In Christianity, antichrist (Greek: Ἀντίχριστος,
translit. antichristos) is a term originated by the Apostle John,
found solely in the
First Epistle of John
First Epistle of John and Second Epistle of John,
and almost unanimously lowercased in
Bible translations, in accordance
with its introductory appearance: "Children, it is the last hour! As
you heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have
come." The term antichrist is found in the
New Testament five times
1 John and 2 John, once in plural form and four times in the
singular. The explanation of the word "antichrist" is given by the
Apostle John shortly after, revealing how the name is chosen:
Who is the liar but the one who denies that
Jesus is the Christ? This
is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
According to the
Early Church Father
Early Church Father John Chrysostom, one such
antichrist, commonly understood to rise in power in the last days and
often associated with the "king of the North" in the
final vision and the "Man of sin" in Paul the Apostle's Second Epistle
to the Thessalonians,  is explained by Paul as follows:
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord
destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the
manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent
in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and
every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because
they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God
sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false,
so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in
unrighteousness will be condemned.
In Islamic eschatology,
Masih ad-Dajjal (المسيح الدجال) is
an anti-messiah figure (similar to the Christian concept of a last
antichrist), who will appear to deceive humanity before the second
coming of "Isa", as
Jesus is known by Muslims.
In some schools of non-legalistic medieval Jewish eschatology, a
comparable (parodic) anti-
Messiah figure, son of a virgin, is called
Armilus, "a king who will arise at the end of time against the
Messiah, and will be conquered by him after having brought much
distress upon Israel." The concept of an antichrist is absent in
traditional Judaism; however, in the medieval diaspora, his inevitable
destruction is narrated as the symbol of ultimate victory of good over
evil in the Messianic age.
2 Christian views
2.1 New Testament
2.2 Early Church
2.3 Post-Nicene Christianity
2.4 Pre-Reformation Western Church Accusers
2.6 Roman Catholicism
2.7 Old Believers
2.8 Age of Enlightenment
2.10 Seventh-day Adventists
2.11 Other Christian interpretations
2.12 Martin Wight
2.12.1 As "man of lawlessness"
2.12.2 As "being in league with other figures"
2.12.3 As Satan
3 Non-Christian views
4 In popular culture
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
The word "antichrist" combines two roots: αντί (anti) +
Χριστός (Khristos). "Αντί" can mean not only "against" and
"opposite of", but also "in place of". "Χριστός", translated
"Christ", is Greek for the Hebrew "Messiah". Both "Christ" and
"Messiah" literally mean "Anointed One", and refer to
Nazareth in Christian and Islamic theology.
Sheep and Goats
Book of Revelation
Events of Revelation
Book of Daniel
2 Esdras (Apocrypha)
Abomination of desolation
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Kingdom of God
Lake of fire
Man of sin
New Heaven and New Earth
Resurrection of the dead
Son of perdition
War in Heaven
Whore of Babylon
World to come
New Testament contains an individual
disputed. The Greek term antikhristos originates in 1 John. The
similar term pseudokhristos ("False Messiah") is also first found in
the New Testament, and, for example, never used by
Josephus in his
accounts of various false messiahs. The concept of an antikhristos
is not found in Jewish writings in the period 500 BC–50 AD. However,
Bernard McGinn conjectures that the concept may have been generated by
the frustration of Jews subject to often-capricious Seleucid or Roman
rule, who found the nebulous Jewish idea of a Satan who is more of an
opposing angel of God in the heavenly court insufficiently humanised
and personalised to be a satisfactory incarnation of evil and
The five uses of the term "antichrist" or "antichrists" in the
Epistles of John
Epistles of John do not clearly present a single latter-day individual
Antichrist. The articles "the deceiver" or "the antichrist" are
usually seen as marking out a certain category of persons, rather than
Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have heard that
Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby
we know that it is the last hour.
1 John 2:18 Douay-Rheims
Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the
deceiver and the antichrist!
2 John 1:7
Who is the liar but the one who denies that
Jesus is the Christ? This
is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 2:22
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that
does not confess
Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the
antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is
already in the world.
1 John 4:2–3
Consequently, attention for an individual
Antichrist figure focuses on
the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians. However, the term
"antichrist" is never used in this passage:
As to the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ and our being gathered
together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly
shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter,
as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already
here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come
unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the
one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above
every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in
the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.
2 Thessalonians 2:1–4
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the
one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be
revealed, whom the Lord
Jesus will destroy with the breath of his
mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming
of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all
power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for
those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so
2 Thessalonians 2:7–10
Although the word "antichrist" (Greek antikhristos) is used only in
the Epistles of John, the similar word "pseudochrist" (Greek
pseudokhristos, meaning "false messiah") is used by
Jesus in the
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great
signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
— Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22
The Beast from the earth, according to the
Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation and also
referred to as the False Prophet, has often been equated with an
individual Antichrist:
Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns
like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority
of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its
inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been
healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from
heaven to earth in the sight of all; and by the signs that it is
allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants
of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been
wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath
to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even
speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to
be killed. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and
poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the
forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark,
that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
— Revelation 13:11–17
And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the
dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false
prophet. These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to
the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great
day of God the Almighty.
— Revelation 16:13–14
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies
gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his
army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who
had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who
had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image.
These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with
— Revelation 19:19–20
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire
and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will
be tormented day and night forever and ever.
— Revelation 20:10
See also: Early Christianity
The only one of the late 1st/early 2nd Century
Apostolic Fathers to
use the term is
Polycarp (c. 69 – c. 155) who warned the Philippians
that everyone who preached false doctrine was an antichrist. His
use of the term
Antichrist follows that of the
New Testament in not
identifying a single personal Antichrist, but a class of people.
Irenaeus (2nd century AD – c. 202) wrote Against Heresies to refute
the teachings of the Gnostics. In Book V of Against Heresies he
addresses the figure of the
Antichrist referring to him as the
"recapitulation of apostasy and rebellion." He uses "666", the Number
of the Beast from Revelation 13:18, to numerologically decode several
possible names. Some names that he loosely proposed were "Evanthos",
"Lateinos" ("Latin" or pertaining to the Roman Empire). In his
exegesis of Daniel 7:21, he stated that the ten horns of the beast
will be the Roman empire divided into ten kingdoms before the
Antichrist's arrival. However, his readings of the
more in broader theological terms rather than within a historical
Ascension of Isaiah presents a detailed exposition of the
Belial and Nero.
Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 AD) held that the
Roman Empire was the
restraining force written about by Paul in
2 Thessalonians 2:7-8. The
fall of the Western
Roman Empire and the disintegration of the ten
provinces of the
Roman Empire into ten kingdoms were to make way for
By, "For that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first," he
[Paul] means indeed this present empire, "and the man of lawlessness
is revealed"—that is to say, the Antichrist, "the son of
destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god
or religion, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring
himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things
when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him,
so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of
lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now
restrains it is removed." What obstacles are there but the Roman
state, the rebellion of which, by being scattered into the ten
kingdoms, will introduce the
Antichrist upon its own ruins? "And then
the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy with the
breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his
coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of
Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of
wicked deception for those who are perishing."
Hippolytus of Rome
Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170–c. 236) held that the
come from the tribe of Dan and would rebuild the Jewish temple on the
Temple Mount in order to reign from it. He identified the Antichrist
with the Beast out of the Earth from the book of Revelation.
By the beast, then, coming up out of the earth, he means the kingdom
of Antichrist; and by the two horns he means him and the false prophet
after him. And in speaking of "horns like a lamb," he means that he
will make himself like the Son of God, and set himself forward as
king. And the terms, "it spoke like a dragon," mean that he is a
deceiver, and not truthful.
Origen (185–254) refuted Celsus's view of the Antichrist. Origen
utilized Scriptural citations from Daniel, Paul, and the Gospels. He
Where is the absurdity, then, in holding that there exist among men,
so to speak, two extremes—the one of virtue, and the other of its
opposite; so that the perfection of virtue dwells in the man who
realizes the ideal given in Jesus, from whom there flowed to the human
race so great a conversion, and healing, and amelioration, while the
opposite extreme is in the man who embodies the notion of him that is
named Antichrist?... one of these extremes, and the best of the two,
should be styled the Son of God, on account of His pre-eminence; and
the other, who is diametrically opposite, be termed the son of the
wicked demon, and of Satan, and of the devil. And, in the next place,
since evil is specially characterized by its diffusion, and attains
its greatest height when it simulates the appearance of the good, for
that reason are signs, and marvels, and lying miracles found to
accompany evil, through the cooperation of its father the devil.
See also: First seven Ecumenical Councils
Cyril of Jerusalem, in the mid-4th century, delivered his 15th
Catechetical lecture about the
Second Coming of
Jesus Christ, in which
he also lectures about the Antichrist, who will reign as the ruler of
the world for three and a half years, before he is killed by Jesus
Christ right at the end of his three-and-a-half-year reign, shortly
after which the
Second Coming of
Jesus Christ will happen.
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 298 – 373), writes that
Alexandria is to be associated with the Antichrist, saying, "And ever
since [the Council of Nicaea] has Arius's error been reckoned for a
heresy more than ordinary, being known as Christ's foe, and harbinger
John Chrysostom (c. 347–407) warned against speculating about the
Antichrist, saying, "Let us not therefore enquire into these things".
He preached that by knowing Paul's description of the
Antichrist in 2
Thessalonians, Christians would avoid deception.
Jerome (c. 347-420) warned that those substituting false
interpretations for the actual meaning of Scripture belonged to the
"synagogue of the Antichrist". "He that is not of Christ is of
Antichrist," he wrote to Pope Damasus I. He believed that "the
mystery of lawlessness" written about by Paul in
2 Thessalonians 2:7
was already in action when "every one chatters about his views."
To Jerome, the power restraining this mystery of lawlessness was the
Roman Empire, but as it fell this restraining force was removed. He
warned a noble woman of Gaul:
He that letteth is taken out of the way, and yet we do not realize
Antichrist is near. Yes,
Antichrist is near whom the Lord Jesus
Christ "shall consume with the spirit of his mouth." "Woe unto them,"
he cries, "that are with child, and to them that give suck in those
days."... Savage tribes in countless numbers have overrun all parts of
Gaul. The whole country between the Alps and the Pyrenees, between the
Rhine and the Ocean, has been laid waste by hordes of Quadi, Vandals,
Sarmatians, Alans, Gepids, Herules, Saxons, Burgundians, Alemanni,
and—alas for the commonweal!—even Pannonians.
In his Commentary on Daniel,
Jerome noted, "Let us not follow the
opinion of some commentators and suppose him to be either the Devil or
some demon, but rather, one of the human race, in whom Satan will
wholly take up his residence in bodily form." Instead of
rebuilding the Jewish Temple to reign from,
Jerome thought the
Antichrist sat in God’s Temple inasmuch as he made "himself out to
be like God." He refuted Porphyry’s idea that the "little horn"
mentioned in Daniel chapter 7 was
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes by noting
that the "little horn" is defeated by an eternal, universal ruler,
right before the final judgment. Instead, he advocated that the
"little horn" was the Antichrist:
We should therefore concur with the traditional interpretation of all
the commentators of the Christian Church, that at the end of the
world, when the
Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall be ten
kings who will partition the Roman world amongst themselves. Then an
insignificant eleventh king will arise, who will overcome three of the
ten kings... after they have been slain, the seven other kings also
will bow their necks to the victor.
Circa 380, an apocalyptic pseudo-prophecy falsely attributed to the
Tiburtine Sibyl describes Constantine as victorious over Gog and
Magog. Later on, it predicts:
When the Roman empire shall have ceased, then the
Antichrist will be
openly revealed and will sit in the House of the Lord in Jerusalem.
While he is reigning, two very famous men, Elijah and Enoch, will go
forth to announce the coming of the Lord.
Antichrist will kill them
and after three days they will be raised up by the Lord. Then there
will be a great persecution, such as has not been before nor shall be
thereafter. The Lord will shorten those days for the sake of the
elect, and the
Antichrist will be slain by the power of God through
Michael the Archangel on the Mount of Olives.
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) wrote "it is uncertain in what temple
[the Antichrist] shall sit, whether in that ruin of the temple which
was built by Solomon, or in the Church."
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I wrote to the Byzantine Emperor Maurice in A.D. 597,
concerning the titles of bishops, "I say with confidence that whoever
calls or desires to call himself ‘universal priest’ in
self-exaltation of himself is a precursor of the Antichrist."
Pre-Reformation Western Church Accusers
Woodcut showing the Antichrist, 1498
Arnulf (archbishop of Reims)
Arnulf (archbishop of Reims) disagreed with the policies and morals of
Pope John XV. He expressed his views while presiding over the Council
of Reims in A.D. 991. Arnulf accused John XV of being the Antichrist
while also using the
2 Thessalonians passage about the "man of
lawlessness" (or "lawless one"), saying, "Surely, if he is empty of
charity and filled with vain knowledge and lifted up, he is Antichrist
sitting in God's temple and showing himself as God." This incident is
history's earliest record of anyone identifying a pope with the
Antichrist (See Historicism (Christianity)).
Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII (c. 1015 or 29 – 1085), struggled against, in his
own words, "a robber of temples, a perjurer against the Holy Roman
Church, notorious throughout the whole Roman world for the basest of
crimes, namely, Wilbert, plunderer of the holy church of Ravenna,
Antichrist, and arch-heretic."
Cardinal Benno, on the opposite side of the Investiture Controversy,
wrote long descriptions of abuses committed by Gregory VII, including
necromancy, torture of a former friend upon a bed of nails,
commissioning an attempted assassination, executions without trials,
unjust excommunication, doubting the Real presence of Christ in the
Eucharist, and even burning it. Benno held that Gregory VII was
"either a member of Antichrist, or
Eberhard II von Truchsees, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1241,
Pope Gregory IX
Pope Gregory IX at the Council of
Regensburg as "that man of
perdition, whom they call Antichrist, who in his extravagant boasting
says, I am God, I cannot err." He argued that the ten kingdoms
Antichrist is involved with were the "Turks, Greeks,
Egyptians, Africans, Spaniards, French, English, Germans, Sicilians,
and Italians who now occupy the provinces of Rome." He held that
the papacy was the "little horn" of Daniel 7:8:
"A little horn has grown up" with "eyes and mouth speaking great
things", which is reducing three of these kingdoms (i.e. Sicily,
Italy, and Germany) to subserviency, is persecuting the people of
Christ and the saints of God with intolerable opposition, is
confounding things human and divine, and is attempting things
Protestant reformers, including Martin Luther, John Calvin,
Thomas Cranmer, John Thomas, John Knox, and Cotton Mather, identified
Papacy as the Antichrist. They held that the Antichrist
power would be revealed so that everyone would comprehend and
recognize that the Pope is the real, true
Antichrist and not the vicar
of Christ. The Centuriators of Magdeburg, a group of
Magdeburg headed by Matthias Flacius, wrote the 12-volume
Magdeburg Centuries" to discredit the papacy and identify the pope as
the Antichrist. The fifth round of talks in the Lutheran–Roman
Catholic dialogue notes,
In calling the pope the "antichrist," the early Lutherans stood in a
tradition that reached back into the eleventh century. Not only
dissidents and heretics but even saints had called the bishop of Rome
the "antichrist" when they wished to castigate his abuse of power.
The Pope as the antichrist was so ingrained in the Reformation era,
that Luther stated it repeatedly. For example:
"This teaching [of the supremacy of the pope] shows forcefully that
the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and
opposed himself against Christ, because he will not permit Christians
to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is
neither ordained nor commanded by God”.
"nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist. For
who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his
teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls
in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All
these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal
John Calvin similarly wrote,
"Though it be admitted that Rome was once the mother of all Churches,
yet from the time when it began to be the seat of
Antichrist it has
ceased to be what it was before. Some persons think us too severe and
censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who
are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of
presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose
language we adopt .. I shall briefly show that (Paul's words in II
Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which
applies them to the Papacy."
John Knox on the Pope wrote,
"Yea, to speak it in plain words; lest that we submit ourselves to
Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to
Jesus Christ, for, as for
your Roman kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof,
whereon stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it
is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the pope, to
be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks."
Thomas Cranmer on the
"Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of Antichrist, and the pope
to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other
scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons."
John Wesley speaking of the identity given in scripture of the
"In many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles.
He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all
manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son
of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes,
both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and
will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to
the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself
above all that is called God, or that is worshipped - Commanding
angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods
in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour;
suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice-God. Indeed
no less is implied in his ordinary title, "Most Holy Lord," or, "Most
Holy Father." So that he sitteth - Enthroned. In the temple of God -
Mentioned Rev. xi, 1. Declaring himself that he is God - Claiming the
prerogatives which belong to God alone."
Roger Williams of the Vicar of Christ or Pope wrote,
"the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the
Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God,
but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the
Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God
himself...speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times
and laws; but he is the son of perdition."
The identification of the Roman Catholic church as the apostate power
written of in scripture as the
Antichrist became evident to many as
the Reformation began, including
John Wycliffe who was well-known
throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized
Church, which he believed had clearly deviated from the original
teachings of the early church and to be contrary to the Bible.
Wycliffe himself tells (Sermones, iii. 199) how he concluded that
there was a great contrast between what the Church was and what it
ought to be, and saw the necessity for reform. Along with John Hus,
they had started the inclination toward ecclesiastical reforms of the
Roman Catholic church.
In 1518, when he became the pastor of the
Grossmünster in Zürich,
Huldrych Zwingli began to preach ideas on reforming the Catholic
Church. Zwingli who was a Catholic priest before he became a Reformer,
often referred to the Pope as the antichrist. He wrote: “I know that
in it works the might and power of the Devil, that is, of the
William Tyndale, an English
Protestant reformer, held that while the
Roman Catholic realms of that age were the empire of Antichrist, any
religious organization that distorted the doctrine of the Old and New
Testaments also showed the work of Antichrist. In his treatise The
Parable of the Wicked Mammon, he expressly rejected the established
Church teaching that looked to the future for an
Antichrist to rise
up, and he taught that
Antichrist is a present spiritual force that
will be with us until the end of the age under different religious
disguises from time to time. Tyndale's translation of 2
Thessalonians, chapter 2, concerning the "man of lawlessness"
reflected his understanding, but was significantly amended by later
revisers, including the King James
Bible translation committees,
which followed the
Vulgate more closely.
In 1870 the newly formed
Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy annexed the remaining Papal
States, depriving the Pope of his temporal rule. Unaware that Papal
rule would be restored, (albeit on a greatly diminished scale) in 1929
as head of the
Vatican City state, the historicist view that the
Papacy is the
Antichrist rapidly declined in popularity as one of the
defining characteristics of the
Antichrist (i.e. that he would be a
political temporal power at the time of the return of Jesus) was no
Soon thereafter, Futurism and
Preterism began to replace Historicism
There are however,
Protestant denominations which still officially
maintain that the Papal office is the Antichrist. Some of the more
Lutheran denominations (e.g. Missouri and Wisconsin
synods) and the Seventh-Day Adventists are among the larger churches
which do. Ian Paisley, made headlines in 1988 with such a statement
about Pope John Paul II.
Fulton J. Sheen, a Roman Catholic bishop, wrote in 1951:
Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no
followers...he will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will
talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but
as ends in themselves...He will tempt Christians with the same three
temptations with which he tempted Christ... He will have one great
secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God.
Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of
God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counterchurch
... It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but
in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical
body of the
Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the
mystical body of Christ.
In the Counter-Reformation,
Preterism and Futurism, was advanced by
Catholic Jesuits beginning in the 16th century in response to the
identification of the
Papacy as Antichrist. These were rival methods
of prophetic interpretation: the futurist and the preterist systems
both of which are in conflict with the historicist method and the
interpretations derived thereby.
Historically, preterists and non-preterists have generally agreed that
Jesuit Luis de Alcasar (1554–1613) wrote the first systematic
preterist exposition of prophecy - Vestigatio arcani sensus in
Apocalypsi (published in 1614) - during the Counter-Reformation.
Preterism interprets the
Book of Daniel
Book of Daniel as referring to events of the
past, that happened in the 2nd century BC, while seeing the prophecies
Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation as events that happened in the first century
Preterism holds that
Ancient Israel finds its continuation or
fulfillment in the
Christian church at the destruction of
The view of Futurism, that the events happen in the end time was
advanced by Francisco Ribera, a
Jesuit priest, who developed this
theory in In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae
Apocalypsin Commentarij, his 1585 treatise on the Book of Revelation.
Robert Bellarmine codified this view, giving in full the
Catholic theory set forth by the Greek and Latin Fathers, of a
Antichrist to come just before the end of the world and to be
accepted by the Jews and enthroned in the temple at
Jerusalem — thus
endeavoring to dispose of the exposition which saw
Antichrist in the
pope. Most premillennial dispensationalists now accept Bellarmine's
interpretation in modified form. Widespread
Protestant identification of the
Papacy as the
Antichrist persisted in
the USA until the early 1900s when the Scofield Reference
published by Cyrus Scofield. This commentary promoted Futurism,
causing a decline in the
Protestant identification of the
The Catechism of the
Catholic Church states:
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final
trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution
that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of
iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an
apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the
truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a
pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and
Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the
world every time the claim is made to realize within history that
messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the
eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms
of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of
millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form
of a secular messianism.
Patriarch Nikon of Moscow
Patriarch Nikon of Moscow reformed the Russian Orthodox Church
during the second half of the 17th century, a large number of Old
Believers held that Peter the Great, the
Tsar of the Russian Empire
until his death in 1725, was the
Antichrist because of his treatment
of the Orthodox Church, namely subordinating the church to the state,
requiring clergymen to conform to the standards of all Russian
civilians (shaved beards, being fluent in French), and requiring them
to pay state taxes.
Age of Enlightenment
Bernard McGinn noted that complete denial of the
Antichrist was rare
until the Age of Enlightenment. Following frequent use of "Antichrist"
laden rhetoric during religious controversies in the 17th century, the
use of the concept declined in the 18th century. Subsequent
eighteenth-century efforts to cleanse
Christianity of "legendary" or
"folk" accretions effectively removed the
Antichrist from discussion
in mainstream Western churches.
In Mormonism, the "Antichrist" is anyone or anything that counterfeits
the true gospel or plan of salvation and that openly or secretly is
set up in opposition to Christ. The great antichrist is Lucifer, but
he has many assistants both as spirit beings and as mortals."
Latter-day Saints use the
New Testament scriptures,
1 John 2:18, 22; 1
2 John 1:7 and the Book of Mormon, Jacob 7:1-23, Alma
1:2-16, Alma 30:6-60, in their exegesis or interpretation of the
Seventh-day Adventists teach that the "Little Horn Power", which (as
predicted in the Book of Daniel) rose after the break-up of the Roman
Empire, is the Papacy. In 533, Justinian I, the emperor of the
Byzantine Empire (sometimes referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire),
legally recognized the bishop (pope) of Rome as the head of all the
Christian churches. Because of the Arian domination of some of the
Roman Empire by barbarian tribes, the bishop of Rome could not fully
exercise such authority. In 538, Belisarius, one of Justinian's
generals, freed the city of Rome from its Arian barbarian Ostrogoth
besiegers and the bishop of Rome could begin establishing universal
civil authority. So, by the military intervention of the Eastern Roman
Empire, the bishop of Rome became all-powerful throughout the area of
the old Roman Empire.
Like many reformation-era
Protestant leaders, the Adventist pioneer
Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) spoke of the
Catholic Church as a fallen
church in preparation for its nefarious eschatological role as the
antagonist against God's true church and saw the pope as the
Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther, John Knox,
William Tyndale and others held similar beliefs about the Catholic
Church and the papacy when they broke away from the Catholic Church
during the reformation.
Ellen White writes,
His word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be
unheeded, and the
Protestant world will learn what the purposes of
Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is
silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their
influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of
men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret
recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily
and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own
ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires
is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon
see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever
shall believe and obey the word of God will thereby incur reproach and
Seventh-day Adventists view the length of time the apostate church's
unbridled power was permitted to rule as shown in Daniel 7:25: "The
little horn would rule a time and times and half a time" or 1,260
years. They regard papal rule as supreme in Europe from 538 (when the
Ostrogoths retreated from Rome into temporary oblivion) until
1798 (when the French general
Louis-Alexandre Berthier took Pope Pius
VI captive) - a period of 1,260 years.
Other Christian interpretations
Devout Christian and political theorist Martin Wight, writing
immediately after World War Two, favoured the revival of the
Antichrist doctrine; not as a person, but as a recurrent situation
featuring ‘demonic concentrations of power’.
As "man of lawlessness"
Main article: Man of sin
Antichrist has been equated with the "man of lawlessness" or
"lawless one" of
2 Thessalonians 2:3, though commentaries on the
identity of the "man of lawlessness" greatly vary. The "man of
lawlessness" has been identified with Caligula, Nero, and the
end times Antichrist. Some scholars believe that the passage contains
no genuine prediction, but represents a speculation of the apostle's
own, based on contemporary ideas of the Antichrist.
As "being in league with other figures"
Several American evangelical and fundamentalist theologians, including
Cyrus Scofield, have identified the
Antichrist as being in league with
(or the same as) several figures in the
Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation including
the Dragon (or Serpent), the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Whore
of Babylon. Voices in the Emerging Church, such as Rob Bell,
reject the identification of the
Antichrist with any one person or
group. They believe a loving Christ would not view anyone as an
Bernard McGinn described multiple traditions detailing the
relationship between the
Antichrist and Satan. In the dualist
approach, Satan will become incarnate in the Antichrist, just as God
became incarnate in Jesus. However, in Orthodox Christian thought,
this view was problematic because it was too similar to Christ's
incarnation. Instead, the "indwelling" view became more accepted. It
stipulates that the
Antichrist is a human figure inhabited by Satan,
since the latter’s power is not to be seen as equivalent to
Part of a series on
— Biblical texts —
Book of Revelation
Book of Daniel
Sheep and Goats
— Major figures —
— Different views —
— Millennialism —
— Other events —
Events of Revelation
— Figures —
Beast of the Earth
Yajuj and Majuj
— Events —
Book of Daniel
Resurrection of the dead
Gog and Magog
There are warnings against false prophets in the Hebrew Bible, but no
A parodic anti-
Messiah type figure known as Armilus, said to be the
offspring of Satan and a virgin, appears in some non-legalistic,
philosophical schools of Jewish eschatology, such as the 7th century
Sefer Zerubbabel and 11th century CE
Midrash Vayosha (also:
"Midrash wa-Yosha"). He is described as "a monstrosity, bald-headed,
with one large and one small eye, deaf in the right ear and maimed in
the right arm, while the left arm is two and one-half ells long."
Being Gog's successor, his inevitable destruction by a "
Joseph" (Messiah, son of Joseph), symbolizes the ultimate victory of
good over evil in the Messianic Age. This is confronted with the
Antichrist and Islamic Dajjal, who will conquer
Jerusalem and persecute the Jews.
Masih ad-Dajjal (Arabic: الدّجّال, literally "The
Deceiving Messiah"), is an evil figure in Islamic eschatology.
Although not mentioned in the Quran the details of his coming and life
is explicitly mentioned in the authentic hadith hence
he is to appear pretending to be the
Messiah then God at a time in the
future, before "Yawm al-Qiyamah" (The Day of Resurrection, Judgement
Day). He will travel around the globe entering every city except
Mount Sinai and Jerusalem. Then Isa (Jesus) will
descend from the sky to the white minaret (commonly held as being in
the Umayyad Mosque) east of Damascus (as referred to in hadith),
placing his hands on the backs of two angels, at the time of the Fajr
(dawn) prayer. This will happen at the time of the Dajjal and Isa
(Jesus) will be the one to eventually defeat the Dajjal.
See also: Dajjal in
Prophecies concerning the emergence of the
ad-Dajjāl) are interpreted in
Ahmadiyya teachings as designating a
specific group of nations centred upon falsehood instead of an
individual, with the reference to the
Antichrist as an individual
indicating its unity as a class or system rather than its personal
individuality. As such, Ahmadi
Muslims identify the Antichrist
collectively with the missionary expansion and colonial dominance of
Christianity throughout the world that was propelled by the
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote
extensively on this topic identifying the
Antichrist principally with
colonial missionaries who, according to him, were to be countered
through argumentation rather than by physical warfare, and whose power
and influence was to wane gradually.
While the term Dajjāl is taken as a reference to the forces of
falsehood in matters of ideology and religious belief, prophecies
Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog (or Yaʾjūj Maʾjūj) are taken as relating
to the duplicity in the realm of politics and the shattering of world
peace by the same forces – whose ancestors are thought to be the
Slavic and Teutonic peoples – and are seen as embodied by the
political dominance of European powers. The conflict between
Russia and the
United States as two superpowers, or the militant
rivalry between the communist and capitalist systems and their impact
over the nations of the world, are thus seen as having occurred in
accordance with prophecies concerning Gog and Magog. These
powers cannot be defeated through military force and are to be
overcome through prayer and divine intervention. Islam is then seen as
that which alone would succeed in bringing people of different nations
together as per the Quran (18:99).
Antichrist is considered to subvert the religion of God from the
inner reality of man as
'Abdu'l-Baha narrates: "Christ was a divine
Center of unity and love. Whenever discord prevails instead of unity,
wherever hatred and antagonism take the place of love and spiritual
Antichrist reigns instead of Christ."
In popular culture
Main article: List of fictional Antichrists
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The term "Antichrist" is widely used in popular culture, and most
prominently in punk subculture. This trend was spurred by the Sex
Pistols' song, "Anarchy in the U.K.", in which lead singer Johnny
Rotten proclaimed that he was an "antichrist". After the release of
the song, adherents of the punk culture began to use the word as a
term to describe someone who is very vulgar, crude, or rebellious.
However, after Johnny Rotten's denunciation of useless violence in his
years with Public Image Ltd, this trend began to subside with those
who had used it for the sheer sake of being "punk". It is now used in
the fringe groups of anarcho-punks and is most commonly used to
describe those who practise violent and sensational forms of anarchy.
Antichrist also features heavily in the earlier work of
Marilyn Manson, with the 1996 album,
Antichrist Superstar, being the
most famous. The
Antichrist also appears in an episode of American Dad
titled "Raptures Delight" appearing as the exact opposite of
causes the death of Stan Smith. Again, the
Antichrist appears in
American Dad as Hayley and Jeff Fischer's adopted son "Nemo."
Abomination of desolation
Christian eschatological views
Lake of fire
New World Order (conspiracy theory)
References to the
Antichrist in ecclesiastical writings
1 John 2".
^ a b "KJV Search Results for Antichrists". The Blue Letter Bible.
1 John 2".
^ Chrysostom, John. "Homily 4 on Second Thessalonians".
2 Thessalonians 2".
^ a b Jewish Encyclopedia: Armilus:
^ See Strong's
Bible Dictionary: αντί and the Lexicon to Pindar.
Related terms as noted by the
Catholic Encyclopedia include:
antibasileus - a king who fills an interregnum; antistrategos - a
propraetor; anthoupatos - a proconsul; antitheos - in Homer, one
resembling a god in power and beauty (in other works it stands for a
^ See Strong's
Bible Dictionary: χριστος
^ William Horbury, Messianism Among Jews and Christians: Biblical and
Historical Studies 2003 Page 333 "Against this background it can be
seen that the technical Greek term antichristos, although it is known
only from Christian … Antichristos first occurs in the Johannine
epistles, and it is not used by other Greek Jewish or early Christian
^ a b The
Gospel of Peace: A Scriptural Message for Today's World -
Page 70 Ulrich Mauser - 1992 "From Josephus's writings we collect,
first of all, without much critical comment, some statements showing
the close affinity of the … nowhere in his extensive accounts of the
Jewish–Roman war uses the word "pseudo-Christ" (pseudochristos)."
^ a b c Cabinet 2001.
^ Robert Yarbrough 1-3 John Page 344 2008 "The articles in front of
“deceiver” (ὁ πλάνος, ho planos) and “antichrist” (ὁ
ἀντίχριστος, ho antikhristos) should be seen as marking
out a certain category of persons (Wallace 1996: 227–30). This is a
common Johannine usage (
1 John 2:23; "
^ Jeffrey Alan David Weima,
Stanley E. Porter Annotated Bibliography
of 1 &
2 Thessalonians - Page 263 1998 "(2) Does the New Testament
support the notion of an individual
Antichrist in whom all the
anti-Christian strife of all ages will be concentrated? 2 Thess 2
answers the second question in the affirmative: an individual
Antichrist will bring evil to its ..."
Anthony A. Hoekema The
Bible and the Future - Page 159 - 1979
Berkouwer states, "There is no reason to posit with certainty
on the basis of the
New Testament that the antichrist ... 2.
particularly his statements about the "restrainer," compel us to
believe that there will be a future, individual antichrist."
^ Polycap's Letter to the Philippians, paragraph 7
^ The Early Christians In Ephesus From Paul To Ignatius - Page 268
Paul Trebilco - 2004 "Finally, Hartog notes that the Johannine Letters
are the only NT writings to use the term "antichrist" (1 Jn 2:18, 22;
4:3; 2 Jn 7) and
Polycarp is also the only Apostolic Father to use the
term. He notes "Thus, the tests of 'density' and 'singularity' ..."
^ Hughes, Kevin L. (2005). Constructing antichrist : Paul,
biblical commentary, and the development of doctrine in the early
Middle Ages. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press.
pp. 29–31. ISBN 9780813214153.
^ The International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia: A-D - Page 140
Geoffrey W. Bromiley - 1979 "The fullest exposition of the ideas
associated with the antichrist in the early decades of Christian
history is to be found in the Ascension of Isaiah. In this we are told
that "Beliar" (Belial) would enter into "the matricide king" (Nero),
who would work great wonders and do much evil."
^ "On the Resurrection, chp 24". Ccel.org. 2005-06-01. Archived from
the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
^ Hippolytus's Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, part 2
Origen 1872, p. 386
^ from Athanasius' "Four Discourses"
^ Chrysostom Homily 1 on the 2nd Epistle of St.
Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle to
Jerome 1893b, p. 334
Jerome 1893, p. 19
Jerome 1893c, p. 449
Jerome 1893d, pp. 236–7
^ a b c d
^ "Latin Tiburtine Sibyl". Http-server.carleton.ca. Archived from the
original on 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
^ "CHURCH FATHERS: City of God, Book XX (St. Augustine)".
^ quote from McGinn, Bernard, Visions of the End. Apocalyptic
Traditions in the Middle Ages, New York: Columbia University, 1979. p.
64,.found in Brug's A Scriptural and Historical Survey of the Doctrine
Antichrist Archived November 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: two thousand years of the human
fascination with evil, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000 p.
100. and Schaff & Schley Schaff 1885, p. 291
^ See The Correspondence of
Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII trans. Ephraim Emerton.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1990., p. 162.
^ From long quotations in Foxe 1583, p. 121
^ quoted by David M. Whitford, The Papal Antichrist:
Martin Luther and
the Underappreciated Influence of Lorenzo Valla, Renaissance
Quarterly, 61:26–52, Spring 2008
^ The Methodist Review Vol. XLIII, No. 3, p. 305.
^ See Daniel 7:23-25, Revelation 13:1-2, and Revelation 17:3-18
^ a b Article on "Antichrist" from Smith and Fuller, A Dictionary of
the Bible, 1893, p. 147
^ Daniel 7:8
^ a b "Articles - White Horse Media". White Horse Media.
^ See Building Unity, edited by Burgess and Gross
^ (Smalcald Articles, II)
^ Martin Luther, First Principles, pp. 196–197
^ Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol.3, p.149
^ John Knox, The History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland,
^ Works by Cranmer, vol.1, pp.6-7
^ John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon The New Testament, p.216
^ The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers by Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52
^ Principle Works of Zwingli, Vol. 7, p. 135
^ Tyndale, William, Parable of the Wicked Mammon, c. 1526, (facsimile
copy of later printing, no ISBN number, Benediction Classics, 2008)at
^ "Tyndale's Doctrine of
Antichrist and His Translation of 2
Thessalonians 2", R. Davis, New Matthew
Bible Project. (A shorter
version of this article was also published in the Tyndale Society
Journal No. 36, Spring 2009, under the title Tyndale, the Church, and
the Doctrine of Antichrist)
^ "Papal Audience". The New York Times. 16 October 1988.
^ Sheen, Fulton J. (1951). Communism and the Conscience of the West.
Country Life Press. p. 17. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
^ "2015 Fall/Winter". Mother of Our Savior & Refuge of Sinners
Publishing, Inc. 2015. p. 2. Missing or empty url= (help);
access-date= requires url= (help)
^ "Peter I, czar of Russia". The Columbia Encyclopedia. Archived from
the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
Korihor is directly referred to in The
Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon as an
anti-Christ (Alma 30:6)
^ LDS, Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "
Antichrist". Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
^ Levillain, Philippe (2002). The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. 2.
Psychology Press. p. 832. ISBN 9780415922302. Retrieved
2015-07-17. [Pope John II] received from Justinian a letter dated 6
June 533 [...]. In his letter, Justinian proclaimed that the Holy See
is the leader of all the holy churches and confirmed the need for all
churches to join together with Rome [...].
^ White, Ellen G. (1999) . "Enmity Between Man and Satan". The
Great Controversy: Between Christ and Satan. The Ellen G. White
Estate. p. 581. ISBN 0-8163-1923-5. Archived from the
original on 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2006-06-06.
^ Ian Hall, The international thought of Martin Wight, palgrave
Mcmillan, 2006, p37
^ Schink, W.F. "The Scriptural Doctrine of the Antichrist." Our Great
Heritage: Vol. 3 Ed. Lange, Lyle and Albrecht,
Jerome G. Milwaukee:
Northwestern Publishing House, 1991. p. 572.
^ a b Net Bible:
Man of sin Archived July 7, 2009, at the Wayback
^ St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on II Thess., Nicene-Post Nicene
^ See footnotes in Revelation 7 and 13 in the Scofield Reference
^ Bell, Rob; Golden, Don
Jesus Wants to Save Christians 2008.
^ G. W. Lorein (2003). The
Antichrist Theme in the Intertestamental
Period. p. 31. "Deuteronomy 13:1–6.... The functional equation of
the religious aspect of the Beast, of the False
Prophet and of the
Antichrist in the book of Revelation is already being prepared here.
There are also remarkable links with the
Antichrist passage in the
First Epistle of John.172 b."
^ Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
^ Glassé, Cyril; Smith, Huston (2003). The New Encyclopedia of Islam.
Altamira Press. p. 33. ISBN 0-7591-0190-6.
^ Valentine, Simon (2008). Islam and the
Ahmadiyya jamaʻat: history,
belief, practice. Columbia University Press. p. 148.
^ a b Muhammad Ali. (1992) The
Antichrist and Gog and Magog, Ohio:
Ahmadiyya Anjuman-i Ishāʿat-i Islām
^ Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, (2005), The Essence of Islam, Vol. III, Tilford:
Islam International, p.279-93
^ a b Wessels, Anton (2013). The Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an:
Three Books, Two Cities, One Tale. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 214–15.
^ Malik Ghulam Farid, et al. (1988) Al-Anbiya, The Holy Quran with
English Translation and Commentary Vol. IV, pp.1718–20, Tilford:
^ Islam and Communism
^ 'Abdu'l-Baha, Abbas Effendi. "Some Answered Questions". bahai.org.
Retrieved 20 April 2017.
Foxe, John (1583). The Acts and Monuments, Book II. Retrieved
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of Daniel (Translation). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.
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McGinn, Bernard (1994). Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human
Fascination With Evil. New York: HarperCollins.
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Interview with Bernard McGinn". Cabinet Magazine. Issue 5 Evil Winter.
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Martin Luther on The
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: Antichrist
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Antichrist.
Acacia John Bunyan Online Library: Of
Antichrist and His Ruin
Lerner, Robert E. (22 March 2007). "Antichrist". Encyclopædia
Britannica (online ed.).
Irenaeus, Trans. by
Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. "Against
Heresies: Book V: Chapter 25". Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Buffalo,
NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.: Revised and edited for
New Advent by Kevin Knight.
Ginzberg, Louis (1901–1906). "Antichrist". In Singer, Isidore;
et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls
Lutheran Scholarly Works on the Antichrist
Texts on Wikisource:
Davidson, Samuel (1878). "Antichrist". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2
(9th ed.). pp. 124–127.
Bousset, Wilhelm (1911). "Antichrist". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1
(11th ed.). pp. 121–123.
Maas, Anthony John (1907). "Antichrist". Catholic Encyclopedia.
Bible Dictionary. 1897.
"Antichrist". Encyclopaedia Biblica. 1. 1899.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (2006) . The Antichrist: Curse on
Christianity. Translated by Mencken, Henry