The “last hour” to which John refers has to do with the period of time between our Lord’s ascension and return, in which the spirit of the antichrist is at work. In that time frame the Lord Jesus is building His church. But that building faces opposition from a world that does not know Jesus.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming (1 John 2:18, NKJV).
It is in vogue in our day to desert the Christian faith in the name of freedom. There is even a name for it: “deconversion.” Deconversion testimonies follow a distinct pattern. A person steeped in the Christian faith and an outspoken adherent of it, perhaps even seen as an influencer for the faith, will declare their emancipation from its bondage. By their testimony they now become evangelists for whatever religious, spiritual, or philosophical construct that suits them at the moment.
Little do they realize, however, that they have exchanged the truth for a lie and given themselves over to the bondage of sin and Satan.
John describes these sorts of people who once were part of the community of faith but have departed from it for one reason or another. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19).
John is not speaking of a wandering but of a definitive break with Christ. The apostle has his own term for such deserters, “antichrist.” “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Antichrists are those in league with the devil, who oppose Christ and His church.
The “last hour” to which John refers has to do with the period of time between our Lord’s ascension and return, in which the spirit of the antichrist is at work. In that time frame the Lord Jesus is building His church. But that building faces opposition from a world that does not know Jesus. Jude put it “that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit” (Jude 18–19).
John, however, is confident of the faith of those he addresses as “little children.” Because he is convinced of the workmanship of God in their lives, he is confident that they are secure in Christ against the lures and molestations of the devil. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (1 John 2:20). His point is that they remain in the truth and have not bought into the devil’s lies, and therefore are safe and secure in the arms of their Lord.
While all not of the Kingdom of God are in bondage to sin and can be called “children of the devil” (John 8:44), those who are antichrists make it their business to lead people astray.
What are the telling signs of an antichrist that you can look out for?