the "last days"
For more commentary on the epistles of John,
see "are you saved?"
Most churches have a problem with the prophecies of the Great Apostasy.
To explain away the awkward prophecies, they have invented
a character called "the antichrist". Any
uncomfortable scriptures are piled onto this mythical person
and said to be "still in the future". The Bible
does use the word "antichrist", but look what it
- 1 John 2:18: Little children, it is
the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall
come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we
know that it is the last time.
"Antichrist shall come"? What does he mean?
- 1 John 4:3: And every spirit that
confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is
not of God: and this is that spirit of
antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come;
and even now already is it in the world.
So "Antichrist who will come" refers to those
people (plural) who denied Christ, beginning in the first
century. What could be clearer?
- 1 John 2:22: Who is a liar but he
that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist,
that denieth the Father and the Son.
- 2 John 1:7: For many deceivers are
entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ
is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an
Those are the only four times that the word
"antichrist" appears in the Bible. Yet despite what
John says, many people believe that Antichrist is one
individual to come in the last days. Where do they get that
idea? A clearer example of opposing the scriptures is hard to
imagine. As one non-LDS commentator observed, the reason they
invented the antichrist theory was that
"It has the convenient advantage of not admitting of
being tested in actual history". Because once we
do look in actual history, the fulfillment of all the
"antichrist", "beast" and
"horn" scriptures becomes clear.
||How the single
"Antichrist" theory was invented
Quotations are from the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary.
- The second century was a time
of speculation and numerous false theories.
When the apostles died, the church lacked direction.
Extreme ideas were more common, and apocalyptic
literature was popular. This happens whenever prophecy
ceases. When the prophets are dead, the believers need
something to cling on to. Great apocalyptic theories are
a sign of apostasy. The last time that people had this
great interest in theories of a single Antichrist was in
the previous major apostasy - after the deaths of the Old
Testament prophets. The inter-Testament period was the
golden age of apocalyptic literature. Apocryphal texts
appeared that focused on great battles between good and
evil. When people were thinking of great and exciting
events, they were not thinking of the real
tragedy. The real tragedy was..."
The Cessation of Prophecy. Throughout these times of
unparalleled evil God did not speak to explain this
historical enigma. The voice of prophecy was stilled. No
prophet appeared to announce "Thus saith the
Lord" and to interpret to the afflicted people of
God the riddle of the suffering of the righteous. The
apocalypses arose out of this milieu to provide an
explanation of the sufferings of the righteous and the
delay of the kingdom of God. "
- When the apostasy scriptures were fulfilled, the
churches didn't like it.
The idea of a single antichrist owes its revival
to the Spanish Jesuit, Ribera. He was writing in the year
1591. This was when the Protestants had begun to realise
that the 1260 "days" of prophecy referred to
the church in the dark ages. The Catholic church did not
like this being pointed out. So Ribera invented the idea
of a final tribulation yet to come. It
became very convenient to take any unwanted apostasy
prophecy, and dump it on the imaginary Mr. Antichrist.
- Without prophecy, Bible scholars sometimes jump
Since one of Daniel's many horns represented a person
(Alexander, the great horn of Grecia), some people assume
that a horn is always a person, and thus the
little horn is a person too. This ignores everything the
Bible says about horns - horns mean power, not people.
This is discussed in the pages on horns and kings, and
- Then Darby came
- Pagan elements are introduced.
Academics sometimes attempt to trace the gospel to pagan
sources, and this adds to the 'single antichrist' myth. "W. Bousset, Antichrist Legend,
holds that the battle of Antichrist and God stems from
the Babylonian legend of Marduk's struggle with
- Without prophecy, Bible scholars get confused.
There is confusion between the apocryphal
references to Satan and the New Testament references to
antichrists. In the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, "Belial (Beliar) is personified as a
satanic spirit. The "lawless one" (II Thess.
2:8) has been connected with Beliar, which rabbinic
tradition interpreted as 'without yoke' (beli'ol), i.e.,
refusing the law's yoke. This connection seems
strengthened by the LXX translation of belial by
paranomos, 'lawbreaker' (Deut. 13:13, etc.). However,
though Paul's description may partially reflect the
Beliar tradition, he distinguishes Beliar from the
lawless one: Beliar is a synonym of Satan (II Cor. 6:15),
while Satan and the lawless one are differentiated (II
- Naturalistic elements are introduced.
Academics sometimes attempt to trace the gospel
to local conditions. In II Thessalonians. 2:1-4 , "His (Paul's) model may have been
the blasphemous emperor Gaius (A.D. 37-41)."
But Paul's listeners knew that he did not refer to Rome (see discussion of 2 Thess. 2 here)
- And thus we have the evolution of the full blown
idea of a single person called
"Antichrist" - an idea that does not appear in
the Bible, yet is believed by a perhaps majority of
Days" and the New Testament
The Bible is quite plain about the last days of the world.
After New Testament times there was to be a great apostasy
(see 7 proofs of the apostasy). The
worst part was to last 1260 years, and
finally the church would triumph in the last days. Yet some
people try to say that the last days started 2000 years ago.
Why? Because if that was the last era of the world, there
could not be another one (see NIV footnote to 1 John 2:18).
By twisting just that one concept, they have an excuse to
reject the apostasy and all further prophets.
Why the "last days" of the
world did not begin in New Testament times
The idea that the last days of the world started in New
Testament times is plainly absurd, for a number of reasons:
- First, according to the Bible, the New Testament was
written around 4000 years after Adam (we won't examine
that right now), and the world has gone on for almost another 2000 years
already. So by no stretch of the imagination does the New
Testament count as the very last days of scriptural
history - more like the middle. Unless of course you
believe that God has given no new revelations to man
since then, in which case that was the end for you.
- Second, the various "last days of the world"
prophecies were not fulfilled in New Testament times (the
sun darkened, moon turned to blood, etc.). As for the the
final triumph of God's people, the catholic church in the
middle ages tried to claim that it fulfilled those
prophecies. I will leave the reader to judge whether the
Dark Ages constituted the final millennial reign of
Christ - or exactly the opposite.
- Third, both the Old and the New Testament make clear that
a complete apostasy would occur before the triumph of the
saints and the last days of the world (see below).
||Scriptures that the
traditional churches use
It may be helpful to look at the verses that are always
cited whenever someone wants to claim that the last days of
the world began thousands of years ago:
Acts 2:17 mentions the last days
The context of a prophecy is always important. Here Peter
is speaking at the day of Pentecost, when people received the
spirit and prophesied. Others accused these people of being
drunk. So the issue here is not whether or not this was the
last days, but whether or not it was appropriate to see
visions and prophesy. So Peter responded by quoting a
scripture that said God's servants would do the same thing -
therefore the actions cannot be evil. Peter made clear that
the prophecy referred to a future date by also quoting
the next few verses, regarding the sun being darkened and the
moon turning to blood.
Hebrews 1:2 and 1 Peter 1:20 and
someone's last (i.e. recent) days
Here we have another example of looking for hidden
meanings when there are none. The Bible is simple! Why must
we make it more complicated? Some people seem to think that
"last days" is always a code word for "last
days out of the entire life span of the world". But why?
"Last" is just an ordinary word, and "last
days" is an ordinary term. Why must we make the Bible
What gives the word "last" its meaning is the
context. For example, my last few days were spent at work.
But they are not my last days before I die (I hope)! My last
meal was two hours ago, but that does not mean it was the
last meal of my whole life! So the context reveals the
meaning of "last". In the scriptures cited, both
writers are looking backwards over their history, so
"the last days" simply means "the most recent
1 John 2:18 and the last hour
John warns that antichrists are coming, and that is how
they know it is "the last hour". I will use NIV
translation and notes here, since it is the NIV that boldly
claims that this verse refers to the last hour of the world.
Why the world? Is John talking about the world? No, John is
talking about antichrists. When we look a little more at the
context, the meaning becomes tragically clear.
John was writing in the last years before the end of the
first century and the loss of the last apostle. For how the
church coped (or rather, did not cope) in the second century,
without leadership, see seven proofs of
the Great Apostasy.
||The tragic final books
of the New Testament
John was the last surviving apostle. His epistles were
written very late in his life, according to the NIV. (Many
commentaries date them after the book of Revelation.)
These were the very last writings of the New Testament before
the heavens were closed for over a thousand years.
John could see the apostasy coming. He had warned of it
with the most powerful language possible in his Revelation.
These three tiny epistles are the last desperate plea from
the last apostle before the lights went out. Just read them
to see the tragic plight of the church:
- 1 John 1: John emphasizes his authority
(why does he need to?), tells people not to allow any
darkness into their faith (shouldn't that be obvious?),
and indicates that the saints refuse to see that they
- 1 John 2: it seems that people are claiming to
follow Jesus without doing what he says, they are hating
their brothers and loving the world. Then the warning
about antichrists. Again and again in these epistles he
pleads with people to remember what they learned from the
- 1 John 3: faith promoting messages of what could
be; warnings about being led astray. Throughout this
epistle, John feels he must keep on returning to the most
basic teaching of all - they need to be reminded again
and again even to love each other.
- 1 John 4: it seems that false spirits are a
problem. He feels it necessary to give reasons for the
church members to love each other.
- 1 John 5: again he reminds members that if they
call themselves Christians they must do what Jesus said.
He concludes by asking the members to help those who
begin to fall away, and he states that the whole world is
under the control of the evil one. And his last words?
"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."
- 2 John: A letter to an individual. John has great
joy that "some of" her children are
walking in the truth (is this so unusual?). Much of the
epistle, as usual, is a warning against antichrists and
those who call themselves Christians but are not.
- 3 John: A letter to an individual who is praised
for his faithfulness. But we learn that someone else in
his church not only is living an un-Christian life, but
has enough standing in the church to put all the
true Christians out of the church.
John's last epistles - conclusion
What is happening to the churches?? Both of his final
letters end with John saying that he must speak in person.
John, you will recall, is elderly. Travel is not easy. What
is the message that is so serious that he cannot write it
down? It cannot be the message of hope and love - he has
already written that. He puts the best slant on his reasons
("that our joy may be full" - 2 John 12), but his
actions speak louder than his words.
No wonder he referred to that period as "the last
hour" before the coming antichrists. These three short
epistles are among the most poignant, and sad, books that I
have ever read.
What this means
So the New Testament times were not the last days of the
world. Which means that they did not fulfil all the
"last days" prophecies regarding Jesus and his
church. Which meant that another final dispensation was still
to come. This should be familiar to anyone who has read Daniel chapter 2.
So what happened in the meantime? Between the first coming
of Jesus and the last days of the world? History would
suggest that the original Christian church died, and the
world fell into a Dark Age. But is that what the Bible said
would happen before the final triumph of the saints?
The great apostasy
History shows that after the apostles died, the Christian
church slowly declined, and declined, and declined... did the
Bible prophesy of this? Did it indicate that the truth would
be lost, and have to be restored again ready for Jesus to
- A simple read through the New Testament epistles will
show that most of it was written to oppose the false
ideas that were spreading throughout the church (see for
example the epistles of John, discussed above). What
happened when the apostles all died and could no longer
correct these things?
- Why did Jesus pray that "thy kingdom come" if
it was already there (see Matthew 6:9-13)?
- Why, when the apostles asked for the signs of his Second
Coming, did Jesus immediately warn of deception and false
Christs - a topic he returned to again and again before
getting to the more familiar signs (see Matthew 24)?
- The apostles obviously did not want to send a negative
message, but they occasionally revealed that a falling
away had to happen before the coming of Christ (see 2
- Why did they speak of a coming restitution unless
important things were going to be lost (see Acts 3:21)?
- Why was John the Revelator so obsessed with Rome
(Daniel's last beast), if Rome
was just another persecutor? Rome was unique, and John
knew it. The Roman persecution, out of all the history of
the world, was the big one. The Roman persecution
succeeded where previous persecutions had failed.
Whichever way you look at it, the early Church was falling
from grace, and the prophets and apostles knew it.
the bottom line
After nearly 2000 years of apostasy, angels restored the gospel of Jesus
Christ in 1830. Are you on the side of the angels?