Antichrists

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Antichrists have always been--and always will be--with us.

There isn't just the one Antichrist who comes at the end of the world.

There are a multitude of antichrists who lead little ones astray.

The priests who abused children were supposed to be "alter Christi," "other Christs," but they were, in fact, antichrists.

They are all our enemies, which means that we have to condemn their sins but love the sinners.

Letters of John

"The word Antichrist occurs only in the Johannine Epistles; but there are so-called real parallelisms to these occurrences in the Apocalypse, in the Pauline Epistles, and less explicit ones in the Gospels and the Book of Daniel."[1] Although four of the five forms of the word are singular, all of the verses in which the word appears clearly indicate that there are many antichrists, not just one.

1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour.
1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.[2]
1 John 2:22 Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.
1 John 4:3 Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.
2 John 7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.

St. Paul

2 Thess 2:3-10
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god--
5 do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord (Jesus) will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming,
9 the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie,
10 and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.
11 Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie,
12 that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.
Acts 20:29-30 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them."

Matthew

Mt 7:15-20. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them."
Mt 24:5 For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah,' and they will deceive many.
Mt 24:24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect.

Book of Revelation

There is no one figure explicitly identified as the Antichrist in the book of Revelation.

There are a number of surrealistic, preternatural enemies of Jesus and His People portrayed in the book.

All of them are antichrists!

The Dragon

The First Beast

There is a beast that comes out of the abyss: "When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them" (Rev 11:7).

This beast is further described in chapters 13 and 17.

Rev 13:1-10:

1 Then I saw a beast come out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads; on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads blasphemous name[s].

2 The beast I saw was like a leopard, but it had feet like a bear’s, and its mouth was like the mouth of a lion. To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority.

3 I saw that one of its heads seemed to have been mortally wounded, but this mortal wound was healed. Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast.

4 They worshiped the dragon because it gave its authority to the beast; they also worshiped the beast and said, “Who can compare with the beast or who can fight against it?”

5 The beast was given a mouth uttering proud boasts and blasphemies, and it was given authority to act for forty-two months.

6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling and those who dwell in heaven.

7 It was also allowed to wage war against the holy ones and conquer them, and it was granted authority over every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.

8 All the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, all whose names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life, which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.

9 Whoever has ears ought to hear these words.

10 Anyone destined for captivity goes into captivity. Anyone destined to be slain by the sword shall be slain by the sword. Such is the faithful endurance of the holy ones.

Rev 17:6-14:

6 I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed.

7 The angel said to me, “Why are you amazed? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns.

8 The beast that you saw existed once but now exists no longer. It will come up from the abyss and is headed for destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world shall be amazed when they see the beast, because it existed once but exists no longer, and yet it will come again.

9 Here is a clue for one who has wisdom. The seven heads represent seven hills upon which the woman sits. They also represent seven kings:

10 five have already fallen, one still lives, and the last has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a short while.

11 The beast that existed once but exists no longer is an eighth king, but really belongs to the seven and is headed for destruction.

12 he ten horns that you saw represent ten kings who have not yet been crowned; they will receive royal authority along with the beast for one hour.

13 They are of one mind and will give their power and authority to the beast.

14 They will fight with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

The Second Beast

The Two Witnesses

The Whore of Babylon

Related texts

"After studying the picture of Antichrist in St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, one easily recognizes the 'man of sin' in Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, 21, where the Prophet describes the 'little horn.' A type of Antichrist is found in Daniel 8:8 sqq., 23, sqq., 11:21-45, in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes. Many commentators have found more or less clear allusions to Antichrist in the coming of false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:4-24; Mark 13:6, 22; Luke 21:8), in the 'abomination of desolation', and in the one that 'shall come in his own name' (John 5:43)."

Concluding reflections

I am not much interested in decoding the references to various enemies of the Lord in the book of Revelation. The Church has always been plagued by antichrists, beginning with Judas Iscariot. I don't see a single, univocal solution to the question, "Who is the Antichrist?" I don't think God intended us to pore over the symbols of the book of Revelation to try to arrive at one name, either from the past or the present. The enemies of Jesus are Legion. Each of us will have many opportunities to decide to serve the Christ and to renounce the antichrists whom we encounter in our day.

For me, the bottom line is: "They will fight with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and those with him are called, chosen, and faithful" (Rev 17:14).

References

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia, "Antichrist"; emphasis added.
  2. This resembles Paul's warning against wolves in sheep's clothing: "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them" (Acts 20:29-30.)

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