The Final Antichrist

The Spirit of the Antichrist is raising up deceivers in the Church, but a final Antichrist will appear at the end of the ageThe Apostle John applied the term “antichrist” to false teachers who were disrupting his congregations, namely, deceivers who denied that “Jesus is the Christ” and “came in the flesh.” They were inspired by the “Spirit of the Antichrist” that has been operating in the world since the beginning of human history.

John did refer to a yet future “Antichrist,” singular, presumably one who would have the same character as the deceivers who were wreaking havoc in his congregations, one who would be the final and most blatant incarnation of the “Spirit of Antichrist.”

Dollar Sign - Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
[Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash]

Before discussing the many “antichrists,” John warned his audience not to “love the world or the things in the world.”  Any member of his congregations whose heart remained fixated on the present world order did not have the “love of the Father in him.

He described the “world” with an allusion to the temptation of Adam. By “world” he meant HUMANITY UNDER THE DOMINION OF SIN AND SATAN, that is, the existing world order that was condemned already to destruction because of its rebellion against God and rejection of Jesus.

  • (1 John 2:16) – “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the VAINGLORY of lifeis not of the Father, but is of the world. 
  • (Genesis 3:6) – “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

The Greek term translated as “vainglory” in 1 John is alazoneia. It comes from a root word with the sense, “boasting, braggadocio,” hence, the term denotes ideas like misplaced “self-confidence” and hollow pride.

In Adam’s case, he desired “wisdom” from the “Tree of Knowledge” that would make him self-legislating and no longer dependent on God for guidance and wisdom. To this day, that is the way of a “world” that is separated from God, the old order that, according to the Apostle Paul, has been “passing away” since the death and resurrection of Jesus – (1 Corinthians 7:31).

The only human activity that will stand the test of time is “doing the will of God.” This exhortation leads into the discussion about the many “antichrists” who were infiltrating John’s assemblies.

The term “antichrist” is formed with the Greek noun christos or “anointed one” and the preposition anti. The latter signifies “instead of,” NOT “against.” Thus, it refers to someone who attempts to replace Jesus - a substitute or counterfeit.

The term does not occur in ancient Greek documents written prior to John’s first epistle. In the fourth chapter of 1 John, he associates his opponents with “false prophets.” Taken together, and considering his warning about deceivers, his usage suggests the source for the term “antichrist” was the warning of Jesus given on the Mount of Olives:

  • (Matthew 24:24) – “Then, if any man sayto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe it not. For there shall arise FALSE CHRISTS [pseudoxristoi] and FALSE PROPHETS [pseudoproph├ętai], and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

John did refer to a coming “Antichrist,” but he provided no additional information about this figure. Whether he meant the same person that Paul called the “Man of Lawlessness,” or perhaps the “Beast from the sea” described in the Book of Revelation, there are no direct literary links between John’s “Antichrist” and the figures described in 2 Thessalonians or Revelation.

MANY ANTICHRISTS


Of immediate concern to John were the “antichrists,” PLURAL, who were causing problems in his congregations. As he wrote:

  • Little children, it is the last hour: and, as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even nowMANY ANTICHRISTS have arisen, whereby we know that it is the last hour. 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 they might be made manifest that they all are not of usWho is the liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denies the Father and the Son – (1 John 2:18-22).

John affirmed that the final “Antichrist is coming.” However, already in his Day, “many antichrists” were disrupting his congregations. Moreover, their very presence demonstrated that it was the “Last Hour.”

John labels both the deceivers in his congregations and the coming final figure as “Antichrist,” and in Chapter 4 of his first letter, he associates them with “false prophets” and attributes their activities to the “Spirit of Antichrist.” It is reasonable to assume that the “antichrists” that were active in his congregations were of the same nature as the final “Antichrist who is to come.”

The first thing John told his audience was that the deceivers “went out from us.” They originated in his churches, and therefore, at some point, they must have been followers of Jesus, or at least, appeared to be.

DENYING JESUS


The same warning is found in John’s second letter in which he identifies the false as “deceivers.” As in his first letter, they denied that “Jesus came in the flesh” - (2 John 7), and the claim that he was and is the “Christ,” the Messiah. The two charges are related. To deny that he “came in the flesh” amounts to denying that he was the “Christ.”

  • (1 John 4:1-3) – “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove 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 Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it is coming, and now it is in the world already.

Precisely how these men denied that Jesus came in the flesh” the Letter does not explain. In biblical usage, the meaning of “flesh” is fluid, and it often refers to the human tendency to sin - man’s carnality.

But biblically speaking, terms like “flesh” and “flesh and blood refer most often to man in his weakened state due to sin - MAN IN HIS MORTALITY AND FALLENNESSAs Paul argued, “flesh and blood” could not inherit the Kingdom. Humans are mortal and therefore subject to decay, corruption,” and death - (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

With this background, most likely, the deceivers were DENYING THE GENUINE HUMANITY OF JESUS - that he participated fully in human nature though “apart from sin,” including human mortality and death.

SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST


John attributes this false teaching to the “Spirit of the Antichrist” that was active already in the world two thousand years ago. Conceptually, this parallels Paul’s teaching that the “Mystery of Lawlessness” is working in the world preparing the way for the unveiling of the “Man of Lawlessness.” The terminology may differ, but the idea is the same - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-7).

In 2 Thessalonians, the “Man of Lawlessness” is inextricably linked to the final “apostasy.” The passage’s stress is on his deceptive activities, especially his ability to use “all power and signs and lying wonders” to mislead “those who refuse the love of the truth.” Believers will remain safe from this deception as long as they “hold fast to the traditions” taught by the Apostles - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

Again, John’s explanation of THE “Antichrist” is brief. Both the deceivers in his congregations and the coming final Antichrist were and will be energized by the same “Spirit of Antichrist.” If anything, the “antichrists” in his time were forerunners of this final figure.

What John does not do in his Letter is portray the future “Antichrist” as a global political or military leader who will wage war against other nation-states. While this figure may also be a powerful and deceitful politician, John shows no interest in that direction. His concern lay closer to home.



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