Perhaps the worst label that a Christian can put on anyone who joins a new religion is that they are following the “antichrist.”
The Bible has four references to the word “antichrist” and one reference to “antichrists.” None of these come from Jesus. Four of the five references occur in the First Letter of John. This letter was written to protect fledgling Christians from false doctrines that had arisen within Christianity. The first two references read: “as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 Jn 2:18). Who these antichrists were, was answered in the next reference which reads: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” ( 1 Jn 2:22).
And when the days of Moses were ended, and the light of Jesus, shining forth from the Day Springs of the Spirit, encompassed the world, all the people of Israel arose in protest against Him. They clamored that He whose advent the Bible had foretold must needs promulgate and fulfill the laws of Moses, whereas this youthful Nazarene, who laid claim to the station of the divine Messiah, had annulled the laws of divorce and of the sabbath day the most weighty of all the laws of Moses. Moreover, what of the signs of the Manifestation yet to come? These people of Israel are even unto the present day still expecting that Manifestation which the Bible hath foretold! How many Manifestations of Holiness, how many Revealers of the light everlasting, have appeared since the time of Moses, and yet Israel, wrapt in the densest veils of satanic fancy and false imaginations, is still expectant that the idol of her own handiwork will appear with such signs as she herself hath conceived! – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 20.
And Abdu’l-Baha, says this about Christ:
See how many conquering kings there have been, how many statesmen and princes, powerful organizers, all of whom have disappeared, where as the breezes of Christ are still blowing; His light is still shining; His melody is still resounding; His standard is still waving; His armies are still fighting; His heavenly voice is still sweetly melodious; His clouds are still showering gems; His lightning is still flashing; His reflection is still clear and brilliant; His splendor is still radiating and luminous; and it is the same with those souls who are under His protection and are shining with His light. – Some Answered Questions, pp. 152-153.
Baha’is, clearly, can’t be described as anti-Christ in any way. In fact, Baha’is revere Christ and his teachings.
John had a particular concern when he wrote the verses about antichrists. A group of Christians known as docetists claimed that Jesus’ human form was an illusion. John was anxious to reject this false notion. His concern over docetist teachings is clearly reflected in the last reference to antichrist in his first letter:
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 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 in the world. -1 Jn 4:23
This same theme continued in the Second Letter of John, where the fifth and final reference to an antichrist occurs: “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” (2 Jn 1:7).
Baha’is, of course, believe that Jesus came in the flesh, as a real human being, a Manifestation of God.
In the Bible, an antichrist simply refers to those who oppose or deny God’s Chosen One. In the days of Jesus, some wished to deny His role as the Chosen One of Israel, others, for theological reasons, wished to deny that Jesus had real flesh. Baha’is do neither.
In the next article we’ll look at the term “man of sin.”