When I was younger, I used to think of the Anti-Christ as some kind of boogeyman: scary and evil ― like Freddy Krueger but with better make-up and nails.
Who was this monster who would make war with the saints? Who would be his companions, the beast and false prophet, serving as his counselors?
I want to sketch out a portrait of the Anti-Christ so we can put his face on a spiritual Most-Wanted poster.
Before we begin, I should ask, is this subject important? Or is it errata to our faith in Christ? How does knowledge of the Anti-Christ fit into the gospel? Should we even care?
He that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.
And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.
Well, just as Christ gave us signs of His coming, so too we find signs to watch for ("anti-signs") of the Anti-Christ's coming.
The danger, of course, is confusing the two.
How better to deceive the very elect, than to trick them into thinking the Anti-Christ comes in, and works by, Christ's power?
How marvelously diabolical of Satan, to co-opt the signs that Christ foretold!
He is an evil genius.
You see, the apostle Paul warned us that the Anti-Christ will be surrounded by an entourage of miracles, too:
Even him [the Anti-Christ], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.
(2 Thess. 2:9)
"All power?" Did you notice that signs and wonders accompany both Christ and his rival? What makes the Anti-Christ's wonders different ("lying")?
The Anti-Christ will present himself under the sign of the serpent and the sign of the dove ― or at least those resembling such, to the unwary.
How will we tell them apart?
Titles of the Anti-Christ
To get a flavor of this man we call Anti-Christ, let's look at some of his titles.
- Man (sorry ladies) - Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3) - Son of Perdition (2 Thess. 2:3) - God (2 Thess. 2:4) - Beast (Rev. 13:2)
The Anti-Christ refers to several different things, both literal and metaphorical, but generally-speaking, we're talking about:
(1) An actual person; a leader who is given "great authority" in times of crisis (Rev. 13:2); and
(2) An evil spirit (the "spirit of antichrist"), which is "Wicked" (capital W) (2 Thess. 2:8), covering the earth and deceiving those upon it. In 1 John 4:3 we're told this spirit has already gone out into the world to prepare for Satan's emissary, just as the Lord's Spirit is the "spirit of freedom" (Alma 61:15) that precedes the Millennium (D&C 101:77-80); and
(3) A political system of nations that combines to rule over all peoples except those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book (Rev. 13:8). This government will be animated by the fulness of antichrist, led by a man who personifies it.
Watch for Parallelism
As you can see, these categories are not exclusive; often "Anti-Christ" describes a combination of all three.
Just like Christ.
(1) Christ refers to an actual Person who is flesh and bone; or
(2) Christ can refer to His Spirit, which is the light of truth that quickens all people; or
(3) Christ can refer to His Kingdom, the embodiment we call "the Body of Christ" (or Church).
Here's the point: there's an uncanny parallelism between the two.
As there must needs be opposition in all things ― and Christ was the Avatar of the Father on earth ― so will the Anti-Christ serve as the avatar of Satan, whom the world will worship as their savior.
If that last sentence didn't send tingles down your spine, you have nerves of steel!
"Will the Anti-Christ Please Stand Up"
Before I get ahead of myself, let's look at some of the scriptures that describe this personage:
Let no man deceive you
Right out of the gate, Paul informs us he is preaching about the Anti-Christ so we'll avoid being deceived (although he doesn't use the name, which is reserved for the letters of John).
Notice how Paul quotes almost verbatim from the Lord Himself: "Take heed, that no man deceive you, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many" (Matt 24:4-5).
by any means
The apostle's intent is for us to NOT be deceived by anyone, nor by any means.
What "means" are the most effective against Christians? Against members of the Church?
How would the devil be able to get us to worship the Anti-Christ? Wouldn't we be smarter than that?
What if we thought we were doing God's will by following and obeying the Anti-Christ? For example, what if the Prophet told us to do something that went against our consciences, but we rationalized it away because the counsel came from God's mouthpiece?
for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first
In the LDS tradition, we cite this verse as evidence of the Great Apostasy. I want to suggest that the "falling away" is not that. Different translations render it as:
"It will not come until the rebellion occurs" (Berean Standard Bible)
"That day will not come until the rebellion occurs" (NIV)
"For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first" (ESV)
"For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God" (New Living Translation)
Get the idea? Is this describing the Dark Ages, or something else? What would constitute out-right rebellion?
and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition
A son of perdition is rarified company, at least in the circles the devil travels in. You've got Cain. Judas. The Anti-Christ. What do they all have in common? What constitutes a person becoming "perdition"?
Disturbingly, this tells us that the Anti-Christ will have been inducted into the mysteries of God; he'll be an insider ― because a person doesn't become a son of perdition until after they have partaken of God's power and then denied His truth and defied Him (D&C 76:31).
Something else we learn from this passage is that the Anti-Christ will be undercover for most of his career ― at least until he is "revealed." But how is he revealed? Paul gives us some clues in the following verse:
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.
(2 Thess. 2:2-3)
Well, isn't it interesting that the Anti-Christ will feel at home . . . where? "In the temple of God." He will preside in the temple as if he were God.