We continue our discussion on the antichrist from Steve Wohlberg’s book “End Time Delusions”.
The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. –Flannery O’Connor
Millions of Christians are now being taught that the antichrist will be some evil person who will rise into power outside of Christianity after the rapture. What if this idea is a horrible mistake? What if the antichrist rises up inside of Christianity before the Church is caught up to Christ? Because few would be looking for an antichrist within, can you imagine what kind of harm he could do? Hold onto your seats, for you are about to discover that Paul taught this very thing.
Paul wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [when Jesus comes to gather us – verse 1] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Almost everyone agrees these words predict the rise of the antichrist. What many have missed is that Paul is describing an antichrist that rises in the wake of “the falling away”. What does this mean? Once again, a little knowledge of Greek comes in handy. The original word Paul used for “the falling away”, is apostasia, which literally means an apostasy or departure from Jesus Christ inside the Christian Church. In fact, many versions of the New King James Bible place the heading “The Great Apostasy” right above 2 Thessalonians 2. As we are about to see, this “falling away” unquestionably takes place inside the church.
In the first century, the Christian Church remained relatively pure from heresy, false doctrine and open sin. With His cosmic perspective, God saw a change would come and He revealed this sober reality to the writers of the New Testament. A brief survey of the following Bible passages shows plainly that an apostasy, departure or “falling away” from Jesus Christ was predicted to occur inside of Christianity.
1. Acts 20: Paul told “the elders of the church” of Ephesus (vs. 17) that soon many false Christian leaders would rise up from among themselves to “draw away the disciples” after them (vs. 30). He was so burdened about this coming apostasy that he warned the church “night and day with tears” (vs. 31).
2. 1 Timothy 4: The Holy Spirit clearly warned that “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (vs. 1). Here again is a predicted departure from the faith inside the church.
3. 2 Timothy 4: Paul predicted a time would come when many in the church would no longer “endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside by fables” (vs. 3-4). Friend, there is no doubt about it. These words point toward an apostasy in the church that will lead professed Christians to turn from Bible truth to fictitious fables.
4. 2 Peter 2: Peter told the early believers that soon “there will be false teachers among you” (vs. 1). “Among you” means inside the church.
5. Jude: After urging believers to contend earnestly for the original faith, Jude warned that “certain men” had already “crept in unnoticed” among them (vs. 4).
6. Revelation 2: Jesus Christ himself sadly told His followers in the Church of Ephesus, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” (vs. 4 & 5). These words are clear! Many Christians in the early church of Ephesus were falling away from their initial love for Jesus Christ, who died for them.
Thus we see Paul, Peter, Jude and Jesus Christ all passionately concerned about a “falling away”, which means an apostasy, occurring inside the Christian Church. We might compare this apostasy to a disease entering a portion of the human body. As a result, a malignant cancer finally develops. The shocking reality is that God’s Word has predicted a similar disease-like condition would eventually overtake a large portion of Christianity. According to 2 Thessalonians 2, as a direct result of this unhappy condition, a diabolical spiritual cancer would rise up.
Paul called this cancer, “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
We call him antichrist.