, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Revelation 1:8 records Jesus saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  J. Preston Eby has a teaching series on the Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ called “From the Candlestick to the Throne” and Part Ten is entitled “Who Is and Was and Is to Come”.  In Part Ten, Mr. Eby shares a different interpretation of 1 John 4:1-4.  Mr. Eby begins in 1 John 2:22-23: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”  Mr. Eby states 1 John 4 is an elaboration of these verses and says:

“These verses have a deeper meaning!  They are not speaking of the fact of Jesus Christ having lived on earth as a man.  Almost anyone will admit that!  But the profound truth which all of popular religion has missed, is the fact of the Christ actually coming into this flesh, my flesh, your flesh, and becoming an eternal and inseparable part of us!  Millions confess Him who was, but very few in this dark age confess Him who is!…“…ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the antichrists): because GREATER IS HE THAT I-S IN YOU (your flesh), THAN HE THAT I-S IN THE WORLD” (I Jn. 4:3-4).”1

I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction when I read this.  The spirit of Antichrist?  In churches?  In me?  Is such a thing possible?  Years ago I read studies on the book of Revelation which taught the Rapture and The Antichrist.  Further study had me looking at how John used the word “antichrist” in his letter and I learned it had to mean more than an Antichrist rising in the last days because there were already “many antichrists” when John wrote his letter (1 John 2:18).  There was nothing I could find that suggests John was writing about a period of time thousands of years in the future.  Therefore, he was aware of many antichrists at work while he was alive and writing and his letter makes clear how to recognize these spirits. 

I haven’t looked at, or really thought about these passages in 1 John in years; not until they surfaced in my mind after listening to the video.  This along with Mr. Eby’s interpretation made me think I need to take another look at what the spirit of antichrist really means and what John meant when he said to “test the spirits”.

The Dictionary of New Testament Theology says, “the prep. anti originally meant “in the place of” and then “against”.2   Another source stated: “Antichristos can mean either against Christ or instead of Christ, or perhaps, combining the two, “one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ’ (Westcott)” Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament has, “Antichrist: it may mean one who stands against Christ or one who stands instead of Christ…John never uses the word pseudochristos false Christ. While the false Christ is merely a pretender to the Messianic office, the Antichrist “assails Christ by proposing to do or to preserve what He did while denying Him.”4

I looked up anti in my Webster’s and found: “Anti: a person opposed to some policy, proposal, action etc.,…opposed; against facing, opposite, near, against, hostile to 2. That counteracts, that operates against, 3. That prevents, cures, or neutralizes”. Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “The Greek preposition ‘anti, in composition, sometimes denotes substitution, taking the place of another; hence, “false Christ.”  The connection in which the word is used appears to import opposition, covert rather than avowed, with a professed friendliness.”6

Mr. Eby also writes, “Would God that Christians could be awakened to the glory of Him who is!…Truly, Christ in us is our only hope of glory!  HE IS the glory!  But antichrist will hear of no such hope of glory.  His hope does not rest wholly in the Christ within, but in his own ability and works, his own faithfulness or endurance.  He is cluttered about with laws, regulations, creeds, ordinances, observances, rituals, ceremonies, programs, traditions, and religious exercises of this order and that, all of which are designed to assure his right standing with God.  He is thus denying the Father and the Son, for the living Christ alone is not his life!”7

I think I understand what Mr. Eby is saying and I cannot disagree.  I’ve experienced a neutralized Christian life inside religious systems.  I have been in places where I was offered “in the place of”: program involvement, more Bible reading, more prayer, etc.  I knew Jesus lived in me: He’d come into my heart when I first believed and said the sinner’s prayer.  I could rest assured I would escape judgement and hell and would go to heaven when I died.  Until then, I was to attend a church and, if my life was a barren, dusty, thirsty place…there wasn’t an answer for that.  Where were the fountains of living waters the Spirit was supposed to be to me?

I cannot remember attending a church where the message was Jesus is my life NOW!  Christ, in me, my hope of Glory!  I think the reason for that is I rarely heard about the Holy Spirit.  I’d been baptized in the Holy Spirit but now I was on my own.  Nobody taught me exactly why I’d been baptized in the Spirit except now I could pray in tongues and that’s how I was supposed to pray when I couldn’t think of my own words.  There had to be something more.  How I thank God for the discontent that drove me to keep searching for the life the writers of the New Testament insisted I could have, the life Jesus promised I could have!  No rules and regulations: relationship with the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit.  Eternal life.  (See John 17:3) 

Is this sidelining of the Holy Spirit the spirit of antichrist?  I don’t know.  I’ve always believed the spirit of antichrist was a deliberate denial of Jesus Christ and I never experienced that.  On the contrary; I knew earnest, seeking people who loved Jesus.  Only, no one seemed to expect anything in Christ beyond what we had.  It’s a subject I’ll have to study more but it does bring me to my third litmus test: what is being said about the Holy Spirit?  More specifically, what is being said about His work in the lives of believers NOW!  It is a sad fact but this third test is where I find I cannot follow a teacher.  In Galatians 5:25, Paul says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  To which I add a resounding Amen.

  1. Eby, Preston J., Kingdom Bible Studies, From the Candlestick to the Throne, Who Is and Was and Is to Come, Part 10
  2. Brown, Colin, Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 1., Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1975, Antichrist, Page 124
  3. Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, Pages 53-54
  4. Vincent, Marvin R., D.D., Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament Volume II, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1 John, Page 337
  5. Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, William Collins + The World Publishing company, 1976, Page 59 
  6. Unger, Merrill F., Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1982, Page 68
  7. Eby, Preston J., Kingdom Bible Studies, From the Candlestick to the Throne, Who Is and Was and Is to Come, Part 10