By Brian C Thomas
There have been many theories throughout history concerning the Antichrist. It seems that every generation has several proposals as to his identity. The Bible states that the Antichrist will be a ruler, so naturally people look to different rulers of nations as possibilities. A very popular candidate during his reign was Adolf Hitler due to his satanic dictatorship in which he killed 9 million people including 6 million Jews. Even though he was a very evil tyrant, Adolf Hitler came and went without ever fulfilling the prophecy of the role of Antichrist. Stalin, various Popes, Napoleon, Prince Charles, and many U.S. presidents have been labeled the Antichrist only for the theories to be proven wrong. So what does the Bible say about the Antichrist is there a name, symbol, number that can make his identification easy? We will explore the scripture for answers.
The Bible provides many names for the Antichrist:
- Beast from the Sea - Revelation 13:1
- Little Horn - Daniel 7
- Man of Sin - 2 Thessalonians 2:3
- Son of Perdition - 2 Thessalonians 2:3
- Wicked - 2 Thessalonians 2:8
- The Assyrian - Isaiah 10:5, 12
- Prince to Come - Daniel 9:26
- The Willful King - Daniel 11:36
The following verse in Daniel 9:26, which is part of the Seventy 'sevens' prophecy states:
"After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed".
Daniel's reference to the Antichrist is found in the text in which he mentions the people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Daniel is actually giving two prophecies within one here. He is stating that the city, Jerusalem, and the sanctuary in the city will be destroyed by a group of people at some point in the future. Keep in mind that Daniel is prophesying in 538 B.C., several centuries before Jesus would come to earth as the Son of God. Along with foretelling this destruction, he is also giving a prelude to a future ruler of these people. So what people is Daniel referring to? During the time of Daniel's writing, the Jews had been exiled to Babylon due their disobedience to God. While the Jews were in exile, the Babylonian empire was overtaken by the Medo-Persians. Under this new empire, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city that lie in ruins due to King Nebuchadnezzar's response to a Jewish revolt in 586 B.C. Daniel is warning that the soon-to-be rebuilt city and sanctuary would be destroyed again. A quick review of history reveals that Daniel's prophecy came true 608 years later in 70 A.D. In that year, the powerful Roman Empire invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. Now that we know what group of people destroyed the city and sanctuary, the Romans, the scripture implies that this ruler who will come will be a ruler of the Romans. While that is the most popular belief, some think the Antichrist will come from the ancient Babylon territory (present day Iraq/Iran area). You may ask, but how does this explain this ruler is the Antichrist? This is revealed as we read further into Daniel 9:27, "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him". The 'Seven' here is a seven year period known as the Tribulation. We know this because during the Tribulation, the Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel for seven years but will betray them in the middle of the 'seven' which is the 3 ½ year mark. The Antichrist will then attempt to force all people to worship him as god. To sum up the origin, scripture implies that the Antichrist will come out of the Roman Empire. But one problem with that is the Roman Empire no longer exists. Actually it is reviving but under the new name of the European Union. It is possible that the Antichrist will arise from the European Union some day.
The characteristics of the Antichrist can be found in numerous scriptures throughout the Bible. Daniel 11:36-37 states he will do as he pleases, exalt, and magnify himself above all gods. He will speak strongly against the one and only true God and will not regard the false gods of idol worshippers. The text goes on to state that he will have no regard for the desires of women. Some have stated this suggests he will be a homosexual but it could also mean that he simply will not have a desire for a romantic relationship with a woman and just prefers to be single. It could also mean that he will view women as 2nd class citizens with little or no rights in the same way that Muslims believe. In time, this characteristic will be revealed.
Daniel 7:25 reveals further that he will speak against God, the Most High. He will persecute the saints of God and seek to change times and laws. Regarding calendars, most of the world accepts years based on BC (before Christ) and AD ("anno domini" - the Latin phrase which means "in the year of our Lord"). The Antichrist likely will attempt to remove all references to Jesus Christ with a new calendar system. Some writers are already implementing BCE (Before Common Era) to replace BC and CE (Common Era) to replace AD. The Antichrist will likely drive this change to a world-wide scale. We know this scripture is referring to the Antichrist because it states the saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and a half. A "time" is 1 year, "times" is 2 years, and a half is 1/2 year. This is equivalent to the 3 ½ years in which the Antichrist will attempt to kill all who do not worship him during the last half of the Tribulation.
Daniel 7:8 teaches that the Antichrist will speak boastfully. The boastful mouth of the Antichrist may actually be his most recognizable characteristic. Daniel emphasized this trait by also mentioning it in Daniel 7:11 & 7:20. Revelation 13:5 speaks again about his mouth in stating he will utter proud words and blasphemy during his reign of terror. Again scripture speaks to the Antichrist's mouth in Psalm 55:21. It states his words will be "smoother than butter" but war will be in his heart. He will trick many in this way because they will be so impressed with his way of speaking that they will not see the evil that is behind him. Today we already see many who support a political candidate or pastor just because he/she speaks well. They care nothing about what the person truly believes in, their words just sound good to them. People with that mentality will be easily deceived by the Antichrist. He will be the greatest con-man of all time.
Daniel 8:24 reveals that the Antichrist will become very strong but not by his own power. This likely refers to just a political strength rather than a physical strength. He will attain this strength from power given by Satan. The verse continues by revealing that he will bring devastation and have great success in whatever he does. Many will follow him due to his great success much like people admire and idolize celebrities and athletes because of their accomplishments. Today, many women make a big deal about having a boyfriend or husband who is a popular athlete and many men make a big deal over a woman that has "super-model" looks. I cringe when I see that because it is an Antichrist mentality of being attracted to superficial things. Those people will easily get tricked into following the Antichrist because he will have many great superficial qualities based on worldly standards. The Bible is warning to not get caught up in his seemingly great endeavors. He will also destroy mighty men and holy people.
Revelation 13:2 shows that Satan, the dragon, will give the Antichrist power and great authority.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. - Revelation 13:18
Much has been written and theorized about the number of the beast or Antichrist and rightfully so, the Bible emphasizes this number as the identification of the beast. A score is twenty years, therefore, "Six hundred threescore and six" means six hundred and sixty six. Man was created on the sixth day and thus the number six represents the number of man. God completed His great creation on the seventh day and sanctified the day as the holy Sabbath. Thus seven represents perfection, completion, which is God.
Repetition is given in the Hebrew language and throughout the Bible as emphasis. "Holy, holy, holy" is found in Isaiah 6:3 as the description of the Lord. In the same way the number six is repeated three times as emphasis of the identity of Man.
From the time that Satan was cast from heaven along with his angels, his goal has been to replace God by pretending to be Him. The holy Trinity is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Satan will imitate this Trinity during his reign in the Tribulation to deceive man into worshiping him. Satan will claim the role as God the Father, empower the Antichrist to play the role as the Son or Messiah, and setup the false prophet to mimic the Holy Spirit. The '666' symbolizes the counterfeit trinity that Satan will bring.
Significance in the number of the beast can also be found in Jewish history. King Solomon began receiving 666 talents of gold yearly at one point during his reign over the Jewish kingdom (1 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 9:13). At this point Solomon became corrupted with his wealth and ways of the world. He turned away from God and obsessed over women, horses and money. This became known in Jewish culture as a show of apostasy and the 666 talents of gold triggered the apostate period.
Most of the original Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the original New Testament was written in Greek. Both the Hebrew and Greek alphabet is based on a numbers system. Each character in the alphabet represents a number. Therefore, any combination of letters in the alphabets can be assigned a number and added up to give a numerical value. Many think the letters of the Antichrist's name will add up to a total of 666. These things will be revealed in time. For now, we must watch with caution.
Beast from the Sea
Although the Antichrist is coming to fulfill a spiritual battle with Jesus, his rise to power will be by way of politics. "Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name" - Revelation 13:1. He will be a leader such as a president or prime minister of a nation. In Revelation 13:2 it is revealed that the Antichrist will receive his power, throne, and great authority from the dragon which is Satan. This throne will be the position as ruler of a nation or nations. The whole world will marvel and follow the Antichrist (Revelation 13:3). People will follow him in the same way that people idolize celebrities but likely on a magnified scale. Chapter 13 in Revelation goes on to mention that the Antichrist will receive authority for 42 months (3 ½ years). This is the Great Tribulation period, the 2nd half of the seven-year Tribulation. During this time, the Antichrist will have risen to rule every nation and will seek to kill all who do not worship him.
Beast from the Earth
"Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon" - Revelation 13:11. This beast from the earth will be the false prophet, the pagan religious leader who will instruct all to follow the Antichrist and worship him. We find this same role being conducted in the U.S. today by pastors instructing their congregations to vote for certain political figures even though the figure's policies go against God's commandments. He will be the link that merges the church with the state. He will possess power granted by Satan to perform miracles. His displays of miracles will cause many to be deceived and believe they should follow him and the Antichrist.
As mentioned earlier, the Antichrist will exercise his reign of terror for 3 ½ years. Many Christians and Jews will be executed during this time. But Jesus will return to bring it all to an end and Christ will claim the victory. All saints of Christ should have great joy in knowing that our Savior will be the ultimate ruler on earth real soon! The Bible states that the Antichrist and false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 19:20). Satan will be bound and confined to the bottomless pit for 1000 years and will then see his fate of being cast into the lake of fire to join the Antichrist and false prophet in eternal torment (Revelation 20:1-10). Christ will reign supreme and there will be peace and joy forever and ever. Until then, Blessings to Israel and to the only wise God, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.