This mysterious figure has always intrigued Christians. Who is this Anti-Christ? Can he or she be identified? What guidance from the Bible can we use to discern exactly who the antichrist is?
Two Different Antichrists
The prefix, “anti” means something, or in this case, someone who is opposed to or rejects the word that follows it. Anything that is “anti” is opposed to, rejects, or is against what the “anti” is attached too. For example, antireligious means someone who is against religion. There are actually two different Anti-Christs that mentioned in the Bible. There is the proper noun, capitalized “A” Anti-Christ and the little “a” anti-Christ. What are the differences? Since one is a proper noun (Anti-Christ) this one is a particular person. The small “a” anti-Christ is anyone in particular who denies that Jesus Christ is God. The apostle John and Paul both wrote about those who are anti-Christs.
The Many Antichrists
The apostle John is the one who primarily mentions the antichrist (little “a”).
In 1 John 2:22 he writes, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”
In 1 John 4:2-3 it says, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 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.”
In 2 John 1:7 John states, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
In 1 John 2:18 John warns, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.”
John says many things here: That there are many antichrists that have already come (1 John 2:18), that antichrists deny that Jesus came in the flesh (2 John 1:7), that antichrists deny that Jesus is not from God (1 John 4:2-3), and that the antichrist denies both the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). The point is clear. There have been, there presently are, and will be in the future, many antichrists in the world so this is not talking about a specific person but those people in general who deny Jesus is God, that He was born of a virgin as a baby, and that He and the Father are One. The many antichrists could strictly be atheists, agnostics, and monotheistic religionists. Before I knew Who Jesus was and is, I was an anti-Christ.
The Antichrist - Man of Sin
The antichrist is not so much opposed to Christ but more in place of Christ. That is, they will set themselves up as Christ. The Antichrist is used as a proper noun, meaning it is someone in particular. Speculation over the years have run rampant. Literally hundreds of people have labeled as the Antichrist: Past presidents, Popes, cult leaders, various Caesars, Napoleon, the Roman Emperor Nero, Hitler and even Mussolini. One thing they all have in common is that none of them were the Antichrist. Time has revealed that. The Antichrist could be alive today or could be someone who is yet to be born. One thing for sure, this Antichrist is a specific person.
Paul spoke about the coming Day of the Lord and told Christians not to be fearful or alarmed. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 Paul is passionate in saying, “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. 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.” It appears that Paul was writing about someone in particular and not generalizing like the apostle John was when he was writing about the many antichrists. This is how the one Antichrist (capital “A”) is different from the many antichrist’s (little “a”). This Antichrist opposes the true God, exalts himself, desires to be worshiped, proclaims himself to be God, and even sits in the temple as God. Will this be a new, rebuilt temple in Jerusalem? That is what many theologians believe.
How the Antichrist is Revealed
Paul writes that “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. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie” (2 Thess 2:8-9). The Antichrist will apparently be empowered by Satan to perform miracles like Jesus but these miracles are not from God but from the Devil himself. Paul does not clearly specify how the Antichrist will be revealed but he is precise in saying that he will be revealed. The “lawless one” is believed to be the Antichrist.
The Unholy Trinity
Satan loves to imitate. He seeks to mix error and truth. And this is exactly what he will do by having an unholy trinity.
The Dragon is none other than Satan himself. This is made plain in Revelation 12:9 which states, “The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” A great angel coming out of heaven will temporarily dispose of the Devil. In Revelation 12:9 it declares that “The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
The Beast or Antichrist
The Beast is thought to be the Antichrist (capital “A”). As we have read, the Beast (or Antichrist) seeks worship and to be thought of as God and imitates Jesus Christ and is in place of (anti) Christ. He copies what Christ did in His miracles except the source is not from God but from the Devil, the Dragon (Satan). The number 666 represents the number of a man so the Antichrist will be a man, just as Jesus is both God and man but the Antichrist will be both man and Satan in a sense. The miraculous, Satan-given powers are what Paul wrote about in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 that, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie.”
The False Prophet
The Dragon (Satan) the Beast (Antichrist), and the False Prophet are all part of the unholy trinity that mimics the Holy Trinity of God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three work together to deceive the world which is evidenced in Revelation 16:13. Their time is limited and these three will finally be judged as Revelation 19:20 testifies, “But 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.” and in Revelation 20:10 as the “the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
From my understanding of the Scriptures, the Antichrist will be revealed. By who and when, God alone knows. All we have to know is that for those who have placed their trust in Christ, they have no need to fear. Paul reassures the “brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed” (2 Thess 2:1b-2) even though “the secret power of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thess 2:7) because the “Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming” 2 Thess 2:8).
How comforting to know that “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8:31) since even the powers of darkness are impotent against those who have trusted in Him (John 10:28-29) “because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and for this reason, His “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believers daily walk with God and the Bible.