1 John 2:18, It is the last hour. This scripture passage along with others by Paul, James and John clearly indicates that the apostolic writers when writing these passages (i.e. prior to AD 70, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple) viewed the second coming of Yeshua as imminent, and was not far off in the future. After all, the last question they asked Yeshua before his ascension to heaven was the matter that was the most pressing on their minds: “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). This proves what they were thinking; namely, that Yeshua was (hopefully) about to defeat the Romans and restore Israel to self rule. Of course, Yeshua didn’t give them a definitive time frame as to when he would fulfill biblical prophecy in this regard. So they were still left with the hope that his coming would be imminent, and that his kingdom would be established on earth. With his miraculous victory over death, their hopes would have been renewed in this regard. (On the apostles belief in the imminent return of Yeshua, see also 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:14–15; Rom 13:11; 16:20; cp. Jas 5:7–9; 1 John 2:18; Acts 1:6; 1 Cor 10:11; Rev 1:1.)
The imminence of Yeshua’s second coming may have been based on a misunderstanding of Yeshua’s own words in his Olivet Discourse where he talks about the events announcing his second coming falling on “this generation” (Matt 24:34, 36). From this passage, it’s not readily understood to which generation he is referring—that one, or another off in the future, or both. It appears that the apostles applied his words to their generation and, hence, their view that his return was imminent.
The apostles likely initially believed that Yeshua’s return was immediately imminent. After a few years when he hadn’t returned, they likely focused on what Yeshua meant by the term “this generation” (Matt 24:34, 36). The writer of Hebrews gives us a clue as to what a generation may have meant to them, namely, forty years (as in the wanderings of the children of Israel en route to the Promised Land, which was a prophetic picture of what the disciples were hoping for in Yeshua’s established kingdom rule on earth. So forty years from Yeshua’s crucifixion in AD 30 takes us to AD 70 when, in the disciples’ minds, Yeshua’s prophecies regarding the destruction of the temple were to occur. “Since the prophet Daniel spoke of a period of seven years to complete the events leading up to the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus himself referred to Daniel’s prophecy as a gauge to measure those events, the counting backwards seven years from 70 C.E. brings us to the crucial year of 63 C.E. for those events to begin happening (Beyond Acts, p. 58, by Paul Finch; also see ibid. pp. 54–61 and Restoring the Original Bible, pp. 223–281, by Ernest Martin).
The Beast (Rev 13:4)
The abomination that causes desolation (Matt 24:15)
The desolator (Dan 9:27)
The man of sin (or lawlessness), the son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3)
The little horn (Dan 7:8)
The Assyrian (Mic 5:5; Isa 10:5; 14:25)
Many antichrists. How does John define the spirit of antichrist? From 1 John 2:18–19, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7 we learn that the Antichrist and all spirits of antichrist have come out of the first century apostolic faith of the Jewish Christian community. From these passages we also learn that the spirit of antichrist denies that Yeshua is the Messiah (Savior and Redeemer of man), denies that Yeshua is part of the “Godhead,” that he is deity and is the Son of Elohim, and denies the incarnation of Yeshua. This is how the Bible defines the spirit of antichrist.
What should be our reaction when we encounter this demonic spirit of antichrist? The wise counsel of John in his second epistle sums up our firm conviction on this matter.
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Messiah does not have Elohim. He who abides in the doctrine of Messiah has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (2 John 9–11)
What additionally can we learn about the person of the Antichrist and the spirit of antichrist from the four passages where antichrist is mentioned in John’s epistles?
From 1 John 2:18–19, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7 we learn that the Antichrist and all spirits of antichrist have come out of the first century apostolic faith of the Jewish Christian community. This eliminates some of the world’s large religions (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism) as being contenders for the end times religious system of the Antichrist. That leaves paganized mainstream Christianity and Islam. From these passages we also learn that the spirit of antichrist denies that Yeshua is the Messiah (Savior and Redeemer of man), denies that Yeshua is part of the “Godhead,” is deity and is the Son of Elohim, and denies the incarnation of Yeshua. Only Islam fits this biblical description of an antichrist religion.