Hank Hanegraaff, author of the “Ask Hank” column of the Christian Research Journal, spoils all our fun by asserting that the antichrist of biblical reference was none other than the Roman emperor Nero:
[A]n examination of the historical context in which John was writing reveals that John was appealing to a widely used method of associating each letter of the alphabet with a corresponding numerical value. This process is known as gematria. According to gematria, six hundred sixty-six is the sum value of the Hebrew letters (not recognizable to the Roman authorities of John’s day) that spell the name of the first-century Roman Emperor whom the great nineteenth-century biblical scholar Milton Terry called “the veriest incarnation of wickedness”: Nero Caesar.
In effect, Hank says put away your slide-rules — the antichrist ain’t coming.
Of course, we cannot accept this answer. It’s much more convenient to have Satan to blame for the world’s ills, than to step up and accept responsibility for our own small part in the hellfire that threatens to rain down upon us. So, we’ll just keep searching for the antichrist, thankuverymuch.
Incidentally, if you have any information regarding the identity of the antichrist, please pass it along. There’s no reward, but the correct answer will give you the chance to say ‘I told you so’ while the Earth burns.