Who is the ‘antichrist’?

Q. Who is the “antichrist” mentioned in 1 John chapter two? The apostle John seems to indicate that the “antichrist” had already appreared in the first century. I thought that the “antichrist” was only going to appear at the end of time. Can you help me understand this passage?

1 John 2:18-27

18* Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
19* They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
20* But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.
21* I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
22* Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
23* Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
24* As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25* This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
26* These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.
27* As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

John is the only writer of the New Testament who uses the term “antichrist”, and he uses the term just five times:

a. Twice here in 1 Jn 2:18 (“antichrist is coming…many antichrists have come”)
b. Again in 1 Jn 2:22 (“He is antichrist who denies…”)
c. Also in 1 Jn 4:3 (“this is the spirit of the antichrist…”)
d. And in 2 Jn 7 (“a deceiver and an antichrist.”)

The term is commonly used today by many to refer to one individual (“The Antichrist”), who is supposed to appear in the “end times”… in other words some actual person who will arise in the religio-political arena and lead many people astray just before Christ comes again. This view is held by pre-millenialists and many amillenialists.

Often a connection is made to the “man of sin” described by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:1-11. Some say that John and Paul had the same individual in mind.

Let’s begin by identifying what John tells us here about the identy of the “antichrists.” According to verse 19 the “antichrist” refused to accept or follow apostolic authority.

In John’s day…They were individuals who had associated with the apostles and other Christians, But they had gone out on their own, and were no longer in fellowship with the apostles so it became manifest that they were not “of us” (approved by the apostles)

Later, John describes the “the spirit of the antichrist” as that which does not hear the apostles (i.e., respect apostolic authority) – cf. 1 Jn 4:2-6

1 Jn 4:2-6
2* By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;
3* and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
4* You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
5* They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.
6* We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Today Many “antichrists” behave the same way

1) They may start out acting like they respect apostolic authority, and seek to be with Christians

2) But eventually their true nature comes out and they will not want to be with those who respect apostolic authority very long

b. So a sign of “antichrists” is their attitude toward the “apostles’ doctrine” (i.e., the Scriptures)
c. Those who reject the apostles, reject Christ himself (cf. Jn 13:20), and are thus “antiChrist”!

In John’s day the “antichrists” denied that Jesus is the Christ – cf. 1 Jn 2:22a

1) Many Gnostics alleged that Jesus and Christ were two different persons
a) That Christ merely appeared to have flesh, but in reality did not
b) Or that the Christ descended upon Jesus at His baptism and departed at the time of His suffering
2) It is this denial that Jesus Christ came in the flesh that John identifies as the spirit of the antichrist – 1 Jn 4:3-4

b. They denied the Father and the Son – 1 Jn 2:22b-23

1) By denying that Jesus is the Christ, they were denying the Son (i.e., He who was “begotten of the Father” and who became flesh)! – cf. Jn 1:14

2) By denying the Son, they were in essence also denying the Father! – cf. Jn 13:20

Today, an “antichrist” would be one…

a. Who denies Jesus to be the Messiah
b. Who denies the nature of Jesus (that He was fully God and fully man)

Those who deny apostolic authority, and especially their teaching about the nature of Jesus Christ, manifest the spirit of “antichrist”.

To guard against the “antichrists” John tells us that we have an “anointing.” – 1 Jn 2:20-21, 27

This “anointing from the Holy One”…

1) Enabled them to “know all things”
2) Enabled them “not to need that anyone teach you”

This could be a reference to the “gifts of the Spirit”…Which in New Testament times served to provide both REVELATION and CONFIRMATION of the truth for the early church – So that they could have identified the “antichrists” without John’s help

I believe that this “anointing” is the WORD of God which had been delivered to them. Despite having this “anointing”, they needed to be encouraged to continue in what they had learned (from the Spirit) – 1 Jn 2:24-25

Having the “gifts of the Spirit” did not keep them from sinning, or being misled. Only by heeding that which they had heard from the beginning would they continue to abide in the Son and in the Father, and receive the promise of eternal life!

For Christians living today…….

1. We don’t have the “miraclous anointing” like John’s readers did…Though many people today do misapply this verse to teach that we can have some “anointing” from God….if we did, then we would not need the Scriptures (cf. 1 Jn 2:20,27), and only the self-deceived would make such a claim today!

However, we have something just as good!

a. That is, the Word of God, which is the “sword of the Spirit” – cf. Ep 6:17
b. We have “the faith once delivered unto the saints” – cf. Ju 3
c. I.e., an objective standard by which we can know the truth, and avoid being misled by subjective feelings that can be mistaken for some sort of prompting of the Spirit
d. With the Scriptures, we have all we need to know God’s will – cf. 2 Ti 3:16-17

2 Ti 3:16-17

16* All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17* so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Like John’s readers, we need to be encouraged to continue
in what we have learned from the Spirit-given Word…Having the Word of God does not ensure that we won’t be misled by others. For unless we study and apply the Word, we are open to deceptions by modern-day “antichrists”!

“Antichrists” are a very real problem for us today:

a. For while there may not be many professing Christians who deny Jesus is the Christ, or that He came in the flesh…

b. …there are many who reject the authority of the apostles by the manner in which they disregard the Scriptures!

c. The solution then…remains the same for us:

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father”. (1 Jn 2:24)

Comments are closed.