Summary: A Biblical Profile of an Antichrist
How To Identify Antichrist
by Steven Dow
October 28, 2001
There is much speculation today about whether or not we are living in the end times. Such speculation has been on the rise for the last fifty plus years. It started back in 1948 when Israel became a nation once again and many began to teach that this was the sign that those who saw it were the last generation. Such end times speculation increased as the new millennium approached and the whole Y2K episode only added more fuel to an already raging fire. After the new millennium came uneventfully the speculation may have died down a bit only to be revived in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
It would be very easy to answer this speculation if it weren’t for the fact that so many people who are asking questions about the end times don’t really know what they are asking. When people ask me if I think we are living in the end times what they are really asking is if we are going to see Jesus come back in our lifetime. That is a question that know one can answer with certainty because Jesus told us that we could not know the day or the hour of his return. And, contrary to some speculation, we can’t know the year or the month or the week either.
The question about whether or not we are living in the end times is very easy to answer. The answer is yes. This is an absolute fact and there is no doubt about it. You see, the Bible teaches us that the end times began nearly two thousand years ago when Christ came to earth and that these end times will continue until he returns to earth again. This is why John could say, almost two thousand years ago, that he and his readers were living in the last hour. Obviously, John wasn’t speaking of a literal sixty minute hour. In the New Testament the “last times” or the “last days” or the “last hour” are all references to the last era of human history -- the Christian era. The Christian era is the end time because there is not going to be another era before Christ returns to establish his kingdom on the earth. We are not waiting for another revelation from heaven. A third testament will never be written. We are not waiting for the coming of a great prophet to lead us into yet another dispensation of God’s grace. The Christian era is the last era and, therefore, it is the end times. This is the clear teaching of the New Testament in passages such as Hebrews 1:1 which says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these LAST DAYS he has spoken to us by his Son” and 1 Peter 1:20 which says, “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these LAST TIMES for your sake”.
The Bible also teaches us that one of the chief characteristics of the last days is the presence of false teachers. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Because of the presence of these false teachers or antichrists we know that it is the end times (2:18).
The term ‘antichrist’ is unique to John’s epistles. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the antichrist is called “the man of lawlessness” and in Revelation 13 he is identified as “the beast”. But what does this term mean? In the Greek “anti” can mean either “in the place of” or “in opposition to”. In the scriptures we find that both of these meanings will be true of the antichrist. “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This verse reveals that when the antichrist comes he will both oppose God and set himself up in place of God. The antichrists do the same things because they come in the spirit of the antichrist. “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (4:3). The antichrist has not come yet, but his spirit has been actively working in the world through false teachers since the first century.
Why is John writing about these antichrist? “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth” (2:21). John knew that his readers knew the truth, but he also knew that the antichrists were trying to lead them astray (2:26). Even though Christians know the truth they can still potentially be lead astray and so John has written to true believers to make sure that they remain true to the faith. John knew that if he wanted his readers to be on guard against antichrists he would need to tell them how to recognize an antichrist.