Skip to main content
Select Source:

Antichrist

Antichrist

The Antichrist, as the word implies, is one who opposes Christ or who falsely presents himself or herself as Christ. Although the word is most commonly associated with the apocalyptic New Testament book of Revelation, the word "Antichrist" is nowhere to be found within its text. In 1 John 2:18, the epistle writer declares that the "enemy of Christ" has manifested and that many false teachers have infiltrated the Christian ranks. In verse 22, John names as the Antichrist anyone who would deny Jesus as the Christ and the Father and the Son, and in 2 John verse 7 he declares that there are many deceivers already at work among the faithful.

The concept of an earthly opponent or antagonist of the Messiah also appears in the Old Testament. The earliest form of the Antichrist is probably the warrior King Gog, who appears in the Book of Ezekiel and who reappears in Revelation along with his kingdom of Magog, representing those earthly minions of Satan who will attack the people of God in a final great battle of good versus evil. In Jewish eschatology, writings about the "end of days" state that the armies of Gog and Magog will eventually be defeated and the world will finally be at peace.

Throughout the Bible the Antichrist bears many titles: Son of Perdition, Man of Sin, Man of Lawlessness, the Prince of Destruction/Abomination, and the Beast. The prophet Daniel describes the man in great detail: He shall be an evil king who will "exalt himself and magnify himself above every god and shall speak outrageous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper until the indignation is accomplished: for that which has been determined shall come to pass. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate he shall (secretly) honor a god of forces and a god whom his fathers never knew. To these he will worship with gold and silver and with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in his fortress with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many and shall divide the land for gain" (Daniel 11:36).

St. Paul, writing in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, had a similar vision concerning the arrogant and evil king: "The man of sinwho opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, displaying himself as if being Godfor the mystery of lawlessness is already at work in the world: only he who now restrains (the coming of the Antichrist) will do so. And then shall that Wicked [one] be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of his mouth. Destroying him whose coming is in harmony with the working of Satan with all power and signs and false miracles."

In both the prophecies of Daniel and John the Revelator, the evil king, the Antichrist, is associated with 10 rulers who give their power and allegiance to him in order to form a short-lived empire of bloodshed and destruction. "And the ten horns of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them, and he shall be diverseand speak great words against the most high God and shall wear down the saints of the Highest One and think to make changes in times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand for three and one half years" (Daniel 7:24). "And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue only for a short time" (Revelation 17:10).

In Matthew 24:344, Jesus (c. 6 b.c.e.c. 30 c.e.) speaks to his disciples at great length concerning the false Messiahs and prophets who will deceive many people with their rumors about the end of the world. He makes reference to the prophet Daniel and his warnings concerning the end times and the Antichrist, and he admonishes the disciples not to chase after false teachers who will produce great miracles and signs to trick God's chosen ones. No one knows when the Son of Man shall appear again coming on the clouds of heaven, Jesus tells them, not even the angels.

Although Jesus makes it clear that no one knows the hour or day of his Second Coming, for many centuries now certain Christian clergy and scholars have steadfastly associated the rise of the Antichrist to earthly power as a kind of catalyst that would set in motion Armageddon, the last final battle between good and evil, the ultimate clash between the armies of Jesus Christ and Satan. Throughout the centuries, Christians have attempted to determine the Antichrist from among the powerful and ruthless leaders of their day. Ever since the Protestant Reformation, the pope has been a favorite of Evangelicals for the ignominious title. While many of the pontiffs in the Middle Ages did exercise great power over the rulers and the people of the emerging European nations, contemporary popes wield little political influence, surely none that would place them in world-threatening positions.

There have been such men as Aleister Crowley (18751947), who actually appeared to seek the position by calling himself the Beast and 666. The numerical value of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (18821945) name reportedly added up to 666, and since he held the office of president of the United States for 12 yearsand during the Great Depression and World War IImany of his conservative Christian critics began thinking of him as the Antichrist. And even the former President Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911 ), had certain dissenters calling attention to the fact that he had six letters in each of his three names6-6-6.

In recent decades, the term of Antichrist has been applied to so many individuals in popular culture that it has lost much of its meaning and its sense of menace. During the Gulf War in 1992, Saddam Hussein (1937 ) received many votes for the title of the Beast, especially when he announced plans to begin to restore the ruins of Babylon to a splendor that would approximate the wicked city's former glory. Before Hussein, there were many nominations for the Ayatollah Khomeini (19001989) to don the mantle. But later when certain extremists named President Reagan, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1923 ), and even the children's television icon Barney the Dinosaur as the Antichrist, the word began losing its threat for the general population. However, those Christians who believe strongly in the coming time of Tribulation, the Apocalypse, the Rapture, and the great final battle of good versus evil at Armageddon, firmly believe that the title of Antichrist maintains its fear factor and that those signs and warnings of the Beast as prophesied in the book of Revelation should be seriously heeded.


Delving Deeper

Crim, Keith, gen. ed. The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions. San Francisco: HarperSanFran cisco, 1989.

Lindsey, Hal, with C. C. Carlson. The Late Great Planet Earth. New York: Bantam Books, 1978.

McGinn, Bernard. Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Unterman, Alan. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist

"Antichrist." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist

Antichrist

Antichrist

According to early and medieval Christian belief, Antichrist is the universal enemy of human beings who in the latter days will scourge the world for its wickedness. He is only mentioned as a character in the Bible in two brief passages occurring in the First and Second Epistles of John (1 John 2:18, 22, and 4:3; and 2 John 7). However, the "man of Lawlessness" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12) and the "beast" (Revelation 13) are also commonly thought to represent the Antichrist.

Abbot Bergier described the Antichrist as a tyrant, impious and excessively cruel, the arch enemy of Christ, and the last ruler of the Earth. The persecutions he will inflict on the elect will be the last and most severe ordeal that they will have to endure.

The Antichrist will pose as the Messiah and will perform things wonderful enough to mislead the elect themselves. The thunder will obey him, according to St. John, and Leloyer asserts that the demons below watch over hidden treasures with which he will be able to tempt many. Because of the miracles that he will perform, Boguet calls him the "Ape of God," and it is through this scourge that God will proclaim the final judgment.

Antichrist will have a great number of forerunners and will appear just before the end of the world. St. Jerome claimed that he will be a man fathered by a demon; others said that he will be a demon in the flesh. But, following the thinking of Saints Ireneus, Ambrose, Augustine and almost all of the church fathers, Antichrist will be a man similar to and conceived in the same way as all others, differing from them only in a malice and an impiety more worthy of a demon than of a man. More recently, however, Cardinal Bellarmin asserted that Antichrist will be the son of a demon incubus and a sorceress.

He will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan, according to Malvenda, who supported his view with the words the dying Jacob spoke to his sons, "Dan shall be a serpent by the wayan adder in the path": by those of Jeremiah, "The armies of Dan will devour the earth"; and by the seventh chapter of the Apocalypse, where St. John has omitted the tribe of Dan in his enumeration of the other tribes.

Elijah and Enoch will return to convert the Jews and will die by order of Antichrist. Then Christ will descend from the heavens, kill Antichrist with the two-edged sword, which will issue from his mouth, and reign on the earth for a thousand years.

It is claimed by some that the reign of Antichrist will last fifty years; but the opinion of the majority is that his reign will last three and a half years, after which the angels will sound the trumpets of the day of judgment, and Christ will come and judge the world. Boguet declared that the watchword of Anti-christ will be "I abjure baptism." Many commentators foresaw the return of Elijah in these words of Malachi "I will send Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." But it is not certain that Malachi referred to this ancient prophet, since Christ applied this prediction to John the Baptist when he said, "Elias is come already, and they knew him not"; and when the angel foretold to Zacharias the birth of his son, he said to him: "And he shall go forth before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias."

The word "Antichrist" probably refers to the persecutors of the church. Through the centuries, different groups of Christians declared that one or more of their contemporaries was the Antichrist. For example, sixteenth-century Protestants called the pope Antichrist. Even Napoleon was called Antichrist.

The third treatise in the History véritable et mémorable des trois possédees de Flandre (1613) by Father Sebastien Michaelis, a Dominican friar, described Antichrist:

"Conceived through the medium of a devil, he will be as malicious as a madman, with such wickedness as was never seen on earth. An inhuman martyr rather than a human one, he will treat Christians as souls are treated in hell. He will have a multitude of synagogue names, and he will be able to fly when he wishes. Beelzebub will be his father, Lucifer his grandfather."

According to Michaelis, exorcised demons revealed that Antichrist was alive in 1613 but had not yet attained his growth. "He was baptized on the Sabbath of the sorcerers, before his mother, a Jewess, called La Belle-Fleur. He was three years old in 1613." Louis Gaufridi is said to have baptized him, in a field near Paris. An exorcised sorceress claimed to have held the little Antichrist on her knees. She said that his bearing was proud and that even then he spoke many languages. But he had talons in the place of feet. His father is shown in the figure of a bird, with four feet, a tail, a bull's head much flattened, horns, and black shaggy hair. He will mark his own with a seal representing this in miniature. Michaelis added that things execrable will be around him. He will destroy Rome and the Pope with the help of the Jews. He will resuscitate the dead, and, at the age of 30 will reign with Lucifer, the seven-headed dragon. After a reign of three years, Christ will slay him.

Many such details might be quoted of Antichrist, whose coming has long been threatened but not yet realized (see End of the World ). A volume by Rusand published many years ago at Lyons, Les Prècurseurs de l' Antechrist, stated that the reign of Antichrist, if it has not begun, is drawing near; that the philosophers, encyclopedists, and revolutionaries of the eighteenth century were only demons incarnated to precede and prepare the way for Antichrist. During World War I, there were people who were convinced that Antichrist was none other than the ex-kaiser of Germany.

Another way to recognize Antichrist is by the title "Beast 666," because Revelation describes the beast as a "false prophet." The title "Beast 666" was applied to modern occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) by his mother, and he accepted it as a symbol of his break with the severe fundamentalism of his Plymouth Brethren father.

Sources:

Crowley, Aleister. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant. New York: Hill & Wang, 1969.

Kirban, Salem. 666. Huntingdon Valley, Penn.: Salem Kirban, 1970.

McBirnie, William S. Anti-Christ. Dallas: International Prison Ministry, 1978.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist-0

"Antichrist." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist-0

Antichrist

Antichrist. An eschatological figure first mentioned in the epistles of John in the New Testament. He is described as a pseudo-messiah who stands against Jesus at the end of days. Similar ideas can be found in Jewish eschatology where the powers of evil are finally overcome in the ultimate great battle. In later Christian tradition Antichrist has been identified with Satan; with the emperor Nero redivivus; with other particular enemies of the faith; and sometimes by Protestants with the pope.

In Islam, al-Dajjāl is an anti-religious figure who is often identified with Shaitān/Satan. In particular, he is the opponent and tempter of ʿĪsā/Jesus, who will fight a final battle with him when ʿĪsā returns at the end of days.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist

"Antichrist." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist

Antichrist

Antichrist (ăn´tĬkrīst), in Christian belief, a person who will represent on earth the powers of evil by opposing the Christ, glorifying himself, and causing many to leave the faith. He will be destroyed by Jesus at the time of the Second Coming. 1 John 2.18–22; 4.3; 2 John 7; and Rev. 13. Similar ideas are expressed in Judaism (e.g., Ezek. 38.1–39.29) and in Zoroastrianism. Christians have often identified enemies of their faith with the Antichrist; e.g., with early Christians it was Nero, with some Protestants the pope.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist

"Antichrist." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist

Antichrist

An·ti·christ / ˈantēˌkrīst; ˈantī-/ • n. (the An·ti·christ) a great personal opponent of Christ who will spread evil throughout the world before being conquered at Christ's second coming. ∎  a person or force seen as opposing Christ or the Christian Church.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist-1

"Antichrist." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist-1

Antichrist

Antichrist a great personal opponent of Christ, expected by the early Church to appear before the end of the world. The name is recorded from Old English and comes via Old French or ecclesiastical Latin from Greek antikhristos ‘against Christ’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist

"Antichrist." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist

Antichrist

Antichrist Term loosely referring to the supreme enemy of Christ. It is used in the letters of Saint John to refer to a force that will appear at the end of time. Martin Luther and other leaders of the Reformation applied it to the papacy.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist-0

"Antichrist." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antichrist-0

Antichrist

Antichrist XII. ME. ante-, anticrist — OF. antecrist (mod. antéchrist) — ecclL. antichrīstus — Gr. antikhrīstos (1 John 2: 18), f. ANTI- + Khrīstós CHRIST.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist-2

"Antichrist." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist-2

Antichrist

AntichristChrist, heist, underpriced, unsliced •Zeitgeist • poltergeist • Antichrist

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Antichrist." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Antichrist." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist-0

"Antichrist." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antichrist-0