Video link at the bottom of the teaching
The popular teaching is that False Christs and False Prophets today are an indication that we are living in the last days.
Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy taught us that everything that happened in Matthew 24:4-34 would happen in one generation. It also taught us that we do not live in the last days because the last days were when the apostles lived. That is why the apostles said they were living in the last days, not because they were somehow ignorant. (If so, we cannot trust the word of God). Instead, we live at the end of the age.
So the question is if Jesus said that false Christs and false prophets would arise within one generation, is there historical proof of this? If there is, then Jesus’ prophecy has been fulfilled. It means that any false Christs or false prophets here today do not indicate that we live in the last days as they finished in 70CE, precisely forty years as Jesus prophesied.
And if all these things happened as Jesus predicted, and we do not live in the last days, then we can trust the word of God and do not need to look for an Antichrist or a Great Tribulation.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.Matthew 24:21
The current craze is a misunderstanding between the last days (AD30-AD70) and the end of the age (sometime in the future).
2. False Christs and Prophets
A. Jesus Prophesied the Coming of False Prophets and False Christs:
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.Matthew 24:5
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.Matthew 24:23-26
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.
“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
B. One Generation
Jesus placed the timing of these false Christs and prophets between the two references to one generation:
Firstly in Matthew 23:
Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.Matthew 23:36
Then repeated in Matthew 24:
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.Matthew 24:34
In other words, Jesus is prophesying clearly that this time of false prophets and Christs will peak during the generation that He is talking about. The Bible is not saying that false prophets and false Christs will not appear throughout all time. However, the Bible does teach us that we cannot go looking for false prophets and false Christ’s, or the antichrist, and say that therefore Jesus is coming soon. Jesus told us the last days are different from the end of the age.
If we look at the epistles written in that generation, we find the answer.
3. Epistles Confirm False Christs and Prophets Within One Generation
We have ascertained that Jesus was referring to prophets and Christ’s appearing within one generation. If Jesus were correct in His prophecy, then we would expect to see this confirmed in the writings of that generation. Looking at two apostles working with the Jewish believers; John and Peter, we find this indeed happened:
A. Apostle John.
The Apostle John wrote this in his first epistle:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.1 John 4:1
B. Apostle Peter.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.2 Peter 2:1
4. Were False Christs and Prophets Successful?
Now that we have found that the apostles’ writings confirm that Jesus’ prophecy was correct, we need to see if the false Christs and prophets were successful because Jesus prophesied they would be:
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.Matthew 24:24
Gnosticism teaches that the spiritual Jesus came upon the natural Jesus at His baptism and left at His death.
B. John’s Teaching Against Gnosticism.
The Apostle John is considered the most important source of teaching against Gnosticism. Eusebius said of John that, on entering a bathhouse, he saw one of the leaders of the gnostics- Cerinthus, that he turned around and walked straight out.
We see John’s refuting of Gnosticism at the start of his gospel, clearly stating Jesus came in the flesh:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:1-2,14
C. Gnosticism is the Spirit of Anti-Christ
John links the spirit of antichrist to Gnosticism in his first epistle:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.1 John 4:1-3
So Jesus’ prophecy concerning a great apostasy was indeed fulfilled in that first generation.
The Bible teaches that during the Great Tribulation of 34CE to 70CE, indeed, false prophets arose and deceived many.
Next, we need to ask the question; are there non-biblical writings that confirm the prophecy of Jesus regarding false Christs and prophets?
5. Historic Writings Confirming False Christs and False Prophets
Here is a sample (but not all) of the false Christs and prophets of the forty years between Jesus’ prophecy and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
False Christ: Dositheus the Samaritan – claimed to be the Messiah Moses prophesied.
False Christ: A Samaritan drew together an armed multitude -saying he had found the sacred utensils of Moses. His disciples called him Messiah. Pilate killed him under Cuspius Fadus (44-46CE).
False Prophets and Christs: During Felix’s reign nearly DAILY, deceivers arose, luring people out into the desert.
False Prophet: Another person named Felix gathered 30,000 to the Mount of Olives, saying that they would see the walls of Jerusalem fall at his command (the destruction of the walls never happened).
A further false prophet deceived the people saying that his followers would defeat the Romans if they followed him into the desert. Alas, his followers didn’t.
And so we find that the prophecy of Jesus concerning false prophets and christs is accurate. He said it would all happen within one generation, and it did:
“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.Matthew 24:26
6. Summary: Speculation About The Times We Live In
- Jesus’ prophecy was that false prophets and christs would rise in the generation following His death and resurrection.
- The apostles wrote in the epistles that false prophets and Christs did indeed come in the generation following Jesus prophecy.
- Gnosticism was referred to as the spirit of antichrist by John. Sadly, 1/3 of the church was deceived by gnosticism.
- In particular John taught against gnosticism.
- Non-biblical historical writings confirm that false Christs and prophets did exactly as Jesus prophesied would happen.
- There is no reason to quote Matthew 24:4-34 as a means to fulfil some rhetoric about false Christs and prophets today.
- Now of course there will be false Christs and false prophets, but that does not signify the end of the world.
- In Wars and Rumours of Wars we find that that Jesus’ prophecy of wars and rumours of wars was completely fulfilled in one generation from Christ and that wars have actually been decreasing over time, not increasing as some would try to make us believe.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten 2022