What the Bible Really Says About Antichrist

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What the Bible Really Says About Antichrist

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What’s important is that we read the Bible for what it actually says and believe it—and not make a big issue of whether the word antichrist must be applied to a specific prophesied figure. We need to keep focused on the big picture here.

In the Bible the word “antichrist” (Greek antichristos) is used in only four places, all in John’s epistles. The prefix anti means “against” or “adversary of” or “in place of.” John wanted to make clear that any teaching contrary to Christ and His purposes is antichrist—and that false teachers are antichrists, meaning enemies of Christ.

Not long after the New Testament Church began, heretical deceivers began trying to inject their own ideas into it. These false teachings crept into the Christian congregations and influenced mainstream Christianity permanently.

In 1 John 2:18, John says, “Many antichrists have [already] come” (emphasis added throughout), indicating that already “it is the last hour”—that the age of false teachers and counterfeit Christianity was already well under way. Jesus had warned, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

John also speaks of the singular word “antichrist.” When antichrist is singular, the original Greek gives us no indication as to whether or not, in English, we should capitalize the word antichrist.

Also in 1 John 2:18, John said, “You have heard that the Antichrist is coming.” John gives no indication as to how this idea got started. Did one or more apostles specifically teach it?

The idea does harmonize with the prophecy in Daniel 7:8, Daniel 7:20 and Daniel 7:25 that speaks of a “little horn” who will speak “pompous words against the Most High.” And perhaps, as seems likely, “antichrist” had become the popular terminology for what Paul had prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6. Paul wrote that “the day of Christ . . . will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin . . . opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God” (2 Thessalonians 2:2-4). The Greek verb translated “opposes” is antikeimai—literally, “be against.” In Galatians 5:17 and in 1 Timothy 1:10, it is translated “contrary to.”

Denial that leads to lawlessness

In 1 John 2:22, we learn that any liar who denies the central truth that Jesus was and is the Christ—the prophesied Messiah and Savior—is an antichrist, an enemy of both the Father and the Son.

In 1 John 4:3, John again acknowledges that “you have heard [the Antichrist] was coming.” But he goes on to say that antichrist is “already in the world.” John’s main point is that “every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist”—the spirit from Satan that is in the “false prophets” (1 John 4:1). It is evil to deny either Jesus’ deity or His full humanity during His earthly ministry and at the time of His death (see also 1 John 1:1-3).

Many mainstream Christians today accept that Jesus was God in the flesh, but by this they imagine that, while human in appearance, He was infinite, omnipotent and omniscient God hidden behind a veil of flesh—just not using His total power and knowledge while a man. That it was this that kept Him sinless—that it was impossible for Him to even be capable of sin. This is a denial of His truly being made flesh—a form of gnosticism and the doctrine of antichrist. In fact, Jesus made it clear that He had no supernatural power of Himself while a man. He said it all came from the Father (John 5:30; John 14:10). And His ability to resist sin in the face of temptation came from His constant closeness to the Father. The doctrine of antichrist promotes lawlessness, as it maintains that Jesus was able to obey God because He was an omnipotent being while flesh and that it is impossible for us to obey so we shouldn’t even try. The truth, however, is that we can succeed in obedience by following the example Jesus set of always staying close to God.

The power that Jesus Christ received through staying close to the Father is the same power available to us—the Holy Spirit. God offers us this great gift when we repent and commit our lives to Him (Acts 2:38-39). By His Spirit, God gives us more spiritual understanding and insight (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), gives us peace and joy (Romans 15:13), and makes us into His very children, heirs of the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:14).

To read more about the gift of the Holy Spirit, read our free Beyond Today Bible study aid The Power of the Holy Spirit.

In 2 John 1:7, John says: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming [present tense] in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” In this case, John is not referring to accepting Jesus’ past incarnation in having come in the flesh—but to His presently coming in the flesh, living in His flesh-and-blood followers through the Holy Spirit to help them live obedient lives. Note the words just before this in 2 John 1:6 : “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.” Of course, we cannot do this in our own strength. We can continue to walk in obedience only through staying close to God and, as Paul elsewhere explained, having Jesus live in us (Galatians 2:20). The teaching of antichrist is that we simply can’t obey God. For it denies that we have help to actually overcome sin—as Jesus Himself had help from the Father.

The teaching of antichrist is thus a doctrine of lawlessness. Indeed, the man of sin (of disobedience)—or “the lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2—is the head of what Paul refers to as “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

We don’t have to fall to deception. Know what your Bible teaches and be prepared. Those who fall for the deception of the antichrist are described as those who “did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Do you know the truth? Do you love the truth? Does your life show that you are living the truth?

Revelation 12:17 describes God’s true people as those who love and live the truth—“who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”