Will the Antichrist rule the entire world?
A common belief about the Antichrist is that he will rule the entire world. A majority of Christians think that he will bring the world together into a one-world government. This is something that I have believed for many years. You can probably guess that I was quite shocked when writer Joel Richardson made the claim that the Antichrist will not rule the whole world. The idea that the Antichrist will not have authority over all nations goes against what the church has accepted for a long time. In this article, I want to examine the arguments made in favor of a limited Antichristian empire to see whether or not the claim is true. Will it hold up? Let’s find out.
The Antichrist’s Kingdom is primarily a ten-nation confederacy
Let’s start with a look at a detail that the Bible makes often: the Antichrist’s kingdom is primarily a ten-nation alliance. This appears in different places in Scripture. First, Daniel 2:41-44, the dream Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, teaches that the statue has ten toes. The ten toes are said to be ten kings that are overthrown at Christ’s second coming. The ten kings make a return in Daniel 7:7, 20-24. In this chapter, the ten kings, called ten horns, are said to come from the fourth kingdom, just as the ten toes of Daniel 2 extend out of the fourth section of the statue. Out from among the ten kings comes an eleventh, identified as the Antichrist.
The ten horns return in Revelation 13:1 and 17:12-14. In the latter, they are said to give their authority and power to the beast. These passages all seem to indicate that the backbone of the Antichrist’s power will come from these ten nations. This, of course, does not mean that only ten nations will fight for the Antichrist. These ten nations will be the most powerful of his allies and will form the foundation for his conquests.
The military conquests of the Antichrist
Scripture also indicates that the Antichrist will partake in some military conquests. Daniel 11:39 tells us that he will attack the mightiest fortresses. It is possible that the mightiest fortresses are the strongest nations that exist during the time of the Antichrist (will America be one of them?). A couple verses later (11:41) Daniel says that the Antichrist will invade Israel. Verses 40-43 tell us that Edom, Moab, and Amman (modern-day Jordan) are delivered from his hand and submit to him. However, he does invade and conquer Egypt, Nubia (Sudan), and Libya. It also says that he will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood (indicating that these invasions are sudden and swift).
Daniel 11:44 says that the Antichrist will hear of news and rumors from the north and east that will alarm him. If the Antichrist is controlling the entire world then why would he be alarmed? Why would he be invading other countries? Richardson believes that this is likely a military response against the Antichrist. As a side note, it is interesting that three specific nations are mentioned that are conquered, Egypt, Sudan, and Libya. Daniel 7:8, 20 say that three of the ten kings will be conquered and humiliated by the Antichrist. This may indicate that Egypt, Sudan, and Libya may be three of the ten kings.
Wars till the end
The next argument used in favor of a limited empire is Daniel 9:26. This verse teaches that there will be war until the end (the Second Coming of Christ). How can there be war until the end if the Antichrist is ruling over every single nation? It is possible that this verse may only indicate that there will be war against Israel until the end. Although this is possible, remember what I wrote above about the Antichrist waging wars against other countries (and the rumors from the north and east).
In regards to all of this information Richardson notes, “Simply stated, a king with absolute, universal authority is not at war. The presence of wars establishes the fact that the Antichrist does not control every nation, but that there are resisting governments. He does not control their militaries. This is proof of the Antichrist’s limited authority right up to the end.”
Hyperbole in Scripture
Richardson moves on to argue that Scripture uses a common literary device known as hyperbole. Simply stated, hyperbole is an exaggeration that is used for emphasis. Examples in our culture today would be saying that a child weighs a ton. Obviously, the child does not actually weigh two thousand pounds. The person picking the child up is exaggerating to make the point that the child is heavy. Middle Eastern culture loves to use hyperbole, as does the Bible.
Deuteronomy 1:28 is a good place to start. Here it is mentioned that the walls of Canaanite cities reached up to the heavens. Did the city walls literally reach up into outer space? Of course not, the point is that the walls are high. We find another perfect example of hyperbole in Genesis 15:5 says that Abraham’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. There are trillions and trillions of stars in the universe. There have not been that many descendants of Abraham throughout history. One could argue that God was referring only to the stars that one could count in the sky. However, to the naked eye, one can only see a maximum of a couple thousand stars at once in the sky. Abraham’s descendants have numbered more than this as well. The point of Genesis 15 is not to be literal. The point was that Abraham, a man who at that time had no sons, was going to have children that would one day multiply into nations.
It is quite clear that Scripture uses hyperbole. Please note, however, that I am not saying that every single time the words all or every are used in the Bible they are to be taken in a non-literal way. We must study each passage in its context to see whether or not it should be taken literally. In either case, as we are going to see, the Bible uses hyperbole often when it describes the extent of pagan empires.
The Whole Earth
Many look at Daniel 7:23 as proof that the Antichrist will rule the whole world. The phrase “the whole earth” here is the Aramaic kol ‘ara’ which is referring to a large, but limited area. Gleason L. Archer notes:
“The whole earth (kol ‘ara’) refers, not to all known parts of the inhabited earth, but rather (as in general OT usage) to the entire territory of the Near and Middle East that in any way relates to the Holy Land. The word ‘ara’ (and its equivalent eres) does not necessarily mean globe in the sense of ‘the entire inhabited globe’ but – depending on context [emphasis mine] – might mean a single country (eres yisra elis ‘the land of Israel) or a larger geographical unit, such as ‘territory’ or ‘region.’”
There are many places in Scripture where “the whole earth” is used for pagan empires. For example, Daniel 2:39 says that Alexander the Great’s empire would rule “the whole earth.” Obviously, Alexander did not conquer the entire globe. Some may want to argue that he ruled the entire known world, but this is not true. Alexander did not conquer all of India, Central Asia, Europe, North Africa (except Egypt), Arabia, or Africa south of Egypt. All of these places were well known during the life of Alexander. Daniel 8:5 also refers to Alexander the Great. In this chapter, Greece is symbolized as a goat that crossed “the whole earth” in order to conquer Persia. Alexander only crossed the Middle East to get his hands on Persia.
A couple other passages referring to the whole world include:
- Luke 2:1 says, “In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” The word “Roman” does not appear in the original text. It is added by the NIV translators to clarify that it was not the whole globe. Rome did not rule over the entire world or even the known world.
- Ezra 1:2 records Cyrus, king of Persia as saying, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth…” Cyrus did not conquer every kingdom. He never came close. He never ruled over Egypt (one of the most important nations in the world at that time), Greece, India, or Rome.
What about Revelation 13?
The number one passage in Scripture that leads Christians to believe that the Antichrist will rule a one-world government is Revelation 13:7-8: “And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb …”“
We must remember from all the passages above that there will be wars and resisting nations. So, how does one reconcile Revelation 13 with everything else that we know? Daniel 5:19 is a good place to look. It says concerning Nebuchadnezzar that “…all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him.” Revelation uses the Greek words laon, phyle, glossa, and ethnos; the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses laos, phule, and glossa. Daniel and revelation are conveying the same idea using the same words. Richardson notes:
If we interpret Daniel’s passage without acknowledging its use of hyperbole, we would be forced to conclude that King Nebuchadnezzar was literally feared by every human on the earth. But he was not even heard of by every single person in every part of the entire planet, let alone greatly feared by them. So based on our knowledge of history and common sense, we acknowledge the use of hyperbole in this passage too. Likewise, Revelation 13:7-8 does not mean every last person on the earth worships the beast, but instead, a multitude from numerous nations and people groups.”
It is also worth noting that Revelation 13:4: “Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?’” This seems to imply that some people are waging a war against the Antichrist. However, many people come to notice that it is a fruitless war. The Antichrist is so powerful and brutal that many question whether a war against him can be won.
“All the Nations”
There are other verses that seem to imply that the Antichrist will rule over “all the nations” of the world. For example, Joel 3:2 says that God will bring all the nations to Israel for judgment. Zechariah 14:2 says, “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem…” Do these verses prove that “all the nations” will be under the control of the Antichrist?
First off, we need to remember everything we have talked about in this article: 1) that wars and resisting nations will exist during the Tribulation; and 2) the use of hyperbole. Secondly, we need to take a look at these verses:
- Joel 3:11-12: “Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there.”
- Zechariah 12:2, 6 say, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.”
- Zechariah 14:14 also mentions the “surrounding nations.”
These passages give us the greater context of the first two mentioned above. It is not literally every nation in the world, but the “surrounding nations/peoples” that are brought to Jerusalem. What nations surround Israel? Of course, it is Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Will the Antichrist rule a One-World Government?
I have written a series on the biblical evidence for an Islamic Antichrist, and the evidence presented here conforms to that thesis. The evidence presented by Richardson is, in my opinion, quite strong (although I admit that I am not dogmatic on this issue). This would point us to the fact that the Antichrist’s kingdom will be primarily Middle Eastern and North African, with a few places outside this region (see map).
Some people believe that the world will eventually be carved up into different “unions.” For example, we currently have a European Union. Many envision that we will one day have a North American Union, a South American Union, an East Asian Union, etc. If the Antichrist would come to power during a period such as this, than it is possible that he would be the ruler of an Islamic Union, that is, an Islamic Caliphate (see map). He will then invade and attempt to conquer the rest of the world.
What do you think? Do you believe that Richardson’s arguments show that the Antichrist will not rule the entire world? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.
 Joel Richardson. Mideast Beast (New York: WND Books, 2012).
 Richardson, 39.
 Ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 40-41.
 Gleason L. Archer. The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 7, Daniel – Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985). 93. Quoted in Richardson, 42.
 Richardson, 42-44.
 Ibid., 44-45.
 Ibid., 45-47.