A John Gill Quote Concerning Identity of the AntiChrist


Having once been a dispensationalist futurist I remember reading the theory that the AntiChrist, according to the futurist one-man-at-the-end-of-time one-man-gang view, would be a descendant of the tribe of Dan. In other words a racial Jew. This is based on reading much into one single verse found in the Book of Genesis. Let me quote the verse:

“Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.” (Genesis 49:17)

This was a prophecy given by Jacob concerning his sons prior to his death. In the quoted verse which uses highly figurative language it says that Dan shall be a serpent. Figuratively. Jacob is speaking in terms of the physical descendants of Dan and of the tribe as a whole not just of one single individual. We know that Dan was the first tribe after the Conquest to fully embrace idolatry and the city of Dan was associated with a famous idol during the days of the Northern Kingdom. I believe people see the words “the last days” in Genesis 49 and automatically equate Jacob’s prophecies with a short period before the absolute end of time but Scripturally the words “the last days” do not necessarily refer to that period of time.  There’s absolutely nothing in verse 17 that could give anyone any grounds whatsoever to tell me dogmatically that the AntiChrist is a one-man show yet to come who will be racially Jewish. That would be reading a whole lot in one single verse. Being called prophetically a “serpent” doesn’t automatically mean that that “person” is to be the fulfillment of Daniel chapter 7 or 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2. Others have been called “serpents” such as the Pharisees and scribes. The designation “serpent” in reference to a man is not the exclusive property of some supposed future one-man-show AntiChrist.

Here’s an illuminating quote written centuries before LeftBehind-ism by the respected and learned Bible commentator and pastor John Gill (with UPPERCASE EMPHASIS being mine):

“…yet the man of sin is here distinguished from Satan, 2 Timothy 2:9 nor is any particular emperor of Rome intended, as Caius Caligula, or Nero, for though these were monsters of iniquity, and set up themselves as gods, yet they sat not in the temple of God; nor is Simon Magus designed, who was a very wicked man, a sorcerer, and who gave out himself to be some great one, and was called the great power of God, before big profession of faith in Christ; and afterwards affirmed that he was God, the Father in Samaria, the Son in Judea, and the Spirit in the rest of the nations of the world; and, because of his signs and lying wonders, had a statue erected by the Roman emperor with this inscription, “to Simon the holy god”; but then this wicked man was now already revealed: NOR IS THIS TO BE UNDERSTOOD OF A CERTAIN JEW, THAT IS TO BE BEGOTTEN BY THE DEVIL ON A VIRGIN OF THE TRIBE OF DAN, WHO IS TO REIGN THREE YEARS AND A HALF, AND THEN TO BE DESTROYED BY CHRIST, WHICH IS A FABLE OF THE PAPISTS (!!!!!!); but a succession of men is here meant, as a king is used sometimes for an order and succession of kings, Deuteronomy 17:18 and an high priest for that whole order, from Aaron’s time to the dissolution of it, Hebrews 9:7 so here it intends the whole hierarchy of Rome, monks, friars, priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and especially popes, who may well be called “the man of sin”, because notoriously sinful; not only sinners, but sin itself, a sink of sin, monsters of iniquity, spiritual wickednesses in high places: it is not easy to reckon up their impieties, their adulteries, incest, sodomy, rapine, murder, avarice, simony, perjury, lying, necromancy, familiarity with the devil, idolatry, witchcraft, and what not? and not only have they been guilty of the most notorious crimes themselves, but have been the patrons and encouragers of others in sin; by dispensing with the laws of God and man, by making sins to be venial, by granting indulgences and pardon for the worst of crimes, by licensing brothel houses, and countenancing all manner of wickedness…”

source: http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/view.cgi?bk=52&ch=2

Did you read that?  John Gill called “the son of Dan” view of AntiChrist, something taught amongst dispensational futurists and other eschatologically confused individuals, to be “a fable of the Papists”. That’s strong language. Why is it that today we have many so-called Baptists and Protestants holding what to pretty much amounts to “Papist fables” when it comes to AntiChrist? No self-respecting Baptist or Protestant centuries ago who loved the Lord and knew their Bibles held to futurist Left-Behind-ism. At least not many notable ones I am aware of prior to the 19th century. They knew who the son of perdition was.  C. I. Scofield would not have sold many of his Bible notes back then. More people had a better general understanding of the AntiChrist back then because they took prayer, piety and Bible study more seriously than professing Christians today. I would rather line up eschatologically with historic Baptists and Protestants, with martyrs and Reformers, with the persecuted Waldensians, with historic confessions of faith which have stood the test of time than with Tim Lahaye, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe and “Papists”.


See also:

The AntiChrist : Some Helpful Resources


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