The Real Christ and the Antichrist
The Literal Meaning of "Antichrist"
As used in the Bible, the term combines the Greek word, "anti", with the title commonly given to Jesus. The main meaning of this word is, "instead of" or, "in place of".
"Antichrist", therefore means, literally, "someone who stands instead of, or in place of, the real Jesus Christ".
It could be someone who bears the actual name, "Antichrist".
It could be someone who falsely claims to be Christ.
It could be a false Christ, promoted by others, in place of the real one.
It could be someone who falsely claims authority to speak for and exercise the authority of the real Christ.
Less obviously, but nevertheless equally valid, it could describe a religion with the outward form of Christianity, but using the Bible and the name of the real Jesus, to disguise a Christ whose teachings and standards are quite different to those of the real one. Such a Christ would also be, really, a false Christ and those who preached about him would be false prophets.
All of these possibilities imply apostate, counterfeit Christianity and, in fact, all are relevant to our recognition of the identity of Antichrist.
In John's first epistle we are told that the prophecies about Antichrist do not speak of one person, but many; are not for a remote future, but already begun; and they speak of men who claim to be Christian, but are not.
This is our starting point. We do not need to indulge in speculation about the future. This will only cloud our vision of the truth about the past and the present. Instead we need to identify the counterfeit forms of Christianity, which clearly bear the identifying marks found in the word of God and have existed almost since the beginning of the church.
The Prophecy by Jesus
Although neither Jesus nor the Old Testament prophets specifically mentioned the word "Antichrist", the term was used by the Apostle John in his epistles, in a way which shows that it was a familiar subject for the church at the end of the first century. It had been prophesied, John said, and now the prophecy was being fulfilled.
For John to say this, there must be a recognisable prophecy, somewhere in the Bible, which predicts the appearance of men who fit both John's description and the literal meaning of the word, described in the previous chapter. Since the term, "Antichrist", does not appear elsewhere in the Bible, it will be a prophecy which uses other words to describe the same thing.
This leads us directly to the prophecy, made by Jesus himself, in Matthew 24: 4-5,11 & 23-24.
Here Jesus foretold the appearance of false Christs and false prophets, who would lead their followers into deception. These counterfeits, Jesus said, would not be obvious, but sometimes so subtle and so hard to distinguish from the real thing that even true believers would find it difficult to recognise the deception.
The prophecy is not limited to one single person. Jesus said that MANY would come in his name, claiming to be Christ. Nor is the prophecy limited in time. We may expect MANY at DIFFERENT TIMES.
The prophecy is about many counterfeit forms of Christianity, adopted by many counterfeit Christians, following counterfeit Christs and using the name of Jesus as a cloak for their deceptions.
The history of the fulfilment of this prophecy is the history of "Antichrist".