One preoccupation of many Christians is the identity of the Antichrist, with many suggestions being given about who he is. We may respond to this preoccupation by concluding that it is best to avoid even thinking about the matter. Nevertheless, such a response would be wrong because it would mean that we would have chosen to ignore important passages in the Bible. Both the apostle John here and the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 give details about the antichrist. Yet he did not appear in the lifetimes of those original readers. So why were they given such details? Because no one in the church knows when he will appear, therefore we have to know what he will be like so that he will be recognised when he does appear. After all, when he does appear, he will have neighbours, and what if some of them are Christians?
The final antichrist has not appeared yet. Nevertheless, many antichrists have already gone into the world, each of them trying to deceive the disciples of Christ. That was the case in John’s day, and the number of them has greatly increased in our day. Such false teachers do not come along wearing T-shirts on which they have written, ‘I am an antichrist.’ They can only be identified by us if we know what is wrong with the opinions they have.
John mentions two realities that will prevent Christians from being deceived by false teachers. One of them is external and the other is internal, and both have to do with knowledge. The external is the truth that they were taught and the internal is the anointing that they had received. And both are intimately connected.
The description ‘the anointing’ is a reference to the Holy Spirit. The imagery is connected to the way that God’s servants, such as prophets, priests and kings, were identified for service in Israel during the Old Testament period. What was symbolised by the outward pouring of oil is realised in the experience of all disciples of Jesus. They have been anointed with the Holy Spirit.
They receive this heavenly anointing from Jesus himself. This was and is and will be Jesus’ gift to every one of his disciples. No Christian has ever existed without the indwelling Spirit and he teaches his people about all the truth that God has revealed in his Word. And in doing so, he protects them from false teachers. So we should be thankful for this heavenly protection.