An adversary of Jesus Christ. Heretics who deny the doctrine of the Trinity, or the divinity or incarnation of Christ, etc., are called antichrist. Of this sort, there were many in the time of the Apostle John. (1 John 2:18, 23, 4:3; 2 John 7) But one particular system of wicked persons, principles, and practices, is chiefly referred to, in the daily fear of which the early Christians lived. The Scripture presents this Antichrist as a very man of sin, and son of perdition, as a strong delusion overspreading the whole Roman Empire like a terrible judgment introduced by ignorance and hatred of the truth, and apostasy from it. He springs from the bottomless pit amid the terrible smoke of superstition and error; as sitting in the Temple or Church of God; as exalting himself above magistrates, angels, and everything to do with God; as a despiser of the gods of the idolatrous heathen, and the God of his professed fathers in the early Church, and setting up a new class of Mahuzzim, deities to protect his different dominions, giving them over to the vilest blasphemy, error, cruelty, and persecution; as possessing civil and ecclesiastical power over the ten parts of the Roman Empire, and seizing upon three of them as his rightful domain; as establishing his abominations unnumbered with false miracles and lying wonders; as excluding from civil commerce those who do not more or less solemnly acknowledge, and submit to, his power.
United under one head - the destructive angel of the bottomless pit - the promoters of this delusion are many and mischievous, like locusts and scorpions, ruinous to those who know nothing of the true grace of God, having their conscience seared as with a hot iron, speaking lies in hypocrisy, propagating the doctrine of devils, forbidding to marry, or, on occasion, to use lawful and wholesome meats, while their hearers had itching ears, heaping up teachers, and giving attention to their fables. They are lovers of themselves, covetous, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, breaking their word, false accusers, despisers of those that are good, treacherous, headstrong, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, creeping into houses and leading captive silly women burdened with sins. The chief residence of this monster would be Rome; his name, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth. The number of his name is 666, whose numeral letters constitute Latinus or Romish, denying the articles of the faith, and upholding many other things in the Romish church.
This antichrist began his work in the apostolic age, but was checked by the power of the Roman Empire till its destruction, when a fearful apostasy from the faith happened in the Church. His duration is 1260 years, during which he promotes idolatry, lies, and blasphemy; treads the church under foot; and persecutes the saints who, all along bear witness against his abominations. Nor do the terrible ravages of the Eastern angels loosed from the Euphrates in the least make his subjects repent of their idolatries, murders, sorceries, fornications, and thefts. At the end of his reign, he will, with craft and fury, almost entirely cut off faithful witnessing for Christ. But, all of a sudden, by the pure preaching of the gospel, by the pouring out of sevenfold plagues, or vials of divine wrath, by the revolt and opposition of his own subjects, he will be terribly destroyed, to the consternation of his adherents and the great joy of the saints, both Jew and Gentile. (Dan. 7:18-12, 20-26, 11:36-40; 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-7, 4:3-4; Rev. 9:1-11, 20-21 and chs. 11, 13-19)
The above characteristics drawn from Scripture cannot be wholly found in the heathen Emperors of Rome, much less in the fanciful Danish-Antichrist of popish writers, or the Armillus of the Jews, or the Daggial of the Mahometans. The Mahometan system may indeed be considered as a lesser antichrist, but neither contain all the characteristics applicable to it. It does not sit in the Church, nor appear to men to have a power equal to God's. It allows no idolatry, nor is it notable for the persecution of the saints, nor was it established by lying wonders, but by the power of the sword. Actually, every characteristic is clearly found in the papacy.
If with the two great Newtons (Isaac and Thomas), and Moses Lowman, we date the rise of antichrist from the pope becoming a civil prince in AD 750 or 756. I rather incline to date the rise of Antichrist from his claim to universal headship over the Christian Church in AD 606, or 608, for in this, I suppose, his character of Antichrist chiefly consists. (See Antichrist: in 1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 1:7; and Antichrists in 1 John 2:18)
[See John Brown of Haddington's Dictionary of the Holy Bible for the expanded entry on Antichrist from which the extract above is derived.]