2Jo 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 antichrist. 1Jo 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. 1Jo 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. 1Jo 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.
God states that mankind is living in the ‘last time', the last era, the last dispensation, the last period of earth's history. Who or what is the Antichrist? It's in the Bible, 1 John 2:18 NIV. "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."
The original Greek word for ‘antichrist' can have two meanings. It can mean ‘against Christ', in the sense of someone or some power who opposes the work of Christ. Or alternatively, the word can mean ‘instead of Christ', signifying a person or power who ‘takes the place of Christ', or is a ‘counterfeit of Christ'. God says that in addition to the coming of a special Antichrist, there were many other antichrists already in existence during the era of the early church. It's in the Bible, 1 John 2:19 & 26 NIV. "They (the antichrists) 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…I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray."
According to God's Word, antichrists were counterfeit Christians who had split away from the body of true believers. They were liars who denied the Messiahship of Jesus. It's in the Bible, 1 John 2:22 NKJV. "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son." 2 John 1:7 NKJV, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
Antichrists are not atheists. They are not pagans waging a war against Jesus. They are individuals who are preaching a gospel, but it is not the true gospel. It is a ‘different gospel'. It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15 NIV. "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough…For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. Is it not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness."
Jesus cautioned the Church about the deceptive work of these counterfeit prophets. It's in the Bible, Matthew 7:15, 21-23 NAS. "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he 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 cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'"
Jesus further warned that during the period leading up to His Second Coming at the end of the Church age, antichrists would verily try to impersonate him, claiming to be the returned Messiah. It's in the Bible, Matthew 24:4, 5, 24-26 NIV. "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!' or, ‘There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So, if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it."
Just before the day of the Second Coming of Jesus, there will be a manifestation of the great and final Antichrist, the antichrist who ‘is to come'. It’s in the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 & 4 NIV. "Don't let any one deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."
What will happen to this Antichrist, and how will we recognize him? It's in the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 NIV. "And then the Lawless One will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the Lawless One will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved."