In 2000 Francis X. Gumerlock wrote a book titled The Day and the Hour. The subtitle was “Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World.” The book tells about people who attempted to set a date for the coming of Christ and the end of the world (or end of the age) going all the way back to the first century. In more than 350 pages it lists numerous predictions by self-proclaimed prophets, charlatans, and even sincere people who tried to set a date. If that book had been published in 2018, it might contain perhaps twice as many pages.
The people who believed those false prophets were forgetting that Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). If we believe in Jesus, we should believe what He said.
Unfortunately, there is a new prediction for this month. A certain false prophet is saying that April 23 this year will be the rise of the antichrist and the beginning of seven years of tribulation. (He also predicted it would happen on September 23 and the October 1 of last year.) He bases his prophecy on politics, numerology, astrology, taking Revelation 12:1-2 out of context, and some completely bogus astronomical predictions. There is no giant rogue planet named Nibiru. The Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and stars will not align in the way the false prophet is saying. Anyone promoting this idea is either ignorant, trying to gain fame, or trying to make money.
What is the real problem here? These false claims that supposedly come from Christians make all Christians look foolish in the eyes of unbelievers. That makes it difficult to teach the truth of the Gospel to skeptics and seekers. Also, some Christians are duped by these false prophets into giving money that could better be used to share the true message of Christ.
Recently several people have raised questions about antichrist ruling the world. These people had been exposed to denominational programs promoting the idea that Christians believe that an antichrist is about to take over the world and rule from David’s throne in Jerusalem.
We have repeatedly pointed out that Jesus did not promote a physical kingdom and He was not concerned about the kingdoms of this world. Jesus made it very clear that He was not establishing an earthly kingdom when He said, “Give to Caesar (earthly government) what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
So what does the Bible say about the antichrist and what about the number that is associated with him?
The word “antichrist” is used only five times in the Bible and all five uses are in the two epistles of John. The word “antichrist” is not found in the book of Revelation. According to John anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh is an antichrist (1 John 2:22 , 4:3, and 2 John 7). In other words “antichrist” refers to anyone who denies that God became human and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Historically there have been many antichrists, not just one (1 John 2:18).
Also, it is important to note that John does not associate a number with an antichrist. The number 666 is found in Revelation 13. The meaning is unclear, but perhaps it is the symbolic number for a Roman emperor.
We continue to get mail from dispensationalists who have two grievances. First, they have a denominational conflict with anyone who doesn’t believe the Bible teaches that the Earth is 6000 years old. Secondly, they continually attach the name Antichrist to anyone whom they feel is leading us into a physical war with political forces of today.
“’Antichrist” is the definitive word describing any evil person. In the New Testament, the word itself is mentioned only five times, all in four verses of John’s epistles (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). A quick review of those verses will show that no single person–past, present, or future–is referred to as the Antichrist. In speaking of the ‘antichrists,’ John is specifically addressing a doctrinal error in his own day in which some were denying the fleshly humanity of Christ. It was thus that they were anti-Christs–those who were against Christ. Who were the ‘many antichrists’ (plural)? ‘They went out from us (meaning they had been counted among the Christians).’ Who did John call liars? ‘It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son.’ When will he come? ‘This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.’ John describes these first-century Gnostic-thinking former believers as ‘liars,’ ‘false prophets,’ ‘deceivers,’ and ‘antichrists.’ Call the beast in Revelation ‘the Beast,’ if you wish, but John’s Revelation knows nothing of a powerful ‘Antichrist’ who is supposedly coming during the Tribulation.”