Bible Study Opportunities
The Antichrist is the One With The Most Wrinkles
By Jon W. Quinn
Perhaps you saw it. It was in the newspaper. Of course, it is not the first time its been said. This time, Jerry Falwell, commenting on the second coming of Christ, said that the Antichrist is already in the world today, that he is a male Jew, and he will soon reveal himself and claim to be the Christ, leading many astray and opposing the faithful.
I suggest that this tired, unscriptural theory deserves to be buried once and for all. If it were true, then we would have no problem in recognizing the Antichrist. He would be the one with the most wrinkles. After all, he would be 2,000 years old.
What? Now that's confusing. Why would he have to be 2,000 years old?
Well, it is simple. The Scriptures do not teach that the antichrist is a single person, or that he is a corrupt world leader that will signal the imminent return of the true Christ. Those are merely ideas religious men have come up with. The Bible does not so identify the antichrist.
The truth is that the word “antichrist” occurs only three times in the Bible, and it is never, ever used to describe a world leader, past, present or future. Rather, it is used to identify those who developed an untrue religious system back in the first century.
Note what we know from the Bible about the “antichrists” by looking at the three times it uses the term:
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen, by this we know it is the last hour.”
“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (1 John 2:18,22; 2 John 7).
From these passages, we see that the “antichrists” are many; that they lived in the first century, and they denied that Jesus is the Christ and that He came in the flesh. The term does not refer to a single person; not to a world leader, and not to the events of our time.
Concerning the term “the last hour”; in the Greek there is no definite article “the”. John is not referring to something that signifies that it is the last hour before Jesus' coming, but rather that this is a pivotal time; a ”last chance to act” kind of event where if one is not careful, events can overtake him. False teachers were in the world, and the faithful needed to prepare themselves to deal with it, and not wait; now is the “window of opportunity” or in John's words, “we know it is the last hour”.
This is what makes the title of this article appropriate. Since the antichrist was already in the world during John's lifetime back in the first century, when Mr. Falwell and others tell us he is in the world today, then we know how to recognize him. He's that 2,000 year old fellow... if you met him, you would know it! (Of course, he may have kept well and not look a day over 1500!).
Signs of Jesus' Coming
So, since the theory of who or what the antichrist is with regard to the end of time is in error, maybe we need to look for some other signs that warn us that Jesus' coming is imminent.
First, Jesus is coming again. His faithful disciples wait in a prepared state for His glorious return. His coming, in fact, may be imminent. It may happen at any time. One of the most prevalent teachings our Lord gives to His disciples is to always be ready because we do not know when He will come (2 Peter 3:11,12; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 24:35,36; Acts 17:31; Acts 1:10,11).
The Signs of Matthew 24
The signs of Matthew 24 are not in reference to the second coming of Jesus at all, but rather to His coming in judgment upon the city of Jerusalem for their refusal to accept Him. This was fulfilled in 69-70 A.D.
The passage uses many metaphors, similar to other apocalyptic prophecies, to describe the temporal judgment to come when Jerusalem would be destroyed. Isaiah, Zechariah, Ezekiel and Daniel had used similar language to describe the overthrow of nations and governments previously.
Also, we must remember the question that Jesus is answering. Jesus had just warned the disciples that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the disciples wanted to know when (Matthew 24:1-4; cf. Matthew 23:37-39).
Jesus does discuss His second coming at the end of the chapter, the pivotal point coming between verses 34 and 35. The things previous to verse 34 would all take place during that generation to whom Jesus was speaking (Matthew 24:34). In verse 35 Jesus begins to talk about the passing away of the heavens and the earth.
One big difference between the judgment on Jerusalem in the first part of the chapter and the final judgment at the end of the chapter is that there would be signs that the destruction of Jerusalem was imminent and disciples were warned to flee to the mountains (vs. 16). Of course, one cannot escape the final judgment by fleeing to the mountains.
But with regard to the final judgment at the end of the chapter, no one knows when it will be, and no one can flee from it. We must simply be ready for it when it occurs (Matthew 24:36,44).
This difference is further seen in the use of the plural phrase “those days” (vs. 29) referring to the days of the tribulation when Jerusalem falls and the use of the singular phrase “that day” (vs. 36) when referring to second coming and final judgment.
So, here's the deal. The antichrist in the Bible is not what Mr. Falwell and others say he is (in fact, they missed it by at least 2,000 years), and the signs that are often pointed to were signs of Jerusalem's coming destruction, not signs of the return of Jesus. But no matter; though faithful disciples cannot name the date, we can still be ready. That is what living by faith is all about.
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner
Bradley Church of Christ
March 24, 1996