What does the Bible tell us about the coming Antichrist? What can we know about his identity?
The Bible tells us that in the final period of history, the world will be ruled by a single man who obtains his position of power by the work of Satan:
Rev. 13:1 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.
Rev. 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
Rev. 13:3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;
Rev. 13:4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”
Using symbols, the book of Revelation describes the antichrist as "the beast" who becomes the final world ruler of a period of history Jesus called the "age of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). This period of history, which is revealed in detail in Daniel 2 & 7, is marked by a succession of Gentile world powers that conquer Israel and Jerusalem. The first of these kingdoms is Babylon and the final is the kingdom of the Antichrist. This man's rise to power is made possible by Satan (i.e., the "dragon").
Revelation 13's mention of a leopard, bear and lion remind the reader of the prophecies found in Daniel 7 and thus connect the beast to the age of the Gentiles. The beast (i.e., Antichrist) will be the final world ruler in this long period of human history. Additionally, Daniel 11 teaches that this man will have the power to conquer the world and subdue believers during a period of world turmoil:
Dan. 11:36 “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.
Dan. 11:37 “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.
Dan. 11:38 “But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures.
Dan. 11:39 “He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price.
The Antichrist (who Daniel calls "the king") will exalt himself to be god and demand the world worship him. He is not interested in any existing gods or religious traditions nor does marriage or sexual relations hold any interest for him. These details tell us he is not an ordinary human being, but rather a man controlled by Satan. Satan is the "foreign god" who helps the Antichrist rise to power. He defeats the strongest of fortresses and eventually controls the world.
Paul describes the Antichrist (who Paul calls the man of lawlessness) this way:
2Th. 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
2Th. 2:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
2Th. 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
2Th. 2:4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
2Th. 2:5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
2Th. 2:6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
2Th. 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
2Th. 2:8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
2Th. 2:9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,
2Th. 2:10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
The Antichrist will call himself god and will take a seat in the temple of the Jewish people (which must be rebuilt by the time of the Antichrist's appearing) and will rule the earth with the power of Satan until Christ's return. Furthermore, Paul says the specific identity of the Antichrist will not be revealed to the world until the "restrainer" is removed from the earth. The term "restrainer" refers to the Holy Spirit, Who lives in the world now (in the members of the Church), but He will leave the earth when the Church itself is removed at the resurrection. The resurrection of the Church (sometimes called the "rapture") takes place prior to the revealing of the Antichrist, therefore believers will not know the Antichrist's identity while we live on earth.
Finally Daniel 9 tells us where this man will come from:
Dan. 9:24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
Dan. 9:25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
Dan. 9:26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
Daniel hears from the angel Gabriel that the nation of Israel has been placed under divine judgment for a long period of history (70 "weeks" or 70 x 7 years = 490 years). During this time, the people of Israel will experience Gentile oppression, culminating with a single "week" (i.e., seven-year period) of oppression at the hands of the "prince."
This prince is the Antichrist. His short reign on earth will conclude the seven-year period of Daniel 9, and this prince will rise up from the same people who destroyed the city (v.26). The city refers to Jerusalem, and the people refer to the fourth Gentile kingdom from Daniel 2 & 7, which is Rome. So the Antichrist will originate out of the fourth Gentile kingdom, which began with Rome.
The Antichrist need not be "Roman" or "Italian" or even "European." The only certain requirements for the identity of the Antichrist is that he be a Gentile ruler leading the modern remnants of the Roman Empire. That empire included lands as distinct as India, Turkey, and Egypt, so we cannot narrow his identity to one region or nationality. The only trait clearly spelled out in Scripture is that the Antichrist be a Gentile ruler, in the manner of his predecessors.
For more information on the Bible's teaching on the Antichrist, please watch the following video presentation.