The Antichrist in Daniel 11 is not Antiochus IV.

Daniel 11 is one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible. The purpose of this article is to identify the Antichrist in Daniel 11. In the liberal view, he is Antiochus IV, a Greek king who ruled in the second century B.C. In the conservative view, that Antichrist began to exist after Jesus’ life on earth. 

SUMMARY

The Liberal View

According to the Book of Daniel itself, it was written in the sixth century B.C. but it explicitly predicted the Greek empire that was established some centuries later. Liberal scholars do not accept that such accurate predictions are possible. They propose that Daniel was written AFTER the Greek empire was already established. In other words, the prophecies of Daniel are history written in the form of prophecy. Specifically, they say that Daniel was written during the reign of Antiochus IV and that the Antichrist in Daniel 11 is Antiochus IV.

Liberal and conservative interpreters agree that the Antichrist in Daniel 11 is the same as the Antichrist of Daniel 7 and 8. Liberal scholars, therefore, identify the Antichrist of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.

The Conservative View

Based on the strong word links between Daniel 11:22 and the prophecy of Christ’s death in Daniel 9:24-27, the current article proposes that the Prince of the Covenant in Daniel 11:22 is Jesus Christ and that “broken” refers to His death on the Cross, 200 years after Antiochus. Consequently, the Antichrist, who is described as the “vile person” (Daniel 11:21), and who ‘broke’ the Prince of the Covenant (Dan 11:22), cannot be Antiochus IV. The current article proposes, similar to the article on Daniel 8, that the evil power in these chapters symbolizes both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor.

Objections to this Interpretation

The Emphasis on Antiochus III

Antiochus III, the predecessor of Antiochus IV, is highlighted by verses 14-19. In the liberal view, the purpose of this major emphasis is to point to Antiochus IV. However, the current article argues that the purpose of this emphasis is to say that Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against Rome was a turning point in history. Similar to Xerxes’ wars against the Greeks, mentioned earlier in Daniel 11, once such a turning point has been reached, the prophecy jumps over the remaining kings of that Empire.

Daniel 11 does not mention the Roman Empire.

But that is not quite true. It does mention the Roman Empire, but only very indirectly. Daniel 2 provides an overview of history without mentioning the Antichrist. The later prophecies in Daniel 7, 8, and 11 shift the focus more and more away from the overview of history to the Antichrist, to such an extent that the Antichrist in Daniel 8 and 11 also includes the Roman Empire.

Antiochus IV fits the description.

However, the description of the Antichrist exceeds Antiochus IV. Many things in Daniel 11 are not true of Antiochus IV. He was a type of the Antichrist. He was only a partial fulfillment of the final and much larger worldwide Antichrist that would arise from the Roman Empire.

THE LIBERAL VIEW

The Liberal View of the Book of Daniel

History Written in the Form of Prophecy

According to the Book of Daniel itself, it was written in the sixth century B.C. That was before the kingdom of Greece became a ‘world’ power. But Daniel 8:20-21 and 11:2 mention the Medo-Persian and Greek empires by name. Critical (liberal) scholars do not accept that such accurate predictions of future events are possible. Therefore, they propose that the Book of Daniel was written by an unknown writer AFTER these empires already had come to power (For example, see – Wikipedia). In their view, the prophecies of Daniel are history written in the form of prophecy.

The Antichrist is Antiochus IV.

Daniel 11 refers to the Antichrist as the “vile person” (Dan 11:21 – KJV). It is the main character in that chapter.

After Alexander the Great died, his Greek empire was divided into four parts. One of these was the Seleucids of the Middle East. Antiochus IV was one of the Seleucid kings. He reigned in the middle of the second century BC. Liberal scholars say that the events described in Daniel 11 fit known history until a point in time during Antiochus’ reign later events in Daniel 11 do not fit known history. For that reason, they propose:

(1) That the Book of Daniel was written during the reign of Antiochus IV and in response to his persecution of the Jews;

(2) That the Antichrist in Daniel 11 is Antiochus IV, and

(3) That the events described later in Daniel 11, that do not fit the history after Antiochus IV, are the guesswork of the uninspired writer of Daniel.

This is called the Maccabean thesis. As one Critical scholar wrote:

Daniel was written during the period of the Maccabees, in the middle of the 2nd century B.C., or about 400 years after the events it describes. Its origin is betrayed in chapter 11 when Daniel supposedly prophesies about the future.

The Antichrist in Daniel 7 is also Antiochus.

For the following reasons, liberal and conservative interpreters generally agree that the “vile person” of Daniel 11 is the same as the Antichrist Horn of Daniel 7 and 8:

(1) Later prophecies in Daniel elaborate on the earlier ones. Daniel 11, therefore, although it does not use beasts and horns to represent kingdoms, but rather a series of selected individual kings who ruled those kingdoms, still describes the same kingdoms as in Daniel 7 and 8.

(2) Both the Antichrist Horn and the Vile Person:

        • Persecute God’s people (Dan 7:25; 11:32-34);
        • For a period of 3½ times (Dan 7:25; 12:7); 1Daniel 11:32-34 describes the persecution by the Vile Person. The duration of the persecution is explained as “a time, two times, and half a time” (Dan 12:6, 7), which is equal to 3½ times. Daniel 7:25 also mentions the “time, times, and half a time” as the period of persecution of the saints of the Most High by the little horn-king.
        • Profane the temple (Dan 11:31; 8:11); 2The Vile Person profanes the strong temple (Dan 11:31), which is equivalent to the casting down of the place of the temple by the horn in Daniel 8:11.
        • Set up “the abomination” (Dan 11:31; 8:13); 3An abomination is a sin. In Deuteronomy 7:25, for example, “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God.” Both Daniel 11:31 and 8:11-12 mention the “abomination” in connection with the “regular sacrifice” (the tamid). Daniel 11, therefore, covers the same ground as Daniel 8 but provides additional detail.
        • Remove the continual sacrifice (the tamid) (Dan 8:11; 11:31);
        • Use deceit (Dan 8:25; 11:21-24); and
        • “Magnify himself” (Dan 8:11; 11:36-37).

Critical scholars, since they identify the Antichrist in Daniel 11 as Antiochus, and since they agree that the Antichrist in Daniel 7 and 8 is the same Power, identify the Antichrist Horn of Daniel 7 and 8 also as Antiochus IV.

THE CONSERVATIVE VIEW

Reads Daniel from the beginning.

Liberal scholars, therefore, base their interpretation of all of Daniel’s prophecies on Daniel 11. Conservatives, in contrast, base their interpretation of Daniel mostly on the earlier and easier-to-understand prophecies in Daniel 2, 7, and 8, but often find it difficult to explain Daniel 11.

Verses 1-20

Verses 1-13 – Persian and Greek Kings

There are no animals in Daniel 11. The prophecy names the Persian kingdom (Dan 11:2), but none of the later kingdoms or kings are named. Instead, the titles “king of the south” and “king of the north” describe entire kingdoms, each consisting of a series of kings. The reader of Daniel 11 has to identify the individual kings by comparing the prophetic events with actual history.

Liberal and conservative interpreters generally agree on the interpretation of Daniel 11:1-13:

The chapter begins with a description of individual Persian kings, concluding with Xerxes, who attacked Greece (Dan 11:2). By his failed attack on the Greeks, he brought the Greek nation onto the ‘world’ scene.

The prophecy then jumps over the next 150 years of Persian rule to the first Greek king—the “mighty king” (Alexander the Great) (Dan 11:3). After his death, his kingdom was divided into four parts (Dan 11:4). Verses 5 to 13 describe key events in the history of two of the four parts, namely those parts that were threats to Judea:

        • To the north of Judea was the “king of the north;” the Seleucid kings of the Middle East.
        • To the south was the “king of the south,” namely the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt.

The actions of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, as described in these verses, are fairly consistent with what we know today of their history.

Verses 14-20 – Antiochus III

Verse 14 refers to the “breakers of your people.” Here interpretations start to diverge. However, most interpreters agree that verses 14 to 19 describe Antiochus III; one of the Greek kings and the predecessor of Antiochus IV. To quote a critical scholar:

Daniel 11:2-20 is a very accurate & historically corroborated sequence of events from the third year (Dan 10:1) of the Persian era up to the predecessor of Antiochus IV: some 366 years! Only the names and dates are missing. Most of the details are about the conflicts between the kings of the South (the Ptolemies of Egypt) and the kings of the North (the Seleucids of Mesopotamia / Syria). The Seleucids are shown to become stronger and stronger (despite some setbacks) … Of course, Jerusalem was in the middle and changed hands (197, from Egypt to Syria).

Verses 21-22

The Prince of the Covenant is Jesus Christ.

Daniel 11:21 refers to the “vile person.” He overflowed “the arms of the flood” (Dan 11:22) and broke the “prince (nagid) of the covenant” (Dan 11:22). The current article proposes that this Prince of the Covenant is Jesus Christ and that “broken” refers to His death on the Cross. This is based on the strong word links between Daniel 11:22 and the prophecy of Christ’s death in Daniel 9:24-27:

Flood – The word “flood,” as a noun, occurs only twice in Daniel—in 9:26 and Daniel 11:22.

Nagid – The word ‘sar’ (translated “prince”) occurs 11 times in Daniel (Dan 8:11, 25; 9:6, 8; 10:13, 20, 21; 11:5; 12:1). But the word ‘nagid’, which is also translated as “prince,” occurs only in Daniel 11:22 and in Daniel 9:24-27, namely in “Messiah the Prince” (Dan 9:25) and in “the prince who is to come” (Dan 9:26).

Cut Off – In both Daniel 9:24-27 and Daniel 11:22, the nagid-prince will be killed. He is “cut off” and ”broken” (Dan 9:26; 11:22).

Covenant – The word “covenant” also occurs elsewhere in Daniel, but only in these two passages is a prince connected with the covenant. Consequently, only the nagid-prince is connected with the covenant:

        • In Daniel 9:26-27 the nagid-prince makes strong the covenant for one week. (See Covenant in Daniel 9:27.)
        • In Daniel 11:22, the nagid-prince of the covenant is broken. 4Elsewhere in Daniel, “covenant” always refers to the covenant between God and His people (Daniel 9:4; 11:28, 30, 32). This implies that the covenant in Daniel 11:22 also refers to God’s covenant with Israel.

This website had identified the Prince of the Covenant in Daniel 9:24-27 as Jesus Christ (See, Who confirms what?). Given these strong word links to Daniel 11:22, these two passages describe the same event. Consequently:

(A) The nagid-prince in the two passages refers to the same individual, namely, Jesus Christ.

(B) The shattering of the Prince of the Covenant in Daniel 11:22 refers to Christ’s death.

The Vile Person is the Roman Empire.

Since verse 22 describes Jesus Christ, 200 years after Antiochus, the “vile person” (Dan 11:21) cannot be Antiochus IV.

Since Daniel 9:24-27 and 11:22 describe the same event, and since the word “flood,” as a noun, occurs only in 9:26 and Daniel 11:22, the flood that floods away the other flood (Dan 11:22) is the same as the flood that destroys the city and the sanctuary (Dan 9:26), namely, the Roman Empire.

The Abomination of Desolation is after Christ.

Since Daniel 11 describes events in their chronological sequence, and since the abomination (Dan 11:31) and the persecution of God’s people (Dan 11:32-34) are described AFTER verse 22, these events occur after Christ’s death and cannot refer to Antiochus IV 200 years earlier. Jesus confirmed this when He put the abomination in the future:

“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet (Daniel 11:31 and 12:11), standing in the holy place …“ (Matt 24:15)

Jesus, therefore, also interpreted the “vile person” as an Antichrist that will arise AFTER His time; not as the Greek king Antiochus IV who died about 200 years earlier.

Compare Daniel 11 to earlier prophecies.

With this conclusion, and with the assistance of the previous articles in this series, we are now able to compare Daniel 11 with the earlier prophecies:

DANIEL 11 DANIEL 9 DANIEL 8 DANIEL 7
Persian kings (Dan 11:2) Persian decree (Dan 9:25) Ram (Dan 8:2-4) Bear (Dan 7:5)
Greek king (Dan 11:3) Goat (Dan 8:5-7) Leopard (Dan 7:6a)
Kings of North and South Goat’s four horns (Dan 8:8) Leopard’s four heads
Roman flood breaks Nagid of the covenant (Dan 11:22) Nagid cut off (Dan 9:25-27) Horn’s horizontal expansion (Dan 8:9) Fourth beast (Dan 7:8, 23)
Vile person profanes temple, sets up abomination, persecutes for 3½ times (Dan 11:31-34; 12:7) Horn casts temple down, removes daily, transgression of desolation (Dan 8:8-13) Little horn: persecutes God’s people for 3½ limes; (Dan 7:25)

OBJECTIONS

This section responds to possible objections to the interpretation proposed above.

The prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III.

To point to Antiochus IV.

Daniel 11 provides much more detail about Antiochus III (Dan 11:15-19); the father and predecessor of Antiochus IV, than about any previous king. Critical scholars argue that this emphasis identifies the next king (the Vile Person) as his son Antiochus IV.

To point to a turning point in history.

This article gives a different explanation as to why the prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III:

The reign of the fourth Persian king (Xerxes) was also emphasized earlier in Daniel 11:2, not to identify the Persian king that would follow after him, but because his unsuccessful wars against Greece were a key turning point in history that shifted the balance of power from Mede-Persia to Greece. After Xerxes was mentioned in verse 2, the prophecy immediately jumps over the next 150 years during which seven Persian kings reigned (Artaxerxes I, Darius II, Xerxes II, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes Ill, Arses, and Darius III), to the first Greek emperor; Alexander the Great (Dan 11:3).

Similarly, Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against the Romans, as described in Daniel 11, was a key turning point in history. It shifted the balance of power from the Greek Empire to Rome. As a consequence, Antiochus and his sons had to pay penalties to the Romans, and their empire was left subject to the growing dominance of Rome.

Both the reigns of Xerxes and Antiochus III, therefore, were key turning points in history that shifted the balance of power to the next empire. It is for that reason that Daniel 11 emphasizes Xerxes and Antiochus III; not to identify the kings that follow them.

In the case of Xerxes, once the key turning point has been reached, the prophecy jumps over the next 150 years of Persian rule to the next empire. This principle applies equally to the shift from the Greek to the Roman empires. After Antiochus III’s unsuccessful war against Rome, the prophecy jumps over the next 170 years, during which several Greek kings reigned, to the next empire (Rome). Read this way, while Daniel 11:19 describes the death of Antiochus III, Daniel 11:22 describes the death of Christ 200 years later.

This principle is also noted when Daniel 7 and 8 are compared. The vision in Daniel 7 mentions Babylon, but the vision in Daniel 8, which was received only two years later (compare Dan 7:1 and 8:1) does not. The reason is that the key turning point, that shifted the balance of world power from Babylon to Mede-Persia, was reached between these two dates. That turning point was the war between the Medes and the Persians, which resulted in the prophesied Cyrus becoming supreme ruler of both the Medes and the Persians. Consequently, the prophecy jumps over the remaining Babylonian kings.

In conclusion, the prophecy emphasizes Antiochus III because his reign was a turning point in history; not to identify the next king.

Daniel 11 does not mention the Roman Empire.

A second possible objection is that the Roman Empire is not mentioned in Daniel 11. Daniel 11 continues, without an intervening empire, from Antiochus III to the vile person.

We respond to this objection in the same way as to that same objection in Daniel 8, namely that the Antichrist in both Daniel 8 and 11 represents both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor. In other words, the symbol of the “vile person” includes both the Roman Empire, symbolized by the flood (Dan 11:22), and Antichrist that arose from it. This can be seen in the progression in the prophecies:

Daniel 2 provides an overview of history, from ancient Babylon to the Eternal Kingdom, but does not mention the Antichrist.

Daniel 7 repeats that overview of history but adds the Antichrist. It symbolizes the Antichrist as the 11th horn growing out of the 4th beast. But the emphasis is on this Antichrist. Daniel 7 describes the fourth empire in only two verses but allows 6 verses for the Antichrist.

Daniel 8 mentions political Rome only indirectly in the initial horizontal expansion of the little horn (Dan 8:9). The Antichrist phase is symbolized by the subsequent vertical growth of the horn. In other words, Daniel 8 uses the horn-king for both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor. Almost all the focus in Daniel 8 is on the Antichrist.

Daniel 11 continues this pattern by representing both the Roman Empire and the Antichrist as a single symbol; the “despicable person” (NASB). Political Rome is seen only as the flood that flows away both the “overflowing forces” and that cuts off the Prince of the Covenant (Dan 11:22). The focus is almost entirely on the Antichrist successor of the Roman Empire.

As mentioned before, the sole purpose of these prophecies, including the descriptions of the first four kingdoms, is to identify the Antichrist. Moving from Daniel 2 to 7 to 8 to 11, the emphasis on the political powers reduces progressively, while the focus on the Antichrist keeps increasing.

Antiochus IV fits the description.

A third possible objection is that Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings in Daniel 11. Studies by the current author (comparing Daniel 11 to the history of the Seleucid kings) have confirmed the majority interpretation up to Daniel 11:19, where Antiochus III dies. The description of the vile person begins in Daniel 11:21. Therefore, if Daniel 11:20 describes Seleucus IV (and not Heliodorus), then Antiochus IV fits the sequence of kings.

Critics also correctly argue that the description of the “vile person” in the verses after Daniel 11:21 fits the actions of Antiochus IV. These include his double invasion of Egypt (compare Dan 11:25, 29), and the persecution of God’s people.

For Critics, these are conclusive evidence that the vile person is Antiochus IV, and not the Roman Empire or some later ruler. This website responds that it is true that Antiochus fits the description. However, the description of the “vile person” exceeds Antiochus IV. For instance, Antiochus never gained authority or ruled through deceit (Dan 11:21). He did not distribute the plunder (Dan 11:24). He did not magnify himself above every god or not have regard for the god of his fathers nor any god (Dan 11:36-37). And, as all agree, the events of the “time of the end” (Dan 11:40-45) do not fit history at all. As Desmond Ford noted:

Verses 21-35 fit his (Antiochus’s) time perfectly, but let it be noted that this interpretation by no means exhausts the passage. 5Desmond Ford, Daniel and the coming King, p 144

A separate article is available that shows that Antiochus IV does not fit the profile.

CONCLUSIONS

Antiochus IV was a type of the Antichrist.

Daniel 11 may, therefore, be understood as two stories intertwined: The first story starts with Persia and continues until and including Antiochus IV. But while discussing Antiochus IV, it jumps to the second story, which is about the Antichrist. This second story continues until Michael stands up (Dan 12:1-3).

We see other examples of a double meaning elsewhere in Scripture:

      • in Joel, the prophet describes a local locust plague but unexpectedly jumps to the Day of the Lord.
      • Isaiah 14 similarly jumps from the king of Babylon to Lucifer, without interruption (Isa 14:4, 12).
      • Ezekiel 28 moves from the king of Tyre (Ezek 28:12) to an “anointed cherub who covers” (Ezek 28:14).
      • It is also similar to Matthew 24, where Jesus combined the description of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the end of the world into a single story.
      • As another example of a double meaning, John the Baptist was the first representation of Elijah to come.

We then conclude as follows:

The “vile person” is a symbol and not a literal person, just like the little horn in Daniel 7 and 8 is not a literal horn. The “vile person” of Daniel 11 symbolizes both the Roman Empire and its Antichrist successor.

Antiochus IV is only a partial fulfillment of the Antichrist. He is a type of the ultimate fulfillment of the final and much larger worldwide Antichrist that will arise from the Roman Empire.

God is in control.

This article, therefore, supports the view that the book of Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus IV, that the prophecies are real predictions of future events, and that God, therefore, is in control of history:

“There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days” (Dan 2:28).

“The Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes” (Dan 5:21).


OTHER ARTICLES

The purpose of this series is to identify the Mark of the Beast. First, it identifies the Beast. The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the Sea Beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire:

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Daniel 11:32-34 describes the persecution by the Vile Person. The duration of the persecution is explained as “a time, two times, and half a time” (Dan 12:6, 7), which is equal to 3½ times. Daniel 7:25 also mentions the “time, times, and half a time” as the period of persecution of the saints of the Most High by the little horn-king.
  • 2
    The Vile Person profanes the strong temple (Dan 11:31), which is equivalent to the casting down of the place of the temple by the horn in Daniel 8:11.
  • 3
    An abomination is a sin. In Deuteronomy 7:25, for example, “graven images of their gods” are called “an abomination to the LORD your God.” Both Daniel 11:31 and 8:11-12 mention the “abomination” in connection with the “regular sacrifice” (the tamid). Daniel 11, therefore, covers the same ground as Daniel 8 but provides additional detail.
  • 4
    Elsewhere in Daniel, “covenant” always refers to the covenant between God and His people (Daniel 9:4; 11:28, 30, 32). This implies that the covenant in Daniel 11:22 also refers to God’s covenant with Israel.
  • 5
    Desmond Ford, Daniel and the coming King, p 144
  • 6
    Daniel 2 sets the stage to identify the Antichrist.
  • 7
    The four beast-kingdoms reign one after the other but the ten horns exist at the same time; after the fourth empire.
  • 8
    Daniel 8 identifies the two animals as Mede-Persia and Greece but not the horn. This article explains the alternative interpretations.
  • 9
    A comparison of the animals of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth kingdom, from which the Antichrist arises, as the Roman Empire.
  • 10
    The genders in Daniel 8 show that “one of them” means one of the compass directions of the heavens, which means the horn came out of Rome.
  • 11
    Critical scholars propose that Antiochus IV is the Antichrist in Daniel but he was only a type of a later and much greater Antichrist.
  • 12
    This article lists several differences between the evil king of Daniel 7, 8, and 11 and Antiochus IV. Antiochus was a type of a much later and greater Antichrist.
  • 13
    The Dragon is one of Revelation’s three seven-headed beasts. In Rev 13:1-2 – the birth of the Sea Beast – the Dragon is the Roman Empire.
  • 14
    It is a fragment of and the continuation of the authority of the Roman Empire. It is also the Antichrist. People will receive its mark.
  • 15
    The Sea Beast has a fatal wound on one of its heads. Revelation 17 describes the same fatal wound and identifies it as the sixth head.