Who is the Antichrist?
From the days of the first Christians to today’s believers, this question has fascinated millions through the centuries.
And rightly so, the Antichrist is an intriguing figure.
Some say he doesn’t exist, that there’s no scriptural evidence. While others describe him as the human incarnation of Satan.
So who is the Antichrist? Is he a real figure? Is he alive today? And if so, how will the world recognize him?
Fortunately, the Bible provides us with answers to all these questions and more.
The Antichrist in the Bible
Who is the Antichrist according to the Bible?
While some people claim the Bible never refers to an individual as the “Antichrist,” but rather the existence of “a spirit of Antichrist,” a complete picture of this infamous man emerges from a thorough reading of the scriptures.
In fact, the Antichrist is referenced throughout the Bible as a man of many names…
- The Seed of Satan – Genesis 3:15 (NLT)
- The Little Horn – Daniel 7:8 (NLT)
- The Fierce King, a Master of Intrigue – Daniel 8:23 (NLT)
- The Prince Who is to Come – Daniel 9:26 (NLT)
- The Defiler – Daniel 9:27 (NLT)
- The King Who Does as He Pleases – Daniel 11:36 (NLT)
- The King of Assyria – Isaiah 10:12 (NLT)
- The Worthless Shepherd – Zechariah 11:17 (NLT)
- The One Who Brings Destruction – 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT)
- The Man of Lawlessness – 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (NLT)
- The Antichrist – 1 John 2:18 (NLT)
- The Beast – Revelation 13:11 (NLT)
As the above verses and many others attest, the Antichrist is a very real person.
During the final seven year period before the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, the Antichrist will achieve unprecedented global power:
“And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.” Revelation 13:7 (NLT)
The reach and power of the Antichrist will extend to the farthest corners of the earth. In fact, his dominion will be so extensive, not a single person will be able to buy or sell without his permission:
“He required everyone – great and small, rich and poor, slave and free – to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.” Revelation 13:16-17 (NLT)
The Antichrist will use his position of authority to persecute Christians and Jews:
“And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and overcome them.” Revelation 13:7 (NLT)
Not only will the Antichrist assault God’s holy people, but he’ll even dare to raise his hand against Jesus Christ:
“He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception, defeating many by catching them off guard. Without warning he will destroy them. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power.” Daniel 8:24-25 (NLT)
This final act of rebellion will be the Antichrist’s ultimate undoing.
Characteristics of the Antichrist
Any attempt to answer the question, “Who is the Antichrist?” requires an in-depth examination of the man’s characteristics as outlined in the bible. By studying these characteristics, those who are alive on earth during the end times will be able to recognize the Antichrist.
Here are just a few of his characteristics:
Nationality / Race
According to the bible, the Antichrist will come from among a distinct race of people:
“A ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.” Daniel 9:26 (NLT)
The armies that destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 were Roman armies. This means the Antichrist will arise from among the Roman and/or Italian people.
Whether or not he’s of Italian ethnicity is a subject of ongoing debate. But regardless, the bible is clear. The Antichrist will come from among the people who destroyed the Temple.
Arrogance / Hubris
The Antichrist will also be a man of unrivaled arrogance:
“This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.” Daniel 7:8 (NLT)
He will believe his great boasts, thinking himself to be greater than God Himself:
“The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god there is, even blaspheming the God of gods.” Daniel 11:36 (NLT)
Powered by Satan
In addition, the Antichrist will be a man of unprecedented power, not of his own accord, but because he is backed by Satan:
“He will become very strong, but not by his own power.” Daniel 8:24 (NLT)
Because of the power given to him by Satan, the Antichrist will be able to deceive many people with false signs and miracles:
“This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (NLT)
Unfortunately, these deceived people will follow the Antichrist, believing his power to be that of God and not Satan. Nevertheless, the bible reveals that the Antichrist derives his power from Lucifer:
“And the dragon gave him his own power and throne and great authority.” Revelation 13:2 (NLT)
Worships a God of Fortresses
The Antichrist will also worship a god his forefathers never knew – a brand new god of fortresses:
“He will have no regard for the god of his ancestors, or for the god beloved of women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses – a god his ancestors never knew – and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and costly gifts.” Daniel 11:37-38 (NLT)
To understand who the Antichrist is, we need to understand that he’s a man of unrivaled arrogance and inflated self-worth, who believes himself to be greater than anyone else who has ever lived.
He’s also an idolater who worships “a god of fortresses,” which in all likelihood represents his enormous military power.
Speculations About Who is the Antichrist
So now that we know who the Antichrist is, can we identify him today?
According to Paul, the Antichrist will not be known until there is a great rebellion in which the Antichrist enters the Temple of God in Jerusalem and exalts himself above every object of worship:
“For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed – the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT)
Since that event (the abomination of desolation) has yet to happen, we can say with confidence that the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed, and we can not identify the Antichrist today.
Nevertheless, that’s never stopped people from speculating about the Antichrist’s identity.
Here’s a list, by no means exhaustive, of people throughout history who have been rumored to be the Antichrist:
- Antiochus Epiphanes
- Kaiser Wilhelm
- Franklin Roosevelt (FDR)
- Adolph Hitler
- Benito Mussolini
- Joseph Stalin
- Francisco Franco
- John Kennedy (JFK)
- Henry Kissinger
- Ronald Reagan
- Pope John Paul II
- Ayatollah Khomeini
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Saddam Hussein
- Bill Clinton
- Bill Gates
- George W. Bush
- Osama Bin Laden
- Javier Solana
- Tony Blair
- Vladamir Putin
- Mahmoud Amadinejad
- Barack Obama
- Pope Benedict XVI
Most of these people can be definitely be ruled out as the Antichrist since they lived long ago and have since died. The remaining candidates are all but certain to prove undeserving of the ominous title given Paul’s statement in regard to when the man of lawlessness will be revealed.
However, this list does serve a valuable purpose. It vividly illustrates the pitfalls associated with singling someone out as the Antichrist before the appointed time.
Is the Antichrist Alive Today?
When studying the biblical prophecies of the Antichrist, many inevitably ask the question, “Is the Antichrist alive today?”
The best answer is, “we don’t know for sure.”
However, given the lateness of the hour, it’s highly probable the Antichrist is alive today.
As Paul stated, we will only know for sure when the Antichrist enters the Temple and commits the abomination of desolation:
“He will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler.” Daniel 9:27 (NLT)
This can not happen until the Jewish Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, and in all probability, this will happen soon.
Less than a century ago, Israel did not exist.
Then, one day in 1948, Israel became a nation.
Less than twenty years later, Israel regained control over Jerusalem.
In due time, Israel will rebuild the Temple in that same City.
How can I be so sure? Because God’s Word demands it.
And since Jesus stated that the generation which witnesses these things will not pass before His Glorious Appearing, in all likelihood, the Antichrist is alive today.
“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout, you know without being told that summer is near. Just so, when you see the events I’ve described beginning to happen, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I assure you, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.” Matthew 24:32-35 (NLT)
Why Does It Matter?
Why bother asking “who is the Antichrist?”
One reason is because the appearance of the Antichrist precedes the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God’s Millennial Kingdom. And the rapture precedes all of these events.
Being watchful in regard to these events lends an element of urgency to God’s Word.
If we live each day as though Christ can return at any moment, then we are inspired to live Godly lives:
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:11-13 (NLT)
“Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11 (NLT)
“So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God – who chose you to be his children – is holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-15 (NLT)
While a Christian’s primary focus should always be Jesus Christ, the study of the Antichrist and end times bible prophecy in general serves a valuable purpose. Those who believe Christ can come for His church at any moment remain alert and prepared, prompting them to holy living on a daily basis.
As Paul reveals, a special crown awaits those who eagerly await Christ’s return:
“And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)
So who is the Antichrist?
The Antichrist is a man of unrivaled arrogance who will ascend to the pinnacle of wordly power in the end times. He will boast of his greatness, place himself above God, and persecute God’s people.
Ultimately, he will rally a godless world to wage war against Jesus Christ Himself:
“And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These miracle-working demons caused all the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13-14 (NLT)
“And they gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place called Armageddon in Hebrew.” Revelation 16:16 (NLT)
However, the gathering at Armageddon marks the end for the Antichrist and his allies:
“He will halt between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents there, but while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and there will be no one to help him.” Daniel 11:45 (NLT)
When the Antichrist comes to Armageddon, he will face the wrath of Jesus Christ. Christ will strip the Antichrist of all power and completely destroy his godless world government:
“But then the court will pass judgment, and all his power will be taken away and completely destroyed.” Daniel 7:26 (NLT)
In the end, despite his acquisition of power undreamed of by dictators past, the destiny of the Antichrist is the eternal lake of fire:
“Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” Revelation 19:20 (NLT)
Ultimately, it’s nowhere near as important to ask “Who is the Antichrist?” as it is to ask “Who is Jesus Christ?”
Because it doesn’t do any good to know the answer to the former if you don’t know the answer to the latter. If you want to avoid sharing in the Antichrist’s eternal punishment, make sure you develop and cultivate your relationship with the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 (NLT)