NOTE: I ask you to understand that, as this is a difficult issue and I wish to address it in as serious a manner as a layman possibly can, this post will have to be a little long. Please, I beg you, read it in its entirety, then give my argument serious and fair consideration before you draw any conclusions. In the end, if you feel I am wrong, I can accept that. However, if you agree with me, well, in that case, you may want to ask yourself: How does that change my understanding of Scripture?
I want to start by saying I am well aware that this can be a touchy subject for many believers. It is not my desire to cause harm to or discord within the Body of Believers. But neither can I accept what I have come to believe is a misunderstanding in the way The Body understands the figure of “antichrist’ in Prophecy. So, if you will be patient and open minded, and allow me to explain my reasoning, I hope I will be able to persuade you to take another look at what you have been taught about the figure of ‘The Antichrist’ in Prophecy.
Let’s start by accepting a very difficult fact:
Scripture never talks about a single, unique person called ‘The Antichrist!’ Nor do the Scriptures say that Satan will manifest himself ‘incarnate!’
Now, before you stop reading this post or — worse — this blog page, please allow me to use Scripture to show that I am correct about both of the statements I just made.
OK, again, let me start by making this part very clear:
I am not saying that the Scriptures do not speak of a real life human being who will lead an army against Israel and against all those who believe in The One True God, because it does. I acknowledge this, and that this person will come during the period Daniel calls ‘The End Times.’ However, Scripture never ever calls this leader, ‘The Antichrist!’
So, what is antichrist and how do we know it is not a single person? Well, we start by searching the Scriptures to find every passage where the word, ‘Antichrist,’ is actually used in the original manuscripts. Then, we do our best to understand the full context of those passages where we find the word, ‘Antichrist.’ When we do this, we will find the term ‘Antichrist’ appears only five times in just four passages, and in all four passages, it is the Apostle, John, who is using the word (John, the Apostle who Christ loved, and who wrote The Revelation of Jesus Christ) . What’s more, in all four passages where we find the word, John never uses it to refer to a single, unique, individual person or figure.
Here are those four passages where we will find the word, ‘Antichrist’ (please read them carefully, because these are the only mentions of ‘antichrist’ in the entire Bible):
1 John 2:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
1 John 2:22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the [a]Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
2 John 7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
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.
Now, before we start searching the Scriptures for ‘proof’ that Prophecy does speak about a single, unique person known as ‘The Antichrist,’ it might help if we stop ad consider what the Apostle, John, has to say about ‘Antichrist.‘ John says:
1 — That there will be many ‘Antichrists.‘ Notice how John says that, as he wrote his letter, there had already been many ‘Antichrists’ that had gone out into the world? Well, many is plural, therefore, John was not talking about a single person. And ‘have gone out’ is present tense, so John was not talking about a figure from some time in the future.
2 — That we can know it is the last hour [last days; the last epoch in God’s plan/timeline] because the ‘Antichrist‘ had already appeared in his day. Here again, John tells us that ‘Antichrist’ is many and present, not singular and future.
3 — That the ‘Antichrist‘ is the one who denies the Father and Son. Once again, John uses ‘Antichrist‘ to refer to more than one person only, this time, John says that ‘Antichrist‘ can apply to anyone who denies the Father or the Son. Therefore, according to John, ‘Antichrist‘ can refer to many people, throughout time — not just one, specific person from in the future.
4 — Every spirit that does not confess Jesus [as the Son of God] is ‘Antichrist‘ This means that ‘Antichrist‘ is or, at the very least, can be a spirit. Furthermore, this spirit of ‘Antichrist‘ has been in the world since Paul wrote his letter. In neither case is John talking about a single person in the future.
5 — Anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus is God in human form is ‘Antichrist.’ Here again, John tells us that ‘Antichrist‘ can apply to more than one person, and it applies to people alive in his day, as well as those who will live in the future.
[Note: #3-5 may not not apply to the Jews. In Romans 11, the Jews have been intentionally blinded by God for the sake of the Gentiles. Now, I do not know for sure, but, because God has blinded the Jews for our sake, it is possible that they will not be held responsible for denying Christ. Furthermore, Jesus, Himself, said that all sins against Him can be forgiven. I would assume that this includes denying Him. For these reasons, and because I cannot know for sure regarding the Jews, I am loath to condemn them for crucifying or refusing to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah.]
Let’s sum up what John has to say about ‘Antichrist:’ ‘Antichrist‘ is a spirit and/or any person controlled by this spirit. There are many ‘Antichrists,” they existed in John’s time and they will exist into the future. Therefore, let us accept that none of the four passages that mention ‘Antichrist‘ ever use the term in reference to a single, End Times figure known as ‘The Antichrist.’
Now, before we leave this subject, let’s consider why it is important for believers to understand that Scripture never uses the term, ‘Antichrist,’ to refer to an End Times figure.
First, if we accept ‘Antichrist‘ as a spiritual condition of the heart (i.e. one who is opposed to Christ), it explains why so many people have been correctly identified as ‘Antichrist.’ Since ‘Antichrist‘ is a person opposed to Christ, then it naturally follows that there have been many such people, and that they have existed since the time of the Apostle, John. What’s more, they will continue to exist until Christ returns and puts an end to all rebellion. This is why so many people have been so sure they had found ‘The Antichrist.’ It is because they had. Their only mistake was in believing the ‘Antichrist‘ they had found was ‘The Antichrist.’ Whoever these well-meaning believers identified as ‘The Antichrist‘ he wasn’t the single person they imagine from the End Times story they have been taught, he was just one of many people who have or who will meet John’s description of ‘Antichrist‘ until the time Christ returns. I pray the reader can see what I am trying to say here, and why it is important for us to understand.
Finally, we must understand how a misrepresenting ‘Antichrist‘ can harm our faith, as well as the faith of other believers. Every time we point to a single person and claim they are ‘The Antichrist,’ we provide aid and comfort to all the other ‘Antichrists‘ in this world. If people believe there is only one, and they are convinced it is a specific person, then all the other ‘Antichrists‘ are free to do whatever harm they will without fear of being called out by name. On top of this, when the person who is supposedly identified as ‘The Antichrist‘ fails to fulfill the prophecies supposedly connected with this version of End Times Prophecy, then the faith of the person who called this accused person ‘The Antichrist,’ as well as the faith of those who may be listening to the person doing the accusing, may both be shaken. For, if they believe the accused is “The Antichrist‘ supposedly promised by Prophecy, then, when the Prophecies about this ‘Antichrist‘ character fail to manifest, it can give the enemy a crack through which to convince the believers that their faith has all been in vain. This is exactly what Satan wants! This is why believers should try to understand understand the true nature of ‘Antichrist.’
ADDITIONAL READING ON THIS SUBJECT:
[NOTE: While I do not entirely agree with the End Times Eschatology inherent in the following, never the less, they are useful in that they largely support my understanding of this issue. In fact, if they did not assume that there is a singularly unique ‘Antichrist,’ I would be in near total agreement with them.]