Can we apply the term “antichrist” to the beast of Revelation 13 from the sea? Most people would say “Of course, what a stupid question!” But does the term “antichrist” as it is used in scripture describe that particular personage in the end times scheme, or does it more accurately describe the false prophet? Let me just write a disclaimer here. This post is to get you to think about preconceived ideas. I believe that the term “antichrist” applies to the beast from the sea. But the entire book of Revelation does not contain the term “antichrist”.
The following is a quote from the book Revelation of John by Charles R. Erdman. He is not dogmatic about it, but he applies the term “antichrist” to the false prophet, while applying the term “man of sin” to the beast from the sea. We enter the conversation amidst a passage concerning the false prophet’s role in causing the world to take the number of the beast.
If we triple the figure six, or to the number six add six, multiplied by ten and by one hundred, there may be a “number” which represents the greatest conceivable embodiment of depravity and of evil. Such, in any event, is the character of the beast whom the false prophet compels all the world to worship. He seems to correspond to “the man of sin” predicted by Paul, II Thess. 2:1-10. When civil and social order have been subverted, when lawlessness prevails, when all restraints have been removed, there arises out of this state of anarchy a tyrant of demonic character and despotic power, who does indeed establish order, but only to arrogate to himself all authority divine and human and to become the embodiment of a lawlessness worse and more fatal to the nations than that out of which he arose.
The second beast is described as differing in his character. In him the priesthood of the cult of emperor worship may be symbolized. His sphere is not political but religious. By deception and cruelty he attempts to destroy the Church and to substitute for Christianity the universal worship of the beast. He appears to represent “the antichrist” predicted by John rather then “the man of sin” described by Paul. “The man of sin” and “the antichrist” have been identified so commonly that it may be futile to raise the question as to whether they may be distinct. Both are opposed to Christ and his Church; both are agents of the dragon. Yet the first beast is secular and imperial; the second is a “false prophet,” and also a false Christ, as well as the embodiment of enmity against Christ. An antichristian spirit always has existed. In this second beast it seems to find its supreme manifestation. As John wrote in his First Epistle, “Little children, it is that last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists…. Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son,” I John 2:18, 22.
These three, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, form a monstrous trinity. Under their pitiless and murderous reign, the Church enters the darkest hour of its tribulation and martyrdom and distress.
I still maintain that the term antichrist can be applied to the man of sin. But when I read Erdman’s logic here, I can’t say that I have anything to disagree with. In fact, the word “antichrist” only occurs 4 times in all of the Bible, all 4 in John’s epistles. In every case it seems to be used in the context of false beliefs about Christ, meaning false religion. So perhaps the term “antichrist” could be just a bit more accurately applied to the false prophet than the beast from the sea.
Again, I just want to get you to think.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman