Several scriptures in the Bible refer to some people as antichrist or an antichrist, while other scriptures mention several different names for a man whom a preponderance of Christian Bible scholars believe will be the Antichrist (with a capital “a”). We will consider these scriptures before discussing characteristics of the Antichrist and when he will become the ruler of most of the world.
Who Is the Antichrist?
First John 2:18 states that the Antichrist will be coming, but many antichrists have already come. This verse is the only scripture in the Bible that indicates there will be one particular person who will be known as the Antichrist.
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.”
So, who is an antichrist? First John 2:22 says that anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is an antichrist. Likewise, both 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 7 indicate that anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an antichrist.
[Note: The term Christ refers to the Messiah who would come, as prophesied in the Old Testament of the Bible. If Jesus of Nazareth was not the prophesied Messiah, then there is no valid reason to believe that people will have eternal salvation by trusting in Him.]
The only scriptures in the Bible that use the term “antichrist” are those in First and Second John that we just mentioned. However, many, if not most, Christian Bible scholars believe that the references in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to “the man of lawlessness” (or to “the man of sin”) and in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 to “the lawless one” (or to “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 [of 2 Thessalonians 2].
Somewhat surprisingly, the Book of Revelation makes no specific mention of either the Antichrist or the man of lawlessness. However, a majority of Christian Bible scholars believe that references to a beast (or the Beast) in Revelation 13:1-10 pertain to the Antichrist.
What Are Characteristics of the Antichrist?
Scriptures such as Revelation 13:18; 19:20; and 20:10 imply that the beast (i.e., the Antichrist) will be a specific person.
Also, Revelation 13:1-3 and 14 indicate that the beast will suffer a near-fatal wound, which seems to imply that the beast will be a person. However, if the near-fatal wound is a metaphoric description of a previous situation that nearly destroyed some type of human organization, such as a coalition of several nations, then the beast would not be a particular person. Furthermore, some Christian Bible scholars argue that the description in Revelation 13:1-3 of the beast infers that the Antichrist will not be a person.
A number of the Christian Bible scholars who believe that the Antichrist will be a person cite scriptures such as Daniel 7:1-8, 24-26 and Revelation 17:1, which infer that the Antichrist will be a gentile (i.e., not a Jew) and that he will be from a nation that is part of a coalition of nations that will comprise a new or revived Roman Empire.
Among the other characteristics which indicate that the Antichrist will be a person, rather than some type of human organization, are the following: The Antichrist will be (1) a blasphemer, (2) deceitful, (3) destructive, (4) egotistical, and (5) empowered by Satan. Scriptures that mention these characteristics include Daniel 7:8; 8:24-25; 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4, 9; and Revelation 13:2, 5-6.
The Bible also indicates that the Antichrist will be regarded by people as the supreme ruler of virtually the entire world during the period referred to as “the Tribulation” or “the Great Tribulation.” This period is specifically mentioned in Revelation 7:14 and described in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.
Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:7 indicate that for the Antichrist to attain his exalted position, he will wage war against the saints (i.e., Christians and, perhaps, other people who are faithful to God) and he will conquer most of the world.
When Will the Antichrist Become the Political Leader of Most of the World?
Most biblically-mentioned signs of when the Antichrist will become the ruler of virtually the entire world are ambiguous. However, many , if not most, Christian Bible scholars believe that Daniel 11:31 prophesies that the future ruler regarded as the Antichrist will be responsible for desecrating the temple in Jerusalem and abolishing the daily sacrifice.
Since the temple was last destroyed centuries ago and has not been rebuilt, it obviously will need to be rebuilt before Daniel 11:31 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 most of the world.
And, the Bible indicates that the Antichrist will become the supreme ruler of virtually the entire world during the period referred to as “the Tribulation” or “the Great Tribulation.” This period is specifically mentioned in Revelation 7:14 and described in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.
Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:7 indicate that for the Antichrist to attain his exalted position as the ruler of the world, he will wage war against the saints (i.e., Christians) and he will conquer most of the world.
Summary and Conclusion
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 Christians. As to when the Antichrist will come, it is our belief that the most definite sign that the Antichrist will soon become the ruler of virtually the entire world will be the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.