By Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
Perhaps more than any other evil figure in Scripture, Christians most fear the Antichrist. After all, “in premillennial eschatology the final world ruler who opposes God and his Christ (particularly in relation to his deity), oppresses God’s elect (especially the Jewish people), and seeks to usurp the place of divine worship through desecration of the holy (especially Jerusalem and its temple) is known as the Antichrist.”
Many dispensationalists believe he is alive today. In an interview in Eternity magazine in 1977 Hal Lindsey responds to a question regarding the Antichrist: “In my personal opinion, he’s alive somewhere now.”
This reminds us of Tertullian’s statement 1700 years ago that Antichrist “is now close at hand.” One poorly timed 1988 book was Gorbachev: Has the Real Antichrist Come? Best-selling author Dave Hunt writes that there “is strong evidence indeed that the Antichrist could appear very soon — which means that the rapture may be imminent.” He is convinced that “somewhere, at this very moment, on planet Earth, the Antichrist is almost certainly alive.” Mark Hitchcock’s 2002 book asks: Is the Antichrist Alive Today? He titles chapter 8: “Antichrist is Alive and Well.”
The dispensational Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy even includes a heading: “Is the Antichrist Alive Today?” In so doing it struggles to correct fellow dispensationalists who “tragically” are “guessing dates and selecting possibilities for the Antichrist.”
Of course, this sort of belief has for generations been the tendency among dispensationalists, who constantly point out numerous possible Antichrist candidates.
Amillennialists are not so excitable, but they generally concur with Cornelis Venema that: “the Bible does teach that the Antichrist will appear prior to Christ’s return at the close of this present age. This Antichrist will likely be a person in whom the growing opposition to the gospel and truth of God’s Word will be concentrated.”
Ironically, the least helpful verses for developing the dispensational, premillennial, and amillennial views of the Antichrist are the only ones that expressly mention him. “Antichrist” appears only four times in all of Scripture: in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and 2 John 7. (John Walvoord in his comprehensive Prophecy Knowledge Handbook does not even mention these verses in his treatment of “Prophecy in 1, 2, and 3 Jn and the Epistle of Jude” — or anywhere else in his 800-page work.
Postmillennialism has a wholly different conception of Antichrist. The difference is: in our view we use the Bible verses that actually use the word “Antichrist.” In my next blog posting I will develop the biblical conception of Antichrist. I hope that this might be a refreshing change from one what you normally hear.
1. Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, p. 3
2. Dave Hunt, Global Peace, p. 5.