The antichrist… Who is he? What is it? Is the antichrist a person or is it a system? The subject of the antichrist may appear to be a clear-cut and simple subject; however, we have found that the information dealing with the antichrist is extremely complex and varied. Even among scholars, there is no clear-cut answer as to the events of the antichrist, yet we feel that your eschatological viewpoint will greatly influence your opinion of who and what the antichrist is.
In this synopsis, we do not claim any dogmatic views; we simply present various facts and opinions and allow you to decide for yourself. Our purpose is to challenge and stimulate your mind concerning the subject of the antichrist and to provide the tools and means for further biblical study. We have provided scriptural references, have presented, and explored some main questions in order to obtain a better understanding of the antichrist. We hope this information will be of great value to you as you study the book of Revelation.
Antichrist (anticristos): meaning principally against Christ, or secondarily, instead of, or a substitute or pseudo-Christ.
The only actual Scriptural reference of the antichrist is found only in the epistles of John. Through imagery and symbolism, we can see the events leading up to and through the reign of the antichrist. We have made available scripture listings that pertain to this topic.
ANTICHRIST: 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7
Old Testament New Testament Revelation
Ezekiel: 21:25-27; Matthew: 24:15; Revelation 13:1-10
II Thessalonians 2:3-12;
OTHER POSSIBLE BIBLICAL NAMES FOR THE ANTICHRIST
The Bloody and Deceitful Man (Psalm 5:6), the Wicked One (Psalm 10:2-4), the Man of the Earth (Psalm 10:18), the Mighty Man ((Psalm 52:1), the Enemy.(Psalm 55:3), the Adversary (Psalm 74:8-10), the Head of Many Countries (Psalm 111:6), the Violent Man (Psalm 140:1), the Assyrian (Isaiah 10:5-12) , the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:2), the Sun of the Morning (Isaiah 14:12), the Spoiler (Isaiah 16:4-5; (I Thessalonians. 6:26),
the Nail (Isaiah 22:25), the Branch of the Terrible Ones (Isaiah 25:5), the Profane Wicked Prince of Israel (Ezekiel 21:25-27), the Little Horn (Daniel 7:8), the Prince that shall come (Daniel 11:21), the Vile Person (Daniel11:21), the Willful King (Daniel 11:36), the Idol Shepherd (Zechariah 11:16-17), the Man of Sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the Son of Perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the Lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8) the Antichrist (1 John 2:22), the Angel of the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 9:11) , the Beast (Revelation 11:7; 13: 1).
- Is the antichrist a system?
It may be that John is not referring to either of the two Beasts as individuals, but rather he may have been addressing the lawless system that will characterize the principle characters who dominate the end of the age of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Since John is emphasizing the danger of a present doctrinal defection, he is reminding his readers that lawless expressions are the teaching of the antichrist philosophy of Satan. Paul said this spirit of form of belief was already working in the midst of the church in the form of false teachings (2Thessalonians 2:7). This antichrist philosophy which originates with Satan and is referred to by John, will culminate in the beasts of the Revelation in their corporate ministerial functions, where the first bestial images will be in direct opposition to Christ as one who falsely fulfills the original covenant made between God and Abraham to give Israel their land. The second bestial image will assume the place of leadership in the religious realm which rightly belongs to Christ.
John is not overtly trying to identify either of these beasts as antichrist. He is just warning anyone who would deny the person of Christ that they are walking in the belief system, which eventually will culminate in the manifestation of the lawless system in the activities of both bestial expressions.
- Together, in their corporate unity, they culminate lawlessness.
- What does the Old Testament say about the antichrist?
The only biblically consistent interpretation of the concept of an antichrist has been the futuristic view of Scripture that sees the antichrist in a prophetic sense. The central point of the Old Testament view lies mainly in the Book of Daniel: “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. 8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire… 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. 23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time… 26 “ ‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever… 9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. 12 Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?” 14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated…” 23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. 26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future” (Daniel 7:7-8, 11, 20-26; 8:9-14, 23-26; 9:26-27; 11:36-45; 12:7, 11). These are the main verses that deal with the antichrist from Daniel.
- What does the New Testament say about the Antichrist?
Jesus prophesies of the false Christ in the end of the age in Matthew 24:24: For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. Christ constantly refers to Satan as the enemy of God.
The Apostle Paul never uses the word antichrist, but he does develop the concept of the anti-god or antichrist. His major discourse on this concept is found in II Thessalonians 2:1-12. This is where Paul addresses the ‘man of lawlessness:’ Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. He predicts after the lawless one is revealed, the Lord will slay him with the breath of his mouth.
The most important New Testament passage relating to the antichrist is found in Revelation 13:1-10, which addresses the rising of the one beast out of the sea: And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” 5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Some manuscripts sin). 9 He who has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. Revelation 13:11-18 continues with this theme, however the focus shifts to the other beast rising out of the land: 11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.
Variations of interpretation concerning these passages are confusing and numerous, but futurists identify the first beast as the final world ruler before the second coming of Christ, while the second beast is a religious leader working under the auspice of the political authority of the first beast. Obviously, both are antichrist in spirit.
Antichrist, as the two Greek roots of the word indicates, refers to any opponent of Christ. As title in the New Testament however, the term refers primarily to the last great adversary that sets himself up against Christ, and who shall appear during the tribulation period at the end of this age. At that time, the Antichrist will “fill the world with wickedness (exert great influence), and be destroyed by Jesus Christ at His Second Coming.
Biblical Descriptions of Antichrist
John the Apostle is the only New Testament writer to use the term antichrist. He uses it in his first and second epistles in the New Testament: Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour… Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son… but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and 2 John 7).
These Bible verses state the following facts about Antichrist:
- The spirit, which characterizes the future Antichrist, has been at work from the time of the Apostle John, and will continue to work until the end of the age.
- A literal Antichrist who will be the embodiment of evil is expected in the end times, 18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the[c] Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also 3 and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3).
- The spirit of Antichrist is the spirit of apostasy: “They went out from us, but they were not of us (1 John 2:19).”
- The spirit of Antichrist is manifest as a liar, denying or diminishing that Jesus is the Christ: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22).” The word “liar (pseustes pseudo)” as used here suggests the idea of a false man who breaks faith according to Thayer (also, Daniel 9:27), Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
Although no other passage contain the word “antichrist,” several other Bible passages are interpreted by noted theologians to refer to this physical and spiritual opponent of Christ who appears at the end of the age. These passages contain a number of different names and descriptions that can be attributed to any antichrist or antichrist subsidiary:
- The “little horn,” “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words 19 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; 20 and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. 21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. 23 “Thus he said:
‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.
26 ‘But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever (Daniel 7:7-8, 20-26);
- The “prince that shall come,” Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate (Daniel 9:27)”
- The “king” (Daniel 11:36-45);
- The “false Christ” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:6, 21, 22; Luke 21:8);
- The “man of lawlessness;” “son of perdition;” “that lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8);
- The “beast out of the sea” (Revelation 11:7; 13:1-10; 17: 8-17);
- The “beast out of the earth” (Revelation 13:11-17)
There is contention as to how many of these seven biblical references may be applied to the future Antichrist. Before any passage can be ascribed to the Antichrist, there has to be sound evidence that the passage was intended to address the subject of antichrist, and the passage harmonizes with the other passages that make reference to antichrist. The principle that needs to be applied is contingent upon the application of a passage, regardless as to whether or not the Scripture contains the word antichrist. Not every school of interpretation, applies the term antichrist to an individual. Some interpreters see the term as being a political system. Different interpreters identify it with a false religion or teaching.
A Variety of Interpretations
Various interpretations of the passages previously listed are as follows:
- The “little horn”
Daniel the prophet in a vision sees four succeeding images rising out of the sea: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and an nameless beast. The nameless beast possesses ten horns out of which arises another smaller (younger) horn, that serves as an eleventh horn, which emanates from the original cabal of ten. The first three images represent the first three world kingdoms that will are addressed prophetically: Babylonian, Persian, and Grecian. Kings, cities and states all are representational of what we would consider to be modern nations. A fourth unnamed image becomes the representation of the kingdom that would be in existence when the Ancient of Days (Jesus) appears. All ten horns of this unnamed beast represent ten rulers who will begin to exist specifically in order to rule their kingdoms. The eleventh horn or king appears toward the end of the current age, and then overcomes three of the ten kingdoms. There are four specific biblical statements that identify the eleventh little horn (Daniel 7:11, 12; 24-26):
- He speaks strong words against the Most High.
- He persecutes the saints.
- He changes laws for a period of three and one-half years.
- Finally, he will be slain by the direct judgment of God; his body will be burned, and his kingdom will be destroyed.
This eleventh horn will continue to rule and wreak havoc until the coming of the Ancient of Days. Because the biblical description in Daniel is similar to that of the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2, who will be revealed just before the Day of Christ (judgment), this eleventh little horn has typically been identified as the Antichrist of the end time.
- The ‘prince that shall come’
The prince that shall come is said to make a covenant with Daniel’s people (Israel) for one week. Somewhere around the middle of the week, the prince will break the covenant and enact the abomination of desolation (the image referred to in Revelation 13:14, 15). A predetermined prophetic destruction will be poured out upon this prince at the end of the seventy weeks.
Jesus Christ told us that Daniel’s prophecy would need to be fulfilled just before His Second Coming (Matthew 24:15). He also states that the appearance of the “abomination of desolation” would be the introduction of a period of tribulation and hardship unparalleled historically. Christ connects the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy to the future time period when He would return, the “prince” of Daniel 9:27 has been identified with the antichrist of end times.
- The “king”
The passage from which this appellation that is ascribed to the antichrist appears is manifestly difficult to interpret (Daniel 11:36-45). The problem lies in the selection of verses, which may be applied to the end time. Some have seen them as existing over against the portion of the chapter that reveals an later historical fulfillment in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, 165 B.C. The four views held by most Biblical proponents are as follows:
- The entire chapter speaks of the successors of Alexander in Syria and Egypt, up to the end of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (Historical-Critical School).
- The first part of the chapter (Daniel 11:1-20) applies to the Ptolemy’s and the Seleucids; the second part (Daniel 11:21-45) gives the closing events of Israel’s history in the time of the end when Antichrist reigns (Jerome).
- The first part (1-20) gives the history of Alexander the Great successors; the middle section (21-32) tells of the reign of the Seleucid king, Antiochus the Great. A break at verse 33 introduces a prophecy of the time of the end. Verse 36 prophesies specifically of Antichrist (B. W. Newton, the Scofield Bible).
- Verses 5-20 relate the condition of the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt just prior to the rise of Antichrist: Verses 21-45 give the history of one person at the time of the end. A long interval of time exists between verses 4 and 5 (S. P. Tregelles).
As mentioned above in 3c, the Scofield Bible refers the description of “the king” in Daniel 11:36-45 to the “little horn” of Daniel 7, i.e., to the Antichrist of the end time. Accordingly, the following facts applicable to the Antichrist may be gleaned from Daniel 11:36-45:
(1) This king will act according to his own will.
(2) Antichrist will exalt himself above every god, and he will speak against the God of gods. He will disregard the God of his fathers and the desire of women. Some have interpreted this to mean that the antichrist would be a Jew who apostatized from the faith of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He will not regard the Messiah as the King whom the Jewish women desired to bring into the world. Others, however, have interpreted his disregard of the desire of women as a moral offense against womanhood itself, interpreting the “desire of women” as the inherent desire for human love.
(3) He will honor the god of forces or of military strength.
(4) He will be opposed by the king of the South and by the king of the North.
(5) He will enter Palestine, and he will overthrow many countries; however, Edom (Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Dead Sea area), Moab (coastal Jordan, Palestinian territory), and Ammon (Lybia) will escape. With Libya and Ethiopia as his allies, he will overthrow Egypt.
(6) Rumors from the East and the North will trouble him. These rumors have been interpreted as tidings of revolt among the people. He will seek to quell the revolt.
(7) He will be destroyed and none will help him.
Since this king has power at the time that Michael stands up for Daniel’s people (Daniel 12:1; cf. Revelation 12:7), and at the time when there will be unparalleled trouble (Daniel 12:1), and until the time of the resurrection (Daniel 12:1, 2); this passage (Daniel 11:36-45) has been applied to the Antichrist of the end times.
- “False Christ.”
The passages in the gospels containing “false Christ” do not refer directly to a particular Antichrist. They warn of pseudo-Christ’s and false prophets who will arise and deceive many (cf. Matthew 24:11). These false leaders will do great signs and wonders which, if possible, would deceive even the elect.
- “The man of lawlessness;” “son of perdition;” or “that lawless one.”
This passage presents the following facts concerning the revelation of antichrist:
- He will not be revealed until after the “falling away” comes. Two events will precede the Second Coming of Christ: the falling away and the revealing of the “man of lawlessness, the son of perdition.” These two specific prophecies were given to the Thessalonian church to forestall undue speculation and anxiety.
- The definite article, used in the Greek text, specifies the first happening as “the falling away.” The Greek root of “falling away” is sometimes translated in the New Testament as “depart.” Hence, the passage has been interpreted as:
1 ) A “falling away” from the faith, as used in 1 Timothy 4:1 to describe a condition of apostasy of the last times;
2) A “departing,” or rapture, of the church before the day of the judgment of Christ. This would then be in accord with the statement in verse 7.
- He will be called the “son of perdition.” The “son of perdition” means literally “son of destruction.” Since Judas Iscariot is also referred to as the “son of perdition” (John 17:12), some have advanced the view that Judas may be resurrected to become the Antichrist at the end of the age. It is more likely that the antichrist will be like Judas and be possessed completely by satan.
- He will oppose God and exalt himself as God.
- His spirit will be one of lawlessness and iniquity, which is already at work in the world even in Paul’s day (about 51 A.D.).
- He will not come until the hinderer, or restrainer, is moved out of the way. The restrainer or that which withholds (2 Thessalonians 2:6) is neuter, i.e., some definite thing that will be taken out of the way before the Antichrist is revealed. In verse 6, however, the restrainer, or “he that will be taken out of the way,” is masculine and would refer literally to some person or individual who withholds or hinders the revealing of Antichrist. The expression, “be taken out of the way,” is literally “will be out of the midst,” and the word “withhold” literally means, “to hold fast.” The most outstanding interpretations of the identity of the restrainer are As follows:
1) Holy Spirit
Since the work of Holy Spirit is to convict men of sin, iniquity cannot come into full fruition until His removal. The restraining thing would then be the work of the Holy Spirit, and the restraining person, the Holy Spirit Himself.
2) The Church
Since the Holy Spirit abides in the believer, the Church as the body of believers in a sense exercises a restraining influence by checking lawlessness and iniquity.
3) Human Government or Civil Power
Since civil government strives to maintain some measure of law, order, and righteousness, the lawless iniquity of the antichrist could not come into existence until the restraining influence of orderly and righteous civil government is removed.
Some of the early Church Fathers held this view with aspect to the Roman Empire. Later interpreters modified the “hinderer” to be the restraining power of human law, of by one government, but by the many governments of the civilized world.
4) The Determinate Counsel of God
According to this view, Antichrist will not appear until the time predetermined in the mind of God. Theodore of Mopuista (350 A.D.) first held this view.
It is interesting to note that the consensus of Early Church Fathers agreed that the prophecy of 2 Thessalonians 2 had not yet been fulfilled in their day. They concurred in the interpretation of the man of sin as a real person, as the very personification of sin — the antichrist, who would be judged by the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to set up His kingdom.
5) The Restrainer as Angel
When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica about the events at the end of the age that would take place prior to the return of Christ, which is also known as the Day of the LORD, Paul said that: for the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:7, 8). Pretribulation rapturists argue that the restrainer is Holy Spirit. When He is gone with the church, He no longer is restraining or hindering evil. This is what allows antichrist to enter into the picture.
The problems with this are varied, not the least of which is the unveiling of the antichrist, as most pretrbulational teachers place the Temples desecration at the mid point of the tribulation period. This is difficult, as Holy Spirit and the church would have already been gone. The term hinder literally means “to cut up a road.” This means it is impassable. It also carries the implication of forbidding in Daniel, as in the case of the Angel being delayed in making his appearance in Daniel 10:21. This passage identifies Michael as the Prince of Israel, which can be interpreted as guardian. This is important, as Michael is one of the chief princes or angels (10:13). Michael literally means: “who is like El?” The enemy of God, who stands in opposition to Michael’s name is the antichrist, the one who exalts himself against El.
Michael is the one who is seen contending with satan on numerous occasions, even over Moses body (Jude 9). Michael was opposed by the enemy in Daniel 10:13, 20, 21. The word “hold (chazaq #2388, Strong’s),” means to fasten upon, to seize, obstinate, to bind, to restrain. According to Daniel is the restrainer in Scripture, and he is standing fast against the enemy of God’s people.
Since this lawless one continues until the coming of the Lord, and is destroyed by the brightness of His coming, this lawless one has been identified as the Antichrist of the end time.
- The “beast out of the sea”
Two beasts will rise to power in the end times; one, out of the sea; the other, out of the earth. Concerning “the beast out of the sea,” the following facts are revealed:
- He rose out of the sea. According to Revelation 17:15, the sea represents the nations of the world out of which this final ruler rises out of the midst of, thus illustrating a democratic process. The term sea symbolizes loud sounds, as in many waters, or a tumultuous sound as in a multitude of voices speaking at once. In Revelation 13:1 the term “where he stood” is used to identify the sea from which the antichrist rises out of. Revelation 17:15 says that “the waters you saw are where the harlot sits, peoples and crowds, even nations and tongues” tells us that this is a prototypical melting pot democracy. The passage further tells us that the original ten heads hate this little (young) horn.
- He had seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads are seven mountains, which symbolize seven kings dominated by the Harlot Babylon (Revelation 17:9). Five of these kings have fallen, the sixth is reigning, and the seventh has not yet come at the time in the tribulation period that John is describing. When the seventh king comes, he will continue “a little while” (Revelation 17:10). The beast will follow the reign of these seven; he is the eighth in succession, but actually is one of the seven who comes to power again after a deadly wound has healed.
The ten horns (Revelation 17:12) are ten kings who will receive power and authority together with the beast out of the sea (cf. Revelation 13:1-10 and Revelation 17:8, 11). They will rule together for one hour just before they make war on the Lamb — evidently the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:17-21). The beast along with the false prophet is finally captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. All this takes place at the end of the reign of the beast who rules for the final three and a half years of this present age.
The Harlot Babylon (Revelation 17:8) is the great city, which will have dominion over the seven kings, as suggested figuratively by the woman sitting upon the seven mountains. The ten kings, together with the beast, will war against this great city, which they will destroy, and burn with fire (Revelation 17:16). This destruction of Babylon will occur at the close of the tribulation period when the seventh find last bowl of the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth (Revelation 16:17-20) .
- Upon his head were names of blasphemy. The seven kingdoms are blasphemous against God. The final ruler, the least who is of the seven, for instance, openly blasphemes against God, against His dwelling, and against those who dwell in heaven.
- He was like a leopard, a bear, and a lion. These decryptions allude to those given by Daniel in reference to ancient world empires. Here the allusions suggest that the final world dominion of Antichrist will resemble in substance former world empires.
- His power, his throne, and his authority were given him by “the dragon,” which is identified later as Satan Revelation 12:9), who bestows on the beast his own destructive power.
- One head was wounded and healed: The seven heads are seven kings, or kingdoms, one of which suffered a mortal wound, but healed again. One king or kingdom, thus, ceases for a time, but rises again into reigning power.
- The beast continues for forty-two months, the period the time of the end, or of the great tribulation.
- He wars with the saints and overcomes them.
- He is given power over all nations.
- He ascends out of the bottomless pit. As a person, the beast comes up out of the sea, i.e., out of the nations of the world. As energized by Satan, from whom also, he receives his power; the beast comes from the bottomless pit.
- His number is 666, perhaps the symbol of man’s greatest strength, but also symbolic that he is only a man.
- He kills the two witnesses in Jerusalem who, accompanied by supernatural power, evangelize in the end times (Rev. 11:7).
- He is destroyed by the Lamb, goes into perdition, and is finally cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Covenant
The first beast has also been identified with the little horn of Daniel:
1) “Little horn” (Daniel 7) 2) First “beast” (Revelation 13)
- The beast whose power is absorbed into the little (Rev. 13:1) First “beast” (Revelation 13)
- The beast has ten horns Horn has ten horns (Dan. 13:1) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- Rises from the sea (Rev. 7:7). First “beast” (Revelation 13)
- Rises from the sea (Dan. 7:3) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- Has mouth speaking great things (Daniel 7:8) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- Same (Rev. 13:5) First “beast” (Revelation 13)
- Makes war with saints and overcomes them (Rev. 13:7) First “beast” (Revelation 13)
- Makes war with saints and prevails (Dan. 7:21) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- Opens mouth in blasphemy against God (Rev. 13:6) First “beast” (Revelation 13)
- Speaks great words against Most High (Dan. 7:25) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- Woman, who rides on beast and directs him, is drunk with blood of saints (Rev. 17:6) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- Wears out saints of Most High (Dan. 7:25) “Little horn” (Daniel 7)
- The “beast out of the earth” The second beast is described as follows:
- He causes the people of the earth to worship the first beast.
- He works miracles.
- He deceives the people.
- He causes the image of the first beast to be erected.
- He kills all who refuse to worship the image.
- He brands all who worship the first beast.
- He denies civil liberties to those who refuse to worship the first beast.
Two general opinions prevail now as to which of the two beasts in Revelation 13 is the Antichrist:
- L) the first beast of Revelation 13 is considered to be the evil or political leader of the last world empire, while the second beast or false prophet is considered the last ecclesiastical leader of the apostate church and the Antichrist (The Scofield Bible, Arno Gaebelein, H. A. Iron side, . W Grant, William Lincoln, and Walter Scott); and (2) The first beast of Revelation 13 is the civil or political leader known as the Antichrist of the end time, and the second east or false prophet is his assistant (William R. Newell, Jilliam Pettingill, I. M. Haldeman, Joseph Seiss, William Moorhead, Ford C. Ottman, J. Dwight Pentecost, Donald Grey Barnhouse, and Hal Lindsey).
On the supposition that the above verses refer to Anti-Christ, the following statements can be made about the Anti-Christ of end times:
- His Origin and Person
- He will be the eleventh king who will arise from among men last contemporary world kingdoms, which will exist immediately preceding our Lord’s return to earth.
- He will come up from the bottomless pit, that is, he will be energized by Satan himself; he will be called the son of perdition.”
- He will be a proud and arrogant individual who is characterized by the spirit of lawlessness.
- Disregarding the god of his fathers, he will speak blasphemous things against God and against all that is called good. He will set himself forth as god to receive worship.
- His Work
- He will set up the abomination of desolation in the temple.
- He will change times and laws.
- He will honor the god of forces and exercise world authority.
- He will oppose the Lamb.
- He will make a covenant with Israel for one week and break it in the middle of the week.
- He will kill the two witnesses in Jerusalem and persecute the saints.
- Three of the ten last world kingdoms he will overthrow.
- Along with Libya and Ethiopia as allies, he will overthrow Egypt, the king of the South.
- He will enter the glorious land, Palestine.
- With the help of ten kings at the very end of the period, he will destroy the great city, Mystery Babylon that bears rule over the kings of the earth.
- Immediately preceding Christ’s second coming, he will gather the kings of the earth at Armageddon to war against Christ Himself.
- His Time
- He will be revealed when that which “withholds” is removed.
- He will be given power and authority for a period of three and a half years at the end of the tribulation period.
- His Judgment.
The Antichrist will be destroyed by the appearing of Christ at His Second Coming, and along with the false prophet, will be cast into the lake of fire.
The following table summarizes a brief and select history of various interpretations as to the identity of Antichrist:
I Antichrist is:
Held by Polycarp and Barnabas: Victorinus
Martin Luther and John Calvin: Roman Catholic writers, Various writers of that time
Milton Terry in Hermeneutics: Docetism or Gnosticism, Rome, the fourth empire of the visions of Daniel, Nero (616) to be raised from the dead, Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy
Luther and the Protestant Churches: Napoleon and/or Nero (Some apply all details to the first century) The Lord revealed from heaven refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. The first resurrection also occurred then.)
The beast out of the sea is the Roman Empire (Diocletian) and the beast out of’ the earth is the Papacy.
The beast out of the earth is the Roman hierarchy during the time of the Spanish Inquisition (16th Century); fire from heaven is the Inquisition itself.
An embodiment of Satan
The “lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians is a Jewish false Christ, held in check by the Roman Empire. The first beast (Rev. 13) is the restored Roman Empire; the second beast is pseudo-prophecy supporting the first beast.
- W. Hengstenberg, Philip Mauro, Adam Clark, Patrick Fairbairn, R. C. Trench, Bernard Weiss, Fausset: The Papacy
An openly infidel imitation of Jesus, Last ecclesiastical head, an apostate from Christianity (Second beast out of the earth), Last ecclesiastical head, an apostate Jew (the beast out of the earth), First beast of Rev. 13 is Antichrist; the second beast is the false prophet who supports him
- I. Scofield, H. A. Ironside, Arno C. Gaebelein, J. N. Darby, W. R. Newell, also J. Seiss, J. Dwight Pentecost, Donald Grey Barn-house, Hal Lindsey, W. A. Criswell, who add that it may be Judas Iscariot resurrected.
When we consider the Scriptural references as a whole, it is possible to conclude that while the concept of the antichrist can apply to many people and any number of anti-god movements, both in the past and possibly in the future, there is reasonable justification for expecting this to culminate in a single person. This person will be the antichrist, and he will be destroyed by Christ at His second coming. This person will be antichrist from a theological perspective, as he lays claim to be God himself. He will be antichrist politically as he will attempt to rule the world through economic influence and military might. He will be antichrist satanically because he will prosper under satanic power, in much the same way as Christ manifested the power of God. In many respects, the future antichrist will be to Satan what Christ is to God the Father, and the supporting-false prophet of Revelation 13:11-18 will fulfill a role similar to that of the Holy Spirit, justifying the concept of an unholy trinity composed of Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet.