|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:7-11 The deceiver and his deceit are described: he brings some error concerning the person or office of the Lord Jesus. Such a one is a deceiver and an antichrist; he deludes souls, and undermines the glory and kingdom of the Lord Christ. Let us not think it strange, that there are deceivers and opposers of the Lord Christ's name and dignity now, for there were such, even in the apostles' times. The more deceivers and deceits abound, the more watchful the disciples must be. Sad it is, that splendid attainments in the school of Christ, should ever be lost. The way to gain the full reward is, to abide true to Christ, and constant in religion to the end. Firm cleaving to Christian truth unites us to Christ, and thereby to the Father also; for they are one. Let us equally disregard such as abide not in the doctrine of Christ, and those who transgress his commands. Any who did not profess and preach the doctrine of Christ, respecting him as the Son of God, and salvation by him from guilt and sin, were not to be noticed and countenanced. Yet in obeying this command, we must show kindness and a good spirit to those who differ from us in lesser matters, but hold firmly the all-important doctrines of Christ's person, atonement, and holy salvation.
Verse 7. - For. These are no mere generalities, and it is not without reason that these facts are insisted upon. The dangers which they suggest are not imaginary. Mischief has already been done by neglecting them. "Deceiver" πλάνος here means "seducer," one who causes others to go astray. The cognate verb πλανᾷν is frequent in St. John, especially in the Revelation (Revelation 2:20; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:3, 8, 10), and commonly indicates seduction into grave error (comp. 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:26; 1 John 3:7). The true reading ἐξῆλθον gives "are gone forth," not "are entered" εἰσῆλθον. We cannot be sure that "are gone forth" refers to their leaving the true Church; although 1 John 2:18 inclines us to think so: it may mean no more than that they have gone abroad spreading their erroneous tenets. Just as "love not" in 1 John 3:10, 14, 15 and 1 John 4:20 is equivalent to "hate," so "confess not" here is equivalent to "deny." These seducers deny "Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh," or (as the Greek may possibly mean) they deny "Jesus as Christ coming in the flesh." The present participle ἐρχόμενον seems to indicate exactly the position of some of the Gnostic teachers. The Jew denied that the Incarnation had taken place - the Messiah had not yet come. The Gnostic denied that the Incarnation could take place: no such Person as the Christ coming in the flesh was possible; that the Infinite should become finite, that the Divine Word should become flesh, was inconceivable. The teacher who brings such doctrine as this "is the deceiver and the antichrist" about whom the elder's children had been so frequently warned. In the strong language which St. John here and elsewhere (1 John 2:22, 26; 1 John 4:1) uses respecting those who deny or pervert the truth, we hear the voice of the "son of thunder," ever jealous about whatever touched the honour of his Lord. Such hatred of error was the outcome of a firm grasp, and profound love, of the truth. It is easy to imitate and to exceed such strength of language; but let us beware of doing so without having first attained to an equal comprehension of the truth, and an equal affection for it. The strong words of the apostle are the expression of a glowing conviction. Our strong words are too often the expression of a heated temper; and a man who loses his temper in argument cares more about himself than about the truth. Let us remember the noble words of St. Augustine to the heretics of his own day: "Let those rage against you who know not with what toil truth is found, and how difficult it is to avoid errors; who know not with how much difficulty the eye of the inner man is made whole; who know not with what sighs and groans it is made possible, in however small a degree, to comprehend God."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For many deceivers are entered into the world,.... By whom are meant false teachers, who are described by their quality, "deceivers", deceitful workers, pretending to be ministers of Christ, to have a: value for truth, a love for souls, and a view to the glory of God, but lie in wait to deceive, and handle the word of God deceitfully; and by their quantity or number, "many", and so likely to do much mischief; and by the place where they were, they were "entered into the world"; or "gone out into the world", as the Alexandrian copy and some others, and the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read; See Gill on 1 John 4:1; and by their tenet,
who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; these were not the Jews who denied that Jesus was the Christ, though they would not allow that Christ was come in the flesh; but these were some who bore the Christian name, and professed to believe in Jesus Christ, but would not own that he was really incarnate, or assumed a true human nature, only in appearance; and denied that he took true and real flesh of the virgin, but only seemed to do so; and these are confuted by the apostle, 1 John 1:1; and upon everyone of these he justly fixes the following character.
This is a deceiver and an antichrist; one of the deceivers that were come into the world, and one of the antichrists that were already in it; and who were the forerunners of the man of sin, and in whom the mystery of iniquity already began to work; for antichrist does not design anyone particular individual person, but a set of men, that are contrary to Christ, and opposers of him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. As love and truth go hand in hand (2Jo 3, 4), he feels it needful to give warning against teachers of untruth.
For—giving the reason why he dwelt on truth and on love, which manifests itself in keeping God's commandments (2Jo 6).
many—(1Jo 2:18; 4:1).
are entered—The oldest manuscripts read, "have gone forth," namely, from us.
confess not … Jesus … in the flesh—the token of Antichrist.
is come—Greek, "coming." He who denies Christ's coming in the flesh, denies the possibility of the incarnation; he who denies that he has come, denies its actuality. They denied the possibility of a Messiah's appearing, or coming, in the flesh [Neander]. I think the Greek present participle implies both the first and the second advent of Christ. He is often elsewhere called the Coming One (Greek), Mt 11:3; Heb 10:37. The denial of the reality of His manifestation in the flesh, at His first coming, and of His personal advent again, constitutes Antichrist. "The world turns away from God and Christ, busily intent upon its own husks; but to OPPOSE God and Christ is of the leaven of Satan" [Bengel].
This is a, &c.—Greek, "This (such a one as has been just described) is the deceiver and the Antichrist." The many who in a degree fulfil the character, are forerunners of the final personal Antichrist, who shall concentrate in himself all the features of previous Antichristian systems.
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