A Question I Was Asked:

Who, What, Was - Is - the Anti-Christ?

Who, what, was - is/was - the Anti-Christ? Can you clear up some of the confusion?

UK Apologetics Reply:

This figure/figures is/are only mentioned by John the Apostle, and only mentioned in his epistles, many seem to assume this figure comes from the Book of Revelation - it doesn't.

We must be careful to only consider what John wrote and not to add to it in any way. The truth is John himself clearly tells us who/what he is referring to - we need look no further. Okay, let us look at the relevant verses:

18. 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. 19. They 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. 20. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21. I 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. 22. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist - denying the Father and the Son. 23. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24. As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25. And this is what he promised us - eternal life. (1 John 2:18-23).

Apparently the early Christian congregations had heard about this 'anti-christ' who would come (verse 18), but John immediately pluralizes this (verses 18-19), writing of "many antichrists" who had already come, even as he wrote (verse 18). Apparently these people had had some association with the truth of the Gospel, but had left it: "they went out from us" (verse 19), but "did not really belong to us" (verse 19). Why don't those people who think they have all the knowledge of just who the antichrist is, or was, carefully read these verses?

But John tells us more still about these people, let us look at this once again:

Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist - denying the Father and the Son (verse 22).

So the antichrist, or, antichristians (obviously a better term since we can see that they are many, not any one single figure), often have some association with the truth of the Gospel, maybe even attending churches for some time, but they turn aside from it, choosing to use it and to pervert it for their own devious ends. In the process they come to deny both the Father and the Son (verses 22-23). John also refers to these people here:

6. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 7. I say this because 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 6-8).

Finally, we need to look at this:

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. 2. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3. but 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. (1 John 4:1-3).

So John now clearly identifies these people as "false prophets" - that is significant; these people are deceivers.

Antichristians Indentified

So we know that the outcome of the work of these religious deceivers is that the life of Jesus Christ is denied, this is a most serious matter indeed for those people who have behaved in such a way. Why? Because putting together all of John's comments, it seems that antichristians have understood the truth but then gone out and abused it - is that not very close to the unpardonable sin??

So the 'spirit of antichrist' (1 John 4:3), refers to those antichristians comprising that substantial body of those who - from a position of some knowledge, and even initial involvement with the truth of the Gospel - have then gone out and perverted it, even establishing a following for themselves in many cases. The leaders of numerous cults and sects are implicated here, as are that large body of liberals who came to understand the truth of the Gospel of Jesus but wanted a softer, easier message for moderns, ultimately even denying the Jesus of the Bible. These people have also infiltrated good, strong Christian congregations and promoted liberalism at every turn.

So the 'antichrist' is identified - it is no single figure and we should rather start to think of 'antichristians' - those who do understand, at least to a large degree, but use and abuse that truth, following another 'calling,' one to damage and subvert Christianity wherever it proves possible. Whilst we can say that every loud, vocal, atheist propagandist certainly displays a spirit of antichrist, John's target in his epistles appears to be religious deceivers, deceivers who sound convincing and knowledgeable; such people have caused incalculable damage to Christianity.

Is the Papacy the Antichrist?

We have seen that the Roman Catholic papacy is not and cannot be the antichrist, though - in common with Protestantism - antichrist believers will have entered it and be working tirelessly within to subvert it. But Catholicism accepts all the teaching of the Godhead in the Holy Trinity, denying nothing; it accepts the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. True, there are some compromises with the truth, including the acceptance of various superstitious practices and also other errors, including legalism, but Protestantism too has accepted some errors, though maybe fewer overall. At official creedal level, both Catholicism and Protestantism still uphold the truth that the only gateway into Eternal Life is the Lord Jesus Christ. But the cults and sects and liberalism preach a different Jesus and a different Gospel - that is dangerous.

Robin A. Brace. May 18th, 2016.