Beast from the Sea
And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed.
And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for 42 months was given to him.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
The word antichrist means people that are against Christ; whereas, the person of Antichrist is a substitute or pseudo-christ during the end of the church and the tribulation period.
Specific reference to antichrist is found only four times in Scripture, all in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). The first reference in 1 John 2:18 provides the norm of the doctrine: Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know it is the last hour.
John seems to anticipate an individual who is specifically antichrist, a notorious opponent of Jesus Christ. He declares that this was anticipated by many antichrists who have already come. This is offered as evidence that they are moving toward the last hour.
1 John 2:22 defines antichrist as one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a one also denies the Father and the Son. According to John’s definition, an antichrist is anyone who denies that Jesus is God and Christ. In 1 John 4:3, reference is made to the spirit of antichrist which again is described as coming in the future and also now it is in the world already. In this passage, also, an antichrist is defined as one who is a denier of the deity of Jesus Christ.
In 2 John 7, a more specific reference is made to contemporary rejection of Christ by those who deny the reality of the Incarnation: For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
John is anticipating docetism, the view that Christ merely appeared to be in the flesh and was not actually incarnate. From these four passages it is clear that antichrist, according to John’s definition, is a theological concept primarily and relates to rejection of Christ or heretical views concerning His person.
As used in theology and the history of doctrine, antichrist has been applied more widely than the restricted usage in the epistles of John. Such application first of all proceeds on the idea of a future antichrist based on 1 John 2:18, You have heard that antichrist is coming.
It is concluded from this reference that while there were contemporary opponents of Christ who denied His deity or His true humanity, these forces of opposition would eventually center in one person as seen in futuristic interpretations of prophecy.
A still wider application has been made to all anti-god movements in Scripture including many references to Belial in the Old Testament and to any blasphemous persons or movements in either history or prophecy. Accordingly, by theological usage, antichrist is a broad term covering either persons or movements against God, in contrast to the rather restricted usage in the epistles of John.
An almost unlimited number of identifications of antichrist to specific historical characters can be found. Among the more prominent are Mohammed, the founder of the Muslim faith; Caligula, a Roman emperor who claimed to be God; and Nero, a popular candidate for the title because of his burning of Rome and persecution of the Jews and Christians.
To these can be added almost every prominent ruler of the past, including more modern characters such as Napoleon and Mussolini. In all these historical identifications, there is little more than evidence of being anti-christian but the variety of claims leaves the concept of antichrist in considerable confusion.
The only school of interpretation which has been able to create a self-consistent interpretation of the antichrist concept has been the futurist school of prophecy. This is supported by the prophecies linking the destruction of the antichrist with the future Second Coming of Christ.
While recognizing past and present antichrist movements and individuals, as a system of interpretation it regards the antichrist concept as culminating in a person who is supremely the antichrist and who is the satanic counterfeit of Christ. Although a great variety of interpretations are possible in attempting to identify the characteristics and place of such a person to appear in the future, a number of passages in the Bible seem to make a major contribution.
In the prophecies of Daniel 7 where four world empires are depicted as four beasts, those who identify the fourth beast as the Roman empire will find in the last mentioned ruler, the eleventh horn or little horn a portrayal of the antichrist. In the interpretation of the dream given to Daniel, this individual is described.
He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High (7:25). He is described as ruling until his rule is replaced by the everlasting kingdom which shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High (7:27). In this description he is made the last great ruler of the world and one who is opposed to Christ.
In Daniel 11:36-45 another king is introduced which is identified by some as the same personage as the little horn of chapter 7. He is described as an absolute ruler: The king shall do according to his will, and as one who claims to be God he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every God (11:36). In the subsequent description he is portrayed as against all the gods of the past and a materialist who shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts (11:38).
The challenges to his rule are mentioned in 11:40-44, apparently referring to a great final world war. Like the little horn (chapter 7), he is a blasphemer, opposed to God, hence an antichrist, and apparently is the last ruler before the return of Christ and the Resurrection (12:1-3).
An alternate view is that he is a less important personage, a minor ruler of Palastine in the time of the end, a view somewhat contradicted by the claims of this ruler of supremacy over all others politically or religiously. Some also interpret the little horn (8:9) as the future antichrist, although he is more probably Antiochus Epiphanes, a king of Syria (175-164 BC).
In the New Testament, references are made by Christ to false Christs who shall arise at the end of the age (Matthew 24:24). In addition, Christ constantly referred to Satan as the enemy of God, and in one sense antichrist. This is seen in the temptation of Christ by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).
Also in the parable of the wheat and the tares, Christ identifies the sower of the tares as the devil (Matthew 13:37-39). Christ seems, however, to have anticipated that there would be a specific fulfillment in one person of the antichrist concept when He stated, for the ruler of this world is coming (John 14:30). Similarly Christ said, I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive (5:43).
Paul never uses the term antichrist in his epistles, but does develop the concept of those anti-god or antichrist. He refers to Belial in the question what accord has Christ with Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15).
Paul’s major discourse on the concept is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. In discussing a future day of the Lord, he states that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God (2:3-4).
He predicts that after the lawless one is revealed, the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming (2:8). Because of the similarity between the activities and the final doom of this person at the Second Coming of Christ, many futurist interpreters identify this person with the little horn of Daniel 7 and the king of Daniel 11:36.
The most impressive New Testament passage relating to antichrist is the description given in Revelation 13 of two beasts, one rising out of the sea (13:1-10), and another beast arising out of the land (13:11-18). Variations of interpretation are without number, but generally the first beast is identified by futurists as the final world ruler before the Second Coming of Christ and the second beast is considered a religious leader working under the political authority.
Because of the similarity between the first beast bearing ten horns and seven heads to the little horn of Daniel 7:8, many have identified this personage and the government he heads as being the antichrist. Others, considering Christ religiously rather than from the standpoint of supreme authority, identify the second beast as antichrist. Obviously both are antichrist in spirit.
One of the interpretative problems relative to antichrist is the reference to the number of its name (Revelation 13:17). The passage continues, This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is 666 (13:18). Explanations too numerous to mention have been offered to solve the riddle of this statement using the letter equivalents for the numbers in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
One common explanation is that it refers to Caesar Nero which, with the Hebrew endings such as John uses in some other proper names in Revelation, would be spelled Kaisar Neron. These letters, eliminating the unimportant vowels have a numerical value of 666 (k=100, s=60, r=200, n=50, r=200, o=6, and n=50).
Similar explanations using Greek letters can make allusion to Caligula. Taken as a whole, however, the best explanation seems to regard the triple six as referring to man since six is short of the perfect number seven. In Scripture man works six days and rests the seventh. Nebuchadnezzar’s image was 60 cubits high and six cubits broad. The implication would then be that the antichrist, great though he is in power and influence, is only a man who ultimately will be judged by Christ who is God.
A complication in futurist interpretation is that which attempts to prove that either the first beast or the second is Jewish based on the statement of Daniel 11:37 which in the King James Version translation declares, Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers. The contention is raised that this person will deceive the Jews as being their Messiah, and could not do so unless he is a Jew.
The supporting evidence, however, is lacking. The word God in Daniel 11:37 is elohim, a general name for God, not a specific like Jehovah, the God of Israel. It is also questionable whether the final world ruler, obviously the last in a long line of Gentile rulers, would be a Jew. The second beast of Revelation 13:11-18 also represents a world religion not predominately Jewish, hence the conclusion is reached that these characters are antichrist in the sense of being opposed to Christ rather than primarily being a pseudo-christ.
The futurist interpretation of Revelation, however, supports the concept that the final ruler of the world will be a satanic substitute for Christ who claims to be God and who will attempt to fulfill the role of King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince of peace. Both the individuals represented by the beasts of Revelation 13, according to Revelation 19, are cast into the lake of fire at the Second Coming of Christ (19:20).
Allusions to the antichrist concept found in apocalyptic writings are of such general nature and subject to such varied interpretations that they contribute little to the doctrine. The Early Church fathers seldom referred to the concept except as in the case of Polycarp who quotes 2 John 7, identifying this with docetism.
The notion that Nero was to rise from the dead in order to be antichrist was advanced as early as the 3rd cent. by Commodian. In the Middle Ages it was fashionable to identify antichrist with Mohammed and occasionally with other rulers. With the rise of Protestantism, Romanists and Protestants tended to identify each other as antichrist. Protestants specifically found the beasts of Revelation and the lawless one of 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 as references to Roman Catholicism.
In the 20th century the concept of antichrist is principally discussed by conservative Biblical interpreters who anticipate a future fulfillment of predictions of antichrist at the end of the age prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Apart from these Biblical discussions the concept of antichrist has not attracted modern discussion.
Taking Scriptural references as a whole, it may be concluded that while the concept of antichrist can apply to many people and anti-god movements of the past and the future, there is reasonable justification for expecting this to culminate in a single person who will be the antichrist and who will be destroyed by Christ at His Second Coming.
This person will be antichrist theologically as he claims to be God himself; he will be antichrist politically as he will attempt to rule the world. He will be antichrist satanically because he will prosper on satanic power, much as Christ manifested the power of God. In many respects the future antichrist will be to Satan what Christ is to God the Father, and the supporting false prophet of Revelation 13:11-18 will fulfill a role similar to that of the Holy Spirit, justifying the concept of an unholy trinity composed of Satan, the antichrist and the false prophet.
The Bible does not use the phrase one-world government or one-world currency in referring to the end-times. It does, however, provide ample evidence to enable us to draw the conclusion that both will exist under the rule of the Antichrist in the last days.
In his apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees the beast, also called the Antichrist, rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). Combining this vision with Daniel’s similar one (Daniel 7:16-24), we can conclude that some sort of world system will be inaugurated by the beast, the most powerful horn, who will defeat the other nine and will begin to wage war against Christians.
The ten nation confederacy is also seen in Daniel’s image of the statue in Daniel 2:41-42, where he pictures the final world government consisting of ten entities represented by the ten toes of the statue. Whoever the ten are and however they come to power, Scripture is clear that the beast will either destroy them or reduce their power to nothing more than figureheads. In the end, they will do his bidding.
John goes on to describe the ruler of this vast empire as having power and great authority, given to him by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2), being followed by and receiving worship from all the world (13:3-4) and having authority over every tribe, people, language and nation (13:7).
From this description, it is logical to assume that this person is the leader of a one world government which is recognized as sovereign over all other governments. It’s hard to imagine how such diverse systems of government as are in power today would willingly subjugate themselves to a single ruler, and there are many theories on the subject.
A logical conclusion is that the disasters and plagues described in Revelation as the seal and trumpet judgments (chapters 6-11) will be so devastating and create such a monumental global crisis that people will embrace anything and anyone who promises to give them relief.
Once entrenched in power, the beast, Antichrist, and the power behind him, Satan, will move to establish absolute control over all peoples of the earth to accomplish their true end, the worship Satan has been seeking ever since being thrown out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14).
One way they will accomplish this is by controlling all commerce, and this is where the idea of a one world currency comes in. Revelation 13:16-17 describes some sort of satanic mark which will be required in order to buy and sell. This means anyone who refuses the mark will be unable to buy food, clothing or other necessities of life.
No doubt the vast majority of people in the world will succumb to the mark simply to survive. Again, verse 16 makes it clear that this will be a universal system of control where everyone, rich and poor, great and small, will bear the mark on their hand or forehead. There is a great deal of speculation as to how exactly this mark will be affixed, but the technologies that are available right now could accomplish it very easily.
Those who are left behind after the Rapture of the Church will be faced with an excruciating choice to accept the mark of the beast in order to survive or face starvation and horrific persecution by the Antichrist and his followers. But those who come to Christ during this time, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 13:8), will choose to endure, even to martyrdom.