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5 posted on 12/30/2018 9:34:18 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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From: 1 John 2:18-21

Not Listening to Heretics

[1] Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist is coming,
so now many Antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour.
[19] They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us,
they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that
they all are not of us. [20] But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you
all know. [21] I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because
you know it, and know that no lie is of the truth.


18-27. This passage covers one of the main themes in St John’s letters — the fi-
delity of Christians being tested by the heretics. The style, replete with contrasts
and parallelisms, makes what he has to say very lively.

First he describes the circumstances these Christians find themselves in: the
presence of heretics leads one to think that the Antichrist predicted by our Lord
(cf. Mt 24:5-24 and par.) has come already and the “last hour” (v. 18) has begun.
He goes on to unmask those who are cast in the role of Antichrist, and contrasts
them with true believers: 1) they are not of us (v. 19), whereas you know the truth
(vv. 20-21); 2) the heretics are impostors who deny the basic truth that Jesus is
the Christ (vv. 22-23), whereas you “abide” in the Father and in the Son (vv. 24-
25); 3) they arrogantly present themselves as teachers, but the anointing “abides”
in you and you have no need of spurious teachers (vv. 26-27).

The repetition of the word “abide” stresses the need to keep the teaching of the
Church intact. The faithful have a right to practise their faith in peace, and it is
part of the mission of pastors to strengthen them in the faith, as St John is doing
here. When introducing his “Creed of the People of God”, Pope Paul VI said: “It
is true that the Church always has a duty to try to obtain a deeper understanding
of the unfathomable mysteries of God (which are so rich in their saving effects)
and to present them in ways even more suited to the successive generations.
However, in fulfilling this inescapable duty of study and research, it must do eve-
rything it can to ensure that Christian teaching is not damaged. For if that hap-
pened, many devout souls would become confused and perplexed — which unfor-
tunately is what is happening at present” (”Homily”, 30 June 1968).

18. “The last hour”: this expression was probably familiar to the early Christians,
who had a lively desire to see the second coming of Christ. As many passages
in the New Testament indicate, the fullness of time already began with the Incar-
nation and the Redemption brought about by Christ (cf. Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10; Heb
9:26). From that point onwards, until the end of the world, we are in the last
times, the last earthly stage of salvation history: hence the urgency Christians
should feel about their own holiness and the spread of the Gospel. “To prevent
anyone dragging his feet,” St Augustine urges, “listen: ‘children, it is the last
hour’, go on, run, grow; it is the last hour. It may be an extended one, but it is
the last hour” (”In Epist. Ioann. ad Parthos”, 3, 3). This eschatological sense of
the last times, which the prophets announced long before (cf., Is 2:2; Jer 23:20;
49:26), is also to be found in the Fourth Gospel (cf. e.g., Jn 2:4; 5:28; 17:1).

“The Antichrist”: one of the signs of “the last hour” foretold by our Lord and the
Apostles is the feverish activity of false prophets (cf. Mt 24: 11-24; Acts 20:29-
30; 2 Thess 2:2ff; 2 Tim 4:Iff; 2 Pet 3:3). Although this term is only to be found
in the letters of St John (1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 7), the “antichrist’s” features
are similar to those of the “man of lawlessness”, “the enemy” St Paul speaks
about (cf. 2 Thess 2:1-12) and the “beasts” of the Apocalypse (cf., e.g., Rev 11:
7; 13:1 ff); the distinguishing mark they all share is their brutal opposition to
Christ, his teaching and his followers. It is difficult to say whether the Antichrist
is an individual or a group. In St John’s letters, the latter seems to be the case:
it is a reference to all those who oppose Christ (the “many antichrists”) who
have been active since the start of Christianity and will continue to be so until
the end of time.

19. “They were not of us”: St John unmasks the antichrists; they could not have
led the faithful astray had they not come from the community; but they were on-
ly pretending to be Christians — wolves in sheep’s clothing (cf. Mt 7:15), “false
brethren” (Gal 2:4) — and that is how they are able to sow confusion. Our Lord
himself warned that both wheat and cockle would grow side by side in the King-
dom of God (cf. Mt 13:24-30); the sad fact that this is happening should not
cause Christians to doubt the holiness of the Church. As St Augustine explains:
“Many who are not of us receive, along with us, the sacraments; they receive
Baptism with us, they receive with us what they know the faithful receive — the
blessing, the Eucharist and the other holy sacraments; they receive communion
from the same altar as we do, but they are not of us. Temptation reveals this to
be so; when temptation overtakes them, they flee as if borne away by the wind,
because they are not wheat. When winnowing begins on the threshing floor of
the Lord on the day of judgment, they will all fly away; remember that” (”In Epist.
Ioann. ad Parthos”, III, 5).

20. “Anointed by the Holy One”: it is difficult to say exactly what this means (cf.
also v. 27); St John says that this anointing has the effect of countering the work
of the Antichrist. He may be referring to the sacrament of Baptism or that of Con-
firmation, or both, where anointing with chrism is part of the sacramental rite. In
any case he is referring to the action of the Father and of the Son through the
Holy Spirit on the soul of the Christian who has received these sacraments: this
explains why the anointing “instructs” Christians “to know everything” (v. 27;
RSV alternate reading).

“The Holy One”: St John uses this expression to describe God the Father (cf.,
e.g., Rev 6:10; Jn 17:11), God the Son (cf. Jn 6:69; Rev 3:7), or simply God,
without specifying which Person. The last-mentioned use was very common
among Jews of the time, to refer to the one true God.

“You all know”: not only about the anointing but about Christian teaching in ge-
neral. Some important manuscripts, which the Sistine-Clementine Vulgate fol-
lows, read: “You know all” (cf. RSV alternate reading). Both readings are com-
plementary, for the Apostle is stressing that Christians do not need to listen to
teachings other than those of the Church: they are being guided by the Holy
Spirit, who gives them sureness of faith. The Second Vatican Council quotes
this text when teaching about the “supernatural appreciation of the faith [”sen-
sus fidei”] of all the faithful”: “The whole body of the faithful, who have an anoin-
ting that comes from the Holy One (cf. 1 Jn 2:20 and 27), cannot err in matters
of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of the
faith of the whole people, when, ‘from the bishops to the last of the faithful’ they
manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals” (”Lumen Gentium”,

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

6 posted on 12/30/2018 9:36:00 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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