In my growing up in the faith this is probably one of the most anticipated expectation that coincides the 2nd coming of Christ. The antichrist syndrome is synonymous with the end of the world. Movies like “Left Behind “ has left behind more in anxious expectation of him as well as a fearful expectation of Jesus.
The Antichrist explained has implanted the idea that world is heading toward complete corruption that will be herald the arrival of a one-world leader. This idea has been around a long time, and many dictators have tried to make this a reality. Yet it desires the question, what does the Bible say about this “antichrist?”
Oswald J Smith published a book in 1926 called “Is the Antichrist at hand? Interpreting world events and politics as signs of the end of the world. He called Benito Mussolini the Antichrist. He Mussolini was the founder of Fascism and leader of Italy from 1922 to 1943. He allied Italy with Nazi Germany and Japan in World War Two. When Mussolini died in 1945, J Smith realized his position called back all copies of the book in circulation and bought them back. Talk about humility and sincerity.
Sometime in 2002 0r 2003 I wrote a drama with my dear friend James Ojonugwa Benjamin tilted “End of Days” In that play I was the American President and I think he was the Antichrist. Now I look back at my ignorance and how it gave us popularity for the misguided reasons.
Many have pointed at some American presidents as the Antichrist. In the United States and as well as other nations, many seek to demonize those with whom they disagree politically. Calling a man the antichrist is basically declaring him to be Satan incarnate. Some were convinced that President Bill Clinton was the antichrist, to some George Bush was the antichrist. Now, those who disagree with the political views of President Barack Obama are throwing the antichrist label at him as well. This political demonization is outrageous, as the biblical indicators of the term antichrist have nothing to do with conservative or progressive politics.
Many Christians in the United States and around the world are ignorant that the biblical end times revolved around the nation of Israel, not the United States or any great nation. The Bible nowhere explicitly prophesies the existence of the United States.
There is rampant misinformation being spread around that makes unbiblical statements about the antichrist, attempting to create links with Barack Obama. Some of those who propose such theories believe that the antichrist will be a man of Muslim/Arab descent, in his 40s, and will rule for 42 months (close to the length of a U.S. presidency). The Bible does not say anything about the ethnicity, religion, or age of the antichrist. I have pictures of Obama in Christian End-time magazines look with the eyes of a Zombie in their quest to reveal his true evil identity.
According to “Understanding end times prophecy” by Paul Benware, the bizarre idea was refuted.
“There have been claims that the name “Barack” is found in the Muslim scriptures, the Qur’an, and that this fact gives legitimacy to the idea that Barack Obama is a Muslim and/or the antichrist. According to a word search of the entire Qur’an, this is not the case.
The unrelated name “Buraq” (“lightning”) is found in theIsraandMi’raj, a story also called “Night Journey.” TheIsra and Mi’rajare briefly sketched in Surah 17, but Buraq is only mentioned in the extended story found in the Hadith, the gloss or extra-Qur’anic writings similar to the Jewish Talmud. Buraq was a human-faced, winged horse that provided transportation for the prophets. According to Islamic tradition, Buraq took Abraham from Syria to Mecca to visit Hagar and Ishmael. In “Night Journey,” the Buraq takes Muhammad on a tour of the seven levels of heaven. In more recent times, “Buraq” has become the name of an airline in Libya.
The name “Barack” is etymologically unrelated to “Buraq” and is the African form of the Hebrew name “Baruch” (Jeremiah 32:12). Baruch means “blessed.”
The idea of the antichrist, as many believe comes primarily from a compilation of four different passages of Scripture. This does not include the book of Revelation. Let us see and examine them.
Passage #1: The books 1 and 2 John
To understand the term antichrist, we must first understand the context of John’s writings. During the time of the first century Church, there was a cult system called Gnosticism. This Gnostics taught that the spirit was good and the physical/emotional realms were evil, therefore Jesus could not have come to earth in a real physical body. They taught that Jesus came to earth only as an unearthly spirit being. This teaching is heretical because it refutes the truth of Jesus shedding His human blood for the remission of sin for mankind. The Gnostics attracted so many followers in the first century Church that caused John to write in response to the rising heresy.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).
John made use of the fact that he was a disciple that physically lived with Jesus during his life on earth. He was writing to prove as an witness, he was a real physical person. He was the same disciple who leaned his head upon Jesus’ chest, and he knew that Jesus was not merely a spirit. He even remarked in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” His writing was to prove the humanity of Jesus which was important in fulfilling the plan of salvation. John went on in his letter, to say that those who claimed Jesus didn’t have a physical body were actually antichrist.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but 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 (1 John 4:1-3).
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist (2 John 1:7).
Any person who denies that Jesus came in the flesh, which is what the Gnostics of the first century were doing, is operating in the spirit of antichrist. The antichrist isn’t a person; it is a belief system for him he specifically Gnosticism as the spirit of antichrist.
John also states the antichrist spirit as something that the early believers were already aware of:
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming… (1 John 2:18 NASB).
Jonathan Welton in book “Raptureless noted the following important observation.
“First, it is important to note that certain Bible translations have inserted a word that is not in the Greek manuscripts; this has led to much confusion. These translations capitalize the word antichrist in First John 2:18. The reason for the capitalization is because the translators inserted the word the before the word antichrist, thus making antichrist into a proper noun, which requires capitalization.
The early Church had heard that antichrist (false teaching) was coming, but they had not heard that the Antichrist (a one-world ruler) was coming. The insertion of the and the capitalization ofAntichrist was added 1500 years later by the translators. As I noted in Chapter 1, Martin Luther and the Protestants wanted to be able to point the condemning finger at the Catholic church, and by making antichrist into a proper noun, they could easily identify her as being such….”
To John the term antichrist refers to Gnosticism (false teachers) and this makes sense that knowing Jesus had warned them in Matthew 24 about the coming of false teachers. The Gnosticism that John addressed in First and Second John was the false teaching that Jesus predicted.
In verse 18 it continues, “…even now many antichrists have come…” (1 John 2:18). In other words, many false teachings had already come: Gnosticism, including the Nicolatian heresy, and the Judiazers’ heresy which is mentioned in Rev. 2:6,9,15; 3:9. John finishes this verse with, “This is how we know it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). This again shows that John was referring to Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24 that one sign of the coming destruction of Jerusalem would be false teachers. So the appearance of Gnostic heresy and other false teachers was a sign of it being the last hour before the end of the Mosaic age.
John explained their origin:
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us (1 John 2:19).
The apostle John, writing before the AD 70 destruction, pointed to the fact that many had left the true Church and that this was proof that they were in the last hours of Jesus’ prophecy from Matthew 24 being fulfilled.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:20-23).
John writes that those who deny that Jesus is the Christ are antichrist. This summaries the fact and makes it easier to identify the antichrist as a doctrine or teaching that denies Jesus as the Christ. He never refered to a future one-world dictator who would be Satan incarnate.
Passage #2: The book of Daniel 9:24-27
This is probable the most referenced book in regards to the arrival of a one-world ruler. Daniel 9 in particular has been widely abused to point Christian audience to expect one. The interesting thing is that there is no mention of an antichrist figure in Daniel 9. All the commentaries written before the 1830s agree that this passage is about Jesus, not the antichrist. Even the famous commentator Matthew Henry says of Daniel 9,“We have here the answer that was immediately sent to Daniel’s prayer, and it is a very memorable one, as it contains the most illustrious prediction of Christ and gospel-grace that is extant in all the Old Testament.”
Based on Daniel 9 these teachers point to a Satan-possessed antichrist figure, which has made them develop the following unfounded theory and the dynamics for the arrival of the antichrist:
· The 3rd Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt on the same exact location as the current Dome of the Rock, which is currently a Muslim mosque.
- A functional priesthood must be reinstated.
- Animal sacrifice must be reinstituted in the rebuilt Temple.
- The prophecies regarding the “Anointed one” in Daniel 9 have to be drastically changed in order to fit the antichrist (instead of Christ).
- The antichrist must make a covenant with the whole world for three and a half years.
- The antichrist will enter the temple and sit down as God and end animal sacrifice.
Let us see Daniel 9:24-27:
4 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
It is clear from a simple reading of Daniel 9:24-27 and a basic understanding of history that this passage has been fulfilled by Christ as it written to Him that He came in the volume of the book to fulfil all that was written of Him. There is no antichrist in Daniel 9 here.
God spoke to Israel and gave them 490 years of grace for them to repent and change their ways. The “seventy sevens” which when interpreted based on prophetic language equals 490 years. From the time when Artaxerxes declared the rebuilding of the temple, in 457 BC, until AD 27 was 483 years. In AD 27, Jesus came onto the scene when he was baptized by John, exactly as this prophecy indicates. The prophecy continues, even speaking of the Messiah’s death, “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ or weeks the Anointed One [Jesus] will be put to death and will have nothing…” (Dan. 9:26). At the end of time line for the prophecy which covers the 490 years of mercy being extended to Israel, the exact date of the Messiah’s arrival and death, it then goes on to declare the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
…The people [the Roman armies] of the ruler [Titus] who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end [of Jerusalem], and desolations have been decreed (Daniel 9:26).
He [Jesus] will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven.” In the middle of the “seven” he will put an end to sacrifice and offering… (Daniel 9:27).
This prophecy tells exactly when the Messiah will show up (AD 27), that the Messiah will die, and that He will end the sacrificial system halfway through the last seven years of the 490 years. Jesus did this by His death on the cross exactly three and a half years after AD 27. This person who will confirm the covenant is not the antichrist but Jesus himself.
Passage #3: The book of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
The phrase, “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. This phrase is a common prophetic language in the Old testament that was used for Egpyt, Edom and also Babylon when they received God’s judgment. The “gathering” mentioned here is a reference to the Christians fleeing Judea to the mountains and being gathered and protected by the Lord during the destruction of Jerusalem. It is not about the rapture. From this scripture it appears that the Thessalonians apparently thought that the coming had already happened.
The fact that the Thessalonians had believed this idea proves that they were expecting a local event to occur in Jerusalem, not a global apocalypse. This letter to the Thessalonians was written in approximately AD 50, and Thessalonica is quite far from Jerusalem. It was about hundreds of miles from Jerusalem. They were under the impression that the coming of Christ had already happened. They thought Jerusalem had been destroyed and so Paul wrote in response to comfort and encourage them
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians that the destruction of Jerusalem would not come until the rebellion had occurred and the leader of the rebellion, the “man of lawlessness,” was revealed. He then told them what types of things this rebel leader would do.
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
Paul gave a clear indicator of who could and could not be the “man of sin.” This person who would have physically been able to stand in the Temple and proclaim himself as God. Off course this statement would also match a timeline that is before AD 70. The Temple had to be standing for the man of lawlessness to stand in it.
Josephus the Jewish historian wrote of such a man called John Levi. He was a selfish, unscrupulous man with persuasive powers who convinced many that he was sent by God to liberate them. Further, John Levi took over the Temple, set himself up in the Temple as the Jewish savior (as God), looted the vessels of the Temple for their gold, and caused the daily animal sacrifices to cease. He also plundered the people, even burning their storehouses of food and causing the great famine that starved tens of thousands to death, and he enlisted aid from the Idumeans, who killed 8,500 of the Jews, including the priests. (2 Thessalonians 2:9 speaks of counterfeit signs, the main one being that John Levi declared that he was God and would deliver the people from the Romans. He commanded the storehouses of food to be burned in faith that He would miraculously deliver them from their enemies. Instead they starved to death.)
Even when the Roman General Titus pleaded that John Levi leave the Temple, so that it wouldn’t be destroyed in battle, John flatly refused. John Levi caused the Temple to be destroyed; without him, the Temple might have been spared, considering that it was one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Paul gave more details about the man of lawlessness:
Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back , so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:5-7).
John was not only a rebel leader, but also a false messiah. He claimed godhood by taking over the temple, and the only person who stood in his way was the Jewish Chief Priest, Ananus. Ananus had tremendous diplomatic skills and had been able to negotiate peace treaties with Rome many times before. Ananus was literally able to restrain the full-scale rebellion that John Levi was brewing. This is what Paul referred to about the one who restrained, who must be taken out of the way.
Even Josephus noted that after Ananus (the one who restrains) was killed, then the destruction of Jerusalem began:
As Josephus recorded, this happened exactly as the apostle Paul laid out for the Thessalonians:
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
When the “coming of the Lord” occurred with the destruction of Jerusalem, John Levi was killed alongside those who were in his gang. He was the principal actor in the rebellion, which led to the attack by the Roman Army, which led to John burning all the storehouses of food and declaring that they didn’t need the food because he was God and would provide for them! Then he set up his militia in the Temple, murdered all the priests, and caused not only all of Jerusalem to be destroyed, but even the temple, which the Romans didn’t want to harm.
So it doesn’t make sense that Paul would write a letter to comfort a church in his time and really meant that it would be fulfilled in our own time 2,000 years later. Paul was clearly talking about an evil person in the first century and another person who was restraining this evil. John Levi and Ananus fits the bill.
Passage #4: The Book of Revelation 13 and 17
Revelation 13 talks of the Beast, which the majority of scholars agree represents the Roman Empire of the first century. In Revelation 17 another beast is seen which fits one person in description the Roman Emperor Nero
Revelation 17:10 gives us a way for us to identify him.
They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while (Revelation 17:10).
This passage, gives us the line of rulers in Rome. It makes us the job by telling us exactly how many rulers had already come, which one was currently in power, and that the next one would only last a short while. Please see below and see how it perfectly fits with Nero and the Roman Empire of the first century. The rule of the first seven Roman Emperor’s are as follows:
“Five have fallen…”
1. Julius Caesar (49-44 BC)
2. Augustus (27 BC-AD 14)
3. Tiberius (AD 14-37)
4. Caligula (AD 37-41)
5. Claudius (AD 41-54)
6. Nero (AD 54-68)
“the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.”
7. Galba (June AD 68-January AD 69, a six month ruler-ship)
Of the first seven kings of the Roman Empire, five had come (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius), one was now in power (Nero), and one had not yet come (Galba), but would only remain a little time (six months). The vast majority throughout Church history have understood that the beast in Revelation 17 is a reference to Nero.
…And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had…seven heads….One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4).
Based on what we have seen from Revelation 17 that Nero fits the timeline as the sixth of the seven heads and that Galba is the one to come that shall only remain a little while. It is well accepted by historians and scholars that Rome was in a way wounded and faltering as an empire because of Nero. It is written in records that Nero was a psychopath as he burned down one third of Rome and put the blame on the Christians and persecuted them brutally, but also, when Nero killed himself (in AD 68), the political climate of Rome changed dramatically and was unstable temporarily. One of the major changes was that Nero was officially the last of the Julio-Claudian line of emperors; thus the line ended, and it would have seemed, symbolically, as if the head of the empire had been wounded to death.
Nero’s sudden death caused an event that has been historically called the “Year of the Four Emperors.” Because of tumult caused by his suicide, three short-lived emperors followed Nero. Many thought that the Roman Empire would not survive the transition.
Here is the timeline of AD 69, the “Year of the Four Emperors”:
Nero (AD 54-68)
Galba (AD 68-69)
Otho (AD 69)
Vitellius (AD 69)
Vespasian (AD 69-80)
In what appeared to be a miraculous turn around, the Empire was revived under Vespasian and Titus. When they came into power, they established the Flavian dynasty of Caesars. Instead of the beast dying, it resurrected under Vespasian, and he ruled for a solid ten years.
Nero began his reign as emperor in A.D. 54. His imperial persecution of the Christian community was launched in A.D. 64, the same year as the famous fire (which burned 1/3 of Rome) that many believe was set by Nero himself. It is often assumed that the persecution of Christians, whom Nero blamed for the fire, was a diversionary tactic to shift blame for his own actions to others. Nero committed suicide in A.D. 68, when he was but 31 years of age.
Many ancient writers mention the bestial character of Nero, and Gentry summarizes these references:
Tacitus…spoke of Nero’s “cruel nature” that “put to death so many innocent men.” Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder…described Nero as “the destroyer of the human race” and “the poison of the world.” Roman satirist Juvenal…speaks of “Nero’s cruel and bloody tyranny.” …Apollonius of Tyana…specifically mentions that Nero was called a “beast” : “In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs…And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mother, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet.”
The beast is not a coming antichrist or the man of lawlessness. The beast was Nero and the Roman Empire. It is amazing how we take the biblical events and make them fit our own idea and it has shaped our idea of our to live life based on ignorant and unfounded theories that are being down through generations. People are inheriting lies and fears and not making the best of the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is the only solution in the world today. This apprehension can only stop when truth is resounded from the mountain tops.
Jesus came to set up His Kingdom, and He said that it would continually grow.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches (see Matt. 13:31-32).
The Kingdom arrived in the first century when the rock cut without hands, Jesus, crashed into the Roman Empire, and it has been growing ever since. His ruler-ship is ever increasing from glory to glory. Halleluyah!