Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
There are four verses in his Epistles where the apostle John speaks of antichrist. In 2:18 he says that many antichrists have come; in 2:22, that the antichrist, the liar, is one who denies the Father and the Son; in 4:3, that the spirit of the antichrist does not confess Jesus; and 2 John 7, that the deceivers who have gone out into the world are antichrists. In these four verses we can see that there is a principle of antichrist.
What is an antichrist in principle? In order to answer this question, let us consider 2:18, “Young children, it is the last hour, and even as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come; whereby we know that it is the last hour.” This verse implies a principle. Anyone who practices this principle is in the category of antichrist.
During the time of the apostles, there was much talk about the coming antichrist. John refers to this when he tells those who received this Epistle that they “heard that antichrist is coming.” Then he immediately goes on to say that many antichrists have come. The fact that there have been many antichrists implies a principle, the principle of antichrist.
In 2:22 we can see more clearly what the principle of antichrist is: “Who is the liar if not he who is denying that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, who is denying the Father and the Son.” I would call your attention to the word “denying” used twice in this verse. This verse speaks of denying that Jesus is the Christ and also of denying the Father and the Son. Here we have the principle of antichrist. The principle of antichrist is to deny what Christ is. What principle must one follow in order to be an antichrist? He must follow the principle of denying what Christ is. Jesus is the Christ, Christ is the Son of God, and the Son of God is the embodiment of the Father. To deny any aspect of this truth is to deny something of what Christ is and thereby to follow the principle of antichrist.
The principle of antichrist is to deny something of Christ’s Person. According to 2:22, the antichrist denies that Jesus is the Christ. As we have seen, this was the heresy of Cerinthus, who separated the earthly man Jesus from the heavenly Christ. (He considered Jesus the son of Joseph and Mary.) Cerinthus also taught that after Jesus was baptized, Christ as a dove descended upon Him, but left Jesus at the end of His ministry so that Jesus suffered on the cross and rose from the dead, while Christ remained separated as a spiritual being. Cerinthus, therefore, denied that Jesus is the Christ. As verse 22 indicates, this is also to deny the Father and the Son. When the two sentences in verse 22 are put together, we can see clearly that to deny Christ is to deny the Father and the Son. Because Cerinthus denied that Jesus is the Christ and thereby denied the Father and the Son, he was an antichrist. This is an illustration of the principle of antichrist. What makes a person an antichrist, at least in principle, is that he denies some aspect of what Christ is.
The Greek prefix anti has two main meanings. First, it means against; second, it means in place of, or instead of. This indicates that an antichrist is against Christ and also replaces Christ with something else. To be an antichrist is, on the one hand, to be against Christ; on the other hand, it is also to have something instead of Christ, something that replaces Christ. By this we see that the principle of antichrist involves denying what Christ is. This is to be anti-Christ, against Christ. Of course, whenever someone denies what Christ is, automatically that person will replace Christ with something else. Hence, an antichrist is both against Christ and is one who replaces Christ.
We may use the modernists as an illustration of denying Christ and replacing Christ. Modernists deny that Christ is the Redeemer. They do not believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins. Instead, they claim that Christ was persecuted for His teachings and was put to death because of His teachings and died on the cross as a martyr. It is clear that modernists deny that Christ is the Redeemer who died on the cross for our sins. First, they deny this aspect of Christ’s Person. Then they go on to replace the Redeemer with a martyr. In this way, they have a martyr in place of the Redeemer. This is to have something instead of Christ as the result of denying what Christ is.
We must be careful never to deny anything of what Christ is. We should never deny any part, any aspect, or any item of Christ’s Person. To deny any aspect of Christ’s Person is to practice the principle of antichrist. Some who hear this may say, “I certainly am not an antichrist, for I am not against Christ.” One may not be against Christ or deny Christ consciously. But unconsciously we may deny some aspect of Christ’s Person and then replace this aspect with something else.
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