For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible…
For there shall arise false Christs, i.e. false Messiahs. In the period between our Lord's ascension and the destruction of Jerusalem many so called prophets arose who claimed Divine authority. It is not clear that they claimed to be the Messiah; but after the fail of Jerusalem one appeared who called himself Barchochebas, the "Son of a star," and claimed to be Messiah, and deceived many. If we can get a proper meaning to the term "antichrist," we shall see that such have appeared in every age, and repeated in every age the same mischief making. An "antichrist" is any man or any woman who, in any sphere, undoes or resists the work of Christ, or compels men to think unworthy thoughts of Christ. Fitting introductory matter would be an account of the social and religious mischiefs wrought by the antichrists of the first century, especially of Barchochebas.
I. THE ANTICHRIST OPPOSES THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST. That authority is not only absolute and supreme in Christ's Church, it is also in constant, immediate, and direct administration; to it the Church can always appeal. Antichrist
(1) withdraws us from the Divine authority;
(2) criticizes the Divine authority;
(3) substitutes something for the Divine authority.
Antichrist comes between the soul and Christ.
II. THE ANTICHRIST OPPOSES THE PURITY OF CHRIST. The sinless Christ has it as his supreme aim to make sinless disciples, and present his Church perfect even as he is perfect. Purity, therefore, is the great aim of Christ's Church; and to it purity is a high ideal. Any one whose influence tends to sully the Church's purity, or to lower the Church's standard, is an antichrist. There are those who teach a liberty which is licentiousness, and a self-indulgence which is disloyalty. "Ye are called unto holiness:" this will test all antichrists.
III. THE ANTICHRIST OPPOSES THE UNITY OF CHRIST. Sectarianism is the exaltation of opinion over truth. The Church could be one if it were only based on loyalty, love, and obedience to the Lord Jesus. The Church is broken up into sections, ever-multiplying sections, by the particular opinions of men, who presume to declare Divine authority for their opinions. Christ is one with the Father by his loyalty to him; and that is the way in which we must be one in Christ.
IV. THE ANTICHRIST OPPOSES THE CHARITY OF CHRIST. This may be opened in two ways.
1. There is the selfishness which shuts men up to what is called the "enjoyment" of religion, heedless of the ministry the world needs.
2. There is the bitterness of the heresy cry against those who do not happen to think exactly as we do. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.