The Antichrist

The Antichrist Title

Scripture tells us that in the end times, there shall be a man who emerges as an exceptionally influential political leader. For the final 3 1/2 years of the end times, this man will empowered by Satan to rise to unprecedented worldwide power. He shall be the king of the final Satanic kingdom on earth, he will receive worship from his subjects, and he will violently persecute people who worship God. We don’t know his name yet, so theologians commonly refer to this man by using the title “Antichrist”.

This title is used because John referenced him by that name in another one of his epistles (discussed below). The title “Antichrist” seems to be highly appropriate, given all that we know about this king.

The Greek word antíxristos (Strongs #500) has the following meaning according to HELPS:

From #473 /antí, “opposite to, in place of” and #5547 /Xristós, “Christ“) – properly, opposite to Christ; someone acting in place of (against) Christ; “Antichrist.” (HELPS Word-studies, The Discovery Bible New Testament, Gary Hill).

That is, the title itself indicates two things about this man: (1) He will oppose Christ, and (2) he will elevate himself to be in place of Christ.

The title therefore implies that this man will be a “counterfeit Christ”. As such, we can expect him to create a deception regarding the true identity of Christ, and thus the true identity of Christ’s followers. By this deception he shall seek and receive the worship that belongs to Christ. At the same time, we can expect him to be a fierce adversary to those who know the true Christ, and are thus undeceived. These expectations agree entirely with the things revealed about this man throughout scripture.

As the preeminent counterfeit Christ, he shall be the second person of an unholy trinity in the end times, that consists of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

How the Word “Antichrist” is Used

The word “antichrist” itself is not found in Revelation, although it is found five times in John’s other epistles. The first three instances are in 1 John 2, and then one more in 1 John 4, and the last one in 2 John.

We shall see that the word “antichrist” is actually used in four different ways:

  1. As a name of a specific individual
  2. As a class of people (to which that specific individual belongs).
  3. As a definition of the term used to reference that class of people.
  4. As a qualifier used to associate something with that class of people.

(1) The Name – “Antichrist”

1 John 2:18a – Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

This first occurrence of the word antichrist in scripture is used as a name. The word is singular and used as if it were a proper name because there is no article (a, an, the, etc.). The absence of the article doesn’t change the identity of this person, but it does make a subtle difference in emphasis.

For example, Christians may say either “the Christ” (with the article) or just “Christ” (without the article as if a proper name), and in both cases they would be referring to Jesus. However, referring Jesus as “the Christ” places emphasis on the office of Christ (or the Messiah), whereas referring to Jesus with the proper name “Christ” places emphasis the uniqueness of the person who fills that office.

The same is true when “Antichrist” is used as a proper name. It refers to a specific, unique person. For this reason, I prefer it capitalized when used in this form (as some translations do, e.g. NLT, HCSB, DRB, WEB).

I stress that this Antichrist will be a real person upon the earth because there are some commentators who propose that “Antichrist” refers to some sort of invisible “spirit” or “movement”. However, this thinking is inconsistent with (1) what the scriptures teaches about him, and (2) with the way prophecy is fulfilled in general.

 (2) The Class – “antichrists”

1 John 2:18b – Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

When the word is given in plural form, it cannot be referring to the same unique individual mentioned above. The phrase “even now many antichrists have appeared” makes it clear that these are people who were already in the world in John’s day. No doubt, there have been people of this class throughout history. John will go on to define who these antichrists are below.

(3) The Definition – “the antichrist”

1 John 2:22 – Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.

2 John 1:7 – For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Sometimes we see the word given in singular form with the article “the”. This form is used only when John is completing a definition of the term “antichrists” by describing the distinctive trait common to any person among the class of antichrists. The definition is that the antichrist is a specific type of false prophet — one who denies the identity of Jesus as the Christ sent from God. While this will certainly be true of the unique individual Antichrist (in v18a), it also applies to each of the antichrists (mentioned in 1 John 2:18b).

 (4) The Qualifier – “the spirit of the antichrist”

1 John 4:3 – and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

In 1 John 4, John talks about “spirits”, explaining that some are true and some false, and that the false spirits are associated with false prophets. These false spirits are collectively called the spirit of antichrist, suggesting that the spiritual influences that attack the identity of Christ in the world today will be the same spiritual influences that will captivate the world when the unique Antichrist appears on earth.

The Word “Antichrist” in Scripture

We will now look at the places in scripture where the word “antichrist” is used in context. All occurrences appear in John’s epistles (the same John who wrote Revelation). In the passages below, I’ve inserted the form (as discussed above) in [brackets].

1 John 2 – 18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist [name] is coming, even now many antichrists [class] have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist [definition], the one who denies the Father and the Son.

v18a “it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming” – This clearly refers to a doctrine with which the early church was already familiar. That doctrine says that some person (singular) would come and uniquely bear the title “antichrist” (no article, indicating a specific person).

Note that the word “hour” often does not always mean a literal hour, nor does it imply a “short time” by some human reckoning. It can refer to a period of time that is appropriate for some purpose, and that purpose is indicated by the context (e.g. John 4:23, John 7:30, Rev 3:10). In this case, the “last hour” is referring to a period of time for which it would be appropriate for Antichrist to appear, and that this period shall be the last such period before the end comes.  (See What does “Soon” Mean?)

v18b “even now many antichrists have appeared” – These “antichrists” must be different from the individual antichrist who was mentioned first. As the following verses explain, they are those who “went out from us, but they were not really of us”. This phrase, like the word antichrist itself, suggests a deception. Specifically, they are people who for a time appeared to be of us, but only falsely, and their deception was exposed by their departure from us.

v22 “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” – This is not referring only to the future unique Satanic king.  Rather, John is defining what he means by “antichrists”. Evidently, while the church had already heard that the unique Antichrist was coming, the teaching about these antichrists was new, thus John needed to provide a definition. He does so by describing the common trait of any such person among that class. John uses the same sort of construction with the word deceiver in 2 John 1:7 (discussed below).

1 John 4 – 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist [qualifier], of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

v1a “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” – This informs us that among the spirits, some are true but some are false. Hence, they need to be tested.

v1b “because many false prophets have gone out into the world” – The word “because” implies a cause-and-effect relationship between false prophets and false spirits. The only reasonable implication is that the false teachers are influenced by the false spirits.

v2-3a “2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist”- Naturally, after saying that the spirits need to be tested, John provides us with the test. This test is essentially the same condition that John gave in 1 John 2:22 mentioned above, except stated in greater detail. The false spirits are collectively called the spirit of the antichrist because the same spirit that influences the unique individual Antichrist also influence these other false teachers.

v3b “of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” – Here, we see that this spirit of the antichrist is something that John’s readers have already heard about, and that it is already in the world. This is evident by the fact that there are already many antichrists in the world.

2 John 1:7 – For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist [definition].

Here, John is using the “the antichrist” in the same sense he used it in 1 John 2:22. That is, he is clarifying what he meant by “many deceivers” by defining any one deceiver, who he refers to as “the deceiver”. As before, the definition applies to anyone who denies the true identify of Christ (expressed here as “those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh”). To make the association absolutely clear, he states plainly that this definition of a deceiver also defines an antichrist.

To summarize the passages above, we see that John’s readers had already heard that two things were coming:

  1. A person called antichrist (1 John 2:18)
  2. A spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3)

In these epistles, John adds to the things that they already heard by saying that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world, as evidenced by the existence of false prophets who attack the true identity of Jesus Christ. John defines all such false prophets as antichrists.

The Person Antichrist in Scripture

There are several passages that refer to the unique person Antichrist, even if they don’t use that title. The context makes it clear that these passages are referring to the same specific person: The final king who opposes God and persecutes God’s people.

Dan 7:24-26 –  24‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. 25He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26‘But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.

This is the explanation of the “little horn” that Daniel saw in his vision. He will (in some sense) emerge from ten kings who themselves emerged from Rome, he will oppose God and His saints, and this persecution will last for the period called time, times, and half a time which follows the midpoint of the end times period.. At the end of this time, his dominion shall be taken away and destroyed.

Dan 9:26b-27 – 26b… the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

This passage is discussed in detail in The 70th Week of Daniel, but the essentials are the same. He will be a ruler who comes out of Rome (his people). He will make a covenant with Israel for seven years, but turn against them in the middle (at 3 1/2 years). In the end his destruction is decreed.

Matt 24:15-16 – 15“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

This is an oblique reference to Antichrist, referring the “abomination that causes desolation” that Daniel mentioned in Dan 9:27.  This refers to an act carried out by Antichrist.

2 Thes 2:3-4 –  3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God

This passage refers to Antichrist as the man of lawlessness and son of destruction. He will oppose God, and even make himself out as God. In the end, the Lord shall destroy him. This important passage will be discussed in more detail below, in the section Antichrist and the Restrainer.

Rev 6:2 – 2I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

This is the first seal event, and the beginning of the seven-year period prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27. A person will appear in a manner similar to Christ (Rev 19:11-12). He will be given a crown (of victory), he will come to conquer and, for a time, he shall succeed.

Rev 11:7 – Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.

Beast” is Revelation’s most prominent term for Antichrist. At this point, he will succeed in killing God’s two witnesses.

Rev 13:1-7 – 1… 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. 2The 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. 3One 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. 4Men 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?” 5The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7He 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.

The Antichrist (beast) receives great power and authority from Satan (dragon). People will worship the beast, and Rev 13:11-14 explains that this worship is due in part by great signs and wonders performed on his behalf, which produce a great deception. He will blaspheme God, and his authority will last 42 months, which is 3 1/2 years. He will conquer the saints (as Daniel foretold) and his authority will be worldwide.

Rev 16:12-14 – 12The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

The sixth bowl event describes the Antichrist (beast) as he brings the armies of the nations against Israel at Armageddon. He accomplishes this through the deception of demonic miraculous signs.

Rev 19:19-20 – 19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

In the end, at the return of Christ, Antichrist (the beast) and his cohort (the False Prophet who deceived the world with miraculous signs), are captured and destroyed forever.

Antichrist and the Restrainer

Outside of Revelation, there is one New Testament passage in particular provides additional insight into understanding the coming of Antichrist. This passage is 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9, and it has been the subject of much debate among theologians. Here, I’ll offer what I believe to be the best understanding of this passage, and discuss how it relates to other passages in scripture.

 3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?

The man of lawlessness can only be Antichrist. He is the one who opposes and exalts himself before God (Dan 7:25) and defiles the temple, in reference to the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel (Dan 9:27, 12:11). He is the one whose destruction is decreed (Dan 7:26, Rev 17:11).

John also referred to this same man in 1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming“. Jesus alluded to him when he cited the abomination of desolation as the key sign that the great tribulation was starting (Matt 24:15).

6And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders

In verses 6 and 7, Paul informs us that the coming of Antichrist is currently restrained by some entity that I shall for now simply call the “restrainer”. Now, the fact that a restraining force is needed implies the presence of an opposing pressure that intends to bring the coming of Antichrist on earth. Paul refers to this opposing pressure as “the mystery of lawlessness already at work“. So, even though the Antichrist is not yet revealed, the pressure to raise up Antichrist is already at work.

Of these two opposing forces, we see that the restrainer is stronger because the Antichrist cannot come until the restrainer is taken out of the way, and he won’t be taken out of the way until it is Antichrist’s time to be revealed — which is of course the end times, and God alone knows when that will be.

What is the mystery of lawlessness?

It is not hard to to determine what the mystery of lawlessness represents, because verses 9-10 say that the coming of the lawless one  is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders. Hence, this mystery of lawlessness, which produces the opposing pressure to raise Antichrist, is the influence of Satan and his demons.

John also spoke of this opposing pressure, except instead of calling it the “mystery of lawlessness already at work“, he called it “the spirit of the antichrist, … already in the world” (1 John 4:3).

John goes on to teach us that this spirit of Antichrist who is already in the world currently manifests his work in the the form of many false prophets who deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God (1 John 4:1, 3). Of course, false prophets also work in accordance with the activity of Satan, but not with the extreme effect as the final Antichrist and the final False Prophet. Jesus also spoke of this when he said “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matt 24:11-12).

Who is the “restrainer” who currently prevents the appearance of Antichrist?

As discussed above, the restrainer must be one who has the power to withstand the power of Satan and his demons. I think John answered this question when he wrote: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). From the previous verse, we know that he who is in the world refers to the “spirit of antichrist who is already in the world“, which refers to Satan and his demons.

Who then, is said to be in believers? Who has greater power than Satan? Who is able to restrain the influence of Satan and his demons for all these centuries and can maintain this restraint until the appointed time for him to be taken out of the way? The only scriptural answer that satisfies all these questions is the Holy Spirit. He must be the restrainer mentioned by Paul in 2 Thess 2:6-7.

When will the restrainer be removed?

At some appointed time, known only to God, the restraint will be removed. Then Antichrist will finally appear on earth, accompanied by power and signs and false wonders. That is, the mystery of lawlessness, which refers to Satan and his demons, will be given the opportunity to bring about the coming of Antichrist.

The event whereby Satan and his demons are given this opportunity is described in Rev 12:9: And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. A voice in heaven announces that Satan has been cast to earth, concluding with this ominous warning in Rev 12:12: Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.

Immediately we see Satan attack God’s people. First, he attacks the “woman” who symbolizes Israel (Rev 12:13), but God will protect her (or at least a remnant of Israel) for the period of time called a time, times, and half a time (Rev 12:14). This refers to the 3 1/2 years (42 months) of the great tribulation. Unable to destroy Israel, Satan turns his attack on Israel’s offspring who hold to the testimony of Jesus, that is, Christians (Rev 12:17). These attacks occur at the midpoint of the seven-year end times period (Dan 9:27).

But how does Satan attack Israel and Christians? The answer is given in the next chapter, Revelation 13, where we see Satan (the dragon) raising up two beasts. The first is the Antichrist himself who boasts before God and makes war with the saints and overcome them for 42 months (Rev 13:5, 7). He will will be finally revealed when he commits an act called the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15, 2 Thes 2:3-4). The second beast raised by Satan is the False Prophet who leads the great deception with false signs and wonders (Rev 13:13-14).

These things mark the coming of Antichrist, which means that the restrainer must have been removed. Since only God knows when the restrainer will be removed, He must be the one who initiates the removal of the restrainer. We see that the casting down of Satan to earth is an event initiated by God through his holy angels (Rev 12:7-8). The casting down of Satan thus corresponds with the removal of the restrainer.

Why will the restrainer be removed?

Scripture makes it clear that when the restrainer is removed and the coming of Antichrist is fulfilled, the immediate effect will be the persecution of God’s people. As described above, the attack will come against Israel and Christians. And this will all happen because God removed the restrainer!

This raises many questions that are often troubling to Christians. Why would God ever remove the restrainer? Why does he thus allow the people called by His name to endure such persecution? Why are Satan and his Antichrist allowed to have a measure of victory in overcoming the saints?

Before answering these questions, we have to face up to the truth that God will remove the restrainer and allow these evil things. This final period persecution (or great tribulation) is abundantly described in scripture, as in the killing of God’s servants (Rev 6:11, Rev 13:7), in Jesus’ warnings (Matt 24:9, 21, 22), and in Daniel’s prophecy (Dan 7:21, 25, Dan 12:1).

As for why God will do this, we should ask ourselves: Has anything like this has ever happened before? Has God ever willingly removed His presence and protection from His people, allowing them to face such terrifying persecution from ungodly, Satanically influenced people?

The answer is yes. The greatest example of this is when God allowed His people Israel to be attacked, murdered, and taken captive by the pagan kingdom of Babylon, in 586 BC. Immediately before that event, God’s presence was removed from the temple (Ezek 10:18), effectively symbolizing the removal of the restrainer that protects Israel from her enemies. Not long after this, the temple was destroyed by Babylon.

God normally protected Israel from her enemies, but on occasions when Israel sinned, he allowed her to be defeated (e.g. Josh 7:1, 4). In the years leading up to Babylon’s defeat of Israel, Israel had engaged in all sorts of idolatries. God had sent several prophets warning them to repent, but the prophets were ignored, and so God used the pagan kingdom of Babylon to carry out His punishment of Israel (Zech 7:11-14, Dan 9:5-6, 7).

So instead of asking “why would God allow His people to be persecuted by the ungodly?“, we should ask “why else would He allow it?“. God would allow that to happen only if He was displeased with those who were called by His name, and they ignored His warnings to repent.

This raises some final troubling questions: Do we have reason to believe that God is displeased with the churches on earth? Are churches ignoring His warnings?

I would say: Of course God is displeased. Why does Revelation begin with the messages to the churches which are full of rebukes and warnings to repent? Why do scriptures tell us about the corruption of churches in the last days (2 Tim 3:1, 4, 5, 2 Tim 3:13, 2 Tim 4:3-4). And why does Revelation symbolically link the persecuting force of the end times with the name Babylon (e.g. Rev 17:5-6, Rev 18:20) — the Satanic kingdom that God used to punish His people Israel?

Anyone who knows the scriptures can look around and see even today that many churches grossly misrepresent Christ in many different ways. We cannot expect this to go on unpunished. When God decides that the punishment is due, He shall remove the restrainer, allowing the coming of Antichrist.

The relation of Babylon to the end times is discussed further more in The Great Harlot and Babylon.

A Preview of Antichrist

In the Old Testament, there are some people who serve as a type of Christ. That is, they bear a similarity to Christ and thus give us sort of a preview of Christ. The most prominent examples are Melchizedek (as a priest), Moses (as a lawgiver and prophet) and David (as a king).

I believe the Bible also includes some people who serve as a type of Antichrist, such as Pharaoh and Haman, and these people give us a preview of Antichrist. However, the most definitive type of Antichrist is given in Daniel chapter 11. There, Daniel relates an amazingly detailed prophecy about people and events that will follow the Persian empire, and this prophecy was fulfilled with precision. One of the persons foretold in this prophecy is the “despicable person” introduced in Dan 11:21, and the things said about him were fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes who reigned over the region of Judea 175 to 164 BC (centuries after Daniel wrote these prophecies).

Below are the things Daniel foretold about that “despicable person“, which were fulfilled by Antiochus IV, and which closely parallel the things foretold about Antichrist:

  • He attacked Jerusalem.
  • He entered the Temple in Jerusalem and set up an “abomination of desolation”.
  • He coerced many of God’s supposed representatives into apostasy.
  • He spoke boldly against God.
  • He threatened the representatives of God with death if they refused to enter into his idolatry.

Antiochus IV is also referenced in Dan 8:9 where he is symbolically called a “little horn”, which is the same title ascribed to Antichrist in Dan 7:8.

These things make it clear that Antiochus IV is a type of Antichrist, which means that we may get a glimpse of the sort of person Antichrist will be by understanding what Antiochus IV was like. Below, we shall see what Antiochus IV was like from the fulfilled prophecies of Daniel 11, as well as other historical documents.

Daniel 11:21 – “In his place a despicable person will arise, on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred, but he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue.” – Antiochus IV was not the legitimate heir to the throne. When his father, Antiochus III (also known as “Antiochus the Great”) died, his son Seleucus IV (the older brother of Antiochus IV) assumed the throne. He ruled briefly, but was then killed. The rightful heir would have been Seleucus’ son Demetrius. However, Demetrius was being held hostage in Rome at the time, and so Antiochus IV seized the throne for himself. As the prophecy says, he gained the kingdom by intrigue (illegitimate political maneuvering).

  • We may expect Antichrist to be the same sort of despicable character, possibly rising to power with the benefit of some shady maneuvering.

Daniel 11:22 – “The overflowing forces will be flooded away before him and shattered, and also the prince of the covenant.” – There is debate over the exact meaning here, but a common idea is that the “overflowing forces flooded away before him“ means that the forces that were in place to prevent the illegitimate ascension to the throne by Antiochus IV were defeated. When it says “also the prince of the covenant”, it refers to Onias, the Jewish high priest at the time who was likewise “flooded away”. In his first year in power, Antiochus IV arrogantly replaced Onias with Jason, who had paid a bribe to Antiochus IV. Later, he replaced Jason with Menelaus, who paid even a larger bribe, and Menelaus conspired to have righteous Onias murdered.

  • Antichrist may also invite corruption by accepting bribes, and he may also seek to interfere with Israel and bring about corruption there.

Daniel 11:23 — “After an alliance is made with him he will practice deception, and he will go up and gain power with a small force of people.” – Although unclear, it seems that someone (perhaps Demetrius) made an alliance with Antiochus IV, but after Antiochus earned this person’s trust, he betrayed him. Thus, with only a few people on his side, he managed to seize power.

  • Antichrist may gain defeat his rivals by making alliances with them, but then betraying those alliances. This seems to go hand in hand with the betrayal of Israel in the middle of the seven-year end times period after making a covenant with them at the beginning of that period (see the 70th Week of Daniel).

Daniel 11:24 – “When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses–but only for a time.” – Antiochus IV entered Egypt on the pretense of peace and friendship, and thus cultivated feelings of trust among the Egyptians. However, he unexpectedly took advantage of their trust to gain the riches there for himself and his cohorts, achieving things beyond his predecessors.

  • The Bible suggests that Antichrist will lull Israel into a false sense of security with a peace treaty, and then he will violate that treaty and betray Israel right when they least expect it. Like Antiochus IV, he will achieve a level of unprecedented power.

Daniel 11:25-26 – 25“He will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South with a large army; so the king of the South will mobilize an extremely large and mighty army for war; but he will not stand, for schemes will be devised against him. 26“Those who eat his choice food will destroy him, and his army will overflow, but many will fall down slain.” – This foretells the invasion by Antiochus IV of Egypt. The king of Egypt (Ptolemy Philometor) countered will a mighty army, but he was defeated anyway due to devious schemes. The nature of those schemes are indicated by the phrase “Those who eat his choice food will destroy him”, which suggests that the Egyptian king’s own trusted counselors and confidants were persuaded by Antiochus IV to betray him.

  • We can expect that Antichrist will also benefit from such scheming and betrayals. Powerful men who stand in his path will be toppled by undermining his counselors with promises and bribes.

Daniel 11:27 – “As for both kings, their hearts will be intent on evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table; but it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time.” – The “both kings” refers to Antiochus IV (king of the North) and Ptolemy Philometor (the king of the South in Egypt). Historians tell us that Antiochus IV would treat Ptolemy with the utmost honor, while all the time plotting against him. An interesting phrase is “the end is still to come at the appointed time”, indicating that at least the reign of Antiochus IV had an ending appointed by God.

  • Several passages (e.g. Dan 7:26, Dan 9:27, 2 Thes 2:8, Rev 13:5) indicate that Antichrist will likewise have an appointed ending.

Daniel 11:28 – “Then he will return to his land with much plunder; but his heart will be set against the holy covenant, and he will take action and then return to his own land.” – While Antiochus IV was in Egypt (lying to Ptolemy and taking plunder), a rumor spread that Antiochus IV was dead. Given this supposed opportunity, a revolt in Israel unseated Menelaus, the corrupt Jewish high priest who had been instated by Antiochus. When Antiochus heard of this, he thought he was facing a Jewish rebellion, and he went to Jerusalem with intent to take action against the Jews.

  • Antichrist will have a similar moment when he decides to turn against Israel. This will happen at the midpoint of the seven-year end times period.

Daniel 11:29-30a – “29“At the appointed time he will return and come into the South, but this last time it will not turn out the way it did before. 30“For ships of Kittim will come against him; therefore he will be disheartened and will return” – This elaborates upon 11:28, explaining the conditions under which Antiochus IV turned against Israel. He sought to invade Egypt again, but the warring factions in Egypt managed to unify and make foreign alliances. Consequently, Antiochus IV was forced to retreat through Judea.

  • Antichrist will turn against Israel, possibly because of political frustrations on top of the feeling that he has been betrayed by Israel.

Daniel 11:30b-31 – “30b…and become enraged at the holy covenant and take action; so he will come back and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant. 31“Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.” – This foretells how Antiochus IV retreated from Egypt. Humiliated and furious, he returned with his army through Judea where he is already enraged at the Jews for what he perceived was rebellion on their part. He takes this opportunity to vent his wrath upon the Jews, stopping the regular sacrifices in the temple, and set up the abomination of desolation there — which is believed to be pagan idols in the temple.

  • It is clear that Antichrist will also perform some sort of “abomination of desolation” in Jerusalem (e.g. Dan 9:27, Matt 24:15, 2 Thes 2:4).

Daniel 11:32 – “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.” – Antiochus IV used smooth words or flattery to create a division among the Jews. Many Jews actually apostatized, willingly accepted the foreign religion, and turned against their brothers. However, other Jews, “the people who know their God”, remained faithful and became strong. They took action with the Jewish revolt lead by Judas Maccabeus, which eventually reclaimed and cleansed the temple. This account is the basis of the Jewish festival called Hanukkah.

  • The Bible says that there will be a similar apostasy among professing Christians, in which some fall away (Matt 24:10, 2 Thes 2:3). But in the end, it is the faithful who will be victorious (Rev 12:11).

Daniel 11:33-35 – “33“Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. 34“Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. 35“Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.” – This remarkable passage speaks of the attack that Antiochus IV made on Jerusalem, in which he sought to primarily to wipe out the Jewish faith by persecuting those who don’t apostatize. However, faithful Jews remained, teaching the truth, and yet suffering and being killed for their faithfulness. For a time it seemed hopeless for them (the had little help), and they were plagued by many hypocrites (unfaithful Jews who betrayed them). Despite the deaths of the faithful who perished, the result was a purification of Israel for the appointed end.

  • All of this seems to be an exact parallel to the great tribulation of Revelation during the reign of Antichrist, in which there will be many Christian martyrs (Rev 6:11), and many false Christians (Matt 24:21-24), and, with the end result being the purification of the church until the end (Dan 12:8-10).

Daniel 11:36 – “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” – Antiochus IV magnified himself and spoke blasphemies against the one true God, until his end which had been decreed.

  • Note: This sort of blasphemy is exactly what is prophesied concerning Antichrist until he reaches his decreed end (Dan 7:25, Dan 9:27, Rev 13:5-6, Rev 17:11).

External Historical Information on Antiochus IV

Other information recorded by ancient historians also help us understand Antiochus IV, and possibly by extension, to understand Antichrist. I will just offer some excerpts from these historians below:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/28380/Antiochus-IV-Epiphanes Excerpt: The Greeks and those friendly toward them were united into the community of Antiochians; the worship of Yahweh and all of the Jewish rites were forbidden on pain of death. In the Temple an altar to Zeus Olympios was erected, and sacrifices were to be made at the feet of an idol in the image of the King. Against that desecration Judas Maccabeus, leader of the anti-Greek Jews, led the aroused Hasideans in a guerrilla war and several times defeated the generals Antiochus had commissioned to deal with the uprising.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/26*.html Excerpt: Polybius in his 26th Book calls him Epimanes (the Madman) instead of Epiphanes owing to his conduct. For not only did he condescend to converse with common people, but even with the meanest of the foreigners who visited Antioch. 2 And whenever he heard that any of the younger men were at an entertainment, no matter where, he would come in with a fife and other music so that most of the guests got up and ran off in astonishment. He would often, moreover, doff his royal robe and pick up a toga and so make the circuit of the market-place.

http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1589-antiochus-iv-epiphanes Excerpt: As long as he was occupied with preparations for his expedition against Egypt, Antiochus had no time for Palestine; but when the Romans compelled him to forego his plans of conquest, his rage at the unexpected impediment was wreaked upon the innocent Jews. An officer, Apollonius, was sent through the country with an armed troop, commissioned to slay and destroy. He first entered Jerusalem amicably; then suddenly turning upon the defenseless city, he murdered, plundered, and burnt through its length and breadth. The men were butchered, women and children sold into slavery, and in order to give permanence to the work of desolation, the walls and numerous houses were torn down.

Opinions regarding Antichrist

I reserve this last section for my own opinions and speculations regarding Antichrist, based on my assessment of the prophecies.

Opinion: Who Will He Be?

My guess is that he will have Roman descent on his father’s side, which would account for the Daniel 7 prophecy that he will come out of the fourth kingdom (which was the Roman empire). On his mother’s side, I expect him to be of Jewish descent, so that he can rightfully claim to be Jewish based on the custom that a child born to a Jewish mother is a Jew by birth. Being Jewish would help account for (1) his ability to gain the trust of Israel, and (2) his ability to be regarded by many as a “Christ” (which is a title equivalent to the Jewish “Messiah“).

I believe Antichrist will be the fulfillment of Zechariah 11:15-16 “15The LORD said to me, “Take again for yourself the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16“For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs.” This is part of a larger prophecy to Israel that involves two “shepherds” over the “flock” of Israel. The first shepherd represented Christ, who was rejected by the flock. The second is this “foolish shepherd” who seeks to devour the flock. Someone that the Bible calls a “shepherd of Israel” should naturally be expected to be Jewish.

This prophecy indicates that the seven-year end times period will begin with Israel, still apostate, trusting this “foolish shepherd” instead of Christ. However, by the conclusion of the seven years, all among the surviving remnant of Israel will be saved recognizing that Jesus is their Christ, their savior, and their king (Rom 11:26).

Opinion: What Will He Be Like?

I believe that to most of the world (as presented in the Media), he will appear to be utterly charming, humble, sincere, brilliant, and pious. He shall be a skillful negotiator who is able to make friendships with both Israel and the surrounding Arab nations. He will be hailed as a great peacemaker.

Those closer to him will see that his is a proud man, and capable of being ruthless. They will observe that he is a master at political “backroom” maneuvering, and he can convincingly feign friendship with people while actively undermining them.

Those very close to him will likely see that he has some perverse personal inclinations, and that his religious piousness is entirely for show.

Opinion: What Will He Do?

Antichrist and Israel: While I think most of the first 3 1/2 years of Antichrist’s influence on earth will be peaceful, beginning with Antichrist negotiating a peace treaty between Israel and her traditionally hostile neighbors. Toward the end of the first 3 1/2 years, the peace will have collapsed into war, famine, and death (as seen in the first four seal events).

It is unclear what will have caused the war to collapse, but for some reason, Israel will be blamed. I believe the world turns to the hugely popular Antichrist for a desperately needed solution. Almost everyone would be willing to agree to whatever he proposes. He will make demands upon Israel that Israel will be unwilling to follow. He shall reach the conclusion that all the blame belongs to Israel, and that it will be necessary for Israel must cease control their land in the Middle East. This plan will be cheered by most of the world, especially the surrounding nations.

Israel will refuse this demand, possibly thinking that they have strong allies in the world. This will infuriate Antichrist. He will respond by determining that in order to restore world peace, the annihilation of Israel is required. If Israel has any allies, they will be coerced or overthrown (this may account for the three subdued kings in Dan 7:24). He will bring a large international military force to Jerusalem and he will enter the (future) Jewish sanctuary where the Jews practice their worship. He will announce that the Jews should have placed their trust in him rather than their God. He will symbolize this by setting up an image of himself in their temple. It will soon become clear to the Jews that he intends to destroy them.

I believe that many Jews will be killed during this, the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7). Of those in Jerusalem, some will flee to the east, perhaps remembering Zechariah’s advice to flee to the Mount of Olives to the east (Zech 14:4,5). Some may even know that this is the same advice that Jesus gave them (Matt 24:15-21). Those who flee to the Mount of Olives will find some sort of divine protection there, and they will be kept safe for the remaining 3 1/2 years. This protection is referred to in Rev 12:6 and Rev 12:13-16.

Antichrist Worship: Meanwhile, his status will soar as he becomes more and more perceived as a Christ figure. This status will come through the miraculous power he wields through his religious cohort, the false prophet. Additionally, it seems that he will have some sort of death and resurrection, which will completely captivate the world. The world will believe that Antichrist’s decisions have divine authority, and many people will develop a sense of religious devotion to Antichrist. Consequently, many people who would otherwise have reservations about the killings ordered by Antichrist will learn to understand the killings as justified and necessary.

Antichrist and Christians: The true Christians, after witnessing the abomination of desolation, will recognize Antichrist for who he is, they will witness to anyone who is willing to listen (not many) regarding what is happening, and they will stand in support of Israel. This will infuriate Antichrist (and his devoted followers) toward the true Christians, and given his frustrated efforts to annihilate the Jews, he will seek to do the same to the Christians (Rev 12:17).

At this point, the true Christians will find out that their numbers are much smaller than they ever thought. I think that many prominent professing Christians will actually side with the Antichrist and his plans. The true Christians will be perceived as subversive “nut jobs”. This will be a time of great confusion regarding who the true Christians are. The true Christians will cling to scripture and remain true, even though they will be hated.

The wrath of Antichrist, his loyal followers, and even many of the false Christians will come against the true faithful Christians (Matt 24:10, Rev 13:7-10). This will be a time of great suffering for Christians, both from the severe persecution unto death, and from the betrayals from those once believed their friends.

Christians must understand what is happening during this time, and be resolved to persevere faithfully, even if unto death. For more on this, see Living During the Great Tribulation.

Share Button