In a previous article, I mentioned that dispensationalist Thomas Ice and semi-dispensationalist Alan Kurschner will be debating the “rapture” question on September 25th in Plano, Texas. The debate thesis is: “The Church Will Face the Antichrist Before the Rapture.” Kurschner is taking the affirmative (prewrath, semi-dispensational position) and Ice is taking the denial (pretribulational, full dispensational position).
In that first article I pointed out that both men need to account for a gap in time between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s “70 weeks of years” prophecy in order for their end-time seven-year tribulation period work.
If there is no gap, then there is no seven-year tribulation period, and all the end-time claims that make the books and articles prophecy propagandists so popular with a generally uninformed public dangerously irrelevant.
The end-time bad guy in futurist eschatological systems is the antichrist. The number of antichrist candidates is too many to list here. There were enough of them in the seventeenth century that a book was written about the subject.
“In the centuries following the Reformation, Antichrist—the biblical Beast, whose coming was to precede the end of the world and the coming of Christ’s kingdom—was an intensely real figure. The debate raged as to who this Antichrist, whose downfall was now at hand, might be. Was he the Pope? Bishops? A state church? The monarchy? Or was it just a term of abuse to be hurled at anybody one disliked?”1
Here’s the question that needs to be asked of Thomas Ice and Alan Kurschner:
Question No. 2: Your debate topic mentions a future antichrist. Could you please cite all the verses where the word “antichrist” is found, define the word using the Bible, identify the number of antichrists, identify the time of the appearing of antichrist, and explain how these describe a yet future prophetic figure?
Here’s what the Bible says about antichrist.
- “Antichrist is primarily a Christian term based on interpretation of passages in the New Testament, in which the term ‘antichrist’ occurs five times in 1 John and 2 John (Greek: ἀντίχριστος, antichristos), once in plural form and four times in the singular.”
- An antichrist is a “liar . . . who denies that Jesus is the Christ” and “denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22; cf. 2 John 7). It’s most likely that the antichrists were first century Jews who did not believe that Jesus was God in human flesh (cf. Rev. 2:9; 3:9). They were not political leaders and did not possess preternatural powers.
- There were many antichrists (1 John 2:18).
- Antichrists had already “gone out into the world” when John wrote his second epistle (2 John 7).
- Earlier John had written that “even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). The “last hour” is most likely a reference to the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70.
- The book of Revelation does not use the word antichrist which seems odd since it’s during this future time that Ice and Kurschner claim the antichrist will oversee the rebuilding of another temple, make a covenant with the Jews, and break that covenant, events the last book of the Bible does not mention.
Ice and Kurschner would try to argue against the above points by claiming that there are other names or designations for a single end-time antichrist. They will claim there is a “composite” antichrist: “the son of destruction” and “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3), “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26), “the little horn” (Dan. 7:8; 8:9), “the beast” — there are two of them — (Rev. 13:1, 11), and several other biblical characters all rolled into one.
Tim LaHaye’s understanding of antichrist is typical: “Many titles are given to Antichrist in the Scriptures — at least twenty in number.”2 This futurized composite antichrist supposedly will make himself known during the seven-year great tribulation period, after the rapture of the church. LaHaye and many end-time speculators maintain that he is European, specifically Roman, since he arises out of the midst of the “ten horns” on the head of the “fourth beast” (Dan. 7:7–8, 19–26).
Oswald J. Smith (1889–1986) wrote about a revived Roman Empire that he claimed was on the horizon in his day. Smith was emphatic that “Ten nations, no more, no less, are to become allied and known as the Roman empire because Rome will be the centre, the capital, and it will be in Rome that the Emperor will reign.”3 Notice what Smith said about this revived Roman Empire: “Ten nations, no more, no less.”
In his Late Great Planet Earth, Lindsey wrote about a “ten nation [European] confederacy” that would be in place by 1980. For support, he quoted Dr. William Hallstein, the former president of the European Economic Community, who described how a “Common Market could someday expand into a ten-nation economic entity whose industrial might would far surpass that of the Soviet Union.” Lindsey remarked, “Imagine that. A ‘ten-nation economic entity.’”4 Like Smith, Lindsey envisioned a ten-nation revived empire.
Today, the European Union has more than ten nations and includes nations not originally part of the old Roman Empire and excludes nations of northern Africa that were part of the original empire. Eight former Communist states and two island Mediterranean nations joined the European Union in 2004.5 This brought the total to 25. What happened to a literal ten-nation — no more, no less — Common Market? Lindsey fudges by revising his early comments by claiming that ten nations control the other now 28. That’s not what he wrote in 1969.
Smith claimed that Mussolini was the antichrist in his book Is the Antichrist at Hand?, a book that was written in 1926! Mussolini was executed in 1945.
There have been countless named antichrists throughout the centuries. The Roman Catholic Church with its papacy was the antichrist candidate of the Reformers and remains a popular position today. There have been some recent candidates. Even Ronald (6), Wilson (6), Reagan (6) was one of them. Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev (also see here). President Obama is one of the latest antichrist candidates. An article on WND’s website reports on an anonymous “Christian with a theological education and many years in the ministry . . . who claims Jesus might have revealed who the antichrist is.”
Mr. Anonymous makes it clear in his five-minute YouTube video that he is not claiming that Barack Obama is the antichrist. He states that he is only pointing out how two Hebrew words have “striking” correlations to Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:18 and Isaiah 14:14 and the President’s name. The argument begins with Luke 10:18. “When I started doing a little research,” the unnamed minister states, “I found the Greek word for ‘lightning’ is astrapē, and the Hebrew equivalent is baraq. I thought that was fascinating.”
When he focused on the word “heaven,” he found that it can refer not just to God’s dwelling place but also “the heights” or “high places.” This led him to Isaiah 14:14, where Lucifer, another name for Satan, is quoted as saying, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
He then looked up the Hebrew word for “heights” and found that it’s bamah. On the video, the announcer notes, “If spoken by a Jewish rabbi today, influenced by the poetry of Isaiah, He (Jesus) would say these words in Hebrew … ‘I saw Satan as Baraq Ubamah.’” Actually, Luke 10:18 would read “I was watching Satan fall from bama [the high places] like baraq [lightning].” Jesus could just have easily meant that Satan fell from his high position like Barak fell from his leadership position when he refused to lead Israel’s armies and lost his honor as a commander (Judges 4:8–9).
Not once did Mr. Anonymous give the biblical definition or the timing of antichrist. Context, audience relevance, and the timing of prophetic events mean everything when it comes to interpreting the Bible.
Let’s not forget the proposed Islamic antichrist promoted by Joel Richardson. Islam is the end-time flavor of the day.
Read more: “The Rise of the Islamic Antichrist: Fact or Fiction?“
It’s time that Christians study the Bible and not the newspapers, Facebook, prophecy pot-boiler books, or end-time blogs. It’s embarrassing when Christians claim they have identified the antichrist. They’ve always been wrong, and if they continue to speculate on who “the” antichrist will be, they will continue to be wrong because antichrists were first-century, old-covenant opponents of the gospel.
Does this mean there are no bad political or religious bad guys today? Not at all. But there is enough biblical wisdom and common sense available to spot tyrants and know what to do about them. We should be like the sons of Issachar, “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chron. 12:32) instead of making fools of ourselves by arguing about something that is clearly defined. Let’s stick to the text of Scripture and stop with all the prophetic speculation.
- See Christopher Hill, Antichrist in Seventeenth-Century England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971). [↩]
- Tim LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 207. [↩]
- Oswald J. Smith, Is the Antichrist at Hand? (Harrisburg, PA: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 1926), 18. [↩]
- Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970), 96–97. [↩]
- Daniel Rubin, “European Union Close to adding 10 nations,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (October 13, 2002), B4. [↩]