|Many end times
teachers say that a future ruler of the world will be called the
Anti-Christ. They see this Antichrist as a person who sets himself
up in Christís place in the world. He would rule the world from
a throne in the temple in Jerusalem. They say he will demand to be
worshipped by the whole world. However, this is a misunderstanding
of the way in which the word is used in the Bible.
The word antichrist is only used four times
in the whole Bible, and each time in the letters of John. Two of
these are in 1 John 2:18.
Dear children, this is the
last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is
coming, even now many antichrists have come.
John is writing to believers who
have heard that the antichrist is coming. He points out the fact,
that even in his time, many antichrists have already come. This
tells us that the antichrist is not a single person who will come
at some time in the future. There are many antichrists and they
will be in the world throughout the history of the church. In
verse 19, John explains that the antichrists of his time had gone
out from the church. They had originally been in the church, but
were not really part of it, because they did not hold to the true
John explains the meaning of the
word antichrist in 1 John 4:2,3. He is speaking about testing the
spirits, to see which are from God.
Every spirit that
acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from
God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus in not
from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have
heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
Antichrist is not a title applied
to someone who claims that he is the Christ. It is a title applied
to a person who spreads false belief about Jesus. In Johnís time
there were people who claimed that Jesus had not come in the
flesh, but had come in a spiritual form. They denied the
fundamental truth of Christís humanity. John applies the title
antichrist to them. They are working against Jesus, because they
are denying the truth of who he is. For John, antichrist was a
title given to early heretics, and especially those whose teaching
about Jesus was incorrect.
This understanding of the word is
confirmed in 2 John 7, where he writes,
Many deceivers, who do not
acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out
into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the
"The antichrist" is any
person who spreads false doctrines about Jesus. Jesus is central
to the Christian gospel. Thus any misunderstanding of who he is,
undermines the whole gospel. Christians claim that their gospel is
true, so anyone who denies the basic truths about Jesus is a
deceiver. He is leading people away from the truth, and becomes an
obstacle to the gospel and the work of Christ. This is why he
deserves the title "antichrist". The antichrist is any
person who denies the truth about Jesus.
These are the only references to
an antichrist in the whole Bible. John teaches that antichrists
are present throughout the Christian age. They are heretics who
distort the truth of the gospel. Nowhere in scripture is the word
antichrist connected with the Beast of Revelation. It is never
used to describe a political figure who sets up a world empire.
This means that it is wrong to give the title antichrist to either
of the beasts that John saw in Revelation 13. In Revelation
the beast out of the earth is called Babylon
the Great. This is
the name that we should used for it.
A powerful empire will arise at the
time of the calling of the Jews and before the Kingdom of God is
established. However, it should not be called the Antichrist.