1 John 2:18-23
Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists…
I. WHERE COULD THESE APOSTATES GO OUT FROM BUT THE CHURCH? If they had not been in it they could not have gone out from it. The Church they went out of was the true Church of Christ, in which the true and everlasting gospel was preached. And these persons had professed their faith in all the essential truths of the gospel. Yet their ambitious spirits were such they could not be content but they must bring in another gospel, contrary to what the apostles preached, pretending to have greater light into truth, and what they called the Person of Christ, and grace, than the very apostles themselves. They turned their back on Christ, His gospel, His ordinances, His apostles, His Churches, and everything belonging unto Him, and framed out of their own errors, heresies, whims, and fancies, a Christ and gospel for themselves. The apostle assigns the reason why they went out from the Churches in the way and manner they did — it was because they were not of one heart and soul with the Churches in the truth. As it was then, so it has been ever since. All the heresies which have tormented the Churches of Christ, down even to our present times, have originated from persons who have been in the Churches, who have departed from the Churches. From such as have made schisms and divisions in the Churches; and when any old error is newly revived, it in general springs from such persons as are disaffected to the true Churches of Jesus Christ.
II. HOW THE APOSTLE CONFIRMS HIS ASSERTION — "For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us." How solemn! how awful! These antichrists came out of the apostolical Church of Jesus. They had been in it. It answered their end for a season to remain in the Churches to whom they had given in their names. It suited them to leave these Churches at such seasons; when they could, to distil their pernicious influences, as they thought and hoped, it would gain converts to them. These heretics left the Churches because they were not of them, only nominally. They might, and undoubtedly did, boast of superior light to all others in the doctrines of grace. They were slaves to their own lusts. They were covetous. They were greedy of reward. They were full of gainsaying.
III. WHY THESE ANTICHRISTS WENT OUT OF THE CHURCH. It was that they might be made manifest, that they did not belong to the Church of Christ, let them make their boast of the same as they might. This was their end for their going out, but it was the Lord's end in thrusting them out, and it might be some of these might have been thrust out by apostolic and also by Church authority. In the holy and secret mystery of the Lord's providence it was evidenced they were not the Lord's beloved ones.
(S. E. Pierce.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.