Russia has invaded Ukraine and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is at the center of it all. Many have likened his invasion to Hitler invading Poland in 1939, which started WWII. This is a fair comparison, I believe, since Ukraine was no real threat to the Russian Federation that would require invasion.
I have already seen two articles on the Internet that accuse President Putin of being the Antichrist and that this is the start of the End Times. This is a standard reaction whenever someone unliked does something bold. I found out just last Sunday that US President George Washington is the only US president who was not accused of being the Antichrist at some point during his presidency. These accusations fly far too often, and usually out of ignorance.
But, on the heels of worldwide pestilence (Covid), is Russia actually fulfilling their place in God’s final chapter of history? Is President Vladimir Putin really the Antichrist? Well…yes, and no.
If by Antichrist you mean “the one ultimate bad guy and agent of Satan who leads the forces of darkness against the Church and ushers in the final battle of Armageddon,” then no. The reason I say this is because THAT bad guy isn’t “the Antichrist.” Allow me to explain.
The term antichrist is only used four times in the whole of Scripture and all four occurrences are in the epistles of John (1st & 2nd John). Read John’s descriptions of the antichrist and decide for yourself if he is the epitome of evil.
1 John 2:18 “..as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.”
1 John 2:22-23 “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist.”
1 John 4:2-3 “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
2 John 7-8 “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
These passages say that anyone who denies that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ (i.e. Messiah, Savior) is an antichrist figure. Rather than there being one single antichrist, there are countless antichrists. Further, these antichrists were active even in the days when John penned his epistles (circa A.D. 85-95), for he says they have now come.
The Biblical definition of antichrist is any man, woman or child who goes out and says that Jesus is not the Christ. All non-believers are antichrists and there are billions of them. The key point is that antichrist figures of the world, while often being the instigators of the great tribulation, are also the focus of the Great Commission. We are called to take the good news to those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ!
So, if antichrist is simply synonymous with unbeliever, who is the super-evil person we hear about in all the End Times passages? There will come one who will be evil personified, and who will eventually deceive the world with lies and lead the very forces of hell into the final battle of Armageddon.
That one person the False Prophet. The sole purpose of a False Prophet is to replace Jesus…not deny Him. Antichrists say, “Jesus isn’t the Christ”. False prophets say, “I am the Christ!” Quite a difference!
Jesus says that, like antichrists, many false prophets would come. For example, in 1 Kings 22:1, the prophet Micaiah encountered “about four hundred” false prophets, whom King Ahab had gathered around him so they could tell him what he wanted to hear. The danger of false prophets is that they often have power to perform miraculous signs and wonders and will deceive many. Like Jannes and Jambres, priests of Egypt, who were able to conjure up some of the same plagues that God worked through Moses. Scripture never warns that antichrist figures would have such power.
Just before Christ’s Second Coming, there will come one great False Prophet who will be the granddaddy of all false prophets. This is the False Prophet of whom Revelation speaks (and the one we mistakenly call “The Antichrist“).
“Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13-14)
“And the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)
So, when people say that Vladimir Putin is the Antichrist, they are actually confusing terms. What they usually mean is that Putin may be the False Prophet of Revelation. However, I’ve never heard President Putin say, “I am the Christ!” or “I am the Son of God.” He may be deluded and believe he’s actually saving the Ukraine, but that’s not the same as claiming to be God’s Messiah.
So is Putin the Antichrist? Yes…he is certainly one of billions of antichrist figures and he is our mission field. He needs to hear the good news of the Gospel so he will no longer deny that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) and so he will love the Ukrainians as himself. Is Putin the False Prophet? I don’t think so. What miraculous powers has he displayed? Where has he replaced Jesus and called others to worship him?
Is Putin evil? In his twisted unbelieving heart I believe he is, but that’s not what defines an antichrist figure or a false prophet. It’s only what they say about Jesus that matters.
So the next time someone claims that Putin is the Antichrist, ask them what they mean by “Antichrist.” You’ll probably find they have their terms confused. Don’t be quick to correct…be kind and show grace! Then ask if they believe Putin is the False Prophet of Revelation and why they believe so. This could lead to a nice discussion about the Biblical definitions of antichrist and false prophet, and help people be a little less frightened about Vladimir Putin and his army.