NT Eschatology—Letters 12
As we continue on this journey through a very brief look at the eschatology of the New Testament, we’re going to glance at the first letter of John. Most people claim that this book was written after the book of Revelation. The order usually goes like this:
Letters of John
Gospel of John
And I have no problem with this. The problem I have is that most people put the dating of all of these into the late 90’s to early 100’s CE. I believe they were all written much earlier. And I’m not the only one. To me, there’s ample evidence to support the view that the entire New Testament was written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The biggest piece being that the war and the destruction of the city and Temple aren’t mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. This is a staggering omission, especially given the charge of anti-semitism often leveled at John’s gospel.
Furthermore, as we’ve noted before, if the destruction of the Temple is taken off the table as a possible and probable fulfillment of the warning from Jesus and the New Testament writers, then those same warnings fail and fail miserably. Further still, what they’re warning about is then left up to anyone’s guess, as most “prophecy experts” prove weekly. But, when that historic event is left on the table, all of the hoop jumping and juggling disappear and the clear picture emerges from the dust and rubble.
So, on to John’s first letter.
Little children, it’s the last hour. Just as you’ve heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it’s the last hour.
That’s pretty clear. Contrary to what prophecy “experts” tell us today, we can’t be living in the “last days” because John stated it was the “last hour” in the first century. Not only that, look how he justifies such a claim—
Notice what he says, “You’ve heard that antichrist is coming. And, now, it’s worse than we thought because many antichrists have already appeared!”
Today, we hear all kinds of useless bunk about the “antichrist”—who it is, who it will be, ad nauseam. Here, John clearly stated that “antichrist” was a present reality when this letter was written. For those people who like to take the Bible “literally,” they sure jump through hoops when they see this verse.
“Well,” it’s countered, “John didn’t mean ‘the antichrist.’ He meant the ‘spirit of antichrist.’”
Once more we point our fingers and shake our heads and claim that the biblical writers didn’t understand the times they were living in. They’re mistaken—not us. We really know what’s going on. How can some of us, with a straight face, claim biblical inerrancy and yet say that all of these writers were “obviously” wrong with their interpretation of the signs around them?
John clearly stated that he was talking about “the antichrist.” And, like I stated, they were shocked because there were more than they first expected. This doesn’t mean it’s a “non-fulfillment” because there were more adversaries—it means it’s worse than they realized.
Next, note that the appearance of the “many antichrists” is proof for John that he and his contemporaries were living in the “last hour.” This is mind-blowing. So far in our study, we have gone from the “end of the ages” to the “end times” to the “last days” to the “last hour.” We can see this natural progression within the New Testament itself. This, again, leads one to view that the events Jesus warned about were being fulfilled then and not postponed until our time. To move forward a couple thousand years and claim the words of Jesus are being fulfilled now is to completely ignore these passages. Or, as we’ve seen, wrestle them out of their contexts and force them to mean something they were never intended to mean.
In other words, if we were the recipients of this letter, how would we have understood John? Would we have thought he really meant other people, in another generation, thousands of years in our future? Or would we have thought he meant the people who, as he talked about in the very next verse, “went out from us” (1 John 1.19; emphasis added). Clearly, John meant their contemporaries—not ours. To suggest otherwise is to read into the text and interpret things based on our presupposed worldview.
No, John clearly meant that he and his contemporaries were living in the “last hour” of the old creation. The sign of that final hour was antichrist. And, since things were worse off than anticipated—since there were many antichrists already present—they must being living within the “last hour.”
The only thing that fits within this time frame, the only event that would have such an earth shattering effect on first century Jewish followers of Jesus, would be the complete and utter desolation of the holy city Jerusalem and its Temple. It’s there, in that history turning event, that we should look to find the fulfillment of these words. Indeed, it’s only there that we can find their fulfillment.
So, next time your hear someone say, “We’re living in the last days.” just point out this verse and watch them fumble all over themselves!
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In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC