The Antichrist and Coming Christian Unity

It will and must happen

The Preaching of Antichrist by Luca Signorelli

By William M Briggs Published on October 30, 2017

Editor’s note: This piece is part of our series on Christian Unity.

There’s disunity in Christendom. There has been since at least the gnostic Cerinthus. Around 100 anno Domini he gained a small following by teaching that Jesus and the Christ were two separate people.

Splits increased through time. We now have the Big Three, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy, but also such sects as Christadelphians, Nestorians, and Iglesia ni Cristo.

The Great Unity

The good news is that our unhappy disunity will at some point dissolve. The bad news is that the coming reunion is not going to be painless.

The Apostle Peter reminds us of what must someday happen:

But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. … But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth.

No man knows when. But there is a rich tradition in literature in imagining how the end will come.

Enter Vladimir Sergeyevich Soloviev

One such work is by Vladimir Sergeyevich Soloviev (sometimes spelled Solovyov), a Twentieth Century Russian Orthodox philosopher and theologian. He was also a friend of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He advocated Christian unity through the idea of sobornost. This is the “spiritual community of many jointly living people.”

In his 1900 apocalypse A Short Narrative About Antichrist, he explored our coming final Christian unity. Actually, he spoke of many different unities. (Quotations below are from the Natalie Duddington translation.)

The Antichrist

The story opens with Antichrist, a man who, like Satan himself, believes in Christ, but who believes in himself more. With Satan’s dark blessing, Antichrist becomes a master and teacher of self-love. He quickly gains worldwide admiration for his book The Open Way to Universal Peace and Welfare. This global glow is the first unity:

The wonderful writer carried all with him and was acceptable to everyone, so that Christ’s word
were fulfilled: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” For in order to be received, one must be acceptable.

Soloviev foresaw European history correctly. He has the “European States Union” convene a constituent assembly that “decided to concentrate executive power in the hands of one person.” That one person is Antichrist, who was recognized as the “man of the future.” Antichrist healed the many great secular divisions (which even now surround us). Peace was upon the land.

Christianity had greatly diminished: “There were not more than forty-five million Christians on the whole of the globe.” The missing Christians, i.e. the great apostasy, is the (unfortunate) unity of the second kind.

A Test of Faith

But because of the great falling away, the historical “hostility between” the remaining denominations “had lessened considerably.” The “Roman Catholic hierarchy still had many representatives with an independent position, strong will and indefatigable energy.” Protestantism “freed itself from its extreme negative tendencies whose champions openly passed over to religious indifference and unbelief”; evangelicals evinced “wide erudition with deep religious faith.” Orthodoxy “had the joy of being united to the best elements among the Old Believers.”

The regenerated Church, while not increasing in numbers, grew in spiritual power, which showed itself very clearly in the struggle against extremist sects with a demonic and satanic tinge that had multiplied both among the masses and in society.

This was the beginning of the great reunion.

Antichrist held all but the faithful remnant in his sway. He despised their recalcitrance. So in Jerusalem he assembled leaders of all denominations. Chief among these was Pope Peter II, the Orthodox Elder John, rumored to be “the apostle John the Divine who had never died and of late appeared openly,” and the Evangelical and “most learned German theologian, Professor Ernst Pauli.”

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Antichrist used Christian disunity as a powerful argument.

“Dear Christians,” he said, “… Unfortunately you have been broken up into various sects and parties since time immemorial and perhaps you have no longer a common aim. But if you cannot agree between yourselves I hope to bring agreement between all your parties by showing them all equal love and equal readiness to satisfy the true desire of each.”

Offering himself as the great uniter and ultimate “spiritual authority,” many came to his side.

Only our trio and a small band refused to bend their knee. They insisted that Antichrist “confess now here before us Jesus Christ the Son of God.” John and Peter are struck dead. Pauli escapes and secrets the bodies away to the desert heights of Jericho.

And on “the evening of the fourth day” they come back to life.

Elder John said: “Well, my dear children, so we are not parted after all. And this is what I tell you now: it is time we fulfilled Christ’s prayer about His disciples that they should be one, as He and the Father are one. For the sake of this unity in Christ, my children, let us honor our beloved brother Peter. Let him pasture Christ’s sheep at the last. There, brother!” — and he embraced Peter.

Soloviev writes, “That was how the union of the churches took place on a dark night, in a high and solitary place.” There was only left the last final and greatest unity of which the Apostle Peter wrote. And that’s where the tale may, someday, truly begin.

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  • Dean Bruckner

    Pauli = “of Paul” in Latin, an allusion to the factions in the first church of Corinth. Today’s Protestant evangelicals. Clever!

  • Trilemma

    The prophecy of 2Peter 3:10 was most likely fulfilled in 70AD. Don’t count on some anti-Christ bringing about Christian Unity.

    • Patmos

      “was most likely fulfilled in 70AD”

      If by “most likely” you mean “not even remotely” then yes, you are correct.

      • Trilemma

        I mean “most likely” in that a future fulfillment is extremely remote. The end times events were prophesied to occur in the first century.

        • Ken Abbott

          But many eschatological prophecies have multiple fulfillments. I believe you are correct to state that some were fulfilled, at least in part, in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple. Whether that event was the Day of the Lord is more difficult to maintain.

          • Kevin Quillen

            If there are multiple meanings then there is none. You just destroyed the Bible.

          • GPS Daddy

            Thats not true. Who are you to say that there cannot by multiple meanings and fulfillment of prophesy?

          • Kevin Quillen

            how many fulfillments? 2, 3, 5, 7 or ?????? God wrote a book that He intended for us to understand, not a mystery book full of riddles and puzzles. It is only understood through the leading of the Holy Spirit and a burning desire to know the truth. Individual study and prayer. The Holy Spirit is the believer’s teacher. Not some seminary trained pastor. How do you know which seminary teaches the truth?

          • GPS Daddy

            Kevin, the bible has various levels of difficulties. Apocalyptic writing is some of the most difficult to understand. Have you ever head of Dr. Michael Heiser? He is the resident scholar for Logos bible software. I suggest you check him out. He think eschatology is a waist of time. I disagree with him on Israel. But the reason I suggest him is that you are too wrapped up in preterism. He can help you with that.

          • Ken Abbott

            That is a ridiculous statement. There are lesser and greater fulfillments of biblical prophecy. Isaiah 7:14 is one such example.

          • GPS Daddy

            Ps 22 is another example. Here we have the suffering of David foreshadowing the sufferings of Christ. So we have two meanings/applications in the text.

    • Nate Winchester

      I don’t know about that. A common foe has a great unifying effect on human factions all the time.

      • Trilemma

        True. But the common foe has to actually show up.

        • Nate Winchester

          Fair point, but per the Bible the common foe is present and in charge of this world. So you might say he needs to make a very overt move that none of us can deny. And it may be why he keeps his attacks low and subtle. But who of us knows what the future may hold.

          • Kevin Quillen

            Do you really think the devil is still running around today? He was defeated and cast into the lake of fire many years ago. It ALL ended in 70 AD.

          • GPS Daddy

            >>Do you really think the devil is still running around today?

            They cast out demons past 70AD. 1,2,3 John were written after 70AD. Yet, in 1 John we have:

            By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: [f]anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother

            How can there be children of the devil today if the devil was cast into the lake of fire?

          • Kevin Quillen

            the Bible was completed before 70 AD. Rev, the last book written about 65 or 66 AD..

          • GPS Daddy

            >>Does he have time to tempt us all? Nonsense!

            Jude 1:8, “Yet in the same way, these also in their dreaming defile the flesh, despise authority, and slander celestial beings.”

            How do you know what the power is of a “celestial being”?

          • Nate Winchester

            . . .

            Are you autistic?

  • GPS Daddy

    Lets examine the idea that all prophesy except the return of Christ was fulfilled by 70AD. 70AD marks the downfall of Jerusalem. This is told in the Gospel of Luke in chapter 21:5-37. Lets take that apart and see when we have:

    Luke 21:5-6 starts out with: “the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down”

    The stones here are the temple on the temple mount. Jesus is saying that the temple will be destroyed. This leads the disciples to ask when this will happen what will be the sign that it is about to happen. Jesus responds to them in Luke 21:8-9:

    ““See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. 9 When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.””

    He says that many will come in His name but do not be misled, There will be wars and rumors of wars but the end will not come immediately. Now the question is, did Jesus literally answer the disciples question of what signs will come before the temple is destroyed? Is there only one answer to this question? In 70 AD the Roman army surrounded the city before it was destroyed. I’m sure there were rumors that this was going to happen before the Roman army arrived. There were also people who where claiming to be the returned messiah at that time so we can give that prophesy a check – check unless there is more to it. Let continue in Luke.

    In verses 10-11 Jesus gives more detail that nations will rise against nations, famine and terrors from heaven. We cannot confirm either way that all these took place before 70AD. In verses 12-19 Jesus details what will happen to the disciples before His return. Now were are down to some more interesting verses on the topic at hand. In verse 20 Jesus says that when you see Jerusalem surrounded by army’s you know that its destruction is near. Verses 20-23 Jesus details what will happen and how bad it will be. In verse 24 Jesus says a very interesting this. that Jerusalem will be trampled down by Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is done. In the bible there are really only two groups of people: Gentiles and Jews. You are either a Gentile or a Jew. Before 70AD Jerusalem is still considered to be Jewish. Jesus confirm that in this verse. After the city falls it is considered to be “trampled down” by Gentiles. The Jews are scattered and the temple is destroyed. But the Gentiles only have a “time” by which they will trample down Jerusalem. This implies that the Jews will one day be in control of Jerusalem again. 1967 is when the Jews regained control of the old city of Jerusalem.

    Its only after this that we see that Jesus returns. So verse 24 is indicating that there will be a future control of Jerusalem by the Jews. In order for the Jews to be in control of Jerusalem what will need to be in place? The nation of Israel. Its only after this that Jesus returns. Since Jesus will destroy the antichrist on his return then its very unlikely that this all took place in AD70. In fact, it cannot have all taken place by that time.

    Now lets consider the Islamic Mahdi. The Islamic Mahdi is the Islamic Messiah and he come and conquer the world. A very interesting study is that the Islamic Mahdi is described in the same way the bible describes the antichrist. They are the same character. If this is true then this is outside confirmation that the AC has not yet come on the scene.

    So to conclude, 2 Peter 3:10 has not yet been fulfilled for two reasons. First, the Jews need to be back in control of Jerusalem and second the AC will be destroyed by the coming of Jesus. This is further confirmed by the outside source of the Islamic Mahdi being the AC.

    Therefor, the article premise is sound.

    • Yawrate

      Is it Jerusalem or the Temple that Jews must control before the return of Jesus? Do not Muslims now control the Temple Mount?

      • GPS Daddy

        Very good point. Yes, it is ambiguous. But either way the return of the Jews to their homeland and the end of the trampling of the Gentiles on Jerusalem is a sign.

        • Kevin Quillen

          Why, if you believe God returned the Jews to their promised land, did He only give them a very small part of the original Israel? The Jews are just another nation and people. No different from us. We ALL, must go to Christ for salvation. There is only ONE covenant. The old ended in 70 AD. God divorced the Jews. That is what the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was all about. We are in the eternal state now. Because of silly man made eschatology, the cause of Christ is harmed. Read carefully Dan 2. Especially verses 36-44. You will see that there are only 4 kingdoms mentioned( not 5 as Hagee et al say) It says that the Kingdom that will last FOREVER will be established in the time of the 4th kingdom. The fourth was the Roman Empire. Therefore, God’s Kingdom on earth was established during the first century. 70AD was in fact the establishment of the KINGDOM. God WILL NOT re-establish the sacrificial system in the future in a new temple as some teach. This is foolishness. Look up the attempt to rebuild the temple in 363 AD. I would not want to be around when they try it. God will not allow it to be built. It is an affront to Christ.

          • GPS Daddy

            >>God divorced the Jews

            No. God did not divorce the Jews. He ended the old covenant. But that does not mean the God id done with the Jews.

            >>Read carefully Dan 2

            The bible does not give us the interpretive assumptions in cases like this. We must evaluate and give consideration to different views. That is why Luke 21 is important. We have both a carefully laid out chronology WITH actually history. We know that Jerusalem was surrounded in 70AD. We know that the city AND the temple was destroyed. We know that the Jews were carried off and eventually made their way to all contents AND almost every nation. Now there is that pesty little verse in 24 that indicates there is a “time of the Gentiles”…It relates to Jerusalem. The ONLY way for the “time of the Gentiles” to come to an end is for the Jews to be back in control of Jerusalem. That has never happened again until modern times.

            >> It says that the Kingdom that will last FOREVER

            Yep, yep… nothing I have shared disagrees with that.

            >>God WILL NOT re-establish the sacrificial system in the future in a new temple as some teach

            Not a requirement of mine either. When it comes to end-time views no view has it all together. Every view has shortcomings.

            >> God will not allow it to be built. It is an affront to Christ

            You can’t make that call. Its an affront to Kevin Quillen though.

            >>not 5 as Hagee et al say

            I’m not a Hagee disciple. I tend not to like how he approaches things. He made himself look silly with the blood moon stuff. If by this you mean “the cause of Christ is harmed” then I would agree. But that does not mean that Hagee that some things right.

          • Kevin Quillen

            so how do you deal with the only four kingdom problem? Bible clearly states that God’s kingdom will be established in the time of the Roman empire. Hagee et al make the mistake of considering the feet of the vision a separate kingdom. You know, the revived Roman empire, ten nation federation(ten toes) preached by dispensationalists. This is clearly in violation of the scripture which says definitively there will be only 4 kingdoms. C. S. Lewis said that Matt 24:34 was the saddest verse in the Bible because Jesus was wrong. That is what I mean by harming the cause of Christ, it destroys His credibility! Dragging first century fulfillment into the future causes confusion and the obvious error turns people away. We look foolish by doing so. But, I am sure not many people could be scared into giving and buying books if the truth were told. I know it sounds harsh but just like John 12:42 and 43 there are those who know better but choose popularity and profit over truth. The truth would not sell many books, and create so many prophecy “experts” who have great insight to lead us. The truth is plain to see if one removes the blinders and seeks sincerely.

          • GPS Daddy

            >>so how do you deal with the only four kingdom problem

            That does not come into play in Luke 21. God can do as He wishes with the Jews. If God is going to use the Jews in the endtimes then He can. Thats says nothing about the Kingdom of God and the Church. Your not dealing with Luke 21. Luke 21 clearly lays out a chronological timeframe that is checked by known history. This, then, is a filter by which we need to adjust other views. The Preterest position is clearly in error.

            As for CS Lewis, well, CS Lewis is a man, right? He has an opinion. He shared it. He is wrong. I’ve read that verse many times and its unclear to me in Matt that “that” generation was the generation He was speaking to. Jesus often talked in parables. End time passages are among the hardest to interpret.

          • Kevin Quillen

            why do you not answer the question about God only returning a small portion of the promised land? Israel today is a very small portion of the original promised land. Dispensationalism is foolishness and promotes grave error and harm to the cause of Christ. You have blinders on and refuse to see the obvious, in both Matt 23:36 and Matt 24:34 it is abundently clear that Jesus meant the people He was speaking to was to see the end of the age. However, dispensational eschatology sells books and gives rise to “prophecy experts” so the truth is left behind for “profits”. I will no longer discuss with you as it is clear that you are unwilling to dig out the truth for yourself but will instead follow the herd.
            I wish you well, and may God open your eyes.

    • dasdasd asfasdasdasd

      Would Christians still be gentiles?

      By Islam, Mahdi is not the messiah. He is supposed to come to fight with Isa-Jesus, which I assume they will consider the messiah, versus the Antichrist.

      • GPS Daddy

        Yes, the Mahdi is the promised one to bring the world under Islam. Maybe not all secs of Islam teaches this but it is a significant teaching.

    • Trilemma

      Then, after all the things you just mentioned happened, even after the time the gentiles trampled down Jerusalem, this happens in verse 27.

      And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. – Luke 21:27 ESV

      Jesus said who would see this event happen.

      Jesus said to [the high priest], “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” – Matt 26:64 ESV

      Jesus told the high priest he would see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. That puts the fulfillment of 2Peter 3:10 in the first century.

      • GPS Daddy

        Lets start with using basic grammar.

        25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

        The pronoun “they” refers to the word “people” in verse 26. This happens after Jerusalem is done being trampled on by gentiles. But you missed (on purpose?) this part of verse 24:

        “and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations

        The Jews will be led captive into all the nations. That is exactly what happened after 70AD!!

        As to Matt 26, there is no discontinuity. Did Jesus tell that man he would see His return when He is still alive? All of heaven, all on the earth, and all who have died will see His return.

        • Trilemma

          ”Did Jesus tell that man he would see His return when He is still alive?”

          Yes, because that is what that man would have understood Jesus was saying.

          In Mark 13, Jesus listed a number of things that would happen including this.

          And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. – Mark 13:26 ESV

          Then, in verse 30, Jesus said that the generation of those hearing him speaking would see those things including the Son of Man coming.

          Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. – Mark 13:30 ESV

          That means the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory had to have happened in the first century.

          • GPS Daddy

            You need to immerse yourself in a good scholar in biblical interpretation. I suggest FF Bruce or Bruce Meztger or both.

  • MikeW

    According to 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the power of the Antichrist was already at work in Paul’s time. This implies that the Antichrist is actually an institution that was operating in Paul’s time, and is still at work today.

    • GPS Daddy

      MikeW, how can an actual being be an institution? There may be a demon behind an institution. But the institution is not a being.

      The little antichrists that are refereed to are people who stand against Christ. They are influenced by the devil. However, there are a few passages that indicate that a big Antichrist will come on the seen.

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