“Many False Prophets Shall Come in My Name”
The Messiah gave us a clear warning that many false prophets will come in His Name and deceive many.
In Matthew Chapter 24 (aka the short Book of Revelation), when asked by His disciples, Yeshua warned them about the coming of many false prophets before His return,
Say to us, when shall this be, and what is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age? (Mat 24:3)
And the Messiah answering, said to them that the deception of false prophets will be the main sign of His coming.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Mat 24:5 KJV)
The Greek reads the phrase in question “I am Christ” thus, ἐγώ εἰμί Χριστός ego eimi hristos, “I am the anointed” (or mashiach in Hebrew).
Greek or Hebrew
It seems that English correctly translates from Greek. The way it is translated, punctuated, and interpreted in the Christian Bibles, it appears to mean that many false prophets will come to deceive many by proclaiming falsely that they are “the Christ”. In other words, they will come instead of the real Messiah pretending to be Him.
So, what seems to be the issue here?
First, let us recall that in Greek, as in Hebrew, there are no punctuation marks and upper cases. Therefore, our verse (without the punctuation marks) should be rendered from Greek thus,
For many shall come in my name saying I am hristos and shall deceive many. (Mat 24:5)
Still unclear where the issue is?
Let us read in the ancient Hebrew manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew: Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, by George Howard, Mercer University Press, 1995. This is an ancient Hebrew manuscript of Matthew aka Shem-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew (shem tov, Hebrew for “good name”), preserved by the Rabbis and quoted also by Isaac Newton.
The Hebrew manuscript reads verse 5 thus,
For many shall come in My Name, saying, אני הוא המשׁיח (ani hu hamashaich) and shall deceive many.
Wherein אני ani, means “I”, הוא hu, means “he”, and המשׁיח hamashiach, “the anointed [with olive oil] one”.
Now, what really is Yeshua saying here? If He meant to say that many false messiahs will come and deceive many unsuspecting followers, He would have said, אני המשׁיח ani hamashiach, “Many shall come in my name saying, I am the Messiah”, as their quote.
But the Hebrew manuscript reads, אני הוא המשׁיח ani hu hamashaich, not אני המשׁיח ani hamashiach. What is the difference?
The word in question is the third person pronoun singular הוּא hu, which means “he”. This pronoun is only expressed when it is emphatic or without a verb, like in our case in Mat 24:5.
The pronoun הוּא hu, can also mean (intensively) “him”, “himself”, or especially with the article “the same”. Sometimes הוּא hu (as demonstrative) can mean “this” or “that” and occasionally “the same, such, that, these, they, this, those, which is, who”.
Another function of הוּא hu is to point to an anticipating subject: in our case hamashiach, “the Messiah”, or to emphasizing predicate in the sentence.
Thus explained, the verse will read,
For many shall come in My Name, saying, I myself am the Messiah (or I am who is the Messiah) and shall deceive many.
Another possible translation would be,
For many shall come in my name, saying I am this [or the same, such] Messiah and they shall deceive many.
In other words, what the Messiah Yeshua is warning us in His message is frightening clear: many false prophets will come in His name.
For many shall come in my name, saying [that] I am the Messiah Himself and [thus] they shall deceive many.
The difference between Hebrew and Greek is like day and night. While Greek is saying that many false “christs” will rise pretending to be Him, Hebrew reveals the real danger: those who acknowledge Yeshua as the Messiah will deceive many.
How could that be even possible?
And which text, Hebrew or Greek, is saying the truth?
Note: This not the only error in the Greek text of Matthew. When both text, Hebrew and Greek, are compared, the difference are not in favor of Greek. There are many more errors, inconsistencies, and discrepancies, even blunders in the Greek text. For such a blunder refer to the article Did Matthew mistake to quote Jeremiah?
The Hebrew manuscript; it is consistent, reasonable and credible, and therefore convincing, because of the warnings Yeshua further gives in Mat 24:23 and Mat 24:26. We read,
For then there shall be great distress, such as has not been since the creation of the world until now and as will not be. Except those days were few, no flesh would be saved; but for the sake of the chosen those days will be few. (Hebrew Mat 24:21-22)
Here the Messiah is referring to Jacob’s trouble in Jer 30:7, or as it is known in the Christian eschatology: the Great Tribulation. Both the prophet Daniel and Yeshua the Messiah refer to this time as the greatest time of trouble that Israel will ever know (see also Dan 12:1).
At that time, if anyone says to you, “Look, the Messiah is here or there!“, do not believe it. (Hebrew Mat 24:23)
And the Messiah continues with the warning that false messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will give many signs and wonders to the people, so as to deceive even the chosen ones.
Then they will say to you, “Look, He is in the desert!”, do not go out; and “Look, He is in the chambers!”, do not believe it. (Hebrew Mat 24:26)
With that being said, if the Greek text is the true one, according to which these imposters will proclaim themselves to be “messiahs”, then we have a problem.
Why should the false messiahs say, “Look, He is here or there!” and send the people in the wilderness or in some hidden places? If they were the messiahs, would it not be more natural for them to say, “Come to me!”, rather than, “Go in the desert. He is there”. That makes no sense at all.
But the Hebrew is consistent throughout the narrative. After Yeshua warns us that many will come and say that He is the Messiah, then they will send the people to places where He is not, and where He is not supposed to be, and thus they will deceive many. To make their falsehood even more convincing, they will show signs and wonders to deceive even the chosen ones.
Yeshua calls them “false messiahs and false prophets” (Mat 24:24).
Who are the false prophets?
So, who are these false messiahs and false prophets? What is the definition of “false teachers” or “false prophets” in that matter?
Mosheh has given us this definition.
All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it. Do not add to it nor take away from it. When there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he shall give you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder shall come true, of which he has spoken to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and serve them”, do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Yehovah your Elohim is trying you to know whether you love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deu 12:32-Deu 13:1-3)
The word נביא navi, a prophet, implies that even when a person has an established reputation, if he asks the people to violate the Torah (“all the words I am commanding you”) and do things YHVH has never told the people to do, this is idolatry, this prophet is a fraud.
Even worse, Mosheh warns, that prophet will be sent by YHVH Elohim to test us whether we will turn away from Him. But that prophet would never lead the people directly to “other god”. Instead, he would create a false image of the true One, which is nothing less than an idol, and then he would say, “This is your God!”, and thus he would deceive many.
Meanwhile, he will give signs and wonders to “prove” that he is sent by God and will pass on the money basket.
Mosheh continues in Deu 18:21-22 to define the words that the false prophets will speak.
In the article How do we know the word which YHVH has not spoken? the present author made a literal translation of it, which gives more light on this issue.
And when you say in your heart, “How do we know the word which YHVH has not spoken?” When the prophet speaks in the Name of YHVH and the word does not exist, nor does it come, that is the word which YHVH has not spoken. Deu 18:21-22)
If a teacher, who speaks words in the Name of the Lord that do not exist in the Scripture, those are the words YHVH has never spoken. That person is a false prophet. Mosheh tells us not be afraid of him; he has spoken presumptuously.
As we explained in the foresaid article, it is not that a prophecy that does not come to fulfillment makes a person a false prophet, but the words he has spoken but do not exist makes him such.
Nowadays, there are many preachers, teachers, and TV evangelists who say words YHVH has never spoken, words that do not exist in the Scripture. They say that the Torah of YHVH has been abolished, Israel has been rejected and replaced by the “Church”, etc. All these words of the modern-day prophets do not exist, YHVH has never spoken them. Those prophets are a fraud.
Therefore, the Prophet Mosheh bade us to await, Yeshua HaMashiach, is not warning us about the danger of false “christs”, i.e. “antichrists” but about the false teachers and prophets who, acknowledging that He is the Messiah, will lead many astray to “faith” Mosheh, the prophets, and the disciples did not commend.
Apostle Shaul desired to spread the faith to change Rome. But sadly, faith did not change Rome, Rome changed the faith.
Continue to the next article The lesson of the prophet for profit.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.