The next time someone asks you if you think this or that person could be "the antichrist":
You might explain to them that it is a common misconception that the term "antichrist" in the Scriptures refers to a single individual. There is actually no such individual named or foretold in Scripture, but rather there were "many antichrists" who had come already in the first century. In fact, the apostle John cited this fact as the reason he knew with absolute certainty that it was the last hour. The reason he knew this is that Jesus had told him what signs to look for. In addition to the many "antichrists" that had come already back then, the Bible also speaks of a "spirit of antichrist," which is a lying spirit that denies Jesus is the Christ (cf. 1 John 2:22). These "spirits of antichrist" will always be in the world. But the "many antichrists" of whom Jesus and the apostles spoke are limited to a specific time period, during which Jesus predicted that all which had been written of him in the Scriptures would be fulfilled.
While eschatology is not the focus of this exegetical essay on 1 John 4:7-21, the eschatolgical *context* of the passage (including John's reference to the "many antichrists" which had already come) is strongly emphasized:
Because He First Loved Us
An Exegesis of 1 John 4:7-21 within the Context of 1 John
by Tami Jelinek
I have been married to my loving husband Keith for 26 years. We have three beautiful and brilliant children, ages 24, 22 and 20. Nothing cheers my heart more than having them all at home, yet nothing is more satisfying to my mind than watching them grow from afar. My personal passion is theology: the knowledge and experience of the Truth and Mercy found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and displayed in the lives and communion of His people. My husband and I love to travel, and because our children are often out and about in the world, we get lots of opportunities to see it! And we also love to fill our home with friends who love us, and love our wine collection.