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The Biblical Christian Network: “Anti-Christ” (1 of 666) Wikipedia
(7 of 666)
An Overview of the Antichrist
by Randall Price
In premillennial eschatology the final world ruler who opposes God and His Christ (particularly in
relation to His deity), oppresses God’s Elect (especially the Jewish People), and seeks to usurp the place of
divine worship through desecration of the holy (especially Jerusalem and its Temple) is known as the
Antichrist. According to 1 Jn. 4:3 this anti-theocratic, anti-semitic spirit is characteristic of the present age,
indicating that these are the Last Days (i.e. “last hour”). The designation “Antichrist,” appearing only in the
epistles of John (1 Jn. 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn. 7), is made up of the Greek words anti (“against, in place of”) and
christos (“Christ”), and indicates any agent of the evil one (Satan) who acts contrary to or as a counterfeit of
God’s Anointed who is destined to rule the world (Psa. 2:2, 6-8; 110:1-2; Isa. 9:6-7, et. al.). The plural use of
this term allows for both a comprehensive and a concentrated expression of Antichrist, and ultimately the
eschatological duo known as the “first Beast” (the Antichrist) and the “second beast” (the false prophet), who
with the “dragon” (Satan) as the origin of their “power” (authority), form a sort of counterfeit trinity (Rev.
While the specific term Antichrist may be rarely used, the Bible is filled with descriptive
terminology of his diabolical and desecrating nature. Among the more obvious epithets are: “the little horn”
(Dan. 7:8), “the insolent king” (Dan. 8:23), “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26), “the one who makes
desolate” (Dan. 9:27), “the despicable person” (Dan. 11:21), “the strong-willed king” (Dan. 11:36), “the
worthless shepherd” (Zech. 11:16-17), “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3), “the son of destruction” (2
Thess. 2:3); “the lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:8), “the beast” (Rev. 11:7; 13:1; 14:9; 15:2; 16:2; 17:3, 13; 19:20;
20:10). Only the futurist school (which includes premillennialism) has been able to develop a self-consistent
interpretation of the Antichrist concept from the scriptural witness of the two testaments.
Antichrist in the Old Testament
While the term “Antichrist” is not employed until the New Testament, the apostle John’s reference (1
Jn. 2:18) that many “antichrists” have arisen in token of the coming “Antichrist” that will arise during the
Tribulation period, encourages an examination of the Old Testament text for proleptic imagery that suggests
this eschatological figure. In the Old Testament this ultimate Antichrist is progressively revealed through a
series of human “antichrists” who appear as opponents of the Jewish People, and especially as desecrators of
Jerusalem and/or the holy Temple. Antichrist allusions usually take the form of a human being (usually a
monarch or military commander) set in direct opposition to God. In this position the human personality often
takes on super-human proportions by virtue of the divine/human contest, and as such, serves as a pre-figure
or type of the eschatological Antichrist who will seek to usurp divine worship. Types of the Antichrist
revealed during the biblical period are: (1) the serpent in Eden who deceived man and sought to corrupt the
divine order (Gen. 3), (2) Nimrod, the blasphemous ruler who sought to usurp divine worship (Gen. 10:8;
11:1-9), (3) Amalek, the son of Esau (Gen. 36: 12, 16) whose descendants opposed Israel in the wilderness
(Ex. 17:8-16; Deut. 25:19; 1 Sam. 15:2-3), (4) Balaam, the foreign prophet who opposed Israel (Num. 22-
24), (5) the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who oppressed the Israelites in Egypt (Ex. 1:11, 22; 5:2) and was
unnamed in Scripture, perhaps to emphasize his role as a divine adversary, (6) the Assyrian king
Sennacherib, who oppressed the Northern Kingdom and arrogantly sought to capture Jerusalem (2 Kgs.
18:13-19:37), and (7) the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem,
persecuted Israel in exile, and usurped divine prerogative [sovereignty] (2 Kgs. 24:13-14; Dan. 4:30).
The most developed types appear in Daniel’s blasphemous ruler designated as “the little horn,” the
blasphemous ruler who “makes war with the saints” and is destroyed by the “Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:8,
21), the wicked and tyrannical king (Dan. 8:11-14; 11:31), assumed to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes who
desecrated the Jewish Temple in 186 B.C., and “the prince that shall come” (Dan. 9:26), possibly the Roman
general Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70. By comparing the more obvious types
(the “antichrists”) with the antitype (the Antichrist), we can observe first, that in every case the type is either
a Gentile or one outside the legitimate line of inheritance and second, that there is a progressive development
of opposition to God finally centering on the desecration of the Temple.
The development of these figures from type to antitype reveals that the movement of the typological antichrist’s actions begin with elements of
opposition to the divine program, manifested as opposition to God and oppression of God’s People, which
escalates with each figure toward desecration of the Temple as place where the divine Presence is
represented on earth. As Daniel’s revelation (Dan. 8:9-25; 11:21-45) of the Antichrist imagery is the last and
most highly developed of all the types (embodying all the previously revealed types), and focuses on his
abominable desolation of the Holy Place (Dan. 8:11-14; 11:31), it casts the mold for the New Testament’s
portrayal of the future Antichrist (Dan. 11:36-45; cf. 2 Thess. 2:3; Rev. 13:1-10; 17:11-17), and his end-time
Abomination of Desolation in the Tribulation Temple (Dan. 9:27; 12:11; cf. Matt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; 2
Antichrist in the New Testament
In the New Testament, the witnesses to Antichrist are Jesus and the apostles Paul and John. However,
this is to be expected since they present the most extensive treatments of eschatology (Olivet Discourse,
Thessalonian epistles, and Revelation).
In the Gospels
Jesus assumes the Danelic figure that desecrated the Temple through the Abomination of Desolation
will be understood by His future Jewish audience as the Antichrist who will set himself against the Nation
and their God (Matt. 24:15/ Mk. 13:14). Implied in Jesus’ selective description (primarily from Dan. 9:27; cf.
11:36-37) in the Olivet Discourse is the incompatibility of that which is holy with the Antichrist. Whether a
holy city, a holy Temple, or a holy (Chosen) People, the Antichrist by his very nature must seek to destroy
them all. For this reason the Jewish People living in Jerusalem in the day of Antichrist’s power are warned to
flee (Matt. 24:16-21/ Mk. 13:14b-19). Jesus’ statement of the Antichrist’s “abomination of desolation” is the
signal event that marks the mid-point of the Tribulation. Studies in the chiastic structure of Matt. 24/Mk. 13
reveal that the elements corresponding to the first and second half of the Tribulation are arranged with Matt.
24:15/Mk. 13:14 as the pivot. Thus, the prophecy of Antichrist is the chronological determinative for the
Tribulation, with Antichrist’s covenant with the Jewish leaders marking its beginning (Dan. 9:27a), the
Temple desecration its middle (Dan. 9:27b; Matt. 24:15/Mk. 13:14a; 2 Thess. 2:4), and the Antichrist’s
destruction its end (Dan. 9:27c; cf. 2 Thess. 2:8).
Paul also emphasizes the incompatibility of holiness and unholiness by contrasting Christ with
Antichrist (2 Cor. 6:15-16), though he uses the cognomen “Belial” (“wicked” or “worthless one”) familiar
from the intertestamental Jewish literature (see Antichrist, Jewish Views). While some have thought Paul’s
reference is to Satan, Paul could have easily used the available Greek term Satanas (“Satan”). He more likely
chose this obscure expression (used only here in the New Testament) because of its apocalyptic usage of
Messiah’s quasi-human end-time opponent. Furthermore, the context uses Temple imagery (vs. 16) and
Paul’s command for “separation” in verses 6:17; and 7:1 is “go out of their midst,” an escapist tone
analogous to Antichrist contexts such as 1 Jn. 10:39: “go out, escape” and Christ’s warning to “flee” (Matt.
24:15-16/ Mark 13:14b). If Paul had these ideas in the background, Belial may be a more fitting allusion to
the Antichrist than Satan. Paul’s more explicit statement concerning the character and activity of Antichrist is
in 2 Thess. 2:3-4. The character of the Antichrist is defined in this text as “he who opposes” (vs. 4a), a word
in the Greek which was used by the LXX in 1 Kgs. 11:25a as a rendering for the Hebrew word satan
This points to Antichrist’s link with Satan, which verse 9 says more precisely is “in accord
with the activity of Satan.” Since Satan’s adversary is God, and his original goal was to become like God (cf.
Isa. 14:14; Ezek. 28:17), the Antichrist actions are apparently an attempt to fulfill this by usurping worship
as God (vs. 4b; cf. Rev. 13:4-8). His counterfeit is apparently of the God of Israel, since in verse 4 he is
pictured as one who will exalt himself above every “god or object of worship” (i.e. abode all pagan gods)
and enthrones himself “in the Temple of God displaying himself as God,” the language of theophanic
installation (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:10; 2 Chron. 7:1-3; Ezek. 43:1-7).
In this way the Antichrist appears as a rival to
Christ, not by an assumption of the messianic role, but as His superior (economically speaking) – as God [the
Father]. Note too, that in this passage, the Antichrist usurps the place of God in a blasphemous act of selfdeification. This is why Paul uses the descriptive terms “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of
destruction” (vs. 3). The word “lawlessness” apparently describes his nature as characterized by his
opposition to the Temple as the repository of the Law (vs. 4), while the word “destruction” refers to his
destiny, i.e. destined for “destruction” or “perdition” (vs. 8).
Paul seems to connect the “revelation of Christ” (vss. 1-2) with the “revealing of the Antichrist (vss.
3-4) in such a way as to imply that Christ’s return to earth is related to Antichrist rebellion on earth, a
cause/effect relationship clearly drawn in Rev. 19:11-20. Because the Antichrist is here said to be “revealed,”
it has been suggested that his “revelation” is a counterfeit to that of Christ’s (vs. 9). From Paul’s description
of the destruction of the Antichrist at the revelation of Christ (vs. 8), it appears that he identified “the lawless
one” with Daniel’s “little horn” (Dan. 7:8, 11).
In the Book of Revelation
In the Book of Revelation, the term “Antichrist” does not appear (although John previously used it in
his epistles). The reason for this may be partly explained from the symbolic character of his prophetic vision,
for his expression of the Antichrist is “Beast,” a term descriptive of his inhuman nature which was often
revealed to John in animal form. The Revelation provides the most complete information about the career of
the Antichrist, even offering an identification of his person in the cryptogram 666 (13:16-18). Since the text
does not give an explanation for this number, other than that it is the “number of a man” (i.e. Antichrist), no
one until the appropriate hour in the Tribulation will be able to discern this meaning. John with Paul
understands the Antichrist is to be energized by Satan, or in Johannine terminology, “the dragon” (13:2; cf.
12:5). John’s picture of the Antichrist is of a world ruler (13:1, 4, 7; 17:12-13, 17) whose political position is
so dominating that it encroaches into the religious realm (13:15). This is accomplished for the Antichrist by a
diabolical religious figure John presents as a “second beast,” who is a lesser antichrist. He is a duplicate of
the Antichrist as the “first Beast” (13:12a), but inferior to him, having only “two horns” compared with his ten (13:11b).
In contrast to the first Beast who “arises out of the sea,” the second beast “comes up out of the earth”
(13:11a). These contrasting terms are indicative of the origin of the two beasts. “The sea” may symbolize the
Gentiles (17:15; cf. Dan. 7:2-3), and if this is the case here, the opposite term “the earth” would symbolize
the Jews. There is precedence for the Gentile origin of Antichrist in the Old Testament allusions, and the
Jewish identification may be strengthened if here “the earth” has technical sense of “the Land” [of Israel] as
it sometimes may in Revelation (11:18; cf. Dan. 8:9). While most premillennial interpreters have accepted
the view that the Antichrist’s geographical origin is in Europe as a revived Roman empire, based on Dan.
9:26 having Rome in the background, a Middle-eastern origin has been proposed, based on Assyria being the
“slain” [kingdom] of Rev. 13:3 (cf. Rev. 17:9-11; Dan. 11:40) that is revived as Iraq (Goodman, Hodges).
The “second beast” acts as a lieutenant of the Antichrist in the religious realm, duplicating the
miraculous “signs” of the biblical prophets (13:13-14). Just as many “antichrists” appeared during the Last
Days to prepare for the Antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18, 22), so many “false prophets and false Christs” will appear
throughout the Tribulation (cf. Matt. 24:10, 24) to prepare for the greater deception of the second beast (Rev.
13:13-14) as the superlative “False Prophet” (Rev. 13:14 with Matt. 24:24; cf. Rev. 19:20). He possesses
counterfeit, but subordinate, authority like that of the first Beast (13:4, 12), which is why he is called a
“second” beast. In this position he promotes the universal worship of the Antichrist (13:16), who will
apparently at this time claim the status of deity (Rev. 13:4-8, 12-13).
While the False Prophet is said to
“deceive” the “earth-dwellers” or Gentiles (Rev. 13:12), he is also shown to perform “signs” which are
peculiar to Israel (Rev. 13:12b-15). Because these “signs” include the ability to restore life (vs. 12), call fire
down from heaven (vs. 13), and to create (vss. 14b-15), his actions particularly recall those of the Prophet
Elijah (cf. 1 Kgs. 18:36-38; 17:21-23; 17:14-16). This might imply that the False Prophet will, like Elijah (cf.
Mal. 3:1-2; 4:5), act as a messianic forerunner proclaiming the Antichrist as Messiah, however, the
Antichrist receives worship as a god exalted above all other gods (Rev. 13:4, 8; cf. 2 Thess. 2:4), so it is
more probable that the False Prophet is for Israel also a False Messiah, who performs expected messianic
signs (Isa. 35:5; 42:7; 61:1; cf. Matt. 11:3-5; Lk. 4:18-19) to confirm and magnify the supreme status of the
Antichrist through their counterfeit god/prophet relationship (Jn. 5:36; 8:54; 10:18; 17:4; cf. Matt, 24:24 with
This counterfeit messianic status accords with his description as having “horns like a lamb”
(probably a counterfeit of the messianic nature, Rev. 5:6; cf. Isa. 53:7) and speaking as “a dragon” (Satanic
The two signs performed for/by the Antichrist: resuscitation and presence in the Temple are
connected with each other and with messianic expectation. In accordance with messianic expectation of
Messiah at the Temple as divine judge (Mal. 3:1-2), Jesus came into the Temple precincts, and acting
judicially, overturned the tables of the money-changers (Jn. 2:13-21). After this act He was asked for a sign
by the Jewish crowd who had apparently made the messianic connection. Jesus answered with the sign of
The Satanic resuscitation of the Antichrist may be an attempt to counterfeit this sign of
resurrection (Rev. 13:3, 12-14) as a means to deification and enthronement as divine judge. The Antichrist’s
role as universal judge and executor may point to this investiture (Rev. 13:8-10, 15). However, the intention
of the Antichrist in his persecution of Israel and invasion of the Land (Dan. 11:41; cf. 8:9-13) may be to
reverse the demonstration of divine blessing, evident with the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses (Rev. 7:1-8;
14:1-5; 11:3-12), by returning the whole Nation to an exilic (scattered) state. Dan. 9:27 describes the
“desolation” that follows the Antichrist’s “abomination.” This same term is used to depict the condition of
Israel and its Land as a result of desecration and exile (cf. Lev. 26:34, 35; Psa. 73: 19; 2 Chron. 30:7; 36:21;
Jer. 4:7). This may occur with the worldwide Jewish persecution that follows Antichrist’s enthronement in
the Temple (12:13-17; cf. Matt. 24:16-22; Mk. 13:14b-18).
The defeat of the Antichrist accompanies the Second Advent of Christ (19:1, 19-20a) and apparently
takes place in Jerusalem at the final campaign of Armageddon (cf. Zech. 14:1-4; cf. Dan. 9:27c). The eternal
destination of the Antichrist is the Lake of Fire (19:20), designed especially for the punishment of Satan and
the rebel angelic (demonic) order (Matt. 25:41) with whom these have joined ranks. The Beast and False
Prophet are consigned to the Lake of Fire at the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon (20:20c), but Satan
is bound until the end of the Millennium (20:1-3, 7), at which time he is defeated and he is reunited to his
Satanic trinity in eternal condemnation (20:9-10). The sober warning for the present unsaved and those who
accept the mark of the Antichrist during the Tribulation is that they will share the eternal destiny of the
Antichrist in the Lake of Fire (20:13-15; 21:8).
In Jewish Literature
The concept of the Antichrist was implicit in much of the Old Testament and explicit in the Book of
Daniel. The figure of a last days opponent of the Jewish People and the Messiah is especially prominent in
some of the Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings before the birth of Christ including the
apocalyptic texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone, a leading Israeli expert on this literature has
observed that “the background to this figure lies in Jewish eschatology.” A much stronger conclusion was
drawn by Hebrew University professor David Flusser. As an expert on Second Temple Judaism and the
origins of Christianity he categorically states: “The idea of Antichrist is strictly Jewish and pre-Christian.”
This is evident from the expression itself, for just as the Greek word “Christ” (Christos) is the translation of
the Hebrew word “Messiah” (Mashiach), so “Antichrist is in fact “Anti-Messiah.”
In Jewish apocalyptic literature a final rebellion by “the wicked” against “the righteous” in Israel is
predicted to occur at the Last Day (cf. Jubilees 23:14-23; 4 Ezra 4:26-42; 6:18-28). The earliest references to
a specific evil king over the forces of the “wicked” is of “Beliar” (“worthless one”), a superhuman being who
is the embodiment of evil and who is destined to be the end-time opponent of God and His Messiah. In the
Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the figure of Beliar serves as a portent of the imminent conclusion of the
age and its cataclysmic end (cf. T. Joseph 20:2; T. Simeon 5:3; T. Naphali 2:6; T. Issachar 6:1; 7:7; T.
Reuben 2:1; T. Dan 5:10; T. Levi 18:12; T. Judah 25:3). Not only does Beliar lead astray, but whoever sins
is said to be doing the works of Beliar (T. Naphali 2:8). He is attended by a contingent of seven evil spirits
that comprise his unholy court (cf. T. Reuben 2:1; T. Issachar 7:7), and these spirits will in the last days be
joined by a large company of men (cf. T. Issachar 6:1). The eschatological deliverance (redemption) of Israel
cannot be obtained without the ultimate defeat and destruction of Beliar, and his defeat comes from the Lord
from Levi and from the Messiah (T. Dan 5:10; cf. 5:3-7), who will fight with him and finally cast him into
eternal punishment (T. Dan 5:10; T. Issachar 6:1; T. Levi 18:12; T. Judah 25:3).
In the Dead Sea (Qumran) literature (c.196 B.C. – A.D. 68), which had developed a complex
eschatology based on a pesher (literalistic) interpretation of the biblical prophets. It has been thought, based
on the assumption that Beliar/Belial = Satan, that Beliar was only a cognomen for the devil. Although Beliar
is presented as the seducer and corrupter of Israel, he is a creation of God destined for this purpose (1QM
13:9-11), and appears as a quasi-human adversary. Even if there is an overlapping with Satan, some texts
such as Second Ezekiel (4Q385-389) distinguish a “son of Beliar” and a “blasphemous/boastful king” who
will arise and oppress the Jewish People. These titles occur in texts which are within a context alluding to the
national re-gathering and restoration of Israel (from the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:4-6),
which is immediately followed by a prayer concerning the time of this end-time re-gathering.
In a fragmentary pseudo-Daniel text from Qumran Cave 4, the description of an evil end-time king
who oppresses Israel includes the words: “[ ]he shall be great on earth … [all] will worship and all will
serve [him] … great … he shall be called and by His name he shall be designated. He shall be named son of
God and they shall call him son of the Most High” (4Q246 1:8-10). This might appear to be a reference to
the Messiah rather than the Anti-Messiah, if it were not describing an opponent of Israel. This seems
confirmed in the words that follow where a contrast is made between the arrogant oppressor of Israel in these
lines and the defender of Israel who makes peace and establishes their kingdom: “Like a shooting stars that
you saw, so shall be their kingdom.
They shall reign for [some] years on earth and will trample all. One
nation [or people] shall trample on another nation and one province on another province [vacat] until the
people of God shall arise and all will desist from the sword. His Kingdom will be an eternal kingdom and
its/his ways will be in righteousness; He will [jud]ge the earth in righteousness, and all will have/make
peace; The sword will cease from the ea