2000-10-03 - The Antichrist
1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.
"Hi I was wondering if anyone here can tell me, will the Antichrist know he is the Antichrist? I can't seem to find the answer in the scriptures, and I sure would like to know. Thank You"
One type of question I almost always avoid is this kind. Anything of an eschatological nature, I am convinced, can often lead to more division than encouragement. However, this question is worded in such a way that I think we can talk about the topic of antichrist, gain a fuller understanding of the topic and avoid disagreements.
The word, translated antichrist, from the Greek is only used in 1 John and 2 John. Surprise, it is not found in the book of Revelation. There may be illusions to the antichrist in Revelation, as many feel, such as the passage on the number of the beast, but the word itself is not used there. In fact, I think it likely that the passages in Revelation are not really referencing the antichrist, but something more obvious, and less general than the way the term is used in John's epistles. The passages we must deal with then are, 1 John 18, 22, 4:3, and 2 John 7.
What is interesting about these passages is that all of them refer to more than one antichrist. In fact we could simply quote 2 John 7, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." The idea being that someone who knows the truth of Christ, and yet intentionally deceives others to lead them away from the truth, that is the antichrist.
The antichrist, or the one against Christ, is not necessarily one person, but a general Spirit of error that is against the truth of Jesus Christ. Paul, in 1 Timothy 4:1 speaks of the doctrines of demons, "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." And this seems to be the general concept behind the antichrist. It is a falling away, and then leading others to do the same. See also, 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4.
These passages from the Bible have led many throughout church history to label everyone that does not agree with them as the antichrist. This is a perversion of the passages. The charge of antichrist is not something we should toss around as a badge to pin on those who take views that are not in accord with our own interpretations of Scripture. There is something deeper in these passages that applies to the antichrist, it is not merely bad doctrine, but a doctrine that is set, and established as that which would destroy Christ and His cause.
But I do think that the Bible says there will be many antichrists throughout history, and these passages lead me to believe that when an antichrist rises up, he or she knows exactly what he or she is doing. This is because the tone of the Biblical passages is that they once knew truth, denied truth, and then taught, as true, what they knew to be false. Thus I think that those who qualify as antichrist, or opposed to Christ, do know that what they are doing is wrong. They may not identify themselves as the antichrist, but I think they know that they are in error.
So how do we guard ourselves from an antichrist that may have risen up in our day? We must know the Word of God. We must be students of God's holy book. If we are not, we may be led astray by someone who can twist Bible passages and make them say things they are not saying. We must know our Bibles.
One warning sign of a false teacher is someone who keys in on one issue, or just a few verses of Scripture and does not seem to look into the whole of God's Word. We need to be mindful of someone who has a "one track mind" teaching method that is new, or distinctive. There is nothing new under the sun, so the person who finds something new, well, watch them carefully.
We also must be sure to put into practice what we know. The first sign of backsliding in the Christian faith is to fail to practice what we know we should do, or to do what we know we should not do. We must apply what we know to our lives, be it ever so small, or great, we are accountable to apply truth to our understanding and practice. To fail to do so is to wound our conscience, and to begin down a path that leads to destruction. May God grant us grace that we might learn to apply what the Lord has so graciously revealed to us.
"If you were but sensible of one half of the disadvantages of backsliding, and the many woes and calamities in which it will involve you, you would be careful not to lose your convictions." Jonathan Edwards
Soli Deo Gloria,