The Anti-Christ (2 John 4-9)
- Reading I: 2 John 4-9
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
- Gospel Reading: Luke 17:26-37
There are presently scholars who assert that at the beginning of the Church’s history, there were different confessions existing side-by-side, but which were gradually suppressed. The fact is, that at first there was the faith proclaimed by the apostles which particular groups broke up with and abandoned. The letters of Paul bear witness to this; so do the letters of John. We find an example in today’s reading.
The author warns a Church — addressed as "Chosen Lady" — about "deceivers" later identified as "the Anti-Christ" (7). These are those who do not confess "Christ come in the flesh". The same language is found in 1 John in referring to those who have "gone out" from the Johanine community.
18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
21I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.
22Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. 24Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:18-19.21-24)
The "Anti-Christ" is identified in this text as those who have left the community of faith in their denial of Jesus as the Christ. The denial, according to the author, constitutes breaking away from "what you heard from the beginning", that is, the proclamation of the apostles regarding Life which "was with the Father and has been made visible to us" (1 John 1:2).
Again, in 1 John 4:2-3 we find a further specification of the "anti-Christ"
2This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, 3 and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.
In other words, the anti-Christ are those who do not confess Jesus Christ “come in the flesh”.
The expression “come in the flesh” echoes the initial proclamation about Christ in the gospel of John. He is “the Word” who “was God” (1), “born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God Himself” (13), but which was “made flesh and dwelt among us” bearing the glory of “the only Son of the Father” (14). It was this that made God known to us (18). The Johanine prologue confesses the Word incarnate; the anti-Christ denies the incarnation.
One of the early heresies that the Church had to contend was about the understanding of who Christ is. There were already groups that saw him as God but could not accept his humanity, thus the insistence of Paul and John that he came “in the flesh”. These groups believed that Christ did not really die on the cross. Such is the belief that we find in what has been labelled “the gnostic gospels”. These writings were discarded by the Church when it was forming its Scriptures – what we call the New Testament – because she could not recognize in them the Christ she believed in.
Today there are those who have swung to the opposite direction in believing that Christ was only man but somehow “promoted” by God. Even these have to measure their faith against the Johanine profession of Him “who came in the flesh”.
For an article on Luke 17:26-37, go here.
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