What did the apostle John reveal when he said: “It is the last hour”?

things which must shortly come to pass
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John saw the apostasy of miracle working schismatics leaving his church as fitting Christ’s description of the End Time falling away (Mt. 7:22-23; 24:11-12; Mk. 13:22-23) and writes “it is the last hour”. What did John mean? Was he speaking chronologically or did he thereby illustrate to every generation the nature and character of the false prophets who will lead the church into apostasy in the End Time? (2 Thess. 2:2-3, 7-12; Mt. 7:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:3; Jude 1:3-20; 1 John 2:18-27; 1 John 4:1-6):

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. (1 Jn. 2:18 NKJ)

John marked a new beginning by again addressing his readers as “children” (Παιδία; cf. 2:14)… The term suggests John’s fatherly concern for his beloved readers as needing his guidance in facing the current crisis.

The assertion (v. 18a). “It is the last hour” (ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν) marks the crucial situation. The term “last hour” obviously was not intended as a literal chronological assertion. Since the original does not have the definite article, two renderings, “the last hour,” or “a last hour,” are possible. In support of the former rendering, commonly used in English versions, it is held that the expression is sufficiently definite without the article, “for there can be only one last hour.” Or it may be viewed as a technical term that does not need the definite article.2 But some like Westcott3 insist on rendering the phrase “a last hour.” Since this exact expression occurs only here in the New Testament, Lenski feels that it cannot be treated as a well-known concept that needed no article, and so he asserts, “The term is plainly qualitative.”4

2 H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (reprint, New York: Macmillan Co., 1967), p. 149.
3 Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistles of St. John: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays (reprint, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950), p. 68.
4 R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (1945; reprint, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), p. 429.

Hiebert, D. E. (1989). An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 4 (of 10 parts): An Exposition of 1 John 2:18–28. Bibliotheca Sacra, 146, 77–78.

Confirming John was not claiming “it’s the last hour” chronologically speaking, is the absence any discussion of the signs (wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes) that are “the beginning of sorrows” and which Christ said would precede the appearance of false prophets:

6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
10 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
(Matt. 24:6-12 NKJ)

John was a Palestinian Jew, well versed in Rabbinic argument. Often the reader must supply the context or implied premise. Christ’s words proving the Resurrection of the Body to the Sadducees illustrates this:

26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well… (Mk. 12:26-28 KJV)

The presence of the patriarchs before God implied God must raise them physically so they could fulfill the service promised them. To Jews well versed in such argumentation[2], Jesus had ‘answered them well’ (Mk. 12:28); to modern critics Christ proved only life after death and said nothing about the resurrection. They couldn’t be more wrong, the scribe’s opinion wasn’t just his alone, it became the Word of God.

John is using revelatory pesher[1], “this reveals that”. “This is “a last hour” so like “the last hour” it reveals the identity and message of the sign working TARES, the essence of which is antichrist. To paraphrase: “These miracle workers will be pleading for their lives on Judgment Day, don’t be misled by them”:

22 “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23 “And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7:22-23 NKJ)

Citing the “last hour” recalls everything the church was taught about the end time unrestrained spiritism, “the energy of delusion, the “secret power” (NIV) or “mystery of lawlessness” that will energize the apostasy in the Church when TARE false prophets take over, followers of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:2-3, 7-12; 1 John 4:1-6).

But John doesn’t discuss end time events. The context is didactic. Revelatory pesher[1], “This last hour reveals precisely who they are and why their heresy is to be rejected”. The presence of antichrists is how we know it is “a last hour [LIKE the last hour].”

The pastoral theme implies John points to “the last hour” to “visually warn” his “children” about the identity of the miracle working schismatics leaving his doctrinally correct fact-based church for a experiential delusion induced by the antichrist spirit (Compare 1 John 1:1-3 with 2 Cor. 11:3-4; 2 Thess. 2:9-12)

Trust your anointing, the “doubts” you have about them are “of God”. Signs and wonders are not to be accepted blindly, they must be tested. The Holy Spirit has granted you know[3] all [these] things (1 John 2:20-21), and His witness is “true and no lie” (1 John 2:27). “There is no baby in the bath water, its all sewage” (Rev. 12:15). The TARES are antichrists (1 John 2:18-19) preaching lies (1 John 2:26) and [as] “no lie is of the truth” [that objectively confirms they cannot be ‘of God’] (1 John 2:21).

Evidently the Holy Spirit gave John such a clear vision of the end time, watching sign working apostates trying to deceive the church as they left invoked the vision. “It is a last hour” he exclaims, not intending the chronological aspect be prominent. The definite article is missing.

Another example of John’s 1st century style revelatory Pesher “this reveals that” is in 1 John 4:3.

and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 Jn. 4:3 NKJ)

The “spirit of Antichrist” they heard was coming, was “now already in the world” because it does “not confess Jesus is come in the flesh”, but that begs the question if the “the last hour” had arrived.

Again the context is not prophetic filled with details about the signs of Christ’s coming. John says this so the “Beloved”: “test the spirits” as many false prophets have gone out; God will grant you “overcome them”; in contrast to antichrists, Christians “listen to us” apostles. [Today their teaching is found only in holy Scripture]:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 Jn. 4:1-6 NKJ)

Peter did the virtually the same thing when he declared the tongues speaking on Pentecost was the same as what Joel said would happen in the End Time (Ac. 2:16-17) without claiming the small group of 120 disciples were the global “all flesh” in the Day of the LORD Joel said would experience this outpouring of God’s Spirit. The sun obviously was not in darkness, nor was the moon blood (Ac. 2:20) while Peter spoke. Rather, the tongues speaking Joel spoke of, was the same thing occurring before their eyes. As these things are true, everyone should repent even as Joel preached (Ac. 2:21-40).

The “last hour” is emerging with the great falling away of the church (2 Thess. 2:3):

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
(Jude 1:4-13 NKJ)

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.
21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 Jn. 2:18-23 NKJ)

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 Jn. 4:1-6 NKJ)

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
12 Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen. (2 Jn. 1:7-13 NKJ)

In parables our LORD Jesus refers to the church as “the Kingdom (932 βασιλεία basileia)” of heaven”, the “land or dominion subject to the rule of heaven” that has been invaded by Satan and his Tares who work evil:

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
25 “but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
26 “But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
27 “So the servants of the owner came and said to him,`Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
28 “He said to them,`An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him,`Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’
29 “But he said,`No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.
30 `Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘” (Matt. 13:24-30 NKJ)

Commentators who ignore the context of Satan at work in the church planting Tares (Mt. 13:24-30) miss the identification of the “birds of the heavens [plural]” πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (Mat. 13:31; Dan. 4:21 BGT) that infest religious Babylon the font of all false religion and tyranny since the Tower of Babel, the proverbial “Mother of Harlots” (Rev. 17:5; Zech. 5:9-11).

The reference to brick and mortar (Gen. 11:3-4) imply an imposed uniformity and cohesion to build the Tower whose “top is in the heavens” giving the community a “name that unites them” in a context where God’s gift of Language is being misused on a global scale (Gen. 11:1, 6-8). This could be an excellent allegory of antichristian religious and political tyranny deploying “politically correct speech” that enslaves to build a communist-like state that unites against God as though it is God.

[‘Does God care we know about bricks and mortar?’ Compare 1 Cor. 9:9-10. The antithesis God’s gift of Liberty versus man’s tyranny—God loves creation organically manifest itself (Joshua 8:31) at His Altar. His Gift is eternal life in Liberty that passes all understanding—absolute freedom from sin and perversion to enjoy all God has given us! “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:19-21) We will be ourselves in perfect liberty! (1 Cor. 2:9) ” As for Allegory in Scripture, it happens: Gal. 4:22-31]

31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,
32 “which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matt. 13:31-32 NKJ)

“The great (3173 μέγας megas) city” spans history (cp. Rev. 12:1) “the city of false religion” (Rev. 17:18) that has poisoned the waters since the Tower of Babylon (Gen. 11:3) so men drink “spiritism as water” and become drunk as with wine (Rev. 17:2, 4, 15; 18:3). The Harlot engulfed the church long ago. That is implied by God’s command the church “come out of her, my people” (Rev. 18:4; Jer. 51:6, 45). Hence the Birds in the branches of a tree in the “kingdom of heaven” are demons (cp. Dan. 4:10-12, 20-22; Rev. 18:2) sowing spiritual wickedness from heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). The imagery of demons as animals is carried over from the OT (Isa. 34:11-13; Jer. 50:39; 51:37). In the End time the illuminating glory of “another angel” exposes the demon infestation that inspired the experiences driving the Babylonians mad with lust and sorcery (Rev. 18:1-2).

1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.
2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! (Rev. 18:1-2 NKJ)

The Harlot Babylon is the woman who mixes leaven (evil: Ex. 12:15; Lev. 2:11; 6:17; 10:12; Matt. 16:6, 11–12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor. 5:7–8; Gal. 5:8–9) into the church:

33 Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,
35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 13:33-35 NKJ)

Our Lord Jesus doesn’t boast or babble, nor would God depict Him doing so. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit expects readers will infer His reason for inserting “I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world” here. He does so because the identity of the woman is found in scripture (Zech. 5:5-11; Rev. 17:4-5). She secretly hides evil lies in religious teaching. [So called “higher critical theories” are unsound, should be rejected. God obviously wrote scripture for the people of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Isa. 8:16-20). Compare Mt. 24:15, where the Holy Spirit is speaking to YOU the reader, that you exercise caution to distinguish the “abomination of desolation” in the prophet Daniel]. “The Harlot Babylon” a mystery (3466 μυστήριον musterion) or secret revealed in the Apocalypse (Rev. 17:3-7), working against God since the Tower of Babylon (0894 בָּבֶל Babel), aka the “Gate of God” whose top is “in the heavens”. The Tower top in the heavens implies competition and opposition to Yahweh God of the heavens.

God’s desire was man not dominate man to his own injury, but they live in freedom obeying His commands in accord with their own God given conscience (Rom. 2:14-15; 9:1; 1 Sam. 8:5-7; 12:19). They were to fill the earth and multiply (Gen. 1:22), not congregate in cities enslaved (Gen. 11:1-9) by a Dictator ruling from the “clouds” (Gen. 11:4; 10:8-11) as though he were divine. This is Babylon the Great, the first religious opposition to God, having authority over the pagan beast governments of the earth (Rev. 17:3-5, 18), demons nesting in its branches (Dan. 4:20-22; Rev. 18:1-2). Harlot Babylon is this secret (3466 μυστήριον musterion) corrupter of government and religion. She is “Great” (“mega” 3173 μέγας megas) because she existed since the dawn of history infecting every religion and government with her evil secretly, demon inspired religious falsehoods having first appearing in ancient Babylon. In the End Time she reappears in the rebuilt city of Babylon in the Kingdom of the beast (Rev. 17:3-6), which no doubt will have something like a wonderous tower in it (Rev. 13:3-4). The Religous Harlot will rise perhaps like the World Council of Churches rose in the United Nations. All the earth’s religions will join her.

When the Man of sin morphs into the Beast Son of destruction her religious services are no longer required, the ten horn political base of the Beast will burn her with fire. The only worship permitted is to the Beast (Rev. 17:12-13; 13:5-8; 14:9-12; Dan. 9:27). Babylon the Great is not the church, the Harlot infected the church with evil and engulfed her (Rev. 11:1-2). The daughter of Zion (the church) will flee the proximity of Babylon lest “share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Micah 4:10; Rev. 12:6; 18:4).

The Tares will vastly outnumber the wheat during the great apostasy of Christendom (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 7-12; 1 Tim. 4:1) in the “last hour” of the End Time (1 John 2:18-19) when all pretense of Christianity is replaced by worship of the Seed of Satan (Gen. 3:15) Adonikam (Rev. 13:18; Ezra 2:13) the Beast, who ascends at “mid-week” killing Moses and Elijah and persecuting the church (Rev. 11:7; 13:5; 14:9-13; Dan. 9:27).

22 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
23 “But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand. (Mk. 13:22-23 NKJ)

Notes
[1]

PESHER (Heb. פֵּשֶׁר), word meaning “interpretation.” It occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible: “Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing?” (Eccl. 8:1). However, the Aramaic word peshar occurs 31 times in the Aramaic portion of Daniel, where it mainly refers to dream interpretation.

In Qumran texts, it usually occurs after a biblical quotation, introducing its interpretation. As such it refers to a particular technique of interpretation which may be paralleled to midrashic exegesis.

What is distinctive of Qumran is both the systematic application of such a technique to a given prophetic work and its specific purpose. On the one hand, it had the result of creating a fixed literary structure, mostly known from the “continuous” pesharim. Those works quote one “prophetic” book verse by verse, each verse being followed by its interpretation, aiming at giving the plain meaning of the Prophet’s words as a whole. On the other hand, their aim is to read historical and eschatological events into the biblical prophecies, understanding them as describing their own sect’s situation on the verge of the eschaton.-Jewish Virtual Library

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/pesher

[2]

‘ Whence is the doctrine of the Resurrection derived from the Torah? As it is said, ‘ Ye shall give the Lord’s heave-offering to Aaron the priest’ (Num. xviii. 28).

But did Aaron live for ever to receive the offering? Is it not true that he did not enter the land of Israel? Consequently the text teaches that he is to be restored to life (in the Hereafter) and will receive the heave-offering. Hence the Resurrection is deducible from the Torah’ (Sanh. 90b). – Abraham Cohen, Everyman’s Talmud (Schocken Books, NY, 1995), p 358.

[3]

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know (1492 εἰδῶ eido) all things.

God the Holy Spirit illuminates every believer, bearing witness “Spirit to human spirit” which manifests itself in our conscience or perception in a very deep nonverbal way. Its perception, a “knowing” (1492 εἰδῶ eido 1 John 2:20-21) communicated by the anointing Holy Spirit to our spirit, making us “know” God is our Abba Father (Rom. 8:15-16) or that Jesus is God’s Eternal Son the Word who became flesh (John 1:12-14). We “know” when something is “wrong”, we can perceive the difference between the genuine and the counterfeit—“all things [about the antichrist spirit]”; when it manifests and what it teaches (Rom. 8:15-16. Compare Rom. 9:1; 1 Cor. 2:14-16).

To illustrate John’s point, the Holy Spirit will inspire “doubts” He is causing someone to “sensually gyrate like snakes, bark like dogs or act drunk in the spirit”. The perception only an antichrist spirit (“instead of Christ” 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Cor. 12:2-3; 1 Jn. 4:2-3) would do that, will be powerful. BUT that causes a dilemma, because Jesus promised God would not give a serpent to those who ask for a fish (Mt. 7:10).

However, John insists believers believe their anointing, its “no lie” therefore one must revisit the interpretation of the text. That resolves the contradiction—Jesus’ promise applies only to God’s children, not the TARE children of the Devil sown among God’s wheat (Mt. 13:24-30):

11 “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
12 “Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk. 11:11-13 NKJ)

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