1) According to John 17:3, eternal life is to KNOW Jesus Christ, to make him the very first priority in one’s life. But the history of interpretation offers us an interesting paradox. Through the centuries, people have often been much more interested in knowing the Antichrist than in knowing the true Christ. Few other subjects have attracted as much attention and imagination from religious thinkers. So we need to keep this subject in balance if we wish to maintain spiritual health. The subject of Antichrist must be important or it wouldn’t be featured so centrally as it is in Revelation. On the other hand, it is not the one topic of supreme importance. That topic is Jesus Christ Himself. Antichrist is important because he seeks to take the place of Christ, to disguise him from the many who need eternal life. If we know him we can better avoid mis-readings of the gospel. Thus alongside the message of Christ, there is a valid place for study of the Antichrist, which we are attempting to do here. But such study needs to be kept in a subordinate place in comparison with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2) We have noticed that the Antichrist figure has worldwide impact and influence, especially at the end (Rev 13:7-8, 14,16). The final spiritual fraud will be global in extent. That means that no one will be excluded from the final test of true versus false worship. There will be no easy escape from the deceptions of the end. So it is important to be prepared; through study, prayer and self-distrust. But the sea beast will not stop with deception. When this does not achieve the desired results, he causes all who refuse to worship the image to be killed (Rev 13:15). He offers the attractive appeal: “Come with me, if you want to live.” Those who believe that the persecutions of the Middle Ages are forever gone, the future holds a big surprise. Those who live through those days will be the ones who do not love their lives even unto death (Rev 12:11).
3) When Antichrist seeks to deceive he does not put something bad in place of something good. That would no more be a good deception than attempting to buy good with play money. Instead, Antichrist seeks to replace the very best with something that is good in its proper place. A candle may give light in its proper place, but when lit on a sunny day it only creates a shadow.
For instance, obedience (personal righteousness) is a very good thing in its place. Obedience as a response to what God has done for us is a beautiful thing. Believers should live righteous, sober and godly lives by the Spirit (Titus 2:12; 1 John 3:7). But when our personal obedience is put in the place where God’s mighty saving actions should be, that is the theology of Antichrist. The basic error of the medieval church was to make obedience the root rather than the fruit of our salvation. All other errors, such as indulgences, veneration of the saints, and the change of the Sabbath were possible once the gospel itself was forgotten. Antichrist uses the good to undo the best.
In current evangelical thought and practice there are similar core distortions at times. What members of some churches want to know these days is not, “How can I please God?” but “How can God please me?” “How can church membership make my life radiantly happy, filled with success and contentment?” How quickly the words of Jesus are forgotten: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” And “whoever would save his life will lose it” (Mark 8:34-35, ESV). So as it was in John’s day, there are still many antichrists among us, and some of them don’t even realize it. And perhaps the antichrist that we should most fear is self.