Whatever one’s view of biblical prophecy, it is clear that Scripture predicts that at “the time of the end” two world figures, two awesome powers, shall arise and clash in gigantic combat, and that one shall destroy the other.

The Apostle Paul spotlights this event in one of his letters: “And then shall be revealed that wicked man whom the Lord Jesus shall destroy with the breath of his mouth, and annihilate by the radiance of his coming. But the coming of that wicked man is the work of Satan” (2 Thess. 2:8, NEB). In this brief prophecy we confront two eschatological parousias: the coming of Antichrist, and the coming of Christ.

This first figure towers monstrously in the Bible prophecies. He is represented under different symbols and bears a number of ominous titles. He is called the Beast, the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, and Antichrist. His characteristics are delineated, his personality detailed and defined.

He is a self-willed ruler who makes himself a god, railing against the Most High, polluting God’s sanctuary with an abominable sacrilege. He is big-mouthed in blasphemy. He is a mighty deceiver. Paul might possibly be implying that he is the devil personified—“He is the Enemy … that wicked man is the work of Satan” (2 Thess. 2:9, NEB). John further identifies and characterizes him: “This is how we recognize the Spirit of God; every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit which does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is what we mean by Antichrist” (1 John 4:3, NEB).

Scripture spells out Antichrist’s operation and amazing success. Daniel foresees him as a “despicable creature, one who comes when men are off their guard and gains the kingdom by means ...

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