I happened to notice that the JW site features a very brief article entitled Who Is the Antichrist? On the surface, it appears to provide the answer. Below are a few bullet points provided to help us identify an antichrist.
Denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) or denies that he is the Son of God. —1 John 2: 22.
Opposes the Christ, God’s Anointed One. —Psalm 2: 1, 2; Luke 11:23.
Pretends to be the Christ. —Matthew 24:24.
Persecutes the followers of Christ, since Jesus views what is done to them as being done to him. —Acts 9:5.
Falsely claims to be a Christian while practicing lawlessness or deception. —Matthew 7: 22, 23; 2 Corinthians 11:13.
They promote false ideas related to Jesus. (Matthew 24: 9, 11) For example, those who teach the Trinity or that Jesus is Almighty God actually oppose the teachings of Jesus, who said: “The Father is greater than I am.” —John 14:28.
Antichrists reject what Jesus said about how God’s Kingdom operates. For instance, some religious leaders say that Christ works through human governments. Yet, this teaching contradicts Jesus, who said: “My Kingdom is no part of this world.” —John 18:36.
They say that Jesus is their Lord, but they do not obey his commands, including the one to preach the good news of the Kingdom
It is true. According to the apostle, those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh are antichrists. In their ignorance Trinitarians deny that Jesus came in the flesh. They may say Jesus had flesh, but at the same time, they also claim that Jesus was God. Evangelicals accuse Jehovah’s Witnesses of denying Jesus’ divinity, which would suggest that they believe Jesus was divine, which would mean he was more than a mere flesh and blood man. Of course, Jesus was divine when he lived as a spirit in heaven. However, we know that Jesus forsook his divinity and became flesh. Paul said that he emptied himself. Of what? He emptied himself of his divine nature. He left it all behind in order to do God’s will. The only way for Jesus to return to heaven was for him to die faithful. But more than that, as a flesh and blood human he had to first be anointed, begotten by God’s spirit. Claiming Jesus was God is definitely a denial that Jesus came in the flesh, making one an antichrist.
We should not suppose though, Trinitarians are the only antichrists. The Watchtower’s intent is to present itself as the safe haven, which in a sense it has been up to a point. However, consider more closely the Watchtower’s comments. In saying that antichrists ‘falsely claim to be a Christian while practicing lawlessness or deception,’ the article cites 2 Corinthians 11:13. That is where Paul stated that certain men whom he dubbed as superfine apostles “are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
Please take note of the last comment above, regarding those who do not obey Christ’s command to preach the good news. According to the apostle Paul, those who had disguised themselves as apostles of Christ were preaching. That was part of their disguise. They were pretending to be ministers of righteousness and were successful.
Apparently, the false apostles were very prominent men within the Corinthian congregation. It is likely they were accomplished public speakers, even orators according to the Greek tradition, which is why they belittled Paul as having a weak personal presence and being contemptible in his speech. The anointed Christians in Corinth were putting up with those of whom Paul said were preaching a Jesus other than the one he originally preached to them. That is why the apostle expressed his fear that the Corinthians were in danger of having their minds corrupted by such men. Clearly, those ministers of Satan who had cleverly disguised themselves as apostles were antichrists. However, they were not outside the congregation as the Watchtower would have you think. They were very much on the inside and were in a position to influence the entire congregation.
Although the man of lawlessness is not mentioned in this particular article, he is alluded to in a related article with the same title. It is significant that the man of lawlessness is called “the son of destruction,” as was Judas. Judas, being one of the original apostles, was sent out by Jesus to herald the message that the Kingdom of God had drawn near. Judas was also undoubtedly empowered to perform healings and expel the demons, like the other apostles. Contrary to the Watchtower’s description of antichrist, Judas obeyed Jesus up to a point. If anyone was an antichrist, though, it was Judas, who betrayed Christ into death.
In view of the facts presented, why do Jehovah’s Witnesses consider it to be impossible that antichrists could hold positions of responsibility within the leadership of the Watchtower? How naive to assume that deceitful men cannot disguise themselves as ministers today by going out in service and giving public talks and all of that.
Consider one other very important aspect the Watchtower glossed over. Note the third point, with the scriptural citation from Matthew 24:24 regarding those who “pretend to be Christ.” Here is what Jesus said in full: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. Look! I have forewarned you. Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
There have been quite a few unhinged individuals over the years who have claimed to be Jesus. But none of those crazies have fulfilled the words of Christ. How do we know? Because Jesus was foretelling events that would come to pass after the great tribulation is cut short. That is when “then” is, as Jesus said, “then if anyone says to you…” (Related article: When is “Then”?)
That means that false Christs and false prophets have not performed great signs and wonders yet. Furthermore, if it were possible to mislead even the chosen ones doesn’t that rule out the clergy or some trinitarian? What influence could they possibly have over those who have been anointed and called into Christ’s Kingdom? The truth is, only the Watchtower could possibly wield such influence over the chosen ones. And the fact that the Governing Body has gone to great lengths to portray the organization as the place of refuge and the ark of salvation is a sure indication that it will pretend to be such at a point in the future when Christ comes, which would place it in opposition to Christ —making it an antiChrist. (See article: The Antichrist Is Coming!)
It is a fact that the Watchtower has been promoting a false parousia since its inception. First 1874 and now 1914. According to Jesus, though, the presence of the Son of man will be like lightning that lights up the entire sky from east to west. What will make it impossible to deceive the chosen ones, no matter how great the signs and wonders are that the false Christs perform? The chosen ones will see Christ. No matter where they are on earth they will see him, just as lightning traverses the entire sky.
That is what Jesus meant by his illustration that the eagles will be gathered to the carcass —not meaning that they will be gathered to a certain location, but that Jesus will be with them. After all, that is what parousia means —being alongside.
Whatever great signs and wonders the Devil’s agents are allowed to perform in the future, we may be certain that when Jesus comes alongside the chosen ones it will have a transformative effect and they will be immune to Satan’s deceptive work.