Who is he? What does this strange-sounding term mean? How can you avoid being a victim of this person’s deception?
Speaking of the time just before the return of Jesus Christ, the apostle John wrote, “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).
The term antichrist means against or contrary to Christ. Albert Barnes explains that this term “might denote anyone who either was or claimed to be in the place of Christ, or one who, for any cause, was in opposition to him” (Notes on the Bible, 1 John 2:18).
Who and what is antichrist?
The preceding passage shows that a specific person will appear as “the Antichrist” prior to Christ’s return and that many “antichrists”—those of the same spirit or philosophy that is against Christ—already existed. The specific person to whom John referred has additional names in other passages of the Bible. These include:
- “The man of sin” who, with Satan’s help, will perform miracles to deceive people prior to Christ’s return (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
- “Another beast coming up out of the earth” (Revelation 13:11).
- “The false prophet” who will deceive earth’s inhabitants to fight against Christ when He returns (Revelation 16:13-14).
Although we do not know who this specific individual is at this time, we will be able to identify him in the future because of the “power, signs, and lying wonders” that will be granted to him by Satan the devil to deceive humans into disobeying and rebelling against Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:9). This person will be destroyed at Christ’s return to earth (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20).
In addition to “the Antichrist,” Jesus and the apostles warned that there would be many false prophets who would arise to deceive humans at the end of this age (Matthew 24:4-5). John later identified anyone who would function as a false prophet as “a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 1:7).
Antichristian movements are already at work in our world today. In the United States, atheists want to remove the name of God and Christ from national monuments and the nation’s currency. Such efforts are disrespectful of God and are perhaps some of the most obvious efforts directed against God. As John explained, “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).
How can we identify the teaching of those opposed to Christ so we can avoid being deceived? A careful study of the Bible reveals the following about false teachers:
- Their teaching abolishes or minimizes God’s law. Jesus came teaching His Father’s laws, which included the 10 Commandments. He specifically stated, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets” (Matthew 5:17). Christ’s practice was to observe all of these foundational principles of God’s law. The apostle John wrote, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
How can we identify the teaching of those opposed to Christ so we can avoid being deceived?Yet most churches today don’t believe in following Christ’s example of keeping all of God’s commands. Many have been deceived into thinking that the law has been nailed to the cross and that Jesus kept it for us.
But notice what Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Summarizing Christ’s words, John stated, “Whoever transgresses [sins or breaks God’s laws] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 John 1:9).
- They will come posing as legitimate religious teachers. In 2 Corinthians 11:13 Paul identified these people as “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.” Continuing, Paul stated that these people who appeared as “ministers of righteousness” were simply following Satan’s example of presenting himself as “an angel of light” (verses 14-15).
How can we know who is a legitimate minister of God? God, through the prophet Isaiah, said, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). True ministers of Jesus Christ will teach what Jesus taught!
- They deny that Christ came in the flesh and that He and God the Father live in true Christians today. The apostle John stated: “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 1:7).
Apparently, there were false teachers who acknowledged Christ yet taught that He wasn’t really a man and that He only appeared to be human, to suffer and to die. The apostle countered the mistaken idea that Jesus was not fully human in 1 John 4:2-3. And in his Gospel account, the same author, John, also emphasized Jesus’ humanity by recording that when one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side during His crucifixion, “blood and water came out” (John 19:34). John’s Gospel also addressed the point that false teachers were denying—the point that the Father and Son would dwell in true Christians via the Holy Spirit (John 14:23).
As we draw closer to the return of Jesus Christ to this earth to establish the Kingdom of God, you need to beware of the false prophets and antichrists that are prophesied to come. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived. Remember Christ’s admonition: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
For additional study, we recommend the articles in the section “End Times.”
For assistance in fulfilling Christ’s command to “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36), subscribe to World Watch Weekly. It’s free and comes directly to your email inbox each week.