Summary: Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the eighth in a succession of twenty-six kings who ruled from 175—164 BC over the Syrian section of Alexander’s empire and is undoubtedly one of the greatest prototypes of the Antichrist in all of God’s Word.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the eighth in a succession of twenty-six kings who ruled from 175—164 BC over the Syrian section of Alexander’s empire. He is referred to as the “little horn” in Daniel 8:9. The name Epiphanes means the “Illustrious One,” although his contemporaries nicknamed him Epimanes, meaning “madman.”1 He differs in many respects with the “little horn” of Daniel Chapter seven seeing that “the little horn of 7:8 appears in the context of the fourth kingdom (Rome), while the little horn of 8:9 appears in the context of the third kingdom (Greece).”2 Yet taken as a whole Antiochus IV Epiphanes is undoubtedly one of the greatest prototypes of the Antichrist in all of God’s Word.
The prophecies of Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel (Dan. 8:9-14; 23-25; 11:21-35) have both a historical as well as future fulfillment. Because these prophecies point both to Antiochus Epiphanes as well as the future Antichrist of the New Testament Bible students call them a double reference prophecy. However, liberal commentators, such as D.S. Russell, see in these verses only a historical fulfillment due to their late dating of the Book of Daniel (165 B.C.).3 Conservative scholars, on the other hand, realize both a historical completion (they were still future when Daniel wrote them) in Antiochus as well as future prophecies that prefigure the Antichrist. There are also differences of opinion among fundamental Bible scholars as to where the prophecies regarding Antiochus end and those pertaining to the Antichrist begin. We will at this time focus on the comparisons or parallels between the wicked Syrian king Antiochus IV who viciously and cruelly persecuted the Old Testament saints of God and the coming “man of sin” commonly referred to in the New Testament as the Antichrist.
(1) Both involve two end-time periods. When it comes to the larger picture, these two periods of persecution leading up to the first and second coming of Christ are portrayed in both the exploits of Antiochus IV as well as those of the coming Antichrist. Lehman Strauss explains thusly:
Both of these periods witness the wrath of God being extended to His chosen people. The first of these periods of wrath commenced with the Babylonian captivity and concluded with the atrocities of Antiochus, after which there was deliverance. The second of these periods is yet future. It will commence with the beginning of the seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27) and conclude with the atrocities of Antichrist, after which there will be deliverance.4
Therefore not only is there a typical relationship between the two persons of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the upcoming Man Of Sin, but there is also an association between the two time periods leading up to the end of each era.
(2) Both begin as a “little horn”. (cf. Daniel 7:8; 8:9). Both Antiochus and the Antichrist grow to become a great power from a small beginning. Notice that the “little horn” of Daniel 8:9 “waxed exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great even to the host of heaven” (Dan. 8:9-10a). This is true of the Antichrist as well (cf. Dan. 11:41-42). He will begin as an insignificant political figure in the beginning. However he will gain worldwide power by the midst of the tribulation hour and exert control over “all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Rev. 13:7).