shared from and with BibleTexts.com users
#14 - "The Anti-Christ" and modern events
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
Question/insight #14: "I was interested in finding out about how and where the anti-christ will appear and if there is the possibility of nuclear war between Israel and the Arab nations before this anti-christ comes on the scene." (7/26/98)
Harper's Bible Dictionary (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985) describes "the antichrist" as follows:
Antichrist, the, the final opponent of Christ and thus of God. This designation is found only in the Letters of John. The author supposes that his audience has heard the term before (1 John 2:18), and he suggests that it now refers to individuals ('antichrists') whose religious influence is already a danger to the church (1 John 2:18-29; 4:1-6; 2 John 1:7-11). It is unclear whether such leaders, whose errors are both Christological and moral, are to be identified with Gnostics or with some other group.
Earlier, Jewish thinkers, amidst persecution by the Greeks (second century [b.c.]), believed that the blasphemous 'little horn' (Antiochus IV) would be vanquished by the sudden rule of 'the saints of the Most High' (Dan. 7). Soon thereafter it was believed that a coming Messiah would terminate persecution, whether it was inflicted by Greece or Rome. The hostile empire was often given the name Belial/Beliar (Heb., 'worthless one').
Early Christianity continued the practice of depicting the enemy as an individual or beast who would be defeated at the Messiah's (Christ's) return. The enemy is variously referred to as 'the lawless one' (2 Thess. 2:8), Belial (2 Cor. 6:15), and Gog and Magog (Rev. 20:8). A final attack upon the church is sometimes identified with the reappearance of the emperor Nero.
This may be the background for the expected 'antichrist,' which the author of 1 John redefines in religious terms. The church has continued to use this designation for its enemies in every age, both within and outside of its membership.
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer