“The Antichrist is coming. We are looking for a man of unparalleled evil, an ultimate enemy who will deceive the world in the final days with his words and wonders. Will we know him when we see him?”
It’s the advertising pitch for premillennial dispensationalist Mark Hitchcock’s latest, end-times book titled, Who Is the Antichrist? (From Ad in Charisma magazine, September 2011, 28.)
Part and parcel of the futuristic end-times scenario popularized by the recent “Left Behind” series is a single world leader, called “the Antichrist,” who wrecks havoc on all humankind for a 7- or 3 ½-year period of great tribulation. Meanwhile, all true Christians—having been raptured—are in heaven enjoying themselves and avoiding all the tribulations being put forth on earth.
This most popular postponement tradition claims that this wicked one is a future “Antichrist” figure that has yet to be revealed. Over the centuries, he has been variously identified as Attila the Hun, Napoleon, the Pope, Martin Luther, Mohammed, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Virtually every unpopular public figure has qualified. Obviously, this tradition has proven totally inept at identifying this “Antichrist.” Unfortunately, it’s a tradition that has not died.
The Bible says nothing about a future-coming 7-year period of tribulation. But what does it say about “the Antichrist?” The answer is nothing in the Old Testament. Jesus never mentioned him. Nor did Peter, Paul, or any of the Gospel writers. Nor is he mentioned in the apocalyptic books of Daniel or Revelation. The only two places in the entire Bible where “antichrist” can be found are in the two short epistles of 1st and 2nd John. Here, however, we find statements that do not support the current and popular view of a future-coming world dictator.
What Scripture Says:
It’s almost unbelievable how some Christians speculate that some future and final Antichrist is the one who confirms the covenant in Daniel’s 70th week. What is their textual proof? There is none.
First, in Scripture, there is no such thing as a “final Antichrist.” “Many antichrists” (note the plural, see 1 John 2:18) were present in the midst of 1st-century saints, and have been present ever since (1 John 2:22; 2 John 7). Moreover, they don’t confirm covenants. Only God makes and confirms covenants. If anything, antichrists break them. Speculation about some future, final Antichrist is just that—pure speculation that has been read into prophecy.
Secondly, the idea that the beast of Revelation 13 or Paul’s “man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2 are the Antichrist is also purely assumptive. No such connection is ever made in Scripture. And we must pay close attention to what the Bible actually says and does not say. But many have not. Hence, for several centuries, Christianity has appeared foolish as the popular endsayers of their day have continually attempted to name the latest global villain as the “biblical Antichrist.”
Thirdly, Jesus was the One who, through his crucifixion and resurrection, put a stop to the Jewish sacrifices. It was not some future Antichrist in some distant revived Roman Empire inside a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, there is no possible way a future Antichrist could fulfill even one of the six purpose statements encapsulated in this prophecy (see Dan. 9:24). Likewise, there is no need to reconstruct the same socio-political conditions of that 1st century, or revive the days of Rome, or reestablish any of the obsoleted institutions of the old Judaic system (Heb. 8:13) in order for them to be destroyed, again. Nor is there any need to forecast these repetitions of fulfilled end-time prophecy. It need never again be repeated.
This redundancy idea is terrible scholarship. The Bible says nothing about the Jews building a third temple in our day or in the future. Let’s call this theology for what it truly is—the re-Judaizing of biblical faith (Christianity). Sadly, it has great appeal, if not a strange hypnotic power, over many who claim they are the ones who are “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). If we have ever wondered how “the elect” could possibly be deceived in our day as Jesus warned (Matt. 24:24), here is another way. This delayed and deferment view does not serve the work of the Church or the purposes of God one iota.
Fourthly and finally, John defines who and what an “antichrist” was and is. “It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ . . . . Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” (1 John 2:22; 2 John 7). Facts are, there were many antichrists back in that 1st century, have been many since, are many today, and will be many in the future. This is the whole teaching of Scripture on this topic of “antichrist.” No more needs to be said. Case closed.
- The Perfect Ending for the World by John Noe
- The Last Days According to Jesus by R.C. Sproul
- Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar
- End Times Fiction by Gary DeMar
- Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times by Hays, Duvall, and Pate