Read: 1 John 4:1-6

This is the spirit of the antichrist. (v. 3)

Most of us have heard of the Antichrist. And most of us have picked up on the idea that some Christians believe the day will come when a singularly evil person will take over the world. We assume then that the New Testament must be full of teachings about this single Antichrist. But that is not the case. The word occurs only five times, and John is the only one who used it (four times in 1 John, once in 2 John). He also used it once in the plural, so we must be on guard against multiple antichrists.

In our passage today, John gives a simple definition of an antichrist: it is anyone who denies what we just celebrated at Christmas. If someone says Jesus was not the divine Son of God in human flesh, that person is an antichrist—literally they are anti-Christ, against the idea that Jesus is the Messiah. An antichrist can be just an ordinary person who thinks that Jesus was a really good man, a clever teacher, but that’s it. Let’s just honor Jesus as a great man, like Socrates or Gandhi.

This may not be an apocalyptic way to think of antichrist, but John makes clear that it is every bit as dangerous. So don’t compromise the faith. We really do need to make Christmas last all year, not in the sentimental sense but in the theological sense that we stick to our confession: Jesus is the Son of God made flesh. —Scott Hoezee

As you pray, ask the Spirit to seal the truth of Christ into your heart.

About the Author

Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.