As far back as 2009 a number of Christian prophetic speculators had theorized that President Obama might be the long dreaded antichrist. Once again, since the re-election of Barack Obama as President of the States, antichrist speculation is in the news, this time by Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. The Sunday before the election, Jeffress said the following:
“I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes.
“President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
Speculation about who the antichrist might be is a two millennia-long guessing game, from Emperor Nero Caesar in the first century to Adolf Hitler and beyond. Oswald J. Smith claimed that Benito Mussolini was the antichrist in his book Is the Antichrist at Hand?, a book that was written in 1926! Mussolini was executed in 1945.
It’s embarrassing when Christians claim they have identified the antichrist or argue that conditions are setting the stage for the upcoming antichrist. They’ve always been wrong, and if they continue to speculate on who “the” antichrist will be, they will continue to be wrong because antichrists were first-century, old-covenant opponents of the gospel who had no intention of taking over the world politically or economically.
Here’s what the Bible says about antichrist.
- The antichrist is a “liar . . . who denies that Jesus is the Christ” and “denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22; cf. 2 John 7). They were not political leaders but religious critics of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- There were many antichrists: “even now many antichrists have appeared” (1 John 2:18).
- These antichrists were already active in the first century: “even now many antichrists have appeared.” “Now” and “have appeared” are important time indicators.
- Antichrists had already “gone out into the world” when John wrote his second epistle (2 John 7).
- The appearance of these antichrists was an indication that it was the “last hour” for them and has nothing to do with American politics.
- The book of Revelation does not use the word antichrist.
Speculation about the antichrist and the last days has immobilized millions of Christians for decades. William Edgar, a professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, recounts the time in the 1960s he spent studying in L’Abri, Switzerland, under the tutelage of Francis A. Schaeffer (1912–1984): ((See Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 42.))
“I can remember coming down the mountain from L’Abri and expecting the stock market to cave in, a priestly elite to take over American government, and enemies to poison the drinking water. I was almost disappointed when these things did not happen.” ((William Edgar, “Francis Schaeffer and the Public Square” in J. Budziszewski, Evangelicals in the Public Square: Four Formative Voices on Political Thought and Action (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 174.))
Sound familiar? More than 50 years of this type of prophetic speculation has had an effect on the way Christians think, act, and vote. When there’s a social or political downgrade, talk about the antichrist rears its ugly head and neutralizes the very people who could make a difference.