The Anti-Christ (Fact and Myth) dun dun dunnnnnnn....


(This image is the least offensive one I can find which makes this blog all the more important to dispel the awful and unfounded notions out there).

The Anti-christ has been a terrifying picture for many believers and non-believers alike. But where does the notion come from and how has it evolved to become the distortion it is today?

Before we begin, we must first look at how Christians determine doctrine and beliefs. Protestants have their saying, "Sola Scriptura " which is easily translated, "Only Scripture" or "By Scripture alone." This is the mindset that all discernible beliefs and practices should be derived from Scripture. It is the belief that I ascribe to and the one from which I will argue. The other side of the coin that comes into play is Tradition which Catholics allow. We Protestants believe we are purer but we also have tradition mixed in as well and I will use tradition but only as a support for proper interpretation of scriptura.

The word antichrist is in the bible not 500 times, not 50 times, not even 15 times but 5 times and in 4 verses. Just so no one says, "Well your bible says that, what about others?" I use the NIV but the King James Version has the exact same dimensions. Most of you will be able to count that on one hand. The term is not found throughout the scripture but in two epistles; 1st John and 2nd John. I am not downplaying its importance, just locating it. Why has it been so distorted? Is it a vague concept? No, the verses define what antichrist means. Here are the first three:
  1. "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son." (1 John 2: 18-22) (Emphasis mine)
  • What we've learned:
  • The antichrist is not one but "many"
  • they are "coming" and "have come"
  • They look like everybody else, not special, because "they went out from us"
  • The definition is "denies that Jesus is the Christ"
  1. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:1-4) (Emp. mine)
  • What we've learned:
  • definition expanded to "Jesus is not from God"
  • We can easily "overcome them" as we already have
  1. "Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist." (2 John 1:7) (Emp. mine)
  • What we've learned:
  • Definition expanded to those "who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh"
These are the three passages that expressly talk of the antichrist. I trust you agree with the definitions and the other things listed of what we've learned. But why do people believe these other things and where do they find them?

There are 2-3 other places where men expand the definitions of antichrist by making correlations that are not warranted in any form of study and learning. The first is the "man of lawlessness" of 2 Thess. 2, the beast of Revelation, and the weeks of Daniel in his book chapter 9.
  1. "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth."
  • What we've learned:
  • This IS a single man (not many or a spirit)
  • This is in no way connected to the antichrist
  • He was already alive at that time but not revealed
  • Paul does not want us/them to "be deceived" in that it should be simple
  • Dispensationalist take these characteristics and personify the spirit of antichrist
  • Most men before 1830 believed this to be fulfilled in the first Century
Men sometimes make that argument on semantics that "anti" means "against" and "Christ" generally means "God" or "of God" (which it doesn't, technically speaking). Then they leap all the way over to "anything that is against God is an/the antichrist." This and the arguments made from the book of Daniel are ludicrous and not worth refuting. Revelations Chapter 13 speaks of a "beast" that is from "the dragon" (Rev. 13:4) which is explicitly named to be "satan" (Rev. 12:9). Many men believe "the BEAST" to be the antichrist with his new man qualities taken from the "lawless one." This dragon will be "worshiped." He will have "great authority" that the "whole world" will take notice and follow. They will ask, "Who can make war against Him?" In their flawed thinking, dispensationalist/futurist correlate this beast and the antichrist when there is no evidence to support this at all. They assume that he will rise through the ranks of government and military to become a one world leader and then claim to be God or better. They manipulate this idea from the allusions to authority, war, worshiped, whole world, etc. This describes the belief of many Christians and is taught in the popular "Left Behind" series which is admittedly dispensationalist.
  • "And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Revelation 13:1-4) (Emp. mine)

As you can see there are no correlations between these passages implied or explicit. Men have said so and only since 1830. It was commonly believed that "the beast" and the "man of lawlessness" were Nero Caeser who reigned in the 1st century and persecuted Christians (starting in A. D. 64) like crazy. Connecting the Lawless one and the beast is not expressed in scripture but in history only. But many early church fathers believed the beast to be Nero for sure ("Augustine, City of God 20:19... Chrysostom cited in Alford, Greek Testament, 2:80. Victorinus, Apocalypse 17:16; Lactantius, On the Death of the Persecutors 2; Sulpicius Severus, Sacred History 2:28, 29" taken from http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pt550.htm#_ftn23).

I know this is really weird for people who don't share the same faith and ideals, but let me summarize all those words. There will be no single entity called the antichrist who is super powerful and be expressly a government or military leader. It is absolutely ridiculous to call President Obama the antichrist because first he acknowledges Jesus Christ; that he came in the flesh from God which is the exact opposite of the definition of the real antichrists. Some have said that the original antichrists were in the church and then left (which is true) and therefore we can't trust Obama's words because he could be lying now (which is awful logic and defeats the purpose of the church). The reason this is ridiculous is because I could easily say the same thing about any one in the church, siting our political and non-essential belief differences. Likewise, it is absolutely ridiculous for the religious left to call antichrist on Bush or any other republican, warmongering, wealth greedy figure. It is not a figure, but a clearly defined spirit. To take an extreme example, even Hitler couldn't be the antichrist BECAUSE THE ANTICHRIST ISN'T A HE OR SINGLE PERSON.

We need to reclaim the word for what it is and stop being children in using it to demonize our enemies (unjustly and unscripturally). We are better than this, smarter than this, and to be characterized by more love than this.

May you come to see the world with more grey areas then before. May we reject those things we have believed wrongly before. May we see that the antichrist is real but not to be feared and much different then we expected. May you come to know that our love from Christ has made it possible to easily overcome the antichrist. And may Christ's peace be with you always even in hard times.

(point of interest: MS Word and this blogs spell check want me to change "antichrist" to capital 'A' "Antichrist" as if it were a proper noun or someones name. How permeated has the idea become? even the scripture that invents the word is not capitalized.)

Blessings and Peace!

Comments

  1. Great post! This is precisely what I tell the students in my New Testament college class I teach. It's amazing how the stories humans fashion around what's really there take on precedence. Your note about Word wanting to capitalize "antichrist" is priceless!

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  2. Thank you so much Steve! I agree, we sure have made a mess of things. Keep up the good fight!

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