Who Is The Antichrist
by Doyle D. Dewberry
TEXT - 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time (2:18).
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is (the) antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son (2:22).
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of (the) antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it (or He) should come; and even now already is it (or he) in the world (4:3).
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a (the) deceiver and an (the) antichrist (2 John 7).
Here is a great mystery! In spite of the fact that so many would have us look for a future antichrist - 1 & 2 John are the only Biblical writings that say anything of him (or it, as we are told in 4:3). One would feel if there was one coming who will do all that men say he will do, there would be more said of him by others, spoken in a literal way as John has here in his epistle. If we cite his writings on the subject, there are several references to him which seems to go against all that is said on the subject:
1. John considered himself in the last time (hour, wra) (vs.2:18; 4:3).
2. John did not acknowledge that a single antichrist was coming - it was only said ye have heard that he is coming (vs.2:18; 4:3).
3. John tells us that instead of one, there are many in the world in his day (v.2:18; 4:3).
4. John writes of an antichrist or literally the antichrist (o avtiXristos) in v.2.22; 2 John 7.
5. John also makes reference to the fact that the many antichrists in his day is a definite sign of being the last time (hour, wra) (v.2:18).
When one considers the five references to antichrist in these four verses, the one of which it had been heard should come, and had already come, and instead of one, there were many, and, by the many, John considered it the last hour. V.19 infers these many, or at least some, antichrists where those who had professed faith (howbeit, not possessed it) as they had apostisized:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us (1 John 2:19).
The long line of antichrists began in John's day, and they appear by the above passage to have been professing believers, but they were not true ones as John tells us - they were not of us. The true believers persevere. When Paul tells us the Lord will not come until the apostasy in 2 Thess 2, it appears by the time of John's writing this epistle, it had begun.
It would seem to this befuddled writer that we should abandon our effort to identify the one so-called which is yet to come (but has already come), and put our best effort in identifying the many which are in the world today! By so doing, even if there were only one to come, if we look for the many, we shall also identity the one, if such is the case. If there were many in John's day, you can well suppose the number has increased in our day. John gives two doctrines held by antichrists, and we would reckon that the many had many more differing ones. Now, is it not possible that the many are not unified in their doctrines? but the many have differing doctrines? One may say this, while another may say that!
One problem which seems to be at the bottom of so much said of antichrist is the alluding to him from other passages (which do not literally cite him as the subject). 2 Thess 2 is a case in point. The reference there to the man of sin, the son of perdition is often set forth as the coming antichrist, and this one, according to the line, is yet to come. The problem with much which is said of him, of his sitting in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thess 2:4), is in the present tense, and if it is yet future, how can he sit in the temple of God if it is destroyed, which has been done in AD 70?
The teaching of some dispensationalists of the rebuilding of the temple to be used after Christ returns where animals will be sacrificed as "a memorial" has no scriptural basis, and is pretty far-fetched. The Greek word here is vaov and it is always translated temple but once when it is translated shrine. It is never used of the Church, and by the added words temple of God, it here does not mean a heathen temple. In Trench's synonyms, he declares it to be a reference to holy of holies, which is only a portion of the temple (ierov). Other references supposedly made of the antichrist, as in Revelation, can be explained in much the same way.
Our subject has to do with who is the antichrist, and while one may not be able to identify them by name, one can identify them by their works, especially those set forth in the scriptures. Our proposition in this message is to take John at his word concerning the many antichrists in the world, and that such indicates the last time. John indicates antichrist are liars who deny that Jesus is the Christ, as this certainly is the meaning of the word. As a result of this, we can follow his next thought:
I - Antichrists deny the Father and the Son:
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son (2:22).
It is well to remember that when the many denied the Son as the Christ, they also denied the Father, who sent the Son. Since the Father is God, then it follows, so is the Son, the one who had been with the Father in the eons before His coming to earth. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD (John 1:1). All the sects in the world cannot disprove, though they try, the divine being of the Son by this passage. Jesus is the one Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with the God (Phil 2:6).
And those who assumed they knew Jehovah God, as well as supposedly present day witnesses of Him, do not realize that when they deny the Son, they deny God the Father. He that honoured not the Son honoureth not the Father which sent Him (John 5:23). And did not our Lord say such when He said, If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also ... He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 14:7,9). No other person in this world can make such statements other than the divine one Himself!
II. Antichrists deny that Jesus came to this earth in the flesh:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist" (1 John 4:3).
John labors much to show that Jesus came to this earth in the flesh, for he continues in his Gospel, And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (v.1:14). He was not some ethereal spirit-like being, but one with flesh and bones, in every whit as man, even in the likeness of sinful man, but not sinful. John tells us of being in the present of the Son, and that he was,
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life (1 John 1:1).
Even after His resurrection we learn of His incarnation, that is His coming into the world in the flesh, as He Himself said when the disciples thought they had seen a spirit: Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24:39). And when Jesus came walking on the water toward His disciples, they were afraid and thought they had seen a spirit (phavtasma, an apparition, phantom), but Jesus said, It is I (Matt 14:26-27).
It is thought John, in his epistle, is fighting against the sect known as the "Docetists" (from the Greek word, dokew, meaning to seem, or appear). Jesus was not a person in the flesh, but only appeared to be so. Such false teaching has dire ramifications which affect the death of Christ on the cross, as the Docetists taught He only appeared to die, and be buried, and rise again. Such would not be acceptible to the Father as a proper sacrifice, as Jesus had to become like unto His brethren, one born of woman, made under the law.
It is safe to say there are others who can be said to be antichrists. Paul taught of such in his epistle to the Corinthians.
III. Antichrists are the ministers of Satan, false apostles, ministers of righteousness:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if HIS MINISTERS also be transformed as the MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor 11:14-15).
Who were these false apostles? One was Judas who betrayed the Lord. Jesus calls him the son of perdition (John 17:12). Paul also calls the man of sin, the son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3). While Judas is not the antichrist, he is certainly a antichrist, as the antichrist denies the Lord. (1 John 2:22). It was said of him also, before his denial, that Satan entered into him (Luke 22:3; John 13:27).
On the other hand, these ministers of Satan are ministers of righteousness. Now it would mean they do not hold to inputed righteousness, and thus it must be referring to their own righteousness. It was the devil's first trick in the garden to demean God and His word, and assure Eve she could eat of the tree and still be a righteous person. Satan would have us to know we are righteous as we are, and denies the word of Paul, There is none righteous, no, not one. (Rom 3:10). It also denies our need of declared justification as we do not stand justified in God's sight as we are. Jesus was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21). These ministers aid the god of this world in blinding the minds of them which believe not (2 Cor 4:4).
So, are they not part of the many antichrists who deny the Christ and His Father? and are they not the dreaded enemy of God's people? John calls them liars, and Satan himself is also called the father of such, and they abound today as well as they did then. These are true antichrists!
Christ has His ministers, and so has Satan; and, just as Christ's ministers have something of the sense of vocation and mission which characterized Him who was sent by the Father into the world to perform His gracious work of redemption, so Satan's ministers exhibit the nature and methods of him by whom they are diabolically inspired, and whose kingdom of darkness they are engaged in extending. It is no great thing, the apostle remarks, if Satan's power to present himself in a guise foreign to his real nature should also be found in those enlisted in his service (Tasker).
IV. Antichrists not being the true must be the false of which our Lord spake concerning false prophets and false christs:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matt 7:15-16).
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Matt 24:11)
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matt 24:23-24; Mark 13:21-22).
What stands our here is the word deceive, for remember John spake of the antichrist as such: This is a (Gk, the) deceiver and an (Gk, the) antichrist (2 John 7). Part of the word for antichrist is the Greek word avti which, in some instances, stands for in the stead of, and thus the antichrist is one who stands in the stead of the Christ! It is used by both Matthew and Mark when they spake of Christ giving his life a ransom for, avti many, or in the stead of, or in the place of the many (Matt 20:28). So these false christs spoken of by our Lord Himself are in this sense antichrists, that is, those who feign themselves off as, and claim to stand in the stead of Christ!
Now the apostles stood in the stead of Christ, at lease Paul did, for he says We pray you IN CHRIST'S STEAD, be ye reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20). But false apostles do not stand in His stead, for they are as Paul says, false apostles! It is a favorite trick of Satan and his ministers to proclaim themselves as vicors, and one with the authority of Christ himself. These are antichrists! and there is no evidence that any one else has such apostolic authority.
However, fellow believer, it is a great neglect to be looking for a future being, the so called antichrist, and to overlook the many around us now. Some tell you more about the one to come without any warning of the present ones. Consider that John did not, but instead emphasized the many antichrists in his day. They are enemies of Christ and God the Father, and thine. They distort, deny, and are great deceivers! All antichrists, antichristian systems will be ultimately destroyed at the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But let us not relax our guard and let us be aware of their presence and diabolical work in our day. Be not taken in by their pretense as to righteousness, for they only seek their own righteousness, which, if you remember, brought on the downfall of a great nation, even Israel. Salvation is not by our own righteousness, but that which is imputed to us through our Lord Jesus being made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Amen!
Doyle Dewberry is the retired Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Proclaimer, of Alameda, California. email: firstname.lastname@example.org