Over the centuries, the word anti-christ has become commonly used as a proper noun. It is not rightly a proper noun so, it need not be capitalized.
Anti-christ is simply anyone claiming to be a Christian, but falsely teaching or practicing Christian doctrine. Many people were guilty in the early Church of just that, promoting false doctrine. The idea that there is one ultra-evil Anti-christ, is unknown in the Bible.
Anti-christ is found only in the books of 1 & 2 John. The term is not found in The Revelation, as many mistakenly believe. Later we will see that the Beast out of the Earth takes the office of anti-christ as the Beast falsely speaks as if it were the Lamb of God.
We will take a close look at several passages in the New Testament that are supportive of many “religious” anti-christs.
The entomology of the word anti-christ, is easily mistaken by English speaking persons. In common usage it has come to mean, that which is opposed to, opposite, or opposition to an enemy. However, in the language of our New Testament, it means acting or speaking in the place of Messiah.
In ancient Greek writings, anti-anything signified one who is, in the stead of, or substitute, vice or vicar. A close example would be our own word vice-president, the person who holds this office speaks and acts for the President when the President is unavailable or indisposed.
This was the case when King or Caesar Justin of the Greek speaking Byzantium Empire became too old to carry out his duties, three months before his death.
In the year five, when Justin was king, that old man of whom we related above that he came from the country of Illyricum, he made his sister’s son, who was General; and Justinian became Anti-Caesar, on the 5th day of the week in the last week of the fast. Chronicles of Zechariah of Mytilene Bk. 9, Ch. 1, par. 1 – which will be on this printing’s 218 page.
18 Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and know that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.
26 I write this to you about those who would deceive you; 27 but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him. 1 John 2:18-27
Here, anti-christ is not one person, but many. The scripture says that many anti-christs were already present and at work in the first century. The expectation of one, fantastic, political anti-christ, who in the future will attack God’s people and control the world and its finances, was not known to John.
These teachers or deceivers were associated with the believers at one time, but have left or been put out for false doctrine.
The first time we see such false teachers is in Act 15, where the first church council is called to deal with those who believe that the Gentiles should be circumcised. The early Church found themselves defending many doctrines against false teachers.
It is the last hour
This next passage is not a reference to our last hour, but rather theirs. The post-modern peddlers of prophecy suggest that John was talking about an event now some 1900 years since he wrote.
Is the Bible God’s word or not? If it is truly the Word of God, how can it have such a mistake? John was not wrong, or mistaken, about the time and place in his own day, or to whom he was writing. He knew the time. They all did.
‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; Acts 2:17
He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. 1 Pet 1:20
. . . but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Heb. 1:2
They were clearly not referring to OUR last days, but rather THEIR last days. The Messiah was made flesh or manifest, at the end of the times! The Spirit would be poured out on all believers, on Israel’s sons and daughters – in the last days!
It was their way of life that was about to fall or end. Jewish polity was about to pass away. It is the last days of the temple and priesthood. The temple and its rituals were to vanish from the earth. They knew that Daniel’s great 70 weeks prophecy had just about run its course.
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed. Dan 9:26
The idea of many deceivers seems to be lost to the post-modern church. In an apocalyptic frenzy, they have created a single all powerful political leader for the “end times.” These passages present nothing of the kind. There is a multitude of false teachers.
Why would the Church ever look for one anti-christ?
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son. 10 If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting; 11 for he who greets him shares his wicked work. 2 John 1:7-11
Anti-christs do not have their Christology in order. They attempt to deceive others by questioning the person of Messiah. Their goal is to delude souls and undermine the glory that is the Kingdom.
The warning in this passage of Scripture is that it is possible to lose a full reward by not understanding the humanity and deity of Messiah. Jesus/Yeshua of Nazareth was both God and man. Certainly it is something that our finite mind cannot quite get our heads around.
We may never fully understand the infinite. How could He put aside His deity to walk among us? We are never going to grasp what happened till we return to our infinite nature, as we were before the fall. We are asked to believe by faith and the evidence of His crucifixion and resurrection.
Anti-christs teach that the Kingdom is delayed, making Messiah, as well as John the Baptist, liars. [Matt 3:1-2; Mark 1:15] Their Kingdom is a fantasy of perfection that was never taught by the Lord. Messiah taught that the Kingdom was partly corrupt, and it would stay that way till He came back in judgment.
These deceivers seek not His Kingdom but, rather one of their own. They seek the glory for themselves, and oppose and oppress all who teach the truth. We are not even to greet these deceivers.
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6
Here, anti-christ is connected with false prophets and false spirits. Only by testing doctrine against Scripture can the truth of what they are saying be judged. It is not always obvious. These deceivers are sheep in wolves clothing; not sticking out from the rest of Christianity.
Like the old saying goes, they look like ducks, they walk like ducks, but when they open the mouths they don’t quack like ducks; they honk like a goose or trumpet like a swan. They are of the world and the world listens to them. The faith they preach is one of compromise with the world. It is full of paganism and lies. The truth is distorted and deformed.
The truth that Messiah’s death on the cross was sufficient for salvation, is usually their first attack. Anyone teaching that something else is needed, is of anti-christ. To add to or detract from the saving work of Messiah is to be anti-christ.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
They deny Jesus is the Christ
Because the Scriptures say anti-christs came out from us, they cannot be atheists. They are “religious” people; however, the truth is not in them. These are people who believe that Jesus is a historical figure but, do not believe that He alone can Redeem mankind.
They may teach that Jesus was a good man, or a rabbi, but not the Savior. They somehow twist things so that another leader of the “church” has all authority, but not the Messiah or the Bible.
. . . for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me. John 17:8
The anti-christ is anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh. They are liars and deceivers. Those who deny the true deity and humanity of Jesus Christ are anti-christ!
The Greek word to deny, used by John, is ho arneomai, the one refusing. This in no way implies atheism, or the denial of God’s existence. It simply signifies the heretical departure from the truth. The word is consistently used in the New Testament and in the Septuagint, the first Greek translation of the Old Testament. [Josh 24:27; Mt 10:33; II Tim 3:5; Tit 1:16]
People, who, in any way, deny the basic truths of the scripture, are liars, and deceivers, in other words anti-christs!
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was a real man and God on earth, He actually lived, died, and rose from the dead. Scripture teaches He ascended into heaven and He will truly come again, with a physical and glorified body. To deny these basic truths, whether by dogma, doctrine, or practice, is enough to be an anti-christ.
Many Jews of the first century denied that Jesus was the Messiah. They were following Moses, not acknowledging that Messiah was standing before them. However, they were not called antichrist, but rather unbelievers.
Those within the Church, who invalidate or ignore the real humanity or deity of Christ by usurping Christ’s position and placing another in His stead, have also become anti-christs. John does not call them atheists, infidels, or unbelievers, but rather liars, deceivers, and anti-christs.
It is apparent, that the spirit of anti-christ is that which fosters teachings opposed to the basic truths of The Word. It is the spirit of falsehood and deceit; a departure from Christian truth, that of apostasy, not of atheism. The sin of anti-christ is neither physical nor moral. It is wholly spiritual; it is spiritual darkness [II Cor 4; I John 1:6-7].
They deny the Father and the Son
Remember, Jesus said, “I and my father are one.” These false teachers can’t accept the full deity of our Messiah. The idea that Messiah is of the same substance as the Father, is abhorrent to them. The prophet Zechariah makes it plain that the substance is indeed the same.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Col. 3:1
Believers are a Priesthood to God
There was no reason for early believers to worry about the loss of the Mosaic rituals. They had already been taught that there was to be no need of the physical temple or its anointed priests. That had all ended with the completion of sin by Messiah. The Kingdom of Heaven was here, and we are all are His anointed priests.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 1 Cor. 6:19
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Pet. 2:9
No lie is of the truth
Believers are reminded that no lie is of the truth. This is because all anti-christs mix truth and error. They look like brothers, and for a while they act like brothers but, in the end they prove themselves false.
. . . and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
So, we must set ourselves free from their lies. We must, as disciples of our Lord know the true faith, once and for all delivered to the Saints.
Orthodoxy, or right doctrines are the bedrock of true Christian faith. Messiah is the only true offer of salvation, not a church; He is the only way to the Father, not one of many; He is God in the flesh, not merely a good man.
Orthopraxy, or right practice, requires us to act upon the knowledge that Christmas is not Jesus’ birthday; Easter is not the day He rose from the dead; the Ten Commandments are His will, not 10 suggestions. The list goes on.
We need to identify those pagan and rebellious ideas that have been taught in the Congregation for centuries, and replace them with the truth of the Word. We were never to have priests and pastors lording over us, perpetuating lies that bring money into the churches coffers but, not souls.
Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. 2Cor. 1:24
We must live in the truth
At the time John wrote, the world lived in lies and deception. Surrounding the early church were pagans or Jews who had rejected Truth.
In our present age, we have politicians and scientists who have also rejected the truth. There is movement to return to their pagan roots, attempting to bring all of our society and culture with them. There is demonic power in those old ways, and they want that power.
To stand and say no King but Jesus, and no Truth but the Word of God, is to make oneself the crazy nut job at the edge of society. It is not acceptable to speak of religion or politics in public, our new priests tells us we must be silent.
. . . but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Matt. 10:33
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Rev. 14:12
It is extremely important that we as Christians continually gain knowledge in the Scriptures to test those around us, who claim brotherhood with us. We cannot believe everything that is presented to us. We must go to Scripture to be found acceptable in the Lord’s sight.
It is enough:
To neglect to confess the real humanity of Christ; to be anti-christ. [1 John 4:3]
To neglect to teach the deity of Christ; to be anti-christ. [2 John 9]
To neglect to declare that Jesus Christ is coming again in the flesh; to be anti-christ. [2 John 7]
We must not accept everything or everyone just because they claim to be a follower of Christ.
Anti-christs come from among us. Be wary!