An’tichrist.This term is employed by the apostle John alone, and is defined by him in a manner which leaves no doubt as to its intrinsic meaning. With regard to its application there is less certainty. In the first passage—1 John 2:18—in which it occurs, the apostle makes direct reference to the false Christs whose coming, it had been foretold, should mark the last days. In v. 22 we find, “he is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son”; and still more positively, “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of antichrist.” Comp. 2 John 7. From these emphatic and repeated definitions it has been supposed that the object of the apostle in his first epistle was to combat the errors of Cerinthus, the Docetæ and the Gnostics on the subject of the Incarnation. (They denied the union of the divine and human in Christ.)
The coming of Antichrist was believed to be foretold in the “vile person” of Daniel’s prophecy, Dan. 11:21, which received its first accomplishment in Antiochus Epiphanes, but of which the complete fulfillment was reserved for the last times. He is identified with “the man of sin, the son of perdition.” 2 Thess. 2:3. This interpretation brings Antichrist into close connection with the gigantic power of evil, symbolized by the “beast,” Rev. 13, who received his power from the dragon (i.e., the devil, the serpent of Genesis), continued for forty and two months, and was invested with the kingdom of the ten kings who destroyed the harlot Babylon, Rev. 17:12, 17, the city of seven hills. The destruction of Babylon is to be followed by the rule of Antichrist for a short period, Rev. 17:10, to be in his turn overthrown in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty,” Rev. 16:14, with the false prophet and all his followers. Rev. 19. The personality of Antichrist is to be inferred as well from the personality of his historical precursor as from that of him to whom he stands opposed. Such an interpretation is to be preferred to that which regards Antichrist as the embodiment and personification of all powers and agencies inimical to Christ, or of the Antichristian might of the world.