Polycarp (69AD to 155AD) was personally instructed by the Apostle John and communicated regularly with many who had seen Jesus. He served as the bishop of Smyrna. His writings stressed perseverence in the faith, avoiding materialism and financial dishonesty. He also fought against Marcionism, which redefined the nature of God and rejected the Old Testament and its teachings, along with other heresies.
Irenaeus (130AD to 202AD) was a disciple of Polycarp. He wrote the five volume work AGAINST HERESIES. In volume 3 of AGAINST HERESIES, Irenaeus wrote of Polycarp and that he had always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles and “alone were true.”
Hippolytus (170AD to 235AD) was a disciple of Irenaeus. Hippolytus believed it was his obligation as a disciple of Irenaeus; who was a disciple of Polycarp; who was a disciple of the Apostle John to master, teach, and preserve the unchanged teachings of the Apostles. His main work was titled TREATISE ON CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST.
Here are some of the many things that Irenaeus and Hippolytus agreed upon in their writings.
1. Satan will appear as a man in the form of Antichrist.
2. The Antichrist will achieve his objectives by being accepted as the Christ, take his seat in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, and reveal the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel.
3. The Antichrist is the little horn of the fourth beast in Daniel 7. He will slay three of the other horns and reign as an eighth with the other seven.
4. The Antichrist will achieve his objectives in the middle of the final seven year period of this age. He will fully reign for three and a half years.
5. The Antichrist will deceive the majority of people into believing he is god. He will persecute those who refuse to worship him because they are able to see through his lie.
6. Jesus Christ will return to earth at the end of the three and a half year reign of Antichrist. He will destroy Satan’s kingdom and the resurrection of the just will occur.
These pillars and fathers of the early church believed in a future antichrist, a rebuilt temple, and a tribulation period. They wrote after the events in 70AD. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, they stated that it would be rebuilt. Amazingly, you can infer by their writings, that these were the beliefs passed down by the Apostle John and many who had seen and been with Jesus Christ.
Why is this important ?
Because there are many teachers, pastors, and ministers who teach the exact opposite. In fact, they ignore the facts. They ignore history.
Let me give you an example of their cleverness.
Some teach that there is no Antichrist because the Book of Revelation never uses the term “antichrist” and where the word antichrist is used(in 1 and 2 John) it refers to the spirit of gnosticism. They claim that the beliefs in an Antichrist figure is not addressed anywhere else in Scripture.
If we went by their logic or “philosophy” of Biblical interpretation then did you know that Jesus Christ was not our Kinsman-Redeemer ? Nowhere in the New Testament is the term kinsman-redeemer used in reference to Christ. Did you know that Jesus Christ is not The Branch of Righteousness because He is never called that in the New Testament ? Did you know that Jesus is not our Prince of Peace because that term is never found in the New Testament ? Wonderful Counsellor ? Mighty God ? And on and on and on.
The truth is that there are at least 30 references and or allusions to the Antichrist in the Old Testament. There are at least 10 references or allusions to the Antichrist in the New Testament.