Will Christians Be Able to Identify the Antichrist Before the Rapture?
Rhodes: I don’t think so.
Hindson: I don’t think so. I don’t think any of us do.
Rhodes: I think 2 Thessalonians 2 pretty much settles that; because, you know, some of the Thessalonians were worried that they might be already in the tribulation or the day of the Lord. And, you know, Paul writes them and he says, “I don’t know, you know, who told you this, but, you know, the Antichrist has to be on the scene when you’re in the day of the Lord. And if you’re not seeing the Antichrist yet, you’re not in the day of the Lord.” And so Paul made that point to them. Now, if you know who the Antichrist is, I always tell people tongue-in-cheek, you’ve been left behind.
Hindson: And he says in that passage clearly the restrainer has to be removed first. And if the restrainer is indeed the Holy Spirit empowering the Church, and the Church goes out in the rapture, the rapture has to take place before the Antichrist can be revealed.
A lot of people misread that passage. Second Thessalonians 2 is a very important passage about the timing of when the Antichrist himself will be revealed. The Scripture actually uses the same word, apocalypse, there that it does for the revelation of Jesus Christ. You’ll have a revelation of the Antichrist, but only after the restrainer has been removed.
Hitchcock: The Bible tells us there I think in that passage that, you know, he’s being restrained; that Satan can’t bring his men on the scene right now, the Holy Spirit’s restraining him. But I think that’s interesting, because that means, I believe, that Satan probably has someone ready in every generation to be the Antichrist. There’s always “an antichrist” that’s alive somewhere on the earth. But that person will only be revealed as the Antichrist after the rapture takes place. So trying to figure out, you know, if someone’s name equals 666 or all those kind of things, to me that’s jumping the gun; that’s working ahead of time. We have to wait. Whenever the rapture takes place, those who are on earth then who come to faith in the Lord, they’ll be able to calculate and determine who the Antichrist is.
Rhodes: And one of the reasons why that’s necessary, John, is that Satan is not omniscient. He doesn’t know omnisciently the exact timing of the unfolding of prophetic events. And so therefore it is necessary for him to have a man waiting in the wings in every generation.
Hindson: Yes, so it shouldn’t surprise us there was a Hitler and a Stalin and people like that who could have easily become that person but weren’t. Satan has to read the Bible, read the newspaper. He’s brilliant and intelligent, but he is not God and he does not have omniscience. He doesn’t even know the timing of the rapture. And so he has to wait; his hands are tied by the sovereignty of God. Only when the trumpet sounds and the archangel shouts and the bride of Christ is taken out, only then will he be free to indwell and empower someone to be the Antichrist.