What does the Bible tell us about the coming Antichrist? What can we know about his identity?
The Bible tells us that in the final period of history, the world will be ruled by a single man who obtains his position of power by the work of Satan:
Using symbols, the book of Revelation describes the antichrist as "the beast" who becomes the final world ruler of a period of history Jesus called the "age of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). This period of history, which is revealed in detail in Daniel 2 & 7, is marked by a succession of Gentile world powers that conquer Israel and Jerusalem. The first of these kingdoms is Babylon and the final is the kingdom of the Antichrist. This man's rise to power is made possible by Satan (i.e., the "dragon").
Revelation 13's mention of a leopard, bear and lion remind the reader of the prophecies found in Daniel 7 and thus connect the beast to the age of the Gentiles. The beast (i.e., Antichrist) will be the final world ruler in this long period of human history. Additionally, Daniel 11 teaches that this man will have the power to conquer the world and subdue believers during a period of world turmoil:
The Antichrist (who Daniel calls "the king") will exalt himself to be god and demand the world worship him. He is not interested in any existing gods or religious traditions nor does marriage or sexual relations hold any interest for him. These details tell us he is not an ordinary human being, but rather a man controlled by Satan. Satan is the "foreign god" who helps the Antichrist rise to power. He defeats the strongest of fortresses and eventually controls the world.
Paul describes the Antichrist (who Paul calls the man of lawlessness) this way:
The Antichrist will call himself god and will take a seat in the temple of the Jewish people (which must be rebuilt by the time of the Antichrist's appearing) and will rule the earth with the power of Satan until Christ's return. Furthermore, Paul says the specific identity of the Antichrist will not be revealed to the world until the "restrainer" is removed from the earth. The term "restrainer" refers to the Holy Spirit, Who lives in the world now (in the members of the Church), but He will leave the earth when the Church itself is removed at the resurrection. The resurrection of the Church (sometimes called the "rapture") takes place prior to the revealing of the Antichrist, therefore believers will not know the Antichrist's identity while we live on earth.
Finally Daniel 9 tells us where this man will come from:
Daniel hears from the angel Gabriel that the nation of Israel has been placed under divine judgment for a long period of history (70 "weeks" or 70 x 7 years = 490 years). During this time, the people of Israel will experience Gentile oppression, culminating with a single "week" (i.e., seven-year period) of oppression at the hands of the "prince."
This prince is the Antichrist. His short reign on earth will conclude the seven-year period of Daniel 9, and this prince will rise up from the same people who destroyed the city (v.26). The city refers to Jerusalem, and the people refer to the fourth Gentile kingdom from Daniel 2 & 7, which is Rome. So the Antichrist will originate out of the fourth Gentile kingdom, which began with Rome.
The Antichrist need not be "Roman" or "Italian" or even "European." The only certain requirements for the identity of the Antichrist is that he be a Gentile ruler leading the modern remnants of the Roman Empire. That empire included lands as distinct as India, Turkey, and Egypt, so we cannot narrow his identity to one region or nationality. The only trait clearly spelled out in Scripture is that the Antichrist be a Gentile ruler, in the manner of his predecessors.
For more information on the Bible's teaching on the Antichrist, please watch the following video presentation.