Beware of Antichrists!
If you are looking for Antichrist, the news is that he is alrady here!
August 13, 2010 - Audio, 10.50 MIN
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Hello once again. This is Paul Billington with another edition of The Bible in the News. And it was the apostle John, in the Bible, that gave believers this news in the First Century: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time" (1 John 2:18).
These "many antichrists" were the "many" that Jesus had said would come in his name (Matt. 24:4-5 for example), claiming that they were an authority to be heeded. These people had broken away from the apostles and formed their own faction, as we are told in 1 John 2:19,
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
Being impatient of the authority of Christ's true apostles these leaders "went out" from Christ's assembly. In this they had started their own Church and were thus its "fathers." John called them antichristos - translated Antichrists in English versions.
So if you are looking for Antichrist, the news is that he (in fact they) are already here!
Of this word Antichrist, Vine's Expository Dictionary says the word "can mean either against Christ or instead of Christ, or perhaps, combining the two, one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes
Now this charge against an apostate form of christianity, which John himself initiated against the defectors, would have been taken up by all those who were of John's spirit, and who contended earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints (Jude verse 3). The "fathers" of the new church movement could not want this label to stick of course. They had to respond to it. They did so by inventing what can only be called an incredible perversion of the truth, and by claiming that antichrist had not yet arrived in the
world. They taught a Future Antichrist Theory.
Irenaeus was one of these early "Church Fathers" who wrote in about A.D. 170. It is said that he had been instructed by Polycarp and
Papias - two church leaders who were contemporaries of the apostle John.
In a long and rambling treatise which has come down to us entitled Irenaeus Against Heresies (and therefore written "against" people with whom Irenaeus was not in agreement), he says that when Antichrist comes he will seek to be worshiped - for he "wishes himself to be proclaimed as a king. For he being endued with all the power of the devil, shall come...as an apostate..."
Irenaeus said that when this Antichrist comes he will sit in the temple of God in Jerusalem "endeavouring to show himself as Christ" and so establish "the abomination of desolation" spoken of by Daniel. He will come for a period of "three years and six months, during which time, when he comes, he shall reign over the earth." He will remove his kingdom into that earthly Jerusalem "and shall sit in the temple of God leading astray those who worship him, as if he were Christ."
The evidence is that this idea gained a firm hold amongst second and third century church leaders. Hippolytus (said to have died about A.D. 235) refined it in a work entitled Treatise on Christ and Antichrist. His idea was that this "vessel of Satan" would:
* Gather the Hebrew people from their dispersion
* Promise to restore their country.
* Establish again their kingdom and nation.
* Will be worshiped by them as a God.
"Above all, moreover" says this Hippolytus, "he will love the nation of the Jews. And with all this he will work signs and terrible wonders, false wonders and not true, in order to deceive his impious equals, said Hippolytus, he will work wonders, cleansing lepers, raising paralytics, expelling demons...raising the dead...reconciling in love men who contend." "Above all others shall the nation of the Hebrews be dear to the tyrant himself..." He will reign on earth for three and a half years. He will appoint demons, in the form of men, as princes over his subjects. Then he will no longer seem pious, but harsh and severe and vengeful. He will raise and excite "against us" (i.e. the church) "open war even to battle and slaughter." And for those who do not worship this antichrist "the heavens will not give their dew, the clouds will not give their rain, the earth will refuse to yield its fruits..."
This, according to Bible prophecy is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ will do when he returns to the earth. It is most probable that Hippolytus was taking the teachings of his opponents and building them into the framework of his descriptions of Antichrist. If so, it was a subtle way of saying - "You say we are Antichrists; we reply no: because he has not come yet. It is you heretics who are his champions as can be seen from your doctrines about a future earthly kingdom of the Jews."
From that time onwards, the idea became established as part of Catholic Church tradition. The 1905 Addis and Arnold Catholic Dictionary under Antichrist says:"It is the constant belief of the whole church, witnessed by Father after Father from Irenaeus downwards, that before our Lord comes again, a great power will arise which will persecute the church, and lead many into apostasy...he is a real and individual being who is to appear before the end of the world. He is to appear as the Messiah of the Jews, and to possess himself of their temple..."
It would be difficult to find a popular "protestant" writer today who did not advance this idea of the coming Antichrist. Reporting upon some fundamentalist publications on prophecy by Hal Lindsey and others, Newsweek once summarized the expectations of these authors:
"...the end-times will begin when the major powers form a world-side coalition that will force a peace settlement on the state of Israel. This will set the stage for the rise of the murderous antichrist as a global dictator."
In North America, Jesuit priests have been actively promoting the Future Antichrist theory among non-catholic churches for some time. One instance of this was the Jesuit Malachi Martin, who gained fame through his books on the Vatican and politics. The idea from Rome's point of view, of course, is to deflect attention away from themselves. What they are doing here in North America they will be doing elsewhere as well, even if by different methods - including infiltration. In fact, there is probably not a single Christian group or community today that has not been either infiltrated, influenced or otherwise affected by them. The foot prints of the Jesuits are to be seen everywhere where this Future Antichrist theory is accepted.
It is amazing how the news about the many antichrists being already present in the days of John, and having broken off to form their own church, was turned into the doctrine of a future antichrist! This is a familiar tactic which apostate leaders utilize in order to turn attention away from their own false position. They put black for
white, and darkness for light, thus placing their opponents in a bad light. It is a warning to us, that we should not be deceived.
If you are looking for Antichrist, the news is that he is alrady here!
As we approach nearer to Christ's return, we can expect false religion - and the great false church especially - to turn against the truth of the Bible, and against Israel and the Jews. They will spread their Antichrist theory. So let us be watchful therefore.
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