What the Bible says about the Antichrist

What does Scripture say about this figure? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have been reading 1 John at night lately. She’s a futurist, though not one who believes in a rapture, and I’m an orthodox Preterist. We don’t really debate it at all. If she comes to Preterism, I want it to be because she studied the Scripture and not because I pressured her. Anyway, reading the Johannine epistles leads to talk about the antichrist at times.

So what do the epistles say about this figure?

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. 1 John 2:18

Something to note is that it says antichrist is coming and not THE antichrist is coming. That might seem like a small distinction, but it is still something. There is no speaking of one figure in all of this as the antichrist. In fact, many have come and because they are here, we know it is the last hour. John says this twice. He doesn’t want you to miss it. The last hour is here now because many antichrists have come.

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. 1 John 2:22

At this point, we do have the antichrist, but what does it say about the antichrist? The antichrist is he who denies the Father and the Son. In other words, anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ is the antichrist. This fits in with what Jesus said. You are either for Him or against Him. You are either pro-Christ or antichrist. There is no middle ground.

and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:3

And now antichrist is referred to as a spirit. The antichrist spirit is the spirit that does not confess that Jesus is from God. Note also that once again, this is in the world already. That which is opposed to Christ is already lined up in opposition against Him.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7

And here we have more of the same. Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is the antichrist and deceiver. This would be the way to see the Gnostic and docetic heresies of the time that denied the bodily incarnation of Jesus.

But I know some already have objections.

What about the beast in the book of Revelation?! What about the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2? What about Daniel 9:24-27? What about the abomination that causes desolation?

Good questions. Here’s why we don’t look at those.

Nowhere are these figures described as “The antichrist.” Now they could possibly be a figure known as the antichrist, but someone who thinks that needs to show it. You don’t just jump over to 2 Thess. 2 and assume this is the same figure talked about in the Johannine epistles. If you think it is, then you need to demonstrate that.

Ultimately, something that bothers me so much about people caught up in end times paranoia is that they spend so much time focusing on the antichrist that they seem to lose sight of Christ. Too many are so busy trying to figure out who the antichrist is that they don’t take the time to think about who Jesus is. What the Bible says about who Jesus is blows out of the water anything said about who the antichrist is. Which one should our focus be?

Which one is your focus?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus, The Temple, and the Coming Son of Man

What do I think of Robert Stein’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There are many secondary debates in Christianity that I just don’t care for at all. I have no desire to touch a debate on Calvinism with a ten-foot pole for instance. Eschatology, however, is an exception. I’m not sure why that is, but I just happen to really enjoy eschatology. It could be in our culture if we live in America, we grow up in a culture that has what Gary Demar calls “End Times Madness” and we have to find our place in it.

When I started my journey, I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist. I was a full supporter of the rapture and just couldn’t see why people couldn’t see that in the Bible. Now I’m pretty much opposite. I have reached the conclusion where I am an orthodox Preterist and wonder how it is that anyone can see a rapture in the Bible.

That’s one reason I was curious to see a book such as Robert Stein’s on Jesus and the Olivet Discourse, that is Mark 13. What was his view on the little apocalypse that Jesus gives in this chapter? Would he match up with my Preterist understanding or would he challenge it or would he fall somewhere in between?

Right off, any reader who is thinking he will affirm a view that is more in line with Left Behind will be sadly disappointed. In fact, that position is largely argued against in the footnotes. There really aren’t many people in the scholarly world, even those who are Christians, who take such a position any more. It’s largely also an American phenomenon.

I happened to agree with many of Stein’s viewpoints and interestingly, he places them in the context of historical Jesus studies not only showing what he thinks that they mean, but showing also how they fit in with the quest for the historical Jesus, which largely sought to remove much of the eschatology from Jesus or else totally redefine it with something that would fit in more with an Enlightenment point of view.

I also liked that he did say much of the discourse has to apply to 1st century Judea. It would not make sense otherwise and it would only apply to those who were living in Judea. There is no general command for all Christians to flee to the mountains. There is only the command to do so when you are in Jerusalem and you see what you will know as the abomination that causes desolation. (To which, his candidate for that is entirely plausible.)

I did disagree on some points. For instance, when it comes to the coming of the Son of Man, I do see that as a coming that is heavenly. It is the sign that Jesus has been vindicated. I base this largely on Daniel 7 where Jesus approaches the Ancient of Days. If He is doing that, then it is clear that He is going up. He is not coming down.

I also would have liked to have seen a bit more on the passage that no man knows the day or hour but only the Father. It would have been good to have seen how this would reflect the high Christology that Stein says is in Mark, especially when it says that the Son of Man will send forth His angels. (note the use of His.) This is indeed something the church would not have made up as it would be embarrassing, but how are Christians to understand it?

The book does have several helpful references in it including pointing out the hyperbole that is often used and the constant comparison to Old Testament language. If we are to understand Jesus, we must understand him in the cultural matrix He spoke in, which included a culture that was saturated with the Old Testament and the thinking of Second Temple Judaism. Much of our misunderstanding in eschatology comes because we do not make this distinction.

The points that I disagree with are not primary to eschatological understanding and overall, I agree with the bulk of Stein’s approach. I also find it interesting that he chooses Mark to focus on since so much of even the early church just didn’t seem to care too much for Mark. It’s good there is a scholar who does really appreciate this Gospel and wants to bring out all the gems we might have missed.

Therefore, if you want a good look at the eschatology of Jesus with some historical Jesus studies thrown in, I think this is one you should add to your library.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

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