Who is the Antichrist
Who is the Antichrist? Who is the man of sin? A great many people think that the prophesy of Antichrist details the future coming of Satan incarnate, or of a single individual that will be ruled or indwelt by Him. Others believe that Antichrist will be a world ruler, a leader that will be able to deceive by his amiable style or cunning politics. Still others speculate that the Bible does not specifically say who the Antichrist is or where he will come from, just that he will be revealed. None of these ideas are true. The prophecy of Antichrist is quite possibly the most misunderstood prophecy in all of Christendom. And this is no doubt exacerbated by Premillennialism (one of the dominant doctrines in modern Churches) confusing the issue with private interpretations of chapters like Daniel 7-9 (the prophecy of the little horn), and 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 (the man of sin). Typically and indeed inexplicably, these Theologians tend to either totally ignore or place very little emphasis on both the actual word, and the very passages in scripture where it is found. One is left to wonder how a Christian Biblically defines the Antichrist without carefully considering both the word itself, and all of the pertinent verses where it is actually found? To ignore these things would seem to defy logic, reason and sound biblical hermeneutics. For in order to find out what God is illustrating by His use of the word Antichrist, it is self evident that we must study the passages explicitly talking about Antichrist, and let the scriptures themselves define and interpret the text. If God is the author of Holy Canon, then it will God, rather than man, who must define His terms. The practice of a sound exegesis is in not following what we might think, assume, or surmise, it is about following what the scriptures themselves actually declare concerning the matter.
In this study, we will look first at the word Antichrist itself, and then we will consider circumspectly (and in context) all of the passages in scripture where this word is used. In doing this, we hope to shed some light upon this most misunderstood subject concerning of "who is the Antichrist." We will endeavor to cast off all personal or private interpretations and speculation about who is the man of sin, a confederacy of ten nations, or the spawn of the cursed, and receive our interpretations from within the word. In this way we will clearly see the identity of the Antichrist, as we lean not unto our own understanding in receiving what the Bible alone has to say about this issue. This is the only way that Christians are going to come to any truth in the matter of who is the Antichrist.
Defining Our Terms
In our day, the term anti is generally understood to mean, 'to oppose,' or to be 'against' something or someone. But the Greek word [anti] in scripture also denotes something that is 'in place of' another thing. Of course it can rightly be understood to mean in "opposition against" something because (by implication) a substitute can be in opposition to the true, and it is often used in that context. In this way Antichrist is a counterfeit set 'against' the true Christ. For example, if we have something "in place of" the truth, it is a lie. Therefore those who believe in telling the truth, are anti or in opposition to lies. Or again, that which is "in place of" or a "substitute" for justice, would be an injustice. Therefore those who substitute injustice for justice are 'anti' or in opposition to justice. This is how this Greek word 'by extension' means opposition. But its root meaning is something 'in place of' or as a substitute. This word, as applied to Christ, is more fully defining a substitute Christ, or that which is 'instead of' Christ. Therefore it is a synonym for a "false Christ" or "pseudo Christ." That which is set opposed to the true Christ. Those with the spirit of Antichrist are those lawless who come with the spirit of Satan and worship the false Christ "in place of" the true. And of course, this by definition is Antichrists or in opposition to Christ. Because no false or substitute Christ can be 'for' Christ. False Christs and Antichrists are terms that can be used synonymously. They represent the spirit Satan in men that causes them to worship a pseudo Christ. Let us first briefly examine this Greek word [anti] more carefully to see how God uses it elsewhere in scripture so that we broaden our understanding of it. Here are a few passages that show this explicitly.
- "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
It is clear that the Greek word that is translated "for" [anti], has the primary meaning of 'instead of' or 'in place of.' If we would try and substitute the word Greek word "anti" or "against" in the verse above, it would make absolutely no sense. Because Christ did not give His life "opposed to" or anti-many, but He gave it as a substitute (1st Peter 2:24, 1st Peter 3:18, 2nd Corinthians 5:21) for many. He gave His life 'in place of' many. In other words, He is the scapegoat for us. So letting scripture be its own dictionary and interpreter, we get a much better understanding of this word means a substitute, as God applies it in this instance. The spirit of Antichrist is the spirit of the substitute Christ, the false Christ. Again we read in Luke:
- "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?"
The word translated "for" is [anti]. Once again, if we try and substitute the contemporary understanding of the word 'anti' there, it would make no sense. If we read it, 'if he ask for a fish, will he anti a fish give him a serpent,' we have confusion. So the translators rightly translates the word for, meaning "instead of" a fish will he give him a serpent. The word is denoting a substitution of one for another. Likewise, as we read of Esau's sins in the book of Hebrews, God declares:
- "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."
Here we again see the word [anti ] translated 'for,' meaning, "in place of" one morsel of meat, he sold his birthright. How would that read as, "Esau, who anti or opposed to one morsel of meat, he sold his birthright?" Again, it makes no sense. He substituted his birthright for one morsel of meat.
1st Corinthians 11:15
- "But if a Woman have long hair, it is a glory to her. For her hair is given her for a covering".
Once again we see that Greek word [anti] means 'in place of,' or 'instead of.' In other words, her hair is seen as a substitute, or is 'in place of' a covering. It would be confusion to read this as 'her hair was given her in opposition to, or anti a covering.' Likewise in the book of Matthew we find another example:
- "But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee."
He reigned 'in place of' his father Herod, not in anti or against his father Herod. These are all examples of God's use of the Greek word [anti] in scripture (there are of course many more) and how it means that which is a substitute. So because this Greek word is frequently seen in the context of substitution or in place of, it is incumbent upoin us to study scripture and examine the words Anti-Christ in light of this truth.
When we take into consideration the whole of scripture, we find that Antichrist is another way of saying false Christ, or one who seeks to take 'the place of' Christ. These are those who are religious, but not in the sense of true Christians. This is why we see the term Antichrist in the context of those of the Church who make their own laws and are in rebellion against God. Because they don't serve the Christ of the Bible, they serve their own substitute for Christ, who is the man of sin ruling as if he were the Lord.
And that is what they ultimately get, because the spirit of Antichrist is Satan, and he works within men so that they serve him as the false Christ. All who have this spirit are called Antichrists by God. They come in the power of Satan deceiving people by usurping the authority of Christ, substitute saviours and law givers. In other words, coming deceiving by claiming they bring the gospel of peace and safety, claiming 'thus says the Lord, when the Lord has not said.' These are substitute or Antichrists, and they are many. And God speaks of them in many different passages.
- "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
When Christ prophesied of false Christs and prophets coming in the latter time of great tribulation, He is speaking of the many Antichrists that would arise. Again, by definition a false Christ is one "in place of" or anti the true Christ. This is in agreement with the whole of scripture concerning these who serve Satan. Man usurping the authority of Christ is the false Christ, the false prophet of God serving Satan. Once the spirit of Satan enters into the unfaithful, they then become Antichrists, acting as Satan's spirit agents to deceive the people as the lawless man.
- "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:"
The spirit that works within the disobedient is that of Satan. The child of disobedience is the same as the man of lawlessness (often translated the man of sin). Disobedience is lawlessness. It is man, in the spirit of Antichrist, who is disobedient to the laws of God. The Apostasy is when man starts to rule Christ's Temple 'as if' he were Christ himself. Ergo, the false Christs whom Jesus warned us to beware of.
- "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
- But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
- But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,"
Contrary to popular opinion, man isn't literally required to verbally declare, "I am Christ," in order to qualify as a false Christ. All he has to do is usurp the authority of the Word and take Christ's place in the Holy Temple. Then by definition he is a false Christ. When man seizes authority from God that he might rule himself, he makes himself Christ. When man says "thus says the Lord, when the Lord has not said," He is the false prophet, an antichrist and a false Christ. He professes to be of the body of Christ, and yet by his works he denies Him in favor of the image he himself has created. The authority of Christ is His infallible unadulterated word, and anyone 'substituting' their own words for the Word of God, is worshipping the image of the Beast. He has become the lawless man, an antichrist exalting himself to high places. And this is the teaching illustrated in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2:
2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4
- "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
- who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God,
showing himself that he is God."
The sinful man is seen here pictured as a false Christ 'because' he positions himself sitting (ruling) in the Holy Temple of God as if he were God. Substituting his words for God's word. For the true Christian, Jesus Christ is the Living Word who rules in the Temple. If man in the spirit of antichrist substitutes his own rules (laws) for God's, he has by the spirit of Antichrist made himself ruler in the Temple. He doesn't have to literally say I am Christ the King, he makes himself a false Christ by usurping the authority of Christ in the Temple. By his disobedience to God's laws, He is the man of lawlessness. God illustrates through His word that an Antichrist is more than someone verbally who denies Christ in the flesh, he is one who denies Christ by His works. Think about it, why would someone who denies Christ literally or verbally, be in the Churches who God's servants should be aware of in the first place? That's an Atheist and it makes no sense. He who denies the authority of God's law, and rules by his own word, is he who is in the Lord's House taking the Lord's rightful place of rule. It is incumbent upon us to examine the 'substitute' aspect of this word as Antichrist. For example, when Christ warns, "for many shall come in My name saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many -matt. 24:5," He wasn't talking about a few mentally deranged individuals who might think they are Christ. At best these could deceive only a few gullible people. Christ was talking about the 'many' antichrists who come looking like a Lamb, but speaking like a Dragon. Many false Christs that praise the Lord with their lips, while they have their own authorities and are substituting themselves as the rulers of Churches, in opposition to God's Law. They indeed are not a few deranged individuals, but are many Wolves in sheeps' clothing who ideed deceive many, exactly as prophesied. Show me a man who literally says, "I am Christ," and I'll show you a man who is almost universally mocked, who can at best deceive few. But show me a man of lawlessness in the Church, deceiving and causing many to fall away from authority of the Word, and and I'll show you Antichrist, man ruling in the Temple of God 'as if' he was God. I will show you the false Christ. A Church body that is not Christ, but ruled by man. And many believe that this is the Christ.
- "And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
- For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
- But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things."
These false Christs that rise are showing great signs signifying that they are of Christ, and they are so convincing, that it might even deceive the very elect of God if that were possible. Obviously it is not a few lunatics thinking they are literally Christ, it is pastors and rulers convincing thousands upon thousands that their rule in the Temple is of God. For they substitute their laws for His laws, and for His works, they substitute their own works, and for His authority they substitute their own, for His will they substitute their own will. These are the only false Christs who can deceive so greatly and so convincingly that they would even deceive the very elect if they were not sealed by the Spirit of promise. This is lawless man ruling in the Temple, as if he was God. "He who hath an ear, let him hear."
With this introduction, we will now take a look at all of the specific verses that use this word Antichrist to determine who is the man of sin. Though there are many scriptures that speak about the action of Antichrist, there are only four verses in the entire Bible that expressly use the word 'antichrist.' These are, 1st John 2:18, 1st John 2:22, 1st John 4:3, and 2nd John 1:7.
1st John 2:18
- "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."
Notice here how John clearly debunks the theory of antichrist being 'one man.' He says as they have heard that antichrist should come in the future (Jesus Himself preached of false Christs coming in Matthew 24), even then as he wrote this there were already many antichrists. It's important to see that John didn't deny the doctrine that antichrist would come to prominence in the future, rather, he simply told them that even in their time there were indeed many of these antichrists. i.e., antichrist is not a single man as some Christians have presupposed. When we let scriptures define antichrist we see that he has a very different meaning than some theologians of our day. The truth is, he is exactly what the name implies. Anyone who comes as [anti] opposed to, or as a false or substitute for Christ. God already has a name for those who are outside the Church and are opposed to Him. They are [apistos] translated infidels or unbelievers. The anti or substitute Christs are something else entirely. They profess that they are the Church but deny Christ in their works. The terms 'false Christs and 'antichrists' are basically synonymous, because they illustrate the same spirit of the substitute Christ.
In 1st John 2:18 we read that they had heard that antichrist would come (future), but that there were even then many antichrists already present. Scripture here has defined the antichrist as that which is coming, and indeed many were already present. So again we see scripture confirms that antichrist is Satan manifesting himself in the disobedient. This spirit is seen as character traits of one whose life is in league with Satan, just as the true Christians has the Spirit of God which manifests itself in our life as character traits of our being in league with Christ. Two spirits, one of Christ and the other of antichrist. Antichrist cannot be a single man, nor a supernatural evil man. Satan is that spirit that is both coming (as this spirit will be loosed in the future), and that which was already at work in the world at the time of John's writing. This is information God has given to illuminate these passages that we can glean from them just who antichrist represents. Only the spirit Satan working within men 'qualifies' to both be in the world then, now, and in the future. The spirit of Satan was there working in men, and as they had heard, this spirit would come with all iniquity abounding in the future (iniquity was restrained at the cross - 2nd Thessalonians 2:7). The well oiled myth of a single antichrist man is found wanting when examined in the light of the 'whole' of scripture. Antichrist works (and has worked) throughout time within men whom he uses to do his bidding. For He is that spirit Satan.
Another thing is that in 1st John 2:18 we read that they had heard that antichrist was to come 'in the last time,' and John says the prediction of the coming of the antichrist were being fulfilled even then because there were many antichrists there already (1st John 4:3). He confirms, 'whereby we know that it is the last time.' In other words, this is how we know it is the last time. The phrase last time refers to what is also called the 'last days' (Acts 2:17) and encompasses the whole New Testament period when Christ was prophesied to come and to reign. This is telling us this New Covenant period has already been fulfilled 'because' antichrists have come. i.e., you can't have those opposing the true Christ of the Covenant if it is not yet the last time when Christ was prophesied to come. He is declaring to the Church that the presence of antichrists or substitute Christs is evidence that the prophecy is fulfilled of the last days when Christ would come to His temple and reign. The New Testament with Israel and the final dispensation has come, and the presence of antichrists prove it.
John didn't define these antichrists as many do today, he introduces them as professed Christians who had been among them, but who went their own way because they no longer believed as these faithful did. The very next verse shows that conclusively.
1st John 2:19
- "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."
Obviously these antichrists were professing Christians or false apostles, but they no longer could hold to the doctrines they had first received. We see the same type thing happen in our day where some in the Churches don't like the doctrines and so go out from among us to form another Church. The 'context' of this chapter shows that these weren't those who denied Christ verbally, but those who denied him doctrinally and attempted to seduce the faithful. They were not antichrists because they denied the historical existence of Jesus (as many define antichrists) they were antichrists because they began teaching a false Christ, or another gospel other than that of Christ. This is a picture of false apostles who wanted a christ after their own image, and to teach their own versions of Christ, and so went out from among the faithful. They went out, that it might be made manifest that they were never 'truly' of the Spirit of Christ in the first place. They were always antichrists.
Some theologians have stated that this fact that there were many antichrists doesn't preclude the belief that there can be a single antichrist individual come in the future. However, this is both inconsistent and unbiblical. A man's spirit cannot be in the world for 2000 years before his body is conceived. Satan is the only spirit who 'qualifies' to be here that long, and he has never needed one body. He has an army of bodies down throughout time at his disposal. There is no Biblical warrant for applying such a 'forced' interpretation as 'one incarnate Satan man. God's Word never defines antichrist as a single man, but as the spirit Satan. And man (men) with this spirit, are many antichrists. Just as Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees a serpent and a generation of vipers to illustrate they were of their father the Devil, and possessed the spirit of Satan (matt23:33). Likewise, those who are of this spirit antichrist, are antichrists. Antichrist can be singular only in that ultimately he is that spirit Satan. If we are going to define antichrist as a single 'man' that is yet to come, we will have to ignore all the scriptures which actually speak of antichrist. i.e., ignore the context and content of scripture and apply our own 'private interpretation.' But when we allow God to define His own Word, we find nothing in scripture which makes the 'single man' declaration. The coming antichrist is the loosing of the spirit of Satan with all lying signs and wonders (2nd Thess 2:7-10) which works within unregenerate men. There were many antichrists or many men with the spirit of antichrist even in John's day, and when that spirit of Satan which was bound by Christ's cross is loosed, then will that spirit antichrist come to the full. Iniquity shall abound, and then shall be revealed Satan. This is the only consistent theological conclusion we can come to and have it be in total agreement with the 'whole' of scripture.
The second place we find this word antichrist is located a few verses down in 1st John chapter 2. There we read that antichrist is those who deny the father and the Son.
1st John 2:22
- "Who is a Liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denies the father and the Son."
Again, following that same definition of antichrist, God says anyone who denies Jesus is the Messiah, or that denies the Father and the Son, Is Antichrist. That statement is both clear and concise. Are we to believe that no one except one single man in history has ever denied Jesus, or the father, thus qualifying him to be the antichrist? That is a ridiculous conclusion of course. But that is what we would have to conclude if we were to privately interpret the word antichrist as some theologians today do. One man just doesn't qualify according to scripture. In this verse, God's Word has again defined antichrist not as one man, but as 'anyone' who denies the Father and the Son. In order to deny God they would have to have the spirit of Satan, the spirit of disobedience. And note the singular [houtos esti antichristos], literally, 'He is antichrist!' How much clearer could this passage possibly tell us exactly who antichrist is? Seriously, could it possibly be any plainer? antichrist is he who is a liar and denies that Jesus is the Christ, or denies the Father, or who denies the Son. But when man denies God's Word, he 'truly' denies the Christ, the Word of God made flesh.
1st John 2:4
- "He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him".
Here is that liar spoken of as the antichrist. It is that man who professes to be a Christian or apostle of Christ, and yet has his own word 'in place of' the Word of God. i.e., he professes that he knows Christ, yet denies His Word. God's conclusion of the matter is that this man is the liar. As is written, "Who is a Liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denies the father and the Son." One might then protest, 'but do they deny Christ verbally?' I would answer, 'No, and nowhere in God's Word does it declare anyone has to deny Him verbally in order to qualify.' On the contrary, God has made this abundantly clear.
- "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate".
They're calling themselves Christian, but they are lying to themselves (1st John 2:4), they won't keep His commandments, they are disobedient to the laws of God. They are the man of lawlessness. They are not true Apostles of Christ, but a false ones. And this verse clearly tells us they deny Christ, not by verbally saying, 'we deny Christ,' but by their works they deny Him. And that is the illustration God is putting forth here. That there are many antichrists who deny Christ by their actions, because their words professing Christ are empty words. As a tree is known by it's fruits, so a man is known by his works. So when they usurp authority of God's Word, while all the time professing that they are the body of Christ, they make themselves false or substitute Christs. A counterfeit of the true body.
If we are going to let God's Word define God's Word and not subject it to personal interpretation, we must conclude that anyone who denies Christ, is antichrist. And not according to a theologian's idea of what denying Christ is, but according to God's definition. It is written, we deny Christ by our works. This is because He who denies the Word of God by their works, automatically denies Christ (titus 1:16). Christ is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). And again, in this very context of antichrist we can see that they were false prophets, denying Christ in works, because God declared right there that these antichrists sought to entice or lead the Church astray. i.e., there were those verbally denying Christ, they were those professing 'a Christ' but a substitute Christ. An antichrist.
1st John 2:26
- "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you."
Who were these antichrists that sought to seduce or lead astray the Church? They are those who taught the substitute or antichrist, the false Christ. These weren't those literally saying there is no Christ in the flesh, they were those who in works denied the risen Christ. It is a dead giveaway that all false christs have one thing in common no matter what denomination they belong to. They make either themselves or their leaders the 'authority' to rule in the Temple. And that, by any definition, is a false or substitute Christ (Word). There is only one true God and one ultimate authority in the Church. God cares for His Church, but He also warns that he who denies the Word, denies God, and also shall be denied of God. Our works will tell whether or not we deny Christ, not our mouths.
- "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
- Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
- But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God".
Denial of Christ comes in many different forms, as doe’s confession of Christ. When Jesus said, 'when you do it to these, you have done it to Me,' he was talking about the body of Christ (Matt. 25:40). When we serve the Church, we serve Christ, and when we neglect our commission, we have neglected Christ. And if we deny the Word of God, we deny Christ, and when we keep the Word of God, we show our love for Christ. These things are all intimately related. Conversely, when we have 'not' done it unto the least of these, we have not done it unto Christ. The Church is one body. If we remove the authority of the Word, then we substitute Christ, the head of the body. When man substitutes God's laws with lawlessness, then he has gone from the man of law, to the man of lawlessness. We are then serving a false Christ.
John says these things were written to them concerning the antichrists, the false apostles or Christians who would try and deceive them into their false 'images' of Christ.
The third place we read of antichrist is in 1st John chapter 4, where God declares that the spirits who won't confess Christ is come as man in the flesh, is that spirit of antichrist.
1st John 4:2-3
- "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
- And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world."
Here we see again what we've shown before. These are contrasting spirits. The spirit of Satan, and the Spirit of God. And God calls Satan's spirit, that of antichrist. We see here the deciding factor what spirit we are of is 'confession of God.' But does this mean that anyone who verbally confesses Christ is of God? Absolutely not. So even on the surface of it we know that this cannot simply mean literally or verbally confessing Christ. For it is self evident that all types of false gospels and false prophets verbally confess Christ. But the truth becomes manifest when we understand that we confess Christ not with our lips, but with our works. As Jesus said, a tree is known by it's fruits. And likewise we deny Him not with our lips, but with our works. For even the devils confess Christ (Luke 4:34) verbally. And so we understand God defines terms more broadly than man does.
Once again, note that God did not say that the spirit of antichrist is not coming in the future as they'd heard, He says again that it was even then 'already in the world.' In other words, again, the defining of antichrist as not one man, but 'a spirit' that was in the world even then. A spirit that could only be Satan, who though he was bound by the cross of Christ, was allowed to go about (though restrained) among men. It is only when that spirit is unrestrained or loosed in the future that he will be allowed to move men to abandon God's laws and rule in the Holy Temple as God. Rule as lawless man.
There are those theologians who protest this conclusion asking, 'how can antichrist be already in the world, and yet is to come in the future as a great iniquity loosed upon man?' They insist that this is a contradiction. However, the protests are more self serving than substantive. The answer of how this can be is not at all perplexing, nor is it difficult to understand. For antichrist is a spirit (as this verse indeed illustrates), not a man. In the first instance, he is Satan who indwells men from generation to generation and has done so from the beginning. But he was restrained (2nd Thess. 2:7) or held back that this iniquity wouldn't abound, by the cross of Christ. The spirit of Satan was reserved in chains to be loosed in the future, bringing a great tribulation period when he is. Thus, we read in that verse the language of the prophecy, 'the coming of antichrist.' Paul lived in the time when this lawless spirit was restrained, but clearly this spirit will be loosed. And God clearly says so.
2nd Thessalonians 2:6-10
- "And now ye know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time.
- For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, only he who restrains will restrain, until he be taken out of the way.
- And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
- Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
- And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
Satan’s principle weapon is that of deception. Here we see God clearly telling us that this spirit Satan which was already at work in the world even then, would be revealed in the future, and that the iniquity or lawlessness was being restrained, that the man of sin (man of lawlessness) could not rule in God's Temple at that time. But in the future this iniquity that was restrained would be loosed and only THEN would that iniquity be unrestrained, and Satan revealed. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and lying signs and wonders. Man with the spirit of Satan is the man of lawlessness. In 2nd Thessalonians 2 (Just as in 1st John) the Word of God says iniquity was 'already' at work in the world, and yet it was being restrained until a set time known only to God. In the KJV this is one of those few cases where the Old English language of the King James Bible may actually be a little confusing. That word translated 'letteth' is an old English word which simply means restrain. In the literal Greek, it's [katecho], meaning 'held down.' for example, if I were to hold someone down and restrain them from assaulting you as you went about your work, that is what the word signifies. It means to be restrained. Which is what the spirit Satan was so that the Church could be built over the last 2000 years.
God's declaration is that the mystery of iniquity was already at work (when 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 was written), yet was restrained. Nevertheless some teachers curiously argue that, 'If iniquity was restrained at the cross, why is there so much evil in the world?' Or else they mock saying, 'iniquity must not have been held down very tightly, because it's sure loose in the world today.' First of all, despite their self serving sarcasm, this is clearly what this verse says. It's not what man claims it says, it's what God actually says. We can believe it, or we can mock it, but we cannot deny it. Yes, iniquity was already at work in the world, nevertheless, it was being restrained until the time when He that restrained it is taken out of the way (midst). So there is no 'if's, and's, or but's,' that is exactly what God unambiguously says. And that's exactly what John means by, you have heard that antichrist should come, and even now was already at work in the world. Satan has been working in the world, and yet by the cross of Christ, he has been restrained of God. He has been conquered by the cross that his great desire for iniquity to abound (which would brings about the great tribulation period), could not happen then. Because it was 'restrained' by the power of Christ. But near the end of the world (which time I believe we are near), when the work of the cross is accomplished, then will God loose Satan from the bottomless pit. The Spirit of Christ is removed from the midst of the Churches as they depart from the faith and turn to the spirit of antichrist and Apostasy. Iniquity shall abound, the love of God grow cold, and the prophesy of antichrist coming shall come to the full. Just as both 2nd thessalonians chapter 2, and revelation chapter 20 illustrates. That spirit of Satan must be loosed for a 'short period' near the end to usher in the return of the Lord. Just as we by the Spirit of God are the Kingdom of God, they by the spirit of Satan are the kingdom of the beast. A kingdom served by the false christs or antichrists.
In these verses of 1st John chapter 2 we have learned that antichrists' are wolves in sheep's clothing, and their primary target is Christians. John’s use of the term antichrist was to describe people associated with the Church who were teaching heresies to deceive or seduce the flock. We see this illustrated in his saying (1st John 2:26), 'These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.' They come from the visible Church and they are those who have fallen away from God and His authority, which is His most Holy Word. They come with heresies to seduce the people of God, for the word of deception is the main weapon of satan, and without the whole armour of God, many will fall by that sword.
The fourth and final place in scripture where we read the word antichrist is in 2nd John chapter 1 where God speaks of these deceivers, and tells us what is to be our response to them.
2nd John 1:7-10
- "For many deceivers are entered into the world. who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist!
- Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
- Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
- If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:"
Clearly we can see from these verses that these people labeled antichrist were deceivers, false teachers of a substitute Christ who attempted to seduce the faithful that they fall away from the true. We are not to give place to these false or antichrists. We are told not to wish them God speed, and we are not to fellowship with them because they are coming with heretical teachings to lure us away from the truth. We are to remain as far away from them as night is to day.
2nd Corinthians 6:15
- "And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?"
These antichrists are not fellow brethren, nor are they simply misguided Christians (as some suppose). And God has commanded us to separate ourselves from them, and give them no place in the Church.
God defines the antichrist as any deceiver (liar) who denies that Christ came down to earth as man in the flesh. Many Jews literally denied Christ in the flesh, many others denied there was a resurrection, but these antichrists deny Him in works while professing Him with the mouth. These are false teachers whose purpose is to snare the unwary to their vision of Christ. This is what an antichrist is. There is no scripture which defines him as a supernatural human, or a political leader, or a demon born of someone in need of an exorcism. God doesn't define him as a 'one world' ruler who is adept at computers or economics. These are all the fanciful private, personal or political interpretations of men, but they have absolutely nothing to do with biblical hermeneutics or sound exegesis of the prophecy. Lawless man or sinful man is just as the name implies. Man who doesn't follow the laws of God, or the man of sin. It's not a mystery. The very definition of sin is 'the transgression of the laws of God.' Therefore, the 'man of sin' definition should be self evident. The man of sin is thus not one particular man, but sinful man in particular. But because of tradition, Church presupposition, worldliness, political climate, and the sloppy exegesis in our Churches, it is defined according to the best sellers, and the imaginations of men, rather than the Word of God.
The man of sin is 'literally' the lawless man. There really is no confusing language in 2nd Thessalonians, the confusion comes in when man wants to 'read into' scripture more than what is written there. The only mystery in Christendom is why so many people are deceived by the preposterous idea of a 'one man' antichrist. Ultimately, even that is not a mystery if we understand the nature of man and his penchant for setting his eyes on the worldly for answers, and not upon Christ. He will then 'naturally' see worldly things, instead of spiritual things.
One caveat that we should pay particular attention to is that despite what some theologians teach, the actual language of the Bible is that of, 'the man of sin,' not 'a man of sin.' And and mark of the beast is the number 'of man,' not the number of 'a man.' i.e., the man of sin is contrasting the man of Satan whose character is of lawlessness (sin), with the man of God, whose character is of obedience to the law. e.g.,
- "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
- But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
Here is the lawful man, as opposed to the lawless man. Here is the man of law as as opposed to the man of lawlessness, or sin. These aren't phrases speaking about one Godly man or one Devil man, they are illustrations of the Character of the man of Satan, and the man of God. One Keeps God's commandments (obeys laws) and the other doesn't (is lawless).
1st Timothy 6:11
- "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
The only word different in that phrase 'man of God' is the word 'God.' It's [anthropos] [theos], while the 'man of sin' is [anthropos] [hamartia]. Would anyone read 'man of God' and surmise it refers to one single man to come in the future? No, there is nothing in the wording to illustrate that, nor is there in 2nd thessalonians. The man of sin rising up in the temple is referring to the man opposed to the laws or commandments of God, not one devil man. The man of lawlessness or the man of sin illustrates a rising up of unlawfulness in the Churches, not in a literal temple building in the middle east.
Secondly, the revelation 13 passage of the mark of the beast being interpreted as the number of 'a' man, is a widely misunderstood error. The Greek manuscripts do not say the number of 'a' man (none of them), they 'all' say it is the number 'of Man.' ..Period! That's an important distinction which should not be lost. It may say 'a man' in your translation of the Greek, but as anyone even a novice in the Greek knows, there is no article 'a' in the actual passage. Check that out yourself, or consult a faithful expert in the Greek. There is no article 'a' there. Thirdly, the widely misinterpreted 'little Horn' of Daniel chapter 8 represents the power (horns in scripture equate to/signify Power) of Satan as he is loosed in power a little season. We can see the correlation clearly. Little Horn ( Daniel 8 ) means power for the little season that Satan is loosed (Revelation 20:3). Or as revelation 17 says, the 10 horns receive POWER as kings, not then (when the book was written), but would receive it 'one hour' with the Beast that is loosed from the bottomless pit (Rev 17:14,16). This is God's marvelous way of showing us the picture of the end times, and Satan's power to rule in it for a short time (little power = little horn) before Christ's second advent. Do not be deceived by self serving theories about politics, economics, Israel, nations, power brokers, or literal marks on the skin. These symbolisms represent spiritual truths, just as Jesus throwing the buyers and sellers out of the Temple in His day did. The spiritual truth of the buyers and the sellers, is that they had made the House of the Lord a den of thieves. They had brought abomination into the Congregation, and were thus cast out. Likewise, in the Revelation 13 symbolism, it follows only those cast out in this judgment could buy and sell. Only those in servitude to Satan (marked by the beast) would be cast out. The rest are safe and secure from God's judgment. They could not buy and sell in the Temple.
The antichrist is the spirit Satan working within man, which has been around a long time, but whom will abound, increase, or be loosed a short time before the Lord returns as a judgment upon the harlot church. A Church which has gone whoring after other gods in divorcing [Apostasia] herself from her God. For it is written, judgment must begin at the house of God (1st Peter 4:17). And for this reason, the spirit Satan is loosed 'by God' and will go forth and deceive the nations that they should believe his false teachings, and be damned. And God says the reason is because they would not receive the love of the truth of God's Word (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12).
The antichrist is now, and is in anyone who has the spirit of Satan dwelling within them that they become adversaries to God's Word. For he who is adversary to the Word, is adversary to Christ. The antichrist revealed in full in the end time apostasy, is when Satan is unrestrained and these seduces will come against the camp of the saints in a great spiritual warfare. By their opposition to the truth, they make themselves a truth in and of themselves, a substitute Christ. They worship an image of themselves (as those who built the tower to heaven) looking spiritually to being their own god, and their own authority. They are seeking to write their own destiny as they have fallen from the faith where they place their word as law instead of God's Word. We see this today as every law of God is being attacked and is fallen in Church after Church around the world. And only those with the whole armour of God will come through this unscathed. The man of God, the man of law has taken a back seat to the man of Satan, the man of sin or lawlessness. These truths are spiritually discerned in the elect.
1st Timothy 4:1
- "Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;"
This is the coming of that spirit of antichrist where men depart from the faith and begin listening to the spirits of devils. This is the loosing of that spirit Satan that man becomes lawless and rules in the Churches instead of God. This is man taking a seat (ruling) in the Holy Temple in place of God. i.e., he's become a false or substitute Christ in denial of the true.
Old Testament examples show us that a woman who has abandoned her husband for another is seen as a harlot, and this act an Abomination which will bring her to desolation. God uses this as an illustration of the unfaithful Church. This abandoning God is taking place now as surely as it took place in Israel and led to her desolation and her 'denial of Christ.' And let the nay-sayers take note that Israel didn't deny the Messiah verbally. In point of fact, they believed fervently in their interpretation of the Messiah, and they waited for Him. But it was by their works that they denied the very Christ whom they sought. And it is the same in our day. Professed Christians build up Churches with the names of the great Church fathers and prophets on their lips, but in their works and hearts, they are the same as those who killed these very Church fathers and prophets. And this isn't the first time this has occurred, for biblical history reveals their is nothing new under the sun.
- "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous,
- And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
- Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
- Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers."
False prophets usually never know that they are false prophets because 'Satan's principle weapon is deception.' Like those today looking for literal devil men, marks on the skin, and earthly reigns, Israel too looked for earthly reigns, wars, prosperity, and a Messiah after their own imaginations. They preached the Messiah and they were all looking forward to His coming, but they missed Him because of unbelief. Christ called them children of the Devil, and yet they all believed they were of God and served him. Let that be a lesson to all of us of Satan's power of deception. No, man doesn't have to verbally deny Christ to deny Christ. 'He who hath an ear, let him hear.' Judgment (as then, so now) must begin at the House of God, and the judgment is the same. Desolation for their abominations in the Holy Temple. Finally, the buyers and sellers (those with the mark of the beast) who take a seat in the Temple, as if they were God, are cast out. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As I've said many times in this message, Satan’s principle weapon is deception. Again and again Christ has warned us of this. In practically every verse or chapter about the end times there is witness to it. This is because God so desires His people to be so familiar with the truth of this, that we will be able recognize the 'SIGNS' of this counterfeit gospel by examining these passages, and these false teachers in light of the Word. It all comes down to this. Will we remain faithful to the laws in the Word of God when all those around us are falling away from God like branches in the hard wind?
Antichrist has no specific prophetic application to any particular human being whether living or dead, but to all men who in the spirit of Satan practice lawlessness in the Church. These are those who substitute their word for God's law to deceive the people. The personification of ageless rebellion, the spirit of antichrist is not the Pope, not Hitler, and not a Roman entity. He is not identifiable with one nation, one church, institution, or person. He can show up in the Reformed, Presbyterian or Baptist Church just as easily as he has in the Roman Catholic church. As long as the spirit of Satan struggles against Christ through his minions, the antichrist is at work deceiving the flock. The more God allows this spirit to prosper, the more these false prophets will assault the Church. Only when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, having put down all rule and authority to deliver up the kingdom to God, will our warfare against antichrist cease. Then comes the consummation and our true Sabbath of rest.
1st Corinthians 2:13
- "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
We discern the antichrist by carefully comparing scripture with scripture. So who is antichrist? He is Satan, and he is the professing Christian with his spirit of disobedience, who is in opposition to Christ and in works deny Him. He is not the body of Christ, but a substitute or false christ. There were many antichrists throughout the last days of the New Testament so his origin is not solely a present day phenomenon. He is Satan who comes as an angel or messenger of light, and he is Satan's army, those whom he commands, who come as ministers of righteousness (2nd Cor. 11:14-15).
May the Lord who is Gracious above all, give us the wisdom to discern what is truth from what is deception, and the understanding to glean some of the glorious and precious promises and exhortations in his most Holy Word.