When did you last hear a sermon about the Antichrist?

Probably never for most of us.

Yet, there are numerous references to him in the Bible; in some cases whole chapters are devoted to describing him.

Why then crickets in the pulpit?

I think the main reason is fear of embarrassment. As we look back at history we see that many preachers and writers tried to pin the tail on the donkey and missed by miles. Anyone for Napoleon…Hitler…Saddam Hussein!? Ouch! None of us want to be the next Harold Camping.

But while we might wisely hold back from specifically identifying the Antichrist as Barack Obama, or George Bush, or whatever, we must not hold back from at least highlighting and explaining the characteristics of the Antichrist as described in the Bible.

We’ll do that tomorrow, but in the meantime let me give you four general principles to bear in mind when surveying the biblical data.

First, the Antichrist is progressively revealed. Daniel is arguably the first biblical author to focus our attention on the Antichrist, although the principle of Antichrist can be seen in previous figures such as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. The Antichrist’s features are then increasingly revealed by Jesus, by Paul, and by John. The portrait starts out shadowy but gets more and more detailed and colorful as the Bible progresses. We must therefore be careful to take account of all the biblical data, especially the latter parts.

Second, there are many antichrists and there is one Antichrist. This seems contradictory but the Bible speaks both of multiple antichrists and of THE Antichrist, a succession of antichrists and a singular antichrist (1 John 2:18; 2 John 7).

Third, antichrist is both now and in the future. This helps us to understand the previous point. While the spirit of antichrist is at work in all ages, and many individuals embody that spirit throughout history, there will be one climactic Antichrist figure who will appear at the very end of time.

Fourth, the antichrist is prophesied in apocalyptic books. The books that speak most about the Antichrist are Daniel and Revelation, in sections that are not only prophetic but apocalyptic in genre. The section of Matthew in which Jesus predicts antichrist is also called “the mini-apocalypse.” This much more pictorial language cautions us against a too-literal interpretation; instead we must try understand the literal principles behind the multiple symbols and metaphors.

This is tricky, isn’t it, and maybe partly explains the widespread quiet. However, this silence is also deeply worrying because it lulls us into a false sense of security, a state of unreadiness and unpreparedness.

If I were the Antichrist, I’d be thinking, “Hey the time is just about right. No one is looking, no one is expecting, hardly anyone knows about me, and even fewer would know me if they met me.”

So let me introduce him to you tomorrow.

  • MarkO

    Hi David,
    I used to believe in a single human figure at the end of time who will ascend to world dominance, the Antichrist we used to call him. I simply took this futuritstic idea for granted, then I studied my Bible. I found out there is not going to be a final one man who will be “thee Antichrist.” I couldn’t find the antichrist in Daniel. I couldn’t find it in Revelation. I could even find it in the Olivet. All I could find are mentions in Scripture to many or multiple antichrists thru out time, but not one evil monster Antichrist. What a relief. That encouragement greatly.

    At the same I was also studying the kingship of Jesus. Wow! What a difference this made my understanding of the present and the future. My previous preoccupation with an end time disaster fell of my radar and the beauty of who Jesus is got bigger in my eyes. I came to realize that my system of theology had clouded my clear understanding of Scripture. Once I removed the system, the futuristic scenarios not verifiable in Scripture, then Jesus filled that void.

  • Dan Phillips

    I have my theories about the quiet. You might be able to guess them. Your first comment is a good illustration.

    Exposition of the Biblical teaching concerning the eschatological Beast is not as quiet among Calvinists consistently pursuing the hermeneutic that made me a Christian and a Calvinist. I’ll be interested to see how you develop this.

  • Michael

    I look forward to reading the rest of the series. It looks very interesting.
    But shouldn’t it be “If I were the Antichrist”?

    • Debbie

      It sure has my interest.
      And, yes, “were” is for the subjunctive mood (In this case, it’s not likely to happen.).

      • David Murray

        Thanks Grammar Police! Fixed.

  • Latayne C Scott

    Anxious to hear what you have to say!

  • Peter Overduin

    It’s not hard to see why the anti Christ is no longer preached….many churches and so called professing christians don’t even believe in Hell…so why would there even BE an anti Christ?

  • Sunny

    More introductions ;-)

    The Secret Pre Trib-Rapture lie EXPOSED -

    Antichrist… but not as we’ve known it! -

    And the most horrible one –

    • RON

      Well, there is a Rapture and it happens Pre Tribulation. And that is not even in question.

  • RON

    Well the Anti-Christ is throughout the bible. We use the word “Anti-Christ” to bring all the other names under one umbrella, the Little Horn, Assyrian, Man of Sin, Man of Perdition, Beast etc. And the Bible clearly shows there will be “One Man” Revelation 20:10 clearly states that the Devil is cast into Hell Fire (after the 1000 years in the pit, awaiting to deceive the world one last time) where the BEAST and the FALSE PROPHET await….Go read it, this leaves o doubt, amongst many other scriptures.

    He is born in Greece.

  • ocelot152