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Monday, March 25, 2013

P1 - Who and what is Anti-Christ?

1 John 2:18 "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour." (ESV)

Personal and Universal Spiritual Warfare
When you read the wider context of 1 John 2:14-29, you discover that John is speaking on the overall subject of spiritual warfare.  In 1 John 2:14-17 he deals first of all with spiritual warfare as personally experienced by individual Christians:

Christian spiritual warfare's adversary is satan.  1 John 2:14
Christian spiritual warfare's arena is the world.   1 John 2:15
Christian spiritual warfare's actual target = the flesh.  1 John 2:16
Christian spiritual warfare's active weapon = scripture. 1 John 2:17

With spiritual warfare unfolded on the small scale level, John then turns to the much grander view of spiritual warfare as experienced by the people of God at large in 1 John 2:18-29.  We know John is still concerned about the spiritual vulnerability of his readers as seen in 1 John 2:26 - "I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you." So the question is: who or what is leading this spiritual and doctrinal assault against Christians at large? In 1 John 2:18 we receive our answer - "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour." In like manner John writes further in 1 John 2:22 - "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son." 

A word of caution and encouragement
Two ditches must be avoided when studying the subject of Anti-Christ.  The one ditch to avoid is over-speculation.  Often I have heard well-meaning prophecy teachers spend inordinate amounts of time trying to identify the anti-Christ.  Now without a doubt, there is a duty to identify the influence of anti-Christ(ian) systems and individuals operating in our day and time.  The Apostle John in 1 John 2:26 makes a point to expose the general trend he saw of people following false teachers and movements.  However we know we are imabalanced whenever we talk more about anti-Christ than Jesus Christ.  Well-meaning interpreters of the Book of Revelation who fall into this ditch make the Book of Revelation to be more about identifying anti-Christ than focusing on the book's chief character - Jesus Christ.

The second ditch to avoid is apathy.  John is alerting his readers and us to the necessity of awareness about the prevailing spirit of anti-Christ.  We know we have fallen into the ditch of apathy whenever we find ourselves tolerating error for the sake of securing some level of acceptability in our culture or among our friends.  In scripture we find commands that urge the reader to carefully understand the details of prophetic scripture - including the warnings about anti-Christ. (Daniel 9:23, 12:8; Matthew 24:4,33; 1 Peter 3:15; Revelation 2:7,11,17, 29, 3:6,13,22)  

It is on this subject of the Anti-Christ that we turn our attention in today's blog. Our aim is to identify the what, when, and who of the Anti-Christ throughout the scripturesWe will first propose four ways in which scripture identifies "Anti-Christ", and then unfold each of them one at a time:

1. Anti-Christ will be the Ultimate Rebel to Jesus Christ
2. Anti-Christ refers to the historic rebellion against Jesus Christ
3. Anti-Christ is any form of personal rebellion against Jesus Christ
4. Anti-Christ is spiritual rebellion against Jesus Christ

As important and as vast as this subject is, we will only cover the first point today, namely: Anti-Christ will be the Ultimate Rebel to Jesus Christ

Anti-Christ will be the Ultimate Rebel to Jesus Christ
What John writes about the Ultimate Rebel - The Anti-Christ
This is perhaps what most people think of when mention is made of the Anti-Christ.  I have purposely worded this first heading as "Anti-Christ will be" because there is something about Anti-Christ that is yet to come.  1 John 2:18a states - "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming...".   The way John phrases the term "anti-Christ" in the Greek suggests that his readers would had recognized one particular individual.1  The question is: "From whom did they hear that the anti-Christ is yet to come?"  John of course is referring back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)".  Even though Jesus does not uses the specific title "anti-Christ", the idea and identity of the person is unmistakable.  Jesus is referring to the prophecies of Daniel 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11 that all speak of a particular diabolical individual who will in function and rebellion be the Ultimate Rebel spoken of here in 1 John 2:18a. 

No other writer in the Bible speaks as much on the subject of Anti-Christ as the Apostle John.  As he speaks about anti-Christ the ultimate rebel against Jesus Christ - we must of course ask: when will this person emerge? John answers this in his other book: The Revelation, in Revelation 13.  Without going into too much detail, we see John explaining the following about this ultimate rebel against Jesus Christ:

1. Satanically energized. Revelation 13:1-4
2. Seeks to blaspheme God, His name, His people.  Rev 13:6-10
3. Schemes with a secondary figure, the second beast for false prophet in deceiving the world.  Revelation 13:11-14
4. Strategy is to rule the world spiritually, politically, economically. Revelation 13:15-18 

Other scriptures that speak about this ultimate rebel - the anti-Christ
In the course of events of the Book of Revelation, we would understand the Anti-Christ's movements to occur in the final seven years of this current age of history that is called "The Great Tribulation" (Matthew 24:21); "Time of Jacob's Trouble" (Jeremiah 30) and "the day of wrath, trouble, destruction, dark clouds, trumpet and battle cry and distress" (Zephaniah 1:15-17) among other names.  Daniel 9:23-27 sets the time of the event of Anti-Christ's tyranny - the final seven year tribulation period, whereas 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 gives us the nature and depths of evil of which this chief opposer of Jesus Christ will exercise. 

More Tomorrow...

End Notes_______________

1. The Greek pre-fix "anti" in the word "anti-Christ" can have one of two basic meanings.  First, it refers to that which opposes something or that is the opposite of something.  Hence if I should get bit by a snake, I would request "anti-venom", which would act against the venom of the snake circulating in my body.  A second meaning of this Greek prefix is in reference to replacing something or "being instead of".  Hence in freezinng cold temperatures I would want to have "anti-freeze" running through my automobile "instead of water".  Now certainly, anti-freeze "opposes freezing", however it does so as an agent that takes the place of water.  In the New Testament, "anti-Christ" will be an ultimate rebel, is currently the historical, personal or spiritual hositility that not only opposes, but attempts to replace Jesus Christ as supreme Lord, Savior and Treasure. 

 

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