Exposition of I John 2:18-21 (b)

Let us now call attention to two passages from the New Testament Scriptures which clearly indicate that the “last times” refer to the New Dispensation from the vantage-point of the Old Dispensation. To come to this conclusion we discussed, in our former article, four passages from the Old Testament. Thus we saw the meaning of the “last times” in the prophetic utterances of a dying Jacob to his sons, the visions of a stubborn Balaam in the plains of Moab; the great and comforting words of Moses, the law-giver, ere he dies, and of the Messianic prophecies of the great prophet Isaiah. Cf. Gen. 49:1Num. 24:14Deut. 4:30 and Is. 2:2. However, let us now also call attention to the language and thought-pattern of the apostles Peter and Paul on this score. 

In I Peter 1:20 we read the significant and instructive text which is as follows: “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times, for you.” Now this is a very instructive passage in connection with the idea of the “last times” in Scripture. From this passage we learn the following: (1) That the believers are to walk in sanctification as those who have been redeemed with the greatest price. They are not bought with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood, as of a Lamb without spot or blemish. (2) That this was as foreordained before the foundation of the world. At that time it was not yet manifest. Fact is, that what was foreordained before the foundation of the world was not manifested till the time of .Christ’s suffering and death. The prophets in the Old Testament knew that they were not speaking of the things which they themselves should see and enjoy. Thus we read in I Peter 1:11, 12, “Searching out what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” It was then clearly evident to the prophets that they were speaking of the things which should be revealed in the “last times.” Thus, as we have seen, Jacob, Balaam, Moses and Isaiah spoke. And thus it was with all of them. Abraham sees Christ’s day “from afar” and he rejoices. (3) Hence, in the last times, according to Peter, it is made manifest what this riches of Christ is, and the fountain in Jacob is opened. And now there must be a walking in “fear and trembling” during the time of our earthly sojourn more than ever. We must perfectly hope for the revelation of Jesus Christ in that day. 

Also the apostle Paul ends his great book to the Romans, that masterful treatise on the Gospel as a power of God unto salvation, with the very significant words indicating the nature of the “last times” from the Old Testament usage of the term. Writes he in Romans 16:25, 26 as follows, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept in secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. To the only wise God be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” It hardly needs any further elucidation to show what this passage teaches us concerning the contrast between the Old and New Dispensations of the grace of God. The contrast is between what “was kept secret since the world began” and “what is now made manifest” in these last times. 

What we have thus far learned from this survey we may, for clarity’s sake, state in the following: 

1. That the “last times” are throughout viewed in Scripture, both in the Old and New Testament, from the viewpoint of the Old Testament Seers, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Isaiah and many others. 

2. That the “last times” refers to the entire New Testament Dispensation, the fullness of times, when all time is made full, and wherein Christ is exalted on high Lord over all. 

3. That in principle all things are now already made new, heavenly, and, therefore, this last time must be extended into the very appearance of Christ, hisParousia

4. That all this must be remembered for a correct understanding of the “last hour” as here employed by the apostle John in his epistle. Thus we ‘are in a position to proceed to also try to see the meaning, in Scripture, of the “last hour.” 

We are quite aware that the King James Version translates I John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last time.” However, the Greek text does not have the term “chronos” or even “kairos” (“time” and “occasion”) but it reads “Hors,” hour. We believe that we do well that with the Holland translation tie retain the idea of hour (ure). 

In our determining of the meaning of the term “hour” we must follow the approved method of interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture. We may not simply think of “hour” in the sense of our sixty minutes on our timepiece of measuring time. That would lead us in the wrong direction. So easily then we would reason that the last “hour” is the last period just before Christ returns from our standpoint in history, anno 1960, and not from that of the viewpoint of the O.T. prophets, whose language John employs. Hence, we will try to show the usage of the term “hour” in both the Gospel of John and his Epistle. 

Turning to the Gospel of John we see that the apostle relates that Jesus spoke of both the “hour” and the “last day.” Now it is very clear that the last day refers, in certain passages, to the “day,” that is, the very last point in history, where it terminates, where the dead shall be raised, and the world shall be judged, and all things made manifestly new, a new heaven and new earth where righteousness shall dwell. Thus we readJohn 6:40, “And this is the will of my Father, that everyone seeing the Son, and believing on him, should have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” And, again, in verse 39 (idem). “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” From this it appears that “day”‘ is not the same as “hour.” One could not very well say, “they could not take him for his day had not yet come.” 

From this it seems to me there must be some peculiar significance to the term “hour” in the mouth of Jesus, and consequently also here, when John speaks of the last “hour.” It is our understanding that the term “hour” in the aforementioned Gospel of John refers to the particular, God-appointed and appropriate time in which the glory of Christ shall be revealed through death and through the resurrection and ascension, In this “hour” something will take place,, God will come to be revealed in “grace and glory,” the glory of the only-begotten Son. Here the Mystery hid from the ages will be revealed, uncovered. Great is the mystery of godliness. God is revealed in the flesh, seen of angels, preached in the world, believed by men, and taken up into glory! 

Such is the hour

When Mary; the mother of Jesus, who had kept so many things in her heart; could not restrain herself any longer, at the wedding-feast of Cana of Galilee, and would have Jesus publicly demonstrate himself, he rebukes her with the words, “Woman, what is there between me and thee; mine ‘hour’ is not yet come.” John 2:4. And, speaking with the woman, the Samaritan, at the well of Jacob Jesus speaks to her of a time, that shall come and now is, which he calls the “hour”. In this time men will not worship either in the hill of Samaria, in the Samaritan temple, nor in the earthly Jerusalem, the Jewish temple, but the true worshippers shall serve the Lord in Spirit and in truth. And again in John 6:25, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the ‘hour’ is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.” And does Jesus not pray the great high-priestly prayer in John 17:1, where we read, “These words spake Jesus and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the ‘hour’ is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee”? It is the hour of the power of the Son of God, through death, resurrection and ascension. And this hour is the “hour” of the glorification of the Son in keeping the disciples (the son of perdition excepted) and all who will believe through their preaching and finally the entering into the glory which Christ had with the Father ere the world was. 

It is the “hour” of the glorification of the Son and of the Father, the triune God, God-with-us, Immanuel. 

Since this leads to the final manifestation of the “glory” of Christ in his Parousia, this is the “last.” And thus the entire New Testament Dispensation is the last “hour” from the viewpoint that here the Son of God Himself is revealed in glory. Listen to the key-note of the entire epistle of Hebrews where this is so wonderfully stated: “God, who in sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds: who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high,” Heb. 1:1-2

Such is the specific content of the “hour.” 

Here every thing is fulfillment, it is better: a better priest, a better covenant, a better; promise, a better temple and better sacrifices. 

This should all be kept in mind when John speaks here of the last hour. Thus is the very prologue to this epistle itself. We read in I John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and. our hands have handled of the Word of life . . .” 

Yes, the “little children” know this one who is from the beginning. They know the love of the Father in him, and have in him the forgiveness of their sins, and with this word of life in them they are strong and overcome the Evil One. 

But they must, and that emphatically so, keep in mind the nature of this last hour. This is also the time when Antichrist shall come. They must truly know their time and conduct themselves accordingly. 

When they see men and women leaving the fellowship of the sons of God in this world they must not stand appalled; they must not stand with hearts filled with dismay. This too must come. It must come exactly in this “last hour.” It could not come in any other. For only, when and if, the Son of God is come into the world can the Antichrist come. And this too is the time of many antichrists rising up in the midst of the church, and going forth from her because they must become manifest as not being of the church. 

Little children, it is the last “hour.” 

Know your times and be not dismayed, but stand in the hour of the appearance of Christ without being ashamed nor being filled with dread and consternation. 

—G.L.