The gospel writer and most-beloved disciple of Jesus, John, was apparently the last surviving apostle of Christ. Toward the end of his long life, he wrote all of the letters that appear in the Bible with his name – including the book of Revelation.
At I John 2:18 the aged apostle wrote concerning the coming of the antichrist, saying: “Young children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared, from which fact we know that it is the last hour.”
Not merely because of his advanced age, but because he was likely one of the last persons alive who had personally known Jesus, and because along with Peter and his brother, James, John had extra special occasions to be taught by Christ, such as witnessing the miraculous Transfiguration – itself, a foregleam of the parousia – he could justifiably speak to all of Jesus’ disciples living, then and now, as “young children.” (Literally – “young boys.”)
But in what sense had “the last hour” arrived back then?
As all of Jehovah’s Witnesses know, true Christianity did not survive long after the deaths of the apostles. Even in the first century, Satan was actively infiltrating the congregations with his wicked human agents. So when the apostles and other stalwarts gradually died off, and especially after Jerusalem was obliterated – the birthplace and unofficial headquarters of Christianity – it was not long before wicked men and impostors eventually became the most prominent and the truth was smothered out.
And just a few hundred years into the so-called Christian era the corrupted form of Christianity then in existence was taken over by Roman emperor and conqueror, Constantine, who cleverly inserted himself as the arbiter of the phony debate about the identity of Jesus. Thus, ostensibly, Christ’s congregation was subjugated to the Roman Empire.
Whereas Rome had been the persecutor of Christians – killing them in the gladiatorial arenas for the entertainment of the masses – the neo-pagan form of Christianity was protected by the empire and became an integral part of it.
But “the last hour” was more then merely the end of the apostolic era – as Jehovah’s Witnesses presently believe. It was the end of the anointing. That is really what John meant by “the last hour.”
How do we know that to be true?
As regards those original antichrists, John went on to say: “They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But they went out so that it might be shown that not all are of our sort. And you have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you have knowledge.”
The question is: What “sort” was John and those whom he is addressing as “young children”? Again, they were all anointed, as John indicated above. The footnote on “sort” indicates that the term used literally means “they do not belong to us” – meaning, the antichrists do not belong to Christ, they not being anointed by God.
That means that although the masses were called Christians long after the final hour had arrived toward the end of the first century, they were not really Christians since they were not anointed. (Christ means “anointed one.”) Hence, Christ’s congregation was not really subjected to the Roman Empire – only what commonly passed for it. Just as a counterfeit currency is not real money, Christendom, with its odd collection of popes, pastors, priests and prelates, is not now and never was the congregation of Christ, since men who had gone out from among the true followers of Christ were the founders of it.
According to John one of the identifying factors of the proliferating antichrists back then was that they denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. And to be sure, the predominate teaching of Christendom, the Trinity – considered to be the very cornerstone and an essential article of faith, does just that – it denies that Jesus came in the flesh. Instead of being the flesh and blood Son of God the “Jesus” of the antichrists was/is a demigod – God in the flesh. By making Jesus out to be Almighty God the antichrists deny that Jesus’ life in the flesh depended upon his obedience to God unto death. (See YouTube video: Are you an Antichrist?)
But what about today: Is Christendom the antichrist? And of what significance is “the last hour” now?
Although the last hour signified an end to the anointing some 19-centuries ago, obviously an anointed congregation would be on the earth when Christ returns to commence the harvest. Therefore, there must be another period of sowing prior to the coming of Christ and the conclusion.
But since the masses of Christendom are not allowed to accept the true relationship between Jehovah and his Son – it being considered heretical to them – it is not reasonable that the appearance of a new generation of anointed Christians would come from within any of the denominations and sects of Christendom. Especially is that the case given what Revelation 14:1 states concerning all of the 144,000; namely, that they have both the name of Jesus and his Father written upon their foreheads. Obviously, those who are anointed know the difference between Jehovah and Jesus – even as the grandfatherly apostle wrote concerning the anointed: “All of you have knowledge.”
In keeping with that fact, from the very beginning C.T. Russell and the original Bible Students met in private homes and rented halls – not in the churches or cathedrals. And although individuals were likely originally affiliated with one denomination or another, the International Bible Students eventually distinguished themselves as being separate and distinct from the nominal churches of Christendom. And from among them came an identifiable anointed congregation, from which Jehovah’s Witnesses today have descended.
According to all the evidence at hand the heavenly Sower began sowing the sons of the kingdom again in the later part of the 19th century up until the present time. Not the least of which evidences is also the appearance of an associative grouping of non-anointed persons, whose hope it is to survive the end of the world.
It is now, at this point in time, that the apostle John’s forewarning concerning “the last hour” and the coming of the antichrist has particular relevance for all of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Although in the original Greek there is no definite article, so as to say “the antichrist,” because John used the word in the singular – as opposed to “antichrists,” plural – the question arises: Is there an individual who personifies the antichrist?
Before considering the answer to that question, first consider a pattern.
“THE SAYING WENT OUT AMONG THE BROTHERS”
After Jesus was resurrected he appeared to the disciples on numerous occasions. On one occasion by the Sea of Galilee, he told Peter his fate and Peter responded by asking about John’s destiny. Jesus’ response is recorded in the last chapter of the book of John. He said: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you? You continue following me.”
As a result of the rhetorical question Jesus posed, John went on to say: “So the saying went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. However, Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but he said: ‘If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?”’
Think about this: John wrote his account some 60 years after the fact. If all the books in the world could not contain the full account of Jesus’ life and ministry, as John went on to write in that same chapter, why bother with seemingly irrelevant trivia concerning the apostle’s misunderstanding of what Jesus actually said?
The reason is, because, John was setting the record straight.
There is no question that Jesus intended to instill in his disciples the expectation that he would return in their lifetime. Consequently, they were predisposed to speculate that Jesus would return before John died. And it was not merely private speculation among the apostles. As John stated, “the saying went out among the brothers.”
Because they were the foremost authorities on what Jesus did and taught, having been with him during his entire earthly ministry, the apostles’ words undoubtedly carried great weight. And evidently, throughout the first century, the apostles and others promoted the notion that Jesus would return before John died.
Then toward the end of his life, John wrote his account of Jesus’ ministry, concluding by correcting the decades-long misunderstanding the apostles had promoted. And in the same time frame he also penned and circulated what is called I John, in which he declared it to be “the last hour” and warned of the coming antichrist.
This must have shocked the brothers who had been expecting Jesus to return during the lifetime of John’s generation. Also, just prior to his writing the four letters bearing his name John was given the Revelation, in which he came to be in the Lord’s day by means of a series of rapturous visions. In that way, John comes to represent those who will actually be on the earth when Jesus is unveiled.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are in a similar situation as the Christians toward the close of the first century. For longer than anyone’s lifetime the leadership of the Watchtower Society had insisted that Jesus would return before the 1914-generation passed away. Although they have been less forthright in owning up to their error than the apostle John, choosing instead to redefine what a generation is, still, the effect upon believers is the same, in that, expectations have been postponed. (To be sure, though, the 1914 doctrine is not a mere misunderstanding on the part of some.)
YOU HAVE HEARD ANTICHRIST IS COMING
Returning to the 2nd chapter of John’s first letter, although the apostle had set the record straight in regards to the misunderstanding, nevertheless, he continued to set the expectation that both he and the “young children” would be in the flesh to receive Christ in his parousia.
At I John 2:27-28, he wrote: “And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but the anointing from him is teaching you about all things and is true and is no lie. Just as it has taught you, remain in union with him. So now, little children, remain in union with him, so that when he is made manifest we may have freeness of speech and not shrink away from him in shame at his presence.”
Antichrists have become particularly active during “the last days,” the time in which we now live. A key objective of these modern-day deceivers is to mislead people in regard to Jesus’ role as King of God’s Kingdom, a heavenly government that will soon rule over the entire earth.- Watchtower 12/01/06
Because God’s word is alive there is a “last hour” that must also see an end to the anointing that precedes the manifestation of Christ. And during that short period of time, the antichrist will come.
Since the antichrists that were proliferating during the lifetime of the apostles culminated with Constantine and completely dominated what had been used by Christ, likewise, the antichrist to come must occupy the place of Christ and be allied with the last kingdom of the wild beast, which, not coincidently, is destined to rule the world for a predetermined “one-hour.”
In this regard, it is important to note that an alternative meaning of antichrist is “instead of Christ.” This indicates that the coming antichrist is not merely against Christ, but he may pose as Christ – a false Christ. And according to Christ himself, during the conclusion of the system of things, there will be many claiming: “I am he.”
Furthermore, Jesus indicated that during his actual parousia there will be those laying claim to the whereabouts of Christ. Jesus forewarned: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. Look! I have forewarned you. Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
If the deception is so thorough so as “to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones” and the chosen ones are no part of Christendom, then the false Christ and false prophets must come from within the congregation of Christ.
In conjunction with the writings of the apostle Paul, there will be one who ascends above all other gods and objects of devotion, sitting down “in the temple of The God” – “publicly showing himself to be a god.” Paul referred to him as “the man of lawlessness.” And the inspired apostle foretold that he would remain in the temple until such time as he is destroyed by the manifestation of Jesus Christ.
And as Jesus also forewarned regarding the false Christs, the man of lawlessness will be empowered by the Devil to perform great signs and wonders as well. Clearly, the man of lawlessness will become a stand-in for the Messiah – the antichrist to come.
Paul indicates that the man of lawlessness promotes a false parousia – both prior to and during the actual parousia. And perhaps it is no coincidence that Paul even uses the word “parousia” in relation to the man of lawlessness, saying: “But the lawless one’s presence (parousia) is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders and every unrighteous deception…”
While the man of lawlessness exists prior to the authentic parousia he is held in check. How? Paul went on to reveal: “And now you know what is acting as a restraint, so that he will be revealed in his own due time. True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint is out of the way. Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.”
Obviously the apostles are not presently acting as a restraint to the revealing of the man of lawlessness. Who is then? Quite likely it is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If true, how might they be put “out of the way”?
As it stands, since the year 2000 no members of the Governing Body are on the board of directors of the Watchtower Society. (See January 15, 2001 Watchtower Announcement.) Supposedly they still exercise influence over it by virtue of being the “faithful and discreet slave.” But legally they have no control over it. They have abdicated their control.
On the one hand, the Governing Body claims to exercise oversight over all that belongs to the Master, but on the other hand, they have delegated authority to a non-anointed group of men. While using the Scriptures to justify their actions it is noteworthy that in the 44th chapter of Ezekiel, which pertains to God setting things aright in his spiritual temple, Jehovah speaks to the priests, saying to them: “You have not taken care of my holy things. Instead, you assign others to take care of the duties in my sanctuary.”
Furthermore, the concluding words of the restoration prophecy of Zechariah state: “In that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of Jehovah of armies.”
If the anointed among Jehovah’s Witnesses comprise a spiritual temple then the Governing Body has done exactly as the prophecies indicate. They have assigned others to care for duties in God’s sanctuary – non-spiritual Jews, whom God likens to Canaanites. No doubt the man of lawlessness who sits down in the temple of God is a spiritual Canaanite.
It may well be that during the conclusion the body itself will be dissolved by the legal directors of the corporation. Or, it is not out of the question that the leaders may be imprisoned, as Rutherford and his seven associates were back in 1918 – perhaps due to their negligence in regards to the thousands of cases of child abuse. Such a development may occur in conjunction with the fulfillment of the disgusting thing standing in a holy place, which would be the signal for the faithful to part ways with the Society.
Whatever the case, at the coming of Christ the Society will have served its purpose, at which point it will then become a snare. Or as Amos 5:5 states: “and as regards Bethel, it will become something uncanny.”
Isaiah the 29th chapter foretells that Ariel will be besieged and encircled by pointed stakes, which is exactly what Christ prophesied would befall Jerusalem during the conclusion. As regards Ariel the prophecy states: “You will be brought low; from the ground you will speak, and what you say will be muffled by dust. Your voice will come from the ground like the voice of a spirit medium, and your words will chirp from the dust.”
In other words, what once served as a channel and rallying point for God’s people will become a misleading voice. “Like the voice of a spirit medium” signifies that it will become an instrument to channel the voice of Satan.
Who can dispute the fact that the Watchtower wields absolute control over the spiritual lives of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses? For example, here is a quote taken directly from paragraph 17 in the November, 2013 Watchtower:
When “the Assyrian” attacks, the elders must be absolutely convinced that Jehovah will deliver us. At that time, the life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.
Why is it assumed without question that the Watchtower (“Jehovah’s organization”) will issue a “life-saving direction” in the future? And why would God’s instructions appear impractical?
When Jesus forewarned us not to believe any reports – no matter the source – regarding the whereabouts of Christ, is it possible that the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be the source of announcements and “life-saving” instructions regarding Christ being in the “inner chambers” of Bethel, in whatever form Bethel may exist then? Has not Jesus himself already issued life-saving instructions; namely, that we should not believe anyone who claims to have special knowledge or instructions regarding his whereabouts and that we should flee without delay when the disgusting thing stands where it ought not? If the Watchtower claims it will be the source of “life-saving direction” during a critical time, is it not setting itself up to stand in the place of Christ?
While it remains to be seen whether an individual like Judas will ultimately emerge, taken in their totality the writings of the prophets and apostles, as well as the pattern of the first century, indicate that the antichrist will come from within Christ’s congregation. And given the fact that the Watchtower has been the source of the deluding influence, it is simply out of the question that the same institution that has promoted a faux parousia will be used by God to issue life-saving directions.
Yes, there is no question about it, the Watchtower is the antichrist that is coming!