For nearly 2,000 years, there has been much discussion and speculation about the Antichrist. Through the centuries, this entity (mentioned by John, Paul, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and other biblical writers) has been identified as numerous individuals or as various governmental and/or religious systems. Does God's word tell us enough about the Antichrist to accurately determine who or what it will be? This study will examine the Bible to see if a specific identification is supported by the Scriptures.
Let's start with the epistles of John, the only place in the Bible where the term "Antichrist" is actually used:
I JOHN 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist [ho antichristos] is coming, even now many antichrists [antichristoi] have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (NKJV)
The first occurrence in the Bible of the term "Antichrist" is in I John 2:18, where the Greek word antichristos (a nominative masculine singular noun) is used. The definite article ho before antichristos indicates grammatically that John is speaking about a specific, singular entity: The Antichrist. John is talking about ONE particular individual who will be anti Christ. The Greek preposition anti literally means "instead of" (cf. Matt. 2:22; Luke 11:11; Jam. 4:15). This individual will be "instead of" Christ, NOT one who falsely proclaims to be the returned Christ.
In verse 18, John makes a statement regarding the coming Antichrist (the title of a single masculine entity who will be a substitute for Christ). He says that those he was writing to had previously heard that the Antichrist would come at the time of the end. Then, to demonstrate the lateness of the hour, John contrasts the future appearance of the Antichrist with those numerous "antichrists" who had already appeared. These "antichrists," he states, had gone out from among congregations of believers because they truly never had been a part of them. Since John identifies the "antichrists" of his day as personal entities (as opposed to "systems" or "governments"), the parallel future Antichrist must also be a personal entity, not an impersonal governmental/religious system.
I JOHN 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the Liar [ho pseustes] but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist [ho antichristos], the one who denies the Father and the Son. (NASU)
Verses 20 and 21 contrast the "antichrists" who went out from among them with the true believers who knew the truth and had God's Spirit (the "anointing from the Holy One," cf. Isa. 61:1;Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38). Verse 22 has generally been misunderstood to be referring only to those plural "antichrists" John had referenced in the latter part of verse 18. However, the Greek text indicates that John is saying that all those who deny the fleshly coming of Yeshua are types of the future Antichrist. These "antichrists" are like the future "Liar" who will deny that Yeshua is the Messiah. In fact, John tells us that the Antichrist will deny both the Father and the Son.
We can see from this passage that the Antichrist will do something specific: he will deny that Yeshua is the Messiah. Later on in his letter, John lists a second identifying characteristic of the Antichrist:
I JOHN 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist [tou antichristou], which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (NKJV)
John tells his readers that those who confessed that Yeshua the Messiah had come in the flesh did so by the Spirit of God, while those that did not confess that Yeshua the Messiah had come in the flesh were not of God but had another "spirit" influencing them. Here John gives us a another test for identifying the Antichrist and those who are aligned with him spiritually.
Therefore, we have two identifying characteristics given by John for identifying the Antichrist and those lesser "antichrists" like him:
(1) Denial of Yeshua as the Messiah, and
(2) Denial that Yeshua came in the flesh.
To be scripturally identified as "antichrist," a person or organization must meet BOTH criteria.
Additionally, John reemphasizes the fact that the saints he was writing to had previously heard that The Antichrist was coming. His point again is that even though the Antichrist had not yet arrived, the blasphemy he would promote was already in the world. John directly equates the false teaching that the divine Son of God had NOT come in the flesh with the future Antichrist.
In his second epistle, John again compares those who were teaching that Yeshua had not come in the flesh with the future deceiver, the Antichrist:
II JOHN 7 For many deceivers [planoi] have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the Deceiver [ho planos] and the Antichrist [ho antichristos]. (NASU)
How could John state that those deceivers (plural) who had gone out into the world were THE DECEIVER and THE ANTICHRIST (both singular)? Because the denial of the fleshly existence of Yeshua (which those led by the "antichrist" spirit in his day proclaimed) will be the primary identifying doctrine of the future Antichrist. Again, John confirms the current deceivers as types of the coming Antichrist.
Twice in his writings, John mentions that the believers he was addressing had heard that the Antichrist was coming (I John 2:18; 4:3). James Hastings wrote: "St. John . . . alludes to a popular belief, and spiritualizes it, applying it to tendencies already at work" (p. 226, vol. 3, A Dictionary of the Bible, "Man of Sin and Antichrist"). Was this belief in a coming Antichrist a secret teaching among early Christians that wasn't put down in writing, or is it recorded elsewhere in the Scriptures?
John could have been referring to several passages of Scripture. However, the most likely prospect for this reference is Paul's exposition on the "Man of Sin" found in his second letter to the Thessalonians:
II THESSALONIANS 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [he apostasia] comes first, and the Man of Sin [ho anthropos tes hamartias] is revealed, the Son of Perdition [ho huios tes apoleias], 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the Temple of God [ton naon tou theou], showing [apodeiknunta] himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the Lawless One [ho anomos] will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming. 9 The coming of the Lawless One is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (NKJV)
Regarding the Antichrist as described by Paul in this passage of Scripture, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: "2 Thessalonians, written early, affords evidence of a considerably developed doctrine being commonly accepted among believers" (p. 139, vol. 1, "Antichrist"). Here Paul addresses the return of Yeshua from heaven to gather the saints to him (v. 1). To dispel concerns the Thessalonians had about missing this event, Paul clearly outlines what must happen before the Messiah will return. In verse 3, he indicates that two primary things will take place immediately before "the day of Christ":
(1) The Apostasy, and
(2) The revealing of the "Man of Sin."
According to Friberg's Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (ALGNT), the word apostasia literally means "a condition resulting from changing loyalties revolt, desertion" (cf. Acts 21:21). Paul said that there would be a widespread desertion of the faith by those who claimed to be believers just before the return of Christ.
He follows up by stating that this falling away will immediately precede or be accompanied by the revealing of "the Man of Sin," also called "the Son of Perdition" (v. 3) and "the Lawless One" (v 8). The Man of Sin is portrayed by Paul in this passage as a personal entity, not a government or organization. This one is widely equated with the Antichrist spoken of by John, as well as "the Beast" mentioned in the book of Revelation (Rev. 11:7; 13:1-6; 19:19-20).
Paul tells us that the Man of Sin will "oppose and exalt himself above ALL that is called God or that is worshiped" (v. 4). This would include not only the one true God, but all other "gods and lords" (cf. 1 Cor. 8:5) as well. These "gods and lords" are the gods (Heb. 'elohim) of the nations (Deu. 6:14; 31:16; Jdg. 2:11-13; II Kings 18:33-35; Zep. 2:11), the ruling angels of the heavenly divine council.
Paul then tells us that the Man of Sin will "sit as God in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God." The Greek verb apodeiknunta ("showing") literally means "to demonstrate, prove or proclaim" something. Paul says that the reason the Man of Sin does this is to prove that he is a god.
To understand why this act would demonstrate to the Man of Sin that he is greater than all other divine beings, we must determine what Paul meant by the Man of Sin sitting in the Temple of God. How should we understand this statement? Is it figurative or literal?
If Paul intended it to be figurative, what would the Temple of God represent? In another of his letters, Paul speaks of the body of a believer being the Temple of God because the Holy Spirit dwells within it (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19). Similar references in the Gospels refer to an individual (cf. Matt. 26:61; 27:40; Mark 14:58; 15:29; John 2:19-21). However, the church as a whole is called the Temple of God (2 Cor. 6:16), and also the House of God (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:17) in the New Testament. Figuratively interpreting Paul's statement to mean that the Man of Sin will dwell within the ranks of believers (within "the church") is how some scholars have understood this passage. However, other related Scriptures (which we will examine later) show that this meaning is unlikely.
A literal understanding of this verse gives us two possible interpretations. Paul could have been speaking of a rebuilt physical temple in Jerusalem that would exist at the end of the age. Most Christians who believe in a literal end-time Antichrist think that he will take his seat within a reconstructed Jewish temple on the Temple Mount.
However, one other literal possibility exists. Paul could also have been speaking of the heavenly Temple of God (Heb. 8:2; Rev. 11:19). The Scriptures tell us that the earthly tabernacle constructed by Moses was patterned after this heavenly original, as were the later temples in Jerusalem:
EXODUS 25:8 "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it." (NKJV)
HEBREWS 8:1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this one also have something to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." (NKJV)
HEBREWS 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. (NKJV)
REVELATION 11:19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. (NKJV)
The idea that the Temple being spoken of in II Thessalonians is the heavenly Temple is not as far out as it initially appears. In his autobiography, Teddy Kolleck, former mayor of Jerusalem, gives us an interesting reference to the heavenly Temple:
I receive about twenty or thirty letters a year, mainly from Fundamentalist Christians of various churches, urging us to build the Temple, because they regard this as a prerequisite for the return of Christ. At press conferences I am often asked whether we plan to rebuild the Temple. I usually reply that according to Jewish tradition, the Temple already exists and will come down from heaven to its proper place when Messiah comes . . . (p. 230, For Jerusalem)
If Paul is referring to the heavenly Temple of God in II Thessalonians 2:4, then the Man of Sin would have to be capable of traveling to where this Temple resides in the "Jerusalem above" (Gal. 4:26). This ultimately implies that the Antichrist will be an angelic being of some sort (cf. Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2).
Not coincidentally, the Bible shows that during the events at the end of this age, a powerful angelic king will be released from a spiritual prison called the Abyss:
REVELATION 9:1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. . . . 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (NIV)
This evil spirit being, symbolically named "Destroyer" in both Hebrew and Greek, will be the leader of the end-time rebellion against God and the heavenly forces of good. For more detailed information on this angelic king, see my article "Who is the 'Destroyer'?"
Many (probably most) Christians regard even the consideration of the possibility that the heavenly Temple could be conquered by the Antichrist as foolishness which borders on blasphemy. However, several passages of Scripture support this particular understanding of Paul's statement. The first we will examine is from the book of Daniel:
DANIEL 8:9 And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. 10 And it grew up [tigdal] to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. (NKJV)
If we take this prophecy literally, we see that the "little horn" (another title for the Antichrist) will "become powerful" (Heb. tigdal) enough to challenge the "host of heaven." We know from several Scriptures that the "host of heaven" is often a reference to angels (cf. I Kings 22:19; II Chr. 18:18; Neh. 9:6). "Stars" are also used figuratively of angels (Job 38:7; Isa. 14:13; Rev. 1:20; 9:1; 12:4) in the Bible.
Daniel's vision goes on to reveal even more information that indicates the heavenly Temple is the target of the Antichrist:
DANIEL 8:11 It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host [sar hatzava']; and it removed the regular sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?" 14 He said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored." (NASU)
Here we see that the Antichrist exalts himself as high as the "Commander of the Host" (Heb. sar hatzava'). Later in this chapter, when the angel Gabriel explains this vision to Daniel, this same one is called the "Prince of princes" (Heb. sar sarim, v. 25). Clearly both these references are to Yeshua the Messiah, the one who earlier had revealed himself to Joshua (Jos. 5:13-15) as the "Commander of the Host of the LORD" (Heb. sar tzeva' YHVH). For additional information on the preincarnate activities of Yeshua, see my article "Christ in the Old Testament."
We know that since his resurrection and ascension, the place of Yeshua's sanctuary is the heavenly Temple of God, where he sits at the right hand of the Eternal Father (Psa. 110:1, 5; Matt. 26:64; Mark 16:19; Acts 5:31; 7: 55-56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; I Pet. 3:22), acting as our High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5, 10; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1, 3; 9:11; 10:21). Daniel's vision shows that the Antichrist will stop the regular sacrifice in the heavenly Temple and throw down the "place" of Yeshua's sanctuary (the heavenly Jerusalem).
If this vision given to Daniel truly pertains to the heavenly Jerusalem and the Temple of God there, then what are the "daily sacrifices" that the Antichrist will remove? The New Testament gives us the answer to this question in several places:
I PETER 2:5 You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (NIV)
HEBREWS 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (NASU)
REVELATION 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; (RSV)
REVELATION 8:3 Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. (NRSV)
The New Testament shows that sacrifices remain for Christians. These are spiritual sacrifices, which include praise and the prayers of God's people to the heavenly Father. It is these sacrifices that the Antichrist will stop, instead of literal, physical sacrifices.
We aren't told precisely how the Antichrist will stop these sacrifices. However, we are told that the sacrifices will be stopped for a period of "2,300 mornings and evenings." The reason "mornings and evenings" are specified is because God commanded two sacrifices each day in the temple: one in the morning and one in the evening (Exo. 29:38-42; II Chr. 13:11). Since all things on earth were patterned after the heavenly Temple, it stands to reason that the pattern of sacrifices is consistent also.
The Antichrist will stop 2,300 total sacrifices. However, since there are two sacrifices performed daily, the span of time being referred to here is actually 1,150 days. It is very likely that this period of time will be contained within the 42 months (1,260 days) that the Beast will be given authority to rule the earth (Rev. 13:5).
Interpreting the symbols used in Daniel's vision consistently with other Scriptures confirms that the Temple of God in heaven is the target of the Antichrist. Therefore, it would be this Temple that Paul referred to in II Thessalonians.
One other prophetic passage of Scripture from the book of Ezekiel indicates it will be the heavenly temple which will be defiled:
EZEKIEL 7:22 I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place [tzepuni] ; robbers will enter it and desecrate it. (NIV)
This verse is located within a passage of prophecy which speaks of events that occur during the time of the end, at "the day of the wrath of the LORD" (Eze. 7:19). The Hebrew word tzepuni is a form of the root word tzapan, which means "hide, treasure, store up." It is possible that tzepuni is related to the Hebrew tzapon, which literally means "north."
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament has this to say about tzapon:
In Canaanite mythology the north was considered to be the place for the meeting of the assembly of the gods. The gods assembled on Mount Tzapan; tzapan may be taken as a proper name. . . . This concept of the divine assembly on Mount Tzapan is alluded to in Isaiah's oracle against Babylon in which he pictures the proud king saying, "I shall sit on the mount of assembly in the far north" (Isa 14:13). The king asserts for himself both universal and divine lordship. Such arrogance was soon to encounter the fury of God's wrath.
The fact that Psa 48:2 [H 3] places Mt. Zion figuratively in the far north means that God is the sole ruler of the universe. He alone is to be reverenced and praised. . . . (p. 774, vol. II)
It is possible that Ezekiel 7:22 speaks of the end-time defilement of God's treasured place, the Temple in heaven. This understanding helps clear up an obscure passage from the book of Revelation:
REVELATION 11:1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months." (NKJV)
Many have understood this prophecy to be speaking of the earthly Jerusalem, the holy city. But at the time of the end, when this prophecy takes place, what if there is no temple in the earthly Jerusalem? Could the holy city containing the Temple of God mentioned in this prophecy be speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem? When all the prophecies that mention the time of the end are considered, it seems likely that this is the case.
However, other prophecies, including one from Yeshua himself (Matt. 24:15-20; Mark 13:14-18; Luke 21:20-24), indicate that the earthly Jerusalem will be besieged at the same time that the heavenly Jerusalem is being attacked. As the Antichrist directs the combined angelic armies of the 'elohim who rule over the earth against the heavenly Jerusalem, physical armies will surround and desolate the earthly Jerusalem. This fact again illustrates the irrefutable link between the physical and the spiritual and the dual nature of biblical prophecy.
This link can be explicitly seen in the 10th chapter of the book of Daniel. In this chapter, we see revealed a spiritual battle between one of God's holy angels (probably Gabriel) and the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" (Dan. 10:13). This angelic prince, who did not want Daniel to receive the information being brought to him from heaven, resisted God's will and fought with His messenger for 21 days.
It's interesting to note that the holy angel told Daniel that he would have to contend with the angelic "prince of Greece" after his battle with the "prince of Persia" (Dan. 10:20). In history, we know that the earthly Greek empire defeated the Persian empire and replaced it as the preeminent power on earth. The words of the holy angel show that this shift in power would also take place in the spiritual realm, with the angelic prince of Greece afterward becoming the primary foe of God's will.
Chapter 13 of the book of Revelation tells us of the rise and end-time activities of "the Beast." We see that the heavenly Temple and those angels who dwell in heaven are the particular focus of the Beast:
REVELATION 13:1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" 5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. (NKJV)
For an explanation of what this composite beast symbolizes, refer to my article "The Beasts of Revelation and Daniel."
Notice that one of the dominant characteristics of the Beast is his mouth, which speaks pompous words and great blasphemies (Rev. 13:5-6). This same characteristic is detailed in Daniel's prophecy regarding the Antichrist (Dan. 7:8). We see that two targets of the Beast's blasphemy are the heavenly tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven. Not coincidentally, these are two of the things the Antichrist seeks to conquer to prove his worthiness (cf. II The. 2:4).
The prophet Daniel gives us information about the Antichrist, which he sees as a "little horn":
DANIEL 7:8 I was considering the [ten] horns [on the fourth beast], and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. (NKJV)
Daniel didn't understand this vision, so he requested an explanation from an angel he saw in his dream:
DANIEL 7:19 "Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; 20 and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. 21 I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. 23 Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.' " (NKJV)
We see that this "little horn" which arises will be a "different" type of king than the three he subdues. That's because they will be human kings, while he is an angelic king (Rev. 9:11). Once again, we see that the time period of his reign is specified to be 3
As we saw earlier in Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians, the end of the Antichrist will take place at the time of the Lord Yeshua's return from heaven:
II THESSALONIANS 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. (RSV)
This passage doesn't give us the details of the Antichrist's final defeat. However, we know from Psalm 82 that those fallen 'elohim who have rebelled against God will die, just as mortals die:
PSALM 82:6 "I said, 'You are "gods" ['elohim]; you are all sons of the Most High.' 7 But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler." (NIV)
Several prophecies show us what will ultimately become of the angelic king of the Abyss. One of those prophecies is found in the prophetic book of Ezekiel:
EZEKIEL 28:1 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 "Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, 'I am a god ['el], I sit in the seat of gods ['elohim], in the midst of the seas,' yet you are a man, and not a god ['el], though you set your heart as the heart of a god ['elohim] 3 (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! 4 With your wisdom and your understanding you have gained riches for yourself, and gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; 5 by your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches)," 6 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god ['elohim], 7 behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. 8 They shall throw you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas. 9 Will you still say before him who slays you, 'I am a god ['elohim]'? But you shall be a man, and not a god ['el], in the hand of him who slays you. 10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of aliens; for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD.' " (NKJV)
Here we see that the Antichrist is called the "Prince of Tyre." His spiritual father, Satan, is addressed as the "King of Tyre" in the related prophecy which immediately follows (Eze. 28:11-19). These prophecies could be directed to men of Ezekiel's time who were types of the Antichrist and Satan (since many prophecies are dual in nature), or they could be symbolically referring to the Antichrist and Satan.
In this passage, we see that the Antichrist is called "a man" twice (vv. 2, 9). Many use this language to claim that the Antichrist cannot be an angelic being. However, it's possible that this prophecy speaks of a human prince of Tyre who was a type of the end-time Antichrist. Regardless, at times the Tanakh refers to angelic beings as men or as having the appearance of men (cf. Gen. 32:24; Dan. 9:21; 10:18; Eze. 1:5). Therefore, this usage does not automatically annul our previous identification of the Antichrist as an angelic being.
We are told that this "Prince of Tyre" reckons himself to be a god, and that he "sits in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas" (v. 2). In the Scripture, the seas represent the nations of the world (cf. Num. 24:7; II Sam. 22:17; Psa. 18:16; Rev. 17:1). We know from this that the "Prince of Tyre" will be over the nations.
We also know that he will die an ignoble death (cf. Psa. 82:7). This event is described in more detail in the book of Revelation:
REVELATION 19:20 Then the Beast was captured, and with him the False Prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (NKJV)
Certainly a humiliating end for a being who thought he was above all other gods.
The "man of sin" spoken of in Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians will not be a man. Instead, he will be an angelic king named Abaddon/Apollyon. He is "the beast" who will ascend out of the Abyss at the sounding of the fifth trumpet (Rev. 9:1-11). Abaddon and his army of spirit beings will conquer the holy sanctuary in heaven and gain victory over the angelic hosts of heaven. However, his power to rule will only last for 3½ years. After this time period, God will take away his authority. Abaddon will muster the forces of evil for one final attempt to destroy God's people and His plan, but he will be thwarted. He will be cast into the lake of fire as Yeshua the Messiah establishes the millennial Kingdom of God on earth.
Bryan T. Huie
December 7, 2002