Saturday, August 6, 2022

A Biblical View of the Antichrist

The Bible predicts a coming Antichrist, a representative of Satan who is the embodiment of evil. The term antichrist (Gk. antichristos) is found in 1 John 2:18: “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.” John refers to a specific Antichrist to come, yet he also mentions “antichrists” that have already arrived. These are not the Antichrist, but they function in the spirit of antichrist, opposing who Jesus is and what he stands for. We can expect many who possess the antichrist spirit while knowing that a personal Antichrist is also still coming.

The prefix anti- can mean “against” or “instead of.” So is the coming Antichrist openly “against” Jesus, or is he a counterfeit pretending to be a messiah figure? Both concepts could be true. He is a counterfeit to the Messiah in that he will make a deceptive treaty with the people of Israel (Dan. 9:27) and pretend to be their savior. Yet he is against Jesus by opposing Jesus and his saints. He also will persecute Israel at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week. In sum, he is both a counterfeit and one who opposes Christ.

Daniel offers the most detailed information about the Antichrist in the Old Testament. This evil person is the blasphemous political ruler, the “little horn” who speaks great and boastful words and wages war against the saints of God (Dan. 7:8, 21). He is the wicked “prince” who arises from the Romans (Dan. 9:26). This prince makes a covenant with the Jewish people for seven years but breaks this covenant at the midpoint, stopping the Jewish sacrificial system and desolating the temple (Dan. 9:27). In Daniel 11:36–45, he is the willful king who exalts himself, speaks against God, rejects any rival gods, and trusts in his military might.

The apostle Paul refers to the Antichrist as the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3). Relying on Daniel 9:26–27 and 11:36–45, Paul reveals that this evil man arrives in connection with the day of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:1–2). This person “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thess. 2:4). His presence in God’s temple is associated with the desolation of the temple that Daniel 9:27 predicted. Jesus refers to this event as “the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (Matt. 24:15). This horrible event of desolation leads to intense persecution in Judea, which Jesus warns about in Matthew 24:16–22.

The most detailed discussion of the Antichrist was revealed to the apostle John and recorded in Revelation 13. John refers to this individual as a “beast.” This beast comes from the nations and is empowered by Satan (Rev. 13:1–2). He recovers from a mortal wound with some kind of resurrection that causes the world to marvel at him (Rev. 13:3). He blasphemes God (Rev. 13:5–6), wages war on the saints, and exercises authority over the earth (Rev. 13:7–8). He attempts to establish a permanent kingdom on earth for Satan.

Debate exists as to whether the Antichrist will be a Jew or a Gentile. Possible evidence for being a Jew is found in Daniel 11:37, which says that he will “pay no attention to the gods of his fathers.” Some translations such as the King James Version set “God” in the singular. If this is the case, then he is rejecting the God of the Jewish patriarchs. Most translations, however, render this as “gods,” making it likely that Gentile gods are in view. This latter view is the more probable case. So the Antichrist arises from European nations (Dan. 7:7–8, 23–25; cf. Rev. 13:1). Also, since he is the prince who comes from the people who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 (Dan. 9:26), he must come from the Roman Empire, for the Romans were the ones who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Also, Daniel’s prediction concerning Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215–164 BC) in Daniel 8:9–14, 23–25 supports the view that the Antichrist will be a Gentile. Antiochus was a Syrian who desecrated the Jewish temple around 167 BC by instituting Zeus worship in Jerusalem and having a pig slaughtered in the temple. This desolating act seems to prefigure what the Antichrist of Daniel 9:27 will do. Since Antiochus was a Gentile, the Antichrist will probably be a Gentile as well.

While a frightening and powerful figure, the Antichrist has a brief career and is destroyed. Paul says that Jesus “will kill [the man of lawlessness] with the breath of his mouth and bring [him] to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8). Daniel says that a “decreed end is poured out on the desolator” (Dan. 9:27) and that “he shall come to his end, with none to help him” (Dan. 11:45). This “beast” is thrown into the lake of fire at Jesus’s return, where his fate is sealed forever (Rev. 19:20).