Verse 18: So, in this section, John notes just how transitory the
world is. He states that his readers were living in the last hour. Obviously,
John was living in expectation of Christ's return. And when Christ came,
He would shut the world down and establish His kingdom. Was John wrong?
After all, here we are some two thousand years later, and seeing examples
of Millennial Madness, as the Christian Research Institute calls it. People
are looking for the Lord's return any minute. Are they wrong?
First, we know that Scripture is without error. We know the writers
of Scripture, both the Old and New Covenants, were inspired by the power
of the Holy Spirit, and therefore did not make mistakes.
"All Scripture is God-breathed
" (2 Timothy
Consequently, John was not in error when he identified this period as the
last hour. So what is the last hour? For clarity, let me quote Glenn Baker,
who puts the concept fairly succinctly:
"The term `last hour' occurs only here in the NT. Like the similar terms
`the last days' and `the last times' it owes much
to OT expectations." "The NT writers thought of the `last days' in two ways.
Theologically they connected this period to the new age that they associated
with the advent of Jesus.
In Acts, the new age is referred to as the
`days to come' and is signaled by the pouring forth of the Spirit (2:17)
and salvation through the calling on the name of the Lord (2:21). The NT
writers did not believe the new age had completely come. They recognized
it as being present provisionally in Christ and in the Holy Spirit." "They
also used the term `last days' eschatologically to designate the last days
before Christ's return." 1
The NIV Study Bible Notes speaks to this phrase, by stating:
"With other NT writers, John viewed the whole period beginning with Christ's
first coming as the last days (see Ac 2:17; 2Ti 3:1; Heb 1:2; 1Pe 1:20).
They understood this to be the "last" of the days because neither former
prophecy nor new revelation concerning the history of salvation indicated
the coming of another era before the return of Christ. The word "last" in
"last days," "last times" and "last hour" also expresses a sense of urgency
and imminence. The Christian is to be alert, waiting for the return of Christ
(Mt 25:1-13)." 2
but in these last days, he has spoken to us by
his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the
universe" (Hebrews 1:2).
John, in this letter, refers to the last hour as the period between the ascension
and the return of Christ. And one of the proofs of this is the presence of
many anti-christs. After all, who was the one who warned these anti-christs
were a sign of the end times? The Lord said:
"For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ,'
and will deceive many. For false Christs and false prophets will appear
and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the electif that
were possible" (Matthew 24:5, 24).