John has just warned his readers about the dire consequences of valuing the things of this world over God (1 John 2:2:18-19) and now in v. 20 stresses his point by declaring that “the end is near” (TEV). He writes that the strong opposition that has already risen against the church proves that it was “the last hour” (NIV). So a candid reading of these verses shows that from John’s point of view time had just about run out and the end was here. But John wrote that about 2,000 years ago and the “end” hasn’t as yet come. Shall we discredit John as a prophet, accept what seems to fit and forget the rest?
There are several ways of explaining John’s “miscalculation” of the time of the end. Some simply say that he was wrong, others seek a way to explain the statement. For example, we moderns don’t understand the rhetorical nature of first century language. Others point out that with the coming of Christ the “end” did begin and will be complete only when he returns. This is the more common point of view among evangelicals. From an exegete’s point of view I prefer this last option. However, what I want to do here is to reflect on the fact that the “end” is always just around the corner.
Life is a long series of moments, anyone of which could have been the last. The day will come in which one of those possible moments becomes the moment. That’s been the case ever since Adam and Even came into the picture. Each one of us will have our “moment” when we pass on from this life. Life is a precious gift. It makes fellowship with God possible. It provides the time necessary for dreaming up new worlds and how to live in the one we have. It is also the “moment” when each person decides where to spend eternity. May God help us to live with a vivid awareness of the passing nature of time and the endless nature of eternity.