I received an email about some prophecy “expert” who knows who the antichrist and false prophet are. He says the current leader of Syria is the antichrist and the false prophet is the president of Iran.

How many times have you heard so-called prophets pontificating how they know who the antichrist is? Friends, this has been tried before. To rehearse the history would be redundant and embarrassing. Here are just a few examples from the 20th century:

There was Oswald J. Smith in 1926 who wrote in Is the Antichrist at Hand? that the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was the predicted antichrist. Smith outlined how he fit all the biblical characteristics. Smith had to take it all back when Mussolini was executed on April 28, 1945. Adolf Hitler was another antichrist candidate. He seemed like a perfect fit because of his desire for world conquest and his near elimination of European Jewry. Some conjectured that JFK might be the antichrist because of his mortal head wound. Salem Kirban wrote a book on how Henry Kissinger, “a man of peace,” might be the prophesied antichrist. Even Ronald Reagan was considered a viable antichrist candidate when someone pointed out that Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6) came out as 6–6–6. And it didn’t spoil the identification when he was nearly fatally injured in an assassination attempt.

I find it interesting that most of the prophetic prognosticators who claim they are in the know on the identity of the antichrist rarely deal with the passages that actually use the word “antichrist.” John is the only biblical writer to use the term, and it is clear of the “when” of antichrist:

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour (1 John 2:18).

John was telling HIS readers that it was the “last hour” for THEM, not some distant people thousands of years removed from the time he wrote his brief epistle. John’s point echoes that of Peter when he wrote, “The end of all things is NEAR; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Peter 4:7). It was “near” or “at hand” for HIS readers.

John clears up some of the confusion that is still with us today. There wasn’t just one antichrist. “Many antichrists HAVE appeared,” he corrects the recipients of his letter. It is the reality of this that John can tell his first-century readers, “from THIS we know that it IS the last hour.” Who are these antichrists? John continues:

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:19–22).

These antichrists were at one time part of the church. The definition of antichrist is clear: They deny that Jesus is the Christ and that He has a special relationship with the Father. We see the theme running through John’s gospel that Jesus and the Father are one (John 5:36–38; 10:25, 30). To deny this is to be an antichrist.

In his second epistle, John once again tells us the “when” of these antichrists and what identifies an antichrist: “For many deceivers HAVE GONE out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7).

So then, don’t be fooled by modern-day false prophets who claim to be in the know. This too will pass.