For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (ASV)
False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer great signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen. (CEB)
False messiahs and false prophets will come and work great miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God’s chosen ones. (CEV)
For false-christs and false-prophets will arise and give great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the chosen ones. (DLNT)
False Christs (Messiahs) and false prophets will arise and show signs and [work] miracles to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (those God has chosen out for Himself). (AMP)
There will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing signs and wonders for the purpose, if possible, of misleading the chosen. (CJB)
For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and give signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (DARBY)
False ·Christs [Messiahs] and false prophets will ·come [appear; rise up] and perform ·great wonders [signs; miracles] and ·miracles [wonders; marvels]. They will try to ·fool [mislead; deceive] even the ·people God has chosen [elect], if that is possible. (EXB)
We all like to quote the passages above, in a variety of translations (because, for the most part, the passage’s message remains the same) whenever a cult leader seems to rise up. I remember the panic in people’s voices when they heard about David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas, or the work of the Heaven’s Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite, or some of the other groups that, to this day, still seem to send chills down the spines of people who simply can’t believe – or fathom – anyone followed these people.
Sure, the leaders of these different were odd, at best, demonic, at worst. The things they did and the ways in which they manipulated people’s minds were not only evil, they had a characteristic of wrong about them that doesn’t cotton well in the minds of average people. My question, however is as follows: in keeping with the passage, which makes it obvious that multiple people will come in order to deceive, is claiming to actually be Jesus Christ or the Messiah incarnate really what this passage is literally speaking of?
Take a guess, if you will, just how many people in recorded history have claimed to actually be the Christ Incarnate. How many do you think it’s been? 10,000? 1,000? Even 500?
Nope. The actual number is not even 100. In recorded history, approximately 35 historical figures have actually claimed to be the Messiah, or claimed to be “the Christ.” While I am sure there have been others that we don’t know about (which should say something in and of itself to us), or others who maybe history has obscured, with 35 on record, that pretty much clears up that there was never going to be some sort of mass movement towards people claiming to be the Second Coming, Jesus Himself, the Incarnation of the Christ, or some combination of all three.
The way this prophecy reads, it is surely not only a reference to the 35 people who outright claimed to be Jesus. The reality of these people is that very few people in history ever really bought into their claims that they were Christ and, therefore, their work had very minimal, if any, effects on the larger principle of the “elect” or “chosen” in history. Out of the list of people who claimed to be Christ, very few of them ever even claimed Christianity for themselves, or did something that obviously distorted the belief system to the point where not too many followed or believed them.
This means that, as with most things Biblical, we need to go back and look – again – at the warning and the passage. The term “false Christ” and “false Messiah” are the same word in the Greek, it being “pseudochristos” (#5580, Strong’s). (Note: these are different terms from the word “antichrist,” which is “antichristos,” and indicates being against something, rather than being false). This term has been translated to mean “false Christ” as in the person of Christ, but what it literally means is “false anointing” or “false anointed one.” It is parallel in structure to the term for “false prophets,” which is “pseudoprophetes” (#5578, Strong’s). In other words, the Bible is not just telling us to beware a few random people who will claim to be Jesus Himself – but are warning us to beware people who come, having a “false anointing” or a “false prophecy” – one that appears (where we get the prefix pseudo-from) to be anointed or appears to be prophetic – but indeed, is not.
All of us have met someone who claimed to be something in ministry, but their claims just didn’t seem to match up with the reality of who and what that person is. For example: a deliverance minister who doesn’t seem to have any success stories, nor do they have the gift of healing or discernment. An apostle who doesn’t cover any leaders, but just seems to wander around, not really leading anyone and not building up the church in some way (I did not say ‘a’ church, I said ‘the’ church, which is a word for another message). People who can’t seem to give an accurate word, no matter how hard they try, or who give words that are so convoluted, nobody understands them. People who seem to sound good – maybe they can preach the part, look the part, or sound the part – but who, at the end of the day, just don’t have what is needed to measure up to the claims that they have – are operating and misleading via a “false anointing.” The second they are somehow confronted with this, even if it’s done in an innocent way (such as not agreeing with the word or not accepting something that they say), they suddenly turn and become punitive, demanding repentance or somehow questioning your own relationship with God as being sub-par to their own.
The reason why we are told to beware these types is not just because they can mislead us into error. That is part of it, but the real reason relates to deception. The line between a true anointing and a false one is rather thin and any one of us can deviate off into the realm of false appearances if we start doing anything that we do through our own human productions, mimicking and mocking the realm of the Spirit, thus blaspheming it (Matthew 12:31-32). God wants us, at all times, to remember the anointing moves through us, but is not us (2 Corinthians 4:7). The deception of the elect, the chosen, of those whom God has His hand upon, is about far more than denying Jesus and turning to someone else; it is about the principle of idolatry, which we see all throughout the Old Testament. The Israelites always claimed to be of God and wanted to rely on God when things were difficult for them or being followers of God seemed to be beneficial. Israel consistently wanted the benefits, but didn’t want the exclusivity of following God as He required them to. The false anointing leads us into a similar state: we want God’s benefits but we want to be enchanted and entertained by the false anointing, as well. Too often, we want to be around people who keep us with the appearance of God, but who actually deceive us into thinking we are all right where we are, with the attitudes and issues we have, and that God is not asking us to change.
False christs and false messiahs are a far more serious problem for the Body because they reveal to us the deceptions we all have: the hopes to be more than we are or than God has for us, the desire to hear that we don’t have to change or transform, and the concept that we can produce an anointing for ourselves, as long as it looks just like we have been transformed to other people.
Beware the real “false christs” and “false messiahs” that walk among us every day, in our churches, our lives, on the internet, even on television or radio. God has called us to be alert and aware, and understand the way the anointing works. If something or someone sounds eerily like exactly what you want to hear at that moment…it’s time to step back, pray, and consider a false anointing is at work with a familiar spirit behind it.
© 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.