JUST as there are constant speculations on when Jesus Christ will return, there are as many speculations as to who the antichrist will be. Leading contenders these days are Saddam Hussein, the President of Islamic Iraq, Bill Gates, the young leader of our technological tower of Babel in the computer industry and the world’s richest man, and Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinians who is likely to succeed Yassir Arafat. Mahmoud, whose original name is Abu Mazen, is indebted to the occultic seer, Nostradamus, who predicted extra-biblically in the 16th century that the most evil man on earth is called Mabus, which bears a close resemblance to his name.
However, such speculations are not new but as old as the Church. In AD 40, barely ten years after the crucification of Jesus, the Emperor Gaius ordered his image to be set up in the temple in Jerusalem although this was not eventually carried out. AD 64 saw Emperor Nero as the incarnation of lawlessness when he savagely persecuted the Christians in Rome. So wicked was Nero that the church fathers were certain the last antichrist would be a resurrected Nero.[see Rev 17:9,10; 13:3]
Since then, we have not run out of candidates for the title. Other nominations include Caligula, Pope John XII, Friedrich Barbarossa, Archbishop Laud, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and even Martin Luther, to name a few. But all those mentioned fell short to Antichus IV, Seleucid king of Syria, whose title Epiphanes meant “lord of heaven”. In 167 BC, he set up an image of the Olympian Zeus in the temple at Jerusalem, referred to as “an abomination of desolation” in Dan 8:13; 9:27; 11:31 and 12:11.