Who or what is an antichrist?

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV) 

According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but a remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, apostasy is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this antichrists.

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. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:18-19 (NKJV) 

18 Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν, καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν. 19 ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν – εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθʼ ἡμῶν· ἀλλʼ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν. 1 John 2:18-19 (NA28)

John was describing his own time. In the 1st Century Church there were already “many antichrists” and this was a sign that “it is the last time.” The Greek adjective translated “last” in this passage is ἐσχάτη (eschatē), the nominative, singular, feminine case of  ἔσχατος (eschatos). When this word is used in reference to time it refers to “the last” generally that which concludes anything. Biblically, it refers to  the time when the development of God’s plan of salvation shall come to a close as well as to the time of the final and decisive judgment. The word “time” in v18 is translated as “hour” in the NKJV and the ESV. It is the Greek noun ὥρα (hōra), which is pronounced “ho’-rah.” Its literal translation is “hour.” However, in the New Testament it is used to mean many different time oriented things. In this passage, though, John is making the case that since “antichrists” have already come in the 1st Century then the Church age is itself the “last days,” which refers to the time between Christ’s first and seconding coming.

In v18 John says, “as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming…” The word “Antichrist” here is the Greek word “ἀντίχριστος,” pronounced as “an-tee’-khris-tos.” John’s first usage of this word in this verse is as a definite article. In Koine Greek, a definite article serves to identify. In other words, John is saying there will be a final antichrist who is one particular person. This Greek word is simply the word for Christ with the word for “against” as a prefix. An antichrist is one who opposes Christ or is substituted for Him. However, John’s point here is to warn the Body of Christ that the “last hour” will be plagued by many antichrists. The second usage in this verse of “ἀντίχριστος” is in anathrous form. That means there is no definite article so it refers to all who have come and will come who will oppose Christ instead of one particular person. The fact that there have already been many antichrists in John’s day was his proof that we are in the last hour. When Christ does return this will end.

From where do all antichrists come? John says, “they went out from us…” The word translated as “went out” means “depart (out of)”. In other words, these antichrists were once professing Christians and leaders in the Church, but have departed from either the church itself or have been seduced into the doctrines of devils. They may still profess to be Christian, but their doctrines prove that they are not. Their defection proved “they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” Gnoticism was prevalent in John’s day. My brethren, it has never really gone away. Christian liberalism is a form of Gnoticism as is the infatuation with mysticism in much of the 21st Century Church.

Any form of diluting the Gospel message is a direct attack on the very message our Lord gave us to make disciples. Those who do this are false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing  who purvey damning lies. Paul tells us very clearly what we are to do in “these last days” about this.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:11 (NKJV) 

My brethren, there have been antichrists since the Church began and we will continue to have them plaguing the Church until Christ returns. In the meantime, we must take no part in what they teach because they are works of darkness. We are to expose them to the Body of Christ by contending earnestly for the faith (Jude).  Therefore, let us learn the truth so we can recognize what is false. That is why we are looking at the nature of God so much lately as well as what the real Gospel is and what it isn’t. My brethren, please seek the Lord while you still can. Draw close and learn. Pray, worship, and study the Word of God. Learn what the true milk of the Word of God is so you can tell when someone is perverting it.

Never forget, the number one marker of Christian Authenticity is endurance to the end. We all know some who have professed Christ, but who live like the world. Never stop praying for them my brethren for I was one of those myself until God called me and saved me. God is good and will save His people.

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Who or what is an antichrist?

  1. I just acknowledge that we all live “Like the world” in some point, but the main difference betweem us and the world “un-regenerated folks” is what when we sin, we confess and turn away from it, at least for a while. Yet, it all depends on what we define as “SIN”. It seems some sins can not easily be detected, and in this case, we’re all sinners ~ (1 John 1:8-10).


  2. John, yes, the unregenerate are marked by living according the world’s standards and are unable to stop doing that. The regenerate will stumble and sin at times, but our lives are marked by walking in repentance. We confess our sins, turn from them and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit carrying our own crosses following our Lord. Yes, I long for the day when I will be with my Lord and that will no longer be part of my existence, but until then, we must learn to walk the narrow path in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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