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God’s Word for You

Mark 13:21-25 The Antichrist

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, August 22, 2023

21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false Christs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that could be possible. 23 So be on your guard. I have told you everything in advance.

“False Christs” includes the sort of imposters that have appeared over the centuries. Rhys Evans, a Welsh prophet, renamed himself “Arise Evans” and was arrested in London for impersonating Jesus Christ. He spent the last ten years of his life in Newgate Prison. About a century later, a woman named Ann Lee claimed she was “the female incarnation of Christ on Earth.” She became one of the early leaders of the Shakers.

But then there is the Antichrist. The Antichrist is a whole series of “false Christs” and false prophets who do many things to deceive the elect—if the elect allow themselves to be deceived. The signs of the Antichrist are presented mostly in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.

  1. The Antichrist is clearly a religious teacher at work from inside the Christian Church. (2 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 John 2:22; 2 John 1:7). Many religious teachers have pursued their own interests rather than the kingdom of God.
  2. The span of the Antichrist’s time stretches from Paul’s day until the end of the world. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-11; 1 John 2:18). This tells us that Antichrist is not one individual, but a series of individuals spread over a very long time. They all meet the marks of Antichrist, therefore they each exalt themselves above Christ, they each lead people away from the truth, etc.
  3. There will be a falling away from the truth through the Antichrist’s preaching. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5; 2 John 1:7). This warning leads us to dive back into the truth, into the word of God. How sad it is when people come to us for help and to join our fellowship, and they tell us that in their former very large church body they were never encouraged to study or even to read the word of God, but instead to say prayers to the dead!
  4. The Antichrist will exalt himself as equal to God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). We have heard men say, “It is absolutely necessary for salvation for every human being to be subject to one single holy father on earth.” What is shocking is that when such a man said that about one hundred years before Luther’s time, no leader in his church ever overruled him or challenged his statement, right down to the present day.
  5. This opposition to Christ was at work when Paul was alive, but God was holding it back from working openly. (2 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 John 4:3). Many things held this work back in ancient times. The Roman Emperors opposed the Christian Church for a long time, until the vacancy of their power allowed the power-hungry within the church to step in. Paul’s own mission work as well as the faithfulness of many congregations and of course Jesus himself opposed the work of this enemy for a long time.
  6. God would later permit it to work openly and be revealed as opposing God. (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3). This helps us to recognize this terrible office for what it is.
  7. Jesus will overthrow the Antichrist with his word. (2 Thessalonians 2:7). This is the gospel and also the justice of God. He will by no means allow the guilty to go unpunished (Nahum 1:3).
  8. When he comes again, Jesus will completely destroy the Antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7).
  9. Satan will support the Antichrist with false miracles to mislead many. (2 Thessalonians 2:9). This is a reminder that the devil is a powerful enemy, and that he can support a false teacher with works that appear miraculous. But such works will not truly aid the work of God in the world, yet they will deceive some.
  10. The Antichrist’s followers will deny the truth of salvation. (2 Thessalonians 2:10). In fact, they will support him with flawed reason, mis-applied Scripture, and conclusions drawn from books apart from the Scriptures.
  11. God will harden the Antichrist’s followers in the delusion that they are on the path of salvation when really they will be perishing. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). For any path that is not through Christ alone is the path to hell.

These are terrible signs. But there is still more:

24 “After the distress of those days, ‘the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light. 25 The stars will fall from the heavens, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’

The times will become dangerous for faith. The faith of many will be attacked, misled, misguided, and the Antichrist will confuse many people from within the church to actually fall away while they imagine that they are secure on account of his lies. However, those days will not last. The end will finally come, when even such things in the sky as the sun, moon, stars, planets, and what we think of as outer space, will disappear. What God created in the beginning will be uncreated, unmade, and destroyed into nothingness, at the last judgment.

We should not be confused by the ravings and mythology of unbelievers. Certain Jews—by no means all—claim that there will be other signs on the last day. From rivers of fire rising into the sky and animals gathering and talking together, as well as plants sweating blood, these things are not part of Scripture and must be dismissed by believers like bad poetry or a poorly-written movie.

Certain Christians have also chosen to add to the signs of the end times. They, too, are to be dismissed. One church father (Irenaeus) mused that the Antichrist would take his seat on a throne in Jerusalem just before the end. Some said and others still claim that the Holy Land will be conquered. Still others try to say that Enoch and Elijah will return to preach, despite the Lord’s own interpretation of Elijah’s return in Malachi 4:5 (see Matthew 11:14).

Today, Millennial Christians add the false hope that all of the Jews will be converted before the end, on account of Paul’s words in Romans 11:25-26. The Apostle says: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.” But what Paul concludes is that a remnant of the Jews will return to faith, being drawn back to God and to the true Israel, the Holy Christian Church, by the Gentiles and the gospel ministry. A problem with Millennials is that they base this part of their theology on the phrase “And then…” in Romans 11:26, but “then” is not an accepted definition for houtos (oὕτως), which draws a conclusion, “so, thus, consequently.”

Our Augsburg Confession states, “In these last times, of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm.” But our Savior has comfort and a promise for us: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Put your trust in Jesus your Savior. Do not fear terrible things. Keep your eyes focused on the cross and the salvation Jesus has already won for you. It is yours; it is a ticket already purchased by the blood of Jesus and you grasp it in the hands of your faith. You have a place with Jesus forever in heaven.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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