Reformed Amillennialism’s Perspective on the Doctrine of Antichrist

lastjudgmentmichSome of the Reformed Amillennialists (RA) would be Geerhardus Vos, Anthony Hoekema, and Kim Riddlebarger.

The timing of Antichrist Appearing:

RAs hold that many antichrist which are false teachers, will appear. They will appear thought the course of this age. This age is described as the entire period of time between the Ascension and 2nd Coming of Jesus. Many RAs will hold that there will however be a final Antichrist that is yet to come. This will not have to be a person but would be a large heresy that would be state sponsored and result in the mass persecution of the Church at large.

A distince emphasis is that they see the temple mentiond by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 is a reference to the Church not the Jerusalem temple. 

2 Thess 2:3  Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come,  unless the rebellion comes first, and  the man of lawlessness  is revealed,  the son of destruction, 
2 Thess 2:4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God,  proclaiming himself to be God. 

Later I hope to write more about the amillennial view from a Reformed perspective. Dispensationalists shouldn’t get all the fun with eschatology!

In the Reformed Amillennial view of the Antichrist, the Antichrist’s appearance is tied to a time of great apostasy (cf. Revelation 20:1-10). Some important points contrary to our view are made by Warfield (Postmillenial). He states that we read of Antichrist nowhere in the New Testament except in certain passages of the Epistles of John (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 7). Warfield would go on to state that Antichrist should not be confused with or combined with Paul’s Man of Sin nor the beast of Revelation. For Warfield, John is speaking of something altogether unique.

I don’t find his arguments convincing that there is no connection between antichrists of John and the other New Testament figures. But we should take seriously Warfield’s challenge that this “connection” between antichrists and the other New Testament figures shouldn’t be assumed till proven. I’ll admit that I’m influenced in my own thinking of this by the works of K. Riddlebarger and his work The Man of Sin. I think (with Kim Riddlebarger) that Warfield is correct in this aspect. “In the strictest sense” Warfield is correct that John’s heretical antichrists are not the same thing as the beast of Revelation. I hold that the beast is the external persecution of the Church by the state during the Roman rule.

The beast is the Antichrist in a yes and no sort of way. Here’s why. In reading the book of Revelation John calls the reader to use “wisdom” in reading his book. This is should be apparent because of the time when John is writing, he is writing to comfort but also to avoid further persecution.

Rev 17:9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; Rev 17:10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. Rev 17:11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.

Riddlebarger “The key to understanding the vision is not in calculating the current ruler or Rome (whether that be Nero or Domitian). The key figure in the vision is the eighth king or emperor who is still future when John is given his vision (Rev 17:11 As for the beast  that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.)”

Dennis Johnson in his book Triumph of the Lamb argues that the meaning of the six kings who have come and gone is that “the church must persevere not only under the pressure of present levels of suffering (7th king) but also under the coming, crushing conspiracy of its enemies at the end (the beast to arise as an 8th king)”

We can therefore understand the beast is a future king who will have a hatred for the Church. If he is a king he will have a government that will amaze the people and also deceive the people into heresy. The 8th king is yet to rise. In this sense the beast cannot be the antichrist in the sense that John has used regarding heresy. This is an internal use not a persecution by the state.

The 8th king can be properly labelled the Antichrist if by that term we mean that this particular person is the final manifestation of the beast (the 8th king). John is communicating that the series of antichrists mentioned in his Epistles does indeed culminate in a final Antichrist.