Larry Wishon

The Guiding Principle

   The best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself. The New Testament is the only infallible interpreter of the Old Testament. Therefore, the New Testament writings contain “both the principles and methods of a sound, trustworthy exegesis.”
   Jesus and His Apostles are our only divinely inspired interpreters to sound prophetic understanding. Where the New Testament speaks to and interprets Old Testament prophecy, it is to be accepted above all other voices. One cannot claim to be a true New Testament believer, while rejecting the plain and clear New Testament interpretation.

Antichrist Is Here

 

The Antichrist has been a central figure for many centuries not just in the Church, but in society at large. The most common idea concerning this figure is that he will appear at the end of the present world, just before the return of Christ to the earth. This has been the core teaching of what is known as Pre-millennial Dispensationalism, aka Scofieldism.

As a matter of fact, it is from Scofieldism that we get most of our ideas concerning this future figure. However, is what Scofieldism teaches concerning the Antichrist the same as what the Bible teaches? The short answer is, No. The image we get from Dispensationalism about the Antichrist, has little to nothing to do with what the Bible actually says.

Antichrist Found Only In Two Letters Of John

The word antichrist is found only four(4) times in all of the Bible. The only places where antichrist is found, is in 1 John and 2 John and nowhere else. Some might argue that antichrist is called the man of sin by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The Bible makes no connection between Paul’s man of sin and the antichrist of John’s letters. Only a brilliant display of mental gymnastics, a vivid imagination and the torture of Scriptures can make that connection.

Others might argue that John calls the antichrist, The Beast in the book of Revelation. John makes no connection between the Beast of Revelation and antichrist of his letters. Some others might try to connect the little horn of Daniel with antichrist. Again, the Bible makes no connection between Daniel’s little horn and John’s antichrist. Any connection of antichrist with the man of sin, the Beast, and the little horn are all creations of Scofieldism. Most of the tenets of Dispensationalism are composed of imaginative inventions, created cafeteria-style that have little or nothing to do with the Bible. In short, Dispensationalism is more Sensationalism than Bible. Newspaper headlines are its key to prophecy.

Antichrist, One or Many

John begins his short teaching concerning antichrist in this way,

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.

John first identifies the time he is in as, “the last time” or literally, “a last hour.” Commentators are not in agreement about exactly what John means by this designation. Suffice it to say, it held some special meaning for him and those to whom he wrote. We could view it in this way. He was writing in the last hour, of the last days, at the end of the age. All three of these phrases of time is found here and in other apostolic writings, designating the time in which they lived. These all point to the time before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70.

He then states, “as ye have heard that antichrist shall come,” or it can be translated, “even as you have heard that the antichrist is coming.” It is important to note the definite article is used with antichrist, making it “the antichrist.” John is not establishing the doctrine for a person called “the Antichrist,” which should come in the far future. However, he is saying, “you have heard,” that The Antichrist is coming. The idea of antichrist predates John’s letter. He does not say whether they heard this by apostolic teaching or cultural rumor (think urban legend). He does not say that what they heard was right or wrong. It is important to note what he does not say. He does not say, “as you have heard from us,” meaning John does not establish this hearing of the antichrist came from any of the apostles.

John does not validate the idea of a singular man being The Antichrist. He does however establish there are “many antichrists,” and they were present, “even now,” as he penned this letter.

These whom John designated antichrist, were at one time a part of the fellowship of believers, for John says,

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.

These many antichrists went out from the community of disciples, because they were not of (lit. out of) us. If they had been out of the same source (In God through Christ) as the body of disciples, they would have continued with them. However, they had to go out, to show that they were not of the same source and body as the disciples of Jesus. These were false brethren. They made a confession that they believed, but their true beliefs were made manifest, proving they were not really of us.

It is obvious that in John’s teaching, antichrist is not a singular personality who should come in the future, but is a spirit of confession, a doctrinal belief, which denies the very fundamentals of the Christian Confession. This basic Christian confession is that Jesus is the Christ and has come in human flesh, i.e., the incarnation. Also, that The Father sent His Son into the world, i.e., the Son came from the Father, who is His Source of being.

For John continues,

22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

John further explains what it means to deny the Father and the Son. If you deny the Son, you cannot claim to have the Father, i.e., you cannot claim to have a relationship with the God of the Bible, if you deny the validity of His Son, Jesus. As John records Jesus saying in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

This should answer that nagging question, Does Judaism and Christianity worship the same God? No, they do not. Judaism denies the Son, so according to the Apostle John, they cannot have or be in a vital relationship with the Father, regardless of what the Cult of Israel (aka Christian Zionism) proclaims. It is only through the Son that one may be able to come to the Father [John 14:6].

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? No, they do not. Muslims deny that God has a Son, therefore the god they worship cannot be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing that both Judaism and Islam deny the Son, they are calling God a liar, for God has testified publicly that Jesus of Nazareth is His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16; Matt. 17:5). On the mount of transfiguration, stood Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) with Jesus. The Father spoke from heaven saying,

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

Above the Law(Moses) and the Prophets(Elijah), we are to hear Jesus.

1 John 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

If you deny the Father and the Son, you are antichrist. You are not just of the antichrist spirit, but John states it more emphatically. He says that you are “the antichrist” (ὁ ἀντίχριστος 2:22).

John’s last mention of antichrist is found in his second epistle (2 John 1:7). Here, he reaffirms that those who do not confess that Jesus the Messiah has come as man (“in flesh”), they are “the deceiver and the antichrist.”

We can clearly see that for John, the Antichrist is not a man coming in the future, but many antichrists were present in his day. Antichrist was a doctrinal confession which was expressed as a denial of core Biblical truth. The revealing of ‘the antichrist’ is seen in a spirit of confession, denying who Jesus is, denying who God has shown Him to be.

Identifying The “many antichrists”

Who were these many antichrists living in John’s time. One clue John gives us is found in 1 John 2:19.

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.

These deniers of who Christ is, were those who had been a part of the believing community. They “went out from us, but they were not of us.” Those who had been members of the community of faith, “went out from us.” Notice John says, “they went out from us,” signifying it was their choice to leave. Is it possible that this could be part of the falling away spoken of by Paul in 2Thessalonians 2:3? This falling away was to occur before the coming Judgment, called the day of Christ. Is this why John referred to it as a last hour?

It is widely believed that John wrote these small epistles at the end of the first century AD, i.e., in the early 90’s. Most if not all Dispensationalists assign a late date to the book of Revelation and the three short letters of John. However, others believe that it is more likely that these were written just prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. I believe there is better evidence for an early date for Revelation and the letters of John. This early date would be AD 60-66. This would make better sense of John’s use of the phrase, “last hour.” It quite easily fits into the time frame of the end of the age, as understood from the apostolic writings.

Summary

The only writer in the Bible to mention antichrist is the Apostle John. He does so only in his first and second letters (1 John & 2 John). He states that there are many antichrists. These many antichrists had been a part of the community of disciples of Jesus (the Church), but they departed, proving that they were really not from the same source as the true disciples. This source is none other than being In God through His Son, Jesus Christ. They originally confessed Jesus, but then their true beliefs came to the surface.

This is very likely part of that falling away (apostasy) that Paul speaks of occurring just before the day of judgment, which he calls the day of Christ[2 Thess. 2:3]. This would account for John’s use of the time-frame, last hour.

Antichrist is manifested in a doctrinal confession which denies the foundational Christian doctrine. This foundational doctrine is that God sent His Son into the world. His Son tabernacled among us as man. His Son, Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. This is most basic confession of every true believer in Christ. To deny this basic confession is to call God a liar. Whoever calls God a liar is antichrist.

Those whom John refers to as those who “went out from us, but they were not of us,” was most likely those who were still clinging to Pharisaic Judaism. It was this Judaism which honored the traditions of the elders more than the Word of God itself. The letter to the Hebrews was likely addressed to the same class of believers. The writer warns,

3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Due to cultural pressures and persecution, some of the Jewish believers were considering returning to the Pharisaic Judaism of the rabbis. However, he encourages them to stay the course, and to not cast away their confidence in Christ [Heb. 3:6; 3:14; 10:35]. He exhorted them to remain in the faith, saying,

10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

For them to fall away [6:6] and return to the Judaism of the Old, which was obsolete and about to vanish [8:13], would be to “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” This would make them antichrist, i.e., this action would be putting the sacrifices of the temple in the place of Christ’s own unique sacrifice upon the cross. It would be a denial of God’s witness, that only through the blood of His Son can one find forgiveness for sin.

These many John speaks of, once had a place in the community of believers, but made the decision to walk away from their faith. This walking away, or falling away, was evidence to John that they were never really a part of them. Their faith was not from the same source, “For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.”

For John, this was evidence of their being antichrist. By their willingness to walk away from their confession, proved to John that they were not really ever “of us.” Their faith was faulty from the beginning. It only took peer pressure and persecution to reveal where their true allegiance lay. They returned to the familiar Judaism, the traditions of the elders, and the blood of the animal sacrifices. All of this was the evidence of their being antichrist. For all these things they placed as a substitute for Christ and His Work. This is the essence of antichrist, a denial of the person and work of Christ.

This description of antichrist given by John and alluded to in Hebrews, is nowhere close to the picture painted by the Dispensationalists of the modern Antichrist. The image of the modern Antichrist is a concocted persona, using a vivid imagination and a cafeteria-style interpretation. They pick and choose elements of different characters spread across the Bible. They throw this mixture of characters and personalities into the pot, and out comes a being of their own creation, which has no relationship to any Biblical reality.

If you are interested in seeing how they twist the Scriptures to fit their scheme, read my paper on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy, entitled The Determined Time.