Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos
t has been observed and is historically accurate that the periods of economic and social crises such as wars, revolutions, famines, epidemics, etc. as well as several natural disasters are construed from a large part of the faithful - many times from all the faithful - as warning signs of the Second Coming of the Lord...
So, he finds the opportunity to flourish a superstitious and preventive para-philology around it and several unscrupulous individuals to appear, who exploit the gullibility of many for their own benefit of course. These individuals reinforce their position by dispersing various rumors on the vision of saints, who only to those revealed events that they will come and that were eyewitnesses in various “miracles”.
Such a reputation as is known was happened before 3-4 years in Greece with the alleged appearance of the late Elder Paisius in the monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos, who supposedly foresaw war between Greece - Turkey, making it necessary for the Holy Community of Athos to issue an announcement, refuting this ridiculousness.
Of course, in Greece as the economic crisis is deepening, so will are dispersed such rumors, leading to terrorize the world, but - more importantly - the Church and our faith becomes an object of mockery of various enemies.
Precisely for this reason, and for helping of cruising runs with correct and sober update, we thought to publish this article, where you will see through the centuries, with which persons was identified from time to time the Antichrist, because - as you know - the person of the Antichrist plays an important role in the Second Coming of the Lord.
Thus the informed will not fall victim to the widespread para-philology that grows so at times for the person of the Antichrist to the Orthodox Christians, because they will know that many times was happen something similar, and - of course - it was disproved miserably.
But first it is worth to define what we mean by the word Antichrist.
The word Antichrist used only by the Evangelist John once in the plural, in the 1st Letter of 2:18 and four in the singular at the 1 Letter of 2:18.22 and 4:3 and 2 Letter 7, and declares him or those who they mislead the believers, teaching that Jesus is not the Christ. In particular, the Evangelist Saint John means the heresy of that era, the “Dokites” who did not believed that Christ had fleshly body like our own, but phenomenal, was namely a kind of “ghost”.
But the form of the Antichrist is described in almost all the New Testament and especially in the book of Revelation, where the Antichrist will appear as a god and with the energy of Satan he will mislead many, and will make signs and monsters, namely miracles. In Chapters 13 and 17 of Revelation is described as a beast with seven heads and is declared with the famous number χξς’, i.e. 666.
So at times, because of various events, people actually saw this onslaught of Antichrist in various historical persons of their era or previous eras.
High time to see, what these persons were, who - as you will realize - does not were a few.
The first “Antichrists” then "appeared" even before Christ, as mentioned in the Old Testament, from the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38, who speaks about Gog and Magog, the contrast demonic forces, who are attacking to the chosen people of God, but also from the prophet Daniel, who speaks in chapter 7, verse 7 for the beast with ten horns and in Chapter 9, verse 27, about the infamous “abomination of desolation”.
The interpretative tradition of the Jews took this phrase of Daniel “abomination of desolation”, as the predicting dietary of desecration of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Greeks and Romans overlords Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 BC), Pompeius (106-48 BC) and Crassus (114-53 BC); therefore the respective persons were identified with the Antichrist.
Coming now to the era after Christ, the desecration of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Roman emperor Caligula (12-41 AD) and by the Jews revolutionists, the Zealots during the siege of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD, event that is mentioned by Josephus, the Jewish historian: “Many things they had pre-enacted (the prophets) on virtue and malice, which the Zealots they infringed and they demanded the end of the prophecy against the fatherland” [Jewish War, D, 6.3] also were taken as an attack of the Antichrist and the persons concerned they were characterized as Antichrists.
It's also worth to point out that also in the apocryphal books of Judaism, the idea of the Antichrist is not unknown, as an opponent of God, as an enemy of the Messiah, as the last tyrant and false prophets eg in the “Analipsi of Moses 8”, “D' Ezra, E’, 6”, etc.
Coming now to the Christian Secretariat we can observe that in the writings of the Fathers and Ecclesiastical Authors, although there is enough reason for the Antichrist, but there is no systematic teaching around him and this is why that they vary the views around his face, so this teaching to possess secondary and not a dominant position in Christianity.
For example, Saint Irenaeus (2nd/early 3rd century AD) is featuring Markos the Gnostic as the precursor of the Antichrist in “Checking of the Pseudonym Knowledge, A, XIII. 1”, or characterize the image of Nebuchadnezzar, of the Babylonian ruler as “foreshadowing of the Antichrist” and notes that based on some guesswork we should avoid to characterize this or that historical figure as Antichrist.
Also, Saint Irenaeus and Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) considered that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan, “Genesis 43:17” and when he will appear will go to the Temple of Jerusalem, by requiring divine honors on his face. However, he will appear the archangel Michael, who - from the Mount of Olives - will knock him down into the abyss.
By many other interpreters, at times, Simon the Magician (1st century AD) or Caligula (12-41 AD) was identified with the Antichrist.
But the person, who was identified as no other with the Antichrist, was that of the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 AD), probably - because it is supported - that the name “Nero Caesar” in Aramaic gives the number 666! So, it was believed that he had not died - for those who do not know, we note that he committed suicide - but injured he had sought refuge to the Parthians in the East, from where he will was returning in the form of the Antichrist, for punish Rome.
Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386 AD) considers the eleventh king of the Romans, as Antichrist and gives lots of information about his work “Catechism XV-12”.
The Christians of the fourth century, in the person of the emperor Julian the Apostate (332-363 AD) they saw the form of the Antichrist, because he wanted to reintroduce the ancient pagan religion, persecuting Christianity.
According to the blessed Augustine (354-430 AD), many in his era they believed that Nero will return to life as Antichrist, who will be a reincarnation of that. “De civitas Dei, XX, 19”
Similarly, again about Nero referred and Severus Soulpikios (363-420 AD) “Historia Sacra B’ 29”.
In the 5th century AD, when the barbarians Huns were poured on the plains of Europe crushing any resistance in their wake, a new “Antichrist” did it again his “appearance”. And he is none other than Attila (400-453 AD), the famous their leader and in which was given the nickname “the scourge of God”.
In the 7th century AD, with the appearance of Mohammedanism and his rapidly spreading, the “Antichrist” is now getting the form of the Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD).
And we reach to the era before and during the Reformation. The precursors of this John Wycliffe (1320 - 1384 AD) and Jan Hus (1369 - 1415 AD), but and afterwards the same the founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther (1483 - 1546 AD) were identified the “Antichrist” with the person of the Pope.
Indeed, the reformers dated the advent of the Antichrist from the year 606 AD, when Pope Boniface III received from the Emperor Phocas the title “head of all the churches” as an honorary title of the Roman Church. Based on the excerpt in Revelation 11:3, they extended the duration of the power of Antichrist for 1200 years, i.e. until 1866.
Certainly and the Catholics were not stayed with “crossed hands” and they duly replied, equating Martin Luther and the reformers associates with the “Antichrist”.
And while this is happening in western Europe, on the eastern happens a historically significant and simultaneously traumatic event, which will mark the Hellenism for centuries. The fall of Constantinople and the dissolution of the thousand year old Eastern Roman Empire, which today is known under the illegitimate name that imposed by the Europeans and prevailed as Byzantine.
Thus, many believed that with the fall of Constantinople (1453 AD) had now expired the time of God's Kingdom on earth and that it had begun the reign of the Antichrist. They believed i.e. that the time for the end of the centuries “is proximal”.
That is why and the commentators of the book of Revelation, at the time of Turkish occupation of Greece, firmly believed that this book was written to describe what was happening in Orthodoxy and Hellenism at this era, which was the times of the reign of Antichrist.
Also were called to answer what was the role of the Pope and of Muhammad. And this happened because there was a large number of Muslim traditions and eschatological texts, which reported that the Basel of Muhammad would have lasted a thousand years. Besides, between 1560 and 1660 the Muslim world was flooded by prophets and prophecies, which strengthened their faith.
Having regard to all this, the enslaved Greeks then were incredibly alarmed because they believed that so being fulfilled what it is written in the Revelation about the person of the Antichrist, which of course - as we said - it was none other than Muhammad.
There were also texts such this of Zacharias Gerganos from Arta, circa 1621, who was influenced by Protestant teachers, was supporting that the Apocalypse says that the Pope was the Antichrist and that the catalysis of the Ottoman Empire would becoming in ten years. For this reason, the interpretation of in Revelation became very beloved to the public.
Summarizing then, we can say that in almost all the period the Turkish occupation in Greece until 1800 approximately, the commentators and interpreters of the Apocalypse of John, they see in Pope or Mohammed, the face of the Antichrist.
In 1800, however, Theodoret of Ioannina, writes a voluminous interpretation in Revelation, where - without forget the Papacy and Islam - inflicted upon now Napoleon and France, in which foresees the Antichrist, while in the face of the Tsar of Russia foresees the Messiah and Resurrection of the Eastern Orthodox Empire.
As Antichrist they see Napoleon (1769 - 1821 AD), the leaders and peoples who were among opposing to France and had gone to war with him.Even, stipulate and the year 1805 as the year of the Antichrist, i.e. the year in which Napoleon founds the Kingdom of Italy and is crowned King of.
As year of the Antichrist defined and in 1848 by the Frenchmen revolutionaries in Paris.
Around this same time in Greece, the scholar Apostle Makrakis (1831-1905) from Sifnos and Nickolas Damalas (1842-1892) Professor of the Faculty of Theology and Rector of the University of Athens for the period 1878-1879, they identify - once again - Muhammad with Antichrist and they put the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1896 or 1897.
Also, in the early 20th century in Russia with the October Revolution, writers they saw the Antichrist in socialism, in the prevalence of communism and in the decade 1930-40, in the face of Hitler.
And finally, in our era, two persons were identified with the Antichrist. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, because of a scar he had on his head (and many argued that it is 666!) and Saddam Hussein by the Americans. Only that the Americans did not said to us if George Bush Jr. probably is ... the Messiah.
The person of the Antichrist does not left unaffected and our folk tradition. Thus, in a region of the Peloponnese we read: “When it's becoming the end of the world, a few years earlier would come long drought, rain failure and other great evils. The Antichrist (Devil) with a skin bottle or a pumpkin full of water will turn in the world transformed himself and will gives water to the thirsty from the pumpkin, if they accept to stamp them (i.e. to put a stamp to)” N. G. Politis, Traditions, number 886.
Summarizing then, let's look in turn the historical figures, which were considered as an expression of the Antichrist:
· Antiochus IV Epiphanes
· Simon the Magician
· Eleventh King of the Romans
· Julian the Apostate
· Mikhail Gorbachev
· Saddam Hussein
We would like to close our article with an aversion of Archimandrite John Kostof from the book “Faith and Logic”, which expresses us perfectly, hoping for all - those who read it - to take into account, not to fall victims of their naivety and their superstition:
“Unfortunately the anti-Christology has reached to a point covering the Christology and we instead are dealing with Christ and try to unite ourselves with Christ, we try to read anything concerning the Antichrist”.
1. Ast. Argyriou “Greek Interpretations in Revelation during the Turkish occupation”
2. Encyclopedia “Science and Life”
3. “Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics”
4. “Great Greek Encyclopedia”
5. “Great Dictionary of Sun”
6. N. G. Politis “Traditions”
7. Annex Holy Bible of the Greek Bible Society.
Writer Christos Pal