Throughout history, many people have claimed to be the Anti-Christ, but just who is the Anti-Christ? The story of the Anti-Christ dates back to before the Christian era and is first discussed in Jewish theological works. Religious texts like the Bible dance all around the idea of of an evildoer, or a "man of lawlessness," who will come to fight Christ when he returns to Earth. However, none of the authors of the New Testament provide a clear picture of just who, or what, the Anti-Christ is.
It wasn't until the early medieval period that a few writers offered more specifics to help imaginations run wild. Yet even then, it was hard to differentiate between Satan and his infamous, Jesus-hating sidekick. Compiled here are facts about the Anti-Christ that will ensure never mix the two up again. To learn more about the Anti-Christ, read on below.
The Bible Is A Little Vague About The Existence Of An Anti-Christ
The idea that the Anti-Christ is an actual, individual entity in the universe is relatively new in Christian thought. Certainly, the New Testament is vague in its description and definition of the Anti-Christ. There are four books in the New Testament that hold passages suggesting the possibilities of the Anti-Christ.
These passages briefly mention the coming of a persecutor, or a group of persecutors, that would fight against Christ and his followers upon his return to earth. The term "Anti-Christ" is used in Thessalonians II and Revelation, and seems to point to a specific persecutor. However, the first Epistle of John concludes that a persecutor was coming to join other "anti-Christs" already at work on earth. But none of these religious scriptures pinned down the idea of a single individual until specific interpretations did so centuries after the Bible's inception.
The Anti-Christ Described In The Bible Is Not Some Super Powerful Evil DemonPhoto: Kevindooley / Wikimedia Commons
In Christian texts, it is quite clear that the Anti-Christ is someone who espouses different doctrines of belief from Jesus Christ. For example, in 2 John, it states that, "Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist." Not only is the Anti-Christ treated as a normal human in this passage, but is also referenced as a non-believer. In other words, the terms "Anti-Christ" were not used to describe a scary, supernatural evil being like the Devil.
Wait, But Doesn't The Book Of Revelation Mention The Anti-Christ As A Big Scary Dude?
Actually, most scholars will tell you that the popular references to the Anti-Christ book of Revelation are just historical references. The "666" in Revelation 13 is believed to be connected to Emperor Nero or Domitian, as ancient Roman society used numbers to represent names.
Historians also agree that the "beast from the sea" from the same passage points to the Roman Empire, not a superpowered Anti-Christ. Because Roman Emperors loved calling themselves "gods" and "saviors of the world," and because the beast in Revelation bore the "blasphemous name" of calling itself God, the reference is believed to be about the Roman Empire. In addition, the Empire loved to persecute Christians and worship their emperors as deities, thus adding to the image of the Empire as a beast that ravages believers.
Rumors About The Dead Emperor Nero Probably Sparked The Anti-Christ CrazePhoto: Public Domain/Paul Delaroche / Wikimedia Commons
When the Roman Emperor Nero died in 68 AD, there were rumors about how he was going to come back to life. The Sibylline Oracles sparked a popular belief among the people that Nero would rise from the dead and destroy the world. This idea took flight in the Christian community and apocalyptic texts suddenly featured this Anti-Christ figure who would go to war with Jesus to decimate humanity. Some writers warned Christians to not fall for such ridiculous beliefs, about Nero coming back from the dead as an all-powerful entity, while others elaborated on this "ultimate bad guy" myth.