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Who is the Antichrist?

Answers | Justin Martz | 6 mins

People are fascinated by the Antichrist. Whether you’ve been around church or not, references to the Antichrist are abundant in society. They refer to political leaders, musicians, actors, and influencers. If you Google “Antichrist,” you will find some very interesting responses, speculations, and opinions. But who really is the Antichrist?

Definition of terms:
Let’s start by defining some terms. This will help to form a better understanding of the Antichrist.

First, the Greek prefix anti (anti) doesn’t predominantly mean against as it does in English. It means instead of or in place of. This means that the Antichrist is less of someone who is against Christ but more of somebody who is standing in place of Christ.

Second, the word Christ comes from the Hebrew word Messiah which means anointed one. Throughout the Old Testament, the story of fallen humanity and the need for a savior is clear. The picture of the Messiah or anointed one is unpacked throughout the Old Testament and finds its fulfillment in Jesus, who was God in the flesh.

The Antichrist claims they can accomplish what only Jesus accomplished, or denies who Jesus really was. This is important because, at its core, Scripture teaches us that the only hope for humanity to have a restored relationship with God is through Jesus - the Messiah, the Christ, God who became flesh, who accomplished what no human could do.

Many Antichrists?
What’s fascinating about this topic is that the Antichrist is only mentioned four times directly in all of Scripture. This means that we give a lot of attention and speculation to something that’s not mentioned very often.

All four occurrences are in the letters from John (1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3; 2 John 1:7). John is combating an early heresy that claimed that Jesus wasn’t human; that He wasn’t physical. And he references an early teaching that points to a future figure, Antichrist, as a reference to anyone who denies who Jesus was. So, John says that “many antichrists have come,” and that “anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ,” and any who “do not confess Jesus came in the flesh,” are all Antichrists. John uses the word in his letters then, to describe those who oppose the central doctrines concerning Jesus Christ. For John, those who should know the truth, yet teach false doctrine concerning Jesus, are Antichrists.

Although the term “Antichrist” isn’t used, there are also warnings in Matthew, Mark, and Luke about not following those who will come claiming to be Christ (Matt. 24:4-5, Mark 13:5-6, and Luke 21:8). They are called “false Christs” and “false prophets” that will perform miracles and lead people astray.

The future Antichrist?
In 1 John 2:18, John refers to an early teaching about an Antichrist who is coming. Then he goes on to say that there is a “spirit of the antichrist”, “who is in the world already.” So, for John, there is a spiritual reality, and these spiritual forces are leading people astray and deceiving them about who Jesus is. And for John, there will be a future Antichrist. But he doesn’t elaborate here on who that would be in the world.

In 2nd Thessalonians, Paul is correcting a misunderstanding that the “day of the Lord” has come. In this correction, he discusses events that will occur including a figure that will rise, “the man of lawlessness, or the son of destruction.” This is a future person, powered by Satan, who claims to be God and will deceive many. However, Jesus will easily destroy this person, “with the breath of His mouth.” (2 Thess. 2:8).

In Revelation, which is apocalyptic literature (pertaining to eschatological or end times), John uses two beasts as his image for the Antichrist (Rev. 13). Later, in Revelation 16:13 and 19:20, John identifies the beast as the “false prophet” which connects back to Jesus’ words in the gospels and what John said in his letters. John goes on to say in 19:20 that this “beast” is ultimately captured and destroyed.

The Antichrist isn’t some mysterious person, Marvel-like comic book figure, or anyone to worry about. In reality, anyone who puts themselves in place of Christ is an Antichrist. This is the human condition, to put what we want above what God wants for us. To decide truth on our own. There is real, spiritual evil that is working against Christ in the world and leading people astray. In the end, there will be an ultimate Antichrist that will rise and lead people astray. But the result is already known; victory by Jesus. Jesus is the real Christ, the real Messiah, and the only true way to a restored relationship with God. As Jesus Himself said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14:6). If you have faith in Jesus, there is no reason to worry or fear about the Antichrist. In the end, Jesus wins!

Written By

Justin Martz

Husband and father. “The Professor” and teacher of Sun Valley University, and in my DMIN program. Love to read, listen to podcasts, and watch movies. I am also an associate at Rayhons Financial Solutions.

Published on Feb 22, 2022