The Bible refers to the Antichrist by several names. The Apostle Paul refers to him as “the man of lawlessness” and the “the man doomed to destruction (2 Thes 2:3). Other terms used are “beast coming out of the sea” (Rev 13:1-10); a “scarlet beast” (Rev 17:33); and, most often, simply “the beast” (Rev 17:8,16; Rev 19:19-20; Rev 20:10). From the Christian’s perspective, since the Antichrist will not appear until after Christians are Raptured to heaven (1 Thes 4:16-17; 1 Cor 15:51-52), we must be careful not to prematurely point to world leaders or others in the world now and claim they are the Antichrist. For unbelievers that are left to face the tribulation, however, the Bible has left many clues so that he may be identified. Here are a few of the main ones:
He will “confirm a covenant with many”: in other words he will confirm some type of agreement, likely a peace treaty, with the people of Israel (Dan 9:27).
Given he will be controlled by Satan himself (Rev 13:2), who is a true liar (John 8:44), he will break the covenant in the middle (after 3.5 years) and will commit the “abomination that causes desolation” in the Temple (Dan 9:27, Matt 24:15).
Before doing so, however, he will arise to great power from ten kings in the restored Roman Empire (Dan 7:24; Rev 13:2; Dan 7:7).
He will rise from obscurity, come onto the scene suddenly and will overcome/subdue three of the ten world leaders (Dan 7:8, 24). He will be distinct from the other world leaders (Dan 7:24).
He will speak boastfully about himself (Dan 7:8; Rev 13:5) and will blaspheme God (Dan 7:25; 11:36; Rev 13:5). In fact, he will go so far as to claim to be God (Dan 11:37; 2 Thes 2:4).
He will oppress the saints and be successful doing so for 3.5 years (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:7).
He will attempt to change the calendar (Dan 7:25): perhaps he will remove religious holidays, the Sabbath, and/or devote days to himself.
He will also try to change the laws (Dan 7:25) and will consider himself above the law (Dan 11:36).
He will show no regard for the religion of his ancestors (Dan 11:37) nor for the one desired by women” (Dan 11:37). Some people misinterpret that to mean he will be a homosexual, but that is not what the text says. Like his lack of regard for his ancestors’ religion, he will have no regard for something typically longed for by women. In context of Hebrew tradition, that would be a desire for a Messiah (Gen 3:15).
He will be accompanied by a false prophet and they will perform miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thes 2:9; Rev 13:13-14).
Many people will be deceived (2 Thes 2:11) and many will worship him (Rev 13:8).
He will appear to have miraculously survived a fatal injury (Rev 13:3).
The number 666, in some way, will be the number of the Antichrist (Rev 13:17-18).
He will control a world banking system and not allow anyone to buy or to sell unless they take upon their right hand or forehead the “mark of the beast” (Rev 13:15-17)
Unlike the Rapture which could occur at any time and without any event necessarily preceding it (explained in more detail at this link), the Antichrist will not come onto the world scene without warning. At least three events will happen before he arises to power:
1) A “Rebellion” must occur (2 Thes 2:3). Some scholars say the “rebellion” has something to do with the apostate church, while others say that term, apostasia, better translates to the word “departure” or “rapture”.
2) The “secret power of lawlessness”, which is already at work in the world now, must intensify (2 Thes 2:7). The world will become especially evil immediately before the Antichrist arises to power. The preceding idea that the Church and Holy Spirit will be removed from earth makes further sense given the result would be a world more evil than ever. We also know that the morals of society will get worse because of the words we read in 2 Tim 3:1-4: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
3) The one who now holds back the Antichrist from ruling and reigning must be removed. Satan was once a very powerful angel in heaven before he became a “fallen angel”. He is called the “god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4) and one third of the angles fell with him (Rev 12:4); thus, he has an evil, powerful army at his command. Understanding that concept, we must consider that the only entity that would be a match for Satan and his minions is the Holy Spirit. Many scholars believe that once the Church is removed from this world via the Rapture, so too will be the Holy Spirit that dwells within the Church.
I’d like to leave you with the words of Jesus in Luke 21:36, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man”. Maranatha!
I hope this study has helped you better understand the importance of Bible prophecy. If you’d like to study the topic further, I encourage you to read the book, Pray That You May Escape. It addresses all of the main topics of Bible prophecy in a concise, extremely friendly manner. It’s equally useful to those that want to begin their journey of studying Bible prophecy, or for people that know the topic well and would like some additional insight. It’s also a very useful resource with which to introduce the fascinating, relevant topic of Bible prophecy to friends and family). I hope you will also explore the Learn Bible Prophecy Ministries web site, where you’ll find many other good resources about the subject.