Too much of what Christians believe comes from what they’ve been told. Others believe what they’ve read into the Scriptures (that isn’t actually there), oftentimes using the religious lens they’ve been conditioned to see through.
This is especially true of eschatology (the study of the “end times”), which includes, for many end time prophecy teachers, the topic of “The Antichrist”. But, as you’re about to see, this topic has very little to do with what most Christians have come to believe.
The term “antichrist” is found four times in Scripture — First John 2:18, First John 2:22, First John 4:3 and Second John 1:7.
The term “antichrists” is found one time in Scripture — First John 2:18.
Did you know that neither of these words are found anywhere else in Scripture, including the Book of Revelation?
Let’s look at these four verses in their context…
First John 2:18-23 KJV
18) 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.
19) 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.
20) But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
21) I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22) Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is ANTICHRIST, that denieth the Father and the Son.
23) Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
First John 4:1-6 KJV
1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3) And every spirit that confesseth 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.
4) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5) They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Second John 6-8 KJV
6) And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
7) 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.
8) Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
Again, these passages contain all that Scripture says about the “antichrist” and “antichrists.”
Now, let’s break it all down…
WHO or WHAT is the “Antichrist”?
“‘Antichrist’ is transliterated antichristos (Strong’s #500) and it is made up of two words: anti (Strong’s #473), meaning “opposite, instead of,” and christos (Strong’s #5547), meaning “anointed”… Vine’s adds that antichristos denotes either ‘against Christ’ or ‘instead of Christ,’ or perhaps, combining the two, ‘one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ.’ This word is used to show contrast or substitution, or both.” From page 115 of “Whose Right It Is” by Dr. Kelley Varner
“…The antichrist is not just against Christ so much as it seeks to be a substitute for Christ.” Rick Joyner
“Anti-Christ is not only that which is opposed to Christ, but that which is seeking to be something like Him, yet not Him.” Art Katz
Hitchcock’s Bible Names defines “Antichrist” as “an adversary to Christ.”
Also, according to First and Second John, an “antichrist” is defined as…
- Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (First John 2:22).
- Anyone who denies the Father and Son (First John 2:23).
- Every spirit that does not confess Jesus (First John 4:3).
- Anyone who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (Second John 7).
But, there’s more…
“An ‘antichrist’ is anything or anyone that fits John’s explanation. Simply stated, antichrist aptly describes any system of apostasy or individual apostates (the carnal mind). Moreover, an antichrist is a religious apostate from true Christianity, not some secular political figure.” From page 185 of “Whose Right It Is” by Dr. Varner
Interestingly, First John 2:18-23 (KJV) speaks of “many antichrists” who “…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.” So, these “many antichrists” were, at one time, Christian brothers and sisters who communed with the family of God, who “were in our fellowship” (Expanded Bible Translation). [Note: While First John 2:18 points to “many antichrists”, First John 4:3 intimates several spirits of antichrist, while Second John 7 refers to “many deceivers”.]
How many Christians do we fellowship with that are given to the spirit of antichrist? It’s easy to discern when we consider who and what this spirit really is. Do they promote ideas, doctrines, traditions, programs, activities, projects, agendas, etc. that distract us from Christ or that do not originate from Christ or that compete with Christ as our focus?
How many churches assume the guise of Christ while either directly or indirectly opposing and resisting anything connected with a genuine expression of Christ? How many church leaders directly or indirectly oppose or resist the work of the Holy Spirit? How many denominations assume headship in the place of Jesus, Who alone is the true Head of His Body?
And, on a more personal note, have we considered that we may be one of these “antichrists”? As you read this section of “WHO or WHAT is the Antichrist?” ask the Lord to show you where these “many antichrists” (“many deceivers”) have infiltrated the way you think, talk and live and then ask Him to make you free from all that is at war against Him. Surrender to Him and allow Him to do His work. Selah (pause and think about this).
Now, consider this: While First John 4:1-6 says that the “spirit of antichrist” can express itself through “false prophets”, it also shows that this spirit appears in other more subtle ways. For instance, in verse four, John says that those who are conduits for this spirit are “they” who “proceed from the world and are of the world; therefore it is out of the world [its whole economy morally considered] that they speak, and the world listens (pays attention) to them.” How much of what we do in the Name of Christ proceeds “from the world” and is “of the world”? Could it be that it’s more than we’re willing to admit? How many of our “good ideas” come from the world rather than through prophetic insight from the Word Himself? Could it be that this is why worldly christians (including, perhaps, you) listen and pay attention to their religious leaders and systems more than to the Lord Himself?
Every spirit — through whatever medium it chooses — that dissolves or displaces Jesus as Lord, is antichrist in nature [Remember, anything that is “antichrist” as “an adversary to Christ.”]. Any attitude that promotes self, is antichrist. Wherever He is not allowed to fill all things, to be all in all, to be our absolute sovereign, it is in that place that antichrist is at work. Anyone or anything that pretends to be Christ [to be anointed or to be connected to the Anointed One, Jesus Christ] but is actually opposed to Him [by undermining Him as Lord, as Source and as our all in all], is antichrist.
As A.W. Tozer once put it…
“The difference between Christ and the antichrist is that Jesus said, ‘Thy will be done,’ and the antichrist says, ‘My will be done.’“
While most believers are looking for an individual in a red outfit, with horns and a pitchfork or a world-wide political dictator (“The Antichrist”) in the future, perhaps we should consider the real antichrist Scripture actually points to — that which may be within us but is definitely all around us, even on Sunday morning.
“The spirit of man, however religious, however sweet and delightful it may appear to men, if it is not the Spirit of God, must be ‘scattering’ away from Jesus. ‘He that gatherers not with Me scattereth.’” Oswald Chambers
Any religious tradition, structure, practice, doctrine, or ideal that is trusted in or worshipped above Christ or that is used as a substitute for Christ, is, by definition, inspired and energized by the spirit of antichrist and is, therefore, an adversary of Christ. Moreover, any spirit that seeks to unseat Christ in this way within the Temple of God — the Body of Christ — thereby installing itself as God, assuming control over the people of God, is also of the spirit of antichrist (2 Thess 2:4).
NOTE: This idea of having control over the people of God reminds me of Revelation 2:6 and 15, which speak of the deeds and doctrines of the “Nicolaitans”. This word in the Greek means “destruction of the people” (Strong’s #3531). Nicolaitan is a compound word — “nico” means “victory” and “laos” means people, or, more specifically, “the laity.” Hence, a Nicolaitan is a “lay conqueror” or a “conqueror of the laity”. The word Nicolaitans comes from another Greek word, “Nicolaus”, that means “victorious over the people” or “lord (dominator, master) over the people” (Strong’s #3532). Thus, a Nicolaitan is one who lords it over the laity. According to Cyrus Scofield’s Notes on the Bible, the word Nicolaitans “refers to the earliest form of the notion of a priestly order, or ‘clergy’, which later divided an equal brotherhood into ‘priests’ and ‘laity.’“Also, Nicolaitan has been further defined as “corruptor of the people” and “seducer of the people.” With all that said, according to Revelation 2:6 and 15, Jesus hates the deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitans, which are energized by the spirit of antichrist. And, moreover, those who are His followers come to share this same hatred as they grow to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
Whenever we allow our religious engagement or activities “at church” to be a substitute for a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Himself, we have fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist.
Whenever we put more trust in or depend more on religious leaders than we do on Jesus Himself, we have fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist.
Whenever we put any other voice, influence, appetite, affection, etc. before Christ or allow any of these things to share space with Christ in our minds, hearts and lives, we have fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist.
Whenever we put human knowledge, understanding and wisdom before or allow these things to mix with the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of God, we have fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist.
Question — Considering what you’ve learned in this section regarding who and what the spirit of antichrist is, could it be that this spirit has appeared through numerous men and women throughout Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation) and history?
WHEN is the “Antichrist” Coming?
Well, First John 2:18 (KJV) says, “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.” So, while the readers of his letter had heard that antichrist “shall come” (a common message we hear today), John let them know that even then, when this letter was first read, many antichrists were already there, which confirmed for John and his contemporaries that they were already in “the last time” [A.K.A. “the final (the end) time” (AMPC), “the last hour” (NIV), “the last days” (EXB), “near the end” (PHILLIPS)].
In The Message, First John 2:18 says, “…You heard that Antichrist is coming. Well, they’re all over the place, antichrists everywhere you look…”
In First John 4:3 (KJV), John wrote that while his readers had heard that the spirit of antichrist “should come”, he wrote that “even now already is it in the world.” In The Message, it speaks of “…The spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming” and then says, “Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!”
Then, finally, Second John 7 (KJV) says, “For many deceivers are entered into the world… This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
Notice, John was not describing a period of time thousands of years in the future. It was “the last days” for those living in the first century (see also Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20). Antichrists are “all over the place…everywhere you look” and have been “all over the place…everywhere you look” since the first century. Perhaps we should stop looking for a singular antichrist in the future and start considering the many antichrists under our noses and all around us, including those that are influencing us, subtly, everyday.
Too much of what we believe comes from what we have been told and what we have read into Scripture that isn’t there (this is called eisegesis, when we read/import our own presuppositions and biases into or onto a text). This is how the masses learn and read.
But there are a few who have the courage to go to Scripture for themselves and to allow the Holy Spirit to help them draw out the Truth from the text itself (this is called exogesis). This is quite rare and anyone who chooses to learn this way often finds the Truth to be contrary to what is generally believed by the masses. This remnant also dares to question and examine popular religious ideas and traditions against the Scripture and are unafraid to expose the lies, myths, and half-truths held by the multitudes.
Regarding the spirit of antichrist, while some christians spend their time looking for one or more of the “many antichrists” under every rock, keeping their eyes peeled for wherever they may show up, let us keep our eyes on Christ Jesus alone. As we focus on Him as the center and circumference of our lives, we will never go astray, will never be deceived and will never be overcome or dissolved in our purpose in Him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see you in all Your beauty and goodness. I give You permission to remove every veil that keeps me from seeing you face to face. I give You permission to remove every affection, every idol, every idea, every attraction, every appetite, every voice, every influence, every tradition, every attitude, and every activity that competes with You as my all in all. Fill my heart and mind to overflowing with absolute affection for You and all that You are. I trust You to order my steps so that I can remain in You as my Way, Truth and Life. Amen (so be it).