Question: "Who is the antichrist?"
Answer: There is much speculation about the identity of the antichrist. Some of the more popular targets are Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Pope Benedict XVI. In the United States, former President Bill Clinton, current President George Bush, and presidential candidate Barack Obama are the most frequent candidates. So, who is the antichrist, and how will we recognize him?
The Bible really does not say anything specific about where the antichrist will come from. Many Bible scholars speculate that he will come from a confederacy of ten nations and/or a reborn Roman empire (Daniel 7:24-25; Revelation 17:7). Others see him as being a Jew since he would have to be in order to claim to be the Messiah. It is all just speculation since the Bible does not specifically say where the antichrist will come from or what race he will be. One day, the antichrist will be revealed. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 tells us how we will recognize the antichrist: "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."
It is likely that most people who are alive when the antichrist is revealed will be very surprised at his identity. The antichrist may or may not be alive today. Martin Luther was convinced that the pope in his time was the antichrist. Others who have lived in the past few hundred years have been equally sure as to the identity of the antichrist. So far, they have all been incorrect. We should put the speculations behind us and focus on what the Bible actually says about the antichrist. Revelation 13:5-8 declares, "The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."