Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. (1 John 2:18, New Living Translation)
And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. (1 John 2:18, New Living Translation)
He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (New Living Translation)
This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (New Living Translation)
Among historical and contemporary Bible scholars, theologians, and amateur eschatologians, there are various views about who, or what, the antichrist will be, whether antichrist is present, or whether the antichrist will come in the last days, before God's judgment and Christ's reign (if you're not familiar with these theological concepts, don't worry, they're not critical to an understanding of what I will talk about). Some believe antichrist referred to various Roman emperors. The number associated with the antichrist, 666, has been attributed to code meaning Nero, one of the most notorious persecutors of Christians. Nero allegedly blamed Christians for the burning of Rome, and as a result, Christians were burned alive on poles. Some reports claimed the road into rome was sometimes lighted by burning Christians. No doubt, this was an antichrist nature (which I will talk more about later) Others believed various Popes were the antichrist, and others believed antichrist to be certain governments (the Roman government being the first considered as a candidate for antichrist). Still others believe that antichrist is a general spirit that is present in every age. This is essentially my personal view.
Whether one is a Christian or not, Jesus Christ is still one of the amazing individuals of history, and his nature (the Christ nature, I will call it) was exemplified in the way he lived and the way he treated others. This Christ nature is still very present, but the antichrist nature is present as well.
Here are some distinctions that compare the Christ Nature and the Antichrist Nature, and I believe the application to some very contemporary events is clear:
Acceptance of all human beings and a desire to see them redeemed, reflected in his love and compassion for everyone.
Only select people – a certain group, clique, or tribe, are worthy of love or acceptance.
Sacrifices himself for others – even “sinners”, those who hate and abuse him.
Sacrifice themselves to win some heavenly reward – martyrdom becomes self-serving instead of sacrificial.
Sacrifices himself to save others.
Sacrifice themselves to kill and hurt others.
Whatever the theological differences about who or what antichrist may be, and whether we are Christians or members of other faiths or members of no faith group at all, it is clear to me that we all have a human duty to exemplify the spirit of Christ, and to overcome the spirit of antichrist.
NOTE: If you're interested in a more detailed historical analysis of antichrist, the Wikipedia article is a pretty good place to start.
[Pictures: Final showdown of Christ and Antichrist by Albrecht Durer, and Jesus Blessing the Children by Benjamin Robert Haydon.]