Using Strong's dictionary the only reference to the word antichrist for G500 is in 1st and 2nd John.

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Strongs says:

From G473 and G5547; an opponent of the Messiah: - antichrist.

I'm wondering why is this the only use of the word "antichrist" in the entire Bible? I remember other things like the 'mark of the beast' and there are other references to antichrist type things metioned here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/References_to_the_Antichrist_in_ecclesiastical_writings

Does anyone have an idea why this is the only time the word "antichrist" or "antichrists" is mentioned? Might it have something to do with John talking about testing the spirits, or just the time in which it was written that the word was just starting to be used, or any other ideas?

Thanks for your time.

2 Answers 2


I assume the question is about the use of the word 'antichrist', rather than the concept to which the word refers. A related term, pseudochristos, 'false Christ', is found in Matthew 24:24 and in Mark 13:22. The concept of an antichrist, without using this term, is also found in the Book of Revelation.

The earliest extra-biblical use of the term 'antichrist' was by Polycarp in his Letter to the Philippians, verse 7.1, around 130 CE. Once coined, the term seems to have resonated, as it came into more frequent use as the second century progressed. So the suggestion that the use of the term was related to the time 1 John and 2 John were written has some merit.

In An Introduction to the New Testament, page 334, Raymond E. Brown dates the Gospel of John to the period 80-110 CE, with the redactions dated somewhat later. The First and Second Epistles of John are generally believed to have been written some time after the gospel, which would place them in the region of 120-130 CE, around the same time as Polycarp's letter.

  • 1
    This is very interesting. A glance at Polycarp’s letter in Greek (I’m ignoring the Latin) has a very similar feel to the Johannine epistles. More on that relationship: “Phil 7 is probably or 'almost certainly' influenced by 1 John."
    – Susan
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 2:52
  • The priority of the Gospel of John or 1 John has been argued both ways. The evidence upon which the judgement is based is always merely inferential. Burdick's position is perhaps the most plausible which suggests that 1 John was written to correct misunderstandings of the Gospel of John. Even if the date range for the gospel above is accurate, and I note Morris and Robinson were both prepared to push it back to AD70, it is a leap to distance the letters so far from the Gospel. If the gospel was written in AD80 then the letter could have been written that same year. Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 8:54

You wouldn't expect the term 'antichrist' to gain traction in the church until the term Christ was firmly established, so it isn't surprising that whilst the church was mainly witnessing to the Jews that 'Jesus is the Christ' the term antichrist wasn't in use. Instead, other terms are used, see for example 2 Thess 2:3.

However by the time John is writing his letters it appears the use of the term 'antichrist' has become well known (at least to his readers). Consider his first reference to the antichrist in 1 John 2:18. Here he basically says, "you have heard about him." It seems to me that John picks this term because it is one his readers are familiar with and would understand because it had come into use in their vocabulary as the church matured. He is, therefore, simply doing what any good communicator does. He is considering his audience and picking his words in accordance with their understanding.

Further to that, I don't think it is hard to establish an 'anti-messiah' concept from the Old Testament, especially in the book of Daniel (See ch 8 & 11), and John's writings in Revelation reveal that he is very familiar with Daniel. Maybe John also had that link in mind as he used this term.

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