2.3. Jewish or Gentile

Some have held that the Antichrist will be Jewish in origin. Among the reasons cited for this view are:
  1. His acceptance by Israel is thought to imply a Jewish connection (Dan. Dan. 9:27; John John 5:43).
  2. His role as a “false” Messiah (pseudo-Christ).
  3. The omission of the tribe of Dan from the 144,000 of Revelation Rev. 7:1+ is inferred as a hint as to his possible origin.1
  4. He may be key in initiating the rebuilding of the Tribulation Temple and interpreted as the Messiah who fulfills Zechariah Zec. 6:12.
  5. The KJV translation refers to “the God of his fathers” [emphasis added] (Dan. Dan. 11:37) which is thought to be a reference to the true God of the Jews.
There are numerous problems with the reasons given: First, they are all inferences and not direct statements by Scripture; Second, the reference by the KJV to “the God (singular) of his fathers” is a translation of the Hebrew word elohim which is plural. Depending upon the context, it can be rendered as either “gods” or as “God” (a plural of majesty, possibly hinting at the Trinity). Many other translations (e.g., ASV, NASB, KJ2000, NIV) render it as “gods” in Daniel Dan. 11:37 so it is not sound to place undue emphasis upon this detail of the text. Price gives additional reasons against supposing a Jewish origin.

Does the person who rebuilds the Temple have to be considered the Messiah? Note that neither the Jewish governor Zerubbabel nor the Judean king Herod—both of whom rebuilt the Second Temple—were thought by the Jewish people to be the Messiah. . . the Gentile Persian emperor Cyrus. . . made possible the rebuilding of the Second Temple through his edict. . . It is an outsider who has to sign a legal document [Dan. Dan. 9:27] with the Jewish people, not one of their own. . . since the object of Satan’s attacks during the Tribulation are all ethnic Jews (Rev. Rev. 12:13+), it would seem unlikely that the one Satan empowers would also be Jewish (Rev. Rev. 13:2+). . . it would be contrary to the prophetic sequence of Daniel to have a Jewish kingdom (Dan. Dan. 2:32-45; Rom. Rom. 11:25). . . to say that the Antichrist is to be a Jew would contradict the very nature of the times of the Gentiles. . . two different beasts are described as arising from the ‘sea’ and the ‘earth.’ The ‘sea’ is a literary image that often indicates the ‘Gentile nations’ (Dan. Dan. 7:2-3). This would mean that its opposite term here, ‘earth,’ would refer to ‘the Jews.’ There is support for this in that the Greek word can be used as a technical expression for ‘the land of Israel.’ If this is so, then the first beast, which is from the sea, the Antichrist, is Gentile. And the second beast, the false prophet, is Jewish. . . . While Zec. Zec. 6:12 indicates that the Messiah (‘the Branch’) will build the Temple, Zechariah is referring to the Millennial Temple. This allows for the Third (Tribulation) Temple to be built by someone else. . . the text of Rev. Rev. 11:2+ that identifies the Antichrist with the Temple in its desecration does so in terms of Gentile occupation of the site.2

But the main reason to oppose this notion is found in a direct deduction from an explicit statement of Scripture which supports his Gentile origin (Dan. Dan. 9:27 coupled with the facts of the Roman overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70).

That the Antichrist is to be a Gentile is seen first by looking at biblical typology. The only biblical type of the Antichrist is given in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, a Gentile. . . . Another argument for the Gentile nature of the Antichrist is found in biblical imagery. Whenever the word sea is used symbolically in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Revelation, it is a symbol of the Gentile nations. Since the Beast of Revelation Rev. 13:1-10+ rises out of the sea, and since the sea represents the Gentile nations (Rev. Rev. 17:15+), this points to the Antichrist as being of Gentile origin. . . . It is agreed by most Premillennialists that the Times of the Gentiles does not end until the Second Coming of Messiah. It is further agreed that the Antichrist is the final ruler of the Times of the Gentiles . . . if this is so, how then can a Jew be the last ruler when only the Gentiles can have the pre-eminence? . . . not only does the Bible reveal the fact that the Antichrist is to be a Gentile, it also reveals the very nationality of the Antichrist. The nationality of the Antichrist can be deduced from Daniel Dan. 9:26-27. . . The obvious conclusion, then, is that the Antichrist is a Gentile of Roman origin. [emphasis added]3


Notes

1 “Hippolytus (Commentary on the Benedictions of Isaac and Jacob [Gen. Gen. 49:14]) . . . began the Christian tradition that the Antichrist originates from the Israelite tribe of Dan . . . [He] apparently made this connection from the Jewish Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs . . . which states that evil spirits would be active in the tribe . . . that Satan was their prince . . . and that they would be hostile in the future to the tribes of Levi and Judah.”—Randall Price, “Jewish Views of the Antichrist,” in Mal Couch, ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 49.

2 Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 477-480.

3 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 212-213.