Often when people talk of antichrists they speak of THE antichrist as if there were only one. Revelation and Daniel certainly talked about a man who will raise himself up at the time of the end as an antichrist, but he is not the only one.
In fact there were, are and will be many antichrists. They existed in the time of the apostles in the early church and have been about ever since. The man who sets himself up as prophesied in the books of Daniel, Revelation and also in Thessalonians is just one of many. In fact the apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:18-19,
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
So it is clear from this that there are and were many antichrists. And when we look at the scripture in Acts 12:20-25 we see in King Herod one of the key factors that defines who and what an antichrist is, for they are not always easy to spot. We know that the devil is the most subtle and cunning of creatures, often disguising himself as an angel of light. So we can expect the work of him and his antichrists to likewise be subtle, cunning and full of deception to capture those who do not have a good grasp on the word of truth.
What are the characteristics of Antichrist?
The Greek word from which the word “Antichrist” is translated is interesting. When most people think of someone or something being “anti” they assume it means to be opposed to or against something. Thus they think the antichrist is opposed to Jesus.
Well they are opposed to and against Jesus, but the word “anti” also can mean “in the place of,” or “instead of.”
When we see John speak about the many antichrists, he is generally referring to this second meaning. These antichrists are not blatantly opposed to Jesus, like a devil worshipper is, but they set themselves up in place of Jesus. Note John’s words in 1 John 2:22-23,
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
The principle characteristic of the antichrist as shown in this scripture is the attitude of denial. How do they deny Jesus? By setting themself up in place of him. Just as idol worship was to be shunned because people set idols up as false gods and in place of God, so too those people who set themself up in the place of Jesus Christ take His rightful place at the head of the church. They depose Jesus from and deny him His rightful place at the head of the church.
This is the spirit of antichrist that John spoke of and any time a person establishes themself, or is accepted by someone else as the head of the church, they are denying Jesus His rightful place and setting themself up as an antichrist.
In Herod we see this situation also taking place, for he established himself as being a god and so deposed the true God and took the honour that was due to God as his own. Look at the words of the scriptures in Acts 12.
21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them.
22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”
23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
Herod spoke to the people and they wrongfully worshipped him as if he were God. Now that is bad enough, but it seems probable that they did this as a form of flattery to placate Herod, because they relied upon Herod for food as the world was in a drought and famine.
But then Herod acted foolishly by accepting this adulation rather than setting the record straight. He could and should have made it clear that the blessings the people of Israel had with food and water were due to God and that it was God who deserved the praise and worship of these people.
Instead, Herod took the credit for himself and denied God His rightful and due praise. Herod took on the spirit of antichrist in his reluctance to give God his rightful place and the praise He was due, and so Herod was struck down and died.
Now just as there were antichrists in that day, there are many antichrists today, and many of these are less obvious than others.
Any person who stands up proclaiming themself to be the head of the church has taken the place reserved for Jesus. As we know, Jesus is the head of the church as it says in Colossians 1:18. He has structured the church so that no one should take over. The structure of His church has the ministry being done by the members of the church, and leadership of the church being administered by an appointed group of elders, definitely NOT by just one man.
There is no one person at the head of Gods church. On earth there is an eldership, not one man, as described in several of the last letters in the New Testament. But the position of “head” of the church sits firmly and squarely with Jesus Christ Himself.
And yet there are churches out there who do have one man established as the head of the church. They ignore this factor with respect to the nature of antichrist, and go ahead and establish an antichrist structure within their church. Such behaviour is not of God but of the devil.
So the rest of us need to have our eyes open to see that we don’t fall into the pitfall and trap of churches led by a single man rather than headed up by Jesus Christ and administered by an eldership as defined in the scriptures. Be careful, be aware and beware. For a church led by someone who denies Jesus His rightful place at the head of the church and takes a position at the head of the church instead of Jesus will drag himself and the people in his charge into all kinds of untruths.
This is the spirit of antichrist. This is how they deny Jesus by taking a position at the head of the church and as the leader of the church rather than following the true pattern established in the bible.
(Image sourced from http://www.thejerusalemconnection.us/)
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