Identifying The Antichrist, the Man of Sin, 666 - by Dr Andrew Corbett
THE MAN OF SIN ON THE HORIZON... WAVING GOODBYE!
I grew up in a church where regular Bible-prophecy
teachers hinted that they knew the identity of the coming 'Antichrist'.
This man, was, according to these teachers, also referred to in Scripture
as "the Beast" and "the man of lawlessness". It wasn't
until I started to realise that these teachers were not only guessing about this Antichrist, but pretty much everything else they taught was
a guess as well, that I began to understand what the Bible really says
about these things.
IS THE 'ANTICHRIST', 'BEAST' & 'MAN OF SIN/LAWLESSNESS'
THE SAME PERSON?
Most modern evangelicals have been conditioned
to regard the New Testament expressions: 'antichrist', 'beast' and
'man of lawlessness' as describing one person who will one day be the
ultimate servant of Satan. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins name him "Nicholas
Carpathian" in their fictional series Left Behind. This series
of novels has popularised the widely held fundamentalist evangelical
beliefs about this prophesied character. These beliefs include his role
as a world leader then dictator, his religious charisma which beguiles
the established religions into submission, his implementation of a global
marking system which eliminates the need the cash and becomes the basis
of personal indentification for everyone on the planet, and his supernatural
ability to resurrect himself after his own assassination.
It's important at this point to identify my
understanding of God and His Word before I seriously challenge
this concept of the antichrist/beast/man-of-lawlessness. I believe the
Bible to be the uniquely authoritatively inspired Word of God (sola
Scriptura). I believe in the Bible's infallible accuracy when it comes
to prophesying future events. But I have a problem with is eisogetical interpretations
of the Bible which impose someone's ideas into a Biblical
text. Many people would therefore label me "evangelical".
Sometimes assumptions about the Bible become
so interwined with the Bible
itself that we forget what is Bible and what is man's opinion, or actually
just plain wrong! For example, TRUE or FALSE?-
Noah's ark landed on Mount Ararat
(False- it was the 'mountains of Ararat',
Delilah cut off Samson's hair
(False- an unnamed man shaved him,
Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire
(False- it was
a 'whirlwind' 2Kings 2:11)
One day the Lion will lie down with the Lamb
(False- the Bible it
will be a 'wolf' that will one day lie down with the lamb, Isaiah 11:6)
The Antichrist is one of the dominant characters
of the Book of Revelation
(False- there is no mention at all of the Antichrist in the Book of
The New Testament says that the Antichrist is the Beast of Revelation
(False- it doesn't link them at all.)
Paul calls the Antichrist 'the Man of Sin and Lawlessness'
Paul makes no reference to Antichrist---John is the only New Testament
writer to even use the expression and he only does this in two of his
Something else that stuns most Evangelicals is what the
Book of Revelation actually says about "the Beast". When somebody asks
me about The Beast of Revelation 13, I usually ask them- Which
one? When they revisit the text they are shocked to discover that Revelation
13 talks about two beasts! And to their surprise the one most often
described as allegedly referring to the Antichrist (the one "from
across the sea" in the opening verses of Revelation 13) is not the
one who causes men to be numbered with the number of the beast - "666"!
This is hard to overly emphasise. Unless we can clear away the imposed
opinions of men, often derived from lightweight paperback books and 'Bible
prophecy' lectures, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve
an authentic interpretation of the prophecy passages of Scripture.
THE PROBLEM OF THE TWO BEASTS OF REVELATION...
In my eBook, The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible (A
Commentary on the Book of Revelation) I discuss the issue and identity
of the two Beasts mentioned in Revelation 13. In brief, the reader will
notice that first one mentioned is from "across the sea". This is an allusion
to the sequence of beasts mentioned beginning in Daniel 7:3. The latter
beast is described as being from "the earth" or "the land". Most Biblically
literate readers will immediately recognise what "the Land" is. I have
reason to believe that these beasts refer to the offices of Roman Emperor
and Jewish High Priest. You'll notice that it is the second beast (the
office of High Priest, appointed from among the chief priests) who commands
everyone to honour the first beast (Roman Emperor). This is reminiscent
of what happened at the judgment of Pilate on Christ-
They cried out, “Away with
him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall
I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have
no king but Caesar.”
This connection between these two beasts is
later referred to as the Beast and the False Prophet. The former pertains
to political power and the latter to religious power.
WHAT ABOUT SECOND THESSALONIANS' MAN OF SIN & LAWLESSNESS?
I discuss the differences in focus in between
Second Thessalonians chapters 1 and 2 in another article
about "the eschaton". There
is good reason to regard chapter 1 referring to events yet-future, and
chapter 2 as referring to events which would take place within the lifetime
of the original audience. When we consider that the Man of Lawlessness
may in fact be an ironic title for someone who was meant to
uphold the Law there is further circumstantial evidence for regarding
this character as the office of the High Priest. Consider that this character
is associated with the Temple (2Thess. 2:4), upholds monotheism,
opposes the true God (Christ) and exalts himself over God (something
he did when he condemned Christ).
ANTICHRIST, PAST OR FUTURE?
Equating the New Testament's depiction of
the Antichrist as describing the High Priest we are forced to acknowledge
that the Antichrist is clearly past. But John refers to the spirit of
antichrist which was at work in his day. Since this spirit is one which
opposes and defies Christ we can also clearly say that there is, and
always has been, a spirit of antichrist at work in the world.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST?
mark of the beast was instituted by the High Priest so that none one
could buy sell (perhaps, temple sacrifices) without that mark. Jesus
alluded to this mark when referred to the phylacteries that Chief Priests
had instituted, which had to worn either on the right hand or forehead.
This was originally based on several Old Testament passages which emphasised
how much God wanted His people to value His Word-
It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between
your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall
be as frontlets between your eyes.
This was the basis for the invention of
'phylacteries'. These were small leather boxes containing those passages
of God's Word which the wearer had committed to memory. They were tied
either around the wrist or head. Note what Christ said about them-
They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries
broad and their fringes long...
Speculation that the mark of the beast is
yet future is in face of the clear time-frame references within the New
Testament and the Book of Revelation in particular which uses words like:
soon, now, at hand, this hour. The mark of the beast, while fundamentally
a spiritual issue of soul allegiance (those who reject Christ are spiritually
marked, while those who belong to Christ are conversely marked for Christ-
Rev. 7) is most certainly not a future computer chip implant!
This and other issues are discussed in my eBooks, The
Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible (about the Book of Revelation),
Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible (about the Olivet Discourse of
Matthew 24) .
Readers will profit in their understanding of these matters by reading
both of these eBooks.
Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia August 5th 2006
Download Dr Corbett's eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.
- - -
I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.
John 5:25 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia, August 15th, 2011
Download Dr Corbett's eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.
Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Book of Revelation, Dr Andrew Corbett in this 4 Part series on the Book of Revelation (presented as a seminar) is now available as a 4 Audio CD set.
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