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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Antichrist. This term is employed by the apostle John alone, who defines it in a manner which leaves no doubt as to its meaning. Its application is less certain. In the first passage—1 John 2:18—in which it occurs, the apostle makes direct reference to the false Christs whose coming, it had been foretold, should mark the last days. In verse 22 we and, "he is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son;" and still more positively, "every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of antichrist." Comp. 2 John 1:7. From these definitions it has been supposed that the object of the apostle in his first epistle was to combat the errors of Cerinthus, the Docetæ and the Gnostics, who denied the union of the divine and human nature in Christ. The coming of Antichrist was believed to be foretold in the "vile person" of Daniel's prophecy, Daniel 11:21, which received its first accomplishment in Antiochus Epiphanes, but of which the complete fulfillment was reserved for the last times. He is identified with "the man of sin, the son of perdition." 2 Thessalonians 2:3. This interpretation brings Antichrist into close connection with the gigantic power of evil, symbolized by the "beast," Revelation 13:1-18, who received his power from the dragon (i.e., the devil, the serpent of Genesis), who was invested with the kingdom of the ten kings. Revelation 17:12; Revelation 17:17. The destruction of Babylon is to be followed by the rule of Antichrist for a short period, Revelation 17:10, to be in his turn overthrown in "the battle of that great day of God Almighty," Revelation 16:14, with the false prophet and all his followers. Revelation 19:1-21. The personality of Antichrist is to be inferred as well from the personality of his historical precursor, as from that of him to whom he stands opposed. Such an interpretation is to be preferred to that which regards Antichrist as the embodiment and personification of all powers and agencies inimical to Christ, or of the Antichristian might of the world. But the language of the apostles is obscure, and this obscurity has been deepened by the conflicting interpretations of expositors. All that the dark bints of the apostles teach us is, that they regarded Antichrist as a power whose influence was beginning to be felt even in their time, but whose full development was reserved till the passing away of the principle which hindered it, and the destruction of the power symbolized by the mystical Babylon. The word antichrist does not always mean openly opposed to Christ, but putting something in the place of Christ. Any person teaching any way to God, excepting through Christ, is Antichrist. Any person teaching any way of salvation, excepting through the blood of Christ, is Antichrist. John says that in his day, "Now are there many antichrists." 1 John 2:18. The papal church, putting its traditions in the place of the Scriptures, putting the Virgin Mary, the saints, the Pope, the priest, good works, the mass, purgatory, etc., as the way of salvation, in place of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is pre-eminently Antichrist.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Antichrist'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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