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Article 14 - What Is The Antichrist?

What Is the Antichrist?

Jon Gary Williams

Every student of the Bible at some time will come across this word. Even many who do not read the Bible have heard of it and tend to wonder about it. The word "antichrist" is very much a part of modern-day preaching, especially among those who espouse the idea that Christ will one day return to reign on earth for 1000 years. The idea of a so-called "antichrist" who will one day come to war against Christ and devastate world is commonly heard.

There are several false views about the identity of the antichrist. Some have claimed that it is one specific person. Others say it is a mysterious force that will wage war with Christ in some gigantic fashion. Others believe it is anyone who opposes Christ. And even others feel it is the "beast" mentioned in the book of Revelation. Though these views are vastly different, they all have one thing in common - they all teach that the antichrist is yet to come. 

Background Information

During the first century A.D. there were several different religious movements which held different religious ideas. Some of the ideas had become slowly interwoven into Christianity. These movements had their own peculiarities which set them apart. One of these groups held the Docetic philosophy which taught that all flesh is inherently evil. This idea became a disturbing element within the church. It is from this view that the antichrist concept was spawned. 

Those who espoused the antichrist doctrine did not deny the existence of God; they were not atheists. Nor did they deny Jesus. They believed Jesus was a real person. In fact, they would defend him! And they did not reject Christianity; they claimed to be Christians. John wrote that they "went out from us" (I John 2:19). So they were not anti-Christian, as they are often made to appear. 

The word "antichrist" is mentioned four times in the book of I John: 2:18,22; 4:3. A fifth mention is in II John 7. From these references several things are learned. 

First, there were "many" antichrists (I John 4:4,5). However, the impression left by a great many preachers is that there will be only one antichrist.

Second, they were already present - "even now there are many" (I John 2:18). Hence, the early Christians had already been warned of their presence.

Third, they denied that Jesus was Deity in the flesh! This ultimately led to a denial of the Father as well.

A Look At II John 7

This passage gets to the heart of the matter. John explains that these people denied that Jesus could actually be God's son in a human body of flesh. Since they felt that flesh was inherently evil, they could not accept the idea of Deity being in the flesh. To them, Jesus was only in a spiritual form, thus creating a great controversy arose. 

A Look At John 1:1-4, 14

John, no doubt, had this same issue in mind when he wrote his gospel. First, he establishes the fact that the Word (Christ) was Deity (vv.1-4). Then, he specifically notes that the Word became flesh (v.14). 

John Goes One Step Further

John inferred that if this doctrine were true, it would logically follow that the Father (the fatherhood of God) was to be denied as well. After all, Jesus was the Father's only begotten Son. Hence, to deny the Son meant a denial of the Father. They were caught in a logical contradiction. On one hand they were saying "God is Father" - yet, on other hand, they were denying his "Son."

This Doctrine Was Also A Denial Of Jesus' Resurrection
If Christ was not the son of God in the flesh, then where was the logic in his resurrection - which ultimately led him back to the Father? In I John 2:28 John assures his readers of the coming of Christ. He is coming to raise the dead. However, he could not return if he had not first left. And he could not have left if he had not been raised. And he could not have been raised without a body. So, the religion of the antichrists ultimately affected the grand theme of Christ's resurrection.

The serious effects of this doctrine were such as to cause the Spirit of God to make this information a part of the inspired record. Note John's strong admonition for his readers to avoid this heretical teaching (II John 7-11).