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False Teachers

The Apostle John is attempting keep his readers from false teachers. He calls them, "antichrists (2:18), "children of the Devil (3:10)," and false prophets (4:1)." There is no agreement among the commentators concerning the exact heresy. The heretical theological systems mentioned include the teachings of Cerinthus, Docetism, and Gnosticism.8 The fact that John said he had "many antichrists" in view (2:18) may indicate that he is addressing many false theological systems, not just one. Here are some of John's complaints about the antichrists:
  • They had left the Apostolic influence (2:19).
  • They denied that Jesus was the Messiah (2:22).
  • They denied the Father and the Son (2:22).
  • They did not practice righteousness (3:10).
  • They did not believe that Jesus had come in the flesh (4:2-3).
  • Their apostolic-like authority was associated with the world, which is under the authority of the Devil, not with the Church that is under the authority of Christ (4:5-6, 5:19; see also Ephesians 5:23).
  • They did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God (4:15).

There are other passages that hint at the beliefs of the false teachers. However, the verses just mentioned more certainly reveal their defective theology.

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