The few occurences in the Bible of the term antichrist, are confined to the Epistles of John (viz. 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7), where the original Greek term simply means "against Messiah". If we examine these passages carefully we discover that the apostle was warning believers of these 'false Christs' who were then present among them, deluding and deceiving many. This warning had earlier been given by Jesus (see Matthew 24:11 and 24). John, in his letters, defines antichrist as any who opposed the Lord Jesus Christ, thereby denying that he was the long-awaited Messiah.
Although the Apostle John was unmistakably referring to false teachers amongst the believers of his own day, many modern religions mistakenly teach and look for the coming of a future antichrist, as can be seen from the following erroneous quotations. No less than ten books and two movies have reinforced this myth:
"Antichrist will take over the Middle East and there will be the final holocaust of Armageddon"
"The Antichrist is called by many names in the Bible, but in 2 Thessalonians 2 he is called the 'lawless one' who will come in on a wave of anarchy"
"The Jew is to rebuild the temple again in old Jerusalem. He has to. In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul speaks of the great world dictator... some call him the Antichrist"
This passage is used by to support the view of a future antichrist, but contrary to this teaching, it rather predicts that there would arise a falling away or apostasy from the truth believed by the first century Christians.
This departure was already at work. Slowly, the true belief was beginning to be corrupted by false teachers who sought to promote their own ideas throughout the community of believers.
Clearly, 'antichrists' existed in the apostolic period. However there is one antichrist that was, and still is, to continue until it is destroyed by Jesus when he returns, "whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
During the reformation, Protestant expositors identified the false system of Christianity with the Roman Catholic Church because of clear links with the symbology of the Book of Revelation. They considered, rightly, that the "man of sin" is the head of that apostate religious system.
Prior to the reformation, the Roman Catholic Church taught the common people according to their beliefs. Literacy was about 1% and Latin was the Biblical language of the Church. With translation into English and the advent of the printing press, more and more Bibles were being widely circulated. Protestant beliefs then challenged Roman Catholic beliefs. In order to counter this, the Church of Rome sought through two Jesuit priests, Ribera in 1580 and Alcazar in 1614, to divert attention away from itself by suggesting that the prophecies being used against them had either been fulfilled with the overthrow of pagan Rome, or had not yet been realised, but would be at a future period.
Lacunza, also a Jesuit, furthered the futurist view of prophecy to a great extent and today, most Protestant denominations, hand in hand with the Roman Catholic Church, look for a future fulfilment of the antichrist prophecies.
By mistakenly rejecting the historic interpretation of the Book of Revelation, and failing to see that it describes a great apostate religious system, many groups have formulated opinions as to the work that the future antichrist will do. Tragically, this has led some to attribute to the antichrist the very tasks that Jesus will perform on his return to the earth. Consider the following comparison with Bible scriptures vs. Modern Day Futurism:
Jesus is to reign over the restored kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6 & Luke 1:32)
Jesus will save the Jews from the Russian invasion of Israel (Ezekiel 38 & 39 and Zechariah 14)
Jesus will bring the Jews into covenant relationship with him (Ezekiel 20 & Jeremiah 31)
Jesus will rebuild the temple on its ancient site (Zechariah 6 & Jeremiah 3)
Antichrist will claim he is the Messiah of Israel
Antichrist will be given power to defeat the Russian invading forces
Antichrist will make a special agreement with the Jews
As we can see many have been deluded into rejecting the clear message of scripture. Great and glorious things will be accomplished by Jesus when he returns, but many will not receive him. This is not a new exprience. Nearly 2000 years ago, many people conspired against him and took his life, but God raised him from the dead. Now he awaits the appointed time to come again and judge the world in righteousness (see Acts 17:30-31). He will return in majesty and power. Those resisting his return will be destroyed. Accepting the antichrist apostasy therefore carries great risk. Learn more at this site.