Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
1 John 2:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
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, so that they would be revealed that they all are not of us.
They went out from us. From the church. That is, they had once been professors of the true Christian religion of the Savior, though their apostasy showed that they never had any true piety. John refers to the fact that they had once been in the church, perhaps to remind those to whom he wrote that they knew them well and could readily appreciate their character. It was a humiliating statement that those who showed themselves to be so utterly opposed to Christ had once been members of the Christian church, but this is a statement that we are often compelled to make. John is here reminding the readers that they had heard from the apostles they “heard that antichrist is coming.” As we learned from 1 John 2:18, “even now [at the time of this epistle by John 98 C.E.] many antichrists have arisen; whereby we know that it is the last hour,” that is, the close of the apostolic period. Even though those working in opposition to Christ can be referred to as the antichrist in a composite sense, many individual antichrists pretended to worship God “but they were not of us.” They had abandoned true Christianity. The withdrawal or expulsion of such ones should bring us joy, as it blocks the perversion of the Christian church.
But they were not of us. That is, they no longer really belonged to us or were no longer true Christians. Jesus said at Matthew 7:23, “I never knew you” – That is, Jesus never approved of their conduct; never loved them; never regarded them as his friends. This proves that, with all their pretensions, they eventually stopped being true followers of Christ or that some of them never were true followers. Some of these may have slipped into the congregation because humans cannot read hearts and intentions, but Jesus can. Then, there were others that Jesus could say, I never knew to as well because of his foreknowledge. These had once been Christians and then had fallen away into doing their will instead of the Father’s will.
For if they had been of us. If they had been sincere and true Christians.
They would have continued [“remained” LEB, CSB, NASB] with us. The Greek word here (μένω menō) to continue in a certain state, condition, or activity. In order to speak of continuing [or remaining] with us (true Christians), it means that they had to be one of them at one time. The Holy Spirit moved John along in his writing like Jesus can read hearts and intentions. So, it would be made known if they were never truly Christians, to begin with, or if, by foreknowledge, it is known that they had once been Christians and then had fallen away. (See Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31) For the sake of argument, John is only referring to ones that if they had been true Christians (in other words, were never true Christians), they would have remained in the church; that is, they would not have apostatized or become antichrists. This does not negate that this context under this subject matter somehow precludes those who were true Christians that Paul spoke of and had fallen away. – Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31.
But they went out, so that they would be revealed that they all are not of us. Someone left the true Christian faith and formed their own sect or joined other sects in the first century. If it happens today, the church needs to respond to correctly protect its spiritual cleanness. Consequently, Judas Iscariot was guilty of a kind of apostasy when he abandoned the worship of God by betraying Jesus. Later, as John makes clear here, as Jesus made clear in the Gospels, others became apostates by deserting the true Christian faith even before the apostle John’s death.
These did not really have or were unable to retain the mind of Christ, remaining loyal. They had failed to use their hearts and minds or never used them appropriately by turning to God, taking in the law of Christ, and then applying these things in their lives.
By Edward D. Andrews and Albert Barnes