May 26, 2009

Will the Antichrist Be a Jew?

By Dr. David R. Reagan

Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?

Most Christian are aware of the fact that there is a lot of disagreement about the interpretation of Bible prophecy between those who have completely different viewpoints, like the arguments between those who are Premillennial and Amillennial. But, what many people are not aware of is that there are some strong points of disagreement between those that take a literal viewpoint of end-time prophecies.

Recently, I attended a major Bible Prophecy conference in the Dallas area where I had the opportunity to interview a number of Bible prophecy experts. Out of 11 Bible prophecy experts I interviewed, only 3 said they felt like the Antichrist would be a Jew or that he could possibly be one. We'll start with one yes/no answer, one could be, and one maybe. The next seven people responded with a negative reply. The final expert I interviewed answer may surprise you. Finally, I'll conclude with my response.

Phillip Goodman

I do. I believe that he could, but I don't think the Bible tells us. The evidence is not strong enough.

There is a passage in Daniel 11:37 that says he will reject the god or the gods of his fathers. The language is not strong enough in there from the original language to let us know whether it is a plural or a singular. And, that is the primary passage that most people go to say that perhaps he is a Jew. Because if it is the god of his father, it is a very similar phrase we find all over the Old Testament. It is used of the Jews. Yet, that also could be a Muslim, so the evidence is not strong enough in the Bible really to tell us what his origination is in terms of a religious origin.

So, we have to look to the geographic/geopolitical evidence in the Bible to find out where he comes from. He could be a Jew. I am not convinced of it. I think he is a Gentile, because he will be ruling over the time of the Gentiles, according to Daniel 2 and also in Revelation. There is stronger evidence that he will be a Gentile.

Don Perkins

He could be, and my reasons for that is 2 Thessalonians 2, where the Scripture tells us that when the Antichrist comes into the Temple he will literally go into the Temple as God. Which the Temple would be in Jerusalem and he would be worshipped there as God. Now for that fact I believe that the Antichrist could be a Jew. I believe that Israel could literally worship him as a Jewish Messiah. Now, I know that goes a little different against other people's views or whatever, but I do believe that could very well be the case. He could be a Jew.

Todd Strandberg

I think he probably will be a Jew or it is highly likely, because the Antichrist is going to be a replacement for Christ, so he probably will be very much a mirror of Christ. Maybe the same age he will be. He will probably have to be Jewish, because the Jews won't accept someone who is not Jewish as Messiah, so I believe it very strongly. They are going to make lots of mistakes by accepting him as their Messiah. So, they might go beyond accepting someone who is not. They should accept him. The only reason they should accept him is because he is a Jew.

Daymond Duck

No, I don't think the Antichrist will be a Jew.

First, let's deal with a couple controversial passages on this issue concerning the Antichrist in Daniel 11:37. You can go to the King James Version of the Bible and there you will read that it says, "Neither shall he regard the god of his father." You can go to the New International Version or other translations and they will read neither shall he regard the gods (plural) of his fathers. Now, those who think the word is god singular, they say the Antichrist will come out of a monotheistic religion and he will probably be a Jew. Those who think the correct translation is gods plural say he will come out of a polytheistic religion and he will be a Gentile. Now, I am not enough an expert to settle whether it should it should be "god" or "gods." That has gone on for a long time, and I don't know anyone that has ever settled it.

Another controversial passage is John 5:43 and Jesus said, "I have come in my Father's name and you have received me not. If another shall come in his own name, him will you receive." And now you get into what Jesus meant by the word "receive." Some say that means that the Jews would receive him as Messiah, and they reason that the Antichrist will be a Jew because the Jews wouldn't receive someone as their Messiah who wasn't a Jew. And then there are others who say when Jesus said "receive" that meant that the Jews will receive him as a great leader who would guarantee the seven year covenant for peace in the Middle East. So, you got those two views. Those who think the Jews will receive him as a great leader, then they will believe that he will be a Gentile.

I don't guess I could settle this issue on either one of those passages of Scripture. But, I do think we have other passages of Scripture on this issue and here now I am talking about Daniel 7:3 and Revelation 13:1 where the Antichrist is described as a beast coming up out of the sea. And, of course, we know the sea is a symbol for multitudes, nations, peoples, tongues... in other words, for Gentiles. And so, I believe that those passages teach that the Antichrist will be a Gentile.

Don McGee

I do not believe that he will be a Jew, basically, for some of the same reasons he will not be a Muslim. Antichrist is going to be a man that is going to demand or command world-wide attention. For a Jew to be in that position would be a very, very long shot. But, if you take someone who comes from the European community, specifically with the credentials that a lot of those people have, he will be in a position automatically to be accepted by the entire world. Just like the Antichrist will probably not be a Muslim because of a religious connotation, so too will the Antichrist not be a person associated with any type of religion except the one he is going to institute for himself.

Nathan Jones

I don't. If you go to Revelation 13, it talks about the Beast that comes out of the sea. And typically, throughout the Bible, anything that is related to the sea is an outside nation from Israel. It is a Gentile nation. And, if you go to Revelation 13, it talks about a second beast, and I think this is the one we are talking about in that the False Prophet very well could be a Jew because he is the beast that comes from the land, and the land is always a reference for Israel. So, no, I do not think the Antichrist will be a Jew.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Now again, the passages in Daniel 9:26-27 specifies that he will be of the same ethnic identity as the people who destroyed the city and the Temple. And, in AD 70, it was the Romans that did so, which is why he has to be not only a Gentile, but a Gentile specifically of Roman origin.

Al Gist

No, I don't believe that he will be a Jew. I believe that when he makes his covenant with Israel that he will be speaking to a Jewish leader, probably the man who will end up being the False Prophet, and I do not believe that he will be a Jew. Some people believe this because they think he will claim to be the Jewish Messiah. But, I don't find enough biblical support to accept that. I believe that he will be an apostate Gentile, just like the Caesars of the Roman Empire. He will claim to be God, but he will be an apostate Gentile. I don't think he will be a Jew.

Mark Hitchcock

I think the biblical evidence is that the Antichrist will be a Gentile. He is going, according to Daniel, to lead the final great Gentile world empire, which seems inconsistent for a Jew to be the leader of the final great Gentile world empire. All the other empires in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, the leaders of those were all Gentiles. Also, he is going to mercilessly persecute the Jewish people, which seems strange to me for a Jewish person to be persecuting his own people. Also, in Daniel 8, the only clear type of Antichrist in the Bible is Antiochus Epiphanes who was a Gentile, Syrian. And, also in the book of Revelation 13, this beast, this Antichrist figure rises out of the sea. In Revelation 17:15, it tells us the sea is representative of the nations. So, for those reasons, to me it seems clear that the Antichrist is going to be a Gentile.

Ed Hindson

No, absolutely not! I don't think the Antichrist is Jewish. I think the Antichrist, first of all, is a person who makes a treaty with the Jews. It isn't likely a Jew would make a treaty with the Jews. He is a leader of Gentile nations, if we can understand the prophecy in Daniel 9 correctly. If he is the leader of the revived Roman Empire — the leader that comes out of Europe — it is not likely that he is Jewish. He is, first of all an unbeliever, so it doesn't matter what his nationality is. He is not a believer. He does not regard the gods of his fathers or the gods of any faith system at all. He is what we call an atheist and an unbeliever who really ultimately thinks he is God. And, he will go to the Temple in Israel claiming to be God and demand the world worship him as God. So, in a sense, he is theocentric in the wrong sense in that he thinks he is God and everybody should worship him.

Ray Gano

I actually believe that the Antichrist will be of Hebrew descendent — Hebrew blood — but also practice the Muslim religion, and I use Daniel 11:37 to illustrate this. It talks in there that he shall not regard the god of his fathers in this phrase"god of his fathers," which is always associated to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, this statement "god of his fathers" is only used five times in Scripture. In every time it is associated to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So I look at that.

Another thing that I look at is that we learn in Genesis 49:17 the tribe of Dan (these are last day prophecies that Jacob gave to his sons) and it says in Genesis 49:17, "That a serpent shall cause the rider to fall backwards." So, there is possibility that he actually may come out of the tribe of Dan. I also use Revelation 7:1-8 to back this up because this, the chapter where it talks about the 144,000 Dan is not named in the 144,000. So, there is speculation here or there is Scriptural evidence here I believe that shows that he will have Hebrew ancestry.

Yet, on the other side, he will also practice the Muslim religion, because we go to Daniel 11:38 and it says, "He shall honor the god of forces; and the god whom his fathers knew not." And so, he will not regard the god of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He will honor the god of forces, or a god of war which I believe is Allah, and it is a god that his fathers knew not. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not know about Allah, did not have any conception of Allah.

Another verse that people point to often is showing that he comes from the people of the prince. The verse they use is Daniel 9:26. And, in this, people often say that he comes from Rome. I believe that he comes from the Roman Empire, but I don't believe that he is Italian in descent, which a lot of people are pointing to. There's the Roman Empire. The eastern leg of the Roman Empire comes out of Constantinople, and Constantinople ruled for a 1,000 years after Rome ceded. And, the reason they point to this is the Tenth Legion of Rome that Titus invaded Israel and Jerusalem and overthrew that area in 70 AD. Titus was the only person who was pretty much of Roman descent, but he was an individual, not people plural. There was another individual. His associate's name was Tiberius Julius Alexander and he was actually the general that did all the work. Titus took the glory, Tiberius Julius did the work. Now the interesting thing is Tiberius Julius was actually an Egyptian Jew born in Alexandria. So, again, both of these people are individuals. It's the people of the prince. Well, history tells us the Tenth Legion was basically hired mercenaries, people from the area. That is what Rome always did. Any of the legions that Rome created they usually pulled from the local people right there. So the Tenth legion, who comprised of the Tenth Legion? They were Middle Eastern Arabs, Syrian, Moabites, Edomites — basically the enemies of Israel. Garrisons of the Tenth Legion were stationed in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, so forth, at no time were they ever stationed in Rome. It was only when Titus came back in victory when he entered Rome, and so it was the people of the prince, and I am saying that it is the people who invaded Israel and that was the Tenth Legion were the soldiers and not the individuals.

One more point is if he is of Roman or European descent — Italian descent — I question his names in Scripture. He is clearly called "the Assyrian." He is called the "Prince of Tyre." He is called "King of Babylon." He is called the "King Pharaoh of Egypt." These are all Middle Eastern titles, Middle Eastern names, and Middle Eastern places. If he was from either like Italy or Europe or something, why isn't he called the King of Italy, or the Duke of Germany, or the Prince of Rome, or something like that? I tend to read Scripture literally and maintain a basics in literalness and the golden rule of interpretation. I don't just dig into it more. And so, with these names I point to a Middle Eastern side.

Dr. David Reagan

That unique answer by Ray Gano to the question "Will the Antichrist be a Jew?" gives us a final total of 7 no's, 1 yes, 1 could be, 1 maybe, and 1 yes/no.

Now, until fairly recently, I would say that the majority viewpoint among those who interpret Bible prophecy literally was that the Antichrist will be a Jew. That was primarily due to a statement of Jesus that is recorded in John 5:43, where Jesus is quoted as saying, "I have come in my Father's name and you do not receive me, if another shall come in his own name you will receive him." Now the argument drawn from this statement was that the Antichrist would have to be a Jew in order for the Jews to accept him as their Messiah. It's a very logical argument, but it ignores the fact that other passages in the Bible make it very clear that the Jews will never accept the Antichrist as their Messiah. In fact, we are specifically told that when the Antichrist reveals himself in the middle of the Tribulation and claims to be God the Jews will be horrified and will totally reject him, causing him to turn on them in fury and launch an attempt to annihilate them.

So, what did Jesus mean when he said, "That if another shall come in his own name the Jews will receive him?" Well, those who argue that the Antichrist will be a Gentile responded by saying that the Antichrist will be accepted by the Jewish people as their political savior when he implements a treaty at the beginning of the Tribulation that will guarantee their security and enable them to rebuild their Temple. But, the Jews will never receive the Antichrist as their spiritual Savior, thus when he declares himself as God, they will reject him.

My conclusion is there is no Biblical reason that the Antichrist must be a Jew. And, there is some very strong Biblical evidence that he will be a Gentile. For example, Revelation 13:1 pictures him as a beast arising out of the sea. This is, of course, symbolic language, but it is significant because in the Bible and in Bible prophecy the sea is used to symbolize Gentile nations. For example, in Daniel 7 where there is a prophecy about four great Gentile empires, it refers to them as coming up from the sea. In contrast, the Antichrist's right-hand man and spiritual leader is pictured in Revelation 13:11 as rising up out of the land, or the earth in some translations. This reference to the land is an indication that the False Prophet will be a Jew who will rise out of the promise land of Israel.

Now, there is a logical reason we can assume that the Antichrist will be a Gentile, and it is one that Mark Hitchcock mentioned in his answer. And that is the fact that the book of Daniel reveals that the Antichrist is going to be the leader of the last great Gentile empire. It is simply not logical to assume that such an empire would be headed up by a Jew. Also, it is not logical to assume that a Jew would attempt to annihilate the Jewish people as the Antichrist will try to do. Finally, the clearest type of the Antichrist in the Scriptures is Antiochus Epiphanes who was a Greek tyrant.