I have a few questions regarding Preterism’s view 1 John 2:18-29, 4:1-4. My questions are:
Question: What is John referring to when he says "the Antichrist is coming"? (1 John 1:18–2:18) Who is this person?
Response: There are several first century candidates for this person (personage). I recommend John Bray’s little book on the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians. I think he does a very good job identifying some of the potential characters.
It is important that we recognize that even if we today do not know the actual name of that person, that we can know for certain, based on John’s emphatic words, that he was already alive and present– as had been prophesied!
Question: What does John mean by the phrase "many antichrists have come"? (1 John 1:18) Who are these people?
Response: I think that these people go back to Jesus’ prediction in the Olivet Discourse, where he said "Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he.’" (Luke 21:8). Very clearly, they were claiming to be the Christ! And, John said the very ones predicted to come, were present.
Question: What does John mean by the phrase "spirit of the antichrist"? ( 1 John 4:3) Who or what is this spirit?
Response: As I understand it, the "spirit" of the antichrist was the spirit of the rebellion against the real Christ, claiming that Christ had not come in the flesh, as the Jews did. They refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ.
Question: Is there a difference between "the Antichrist is coming", "many antichrists have come" and "the spirit of antichrist"?
Response: I fail to see any substantive difference between these. There may be this, and this alone, and that is that there may have been one person that exemplified and personified the rebellion against Christ– again, see Bray’s book– but, that does not mean that the antichrist belongs to one period of time in history while the antichrists and the spirit of antichrist belongs to another time in history. These are all synchronous ideas, persons and events. This is especially true in 1 John where he is so emphatic about the then present reality of the ones that had been foretold.
Question: Is "the Antichrist" referred to in 1 John the same person that Paul calls "man of sin", "son of perdition" and "lawless one"? (1 Thess 2:3-9).
Response: I see no reason for denying that assocation. And notice that like John says the predicted antichrists were present, Paul said the restrainer was actively restraining the man of sin when he wrote Thessalonians! The contemporary, to Paul and John, nature of these events simply should not be overlooked, or denied.
Question: Is "the Antichrist" found in 1 John the same person that John calls "the Beast" in Revelation 13:1-7?
Response: Very possibly so, and I see no overwhelming reason to deny that connection, although there are some who do draw a distinction between them. One thing that is particularly intriguing is that there are some things in Revelation that point to the beast as actually being Jewish. I am not settled on that, but there are some intriguing things present nonetheless that I think are worthy of investigation. Likewise, I see the antichrists as belonging to the Jewish world.
Question: From a Preterist perspective, is the "spirit of antichrist" active today?
Response: No. those prophecies were fulfilled in the first century, as several things demand:
1.) Jesus emphatically said that his prediction of the false christs (antichrists), would be fulfilled in his generation.
2.) Paul said the man of sin was already at work, and already being restrained. He was already alive.
3.) John said the prophesied and predicted antichrists were present.
4.) John also said that his prophecy of the beast was to be fulfilled shortly, "for the time is at hand."
There is therefore, no justification for saying that "the antichrist is alive somewhere in Europe today" or similar statements and claims. These claims are in outright denial of the inspired scriptures so far as I can determine.
Question: Lastly, is it possible for you to discuss "Antichrist" on John Anderson’s radio program, Voice of Reason? Looking forward to clarification for the above questions.
Response: I will make this suggestion to John, the host. I think it would make for a good program, and appreciate the suggestion.