The Book of Revelation warns of a future, powerful false prophet… the Antichrist…
The Antichrist will be so deceptive, he’ll not only become the unquestioned leader of Mainstream Christianity, he’ll even sway non-christians and atheists. Speaking of this enormous, deceptive power, Jesus warned, "false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). In other words, it's not just the unsuspecting masses that will be deceived. He's saying, even Christians who faithfully obey God's word will be at risk. So, how can we identify this persuasive religious leader and avoid his deceptive influence?
Let’s see what the Bible says about the Antichrist...
In this video, we’ll review two major points about WHO the Antichrist is, and in a future video, we’ll examine a key doctrine of the Antichrist. But before we get to our first point, let's examine some definitions. The word “Antichrist” simply means “against, or opposed to Christ.” It can also mean “instead of Christ,” or “a false Christ” [Unger’s Bible Dictionary], and this is really the context in which it’s used in the Bible. Now, before we discuss the end-time Antichrist that most of us think of, we’ll need to understand point number 1.
There is not only one antichrist... there have been, and are, many antichrists.
1 John 2:18 says, “even now many antichrists have come…” In chapter 4 verse 3, the Apostle John says, “the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming… is now already in the world” (1 John 4:3). And in verse 1 of chapter 4, we see the context of these comments, when he warned the Church, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So, we see even in the first century there were already “many antichrists” or “many false prophets," and the spirit of the antichrist was already at work.
The Apostle Paul expressed concern about the same problem—false ministers claiming to be teachers of Christ, but not teaching what He taught. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:4, "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached... or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! He says, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 11:13). Again, he's warning that these men appear to be true ministers of Jesus, but the doctrine they teach is different from that of the church Jesus established. Paul continues, "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness..." (2 Cor. 11:14-15). The look holy... and they sound holy... But they are not!
Jesus also cautioned of those who claim His name but do not follow His teachings. "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!’" (Matt. 7:22-23). And in another place, He said, "why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). In His famous Matthew 24 prophecy of what would happen in the years before His return, He said, "false christs and false prophets will rise" (Matt. 24:24) and "many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many" (Matt. 24:5).
So, point number one is: There are many antichrists; there have been since the first century, and there will continue to be through the end of the age.
Now, point 2.
There will be one exceptionally powerful Antichrist in the years before Christ returns.
John said, “you have heard that the Antichrist is coming” (1 John 2:18), speaking of this end-time figure. This Antichrist was actually prophesied in the book of Daniel. Recording the imagery of his vision about the empires and major religious system that would exist the end of the age, Daniel writes of this false prophet, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25). In other words, this false religious leader will speak blasphemous, “pompous” words against God and will persecute true followers of God. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul warns about this same character. He explains that, prior to the return of Jesus, “the man of sin” or the “son of perdition” must come first. He said this man “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4).
This man will glorify himself as God, and convince billions of people to follow him. How will he persuade them? Paul warned, he’ll do it “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception…” (2 Thess. 2:9-10). In Revelation 13, John recorded his vision of a beast representing the Antichrist. This beast looked like a lamb, but “spoke like a dragon.” That is, his appearance was Christ-like, but his words did not reflect Christ’s teachings. He said that this false prophet “performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted...” (Rev 13:13-14)
So, we see the Bible shows the end-time Antichrist will be a powerful religious leader who teaches false Christian doctrines, will eventually claim to be God, and will perform great signs and wonders. This man will deceive billions of people— Christians and non-Christians alike. At the same time, we see there are, and have been, many antichrists, or false ministers. These ministers preach Christ and they look and sound righteous but teach doctrines different from those Jesus and the Apostles taught. And many will continue to be deceived by these influential false teachers. But the end-time Antichrist will be uniquely powerful and deceptive.
So, how can a person avoid being influenced by the spirit of Antichrist? We must love the Truth. Knowing, loving, and obeying the Truth, while accepting that Jesus came to this earth in the flesh and bled and died to cover our sins, we can be made clean before God, be a part of His kingdom, and escape the influence of what may well be the greatest deceiver in the history of the world.