Origin and Meaning of Antichrist

by Garreth L. Clair

The English word Antichrist is taken from the Greek a?t????st?? antíkhristos, which literally means "instead of Christ".

The words "Antichrist" and "Antichrists" appear only five times in the Bible - in two of the Apostle John's three letters in the New Testament, I John and II John:

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. (1 John 2:22, ESV)

This passage gives us the answer to the age old question, The text here says the antichrist is anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is the Messiah [i.e. the Son of God].  

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. (1 John 2:18, ESV)

This passage tells us that antichrist is coming in the last hour; i.e. the last hour or dispensation began on Pentecost (Acts 2), all those that denied Christ during this time were antichrists as well as those in the future from that time until the end of the world. 

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3, ESV)

There is little to doubt about who is meant in this verse, surely the Gnostics which surely were many during the early period of the church after Pentecost are intended here. The Gnostics were a religious group that denied the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, they believed that Divinity could not reside in flesh and blood because of the physical body ability to decay and go back to dust. 

Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7, ESV.)

In this verse we have a further description of antichrist, antichrist is one who denies that Jesus Christ is the Messiah [i.e. Divine]. This is a good description of the Gnostic religious philosophy and they are surely included in this description.

Antichrist is therefore anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is divinity or denies that Jesus Christ of Biblical history has not come. This idea of limiting antichrist to one person [i.e. a particular person in history is without Biblical support. Because of these facts we conclude that antichrist is [1] any person who denies the Biblical - historical Jesus Christ [i.e. God’s Divine son] in any age or [2] any group of any size consisting of a movement that denies the biblical Jesus Christ and His divinity