ANTICHRIST. The word is first found in the New Testament (I. John ii. 18, 22, iv. 3; II. John 7). In I. John ii. 18 we read : " Little children, it is the last hour, and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last hour." In vs. 22 it is said : " Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denleth the Father and the Son." In I. John iv. 3 the words are : " And every spirit which confesseth not Jesus is not of God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it cometh; and now it is in the world already." In II. John vs. 7 we read " For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the anti christ." These are the only passages in which the term occurs. It means " one who opposes the Messiah (Christos)" and although the word only appears in the late Johannine passages, the idea itself is present else where. In II. Thess. ii. 1-12 it is said that before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ there will be a falling away and " the man of sin (or lawlessness) " will be revealed, " the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God." It is said also vs. 7 f.): " For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work; only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; even he, whose coming is according to the work ing of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that are perishing." Ideas belonging to the same world of
thought are referred to in the Book of Revelation (xi.; xiii., 11 ff.). Outside the New Testament, moreover, there are many references (e.g. in Apocalyptic Literature and in the Early Fathers) to Antichrist which point to a body of tradition of which the New Testament state ments are only fragments. The origin of these traditions is to be found partly in Jewish haggada, that method of exposition which consisted in " the working np of the historic and didactic parts of Scripture, an elaboration of them by the free use of the legendary element, suitable to the views and requirements of the age " (W. Fair weather, The Background of the Gospels, 1908). The starting-point for this may have been Daniel xi. 7 f. It should be noticed also that in Apocalyptic Literature (e.g., Sibyl!. iii. 63 ff.) Bellal or Beliar, ruler of the evil spirits, " is already presented in an aspect closely resembling that of Anti-Christ " (W. Bousset). If we wish to trace these ideas farther back, much of the imagery may be reproduced from the conception of the dragon in the Babylonian creation-myth. The idea of Nero returning as a spirit from the underworld perhaps belonged originally to another tradition, but both tradi tions are combined in the Book of Revelation (xiii. and xvii.). The number of the Beast (666, Revelation xiii.) represented in Hebrew letters gives the name of Nero (see P. W. Schmiedel, Writings, 1908). Of course, the references to Antichrist have been regarded as pro phecies, and some historical person has been looked for who seemed to fulfil the requirements. Other identifica tions (i.e., besides Nero) have been : Mohammed, the Grand Turk, Napoleon I., Napoleon III., the Pope. See Encycl. Bibl.; W. Bousset, The Antichrist Legend, 1896.