I’m going to annoy you today.

Yesterday I teased you that I’d be revealing the Antichrist.

And there you were up early this morning refreshing the page every second just waiting until this post appeared.

And still no identification?! No name, no picture, no Facebook page.

Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m only following the Scriptural precedent of describing the characteristics to look out for rather than the Antichrist’s name and address.

But stay with me because you need to know what to look out for and, who knows, maybe someone will read the seven characteristics and think, “Hey I know that guy!” And remember, although THE Antichrist may not yet have arisen, John warns us that there are many antichrists already in the world. So what are we looking for?

He is Lawless
Paul calls him “The Man of Sin,” literally “The Man of Lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3). He will disregard God’s Word and God’s law and replace it with his own arbitrary laws. He will re-define what is evil and what is good. He will promote doctrinal and ethical lawlessness.

He is a Destroyer
In the same verse, Paul names Antichrist as “the son of perdition,” meaning “son of destruction.” He will physically destroy those who oppose him; he will spiritually and eternally destroy all who believe him and follow him.

He Opposes God
“He opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God” (v. 4).  Well, that doesn’t help much, does it? Half the world oppose God and exalt themselves over Him. But what’s unique about this opposition is that the Antichrist opposes mainly by substitution.

He is a Substitute
As “Anti” can mean “instead of” as well as “against,” Antichrist can mean “replacement Christ,” “instead of Christ,” “substitute for Christ.” Paul confirms this when he says that the Antichrist “sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4). This is not necessarily an enemy from outside the church, but from inside it. He opposes Christ by replacing him, by taking Christ’s titles, worship, and roles.

He is a Deceiver
The only other person called “the son of perdition” was Judas (John 17:12). Under cover of professing to be a friend of Christ, He tried to destroy Christ. This theme of deception is taken up by Jesus, Paul, and John when describing the Antichrist. In fact, the dominant message from passages dealing with the Antichrist is, “Don’t be deceived!” Just as Satan rarely comes painted red with horns, a fork, and a pointy tail, the Antichrist will not come with a big “A” on his forehead. Like Satan, he will come with false signs, wonders, and miracles; he will be so plausible and persuasive that, if it were possible, He would deceive even the elect (Matt. 24:24).

He is a Heretic
John’s main concern with the Antichrist is his promotion of false doctrine surrounding the person and work of Christ (1 John 4:3; 2 John 7). Just like the mini-antichrists in John’s day, THE ultimate Antichrist will not deny everything about Christ, but just enough to undermine the power of Christ’s gracious salvation.

He is a Politician
While Daniel and Revelation confirm and expand upon these six characteristics, their main emphasis is on the political nature of the Antichrist. He will head up a kingdom, even an empire, similar to other nation states or empires. These books also make clear that this aspect of Antichrist’s work will become clearer and clearer nearer the end of time. Deception will be replaced with destruction, fraud will give way to force, the wolf in sheep’s clothing will shed his fleece and bare his fangs.

Serious, scary stuff, isn’t it?

Yes, but forewarned is forearmed, and, as I’ll explain tomorrow, while God sends us this warning in His love, He also sends a ton of comfort as well.

In the meantime, any other marks and characteristics that I’ve missed?

  • MarkO

    I am comforted by the fact that Daniel, Revelation, the Olivet Discourse and the writings of Paul which you cite do not mention “the Antichrist.” In my observation it appears that the modern church has interpreted Scripture thru a Dispensational grid such that we are taught how to find “the Antichrist” even where he is not mentioned.

    One exampe that came up in discussion recently is Daniel 9:27 where it reads “And he will make a firm covenant with the many…” (NASB). We have been told that the “he”refers to the antichrist, yet there no such mention of him in Daniel 9 nor in the entire book of Daniel. The “he” in Daniel 9:27 instead refers to Christ, to Messiah. Why do we keep reading “the Antichrist” into texts where he does not exist?

    I also discovered after going back to the Hebrew that the NASB mistranslates this important clause. It should read something like “and he will make strong or make prevail a covenant with the many…”

    • David Murray

      I agree with you on the Daniel 9:27 text, Mark. However, just because the Antichrist has sometimes been read into texts where he does not exist, doesn’t mean we run to the other extreme and deny him where he is plainly revealed.

  • Alastair Manderson

    “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work…” 2Thes2:7a
    I would say that the characteristic would have to mean some histroic claim to the times of the Apostles, perhaps the origin of Anti-Christ’s false doctrine, or a desire to mis-represent Apostolic teaching as his own. Perhaps even, taking one of the faithful apostles and painting him as a figure like himself.
    I suppose “He is ancient” or “He is a keen historian” or something.

  • Peter Overduin

    While I never get too worked up about this, for me, a huge and seemingly ignored issue related to all this is the evangelical church’s view of millennialism. Couple an increasingly spiritually barren church with a false view of the return of Christ, especially pre-mil, or the pro-Israel view, where the temple must first be rebuilt, and many christians become ripe for deception. It is hugely scary that the anti Christ will be able to perform miracles,and so will deceive many who think that there will be a literal 1000 year reign of Christ…He will convince many he is the Christ.

    If only we would fix our eyes firmly on the horizon, knowing that when He comes, He will come in glory, with the angels, as lightning, and even on this round planet on which we live, all eyes will see Him.

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  • Theo K

    Aren’t all these characteristics pointing toward Roman Catholicism?

  • Edgar Ibarra

    The WCF, original, states that THE Antichrist is the Papacy. And they are correct.

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  • Steven Birn

    The singular anti-christ of scripture, the beast, is Nero not the Bishop of Rome.

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  • derektaylor

    David, thanks for this. In your previous post you mentioned that Revelation does provide us with a clearer Biblical picture of the Antichrist. Would you be talking about the first beast in Revelation 13, the second, or both? I have been studying this passage with a larger study of Revelation and am undecided as to whether the beasts in Revelation 13 are primarily speaking of an antichrist spirit or the final Antichrist, or both. Thoughts on this?

    • derektaylor

      I forgot to add that it is interesting to see that the Babylonian woman in Revelation 17 seems to be sitting on the beast from Revelation 13, and that the woman with the beast is sitting on seven hills. There are many things in these passages that do seem to point to papal Rome and therefore, I can certainly understand why the Reformers were practically unanimous in declaring the papacy to be Antichrist. John Calvin famously said that “even a 10 year old can see that the papacy is the Antichrist”.