“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the physical, visible Return of Christ mentioned in chapter 1] shall not come, except there come a falling away [great religious apostasy within professing Christianity] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4)
[Note : I will mention here that I am not a Seventh Day Adventist or a Christadelphian; I am Calvinistic in terms of the doctrine of salvation; Ellen G. White was a plagiarist and a false prophet; if she said anything right about the AntiChrist it was only because she plagiarized Baptists and Protestants]
How can I have a blog with the word “prophetic” in the title and not talk about the AntiChrist (a.k.a. “the little horn”, “the son of perdition”, “the man of sin”)? I thought it would be good today to mention some of the resources which helped me years after my conversion to understand and receive the historic Baptist/Protestant view on AntiChrist which I believe without apology to be the correct teaching as opposed to the prophesy pontifications of the preterists (e.g. Gary Demar, David Chilton, Kenneth Gentry) and the prophetic speculations of the futurists (e.g. Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe).
What is the historic Baptist/Protestant view on AntiChrist which just happens to be found in different historic confessions of faith? Let me quote from one of those confessions. This is what is written in the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter XXV, “Of the Church”, Point number VI):
“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can THE POPE OF ROME, in any sense, be head thereof; but IS THAT ANTICHRIST, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.”
The historic Baptist/Protestant view is that the papacy, the succession/dynasty* of popes, is the man of sin. One man at a time fulfilling the characteristics of the son of perdition sitting as a false apostle/bishop within the “temple” of professing Christianity. The Greek word “naos” which is translated “temple” in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 is used elsewhere by Paul for the Church. Please read carefully : “Know ye not that YOU [plural, together] are the [definite article] temple [singular not plural, Greek word “naos”] of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you [plural]?” (1st Corinthians 3:16) Did not Paul write to Timothy that a local, visible assembly of believers was “the house of God” (1st Timothy 3:15)? Did not Paul instruct us that the “temple of God” (interpreted as a local group of believers) could be soiled and defiled by a man (like the son of perdition that was to come for example)? Please read carefully : “If any man defile the temple [Greek word “naos”, singular not plural] of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple [singular not plural] of God is holy, which temple [singular not plural] YOU [together, plural] are.” (1st Corinthians 3:17; the immediate context is about teachers and Gospel workers so the one who can defile the temple of God would firstly refer to a false teacher within a local assembly) Please notice that in that verse it basically said “you are the temple” and not “you are the temples”. When Paul spoke of the literal temple of Jerusalem Paul used another Greek word (see 1st Corinthians chapter 9, verse 13) and he did not call it “the temple of God” but merely “the temple” because it no longer was God’s temple (see Matthew 23:38; Acts 7:48; Acts 17:24; John 4:20-21) since at least after Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice (or some time before that). When it comes to determining the “temple of God” of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 let us be guided by the Scriptures. If one wants to take the “temple of God” as referring to an individual believer then that also fits the popes historically who sought to govern the consciences of men and women and to know the secrets of their hearts through their abominable confessional system.
The “man of sin” like the “man of God” (2nd Timothy 3:17) does not necessarily refer to one single person* in human history. Just like the first son of perdition, Judas Iscariot (John 17:12), who fooled the apostles for a time the son of perdition that was to come fooled true Christians (e.g. Martin Luther) for a time. Being a deceiver WITHIN the “temple” of professing Christianity, the son of perdition cannot in any way refer to a Muslim or atheist or some New Age guru (e.g. Lord Maitreya) or some 1st century Jewish high priest. The son of perdition which is a title used for the first apostate ecclesiastical leader/elder within professing Christianity, Judas Iscariot, can only refer to a false Christian teacher/apostle/leader and not to some political figure no matter how wicked that person may be. There many antichrists (1st John chapter 2) who oppose the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be they Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Hindoos, Buddhists or any other non-Christians but only one of the many antichrists of History fulfills the prophetic descriptions of THE AntiChrist (capital A) and THE son of perdition (Daniel chapter 7, 2nd Thessalonians 2, Revelation 13, Revelation 17).
* “For MANY shall come IN MY NAME, saying, I am Christ…” (Matthew 24:5a)
“… and SHALL DECEIVE MANY.” (Matthew 24:5b)
What about the “showing himself that he is God” part? The pope claims to forgive sins which only God can do (Mark 2:7). The pope claims infallibility in matters of faith and practice when he teaches “ex cathedra” and he also claims to be the “vicar of Christ”. Those 2 claims show him usurping the place of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the true “vicar of Christ”. Jesus Christ : “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John 15:26) The pope is called “Holy Father”, a term used only in the Scriptures for God the Father (John chapter 17), and thus usurps a title of God the Father. What about the pope usurping Christ’s place? The word “anti” can be “against” or “in the place of”. The word “antipope” means someone in the place of the true pope. A false pope in other words. Antipope = someone in the place of the true pope. AntiChrist = someone in the place of the true Christ = a vicar of Christ = a false Christ. Anyone claiming to be “vicar of Christ” is an “AntiChrist”, someone in the place of Christ. Let us not forget that the pope claims to be the head of the Church while the Scriptures teach that Christ is the true and sole head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23).
Let us hear a “humble” pope of the 19th century speak for himself:
“But since WE HOLD UPON THIS EARTH THE PLACE OF GOD ALMIGHTY, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth, and now that Our advanced age and the bitterness of anxious cares urge Us on towards the end common to every mortal, We feel drawn to follow the example of Our Redeemer and Master, Jesus Christ, Who, when about to return to Heaven, implored of God, His Father, in earnest Prayer, that His Disciples and followers should be of one mind and of one heart: I pray . . . that they all may be one, as Thou Father in Me, and I in Thee: that they also may be one in Us. And as this Divine Prayer and Supplication does not include only the souls who then believed in Jesus Christ, but also every one of those who were henceforth to believe in Him, this Prayer holds out to Us no indifferent reason for confidently expressing Our hopes, and for making all possible endeavors in order that the men of every race and clime should be called and moved to embrace the Unity of Divine Faith.” (Pope Leo XIII, “The Reunion of Christendom”, Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII, June 20th, 1894)
We know from Daniel chapter 7 that the AntiChrist could only be revealed after the 4th Roman empire (“beast” symbol), the western portion of it which contained the city of Rome, the city on seven hills (Revelation 17), came to be divided into 10 main kingdoms (symbolized by “horns”) which did not occur prior to the coming of Christ (Antiochus Epiphanes is certainly not intended here) or prior to 70 AD (Nero and Vespasian are certainly not intended here) but rather after the Gothic invasions. Ever hear of Europe’s Holy Roman Empire which followed the fall of the pagan Roman empire (its Western section)? Let us remember that the feet of the great statue described in Daniel chapter 2 were connected DIRECTLY to the legs meaning historical succession and continuity. The legs represented the first form of the fourth empire and the feet with the ten toes (corresponding to the ten horns of the fourth beast of Daniel chapter 7) represented the divided, weaker form of the fourth empire. There was no air gap whatsoever between the legs and feet meaning that after the fall of Pagan Rome we were to shortly expect the rise of the last divided form of the Roman empire. That is what early Christian writers believed (e.g. Tertullian) and History has shown that that was the case. Just as the Persian empire shortly followed the Babylonian empire and just as the Greek empire shortly followed the Persian empire and just as the Roman empire shortly followed the Greek empire the last form of the 4th empire (Roman) would shortly follow its first form which fell in the 5th century (Barbarian Invasions). I would add that the AntiChrist could not be fully revealed to true Christians until only after the given marks of the great apostasy that was to come – imposed celibacy of teachers/bishops and abstaining from meats – became visible (1st Timothy 4:1-3) in the Middle Ages. Once that is understood and the connection is made with the Roman apostate church that was to come (symbolized by a whore sitting on seven hills in Revelation chapter 17) then the number of AntiChrist suspects is limited to one man/office and one very important city in Europe.
Up until early 2005 I was still clinging to a futurist-dispensationalist view of eschatology (secret rapture, 7-year tribulation, one-man-AntiChrist, return of animal sacrifices, physical temple rebuilt in Jerusalem, etc…) having imbibed those ideas over 10 years earlier (while still a Roman Catholic) by sometimes watching made-for-tv dispensationalist sensationalists (e.g. Jack Van Impe). Being in a dispensationalist church assembly in the first years of my Christian life (which began in February 2001**) did not help matters. I thank God for granting me curiosity and leading me to documents which opened my eyes concerning the AntiChrist.
** As a sincere Roman Catholic having doubts concerning whether or not I was in the right church I prayed in early 2001 to the Lord concerning the identity of the Whore church of Revelation chapter 17 which is associated with Rome, the city sitting on seven hills, and I believed the Lord answered my sincere prayer in accordance with His Word (James 1:5) because of the accompanying spiritual fruit which I experienced (true and profound repentance, a new and strong hunger for the Word, a new zeal for prayer, a peace in my heart I had never had before) after leaving Roman Catholicism and embracing the true Gospel of God’s grace (unmerited favor). The more I have studied Revelation chapter 17 and the use of symbols by the prophets the more I am convinced that the Baptists and Protestants of past ages properly understood the prophecies concerning AntiChrist (the papacy) and the Whore (the Roman Catholic Church). Still tainted by dispensationalist futurism and not being entirely consistent I still had for a time a one-man view of AntiChrist and only saw the pope as one of many possible suspects. I had even for a time early in my Christian life bought into the idea that Prince Charles as some future head of the European Union was going to become the AntiChrist. Nobody’s perfect!
One document which started opening my eyes (in the summer of 2004) was Duncan McDougall’s “The Rapture of the Saints”*** which shows Roman Catholic Jesuits involved (for obvious reasons!) in spreading false views on AntiChrist (futurism, preterism) which would eventually come to be imbibed by a large number of Baptists and Protestants (see also my “Oxford Movement” post). Mr. McDougall’s document can be read here. Did not Paul warn us in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 (verses 2 and 3) concerning the circulation of false ideas about the end times? Should we be surprised then by the diversity of prophecy teachings promoted in our day and age? Many sincere Christians have been misled and some true teachers of the Word, people more zealous than myself in many respects, have sadly contributed to spreading prophecy errors.
*** the author was rather harsh when it came to talking about the Plymouth Brethren but I believe he (like Charles Spurgeon) was right in many of his criticisms of certain men within the movement – 1st Thessalonians 5:21
Mr. McDougall’s book had bothered me but I was not yet ready at that time to embrace Protestant historicism (meaning the contents of the Book of Revelation span all of the Christian era as opposed to being confined to a narrow period of time like the preterists and futurists teach). In early 2005 I found a recording (in MP3 format) of a relatively recent sermon (2003) preached by a no-nonsense-tell-it-like-it-is American Calvinist (Michael Bunker) on the topic of AntiChrist. The sermon titled “The Doctrine of the Papal AntiChrist” was about 2 hours long. After listening to it a few times and meditating upon his arguments (and of course praying to God for wisdom and discernment) I finally came to reject the false teaching of the secret rapture and came to embrace the view that the papacy, the line of popes, was THE AntiChrist. That sermon can be downloaded here and the transcript of the sermon can be read here. He also wrote “The Testimony of the Spirit Concerning AntiChrist” and “The Testimony of History Against AntiChrist”.
***** TEXT DOCUMENTS *****
Here are other documents I read in the following months and years which I found to be very helpful in solidifying my understanding of eschatology:
“Making Sense of Daniel – Chapter 7 : The Little Horn of Rome” (found on www.LetGodBeTrue.com website****)
**** the website also offers a good document refuting full preterism (and consequently its false view of AntiChrist) which can be read here
“Great Prophecies of the Bible” by Ralph Woodrow***** (sold here)
***** written decades ago when the author was more reliable in matters of faith, discernment and practice
Mark of the Beast Powerpoint presentation (part 1 and part 2) and discussions about Mark of the Beast between Rand Windburn and Roman Catholics on Catholic Message Board found on www.iconbusters.com website (Rand Windburn)
“AntiChrist Exposed – the Reformed and Puritan View of the AntiChrist” (2 volumes) by Ronald N. Cooke (sold here)
^ I certainly do not agree with the author’s views on race; I do not believe that it is forbidden in this New Testament era to marry a believer of another race (1st Corinthians 7:39b); grace is more important than race in this dispensation; even in the Old Testament, the commandment to not marry someone of another race was for a religious reason ultimately: practically everybody outside of Israel in the Old Testament era was an idolater and hence there were no proper marriage candidates for the Israelites; did not Boaz of the tribe of Judah marry Ruth the Moabite who had already embraced the true God? is there any hint in the Bible that God had frowned upon that marriage?
Thomas Manton’s “Eighteen Sermons on the Description, Rise, Growth, and Fall of AntiChrist” found in volume 3 of “The Complete Works of Thomas Manton”
Francis Turretin’s 7th Disputation (“Whether It Can Be Proven the Pope of Rome is the AntiChrist”) made available on the www.iconbusters.com website
One could also add commentaries on pertinent passages (Daniel chapter 7, 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, Revelation chapters 13 and 17) by John Gill, Albert Barnes, Adam Clarke, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole and John Wesley.
I would also mention another helpful prophecy book. It is called “The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation” and it was written by Philip Mauro. While it does not directly address the identity of the AntiChrist it does show Biblically and historically that Daniel chapters 9 and 11 have nothing to do with the AntiChrist. Even worse than mishandling passages which deal with the AntiChrist is wrongly applying passages to the AntiChrist that have nothing to do with the AntiChrist (e.g. Daniel chapter 8, Daniel chapter 9, Daniel chapter 11). We must avoid both errors. (I have written two posts about prophecies contained in Daniel chapter 11 here and here)
I also recommend the following documents because they also show that the AntiChrist has nothing to do with Daniel chapters 8, 9 and 11:
Another book which I enjoyed and found to be quite helpful was John Dowling’s “The History of Romanism : from the earliest corruptions of Christianity to the present time ; with full chronological table, indexes and glossary ; and fifty illustrative engravings (1853)”. The book deals with the development of Roman Catholic dogma (up until the mid-19th century). It can be downloaded for free here.
***** AUDIO FILES *****
Here are a few of the available audio messages dealing with the topic of the Papal AntiChrist:
Ian Paisley : “1988 Talk Back Catholicism Radio Debate”
Stephen Hamilton : “AntiChrist : The Pope? – The Historic Protestant View”
Stephen Hamilton : “Why No Hope for the Pope?”
Former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett : “A Biblical Uncovering of the Pope & Papacy”
Ian Brown : “New Pope? Ultimate Usurper!”
Ian Brown : “Reformed Christianity vs. Roman Catholicism”
John Greer : “The Great Whore of Revelation 17”
John Greer : “The Man of Sin Part 1”
John Greer : “The Man of Sin Part 2”
Alan Cairns : “Mystery Babylon”
***** VIDEOS *****
Here are a few online videos dealing with the topic of the Papal AntiChrist:
Former priest Richard Bennett : Biblical Uncovering of the Pope and the Papacy
Mark of the Beast (Not a Microchip! Not your VISA card!)
Revelation 17 – Part 1~
Revelation 17 – Part 2~
Jerusalem is Not the Whore of Revelation 17~
The Scarlet Threat Montage
Explanation of the 1260 prophetic “days”~
The Beast of Revelation 13 Has A Number : 666 – AntiChrist, Vatican Triple Crown~
Ash Wednesday, Step Forward and Receive Your Mark of the Beast~
~ Please note that my encouraging the viewing of some of these videos does not mean I necessarily approve of other videos done or promoted by the same author – 1st Thessalonians 5:21 (“prove all things”). I have not checked out all his videos so there may be some points of disagreement. I will mention that one of the videos I quickly skimmed through seems to teach the error of soul sleep. Please use caution and discernment.
666 : Number of the Beast^^
^^ since the last empire is Roman/Latin I believe the use of Latin to identify the name of the Beast is warranted; Greek is the original language the Book of Revelation was written in and we also find some Hebrew words in the book so the use of Greek and Hebrew to identify the name of the Beast is warranted as well; everything else (e.g. binary codes, English) must be discarded by serious Bible students
The Last Two Beast Empires Part 1^^^
^^^ I am not presently sold to the idea that the United States is the “false prophet” beast which is promoted in part 2 (click here) of that video but I could be wrong… I did think the first part was good… I haven’t checked out the other videos of the author so I may not necessarily agree with everything taught by the author – 1st Thessalonians 5:21 (“prove all things”)
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