January 25, 2017 by J.A. Hardgrave
Will The Antichrist Rise In 2017?
Written By J.A. Hardgrave
“There is no doubt that The Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power.” 1
-Saint Martin of Tours, died in the year A.D. 397
“Somewhere, at this very moment, on planet Earth, The Antichrist is almost certainly alive—biding his time, awaiting his cue. Banal sensationalism? Far from it! That likelihood is based upon a sober evaluation of current events in relation to Bible prophecy. Already a mature man, he is probably active in politics, perhaps even an admired world leader whose name is almost daily on everyone’s lips.”
–Dave Hunt, written in the year 1990
I remember the first time I watched the “Left Behind series” as a young Assemblies of God kid, and grew terrified of being left behind to face the dreaded “Antichrist” figure during the tribulation period. I was certain that I would be left behind in the secret rapture because frankly, I was not that good of a kid. I was often the one sleeping under the back pew of the church while the pastor would preach his message, and the kid who would cut out of church early to walk over to my grandma and grandpa’s house who lived next door. Not to mention, I was constantly getting into trouble at school and being sent to detention for rebellious behavior. If anyone was going to face “The Antichrist,” it was me.
Each year growing up, I would hear different people guess who “The Antichrist” is. It was usually a political figure or someone with lots of power and influence. The shocking reality is there has been speculation like this, literally, since A.D. 397, and this antichrist guy has still not shown up. What’s the hold up?
Each year, a new set of “Antichrist” candidates are introduced, and the last days prediction game continues every single generation. I am already seeing more and more articles, videos, and social media post show up when I search for “Donald Trump Antichrist.”
But I thought President Obama was “The Antichrist?”
Will these predictions ever end?
The most important question is, what does the Bible say about “The Antichrist?”
First off, it has always been fascinating to me that the word antichrist is completely absent from the most prophetic book in the entire Bible, Revelation. The same John that wrote 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, is the same John that wrote Revelation. You would think John would mention him if he were so important.
The word antichrist actually appears just four times in the entire Bible, three times in 1st John, and one time in second John.
1 John 2:18
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
Notice that John states there were many “antichrist” who had already appeared in the 1st century when this letter was written, and these people were an indicator it was “the last hour.” This indicates that “antichrist” are a group of people, not just one single individual, and they were people living in a time period known as “the last hour,” which places them in around the first century unless we want to believe “the last hour” stretches out to over 2,000 years.
But what are the attributes of these people John calls antichrist? We find out the next time this term is used.
1 John 2:22
“And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist.”
John defines “Antichrist” as anyone who denies that Jesus is not the Christ.
1 John 4:2-3
This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.”
Now we begin to see the true identity of Antichrist unfold even further. In addition to denying that Jesus was the Christ, these people also denied that Jesus came in a physical body. John also reiterates that the spirit of antichrist was already in the world.
The final occurrence of the word “antichrist” is 2nd John 1:7.
“I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
So far, we know this about antichrist.
1. They are many people, not just one.
2. They were living in the first century.
3. They denied Jesus as being the Christ.
4. They denied that Jesus had a physical body.
Which people best fit this description?
We can’t be 100% sure, but these people were most likely first century Gnostics.
Gnostics have always been, and remain to this day, a very mysterious group. We only know bits and pieces about what they believe.
One of the fundamental beliefs of Gnosticism was that “all matter is evil.” To a Gnostic, an all powerful God would never wrap Himself in evil human flesh, thus Jesus Christ could not have been God in the flesh.
Gnostics were denying the incarnation, the glorious moment we celebrate as Christians when “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:24), which is the essence of the gospel itself. If Jesus did not have a physical body, that means His blood was not shed, which means our sins are not forgiven.
That’s a problem, and John knew how poisonous this belief was to the church.
Because this denial was so contrary to the gospel narrative as a whole, John called these people “antichrist,” which is the Greek word antichristos, which means “an opponent of the Messiah.”
Look how John begins his first letter.
1 John 1:1
“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.”
Notice John is highly emphasizing the physical attributes of Jesus, so his readers know right away that Jesus did in fact come in the flesh, and those opponents of the Messiah, antichrist, were wrong.
John states that they heard Jesus, they saw Him in the flesh, and they touched Him with their hands, which would be impossible to do if Jesus was only a spirit without a body as those who were antichrist were stating.
You may be asking, “But what about the man of sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? What about the Beast of Revelation 13?
The reality is, many have began with a presupposition that “antichrist” is only a single person, as opposed to many people who lived in the first century as Scripture clearly teaches, and then entered the Biblical text to find any possible candidates that even remotely appear to meet that description.
Any time there appears to be a single mysterious prophetic figure presented in scripture, these people automatically think “I know who it is, that’s The Antichrist!”
What if the man of sin, the beast, and other various titles that we commonly attribute to being “The Antichrist,” are all referencing different people, or groups of people that are all from the past?
I believe we should begin to at least consider that many popular interpretations of Bible prophecy are entirely based upon presuppositions that have no historical or contextual support.
To answer the question: “Will The Antichrist Rise in 2017?”
Because “antichrist” is not just one person, and these people who were antichrist lived in “the last hour,” which was 2,000 years ago. It can’t still be the last hour today, because that would mean “the last hour” has lasted thousands of years. I believe “the last hour” John is speaking about was the last hour of the Old Covenant system which was made obsolete at the cross (Hebrews 8:13), and came to a complete end in AD 70 when the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem. (See writings of Josephus). These letters where written just prior to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.
These types of false doctrines were very common as the Old Covenant age entered it’s last hour. Paul had to counter “a different gospel” that was “contrary” to what he had preached (Gal. 1:6-9). He was battling false brethren (2:4, 11-21; 3:1-3; 5:1-12). Paul even warned the Ephesian church leadership that “men will arise speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).
“Antichrist” were simply one of many dangerous people who were luring people away from Jesus Christ by denying that He came in the flesh.
My friend J. D. King has written a fantastic 2 part blog series for Charisma magazine on who he feels is “The Beast” of Revelation. I’ll link them below.
To discover more about “The man of Sin” that Paul mentions in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4, look out for my next blog in this 2 part blog series for Better Covenant Lifestyle, where I will reveal something about the man of sin, a second commonly misunderstood figure, that may have your head spinning.
1 Quoted in Otto Friedrich, The End of the World: A History (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1982), 27.
2 Dave Hunt, Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1990), 5.
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