Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 13: Antichrist - The Coming World Leader
by I Gordon
- We'll first lay a foundation from Revelation 13 for this One that is coming. Why is it important to stick with the Bible and avoid speculation?
- We'll explore the similarities with a modern day 'antichrist' - Was Satan doing a dry run with another leader?
- We'll delve deeper into this coming world leader - What are some of the key characteristics that he will be known for?
- We'll end with a list of comparisons and contrasts between the Antichrist and Jesus Christ - the counterfeit and true King!
- 'The beast' - You might ask 'Why use imagery of a beast Where does that come form?' The imagery of the beast, especially looking like a leopard, a bear and a lion, is straight from the book of Daniel. You might remember that while king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream about a glorious statue of a man, symbolizing the coming kingdoms on this earth, God gave His impression of those same kingdoms by picturing them as various vicious beasts. Thus, the one who is coming will combine aspects of these various previous 'beastly' kingdoms.
- 'Out of the sea' - The sea in scripture, as seen in the book of Revelation, speaks of the Gentile nations. Rev 17:15 And he *said to me, "The waters which you saw... are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.' And as we shall see in the next study, this stands in contrast with the 2nd Beast that comes from the land.
- 'He had ten horns' - Horns in scripture speak of strength and the 10 horns are a pointer to the kingdom of the last days coming out of the revived Roman Empire, from which the beast/Antichrist arises. This corresponds to the 10 toes of Nebuchadnezzar's dream and the 10 horns in Belshazzar's dream in Dan 7:7,24. The ten horns are also interpreted for us later - Revelation 17:12-13 "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast."
- 'Seven heads' - This again is interpreted from us in Revelation 17. There we read Rev 17:9-11 where we see that the seven heads are both seven mountains and seven kings (or kingdoms) that exist throughout history. We'll discuss this in more depth in our study on Revelation 17.
- 'Each head had a blasphemous name' - Each head is blasphemous, displaying gross disrespect for God, taking glory for itself and dwelling in pride. As we go on we'll see that the coming Antichrist, as Satan's man, will specifically speak out and blaspheme the God of heaven. He won't be able to hide his hatred for God desiring all worship for himself.
- 'Resembled a leopard... a bear... a lion' - We see that the coming beast will follow a line of the 'beast' empires (Greece, Medo-Persia & Babylon) and their leaders as seen in Daniel 7. They are placed in the reverse order to what we see in Daniel because John is now looking back in time instead of forwards as seen in the days of Daniel.
- 'The dragon gave the beast his power' - The coming Antichrist will be specifically empowered and even possessed by Satan Himself. It is Satanic power that will grant Antichrist the ability to accomplish incredible feats, goals and wonders (2 Thes 2:9-10), as we shall soon see.
Before moving on, let me just say that commentators sometimes debate whether the 'beast' of Revelation speaks of a Kingdom or a person. I believe it speaks predominantly of a coming man2 but because God sees this coming beast as a continuation of the 'beast' kingdoms (as seen in Daniel 7) that have preceded him, He starts by showing how he is linked to them. As an illustration, think of it like this: I have a great little torch at home with a sliding lens. When retracted it gives a nice wide beam that is really useful for giving an extended field of vision. When extended forward, it gives a very narrow concentrated beam that is useful for seeing specific detail. Revelation 13 is like that. It starts with a wide beam showing the continuation of the 'beast' empires that have already existed with the one who is to come. And so it speaks of this coming beast with characteristics like a leopard, a bear and a lion - all imagery used in Daniel of the previous beast Kingdoms of Greece, Medo-Persia and Babylon respectively. But the light in Revelation 13 soon becomes very narrow and specific, focusing directly on the coming Antichrist. As we go on it will be very focused on the man himself.
It should be noted that the word 'Antichrist' means both 'against' and 'in place of'. That is, the coming Antichrist, while hating Christ, will usurp the place of Jesus and even try to mimic the real King in some ways. We see this with 'the fatal wound' that he received. The Greek word here translated 'fatal' is 'thanatos' which literally means death. There will be some type of 'death and resurrection' event that will leave the whole world in awe and mesmerized by the Antichrist. Note that again - It says the whole world will be astonished and follow the beast after this event. This will be Satan's day and if you think people are easily swayed today, what is coming is on a whole different level!
- His rise: Hitler's rise was filled with remarkable achievements. So much so that most Christians in Germany saw him as an answer to prayer. Most Pastors willingly submitted and praised him. Winston Churchill observed him closely and in 1937 said his accomplishments in bringing Germany out of their great depression, were among the most amazing in the history of the world. One historian said that had he died before World War II he would have gone down in history as 'Adolf the great, one of the outstanding figures in German history.'
- His control: It is interesting that though apparently quite dull and unremarkable outside of politics, Hitler was a mesmerizing powerful public speaker who captured and held his listeners, and soon had millions of obedient subjects. First through awe, and then through fear, the nation was willing to do his bidding no matter what his demands. He was seen as the savior of Germany, a Messiah-like figure, given full powers as a complete dictator and seen as the one who would bring them into the golden age. Through the power of propaganda he was able, along with his Nazi party, to take over the media, education, the heath system and even the church. Sounds familiar?
- His character and contrasts: Hitler was a man of stark contrasts. He would give speeches about his desire for peace, while privately preparing for war. He could be charming one moment and monstrously cruel the next. He would speak about the importance of good morals while privately reveling in his ability to deceive. Despite what he said outwardly, he believed in lies, especially big ones, saying 'the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility since the masses... more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one.' He could quote Jesus, while openly seeking the extermination of the entire Jewish population. He would speak of being a Catholic while being heavily into the occult, banning prayer in schools and crushing the leadership of the church.
Hitler was Satan's dry run for the coming Antichrist and a great, although terrible, picture of what is to come.
- He will rise in leadership, yet be fierce, insolent and skilled in the dark arts
- He will be mighty in power... yet not through his own power
- He will prosper... while destroying to an extraordinary degree
- He will succeed... through deceit and shrewdness
- He will bring peace... and destroy many while they are at ease
- He will magnify himself... while opposing even the Prince of princes
- He will be finally broken... yet not through human hands
The coming beast will be like that but on a whole different scale. He is Mr. Big Mouth. The prophet Daniel speaks about this often (Dan 7:8; Dan 7:11; Dan 7:20; Dan 7:25; Dan 11:36). But it isn't just huge promises, big claims and proud words coming out of his mouth. It is also blasphemy. He will despise God, hate Jesus, and loathe the believers that live in Heaven. All of them will be in the firing line of his taunts and abuse. For 3 1/2 years3, during the second half of the tribulation period, he will defy God and curse all those associated with Him. He is the end times Goliath standing and defying the God of Israel and all His people. That will even include the raptured church who have overcome Satan and escaped his rule of tyranny for it says he will slander those who live in heaven. He will hate all that worship the true God, stating it openly, for he will desire all to worship himself.
May we be those that can hear and then respond accordingly.
This final verse reminds us that there is a plan and purpose in all things. Yes, in the coming day things will seem chaotic. Believers on this day will be imprisoned. Others will be killed. But God is still ruling and so he calls for patient endurance from the saints because of this fact. This applies to our lives right now as well obviously. Patient endurance and faithfulness, even when the way forward seems dark and uncertain, is very important. Yet often we don't have this within ourselves. Often we are not courageous and strong. If this is you, then take your concerns to the Great Shepherd once again. Acknowledge that you are nothing, but He is something! Really something! Admit your doubts and weaknesses and ask that He would be your strength, Thankfully, the patient endurance of the believer is obtainable because we are connected to the One who always endures and is faithful to us.
- Christ was revealed only at God’s appointed time (Gal. 4:4). Such will also be the case with the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:6).
- Christ will make a covenant with Israel (Heb. 8:8); so also will the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27).
- Christ will be the King of kings (Rev. 17:14); so also will the Antichrist be (Rev. 17:12, 13).
- Christ wrought miracles (Acts 2:22). So also will the Antichrist, concerning whom it is written, “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9).
- Christ’s public ministry was limited to three years and a half; so also will the Antichrist’s final ministry be (Rev. 13:5).
- Christ is shown to us riding a “white horse” (Rev. 19:11); so also is the Antichrist (Rev. 6:2).
- Christ will return to the earth as Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6, 7); so also will the Antichrist introduce an era of peace (Dan. 11:21, 1 Thess. 5:3)
- Christ died and rose again; so also will the Antichrist (Rev. 13:3).
- The followers of the Lamb will be sealed in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3; 14:1); so also will the followers of the Beast (Rev. 13:16, 17).
- Christ will be the object of universal worship (Phil. 2:10); so also will the Antichrist (Rev. 13:4).
- One is called the Christ (Matt. 16:16); the other the Antichrist (1 John 4:3).
- One is called the Man of Sorrows (Isa. 53:3); the other the Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3).
- One is called the Son of God (John 1:34); the other the Son of Perdition (2 Thess. 2:3).
- One is called the Seed of woman (Gen. 3:15); the other the seed of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15).
- One is called the Lamb (Isa. 53:7); the other the Beast (Rev. 11:7).
- One is called the Holy One (Mark 1:24); the other the Wicked One (2 Thess. 2:8).
- One is called the Truth (John 14:6); the other the Lie (John 8:44).
- One is called the Good Shepherd (John 10:11); the other is called the Idol Shepherd (Zech. 11:17).
- One has for the number of His name 888; the other has for the number of his name 666 (Rev 13:18) .
- Christ came down from heaven (John 3:13); Antichrist comes up out of the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7).
- Christ came in Another’s Name (John 5:43); Antichrist will come in his own name (John 5:43).
- Christ came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38); Antichrist will do his own will (Dan. 11:36).
- Christ was energized by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14); Antichrist will be energized by Satan (Rev. 13:4).
- Christ submitted Himself to God (John 5:30); Antichrist defies God (2 Thess. 2:4).
- Christ humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8); Antichrist exalts himself (Dan. 11:37).
- Christ cleansed the temple (John 2:14, 16); the Antichrist defiles the temple (Matt. 24:15).
- Christ was rejected of men (Isa. 53:7); Antichrist will be accepted by men (Rev. 13:4).
- Christ was slain for the people (John 11:51); Antichrist slays the people (Isa. 14:20).
- Christ glorified God on earth (John 17:4), Antichrist blasphemes the name of God in heaven (Rev. 13:6).
- Christ was received up into heaven (Luke 24:51); Antichrist goes down into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20).
Some of the specific names for the coming beast are:
- Antichrist: 1Jn 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
- Man of lawlessness Son of destruction: 2Th 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
- The lawless one: 2Th 2:8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
- The beast: Rev 11:7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.
- The Assyrian : Mic 5:5 This One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, When he tramples on our citadels, Then we will raise against him Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men.
- King of Babylon: Isa 14:4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!
- The little horn: Dan 7:8 "While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it...
- The prince who is to come: Dan 9:26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
Dwight Pentecost, in his book Things to Come (p. 334), gives a list of names compiled by Arthur W. Pink (The Antichrist, pp. 59-75): "The Bloody and Deceitful Man (Psa_5:6), the Wicked One (Psa 10:2-4), the Man of the Earth (Psa 10:18), the Mighty Man (Psa 52:1), the Enemy (Psa 55:3), the Adversary (Psa 74:8-10), the Head of Many Countries (Psa 111:6), the Violent Man (Psa 140:1), the Assyrian (Isa 10:5-12), the King of Babylon (Isa 14:2), the Son of the Morning (Isa 14:12), the Spoiler (Isa 16:4-5; Jer 6:26), the Nail (Isa 22:25), the Branch of the Terrible Ones (Isa 25:5), the Profane Wicked Prince of Israel (Eze 21:25-27), the Little Horn (Dan 7:8), the Prince that shall come (Dan 9:26), the Vile Person (Dan 11:21), the Willful King (Dan 11:36), the Idol Shepherd (Zec 11:16-17), the Man of Sin (2Th 2:3), the Son of Perdition (2Th 2:3), the Lawless one (2Th 2:8), the Antichrist (1Jn 2:22), the Angel of the Bottomless Pit (Rev 9:11), the Beast (Rev 11:7; Rev 13:1). "
Is the beast an empire or man?
David Guzik, often quoting Joseph Seiss, gives the following useful thoughts on why 'the beast' in Revelation 13 should be seen as a man and not a kingdom.
i. "The Beast is worshipped as a god; but people never worship an empire as such; neither do they make a succession of emperors into an object of religious devotion. The paying of divine homage to kings has been a common thing in the world's history, but it has always been rendered to individuals." (Seiss)
ii. An image is set up of the beast, and the whole world is commanded to worship it. How can one set up an image of an empire or a government? This hasn't been done in the past, but men have often bowed down to an image of a political ruler.
iii. "This Beast also has a proper name - a name expressive of a particular number, and that number 'a number of a man;' which cannot be conceived except on the idea of an individual person." (Seiss)
iv. "This beast is finally damned. He goes to perdition, into the lake of fire, where he continues to exist and suffer, after passing from this earthly scene (Rev 17:11; 20:10), which cannot be true of systems of government." (Seiss)
v. The antichrist is also called the son of perdition (2Th 2:3), as was Judas (Joh 17:12). Judas was a man, not a system or a government, so it follows that the antichrist will also be a man, not a system or a government. (Seiss)
vi. With all this in mind, we agree with Seiss: "We would therefore greatly err from the Scriptures, as well as from the unanimous conviction and teaching of the early Church, were we to fail to recognize this Beast as a real person, though one in whom the political power of the world is finally concentrated and represented."
Note that every time it speaks of the length of the Antichrist's rule it is 3 1/2 years (1260 days, 42 months, times, time and half a time). Before the midpoint he is very prominent but is in joint leadership alongside the 10 kings. At the midpoint he takes full control, declares himself to be God and requires all rule and worship of himself as God.
We have heard this phrase a lot earlier in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. There it was always 'He who has an ear let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches'. But this time it is not to the church. The church is gone. So the message goes out to anyone in the world that has ears to hear, that they should listen and then act wisely!
A.W Pink's whole study on the Antichrist is available online. He goes into great detail looking at all the types, titles and contrasts (amongst other things!) in scripture for this coming one. Check it out here: