No Miracles by Antichrist
Does the Antichrist work miracles, signs, and wonders? Ask just about any TV evangelist, fiction writer, bible commentator, pastor, or person in the pew, and the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Study carefully, however, the prophet Daniel and the apostles John and Paul–the only inspired writers who reveal the activities of this character–and they do not attribute the working of a single miracle, sign or wonder to this end-time leader.
Opinions vary regarding how much of Daniel chapters 7-11 is about the end-time ruler. Nowhere in any of these chapters, nonetheless, is the working of miracles, signs, or wonders attributed to any of the men or beasts described.
In chapter 7 Daniel has a vision of a little horn who is boastful (vv. 8, 11), wages war with the saints and overpowers them (v. 21), and devours the whole earth (v. 23). “He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law” (v. 25), but there is no indication he will work miracles, signs, or wonders.
In chapter 8 Daniel has a vision of another small horn which grows very great (v. 9). “It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down” (v. 11). This ruler will be “insolent and skilled in intrigue” (v. 23). He will be shrewd and will use deceit (v. 25), but Daniel is not told he will work miracles, signs, or wonders.
In chapter 9 Daniel is told about seventy weeks that have been decreed for his people (v. 24) and a prince who shall come. This leader will make a covenant with Israel for seven years but will break it halfway through by stopping the offerings. He will be involved with an abomination that will make a desolation (v. 27), but he will not work any miracles, signs, or wonders.
In chapter 10 Daniel receives a visitor who has come to tell him about what will happen to his people in the latter days. That disclosure is set forth in chapter 11 and covers the activities of a number of kings who are to arise in the future.
Many commentators believe the individual described in verses 21-45 of chapter 11 is the same individual whom Paul calls the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Daniel describes this character as a blasphemous person (v. 36). He also says this leader practices intrigue (v. 21) and deception (v. 23), devises schemes (v. 24), and uses smooth words to mislead people (v. 32). Daniel does not, however, attribute the working of any miracles, signs, or wonders to him.
The actions and attributes recorded in Daniel chapters 7-11 (boasting, waging war, breaking covenants, blaspheming, shrewdness, intrigue and deception) are the stock-in-trade of rulers. Working miracles, signs, and wonders are the stock-in-trade of prophets, and none of these tools are mentioned in chapters 7-11 although Daniel was well familiar with them (see Daniel 1:18-19; 3:19-27; 5:11; 6:16-23).
John discusses the end-time ruler in Revelation 13:1-8. Like Daniel, he has a vision of a beast with multiple heads. One of the heads looked as if it “had been slain” (esphagmenên eis thanaton) and its fatal wound “was healed” (etherapeuthê) (v. 3). Both the participle and the verb are in the passive voice. These are things that happened to this beast, not works it performed
In verse 2 John says, “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 (dunamin) and his throne and great authority (exsousian).” In the Gospels (dunamis) sometimes refers to casting out demons or working miracles. However, it also means power to function in some way or ability to carry out something (see BDAG). In Revelation 13:2 it is coupled with (exsousia) which means control over something or power exercised by rulers (see BDAG). In verses 4, 5 and 7 John only uses (exsousia) so he is focusing on ruling authority. Thus, (dunamis) in verse 2 should be taken as the power to carry out the authority, not to work miracles.
In vv. 4-8 John describes this man as a blasphemer who attacks all that is sacred. He accepts the worship due to God alone which is blasphemy.
In all John says about this ruler, he does not attribute the working of miracles, signs, or wonders to him. This absence is not due to John’s hesitancy to attribute these things to anyone when attribution is due (see vv. 11-15; ch 11).
In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul discusses the events surrounding the return of the Lord. In verses 3-5 he tries to calm the Thessalonians’ fear that “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him” had occurred. He says two things must happen first.
One of the things is that the man of sin must be revealed. In verse 4 he tells the Thessalonians what this man will do, so they will be able to identify him. He says he “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.” Paul does not attribute any working of miracles, signs, or wonders to the man of sin in verses 3-4, even though these would be clear, concrete acts that would reveal him to the church. If the man of sin performs them, Paul should give some account of that fact as he describes him for the Thessalonians.
If none of the inspired writers attribute the working of miracles, signs or wonders to the Antichrist, why do modern commentators and pastors do so? It would appear that this erroneous attribution comes from a misinterpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 where Paul talks about the lawless one.
In verses 8-12 Paul is not talking about John’s first beast, the Antichrist, as most believe. He is talking about John’s second beast, the false prophet. H. A. Ironside saw this one hundred years ago, but modern commentators and pastors insist on equating Paul’s lawless one with John’s first beast.
When Antichrist appears on the scene, most Christians will fail to recognize him because he will not work miracles, signs or wonders as they have been taught.
This article was adapted from Second Thessalonians 2:1-12 Unlocked: The Key to the Timing of the Rapture, by Dean F. Paul available at www.Adolphuspublishing.com and Amazon.
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Copyright 2018 by Dean F. Paul
He has participated in graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and devotes his time now to researching and writing about eschatology.