"I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (John 5:43). These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the occasion on which they were uttered and the connection in which they are found, invest them with peculiar solemnity. The chapter opens by depicting the Savior healing the impotent man who lay by the pool of Bethesda. This occurred on the Sabbath day, and the enemies of Christ made it the occasion for a vicious attack upon Him: "Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day" (v. 16). In vindicating His performance of this miracle on the Sabbath, the Lord Jesus began by saying, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (v. 17). But this only served to intensify their enmity against Him, for we read, "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" (v. 18). In response, Christ then made a detailed declaration of His divine glories. In conclusion He appealed to the varied witnesses which bore testimony to His Deity:—the Father Himself (v. 32); John the Baptist (v. 33); His own works (v. 36); and the Scriptures (v. 39). Then He turned to those who were opposing Him and said, "And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (vv. 40, 42, 43). And this was immediately followed by this searching question—"How can ye believe which receive honor (glory) one of another, and seek not the honor (glory) that cometh from God only?" (v. 44).
Here is the key to the solemn statement which begins this article. These Jews received glory from one another; they did not seek it from God, for they had not the love of God in them. Therefore it was that the One who had come to them in the Father’s name, and who "received not glory from men" (v. 41) was rejected by them. And just as eve’s rejection of the word of God’s truth laid her open to accept the serpent’s lie, so Israel’s rejection of the true Messiah, has prepared them, morally, to receive the false Messiah, for he will come in his own name, doing his own pleasure, and will "receive glory from men." Thus will he thoroughly appeal to the corrupt heart of the natural man. The future appearing of this one who shall "come in his own name" was announced, then, by the Lord Himself. The Antichrist will be "received," not only by the Jews, but also by the whole world; received as their acknowledged Head and Ruler; and all the modern pleas for and movements to bring about a federation of the churches and a union of Christendom, together with the present-day efforts to establish a League of Nations—a great United States of the World—are but preparing the way for just such a character as is portrayed both in the Old and New Testaments.
There will be many remarkable correspondences between the true and the false Christ, but more numerous and more striking will be the contrasts between the Son of God and the Son of perdition. The Lord Jesus came down from Heaven, whereas the Antichrist shall ascent from the bottomless Pit (Rev. 11:7). The Lord Jesus came in His Father’s name, emptied Himself of His glory, lived in absolute dependence upon God, and refused to receive honor from men; but the Man of Sin will come in his own name, embodying all the pride of the Devil, opposing and exalting himself not only against the true God, but against everything that bears His name, and his deepest craving will be to receive honor and homage from men.
Now since this parallel, with its pointed contrasts, was drawn by our Lord Himself in John 5:43, how conclusive is the proof which it affords that the Antichrist will be a single individual being as surely as Christ was! In further proof of this 1 John 2:18 may be cited: "Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that Antichrist cometh, even now hath there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour" (R.V.). Here the Antichrist is plainly distinguished from the many who prepare his way. The verb "cometh" here is a remarkable one, for it is the very same that is used of the Lord Jesus Christ in reference to His first and second Advents. The Antichrist, therefore, is also "the coming one," or "he that cometh." This defines his relation to the world,—which has long been expecting some Conquering Hero—as "the Coming One" defines the relation of the Christ of God to His Churches, whose Divinely-inspired hope is the return of the Lord from Heaven.