A recent horror film was entitled Antichrist.
A popular music group named one of its albums Antichrist Superstar.
Friedrich Nietzsche, 19th-century philosopher, named one of his works The Antichrist.
Kings and emperors in the Middle Ages often called their opponents antichrists.
Martin Luther, German Reformation leader, labeled Roman Catholic popes as antichrists.
SINCE the term “antichrist” has long been used as a label for everything from monarchs to movies, it is only natural to ask: Who is the antichrist? Does this term have anything to do with us today? Surely the logical place to begin when searching for the identity of the antichrist is in the Bible, where the term appears five times.
The only Bible writer to use the word “antichrist” is the apostle John. How did he describe the antichrist? Note these words in the first letter bearing his name: “Young children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared, from which fact we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of our sort . . . Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”—1 John 2:18, 19, 22.
The apostle John understood the antichrist to be all who deliberately spread religious deception about Jesus Christ and Jesus’ teachings
What do we learn from those words? John mentioned “many antichrists,” indicating that the antichrist is, not an individual, but a collective term. People or organizations making up the antichrist spread lies, deny that Jesus is the Christ, or the Messiah, and try to distort the relationship between God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who make up the antichrist claim to be Christ or his representatives, but since “they went out from us,” they deviated from true Bible teachings. Furthermore, this group was present at the time when John wrote his letter, in “the last hour,” presumably the end of the time of the apostles.
What else did John write regarding the antichrist? Speaking about false prophets, he warned: “Every inspired statement that acknowledges Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh originates with God. But every inspired statement that does not acknowledge Jesus does not originate with God. Furthermore, this is the antichrist’s inspired statement that you have heard was coming, and now it is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2, 3) Then, in his second letter, John reiterated this point: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those not acknowledging Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 7) Clearly, John understood the antichrist to be all who deliberately spread religious deception about Jesus Christ and Jesus’ teachings.
“FALSE PROPHETS” AND “THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS”
Long before John wrote about such religious deceivers, Jesus Christ advised his followers: “Be on the watch for the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) The apostle Paul likewise warned Christians in Thessalonica: “Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it [the day of Jehovah] will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.”—2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Hence, in the first century, false prophets and apostates were already at work, endeavoring to weaken the Christian congregation. All those involved in spreading lies and religious deception about Jesus Christ and his teachings were included in John’s term “antichrist.” Jehovah’s view of them was revealed when Paul described them as “the son of destruction.”
BEWARE OF ANTICHRIST’S ACTIVITIES TODAY
What about today? People and organizations making up the antichrist still oppose Christ and his teachings. They deliberately spread lies and deceptions with the intent of confusing the identity of the Father, Jehovah God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ. We have good reason to beware of such religious deceptions. Let us look at two examples.
For centuries, the churches propagated the doctrine of the Trinity, claiming that the Father and the Son are part of the same entity. The antichrist thus shrouds in mystery the identity of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. This mystery hinders sincere people from imitating Jesus Christ and drawing close to God, as the Bible encourages them to.—1 Corinthians 11:1; James 4:8.
The churches add to the confusion by promoting the use of Bible translations that omit God’s personal name, Jehovah, from the text. They do this despite the fact that the name Jehovah occurs some 7,000 times in the original text of the Bible. The result? The identity of the true God becomes even more shrouded in mystery.
On the other hand, knowing God’s name, Jehovah, has helped many honesthearted worshippers to draw closer to God. That was the experience of Richard, who recalls a conversation with two of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “They showed me from the Bible that the name of the true God is Jehovah,” explains Richard. “I was fascinated by the thought that God has a personal name, something I had never heard before.” From that point on, he made changes in his life to conform to Bible standards and to please Jehovah. “Learning God’s name has helped me to develop a close relationship with him.”
For centuries, the antichrist has kept millions in spiritual darkness. But by studying God’s Word, the Bible, we are able to learn the true identity of the antichrist and be set free from the antichrist’s religious lies and deceptions.—John 17:17.