Christian Cyclopedia

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1. Term used in the NT (1) of all false teachers (1 Jn 2:18; 4:3) and (2) of one outstanding adversary of Christ (1 Jn 2:18). Characteristics of the Antichrist are mentioned, e.g., in Dn 11; 2 Th 2.

2. The word antichristos (Gk.) occurs first in the NT and there only in John's writings. But the idea is mentioned in earlier Jewish apocalyptic literature and is rooted in OT prophecy. The origin of the idea has been vainly sought in heathen lands, e.g., in the battle of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu (see Zoroastrianism). The prophecies of Daniel were applied first to Antiochus IV (Epiphanes, i. e., the illustrious; d. 163 BC; king of the Seleucidae of Syria 175–163; declared Judaism illegal 168; destroyed Jewish temples in Syria; his opposition against Jewish religion led to Wars of the Maccabees), later to Pompey the Great (106–48; Roman gen. and statesman; captured Jerusalem 64–63), Herod the Great (73?–4 BC; king of Judaea 37–4), and Caligula (so named because he early wore caligae, military shoes; real name Gaius Caesar; 12–41 AD Roman emp. 37–41).

3. Polycarp* (letter to the Philippians, 7) quotes 1 Jn 4:3 in connection with those that do not “confess the testimony of the cross”; the Didache (16:4) speaks of “the deceiver of the world” who is to come; the “Ep of Barnabas,” IV, speaks of “beast” of Dn 7:7–8. Irenaeus (Adversus haereses, V xxv 3; xxviii 1) applies Jer 8:16; Dn 7:8, 20–25; 2 Th 2:8–12 to the Antichrist. Hippolytus (De Christo et antichristo) quotes Gn 49:16–17; Dt 33:22; Dn 11:31; 12:11–12; Rv 12:1–6, 13–17; Mt 24:15–22 and parallels; 2 Th 2:1–12 as pertaining to the Antichrist.

4. The Antichrist was soon connected with Nero* and his expected return (Augustine* of Hippo, Decivitate Dei, XX, 19; Commodianus,* Instructiones, 41; Lactantius Firmianus, De mortibus persecutorum, II [Nero as forerunner of the Antichrist]). In the 4th c., prediction of a last emp., or last ruler of the world, before Antichrist became prominent. Antichrist apocalypses flourished in the age of Islam and intensified during the Crusades.* People began to see Antichrist or his forerunner in every pol., nat., soc., or ecclesiastical opponent.

5. Franciscans opposed to certain features of the papacy* held that the pope is the Antichrist, or a least his forerunner. Bohemians J. Milíc,* M. v. Janow,* and J. Hus* as well as J. Wycliffe* and J. Purvey* adopted the same view.

6. M. Luther* regarded the pope as the Antichrist chiefly because the papacy* substituted work-righteousness for grace (WA 20, 673; 37, 600–661; 40 I, 36–37, 60–61, 301). Luther also pointed out that the pope substitutes man-made rules for divine law (5, 344; 40 I, 406–407), usurps power (5, 195, 339–344; 52, 654), usurps the position of Christ (42, 635; 45, 46; 52, 221; 50, 4–5), sits in the temple (40 I, 71; 40 III, 421), and exalts himself above God (14, 608; 50, 4). Luther also spoke of the Turk (together with the pope) as Antichrist (42, 634).

7. The AC does not speak of the pope as Antichrist but indicates that subscribers are willing to continue in the RC system, provided abuses are corrected (XXVIII, 28–78). The Ap shows that papacy* has the marks of the Antichrist as depicted by Daniel (VII abd VIII 24; XV 18–19; XXIII 25; XXIV 51) and by Paul (VII and VIII 4). It speaks of papacy as part of the kingdom of the Antichrist (XV 18). The SA hold that pope has clearly shown himself as Antichrist, since he exceeds even Turks and Tartars in keeping people from their Savior. (SA-II IV 10–11; cf. Tractatus 39–59). The FC (X 20) quotes the SA on Antichrist.

8. Luth. dogmaticians (e.g., J. W. Baier,* J. A. Quenstedt*) regarded the teaching of the Antichrist as nonfundamental (see Fundamental Doctrines). C. F. W. Walther* (Der Lutheraner, XXI [1864–65], 113–115) and F. A. O. Pieper* followed the opinion of the dogmaticians. EL

See also United States, Lutheranism in the, 7.

“Ist der Antichrist im Atheismus unserer Zeit zu suchen?” L. u. W., XV (1869), 39–45; C. J. H. Fick, Das Geheimniss der Bosheit im römischen Papstthum (St. Louis, 1873); F. W. Stellhorn, “ 'Unsere Wege zur katholischen Kirche,' ” L. u. W., XIX (1873), 97–108; W. Bousset, The Antichrist Legend: A Chapter in Christian and Jewish Folklore, tr. A. H. Keane (London, 1896); H. Preuss, Die Vorstellung vom Antichrist im späteren Mittelalter, bei Luther und in der konfessionellen Polemik (Leipzig, 1906); A. Jeremias, Der Antichrist in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Leipzig, 1930); B. Rigaux, L'Antéchrist et l'Opposition au Royaume Messianique dans l'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament (Paris, 1932); P. E. Kretzmann, “Papam esse verum Antichristum,” CTM, IV (1933), 424–435; W. Hoenecke, 5 essays on the Antichrist, Theologische Quartalschrift (Wisconsin Syn.), XL (1943), 166–188, 253–277; XLI (1944), 32–55, 91–109, 149–176; [J.] M[eyer], “Papam Esse Ipsum Verum Antichristum,” Theologische Quartalschrift (Wisconsin Syn.), XL (1943), 87–109; P. Schütz, Der Anti-Christus (Kassel, 1949); P. Althaus, Dis letzten Dinge, 5th ed. (durchgesehene Auflage; Gütersloh, 1949), 282–297; H. Hamann, “A Brief Exegesis of 2 Thess. 2:1–12 with Guideline for the Application of the Prophecy Contained Therein,” CTM, XXIV (1953), 418–433.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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