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Who Is the Antichrist?

by Dr. Ron Rhodes

The apostle Paul warned of a “man of lawlessness,” which is the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3,8-9). This individual will perform counterfeit signs and wonders and deceive many people during the future tribulation period (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). The apostle John describes this anti-God individual in the book of Revelation as “the Beast” (Revelation 13:1-10).

This Satan-inspired individual will rise to prominence in the tribulation period, initially making a peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). But he will then seek to dominate the world, double-cross and then seek to destroy the Jews, persecute believers, and set up his own kingdom (Revelation 13). He will speak arrogant and boastful words in glorifying himself (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

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His assistant, the False Prophet, will seek to make the world worship him (Revelation 13:11-12). People around the world will be forced to receive his mark, without which they cannot buy or sell, thereby controlling the global economy (Revelation 13:16-17). However, to receive this mark insures one of being the recipient of God’s wrath.

The Antichrist will eventually rule the whole world (Revelation 13:7), with His headquarters in Rome (Revelation 17:8-9). This beast will be defeated and destroyed by Jesus at His second coming (Revelation 19:11-16).

A Jew?

Some interpreters have tried to argue that the Antichrist will be a Jew. For example, there was an early tradition that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan (in the twelve tribes of Israel). Some relate this to the fact that the tribe of Dan fell into deep apostasy and idolatry, setting up for themselves a graven image (Judges 18:30). In the Testament of Dan (5:6) Satan is said to be the prince of the tribe. Irenaeus, writing in the latter part of the second century, noted that the omission of Dan was due to a tradition that the Antichrist was to come from that tribe (Adv. Haer. v.30.2.). However, Revelation 13:1 and 17:15 picture the Antichrist as rising up out of the sea, and the term “sea” in Scripture is often used as a way of referring to the Gentile nations. Antiochus Epiphanes, a Gentile, seems to typify the future Antichrist in Daniel 11. Hence, it is unlikely the Antichrist will be a Jew.

A Muslim?

More recently, for understandable reasons, many have claimed that the Antichrist will be a Muslim. However, such a view has significant problems in terms of theological consistency. For one thing, Daniel 11:36 tells us the Antichrist “shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god.” We also read in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that the antichrist ultimately “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” To say the very least, the idea of a Muslim Antichrist claiming to be God would represent an absolute and heinous trashing of the Muslim creed, which affirms that “there is one God named Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” No true Muslim would make any claim that he was God. Just as it is anathema to Muslims to call Jesus “God incarnate” or the “Son of God,” so it would be anathema to Muslims for any human to claim he was God. (Keep in mind that Muslims are radical monotheists.) A Muslim Antichrist would thus be viewed as an infidel among Quran-believing Muslims.

In keeping with this is the Muslim teaching that “God can have no partners.” Muslims generally say this as a means of arguing against the Trinity. But it is certainly applicable to human leaders on earth who claim to be God.

Still further, it is the Muslim teaching that Allah is so radically unlike any earthly reality—so utterly transcendent and beyond anything in the finite realm—that he can scarcely be described using earthly terms. How, then, could a human Muslim (the Antichrist) claim (as the Antichrist) to be God—a God described in earthly terms?

One must also wonder why a Muslim Antichrist would make a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:24-27), guaranteeing protection for Israel. Many evangelical expositors have believed that this covenant is what allows Israel to live in “peace and safety” so that she can rebuild the Jewish temple. It seems hard to believe that a Muslim leader would protect Israel in this regard.

Gog?

Contrary to the assumptions of some today, Gog (the leader of the northern military coalition that will one day invade Israel—Ezekiel 38) is not just another name for the Antichrist. The Bible interpreter will end up in prophetic chaos if he or she tries to make this identification. The Antichrist heads up a revived Roman empire (Daniel 2, 7), while Gog heads up an invasion force made up of Russia and a number of Muslim nations (Ezekiel 38:1-6). Moreover, Gog’s invasion into Israel constitutes a direct challenge to the Antichrist’s covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27). Further, Gog’s moment in the limelight is short-lived (it’s all over when God destroys the invading force— Ezekiel 39), whereas the Antichrist is in power over the span of a significant part of the tribulation (see Revelation 4—18).

Christ Himself Will Defeat the Antichrist

Scripture reveals that the Antichrist is destined for the lake of fire. Revelation 19:20 tells us: “The beast was seized, and with him the False Prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” Satan, too, will eventually experience this destiny: “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the False Prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

This will mark the end of influence of this satanic trinity.

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Dr. Ron Rhodes is President of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. He is the author of over 70 books, including 3 Silver Medallion winners. He is a keynote speaker at conferences across the United States. He teaches cult apologetics at Dallas Theological Seminary and Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, CA. Learn more at RonRhodes.org

 

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