There is so much speculation in the world today about the antichrist. Some say George Bush or David Hasselhoff are the antichrist, others say that no one can know who this devious individual will be and yet others say he will not arise till sometime in the distant future. What does Bible prophecy tell us about the antichrist?
Most people agree that the Mark of the Beast relates to the antichrist, however they are unaware that the First Beast spoken of in Revelation 13, which is synonymous with the Little Horn power of Daniel 7, actually relate to a religious/political system and not an individual person, although there is an individual at the head of this system, speaking for it who could be seen as the representation of antichrist.
The prophet Daniel and the book of Revelation describe an antichrist beast power who would blaspheme God and war against the saints of God, overcoming them for 1260 years.
Daniels vision was of four great beasts, and then a little horn that arose from out of them. Dan 7:3-7 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. (4) The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. (5) And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. (6) After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. (7) After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (8) I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
As the angel explains to Daniel when he is giving him the interpretation of his vision, beasts represent kings or kingdoms. Daniel sees this as a Little Horn power which would arise some time after the fall of the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo/Persia, Greece and Rome, and that it would emerge out of the Roman Empire.
Dan 7:17-21 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
Dan 7:19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; (20) And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. (21) I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
In Revelation John sees a vision of a beast comprised of the same components as the one Daniel saw. Rev 13:1-8 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
One important point to note about the antichrist beast power is that it does not represent some exotic fanatical religious group, but rather it originated out of the Christian church. 1Jn 2:18-19 Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Anti not only can be interpreted to mean against, it can also mean in place of. Therefore any religious system who would seek to put themselves in place of Christ or claim that their leader is God on earth, fit the criteria. Any system who claims that their authority in religious matters supercedes that of the Holy Scriptures fit the criteria. Any religious system that teach that Christ did not come in the flesh, but rather took on the sinless nature of His mother Mary, fit the criteria. 2John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Many years ago, when Bibles first hit the printing press and earnest followers of God began to read and understand Bible prophecies, they realized that the system under which they had been worshiping was not following Biblical principles. Thus began the protestant reformation. Who did the early reformers recognize to be the antichrist beast power of Daniel and Revelation?
Martin Luther aptly conveyed the sentiments of the Protestant reformers when he said We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist…personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist. (Aug. 18, 1520) Taken from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 2., pg. 121 by Froom.
All of the early Protestant reformers clearly identified the first antichrist beast of Revelation to be none other than the false system of religion, and persecuting power found within the Roman Catholic Church. During the 1260 years of the dark ages millions of people were tortured and killed as heretics for not bowing down to all of the precepts the church. Read Foxes Book of Martys for historical information on this subject.
Having identified the papal system as the antichrist beast by no means condemns the faithful Christians within this system who are unaware that the doctrines they have been following are not what God would have them follow. Revelation makes it clear that God does have His faithful people in many denominations today and that He will call these people out of the apostate churches and into His final remnant church Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.