Who is the Antichrist prophesied to come?
Surprising as it may sound to some, the Bible nowhere identifies a particular person as “the Antichrist.” Even though religious preachers and programs may be talking about the “coming Antichrist,” they really misapply certain Scriptures to promulgate such a false concept.
It is correct that the Bible says that two individuals, called the “beast” and the “false prophet,” will appear on the world scene, and that Satan will use them, as his instruments, to bring havoc to this world. Scriptures also refer to the “false prophet” as the “man of sin,” and they speak of the “beast” as the “king of the north” or “King Jareb of Assyria.” But the Bible nowhere says that either one of those two persons–either the “beast” or the “false prophet”– is “THE Antichrist.”
To give just one example, the following explanation of the “antichrist” in the “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” by W.E.Vine, must be rejected, as totally lacking all Scriptural support and being actually in contradiction with Scripture: “What the apostle [John] says of him [antichrist] so closely resembles what he says of the first beast in Rev. 13, and what the apostle Paul says of the Man of Sin in 2 Thess. 2, that the same person seems to be in view in all these passages.”
The idea that “antichrist” applies to an end-time ruler fighting God did not originate in Scripture, but in human tradition. The idea to limit “antichrist” to one individual has also given rise to the most wide-spread interpretations. As Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia points out, “Different interpreters have at various times identified the Antichrist with the Roman emperors Nero, Diocletian, Julian, and Caligula; with the Samaritan sorcerer Simon Magus (see Acts 8:9-24); and with Muhammad, the founder of Islam. At the time of the Reformation, Protestants quite generally held the pope to be the antichrist, and Roman Catholics regarded Martin Luther similarly. In the controversy between the Roman church and the Greek church, the name was applied, by those who opposed them, to popes and Byzantine emperors.”
It is a fundamental mistake to limit the concept of “antichrist” to just one particular person.
The word “antichrist” is used exclusively by John in four places. The context shows what is meant by “antichrist.” Let us review these four passages, as quoted from the Authorized Version:
1 John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists…”
1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”
1 John 4:3: “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.”
2 John 7: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come [literally: coming] in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
From these passages, we see that “antichrist” is not limited to a particular person, but that it describes a wrong “spirit” or false teaching, pertaining to Jesus Christ and God the Father. The word “antichrist” literally means, “an opponent to Christ.” John says that there are MANY “antichrists” in the world, not just one. And he explains that “antichrist” is not limited to the identification of a person still to come in the future, but that the spirit of antichrist was already active at the time of John. It has been in the world ever since. And so, the spirit of antichrist will most certainly permeate, influence and possess the “beast” and the “false prophet,” but it is not limited to just those two individuals.
The spirit of antichrist denies that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God the Father (1 John 2:22). It denies that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John 4:3)–that is, that He became a human being (John 1:14). It denies that God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, impregnated the virgin Mary to bring forth Jesus the Christ. It denies that Christ, the Son of God who had lived for all eternity as the second member of the God Family, became fully man to be able to overcome sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3) and to DIE for us (Philippians 2:5-8; Revelation 1:18), so that we could obtain forgiveness of our sins, release from the death penalty for our sins, reconciliation with God the Father, and hope of eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).
And finally, the spirit of antichrist denies that Christ is coming, today, in the flesh (2 John 7). That is, as will be explained, Christ is living His life spiritually, through the Holy Spirit, in the physical bodies–the “flesh”–of His disciples. The New King James Bible says, accurately: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” The Williams translation says that Christ “continues to come” in the flesh.
Some commentaries claim that this means that Jesus Christ will appear at His Second Coming as a man. This is a terrible misapplication of Scripture. Even though Jesus Christ is called at times the “Man Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 2:5), the context shows that such a passage refers to His present function as High Priest, intervening on our behalf, as He lived as a man and as He can therefore sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-15). The Bible does NOT say that Christ will return or come again as a man. As a man, He could die, but the Bible says that Christ has died once and will NEVER die again (Revelation 1:18). Christ is today an immortal glorified God Being in the Family of God, and this is how He will return (1 Corinthians 15:45; Titus 2:13).
When the Bible says that antichrist denies that Christ is coming in the flesh, something altogether different is being addressed. The spirit of antichrist denies that Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, lives in His disciples today (compare Galatians 2:20). It denies that Christ is, in that sense, coming into His disciples; that is, flesh and blood human beings. It denies that Christ is coming right now in the flesh or the physical bodies of His disciples by living His life spiritually in His people. It denies that others should be able to look at Christ’s disciples and recognize Christ living in them. It denies that, even though we have been reconciled with God the Father by the death of His Son, we “shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). It is only because Christ was resurrected from the dead and lives His life in us today, that we are able to inherit eternal life. Christ said in John 14:19: “Because I live, you will live also.”
By extension, the spirit of antichrist denies that we have to keep God’s commandments, because Christ only lives in us if we obey Him. 1 John 3:24 says: “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, AND HE IN HIM. And by this we know that He ABIDES IN US, by the Spirit [which] He has given us.” Christ said in John 14:15-18: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper that [it] may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you orphans, I WILL COME TO YOU.”
The spirit of antichrist DENIES the entire saving work of Jesus Christ–who He was before He became a man; who He was when in the flesh; who He is today; what He DOES today; and that He lives His life in the flesh of His disciples who OBEY Him.
Rather than limiting “Antichrist” to just one person to appear on the world scene in the future, the Bible warns of the spirit of antichrist which has been in this world for a long time, and which will prevent us, if we fall prey to it, from inheriting eternal life.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link