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The Return of the Antichrist

In Bible Study, End-Times/Eschatology, Prophecy on January 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

Revelation 17:10 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.
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

I will be doing a series of in-depth studies on the book of the Revelation throughout the early part of this year. And in these times we’re living in, one of the hottest topics in end-times prophecy is the Antichrist. This figure who will present himself as a false substitute of the True Christ, our Lord Jesus, and deceive the world into political and religious unification with him as the head (Revelation 13) and seek to establish a satanically empowered empire. But having read the whole book of Revelation, we know the antichrist’s time will be short-lived as Jesus Christ, the Messiah will come and destroy the Antichrist, his partner the False Prophet and all their forces with the brightness of His Coming and establish a Kingdom of Righteousness. Amen. This has left many believers and the curious wondering…just who is the Antichrist?

While many theories abound as to who the Antichrist is (with ideas running from Obama, the Pope, Tony Blair..etc.), most of these ideas if not all of them fall apart under Biblical scrutiny (and I certainly don’t believe any of those men are). I wanted to kick off this series by sharing a very important and often overlooked passage regarding his identity. Living in what certainly feels like the end-times, there is a natural urge in the Christian to speculate on the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. And this is a good thing. Jesus Christ our Lord instructed us to “watch” and “be ready”! (Matthew 24:44-46) So we should be looking eagerly to His arrival when He comes in the clouds for His saints. But in our speculation we always have to rely on what the Scriptures say to inform our beliefs. And this passage in Revelation 17 is very telling.

The beauty of the book of Revelation is that for all of the startling imagery that often leaves readers very confused, the angels who accompany John The Revelator as he is being shown things which he “hast seen, and the things which are, and things which shall be hereafter”, take the time to explain the visions he witnesses and interpret them for him. This makes understanding Revelation much easier and we should take their explanations to heart as believers. In chapter 17 John has just seen an image of a woman riding a scarlet colored beast (this beast had been previously described in Revelation chapter 13 as The Beast or the Antichrist). Here is the description we see in chapter 17:

1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

So here we see the vivid description of Mystery Babylon the Great, who is drunk “with the blood of the martyrs” (a key to identifying mystery Babylon). But we are going to focus on the beast that she is riding. And the angel provides the explanation of who (or what) this beast is:

7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. >

The angel clearly tells John that he is going explain “the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her.” So we do not need to go into speculation — the answer is here! In verse 8 the antichrist, referred to as “the beast” is first described as one that “was, and is not, and yet is.” This verse is very important as it makes a stark contrast to the description that Jesus Christ our Lord gives of Himself in Revelation Chapter 1:

8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty

The phrase “which is, and which was, and which is to come” is a demonstration that Jesus Christ is eternal. He voluntarily lowered Himself (Hebrews 2:) when He came to Earth and was born on this as the seed of a woman prophesied in Genesis 3:15 and all throughout all the Old Testament. And although He laid his life down on the cross, He conquered death and the grave in His Resurrection (Acts 2:24). And in His resurrected body He ascended to Heaven where He sits at the right hand of The Father. Therefore He has always existed.

The Beast, on the other hand, is described as one who “was, and is not, and yet is.” This indicates that he is not eternal. But it gives us a huge clue as to his identity – he has already existed in the past! But he died and did NOT conquer the grave. He is still dead at the time John is receiving the vision. So where is the Beast now? Verse 8 tells us. He is in “the bottomless pit.” So just what does that mean. This calls for examining the text. The Greek word for “bottomless pit” is abussos.
Strong’s concordance explains abussos as follows:

12 abussos {ab’-us-sos}
AV – bottomless pit 5, deep 2, bottomless 2; Total: 9
1) bottomless
2) unbounded
3) the abyss
3a) the pit
3b) the immeasurable depth
3c) of Orcus, a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons.

Another term for abussos is “deep.” We see “the deep” referenced in Luke Chapter 8:

26 And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.
27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.
29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.

So here we see the demons called Legion begging Jesus not be to be sent to “the deep.” This is the same term for “bottomless pit.” It is a place of punishment and detainment for demonic spirits or (those who have pledged allegiance to the adversary). This is the current location of the antichrist. The Angel makes this quite clear.

To further confirm that the antichrist is a person who has lived before, the Angel provides more explanation:

9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
10 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.
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

“Here is the mind that hath wisdom” is calling us to be wise in understanding what is about to be stated. The Angel explains that the seven heads are “seven mountains.” Symbolically, these mountains represent “seven kings.” Kings are real people. They are rulers. (Many Christians have interpreted these “kings” to mean nations, but it does not say this. It clearly says that they are kings.) And there is a historical sequence of these kings. Five are “fallen” meaning at the time of the writing of Revelation they were dead (most Biblical scholars agree Revelation was written sometime between 65 AD and 90 AD). “One is” means that one at that time was alive. “And the other is yet to come” meant that that the seventh king was coming some time after the writing of Revelation.
But the Beast is described as “the eighth, and is of the seven.” Again it is confirmed that the Antichrist has lived before! And that he is returning. He is one of those seven historic, “Mystery Kings” and he is going to return and go “into perdition.” This should significantly help us narrow down the field on who the Antichrist could be. There are only seven candidates and 6 of them lived at least 1,900 years ago. So who could these “Mystery Kings” possibly be? Stay tuned for the next part of the series.