There is a difference between “false christs” and FALSE PROPHETS. False christs represent themselves as false messiahs. FALSE PROPHETS work signs and teach lies to deceive. They also predict events, near and future, that are not true and do not come to pass. In AD 30, prior to the second coming Parousia of Christ in AD 66-70, the Lord told His disciples that there would be FALSE PROPHETS showing great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
“11Then many FALSE PROPHETS will rise up and deceive many.” (Matt. 24:11).
“24For false christs and FALSE PROPHETS will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matt 24:24).
Now these FALSE PROPHETS about whom the Lord was talking were Jewish. They showed signs and wonders to deceive the Jews about Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Some of them specifically worked under the influence of Satan to deceive the Jewish people to go to war against Rome. Some of these FALSE PROPHETS at that time were hired by the leaders of the Jewish Zealots to deceive the Jews into believing that God was on their side against the Romans; and the Jewish High Priests, who all declared that Jesus was not the true Messiah. There were fifteen such High Priests from Caiaphas, who condemned Jesus in AD 30, through Phinehas in AD 68-70.
“1But there were also FALSE PROPHETS among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” (2 Pet. 2:1).
“1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many FALSE PROPHETS have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1).
At the second coming of Christ there were FALSE PROPHETS that John described in his Revelation. This occurred in the first century and was at the time of Christ’s final judgments.
“19And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20Then the beast was captured, and with him the FALSE PROPHET who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were CAST ALIVE INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE burning with brimstone.” (Rev. 19:19-20).
Jesus taught the Jews and His apostles that there would be FALSE PROPHETS who would continually come forward to deceive in that first century generation. He said that they would be able to identify these FALSE PROPHETS by their fruits.
“15Beware of FALSE PROPHETS, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20THEREFORE BY THEIR FRUITS YOU WILL KNOW THEM.” (Matt 7:15-20).
Paul also described the Judaizing teachers as false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13). Also see: (2 Tim. 2:16-17; 3:13-14), (Acts 20:29-30).
Josephus mentions repeatedly that all the Zealot leaders, especially Eleazar b. Ananias paid false prophets to deceive the people to fight in the rebellion and support their cause [Wars 6:285-288 (6.5.2-3)].
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 1 Matt. 24:1-14”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 2 Rev. Chapters 5 thru 9”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 4 Rev. Chapters 13 thru 20 on The Beast”]