Many end-times teachers say that a future ruler of the world will be called the Anti-Christ. They see this Antichrist as a person who sets himself up in Christ's place in the world. He would rule the world from a throne in the temple in Jerusalem. They say he will demand to be worshipped by the whole world. However, this is a misunderstanding of the way in which the word is used in the Bible.

The word antichrist is only used four times in the entire Bible, and each time in the letters of John. Two of these are in 1 John 2:18.

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.

John is writing to believers who have heard that the antichrist is coming. He points out the fact, that even in his time, many antichrists have already come. This tells us that the antichrist is not a single person who will come at some time in the future. There are many antichrists and they will be in the world throughout the history of the church. In 1 John 2:19, John explains that the antichrists of his time had gone out from the church. They had originally been in the church, but were not really part of it, because they did not hold to the true faith.

John explains the meaning of the word antichrist in 1 John 4:2,3. He is speaking about testing the spirits, to see which are from 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.

Antichrist is not a title applied to someone who claims that he is the Messiah. It is a title applied to a person who spreads false belief about Jesus. In John's time, there were people who claimed that Jesus had not come in the flesh, but had come in a spiritual form. They denied the fundamental truth of his humanity. John applies the title "antichrist" to them. They are working against Jesus, because they are denying the truth of who he is. For John, antichrist was a title given to early heretics, and especially those whose teaching about Jesus was incorrect.

This understanding of the word is confirmed in 2 John 7, where he writes,

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.

"The antichrist" is any person who spreads false doctrines about Jesus. Jesus is central to the Christian gospel. Thus any misunderstanding of who he is undermines the whole gospel. Christians claim that their gospel is true, so anyone who denies the basic truths about Jesus is a deceiver. He is leading people away from the truth, and becomes an obstacle to the gospel and the work of Christ. This is why he deserves the title "antichrist". The antichrist is any person who denies the truth about Jesus.

These are the only references to an antichrist in the whole Bible. John teaches that antichrists are present throughout the Christian age. They are heretics who distort the truth of the gospel. Nowhere in scripture is the word antichrist connected with the Beast of Revelation. It is never used to describe a political figure who sets up a world empire. This means that it is wrong to give the title antichrist to either of the beasts that John saw in Revelation 13.

A powerful empire will arise at the time of the calling of the Jews and before the Kingdom of God is established. However, it should not be called the Antichrist. We should refer to it as "The Beast".

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