Antichrist - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


antichristos (G500) Antichrist
pseudochristos (G5580) False Christ
The five occurrences of antichristos in the New Testament are all found in the Johannine Epistles (l John 2:18 twice; 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7). Although only John used this word, Paul referred to the same person with terms that are identical in denotation: "the man of sin," "the son of perdition," "the lawless one" (2 Thess. 2:3, 8). Paul provides the most instruction about this archenemy of Christ and God. We shall bypass many questions concerning this foe, such as whether the Antichrist is a single person, a succession of persons, or a system. We are concerned only with the force of anti (G473) in the compound antichristos. Does anti differentiate antichristos from pseudochristos?Does antichristos imply one who sets himself up against Christ, or like pseudochristos, does antichristos refer to one who sets himself up in the stead of Christ? Is the antichristos one who proclaims that there is no Christ, or is he one who proclaims himself to be Christ?
There is no quick solution to the question of the distinguishing force of anti in antichristos, since anti in compound words can mean either "against" or "instead of." Anti often expresses substitutionantibasileus (he who is instead of the king), prorex (viceroy), anthypatos (proconsul), antideipnos (one who fills the place of an absent guest), antipsychos (one who lays down his life for others), antilutron (the ransom paid instead of a person). But it also implies opposition, as in antilogia (contradiction), antithesis (G477), and antikeimenos (G480).Anti not only expresses the fact of opposition but may also indicate what the opposition is directed against, as in antinomia (opposition to law), anticheir (the thumb), antiphilosophos (one of opposite philosophical opinions), antikaton (the title of a book that Caesar wrote against Cato), and antitheos.The jests that Antipaterwho sought to murder his fatherwas pheronymos would have been pointless if anti did not have this meaning.These examples show that anti in compound words sometimes implies substitution and sometimes opposition. The force of these words may be different, depending on the way they are used by different authors. For example, according to Thucydides (7.86) an antistrategos was the commander of the hostile army, but according to later Greek writers, such as Plutarch (who was involved in Roman affairs), an antistrategos was the standing equivalent of a propraetor (a magistrate who was sent out to govern a province after he had served as praetor at Rome). Therefore it is not possible to determine the exact meaning of antichristos in Scripture by first determining the meaning of anti. The question must be settled by other considerations.
I believe that John's words imply that the essential mark of the Antichrist is resistance to Christ and defiance of him, not any treacherous assumption of his character and offices (l John 2:22; 2 John 7). In the parallel passage, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, the Antichrist is described as ho antikeimenos (he who opposes). The Antichrist will not even acknowledge the fulfillment of God's Word in himself. Instead, he will deny all biblical truth, even hating erroneous worship simply because it is worship. He will hate everything that is called "God" (2 Thess. 2:4), and most of all he will hate the church's worship in spirit and truth (Dan. 8:11). He will seek to establish his throne on the destruction of every religion and every acknowledgment that man is governed by a power higher than his own. He will substitute his own lie for God's truth that in Christ God is man, asserting that in him, the Antichrist, man is God.
The term pseudochristos appears only twice in the New Testament (Matt 24:24; Mark 13:22) in accounts of the same discourse. In form, pseudochristos resembles similar compound words where pseudos (G5579) is combined with almost any other noun. Ecclesiastical Greek refers to the pseudopoimen(false shepherd) and pseudolatreia(false worship), and classical Greek mentions the pseudangelos (false messenger; Homer, Iliad 15.159), pseudomantis (false seer; Herodotus, 4.69), and a hundred other pseudo compounds. The pseudochristos does not deny the being of a Christ but builds on the world's expectations of such a person and appropriates them. The pseudochristos will blasphemously affirm that he is the foretold one, the one in whom God's promises and men's expectations will be fulfilled. Barchochab (Son of the Star) appropriated the prophecy of Numbers 24:17 and in Hadrian's reign started a Jewish insurrection that destroyed him and more than a million of his fellow countrymen. There has been a long series of blasphemous pretenders and impostorsfalse messiahswho, since the rejection of the true Messiah, have in almost every age fed and betrayed the expectations of the Jews.
The distinction is plain: the antichristos denies that there is a Christ; the pseudochristos affirms himself to be the Christ. Both make war against Christ, and though under different pretenses, each would set himself on the throne of glory. Even though antichristos and pseudochristos may thus be broadly distinguished as words that represent two different manifestations of the kingdom of wickedness, there is a sense in which the final "Antichrist" will be a "Pseudochrist" as well. This will be similar to the last revelation of hell itself, in which all subordinate forms of error are combined in a last assault against the truth. The Antichrist will not call himself the Christ, because of his enmity against the name, offices, and temper of Jesus of Nazareth, the exalted King of glory. No one can resist the truth by a mere negation, so the Antichrist will offer something positive in place of the faith he will seek to abolish. We may conclude that the final Antichrist will reveal himself to the world as its messiah and savior but not as the Messiah of prophecy, the Messiah of God. The Antichrist will bless those who obey him with the full enjoyment of material things in the present, not with a distant and uncertain heaven. He will abolish the troublesome distinctions between church and world, spirit and flesh, holiness and sin, and good and evil that are the source of disquietude and that deprive men of pleasure. Although he will not assume the name of Christ and so will not be a pseudochristos, he will usurp Christ's offices and present himself as the true center of the world's hopes. He will claim to be the satisfier of all mankind's needs and the healer of all our hurts. "The Red Christ," as his servants already call him, will take unto himself all the names and forms of blasphemy and will be both the great pseudochristos and antichristos.

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