Nero’s Torches, Henryk Siemiradzki (1843-1902) National Museum, Warsaw Source: Olga’s Gallery
‘The Antichrist’ has a prominent role in Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory. Endless speculation as to his identity, character, and power, has not only given credence to this doctrine, it has been a huge money-spinner for TV preachers, writers, and film producers.
The emphasis on the near future appearance of Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ has struck fear in the hearts of believers and unbelievers alike, and has robbed many of the joy of their salvation, having replaced the victorious message of the Gospel with a pessimistic worldview.
By examining the Title, the Timeline, and the Tyrant, we will understand what the Scriptures clearly teach on this subject.
‘The Title ‘Antichrist’ and the Epistles of John
Just for the record, it may surprise readers to learn that Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is neither mentioned in John’s Epistles nor in the Book of Revelation. The only references to ‘antichrist’ (there is a difference) are found in the 1st and 2nd Epistles of John.
Since ‘The Antichrist’ is not mentioned in Scripture, where does our source of information come from? It is certainly not from God. To mention a few, outrageous ‘end times’ fiction novels, TV ‘evangelists’, and internet conspiracy theories.
A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries
‘Antichrist’ G500 ἀντίχριστος antichristos an-tee’-khris-tos From G473 and G5547; an opponent of the Messiah: – antichrist.
1Jn 2:22 KJV Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
A characteristic of ‘antichrist’ is the denial of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
2Jn 1:7 KJV For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
The most resolute malefactors who denied Christ’s deity were Judaisers; many infiltrated the early church in an attempt to undermine the teaching of the Apostles by insisting on the inclusion of the Old Covenant Law… Galatians 2:4
1Jn 4:1-3 KJV Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
On examining the context of I John 4:1-3, John is not speaking about a particular man.
’believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world’ John wrote concerning the importance of discerning the spirits of false prophets.
’whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world’ Again, John gave the timeline ‘that it should come’; during his generation.
A Quote from Duncan Mackenzie, The Antichrist Chronicles Vol 2
‘It should be noted that John is mostly focusing on these “antichrists” in his epistles; his discussion of the “Antichrist” is not the primary focus in 1 and 2 John. John’s audience was already aware of the Antichrist (probably from the book of Daniel and Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians). John cites the fact that many antichrists had come as an indication that it was the “last hour” and the Antichrist was about to come. Again, however, John’s discussion in 1 and 2 John is mostly focused on the antichrists from his community not the Antichrist.’
I find it interesting that the only references in the Bible to ‘antichrist’ are found in John’s Epistles. Incredibly, John does not even mention Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ in the Book of Revelation! Duncan Mackenzie makes the case for a man called ‘The Antichrist’ in his book, yet admits that John mostly focused on ‘antichrists’ in his Epistles. He continues by assuming John’s audience were ‘probably’ aware of ‘The Antichrist’ from Daniel and Paul.
A few Bible versions introduced, without justification, a capital ‘A’ to antichrist , thereby creating an individual to support their ‘end times’ theory.
How did Dispensationalism compile a doctrine of such magnitude and influence without Scriptural support?
The Title ‘The Man of Sin’ and the Epistles of Paul
2Th 2:3-5 KJV Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, AD 52 (Halley), Paul reminded them that there would be a falling away before the Day of the Lord.
A man who was the ultimate personification of evil was about to be revealed. Paul called him the ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’, not ‘The Antichrist’.
The ‘man of sin’ was the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy and John’s ‘little horn’ in the Book of Revelation.
The Title ‘The Little Horn’ and the Book of Daniel
It was during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar King of Babylon, c 555 BC, that his dream revealed more about the four kingdoms previously described in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
The Book of Daniel
Dan 7:3-7 KJV And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
The Book of Revelation
Rev 13:1-2 KJV And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Without doubt, John saw Daniel’s Sea Beast; he even revealed its source of power, Satan the dragon.
Daniel and John shared the same timeline of prophetic fulfilment, the Roman Empire.
The Fourth Beast
Special attention was given to the fourth beast, the Roman Empire.
The Ten Horns
‘and it had ten horns’ These were the ten kings, the first ten emperors of the Roman Empire.
The Little Horn
Dan 7:8 KJV I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
‘another little horn’ The fourth beast was the Roman Empire; the little horn was Nero Caesar. He was the little horn among them and the sixth of the ten emperors.
‘before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots’ Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, were the three plucked up, all having met untimely deaths before the rule of Nero.
Rev 17:10 KJV And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
John provided more information when he described seven of the kings. Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, had fallen, ‘Nero is’, followed by Galba.
‘the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space’ Incredibly, Galba only ruled a matter of months. He was the first of the ‘year of the four emperors’ in AD 69, which was a time ‘of wars and rumours of wars’… Matthew 24:6 Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian
Four Emperors ruled in remarkably quick succession, evidence of the turmoil in the Roman Empire leading to AD 70.
The Historian Suetonius’ Chronology of the Emperors
Some scholars claim that the Roman Empire began with Augustus Caesar and not Julius Caesar. Therefore, Julius cannot be included as one of the ten emperors. However, Suetonius specifically included Julius Caesar in his writing, the ‘Twelve Emperors’.
Suetonius c AD 69-AD 122, recorded the early period of the Roman Empire.
He concurred the Roman Empire’s first leaders were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.
In 45 BC, Julius Caesar reached the pinnacle of success when named ‘Dictator for Life’.
The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to John
1Jn 2:18 KJV Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
‘it is the last time’ John emphasised on two occasions in this verse that the timeline of ‘antichrists’ was his generation. Thereby, he eliminated the numerous candidates onerously proposed by teachers of Dispensationalism. The profusion of false predictions as to the identity of ‘The Antichrist’ is a constant embarrassment to the Body of Christ.
Mat 24:24-25 KJV For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before.
John recalled the Olivet discourse when he assured the 1st century Church that the appearance of ‘antichrist’ and many ‘antichrists’ was the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy. As a consequence, they were living in the ‘last hour’ of the ‘last days’ before Christ’s return. Persecution of believers was about to intensify before the great and terrible Day of the Lord in AD 70, when Christ would return in judgement on Old Covenant Israel.
If John was mistaken about the prophetic timeline of the impending return of Christ, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures. I believe the Holy Spirit inspired John when he wrote his Epistles.
The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to Paul
1Th 5:2-4 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Paul encouraged believers by assuring them he had taught and prepared them for the Day of the Lord. This presents Dispensationalism with a dilemma. If the ‘rapture theory’ were correct there would have been no need for Paul to prepare the Thessalonians for the Day of The Lord, after all, the ‘rapture’ is purportedly seven years before the Day of the Lord.
2Th 2:7-8 KJV For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Paul revealed that the ‘mystery of iniquity’ was already at work in their midst.
‘until he be taken out of the way’ Dispensationalism teaches that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer. Apparently, the Holy Spirit will be removed with the Church at the ‘rapture’, allowing ‘The Antichrist’ to take control. Those left behind may still be saved by refusing the mark of the beast during the great tribulation, but how is it possible to be ‘born again’ without the Holy Spirit?
In my opinion, Paul alluded to the assassination of Emperor Claudius, the restraining influence until his murder in AD 54; arranged by Agrippina his wife and mother of Nero.
A Quote from Expositors Bible Commentary
2 Thessalonians 2:7 ‘…The apostasy was to take place among the Jews; and the Apostle saw that Rome and its Emperor were the grand restraint upon the violence of that stubborn race. The Jews had been his worst enemies, ever since he had embraced the cause of the Nazarene Messiah Jesus; and all that time the Romans had been his best friends. If injustice had been done him in their name, as at Philippi, atonement had been made; and, on the whole, he had owed to them his protection against Jewish persecution. He felt sure that his own experience was typical; the final development of hatred to God and all that was on God’s side could not but be restrained so long as the power of Rome stood firm. That power was a sufficient check upon anarchic violence. While it held its ground, the powers of evil could not organise themselves and work openly; they constituted a mystery of iniquity, working, as it were, underground. But when this great restraint was removed, all that had been labouring so long in secret would come suddenly to view, in its full dimensions; the lawless one would stand revealed.’
Nero’s reign seemed promising and peaceful during the first five years, the quinquennium, however, in due course the depth of his depravity was revealed.
1Ti 4:1 KJV Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary
1Timothy 4:1 ‘in the latter times — in the times following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some remote future, but times immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being already discernible (Act 20:29): these are the forerunners of “the last days” (2Ti 3:1).
2Ti 3:1 KJV This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
A Quote from Thayer’s Greek Definitions
‘shall come’ G1764 ἐνίστημι enistēmi 1) to place in or among, to put in 2) to be upon, impend, threaten 3) close at hand 4) present
‘This know also’ If the last days were thousands of years in the future and not during Timothy’s lifetime, why did Paul feel it important to warn him about perilous times?
1Co 10:11 YLT And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,
Paul told the Corinthians that the Scriptures were written that they might learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, because ‘the end of the ages did come’ in their lifetime; he was not writing to Christians 2000 years in the future.
A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 10:11 “Thus, therefore,” says Dr. Lightfoot, “the apostle speaks in this place that those things, which were transacted in the beginning of the Jewish ages, are written for an example to you upon whom the ends of those ages are come; and the beginning is like to the end, and the end to the beginning. Both were forty years; both consisted of temptation and unbelief; and both ended in the destruction of the unbelievers – that, in the destruction of those who perished in the wilderness; this, in the destruction of those that believed not: viz. the destruction of their city and nation.”
If Paul was wrong about the prophetic timeline of the impending return of Christ, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures.
The Four Kingdoms Before the Arrival of the Kingdom of God
Babylonian Empire… 606-536 BC… The head of gold
Persian Empire… 536-332 BC… The breast and arms of silver
Greek Empire with Four Divisions… 331-146 BC… The belly and thighs of brass
Roman Empire… 146 BC-AD 476 (the West) AD 610 (the East)… The legs of iron and feet part iron and part clay
The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to Daniel
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon became co-regent with his father Nabopolassar in 606 BC and sole ruler in 604 BC, his dream occurred two years later.
Daniel’s Interpretation of the King’s Dream
Dan 2:31-33 KJV Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
The Timeline and the Kingdom of God: AD 70-Everlasting
Dan 2:34-35 KJV Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
‘the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth’ The Kingdom of God was that stone.
‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord’ Although the Roman Empire continued to exist, it was subordinate to the Kingdom of God, which now rules the kingdoms of the world.
Dan 2:44 KJV And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
‘in the days of these kings’ Dispensationalism is compelled to promulgate the future revival of the Roman Empire to authenticate its teaching, but the Scriptures clearly declare the timeline of prophetic fulfilment was during ‘the days of these kings’!
Mat 8:12 KJV But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Jews constantly rebelled against Roman subjugation. Hence, the Roman/Jewish war resulted in the destruction, and the dispersion of Old Covenant Israel. The reconstruction of Herod’s temple was completed in AD 63, but it remained for only seven years. The prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly within the prophetic timeline He predicted.
Mat 21:3 KJV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
The prophetic timeline of the arrival of the Kingdom of God was during the Roman Empire. It was at that time the New Covenant Age was fully established.
If Daniel’s prophetic timeline of the ‘Sea Beast’ failed, having been collaborated by John’s Book of Revelation and the writings of Paul, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures.
The Book of Daniel
Dan 7:27 KJV And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
The Book of Revelation
Rev 11:15 KJV And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
The Tyrant Nero Caesar AD 37-AD 68
The Saviour of the World
Nero added ‘The Saviour of the World’ to Roman coinage and claimed to be deity; he was one of ‘many antichrists’. He gave a mark to all who obeyed his command to declare ‘Caesar is Lord’. Those who submitted were given a libellus, which allowed them to trade and buy necessities. By contrast, the Christians who confessed ‘Christ is Lord’ and refused to worship Nero suffered the most horrendous persecution and martyrdom.
Poppaea (AD 30-AD 65) Nero’s Second Wife
The Jewish representatives in Rome may have used Poppaea, a Jewish convert, to incite Nero to blame and persecute Christians for the burning of Rome. Thereby, the heat was taken of him (pardon the pun), the real perpetrator of the fire.
A Quote from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
‘This was a period when the city of Rome and the court of the Caesars swarmed with Asiatics, many of whom were Jews, and many of them would be in slavery, or in employment, in the imperial court. It cannot be forgotten that Poppea, Nero’s shameless consort, was a proselyte to Judaism and that she continued to advocate successfully the cause of the Jews before the emperor as occasion arose.’
Nero was responsible for the death of Poppaea in AD 65, kicking her during a fit of temper; she was pregnant at the time!
Persecution of Christians AD 64-AD 68
Nero relished the opportunity to vent his satanic zeal on Christians. History has recorded his numerous atrocities.
To name a few, Christians were wrapped in animal skins and torn to pieces by wild dogs. Alternatively, many were crucified and used as human torches to light Nero’s garden during evenings of debauchery.
The Tyrant and the Temple of God
He as God Sitteth in the Temple of God
2Th 2:4 KJV Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Many scholars contend that Nero was not ‘the man of sin’ because he didn’t physically sit in the temple at Jerusalem. However, this objection does not withstand examination.
Paul Referred to the Church as the Temple of God
Rev 13:6-7 KJV And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Some believe Paul referred to the Church; he called it the temple of God on five occasions in his Epistles.
‘to make war with the saints’ Nero made war on the Church and commanded the death penalty for any believer who refused to deny Christ as Lord and worship him instead.
A Quote from the Pulpit Commentary
2 Thessalonians 2:4 ‘But it appears more correct to refer the expression metaphorically to the Christian Church. It is a favourite metaphor of Paul to compare believers in particular, or the Church in general, to the temple of God. Showing—exhibiting—himself that he is God. His sitting in the temple of God was an assertion of his divinity; he claimed to be regarded and worshipped as God. This was the crowning act of his impiety; not only, like the Roman emperors, he demanded to be worshipped as one of many gods, but he claimed to himself the prerogative of the Godhead, not only to the exclusion of the false gods of heathenism, but even of the tree God.’
Additionally, the following is worthy of consideration:
Paul Spoke Figuratively About Sitting in the Temple of God
Paul chose the Greek ‘kathizō’ for ‘sitteth’ in the temple. It is interesting that Strong emphasised the figurative use of ‘kathizō’ in his definition.
A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries
‘sitteth’ Strong’s G2523 καθίζω kathizō kath-id’-zo Another (active) form for G2516; to seat down, that is, set (figuratively appoint); intransitively to sit (down); figuratively to settle (hover, dwell): – continue, set, sit (down), tarry.
In the Scriptures, other men of evil reputation who were foreshadows of the ‘man of sin’ attempted to ‘sit in the seat of God’, figuratively speaking.
Isa 14:13-14 KJV For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
‘I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation’ Isaiah’s proverb described Nebuchadnezzar’s ambition to figuratively sit in God’s place.
Eze 28:2 KJV Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:
‘I sit in the seat of God’ The prince of Tyre also aspired to sit in the seat of God, again figuratively speaking.
The Tyrant and the Mark of the Beast 666/616
The Mark of the Beast
Rev 13:18 KJV Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
A lot has already been written online about the gematria of 666/616; it is a constant source of dissension.
I believe Nero Caesar was the ‘man of sin’ referred to by John’s 666, my view is not based solely on his number. The analysis of the Title, the Timeline, and the Tyrant, reveals the harmony of the Scriptures in the writings of Daniel, Paul, and John.
The Roman Empire Under New Management
The Roman Empire (the Sea Beast) recovered from the death throes of civil war caused by Nero’s death, AD 68-AD 69. The Empire ‘resurrected’ to former glory by Vespasian, commenced the Flavian dynasty.
Vespasian was the tenth horn of the Sea Beast; he resumed Nero’s war with the rebellious Land Beast (Old Covenant Israel). His son Titus eventually entered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, Jerusalem, and dispersed the nation In AD 70.
The remnant of believers was delivered from judgement, Old Covenant Israel passed away, and the New Covenant was fully established.
Who is the next candidate for the vacancy of Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’?
Or should the question really be who was the ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’? In my opinion, Nero Caesar.
What do you think?