I believe during the first half of and/or before The 70th Week that the Antichrist will be claiming to be, or be claimed to be, Messiah Ben-Joseph. This agrees in part with Chris White's view. But I also have a lot of problems with White's view.
Part of that theory as White presents it has The False Prophet be a counterfeit Elijah. The main clue pointing to that being the one miracle directly linked to him being also linked to Elijah, calling fire down form Heaven. Which is also usually cited as one of the reasons we know one of the Two Witnesses in chapter 11 is Elijah, because they do something similar.
That could be correct, but I have another theory I think is more likely. I'm not dogmatic about it however.
First off I talk about what goes on with the Signs and Wonders of Revelation 13 here. Also fire from heaven isn't unique to Elijah, we know it's one of the abilities Jesus gave the 12 the Authority to perform from Luke 9:54.
White also makes it sound like Rabbinic Jews expect Elijah to resurrect Messiah Ben-Joseph. There is only one very obscure Rabbinic reference giving credence to that, and it's based on identifying Messiah Ben Joseph with the individual Elijah already resurrected during his first ministry. That's not compatible with how The Antichrist deception will play out in my or White's understanding of the Mid-70th Week drama. The far vaster and more universal expectation is that Messiah Ben-David resurrects Ben-Joseph.
If you're convinced by all the other arguments for him trying to convince Jews he's the Jewish Messiah, then of course an Elijah claimant must play some role. But there are three other ways that could fit in.
1. The horns affiliated with the first beast we know represent 10 other distinct individuals linked to The Beast. But generally no one considers that the two "lamb like horns" of the second beast could be the same. I think it's possible they could be two proto-False Prophets counterfeiting the Two Witness. Maybe these are among the False Prophets of Matthew 24:11, and it's not till verses 23 and 24 that the Two Beasts show up and are added to the list.
2. Yair Davidy of Britam is among those Rabbinic Jews who actually believe ideas similar to British Israelism. And he ties Messiah Ben-Joseph into that. I've actually had a few brief email exchanges with him, I asked if anyone has considered that Elijah and Messiah Ben-Jospeh could be the same, since Elijah probably was tribally of either Manasseh or Ephraim. And he said yes, that is a possibility some Rabbis have considered.
And among those Christians who have accepted the Messiah Ben-Joseph concept, they usually read him into Revelation as one of The Witnesses. Because of the parallel of Ben-Joseph laying dead in the streets of Jerusalem for a period of time before being resurrected.
Meanwhile some commentators on Revelation have suggested both Beasts are the Evil Counterparts of the Two Witnesses.
So, especially looking at my thoughts on how the miracles might play out, maybe before he outright deifies himself The Antichrist claims to be Elijah? Most likely in the same sense John The Baptist is viewed as Elijah?
3. In my Four Horsemen study, I suggest that the person who becomes The Beast might not even be evil at first. Some Old Testament figures who become types of The Antichrist were indeed anointed by true Prophets of God, one specific example, Jehu, has an indirect connection to Elijah in his anointing. So maybe we shouldn't rule out that The White Horseman will be supported by The Two Witnesses at first?
So those are the alternative ways Elijah could be accounted for in the coming deception. Now as for my personal view on who The False Prophet claims to be.
Having "two horns like a lamb" is thought to support the idea of him claiming to be Jesus.
The word translated "lamb" here is used over 25 times in Revelation, this is the only time it's not in direct reference to Jesus. But it's not actually a lamb, it's "like a lamb". similar or resembling is what the Greek word here means. So some scholars (even without the intent of connection to any extra Biblical ideas I'll mention latter) have theorized that it's the second beast not the first who claims to be Jesus himself. This word occurs outside Revelation only once in John 21:15, and there it's in a different form, being the only time it's plural. It is not provable to be a perfect synonym of any other term Biblically.
Chris White feels two of the key miracles linked to Elijah being calling down fire and raising the dead is significant. But both of those are linked to Jesus as well.
It's interesting that the only other place in The New Testament a specific individual is described with the term False Prophet, is Acts 13. And the name of this person is Bar-Jesus. Yeshua (transliterated Iesous into Greek and then Jesus in English via Latin) was a very common name in First century Judea. But the New Testament generally avoids referring to any other individuals with the same name as it's central character. This isn't the only exception (translations sometimes obscure that Barabas was forenamed Jesus), but it's an interesting thematic coincidence.
Some have cited Matthew 24:24 "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." As proving the False Prophets and false Messiahs are distinct.
First of all claiming to be Jesus doesn't necessarily mean claiming to be Messiah, it could be the point is claiming the Antichrist and not Jesus is The Messiah.
But also Hebrew expression often lists synonyms next to each other like that. All True Prophets are Anointed of God and thus Messiahs. And Jesus is the "Prophet like unto Moses" which even some modern Rabbinic Jews claim to be Messianic.
When False Prophets are paired with False Teachers in 2 Peter 2:1 there is more blatant justification for viewing them as different groups grammatically. Yet they're clearly not meant to be viewed as mutually exclusive. If you want to argue that they are, I'd just remind you of the Isaiah verse I quoted early on "prophet that teacheth lies".
Why Two Horns? Lambs have horns, but they're very small and barely noticeable. No where outside Revelation does The Bible emphasize horns in a symbolic or literal description of lambs or sheep, or even acknowledge the possibly of them having horns. So when you see commentators say "two horns because that's the number a Lamb normally has". That's true biologically, but doesn't have much Biblical precedent.
The only other Biblical reference to Lamb horns is in Revelation 5:6 "stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." So these false Lamb horns could equate to demonic spirits (and could connect to my theory elsewhere about them being proto false prophets, speaking by the power of those spirits). John as I'll mention later equates the "Spirit of Antichrist" with two linked yet technically different key heresies.
Some see a connection to Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Firstly the word for Sheep is not the same word as Lamb, in the Greek or in English. Some use this against The False Prophet claiming to be Jesus, because here it means sheep as in how Christians are sheep, not Jesus himself. But he said wearing Sheep's clothing, that imagery is meant to make us think of a Shepherd. Zachariah 11 and Ezekiel 34 speak of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Ezekiel speaks of multiple bad Shepherds, but Zachariah 11:16-17, says
"For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.The key to me however is that IF one of the two beasts claims to be Jesus, it can only be the second. It is debatable on if Jesus saying "shall come in my name" means The Antichrist will claim he's Jesus, that could be a different study. But why you ask do I think only the second beast can be claiming to be Jesus?
Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened."
John's epistles define Antichrists and the Spirit of Antichrist as denying Jesus is God made Flesh, and denying the relationship of The Father and The Son. NOT as denying Jesus existed, or denying he was good, or denying he was a wise teacher, or denying he was a Prophet, or The Messiah, or denying he performed miracles, or was born of a Virgin, or that he died and rose again, or denying he was without sin. It's defined as denying Jesus was the Son of God, or was God made Flesh.
We know from Revelation 13 the first beast is the one deified, the second is promoting him. So it can't fit the definition of Antichrist if the First is claiming also to be Jesus. It'd still be heresy, but not the Antichrist heresy.
However it would in fact be the perfect manifestation of The Antichrist heresy, if THE Antichrist is actually Two Individuals. One claiming to be Jesus and not God, and the other to be God and not Jesus.
Chris White's objection to The False Prophet claiming to be Jesus begins with the strawman that ONLY people focused on an Islamic Antichrist (Mahdi and Isa) theory make that argument. I used to flirt with the Islamic theory, but I've since abandoned it. But I like to remain open to all possibilities, since we will NOT know for certain who he is until The Abomination happens.
Just doing some casual searching on the subject, I know I found one site making this argument for a Vatican centered theory. Another who said of the second beast description "this sounds like the gentle Jesus of liberal denominations", clearly he wasn't thinking of the Islamic Isa.
And one that didn't allude to what they felt the nature of the first beast was, or what false religion he'd be, but just arguing for The False Prophet as claiming to be Jesus to help arguing that The False Prophet really is who I will argue he is in the 4th part of this study. But certain aspects of his argument differed from mine.
The Islamic theory isn't the only theory it works with. It could lend itself well to a variation of White's own theory, because as I said Messiah Ben-David is who Rabbinic Jews expect to resurrect Messiah Ben-Joseph. And a fake Jesus can very easily be claimed to be Messiah Ben-David, since that's one of the many things the Real Jesus is.
In fact I think the Islamic eschatological tradition was mostly plagiarizing the Mahdi from Ben-Joseph, simply changing which disinherited branch of the family of Abraham to prop up. And gave the Ben-David role to Isa. The extra-Biblical Christian concept of the Last Roman Emperor I feel also has that origin.
Mormonism btw is also guilty of The Antichrist heresy. They can say they consider Jesus God, but they don't believe in the true Trinity, and their God the Father isn't even a truly monotheistic God, or the ultimate highest god of their cosmology. None the less they do believe Jesus will return, and will Resurrect The Dead when he does. And then they have their own Rider on a White Horse prophecy. They've also hijacked the Rabbinic Messiah Ben-Joseph concept in their own weird way.
Another heresy being promoted today by Stephen Huller (a Frankist) is laid out in his book The Real Messiah, and it's promotional blog. In it he argues Jesus wasn't The Messiah (at least not of Daniel 9) but the forerunner. And the real Messiah of Daniel 9 (he believes the details of Daniel 9 commonly linked to The Antichrist are in fact The Messiah also, and that there is no Antichrist) was King Herod Agrippa (he believes there was only one Agrippa and Josephus artificially divided them). His timing of the 70 weeks agrees with Chris White's wrong view, that they point to 70 AD rather then 30.
His theory is very convoluted, and much of it easily debunk-able. The most credible part of his argument is that there does seem to be over looked references to a Herod Agrippa being viewed as The Messiah. Which is interesting in light of my view that the first Agrippa is a type of The Antichrist in Acts 12.
So the False Elijah theory could be true, but I think the False Jesus theory is more likely. It's also not impossible he'd claim to be both in some fashion, a number of ways could be thought of to make that work.