2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists 1 have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour. 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained 2 with us. But 3 they went out from us 4 to demonstrate 5 that all of them do not belong to us. 6
1 sn Antichrists are John’s description for the opponents and their false teaching, which is at variance with the apostolic eyewitness testimony about who Jesus is (cf. 1:1-4). The identity of these opponents has been variously debated by scholars, with some contending (1) that these false teachers originally belonged to the group of apostolic leaders, but departed from it (“went out from us,” v. 19). It is much more likely (2) that they arose from within the Christian communities to which John is writing, however, and with which he identifies himself. This identification can be seen in the interchange of the pronouns “we” and “you” between 1:10 and 2:1, for example, where “we” does not refer only to John and the other apostles, but is inclusive, referring to both himself and the Christians he is writing to (2:1, “you”).
2 tn See note on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6. Here μένω has been translated as “remained” since it is clear that a change of status or position is involved. The opponents departed from the author’s congregation(s) and showed by this departure that they never really belonged. Had they really belonged, they would have stayed (“remained”).
3 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
4 tn The phrase “they went out from us” is not repeated a second time in the Greek text, but constitutes an ellipsis. For clarity it is necessary to repeat it in the English translation.
5 tn Grk “in order that it may be demonstrated.” The passive infinitive has been translated as active and the purpose clause translated by an infinitive in keeping with contemporary English style.
6 sn All of them do not belong to us. The opponents chose to depart rather than remain in fellowship with the community to which the author writes and with which he associates himself. This demonstrates conclusively to the author that they never really belonged to that community at all (in spite of what they were claiming). 1 John 2:19 indicates that the departure was apparently the opponents’ own decision rather than being thrown out or excommunicated. But for John, if they had been genuine believers, they would have remained in fellowship. Now they have gone out into the world, where they belong (compare 1 John 4:5).