1 John 2:18–29 (NKJV)
John has just warned the readers to persevere in the faith, not allowing themselves to be deceived. The danger of walking with God for years and then falling away is real, and John longs for his disciples to serve God all the way to the end. Now, he takes that theme even further as he discusses the last days in some detail.
18 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. 19 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.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
John begins this passage with a reminder that the audience is living in the last hour. This may or may not be an intensification of what some have called the last days. If so, John is making it clear that there is even less time available before the coming of Christ, figuratively counting the hours rather than the days. They have been told that the Antichrist is coming, and many antichrists, or forerunners of the final Antichrist, have already come to deceive the church. This is proof that John’s audience is living in the last hour. These antichrists have gone out and shown themselves to be false, and that they were not united with the Church. John again applauds his audience’s knowledge of the truth ands their anointing from God. The readers of John’s letter are people of the truth, able to discern between good and evil. He reminds them that the one who is a liar denies that Jesus is the Christ. If a supposed religious leader denies the Father and Jesus Christ His Son, then they are not to be trusted nor followed. This is the test: if they do not accept Christ, they also do not accept the Father. However, if they do acknowledge the Son, they have the Father as well. The measure of one’s validity of faith is their acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
John further instructs the reader to let the gospel truth to abide in him or her, for that truth will signal that the believer abides in the Father and the Son as well. This connection is made possible by a knowledge of the truth found in the word of God. This “abiding” invokes the promise of eternal life given by God. John reiterates his purpose in this passage, that is, to warn the reader that deceivers are coming to talk them out of their faith in Christ. However, John has confidence in his audience, that they have been taught the truth, and that they will not be deceived, even if no one is present to help them, because the Spirit of God and the knowledge of the truth abides in them. One must know the truth, abide in the anointing, and believe that it is true. Then, the believer will be able to abide in God, and the truth will abide in him or her.
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
John sums up this section with an admonition for his children to abide in Christ. In this verse, though, he connects this command directly with the coming of the Lord. His hope for his children is that when the Lord appears, they will have confidence that the Lord is coming for them and they will not be ashamed. Those who know the Lord, and that the Lord is righteous, know that righteousness is the sign of being born again. Those who practice righteousness are born of God, and are worthy of fellowship in the body. Live in such a way that people know you are His. Make it easy to identify you as a believer in Christ. It does not require a badge, a t-shirt, or a credential. Rather, it requires a pure heart and righteous actions. That is what identifies a Christian. Be identifiable. Abide in Him!