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?

6 Answers 6


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
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 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. Commented Nov 17, 2016 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
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 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. .../ Commented Nov 17, 2016 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. Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 20:24

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.


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.


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.
    – colboynik
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 14:02

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


Gnostic Apostasy is the key that links 2Th2:3 to 1Jn2:18.

Gnostics believe salvation comes from the internal self-realization (gnosis or knowing) of being God.

"Knowing oneself is having achieved identification with one’s own divine Being."


That self deification/divinity is consistent with the deification of the Man of Lawlessness and Son of Destruction in 2Th2:3-4. They are in Christs body (His Temple: 2 Corinthians 6:16) teaching/professing from the seat of the congregation that they have the internal realization that they are divine.

Paul warned of these imposters in similar language as John spoke in his first epistle:

Acts 20:28-30 New International Version (NIV)

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock...29 I know that after I leave (Paul is the restrainer of these antichrists; 2Th2:6), savage wolves (hating the brethren; 1Jn2:9;3:15) will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number (went out from us; 1Jn2:19) men will arise and distort the truth (liars/deceivers) in order to draw away disciples after them (deceive and seduce into apostasy; 1Jn2:26).

Material reality and existence is evil according to the Gnostics;

"Generally, Gnostic cosmogony presents a distinction between a supreme, transcendent God and a blind, evil demiurge responsible for creating the material universe, thereby trapping the divine spark within matter."

"The mortal body belonged to the world of inferior, worldly powers (the archons), and only the spirit or soul could be saved."

Wikipedia; Gnosticism

"This Secret Enemy resides in the lower section of the spine, and its atoms oppose the student's attempts to unite himself to his Innermost. The Secret Enemy has so much power in the atmosphere of this world that they can limit our thoughts and imprison our minds. When we strive to hold the mind to one thing it will immediately attempt to disintegrate it...These atoms evoke all that is evil within us..."


therefore, Jesus is only spirit and could not have come in the flesh, contrary to the fact Jesus himself said he was flesh.

Luke 24:39 New International Version (NIV)

39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

John provided a test (1Jn2:4) to reveal these antichrists by asking them if they believed Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Thus, it is clear that John was referring to the Gnostics as these antichrist apostates.

"You have heard it said antichrist is coming," John said. The only epistle bearing witness to some then current oral tradition about antichrist that suggests anything close to this is 2Th2:3 and Ac20:28-30 both from the lips of Paul to the Churches. (In fact, 2Th2:5 shows Paul was orally warning people about antichrist before he wrote about it.)

Paul was also dealing specifically with the Gnostics before his departure (death). "Knowledge" in the following scripture is a translation from Greek "gnosis" meaning "knowing". Paul privately mocked these false teachers before Timothy with a play on words, saying they "know" nothing. This scripture also indicates the apostasy was already in some motion while Paul was yet alive, even as his presence continued to restrain their influence.

1 Timothy 6:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas (2Th2:4--"He will oppose...") of what is falsely called knowledge (gnosis), 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

First, Paul warns this apostasy (went out from us; 1Jn2:19) is coming and it reveals (manifests) who the Man of Lawlessness is, the Son of Destruction. John reminds them they have heard this before. Then he says "they went out from us (the first apostasy; 2Th2:3) in order to make manifest (reveal;2Th2:3) they were not of us". It's the same language.

Lawlessness is not "abiding in truth", "keeping Christ's commandments". God says one thing, they say another. The Pharisees nullified God's commandments by setting up their own traditions. (Mt 15:4-9) Thus by contradicting God's word and commandment, they were lawless.

This is exactly what John identified these Gnostic antichrists of doing, nullifying Christ's teaching, making them, too, lawless and thus the Man of Lawlessness and Son of Destruction. Because if His words and commands are not laid as a foundation, that house will be destroyed in the storm of judgment--the brightness of His coming. (Matthew 7:23-27; 2Th2:8)

1 John 2:4-5 New International Version (NIV)

4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:

The entire epistle of 1 John is written about these antichrists. Therefore, 1Jn2:4-5 is describing these antichrists in similar language of lawlessness.

But some would say "Man of Lawlessness" in 2Th2:3 is singular and refers to a singular "THE Antichrist", some evil world dictator yet future. Paul wrote:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 King James Version (KJV)

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the MAN OF GOD may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Now let me ask these persons, is there only one "man of God"? Neither is there only one "Man of Lawlessness". The "many antichrists" of the apostasy IS the "Man of Lawlessness", just as the many brethren John wrote to in his epistles is the "man of God" Paul referred to in 2Tim3:17.

"Son of Destruction" is further elaborated by Peter which follows the same pattern described by Paul and John:

2 Peter 2:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

2 But there were also false prophets among the people (Mt 15:4-9; Jews), just as there will be FALSE TEACHERS AMONG YOU (Christians; 1Jn2:19). They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them (Gnostics; 1Jn2:22)—bringing swift DESTRUCTION on themselves (Son of Destruction; 2Th2:3).

Perhaps if John referenced 2Th2:3 in 1Jn2:18, saying "you have heard Paul say regarding the apostasy"... we could rest conclusively that these verses are connected with each other. The preponderance of the contextual evidence, however, still points 1Jn2:18 to 2Th2:3. John, Peter and Paul are all describing the same group of false teachers. Although John never used the name "Gnostics" in his epistles to describe these antichrist apostates, we know from the descriptions and test question he provides them, they fit the bill. Biblical context and language affords us the same confidence linking 2Th2:3-4 to 1Jn2:18-19.

Learn the lesson of Peter. In Peter's day, the Jews had a cherished eschatology. Messiah would come as a conquering warrior king like David and subjugate Rome to Jewish rule. But Jesus was crucified, proving he wasn't that Messiah. That was the scheme of the schemers in the Sanhedrin. Jesus wouldn't fit the expectation if he were crucified by Rome. Jesus=Loser; Messiah=Conqueror; therefore, Jesus is not the Messiah. The expectation makes it extremely difficult for a Jew to identify Jesus as Messiah.

Thus, Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 1:23 New International Version (NIV)

23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

Peter was confused by this expectation resulting in his zeal to prevent Christ's crucifixion, so driven that Jesus rebuked Satan speaking through Peter and had to reattach and heal the ear of an arresting Temple guard Peter snipped with a sword. The wrong eschatology blinds men to the teaching and purpose of God.

The same sort of thing prevents people from seeing 'antichrist' is not some world dictator but rather imposter/goat Christians who wrangle the word of God to their own destruction (as John plainly defined 'antichrist' as). Many Christians today will disassociate 2Th2:3-4 from 1Jn2:18-19 because their cherished eschatological tradition has blinded them to the possibility these verses are talking about the same people. And that is how the traditions of men nullify the word of God.

  • Welcome, from another fairly new user! You've put a lot of work in your response; if it doesn't attract as much attention as you thought it might, it's likely because the question is an older one.
    – Papa Pat
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 10:48
  • That's probably a good thing.
    – Tom
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 16:46

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