“Antichrist” and the Anointing
We have all heard it from various sources, the Antichrist is coming; he is living now on earth; he is about ready to strike. This fictional character is part of the eschatological meandering of many of the dispensationalists and millennialists of our day. But they are not only wrong about the antichrist, they are fundamentally wrong about the most basic theme of the Bible.
Much of the speculation is based on John’s statement, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:19-21).
We begin this study by looking at John’s expression, “My little children, it is the last hour.” Since the day of Pentecost, inspired men have been designating the period of time that began then and continues to the return of Christ as “the last days.” The expression “last hour” is simply an alternative way of referring to the last times. This cannot be literalized. Jesus alluded to the end of time when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (John 5:24). Again in verse 28, “Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth -- those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (verses 28, 29).
The last “hour” is the “last day.” Jesus said later, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). On the Day of Pentecost Peter affirmed that the events of that notable day were in direct fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy about the last days. “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh...” (Acts 2:16-17).
F.F. Bruce came to this conclusion. He wrote, “The days between the first appearance of Christ and His coming advent in glory are the ‘last days’ in New Testament parlance -- the days which witness the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament prophets foretold as destined to happen ‘in the last days’. The ‘last hour’ (eschate hora) might be regarded as an alternative expression for the ‘last days’, but more probably it denotes the terminal phase of the ‘last days’, like the ‘last time’ (kairos eschatos) of 1 Pet. 1:5) at which the final salvation is to be revealed.” The Epistles of John, Eerdmans Publisher, pages 64-65.
Bruce also noted that to Christians, it is always “five minutes to midnight on the clock of destiny.” We live in the last days and the last hour of the last day is still coming. It has been on its way since the beginning of the last days. This makes the admonition to be alert, watchful, and cautious meaningful to every generation who has lived since the time of Christ.
Many “antichrists” had already come and the people to whom John wrote had heard much about this. They had heard of “the Antichrist” who was to come. The identify of this figure is not specific, yet throughout the history of Christianity, expositors have not been bashful about filling in the blank left by John. Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, and recently Saddam Hussein are all given the dubious honor of being this infamous Antichrist.
While it is true that the Antichrist would be represented by some individual, it is not true that a specific individual is meant. Paul prophetically warned,
“Let no one deceive you by any means for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thess. 2:3-8).
Paul was not speaking of Napoleon, Hitler, Saddam Hussein or any specific human being. He was warning of the spirit of lawlessness, the disposition of men in general against God’s law. That can be manifested in one, or many, individuals who set up their own laws and ignore those God has revealed.
Again from F.F. Bruce: “The imperial beast of Revelation 13 is antichrist (in fact, although it is not expressly so called in Revelation) not simply because of its persecution of the church but because it claims universal worship. When Christians were commanded to acknowledge Caesar as Lord in the sense which was reserved for Christ alone, they recognized Caesar as Antichrist and refused His (Christ’s) demand.” (Ibid., page 68).
Dr. A.T. Robertson, long time scholar and New Testament professor from our own beloved Commonwealth wrote of the “antichrists”:
“These are rivals of Christ and there have been many. ... Apparently the great antichrist was still to come, but meanwhile a cleavage had come between true believers and followers of these antichrists (probably Gnostics). ‘They went out from us but they were not of us.’ Their departure from the Christian fold revealed their true character. The words of John are pertinent today for those who seek to spread Christian doctrine out so thin and broad that it will include even Hinduism. Union is nothing like so important as unity and life in Christ.” Epochs in the Life of the Apostle John, Baker Book House, pages 128-129.
The Antichrist represented falsehood. John reminded his readers that “no lie is of the truth.” All Christians of all generations since the beginning of Christianity have the means to know the difference in truth and error. John here calls it an “anointing.” The purpose of the anointing was defensive. It would protect from the ravages of erroneous doctrines. The presence of error among religious people does not seem important to many of our generation. But it is very important. The fanciful speculations that continue to hear relative to the Middle East ought to be evidence enough that there is error aplenty afoot.
Dr. Robertson also remarked, “The gullibility of apparently reasonable people is amazing, when they listen to lies claiming to come out of God’s Word.” (Ibid. page 129). If you believe the foolish notions about the “Antichrist” being offered freely today, you are simply gullible, dear friend.
But just what is this anointing? It is the coming of the Holy Spirit to reveal a divine standard of truth. By this divine truth, error can be sifted out and examined and shown to be false. Were it not for such a standard, we would be defenseless against the assaults of error. We can take what the Holy Spirit revealed through the apostles and refute any error. We cannot keep people from believing error; we can only refute the error.
Some people are going to accept error regardless of the truth with which they are confronted. That does not lessen the power of truth. One of the qualities men who oversee and protect the church are to have is the ability to teach. Paul wrote to Titus that prospective elders in the local church must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict, for there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain” (Titus 1:9-11). This is a divine explanation of the anointing Christians have.
Nobody should expect some great physical sensation, some “better felt than told experience,” some emotional upheaval, in order to receive the anointing. All true Christian have it! It has been preserved in the New Testament, the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. It is up to us to know it, apply it to our lives, and teach it to others.
One of the early Christians, named Ignatius, who lived during and just after the apostles days, wrote a letter to the church in Ephesus. In it he referred to their baptism as the initiation “which all Christians undergo,” and then concluded “that the anointing” received in becoming a Christian is the word of God.
It is the protective armor Christians put on in order to stand against the sinful environment in which they live, and against the errors men proclaim. This, he claimed, was the Christian’s initiation by “water and the word” into a new life in Christ.
Whether Ignatius is correct or not, baptism, based on true faith and sincere repentance is the only way one may enter Christ. Paul wrote: “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
When you obey Christ you put on the Gospel armor. You begin your training in the use of the sword of the Spirit to be ready to meet whatever assault the evil forces of the world will throw at you. Time is running out. It is the last days, the last hour. It is really always “five minutes before midnight” on the clock of human destiny. Think seriously and obey the Lord now.
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