Antichrist in Scripture
In a recent online sermon, the question was asked, will you be able to identify the Antichrist? This question was referring to the embodiment of the final Antichrist or "Man of Sin." The following article will give you background information on the antichrists that have affected the true doctrines or teachings of Jesus Christ. These false doctrines oppose God, oppose the true Church of God and oppose Jesus Christ.
Antichrist, the word itself brings to mind a person of pure evil. A person claiming God's authority, the ultimate blasphemy and abomination. But if the Antichrist is so obviously evil, what will keep the world from recognizing his deception. If you don't know the true Christ and Gods plan you will be deceived too and won't know the Antichrist either.
The term antichrist is used only 4 times in the Bible, all by the Apostle John. But the theme of an evil ruler in the last days can be found in prophecy throughout the Bible. There are 2 ways to look at the word antichrist,
1: The person that takes the actual form of Antichrist or a false Christ in the last days
2: Any person or entity that actively with malice, opposes the teachings of the Bible and God or Jesus Christ.
In part 1 of this article We will cover the false doctrines of antichrists
For reference I will first include the 4 times John uses this term, taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Before we look at the specific antichrist movement that John speaks of in the epistles of John, it would be wise to look at the time frame and available history of John's era. I, II and III John were written about 90 a.d. The book of Revelation was written about 96 a.d.
Before we can clearly understand what John is speaking of, and rightly divide the word of truth, (II Timothy 2:15) we need to know to whom John is speaking, and where they were located. We can prove from secular history and the Bible, specifically the book of Revelation, where John was conducting his ministry. We know the time period, and from the book of Revelation, that the apostle John was serving the churches in Asia Minor. We know that he was exiled from Ephesus to Patmos in 96 a.d., where God inspired the book of Revelation. The churches in Asia Minor were gentile churches, the Jews had already been deposed by Titus and were no longer a major factor, however John did have to deal with a group of counterfeit Jews that he called the Synagogue of Satan. There is also evidence in III John where John has to deal with a rebel within the church leadership that is usurping the true ministry of Jesus Christ and refusing to receive the Apostle John. His name is Diotrephes. III John gives evidence that the congregation where Diotrephes did his dirty work was Ephesus! In III John, we note a fellow servant of Jesus Christ named Gaius. The Apostle Paul tells us that he baptized Gaius in Ephesus.
Not one.... MANY ANTICHRISTS -- John 2:18 to 2:19
"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."
In the book of Revelation, John lists the things that these churches in Asia Minor must be aware of and must fight against or it will cost them their salvation. They are all things that are against Christ's teaching...or better put, they are "antichrist."
False Apostles --- False Ministers --- Losing your first love -- Doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Amalgamating Paganism and Christianity)
Doctrine of Baalam --- The Gnostics (Neo Paganism) --- False Jews in the Synagogue of Satan --- Accepting the doctrine of Satan
Failure to do the first works --- Being seduced by Jezebel (Western Pagan based Christianity) --- Letting a man take your crown
Being lukewarm --- Being rich and increased and having need of nothing (Pride and self-righteousness)
I and II John deals with the doctrines of the Gnostics. The Gnostics were teaching that Christ was totally divine. In III John, we see John was having to deal with Diotrephes who rejected his God given office of Apostle.
FALSE CHRISTIANITY -- Another Jesus
Infiltration of the Gnostics begins early. This scripture tells us that very soon after the New Testament church was founded, divisions had already taken place in the church. Events were being set in motion to fulfill prophecy. False Christianity was born at almost the same instant as the true church. Some of the early converts had already turned to false teachings that would eventually turn into modern mainstream Christian beliefs. Slowly but surely the foundational doctrines of the church would be "done away with" as neo-pagan traditions such as Christmas (see article Good Old Time Religion) replaced the faith once delivered to the saints. which included keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days. False teachings of "church fathers" replaced God's law. Invading the body of the early true church like a cancer, teaching that the God of the Old Testament was harsh and cruel and that the serpent of the Garden of Eden was "the good lord" and bestower of knowledge. The Gnostic texts tell of a different Jesus than the one taught in the 4 gospels. They didn't accept that Christ was the Jewish Messiah, or even a man, for that matter. Gnosticism's roots are anti-Semitic and "fostered an early anti-Jewish attitude." They didn't like the God of Israel, they didn't like the Jesus taught in the gospels, THEY WERE ANTICHRIST! And they didn't like the message of the true Jesus, which was the good news of the coming literal Kingdom of God.
II Corinthians 11:4 shows that Paul was fighting this as well. "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!" We can see that Paul is also dealing with a false teaching just like John. If you'll continue to read in II Corinthians 11, you'll see that Paul goes on to show his credentials as he is dealing with false apostles and ministers who are propagating this false doctrine.
In Matthew 5:13 Christ says to the church: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing." The original church can be compared to salt in the beginning of the parable, it kept God's law, his holy days, the Sabbath, the food laws. Modern Christianity is the salt that lost its savor. It doesn't have the identifying signs, and therefore, no longer bears any resemblance to God's church, it is useless.
John 2:22 to 2:23
"Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son. Whosoever denies the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledges the Son hath the Father also."
To teach lies about the true nature of Christ and his sacrifice is denying the real Christ and denying the master plan of God the Father. The whole world now accepts the false Christ, not the real one.
The next 2 scriptures deal with the nature of Christ. John's focus in these scriptures is the fact that Christ came in the flesh as a human being. One group of false teachers were the Gnostics. This radical group believed that Christ was not flesh and blood, but maintained his immortality while being only disguised as flesh and blood. Therefore not having the ability to die.
Gnostic belief: Jesus was a spirit that “seemed” to be human,
John 4:1 to 4:3
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses 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."
JOHN WAS COUNTERING THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF THE GNOSTICS THAT CHRIST WAS TOTALLY DIVINE...A TEACHING THAT IS NOW ACCEPTED BY ALL OF WESTERN PAGAN BASED CHRISTIANITY
You have to be careful about misapplying this concept as some do, including the Catholics that claim the final Antichrist will be a Jew. (Reference: Catholic Encyclopedia) God has temporarily blinded the Jews as to the Messiahship of Jesus Christ but the Jews DO believe that Jesus was a physical human being and came in the flesh, so they pass the test of not being an antichrist according to John. And, Christ said that He was only sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. (Matthew 15:24) Biblically, the House of Israel was the lost 10 tribes. The Jews do not believe that Christ was purely divine like the Gnostics do. John is clearly speaking here of the Gnostic belief that Jesus was a divine being who only appeared human, and in their view, they did not acknowledge Christ as the Jewish messiah!
Peter warns us to beware of unlearned and unstable individuals that twist scripture to their own destruction. II Peter 3:16 If we use the same reasoning that they use, Satan and the demons KNOW that Jesus came in the flesh, after all they went to a lot of effort to see him killed. (Psalm 22) We know that Satan is antichrist, yet he believes Christ came in the flesh. It strangely follows then, that this would preclude the final antichrist from being the embodiment of Satan the devil! So we really do have to be careful of how we apply this!
2 John 1:7 to 1:10
" 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. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." Modern Christianity still teaches that Christ did not cease to exist for 3 days and 3 nights. It is common belief that he entered hell to preach to the demons. Here is a direct quote from the online Catholic Encyclopedia.
"I answer that, The soul is united with the Word of God more immediately and more primarily than the body is, because it is through the soul that the body is united with the Word of God, as stated above (Question 6, Article 1). Since, then, the Word of God was not separated from the body at Christ's death, much less was He separated from the soul. Accordingly, since what regards the body severed from the soul is affirmed of the Son of God--namely, that "it was buried"--so is it said of Him in the Creed that "He descended into hell," because His soul when separated from the body did go down into hell."
The immortality of the soul is a false teaching. If Christ still existed on a conscious level during his death, he was really not dead at all. This is the same False doctrine the Gnostics believed. If when you die you are instantly transformed to an immortal being, what would be the sacrifice or risk of dying? Christ made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up his immortality, becoming a flesh and blood human. When he died he ceased to exist until his resurrection, just as every human ceases to exist when they die until the future day that God will resurrect them. God "restored his soul" to quote from the 23rd psalm. If his soul was active during his death, restoration would not have been necessary.
Here is another quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia from the same article about Christ's death:
"When the higher [species] is removed, so is the lower. But the living or animated being is a higher species than animal and man, because an animal is a sensible animated substance. Now during those three days of death Christ's body was not living or animated. Therefore He was not a man." (And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.)
Another quote from the same encyclopedia:
"Here we consider this union as a fact; the nature of the union will be later taken up. Now it is our purpose to prove that the Divine nature was really and truly united with the human nature of Jesus, i.e., that one and the same Person, Jesus Christ, was God and man. We speak here of no moral union, no union in a figurative sense of the word; but a union that is physical, a union of two substances or natures so as to make One Person, a union which means that God is Man and Man is God in the Person of Jesus Christ."
"Some Gnostics believed Christ was not a man but a docetistic spirit, and therefore could not die." This is the essence of the antichrists. It sounds like the same Gnostic doctrine that Christ was an immortal divine being only appearing to be flesh.
The whole world will be deceived by the Antichrist because they already have the false doctrines of the early Anti-Christ's, which have been built into the current religious system. Modern day Christianity was created by those that "went out from us." The spirit of antichrist was sent out into the world during the time of John, but it was only the beginning. It has continued to grow and prosper. The manifestation of the Antichrist will happen at the time right before the return of Christ. The world will be easily deceived because the deception happened in the first century church and is now widely accepted. In Part 2 of this article I will discuss antichrists in prophecy.