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by Wayne Blank
"antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists"
John never spoke exclusively of "the antichrist," but of antichrist as an opposing attitude toward the true Messiah. John's first reference to antichrist speaks of people who had fallen away from the church and became antichrist by their rejection of the Truth:
"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. 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." (1 John 2:18-19 KJV)
Who is antichrist? Logically, as John plainly states, "he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ." Can they deny that Jesus is the Christ if they never knew of Jesus the Christ? Not according to John, who pleaded with the Christian recipients of his letters to continue in the Truth, so as to not become antichrist:
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." (1 John 2:22-24 KJV)
Here John plainly contrasts the Holy Spirit of God with "that spirit of antichrist," an attitude of opposing the reality of Christ, Who Christ is, What Christ is. The antichrists that John speaks of were not people on the outside, but people who had "gone out into the world":
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try 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 confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 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. 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" (1 John 4:1-4 KJV)
Again and again, John speaks of "antichrist" as a falling away:
"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. 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. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." (2 John 1:6-8 KJV)
Who Will Be "The" Antichrist?
As stated, the apostle John, who outlived the other apostles by many years (John was the only one to reach old age; he died in the 90s AD, in his 90s, when he was given to write the Apocalypse, while the other apostles were all martyred through the 30s to the 60s AD as young to middle-aged men, see What Happened To The Apostles?) was the only one who used the Greek word "antichrist," but does that mean that the other apostles, and Jesus Christ himself, didn't speak of the "spirit of antichrist"? No, it doesn't. They all knew it, knew of it, and were constantly faced with it, as did Jesus Christ. By definition, it was the "spirit of antichrist" that got the Christ rejected and killed (which ironically, by His death and resurrection, made and proved Him to be the Christ), and it was, as John described, the "spirit of antichrist" that constantly opposed the true Gospel, as it still does today.
The apostle Paul spoke of antichrist, not using that word, but what he was describing was exactly the same as John. Paul's reference to it was however more prophetic; Paul spoke of the age-old antichrist movement that will be led, in the time just before Christ's return, by "the lawless one," an individual that has often been referred to as "the antichrist" because the antichrist movement will reach its peak under his leadership and control. He can, for that reason, be accurately and correctly called "the antichrist," but there will be many antichrists then, just as there have always been.
But chillingly, "the antichrist" that Paul speaks of, as John did, is someone who has "fallen away," someone who knew the Truth, who lived the Truth, but who not only falls away from the Truth, he becomes a deadly enemy of the Truth. He won't be a life-long pagan, he will be someone who was once a brother, who through a "falling away" will become a wicked traitor to the Truth. He will commit treason, not to a country, but to God. And there is nothing more politically or religiously despicable than a traitor, a man who turns on his own people.
The "antichrist" is described as a product of "a falling away," not a heresy (i.e. "any opinion or doctrine at variance with the official or orthodox position"), but an outright apostasy (i.e. a state of having rejected and abandoned a religious belief"). In the end, upon Christ's return, he will be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20 KJV).
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him [see "To Meet The Lord In The Air"], That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
Fact Finder: What does the Bible say about hundreds of other well-known subjects of Bible prophecy, such as the two witnesses, great earthquakes, the "666" and the return of Jesus Christ?