Meditations from the Classics
Xenophon, Anabasis (370 B.C.) Book 1:4
1 John 2:18
The mark of an apostate was flight. John warned his church against those who would not sustain fellowship with the saints. Their untimely exodus was proof of their apostasy, he said:
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they are not of us” (1 John 2:19).
Those who scorn the communal meal, the Christian kiss, the hand of fellowship, the joy of worship are none other than last day anti-Christs, according to John. They left, said the apostle because they never were one of us.
Xenophon told a similar tale of desertion in his history of the Persian Expedition:
“Cyrus had gathered a large army and was marching to take the Persian throne. When his troops arrived at Myriandus, a city on the sea near Damascus, he camped for seven days. During the night two of his captains, Xenias and Pasion, fled. They got on board a ship, stowed away their most valuable property and sailed off.”
The soldiers wondered what Cyrus would do. Rumors were spreading. Cyrus called his troops together and told them that he was well aware of the betrayal, but he saw no profit in pursuing them.
“No, let them go, with the knowledge that they have betrayed worse to us than we have to them”
And so in both cases, the camp of Cyrus and John’s church, those with no kindred heart left the family. And so it is today. AWOL captains on midnight schooners to safety are too abundant. John’s advice is succinct and practical. Remain in the fellowship. Be faithful disciples. Apostasy doesn’t pay.
David R. Denny Ph.D.