Been on the topic of the latter-days for a little while, I think before moving forward it would be prudent to discuss the general biblical concept of ‘antichrist.’ In giving greater enlightenment to what ‘antichrist’ is, we can have a better discernment of the coming antichrist kingdom, and the coming antichrist person.
A prequel to this post is one I wrote some-time back about the anointing, here: What is the Anointing?
The above may actually be essential reading as the concept of the antichrist is completely interrelated with the anointing.
I will start with a basic definition of terms, and then move into deeper understanding, and some biblical teaching on the antichrist.
The word antichrist is, of course, composed of the two terms: ‘Anti‘ meaning: ‘opposed,’ or ‘contrary to,’ and: ‘Christ‘ which means ‘anointed,’ or ‘the anointing.’
Jesus was the personal embodiment of the anointing – this is why He was called ‘Christ,’ a term that is directly synonymous with ‘Messiah’ (Christ is the Greek word, Messiah the Hebrew word; both mean the same thing: ‘the anointed’ (as in The Anointed One – Jesus) or ‘the anointing’ depending upon context.)
The word ‘antichrist’ means simply: ‘Against the anoint(ing/ed),’ or we could say ‘Enemy of the anoint(ing/ed).’
If you do a concordance search of the word ‘antichrist’ you will find that of all the biblical writers, only John the Apostle actually uses this word ‘antichrist.’ Other biblical writers refer clearly to the antichrist person, but they use other terms, the apostle Paul, for example, referred to the Antichrist person as ‘the son of perdition’ (2 Thess. 2:3) (‘perdition’ means ‘destruction’ and is also used as an epithet for ‘hell’ so literally, the ‘son of destruction,’ or ‘the son of hell.’)
The fact that only the Apostle John ever uses the term ‘antichrist,’ and the fact that he uses it in such plain and clear terms tells us (rather plaintively) that this understanding was a special revelation given to John. This should be no great surprise, as John also received ‘THE Revelation of Jesus Christ’ ‘to shew His servants things which must shortly come to pass.’ (Rev 1:1) It is evident in his writings that John had a special revelatory gift that seemed clearly to exceed that of the other Apostles (perhaps, even Paul’s).
So how did John – who was entrusted with writing the Revelation – define ‘antichrist’? Just what, exactly, WAS his special revelation/ understanding on the topic? Some of the clearest definition of the term ‘antichrist’ is given by the revelatory apostle in the book of 1 John (specifically chapters 2 & 4).
First let us note that John refers to, quote: ‘MANY antichrists.’ While John does specify that there will, indeed, be a singular Antichrist person, he also states here that there are MANY antichrists. For this reason I make a distinction (even in the title of this post) between ‘antichrist’ – spirits, or ideologies, and ‘THE Antichrist’ – person. Understanding WHAT is antichrist will give us clear information on WHO is THE Antichrist.
John declares that the fact that many antichrists exist proves that the ‘last time’ is already present.
(Tangent: I may run into issues with some readers here for this reason – John wrote 1 John nearly 2k years ago – and he already seemed to believe it to be the ‘last time,’ or the ‘latter days.’ Some would say he had a misunderstanding because the world did not end in his lifetime – indeed we are still waiting for the end today. But, in fact, John was not mistaken in declaring that it was the ‘last time,’ and here is why: theologically the ‘final days’ began with the coming Messiah. From the time that Jesus came we have been in the era which the bible refers to as ‘the year of the Lord’s favor,’ or the ‘acceptable time of the Lord,’ this Messianic age ends when Christ returns – at which time a new era – the millennial reign begins. The Messianic age is the final age before the resurrection of the dead, and the ‘Great and notable day of the Lord’ which had been prophesied throughout the Old Testament as ‘the end’ (see also post: The Year of the Lord’s Favor (or ‘The Most Basic Appologesis for Pentecostalism You’ve Never Read’)).)
The fact that ‘many’ antichrists already existed in the time of John show that a new order of resistance to the will of God was already revealed in the earth. One thing I point out from time to time is that there really is no such thing as ‘pure evil.’ (In fact ‘pure’ is really a contradiction to the word ‘evil.’)
Rise of Antichrist – The Knowledge of Good and Evil
In actuality, God is perfect (pure). Evil, or wickedness is something which is ‘contrary to,’ or ‘opposite of’ God. There is no being as powerful as God – no, not the devil – therefore the force of opposition to God cannot be counted an equal opposite. As there is no one equal in power, knowledge, or holiness to God, there can be no equal opposite to God (which is why I say there is no such thing as ‘pure evil,’ there can be ‘pure goodness’ but even the devil has not the power to be polar opposite of God) – but there CAN be (and is) opposition to God. Simply put, in order for something to be evil, it has to be as opposed as possible to the KNOWN will, or character of God.
Where God’s character is concealed, and cannot be known – there can be no opposition to it. This is the danger of knowledge. The more Truth we know about something, the more we can directly resist and rebel against that Truth (which our sinful flesh does automatically). If we know nothing, then we have nothing to resist. This is the principal that Paul spoke of in the book of Romans regarding man’s sinful flesh, when he said:
7…Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
According to Paul, the LAW (which was the revealed will of God) was GOOD, it was the wicked response of his flesh to the known will of God that CREATED sin.
The known will of God brings a twofold response in the earth:
- We know the will of God, and can, therefore, comply with it and obey God, OR
- We know the will of God, and can, therefore RESIST IT FULLY.
(This is a reason why the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was initially forbidden to man (Gen 2:17) – God knew that when we had understanding of morality we would also, as an automatic result, have the ability (and the tendency) to resist good.)
The antichrist could not come until the Christ had come first, for there cannot be an opposition toward something that has not yet been revealed. Now that the revelation of God’s Messiah has been fully manifest to man – and only now in all of history – can man FULLY rebel against the will of God for only now has the will of God (Jesus Christ) been revealed. Only after Jesus Christ was revealed could the fullest form of resistance to God’s will (antichrist) spring to life – and the fact that this fulfillment of wickedness has arisen in the earth PROVES that God’s judgment of man is near.
Jesus declared a parable about this in Matthew 13:24-43, declaring that the good news of the Messiah (the Gospel) was like good seed sown in a field. But AFTER the good news of the Gospel had been sown, the devil sowed tares (weeds) in the same field, among the good seed. Once this antichrist seed was sown, it could not be eradicted from the field until the final judgment, but rather would continue to grow, and increase just as the good seed grew until it was ripe for the harvest. There will be more and more antichrists as the day approaches, and deeper levels of antichrist evil. Knowledge of God will increase (Dan 12:4) and with it, evil will increase also.
The Antichrist Understands, and Rejects Messiah
In 1 John 2:18, John declares that the antichrist tendencies have already begun in the world, and that we know the end is near because of this. The verse following gives some interesting further definition.
In verse 19, John says this of the antichrists who had already gone into the world:
1 John 2:19
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.
In John’s plain statement, he declares that the antichrists who had already begun to go out into the world had begun with the revelation of Jesus Christ. They quote: ‘went out from US,’ thus John was clearly speaking of people who had with the apostles accepted the Truth of Jesus Christ, but they did not continue in the Truth. Indeed, they had to know this revelation of Jesus before they could resist it, and become ‘antichrist.’
In this same way, Daniel the prophet declared that the antichrist would have quote: ‘intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.’ (Dan 11:30) The antichrist PERSON will have a full understanding of Jesus Christ, and the New Covenant – in fact he will understand it all better than MOST Christians do – and he will subtly, and overtly lead Christians to forsake the covenant of Jesus Christ (for how I believe he will do this, see WHO is the Beast from the Sea? pt. 2 ‘Antichrist’ <- indeed this deception already exists on a wide scale in the church). Many will be deceived, and perish.
A few verses later, John gives further definition to what he means by ‘antichrist:’
1 John 2:22 & 23
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also
Antichrist denies that Jesus is the Christ (remember, ‘Christ’ means: ‘the anoint(ing/ed)’). To deny, reject, or refute the anointing of God (specifically in the person of Jesus Christ) IS ANTICHRIST. Once again, this denial could only take place once the revelation of its Truth has been given to mankind – no one could deny that Jesus was the Christ before He came, but now that He has come the act of denying Him AS the Christ is ANTICHRIST. He declares also that those who deny Jesus, are also in denial of the Father.
This is very important. Remember, also, that ‘Christ’ is the Greek word for ‘Messiah.’ Mark my words: The nation that denies that Jesus is the MESSIAH has ALSO rejected God the father. ANY nation, or people who claim to serve God, yet have rejected the MESSIAH are (according to John the Apostle) Antichrist, they deny both the Father, and the Son.
There is a nation in the earth today that claims to believe in God (Jehovah, YHWH), but who denies His Messiah – this is exactly the definition John just gave us of antichrist in these two verses – although this nation denies the Messiah, many Christians support it unconditionally, believing this nation to be the ‘people of God’ even though, by John’s definition they deny the Father, and the Son. Remember the antichrist will also have intelligence with them that forsake the covenant, and beware lest you be deceived.
Discerning ‘Christ’ in the Flesh
Let’s look at the final passage of 1 John, which gives definition to antichrist:
1 John 4:1-3
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
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.
Now this, also, gives vital definition to ‘antichrist’ because John is speaking specifically of spiritual discernment in this passage.
In the previous passages John declares that everyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) is antichrist. In this passage John makes further distinction between Jesus coming at all, and His coming IN THE FLESH. Those who deny Jesus came at all are antichrist, those who deny that the Christ came IN THE FLESH are also antichrist.
It is believed by most theologians that John is specifically addressing the teachings of a gnostic cult which was trying to infiltrate Christianity when he specifies these things about Christ coming IN THE FLESH. The gnostic perspective accepted that God had come to the earth in the form of Jesus, but that the form of Jesus was not an actually flesh and blood human – rather He came in a spiritual body that deceptively APPEARED human. (The likeness of this false teaching exists today among the ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ who teach that Jesus was not physically resurrected, but came back after the crucifixion as a spirit (which is plainly not true, see Luke 24:37-43).)
I would point out that – while I believe the above interpretation is true – there is greater meaning than just that in defining ‘antichrist.’ This passage has to do with DISCERNING ‘CHRIST.’ It is easy to declare that Jesus is the Christ – indeed Jesus is called ‘Christ’ throughout the New Testament, but that does not mean that we understand what ‘Christ’ actually is. I have earlier given a basis definition of the words ‘Messiah,’ and ‘Christ,’ which both mean ‘the anoint(ing/ed).’ But so what? What does the anointing mean? Anyone could call Jesus the Christ if they thought ‘Christ’ meant simply that oil was at some point poured on His head. Do you see what I mean? Discerning what it means to be ‘Christ’ is essential to what John is saying in this passage. (This is why I recommended reading post: What is the Anointing? as a precursor.)
In fact the ‘anointing’ is a prophetic euphemism for the presence of the Spirit of God. In order to fully BE THE CHRIST, one must BE GOD.
I will jump to Paul now, who gave (I think) the clearest definition for ‘Christ’:
Colossians 2:8 & 9
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
To be THE Christ, THE Messiah, means that not only do you have the spirit of God within you – indeed the word ‘Christian’ means ‘little Christ,’ and is a fit description for we have the Spirit of God – but you have THE FULLNESS OF GOD WITHIN YOU.
Anyone who denies that the fullness of the Godhead came in the flesh, in the person of Jesus is antichrist. There are many cults which claim to be of Christian origin which deny that Jesus WAS God in the flesh. They may claim to believe Jesus is ‘Christ’ because the bible plainly says He is, but they deny He is God incarnate – that, too, is antichrist.