To better understand the person of the antichrist, you can begin by reading Revelation 13:1-4. As you read, ask God to help you understand His Word (Psalms 119:73).
In this Scripture passage, we witness the rise of the antichrist, who will come into great power during the tribulation period. With your Bible still accessible, consider the following insights on the biblical text, verse by verse. The below points about the antichrist will help us understand what he is, what he will do, signs and events around his rise to power, and ultimately his goal.
What and Who is the Antichrist?
- A beast – I saw a beast rising out of the sea (13:1): Revelation pictures the Antichrist as a beast 32 times. The image points to the brutal, bloody, uncontrolled, and wild character of this diabolical dictator. It also contrasts the Antichrist from Christ, who is most commonly called the Lamb. The Lamb saves sinners, but the beast persecutes and executes the saints. The Lamb is gentle, whereas the beast is ferocious. The Lamb is loving, but the beast is heartless and cruel.
- A Gentile – This beast “rises out of the sea” – The sea refers to the Gentile nations (Revelation 17:15), indicating that the Antichrist will be a Gentile. “Anti” can mean “instead of ” or “against” or “opposed to.” So “Antichrist” can mean “instead of Christ,” “against Christ,” or “opposed to Christ.” The Antichrist is the “man of lawlessness,” the “son of destruction,” who will lead the world into rebellion against God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10; Revelation 11:7) and deceive multitudes (Revelation 19:20).
- Great Power – “With ten horns and seven heads” (13:1): We have seen that because animals use horns as weapons (Genesis 22:13; Psalms 69:31), horns eventually became symbols of power and then of dominion, representing kingdoms and kings.
- Roman Revival – Comparing this text with Daniel 7:16-24, we conclude that the Antichrist will rise up from ten kingdoms that will constitute a revived Roman Empire, the final form of Gentile world power before Christ returns.
- Global Power – “With ten diadems on its horns” (13:1): The ten diadems, or crowns, point to the dominion of the Antichrist’s kingdom, which will eventually embrace the entire globe.
- Will Blaspheme – “and blasphemous names on its heads” (13:1): These point to the Antichrist’s character — he will have a mouth full of blasphemy (Revelation 13:5-6) and will exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
- Great Army – “The beast was like a leopard” (13:2): Much of the imagery in this verse is from Daniel 7. The leopard was known for swiftness, cunning, and agility (see Daniel 7:6). This imagery in Daniel represents Greece under Alexander the Great, which had a swift, cunning, and agile army. Such will be the case with the antichrist as he comes into world dominion.
- Fierce – “its feet were like a bear’s” (13:2): The bear in Daniel’s account refers to Medo-Persia (Daniel 7:5), well known for its strength and fierceness in battle (Isaiah 13:17-18). Such strength and fierceness will certainly characterize the Antichrist and his forces.
- Powerful Words – “Its mouth was like a lion’s” (13:2): The lion in Daniel’s account refers to Babylon (Daniel 7:4), with lion-like qualities of power and strength. Babylon was known for its ability to move quickly (like a lion). Such qualities will characterize the Antichrist.
- Satan – “To it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2): The ultimate source of the Antichrist’s power is Satan.
- Resurrected Dead? – “Seemed to have a mortal wound” (13:3): Some Bible expositors believe this mortal wound refers to the pagan Roman Empire, which died in the past but will be revived in the end times. Others say a historical character of the past, such as Nero, Judas Iscariot, Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin, will come back to life and fulfill the role of the antichrist in the end times. Others say the Antichrist will actually be killed and then resurrected. Still others say that perhaps the Antichrist will be severely wounded, and Satan will supernaturally heal this wound. Perhaps he will simply appear to be killed, though he really is not, and through satanic trickery will appear to be resurrected.
- World-Wide Attention – “The whole earth marveled as they followed the beast” (13:3): This event will no doubt make headlines around the world. Internet videos of the event will go viral. Television reports of the event will be shown around the clock.
- Worshipped – “They worshiped the dragon” (13:4): During Christ’s three-year ministry, Satan tried to persuade Him to fall down and worship him (Matthew 4:9). Before that, Lucifer (Satan’s original name) sought to put himself in the place of God (see Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19). Satan will finally have what he has yearned for—worship. They worshiped the beast… “Who is like the beast?” (13:4): This contrasts with believers, who say to God, “Who is like you, O Lord?” (Exodus 15:11).
Major Characteristics of the Antichrist
- The genius of the antichrist. Scripture reveals that the antichrist will be a genius in intellect (Daniel 8:23), commerce (Daniel 11:43; Revelation 13:16-17), war (Revelation 6:2; Revelation 13:2), speech (Daniel 11:36), and politics (Revelation 17:11-12).
- The Antichrist mimics Christ. Christ is God (John 1:1-2; John 10:36), and the Antichrist will claim to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Christ did miracles (Matthew 9:32-33; Mark 6:2); the Antichrist will mimic such miracles (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Christ is crowned with many crowns (Revelation 19:12); the Antichrist is crowned with ten crowns (Revelation 13:1). Christ rides a white horse (Revelation 19:11) as does the Antichrist (Revelation 6:2). Christ was resurrected (Matthew 28:6); the Antichrist will appear to be resurrected (Revelation 13:3-14). Christ is a member of the holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), but the Antichrist is a member of an unholy trinity—Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet (Revelation 13).
Application for Christians
- Who is like the Lord? People will worship both the devil and the antichrist, saying, “Who is like the beast?” (Revelation 13:4). We, however, proclaim with the Scriptures, “Who is like you, O Lord?” (Exodus 15:11). The Lord declares, “There is none who can deliver from my hand” (Isaiah 43:13). The true God is incomparably great.
- Test all things. We ought to consistently test all doctrines and religious ideas against Scripture. Even today, the spirit of antichrist is at work promoting heretical doctrine (see 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7). Scripture often warns against being deceived by false doctrine (Matthew 7:15-16; Matthew 24:4-11; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Corinthians 11:2-3; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). We protect ourselves by testing all teachings against Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).