then how will we make it for eternity? As we shall see as we go along further in this Epistle, this is the very heart of John’s message.