The AntiChrist Documentary
The words antichrist and antichrists appear only five times in the Bible - in the epistles 1 John and 2 John:
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, ESV)
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, ESV)
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3, ESV)
Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7, ESV.)
In these contexts, "antichrist" seems to describe people who used to be seen as leaders in the church but who had begun preaching heretical doctrines. In particular, these "antichrists" seem to have promoted the gnostic idea that Jesus was a spirit instead of a man. ("They do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh."). Alternatively, the term sometimes seems to indicate a specific person or single spirit of deception that motivates false teaching and whose presence is a sign of the end times.
The understanding of one person being 'the' Antichrist appears to be combined in 1 John with the idea of a class of persons. There John speaks of "many antichrists" who typify the "spirit of the antichrist" that was present in the first century ("is in the world already" 1 John 4:3). As John wrote, such an antichrist (or opponent of Christ) "denies that Jesus is the Christ"; "denies the Father and the Son"; and "does not confess Jesus is come in the flesh."
In popular understanding, many Christians identify this particular Antichrist with the "man of sin" or "son of perdition" mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, and with several figures in the Book of Revelation including the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Whore of Babylon. The Antichrist is variously understood to be a group or organization, such as a consummately evil system of government or a false religion, or more commonly as an individual, such as an evil government leader, a religious leader who sets up false worship in place of the worship of Christ, the incarnation of Satan, a son of Satan, or a human being under the dominion of Satan.
Matthew 24 warns of "false Christs" in several places, and of deceivers who would appear claiming falsely to be the returned Christ. (Matt. 24:5,24:24)
In the "small apocalypse" of Saint Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, a "man of sin", "the son of perdition" is expected to set himself up in the temple of God, on the false pretense that he is God himself. This portrait of the Antichrist is reminiscent of the acts of Antiochus Epiphanes, who around 170 BC commanded Jews to sacrifice pigs on the altar, four times a year on the Shabbat, in tribute to him as the supreme god of the Seleucids. Paul appears to be warning his readers, by alluding to events in the past, to anticipate similar trouble in the future.
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