The teaching of the Antichrist, as described in the writings of Saint John, holds a prominent place in Christian eschatology. From a traditional Catholic viewpoint, Saint John’s portrayal of the Antichrist serves as a warning and a call to discernment, emphasizing the contrast between Christ’s truth and the forces of deception.
Point 1: The Spirit of Antichrist
Saint John introduces the concept of the “spirit of Antichrist,” signifying a presence that opposes Christ. St. Augustine remarks, “It was necessary that the name Antichrist should be understood in a twofold sense, to wit, as one who denies that Jesus is the Christ; and as one who denies that Jesus is come in the flesh.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 1 John 2:22 (Douay-Rheims), John writes, “Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son.”
Point 2: Proliferation of Antichrists
Saint John reveals that there are “many Antichrists” even during his time, individuals embodying the spirit of deception and opposition to Christ. As St. Jerome elucidates, “The Antichrist is one; yet there are many Antichrists.” (Commentary on 1 John, 2.18) In 1 John 2:18 (Douay-Rheims), John affirms, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.”
Point 3: The Deception of False Prophets
Saint John warns of false prophets who propagate falsehoods and mislead believers. St. Augustine notes, “They shall not merely deny the advent of Christ in the flesh, but shall also affirm that they themselves are Christ.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 1 John 4:1 (Douay-Rheims), John advises, “Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Point 4: Testing the Spirits
Saint John emphasizes the importance of discernment in recognizing the true teachings of Christ and discerning false ideologies. As St. Augustine writes, “That He Himself is Christ who was promised to come, and that He is now come in the flesh.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 1 John 4:3 (Douay-Rheims), John states, “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.”
Point 5: Embracing Love and Truth
Saint John emphasizes that believers must stand firm in love and truth, rejecting the spirit of the Antichrist. St. Augustine reflects, “Whence it follows that he also denies the advent of the Lord in the flesh; but how this is done, we shall discover in the sequel.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 2 John 1:7 (Douay-Rheims), John admonishes, “For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a seducer and an Antichrist.”
Saint John’s portrayal of the Antichrist, viewed through a traditional Catholic perspective, offers insights into the spiritual battle between truth and deception, light and darkness. John’s doctrine of the Antichrist is not limited to his epistles. We now turn to his apocalypse which goes deeper into the role of the Antichrist as the Beast of the Sea who serves the Dragon (Satan). John links the imagery of Daniel and Ezekiel with that of Jesus Christ in the final Book of the Apocalypse. This includes the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of plagues, and the New Jerusalem. Let’s open the seals.