Imposters claiming to be the Messiah (Christ in Greek). Jesus associated the appearance of messianic pretenders with the fall of Jerusalem (Matt 24:23-26; Mark 13:21-22). Jesus warned His followers to be skeptical of those who point to signs and omens to authenticate their false messianic claims. Jesus also urged disbelief of those claiming the Messiah was waiting in the wilderness or was in “the inner rooms” (perhaps a reference to the inner chambers of the
temple complex). Josephus mentioned several historical figures who might be regarded as false christs: (1) Theudas, who appeared when Fadus was procurator (A.D. 44-46) and summoned the people to the Jorden River wilderness with the promise that he would divine the Jordan like Joshua and begin a new conquest of the land; (2) various “imposter” during the term of Felix (A.D. 52-59) who led crowds into the wilderness with promises of signs and wonders; (3) an “imposter” during the term of Festus (A.D. 60-62) who promised deliverance and freedom from the miseries of Roman rule for those who would follow him into the
wilderness; (4) Manahem ben Judah (alias “the Galilean”) during the term of Florus (A.D. 64-66) who came to Jerusalem “like a king” and laid siege to the city. These messianic imposters and the barely distinguishable false prophets repeatedly urged the Jewish people to take up armed resistance to Rome or to slay in Jerusalem to fight, in contrast, Jesus urged His disciples to
attempt to save themselves by fleeing the city. The Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem remembered this advice when the war with Rome broke out (A.D. 66) and fled to safety in Pelia in Transjordan. Some interpreters expects false christs to arise before the future coming of Christ.