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The idea of an Antichrist — a complete scion of evil to do final battle with good — is an old one, with roots in ancient beliefs like Zoroastrianism. But in its modern and Christian form, it stems mostly from medieval attempts to reconcile certain sections of the biblical Book of Revelation with what is probably a poor understanding of certain epistles of early Christian leaders.
Development of the term
In multiple places in the letters of John (1 John 2:18, 2 John 1:7) and Paul — but not in the Book of Revelation — the term "ἀντίχριστος" (antichristos) is used. Literally translated, it means "anti-messiah" and is used as a label for heretics and false messiahs. One verse in the New Testament even uses the term in the plural:
“”Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
|—John 2:18, NIV translation|
Antichrists were said to be reflective of the "one antichrist", which seemingly refers to a metaphor for evil as a whole. In later Christian theology, however, this alluded figure became identified with certain figures in Revelation — most commonly the Beast of the thirteenth chapter of the book — and turned into an object of eschatalogical fear. The number of the Beast — and, hence, the Antichrist — is 666. The idea of one man representing evil as the Antichrist appears to be a late classic/medieval innovation. The idea was fully developed by the time of the Islamic Conquests, and helped inspire the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius.
Dictator as Antichrist
Some believe the Antichrist will be a specific dictator who will rule the whole world for 7 years, outlawing all religions except worship of himself; European nations may help him to power. Jesus will defeat the Antichrist after 7 years in the battle of Armageddon. The basic idea of "the most powerful person I hate is really the antichrist" is hardly novel, dating back to the tenth century at least.
Popularly elected non-dictator as Antichrist
Some believed that Barack HUSSEIN Obama II is the Antichrist before and after he got elected to be President of the United States. Note that the maximum term limit of the US President after the 22nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution is just
8 years a bit more than 7 years. Coincidence? While he may have surpassed seven years now, the shoehorn can work wonders.
Popes as Antichrist
John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, thought the succession of Popes from Gregory VII (Bishop of Rome from 1073 to 1085) onwards were undoubtedly the Antichrist — was he there?; popes were all evil, but the very last pope would be the very worst. Others are less specific but state that all popes who think like John Paul II were the Antichrist; presumably that does not go right back to Saint Peter. The status of anti-popes also seems unclear.
Ian Paisley accused Pope John Paul II of being the Antichrist in 1988 during John Paul's address to the European Parliament. Paisley was then attacked by various MEPs (including Otto Habsburg, former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary). Paisley's attitude towards Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis is unknown. In this version, the Antichrist does not rule the whole world, but his rule lasts longer.
Who according to Pat Robertson is the Antichrist?
You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.
The answer is a bit vague, but certainly many Christian denominations that disagree with him are part of the Antichrist thing.
Other contenders and helpers
One of many current contenders for his realm is the European Union.
Brother R.G. Stair alleged that US President Barack Obama is the Antichrist, though Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were accused of being the Antichrist before. Amusingly, folks like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Ted Cruz seem to better fit the personality and political beliefs that the Fundies claim the Antichrist will have. Of course, they would never believe this, seeing as the religious right's politics are what define the religion and not vice versa, not unlike Ayn Rand's disciples.
- Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament: Notes on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Chapter XVII, Verse 11 by John Wesley (1755) via Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
- Outburst Disrupts Pope’s Speech at European Parliament by Sydney Rubin (October 11, 1988) AP.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgHUZXgNAWo A YouTube video he has played frequently on his feed