“…Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many…And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many…Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there: believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets…Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert: go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Mt. 24: 4, 5, 11, 23, 24, 26).
In Position Paper #1 we listed a number of events that Jesus told His disciples would take place during the generation of time that they were living in. In this Position Paper we will provide evidence to support the actual fulfillment of another of the statements that Jesus made on that particular day, the appearance of false prophets and false Christs.
1. Only a short time after Jesus had ascended, Acts 8: 9, 10 informs us that the first of these impostors came into view. A man by the name of Simon who is called Simon Magus from the Greek word for sorcery which is “mageno.” This word is used to indicate a seer, prophet, false prophet or sorcerer. Simon was a Samaritan who had convinced a number of people that he was the one sent by God. Thomas Newton, in his work entitled, Dissertations on the Prophecies, 1754, writes, ” For very soon after our Saviours decease appeared Simon Magus, Acts 8:9, 10, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying This man is the great power of God! He boasted himself likewise among the Jews, as the Son of God” (The Prophecy of Matthew 24, Dissertation XVIII).
2. The Scripture also notes an Egyptian who had succeeded in leading four thousand men out into the desert (Acts 21:38). In this case it appears that the pack that he led into the desert were the low-life [murderers/cutthroats] of the city.
3. The Jewish historian Josephus writes of one by the name of Theudas who rose up during the time that Cuspius Fadus was procurator of Judea (about AD 45/46). Josephus writes:
“…a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.”
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 5, Paragraph 1, Lines 97–99.
4. Josephus writes that this period of time was filled with such impostors. He writes that:
“…these impostors and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs, that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them.”
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 8, Paragraph 6, Lines 167, 168. A similar description by Josephus appears in The Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 13, Paragraph 4, Lines 259, 260.
5. Josephus additionally writes that:
“…the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude. Yet did Felix catch and put to death many of those impostors every day, together with the robbers.”
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 8, Paragraph 5, Lines 160, 161.
It is well documented in the historical records that the prophecy given by Jesus in Matthew 24 at the beginning of this Position Paper was fulfilled during the lifetime of those to whom Jesus had spoken.