antichrist

Will Antichrist be a charming deceiver who leads the world astray just before the return of Jesus Christ? Or has Antichrist been around since the time of the Apostles? Will there be only one Antichrist, or has there already been many?

The Meaning of the Word ‘Antichrist’

If we search the Bible for the word ‘antichrist’ using PowerBible (a computer Bible program) we will discover 5 occurrences, and all are in the Epistles of John. 

While antichrist is referred to by other terms in the Bible, it makes sense to begin looking at this subject starting with the actual word. The Greek word ‘antichrist’, is broken down into ‘anti’, meaning ‘opposite, instead or because of, in the room of’, and ‘christos’, meaning ‘annointed one, i.e. the Messiah, or Christ’. So, ‘antichrist’ can mean someone opposite, or instead of Messiah’, or someone ‘in the place of Messiah’.

One Antichrist, or Many?

Looking at the very first place the word ‘antichrist’ occurs in 1 John 2:18, we read,

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

This first occurrence of the word, tells us that ‘antichrist’ was ALREADY in the world, while John was writing his first Epistle. It also tells us that there is more than ONE antichrist, as in John’s day, he could already say that there were MANY antichrists.

Also, John says that they had heard that ‘antichrist shall come’, so this tells us that must be previous Bible prophecies of ‘antichrist’ using other terms.

The Origin of Antichrist

Looking at the next few verses in 1 John 2, we read in verse 19, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.From this we learn that the ‘antichrists’ initially associated with the Christians in John’s day. Antichrist broke away from the true Christian church and is therefore related to Christianity. Antichrist has a Christian, religious origin; this is very important to keep in mind.

The Lie

A little further down in 1 John 2, we read in verse 21, I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. From this, we learn that antichrist is associated with at least one lie. This lie has something to do with the relationship between the Father and the Son. This lie in some way denies that Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ.

So from just this one chapter in 1 John, we discovered that antichrist can mean someone who is ‘opposite or instead of Christ’, or someone ‘in the place of Christ’. We found out that the believers, in John’s day, had been warned that antichrist was to come, and there were already many antichrists. We are told that antichrist left the true Christian believers and began to teach lies, denying that Jesus is Christ and rejecting something about the relationship between the Father and the Son.

Test Case for Antichrist

1 John 4:1-3 is the next passage where we find the word ‘antichrist’. Here we read, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

John has given us a way in which we can determine truth from error! John warns us in the passage above that we need to carefully examine what we are told by others, even religious leaders, as there are ‘many false prophets’. John’s test case for truth vs. error is to examine what others tell us about Jesus Christ. Do they teach that Jesus came ‘in the flesh’?

‘In the Flesh’

Any religious leaders who respect the Bible, surely know about this important test-case passage, and realize the significance of ensuring their teachings are in agreement with 1 John. However, examine what you hear carefully. The meaning of the word ‘confesseth’ is ‘assent, concede, not to deny’. To come ‘in the flesh’ refers to Jesus’ humanity. The Greek word ‘flesh’ is ‘sarx’ and it means flesh (as stripped of the skin), i.e. (strictly) the meat of an animal (as food), or (by extension) the body (as opposed to the soul (or spirit), or as the symbol of what is external, or as the means of kindred), or (by implication) human nature (with its frailties (physically or morally) and passions), or (specially), a human being (as such):–carnal(-ly, + -ly minded), flesh(-ly).”

The Greek word ‘sarx’ is used of our mortal bodies, our human nature, and our susceptibility to be tempted to sin. (For instance Matthew 26:41; Romans 1:3; 7:18; 8:3-13; Galatians 5:19-24) Jesus came ‘in the flesh’.

Was Jesus Tempted to Sin?

In the New Testament book of Hebrews, there is much discussion on the nature of Jesus and how his priesthood surpasses the priesthood under the Law of Moses. The following passages give us insight into the struggle Jesus had against his nature, before he was crucified, resurrected and made immortal.

Hebrews 4:14-15 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Hebrews 5:7 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,”

Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

It isn’t Sin to be Tempted

Keep in mind that temptation is not sin. We ‘sin’ when we give into temptation, as outlined in James 1:13-15:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

We are tempted by our desires. However, many of our desires are simply part of human survival. To desire to eat, to sleep, to drink, to be with friends, even to have intimate relations with our spouse, is not sinful, but needful for survival. If we choose to cheat, lie, steal, disobey God’s commands, or selfishly use talents or powers God has given us, in order to satisfy those desires – then sin occurs.

Unlike us, Jesus never sinned, not even when he hadn’t eaten for 40 days and considered using God’s Holy Spirit power to make a stone into bread for himself (Luke 4:1-4). Jesus didn’t sin in the Garden of Gethsemane even when he struggled to commit himself to God’s will that he should die in such a painful way. He struggled so hard in the Garden, that his sweat was like ‘drops of blood’, and an angel was sent to strengthen him (Luke 22:39-46). The struggle wasn’t sinful. To refuse to submit to death on the cross would have been… but Jesus overcame!

Other References to ‘Antichrist’

While the Epistles of John are the only place in the Bible where the word ‘antichrist’ appears, the concept is referred to in many other passages. The Old Testament book of Daniel has a detailed prophecy concerning antichrist, which is likely the prophecy John refers to, when he said, “ye have heard that antichrist shall come.

2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation also add to the fuller picture of who and what antichrist is. In order to study this topic further, all of these important passages are referred to in the Discovery Lesson on Antichrist. 

A Departure From the Faith

In the New Testament there are also many warnings that there will be a Departure from the Faith. If you click on this link and look at these passages, you will find that many correlate to the prophecies concerning Antichrist.

The Old Testament proves that Jesus is the Messiah

While the topic of Antichrist is a fascinating study, we will digress in our upcoming blogs to look at the prophecies given about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. When Jesus wished to prove his own Messiahship, he went to the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets. (Luke 24: 13-27). How did Jesus prove that he was the very Messiah from the Old Testament? Where are his death and resurrection mentioned? What promises were given that refer specifically to him? What promises are still waiting to be fulfilled? Are there promises that indicate he will physically return to this earth in the near future?

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Truth. With so many different religions, is it possible to find truth in the Bible? Is it important to find truth? What happens if we don’t have truth? Well… should we consider what happened to the Jews when Jesus came as their Messiah? And… will truth, or the lack of it, alter the world’s response when Jesus comes again?

LOVE the Truth Even if You Don’t LIKE it!

In 2 Thessalonians 2 we are warned that those who don’t LOVE truth will be led astray by false signs and wonders and a strong delusion.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11

Verse 8 tells us that Jesus Christ will destroy this ‘lawless one’ at his appearing. Many Christians would conclude that 2 Thessalonians 2 refers to ‘antichrist’.

A Lack of Truth led to the Crucifixion

When Jesus first appeared to mankind, the Jews had a general expectation, based on Old Testament prophecy, about what their Messiah would do, but they had missed an essential detail. 

The Jewish people should have understood that Messiah’s sacrificial mission came first, because this was foretold in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. Jesus turned to these Scriptures after he rose from the dead, to prove he was the Messiah (Luke 24:24-27; 44-48). Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection were clearly foretold well ahead of time (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53, etc.) but none of the Jews had foreseen this tragedy. Why? Likely because this wasn’t the message they wanted to hear.

Instead, the Jewish people were fixated on the exciting prophecies that foretold of the Messiah becoming a King, restoring the Jewish nation and ruling the world… prophesies that are still waiting to be fulfilled (Acts 1:6-11).  Because so many of the Jews failed to receive the unpopular message, they personally became the instruments by which God brought the tragedy to pass. These Jewish people crucified their very own, long-awaited Messiah!! Truth mattered! To get it wrong meant to commit the most horrific crime! And truth was laid out clearly in the very Scriptures they read everyday. How did they miss it?

A Lack of Truth led the Disciples to Fail

On more than one occasion during his ministry, Jesus clearly explained to his disciples that he would suffer and die and be resurrected. Even then, his disciples didn’t accept the truth, likely because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear (Luke 18:31-34). Such devastating events didn’t fit with their long-held aspirations of what the Messiah was going to do for the nation. And sadly, because the disciples didn’t grasp truth, one betrayed him, most of the others forsook Jesus when he needed them most, and Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times. Truth mattered!

Truth About Jesus’ Return

Does truth matter in our future? Does the world understand what Jesus will do when he returns to this earth?

Some Christians don’t even expect Jesus to physically return to this earth – so if he does return physically, what will they think? Will it be obvious that Jesus is the Messiah when he comes back to earth? Is it possible that some will see him as an imposter?

Can you imagine how tragic it would be to fight against the very Messiah you thought you loved and worshipped? You may think this couldn’t happen, but this is exactly what occurred when Jesus came the first time.

Popular ideas of Antichrist

Today, there are various ideas about ‘antichrist’ which are shared as ‘truth’ among many, many Christians. Unfortunately, very few of these popular ideas begin with a consideration of the Epistles of John – the only book in the Bible where the actual word ‘antichrist’ is used.

Even more worrisome is the list of things that many people expect antichrist to do and to be. So many of these expectations for antichrist, are the very things the Scriptures claim Jesus Christ will do when he returns! We can’t overstate how seriously misleading many of the popular claims about antichrist have become! Because of these misunderstandings, many will believe the Lord Jesus Christ is an imposter when he returns. Only this time, Jesus will be returning in immortality with the God-given right to be King of the world! Click here to see a list comparing the Bible prophecies about what Jesus will do at his return, to the expectations for Antichrist, from the popular “Left Behind” series.

Yes, the Bible warns about Antichrist – many antichrists to be exact, and warns us that Antichrist will be there in the final battle. However, the Scriptural definition of antichrist is not the popular conclusion of today, even if was once the recogized conclusion in the forward of the 1611 King James Translation. How was this truth lost?

Expectation of Messiah

Today there is a general expectation among ChristiansJews and Muslims that the Messiah, or the Mahdi will soon appear! Everyone is expecting different outcomes, yet most foresee a Messiah, an Antichrist, and a final battle between good and evil.

Surely, we all hope to be on the side of the true Messiah! Who would ever want to fight against him? Therefore, it is really important to ascertain what the Scriptures say about Jesus and about Antichrist!  If you would like to do a Discovery Lesson on Antichrist, beginning with the Epistles of John, click on the underlined text.

Don’t be deluded!

To be saved, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, we need to love truth. Regardless of whatever ‘miraculous signs and wonders’ we may cling to as proof we are right, the warning of 2 Thessalonians 2 is to take time to carefully examine the matter. Don’t let yourself be deceived by the ‘false signs and wonders’. We may not LIKE the conclusions we find in the Scriptures, but must consider the history of those who only held to the beliefs they wanted to hear. Two very helpful books on this topic are  The Antichrist: Christendom’s Final Deception by Jason Hensley and Who Are You Looking For?

Truth Matters!!

The Scriptures indicate that there will be a battle between good and evil when Jesus appears and Antichrist refuses to serve him (Revelation 17 & 18). The Scriptures also indicate that some nations of the earth will not immediately accept or recognize Jesus for who he is (Psalm 2, Zechariah 14). Surely, we all want to recognize the true Messiah!

In our next blog we will take a look at the 5 places where ‘antichrist’ appears in the Epistles of John, and lay a foundation for a Scriptural understanding of the term.

As is so often said, what we believe determines our decisions. Our decisions determine our actions. Truth matters!! Truth will set us free!