Christians who left............
We are beginning to witness the anti-Christ spirit in many young people
who show extreme hatred towards true Christianity. If they don't reject Christ
they twist His teachings and life into a fake New Age fantasy.
THE SIFTING OF THE CHURCH (1 John 2:19-21)
2:19-21 They have gone out from among us but they are not of our number. If they had been of our number, they would have remained with us. But things have happened as they have happened, that it may be clearly demonstrated that all of them are not of us. But you have received anointing from the Holy One and you all possess knowledge. I have not written this letter to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
As things have turned out, John sees in the Church a time of sifting. The false teachers had voluntarily left the Christian fellowship; and that fact had shown that they did not really belong there. They were aliens and their own conduct had shown it to be so.
The last phrase of 1 John 2:19 can have two meanings.
(i) It may mean, as in our translation: "All of them are not of us," or, as we might better put it, "None of them are from us." That is to say, however attractive some of them may be and however fine their teaching sounds, they are all alike alien to the Church.
(ii) It is just possible that what the phrase means is that these men have gone out from the Church to make it clear that "all who are in the Church do not really belong to it." As C. H. Dodd puts it: "Membership of the Church is no guarantee that a man belongs to Christ and not to Antichrist." As A. E. Brooke puts it although he does not agree that it is the meaning of the Greek "External membership is no proof of inward union." As Paul had it: "For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" (Romans 9:6). A time such as had come upon John's people had its value, for it sifted the false from the true.
In 1 John 2:20 John goes on to remind his people that all of them possess knowledge. The people who had gone out were Gnostics who claimed that there had been given to them a secret, special and advanced knowledge which was not open to the ordinary Christian. John reminds his people that in matters of faith the humblest Christian need have no feeling of inferiority to the most learned scholar. There are, of course, matters of technical scholarship, of language, of history, which must be the preserve of the expert; but the essentials of the faith are the possession of every man.
This leads John to his last point in this section. He writes to them, not because they did not know the truth, but because they did. Westcott puts it in this way: "The object of the apostle in writing was not to communicate fresh knowledge, but to bring into active and decisive use the knowledge which his readers already possessed." The greatest Christian defence is simply to remember what we know. What we need is not new truth, but that the truth which we already know become active and effective in our lives.
This is an approach which Paul continually uses. He writes to the Thessalonians: "But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another" (1 Thessalonians 4:9). What they need is not new truth but to put into practice the truth they already know. He writes to the Romans: "I myself, am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God" (Romans 15:14-15). What they need is not so much to be taught as to be reminded.
It is the simple fact of the Christian life that things would be different at once if we would only put into practice what we already know. That is not to say that we never need to learn anything new; but it is to say that, even as we are, we have light enough to walk by if we would only use it.
From William Barclay's Daily Study Bible