All quotes are from the World English Bible unless otherwise noted
(The WEB version contains apocryphal books. We don't quote from the apocrypha)
Although the Antichrist is a well-known concept in Christian circles many people are confused as to who or what the Antichrist is.
To begin with, it is worth remembering that the word segment “anti-” means “against” or “opposed to”. Therefore, the word “antichrist” would mean someone who is against, or opposed to, Christ. The only places in the Bible which specifically mention the word “antichrist” are in the Books of 1 John and 2 John (not to be confused with the Gospel of John). Let's take a look at what these passages say:
In other words, this passage tells us that The Antichrist will be coming, and that many other antichrists have already come and gone. It also reveals these antichrists were those who were originally associated with the Christian congregation but later separated from it. This statement causes people to wonder: If antichrists have existed all these years, who is an antichrist?
John defines this for us:
In the most basic sense every person who is shown the truth about Jesus Christ and yet continues to deny him can be categorized as an antichrist because the denial amounts to being opposed to Christ. Note also that in the passage at 1 John 2:22 it mentions that being an antichrist can also include denying the Father as well as the Son.
DENIAL OF FATHER AND SON
In what ways do people deny the Son? There are two particular ways that are mentioned in Scripture:
1. Complete refusal to confess faith in Him as the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33, 2 Timothy 2:12). The biggest offenders of this brand of denial are those who openly claim themselves to be Jesus Christ or claim themselves to be God. Those who make such claims deny the True Father and the True Son by hijacking those positions for themselves. Another type of person who denies the Christ is one who knowingly converts from Christianity to another religion, as all other religions deny Christ's position as God's Son. Note that such converts can live very moral lives and be very nice people – but this does not negate the fact that they've denied the Christ.
2. Continuing with unholy works in spite of claiming to confess Christ (Matthew 7:21-23, Titus 1:16). The biggest offenders of this kind of denial are “Christians” who continue to practice spiritism, actively support unscriptural activities, and teach other doctrine which isn't originated from the Bible. Again, note that such people can continue to live very moral lives and be nice people, and again, this does not negate their actions which deny Christ.
In other words, any person who continually denies Christ either by word or deed is in danger of becoming an antichrist. Unfortunately, the world is filled with such ones, and this is why the Bible warns us that false leaders willexist even within our own local congregations (1 John 2:18-19). Scripture also advises that we remain watchful of whom we follow (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Remember to continually test all teachings (Acts 17:11), and pray for Godly wisdom to discern between the truth and the lies.
ANTICHRIST, OR SIMPLY A SINNER?
Of course, we must be sure that we are differentiating between a simple sinner and an antichrist; we do not want to be hasty in our personal judgments. Let's take a look as some examples from the Bible:
Did the apostle Peter became an antichrist when he denied Jesus three times? (Matthew 26:34-35, 69-74).
Although Peter did deny Christ, he did not continue to deny Him. In essence, Peter had a moment of human weakness during a time of extreme stress, confusion, and fear -- an action for which he showed clear remorse (Matthew 26:75). It is obvious that in Peter's heart he really did believe in Christ in spite of his moments of weakness -- this is shown in that he felt the sharp pangs of guilt upon denying him (Matthew 26:69-75), and that he continued preaching the true gospel after this unfortunate incident (Acts chapters 1-15, books of 1 and 2 Peter). Although Peter acted stupidly out of stress, confusion and fear, he did not continually deny Christ; therefore he was not an antichrist
Were the Pharisees a collective antichrist?
The Pharisees were a group of pious religious leaders who were intensely educated in the Scriptures. They witnessed Jesus Christ performing powerful miracles (John 9:16, 11:47) and casting out evil spirits (Matthew 12:22). They witnessed His Godlike wisdom, and were even rendered speechless from it on occasion (Matthew 22:15-21, 34-45). In spite of all this, they loathed Jesus to the point of blaspheming the Holy Spirit by declaring his miraculous powers as a trick of Satan (Matthew 9:34, 12:22-32). (Christ's ability to cast out evil spirits was through the Holy Spirit: Matthew 12:28) They continually conspired to kill Jesus without a twinge of guilt (Matthew 12:14, John 7:25, 11:57). They weren't acting upon a moment of fear, weakness or in ignorance -- they were continually acting in inexcusable, unholy ways without remorse. This would categorize them as a collective antichrist. Jesus himself recognized their wickedness while he was here on Earth (Matthew 5:20).
What about the men who were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus -- were they antichrists?
No, they were not: Remember, these men were acting out of sheer ignorance – Jesus Christ Himself recognized this fact and implored God to forgive them for they didn't know what they were actually doing (Luke 23:34). It is also notable that when Christ died, terrifying miraculous events occurred (Matthew 27:50-52); at which point the guards watching over Christ's body suddenly became very aware of who Christ was and immediately confessed Him (Matthew 27:54) -- the exact opposite of how the Pharisees had been acting.
Was the Apostle Paul/Saul (Acts 13:9) an antichrist before his conversion to Christianity?
Remembering that Paul had been a major persecutor of Christians (Acts 8:3, 9:1) many believe Paul was an antichrist due to these actions. However, Paul was a man who simply acted out of sheer ignorance. When he was faced with the reality of Christ's existence he immediately confessed Christ. Not only did he confess Christ, but he lived the remainder of his life committed to teaching the gospel of Christ (Acts 9:1-27), even within the confines of prison (Philippians 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:9). In other words, Paul readily accepted the authority of Christ as soon as this authority was made clear to him (Acts 26:19). This eliminates him from the antichrist pool.
The lesson to learn from these examples is this: Be careful that you do not slap the label of “antichrist” on those who are simply ignorant or have an isolated moment of weakness. There is no perfect human alive on earth, and so we must allow for the fact that some are going to make some very stupid mistakes. They need our prayers, not our hasty judgment.
As for all of those who are being misled into an antichristian path, pray for their salvation because the Bible never says that such people cannot be saved – in fact, we are actually required to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Never give up hope, you never know when you'll be able to snatch someone from the fire.
THE END TIME ANTICHRIST
In many Christian circles it is taught that in the End Times The Antichrist will rise to power.
Although the Bible doesn't use a formal title such as "The Antichrist" in reference to a specific End Times person, the traits attributed to this person fit the definition of a major Antichrist perfectly. So, then, what does the Bible state regarding this specific person?
Let's start with Revelation Chapter 13:
Now let's take a walk through Daniel chapter 7, which closely resembles these passages in Revelation:
So we can see the books of Daniel and Revelation contain parallels regarding this End Time crisis. Although these already give us plenty to think about, this is not all that the Bible tells us on the topic. Let's now take a look at 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2:
PUTTING THE ScriptureS TOGETHER
These three passages of Scripture tell us all of the important stuff we need to know concerning the End Time Antichrist:
1. This Antichrist will likely originate from a political alliance.
Summing it all up, the Bible tells us these basic things: What the traits of an antichrist are, that antichrists have existed for thousands of years, and the procession of events that will occur when the End Time Antichrist appears. By using Scripture we can keep ourselves aware of these things, thereby saving ourselves from the entrapment of Satan.
May God's peace dwell in you during these times.