1 Jn.2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
John is the only writer that uses the term “antichrist” and it is only found in his letters, not in Revelation. In the verse above he states, “…antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared…” (1 Jn.2:18). He goes on to say “…the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (vs.22). As well he states, “…every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world…” (1 Jn.4:3). In his second letter he writes, “…many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 Jn.1:7). When he states, “…in the flesh…,” he, again, speaks against the Gnostic concept that Jesus was a spiritual enigma of some sort but not born in the flesh.
Albert Barnes writes, “…John understood by the word (antichrist) all those that denied that Jesus is the Messiah, or that the Messiah has come in the flesh.”
Anyone, in the “last days,” who denies the basic truth of Jesus as Messiah who came in flesh is an antichrist, of which there are many. Some of those who are antichrists have little influence while others, such as leaders in the political, legal, academic, and entertainment / media realm, have very significant influence.
It has commonly been the case that we have spoken of THE antichrist as if there would only be one. Along with this misconception, many have produced erroneous efforts to label evil, influential leaders as THE antichrist. The combination of the two previous statements have led to the misleading eschatological proclamation that, since leader x is the antichrist, the end is here and Christ will return any moment. We have repeated this fallacy a number of times in Church history.
The “beast” of Revelation, which represents an antichrist, refers to the Roman Empire. This would have had specific significance to the original readers as they were cautioned about the activities and influence of the Roman Empire. It also informs us that “…the spirit of the antichrist…” (4:3) can be in the form of a corporate entity. I would suggest that there is a strong spirit of antichrist in operation in many influential realms of our contemporary culture.
Of course, there will be a final antichrist of incredible influence as the battle between good and evil escalates toward a finale. We must be careful that our eschatology does not lead us to be passive observers instead of active agents due to the assumption that the worse it gets, the better it is because we are closer to His return. He will return when the church has fulfilled its mission and the gospel of the kingdom has been proclaimed in all the world. Take note, it is always appropriate for the church to resist the efforts of the / an antichrist.