In the Churches

The church has been infiltrated by deceivers that are misleading many believers and causing not a few to apostatize. This comes as no surprise since Jesus and his apostles warned us about coming false teachers and faux prophets who are intent on disrupting the church and leading the church astray.

The term “antichrist” occurs only in the second and third letters of John, and he applies the plural noun to deceivers who were causing dissension in his churches. Their very presence constituted irrefutable evidence that the “last days” had commenced, and deceivers like this are, in fact, “antichrists” and forerunners of THE “Antichrist” who is yet to come.

The Greek term rendered “antichrist” means “INSTEAD of Christ,” and not, “against” him. The force of the preposition anti is “instead of.” Certainly, the “antichrist” is no ally of the Son of God, but his strategy is to replace him with a “different Jesus.”

  • (2 John 7-8) – “And this is love that we should be walking according to his commandments: This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning that you should be walking in it. Because many deceivers have gone out into the world, they who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh: This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Be taking heed to yourselves, lest you lose what things we earned.

John’s reference to “many deceivers” echoes the REPEATED warning of Jesus about coming deceivers and “false prophets” that are intent on misleading the “very elect” and causing apostasy from the true faith:

  • (Matthew 24:4-5, 11-13, 23-25) – “And answering, Jesus said to them: Beware lest anyone deceive you; for many will come upon my name, saying, I am the Christ and will deceive manyAnd many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of the many will wax cold. But he that endures to the end, the same will be saved…Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There’; believe it not. For there will arise false Christs and false prophets, and will show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

In his first epistle, John declares that “it is the last hour,” the same period elsewhere called the “last days.” Thus, the final era is underway even as John is writing his letters in the first century - (1 John 2:18-22).


The idea that disciples of Jesus live in the “last days” occurs multiple times in the New Testament, and John can point to the deceivers that are active in his churches to substantiate his claim (“Even now many antichrists have come whereby we perceive that it is the last hour”) - (Matthew 24:4-5, Mark 13:5-6, Luke 21:8, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1).

He calls them “antichrists.” They are not pagan counterfeits from without the church, but false teachers active in it (“They went out from among us”). And they can be identified by their denial “that Jesus is the Messiah.”

In his letters, John does not coordinate the “antichrists” or the coming of the final “antichrist” with the return of Jesus or other final events.  His immediate concern is with the damage they are inflicting on the church - (1 John 4:1-3).

John provides instructions on how disciples will avoid deception by these “antichrists”; namely, BY ADHERING TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE APOSTLES and the believer’s knowledge of the “Son.”

There is no true knowledge of God apart from Jesus. Moreover, the disciples must “test the spirits” and not take every new teaching or self-described apostle or prophet at face value - (1 John 4:1-4).

Disciples must exercise discernment because “many false prophets” have arrived, and in John’s letter, the stress is on the term “MANY.” And the activities of deceivers and “antichrists” have been a constant problem in the church over the last two thousand years.

Deceivers operating under the “spirit of antichrist” are recognizable by their denial that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” This means they reject his genuine humanity (“By this, we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error”). The “spirit” that denies this IS the “spirit of the antichrist,” presumably, a trait that also will characterize THE “Antichrist.”


And THE Antichrist is “coming.” In the passage, “coming” represents the Greek verb in the progressive present verb tense. That is, it describes a process that already is underway.

But what about the larger world and the threat posed by this coming “Antichrist”? In fact, these deceivers, the “antichrists,” plural, are “of the world.” Therefore, they “speak as of the world, and the world hears them.” The world receives their lies gladly because already it is under deception. Even now, the “spirit of antichrist” holds sway in the world.

In all this, John says nothing about specific “signs” that will portend the arrival of THE “Antichrist” or the “last hour.” And what would be the point of doing so if the “last hour” is already underway? His concern is over how these deceivers are impacting believers, and also how the church can identify them (“they deny that Jesus is come in the flesh”).

This conflict has raged within the church since its inception caused by a flood of deceivers and deceptions far too numerous to list. And this battle will continue until the very day the Risen Jesus arrives in all his glory to strike down the final deceiver, the “man of lawlessness” - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).

If the letters of John provide us with a reliable method of identifying the “Antichrist,” and with a biblical precedent, then we must look first in our own midst for this creature before pointing to any global political leader outside the church as the candidate for this dark figure.


Suffering Servant

The Living Word