Riddlebarger: Man of Sin

Riddlebarger, Kim.  Man of Sin.

Riddlebarger advances the thesis that the Scriptures give us a typology of antichrists which will culminate in a future, individual Antichrist, or Man of Sin. This is an accessible read for the lay person.  Riddlebarger covers the necessary scholarship, but he never overwhelms the reader.  I agree with him on a personal, future Antichrist but demur at points concerning the exegesis of Daniel and Matthew 24. While I think “double-fulfillment” is plausible, I think a stronger case needs to be made for it.  To be fair to Riddlebarger, though, that wasn’t his main point.

The drama begins with the two seeds (cities) in the Garden.  From there Riddlebarger gives us a line up of OT types of Antichrist:
1) Nimrod
2) Pharaoh.  He even has magicians who are able to match Moses and Aaron.  This is demonic agency (Rev. 13:11-17).
3) Nebuchadnezzar: The Image of the Beast. Lots of connections with Nimrod.  Tower/Golden Image; Both in roughly the same area.

Antichrist and Daniel’s 70th Week.

I am just stating Riddlebarger’s argument.  I’m not endorsing or critiquing it.  He identifies the “covenant” in verse 27 with “the covenant of grace.”

Gog and Magog

Gog and Magog are symbols of all nations who come from the ends of the earth to war upon the saints.

Doctrine of the Antichrist in the New Testament Era

Much of Riddlebarger’s argument depends on “double-fulfillment.”  I’m iffy on this.  It seems like special pleading.  However, it does seem to work with the fall of Jerusalem and the Olivet Discourse.  It won’t convince heretical full preterists, but it can blunt some partial preterist arguments.

The Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet

Old Testament Background

He takes a somewhat unique line with Nero.  Pace Gentry, he doesn’t see Nero as the Beast.  Notwithstanding, Nero is important for revelation, for even on a late date reading, John utilizes (or his readers would have understood) the Nero Redivivus myth.

The section on Puritan eschatology goes through the standard arguments for historicism, which Riddlebarger isn’t buying. While we associate eschatological speculation with dispensationalists, it is the historicists who really own the game.  The English Civil war was a ready-made template. 

Most historicists date the beginning of the Papacy at 600 AD (for Edwards it was 606). From these calculations Edwards concluded that Antichrist would fall around 1866.  Unfortunately, for speculative purposes, Catholicism began to wane.  We see a moderating trend in Charles Hodge.  Actually, Hodge’s exposition of Antichrist is pretty good.

Figure of the Past or Future Foe?

1) A series of antichrists will arise from within the church and will be tied to a particular heresy.
2) A repeated manifestation of the Beast throughout history.

3) The final manifestation of Antichrist is state-enforced heresy.

Problems with Preterism

Arguments in favor:
1) Rev. 11 seems to mention a physical temple, which would imply it was still standing.
Response: The language in Revelation is symbolic.  If it is literal, then we have the odd case of the Gentiles’ occupying the outer court for 3 ½ years but leaving the inner court undefiled.

2) The seven heads and sevens clearly suggest Rome, so we have six kings before AD 70, the last of which is Nero. 
Response: With which emperor do you begin counting? If we start with Julius Caesar, then we get Nero.  But if we start with the first official emperor, Augustus, we do not get Nero.

3) Some preterists argue that Jerusalem is Babylon, since it was the “city in which our Lord was crucified.”
Response: That same city is also called “Sodom and Egypt,” so we probably aren’t dealing with literal terms.

4) He is coming with the clouds, and the reference in Zechariah clearly refers to the generation who pierced him.
Response: The reference in Zech. is to Israel’s final salvation, not her final judgment.

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