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In 2 Thessalonians Paul seems to say that it can't possibly be the last hour because prior to the return of Christ there must be a rebellion:

2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NIV) Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

In 1 John, John seems to be saying that "antichrists" have shown up already and so Paul's objection is now obviated:

1 John 2:18 (NIV) Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Are we to understand 1 John 2:18 as saying that those who denied that Jesus came in flesh and Paul's "man of sin" or those who venerated Paul's "man of sin" are the same ilk?

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No, it's not. I John 2.18 was an assertion that they were living in the last times and the proof of that was, though there will be a particular man of sin who seeks, by imitation, to usurp the throne of God, many antichrists of that day were at work, denying that Jesus was the Son of God manifested in the flesh. II Thess 2.3 is showing that before the prophesied man of sin; of lawlessness; of perdition arrives to attempt to thwart God's plan of redemption, there must be a rebellion; a falling away first, by professing believers, from the truths of the word, as well as the faith which was delivered to men, entirely.

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Burton L. Mack expresses the view, in Who Wrote the New Testament, page 215, that the Johannine community split very early in the second century, with one faction joining a group that we would easily recognise as Christian, while the other joined a more gnostic branch of Christianity.

1 John 2:19: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The First Epistle of John was written by a leader of the orthodox group as a sometimes vicious polemic against the second. In 1 John 2:4, he accuses the others of being liars when they say they are Christians and keep Christ's commandments:

1 John 2:4: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

To the author of 1 John, the former associates were the antichrists of whome he speaks in verse 2:18. The tempo builds up, until we see, in 1 John 3:8-10, how he compares those loyal to him and therefore 'righteous' with those who had departed :

1 John 3:8-10: He that committeth sin is of the devil [the 'others']; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God [this group]. In this the children of God [this group] are manifest, and the children of the devil [the 'others']: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Where once there had been the harmony of brotherhood in the combined group, we find when we come to verse 4:20, that the departed members are accused of hating their former brethren and therefore surely incapable of loving God:

1 John 4:20: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

In conclusion, 1 John 2:18 is not based on 2 Thessalonians 2:3, but is part of a polemic against some of the author's former associates.

  • Any idea where John gets the idea of a "last hour" after an antichrist appears? – user10231 Nov 16 '16 at 22:54
  • Hi @WoundedEgo The entire NT is replete with expectation of the parousia, not just 1 John. However, the antichrist is a peculiarly Johannine concept. – Dick Harfield Nov 17 '16 at 7:42
  • But the idea that the rebellion must occur prior to the coming is common to both Paul and John, no? That is what I'm examining here... the overlap. Does the "ye have heard that antichrist shall come" (1 John 2:18, 4:3) of 1 John refer to Paul's "man of sin" in any way? Or is it just a coincidence that both see that one must come before the end can come? – user10231 Nov 17 '16 at 10:05
  • It's substantially a coincidence, although there is probably a network of 1st-cent views where one is loosely related to another. Most scholars see 2 Thess as pseudepigraphical, so it does not reflect Paul's views. In fact, Paul says in 1 Thess that the end will come in his own lifetime; After his death, this was evidently not true, and someone defended his legacy by writing 2 Thess to say that certain things have to happen first. .../ – Dick Harfield Nov 17 '16 at 20:24
  • .../ The same thing happened with the gospels - Mark appears to be influenced by Paul's apistles, and Mark 13 also says the end will happen very soon, but when that did not happen, Matthew and Luke say that certain things must happen soon. Since the author of John knew Luke, the author of 1 John no doubt did also. There is no evidence the Johannine authors knew 2 Thess and the general consensus is that the gospel authors and the epistle authors were somewhat separate, although Paul was known to both. – Dick Harfield Nov 17 '16 at 20:24
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No 1 John 2:8 is not a reference to 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

A conclusion that since the “antichrists” have shown up, Paul’s objection is obviated does not necessarily follow from either Paul or John’s letters.

First, Paul prefaces the statement:

not to be so quickly upset or alarmed when someone claims that we said, either by some spirit, conversation, or letter that the Day of the Lord has already come. (2 Thessalonians 2:2 ISV)

The Day of the Lord is not going to be announced by a letter. In other words, this event will not go by unnoticed and the Thessalonians will not learn of by reading a letter.

Second, the man of sin has other qualifications:

He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship. As a result, he seats himself in the sanctuary of God and himself declares that he is God. (ISV)

These are different from the antichrist.

Albert Barnes notes the proper meaning of antichrist (ἀντί anti) in composition is:

(1) "over-against," as ἀντιτάσσειν antitassein;
(2) "contrary to," as ἀντιλέγειν antilegein;
(3) reciprocity, as ἀνταποδίδωμι antapodidōmi;
(4) "substitution," as ἀντιβασιλεύς antibasileus;
(5) the place of the king, or ἀνθύπατος anthupatos - "proconsul."

The word "antichrist," therefore, might denote anyone who either was or claimed to be in the place of Christ, or one who, for any cause, was in opposition to him. The word, further, would apply to one opposed to him, on whatever ground the opposition might be; whether it were open and avowed, or whether it were only in fact, as resulting from certain claims which were adverse to his, or which were inconsistent with his. A "vice-functionary," or an "opposing functionary," would be the idea which the word would naturally suggest. If the word stood alone, and there were nothing said further to explain its meaning, we should think, when the word "antichrist" was used, either of one who claimed to be the Christ, and who thus was a rival; or of one who stood in opposition to him on some other ground. [Barnes' Notes on the Bible]

The antichrist is anyone who attempts to take the place of Christ. The man of sin is a singular entity that attempts to take the place of God by seating themselves in the sanctuary of God and delcaring that he is God.

The simplest explanation is that the antichrist and the man of sin are two separate and distinct entities. Revelation describes the counterfiet system of those opposed to God and it includes the dragon, the beast who gives authority to the dragon, and the two false witnesses. There is one leader and yet they do not act alone.

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Josephus dates the downfall of the Jewish state to this day, when the Jews "beheld their high priest, the captain of their salvation, butchered in the heart of Jerusalem." (4.5.2 318-325) John Levi was restrained by the High Priest, Ananias, (Ananus?) until his followers, the Idumeans, killed him and tossed his body over the wall without burial, clearly a 'lawless' act.

  • Hi Anna! Welcome to Hermeneutics.SE. You might take the tour if you have not already to get an idea of what constitutes a thorough answer. The subject of the the question is 1John 2:8 and 2Thessalonians 2:3, but your answer does not reference either one of those passages. – Jack Oct 20 '18 at 14:02
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Yes. Both letter of Paul and John (as with most of the Letters) are set in the Last Days Period, 1st the end of the Jewish system of worship which ended in 70 C.E., then 2nd in our day, the end times.

The "Antichrists" by the very name are against Christ (Christianity) and thus lawless towards God, either inside or outside of the congregation(s) and as noted are rebels. The word in The AMP is "rebellion," a better word is "apostasy" from the Greek in the text, "apostasia."

Of the same "ilk" they are; as any of the "Antichrists" must be against God acting in a "lawless" way. Paul made a clear reference to such ones during "the last day" at:-

2 Timothy 3:13

"... while these wicked impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others, and themselves deceived. NJB

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