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Who says the Antichrist is coming? ::

Phil Campbell asks some controversial questions about a controversial figure… who is “the antichrist”, and who actually said he was coming?
Source: Perspective Vo1 No3 ©Perspective 1999

STROLL THROUGH the Horror Movie section of your local video store and you’re sure to find him… the antichrist. Just to the left of Friday the 13th Part III and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre you’ll find The OMEN series – a trilogy of movies telling the story of Damien, the “antichrist.” By the time you get to Part III – Damien, The Final Chapter – antichrist Damien is about to become President of the United States, just one step from his goal of total world dominion. Only one man can stop him – a Priest whose God given mission is to destroy the antichrist with the long hidden seven daggers of Megiddo.

Exciting stuff. And not too far from the picture in the minds of many Christians. In fact, it’s almost a basic tenet of faith, especially in Premillenialist circles, that the Antichrist is coming soon. To quote from Millard F. Day’s “Basic Bible Doctrines”, “The Antichrist is the ‘beast coming up out of the earth’ (Rev 13:11), the ‘false prophet’ (Rev 16:13) and the ‘man of lawlessness’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He will be the last religious head of the Jewish people, but will not be manifested until the rapture of the church.” Of course, others have different ideas, and the Antichrist has beers’ variously identified as Adolf Hitler, George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev – and, of course, the Pope.

Maybe it’s time we took a closer look at the biblical texts behind the Antichrist. When we do, there are some interesting results. First, it’s worth noting that in spite of all the interest in the Antichrist, he doesn’t rate much of a mention.

In fact, John is the only biblical writer to mention him by name; first, in 1 John 2:18f, then in 1 John 4:3, and finally in 2 John 7. And there’s no hint in any of these references that the Antichrist is to be identified with “the beast” or “the man of lawlessness.” In fact, when you look carefully at John’s words, there’s no indication that he expects the Antichrist to come at all!

John’s letters are written to a church troubled by false teaching, especially the teaching of the “gnostics” – though not yet a fully fledged heresy, the formative ideas of gnosticism were alive and well. “I am writing these things to you about those who are leading you astray,” says John in 1 John 2:26. And his message is, “Don’t be fooled!”

Now let’s look at his comments about the Antichrist. It seems significant that in both key verses – 1 John 2:18 and 1 John 4:3 – John uses identical terms in describing the Antichrist. He is the antichrist “who you HAVE HEARD IS COMING.” The question is, who have they heard this FROM? Could it be, in fact, that “the Antichrist” is simply a gnostic bogeyman?

John’s comments on the matter make this more than likely. First, look at his comments in 1 John 2:18-19. “Dear Children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.” In other words, correction number 1 – they’re saying THE Antichrist is coming. Wrong. There are plenty of Antichrists, and they’re already here. In fact, they’re the very false teachers who are denying Christ, and who have left the fellowship of true believers.

There’s a similar twist in chapter 4. Again, he’s talking about the “many false prophets who have gone out into the world.” In fact, he says, “every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and even now is already in the world.” You’ve heard the Antichrist is coming – guess what? He’s here already – in the form of those who are denying Jesus.

In other words, John continually negates both of the claims his readers have “heard” about the Antichrist. He’s not coming – he’s there. And it’s not “he” – it’s them! All in all, it doesn’t leave much room for speculation. Mind you, that probably won’t stop Hollywood. And I guess it won’t stop many over-imaginative Christians either.

Phil Campbell

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