The Antichrist is usually understood to be a really bad guy who makes everyone worship
Satan and who has something to do with the end of the world.
Many Christians fear him while others want him to show up so Armageddon can start.
Here's the story behind the Antichrist.
The Antichrist goes hand in hand with the Bible, so it's weird how little the holy book
In fact, the term "Antichrist" only appears four times, and all in the Book of John.
But John doesn't talk about one evil guy who is going to come at the End Times.
He says there have already been lots of Antichrists, including absolutely everyone who doesn't
believe in Jesus.
"But you're not a Christian, so what do you believe?"
Even outside of the Bible, early Christians didn't care much about the Antichrist.
While he never used the word "Antichrist," the idea of a single person who would go against
God comes from the Old Testament's Daniel.
But Daniel did have a specific person in mind, the ruler of Palestine, Antiochus Epiphanes.
He wasn't talking about a vague future evil entity.
He was saying a specific person was horrible.
It wasn't until a thousand years after Jesus died that someone finally wrote down who exactly
the Antichrist was going to be.
When the queen of France asked a monk named Adso for specific details, he basically got
free reign to make up whatever he wanted.
The letter he wrote the queen went as viral as something could for the Middle Ages, and
for hundreds of years, what Adso said about the Antichrist was, for lack of a better term,
"Call me Dad."
The queen was worried she was living in the last days and wanted to know what to be on
the lookout for.
Adso believed that the Antichrist would show up at the end of the Holy Roman Empire.
He'd be born a Jew in Babylon, and he'd be the most wicked man of all time.
But he would look a lot like the second coming of Christ.
He'd go to Jerusalem to minister, perform miracles, and rebuild the Temple.
Everyone would follow him, but he would persecute Christians for three and a half years.
Fortunately, the real Jesus would come to defeat him.
After Adso, the medieval idea of the Antichrist was mostly set, until another monk came along
in the 1100s with his own stuff to add.
Joachim Of Fiore was so obsessed with the Antichrist that he actually became famous
in his own lifetime for being its go-to prophesy person.
Other than the author of Revelation, Joachim was probably the most important apocalyptic
He saw the End Times as right around the corner, but according to Joachim, there would be many
Antichrists over time.
Some, like Nero, Muhammad, and Saladin, had already lived.
They were Antichrist more generally, but there would be a single one that would signal the
beginning of the end.
In Revelation, it's Gog who shows up to battle Christians.
"There can be no victory except through God."
Joachim tied the final Antichrist to Gog, using that name, and after a thousand years,
Revelation and the Antichrist were finally connected.
Martin Luther started out as a monk who had some polite ideas on how the Catholic church
When no one listened to him, he published his Ninety-five Theses and effectively started
his own version of Christianity, which would become Protestantism.
After that, he was locked in a struggle with the pope, which made it pretty convenient
that Luther would go on to discover the entire concept of the papacy was the Antichrist.
Although he didn't want to come to that conclusion, Luther was forced to when the Catholic church
refused to acknowledge the problem with indulgences and paying for salvation.
He saw Catholicism, specifically the man at the head of it, as deliberately trying to
undermine Christ while also trying to take Jesus' place by claiming to represent him.
These things made the current pope, and indeed all the popes, Antichrist.
After Martin Luther, people stopped thinking of the Antichrist as a single person for hundreds
"It's the Antichrist."
The Antichrist became a thing of the past, while something being Antichrist, that is,
against Christianity, was in vogue.
These days, it's so common to speak of the Antichrist that older documents referring
only to Antichrist sometimes have the word "the" inserted in brackets in front of it,
as if the original author made a mistake by leaving it out.
But the Antichrist was considered a concept, not a person in need of a definite article.
"You are the devil."
So what changed?
Weirdly, Nietzsche might be largely responsible for the switch from Antichrist back to the
In 1895, he published a very anti-Christian book called The Antichrist, and the term became
"God is dead."
By the 1970s, Christians had fully accepted the Antichrist as an individual again.
Jesus is an important figure in Islam, so it makes sense that Islam has its own version
of the Antichrist.
"The Deceiving Messiah" doesn't actually appear in the Quran, but he does come up in the Hadith,
which contains sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad.
Unlike the Bible, the Hadith goes into great detail about who he is, what he'll look like,
and where he'll come from.
The Hadith describes the Antichrist as a heavyset man with one eye, a ruddy face, and curly
He also has Arabic letters spelling "unbelief" on his forehead, so he should be easy to pick
out of a lineup.
Much like the Christian version of the Antichrist, he'll show up during times of chaos, go to
Jerusalem, be followed by the Jews and others, and perform miracles.
While it's unclear whether he'll reign for 40 days or 40 years, what is clear is that
Jesus will return to save the day.
And, according to tradition, the Antichrist is already on Earth, but he can't show himself
Name a powerful man in history, and it's guaranteed someone thought he was the Antichrist.
There are the more obvious candidates, like Hitler, but anyone with any amount of authority
In fact, virtually every pope has been accused of being the Antichrist, along with Nero,
Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Napoleon, among many others.
"Born in the image of the greatest power in the world."
U.S. presidents are a popular Antichrist contender.
Reportedly, the first to be seriously accused was FDR, as his support of the UN was considered
a bit too one-world-government for many Christians.
JFK was obviously a concern for some Protestants since he was Catholic.
And a man tried to kill Reagan in 1990, telling the Secret Service agents who stopped him
that he had to do it because the former president was the Antichrist.
Believe it or not, modern science hasn't affected people's belief in the Antichrist.
In a 2010 Harris Interactive poll, 14% of Americans thought President Obama might be
When broken down by political party, a full quarter of Republicans thought it was
"Jesus was the son of God, Jesus was the son of God.
You are the Antichrist!"
These weren't idle thoughts, either.
In 2011, a heckler accused Obama of being the Antichrist at a fundraiser, and a man
took shots at the White House the same year, saying God told him to kill the Antichrist
Historically, antisemitism and the belief in the Antichrist have gone hand in hand.
Since the assumption has been that the Antichrist would be the demonic twin of Jesus, because
Jesus was Jewish, the Antichrist should be as well.
"I am not an evil man."
This idea led to a lot of the hatred of Jews during the Middle Ages.
If the Antichrist was going to emerge from their group, the assumption was that they
all must be demonic and sinister.
Somehow, this connection did not disappear in modern times.
In 1999, Baptist Reverend Jerry Falwell got heat for his assertion during a speech that
not only was the Antichrist probably already alive but that, quote, "of course" he was
When called out for his remarks, Falwell tried to defend himself by saying that he only meant
the Antichrist must be Jewish because Jesus was Jewish.
Homophobia, like antisemitism, has often been connected with the Antichrist.
The idea goes back to the Bible's Book of Daniel.
While Daniel never uses the actual word "Antichrist," and in fact was almost certainly talking about
a specific ruler of Palestine when he wrote it, people have interpreted his mention of
a single man who would defy God as being a reference to the figure.
When writing about this individual, Daniel throws in this piece of information:
"He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women."
It's that last bit that some have decided to fixate on.
If the Antichrist isn't going to desire women, he's gay, therefore being gay is bad.
"You believe in the devil?"
"Did he look like me?"
According to one TV evangelist:
"Daniel indicates that [the antichrist] will be a sexual pervert, most likely a homosexual."
Another preacher opined:
"I do not believe that there is any question but that the Antichrist will be a homosexual."
All this homophobia is based on one line of a text that was originally in a different
And it's been pointed out that other translations of this scripture are much different.
But for those who want to tie homosexuality to the most evil entity of all time, that's
Revelation 13:18 says:
"This calls for wisdom.
Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number
of a man.
That number is 666."
"He said you're the beast."
As one historical source points out, the Beast, who wasn't connected with the Antichrist for
1000 years, almost certainly represents the Roman Empire, and 666 is a well-known Jewish
numerical code that translates to Nero.
Early Christians had every reason to despise Nero, as he'd openly tortured those who practiced
There is nothing mystical or evil about the number.
But the irrational fear of the number 666 is a real thing.
"All I could think about was the number."
While most people with the phobia are Christian, it does affect those of other religions and
even some with no religion.
It might present as something small.
For example, if a purchase comes to $6.66, they'll grab something else to buy, so the
Or it can have a truly negative effect on their life, one in which they avoid the number
at all costs, see it everywhere, and associate it with bad luck.
Some people see Antichrist everywhere.
The number 666 has been interpreted to reference the emergence of barcodes on products, the
UN, the EU, even the "www" at the beginning of web addresses.
In 1997, Proctor and Gamble sued Amway because it was spreading rumors that the company was
satanic and had 666 hidden in its logo.
Other Antichrist culprits include feminism and the Susan B. Anthony dollar.
According to a 2019 report, the head of the Russian Orthodox church claimed smartphones
were paving the way for the Antichrist.
But one of the biggest concerns for the Antichrist-minded was rock music.
Entire books were written on how the noise was going to lead the kids astray.
The Beatles were Antichrist.
The damage done by Pete Seeger was, quote, "impossible to calculate."
The lyrics of the Rolling Stones were satanic.
In the 1980s, so-called Antichrist phobes discovered backmasking.
This was the idea that rock bands were putting secret messages in their music that people
could only hear when played backward.
"And the old gods, the rightful masters, are jealous, watching mankind with a hatred that
is as boundless as the stars."
Somehow, this was taken seriously.
Politicians got involved, and legislation was introduced in California against musicians
who were said to have used backmasking to turn their audience into, quote, "disciples
of the Antichrist."
One witness said people only had to listen to "Stairway to Heaven" three times before
the hidden messages made them worship Satan.
Other states considered similar bills, and one was even introduced in Congress.
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