Sure of the Truth
1 John 2:18–29
In John 18:38 Pilate asks, “What is truth?”
At no time in history has this question been more difficult to answer than now. It seems like every week presents another controversy where two contentious sides present their version of “the truth.” It would be easy to question everything and conclude there isn’t one single truth on any issue. Fortunately for Christians, we can be sure of God’s Truth through our relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6).
Truth keeps us anchored in the faith. (18–21)
John’s focus is to help believers discern truth, as opposed to false teachers trying to influence the Church. He emphasizes the urgency by reminding readers they are living in the last phase of human history. That might lead one to think Jesus would be returning soon, which probably was John’s belief. The fact that Jesus has not yet returned should not take away from John’s point. The “last” ultimately refers to the time between Jesus’ ascension and His eventual return. No matter how long He waits, Christians always live in the “last hour.”
The term “antichrist” appears only in John’s three letters. While the concept could refer to one person like the beast of Revelation 13, here it is indefinite (“an,” not “the”) and plural. These are the false teachers in the Church who teach things that are against Christ or “anti-Christ.” They had been part of the Church, but started teaching false doctrine.
Truth is grounded in who Jesus is. (22–26)
The litmus test of true doctrine is what it says about Jesus. The original teaching (what they heard from the beginning, v. 24) is that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, but more than that, He is the Son of God and therefore God, the Son.
Today, there are many who teach that Jesus was just a good man or just another prophet. Some even question that He ever existed. In John’s time, factions arose that taught various lies about Jesus — that He was just a vessel for the Christ and not both God and man. Yet these teachers claimed to be part of the Church and teachers of the truth about God.
John countered that if one does not accept that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), that person cannot be in relationship with God. To accept Jesus as the Christ is to accept God, the Father, as well.
Following the truth leads to righteous living. (27–29)
Up to this point, John has appealed to the teaching the believers have received. He strengthens his point by appealing to the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. Those who have truly committed their lives to the lordship of Jesus will be able to know within their hearts what the truth is. In his gospel, John refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of truth” three times (14:17, 15:26, 16:13). Each time he is quoting Jesus. The message is clear — the internal witness of the Holy Spirit always leads believers to the truth about Jesus.
Finally, on a completely practical note, John assures his readers that if they remain or continue in the truth, they will live lives in keeping with God’s will. When the “last hour” arrives and Jesus returns, those who have lived in the Truth can stand confidently before the Father knowing we belong to Jesus.
By Daryl Watts
Watts is a church consultant in Fresno, California.