5 ¶ And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Abba Hillel Silver, writing in his 1927 book, The History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, points out that in the first century before the destruction of the temple an expectant enthusiasm burst out hoping for the Messiah to come, probably more due to the Roman occupation than anything along with their understanding of the prophecies in Daniel.
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Theudas is mentioned in Acts 5:36 as being someone who garnered followers as did Judas of Galilee in the next verse.
Acts 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. 37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
The Jewish general, turncoat, and questionable historian, Josephus, reports in his Antiquities of the Jews, in book XX, chapter 5, which you can read free online at openlibrary.org or gutenberg.org, that Theudas told people he was a prophet, took on many followers, and promised to part the Jordan. The Romans didn’t let it get that far but cut off his head and carried it back to Jerusalem.
Silver goes into much detail about the many people throughout history who claimed to be the Messiah and the consequences not only they suffered but their followers as well. He also goes into a great amount of detail about Jews trying to predict when the Messiah was to come.
We know this is not an uncommon thing among so-called Christians in history. People from the nineteenth century’s John Nichols Thorn, a Cornish tax rebel, shot by the British government, Arnold Potter, a Mormon, who died while attempting to ascend into heaven by jumping off a cliff in 1872, to recently David Shayler and Alan Miller, Ann Lee of Shaker fame in the 1700’s, Sung Yung Moon, David Koresh, and David Icke all claimed or claim to be Jesus Christ or the Christ.
There were literally dozens of people in history who would claim to be the Messiah or Christ or the Second Coming of Jesus. There will be one final one; the Beast of Revelation whom we know of as the Antichrist, although that title is not found in the Book of Revelation. He is mentioned prominently, not only by the Apostle John, the writer of Revelation, but by Paul.
2Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
The foundation of Christianity is the belief and assurance that Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, was and is God in the flesh. It is impossible to honestly call yourself a Christian if you do not believe that with all your heart, Bill O’Reilly’s nonsensical views notwithstanding.
Christ has warned His disciples not to believe anyone who says they are Him. Christ is returning to earth to take control, not to lead people into the desert or to jump off a cliff.
2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Of course, who his mighty angels are is revealed in the parallel verse in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 but that is not for this study.
Believe no one who says he or she is the Christ, the Messiah, or Jesus returning. You’ve been warned.