The Antichrist

Jew or Gentile?



John Hoole – October 7, 2012



For the last several weeks, we have been looking at what the Bible says about the coming Antichrist.  Just say the word, Antichrist, and a number of questions come to one’s mind.  In previous lessons, we have addressed the following questions.


•  Will the Antichrist experience a supernatural birth?

•  Will the Antichrist know that he is the Antichrist as he is growing up?

•  How old will the Antichrist be when he comes into power?

•  Will the Antichrist be able to read other people’s minds?

•  Will the Antichrist and false prophet be punished more severely in the Lake of Fire?

•  Is the Antichrist alive today?


The question we are going to address today is one of the most asked questions about the Antichrist.  Along with being asked whether I think the Antichrist is alive now, I am also asked often whether I think the Antichrist will be a Jew or Gentile.  This question is often debated, and there are good evangelical Bible scholars on both sides.


I remember a statement made by Rev. Jerry Falwell in January 1999.  He created a worldwide stir when he said at a pastors’ conference that the Antichrist would be a Jew and was alive somewhere in the world?  Part of his actual comments was, “Since Jesus came to earth the first time 2,000 years ago as a Jewish male, most evangelicals believe the Antichrist will, by necessity, be a Jewish male.”:


Jewish leaders around the world immediately took great offense.  Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, responded, “In identifying the antichrist as a living Jewish man, Reverend Falwell draws from an especially vicious tradition of Christian theological anti-Judaism … It appears clear that after years of Christian Jewish dialogue, Reverend Falwell hasn’t learned a thing.”  Foxman commented that Falwell’s comments give “license to bigots and anti-Semites” to continue in their prejudices and feelings of superiority.


Lauren Levin, also of the Anti-Defamation League, commented that Falwell’s statements were “greatly disappointing.”


Rabbi James Rudin, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee in New York, affirmed that he was surprised by the comment because he was aware of Falwell’s strong support of Israel.  Rudin then said, “To single out any one man and particularly to identify him as Jewish plays into some latent and historical anti-Semitism from the past… This is very, very radioactive material.  I think Christian leaders have to exercise great care because this can produce negative responses among people who are not educated in the New Testament.”


Rabbi David Wolfman, regional director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, likewise said Falwell’s statement was an “insult to the Jewish community.”


Falwell quickly became the target of pundits on national television talk shows, radio shows, and political commentary programs.  He was also widely denounced in newspaper editorials throughout the country.  As a result of the firestorm ignited by Falwell’s comment, he issued a public apology.


At the time, most people failed to realize that Falwell was certainly not the first to make this assessment from the Bible.  During the Protestant Reformation, it was not at all uncommon for some Reformers, like Martin Luther, to say the Pope or the Papal system was the Antichrist.


The Roman Catholic Church retaliated by branding the Reformers and their movement as antichrist.  Then Catholics began arguing – with some urgency – that the antichrist would be a Jew.  They wrote that if that could be substantially and convincingly proven, they could effectively deflect the thought that the pope or papacy is the Antichrist.


As early as the second century, early Church theologians were    debating this topic.  And some of them, even then, taught the Antichrist would be a Jew.  This would include early scholars, such as: Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian and Cyprian.


Let’s examine the evidence for the theory that the Antichrist will be a Jew.  Then we can evaluate this idea from a biblical perspective.




Some have tried to argue that the Jews are responsible for most of the world’s problems.  They conclude that the Antichrist must be Jewish because he will cause the worst problems of all.  Clearly, this is simply uniformed and hateful anti-Semitism.


The Tribe of Dan


Some believe the Antichrist will be Jewish and he will be from the Tribe of Dan.  The Tribe of Dan is one of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Some relate this to the fact that the tribe of Dan fell into deep apostasy and idolatry, setting up a graven image (Judges 18:30).  Early Christian leaders, like Irenaeus, believed the Antichrist would be a Jew from the tribe of Dan.  He was probably the first to write an opinion of why the tribe of Dan is omitted from the list of the twelve tribes of Israel in Revelation 7.  This is the chapter that Identifies the 144,000 as containing 12,000 from each tribe of Israel.  But Dan is omitted completely.


Genesis 49:17 (NKJV) is often cited as support for this theory.


17     Dan shall be a serpent by the way, A viper by the path, That bites the horse's heels So that its rider shall fall backward.


The connection of Dan with a serpent is interpreted as somehow having something to do with Satan, and this is then related to what Revelation 13 says about the Antichrist.


This argument becomes unconvincing when we realize there are about 20 variant lists of the tribes.  These lists contain from 10 to 13 tribes, but 12 is the most common.  Most Bible scholars agree that Dan was omitted because they led others into base idolatry.  Dan became one of two pagan shrines for the Northern Kingdom.  But this does not constitute evidence that the Antichrist will come from this Jewish tribe.


No regard for the God of his fathers


Another specific Scripture passage that is often used to substantiate the Jewish roots of the Antichrist is the King James Version of Daniel 11:37.


37     Neither shall He regard the God of his fathers,…


Those who maintain the Antichrist will be a Jew believe that his rejection of “the God of his fathers” proves his Jewishness.  The word “GOD” is translated from the Hebrew word Elohim.  This word is what is called a uni-plural noun.  Although this word is used of Jehovah God, it isn’t always translated as thus.  For instance, early in the book of Genesis, we find a verse that uses this word both ways.  It is in the words used by the serpent to tempt Eve.


Genesis 3:5 KJV


5       For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.


Elohim can be used of a single god or many gods.  And the context should dictate the translation.  In Daniel 11:37, the NIV, NAS, RSV, The Message, Complete Jewish Bible, New Century Version, New English Translation, ESV, TLB and the Amplified all translated the word elohim as gods (plural).  This would negate this verse as speaking about  Jewish Antichrist.


There is one more piece of evidence that needs to be considered in our discussion of Daniel 11:37.  The earliest known Greek translation of the Old Testament is called the Septuagint.  This translation occurred in the third century before Christ.  This translation also renders elohim in Daniel 11:37 as GODS, plural.


John 5:43 – If one comes in his own name, you will accept him.


It is sometimes argued that the John 5:43 indicates a Jewish Antichrist.


John 5:43 NKJV


43     I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.


It is argued that the Jews would never receive anyone as a leader who himself was not a Jew.  Therefore the Antichrist must be a Jew.  The argument, put in syllogism form, would look like this: 


Major premise:       The Jews will accept the Antichrist as the Messiah.


Minor premise:       The Jews will never accept a Gentile as the Messiah.


Conclusion:              The Antichrist will be a Jew.


The conclusion is built on false premises.  The fact that the Jewish people sign a covenant with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:26), does not in any way mean they are accepting him as their Messiah.


David Reagan, of Lamb & Lion Ministries agrees:


“The Bible does not teach that the Jews will receive the antichrist as their Messiah.  It teaches they will accept him as a great political leader and diplomat and that they will put their trust in him as the guarantor of peace in the Middle East.”


The case for a Gentile Antichrist


There are actually quite a number of arguments that militate against the idea that the Antichrist will be a Jew.  I will present a few of them that I think are quite convincing.


The beast rising out of the sea


Revelation 13:1 (NAS) speaks of the “beast rising out of the sea.”


1       And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.


In earlier lessons on the book of Revelation, I have mentioned that every symbol or metaphor found in the book is found somewhere else in the Bible.  In this case, it is found later in the book of Revelation.  We are told what the sea represents.


Revelation 17:15 NKJV


15     Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, … are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”


When the word, SEA or WATERS, is used symbolically, as it is in these two passages, it is a reference to the Gentile nations.


Biblical Typology point to a Gentile Antichrist


There are many rulers down through history that can act as a “type” of the Antichrist.  One king who is definitely a type of the Antichrist is Antiochus Epiphanes.  Many Bible scholars believe that much of what is written in Daniel 11 is a prophecy of this man.  This is true for the first 35 verses in the chapter.  From Verse 36 and onward, it switches to the coming Antichrist.  Antiochus, a Syrian and a type of the Antichrist is a Gentile.  Just because Antiochus was a Syrian does not necessarily mean the Antichrist will be a Syrian.


I mentioned a moment ago that down through history there are a number of rulers who are types of the Antichrist.  Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian, and Pharaoh, and Egyptian, are also types of the Antichrist.  Some would also say Hitler was a type of the Antichrist.  Each of these rulers were different nationalities, but all were Gentile persecutors of the Jews.


The Antichrist is the final ruler of a line of Gentile empires


We will spend more time on this point in our next lesson.  But let me mention just a few things here.


In both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, we find prophecies about a long 2,500 year of world rulers.  Daniel lived in the sixth century before Christ.  In Daniel 2, we find a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  The dream is about a colossal image with parts represented by different metal from head to toes.  The dream is interpreted by Daniel for the king.  Each part of the image represent successive Gentile kingdoms.


Daniel 7 finds Daniel receiving a vision from the Lord.  It turns out to be of the same successive Gentile kingdoms, but instead of a colossal image having different metallic parts, they are represented by different beasts having specific qualities.


Each of these dreams or visions, both of which are interpreted by Daniel, give a panoramic revelation by God that provided an overview of world history from Daniel’s day all the way up to the second coming of Jesus Christ on Earth.  The first four kingdoms that ruled over Israel, were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.  In both dreams, the fourth kingdom, Rome, is followed by a kingdom that is ruled by the Antichrist.  And each is described with the number 10 – 10 toes on the image – ten horns on the 4th beast.  We will connect the 10 toes and horns to the 10 horns of Revelation 13 in our next lesson.


Thus, the kingdom of the Antichrist is the final in a long line of Gentile kingdoms.  The final kingdom I believe will the a revival of the Roman Empire.  The rule of the Antichrist will be the final era of what Luke 21:24 calls the “Times of the Gentiles.”  Again, we will discuss this further and in more detail in our next lesson.


One final point on the Antichrist being a Gentile and from the Roman Empire.  We have already had a lesson on the 70 weeks prophecy given in Daniel 9:24-27.  The prophecy tells us that between the 69th week and 70th week, there is a period of time.  And we are told that two things will happen during that interlude. 


•  The Messiah, Jesus Christ, would be “cut off.”  That is a prophecy of the crucifixion of Christ.


•  The second event of this interlude is that both the city and temple will be destroyed.  Specifically, the city is Jerusalem, and the temple was that on the Temple Mount.


          But Daniel 9:26 informs us that the coming Antichrist would be from the same people as those who destroyed the city and temple.


We know the city and temple were destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans.  Therefore, the Antichrist must be from the Roman Empire in its final form.