When we hear “antichrist,” we usually think of the Revelation, End-Times, multi-headed beasts and other weird stuff. Yet, John mentions there are many antichrists:
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (1 Jn. 2:18)
Apparently, there will be many antichrists throughout history until we get to the worst one, the last one, the one we normally think of as the Anti-Christ. By the way, how will we know when we have gotten to the worst one? I’m sure many Christians thought it couldn’t get any worse than Hitler. We may not know the worst one has come until God announces the end with “the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Th 4:16).
Well, if we don’t know when, we at least think we have a good idea what an antichrist will be like: the one speaking and acting “against Christ.” Well, maybe not.
In English, “anti” means “against,” such as antifreeze, antidepressant, or antitheft. The Greek prefix “anti” means “in place of” or “instead of.” So in the New Testament, an antichrist isn’t someone ‘against’ Christ but someone trying to take the place of Christ. (Of course, such an action is against Christ but an antichrist’s rhetoric might not include any “down with Jesus” speeches.) An antichrist could talk about God and goodness and about making the world a better place (but he will leave Jesus out of it).
We may recognize a particular TV show as being antichrist because it is trying to debunk the Bible or to undermine a Christian’s faith. Yet, what about the TV show that talks about how much God loves us and will take care of us, but doesn’t mention Jesus? In such a show, God sends angels out as supernatural social workers, who help us handle the challenges of life. Yet, no one (for the entire show) ever mentions Jesus. In fact, there is no gospel at all. No one needs to be rescued from their sins. In fact, no one mentions anything as negative sounding as sin. No, we just need to recognize how much God loves us all. The Good News becomes an angelic pep talk with perhaps a little supernatural assistance to overcome some interpersonal challenge. Tada! Everybody feels better about themselves, about God, and the world.
And Jesus isn’t mentioned.
God is mentioned, angels are featured, problems are solved, and no one needed Jesus.