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by Dr Anthony E. Smart
Seen as the arch-enemy of Jesus Christ and the powers of good in Christian belief. In the Bible it was warned that the Dark One would appear and lay waste to all around him, corrupting the hearts of men and women, turning brother against brother, and heralding the cataclysmic end of the world. It was first believed that the Antichrist would appear in the Holy Land (Jerusalem), and so the First Crusade was initiated, to expel the Turks and Saracens, and other heathens from that land. Later, when Christianity split into two factions, the Catholics and the Protestants, each accused the other's leader of being the feared arch-destroyer. Generally, it was held that this Antichrist would be identified by the number 666, and that it would shrink from the symbols of Christianity (the crucifix, holy water, etc.).

It appears 4 times in the Bible (1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 7). In these passages the name is not used to refer a specific individual, rather anyone who opposes Christ is an antichrist. The name was later blended with several other figures in the Bible, notably the "Man of Lawlessness" (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and the "second beast" (Revelation 13:11-ff.) to form the idea of Antichrist as a Satanic individual. (See also Satan)

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