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False Teaching About Jesus:
A Clear and Present Danger in
the 21st Century
Canley – January 2017
• Background to John’s epistle
• Who or what was an “antichrist”?
• Do we have an equivalent today?
• How do we recognise an
• How can we ensure our faith is not
The environment in which 1 John was
• It was almost certainly written at the very end of the first century AD, by
the apostle John, and after his Gospel was in circulation.
• It is written by a man who does not have to prove his own authority, (1
John ch.1, yet he is affectionate and caring towards the people he is
writing to, possibly Churches he has planted.
• The Christian gospel had been rapidly spread by the efforts of Paul and the
other apostles and there many Churches had been established.
• Christians had fled from Jerusalem in 66AD after the first unsuccessful
• Persecution by the Roman authorities under Nero and Domitian had been
underway for several years, but this is not the opposition that John is
referring to in this passage.
• At the start of the second century the cult of Gnosticism had started to
spread among the Christian Churches and John is clearly starting to
address this fundamental attack on Christian faith.
Why was Gnosticism such a threat to
• It was a poorly defined and widespread movement
which had its roots Greek philosophy, pagan religions
and Judaism, but contained 3 main elements.
• Gnostics had special knowledge or revelations which
were not available to non-members.
• Only the spirit was pure and the body was
fundamentally evil. Therefore Jesus could not be
• The body either had to continually punished or its
desires and lusts allowed as only the spirit was pure.
What were the characteristics of an
• The word is only used by John, but the “man of sin”
mentioned by Paul (2 Thess. 2 v 3) has similar characteristics.
• Does not refer to opposition but false teaching
• Not a single person and not at specific time. (2 v 18)
• They have come from the Church. (2 v 19)
• They deny that Jesus is the Christ (2 v 22)
• They deny that Jesus is the Son of God (2 vs 22&23)
• They deny Jesus is human (come in the flesh) (4 v3). If Jesus is
not human he can have no role in our salvation, in dying for
• If he is not God his death cannot restore our relationship with
How do we recognise an “antichrist”
• It is difficult for people today to deny that a human being called
Jesus existed. He is mentioned in some secular histories such
Josephus’s Antiquities and we must not forget that the Bible has
stronger characteristics as a historical document than many
contemporary secular documents.
• Many people however deny that Jesus is truly God, but just a good
• There is a modern trend of “religious tolerance” that says it does
not matter what you believe as long as it helps you.
• A rising trend of atheism that seeks to consign all religious
experience to nothing more than a mechanism to control societies
or as a personal “comfort blanket” e.g. Karl Marx’s famous quote
“Religion…. is the opium of the people”.
• In summary, anything that denies the existence of “the Father” and
that Jesus is part of the Godhead could be an “antichrist”.
Are there “antichrists” that threaten
the Church today?
• Many organisations and movements have been
labelled as “antichrists”, Fascism, Communism,
Socialism and even trade unions! This is not John’s
• Some Christian cults seem to meet John’s definition,
e.g. The Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and Christian
• Some “liberal” branches of thought in conventional
churches also meet John’s definition.
• Some Christian movements discourage bible study.
• A general attitude of tolerance, it does not matter what
you believe as long as it helps you.
How can we ensure our faith is not
• “Test the spirits”
• What do they say about God the father?
• What do they say about Jesus? Read John ch. 1.
• Where does their authority come from?
• Know your Bible.
• Listen to and respect your teachers.
• Teachers and leaders – ensure what you say is
Bible-based and lead by the Holy Spirit.
• Do we celebrate or suppress our own humanity?
• John was warning the early Church about a “clear
and present danger” that would threaten it for
nearly 200 years.
• Although we do not face the same threat, there
are movements and attitudes today that pose a
• Test what they say against the clear teaching of
• Enjoy what Jesus has done for us and the world