Who is the "Antichrist"?
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
This page was originally posted as on Online Newsletter in the Summer of 2007.
It has been re-edited as posted here, and updated as of 5/3/11.
Since early in my Christian life, I have been hearing about various individuals being accused of being the Antichrist. One of the first accusations I heard about was published in the form of a book that identified former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger as the “Antichrist”. That was over thirty years ago. As recently as a few months ago I received an email in which the writer associated him with the “Antichrist”, so the idea is still kicking around. For the record, though he is still active in world affairs in an unofficial way, Kissinger is about 84 years old and semi-retired. It is wildly unlikely that he is the “Antichrist”.
But that isn’t all, barely even the start. Every U. S. President since and including the late Ronald Reagan has been accused of being the Antichrist. Alan Greenspan has been accused of being the Antichrist. Prince Charles of Great Britain has been accused of being the Antichrist. Lately, Javier Solana, the President of the European Union, has been accused of being the Antichrist. Every Pope in the past fifty years has been accused of being the Antichrist (and in a sense, every Pope, period!) And God only knows how many others! All of the people who make these accusations have their arguments for why the person accused is the Antichrist.
I am not going to bother with trying to refute their arguments. Anyone who has studied logic and debating knows that it is very difficult to prove a negative. However, one thing should be obvious to everyone: The suspects can’t all be the Antichrist! So which one is? My position is that the correct answer is “None of the Above”.
There is another thing that should be obvious to everyone, but that Christians somehow don’t see: Accusing someone of being the Antichrist is malicious slander! It is something that Christians should not be doing. Would you seriously accuse George W. Bush of being a Hitler? I guess some people would, but I doubt that many people would take the accusation seriously, yet too many Christians have taken the accusations mentioned above seriously. If you accept the proposition that a particular person is the “Antichrist”, you are slandering him. And probably making yourself look crazy and/or stupid in the process. See the page “Report on the Stupider Effect”.
These accusations are a very bad testimony! Don’t think that the unsaved world doesn’t see this stuff. They do! Accusations like that tell unsaved people that Christians are a bunch of malicious, evil-minded crackpots. Though relatively few really are, it only takes a few to give the whole Christian Faith a bad name. When naÔve but well meaning Christians echo the accusations, they make the problem worse.
The Doctrine of the Antichrist
Although I will not try to refute the accusations in detail, there are two common ideas that are part of all of them that are held by many Christians. One is the belief that the Antichrist will appear to be a “nice guy”. Another is the belief that he will promise to solve all of the world’s problems. I want you to know that there is absolutely zero Scriptural foundation for either of these ideas. If you think you know different, contact me at this email address, and tell me, but be prepared to quote Book, chapter and verse. I will change my tune if you can show me Scripture that contradicts what I say. However, if I get a mindless rant, I’ll just click on “Delete”.
In fact, the popular concept of the Antichrist is not in the Bible. The word “antichrist” – not capitalized in the Greek – is found only in I and II John. One person whose opinions I usually respect claims that the way the word is used in I John 2:18 in the original Greek indicates that there is an Antichrist with a capital “A”. However, the verse itself and all three other references (I John 2:22 & 4:3; II John 1:7) suggest that the word ‘antichrist’ refers to a type of person or spirit, not a particular individual. Furthermore, John’s use of the expression “you have heard that…” in I John 2:18 (NIV) appears to parallel Jesus’ use of the same expression in Matthew 5:21, 27, 33, & 38 (which see). In all of those cases, the thing they “have heard” was error and Jesus replaced it with truth. In John’s case the error is “the antichrist is coming”. The truth is that “even now many antichrists have come”.
Incidentally, the same thing is probably true of the “man of sin” or “man of lawlessness” (depending on the Bible version) of II Thessalonians 2:3. He is probably a type of person, rather than being “the Antichrist”.
The Authority of the Book of Revelation
As stated in the “Understanding the Book of Revelation” page in this site, the Book of Revelation should be considered the final word, literally and figuratively, on Second Coming Prophecy. There are a number of reason’s why, but the most important is that it is the Lord Jesus Christ in His ascended, glorified state who appears in the first chapter as the Giver of the Book. It is, as the Book itself says, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”; not the “Revelation of St. John the Divine”, as it has been called. As stated in that page, our thinking about the Second Coming and the Great Tribulation must be based on the Book of Revelation as opposed to anything else in the Bible, if we are going to have any chance of coming to correct conclusions.
The Doctrine of the Two Beasts
Given that proposition, it must be noted that the word ďAntichristĒ does not occur anywhere in the Book of Revelation. What the Book of Revelation prophesies are the Two Beasts, a king and a false prophet. If one or other of them was the Antichrist, we should expect John to have used that term, since he used it in his Epistles and he was the only person in the Bible to use the term, but he did not. He called them the Beasts, and only the Beasts, besides identifying them as a king and a false prophet. The important thing about this is that by strict adherence to what John says about them, neither Beast resembles the popular concept of the Antichrist.
Bluntly, there is no such person in the Bible as the Antichrist!
However, it must be recognized that when people say “Antichrist”, they are often thinking, however incorrectly, of the first Beast of Revelation 13:1-8. It just so happens, that comparing that passage to Revelation 17:8-12, it appears that the first beast is an actually an alliance of kings (or, in our times, perhaps heads of state, whatever their titles). The one we call the “Antichrist” is the king who receives the seemingly fatal head wound that will be miraculously healed. Again, on the basis of what the passage in Revelation 13 says about him, he definitely does not fit the popular concept of the Antichrist. There is nothing there to suggest that he is a “nice guy”. There is no suggestion that he promises solutions to all the world’s problems. However, there are a number of things said that give us a clear description of what he will be like:
He will be given the power of Satan, a throne, and great authority.
He will apparently be militarily invincible.
He will be given a mouth to say proud things and blaspheme God.
He will make war against the saints and conquer them.
People will worship him.
And of course, he gets that apparently fatal head wound that is miraculously healed.
Note that the points above, especially the final two points, need only be true during the Great Tribulation.
(Special Note: The statements in Daniel 11:36-45 have also been considered descriptions of the “Antichrist”. However, this is probably not true. It has long been recognized that Daniel 11 prophesies the Seleucid Wars which took place in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, and especially the tyrannical reign of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ruled circa 175-164 BC, and to whom those verses specifically refer. He captured Jerusalem, desecrated the Temple, and tried to exterminate Judaism. Danielís prophetic description of those events is so accurate that later critics have taken them as evidence that the Book of Daniel is a work of fiction written much later than the times in which Daniel claims to have lived. However, it should be noted that the 1st Century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius affirmed the authenticity of the Book of Daniel in his classic work, "The Antiquities of the Jews".)
The One Real Suspect
(Update 5/2/11: History has just proven me wrong about this guess. See Disclaimer below)
However, just as I have speculated about when Jesus will come again, so I have speculated about the identity of the Beast. I have asked myself the question; is there anyone alive right now who in any way really fulfills the description of the Beast? There is such a person, but he is not one of the people mentioned above. Yet he has a name that any American would recognize unless the person is a mentally retarded recluse, or something like that.
He has a mouth uttering proud things and blaspheming God. When he speaks publicly, he gets headlines. In fact, there was an instance of this only a couple of weeks before this was originally written.
He is at war with the saints. He has made that perfectly clear to anyone who really listens to what he says. He hasn’t just attacked with words. He has used deadly force.
As far as being militarily invincible, he has not defeated anyone as yet, at least not militarily, but neither has anyone been able to completely defeat him, and people are trying. No one seems to be able to directly do anything against him.
He has a “throne” in that he is the unofficial head of a major international movement that has big plans.
He isn't being worshipped yet, but he is getting considerable mass media attention.
Of course, he doesn’t yet completely fulfill the description, but we shouldn’t expect him to do so until the Great Tribulation begins. Although he hasn't received the head wound yet, the wound gives indirect support to this possibility. There is probably no man alive that more people want to kill.
His name, as you may have guessed, is...
He said that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were an attack on Christians and Jews. Many Christians and Jews died that day. Todd Beamer, the best known of the heroes of Flight 93 was a Christian, and there were others that I know of that died at the World Trade Center.
In spite of President Bush’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” slogan, and a multimillion dollar reward being offered for information leading to his arrest, the United States military, the CIA and the FBI have been unable to capture or kill bin Laden, and they have tried. A recent statement in the news said, in so many words, that short of a major unexpected breakthrough in the case, the U.S. has effectively given up trying to catch him. Yet bin Laden can be considered the most “Wanted” man in history! Again, it already appears that in a manner of speaking no one can make war against him !
Osama bin Laden is the unofficial head of the Al Qaeda, which is a religious movement more than an organization, but which is dedicatedly and violently antichristian. The Al Qaeda is trying to bring back the Caliphate. If they succeed any time soon, Osama bin Laden will become one of the most powerful men on earth – if he isn’t already.
One final possibility:
If he isn't the Beast, it could be one of his sons. He has several sons who are following in their father's footsteps ideologically. One in particular, a 13-year old, recently made a public statement of his intention to do so. He is definitely a "chip off the old block".
Of course, this could be wrong. I am not absolutely certain of this myself. I am not dogmatically saying that Osama bin Laden is the Beast, but only that he (or one of his sons) is the most likely living suspect. He fits the description in Revelation far better than any of the men mentioned above. I could be proven wrong within 24 hours before or after you read this. Trust me, if it happens, I’ll admit it. In fact, I’d be happy to see the U.S. get him, as I have been happy about the U.S. capturing or killing other Al Qaeda leaders. But I don’t expect to have to admit to being wrong. I do maintain that this identification of the “Beast” is speculation, but it happens to be consistent with what I say in my “Two Beasts and Mystery, Babylon” page, which see.
Update 5/3/11: As I said, this was speculation. I acknowledged that history could prove me wrong. It has happened, and in fact, I am happy about it. All the celebrations show that there was indeed no man alive that more people wanted to kill. However, one of his sons could still prove to be the Beast, and in fact bin Laden's death could help one of them to become the Beast. We'll have to 'wait and see'. See my page "The Proper Handling of Prophecy".
Bottom line: we may still have the first “Beast” of Revelation, AKA ‘the Antichrist’ in sight. If so, it is a major sign that...
Jesus REALLY is coming soon. BE READY!!!