An old saying that must be drilled into the brain of every Christian is "A Text, without a Context, is a Pretext" Reading the Context, Context, Context, is a must do for all, in order to find out Who?, What?, When?, Where?, and Why?. We all learned these basis rules in English class, back in our school years.
The Watchtower society has endlessly used scriptural quotes from 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John about the "Antichrist" and applied these text to those who question the teachings of the society, and even though their faith in Jehovah God and his son Christ Jesus was then, and is still, as strong as ever. Never the less, on went the lable "Apostate" and friendships, and family were torn apart, and in many cases terminated.
Who were the ones labled "Antichirst"? My NIV Study Bible, p.1946, provided the answer under the subject of "Gnosticism". They commented that Gnosticism was one of the most dangerous heresies of the first two centuries of the church. ( then a list of 5 of their teachings was given.)
Number 3 on the list: Christ's true humanity was denied in two ways:(1) Some said that Christ only seemed to have a body, a view called Docetism, from the Greek dokeo ("to seem"), and (2) others said that the divine Christ joined the man Jesus at baptism and left him before he died, a view called Cerinthianism, after its most prominent spokesman, Cerinthus. This view is the background of much of 1 John (see 1:1; 2:22; 4:2-3 and notes).
It concludes saying: The Gnosticism addressed in the NT was an early form of the heresy, not the intricately developed system of the second and third centuries. In addition to that seen in Colossians and in John's letters, acquaintance with early Gnosticism is reflected in 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Peter and perhaps 1 Corintians.
The Watchtower society has clearly identified the early Gnostic influence in John's day. Please note following:
si pp. 256-257 Bible Book Number 62-1 John
4 John writes to protect his "beloved ones," his "young children," against the wrong teachings of the "many antichrists" that have gone out from among them and that are trying to seduce them away from the truth. (2:7, 18) These apostate antichrists may have been influenced by Greek philosophy, including early Gnosticism, whose adherents claimed special knowledge of a mystical sort from God. Taking a firm stand against apostasy, John deals extensively with three themes: sin, love, and the antichrist. His statements on sin, and in support of Jesus’ sacrifice for sins, indicate that these antichrists were self-righteously were claiming that they without sin and had no need of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Their self-centered "knowledge" had made them selfish and loveless, a condition that John exposes as he continually emphasizes true Christian love. Moreover, John is apparently combating their false doctrine as he expounds that Jesus is the Christ, that he had a prehuman existence, and that he came in the flesh as the Son of God to provide salvation for believing men. (1:7-10; 2:1, 2; 4:16-21; 2:22; 1:1, 2; 4:2, 3, 14, 15) John brands these false teachers plainly as "antichrists," and he gives a number of ways in which the children of God and the children of the Devil can be recognized.—2:18, 22; 4:3.
w83 4/1 pp. 17-18 An Apostle's Stand Against Apostasy
Who were those antichrists? And how were they trying to deceive their fellow believers? John minces no words in exposing the antichrist apostates. He attacks them on three scores: (1) denying that Christ came in the flesh, (2) denying that Christ was the Son of God and (3) denying that they themselves were sinners.
DidChrist Come in the Flesh?
But you might ask, ‘How could some believers deny that Jesus had come in the flesh?’ Evidently by the end of the first century some Christians had been affected by Greek philosophy, including early Gnosticism. These apostates held the view that all material things were evil, including the fleshly body. Thus, to the apostate antichrists, Jesus had not come in evil flesh but, rather, as a spirit. John clearly shows that he is no party to such theological reasonings that denied the efficacy of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. Thus he writes of "Jesus Christ, a righteous one" who was "a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s."—1 John 2:1, 2.
Later, with a simple and categorical definition, John clarifies the issue even further, saying: "Every inspired expression that confesses Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh originates with God, but every inspired expression that does not confess Jesus does not originate with God."—1 John 4:2, 3.
It is quite evident from the above quotes, that the society acknowledges who these apostate antichrists were, and what they were teaching and how John attacked them. Do we as Christians, have the scriptural right to play fast and lose with the Bible and pull a text completely out of its context and add meanings to it that fit our own personal or organizational agenda ? If this liberty is extended to the "Faithful Slave", then why not to us? I could add my version, you could add yours, and so on. When a text is pulled out of its surrounding context, a red flag should immediately go up and the Christian should look for a Pretext that is just around the next turn. Just what is a Pretext anyway? My Dictionary gives the primary meaning to be 1.that which is put forward to conceal a true purpose or objective: The leaders used the insults as a pretext to declare war. This is not Rocket Science friends, the Society is clearly misusing scripture to silence all who question. Many are our former brothers that have been victims of the grand Pretext used by the society when they have been vocal about getting an answer to "Who"?, "What"?, "When"?, "Where"?, and most of all "WHY"?