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Evil Everywhere – a Brief Overview of How the Bible Names Evil
A detailed biblical study – The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the ANTICHRIST by Riddlebarger
A historic overview – Anti-Christ: Two Thousand Years of Human Fascination With Evil, McGinn
The only significant OT source is the apocalyptic parts of Daniel, in particular, 7:7-8; 8:9-12; 11:36-45. Also note that all these verses are capable of various interpretations. But, for one particular and popular interpretation, they are immensely important for how they view the end time work of the anti-Christ. (I will often use AC).
For many people, their understanding has been shaped by fictional stories about the AC (movies and books) and less by careful biblical study and interpretation. These fictional portrayals, whether secular (The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby), or explicitly Christian (Thief in the Night, Left Behind – Nicolae Carpathia is the anti-Christ character) have lasting power to shape our thinking.
The anti-Christ as personification of evil.
Anti-Christ as blasphemer who seeks to deceive, usurp, and overthrow Christ
For 2000 years, various people have been viewed as the anti-Christ (Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, many popes, the Papal office, Saladin (Islamic leader), Stalin, Hitler, Henry Kissinger, Gorbachev, Saddam Hussein, more recent figures, including Ronald Reagan, Obama, Trump!). By the way, it is very conservative Christians who came to the conclusions about recent American presidents! Do Google Searches. The AC is often, “in the eyes of the beholder.”
2. The Anti-Christ: 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:17
- Jesus speaks of false or fake Messiahs (Matt 24).
- Jesus speaks of false prophets (Mat 24)
- The NT speaks of false prophets and false teachers (only a few times with these descriptions, but quite often as the apostles must speak against false teachings of a wide variety in the early church).
Anti-Christ is used as a “name or symbol” only 4 times and all by John in two of his letters. John NEVER uses the word in Revelation! Here is the essence of what John says.
- The AC is already here (1st century).
- There are many ACs and not only one.
- The AC is associated with a heretical teaching about Jesus that leads many astray and away from the faith (apostasy).
- The AC can also be a “system of heretical teaching.
This is a “within the church” explanation of AC, for John’s epistles, the AC is NOT an external evil persecuting the church.
3. Man of Lawlessness: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
The context of Paul in Thessalonica is Acts 17.
Two letters to Thessalonians are written 50-51.
Emperor Caligula 37-41, most evil of emperors.
3.1 What is the context or problem Paul addresses?
People are concerned that the day of the Lord has happened, and they MISSED it. Paul is writing to reassure them they have not, and when the day of the Lord’s return will be. Paul is also writing to encourage them to stand firm (vs. 12-17) until the Lord’s return.
3.2 Who is the man of lawlessness( ML) or man of sin?
• The description of what the ML does is blasphemy and deceit (vs. 3-4, 7-8, 9-10).
• Already at work (vs. 7).
• Still to be revealed at a rebellion (vs. 3, 7) & still coming (vs. 9).
• 1st century: Caligula (past), Nero (54-68), the succession of Roman Emperors
• A future anti-Christ (through the centuries, dictators, tyrants who wield both political and spiritual power). Note the man of lawlessness is an external and political figure of evil
3.3 Who or what is the restrainer?
Something right now is holding back the full power of the ML. It could be: the preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, the providential will of God, the angel of Revelation 20:1-10… or some combination!
3.4 What is the temple of God (vs. 4)?
The Apostle Paul constantly uses this as a way to describe the church, the people of God. This is not a reference to a rebuilt end-time Jewish Temple. Jesus Christ and the people of Jesus are the temple of God since the cross and resurrection.
4. The Sea Beast of Revelation
4.1 666 / Nero as the Anti-Christ
• The Nero Redivivus Myth
• Numerology Applied to Nero
• The Roman Empire Dying and “Resurrected” around 65-75 AD
4.2 The mark of the beast.
4.3 The false prophet (land beast)
5. A Composite Picture and a Last Word about the Anti-Christ.
The Ben Franklin Glasses of 1st century, church history, today, and the future yet to come. The AC is past, present, and future. The AC is the personification of evil, the embodiment of evil in people and systems, and especially the embodiment in leaders who have great political-religious power to deceive God’s people, and the world. The apostles faced AC, early martyrs faced AC, the persecuted church faced AC, we face AC… and it a reasonable conclusion that there will be a last dramatic surge of evil personified and manifested in a person or a “state.”
The Difficulty of Equating Biblical Themes with Current Historical Happenings or Soon to Come Events, that are associated in popular thinking with the anti-Christ.
Is the final anti-Christ already alive?
Where is that anti-Christ going to arise to power?
How will that happen?
What are the historical events now (and soon to come) that Christians try to associate with the anti-Christ?
How is that working out?
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