For centuries Christians have speculated about the identity of Antichrist. Likely candidates have included princes and popes of the past as well as potentates and presidents in the present. Rather than joining the sensationalistic game of pin–the–tail–on–the–Antichrist, Christians need only go to Scripture to find the answer.
First, the apostle John exposed the identity of Antichrist when he wrote, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist––he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22). In his second epistle, John gives a similar warning: “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” (v. 7).
Furthermore, John taught that all who deny the incarnation, messianic role, and deity of Jesus are instances of antichrist. As such the term “antichrist” refers not only to the apostasy of individuals but to the apostasy of institutions and ideologies as well. In this sense, institutions such as modern–day cults and world religions as well as ideologies such as evolutionism and communism can rightly be considered antichrist.
Finally, in the book of Revelation, John identifies both an individual and an institution that represent the ultimate personification of evil—the archetypal antichrist. He refers to this archetypal antichrist as “a beast who deceived the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 13:14). Drawing on Daniel’s apocalyptic depiction of evil world powers (Revelation 13; cf. Daniel 7–8), John describes an emperor in his own epoch of time who arrogantly sets himself and his empire against God (13:5–6), violently persecuting the saints (13:7), and grossly violating the commandments through a long litany of disgusting demonstrations of depravity, not the least of which was his demand to be worshiped as Lord and God (13:8, 15).
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville:W Publishing Group, 2007).
1 John 2:18–19
“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. They went out from us, but they did
not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us,
they would have remained with us; but their
going showed that none of them belonged to us.”