Spirit of Anti-Messiah

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 11 September 2011; Revised 27 October 2015

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Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the article. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Citations for Mishnah-Talmud tractates are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); found at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebraic and Jewish nature of Scripture and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Law), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).

The True Messiah

"Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah is born of God." (1Jn 5:1 TLV)

In order to understand the meaning and scope of the spirit of anti-messiah (1Jn 4:3) we need to review the title and nature of the One declared in the apostolic writings as the true Messiah. "Christ" or "Messiah" comes from Grk. christos. In ancient Greek culture the noun christos was derived from the verb chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT, II, 334). Christos was chosen deliberately by the Jewish translators of the LXX to render the Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The Heb. title Mashiach means "anointed one" or "poured on."

Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3 (King Saul); 2Sam 22:51 (King David); Isa 45:1 (King Cyrus); and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. Each of these men were called by God for a specific purpose. The Greek transliteration of Mashiach is Messias (“Messiah” in English), which appears in only two verses in the Greek New Testament (John 1:41; 4:25). However, the apostolic writings rely on the LXX for source material and vocabulary and thus Christos is used uniformly instead of Messias.

The significance of being known as “The Anointed One” is that Israelite kings were crowned and priests were ordained in a ceremony of anointing with olive oil, which invested them with the authority of their positions. There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. Yeshua was not physically anointed with oil in his commissioning for ministry, although He was anointed with the Spirit in accordance with Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16) after completing the ceremonial washing required of priests (cf. Ex 40:12; Matt 3:13-15). However, he was anointed with nard in preparation for his death (Mark 14:3-8; John 12:3), so in that sense he was physically anointed for his final and greatest ministry.

According to the Tanakh and declared in the apostolic writings Messiah would be a descendant of King David who would fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and to Israel. Those promises included redemption for Israel, destruction of the enemies of Israel, the restoration of Israel to sovereign rule in its land and establishment of the Davidic monarchy over Israel and the nations. Assurance of fulfillment was made by Gabriel to Miriam and Zachariah. However, the Tanakh and the Jewish Sages spoke of three Messianic figures, because of the paradoxical nature of Messianic prophecies.

Mashiach ben David, a descendant of King David, would be a victorious Messiah who would destroy the enemies of Israel and reign over Israel and the nations as king (Isa 9:7; Sukkah 52a; Midrash on Psalm 21 and 72). Mashiach ben Yosef, would be a suffering Messiah (Ps 22; Isa 53; Obad 1:18; Sukkah 52a; Midrash on Psalm 22). The victorious Messiah is also known as Mashiach ben Adam, an eschatological figure from heaven (Ps 80:17; Dan 7:13). Because the Mashiach ben Adam is pictured as coming on the clouds, he was also dubbed Mashiach ben Ananim, son of the clouds (Sanhedrin 96).

The apostolic writings, of course, show that Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David are the same person, Yeshua, whose human descent was from King David, whose legal but not physical father was Joseph (Yosef), and whose resurrection has made it possible for him to come twice and fill both roles (Stern 548). Yeshua also asserted himself to be the expected Mashiach ben Adam coming on the clouds (Matt 24:30, 44; 26:64).

Among Christians the title "Christ" is generally used merely as a synonym for "Son of God," the second person of the triune Godhead as presented in Christian creedal statements. It cannot be emphasized too many times that the title Christos was the invention of Jews long before Yeshua was born and not by Gentile Christians. Apostolic writings make it clear that Christos or "Messiah" was the expected deliverer from the line of David (Matt 22:42; John 7:42; Rom 1:3; 2Tim 2:8). While the apostles also declared that the Messiah was the Son of God (Matt 16:16; Mark 1:1; John 20:31; Rom 1:4; 2Cor 1:19; Gal 2:20; Eph 4:13; 1Jn 5:20), they did not confuse the two titles.

The Anti-Messiah

Definition

"Children, it is the last hour. Just as you heard that the anti-messiah [antichristos] is coming, even now many anti-messiahs have come; by this we know that it is the last hour." (1Jn 2:18 TLV)

The Greek word antichristos is formed by adding the preposition anti to christos. Anti lit. means "over against," a preposition that indicates one entity replaced by or exchanged for another, thus "instead of," "in place of" (Danker). An anti-messiah is someone who seeks to take the place of the true Messiah. In Scripture antichristos also has the functional meaning of One who is opposed to the Messiah, that is, (1) an end-time figure, with allies among alleged followers of Yeshua; (2) those who share the thinking of the archetypical anti-messiah (1Jn 2:18); (3) or one who denies that Yeshua is the Anointed One of Israel (1Jn 4:3; 2Jn 1:7).

The only apostolic writings that use the term "anti-messiah" are John’s first and second epistles. John may have actually coined the title “anti-messiah” for the coming end-time world ruler. Thus, the anti-messiah would be merely the last one in a long line of pretenders to the Messiah’s throne. The Anti-Messiah is known by a number of titles in Scripture: Little Horn (Daniel 7), The Prince (Daniel 9), the Man of Lawlessness and Son of Destruction (2 Thessalonians 2) and the Beast (Revelation 11).

The prophecies taken together describe a man possessed by a demonic spirit that ascends from the abyss, who will then impose world-wide tyranny, require the population to receive a mark of loyalty, make war on the disciples of Yeshua, make war on Israel, and require worship of himself as a god. Those who believe that God will secretly remove His people before these tragic events unfold or that coordinated and intensive intercession will prevent the coming of the anti-messiah are living in denial. According to Scripture the anti-messiah is coming, but so is the true Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

See my article The Coming Anti-Messiah for more information on the end time ruler.

False Messiahs

"For false messiahs [pseudocristos] … will rise up and show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen." (Matt 24:24 TLV)

A pseudocristos is one who makes false claims to being Israel's Anointed One, a bogus Messiah. Christian writers have nominated many different world leaders for the role of anti-messiah, but Yeshua pointed out that some men will identify themselves as a messianic figure or specifically as the Messiah expected by Israel. Many Jewish imposters have indeed claimed the title or been heralded by Jewish groups as the Messiah. (See the Wikipedia article Jewish Messiah Claimants.) In addition, various non-Jewish cultic leaders have claimed to be the expected Messiah. (See the Wikipedia article List of Messiah Claimants.)

False messiahs as consummate politicians hold out the promise of peace and safety (cf. 1Th 5:3) and yet never fulfill expectations. False messiahs typically deny God's expectations in Torah and live as if they're accountable to no one. Eventually, though, their lives come to nothing and pass from the contemporary scene only to face God for their arrogance and presumption.

False Prophets

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets [pseudoprophêtês] have gone out into the world." (1Jn 4:1 NASB)

A pseudoprophêtês is one who falsely claims to have divine credentials for service as a prophet, with or without the implication of offering incorrect information. In order to understand what makes a prophet false, we must consider the ministry of prophets in Scripture. Biblical prophecy (noun, Grk. prophêteia; verb, prophêteuō) means to foretell, tell forth or to prophesy, with three functional meanings: (1) the act of stating or disclosing divine will and purpose; (2) a gift for disclosure of divine will or purpose; (3) or a disclosure made under divine authority or direction.

Prophecy is speaking on God’s behalf, like the prophets of Israel described in the Tanakh. Some left literary works that later became Scripture. Others left no writings. Some gave advice to kings. Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But, they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 11). The Hebrew prophets provided four types of messages: (1) They warned Israel and Judah of the sins that lead to judgment; (2) They announced in advance various disasters and consequences for specific sins; (3) they taught the people about how to avoid judgment and turn back to him; and (4) they gave hope for the future when Israel and Judah would be restored and revived.

Almost all of the Hebrew prophets identified in the Tanakh were men, the first mentioned being Abraham (Gen 20:7). Some were women, such as Miriam (Ex 15:20), Huldah (2Kgs 22:14), and the wife of Isaiah (Isa 8:3). The prophetic voice was silent for a long period after Malachi, but then prophesying returned in power with John the Immerser (Matt 11:13). Several others followed him in this role: Yeshua (Matt 21:11), Anna (Luke 2:36), Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32), the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9), and Agabus (Acts 21:10).

Prophesying leads the list of gifts in Paul's letter to the Romans (Rom 12:6) and second in Paul's Corinthian letter (1Cor 12:28). In 1 Corinthians 14:3 Paul identifies three specific benefits of prophesying: (1) edification - building up, strengthening, fitting together as in construction; (2) exhortation - encouragement, challenge, appeal to moral excellence, as well as comfort and consolation; and (3) consolation - encouragement, comfort, support. The ultimate purpose of prophesying is to glorify God, not the prophet, and to increase the passion of others for serving God.

False prophesying has two elements identified in Scripture, although they do not always occur together. First, the forth-telling of false prophets may counsel abandonment of the God of Israel, in particular, or more generally to disobey God's commandments (Deut 13:1-3) or may introduce false (heretical) teachings (2Pet 2:1). They often engage in reprehensible conduct themselves, such as immorality or divination (Jer 23:14; Acts 8:9-24; 13:6-12). False prophets play the role of giving credibility to the false messianic figure, much as Rabbi Akiva did for Simon bar Kokhba in the early 2nd century A.D.

Second, the foretelling of false prophets may announce predictions that do not come to pass (Deut 18:22; Jer 23:25) or deny predictions that biblical prophets have made (Jer 20:6; 2Chr 18:5; John 7:40-43). False prophets sometimes make their pronouncements based on dreams or visions or the bold declaration that "God told me" (cf. Jer 14:14; 23:32; Lam 2:14; Ezek 13:7, 9, 23; 13:7-9; 21:29; 22:28; 27:15; Zech 10:2; Col 2:18). The second element should be a strong clue to cease giving a prophet credibility when the prediction doesn't come true.

Yeshua warned his disciples of false prophets (Matt 7:15-16; 24:11) and the apostles reiterated the threat (cf. 2Pet 2:1). Paul similarly declared, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2Tim 4:3-4 NASB). Paul advised the Corinthian disciples to "pass judgment" on anyone who prophesies (1Cor 14:29). John instructed disciples to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1), i.e., evaluate carefully anyone who claims to speak for God. Merely, asserting that one's message is from God does not automatically provide credibility. The message must accord with Scripture to be accepted as divinely inspired.

The Spirit of Anti-Messiah

"every spirit that does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-messiah, of which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world." (1Jn 4:3 TLV)

Just as "son of" denotes either direct relation or character, so in this context "spirit of" may indicate:

(1) the activity of a demonic spirit, such as "lying spirit" (2Chr 18:21; 1Tim 4:1), "spirit of the Egyptians" (Isa 19:3), "spirit of a destroyer" (Jer 51:1), "spirit of an unclean demon" (Luke 4:33), "spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16).

(2) characteristics similar to another person, such as "spirit of Elijah" (2Kgs 2:15).

(3) an idiom reflecting an attitude, or belief system, in this case a destructive or rebellious point of view contrary to Scripture and God's will, such as a "spirit of jealousy" (Num 5:14), "spirit of fainting" (Isa 61:3), "spirit of harlotry" (Hos 5:4), "spirit of slavery" (Rom 8:15), "spirit of the world" (1Cor 2:12), "spirit of timidity" (2Tim 1:7) and "spirit of error" (1Jn 4:6).

Demonic influence (cf. Job 4:15) or outright possession may explain why someone could be so delusional as to think they are the Messiah of God. In addition, there are many who manifest the character of anti-messiah by virtue of their beliefs. In Scripture and history we find the "spirit of anti-messiah" manifested in five ways.

Denial of Yeshua's Messiahship

"If we deny Him, He also will deny us." (2Tim 2:12 NASB)

"Who is the liar if not the one who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah?" (1Jn 2:22 TLV)

The verb "deny" in these verses is Grk. arneomai, which means to give a negative answer or refuse to acknowledge or even to disown. The title of Messiah belonged to the King of Israel. The Magi worshipped Yeshua as the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2, 11) and Pontius Pilate acknowledged Yeshua as the King of the Jews (Matt 27:11; John 19:19). However, the chief priests and certain members of the Sanhedrin chose to deny Yeshua's Messiahship and conspired to put him to death. Although tens of thousands of Jews embraced Yeshua as Messiah (Acts 21:20), many other Jews strongly opposed the Messianic movement.

The Christian Church eventually harmed evangelism among Jews by using the title "Christ" to mean exclusively the second person of the triune Godhead. While Yeshua is certainly God in flesh, Christian creeds, owing to the influence of the church fathers, do not acknowledge Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah who came to fulfill promises made to the patriarchs. One only needs to compare the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed with the sermons of Peter and Paul to see how far Christianity has gone to expunge any mention of Yeshua's Jewish identity. Many Christians treat Yeshua as if he were an androgynous super-being from heaven without gender and without cultural distinction. The Jewishness of Yeshua is everywhere in the New Testament. Failing to acknowledge the Jewish Messiah denies people a full understanding of the Gospel.

Denial of Yeshua's Humanity

"For many deceivers have gone out into the world - those who do not acknowledge Yeshua as Messiah coming in human flesh. This one is a deceiver and the anti-messiah." (2Jn 1:7 TLV)

In 2 John 1:7, the verb "acknowledge" is Grk. omologeō, to express oneself openly and firmly about a matter. John's letter, generally believed to have been written toward the end of the first century addresses the challenge of docetism to apostolic teaching. Docetism (from the Greek dokeō, "to seem") is the belief that Yeshua's physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion. That is, Yeshua only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die. The heresy originated with pagans who couldn't accept the gospel, but the belief eventually caused strife within the Christian Church.

Denial of Yeshua's Deity

"This is the anti-messiah, the one who denies the Father and the Son." (1Jn 2:22 TLV)

The denial of Yeshua as God in flesh is called Arianism. It is named for Arius (c. 250-336 A.D.), a Christian leader in Alexandria, Egypt. He believed God is absolutely transcendent and could not be involved in His creation to the limitation of a body. Thus, Yeshua could not be fully divine. Arius' opposition to Trinitarian Christology made him a very controversial figure. Arianism is reflected today in pseudo-Christian movements, such as the Christian Science, Latter Day Saints, and Jehovah's Witnesses, who blatantly deny the deity of Yeshua.

To deny the Father and the Son is to deny the unique and close relationship between the God of Israel and Messiah Yeshua who repeatedly spoke of God as "My Father." Anyone who wishes to go to heaven must do the will of his Father (Matt 7:21). The Father has given all judgment to Yeshua (Matt 11:27; John 5:22). Yeshua came in his Father's name, i.e., His authority (John 5:43). No one can come to Yeshua unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). Yeshua and the Father are one (John 10:30). Whoever hates Yeshua also hates the Father (John 15:23). Therefore, whoever denies Yeshua will also be denied by the Father (Matt 10:33).

Denial of Yeshua's Torah

"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." (Matt 24:12 NASB)

"Let no one deceive you in any way, for the Day [of the Lord] will not come unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the one destined to be destroyed [lit. "son of destruction"]. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in the temple of God, proclaiming himself that he is God." (2Th 2:3-4 TLV)

"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men …

"By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1Jn 2:3-4 NASB)

"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness." (1Jn 3:4 NASB)

The Greek word anomia ("lawlessness") is formed from nomos, law, and the negative particle "a," making the word the equivalent of Torah-lessness or living contrary to Torah commands. When the apostles asked Yeshua for the signs of the end of the age Yeshua explained that abandonment of God's commandments would not only reflect the character of the anti-messiah, but also the culture and even those who professed to follow the Messiah. Yeshua explained that because of lawlessness the basic motivation to love God and neighbor would grow cold like a fire being extinguished. Paul warned Timothy that in the last days many would rebel against God's standards while holding to a form of godliness (1Tim 3:1-5; cf. Matt 23:28). We are certainly living in those times.

Many Christians believe that the Tanakh in general and the Torah in particular have no binding authority on one's relationship with God and the only commands to be obeyed are those found in the New Testament. However, salvation by grace is generally assumed to mean that disobedience to God’s commandments will not ultimately endanger one’s eternal destiny, because, after all, everyone sins every day in thought, word and deed. The natural result of this teaching is that most Christians tend to pick and choose what commandments they will obey, even in the New Testament, and will wrongly interpret any teaching about obedience to God’s commands as legalism. See my article Under the Law for more on this topic.

The spirit of anti-messiah is the spirit of lawlessness. Yeshua warned in his Sermon on the Mount that to reject his Law would mean being rejected by him (Matt 7:23). He also promised that when he returned the angels would gather all those out of his kingdom guilty of lawlessness and throw them into a furnace of fire (Luke 13:40-42). Paul declared that the spirit of lawlessness was tantamount to being an unbeliever and warned faithful disciples to dissociate with those who rebel against God's Law (2Cor 6:14). Too many modern Christians live no different than the time of the judges in ancient Israel when everyone "did what was right in his own eyes" (Judg 21:25). The Church is in desperate need of repentance and revival.

Denial of Yeshua's People

"Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king's laws, so it is not in the king's interest to let them remain. 9 If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed" … 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews." (Esth 3:8-9, 13 NASB)

"Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24 NASB)

"I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! … God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew." (Rom 11:1-2 NASB)

"It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them." (Rev 13:7 NASB; see also Rev 11:7; 12:7, 17; 17:14; 19:19)

The reality of war against God's Messiah, his people and his disciples is a repeated theme in Scripture, from the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt in the book of Exodus to the final war of the beast against the saints in Revelation. Rejection of the Torah, or God's values inevitably leads the offenders to turn against those who advocate God's Messiah and God's standards. Across the centuries this war against God has been tragically manifested in a variety of forms.

Unbelieving Jews vs. Believing Jews

"But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues." (Matt 10:17)

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. … A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." … "They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God." (John 15:18, 20; 16:2)

Yeshua warned his disciples that they would be hated by their own people. The New Testament records numerous incidents of open hostility by unbelieving Jews against the Jewish apostles and fellow disciples of the Messiah (John 9:22, 34; Acts 4:1-3; 5:17-18, 40; 6:9-12 7:54-59; 8:1-3; 9:23, 29; 12:2-3; 13:6-8, 45; 14:2,5, 19; 17:5, 13; 18:5-6; 20:3, 19; 21:27; 22:22; 23:1-22; 24:9; 25:2, 7; 2Cor 11:24; 1Th 2:14). In contrast the book of Acts records only four incidents of Gentile hostility against the apostles (Acts 12:1-4; 14:5, 19; 16:16-24; 19:23ff).

The Roman State vs. Jews

"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. … and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:20, 24)

Yeshua prophesied that the nation of Israel and the Jewish people would be the continued targets of Gentile oppression. The prophecy was initially fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Jewish unrest continued and in 119 Caesar Hadrian banned the Jewish religion. After an abortive Jewish rebellion (132–135) under the false messiah Simon Bar-Kokhba Jews lost all rights to the Land and Caesar Hadrian applied the Latinized term “Palestine” to the combined provinces of Judea and Galilee.

The Roman State vs. Christians

While the persecutions of Yeshua's disciples in the first century under Nero and Domitian were certainly evil, they were largely localized and did not succeed in posing a significant threat to the existence of the Body of Messiah or its influence in the world at that time. Empire-wide persecutions did not begin until Trajan’s reign (98-117) after John’s death. After Trajan persecutions increased in severity with each Caesar. Christian martyrs were numbered in the thousands. The causes of Roman persecution had its foundation in the basic war between evil and good and the inherent corruption of the pagan religious system. (See Schaff, II, 2, §15-24.)

Christianity vs. Christians

Ironically, after government recognition of Christianity in the fourth century those who had been the persecuted became the persecutors. The greatest death toll of Christians actually came at the hands of people acting on the authority of the Church (cf. John 16:2). See Rev. John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for a chronicle of the brutal persecution of Christians from the first century through the 16th century, including those who were executed for merely dissenting Catholic dogma. Malachi Martin, a Jesuit scholar, also provides shocking details of papal murders and campaigns of terror in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church.

Christianity vs. Believing Jews

By the fourth century the Christian Church had defined the label “Christian” in such a way as to exclude any "taint" of Judaism. Once the Church became the official state religion conversion by coercion became an acceptable means of evangelism. Anyone who resisted risked the loss of their civil rights, including their lives. So, millions made the prudent choice. Jews who trusted in Yeshua as Messiah and Savior still called themselves “Nazarenes” as in the early church, but because they practiced circumcision the Church refused to consider them Christian (Augustine, Anti-Donatist Writings, Book VII. §1). In 787 the Nicea II Council forbade Christians from all Jewish practices, thereby permanently alienating believing Jews from the Church. The Church also required converting Jews to sign a loyalty oath repudiating the Torah and Jewish traditions.

Christianity vs. Unbelieving Jews

The Church accepted Hadrian's new map of the Holy Land and with its adoption of supersessionism (replacement theology), the Church believed that the Jewish people no longer had any covenantal promises from God, including rights to the Land. This denial of Pauline Israelology no doubt motivated the Crusaders in thinking they were acting in the name of Yeshua when they invaded the Holy Land in 1096 “to reclaim it from the infidels.” In 1099 they not only defeated the Muslims but massacred all the Jews they could find. For almost 2,000 years the Church either instigated or tolerated widespread antisemitism in every nation where the Church dominated. See A Brief Chronology of Antisemitism, which list major events by century. It was not until 1965 that the Catholic Church formally renounced antisemitism without any apology for its historical crimes against the Jewish people. Antisemitism is a Satanic wonder, totally irrational, captured appropriately in this poem.

How odd of God

To choose the Jew

But not so odd

As those who choose

The Jewish God

And hate the Jew

(Author unknown, quoted in Edith Schaeffer, Christianity is Jewish, p. 8)

Islam vs. Christians and Jews

In 638 Muslim Arabs conquered the Holy City and Muslim rule under various leaders continued until they were defeated by Britain’s General Allenby in World War I. Over the centuries there has been constant conflict between Islam and Christianity and at times the two sides clashed in bloody wars. Jews and disciples of Yeshua still continue to suffer at Muslim hands in many parts of the earth, from terrorism, civil wars and tyranny by Muslim governments. Every country with a Muslim government has made conversion to Christianity a crime. Islam is quintessentially the spirit of anti-messiah with its rejection of Yeshua as the Son of God and true Messiah as well as rejection of Israel's right to exist.

Beast vs. the Saints and Israel

"For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will." (Matt 24:21)

"Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev 7:13-14)

Yeshua warned his disciples of an unprecedented great tribulation that would fall upon God's people. The full story is told in the book of Revelation. The numberless multitude in Chapter Seven is said to come from the great tribulation. Chapter Twelve tells of the ferocity of the dragon’s war against the woman and her children. Chapter Thirteen introduces the beast’s war against the saints. The horrific reality of persecution is driven home when those killed by the beast are the first ones resurrected at or after the Second Coming (Rev 20).

The generations of Christians that followed the apostles in the early centuries were repeatedly warned by the church fathers that the anti-messiah would come first to rule the world and initiate the great tribulation, which was interpreted as the anti-messiah’s war against the saints, not God’s wrath on the world. Once Yeshua returns the wicked anti-messiah will be destroyed and Yeshua will establish His reign of peace and righteousness.

See my commentary on Revelation 7 and the article The Great Tribulation for more information on this topic.

Conclusion

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." (1Jn 4:7 NASB)

As we've seen, the "spirit of anti-messiah" as a false movement or belief system attacks the reality of the deity and humanity of Yeshua, tolerates false messiahs, gives a platform to false prophets, repudiates the authority of Torah and opposes the disciples of Yeshua and his nation. As John said, the spirit of anti-messiah is certainly in the world, and unfortunately, in the Church as well. Since the spirit of anti-messiah fosters lawlessness and this ungodly fruit causes love to grow cold, then faithful disciples must not allow a place for this error in their midst. The remedy John proposes is to intensify our love for God and one another. The love of which John speaks is not some sentimental feel-good emotion, but a total devotion of heart, soul, mind and strength to the truth about Yeshua, Son of God and Messiah of Israel, and a willingness to sacrifice our lives for the sake of this truth and our fellow disciples.

Works Cited

Citation

Source

BAG

Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BDB

The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

CJB

David Stern, Complete Jewish Bible. Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1998.

Danker

Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DNTT

Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

Leman

Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006

Martin

Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults. Bethany House Publishers, 1985.

Schaff

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910. (ccel.org)

Stern

David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

TLV

Tree of Life Bible: New Covenant. Messianic Jewish Family Bible Project. Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2011

 

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