Antiochus IV Epiphanes A Prototype of the Antichrist?

Most Christians have not heard of this evil King who killed thousands of Jews in 2nd Century BC. Daniel prophesied about this King. It is significant as it gives an example of how The Antichrist will operate in the end of days.

In 175 B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the son of King Antiochus III seized the throne of the Seleucid Empire. Antiochus is referred to in the text as “a little horn”:

Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. —Daniel 8:9

Steven R. Miller, in the New American Commentary on Daniel, confirms the identification of the “little horn” as Antiochus IV Epiphanes: The meaning is that from one of the divisions of the Greek Empire would emerge a king of unusual significance. Scholars agree that this little horn represents the eighth ruler of the Seleucid Greek Empire, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.).

Five years after he took control of the Seleucid Empire in 170 B.C., a conflict erupted between Antiochus and King Ptolemy VI in the South. King Ptolemy was demanding the return of southern Syria. This lead Antiochus to launch a preemptive strike against Ptolemy conquering all of Egypt except the city of Alexandria. King Ptolemy was also captured. Fearing a military response from the Romans, Antiochus allowed King Ptolemy to continue reigning, but only as a puppet king. Two years later, in 168 B.C. Antiochus led a second attack against the southern kingdom.

While Antiochus was in Egypt, in the land of Israel a rumour had spread that he had been killed. A rebellion followed, with the deposed High Priest Jason gathering a force of 1,000 soldiers and making a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. As Antiochus returned north, however, hearing of the rebellion, he attacked Jerusalem and executed roughly forty thousand Jews and selling as many into slavery. These events are recounted in the apocryphal Book of 2 Maccabees:

When these happenings were reported to the Antiochus, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery. —2 Maccabees 5:11–14

It was these events which led to the Maccabean revolt which in turn caused Antiochus to respond ferociously against the Jewish people. Antiochus outlawed Judaism, abolished the Jewish daily sacrifices and even sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Jewish Temple, spreading its juices through the Temple as a means of defilement. Beyond even this, Antiochus substituted the Jewish feasts with the drunken feast of Bacchanalia, forcing the Jews to worship Bacchus, the god of pleasure and wine. Antiochus also forbade anyone from being circumcised, as well as the reading of the Torah or any of the Hebrew Scriptures. When one mother secretly defied Antiochus and had her two boys circumcised, he had all three of them together thrown headlong over the highest wall in Jerusalem onto the hard stone pavement below. 2 Maccabees 7:3-5 even recounts an instance where Antiochus cut out the tongues of seven sons from the same family and then had them all roasted alive on a large flat iron as their mother was forced to watch. Only after this was the mother of the boys herself finally murdered. Theodoret of Cyr, a fifth century bishop in the eastern Church also commented on the many great offences Antiochus committed against the Jewish temple:

When the uprising become more serious, Antiochus arrived and put to death most of the devout, and he had the audacity even to enter the precincts of the temple; after entering he sacked the whole temple, appropriating to himself the treasures, all the offerings, the cups, the bowls and vessels, the golden table, the golden censer, the lampstands made of gold, and in short all the instruments of divine worship. In addition he built an altar to Zeus, filled the whole city with idols and obliged everyone to sacrifice, while he himself sacrificed a pig on the divine altar and named after Zeus of Olympus.

All of these atrocities are recounted as the career of the “little horn” unfolds in Daniel’s vision:

It (the little horn, Antiochus) grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. —Daniel 8:10-12

Antiochus As A Type Of The Antichrist

Antiochus IV Epiphanes is undoubtedly one of the greatest prototypes of the Antichrist in all of the Bible. These prophecies of Antiochus IV Epiphanes thus have both a historical, as well as future fulfilment. The events carried out by Antiochus as detailed in Daniel 8 will be mirrored to a degree by the Antichrist in the last days.

Similarities Between Antiochus and the Antichrist

But beyond the fact that the angle Gabriel directly states that the ultimate context of the vision is the end-times, scholars have also noted numerous similarities between Antiochus and the coming Antichrist, further establishing the ultimate end-time context of this vision. Consider the following striking similarities:

1. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist are referred to using the symbolism of a “little horn”. While the Antichrist is referred to as, “another horn, a little one” (Dan 7:8) so also is Antiochus referred to as, “a little horn” (Dan 8:9).

2. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist are great persecutors of the people of God. While Antichrist, “Shall persecute the saints of the Most High” who “shall be given into his hand” (Dan 7:25), so also is it said of Antiochus that he would, “destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people” (Dan 8:24).

3. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist are pictured as “stern faced” (8:23) or having an “imposing look” (7:20). As Miller comments, “Both of these descriptions imply cruelty and harshness”.

4. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist exalt themselves. While Antichrist, “shall speak pompous words against the Most High” (Dan 7:25), so also is it said of Antiochus that “He shall exalt himself in his heart… He shall even rise against the Prince of princes” (Dan 8:25)

5. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist have great power which comes directly from Satan. Of the Antichrist, it is said that, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2Thess 2:9). It is specifically said that Satan, the dragon will give his “authority to the beast” (Rev 13:4) and the Antichrist, “shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god” (Dan 11:39). Concerning Antiochus, it was said, “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” (Dan 8:24).

6. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist will be destroyers of men. Of the Antichrist, it is said that he will, “cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev 13:15). The Apostle John in a vision sees, “unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev 13:13-14). Of Antiochus, it was said, “He shall destroy the mighty” (Dan 8:24).

7. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist are master deceivers. Of the Antichrist, it is said that his career will be defined by “all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2Thess 2:9). During the reign of the Antichrist, “those who dwell on the earth” will be deceived by false “signs” (Rev 13:14). Of Antiochus, it was said, that he, “understands sinister schemes” (Dan 8:23) and “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule” (Dan 8:25).

8. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist are defined as proud and arrogant. Of the Antichrist, it is said that he will have, “a mouth speaking pompous words,” specifically “against the Most High” (Dan 7:8,11, 25). Of Antiochus, it is said, “And he shall exalt himself in his heart.” (Dan 8:25).

9. Both Antiochus and the Antichrist will use a false peace to achieve their aims. While Antichrist will enter into a false peace agreement with Israel (Dan 9:26), of Antiochus, it is said, he would “come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Dan. 11:21, 24), and, “he will destroy many by peace” (Dan. 8:25).

Other similarities between Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Antichrist could certainly be highlighted and various commentators have done so. But despite the obvious prophetic foreshadowing of the Antichrist in Antiochus, and despite the stated end-time context of the passage, many scholars and prophecy teachers have wrestled to reconcile the “little horn” of Daniel 8 with the “little horn” of Daniel 7. Their difficulty arises because of the common, but false assumption that the little horn/Antichrist of Daniel 7 emerges from out of the Roman Empire, whereas the little horn of Daniel 8 emerges out of the Middle East.

The above has been taken from Joel Richardson book “The MidEast Beast” starting on Page 132.

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