Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2:18-19)

John warns us that in the last hour many antichrists would appear. Today we may be living in that last hour. Where and who then are the “many antichrists” who came out from us and about whom John is warning us? If we look around at the Church today with our present understanding we would have difficulty naming even a single one. It is likely therefore that they are already here but the Church has failed to recognize them. Let us seek to understand how we might discover the many antichrists who according to John are in our midst during these last days.

Let’s look at what New Testament Greek scholars tell us about antichrists.

Strong’s Concordance

antichristos: antichrist, (one who opposes Christ)

Original Word: ἀντίχριστος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transliteration: antichristos
Phonetic Spelling: (an-tee’-khris-tos)
Short Definition: antichrist
Definition: antichrist, either one who puts himself in the place of, or the enemy (opponent) of the Messiah.

According to Strong’s above, an antichrist can be “one who puts himself in the place of the Messiah” or Christ.  Christ, of course, literally means “anointed one.” Therefore an antichrist can be one who puts himself in the place of the one and only Anointed One—our Lord Jesus Christ. According to New Testament Scripture, only Jesus Christ alone is anointed to save, heal, or deliver us.

HELPS Word-Studies

500 antíxristos (from 473 /antí, “opposite to, in place of” and 5547 /Xristós, “Christ”) – properly, opposite to Christ; someone acting in place of (against) Christ;Antichrist.”

According to HELPS Word-Studies above, an antichrist can be someone acting in place of—or effectively “against”—Christ, who is the one and only Anointed One. This accords exactly with Strong’s defnition.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

ἀντίχριστος  …The name ὁ ἀντίχριστος was formed perhaps by John, the only writer in the N. T. who uses it (five times); he employs it of the corrupt power and influence hostile to Christian interests, especially that which is at work in false teachers who have come from the bosom of the church and are engaged in disseminating error: 1 John 2:18 (where the meaning is, ‘what ye have heard concerning Antichrist, as about to make his appearance just before the return of Christ, is now fulfilled in the many false teachers, most worthy to be called antichrists…’

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon amplifies the meaning of antichrist as false teachers within the Church engaged in disseminating error. They make their appearance just before the return of Christ, which we believe is now at hand. John’s warning “is now fulfilled in the many false teachers, most worthy to be called antichrists.”

Who are these false teachers in our midst who are most worthy to be called antichrists? Let us merge what we have learned from Strong’s, HELPS, and Thayer above. The false teachers within the Church today are those who put themselves in the place of or act in place of (and therefore effectively “against,” regardless of their intent) the one and only Anointed One, the Messiah Jesus Christ. It is essential here to note that in the Greek the word “Christ” literally means “Anointed” or “Anointed One.” Exactly what was Jesus anointed to do?

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

With this declaration, Jesus claimed to be the one and only Savior. He claimed to be the only one who was anointed, meaning of course, anointed to save us from sin and grant us eternal life. What does the word “save” mean? The Greek word for “save” is sozo.

HELPS Word-studies

4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sinand into His provisions(safety). 

(sṓzō) is the root of: sōtḗr (“Savior”), sōtēría (“salvation”) and the adjectival form, sōtḗrion (what is “saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety“).

The Greek term sozo is used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin—through Christ of course. Of great significance, sozo is the root of the Greek words for Savior (sōtḗr) and salvation (sōtēría). Therefore the word sozo (“save”) is properly used to refer to something only Jesus Christ could do. Only Jesus was anointed, that is, anointed to save. Of course Jesus also healed the sick and cast out demons, but the overwhelming purpose behind these miracles was to prove to the Jews that He was in fact the Christ, the Anointed One (John 20:30-31, Mark 2:10-11) who had authority to forgive sin and therefore give us life (Greek zoe which is derived from sozo). Christ was anointed to save sinners.

But the false teachers within the Church claim to have the anointing or to be anointed to minister to others in the place of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, in His name. This runs counter to New Testament Scripture which nowhere teaches that servants of God have such an anointing—an anointing which enables them to minister to others. According to this teaching, there is not simply just one Christ, that is, only One who is anointed to minister to us. Others are also anointed to minister to God’s people in His name. In New Testament Scripture, however, no one other than our Lord Jesus Christ is anointed to minister to others—whether healing, deliverance, or salvation. According to HELPS, by claiming to have this anointing to minister in place of Christ they are effectively acting against the ONE and ONLY Anointed One, the Messiah Jesus Christ—the ONLY way to the Father. This effectively makes them antichrists—or false christs. 

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)

For many shall come in my name, saying, “I am christ” (literally “I am anointed”); and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:5)

The false christs in our midst of course likely do not claim to have the anointing to save us. But the theme of salvation from sin and death is inextricably embedded in the purpose for the anointing which was upon the Christ. Therefore we must be careful about claiming to have “the anointing.” We must also exercise cautious discernment toward servants of God who claim to have an anointing to minister to others, albeit in impressive, supernatural fashion. Some of them (not necessarily all) might be among the “many antichrists” which John prophesied have already come to lead us astray. In their hearts they will likely be sincere.

False “signs and wonders to deceive the very elect”?

Two conclusions

Our first conclusion is that the anointing is not meant for imperfect human beings, but rather only for sinless deity. Consider the sin that toward the end eventually infiltrated the lives of the God-anointed Israelite kings Saul, David and Solomon. Consider what happened even to the perfectly-created being Lucifer—anointed in the beginning as a guardian cherub.

“Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (Ezekiel 28:12-17)

Is it possible that the anointing eventually results in pride within imperfect servants of God?

Our second conclusion is that the anointing claimed by antichrists in our midst is not from God at all, but from the enemy. With the false anointing the false christs perform powerful signs and wonders to deceive even the elect. Moreover, the two conclusions we’ve made here are not mutually exclusive. Some servants of God in our midst might have an anointing from God, albeit one not meant for weak human beings which can bring pride and eventual downfall. Other servants of God might have a false anointing from the enemy which is even more dangerous for them as we see in Jesus’ warning to such servants in Matthew 7:23 when he says to them, “I never knew you.” Whatever the case, we should not covet “the anointing.” There are other ways by which we can serve God powerfully and fruitfully. (For more on this, download our Powerpoint Presentation The Anointing Revisited.) 

Exactly what anointing do we believers have?

Believers do have an anointing from the Holy One, but not the kind the antichrists and false teachers claim to have. In his epistle John goes on to write:

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. (1 John 2:20-22a)

Firstly, believers have an anointing from the Holy One to know the truth. The liar or the antichrist is the one who denies that Jesus is the one and only Christ or Anointed one. (The literal meaning of “Christ” is “Anointed” or “Anointed One.”) The liar also claims to be anointed just as Christ was anointed, to have “the anointing.”

Such a person is the antichrist–denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22b-23)

Anyone who denies that Jesus is the one and only Anointed One also denies the Father. He is an antichrist.

As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us–eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 1 John 2:24-26)

What did the recipients of John’s epistle hear “from the beginning?” Among other things, they never heard about any anointing given to them to minister to others like the anointing given to the Son of God to save, to heal, to deliver, to make well or whole. There is no such teaching with regard to believers in the entire New Testament. The current teaching on “the anointing” in certain streams of the Church has arisen only within the last few decades. “From the beginning” the teaching has been that only Jesus was anointed to heal, deliver, and save; and therefore He alone was the only way to the Father. Today we must seriously heed the warning John gave about the antichrists who are trying to lead us astray. As is the case with some false prophets, they are likely sincere in what they believe and are not even aware that they are leading people into deception.

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:27)

Yes, believers have received a real anointing which teaches us about all things, and we do not need false “anointed” servants of God to teach us about “the anointing.” That anointing is counterfeit. Instead, let us remain in the One and Only Anointed One, the Messiah Jesus Christ. Secondly, aside from the anointing taught in 1 John 2, the only other anointing given to New Testament believers is that which is God’s seal of ownership on us, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). According to New Testament Scripture there is no other anointing on believers aside from the two mentioned here.

An unscriptural focus on “the anointing” has led to extreme practices like “grave-sucking” (or “grave-soaking”) to name just one. In “grave-sucking” thirsty believers will visit cemeteries to lie on top of graves where departed servants of God have been interred in order to suck “the anointing” from their remains. Those who teach and practice grave-sucking are likely among the deceptive false teachers mentioned by the apostle John—despite the impressive signs and wonders which appear to accompany such false prophets.

Why you should be discerning regarding “the anointing”

“Watch out for false prophets.
They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:15-23)

What about the false prophets and antichrists in 1 John 4?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

The test of a false prophet or the spirit of the antichrist is therefore whether or not they acknowledge that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”

Here let us apply the same reasoning we used above in 1 John 2. “Christ” means literally “Anointed” or “Anointed One.” Of course there is only ONE true Christ or Anointed One. Again, Matthew 24 teaches that there will however arise “false christs” or “false anointed ones” who shall show great signs and wonders to deceive even the very elect. We have been forewarned.

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)

Who are these false christs or false anointed ones whose ministry is accompanied by great miracles?

They are false prophets in our midst who claim to be anointed to minister to others with signs and wonders just like our Lord Jesus Christ when He came in the flesh as a human being 2,000 years ago. By claiming also to be anointed in this way, they are acknowledging that Jesus was not the only human being who was anointed. These men and women who are presently “in the flesh” also claim to be anointed to minister supernaturally as Jesus did. 

In this they therefore do not acknowledge “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” that the man Jesus is not the only Christ, not the only Anointed One—that is, the only One anointed to save. Rather, they claim to be anointed as Jesus was. In effect they claim to be “christ.” They are therefore false prophets, false christs and antichrists.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am christ (literally “I am anointed”); and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:5)

According to New Testament Scripture, believers can in fact do the works that Jesus did in fulfillment of John 14:12 not through “the anointing,” but rather with the power and authority over infirmities and demons He entrusted to us by His Spirit who now dwells in us (Luke 9:1-2).