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Editor’s note: The following is Part II of a series on the Antichrist. Read Part I here

(LifeSiteNews) –– We saw in the last piece that the Antichrist will come “in all power and signs and lying wonders,” such that he will be able to convince many to worship him. St. Paul describes him as: 

[T]he son of perdition who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. (2 Thess. 2.3-4)  

When the Antichrist persecutes the Church, it seems that it will be at the expense of a false religion of his own. This religion will be based around the Antichrist himself, who will sit in the temple of God. 

In the previous piece, we saw that Catholic theologians and mystics hold that the Antichrist will be accepted as the Moshiach (Messiah) of the Jews, and will probably reign over the whole world from Jerusalem. 

But will this involve the rebuilding of the Temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD, as prophesied by Christ? 

Some say the Jerusalem Temple will not be rebuilt 

Catholic theologians and prophecies are not in agreement about which Temple it is in which the Antichrist will sit and present himself as God.  

St. Thomas Aquinas, without taking a position, notes that some authorities – even some Jews – believe that the temple will never be rebuilt, and rather “that their desolation will last until the final consummation.”[1]

St. John Chrysostom voices an opinion along these lines, saying: “Not in the Temple of Jerusalem, but in the Temple of the Church.”[2]

If this is so, it remains unclear exactly what is meant here, whether it be a literal church building, or something more symbolic. St. Thomas suggests that it means “many from the church will accept him,” or that he will rule and govern “as though he himself with his messengers were the temple of God, as Christ is the temple with his adherents.”[3]

Although not conclusive, one reason to think that the Temple will not be rebuilt is that previous attempts have all failed. Fr. E. Sylvester Berry gives the following text from the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, who was himself a soldier under Julian the Apostate:  

Julian the Apostate attempted to rebuild the temple in the fourth century but the undertaking was frustrated in a miraculous manner.  

The place was made inaccessible by fearful balls of fire that broke out near the foundations and so scorched and burned the workmen that they were forced to retire. The frequent attacks finally caused the work to be abandoned.”[4] 

One of the key reasons that Julian the Apostate attempted this rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple was to disprove the prophecy of Christ, that the Temple would be destroyed. The miraculous events which preventing its rebuilding have been understood as vindicating this prophecy, and as an indication that it will never be rebuilt.  

Nonetheless, it is possible that the rebuilding of the Temple was simply not to happen at that time. 

Some say that the Jerusalem Temple will be rebuilt wholly or in part 

However, other theologians believe that the temple in question is indeed the Temple of Jerusalem. This is the opinion held by Ss. Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Cyril of Jerusalem, John of Damascene, Suarez, and others.[5] St. Thomas Aquinas holds this as a legitimate opinion. 

The great biblical commentator Cornelius a Lapide considers both opinions, but favors the idea that there will be an attempt to rebuild some sort of Temple in Jerusalem: 

The Antichrist will therefore sit in the temple, that is, in the temple of the Christians, or even more simply, in the temple of Jerusalem, which at the time of St Paul was the only one that was called the temple of God in the proper sense. So in his time the Antichrist will rebuild this temple as it was, so that it will serve him as a throne, as it were. […] 

For the Antichrist will convince the Jews that he is the Messiah promised in the Law, as is clear from John 5:43; therefore, says Cyril in his 15th Catechesis, he will build them a temple in order to be taken for the Son of David, that is, the Messiah, and, as it were, for a second Solomon, who built the first temple.  

So the Antichrist will sit in this temple of his, not as the pope or as a bishop, as the innovators want, but as the Messiah, and as the Messiah he will be worshipped by the Jews as God.[6]

St. Cyril of Jerusalem states that St. Paul is referring to the Temple of Jerusalem, and while he thinks that this is essential in order for him to deceive the Jewish people into accepting him, he does not necessarily hold that the Antichrist will succeed in rebuilding it: 

For if he comes to the Jews as Christ, and desires to be worshipped by the Jews, he will make great account of the Temple, that he may more completely beguile them; making it supposed that he is the man of the race of David, who shall build up the Temple which was erected by Solomon.[7]  

St. Robert Bellarmine makes a similar point and argues that at least the attempt to rebuild the Temple will be crucial:   

Antichrist will be Jewish, both the Messiah of the Jews and king; therefore doubtless he will establish his throne in Jerusalem, and he will attempt to restore the temple of Solomon.  

For the Jews dream about nothing else but Jerusalem and the temple; and it seems that they will never accept someone as the Messiah, if he does not have his seat in Jerusalem and in some way restore the temple.[8] 

Bellarmine adds that the word “Temple” always refers to the Jerusalem Temple, and that the Fathers never called Christian Churches “Temples,” but always other names. He adds also that this does not depend on the Jerusalem Temple being successfully or completely rebuilt:  

[T]he more common, more probable and more literal explanation is that of those who say that by the temple of God here is understood the temple of Solomon, in which Antichrist will be seated, no matter what stage of repair it may be in.[9] 

Berry, although he favors the opinion that the Temple will not be rebuilt, writes: 

Many theologians believe that Antichrist will rebuild the temple of Jerusalem in which he will establish his throne and be worshipped as God. The words of St. Paul, cited above, certainly seem to favor this belief, and there can be no doubt that such an achievement would secure immediate recognition for Antichrist and his projects.[10]

This is all very important, because it precisely reflects common Jewish beliefs about their awaited Moshiach, and thus provides a link between a man that they will accept as such and the Antichrist. 

The supposed Moshiach 

We saw in the last part that Fathers, theologians and mystics believed that the Antichrist will be acclaimed by the Jewish people. 

There have been many false messiahs acclaimed by some representatives of the Jewish people, including Bar Kokhba and even Napoléon.  

However, as Francisco Suarez, SJ, points out, these were received only by parts of the Jewish people, and they ultimately failed in what they were hoped to achieve – such as the rebuilding of the Temple, or the establishment of a worldwide reign and the imposition of certain moral norms expected of the gentiles.  

As mentioned elsewhere, the enormously influential twelfth century Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (“Maimonides” or “Rambam”) wrote about some of the signs that permit one to assume that the Moshiach has arrived. 

If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvot as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David, his ancestor, will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of God, we may, with assurance, consider him Mashiach.[11]

He then taught that the rebuilding of the Temple will be a definitive confirmation that a given claimant is the Moshiach: 

“If he succeeds in the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Mashiach.”[12]

And elsewhere:

In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. 

Then, in his days, the observance of all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah.[13]

In the nineteenth century, the learned ex-rabbi David Paul Drach (who became a Catholic in 1823, and later became a librarian of a Roman Congregation) described the current expectations for the Moshiach in the same way.[14]

Thus, if the Temple were to be rebuilt, and as a result a particular man were to be acclaimed as the Moshiach, then such a man may well be the prophesied Antichrist.   

As we have seen elsewhere, however, a significant obstacle to this goal is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in the Islamic religion, which is located on Temple Mount. It will be impossible to rebuild the Temple without destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and it will be impossible for the Islamic world to tolerate such a destruction without the outbreak of a great war. 

In this vein, we can recall that Maimonides also states that that the Moshiach will be identified as one who “fights the wars of God” and succeeds in doing so – and that his reign will commence with a great war between the two powers of Gog and Magog.[15]


After Titus’ destroyed the Temple and thus fulfilled Christ’s prophecy in 70 AD, it became impossible to offer Temple sacrifices or to complete the various temple-related “mitzvot” (commandments or good deeds) of the Jewish religion. 

Given the centrality of the Temple it became impossible to practise this religion as it formerly had been. As a result, it significantly changed, such that Alieza Salzberg talks of the “the birth of rabbinic Judaism” after the destruction of the Temple. She defines this new form of Judaism as “a way of life focused on Torah and Jewish law, rather than Temple worship or political sovereignty.”[16] 

All this was symbolized in the tearing of the veil of the Temple at the moment of Christ’s death. The Church Father Theophylact also said that: 

[I]t was to signify that the temple was to be profaned, and done away with, and set aside, with all its rites and sacrifices.[17]

It is for this reason that, after the sufficient promulgation of the Gospel, the legal ceremonies and rites of the Old Law were considered both dead, in that they are no longer efficacious or binding, but also deadly, in that they could no longer be observed without sin.  

As St. Thomas says, “it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity.”[18]

These rites pointed towards what had now been fulfilled; their continued observation constituted a denial of this fulfillment by Christ. 

It is therefore incomprehensible to see self-proclaimed Christians working for the restoration of this Temple, through their assistance with the red heifers and other means. Despite the best of intentions, this constitutes a denial that Christ has come in the flesh and fulfilled the law. 

We will see more about what this means for the religion of the Antichrist in the next part.  

But to close this part, it is fitting, given the links between the possible rebuilding of the Temple and the accompanying denial of Christ, that this is exactly what St. John says of Antichrist:  

For many seducers are gone out into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a seducer and an antichrist. (2 John 1.7)

LifeSiteNews’ Dr. Maike Hickson contributed to this report.


1 St Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 2 Thess. C2. L1. n. 40.2. Available at: https://aquinas.cc/la/en/~2Thess.C2.L1.n40.2
2 St John Chrysostom, In II ad Thessal., II., in Fr Denis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, p 189. Christian Book Club of America, Palmdale CA., 1953.
3 St Thomas, Ibid.
4 Fr E. Sylvester Berry, The Apocalypse of St John, p 137. First Edition, The Catholic Church Supply House, Coloumbus Ohio, 1921.
5 Lémann, in Fahey 189.
6 From a translation made from a German version of A Lapide’s commentary on 2 Thess.
7 St Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 15, n. 15. Translated by Edwin Hamilton Gifford. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310115.htm>.
8 St Robert Bellarmine, in Controversies of the Christian Religion, p 894. From the Third General Controversy On the Sovereign Pontiff, Book III, On the Antichrist, Ch. 12. Trans. Fr Kenneth Baker, Keep the Faith Press, 2016.
9 Ibid. 895
10 Berry 136
11 Maimonides, Mishneh TorahSefer Shoftim, Melachim uMilchamot 11.4
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid. 11.1
14 He writes: The Messiah, whose coming the Jews obstinately expect, in spite of the fact that he on his side obstinately refuses to appear, is to be a great conqueror who will reduce all the nations of the world to the condition of slaves of the Jews. The latter are destined to return to the Holy Land in triumph, laden with the riches taken from the non-Jews. Jerusalem is to have a new temple. L’Harmonie entre l’Eglise et la Synagoge, p 98, in Fahey 100.
15 He writes: “The simple interpretation of the prophets’ words appear to imply that the war of Gog and Magog will take place at the beginning of the Messianic age.” Maimonides, Ibid., 12.2
16 Alieza Salzburg, ‘Judaism after the Temple,’ My Jewish Learning, accessed 11 Apr 2024. Available at: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-after-the-temple/
17 From Cornelius a Lapide’s Great Commentary on St Matthew, 27.51.
18 Summa Theologica I-II Q103, A4.