As I often do, I would like to begin this posting with a couple confessions.
First off, I love Lutheran theology and nerd out about it. I love the focus on grace, the promises of baptism, and the idea that many Biblical passages have a bit of Law, which gives us guidance and direction, and gospel, which gives us hope.
Second confession: This passage made me uncomfortable and uneasy through the first readings. Is there any gospel and hope to be found here in all the talk of antichrist?
I also wanted a clearer understanding of the definition of antichrist, since it’s not something we hear everyday. According to Charles Hill in Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible, John is referring to Christians who have left the church. There are other uses of Antichrist throughout our holy scriptures, but for now, let’s focus just on this one.
So, based on this definition, the author says that the antichrist is anyone who denies Christ (verse 22).
We have models for this both in our holy scriptures and our daily life. The disciple Peter denies Christ not once, but three times (see Mark 14: 66-72). According to a study by the Barna group, 59% of young adults who have been raised in the church leave it for an extended period after the age of 15.
For me, that’s where the gospel comes into place. Peter, the Rock, denied the Lord not once, but three times–yet still remains one of the strongest leaders of the church and a model for us today.
Verse 27 tells us that the anointing “remains” with us. In other words, as much as faith may waver, as much as the church may struggle, our baptismal promises remain. We may deny Christ, but we know there is grace, forgiveness, and gospel promises.