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Full disclosure, I know very little Greek or Hebrew (apart from Strong's Concordance, etc.), but am a bit of a Bible nerd. I've added superscript letters in order to keep the person(s) clear in the two possible interpretations I've described below. I would certainly concede there may be a number of other possible interpretations and am in no way trying to submit a false dichotomy by only typing out two - it was simply done for brevity.

Does Matthew 24:5 say that manyᵃ will come in the name of Jesusᵇ saying 'Iᵇ am the Christᵇ' and theyᵃ shall deceive manyᶜ, OR manyᵃ will come in the name of Jesusᵇ saying 'Iᵃ am the Christᵃ' and theyᵃ shall deceive manyᶜ? The former seems to accurately reflect the apostasy, ecumenism and heresy of the present age (albeit, they are probably preaching another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4) altogether).

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    Unless I am missing something, both options are identical. – Mike Borden Mar 4 at 1:17
  • @MikeBorden The first "I" has a superscript b, indicating that "the many" are saying that "Jesus" is the Christ. The second "I" has a superscript a, indicating that each of the many are saying that "they" are the Christ. Most people assume the second of these is the correct reading. – enegue Mar 4 at 13:03
  • @MikeBorden The first one seems to be implying that the ones who are saying that "Jesus is the Christ", will deceive many. – enegue Mar 4 at 13:09
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For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. [Matthew 24:5, KJV]

I think what you are trying to say is that some might come in the name of Jesus and say that Jesus is the Christ and will deceive many.

I think that meaning is illogical. Where is the deception ? They have spoken truth.

Jesus is saying that many will come and associate themselves with his name, but will, in fact, imply that they, themselves, are 'the Christ'.

They will associate themselves, historically, with Jesus and with the various movements during history that are associated with Jesus Christ and his doctrine but they will assert their own self as if they were pre-eminent and all-important.

We see this everywhere and in all history. People asserting themselves and their opinions (often becoming very rich and/or powerful in the process) using the name of Jesus to do so but actually occupying - among their followers - that position which is only proper to 'the Christ', the anointed of God, the sent one of God, the Messiah.


In Mark's gospel account the literal wording (in the Greek) is :

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am ; and shall deceive many. [Mark 13:6 KJV with the italic "Christ" removed]

Here, the impostors are going even further in their implication, saying 'I am' (leaving out Christ altogether) and we can see a similar effect to that prophesied by Paul, the Apostle :

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. [2 Thessalonians 2:4, KJV]

I think we can see this effect historically in the Church age, a progression that appears to accept the coming of Jesus Christ but that, with the course of time and succeeding generations, moves further and further away from the Person of Christ and moves into the realm where Earthly Humanity (that is to say, that which is of Adam) asserts itself in his place and seeks to take over all that he is come to do; and seeks to raise up a kingdom on earth which incorporates, to a very small degree, the Gospel of Jesus Christ - but in amongst 'all faiths'.

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Disclaimer: I sometimes don't know what I'm talking about.

I believe that to effectively communicate the idea that the false prophets will say that Jesus is the Messiah, the author would have worded his assertion in two significant ways:

  • the words "I am the Christ" would have been preceded with "hOTI" ("that") so it would read "and will say that I am the Christ"

  • instead of being emphatic about "I" by placing "EGW" before "[I] am" he would just have said "EIMI". As written it says emphatically, "I am the Christ"

So in my view we can safely conclude that he was saying that the false prophets would claim to be the Messiah, not that Jesus was.

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Peace.

If I am understanding this correctly, I think that the first interpretation is the way we should be reading it.

“Does Matthew 24:5 say that manyᵃ will come in the name of Jesusᵇ saying 'Iᵇ am the Christᵇ' and theyᵃ shall deceive manyᶜ…”

The “many” (a) who come in/on His name…that is, the name of “Jesus” (b)…. are not proclaiming that they themselves (a) are the Christ (b) but that their “Jesus” (b) that they are deceptively preaching is the true Jesus the Christ (b). This implies that there is "another Jesus" they are preaching who is not the true Christ but is the instead of Christ (the antichrists).

They (a) do this to lead many (c) astray from the Way that leads to the eternal life of the real Jesus who is the real Christ.

This is about many false prophets that come to us and preach “another Jesus” in their words and are calling their preaching of their Jesus (they come in His name….the name of Jesus) and say that their brand of Jesus that they are preaching is the real Christ.

Their “Jesus” that they preach though is really “Jesus” the ANTICHRIST….Jesus the instead-of Christ who is not the real Christ…..in order to deceive many into thinking that they are serving the real Jesus the Christ that the many false prophets are preaching.

Matthew 24:3-5 KJV (3) And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

In Greek is the definite article: “THE” Jesus (the real Jesus) answered and said unto them that men (who are false prophets) will come in/on His name (the name of "Jesus") and say that their preaching of their “Jesus” is the real Christ in order to deceive many .

So we have the many false prophets that come and preach “another Jesus” who is not the Christ but is really of the spirit/breath of “Jesus” the antichrist that the devil has set up for many to serve so that the dragon is really being worshipped (Revelation 13: 4).

There are many “Jesus’s” being preached today by many false prophets…but all lead to the destruction of the mortal body from this earth as the eternal life of the real Jesus is being prevented from being made manifest in this earth (of which none of them are preaching).

(4) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (5) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

The false apostles and false Jesus’s are highlighted in 2 Corinthians 11.

The false prophet comes to deceive us so that our minds should be corrupted (wither) from the simplicity that is in THE (definite article) real Christ.

They preach the doctrines and commandments of men (their handwriting of dogmas) in order for us to serve and worship their “Jesus” which really serves the “dragon”. The false prophet comes in sheep’s clothing….preaching their “righteousness” through the serving of their “handwriting” of church dogmas that the church scribes have engraved.

The word “dogma” in ancient Greek speaks of what one “thinks is true” and so are led astray after false prophets.

Many use their teachings and commandments of men (that they think is true to keep) to judge others with and thereby are unknowingly serving THE sin of the serpent who lied in the garden to Eve and deceived her.

They are led astray from the simplicity that is the Christ and are serving another Jesus and not the real Jesus the Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3-5 KJV (3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

The false prophets come to preach “another Jesus” the antichrist (the instead-of Christ) and not THE real Christ and many receive the falsely sent apostles (apostle = sent) gladly and serve their handwritings that they think is true but are the ways of and to death .

Many receive "another spirit"....the spirit of Jesus the antichrist (the instead of the spirit of the true Christ) that the false prophet preaches.

(4) For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (5) For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

The many false prophets come to deceive many people away from the path that leads to life in this earth…..the eternal life of the real Jesus who is the Christ.

They do so by preaching “another Jesus” and not the Jesus who is called the Christ who is the real Christ that we should be following in the narrow road that leads to eternal life.

Satan has his own “son”…. through the preaching of “another Jesus” by false prophets.

Their “Jesus” that they preach is spiritually “Barabbas” meaning “son of the father” (that the devil…their father…. and his ministers are projecting to others) so that the eternal life of the real Jesus is destroyed out of those whom are deceived by them.

Matthew 27:20-23 KJV (20) But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. (21) The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

The Prince of life is being crucified out of the lives of many who are choosing “another Jesus” to serve that the many false prophets are preaching today and are leading down the broad way to destruction.

(22) Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. (23) And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

The Prince of life is being killed out of the lives of many by their choosing/voting of “another Jesus” as the eternal life of the real Jesus is being extinguished from being made manifest in this earth by the deception preaching of the many false prophets who do these things for money's sake.

This is why their spiritual “Jesus Barabbas” (another Jesus) that many (in ignorance of the Truth) choose to serve is a “murderer” as the eternal life of Jesus is being extinguished from being made manifest in this earth.

God has already raised the real Jesus from the dead and faith in His name makes our mortal bodies strong (by the eternal life of Jesus that He has from being made manifest in our outer mortal flesh in this earth).

Acts 3:14-17 KJV (14) But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; (15) And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (16) And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (17) And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

There are many “Jesus’s” being preached today…and they are all being presented as THE real Christ but are really of the spirit of the “antichrist” that the dragon has used to make war with the people of God.

They are not expecting the real Jesus to be coming (now) in our mortal flesh which gives us His eternal life in this earth as today is the day of salvation. Now is the time salvation….not some day in the future.

The false prophets preach that their “Jesus” the antichrist “SHALL COME” someday in the future (but he never truly arrives) as the mortal bodies of their congregations perish from off this earth in their mortal destruction without the eternal life of the real Jesus from ever being made manifest. They are not preaching the doctrine of the real Christ. The preaching that we have all heard (that He SHALL COME and is not coming now) is the indication that this is indeed is the last time we are living in.

1 John 2:18 KJV (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.

Do not believe the false prophets who are preaching “another Jesus” who is not coming now in our outer mortal flesh. They are preaching that He SHALL COME. Their breath/spirit does not confess in their preaching that the real Jesus Christ is coming NOW in our mortal flesh now as they preach that He “shall come” someday in the future.

1 John 4:1-3 KJV (1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

The spirit/breath of “Jesus” the antichrist is already in this world and they all preach that their “Jesus” SHALL COME even though the real Jesus Christ IS COMING now in our mortal flesh by the keeping of His daily sacrifice….the Lamb slain.

But they are preventing His eternal life from ever being made manifest in this earth by the preaching of their “Jesus” who SHALL COME someday in the future and cut off the Christ...the preaching of the true doctrine of Christ whose eternal life should be made manifest by the keeping of the daily sacrifice that they are cutting off the keeping of.

(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.

The false prophets come unto us and do not bring this doctrine…teaching… of THE (definite article) Christ….the true Christ as their “Jesus” supposedly “shall come” someday. We are not to receive them into our house neither bid him “rejoice”.

Jesus IS COMING now in our mortal flesh not “shall come”.

2 John 1:9-11 KJV (9) Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (10) If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (11) For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

If we keep the “daily” sacrifice of the Lamb…the Lamb slain (always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in our bodies), then the eternal life also of Jesus shall be made manifest in our body…in our outer mortal flesh for this dying world to see.

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 KJV (10) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (11) For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The false prophets want us to choose their “Jesus” instead and crucify the real Jesus who is the true Christ out of our own lives when God has already raised Him from the dead so that we might have His eternal life now in this mortal body in this earth.

The coming of the many false prophets that are preaching their “prince” who SHALL COME (and not the Prince of Life who IS COMING in our mortal flesh) are destroying His people from this earth with their deceptive preaching of “another Jesus” (the "prince that SHALL COME") who is really Jesus the antichrist…the instead of Christ…and not the real Jesus who is called Christ.

Daniel 9:26 KJV (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

The false prophets come and preach “another Jesus” and pose as ministers of righteousness (by the preaching of their handwritings of dogmas that many think are right to serve) and lead many from the narrow Way that leads to His eternal life in this earth.

Matthew 7:12-21 KJV (12) Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Their way is the way of death as many mortal bodies are being destroyed from off this earth without the eternal life of Jesus being made manifest. MANY are being destroyed.

(13) Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (14) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (15) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

The earthly-minded false prophet (the second beast) serves the false “Jesus” (acting in behalf of the first beast) the antichrist and supposedly comes in the name/authority (two horns: as they call their “Jesus” the Christ) of the real Jesus (the Lamb) the Christ.

The first beast has the name of blasphemy on his heads….as they call him “Jesus”.

Revelation 13:11-12 KJV (11) And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

He causes all that “dwell” in the earth (the earthly wisdom of envy, strife, wrath, etc) to serve their “Jesus” who is not the Lamb that was slain but a wild beast whose deadly wound was healed.

They cut off the eternal life of Jesus from being made manifest from this earth by the leading of many who follow them away from the keeping of the daily sacrifice of the Lamb in their lives.

They who worship another Jesus are not keeping the daily sacrifice of the Lamb as their “Jesus” the instead of Christ makes war with others as they judge others with their church dogmas that they think is true and are serving them.

Their “Jesus” is a wild beast whose deadly wound was healed instead of the Lamb slain.

The false prophets promise them “liberty” from the keeping of the daily sacrifice of the Lamb (who was slain) and causes them to worship their "Jesus"...a wild beast who is not slain but whose deadly wound is healed.

(12) And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

The keeping of their handwriting of “ordinances”…that is, “dogmas”…are preventing the eternal life of Jesus from being made manifest. They have the power of death by the preaching of their “righteousness”…the preaching of dogmas that many are serving through their handwritings.

Again, The ancient Greek meaning of “dogma” means what one “thinks as being right” in his own mind. We are forgiven if we can overcome our own thinking of what is supposedly right.

Colossians 2:13-15 KJV (13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

The handwriting of church dogmas…what one thinks in his own wisdom is right to keep and serve…leads to death.

Those who serve the handwriting of dogmas are using them to judge others which is the serving of the Lie (from the beginning in Genesis) of the devil. It seems right to a man to worship and serve the handwriting of church dogmas but in the end are the ways of death as they are used to judge others supposedly in the name of God.

Proverbs 14:12 KJV (12) There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

To make an “image to the beast” is the dogma that every person in his own mind thinks (the image in the mind) that they should be serving in order to serve "Jesus". But which Jesus are they really serving?

They go and find a particular church that keeps this particular teaching or commandment of men that they think is the right way to worship God….and use them to “kill” others with in their breath as they judge others who do not keep their particular handwriting of dogmas. They see this (the judgment of others) as doing it supposedly in God’s authority.

If another person does not keep their particular “dogma” that they think is true or right in their own mind (the image made to the beast and served by the keeping of the handwriting), they “kill” them with evil, slanderous words which is not the keeping of the daily sacrifice of the Lamb who was slain but is instead worshipping the first beast (supposedly called the true “Jesus”) whose deadly wound was healed. They condemn others as "evildoers" who are "going to hell" for not following their own perceived notions (dogmas) that they think is right to keep.

Revelation 13:14-15 KJV (14) And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. (15) And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed

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Grammatically one could probably tease your second interpretation out of the Greek, but this seems to concord with neither the rest of Scripture nor how Greeks in antiquity actually understood the passage.


Note that there are three parallel Gospel accounts of this saying:

Matthew 24:4-5 (RSV)

Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ. πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες, ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ Χριστός, καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσι.

Mark 13:5-6

“Take heed that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.

βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ. πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσιν.

Luke 21:8

Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.

βλέπετε μὴ πλανηθῆτε· πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι καὶ ὁ καιρὸς ἤγγικε. μὴ οὖν πορευθῆτε ὀπίσω αὐτῶν.

In Greek, the three accounts are nearly identical except that only Matthew records Jesus as saying (RSV rendering) many will come in my name, saying 'I am the Christ' (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ Χριστός - egō eimi ho Christos), whereas Luke and Mark record Him as saying, 'I am he' (ἐγώ εἰμι - egō eimi). Assuming one accepts that the Gospels are generally harmonious, this alone might dissuade one from thinking that the deception would lie in claiming that Jesus was the Christ, rather than in claiming that one was Jesus.


Further, it seemed clear to the Greek Church Fathers who commented on this verses that the deception would be the appearance of false Christs, not the appearance of those who would falsely claim that Jesus was the Christ. Take, for example, the 5th century commentary of Cyril of Alexandria on the Lucan passage:

He explains what will happen at the consummation of the world, and, so to speak, warns them and testifies, saying, “Look! Be not deceived: for many shall come in My Name, saying, that I am He, and the time is near. Go ye not after them.” For before the advent of Christ the Saviour of us all from heaven, various false Christs and false prophets will appear preceding Him, falsely assuming to themselves His person, and coming into the world like eddies of smoke springing up from a fire about to break forth.

One might also consider the latter Byzantine (Greek) commentary of Theophylact of Ohrid, whose collected commentaries summarized earlier Patristic interpretations of Scripture. His commentary on Matthew 24:4-5 reads:

Many, He says, will come declaring themselves to be Christs. For Dositheus the Samaritan [1st c.] said, "I am the prophet foretold by Moses" [Dt 18:18] and Simon the Samaritan called himself the great power of God [Acts 8:9ff].

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