eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6

This coming Sunday (Jan. 4) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. It’s a close look at what’s commonly known as John’s letters (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you get ready for this encounter with Scripture and our discussion of it, you’ll find the following below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving this word

Little children, it is the last hour. Just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But by going out from us, they showed they all are not part of us. But you have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you know the truth. I don’t write to you because you don’t know the truth but because you know it. You know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? Isn’t it the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This person is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

As for you, what you heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you will also remain in relationship to the Son and in the Father. This is the promise that he himself gave us: eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are attempting to deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains on you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth. But since his anointing teaches you about all things (it’s true and not a lie), remain in relationship to him just as he taught you. …

Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world. You are from God, little children, and you have defeated these people because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. So they speak from the world’s point of view and the world listens to them. We are from God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever is not from God doesn’t listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6 CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. “It is the last hour.” (2.18-19) What does that mean? What does it not mean?

2. How does 2.18-19 & 4.3b contradict commonly held (mis)understandings about the end of time?

3. An antichrist is someone who ____? (4.2-3)

4. What does 2.19 say to you about the importance and place of the church in the life of a believer?

5. “… you have an anointing … and … know the truth.” (2.20,27) In context, “the truth” is “Jesus is the Christ” (2.22) What is the “anointing?” How can it “teach?” (2.20,27) Do we have it today? Explain.

6. The writer says he writes his readers because they already know the truth. (2.21) Then why write?

7. Consider what the “liar” in 2.22-23 believes/does. Are there such out and about in the world today?

8. Note 2.23. Is there anything about the Father and the Son that you see as being at cross purposes?

9. The words “remain” and “if” are huge in 2.24. Why might the readers be tempted to cut their roots?

10. How does seeing “eternal life” as something that has already begun color your take on life? (2.25)

11. Read 2.26. Deception was a real danger for the original audience. How big a problem is it today?

12. How do we know if/when something is big/dark enough to label it “a lie” of an antichrist spirit?

13. “… you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth.” (2.27) What were those who departed saying?

14. “Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit.” (4.1) How gullible/naive are you? Score yourself.

15. To deny Jesus’ humanity is huge. (4.2-3a) Which is harder for you to grasp: his humanity or deity?

16. How might the readers have “heard” what they did (4.3b)? How do you “hear” teaching today?

17. If someone asked if you were a “Christian,” you’d say “Yes!” Are you “from God?” (4.4a)

18. In what sense can the writer say that his reader’s have “defeated” the false prophets? (4.4)

19. “… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (4.4) This promise is ____.

20. 4.6 is quite a claim. Who are the “us” and what makes their claim credible, the acid test? (cf. 1.1-4)