This study will disappoint many of people, because we are going to use the Bible to expose the antichrist. We’re not going to use new interpretations, weather patterns, or newspapers. But if you’re okay with studying the Bible, keep reading to find out: Who is the antichrist? And at the end, I’m going to give you some biblical advice that may be the exact opposite of what preachers have told you in the past.
Before I had read the Bible myself, I was under the impression that you can read about The Antichrist all over Scripture. Why? Because it seemed that’s all Christians wanted to talk about. Antichrist this and The Antichrist that. My friends warned me about music that I listened to, because this artist or that artist might be The Antichrist. Others had done calculations and concluded that a certain religious or political figure was The Antichrist. They would bring up certain prophecies in the books of Daniel, Matthew, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation.
To my surprise, however, when I read the Bible for myself, I came across the word antichrist only five times in three passages in two books. That’s it. The word antichrist appears only five times in the Bible. What was even more surprising was the word antichrist cannot be found in the books of Daniel, Matthew, 2 Thessalonians, or Revelation. Instead, it’s found only in 1 John and 2 John. The only three passages where you can find the word antichrist are:
- 1 John 2:18–22
- 1 John 4:2–3
- 2 John 7–8.
I encourage you to read these passages in context in your own Bible. Since these are the only passages in which the word antichrist can be found, it can safely be said that everything God wants us to know about the identity of the antichrist can be found in these passages. So, what can we learn from these passages?
There is not just one antichrist
In his letters, John was writing to a group of people who were already Christians (see 1 John 1:5–10). These people had already been taught about many things, including the antichrist. John says, “just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared” (1 John 2:18 NASB).
They knew something regarding antichrist before John even wrote to them. John was also informing them that many antichrists were already in the world. The consensus among biblical scholars is that 1 John was written toward the end of the first century AD.
If you were to forget what the Bible actually says, and listen to the religious world today, you would get the impression—just as I had—that The Antichrist is a subject and a singular person reserved exclusively for a future prophecy. The first major challenge to that idea is that the Bible declares that there is not just one Antichrist. Instead, there were many that were already in the world when John wrote to the Christians.
Antichrists are anti–Christ
The Greek word for Christ (Χριστός) simply means “anointed one.” Therefore, the word antichrist (ἀντίχριστος in the Greek) means “against the anointed one.” In a general sense, one who is anti-Christ is one who opposes Christ for who He really is. And anyone who opposes Christ is against His church as well.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.John 15:18–19
In 1 John 2:18–29, the first passage in the entire Bible that mentions antichrist, John also mentions the Christian’s anointing three times in verses 20 and 27. (As a side note, according to the Bible, every Christian is anointed, not just special people in the body of Christ.) Therefore, anti-christs are against both the Anointed One and His anointed ones (Christians).
What makes an antichrist? We don’t have to guess. John gives us God’s definition of antichrist in the following three verses. Read carefully.
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.1 John 2:22
and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.1 John 4:3
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.2 John 7
At the end of the first century, the authority of the apostles was being disputed by outsiders (see 2 Corinthians 11). A group of false teachers historically known as Gnostics began to gain some traction among Christians, claiming to know more than what the Holy Spirit had revealed through the apostles. The Gnostics’ primary teaching was that life in the flesh is inherently sinful, and life in the spirit is the only way to be completely holy. Therefore, they contended it was impossible that Jesus actually came to the earth in bodily form. Such teachings are completely contrary to God’s plan and the New Testament, and much of John’s writings were written to combat these outrageous claims.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
In the introduction to 1 John, the apostle uses sensory terms, proving that Jesus was among the apostles in the flesh. He says Jesus’ witnesses had heard, seen, looked upon, and touched the Christ. God was revealed, and they had witnesses Him (see 1 John 1:1–4).
Some of John’s audience had been listening to the anti-christ spirit of the Gnostics, and John warns them:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.2 John 7
If Jesus did not come in the flesh, He could not have fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him (for example, see Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). If He did not come in the flesh, He could not have been God’s chosen (anointed) one. Therefore, anyone denying His fleshly state is against (anti) the anointed one (Christ) and those whom He has anointed. By extension, anyone throughout history or who is alive today who denies Christ or His people is antichrist.
It is also worth noting here that John talks about spirits that confess or deny Jesus’ coming in the flesh. Looking at the wider context shows us that John equates “spirits” with “teachers” or “prophets” (whether false or true).
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.1 John 4:1–3
Antichrists are not associated with the end of the world
Most discussions about The Antichrist these days surround Eschatology (“The End Times”). People bring up prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments that are sometimes never even thematically, historically, or contextually connected in Scripture, combine them together to form an image of what’s supposedly going to happen in the end. Often their teachings would have left the first audience of the Scriptures snatching their heads. Then they insert their interpretations to connect them to a single Antichrist and the end of the world. There’s no wonder why there are so many conflicting teachings about end times and judgment. Pay close attention whenever someone does this. We must remember the first point: According the Holy Spirit, there is not just one Antichrist.
Another thing to remember: Antichrists existed in the first century. In the first century AD, many antichrists had already appeared (1 John 2:18). 1 John and 2 John are the only books of the Bible that explicitly mention the antichrist. There is nothing in those books that instructs Christians to be looking out for signs of any times, especially regarding a single antichrist. Yes, John does use the definite article the a couple of times in reference to the antichrist, but in the same breath, he also says, “the Antichrist […] is now already in the world” (1 John 4:3).
Related, you may notice certain Bible translations capitalize the “a” of antichrist when the direct article is used. Be aware that this is a translator’s choice, and there was no distinction between capital and lowercase letters when John wrote this by the Holy Spirit in Koine Greek.
If we respect God’s word, we should use Bible terms in Bible ways. When many people discuss the subject of antichrist today, they bring up parts of the books of Daniel, Matthew, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation. In Daniel and Matthew, they sometimes point to “the abomination of desolation.” In 2 Thessalonians, they call attention to the lawless one (or the man of sin). In Revelation, they point to the beast featured throughout the book. It is feared that the beast is The Antichrist, and he may be on the earth right now. The hype drives people to pore over newspapers, broadcasts, world events, and websites to scrutinize celebrities, political figures, military forces, famous religious leaders, and anyone in the world’s limelight. It’s suggested that if we can simply identify “The Antichrist in Revelation,” we can understand the end times better.
As noted already, the books of Daniel, Matthew, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation never even use the word antichrist, so anyone who says that these figures represent The Antichrist are not teaching from the Bible. They’re teaching from their interpretation. They are reading into the Bible and teaching out of speculation and superstition.
Moreover, 1 John, 2 John, and Revelation had the same writer. If the beast of Revelation were “The Antichrist,” we would expect John to explicitly tell us, since he is the only writer of the Bible to teach explicitly on the subject. Let me emphasize that another way: The apostle John is the only New Testament writer who uses the word antichrist. However, he doesn’t use it once in the book of Revelation, which he also wrote by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if you’re going to the book of Revelation to learn about The Antichrist, it’s because you have presuppositions, and not biblical reasons. Stop reading into the text what it doesn’t say.
Since the Bible never even suggests that there is only one antichrist, nor that “The Antichrist” is the “Abomination of Desolation,” “The Lawless One,” “The False Prophet,” or “The Beast,” then these would be different subjects for different times. They are certainly worth our study, but the Bible does not directly relate them to the antichrist.
With every subject, I encourage you to use Bible terms in Bible ways. We need to be extra careful when discussing subjects that false teachers have confused the world about, like the end times and last days. Every generation has had a group of people believing they were going to be the last ones living at the return of Christ. Therefore, people have abused Scripture to get people’s attention. Peter wrote about the end of the world and judgment day. He warned the Christians about this subject that there are…
some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.2 Peter 3:16–18
John, by the Holy Spirit, says that since antichrists have been around since the first century, then it follows that it has been “the last hour” since the first century AD.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.1 John 2:18
Peter likewise refers to the time of Christ, which began in the first century AD, as the last days, even using the Old Testament prophecy of Joel to back up this claim (see Acts 2:14–17). The author of Hebrews also identifies the time of Christ (the first century AD onwards) as “these last days” in Hebrews 1.
Don’t get caught up in the hype of trying to figure out when the world will end. Are we really in the last days? Certainly! And we have been since the first century. As long as Christ has been around, there have been antichrists (teachers against Christ), and they have gone out into the world deceiving many. Those who speak against Christ deceive those who have not yet made up their minds about Him. Thus, “it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
The new false way of teaching on the subject of “The Antichrist” has distracted Bible believers from the big picture, which is the glorification of the crucified and risen Jesus. The devil has caused people to stray from true Bible terms. They spend their time with their noses in the newspapers (not Scripture), waiting for The Antichrist to reveal himself. Let us remember that our job is not to be looking and waiting for “The Antichrist.” Rather, those who believe in Christ need to be working, waiting, and looking for Him!
Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.Hebrews 9:28
Are you anxiously looking out for The Antichrist, or are you eagerly awaiting Jesus’ second coming?