ANTICHRIST- The antichrist is an adversary of the Messiah, used by Satan to oppose the work of God (2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:12). Various terms in Scripture designate this individual, including “abomination of desolation” (Dan 12:11 Matt 24:15), “the beast” (Rev 13:1-8), “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:1-10), and “antichrist.” In the Greek, the prefix anti- means “against,” “opposite,” or “in the place of.” Appropriately named, the antichrist stands against Christ and operates contrary to Him by speaking lies and blasphemies and by persecuting God’s people. In addition, he seeks to stand in the place of Christ, garnering to himself the worship due to God alone.
Although the specific term “antichrist” is found only in John’s NT letters (1 John 2:18; 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7), the concept is anticipated in the OT book of Daniel. Based on the characteristics of the “little horn” in Daniel 7, both Revelation and 2 Thessalonians introduce figures that reflect those characteristics and display together a unified opposition to God and His people at the end of the age.
The spirit and work of the antichrist manifests itself both within the church and in the world at large. John says that many antichrist have already come to influence the gathering of the church body (1 John 2:18), lying about who Jesus is and denying the truth about His coming in the flesh (1 John 2:22; 2 John 7). False teachers, deceiving others about the true identity of Jesus, pose a real threat to the church-this, John argues, “is the spirit of the antichrist. . .already in the world now” (1 John 4:3).
In the world, the antichrist aggressively opposes God’s people through persecution. Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 indicate that this “little horn” rises up to wage war against the holy ones, prevailing over them for a season. Those who follow the antichrist, led astray by his signs and wonders and led to worship the beast, also wage war against the Lamb (Rev 17:14; 19:19). This rebellion against God is stirred up intensely once the “man of lawlessness” is no longer restrained (2 Thess 2:6-8).
In nearly every scriptural context where the antichrist, or the plurality of figures embodying the characteristics of the antichrist, is found, the primary activity is deception (2 These 2:3; 2 John 7; Rev 13:14). Jesus warned us to watch out for those who claim to be the Messiah, who will succeed in deceiving many people (Matt 24:4-5; Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8). These false messiahs and false prophets, through their great signs and wonders, lead many astray-even the elect, if possible (Matt 24:23-26; Mark 13:21-23).
Deception, however, is not the only way the antichrist attempts to sabotage the people of God. Daniel says, “He will speak words against the Most High” (7:25), which John specifies in Revelation 13 as “blasphemies” against God (13:5-6). Paul adds that such blasphemies are not merely spoken, but lived out as well, as the “man of lawlessness. . . sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God” (2 Thess 2:3-4).
Some Bible teachers have attempted to identify a specific individual like Antiochus Epiphanes, Caligula, Nero, or Hitler, or an institution like the Roman Empire as the antichrist-the fulfillment of the infamous designation 666 (Rev 13:18). Certainly the clear anti-Jewish and anti-Christian activities of these historical people characterize the work of the antichrist, even if they were not the final antichrist.
When the dead of the age has come, and the final events unfold as Jesus taught in Matthew 24 and John foretold in Revelation, the furious activity of the antichrist will be evident and tangible. His role in the end will carry out God’s plan until all His words are accomplished (Rev 17:17), and until Jesus destroys him with the breath of His mouth and brings him to nothing (2 Thess 2:8). Then the antichrist will be conquered and cast into the lake of fire along with all who oppose Christ (Rev 19:20).