“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 become plain that they all are not of us.” (I John 2:19)
How does the church identify anyone who is biblically defined as an Antichrist? Synonymous terms include false teachers, deceivers and apostates.
The first characteristic John mentions is that Antichrists depart from the church and refuse to submit to biblical authority.
When John writes, “They went out from us,” he is referring to the Antichrists departure from apostolic and biblical authority. The reason for this departure, the apostle concludes, is that these individuals “were not of us.” In other words, the reason the false teachers depart from the church and refuse to submit to biblical authority is because they were never truly converted. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-20).
Logically, John concludes, “if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “The first characteristic mentioned of antichrists, i.e., false teachers and deceivers (vv. 22–26), is that they depart from the faithful (see vv. 22–23 for the second characteristic and v. 26 for the third). They arise from within the church and depart from true fellowship and lead people out with them. The verse also places emphasis on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Those genuinely born again endure in faith and fellowship and the truth (1 Cor. 11:19; 2 Tim. 2:12). The ultimate test of true Christianity is endurance (Mark 13:13; Heb. 3:14). The departure of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking.”
Have you known individuals who professed faith in Jesus Christ only to soon depart not only from the church but also from the faith? I know of some as I’m sure you do as well. I John 2:19 indicates that their behavior evidences their lack of true conversion to Christ.
Believers in Christ need to constantly be on the lookout for those who not only reject apostolic authority but also depart from church due to an un-submissive spirit. They are showing their true colors.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!