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It is generally assumed that the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, and the beast in Revelation 13 all refer to the same end time enemy of God.

What is the basis for this assumption?

Are there any reasons to believe they are not the same?

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    Question edit: change the words "end time enemy of God" to "entity" since "end time" and "enemy of God" are both disputable since John said that "many antichrists are already in the world" and Paul said that "the mystery of iniquity is already at work" and Paul also says that it is God that sends the "strong delusion" (or as I like to translate anachronistically, "error factory"). IMHO opinion they are all the same: the worshiped Jesus. Worshiping a man as God - even if that man is God's son - is blasphemous. – user10231 Mar 26 '16 at 19:17
  • Do you mean the "man of lawlessness" mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3? And which "antichrist" does get questioned pertaining to the question, and where? – Decrypted Mar 28 '16 at 11:11
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Tau's answer explains why the antichrist may be synonymous with the man of lawlessness and the beast described in Revelation 13. I would add to that as the question also asks:

Are there any reasons to believe they are not the same?

There are some reasons to believe they are not the same.

First, the term antichrist is not used anywhere other than 1 and 2 John. Although not using the word does not mean they are not the same, the fact that the authors of Revelation and Thessalonians failed to use the word is a reason to believe they are not the same.

Another reason is the antichrist was already in the world:

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18 NKJV)

Not only is the antichrist already in the world, there are many. This means that antichrist is not a singular entity.

The Greek word “antichrist” is ἀντίχριστος. It is a compound word made from ἀντί and Χριστός. The key to the meaning is ἀντί which is opposite, corresponding to, off-setting, in place of [anti]. An example of how Jesus used the word:

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for (ἀντὶ) many. (Matthew 20:28 NKJV)

Jesus gave His life as a ransom ἀντί - in the place of many. The antichrist is anyone that tries to take the place of Christ.

The description of the man of lawlessness and the beast indicate they are trying to take the place of Christ: they meet the definition of “antichrist.” At the same time, it is possible they are not the same entity. It is possible they are different entities and that there will be more than one antichrist in the world, as when John wrote in the letter.

  • Glad you pointed out the "now" part, then let's consider "soon" (Rev 1:1, Rev 3:11, Rev 22:7, Rev 22:12, Rev 22:20). – Decrypted Mar 28 '16 at 20:55
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The "Beast" and the Antichrist have been interpreted as being one in the same because from the days of the Early Church Fathers, they have been considered as one and the same.

Even prior to the writing of Revelations, the Apostle Paul says,(2 Thess. 2:8-9 KJV)

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

This directly parallels the book of Revelations, which says,(Rev. 19:20 KJV)

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Hippolytus(170-235) states in "On Christ and Antichrist Ch. 47)

the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them, because they will not give glory to Antichrist. For this is meant by the little horn that grows up. He, being now elated in heart, begins to exalt himself, and to glorify himself as God, persecuting the saints and blaspheming Christ, even as Daniel says, I considered the horn, and, behold, in the horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things; and he opened his mouth to blaspheme God. And that born made war against the saints, and prevailed against them until the beast was slain, and perished, and his body was given to be burned.

He freely interchanges "Beast" and "Antichrist", having learned from Irenaeus, who learned from Polycarp, who sat under the Apostle John and was appointed Bishop of Smyrna by John. Irenaeus himself in Book V, Chpt. 30, interchanges "Beast" and "Antichrist", recognizing they are one in the same.

In conclusion: The Early Church Fathers understood the "Beast" to be the "Antichrist", not only from Paul's writings but as those closest to John in sucession taught the same. The "Beast" is a prophetic interpretation of the one called "Antichristos", who from Christ, Paul, John, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and others have taught that "evil one" who is to come.

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