Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4, NIV 1984).
The Anti-Christ is the end-times antagonist of God and His people. He is a person who will be empowered by Satan and will function as an enemy of Jesus Christ and His saints. In the context of apocalyptic literature, this figure performs false miracles, deceives many in order to discourage people from worshiping the true God, and persecutes God’s people. The term Anti-Christ could be interpreted either as against Christ or in place of Christ. The end-time Anti-Christ will be both. He would be against Christ, and he will set himself in the place of God, or Christ.
The Anti-Christ is mentioned in various places in Scripture by different names or titles (Anti-Christ, deceiver, false Messiahs and false prophets, man of lawlessness, son of destruction, and beast).
All three Synoptic Gospels (general view of the whole – synopsis) present the concept of the Anti-Christ (“false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders”) in Jesus’ so-called Olivet Discourse. Jesus warns His disciples concerning things which are to come and against following those who come proclaiming (“do not believe it”) to be the Christ (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).
Paul’s Epistles, specifically 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, provides the earliest written New Testament statements concerning the Anti-Christ. Paul writes to the Thessalonians to correct their misunderstanding that the Day of the Lord had already occurred, explaining that specific events must occur prior to the Day of the Lord. These are the rebellion from the faith and the revelation of the antagonist against the faith. Paul refers to this figure as “the man of lawlessness” and “the man doomed to destruction.”
The actual term Anti-Christ, used extensively in modern commentaries and literature, occurs only four times in the Bible. All are in John’s epistles (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). 1 John 2:18 refers to “many Anti-Christ’s,” as did Jesus in His Olivet Discourse. John elaborates further in 1 John 4:3 by stating that any person or message that did not “confess Jesus” as being the spirit of the Anti-Christ. In his Second Epistle, John once again referred to “many deceivers” who would not “acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 7). Such a person, he wrote, was “the deceiver and the anti-Christ.” Finally, John warned that a final Anti-Christ, who, like the others, would deny that Jesus is the Christ, would yet make an appearance. John took it for granted (“as you have heard that the Anti-Christ is coming”) that his Christian readers knew about the Anti-Christ and had been taught to expect his coming (1 John 2:18–27).
It is the book of Revelation that contains the most information concerning the Anti-Christ. Unlike other New Testament writings, this work (perhaps because of the apocalyptic genre) utilizes an imagery of the Anti-Christ that is inhuman – a “beast.” John actually refers to two “beasts.” The first, a political manifestation is the actual Anti-Christ. He is referred to as a beast from the sea and depicts him as wearing ten crowns and receiving the dragon’s (Satan’s) power, throne, and authority (Revelation 13:1-2). The second, a religious manifestation is the False Prophet. He is referred to as a beast from the land. He exercises the authority of the first beast by using its power to perform signs to deceive the people and directing them to worship the first beast (Revelation 13:13–14).
While many have tried, it is impossible to know who the Anti-Christ will be before he is revealed. Nevertheless, there are certain things about him that we can know. He will be an intellectual genius (Daniel 8:23), have prowess as an orator (Daniel 11:36), a master of political intrigue (Revelation 17:11-12), a commercial wizard (Daniel 11:43 and 13:16-17), military strategist (Revelation 6:2 and 13:2), master of deceit (2 Thessalonians 2:10), acts according to his own selfish will (Daniel 11:36), obsessed with power (Daniel 11:38), has no desire for women (Daniel 11:37), a religious leader (2 Thessalonians 2:4, and Revelation 13:8), controller of a Western power block (Revelation 17:12), makes a covenant with Israel that he later breaks (Daniel 9:27), attempts to destroy all of Israel (Revelation 12), destroys the false religious system that he established (Revelation 17:16-17), sets himself up as God (Daniel 11:36-37, 2 Thessalonians 2:4-11, and Revelation 13:5), energized by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2), profanes the Temple (Matthew 24:15), briefly rules over all nations (Psalms 2, Daniel 11:36, and Revelation 13:16), crushed by Jesus at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19), first creature thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).
My Advice – While it is not clear whether those who become Christians before the Tribulation will be around for the coming of the Anti-Christ, do not fear him. “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:3–5, NIV 1984).
Morrison, D. I. (2012, 2013, 2014). Antichrist. In J. D. Barry, L. Wentz, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair-Wolcott, R. Klippenstein, D. Bomar, … D. R. Brown (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 118–119). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Willmington, H. L. (1987). Willmington’s book of Bible lists (pp. 28–29). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale.