Antichrist - What Kind of Leader?

SYNOPSIS - Will the Antichrist be a global political leader, or the ultimate deceiver sent by the Dragon to destroy the Church from within

Wolf - Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash
The Antichrist is often portrayed as a global political leader, a militaristic tyrant bent on global domination. However, the warnings in New Testament place far more stress on future deceivers that work and even originate in the church. Moreover, in the book of Revelation, the target of the “war” waged by the “Beast from the sea” and the “Dragon” is the church, the “saints,” the faithful followers of the “Lamb” redeemed by him from every nation - [Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash]:
  • (Revelation 13:7-10) – “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and there was given him authority against every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all they who are dwelling upon the earth will do homage unto him—everyone whose name is not written in the scroll of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any-one hath an ear: let him hear. If anyone carrieth into captivity, into captivity, he goeth away. If anyone with a sword doth slay, he must with a sword be slain. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The only New Testament author to use the term ‘Antichrist’ is John in two of his letters. In the first, he warns:
  • Little children! it is the last hour; and just as ye have heard that an antichrist is coming, even now, antichrists have become many, whence we perceive that it is the last hour: From among us they went out, but they were not of us; for if of us they had been, they would in that case have abode with us; but it came to pass in order that they might be made manifest, because all are not of us” – (1 John 2:18-19 - The Emphasized Bible - Compare1 John 4:3, 2 John 1:7).
John did not deny that an individual “antichrist” would come. His point was that many “antichrists” had arrived already from within his churches in his day. “Antichrist” or antichristos is a compound Greek word formed with the noun christos - (“anointed one”) and the preposition anti, or “instead of.” It refers to someone who attempts to replace or imitate Jesus, not to one who openly opposes him.

The “antichrists” (plural) to whom John referred were men that “went out from us, but they were not of us.” That is to say, false teachers who originated from within his congregations.

John admonished his churches to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” then warned about “the spirit of the antichrist of which you heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” Thus, the “antichrists” against whom John contended were false teachers, not national or political leaders - (Compare - 2 John 7).

Similarly, the Apostle Paul warned of a coming “man of lawlessness.” While his words could suggest a political figure, the focus was on this figure’s ability to deceive believers - “Let no one in any way deceive you” - (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). This deceiver is linked to an “apostasy.” When he is revealed, his activities will be “in accord with those of Satan” - (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21):
  • (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10) - “And then shall be revealed the lawless one—whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the Spirit of his mouth and paralyse with the forthshining of his Presence:—Whose presence shall be according to an inworking of Satan, with all manner of mighty work and sign and wonders of falsehood, And with all manner of deceit of unrighteousness in them who are destroying themselves, because the love of the truth they did not welcome, that they might be saved” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The stress is on his power to deceive and turn people from the true faith, not on his political activity, military prowess, or his sovereignty over nations.

The “Beast” in the book of Revelation is not explicitly identified with the “Antichrist,” to use John’s term. In Greek, the grammatical gender of “beast” is neuter (thérion); therefore, its pronoun is also neuter, or “it.”

The “Beast from the sea” possesses the character and authority of the “Great Red Dragon.” In chapter 12, the “Dragon” does not wage war on the nations of the earth; instead, he endeavors “to make war with the remnant of the woman’s seed, they who have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Likewise, the “Beast from the sea” makes war against the “saints and overcomes them” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:7).
In Revelation, Satan makes war on the seven churches of Asia through persecution and deception. Consistently, he expends his energy fighting against the men and women who follow the “Lamb” - (Revelation 2:10, 2:18-29, 12:17, 13:6-10).
Likewise, in his ‘Olivet Discourse’ Jesus issues repeated warnings about coming “deceivers,” “false prophets,” “false messiahs,” and apostasy:
  • Beware lest anyone deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and lead many astray.” - (Matthew 24:4-8).
  • And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise and shall lead many astray. And because lawlessness shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold”- (Matthew 24:10-12).
  • Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you beforehand. If therefore they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness; go not forth: Behold, he is in the inner chambers; believe it not.”- (Matthew 24:23-26).
His warnings parallel those of Paul about the “man of lawlessness” and the coming “apostasy.” In his name, deceivers will mislead many. As a result, “many will fall away” and “many false prophets will arise and mislead many.”

Only the believer who endures “to the end will be saved.” In the interim, deceivers work to hoodwink disciples of Jesus, not the world that already lies in the lap of the Devil. Warnings of this kind are common in the New Testament, for example:
  • (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) - “False apostles and deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
  • (1 Timothy 4:1) - “The Spirit explicitly warns that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
The Apostle Peter warned also of coming deceivers. Apostasy is the goal of the deceivers that work INSIDE the church of God:
  • False teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality and because of them, the way of the truth will be maligned” - (2 Peter 2:1).
The “Antichrist” may turn out to be a world political leader. Considering the many warnings from the New Testament, perhaps we should not be surprised if he first appears within the Church of Jesus Christ to lead many of his disciples astray. Regardless, his chief purpose is to deceive believers and cause them to depart from the true faith.


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