The most relevant Bible passage here is 2 Thessalonians 2 which describes a “man of lawlessness” who will be revealed before the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God… For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
We are given several clues as to his identification:
- He opposes and exalts himself against every object of worship (2 Thess 2:4);
- He sits in the temple of God and proclaims himself to be God (2 Thess 2:4);
- Some aspects of the “lawlessness” were already at work in the first century, but would only be fully revealed in the last days (2 Thess 2:7);
- The lawless one would be accompanied by deceptive false signs and wonders (2 Thess 2:9);
- Many people would believe in him (2 Thess 2:11-12).
There are similarities with the antichrist (1 John 2:18; 4:3), the little horn of Daniel (Daniel 7:24-25), and the beasts of Revelation 13.
However, even with these clues, we don’t yet know the identity of the man of lawlessness described in 2 Thessalonians 2. What is clear is that the time immediately before Jesus returns will include great trouble, persecution, godlessness, false worship and false signs. Jesus warned us
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:24-27)