Several verses in the Bible refers to some people as antichrist or an antichrist, while other verses mention several different names for a man whom most Christian Bible scholars believe will be the Antichrist (with a capital “a”). We will consider these verses before discussing characteristics of the Antichrist and when he will become the political leader of the world. Our discussion will be relatively basic rather than in-depth, but should provide sufficient scriptural references to adequately support our conclusions.
Who Is the Antichrist?
1 John 2:18 states that the Antichrist will be coming, but many antichrists have already come. A footnote to this verse in the NIV Bible says, “John assumed his readers knew that a great enemy of God and His people would arise before Christ’s return. . . . But prior to him there will be many antichrists.”
1 John 2:22 indicates that anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is antichrist (i.e., not the Antichrist).
1 John 4:3 states that the spirit of the antichrist (with a small “a”) does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.
2 John 7 indicates that anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an antichrist.
No other scriptures in the Bible specifically use the term “antichrist” (i.e., only First and Second John use this term). Furthermore, 1 John 2:18 is the only scripture that indicates there will be one particular person who will be known as the Antichrist.
However, many, if not most, Christian Bible scholars believe the references in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8-9 to “the man of lawlessness” (or “the man of sin”) and to “the lawless one” (or “the son of perdition”) pertain to the Antichrist. A footnote to 2 Thessalonians 2:3 in the NIV Bible states:
[The man of lawlessness is] the leader of the forces of evil at the last time. Only here is he called by this name. John tells us of many “antichrists” (1 Jn 2:18), and this may be the worst of them – the antichrist of Revelation 13. . . . He is not Satan, because he is clearly distinguished from him in v 9.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Book of Revelation makes no specific mention of either the Antichrist or the man of lawlessness, but most New Testament scholars believe that references to a beast (or the Beast) in Revelation 13:1-10 pertain to the Antichrist.
In addition to the preceding biblical passages that we have cited, there are several other Old Testament scriptures that some Bible scholars believe allude to the Antichrist. These scriptures provide prophecies of powerful rulers who would become notorious for their barbarity. However, we do not think there is sufficient reason to believe that one of these men will be the Antichrist.
What Are Characteristics of the Antichrist?
There are certain characteristics of the Antichrist that we can know, but there are other things we do not know about him.
The Bible clearly informs us about the following characteristics of the Antichrist:
- He will be a blasphemer (see Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; and Revelation 13:5-6).
- He will be deceitful (see Daniel 8:25).
- He will be destructive (see Daniel 8:24-25).
- He will be egotistical (see Daniel 7:8; 8:25; and 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; and Revelation 13:5).
- He will be empowered by Satan (see Daniel 8:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; and Revelation 13:2).
- He will be regarded by people as the supreme ruler of virtually the entire world during the Great Tribulation, a period that is described in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, and specifically mentioned in Revelation 7:14. To attain this exalted position, he will wage war against the saints (i.e., people who are faithful to God) and will conquer most of the world (see Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:7).
In our opinion, the Bible is not sufficiently clear about the following traits of the Antichrist:
- A number of New Testament scholars argue that the description of the beast (i.e., the Antichrist), particularly in Revelation 13:1-3, infers that the beast will not be a person. Some scholars think the beast will be a coalition of several nations. Other scholars believe the beast will be the Roman Catholic Church, which during preceding centuries demonstrated a tendency to commit many atrocities against other Christians, as well as against infidels. However, verses such as Revelation 13:18; 19:20; and 20:10 imply that the beast will be a specific person. Furthermore, verses 3 and 14 in Revelation 13 state that the beast will suffer a near-fatal wound, which indicates that the beast will be a mortal human being rather than a supernatural being.
- There are also a number of Bible scholars who believe that scriptures such as Daniel 7:1-8, 24-28 and Revelation 17:1 infer that the Antichrist will be a gentile (i.e., not a Jew) from a nation that is part of a coalition of nations that will comprise a new or revived Roman Empire. However, we do not think these scriptures are conclusive.
When Will the Antichrist Become the Political Leader of the World?
Most biblically-mentioned signs of when the Antichrist will become the political leader of the world are ambiguous. In contrast, Daniel 11:31 prophesies that a future ruler will be responsible for desecrating the temple in Jerusalem and abolishing the daily sacrifice. Many, if not most, Bible scholars think this ruler will be the Antichrist. Since the temple was destroyed centuries ago and has not been rebuilt, it obviously will need to be rebuilt before this scripture can be fulfilled. Therefore, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem will be a definite sign that the Antichrist will soon become the political leader of the world.
During the so-called “last days,” a ruthless man to whom the Bible refers by several names, including the Antichrist, the Beast, and the Man of Lawlessness, will become the supreme ruler of virtually the entire world. He will be a blasphemer, deceitful, destructive, egotistical, empowered by Satan, and will persecute people who seek to be faithful to God. A definite sign that the Antichrist will soon become the political leader of the world will be the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.