Over thirty years ago I got off track! How so you might ask. Well as a newly minted Christian I had a fascination with the “last days” and anything that had to do with the “end times”. One of the first books that I purchased, besides the Bible, was Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. That book had a profound effect on the way that I interpreted Bible passages that I assumed dealt with the “end time”. The book was published in 1970 by Zondervan Publishing House. I picked up my copy in 1983, thirteen years after its original publication date. 28 million copies had sold by 1990. Did I bother to check the claims made in this book against the scriptures? Nope! Sure didn’t. That is until a few short years ago!
Although Lindsey did not claim to know the dates of future events with any certainty, he suggested that Matthew 24:32-34 indicated that Jesus’ return might be within “one generation” of the rebirth of the state of Israel, and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. Lindsey asserted that “in the Bible” one generation is forty years. Some readers took this as an indication that the Tribulation or the Rapture would occur no later than 1988. In his 1980 work The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, Lindsey predicted that “the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it”.
Chapter 9 of the Late Great Planet Earth deals with the subject of the “the Antichrist”. The chapter is entitled “The Future Fuehrer”. In this chapter Lindsey quotes extensively from the book of Revelation. He equates the “Beast” of Revelation 13 with “the Antichrist”. What’s interesting is that the word “Antichrist” does not appear in the entire book of Revelation. The word “Antichrist” and “Antichrists” is only mentioned in the books of 1st and 2nd John. Yet Lindsey does not once mention the books of 1st and 2nd John. Do you see a problem with this approach?
If you ever hear anyone use the term “the Antichrist” you really need to sit up and pay attention. You can bet that they have bought into a system of theology that is not supported by the Bible. Kind of a strong statement don’t you think? Over the mere mention of the phrase “the Antichrist”? Yes, because there simply is no such character or person appearing in scripture. Before you stop reading let me explain.
The Unfounded Claim
Here are the issues folks: multitudes of well-meaning Christians will casually use the term “the Antichrist.” “The Antichrist” is a title that points to a future Satanic world ruler who arises in the last days to rule the entire world. “The Antichrist,” they believe, will kill Christians and Jews. Everyone will be forced to accept a world economic system by being injected with a computer chip. This computer chip, embedded in the right hand or forehead is the “mark” of the Beast and involves the number 666. This is, in a nutshell, is the overall teaching. This is what I believed for over 30 years……until I dug into this subject for myself.
Any serious student of the Bible needs to verify these claims for themselves. Moreover, today it is easier than ever to accomplish this. Most of you probably have a Bible app on your cell phone that allows you to search for any word or phrase in the Bible. Bible programs are also available for free on the internet. You do not have to be a Bible student or scholar to see quickly all the passages containing the words “Antichrist” or “Antichrists.” Try it right now!
Antichrist(s) In the Bible
This character, “the Antichrist” does not appear in Scripture. At least not as he has been presented by numerous “prophecy” teachers and writers. By that, I mean that you will not find the term “The Antichrist” anywhere in the King James Version of the Bible.
In fact, there are only four verses in the King James Bible that speak of “Antichrist.” There are three references in I John chapter 2 and one verse in II John chapter 2. The words “Antichrist” and “Antichrists” are only found five times in the King James Bible in four verses.
Here are the only verses that speak of “Antichrist(s):”
I John 2:18-19 (KJV) – ” 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. 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.”
I John 2:22 (KJV) – “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”
I John 4:3 (KJV) – “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.”
II John 1:7 (KJV) – “For 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.”
So in the scriptures, we read of:
• “Many antichrists.”
• “That spirit of antichrist.”
• “An Antichrist.”
However, we never read of “The Antichrist” as though there is a figure in the Bible who is more “Antichrist” than any other “Antichrist.”
According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “Antichrist” comes from the Greek word antichristos. The word makes its first appearance in 1 John 2:18. This opening usage of the word does not even include the definite article “the”. Therefore, there is no “the” before the word “antichrist”!
More Than One Antichrist?
Moreover, if you notice the very first verse (1 John 2:18) declares that “even now there are many antichrists.” Now keep in mind John, the Apostle wrote those words in the 1st century A.D. That verse alone should dispel the myth of “the Antichrist.” According to John “Antichrist” is NOT a single person but a term that describes a group, or type of person. John never came close to describing a future world dictator.
Then if we continue reading in 1 John 2:19: “They [plural] went out from us, but they [plural] were not of us….that they [plural] might be made manifest that they [plural] were not all of us”. It is clear from this verse that these “antichrists” were coming and going during John’s day. Therefore, we should not be waiting for “the Antichrist” in our immediate future.
Now, what is, even more, interesting is that John, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, interpreted the arrival of these “antichrists” as proof that he (John) and those living at that time (1st century A.D.) were living in the “last hour” or “last days”. So wouldn’t it be logical to say that John and his contemporaries believed that they were living in the “last hour”? Moreover, what’s of vital importance is to define accurately the terms “last days”, “last hour” and “time of the end”. This topic is covered in my article The Last Days – Of What?
1 John 2:18 is the first and what many consider the main passage that introduces the appearance of “antichrist.” As mentioned earlier the other three passages are 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 1:7. The word “antichrist”, in either English or Greek does NOT appear in the entire book of Revelation or 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. Moreover, I might add the word “antichrist” does not appear in the book of Daniel even though many interpret the “he” found in Daniel 9:27 to be “the Antichrist.”
Whose An Antichrist?
John then goes on to tell us how to spot an antichrist. “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 2:22). Can John be clearer? If someone denies that, Jesus is the Christ he is “antichrist.” In other words, that person opposes Jesus Christ. It is just take simple. While John was addressing 1st century A.D. Christians, his words apply to us today as well. John is simply pointing out the litmus test to determine heresy.
John continues in 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.” Here again John explains the criteria for recognizing the spirit of antichrist. This spirit can manifest itself in more than one person. John gives a warning in 1 John 4:1 to “try the spirits whether they are of God”. The “antichrist” spirit, John warns, is definitely not of God.
The last appearance of the word “antichrist” is found in 2 John 7. John reinforces everything he has said earlier and repeats his earlier teaching. If you run into someone that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh than that person is a deceiver and “an antichrist.”
That’s All Folks!
That’s it folks! You have now read every verse in the Bible containing the word antichrist or antichrists. Five appearances of the word “antichrist” in four verses. From these four verses we can know with a certainly this much: there were many antichrists in Johns day (and ours as well) and their appearance meant that John’s generation were living in the “last time”. Now I’m sorry to disappoint but any teaching that veers from these basic biblical teachings makes the mistake of adding or taking away from the word of God. Furthermore, any talk of some future, lone figure called “the Antichrist” that some believe is Satan manifest in the flesh, is simply not supported by scripture.
The Hybrid Antichrist
Now if we stick strictly with scripture that should end our discussion of “antichrist”. Unfortunately that is not the case with multitudes of Christians. Once you buy into the false teaching that “the Antichrist” is some future world dictator the sky is the limit. A composite or hybrid “antichrist” is created. From Genesis, Daniel, 2 Thessalonians and the book of Revelation a composite portrait of “the Antichrist” emerges from the prophetic fog!
This created “Antichrist” character is then read back into scripture to describe each and every evil ruler and false prophet that ever existed. Thus the “man of sin”, “son of perdition” found in 2 Thessalonians and the “Beast” of Revelation chapter 13 (and many others) becomes “the Antichrist”. And this “antichrist” will be coming in your future. The Antichrist” resulting from this “gumbo” of scripture is just not in keeping with the clear teaching of 1st and 2nd John.
Of course John never does say that antichrist is coming in the future. John declares that many antichrists had already manifested themselves in his day. John never describes one antichrist as more evil than other antichrists. There are NO varying degrees of Antichrist. There is no ultimate or super duper antichrist! Most who teach a future world dictator referred to as “the Antichrist” never bother to quote any of the four verses in 1st and 2nd John. The only way to define the term “antichrist” is to let scripture itself speak. Context really is important! Let scripture define “antichrist” and then interpret the rest of scripture according to its context.
Once you have read every scripture containing the word “antichrist” you will be in the position to realize the many deceptions that have been thrust on modern Christianity. Like myself you should come to the realization that there is no such figure mentioned or prophesied in the Bible called “the Antichrist”. It’s a false teaching, a myth.
Likewise you will know that the question “Who is the Antichrist?” should not even be asked. It’s nonsensical. It does not have an answer because there is no “the Antichrist“. The question implies that there is just one “Antichrist” in your future. It’s like asking “Do you beat your wife”? Answering either yes or no makes the assumption that you do beat your wife. The proper response would be “I reject the assumption that I beat my wife!”
In the same vein, I reject the assumption that such a person as “the Antichrist” exists or will exist in the future. This false teaching has resulted in misinformed Christians labeling everyone from Roman Catholic Popes to U.S. Presidents (Barack Obama being the latest) “the Antichrist”. Does your neighbor believe in Jesus Christ? Does your neighbor believe that Christ came in the flesh? If not, then you my friend are living next door to “an antichrist”! Someone who denies Christ!