On Oct. 6, the former Mayor of New York and current attorney to President Trump Rudy Giuliani retweeted a comment that “[George] Soros is the anti-Christ!” The comment was made in response to the anti-Kavanaugh protests that had been organized around the country.
The original comment said, “Freeze his assets & I bet the protests stop.” The Jewish billionaire activist had already been connected to the protests by none other than President Trump, who tweeted on Oct. 5 that demonstrators were “paid professionals” who were “paid for by Soros and others.” It is important to note that fact-checkers at the Washington Post reported that “it is wrong to claim the protesters were paid by Soros or directed by him.”
With Giuliani’s retweet, the conspiracy theory moved from the realm of the political into the dimension of the religious. No longer was Soros simply a shadowy opponent who didn’t play fair; now he was the literal embodiment of evil.
If it is true that George Soros is the Antichrist (spoiler: it’s not), this is quite the reveal.
In Christian tradition, the Antichrist is a demonic figure who is supposed to return at the end time to oppose Christians and Christ. It is the literal antithesis to the Messiah, Christ. Most people’s image of the Antichrist comes from movies like The Omen, in which the Antichrist is the spawn of Satan, who rules with great power for a period of time before the end of the world.
Even for those who rely on scripture rather than horror movies, the Antichrist is a composite figure with characteristics cobbled together from a variety of texts, notably the description of the Beast in the Book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible) and 1 John (a letter attributed to the author of the Gospel of John).
Let’s assume for a moment that we all agree that multiple books in the New Testament prophesy the arrival of a key opponent to God at the end of time. What does the Bible tell us about that figure?
In Revelation itself, the strongest candidate for the Antichrist is “the Beast” who comes “out of the sea/abyss” and is given authority and power by the dragon (11:7; 13:1-10; 17:7-18). A second beast later comes out of the Earth and instructs people to worship the first beast. This second beast is also called “the false prophet.”
Together, these beasts oppose God and those who do not worship the image of the (first) beast. We aren’t told the actual name of the beast from the sea, but it corresponds to the numerical value “666.” And we are told that the beast will rule for a specific period of time: 42 months, or three and a half years (Rev 13:5-8).
It’s difficult to reconcile Soros’ influence with such a short timespan. Now 88 years old, he has been a global player since 1992, when he “broke the Bank of England” by shorting the British pound. The number 666 has widely been recognized as a code name for a particular ruler. In both Greek isopsephy and Hebrew gematria, every letter had a numerical value. If you add the values of those letters together you yield a total, which in this case would be 666. George Soros doesn’t work out.
Although when people think “Antichrist” they think of Revelation, the final book of the Bible never uses that title for the terrifying monsters it describes. For the actual name Antichrist, we have to turn to a letter attributed to John the evangelist. In 1 John 2:18-20, we are warned: “It is the last hour, and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come… They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” Here there are a number of Antichrists (plural!) who at one time were members of the community of Jesus’ followers but later left. Soros, a Hungarian Jew, hardly fits the bill.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of the identification of Soros as the Antichrist is that he could be outed as such during the Trump administration. According to Revelation, the Beast has the power to do as he pleases, but as a vocal opponent of the Republican party and Trump administration, Soros can hardly be said to be getting what he wants.
Do the New Testament texts really prophesy the appearance of a single Antichrist figure? Most historians think not, seeing the authors of Revelation and 1 John as addressing situations that faced their individual communities. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, author of the Antecedents of Antichrist, argues: “With the images of the Beasts, the author of Revelation is referring to the dangers of his own time.” Most scholars identify the beast known by the number 666 as the emperor Nero, whose name (Nero Caesar) does correspond to 666. Though Nero was probably dead when the Book of Revelation was written, there was a prophecy that he might return.
The problem with the misidentification of Soros as the Antichrist is not so much that it is clearly inaccurate, or even that it conflates scriptural texts that do not describe an Antichrist with those that do, but that it is dangerous. Christians are generally encouraged to “turn the other cheek” and “love their enemies” as well as their neighbors. If there is a situation in which this kind of humanitarian approach is suspended, it is in the cosmic battle between good and evil that takes place at the end of time.
According to a 2007 Gallup Poll, most American Christians believe in the devil. A 2013 YouGov survey (PDF) suggests that more Protestants than Catholics fear the involvement of the devil in the world. Believing in the devil is not necessarily objectionable, but identifying any individual or group with Satan may well be. As David Frankfurter has shown in his book Evil Incarnate, the accusation of demonic conspiracy is one of the most potent forms of Christian slander. It is a form of attack regularly leveled against Jews and, historically speaking, used to justify all kinds of violence against them.
So, while it’s not possible, biblically speaking, that Soros is the Antichrist, it is possible that identifying him as such will endanger him and further polarize public discourse. After all, you don’t negotiate with Satan, hear his complaints, or offer him quarter in battle.