AskDefine | Define antichrist

Dictionary Definition

Antichrist n : (Christianity) the adversary of Christ (or Christianity) mentioned in the New Testament; the Antichrist will rule the world until overthrown by the Second Coming of Christ

User Contributed Dictionary

see Antichrist




  1. One who works against the teachings of Christ.
  2. A evil person, and outraged person.
    The boss was an antichrist when we lost our main account.


Extensive Definition

''For the Friedrich Nietzsche book, see The Antichrist. For the Gorgoroth album, see Antichrist (album).
In Christian eschatology, the Antichrist or anti-Christ means a person, office, or group recognized as fulfilling the Biblical prophecies about one who will oppose Christ and substitute himself in Christ's place.
'Antichrist' is translated from the combination of two ancient Greek words αντί + χριστος. In Greek, χριστος means “anointed one” and refers to Jesus Christ. αντί means not only anti in the sense of “against” and “opposite of”, but also “in place of". Therefore, an antichrist opposes Christ by substituting himself for Christ.
The term itself appears 5 times in 1 John and 2 John of the New Testament — once in plural form and four times in the singular - and is popularly associated with the belief of a competing and assumed evil entity opposed to Jesus of Nazareth.

Biblical references

The antichrist and antichrists appear in the First and Second Epistle of John.
1 John chapter 2 refers to many antichrists present at the time while warning of one Antichrist that is coming. The "many antichrists" belong to the same spirit as that of the one Antichrist. Paul uses the term man of sin to describe what John identifies as the Antichrist. Paul writes that this Man of Sin (sometimes translated son of perdition) will possess a number of characteristics. These include "sitting in the temple", opposing himself against anything that is worshiped, claiming divine authority, working all kinds of counterfeit miracles and signs, and doing all kinds of evil. Paul notes that "the mystery of lawlessness" (though not the Man of Sin himself) was working in secret already during his day and will continue to function until being destroyed on the Last Day. His identity is to be revealed after that which is restraining him is removed.. Daniel 9:27 mentions an "abomination that causes desolations" setting itself up in a "wing" or a "pinnacle" of the temple.. Some scholars interpret this as referring to the Antichrist. Some commentators also view the verses prior to this as referring to the Antichrist. Jesus refers to the references about abomination from Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11 in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 when he warns about the destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel 11:36-37 speaks of a self exalting king, considered by some to be the Antichrist.
Antiochus Epiphanes attempted to replace worship of Christ with veneration of himself, and was referred to in the Daniel 8:32-25 prophecy. His command to worship false gods and desecration of the temple is seen by many as prefiguring the Antichrist.
Some identify him as being in league with (or the same as) several figures in the Book of Revelation including the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Whore of Babylon.

Views through history

Polycarp warned the Philippians that everyone that preached false doctrine was an antichrist.
Irenaeus speculated that it was “very probable” the Antichrist might be called Lateinos, which is Greek for “Latin Man”.
Chrysostom warned against speculations and old wive's tales 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.
Augustine 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.”
Hippolytus of Rome held that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan and would rebuild the Jewish temple 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 “the horns being like a lamb,” he means that he will make himself like the Son of God, and set himself forward as king. And the terms, “he spake like a dragon,” mean that he is a deceiver, and not truthful.
Pope Gregory I wrote in A.D. 597, “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.”
Arnulf of Rheims wrote in A.D. 991, "What do you estimate this to be, reverend fathers? When you see him sitting on a lofty throne glittering in purple and gold, what do you estimate this to be, I say? Without a doubt, if he lacks love, and is only swelled up and lifted up, must he not be the Antichrist, 'sitting in the temple of God, and also showing himself as God'?"
Some of the Spiritual Franciscans considered the Emperor Frederick II a positive Antichrist who would clean the Church from riches and clergy.
Many Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, John Knox, Cotton Mather, and John Wesley, identified the Roman Papacy as the Antichrist. The Centuriators of Magdeburg, a group of Lutheran scholars in Magdeburg headed by Matthias Flacius, wrote the 12-volume "Magdeburg Centuries" to discredit the papacy and identify the pope as the Antichrist. Virtually all popes have been called the Antichrist by their enemies, and many popes have applied this title of "Antichrist", "son of perdition", or "man of sin", to their enemies as well. Some Catholics expected a son of Martin Luther to be the Antichrist, as his scion would be the son of an ex-priest and ex-nun.
The Reformation allowed for more confessions of faith to be written. Previously, this was prevented by a prohibition on creed writing in the Council of Nicea. Lutherans, Reformed, and Anabaptists all included references to the Papacy as the Antichrist in their confessions of faith:
Smalcald Articles, Article four (1537)
[...]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. This is, properly speaking to exalt himself above all that is called God as Paul says, 2 Thess. 2, 4. Even the Turks or the Tartars, great enemies of Christians as they are, do not do this, but they allow whoever wishes to believe in Christ, and take bodily tribute and obedience from Christians[...] Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to lie and to kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein his papal government really consists[...] The Pope, however, prohibits this faith, saying that to be saved a person must obey him. This we are unwilling to do, even though on this account we must die in God's name. This all proceeds from the fact that the Pope has wished to be called the supreme head of the Christian Church by divine right. Accordingly he had to make himself equal and superior to Christ, and had to cause himself to be proclaimed the head and then the lord of the Church, and finally of the whole world, and simply God on earth, until he has dared to issue commands even to the angels in heaven.[...]
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537)
[...]Now, it is manifest that the Roman pontiffs, with their adherents, defend [and practice] godless doctrines and godless services. And the marks [all the vices] of Antichrist plainly agree with the kingdom of the Pope and his adherents. For Paul, in describing Antichrist to the Thessalonians, calls him 2 Thess. 2, 3: an adversary of Christ, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God. He speaks therefore of one ruling in the Church, not of heathen kings, and he calls this one the adversary of Christ, because he will devise doctrine conflicting with the Gospel, and will assume to himself divine authority[...]
Westminster Confession (1646)
''25.6. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.
1689 Baptist Confession of Faith
26.4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ.''
After the reforms of Patriarch Nikon to the Russian Orthodox Church of 1652, a large number of Old Believers held that czar Peter the Great was the Antichrist because of his treatment of the Orthodox Church, namely separating church from 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. In 1914 a woman stabbed faith healer Rasputin, cutting a large wound in his chest, in belief that he was the Antichrist due to his supposedly evil influences over the czar and czarina. He fully recovered.
The view of Futurism, a product of the Counter-Reformation, was advanced beginning in the 16th century in response to the identification of the Papacy as Antichrist. Francisco Ribera, A Jesuit priest, developed this theory in In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij, his 1585 treatise on the Apocalypse of John. St. Bellarmine codified this view, giving in full the Catholic theory set forth by the Greek and Latin Fathers, of a personal 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 until the early 1900s when the Scofield Reference Bible was published by Cyrus Scofield. This commentary promoted Futurism, causing a decline in the Protestant identification of the Papacy as Antichrist.
Some Futurists hold that sometime prior to the expected return of Jesus, there will be a period of "great tribulation" during which the Antichrist, indwelt and controlled by Satan, will attempt to win supporters with false peace, supernatural signs. He will silence all that defy him by refusing to "receive his mark" on their right hands or forehead. This "mark" will be required to legally partake in the end-time economic system. Some Futurists believe that the Antichrist will be assassinated half way through the Tribulation, being revived and indwelt by Satan. The Antichrist will continue on for three and a half years following this "deadly wound".

Later texts and apocrypha

Related ideas and references appear in various apocrypha, and a more complete portrait of the Antichrist has been built up gradually by Christian theologians and folk-religionists.
One such apocryphal text is the apocalyptic pseudo-prophecy falsely attributed to the Tiburtine Sibyl. It purports to prophesy the arrival of the Christian emperor, Constantine, beginning:
"Then will arise a king of the Greeks whose name is Constans. He will be king of the Romans and the Greeks. He will be tall of stature, of handsome appearance with shining face, and well put together in all parts of his body…"
Millennialists and anti-Semites focus on the document's suggestion that the Antichrist will be an Israelite: "At that time the Prince of Iniquity will arise from 'the Tribe of Dan'." However, it is also probable that this prophecy pertains to the fact that the Tribe of Dan had historically fallen into a state of idolatry during Biblical times, thus leading members of other Jewish tribes into idolatry as well. In addition, Bible verse |Revelation|7:1-8|9 appears to show that none of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will come from the tribe of Dan. However, there are other Biblical examples of tribes being absent from similar lists, without any iniquity being implied.

Contemporary identification

Confessional Lutheran church bodies, such as the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Church of the Lutheran Confession teach that the Roman papacy or office of the pope is the Antichrist, including this article of faith as part of a quia rather than quatenus subscription to the Book of Concord. In 1932 the LCMS adopted A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod. Statement 43, Of the Antichrist:
43. As to the Antichrist we teach that the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18, have been fulfilled in the Pope of Rome and his dominion. All the features of the Antichrist as drawn in these prophecies, including the most abominable and horrible ones, for example, that the Antichrist "as God sitteth in the temple of God," 2 Thess. 2:4; that he anathematizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man (Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16); that he recognizes only those as members of the Christian Church who bow to his authority; and that, like a deluge, he had inundated the whole Church with his antichristian doctrines till God revealed him through the Reformation -- these very features are the outstanding characteristics of the Papacy. (Cf. Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 515, Paragraphs 39-41; p. 401, Paragraph 45; M. pp. 336, 258.) Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Confessions that the Pope is "the very Antichrist." (Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 475, Paragraph 10; M., p. 308.)
The Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, the Concordia Lutheran Conference, the Church of the Lutheran Confession, and the Illinois Lutheran Conference all hold to Brief Statement.
In 1959 the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) formally issued its Statement on the Antichrist, a doctrinal statement that declared, "we reaffirm the statement of the Lutheran Confessions, that 'the Pope is the very Antichrist'".
Seventh-day Adventists teach that the anti-Christ is the office of the Papacy. In 1798, the French General Berthier exiled the Pope and took away all his authority, which was later restored in 1929. This is taken as a fulfillment of the prophecy that the Beast of Revelation would receive a deadly wound but that the wound would be healed.
Some Christians equate the Antichrist with a powerful beast with seven heads and ten horns that blasphemes against God, as described in the Bible. Some Adventists attribute the wounding and resurgence in Bible verse |Revelation|13:3|31 to the papacy, referring to General Louis Berthier's capture of Pope Pius VI in 1798 and the pope's subsequent death in 1799. Instead of reducing the power of the papacy, however, it grew and became the most influential political and religious power in the world.
Some Philippine Protestant Churches and groups (example of which is the Kahayag Mission Group) consider the Mary of the various apparitions (e.g. Our Lady of Fatima) as the Antichrist.
Jerry Falwell addressed a pastors' conference in January 1999, stating in a sermon on the Second Coming that the Antichrist was probably alive on earth, and certainly a Jewish male. He subsequently clarified that "[t]his is simply historic and prophetic Orthodox Christian doctrine" and had no anti-Semitic roots.
Ian Paisley, MEP and the leader of the Free Presbyterian Church, loudly denounced then-Pope John Paul II as the Antichrist in 1988 while the pontiff was giving a speech at a sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called himself the Antichrist, going so far as to write a book called The Antichrist. In his famous first book, The Birth of Tragedy, he wrote: "As a philologist and man of words, I baptized it, taking some liberties (for who knew the correct name for the Antichrist?), after the name of a Greek god: I called it the Dionysian."
Certain occultists have proclaimed themselves to be the Antichrist, including John Whiteside Parsons.
Preterists look to an early antichrist, interpreting many ancient figures as the Beast of the Apocalypse. These interpretations include Nero, sometimes together with the four emperors who succeeded him in the year following his suicide, until the elevation of Nero's general Vespasian to emperor. This is supported by some numerological interpretations. This tumultuous period included an increase of superstitious fear and mob violence against Christians, and intensification of the Roman wars against the Jews (AD 66–70), the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 under the command of general Titus (later emperor), and the slaughter of the Jews who were living in Jerusalem. According to tradition, Nero ordered the crucifixion of St. Peter and the beheading of Saint Paul. Both Jewish and Christian literature survive which refer to Emperor Nero as the Antichrist. A more detailed description of this Preterist interpretation can be found in the entry on the Book of Revelation.



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