It has become somewhat of a thing to call people “the Antichrist”.  In this bible study, we’re going to take a dive into who the Antichrist actually is and whether or not this person is actually in the world today.  As always, we will use scripture, sound doctrine, to come to a better understanding.  We just might theorize or speculate along the way, but understand that is not meant to be fact, but simply theory and speculation.  Whenever I theorize or speculate about something, I will be sure to let you know.

We, especially as believers, must know about the Antichrist.  Why? you may ask.  The truth is that there are many people who throw the name “Antichrist” around ignorantly and with very little knowledge.  Doing so actually hurts many people, I feel, in their faith and in their understanding of scripture.  The goal of Christianity, the goal of Christ, is to bring light (knowledge) to those who are in the dark (blind).

For me, this study comes up from reading the three epistles of the apostle John.  In his three epistles, John talks a great deal about the love of God and how we, as believers, ought to carry ourselves in that same spirit.  In talking about this love, John would then talk about what was opposite of God (anti).  John does not necessarily introduce us to the Antichrist, but he does speak of him in a fashion that we believers should pay close attention too.

The word “Antichrist” only appears in scripture 4 times and each occurrence is from the first and second epistles of John (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, 2 John 7).  Verify this for yourself, but I assure you that you will not see the word “Antichrist” anywhere else in scripture.  Even more interesting is that in the scriptures mentioned above, Antichrist appears as a proper noun in only 2 of the scriptures.  I mention that tidbit because it is of a great deal of importance to understanding our lesson today.

Is the Antichrist real and is he in the world today?

Let’s first take a look at what John was talking about when he penned these scriptures.  We are going to first take a look at what he says in 1 John 2:18:

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:18 NKJV

I want to call your attention to the two uses of the word antichrist within this particular scripture.  John’s first use of the word, you will notice, is a proper noun (name, place, or thing).  He says, in his first use of the word, “you have heard that the Antichrist (person’s name/title) is coming”.  In his second use, you will notice that antichrist is not used as a proper noun but is a plural noun.  John says, “even now many ‘antichrists’ have come”.

The difference is very significant and is better explained in 1 John 4:3 when John writes:

And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

1 John 4:3 NKJV

John uses the proper noun here, again, because he is talking of a specific person who will be called Antichrist.  However, you will notice that John says that there will be people who carry the “spirit” of this person and are actually already in the world.  John tells us what we need to know but we must actually really read the scripture instead of glance at the scripture if you know what I mean.

John talks about a specific person who is coming and will be the Antichrist – this is a real person.  I want to say that John coins this term as it does not appear in any other writing in our bible. John tells us that this person will stand in opposition of everything that the Lord stands for (that’s why he uses the preposition “anti”).  Christ/God is love but this man is anti-love.  Then John tells us that there will be spirits (people) who do not confess Christ has come in the flesh – they are blasphemers.  These people, John tells us, are spirits of the person who will be called Antichrist.

For better understanding, let me use this example.  If we were living in Old Testament days, the prophet would tell us that Christ is coming.  The prophet when then tell us that those who have a humble, kind and loving spirit already have the spirit of Christ in them.  Does that example make sense?  I hope so.

Is the Antichrist a real person? Yes, definitely.  Where did John come up with this person?  It is very clear that his readers knew the Antichrist was supposed to be coming.  How did they know?  Who taught this person was supposed to appear?

In their days, the apostle Paul, actually taught of the Antichrist, though you will never see the word “antichrist” in any of his writings.  Actually, you can first see this person being spoken of in the Old Testament book of Daniel (READ Daniel 7:25; 8:25; 11:36).  Prophets like Isaiah and Daniel saw a great deal into the future, and when I say future, I mean a future that you and I have yet to see.

Take a look at what Daniel says of this man in this scripture:

He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.

Daniel 7:25 NKJV

Keep in mind what Daniel says about this person because we’re going to see something similar said later on in this study.  Now, we’re going to jump back to Paul and what he taught of the Antichrist.

The Thessalonians were worried that the day of the Lord had already come and gone.  We read scripture of that coming day, but I can’t imagine what it was like actually living in a time where Christ had been alive not too long ago.  I speculate that they must have been hearing about the day of the Lord a great deal more than what we do today.  Today, we hear about the day of the Lord in passing because it is not taken that seriously, but the Thessalonians were fearful that the day of judgment was at hand.

To assure the Thessalonians that the day had not come, Paul provides them with an order of how things will occur to lead to that day.  Here is what Paul says to the Thessalonians:

3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV

The day of the Lord does not come until there is a “falling away” that happens first.  The falling away reveals “the man of sin” also called “the son of perdition”.  There is a lot of meat here for us to chew on and to break down.  Who is this man that Paul is speaking of?  This man is none other than the same exact man that John speaks of coming in his writing.  If you read the scriptures from Daniel, you will notice that the person Daniel spoke of shares the same similarities of the man that Paul is speaking of.

Paul tells us that the Antichrist does not appear until there is a “falling away” that occurs first.  What is the falling away that Paul is speaking about in this scripture?  We can get a better understanding in the following scriptures, specifically 2 Thessalonians 2:7 which says:

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 NKJV

The lawless one (the Antichrist) cannot come until “He” who now restrains is taken out of the way.  Evidently, someone is restraining (holding back) the lawless one (Antichrist) from appearing in the world.  The He that is currently doing the restraining is the Holy Spirit (God, the third person).  The Holy Spirit currently dwells in the world by dwelling in the hearts (soul) of all genuine believers!  We know this to be true because Jesus (God, the second person) spoke of the Comforter (Helper) who would come after His ascension (John 14:16-17; John 15:16; John 16:7) and dwell in believers.

How will the Holy Spirit be taken out of the world?  The only way that the Holy Spirit can be taken out of this world is by God.  Christ will come to receive the collective body of genuine believers in Him (the Church) – this event is known as the Rapture.  It is always believed that only believers will be called out of the world, but what is often missed in the Rapture is that the Holy Spirit will leave this world as well!

The Holy Spirit’s job, I feel, is a great deal larger than what many of us understand.  In scripture, we see that the Holy Spirit is tasked with dwelling in the believer and helping the believer in ministering God’s gospel.  However, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also restraining a certain evil from breaking loose in this world today.  We often talk about how bad the world is nowadays, but when the Church and the Holy Spirit is called out of this world, all hell is going to break loose!  This is the falling away that Paul speaks of in Thessalonians.

The Holy Spirit must deliver the Church to the Son in the wedding of the Son and the bride.  Afterwards, the Holy Spirit will return but perform a dramatically different role in the world.  To be clear: the Holy Spirit will be present during the Great Tribulation but the Holy Spirit will not restrain the evil in that day.

I want you to pay close attention to the fact that the Antichrist (the actual person) does not arrive until after the Rapture.  Clearly, the Rapture has still yet to occur because the Church is still present in the world today.  If the Church, the collective body of genuine believers in Christ, is still present in the world, that means that the Holy Spirit is still present.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit is still present to restrain the Antichrist from being manifested in this world.

Verification by Christ

So far, we have seen Daniel prophesy about the Antichrist, and we have seen both Paul and John speak of that man.  Yet, for many, there still may be a question about whether the prophecy and teaching are true (legit/real).  Were these men making up the Antichrist just to scare people into believing?

Jesus (God, the second person) revealed to the apostle John what was to come in the future – in the day of the Great Tribulation.  We can verify the prophecy of Daniel, the teachings of Paul, and the writings in John’s letters by the word of Christ.  Let’s take an even deeper dive into who this person actually is and how he comes to be.

Paul says (2 Thessalonians 2:9) that the lawless one (the Antichrist) is filled with Satanic power.  Paul says, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.

In Revelation 13, we read this:

1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

Revelation 13:1-2 NKJV

Let’s go over some details of this scripture that you need to understand.  Firstly: you will notice that a dragon is mentioned in this scripture; the dragon is Satan.  Satan is described as a red dragon in Revelation 12 and you can see the dragon directly referred to as Satan in Revelation 12:9. With this knowledge, we can see that this scripture ties into what Paul taught about the lawless one in 2 Thessalonians 2.  I want you to notice that Revelation 13:2 clearly states that the dragon (Satan) gives the beast his power, throne, and authority – this also ties into Daniel’s prophecy.

Notice that the Antichrist will rise out of the sea.  The sea mentioned here is not a liquid sea but a sea of people – Gentiles to be exact.  Everybody who is not of the blood of Israel is considered a Gentile.  The Antichrist is likened to a leopard, bear, and lion, but we should not think of these things literally.  The imagery here is representative of the past empires of Babylon, Persia, and Greece.  In other words, this man comes from that way of thinking – he will rule that world.

The sea that the beast (the Antichrist) rises out of is not a liquid ocean but the people of the world.  The Antichrist will come from the Gentiles; meaning all nations outside of the nation of Israel.  The Antichrist will be a product of the world.  The mentioning of the leopard, the bear, and the lion is representative of old empires like Babylon, Persia, and Greece.

You will notice as you read Revelation 13 that through the revelation of Jesus Christ, a great deal more is confirmed of the Antichrist.  We see that both Satan and the Antichrist will be worshipped by the people living during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 13:4).  The Antichrist will charm the people, perform false miracles to draw people in, and will talk eloquent blasphemies against God (Revelation 13:5-6).

Let’s remember that this will all be going on at a time after the Church and Holy Spirit is called out of the world.  From scripture, we can see that two different types of people will live after the Rapture.  The first kind of person will be one who could speculate might regret not becoming a believer prior to the Rapture.  This person will witness the Rapture and then become a believer in God.  If there’s any material left (like bibles or even this bible study), they will probably study up and practice their faith in the Lord – these people will become Tribulation Saints.

The second kind of person will live in such a rough time that they will not treat others as they would wish to be treated.  We know that this is true because of how Christ described the people at the start of the Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).  The people who do not become believers during the Great Tribulation will fall for the eloquent words of the Antichrist and all of the false miracles that he performs.  They will be deceived by the power given to him by Satan.

Because the Antichrist will not like that some will refuse to worship him or the dragon, he is going to wage war against them, the Tribulation Saints (Revelation 13:7).  We can speculate that the war he wages against the Tribulation Saints will not be pretty.  We can see that some of the Tribulation Saints will be imprisoned (Matthew 25:31-46) where I speculate they will probably be tortured.  We also know that many will be killed all because they do not worship the image of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:15).

All of this confirms the prophecy of Daniel and takes an even deeper dive into what both Paul and John spoke of.

The Antichrist is not here yet

Currently, the lawless one (the Antichrist) is not present in this world and we now know why.  The Church and Holy Spirit are still present in the world, and this prevents that man from arriving on the scene.  However, just because the man is not in the world, that does not mean that the spirit of that man is not in the world.  Clearly, John felt that there were already many antichrists in the world during his day.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:18 NKJV

If there were antichrists in the world in John’s day, this must certainly hold true in our time.  John went on to say a couple of things we should pay close attention too.

John said:

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:22 NKJV

He also says:

And every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

1 John 4:3 NKJV

The spirit of antichrist is definitely in the world today.  We must understand the drastic difference between calling somebody “the Antichrist” or “an antichrist” – there’s a difference.  You see, the Antichrist is not here yet because you and I or still in the world – the Church still exists.  However, there are many who do have the spirit of antichrist in them solely because they blaspheme (do not believe) the Lord and the only begotten Son.

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