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Who is the Antichrist?

Updated: Mar 24, 2023



For anyone interested in End Time Prophesies identifying the Antichrist is at the heart of such a research. In fact most of the End Time events take place because of the Antichrist. It is of great concern that for the Jehovah's Witnesses the identity of the Antichrist unlike other aspects of End Time prophesy like Armageddon or Babylon the Great is almost never discussed.

The word Antichrist is composite of Anti+Christ where Anti means "against OR instead of".Remember these two definitions as it will come handy later on in identifying him.

The last time the Watchtower dealted in any meaningful way with this subject was in an article titled "Who is the Antichrist?" in the Watchtower of June 2015 where they began by saying:

SINCE the term “antichrist” has long been used as a label for everything from monarchs to movies, it is only natural to ask: Who is the antichrist? Does this term have anything to do with us today? Surely the logical place to begin when searching for the identity of the antichrist is in the Bible, where the term appears five times.

This is deliberately misleading and is minimizing the seriousness of the subject, most other Christian denominations have a specific take on the identity of the Antichrist and the fact that the Watchtower is refusing to engage with this is quite disturbing. For instance when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity they are quite happy to engage with the interpretation of other Christian denominations.

So what do other religions believe the Antichrist to be? The famous Evangelical website gotquestions.org gives the following definition:

Most Bible prophecy/eschatology experts believe the Antichrist will be the ultimate embodiment of what it means to be against Christ. In the end times/last hour, a man will arise to oppose Christ and His followers more than anyone else in history. Likely claiming to be the true Messiah, the Antichrist will seek world domination and will attempt to destroy all followers of Jesus Christ and the nation of Israel.

On the other hand, the Watchtower's definition of the Antichrist is diametrically opposite from the mainstream understanding. The Watchtower promotes the idea that the Antichrist is a symbolic composite man made up of apostate Christians that infiltrated the first Christian Church as early as the end of the 1st century AD and still exist today. Why would they arrive in such an explanation is quite strange especially since there is no such a thing in theological terms as a composite religious figure extending over a period of 2,000 years . That sounds pretty much like the overlapping generation of anointed Christians that they use promote their failed 1914 doctrine.

The verse they use to promote this idea is apparently in the Bible and more specifically 1 John 2:18, where we read:

Young children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared, from which fact we know that it is the last hour.

The Watchtower June 2015 quoted earlier explains the verse this way:

What do we learn from those words? John mentioned “many antichrists,” indicating that the antichrist is, not an individual, but a collective term. People or organizations making up the antichrist spread lies, deny that Jesus is the Christ, or the Messiah, and try to distort the relationship between God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who make up the antichrist claim to be Christ or his representatives, but since “they went out from us,” they deviated from true Bible teachings. Furthermore, this group was present at the time when John wrote his letter, in “the last hour,” presumably the end of the time of the apostles.

But is this what the verse says? Surely a quick passing reading of this passage from John's letter gives the impression that there is indeed a composite body of antichrist like Christians, but stop and read again. The Watchtower writers are poor scholars that like to invent things, let's brake down the verse so we can understand better what John is saying:

Young children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that THE ANTICHRIST (=singular) is coming(FUTURE=is not here yet but will appear in the future), even now MANY ANTICHRISTS (=plural) have appeared(PRESENT=they are here now), from which fact we know that it is the last hour.

It should be obvious to the reader that we are dealing here with two separate entities, the "antichrists" plural and the Antichrist singular. In other words, the manifestation of individuals with antichrist traits is only a testament to the fact of one final Antichrist. Another way to see this is when we consider the appearance of the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ. We read in Matthew 24:24:

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead,if possible, even the chosen ones.

In a similar way, the appearance of many false Messiahs or Christs was a testament to the fact that there was meant to be one true Messiah or Christ. In fact, history testifies to that effect, right before and shortly after the appearance of the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ,many counterfeit messiahs or christs appeared on the scene in Judea.

Jesus also spoke about the Antichrist as a real person and not a symbolic composite entity in John 5:43 when he said:

I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else(=the Antichrist) comes in his own name, you will accept him

What did the first Christians believed the Antichrist the be ? A composite man of apostate Christians or a a world ruler of the last days?

The Fathers of the Church speculated on the Antichrist in many various ways bur never thought of him as a composite body of apostate religious figures.Rather the early Fathers identified the Antichrist as a government official—a king coming to power in the ruins of the Roman Empire. He would probably be Jewish, possibly from the tribe of Dan. And most importantly, he would claim that Jesus was not the Christ but that he was instead. He would then seduce many of the Jewish people by attempting to fulfill the political.aspirations they held for the Messiah.


The quotes that follow illustrate both the different ideas they had about the Antichrist and how different their conception was from the one held today by the Watchtower writers.

Didache

“[T]he whole time of your faith will not profit you unless you are made complete in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and sheep shall be turned into wolves . . . and then shall the deceiver of the world appear, pretending to be the Son of God, and [he] shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands” (Didache 16:3-4 [A.D. 70]).

Lactantius

“[A] king shall arise out of Syria, born from an evil spirit, the overthrower and destroyer of the human race, who shall destroy that which is left by the former evil, together with himself. . . . But that king will not only be most disgraceful in himself, but he will also be a prophet of lies, and he will constitute and call himself God, and will order himself to be worshipped as the Son of God, and power will be given to him to do signs and wonders, by the sight of which he may entice men to adore him. . . . Then he will attempt to destroy the temple of God and persecute the righteous people” (Divine Institutes 7:17 [A.D. 307]).

Irenaeus

“[B]y means of the events which shall occur in the time of the Antichrist it is shown that he, being an apostate and a robber, is anxious to be adored as God, and that although a mere slave, he wishes to be proclaimed as king. For he, being endued with all the power of the devil, shall not come as a righteous king nor as a legitimate king in subjection to God, but as an impious, unjust, and lawless one . . . setting aside idols to persuade [men] that he himself is God, raising himself up as the only idol. . . . Moreover [Paul] has also pointed out this which I have shown in many ways: that the temple in Jerusalem was made by the direction of the true God. For the apostle himself, speaking in his own person, distinctly called it the temple of God [2 Thess. 2:4] . . . in which the enemy shall sit, endeavoring to show himself as Christ” (Against Heresies 5:25:1-2 [A.D. 189]).

“But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months and will sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire” (

Polycarp of Smyrna

“Everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an antichrist [1 John 4:2-3, 2 John 7]; whoever does not confess the testimony of the cross is of the devil; and whoever perverts the sayings of the Lord for his own desires, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, such a one is the firstborn of Satan” (Letter to the Philadelphians 7:1 [A.D. 135]).

ibid., 5:30:4).

Hippolytus

“Now as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was prophesied of under the figure of a lion, on account of his royalty and glory, in the same way have the scriptures also beforehand spoken of Antichrist as a lion, on account of his tyranny and violence. For the deceiver seeks to liken himself in all things to the Son of God. Christ is a lion, so Antichrist is also a lion. Christ is a king, so Antichrist is also a king. The Savior was manifested as a lamb, so he too in like manner will appear as a lamb without; within he is a wolf. The Savior came into the world in the circumcision [i.e., the Jewish race], and he will come in the same manner. . . . The Savior raised up and showed his holy flesh like a temple, and he will raise a temple of stone in Jerusalem” (The Antichrist 6 [A.D. 200]).

“[W]e find it written regarding Antichrist . . . ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp, and he shall leap from Bashan’ [Deut. 33:22]. But that no one may err by supposing that this is said of the Savior, let him attend carefully to the matter. Dan, he says, is a lion’s whelp. And in naming the tribe of Dan, he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring. For as Christ springs from the tribe of Judah, so Antichrist is to spring from the tribe of Dan. And that the case stands thus, we see also from the words of Jacob: ‘Let Dan be a serpent, lying upon the ground, biting the horse’s heel’ [Gen. 49:17]. What then is meant by the serpent but Antichrist, that deceiver who is mentioned in Genesis [Gen. 3:1], who deceived Eve and supplanted Adam? . . . [I]t is in reality out of the tribe of Dan, then, that tyrant and king, that dread judge, that son of the devil, is destined to spring and arise” (ibid., 14).

“Above all, moreover, he will love the nation of the Jews. And with all these [Jews] he will work signs and terrible wonders, false wonders and not true, in order to deceive his impious equals. . . . And after that he will build the temple in Jerusalem and will restore it again speedily and give it over to the Jews” (Discourse on the End of the World 23-25 [A.D. 217]).

Tertullian

“[T]he man of sin, the son of perdition, who must first be revealed before the Lord comes, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; and who is to sit in the temple of God and boast himself as being God. . . . According indeed to our view, he is Antichrist; as it is taught us in both the ancient and the new prophecies, and by the apostle John, who says that ‘already many false prophets have gone out into the world,’ the forerunners of Antichrist, who deny that Christ is come in the flesh, and do not acknowledge Jesus, meaning in God the Creator” (Against Marcion 5:16 [A.D. 210]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

“Having beguiled the Jews by the lying signs and wonders of his magical deceit, until they believe he is the expected Christ, he [the Antichrist] shall afterwards be characterized by all manner of wicked deeds of inhumanity and lawlessness, as if to outdo all the unjust and impious men who have gone before him. He shall display against all men, and especially against us Christians, a spirit that is murderous and most cruel, merciless and wily. For three years and six months only shall he be the perpetrator of such things; and then he shall be destroyed by the glorious second coming from heaven of the only-begotten Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus, the true Christ, who shall destroy him with the breath of his mouth [2 Thess. 2:8], and deliver him over to the fire of Gehenna” (Catechetical Lectures 15:12 [A.D. 350]).

 Augustine

“Daniel prophesies of the last judgment in such a way as to indicate that Antichrist shall first come and to carry on his destruction to the eternal reign of the saints. For when in prophetic vision he had seen four beasts, signifying four kingdoms, and the fourth conquered by a certain king, who is recognized as Antichrist, and after this the eternal kingdom of the Son of Man, that is to say, of Christ” (The City of God 20:19 [A.D. 419]).

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