1 John 2.18-29. Division

I do not want to make judgements on whether someone is a Christian or not if they claim to be one. However, John unsettles my tolerant comfort because he writes to the churches to give them ways to discern true from false claims of Christian belief and lifestyle. The test in this passage is ‘who do you say Jesus is?’ If we say anything other than Jesus is the Son of God, life himself, that which was from the beginning who has appeared (1.1-4) then are of the spirit of antichrist not the spirit of Christ. We may be a regular church attender, a decent and good person – but we are not a Christian. My second discomfort is my desire to avoid any hint of church division, in contrast, John tells us that there are things that are worth dividing the church over.

Michael Flynn


Audio

1 John 2.18-29

1 John 2.18-29 | Division

They did not really belong to us (18-19)

Because they deny that Jesus is the Christ (20-23)

And no one who denies the Son has the Father (24-25)

So, just as you were taught, remain in him (26-29)

For further thought

Q: How does John define those who are antichrists in verses 20-23? What is the effect of their beliefs according to verse 23?

Q: You may like to look up the following passages about the antichrist (the man of lawlessness). 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5, Matthew 7:15-23; 24, Mark 13, Revelation 12-13. What distinguishes the antichrist from the antichrists who have gone out into the world (2.18 & 4.3)? What do they have in common?

Q: Ever since the Christ has been revealed (1:1-4) we have been living in the last hour and the evil one has sent antichrists into the world whose purpose is either to disguise/obscure the truth about Christ or to provide false Christs (2.18-19). Their purpose, whether they know it or not, is to lead many astray and to divide the church. Is division in the church always wrong?

Q: John is not writing because his readers need to learn the first things about Christianity. He is writing to remind them that Jesus is the Christ (1.1-4). How do different explanations of Jesus deny the Father and the Son (see 2.22)? What is left of our knowledge/experience of God if we accept this thinking? What is the ultimate cost (2.25)?

Q: John says that his readers need no new teachers/teaching but just to remain in what they have (2.27). Why is it important to see that the truths of the Christian faith remain in us according to verses 28 & 29?

Q: How does the vine image Jesus uses in John 15 or the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 help us to understand this passage?