Main article: Key Players and Terms in Prophecy
Related: The Personal Beast; Revived Roman Empire
The Antichrist is a reference to a future world leader that will play a remarkable role in the fulfillment of Daniel's seventieth week. Like the Personal Beast, he will come to power in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week, and he will reign for the last 3 1/2 years.
His office. Antichrist will be the religious leader of the revived Roman empire, and also a political leader of the apostate nation of Israel. He will have civil authority, as Daniel 11 describes, but this will be largely restricted to Palestine, where he sits in the temple as God (2 Thess. 2:4). In the larger sphere, he is a lieutenant of the true leader of the empire; the little horn of Daniel 7, who is simply "the beast". The power of the beast is delegated to antichrist (Rev. 13:12) who uses the power to establish a new religion; the forced worship of the beast. The office of antichrist is largely religious, as he leads the world in the idolatrous worship of the beast.
His character and origin. Antichrist will be an apostate Jew (Dan. 11:36). This is not a commonly known fact about Antichrist, because many confused Antichrist with the political leader of the Revived Roman Empire. It says "he will not regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women". Here we find that Antichrist will be an apostate Jew, for he will “not regard the God of his fathers", referring to Jehovah, the God of Israel. This answers the common confusion of the personal Beast with Antichrist. One is a Gentile, the other is a Jew. He will despise the true Messiah. The “desire of women” is a reference to the Messiah, the One whose birth was desired above everything else by Jewish women. Even the Name of Christ, which is universally renowned at the present day, he will despise. He will publicly deny two great truths about Christ (1 John 2:22); "Who is a liar but he that denieth (1) that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth (2) the Father and the Son." It is the final outcome of Satan's original plan, when he told the woman, "ye will be as God" (Gen. 3:5).
His rise to power. Antichrist will come onto the scene at the middle of the seven years. We see him in Rev. 9:1-2 pictured as a fallen star. He comes forward to unlock the Satanic influences from the abyss. The Apostate Jews will receive him as king (John 5:43; Dan. 11:36), even though he has no direct authority from God, as Christ did who came in His Father's name. He will be physically located in Jerusalem, actually sitting down in the temple (2 Thess. 2:4) which will have been rebuilt at this time. He will have a hold over the citizens of the Beast's empire, to inflict some kind of pain; probably connected with their conscience (Rev. 9:1-12).
His idolatrous religion. He will introduce a new religion (Dan. 11:38; Rev. 13:12-15). He will foster, encourage, enforce, and direct the idolatrous worship of the Personal Beast. As such, he is the religious leader of the Revived Roman Empire. In return for his service, the First Beast will invest Antichrist with his full authority, carte blanche; "it exercises all the authority of the first beast before" (Rev. 13:12). Antichrist will then use this derived political authority to enforce his religious agenda. He will deceive the citizens of the empire to build an image, and then force all in the empire to worship the Personal Beast via the image. Those who refuse to take part in this idolatry will be persecuted or martyred (Rev. 13:12-15).
The mark of the Beast. Antichrist will be the financial leader of the empire as well as religious leader. He will require "the mark of the Beast" on every person's forehead or right hand as a kind of personal "pass" needed to buy groceries, get gasoline, or do any type of business – no exceptions (Rev. 13:16-18).
His relationship with Israel. His rise to power is part of the governmental judgment of God on Israel; see notes on Matt. 12:43-45. In the sphere of Israel he claims to be God, and reigns supreme (2 Thess. 2:3-4; Daniel 11:36). To the rest of the empire, he is subordinate to the Personal Beast (Rev. 13:12), and even secretly worships the Beast, called the "god of fortresses" (Dan. 11:37-39). He will be the head of the campaign to persecute the faithful remnant of the Jews. He will be the local representative of Rome in Israel, and undoubtedly he will preach "peace and safety", boasting the military might of the Beast behind him. But when the King of the North begins his descent, the Antichrist will flee, deserting the Jews; for he is "the worthless shepherd that leaves the flock" (Zech. 11: 17; see John 10:13). In another sense, the Lord is over this desertion. it says the Lord will “drive him from his office” in preparation for the true Messiah (Isa. 22: 19-21). The descent of the King of the North is what brings the great persecution of the remnant to a close. The "Great Tribulation" (Matt. 24:21) or "Jacob's Trouble" (Jer. 30:7) is brought to a close when Antichrist flees away. He flees presumably to Rome, but returns a few weeks later with the Beast, to fight the Lord at His appearing (Rev. 19:20).
His end. After the attack of the King of the North, the Antichrist will accompany the Personal Beast across the Mediterranean. The Lord will meet him like "a thief in the night"; totally unexpected. His end is described by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:8; "and then the lawless one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall annul by the appearing of his coming". This agrees with what Isaiah says in Isa. 11:4 about the character of the Lord's judgment when He appears; "he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." The Beast's armies will be slain, and he, with the False Prophet, will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20). In Isa. 30:33 we find that "Topheth" or the Lake of Fire, was "prepared of old; for the king also [i.e. the Antichrist, as well as the Assyrian] it is prepared: he hath made it deep and large; its pile is fire and much wood; the breath of Jehovah, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." So ends the Antichrist.
Names of Antichrist. Like the Personal Beast, the Antichrist goes by a number of names in scripture. Here are some of them, but there may be more:
- The Second Beast (Rev. 13:11) - stressing his base character.
- The Antichrist (1 John 2:18) - stressing his denial of the truth of Christ.
- The False Prophet (Rev.16:13) - stressing his spiritual influence.
- The Willful King (Daniel 11:36) - stressing the character of his reign in Israel.
- The Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3) - stressing his character of self-will.
- The Son of Perdition (2 Thess. 2:3) - stressing his final destination.
- The Wicked or Lawless One (2 Thess. 2:8) - stressing his character of lawlessness.
Other references to Antichrist:
- The Fallen Star (Rev. 9:1) - stressing his apostasy as a leader.
- The Foolish & Worthless Shepherd (Zech. 11:17) - stressing his lack of care for others.
- The Bloody & Deceitful Man (Psalm 5:6) - stressing his violence and corruption.
- The Profane & Wicked Prince of Israel (Ezek. 21:25) - stressing his political influence.
- The Prince of Tyre (Ezek. 28:2) - stressing his commercial influence.
Also, the Antichrist can be seen typically in the following ten persons: Abimelech (Judges 9), Saul (1 Samuel 8-31), Absalom (2 Samuel 15-19), Ahab (1 Kings 16-18), Ahaz (2 Kings 16), Shebna (Isaiah 22), Zedekiah (Jeremiah 39 & 52), Haman (Esther 3-7), Herod (Matthew 2), and the Hireling (John 10).