There was a new movie in the “Left Behind” series being shown in theaters a couple of weeks ago. The movie was called Left Behind: the Rise of the Antichrist. It actually was the tenth-best-attended movie in America the week that it was in theaters. However, that was not good enough, so it is no longer in theaters. I did not go to see the movie, because I can no longer agree with the understanding of New Testament prophecy that the whole series of books and movies is based on. I’ve been reading my Bible too much for that. Now I know that it’s actually a misunderstanding of New Testament prophecy. In particular, I wanted to take a moment to review with you what the Bible actually says and doesn’t say about the Antichrist.
The word “antichrist” appears four times in the Bible, all in the letters of John. Those are 1 John 2:18, 2:22, and 4:3, as well as 2 John 1:7. I urge you to look them all up yourself to check out what I am saying. As always, don’t just read the verse. You can read all of First and Second John in 20 to 30 minutes, more than likely. What these passages teach us clearly, unmistakably, is this:
- Whatever the Antichrist is or was, he or it was already present when John was writing, 2000 years ago.
- None of these four verses speaks clearly about a definite person who is to be the Antichrist. They all speak instead of the Antichrist as a spirit (that is, an idea or an attitude or a movement or a literal spiritual being) that was already present in John’s day.
- The Antichrist is spoken of as a spiritual being in 1 John 4:3, but that’s a spiritual being, not a human being. John was telling his original readers how to discern what they were listening to as they heard messages from people who were supposedly speaking for some spiritual being or another. For John, the Antichrist was about divisive doctrinal error in the churches.
- John was not warning about a man possessed by the devil, wielding political power over the world and spreading terror among Christians far and wide. There is nothing like that in any of these passages – or, for that matter, anywhere in the Bible.
As for the idea of “the Antichrist” as some horrific satanic figure who is going to show up just before the return of Christ, it’s clear that John says nothing about it. There are a couple of passages, outside of John’s letters and without the word “antichrist,” that believers in such a boogeyman usually point to. However, a close look at those passages reveals fairly quickly that that’s not what they’re talking about at all. Let me know if you want another article covering those passages.
If we wonder whether the devil is active in last days issues, we may be sure he is. As always, he is busy deceiving people, distracting people, and confusing people. Whenever last days madness comes back around, we should use the opportunity to point people to Jesus. We should always be asking people to examine their own hearts. Why is it that so many people find the Antichrist more worth paying attention to than the Christ?
We are not waiting for the Antichrist to show up. We are waiting for Jesus to come back. Until he does, our task is to make disciples of all the nations, beginning with whoever is right in front of us.