A widely held
belief throughout the history of the church has been the notion that Antichrist
will be of Jewish origin. This
view is still somewhat popular in our own day. However, upon closer examination we find no real Scriptural
basis for such a view. In fact,
the Bible teaches just the opposite that the Antichrist will be of Gentile
A decade ago,
when I was doing extensive research into the Pseudo-Ephraem sermon that
contained a rapture statement from early-medieval times,
I noticed the almost universally held belief of the time that Antichrist was to
be a Jew. During the late-medieval
period, we see a shift from a personal Antichrist to a corporate one as some
Catholics and most Reformers tended to see the successive Popes and the Roman
Church as Antichrist. However, the
early and medieval church always saw an individual Antichrist. For the last two hundred years, with
the revival of the literal and thus futurist interpretation of prophecy, the
historic protestant notion that Antichrist was the system of the Roman Catholic
Church has been in decline.
Bernard McGinn tells us:
After Vatican II,
traditional Lutheran and Reformed claims that the pope was Antichrist have been
either forgotten or explicitly rejected.
Even the Evangelical Fundamentalists, for whom Antichrist is certainly
alive and well, have been uncomfortable with a papal Antichrist.
Some of the
earliest expounders of Antichrist, Irenaeus and Hippolytus of the second
century, taught that Antichrist would be a Jew. " It seems clear that the bishop," McGinn says of Irenaeus,
" depended on earlier traditions, both Jewish and Christian, in claiming that
Antichrist would be born a Jew, specifically from the tribe of Dan."  Hippolytus, a disciple of Irenaeus,
wrote extensively on the Antichrist.
Hippolytus believed that " Antichrist is a Jewish false messiah whose
coming is still some time in the future."  Origen, Chrysostom, Jerome, and likely
Augustine all continued the early church tradition that the Antichrist was to
be of Jewish descent.
The tradition of a Jewish
Antichrist, who would likely be of the tribe of Dan, was reinforced throughout
the middle ages.
Antichrist notion is sometimes taught by our own dispensational prophecy
teachers of today. A. W. Pink
provides just such an argument in his well-known work on Antichrist as follows:
It should, however,
be pointed out that there is no express declaration of Scripture which says in
so many words that this daring
Rebel will be " a Jew" ;
nevertheless, the hints given are so plain, the conclusions which must be drawn
from certain statements of Holy Writ are so obvious, and the requirements of
the case are so inevitable, that we are forced to believe he must be a Jew.
a statement not only reveals his viewpoint, but also is also telling in that he
tacitly admits that his view lacks direct biblical support, as I shall seek to
Arguments Against A Jewish Antichrist
Three reasons are
often given in support of the argument that Antichrist will be Jewish. First, it is argued that he will
be a Jew since the Jews are responsible for the world' s problems. Thus, it follows that the greatest
problem of history- Antichrist- will also be Jewish. This is the Anti-Semitic reason. Since we do not have enough space in this article to give an
in-depth refutation of Anti-Semitism,
it should be clear that since Anti-Semitism is unbiblical so is any logic that
reasons upon such a premise. This
is rarely if ever a viewpoint put forth by dispensational writers.
The second major
argument is that the Antichrist must be a Jew since the Jews would only accept
a Jew as their Messiah. An
advocate of this view is Grant Jeffery who reasons that:
the Jews would one
day accept for a time the false claims of the Antichrist as their promised
Messiah. . . . Since the prophecies tell us that the Antichrist will present
himself to Israel as the Messiah many scholars have concluded that he must be
Jewish. Certainly no religious Jew
would dream of accepting a Gentile as the Messiah of Israel.
view is also built upon the logic that since the Antichrist is just that, an
anti- Messiah, then his career must be a counterfeit of Jesus' first
coming. While some of this is
true, such symmetry can be carried too far. The specific descriptions of the Antichrist are more like
that of a political leader than a mere converse of Jesus, as shall be noted
below. In other words, the mere
term " Antichrist" appears in the minds of many to be the justification for
thinking that since Jesus was a Jew then so must be the Antichrist.
scholar, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum offers a refutation of this reason which he
calls " The Logical Reason." He
Stated in a
syllogism, this argument goes as follows:
Major Premise: The Jews will accept the Antichrist as
Minor Premise: The Jews will never accept a Gentile as
Conclusion: The Antichrist will be a Jew.
of this argument are many, not the least of which are the two premises. Neither premise can be supported from
the Bible. Just because the Jews
make a covenant with the Antichrist (Isa. 28:15; Dan. 9:26), does not mean that
they accept him as their Messiah.
It does not follow from these texts either textually or logically that
Israel accepts him as Messiah (or Antichrist). Secondly, since they are not accepting him as Messiah, the
fact that he is a Gentile peacemaker is irrelevant. Since both premises are faulty, it therefore follows that
the conclusion is faulty as well.
notes another variation of this argument, which he calls " the Scriptural
reason."  This line of reasoning is put forth by
combining a major premise and a minor premise from Revelation 7:4- 8.
Stated in a
syllogism, this argument goes as follows:
Major Premise: The tribe from whom the Antichrist would come would not be
listed among the 144,000.
Minor Premise: Dan is not among the 144,000.
Conclusion: The Antichrist is from the tribe of
The problem with
this argument is that it is an argument from silence. Only God knows why Dan was left out. Would not it be just as important to
note that the tribe of Dan will be included in millennial Israel (Ezek.
48:2)? What is one to make of that
if the tribe of Dan has a curse on it?
Further, this entire argument is based upon circular reasoning. The major premise contains a Jewish
assumption as a starting point. So
is it surprising that this line of reasoning concludes that the Antichrist is
of Jewish descent? Not at all
since that what circular reasoning is all about: assuming your conclusion as a
starting point. Yet, the starting
point is not stated in Scripture, it is merely presupposed.
Some argue that
Daniel 11:37 has to be a reference to a Jew since in the King James Version of
the Bible it says " And he will show no regard for the God of his fathers." It is argued that this is a reference
to the God of the Bible. However,
such is not the case. Almost all
other English translations render this text, as does the New American Standard
Version, " And he will show no regard for the gods of
his fathers." When one studies
this passage in the original Hebrew it becomes clear that it is a reference to
Gentile gods. " Any student of
Hebrew would see from the original Hebrew text that the correct translation
should be ' the gods of his fathers' and not the ' God of his fathers' as the
King James has rendered it," declares Fruchtenbaum. " The fact the plural form of the word ' god' is used makes
this a reference to heather deities and not to God of Israel. There is much external evidence to show
that this is the correct rendering of the Hebrew Text." 
argument is made by those who attempt to say that Scripture teaches that
Antichrist will be a descendant from the Jewish tribe of Dan. Support for this view is inappropriately
derived from Genesis 49:17; Deuteronomy 33:22; Jeremiah 8:16; Daniel 11:37;
Revelation 7:4-8. Even though many
passages are cited in support of this argument, none of them actually support
the notion since they are all taken out of context. In reality, only Daniel 11:37 refers to the Antichrist. Even though some believe that the
phrase in Daniel 11:37 " the God of his fathers" (KJV), implies a Jewish apostasy,
the phrase is more accurately translated " the gods of his fathers" (NASB). Since Antichrist will in fact be a
Gentile, as will be shown below, the argument is unfounded. Since the original Hebrew supports the
NASB translation and not the KJV, Antichrist' s apostasy will be Christian and
Arguments for a Gentile Antichrist
We have seen that
the Bible does not teach that Antichrist will be Jewish. However, Scripture does teach that he
will be of Gentile and possibly of Roman descent (at least from the Revived
This can first be
seen from biblical typology. Most
commentators agree that Daniel 11 speaks of Antiochus Epiphanes, a Gentile, who
typifies the future Antichrist.
" Nowhere is a Gentile ever seen as a type of Christ; and for good reason
too since Christ Himself was to be a Jew."  Since Antiochus is a Gentile, then so
will be Antichrist.
biblical imagery supports a Gentile origin of Antichrist. Scripture pictures Antichrist as rising
up out of the sea (Rev. 13:1; 17:15).
In prophetic literature the sea is an image of the Gentile nations. Thus, Antichrist is seen as a Gentile
nature of the " Times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) supports a Gentile
Antichrist. Fruchtenbaum notes:
It is agreed by
all premillennialists that the period known as the Times of the Gentiles does
not end until the second coming of Christ. It is further agreed that the Antichrist is the final ruler
of the Times of the Gentiles. . . .
If this is so,
how then can a Jew be the last ruler at a time when only Gentiles can have the
preeminence? To say the Antichrist
is to be a Jew would contradict the very nature of the Time of the Gentiles.
Bible not only teaches that Antichrist will be Gentile, but it also tells us he
will be of Roman descent. This is
understood from Daniel 9:27 where the one cutting a covenant with Israel is
said to represent the revived Roman Empire, since it was the Romans who
destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in a.d.
Antichrist is a Gentile ruler is also the thrust of Revelation 17:9- 12. This passage says that the Beast (John' s
term in Revelation for the Antichrist) is one of " seven kings" (17:10), thus, a
Gentile (Roman) ruler. G. H. Lang
This eight would be
one of the former seven, and so in 13.3 one of his heads had been smitten unto
death, and this death-stroke was healed, that is, a man formerly slain by
violence is brought again to life.
That he had been a former Gentile monarch seems to forbid that he is a
Jew. I know not a word of
Scripture that suggests this last notion.
I think it may be possible that the False Prophet (Rev. 13:11- 18; 16:13; 19:20;
20:10) could be a Jew (I am not saying that I necessarily think he will be),
there does not appear to be any Scriptural grounds to think that the Antichrist
will be of the tribe of Dan nor of Jewish descent. It appears that he will be a Gentile and will arise from
within the Revived Roman Empire.
In the middle of the tribulation he will take his seat in Israel' s
rebuilt Temple and claim to be God Himself (2 Thess. 2:4). His career will be a short-lived
seven-year period for which he will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire upon
Christ' s return to planet earth (Rev. 19:20; 20:10). Maranatha!