Antichrist - Deceiver in the Church

SYNOPSIS - The Antichrist is a deceiver intent on destroying the “saints” through deception and apostasy2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Revelation 13:7

Ringmaster Photo by Mark Williams on Unsplash
In many interpretations, the Antichrist is a global political leader bent on world domination. In the end, this view may prove correct. However, Jesus and the Apostles expressed far more concern about the many deceivers who would ply their trade within the church. For that matter, the focus in passages about the Antichrist or the “Beast” is on his attacks against the “saints” rather than the nations of the earth - (Revelation 13:7-10). - [Photo by Mark Williams on Unsplash].

The only New Testament author to use the term “antichrist” is John in two of his letters. In them, he warned - “It is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come to pass.” He did not deny that an individual “antichrist” would come; however, in the interim, many “antichrists” would infiltrate the church to lead others astray - (1 John 2:18-22).

Antichrist” is a compound formed with the Greek noun christos (“anointed one”) and the preposition anti - The latter signifies “instead of,” not “against.” Thus, “antichrist” refers to someone who attempts to replace Jesus, presumably, with an imitation. The “antichrists” (plural) to whom John referred were those who:
  • Went out from us, but they were not of us; …but they went out that it might be plain that they all are not of us.”
The Apostle admonished his churches to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” and warned about “the spirit of the antichrist of which you heard that it is coming, and now, it is already in the world.”  The “antichrists” with whom John was concerned were false teachers, NOT national or political leaders:
  • (2 John 7) - “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in flesh; this one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
Likewise, Paul warned of a coming “man of lawlessness”.  Whether the Apostle envisioned a world political figure, his focus was on a man with the ability to deceive Christians.  Thus, he warned, “Let no one in any way deceive you,” then described an event when this figure would “take his seat in the sanctuary of God to oppose every so-called god” - (2 Thessalonians2:1-12).

The description is far more religious than political, though it could be both. However, elsewhere in his letters, Paul uses “sanctuary” metaphorically to describe the Body of Christ - (1 Corinthians 3:166:192 Corinthians 6:16Ephesians 2:21).

Furthermore, Paul links the “man of lawlessness” to an “apostasy.” When he is revealedhis activities will be “in accord with those of Satan,” including “lying signs and wonders”:
  • (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) - “…With all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness.”
In the book of Revelation, after his failed attempt to destroy the messianic “Son,” enraged, the “Great Red Dragon” set off to “wage war against those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Likewise, his earthly minion, the “Beast from the sea” waged “war” against the “saints and overcame them,” NOT against national Israel or the other nations of the earth. Both passages in Revelation employ language from the vision of Daniel describing the “little horn” that “made war with the saints and prevailed against them” - (Daniel 7:21Revelation 12:17, 13:7).
In Revelation, Satan attacks the seven churches of Asia by persecution AND deception. Consistently, Satan and his vassals conduct warfare against the “Lamb” and all who follow him - (Revelation 2:102:18-29).
In his 'Olivet Discourse,' Jesus began with a dire warning about coming deceivers - “Beware lest anyone deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and lead many astray.” Many deceivers and “false prophets” would come to deceive, if possible, the very “elect” of God:
  • On the basis of his name, deceivers shall deceive manymany will fall away…and many false prophets will arise and deceive many…False anointed ones and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” - (Matthew 24:4-23).
False prophets come to hoodwink the followers of Jesus, not to deceive a world that already lies “in the lap of the Wicked One,” deceivers who are intent on causing apostasy from the true faith. Warnings of this kind are common in the New Testament:
  • (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) - “For such as these are false apostles, deceitful workers, transfiguring themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel! For Satan himself doth transfigure himself into a messenger of light! No great thing, therefore, if his ministers also are transfiguring themselves as ministers of righteousness!—whose end shall be according to their works.”
  • (1 Timothy 4:1-2) - “Howbeit, the Spirit expressly saith—that in later seasons some will revolt from the faith, giving heed unto seducing spirits and unto teachings of demons—in hypocrisy, speaking falsehood, of demons cauterised in their own conscience.
  • (2 Peter 2:1-2) - “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false-teachers,—men who will stealthily bring in destructive parties, even the Master that bought them denying, bringing upon themselves speedy destruction; And many will follow out their wanton ways—by reason of whom the way of truth will be defamed.
In the end, the “Antichrist” may prove to be a global political leader.  However, considering the warnings of the New Testament, we should not be surprised if this creature first appears within the Church where he will work to deceive the elect and lead them away from the Jesus who is revealed in Scripture.


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