The Antichrist. The name itself is enough to instill dread into the hearts of all devout Christians as well as others. It is a name that was ever connected to the negative, the malicious, and the fundamentally anti-Christian. And indeed, the Antichrist is a seldom mentioned but very malevolent entity from the Christian Bible. But the concept of a primordial, all-encompassing evil entity that threatens Christ and his devoted flock, and all of humanity was present for a very long time.
Bringer of Armageddon, herald of doom’s day, an evil without measure, a he, she, it, or something else entirely. The Antichrist is a complex concept. For the adherents of Christianity, this figure is prophesized to fool the devoted folk, coming in Christ’s place to do evil, until the real Christ reappears at the Second Coming. But is there more to this idea than first meets the eye?
Understanding The Antichrist Concept
“The One who denies the Father and the Son” is how the Bible describes the Antichrist. In the entire Bible, the term “Antichrist” is mentioned only five times, surprisingly, and all of them in the 1st and 2nd Epistles of John. However, a similar but not the same name appears in some of the Gospels, mainly of Matthew and Mark: pseudochristos ( false Christ). Here the term relates to the so-called “false prophets” who would come amongst the disciples of Christ performing many wonders and miracles to fool the good flock.
In the Epistles of John, one of the crucial verses describes the Antichrist not as a single person or an entity, but rather as a multitude of them, perhaps signifying that the Antichrist is a universal concept that would pertain to many persons with the same malicious intent. This verse tells us:
“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
Once again, in 1st John Chapter I, we see mention of many deceivers who are, by being the enemies of Christ, Antichrists as well:
“Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist!” – 2 John 1:7
In search of the Antichrist, we naturally need to look to the very early beginnings of the Christian Church and its first theologians and elders. One such was Polycarp, a follower of John the Apostle and an early Christian bishop who was martyred by being burned at the stake and stabbed in 155 AD by the Romans. He was one of the first to use the term Antichrist outside of the Bible while addressing his disciples amongst the Phillipians, telling them that all those who preached false doctrines and denied the Lord were Antichrists. Once more, we can see that it is not a single person he talks of but many.
The Antichrist As The Herald Of The End Times
But as the history slowly unraveled, the concept of the Antichrist shifted from either a single fundamentally evil being to a group of wrongdoers and false prophets. Likewise, various Christian theologians, monks, asketes, and bishops, often believed that the crucial historic events during their lives were to herald the coming of the Antichrist. Here we must remember that throughout history, the world has seen some immense events unravel that shook and changed the world and claimed many lives too. It would be quite reasonable for a devoted Christian to believe such events to be the end days.