Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
January 31, 1998
Last Updated :
August 24, 2016
Politics Economics And Religion: Great Dividers, Different Opinions Regarding Proper Interpretation Of Bible Prophecy, Defining The Word "Antichrist", Christ-Hating Jews And False Disciples, Peter And Paul's Warnings, First Disciples Were All Jewish, Dogs And Swine, Traditionalists And Old Bottles, Synagogue Of Satan, Antichrist Of Jewish Stock, Paul Warns Of A Falling Away Or Apostasy, Some Disciples Abandon Jesus, The Apostles Flee In Gethsemane, Modern Apostasy, Last Days
There is an old saying which says that if you want to start an argument, just mention the topics of politics, economics or religion. Friends have been lost, and families have been divided over differences of opinions stemming from heated discussions regarding these three nasty subjects. No one wants to be told how to vote, how to spend their money, or what to believe in. If you don't believe me, just offer some unsolicited advice and see if you aren't met with hostility. While I personally try to avoid the first two topics, there is no way I can avoid discussing religion; after all, over eighty per cent of my life has been dedicated to the study of the Scriptures.
If there is one thing which I know with a great deal of certainty, it is that there is a lot of disagreement within religious circles concerning the proper interpretation of the Scriptures. This is particularly true in the field of eschatological study, that is, the study and interpretation of Bible prophecy and the end of all things. It seems that the only thing which we Christians can agree upon, is that there is still so much that we don't comprehend. But believe me; there are many of us who are continually endeavoring to understand the mysteries of God's Word. Personally, I have been devoted to trying to understand the prophetic mysteries of the Bible for over forty-five years now. I feel that I have made considerable progress over the years, but even I must humbly admit that I still remain stumped by certain passages and prophetic events.
One eschatological subject which has for a long time been in the forefront of discussion is that of the revelation of the Antichrist. Untold hours have been spent trying to properly decipher the Scriptures which describe this ominous Biblical character; and many papers have been written regarding the possible identity of, and the correct timing and place of appearance of this man on the prophetic stage. I myself have written extensively concerning this individual. A major part of my series called "The Kings of the North and the South" is dedicated to discussing him. For the sake of clarification, I define the Antichrist in the following manner in my article entitled "Who Is Who?: Defining Important Prophecy Terms".
I am currently convinced that the word Antichrist is most appropriately applied to the Jewish false messiah. I do not believe that the Beast and the Antichrist refer to the same person. In my view, the Beast refers to a political/military foreigner who invades Israel, while the Antichrist is a Jewish-born political and spiritual leader. Not only is the Antichrist against Jesus Christ, but he seeks to convince many in Israel that he is in fact Christ returned to the Earth, or possibly Jesus Christ come to the Earth for the first time, in total contradiction to traditional Christian interpretation of the Scriptures. The term "antichrist" is introduced to us in the Epistles of John, as we see by the following four verses:
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."
1 John 2:18, KJV
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son."
1 John 2:22, KJV
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
1 John 4:3, KJV
"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
2 John 1:7, KJV
As can be seen, the overall meaning of the word "antichrist", -- or "anti-christ" as some people prefer to spell it -- is anyone, or any spirit who denies the existence of God; and more specifically, anyone or any spirit who denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who has come in the flesh to redeem the world of sin. Notice that John gets even more specific by stating that even in his time the spirit of antichrist, and many deceivers -- or antichrists -- were already in the world. Exactly who were the primary culprits who denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ? Who were those who repeatedly fought against Christ, and then tried to pervert the doctrines of the Early Church?
As you probably already know, the Scriptures provide us with a startlingly clear answer to these two questions. But if you are not yet aware of this truth, please consider what Jesus had to say to the unbelieving Jews of His day. It is some very strong stuff. I have added words in brackets in certain places for the sake of clarification:
"Ye [speaking to the Jewish leadership] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV
"And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom [the Jews who falsely claimed to be God's "Chosen People"] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew 8:11-12, KJV
". . . Did ye [speaking to the unbelieving Jews] never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected [meaning the unbelieving Jews rejecting Jesus], the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, [from the unbelieving Jews] and given to a nation [God's new born-again Christian nation] bringing forth the fruits thereof. [meaning the fruits of true repentance]"
Matthew 21:42-43, KJV
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
Matthew 23:15, KJV
"Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves."
Luke 10:3, KJV
There should be no doubt then who these troublemakers were. As I have mentioned before, on quite a few occasions in his many writings -- and likewise during his various missionary travels -- the Apostle Paul made harsh comments regarding his unbelieving Jewish brethren. Paul repeatedly warned the Christian brethren to beware of Jewish unbelievers and their very divisive nature. Consider the following example verses:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
Acts 20:28-30, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
Romans 16:17, KJV
"In whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them [the Jews] which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works . . . Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;"
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, 24-26, KJV
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9, KJV
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
Galatians 2:4, KJV
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Philippians 3:2, KJV
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
1 Timothy 4:1-2, KJV
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV
"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."
Titus 3:9-11, KJV
The Apostle Paul was not alone in issuing such stern warnings to the young Christian Church. Peter also warned the brethren to beware of their divisive and antichrist Jewish brethren, who would attempt to sow confusion amongst the congregations by planting false doctrines, and by denying the very Lord who purchased them with His own Blood on the Cross. Consider the following two verses:
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
2 Peter 2:1-2, KJV
It is a scriptural fact that the first Apostles and Disciples which joined the First Century Church were of Jewish origin. It wasn't until after Peter's revelation in the Book of Acts -- please see Acts chapter ten -- and until the beginning of Paul's ministry to the Gentiles, that those first Disciples fully understood that Salvation was meant for both Jew and Gentile alike.
As the previous Scriptures all very clearly demonstrate, the false brethren and antichrists who were mentioned by Peter, John and Paul were in fact Christ-hating Jews who were still in bondage to the Mosaic Law; and who entered into the flocks of God feigning to be disciples, in order to cause division, and to force circumcision and other aspects of the Mosaic Law upon the new Disciples. This is precisely who Paul is talking about when he warns the brethren to "beware of the concision" in the previous verse.
Furthermore, when Paul writes "Beware of dogs" in that same verse, all he is doing is teaching the very same thing that Jesus taught regarding the unbelieving Jews who rejected Him. This becomes evident by the following verse. Please note that in the Gospels, Jesus specifically sent the Twelve Apostles to be a witness to the house of Israel. Therefore, we should assume that the "dogs" and "swine" who He mentions in this verse are in fact the unbelieving Jews:
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
Matthew 7:6, KJV
Sadly, as we all know, that is precisely what the unbelieving Jews did to Jesus. They tore Him apart on the Cross; just as they tore apart Stephen when they stoned him to death like ravenous, blood-thirsty dogs in the Book of Acts. Of course, Stephen was just the first Disciple to be martyred. Others would follow in his steps sometime later.
As we have seen, because the stubborn, unbelieving Jews did not accept faith in the Sacrifice of Christ as being the only requirement for one to receive forgiveness and inherit Eternal Life, they were trying to mix God's Grace with their own self-righteous works. By way of their misguided actions, they were in essence saying that Jesus' Sacrifice was not enough. Thus, they fell under the deception that they had to help Him save themselves, through their continued observance of the Sabbath and other feast days; by adhering to specific dietary laws; by being circumcised; by offering the required sacrifices; and by doing other things which were mandated by the Mosaic Law. It was in fact these outdated doctrines and traditions which they tried to force on the new Christian Disciples. As I discuss at length in other articles, this ultimately resulted in the meeting in Acts chapter fifteen.
These misguided liars, deceivers and harsh legalists refused to acknowledge that through His Death on the Cross, Jesus had not only brokered a New Covenant, but He founded a new Church which was bought with His very own Blood. They were traditionalists who wanted to preserve the old, and what had always been. They were old bottles. They were quite happy with their Temple and synagogue services. After all, it was that very corrupt religious system, as well as maintaining the status quo with Rome, which kept them in power for so long. Furthermore, that system kept a sword hanging over the heads of the common people, so that they could control them. Ironically, those Jewish religious leaders were much like the Roman Catholic Church today, which claims to have a monopoly on Salvation.
However, even though they claimed to be true Jews, Paul said that they were no such thing, as we see by the following two verses:
"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Romans 2:28-29, KJV
Once again we see that Paul was following the Lord. Consider the fact that even after His triumphant return to Heaven, the Lord still wanted to make it very clear to His First Century followers, exactly how He viewed those Jewish false brethren. Thus, when Jesus sent an Angelic Messenger to the Apostle John, so that John could receive the visions and prophecies which are contained in the Book of Revelation, consider what He said regarding those false Jews:
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
Revelation 2:9, KJV
"Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."
Revelation 3:9, KJV
Thus, through the aforementioned Scriptures, we see that while the word "antichrist" can be used in a general sense to describe anyone who rejects Jesus Christ, in those early days of the Church, it was used primarily to describe the Christ-rejecting Jews who attacked and murdered Jesus, and who then persecuted and plagued his Apostles and Disciples wherever they went to preach the Gospel. So how does all of this information relate to our primary topic of discussion in this series? Quite simply, for many years now, I have been of the opinion that the Antichrist of the Scriptures concerns an actual Jew.
Due to the various descriptions we find in the prophecies of both the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, we have a fairly clear idea regarding how the political Beast and the religious False Prophet operate. However, there exist certain aspects regarding the Antichrist which are somewhat elusive. One point in particular concerns the identity of the individual who the Scriptures inform us holds back the revelation of the Antichrist until his appointed time.
As you may know, a key chapter to helping us understand the revelation of this evil deceiver is found in Paul's second Epistle to the Thessalonians. Thessalonika was counted among the churches which were established by the Apostles during the First Century. It was located in what is still known today as Thessalonika, Macedonia, Greece. The second chapter of Paul's second Epistle begins with the following relevant information:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, KJV
As I point out in a few other articles, the Apostle Paul's concern in writing this particular chapter was that some of the brethren were under the mistaken impression that the day of the Lord's Return was at hand. Thus, Paul was attempting to restore their composure, while at the same time issuing a warning to them to not believe anyone who might voice such false teachings. As Paul informs the Thessalonian Disciples, Jesus would not return until a "falling away" occurs first. This phrase is derived from the Greek word "apostasia", and means a falling away, a defection, or an apostasy. In this particular case, being as we are obviously dealing with a religious matter, it stands to reason that Paul is actually referring to a falling away from the Christian faith.
This would not be the first time that such a falling away, or apostasy, is mentioned in the Scriptures. We know that the Old Testament is literally filled with examples of how the ancient Israelites repeatedly backslid and fell away from the Lord. But insofar as the New Testament and our Christian faith is concerned, I am reminded of a certain incident that we find in the Gospel of John, right after Jesus gave His "Eat my flesh, drink my blood" sermon:
"Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"
John 6:60-67, KJV
We also know that on the night of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, His followers also fled away in fear. I don't believe that the Apostles actually abandoned their faith in this particular instance. They simply did what most people would probably do when their life is threatened. Consider the following verses. As you can see, this event was in fact a fulfilled prophecy that is found in the Book of Zechariah:
"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones."
Zechariah 13:7, KJV
"Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples . . . But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."
Matthew 26:31-35, 56, KJV
"And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all . . . And they all forsook him, and fled."
Mark 14:27-31, 50, KJV
As I said, this was not an apostasy in the truest sense of the word. As we all know, the Apostles may have fled in fear that night, but once they were empowered by the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, they boldly carried the Gospel far and wide in obedience to Jesus' own directive.
If we want to talk about a true apostasy, we merely have to look at our modern day. An apostasy is clearly evident all around us. It can be observed in our governments, in our religious institutions, in our public school systems, in the various forms of mass media and entertainment industries, -- including the Internet and the World Wide Web -- and in the absence of moral values being taught in our homes. In many quarters we are seeing a steady decline in faith in God and in His Holy Word, which has had a direct effect on the world around us.
As I point out in articles such as "Science and Technology: The Forbidden Knowledge?", many people are transforming from being spiritually motivated creatures, to being creatures of invention, modern science, and technological wonders. So many have replaced their faith in the One True God, with faith in themselves and humanity's abilities to manipulate the world around us. Many people have lost respect for the sacredness of life, which has resulted in a massive increase in crime and violence, in the destruction and loss of both flora and fauna, in the pollution of our water, land and air, and even in evil man defining what constitutes human life and what doesn't. In short, man is playing "God", deciding who should live, and who should die; even for the unborn who don't have a say in the matter.
For modern Christians, perhaps the most evident sign of this ongoing apostasy can be found in the attitudes of the people we deal with in our daily lives as we try to remain faithful to the Lord by sharing His Word with others. A few verses which come to mind which clearly reflect the mentality of our current times are the following:
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
Romans 1:28-32, KJV
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
2 Peter 3:3-4, KJV
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
2 Timothy 3:1-5, KJV
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:"
Ephesians 4:17-18, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
"There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Romans 3:11-18, KJV
Allow me to clarify that in the previous verses where the phrase "last days" is used, the Apostles Peter and Paul are not referring to our current times, despite what many of my Christian brethren have been led to believe. As I point out in articles such as the series "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?", they are in fact referring to the final days and years of that particular Prophetic Age in which they lived. According to my understanding, that age lasted for about four hundred and ninety years, and began when the the Prophet Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" prophecy began to be fulfilled not quite five hundred years before the time of Christ. Please refer to that series for more details.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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