Spirit of Antichrist

The Antichrist is a deceiver intent on destroying the church and causing apostasy through deception

In popular interpretations, the Antichrist is a political tyrant intent on world domination. Whether this proves trust, Jesus and his apostles expressed more concern about the deceivers who ply their trade in the church. And in passages that refer to the Antichrist, the issue is deceivers who infiltrate the church.

The only New Testament author to employ the term “antichrist” is John in his first two letters. In them, he warns that “it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.”

John does not deny that an individual and final “antichrist” will come, but in the meantime, many “antichrists” already are infiltrating the church and deceiving many followers of Jesus - (1 John 2:18-22).

THE TERM


The term “antichrist” is a compound formed with the Greek term christos (“anointed”) and the preposition anti. The latter signifies “instead of” rather than “against.” Thus, this creature is someone or something that attempts to replace or counterfeit the true Christ.

And the “antichrists,” PLURAL, to whom John refers are those who Went out from us, but they were not of us… But they went out that it might be plain that they all are not of us.”

Moreover, he admonishes his churches to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” and he warns of “the SPIRIT OF THE ANTICHRIST of which you heard that it is coming, and now, it is already in the world.”

The “antichrists” of immediate concern to the Apostle are false teachers in his congregations, NOT national, military, or political leaders of the world- (2 John 7).

Similarly, the Apostle Paul warns of the coming “man of lawlessness.” His concern is about a future individual with the ability to deceive Christians and cause their “apostasy.”

LAWLESSNESS


Thus, the apostle to the Gentiles warns his churches to “let no one in any way deceive you.” He then pinpoints the event when this figure will be exposed – when he “seats himself in the sanctuary of God,” a description that is more religious in tone than political.

And elsewhere in his letters, Paul uses “sanctuary” metaphorically for the Body of Christ - (2 Thessalonians2:1-12, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Furthermore, he links the “man of lawlessness” to the final “apostasy.” When he is revealed, his activities will be “in accord with those of Satan,” and this will include “lying signs and wonders” intended to deceive believers:

  • “…With all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness” -(2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

BEASTS AND DECEIVERS


And in the book of Revelation, after his failed attempt to destroy the messianic “Son,” the “Great Red Dragon” departs to “wage war against those who have THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST.”

Likewise, the “Beast from the sea” wages “war” against the “saints and overcomes them.” In both images, Satan persecutes the saints, and his earthly agent, the “Beast,” is the instrument for doing so.

Whether this “Beast” is a world leader or not, the Devil’s purpose is to use him to destroy the church, not to foment wars between nation-states - (Revelation 12:17, 13:7).

In the seven letters to the “churches of Asia,” Satan attacks the congregations with persecution AND deception. Consistently, the Devil and his servants conduct warfare against the “Lamb” by attacking anyone who follows him - (Revelation 2:10, 2:18-29).

In his 'Olivet Discourse,' Jesus begins with a dire warning about coming deceivers who are intent on deceiving the very “elect of God”:

  • Beware lest anyone deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and deceive many … and many will fall away… and many false prophets will arise and deceive many… False anointed ones and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive even the elect” - (Matthew 24:4-23).

False prophets work to hoodwink Christ's disciples, not to deceive an already deceived world that lies “in the lap of the Wicked One.” And warnings of this kind are common in the New Testament, for example:

  • (1 Timothy 4:1-2) - “Howbeit, the Spirit expressly declares, that in later seasons some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and to teachings of demons, in hypocrisy, speaking falsehoods, of demons cauterized in their own conscience.
  • (2 Peter 2:1-2) - “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, men who will stealthily bring in destructive parties, even the Master that bought them denying, bringing upon themselves speedy destruction. And many will follow out their wanton ways, by reason of whom the way of truth will be defamed.

In the end, the “Antichrist” may prove to be a global political leader.  However, considering the warnings in the New Testament, we should not be surprised if this creature appears first within the Church hellbent on deceiving the “elect.”


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