Millions of Christians believe an evil dictator called the Antichrist will appear on the world stage prior to a Second Coming of Jesus.
John F. MacArthur says this future Antichrist is mentioned in the following Old Testament prophetic books: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah (The MacArthur Study Bible, NASB ed., pp. 957, 1180, 1200, 1311).
Actually, the term “antichrist” never appears in any of them.
In fact, it’s completely absent from the Old Testament.
Yet, in reference to the Old Testament prophets, MacArthur uses it 53 times in his study Bible.
Billy Graham claims the Book of Revelation in the New Testament also refers to the Antichrist (Storm Warning, pp. 294-295).
However, you won’t find the word there, either.
Considering the plethora of books available on the subject, not to mention predictions by radio and television evangelists, one might expect to find the word “antichrist” occurring frequently throughout scripture.
In reality, it occurs in only two anonymous letters traditionally attributed to the apostle John.
It is never applied to the Man of Sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, nor does it ever refer to the Beast or False Prophet of Revelation.
In fact, it is never applied to any kind of political or religious leader.
Furthermore, it is not limited to an individual.
The Bible says millions of people are antichrists.
In 1 John 2:18-22, the first-century author claims it is the “last time” (Greek: last hour) before the Second Coming of Christ because “many antichrists” are already on the scene.
He defines an antichrist as anyone who denies Jesus is the Messiah: “Little children, it is the last [hour]: And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last [hour] . . . Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (King James Version [KJV] throughout).
Again, in 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 7, an antichrist is described as anyone who does not confess Jesus and the author repeats his observation regarding “many” antichrists existing in the first century: “ . . . every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world . . . 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.”
There are no other occurrences of the word “antichrist” in the Bible.
In the three passages where it does occur, we detect no sign of a world dictator.
To be clear, an evil dictator could be considered an antichrist since he would probably not be a Christian — at least, not a genuine one.
However, at the same time, the term would apply to millions of others.
From this study, we can conclude the following:
1. The word “antichrist” does not apply exclusively to any individual political or religious leader.
2. Anyone denying Jesus as Saviour is an antichrist.
3. John knew it was the last hour before the return of Jesus because there were already numerous antichrists present in the first century.
To some, the precise definition of “antichrist” may seem inconsequential.
However, the third conclusion above highlights a significant issue.
How is it John knew the Second Coming was about to take place in the first century, but MacArthur, Graham and myriad others believe it didn’t?
Do they know better than the apostle John?
If they are correct, then John must have been mistaken.
But, all the famous evangelists claim the Bible is the inspired “Word of God.”
So, how could this biblical prediction be wrong?
John understood the presence of numerous antichrists in the first century to be a sure sign the Second Coming of Jesus and the arrival of the Kingdom of God would occur within his lifetime, just as Jesus had promised (see Matthew 16:27-28; 10:23; 24:34; Luke 21:28, 31-32; Revelation 1:1, 3; 22:10-12).
Modern preachers disagree, promoting instead a future world-dictator antichrist and a pitifully overdue Second Coming.
But, in whom are Christians supposed to be placing their trust — Jesus and his “holy apostles” (Ephesians 3:4-5) or confused theologians who presume to contradict them, thereby implying Jesus was the most outrageous false prophet in history?
The vast majority of today’s preachers are misusing the term “antichrist.”
However, more importantly, they are clearly imprisoned by an enormous delusion regarding the nature of the Second Coming predicted throughout the New Testament.
If we continue to rely on such misguided “experts” instead of finding time to investigate matters for ourselves, we will forever be as blind as they are.
Michael A. Fenemore of Kamloops is the editor and co-author of The Twilight of Postmillennialism, available online at Amazon.ca.