“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:23-28, NIV 1984).
My Musings – The actual term Anti-Christ, while used extensively in modern commentaries and literature, is not used here and occurs only four times in the Bible. All are in John’s epistles.
- Many Anti-Christ’s – John refers to “many anti-Christ’s,” (1 John 2:18), and “many deceivers” who would not “acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh” (2 John 7).
- Spirit of Anti-Christ – John states that any person or message that did not “confess Jesus” is the spirit of the Anti-Christ. Such a person, he wrote, was “the deceiver and the anti-Christ.” (1 John 4:3).
- The Anti-Christ – Finally, John warned that a final Anti-Christ, who, like the others, would deny that Jesus is the Christ, would yet make an appearance. John took it for granted (“as you have heard that the anti-Christ is coming,” 1 John 2:18-27) that his Christian readers knew about the Anti-Christ and had been taught to expect his coming.
It is the book of Revelation that contains the most information concerning the Anti-Christ. Unlike other New Testament writings, this work utilizes an imagery of the Anti-Christ, consistent with the Apocalyptic genre, that is inhuman – a “beast”. It actually refers to two “beasts.”
- Political Manifestation – The first is a beast from the sea, which represents the political Anti-Christ tradition and depicts him as wearing ten crowns and receiving the dragon’s (Satan’s) power, throne, and authority (Revelation 13:2).
- Religious Manifestation – The second is a beast from the land, which represents the religious Anti-Christ tradition, and who exercises the authority of the first beast by using its power to perform signs to deceive the people and directing them to worship the first beast (Revelation 13:13–14). John later refers to the second beast as the “false prophet” (Revelation 16:13; 19:20).
The Anti-Christ will be a counterfeit so convincing that he will almost deceive the elect – “if that were possible.” The elect does not necessarily mean those who are saved during the Church age. The elect could very well refer to those who are saved during the Tribulation.
My Advice – Christians spend way too much time trying to figure out who the Anti-Christ might be and how we might recognize him. These are idle speculations, because it does not matter. Not because we might not be here (think Rapture), but because Christ told us many would come (before the one) and to not believe any of their claims. Furthermore, (if the Rapture does not occur before the final one comes) it is not possible for believers to be deceived. Why? Because Jesus was quite clear that when He comes back there will be no mistake.
Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 118–119). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Morrison, D. I. (2012, 2013, 2014). Antichrist. In J. D. Barry, L. Wentz, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair-Wolcott, R. Klippenstein, D. Bomar, … D. R. Brown (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.