This info below is ©1999, Randy Pope. It explains things well in my opinion, and makes clear that the antichrist is not one man, but a system and a group of people. And that the last days have been going on for some time now, as “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). The signs and prophecies are being fulfilled, and one could accurately conclude that today, we are in the last seconds of the last days. Blessings.
Q. I have always been taught that the Tribulation is a future seven year
period which takes place right after the Rapture. The antichrist will
arise then, right? Where in the Bible does it say that the Tribulation is
seven years long?
A. Not one verse in the entire Bible says the Tribulation is seven years long. Some point to Daniel 9:24-27 as teaching this, but unless one comes to this passage already believing in the supposed seven-year Tribulation (which is, of course, the point to be proven), he will not find it there. Until about 150 years ago, no biblical commentator, no theologian, no church in Christendom had ever taught such a doctrine. The Tribulation is simply not mentioned in Daniel 9. But if the seven-year Tribulation is not here, there where is it?
One would expect that a doctrine as supposedly integral to the church’s understanding of the last days as this one purportedly is would be more evident in Scripture. Instead, the doctrine of the “seven-year Tribulation” is supposedly found solely in an admittedly complicated and difficult passage in Daniel 9. This passage in Daniel lends itself to a plain interpretation regarding the life and death of Christ, with no need for fanciful extrapolations about the Tribulation.
Moreover, if the future seven year tribulation is to be found in Daniel, an unmentioned 2,000+ year “parenthesis” must be inserted (by the reader) between the 69th and 70th “weeks” of the prophecy, without contextual or hermeneutical warrant. Seventy “weeks” of years are mentioned in Daniel 9, but there is absolutely no hint in the biblical text which would lead one to postulate a 2000+ year gap between the 69th and 70th weeks, as the “seven-year Tribulation” theory requires. This treatment of the text is hardly “taking the Bible literally,” as the purveyors of this doctrine pride themselves in doing.
Q. What passage teaches that the Tribulation is characterized by the emergence of the antichrist?
A. No passage teaches this specifically. It may surprise some, for example, that the Book of Revelation, which is the supposed source of much of the teaching about the Tribulation, never once even mentions the antichrist. The Greek word άντίχριστος, “antichrist”, appears nowhere in the entire book. However, once the concept of the antichrist is rightly understood, it becomes clear that antichrist is present during the Tribulation. The issue is, however, what and when is the biblical tribulation.
Q. If the Tribulation is not a seven-year period in the future led by the
antichrist, what is it?
A. The Tribulation is the time of persecution of God’s people, ultimately under the direction of the spirit of the antichrist, which takes place in the last days.
Q. So antichrist is involved in the Tribulation?
A. Yes, if the Tribulation is rightly understood. In 1 John (written by the Apostle John, also the author of Revelation), John writes to believers in the 1st century: “Dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour,” and “This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son,” and “…every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This it the spirit of the antichrist, which you
have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 2:18; 2:22; 4:3).
Q. How can John say that in his day it was already “the last hour?”
Aren’t the last days still in the future?
A. Again, we must let the Bible define its own terms. According to the Bible, we are now, and have been since the time of the Apostles, in “the last days.”
As we have seen above, John said that in the 1st century it was already the “last hour.”
In Revelation 1:3 he writes that “the time [of the end] is near.”
In Revelation 3:10, Jesus warns of “the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world.”
Paul says that his 1st century readers were those “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11) and that “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).
The writer to the Hebrews says that” in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son…” (Hebrews 1:2) and wrote in the 1st century, “…now once at the consummation, He has been manifested to put away sin…” (9:26).
James writes, “…the coming of the Lord is at hand…the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:8,9).
Peter says that Christ has appeared “in these last times” (1 Peter 1:20) and that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter says that Joel’s prophecy concerning the last days was being fulfilled there on that day: “…this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth my spirit on all mankind…’” (Acts 2:16-17).
Summary: these verses (and many others) plainly illustrate the fact that the writers of the New Testament defined the age in which they were living, the 1st century, as already being part of “the last days,…the end times.”