The Bible contains many prophecies about the end times, including wars, famines, earthquakes, and other tribulations. Some Christians speculate about whether these prophecies refer to a World War 3 scenario occurring before the end times described in the Bible.
There are a few key biblical passages that may relate to an end times global war:
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
In this Olivet Discourse, Jesus warns his disciples that wars, revolutions, and natural disasters are part of the “birth pains” that will increase before his return. The phrase “nation will rise against nation” suggests international war on a global scale.
“When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse went out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.”
In Revelation’s depiction of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the rider on a red horse is given power to take away peace and instigate worldwide war. This could symbolize a future world war.
The prophecies in Ezekiel 38-39 describe a future invasion of Israel by Gog, of the land of Magog, leading a coalition including Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth Togarmah. They will be defeated by God’s divine intervention. Some scholars believe this depicts a Third World War led by Russia and Iran against Israel.
While these verses suggest end times global conflicts, other experts argue they should not be taken literally as a World War 3 scenario. Symbolism and metaphor are frequently used in biblical prophecies.
Overall, the Bible does not explicitly mention a “World War 3” by name. But it provides warnings about escalating international conflict before Jesus’ return. However, the specifics are open to interpretation.
Differing Views on World War 3 in the End Times
There are several perspectives among Christians regarding the possibility of WWIII occurring before the biblical end times:
Most premillennialists believe that the world will descend into greater disaster and turmoil, culminating in a period of great tribulation with a series of judgments depicted in Revelation 6–19. Many see possibilities for a Third World War occurring in this tumultuous environment leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.
Postmillennialists tend to be more optimistic, believing the world will gradually become more Christianized and peaceful before Jesus returns. From this perspective, a WWIII scenario seems unlikely and contradicts the expected trajectory of the world heading toward the millennium.
Amillennialists do not interpret biblical prophecies as a literal timeline of future events. References to tribulations, judgment, and conflict in the end times are understood symbolically or metaphorically. Most amillennialists do not attempt to make specific predictions about a World War 3 occurring.
Historicists believe biblical prophecies provide a symbolic outline of the entire history of the church down through the ages, including major events like the Protestant Reformation. Some historicists see World Wars 1 and 2 as having already fulfilled apocalyptic prophecies about end times war and tribulation.
Futurists believe many end times prophecies refer to events that will take place in the future. Most futurists anticipate a period of tribulation with severe persecution of believers. A devastating conflict like WWIII could fit this predicted scenario of unprecedented trouble preceding the Second Coming.
As we can see, perspectives differ among Christians as to whether WWIII will occur based on varying interpretations of biblical prophecies and eschatology. Some foresee global war, while others do not.
Potential Causes of World War 3 According to Biblical Prophecy
While the Bible does not specifically predict a World War 3, some believers speculate about potential catalysts for an end times global military conflict based on biblical principles and geopolitics:
- Rise of a dominant world power threatening global stability and peace
- Alliances formed between powerful nations hostile to Israel and Judeo-Christian values
- Conflicts over resources, finances, and the global economy
- Nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands
- Civil wars, revolutions, and regional unrest creating global ripple effects
- Escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East
- Modernization of weaponry and military technology enabling more massive destruction
- Kings of the east – possible reference to China’s military rise (Revelation 16:12)
- One world government gaining control and causing rebellion (Revelation 13)
While these are speculative theories, the Bible does warn about end times tribulation and upheaval that could potentially lead to a World War 3 type scenario unfolding globally.
How World War 3 Could Unfold from a Biblical Perspective
While we cannot know exactly how a WWIII would progress, Bible scholars have looked for clues in scripture about how global military conflict could potentially unfold in the end times:
- Rise of the Antichrist to global power (Revelation 13:1-10)
- Antichrist gains control of European coalition (Daniel 9:26-27)
- Formation of a one world government under the Antichrist (Revelation 13:3)
- Military alliance led by Russia invades Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-6)
- China provides massive army of 200 million soldiers (Revelation 9:14-16)
- Devastating nuclear exchange and advanced weapons (Zechariah 14:12)
- One third of mankind killed in initial wars (Revelation 9:15)
- Antichrist persecutes believers resisting his regime (Revelation 13:7)
- Jesus returns to defeat Antichrist’s armies (Revelation 19:11-21)
This series of events is speculative. But it provides an idea of one possible WWIII scenario that could play out based on interpretations of biblical prophecies about the end times tribulation period.
Will Christians be Raptured Before World War 3?
The concept of a rapture of believers before the tribulation period leads to debate about the timing of World War 3:
- Pretribulation rapture – Believers taken up before any tribulation occurs. WWIII would take place after the rapture.
- Midtribulation rapture – Believers remain during the first half of the tribulation, including potential WWIII, then are raptured.
- Postribulation rapture – Believers experience the entire tribulation, including WWIII, until Jesus returns.
- Partial rapture – Only some faithful believers are raptured before WWIII and the tribulation.
There are good biblical arguments for each timing possibility. We cannot know with certainty whether Christians will live through World War 3 prophesied to occur in the end times tribulation period.
How Should Christians Prepare for a Possible World War 3?
While we cannot know God’s prophetic timeline, Jesus instructed his followers to be prepared and watchful in light of coming tribulation and his return (Matthew 24:42-44). Here are some ways Christians can prepare for potential end times global war:
- Study bible prophecies prayerfully
- Repent and walk closely with Christ
- Pursue a holy and righteous life
- Share the gospel and make disciples
- Trust God’s sovereignty over human history
- Store emergency supplies and develop survival skills
- Unite and gather with other believers
- Remain flexible to move locations if needed
- Make practical preparations to provide for family
- Avoid fear and anxiety about the future
Most importantly, Christians should turn to Jesus and rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and provision during times of trouble and uncertainty.
Will Nuclear Weapons Be Used in World War 3?
Many end times theorists speculate that nuclear weapons could be used during WWIII based on these prophetic Scriptures:
- Destruction of Babylon the Great city in one hour (Revelation 18:10, 17, 19)
- Fleeing from Judean mountains at sight of abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-20)
- One third of earth burned up, affecting waters (Revelation 8:7-11)
- Sun and moon darkened from fallout or smoke (Matthew 24:29)
- Massive fatalities from flames, smoke, and sulfur (Revelation 9:17-18)
However, it is debatable whether these verses must be interpreted literally as the effects of nuclear war. God could bring judgment on the earth in many ways. While possible, the Bible does not conclusively confirm whether mankind will use nuclear arms in WWIII.
Will China be Involved in World War 3?
Some point to prophecies in Revelation about “kings from the east” as indicating China’s involvement in end times war (Revelation 16:12). Features of the prophecy potentially pointing to China:
- Origin from eastern Asia
- Amassing massive army (200 million soldiers)
- Crossing the Euphrates River to the Holy Land
- Arrival at destination called Armageddon
With China’s rapid military modernization and expansion, many speculate they could play a key role in a future World War 3 scenario. However, the prophecy’s meaning is not definitive; the “kings of the east” symbolism remains subject to interpretation.
Will the Antichrist Rise to Power Before World War 3?
Many biblical scholars place the emergence of the Antichrist before World War 3 and the great tribulation. This order of events is derived from prophecies in Revelation and Daniel:
- Antichrist rises as global ruler and deceives many (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
- Antichrist makes covenant with Israel for 7 years (Daniel 9:27)
- Antichrist exerts worldwide political and economic control (Revelation 13:16-17)
- Antichrist sets up image of himself to be worshiped (Revelation 13:14-15)
- Antichrist gains military power to wage global war (Revelation 13:4)
This suggests the Antichrist will be revealed before full-scale worldwide conflict breaks out after he gains sufficient power and influence over nations.
Will World War 3 End at Armageddon?
The campaign of Armageddon occurs at the climax of the tribulation as Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist’s armies, described in Revelation 16:16 and 19:19-21. Characteristics depicting Christ’s victory at Armageddon:
- Location in the valley of Megiddo (Israel)
- Gathering of nations for battle
- Supernatural destruction of Antichrist’s forces
- Birds feast on the fallen dead
- Antichrist/False Prophet thrown into the Lake of Fire
Rather than a conventional military battle, Armageddon represents God’s final supernatural judgment on the Antichrist’s worldwide empire at the glorious return of Christ.
In summary, while the Bible does not explicitly mention World War 3, it contains prophecies about end times tribulation and conflict preceding Jesus’ return. Christian perspectives differ as to how literally these should be interpreted regarding a potential WWIII scenario unfolding globally. However, believers are instructed to be watchful and prepared for increasing troubles before Christ’s Second Coming, whether or not we will endure World War 3 in our lifetimes.