Now and again a story ap pears in the news about the passing of counterfeit money. Often coun terfeit bills are discovered when an unsuspecting consumer tries to use one, not realizing that the money is in fact worthless. Usually the differ ences between real and counterfeit currency are so subtle that none but experts can tell them apart. And yet one isn't even worth the paper it's printed on, while the other can be redeemed for its face value—whether $10 or $100 or $1,000.
The warnings against antichrists in 2:18-27 are warnings against coun terfeit teachers and the beliefs they are passing out among the unsus pecting. These teachers and their followers may have held beliefs that seemed to differ only minimally and subtly from those of the Elder and his congregations. But when examined with care against the standard of measure, they are shown to be worthless, cheap imitations of the one real thing of great value: a true and abiding faith.
By labeling these false teachers as antichrists the Elder makes it plain how seriously he regards their offense. If in 2:15-17, John spoke of opposition between God and the world, he now speaks of one way in which that opposition is manifested in a visible and concrete form, namely, in the defection from the fellowship of a number of professed believers.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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