Who Was the Anti-Christ As Prophesied In Matthew 24 of the Original Gospel of Matthew?
According to Matthew's Gospel Jesus warns in verse 5:
(5) For many shall come in My Name saying ‘I am He, the Messiah’ — ‘I am Christ” and shall deceive and lead you astray.
Then in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew as published by Professor Howard, Jesus warns of "apostasy" -- a term of art of that era which means abandonment of the Law given Moses.
(8) But all these things are the beginning of travail. (9) Then shall they give you over to tribulation, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all the nations, that is the Gentiles because of My Name. (10) And then shall many be perturbed and shall deal treacherously with his neighbor, and shall be enraged against his brother. (11) And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray. (12) When apostasy and iniquity shall abound, the charity and love of the many shall grow faint and cold. (OGM 24:5-12.) (OGM = Original Gospel of Matthew by Standford Rives, representing a synthesis of original sources on Hebrew Matthew).
To be clear on the significance of this one different word, the Jewish Encyclopedia says apostasy:
is applied in a religious sense to signify rebellion and rebels against God and the Law, desertion and deserters of the faith of Israel... (“Apostasy and Apostates from Judaism,” Jewish Encyclopedia (editors Isidore Singer, Cyrus Adler) (Funk and Wagnalls, 1912) at 13.)
Then after this interim warning, Jesus refers again to this "gospel" -- of the imposter coming in "my name" (i.e., Jesus) saying "I am He, I am the Christ." It reads in the Original Gospel of Matthew as taken by Standford Rives from the Shem Tob of Professor Howard (published as the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew):
(13) But he that remains standing firm and patiently waits until the end, the same shall be saved and have life. (14) And this gospel of the kingdom [i.e., of the imposter using Jesus’ name in verses 5,23-27 whom the apostate false prophets promote in verses 11-12] shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the Gentiles—the nations / HaGoyim Heb.—concerning me, and then shall the end come. (15) So this is the Anti-Christ [i.e., the imposter using Jesus’ name in vv. 5, 23-27] and this is the abomination that desolates which was spoken of by Daniel as standing in the holy place. Let the one who reads understand.
Lest there by any doubt Jesus is warning about imposters who use His name after He has left, Jesus emphasizes a criteria by which you know it is NOT the true Jesus -- that you must ignore a Jesus who appears in an event that lacks universality. Thus, if someone claims they saw Jesus return in a private appearance or out in the wilderness, Jesus says these are not encounters truly with Himself -- the true Jesus -- once He had left:
(23) If any man shall say to you, ‘Lo, here is the Messiah or, Here,’ don’t believe it. (24) For there shall arise false messiahs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, so that, if it can be, they will come to lead astray the chosen. (26) If therefore they shall say to you, ‘Behold, he is in the desert or wilderness,’ do not go out to see; or if they shall say ‘Behold, he is in the inner rooms,’ don’t believe it. (27) For as the lightning comes forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man.
In my view this figure speaking to Paul was the Anti-Christ, proven by the entry of Trophimus in the Temple in an uncircumcised state in reliance upon Paul's message to Ephesians like Trophimus in Ephesians 2:14-15. In that passage, Paul told Ephesians that the law prohibiting UNCIRCUMCISED Gentiles from entry was done away with. Consider:
- Gentiles who were circumcised were welcome at the Temple, but if “uncircumcised,” they were prohibited from inside the Temple. See, Ezekiel 44:9.
- Trophimus in 58 AD entered the temple in an uncircumcised state. See Acts 21:28-29; 24:6,13,18; 25:7-8.
- Jesus in OGM 24:5 says this Anti-Christ who is seen in the wilderness or in private will cause a desolation of the Temple.
Did this Anti-Christ do so by giving a message to a dupe Christian -- Paul (who was apparently unaware of Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24 about an imposter in private or wilderness appearances) who in turn misled Trophimus?
Consider these facts:
- Trophimus was an Ephesian companion of Paul. (Acts 20:4; 2 Tim.4:20).
- Paul took Trophimus to Jerusalem after being warned by God through the prophet Agabus and the Holy Spirit speaking to other believers that Paul should not go to Jerusalem. (Acts 21:4, 10-11).
- Paul disregarded the prophetic warnings, and went anyway with Trophimus.
- Paul had written the Ephesians like Trophimus that the “middle wall of separation” that kept out uncircumcised Gentiles was “abolished” in the flesh of Jesus which took away “the law of commandments....” (Eph 2:14-15).
- And Paul taught in Acts 17:24 that “the Lord of heaven does not live in temples built by human hands,” but Jesus said God does dwell at the Temple. (Matt 23:21.) God did so dwell there until 70 AD when, according to Josephus, Eusebius, Tacitus and 2 Baruch, God’s voice spoke from the Temple that He was leaving just prior to the entrance by the Roman troops.
For a detailed explanation of these facts, see our article Trophimus.
Obviously, Trophimus was caused to desolate the Temple by the messenger Anti-Christ who in the wilderness of Damascus made his first dupe -- Paul -- among millions, and who unwittingly misled Trophimus to abominate the Temple which Ezekiel says happens if an uncircumcised Gentile (not a circumcised one) enters the Temple.
It is transparent that the "Jesus" whom Paul thought he met on the Road to Damascus was the Anti-Christ warned about by Jesus in the Original Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew at 24:15. For a detailed exposition on Matthew 24:4-7 and 23-27 in the Greek edition of Matthew, see this link.
Compare the Warning in the Apocalypse of Peter from 100-200 AD in Canon
The earliest Christian canon included the Apocalypse of Peter. This book had both a negative reference by Jesus about what appears to be Paul, as well as another prophecy by Jesus of a false Christ using Jesus' name, similar to the one in Matthew 24.
First, the Apocalypse of Peter has a reference that clearly is aimed at Paul, as it repeats the common criticisms about Paul. See "Apocalypse of Peter," Wikipedia. The Apocalypse quotes Jesus saying:
"And they will cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure. But they will become greatly defiled and they will fall into a name of error, and into the hand of an evil, cunning man and a manifold dogma, and they will be ruled without law."
In the same vein, there is another very positive reference to the Law. Speaking of those seen in a vision in hell, Peter writes about certain rich ones in hell: "And these were they that were rich and trusted in their riches, and had no pity upon orphans and widows but neglected the commandments of God." (The Apocryphal New Testament (M.R. James-Translation and Notes)
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924) excerpted at this link.)
Remember Paul taught not to help any widow under 60, in particular those who wanted to remarry, waxing wanton thereby supposedly against Jesus, their new husband. See our article Paul's Command Not to Help Young Widows.
Next, as to the prophecy about those who come in Jesus' name in Matthew 24, Jesus repeats this in the Apocalypse of Peter. The prophecy of Jesus identifies one who is a feigned Christ -- a figure who still fits precisely the Jesus whom Paul met as Paul's Jesus. This figure still did not satisfy the criteria of a universal appearance which Jesus said is the necessary proof to know it is himself:
And our Lord answered us, saying: Take heed that no man deceive you, and that ye be not doubters and serve other gods. Many shall come in my name, saying: I am the Christ. Believe them not, neither draw near unto them. For the coming of the Son of God shall not be plain; but as the lightning that shineth from the east unto the west, so will I come upon the clouds of heaven with a great host in my majesty; with my cross going before my face will I come in my majesty, shining sevenfold more than the sun will I come in my majesty with all my saints, mine angels (mine holy angels). And my Father shall set a crown upon mine head, that I may judge the quick and the dead and recompense every man according to his works. (Id., M.R. James.)
Verily I say unto thee, when the twigs thereof have sprouted forth in the last days, then shall feigned Christs come and awake expectation saying: I am the Christ, that am now come into the world. And when they (Israel) shall perceive the wickedness of their deeds they shall turn away after them and deny him, even [as they did to] the first Christ whom they crucified and therein sinned a great sin. But this deceiver is not the Christ. And when they reject him he shall slay with the sword, and there shall be many martyrs. Then shall the twigs of the fig-tree, that is, the house of Israel, shoot forth: many shall become martyrs at his hand. Enoch and Elias shall be sent to teach them that this is the deceiver which must come into the world and do signs and wonders to deceive. And therefore shall they that die by his hand be martyrs, and shall be reckoned among the good and righteous martyrs who have pleased God in their life. (Id., M.R.James.)
When you put these together, you can now see Paul was aware that a man of "lawlessness" would come first. Paul did not think this was himself. Paul likely was repeating what he had heard about such a man by discussions about the Apocalypse of Peter. Paul was a perfect dupe of signs and wonders that his Jesus gave him, never aware apparently of the universal appearance criteria to verify any new appearance of Jesus in both Matthew 24 and the Apocalypse of Peter.