Beware the Beast (and the Hype)

We hear a lot about the Antichrist. Is any of it true?
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One thing I learned from the movies about the Antichrist is he's no match for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the movie End of Days, Satan arrives in New York to father a son. This son, he says, would be the Antichrist—the God-hating evildoer the Bible says takes over the world right before Christ's Second Coming. But not on Arnold's watch. He runs Satan over with a train and blows him up with a grenade launcher. Arnold wins the battle and the Antichrist has to wait another 1,000 years.

OK, so the movie's not exactly accurate (there's nothing in the Book of Revelation about grenade launchers). Even so, fictional takes on the Antichrist are always popular for a few reasons:

  1. There's a lot of drama. The rise of the evil Antichrist sets up the ultimate good vs. evil storyline.

  2. Christ-followers have a special curiosity because the Bible tells us that Jesus' return is after the Antichrist shows up. This is interesting stuff—especially right now when there is so much talk about how current world situations may or may not line up with Antichrist prophecy. It seems like everyone has a theory.

  3. Most Antichrist movies seem to offer clues about when the end will come. It's fascinating to think, Could we really know when the Antichrist will come? These stories help us create a picture of how the confusing Book of Revelation might play out.

But how true is the picture these movies create? Honesty, it's hard to tell. We know the Bible is the absolute Truth, but there's actually very little in the Bible about the identity of the Antichrist. What the Bible does say about the Antichrist isn't exactly spelled out. There are prophecies about destructive horned beasts (Daniel 7, 8 and 9 and Revelation 13), a false messiah (Revelation 13:8), and a "man of sin" (2 Thessalonians 2:3). But the specifics are slim and we're left to basically fill in blanks, make guesses, and speculate. And some of the assumptions you've bought into might not actually be givens. Here are four of them:

Assumption #1: He's This One Guy in The Future

Movies about the Antichrist are scary because they make us think about a coming horrible man who, right now, could be rising to power to seize the world for evil. The assumption is that he's a leader yet to come—and could be here any day.

Many Christians believe this is scripturally true. But not all do. Some Christ-followers believe writers of the scriptures were actually writing about cruel and hateful emperors of their day—not someone coming in the future. Other believers say there have been—and will continue to be—many Antichrists. This belief stems from the fact that the false messiah and beast of destruction discussed in Revelation and Daniel is never called the word antichrist.

In fact, that word is actually only used four times in the Bible. All four references are in 1 and 2 John and refer to anyone who denies Jesus was God (1 John 4: 2-3). In 1 John 2:22, it says, "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist. He denies the Father and the Son" (NIV). And there is not just one. In 1 John 2:18, it says, "Even now many antichrists have come" (NIV).

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