One of the great mysteries concerning
Bible prophecy and the end times is the national identity of the Antichrist.
This is an important topic because it will eventually aid the last-days
generation of Christians in the correct identification of the Antichrist.
Fortunately, the Bible provides us with several details regarding the
nationalistic origins of this sinister personality.
His Roman Nationality
Although much debate surrounds his
national identity, the book of Daniel clearly states that the Antichrist
will come from among the people whose armies destroy the Temple.
"A ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the
city and the Temple" (Daniel 9:26, NLT).
The city and the Temple referenced in
this passage were destroyed in ad
70 by Titus and the Roman legions, but Titus was not the ruler referenced in
this verse. Daniel 9:27 describes the ruler as one who will make a
seven-year treaty with Israel, put an end to the sacrifices and offerings,
and set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration. These are events
that will be fulfilled in the life of the Antichrist. According to Daniel,
the Antichrist will come from among the people who destroyed the Temple.
Therefore, we can be certain that the Antichrist will come from among the
However, coming from among the Roman
people does not automatically mean that the Antichrist will be of Italian
heritage or Roman ethnicity. It simply means he must come from among the
people who were part of the Roman Empire at that time. From an ethnic
standpoint, this leaves the door open to countless possibilities. The Roman
Empire covered most of the known world in its day, and Roman citizenship
was extended to many non-Italian peoples. So, how do we interpret this
Most likely, Daniel 9:26 refers to the
power base from which the Antichrist will operate. The book of Daniel
clearly states that the final world empire before the establishment of
Christ's millennial kingdom will be a resurrected form of the Roman Empire.
In all likelihood, the Antichrist will be the ruler of this revived Roman
Empire, which will "devour the whole earth," and in this way, Christians
will be able to identify him as the Antichrist.
Is the Antichrist Syrian?
Daniel chapter 8 provides us with
further clues in regard to the life and times of the Antichrist. In it, the
angel Gabriel explains Daniel's vision of a ram and a goat as events
relating to the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. In a claim verified by
history, Gabriel states that following the death of
Alexander, the empire will be divided into four parts. From one of those
four parts, the Antichrist will arise:
"The shaggy male goat represents the king of the
Greek Empire. The four prominent horns that replaced the one large horn show that
the Greek Empire will break into four sections with four kings, none of them
as great as the first. At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its
height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. He will
become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking
amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy
powerful leaders and devastate the holy people" (Daniel 8:21-24, NLT).
Daniel 11 provides an in-depth
examination of the history of the breakup Alexander's empire, describing
historical events relating to the king of the North and the king of the
South. The latter part of the chapter describes the Antichrist, identifying
him with other historical figures who have held the title "king of the
North." This, along with the passage cited above, clearly links the
Antichrist to the northern kingdom of the divided Greek Empire. This kingdom
was ruled by one of Alexander's generals, Seleucus, who ruled the areas
of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume
that the Antichrist will in some way be linked to this geographic area of
the Middle East.
Isaiah Chapter 10
In addition to Daniel 8, the prophet
Isaiah also offers some interesting insight concerning a "king of Assyria":
"After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to
accomplish his purposes in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king
of Assyria and punish him - for he is proud and arrogant. He boasts, ‘By my
own power and wisdom I have won these wars. By my own strength I have
captured many lands, destroyed their kings, and carried off their treasures.
By my greatness I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms
as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a
peep of protest" (Isaiah 10:12-14, NLT).
Although not directly identified by
Isaiah, this king of Assyria bears a striking resemblance to the Antichrist.
Both the books of Daniel and Revelation describe the Antichrist as proud and
arrogant, boasting arrogantly and blaspheming God Himself. His boast that
"no one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest" also
fits the description of the Antichrist as given in Revelation:
"They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such
power, and they worshiped the beast. ‘Is there anyone as great as the
beast?' they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?'" (Revelation
Isaiah 10, coupled with Daniel 8, lends
support to the idea that the Antichrist will somehow be connected to
political power in this region of the world.
Is the Antichrist Jewish?
Is the Antichrist Jewish? Although
there is no definitive answer, two Bible verses provide good reason to
believe he will be. The first appears in the book of Genesis, where God
prophesies the coming of Israel's Messiah and Satan's Antichrist.
"From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and
your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15, NLT).
Later, when Jacob is blessing his sons,
he makes this prophecy about Dan:
"Dan will govern his people like any other tribe
in Israel. He will be a snake beside the road, a poisonous viper along
the path, that bites the horse's heels so the rider is thrown off" (Genesis
This reference to a serpent striking a
heel may indicate that the Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan,
but it isn't certain, and many reasonable people are divided on this issue.
In addition to this reference to the
tribe of Dan, Daniel points out that the Antichrist will worship himself
above all else:
"Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor
the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above
all" (Daniel 11:37, KJV).
This passage is often referenced by
those who believe the Antichrist will be of Jewish heritage. The fact that
he will have no regard "for the God of his fathers" is viewed as a reference
to the monotheistic God of the Jews.
Adding further fuel to speculation that
the Antichrist might be Jewish is the following passage from the book of
"Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth.
He had two horns like those of a lamb, and he spoke with the voice of a
dragon" (Revelation 13:11, NLT).
This verse states that the Antichrist
will "come up out of the earth," a biblical phrase often associated with the
Promised Land and the Jewish people. Throughout the Old Testament, the earth
is used as a symbol for Israel, while the sea is used as a symbol for the
"And now in my vision I saw beast rising up out of
the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And
written on each head were names that blasphemed God" (Revelation 13:1, NLT).
The verse above is a reference to the
Antichrist's kingdom, which, as stated before, will be a revived form of
the Roman Empire—thus emerging from among the Gentile people. But all the
authority of this kingdom will be exercised by "the beast from the earth"
referenced in Revelation 13:11:
"He exercised all the authority of the first beast.
And he required all the earth and those who belong to this world to worship
the first beast, who death-wound had been healed" (Revelation 13:12, NLT).
The first beast, whose "death-wound had
been healed," is the revived Roman Empire. Daniel clearly states that this
world empire will reemerge in the last days, thus becoming healed of its
mortal wound. But the one who rules it will "come up out of the earth."
Could this be a reference to the Antichrist's Jewish heritage?
Will the Jews Accept the Antichrist as
All the speculation surrounding the
Antichrist's possible Jewish heritage lends itself to another question: Will
the Jews accept the Antichrist as their Messiah? Many believe that the
following statement by Jesus is really a prophecy that the Jewish people
will do so:
"I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me
not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (John 5:43,
The Antichrist would have to be Jewish
in order to be accepted by Israel as the Messiah. Many believe this
Scripture points to a specific person in the future who will "come in his
own name" and be accepted as the Redeemer of Israel.
It is an absolute certainty that the
Antichrist will arrive on the world scene as the ruler of a revived Roman
empire. However, it is less certain whether he will be of actual Italian
descent or some other ethnic background. Several Scriptures offer the
possibility that he could be Assyrian, Greek, or Jewish. But none of them
offers us the definitive statement contained in Daniel 9:26.
So how do we rectify these seemingly
contradictory prophecies concerning the Antichrist's nationality? Is he
Roman? Italian? Jewish? Assyrian? Greek? He doesn't necessarily have to be
exclusively one or another. He could be an Assyrian who is Jew born and
raised in Italy, or any number of possible combinations. We don't know for
certain, but history indicates that each of these prophecies will be
harmonized when the Antichrist finally appears.
Two thousand years ago, the seemingly
contradictory prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah were all
harmonized in the life of Jesus Christ, a Nazarene born in Bethlehem who
came out of Egypt. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see how this was
possible, but for the Jewish scholars who lived before the birth and
ministry of Jesus, these prophecies were a topic of intense debate. Would
the Messiah come from Nazareth, Bethlehem, or Egypt? The answer, of course,
was all three.
In similar fashion, a debate continues
today in regard to the prophecies of the Antichrist and his national
identity. But no matter how much we speculate on the ultimate meaning of the
Scriptures, we won't know the absolute truth until God's appointed time. As
such, it is wise to study these prophecies and teach them to others, so that
Christians of the Antichrist's generation will be able to positively
identify him based on sound scriptural evidence.
May the Lord Jesus Christ, upon His
return, find us actively engaged in teaching these truths to others. Until
then, live with a patient and enduring faith that His return is soon upon
Britt Gillette is the author of
Signs of the Second
Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime and
Coming to Jesus: One Man’s Search for
Truth and Life Purpose. He’s also the founder of
End Times Bible Prophecy.