Saturday, January 22, 2022

Spirit of Antichrist

I have heard many warnings about the coming “Antichrist,” popularly presumed to be a global political and military leader who will subjugate all nations. History certainly provides us with many examples of tyrants who impose their dominion on other nations through military and political means, men who fit the popular expectation though all so far have failed in their plans for global domination.

Their failure does not mean the actual “Antichrist” will not fit this profile, and even today, we see certain governments hellbent on forcing their will on other countries. However, what do we find when we look up the word “antichrist” in our concordances?

Card Trick - Photo by Edson Junior on Unsplash
[Photo by Edson Junior on Unsplash]

Surprisingly, not a lot. The word only appears in two of John’s letters and he does not apply it in the way so many prophecy experts do. While John does acknowledge that the “
Antichrist is coming,” he says little about that end-time figure.

Instead, he warned his audience about the “Spirit of Antichrist” that was active in the world, and this was demonstrated by the false teachers who were infiltrating John’s congregations, men who “denied that Jesus came in the flesh.” He described them as “many anticrhists” - (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-3).

John’s statement is similar if not parallel to Paul’s account of the “Mystery of Lawlessness” that is preparing the way for the arrival of the “Man of Lawlessness,” a malevolent figure whom the Apostle links to the coming “Apostasy” – (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

That does not mean the “Antichrist” will also be a false teacher active in the church, but it would not be implausible to extrapolate from what John wrote that this will be the case.

John’s words echo the sayings of Jesus about the “many deceivers” who would come in his name and “deceive many,” with the emphasis on “many” in the Greek sentence. Jesus warned that “many false prophets” would appear and “deceive many,” even using “great signs and wonders” to do so.

The two common elements in his warning are “many” and “deceivers,” and Church History validates the accuracy of his predictions. Ominously, there are verbal and conceptual parallels between the warnings of Jesus and the description of the “False Prophet” in the Book of Revelation who will employ “great signs” to deceive men.

This leads us back to Paul’s warning that before the “Day of the Lord” arrives the “Apostasy” will take place and the “Man of Lawlessness” will be revealed. Jesus also warned of coming apostasy that would be caused by “deceivers,” “false anointed ones” and “false apostles.” While Paul introduced another term, the “Man of Lawlessness,” there are striking similarities between this figure and the warnings of Jesus and John.

Not only will the “Man of Lawlessness cause apostasy through his deceitful activities, but he will also use All power and signs and lying wonders” to do so. While John described the “antichrists” of his day as having originated from within the church, Paul’s description of this figure “taking his seat in the sanctuary of God” may be closer to the same idea than it first appears.

Consistently in his letters, Paul applies the term “sanctuary of God” and related Temple language to the “Body of Christ,” and nowhere does he show the slightest interest in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem in the final days before Christ’s return.


So, where does this leave us? Certainly, a case can be made from passages in Revelation that the “Beast” will be a global political figure, and if Paul was not referring to the church by the term “sanctuary of God,” then his description begins to fit nicely with the popular idea of a global tyrant.

Nevertheless, “many deceivers” have invaded the church throughout its history, and with today’s communication technologies, a very great “many” are busily slithering their way into the lives of far too many believers, and no doubt, we will see “many” more false teachers, faux prophets, and “false anointed ones” down the road.

So, how do we avoid deception whether from low-level “deceivers” or the “Antichrist” himself when he or it strides onto the world scene?

Paul provides the answer. After describing the “Man of Lawlessness,” he exhorted the Thessalonians to “stand fast and hold the traditions that you were taught.” By that, he was referring to the body of teaching that the Thessalonians had received from him and his coworkers.

Or as Paul warned the Galatians, if anyone, “even an angel from heaven, should preach to you any gospel other than that which we preached to you, let him be anathema.”  Strong words. Paul was deadly serious. Anything that deviates from the Apostolic “tradition” must be rejected and is a product of the “Spirit of Antichrist.”

Church Ruins - Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash
[Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash]

Our safety is in learning and adhering to that body of Apostolic teachings. It is through them that we discern truth from falsehood, good from evil, and true prophets from false ones.

I know of only one reliable source for discovering just what Jesus and his Apostles taught, and that is the New Testament. It is as close as we can get to the original sources. Every disciple must learn the Scriptures for himself, and every believer must make it his or her own.

It is not enough to know what your church claims the Bible says, and we certainly ought not to rely on someone else’s interpretation. We must go to the source and make it central to our lives. We may not be able to recognize the “Antichrist” by his appearance, deeds, or miracle-working power, but as soon as he, she, or it departs from the teachings of Jesus and his true Apostles, we will have our first clue.

  • The Coming Storm - (Consistently, Scripture warns of the final apostasy that is linked to the "Man of Lawlessness" with his "lying signs and wonders")
  • Has Bible Prophecy Failed? - (After decades of failed expectations and predictions, it is time for believers to reexamine popular ideas about the Last Days)
  • Indisputable Evidence - (The Spirit expressly says that in later seasons some will revolt from the faith, giving heed unto seducing spirits and teachings of demons – 1 Timothy 4:1)