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 1 John 2:18Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
American King James Version×
, 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 Matthew 24:24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
American King James Version×
).

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 1 John 2:18Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
American King James Version×
, 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 7:8I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
American King James Version×
, Daniel 7:20 Daniel 7:20And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
American King James Version×
and Daniel 7:25 Daniel 7:25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
American King James Version×
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 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6 [1] Now we beseech you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to him, [2] That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. [3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; [4] Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. [5] Remember you not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? [6] And now you know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time.
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. 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 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 [2] That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. [3] Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; [4] Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
American King James Version×
). The Greek verb translated “opposes” is antikeimai—literally, “be against.” In Galatians 5:17 Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
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and in 1 Timothy 1:10 1 Timothy 1:10For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
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, it is translated “contrary to.”

Denial that leads to lawlessness

In 1 John 2:22 1 John 2:22Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.
American King James Version×
, 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 1 John 4:3And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
American King James Version×
, 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 1 John 4:1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
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). 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 1 John 1:1-3 [1] That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; [2] (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;) [3] That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
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).

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 5:30I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.
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; John 14:10 John 14:10Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.
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). 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 Acts 2:38-39 [38] Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [39] For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
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). By His Spirit, God gives us more spiritual understanding and insight (1 Corinthians 2:11-12 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 [11] For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
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), gives us peace and joy (Romans 15:13 Romans 15:13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
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), and makes us into His very children, heirs of the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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).

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 2 John 1:7For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
American King James Version×
, 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 2 John 1:6And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
American King James Version×
: “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 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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). 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 2 Thessalonians 2:7For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets will let, until he be taken out of the way.
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).

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 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 [9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all delusion of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
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). Do you know the truth? Do you love the truth? Does your life show that you are living the truth?

Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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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.”