“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away 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.” (2 Th 2:3-4)
May 5, 2003 – The Westminster Confession of Faith:
“There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense be the head thereof; but is that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all this is called God.”
Identifying that “man of sin”, called the Antichrist, has become a favorite project for all those who put their interests and energies towards the task of studying eschatology. A public steeped in the post-modern culture of “reality television” and real-time despotic villains cannot help but be fascinated with the concept of a soon approaching, intrinsically evil, all-powerful world leader. Since most of those who call themselves “Christians” today are woefully ignorant of history, and are naturally inclined to believe whatever pabulum is spewed upon them from millionaire pop-prophecy teachers and the pop-theology pimps in the pulpits of America, it is natural that many disturbing eschatological mythologies would sprout up in such fertile ground.
The uniform reformed position that the Papacy is the seat of Antichrist, and the Bishop of Rome that “man of sin”, is now under renewed attack by both futurists and preterists, who would put forth pet prophetic interpretations that require that we discover Antichrist somewhere other than in Ecclesiastical Rome.
Even many of those who might believe or privately suspect that the Papacy is the Antichrist have softened their position somewhat, claiming that it is a “Historical Judgment” but not a right Christian Doctrine given great importance in Holy Scripture. They state that it is human reason, and not wholly scripture that has allowed this dogma of the Papal Antichrist to perpetuate through the centuries. I deny this, and will work to show that although reason is used (as it must be) to bring about the final determination, reason is not the foundation of our case but is rightfully employed only to test history by the rule of scripture. Scripture encourages this method, as it says of Apollos:
“And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Act 18:27-28)
Utilizing the Old Testament prophecies, and by examining recent proven and unarguable history, Apollos mightily convinced the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. We must then conclude that Apollos compared the acts and words of Jesus, along with the facts of his birth, death and life, to the multitude of Messianic prophecies. This also confirms in us the meaning and purpose of Prophecy – to show the perfection of God’s almighty eternal decree, and to glorify His power and His sovereign control over all of creation. Prophecy is not to be used as a “Christian” Oija board, or to concoct fanciful mythologies that cause people to look outside of the proscribed means of faith in order to “prove” the credentials of the prophet. Prophecy, like all of scripture, indeed like all of creation, is designed to point all worship to God, who alone has power over people, events, times and seasons.
Having already examined the Testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding Antichrist, I will keep my comments in this work limited to the examination of history in view of the scriptures that prophesy of Antichrist.
Let us start by a close examination of these scriptures in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2:
“(3)Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4)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.” (2 Th 2:3-4)
Verse 3 Gives us critical and important clues to:
(1) the identity of the “Man of Sin”, the “Son of Perdition”,
(2) the arena from which we can expect him to arise.
(3) The timing of his revealing
Let us examine these three points which appear in the third verse. From this verse, we can conclude that the Man of Sin will arise from and immediately following a great apostasy from the faith, an apostasy that was already beginning during the time of John’s epistles:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18)
His revealing will follow directly upon great apostasy, and particularly this verse in 2nd Thessalonians proves that he will arise from within PROFESSING CHRISTIANITY, for who can fall away from the faith that has not first professed the faith? The “Man of Sin”, that “Son of Perdition” (following the pattern of Judas in John 17:12), will be ecclesiastical, a “church leader”. Paul and John both agree in this regard – that we are to look for the rise of Antichrist from within professing Christianity.
Verse 4 Gave the Church the information she needed to identify this apostate Antichrist (Greek: ‘against’ or ‘in place of’ Christ):
(1) The “Man of Sin”, that “Son of Perdition” would be the Antichrist spoken of by John in the Revelation, as Antichrist is easily defined by Paul to be one “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God”.
(2) The Antichrist will sit in the Temple of God (which is the Body of professing believers), showing himself (or declaring) that he is indeed God on earth.
We will get back to the identification of Antichrist using John’s epistles shortly, but for now let’s continue with Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians concerning Antichrist. A wise student here will continue to make notes regarding the clues to Antichrist’s identity – because the scripture promises us that he will be REVEALED to the one who is given wisdom from the Holy Spirit:
“Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Th 2:5-7)
Paul is obviously being circumspect (cautious and prudent) here concerning who it is that “withholdeth” in order to protect the church from any unnecessary repercussions from the then present civil authority. Let us consider this for a moment. Pop-prophecy pundits have for a century concluded that it is the HOLY SPIRIT that “withholdeth”, and that the Holy Spirit will be “taken out of the way” when the Church is raptured. A fair and honest look at this scripture does not allow this interpretation.
(1.) Why would Paul be careful about naming the Holy Ghost in this case? He had mentioned the third person of the Trinity at least 4 times to the Thessalonians blatantly and openly (1 Th. 1:5, 1 Th. 1:6, 1 Th. 4:8, 1 Th. 5:19), and had specifically mentioned the Holy Spirit to the Thessalonians in this 2nd epistle (the very same letter) only a few verses later in this same dissertation on the Man of Sin!
“…we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit…” (2 Th. 2:13)
(2.) For Paul to say that the Holy Spirit was the one that “withholdeth” would not have troubled the pagan Roman political authorities at all, in fact – naming the Holy Spirit would have made the letter even MORE mystical and harmless to the reigning authorities.
Some Pop-Prophecy teachers teach that it is not the Holy Spirit that will be taken away, but that the Holy Spirit is the one that withholds the Antichrist from being revealed. Once again, the plain text of the scripture does not allow for this interpretation:
(1.) The scripture states that “he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The same one who “letteth” (which is the exact same word translated “withholdeth” in the earlier verse), will be the one “taken out of the way”. So we see that the Pop-prophecy teachers (like they do in Daniel 9:27 where they switch who the HE refers to) have to twist and strain to make the HE of 2nd Thessalonians 2:7 refer to the Holy Spirit.
(2.) If it were true that the Holy Spirit is the 1st “he” of this verse, but not the second “he”, then these teachers must now concoct an even more fanciful interpretation to decipher who the 2nd “he” is. They will now have to bring in information that even Paul was not privy to! Yet Paul claims that he had already told them who it was that “withholdeth” (2 Th. 2:5). Both Paul and John have already stated that the system of Antichrist was already on the earth and working, and that the system that withheld the revealing of Antichrist was already in place!
So now let us regroup, note what we have learned, then continue with this study of Paul’s message to us:
(1.) Paul is bringing to the recollection of the Thessalonians what he told them when he was with them. Now that he must remind them through a public letter, he is being very careful not to bring persecution upon them by the THEN REIGNING civil authority.
(2.) Specifically Paul reminded them that the Antichrist would not be revealed until the apostasy (which was at that time beginning), would come to fruition, and that the apostates themselves would be revealed and would rule once the current authority was removed from its place.
(3.) Paul alludes to the fact that there is a parallel between the “makeup” of the current restraining authority, and the apostate authority that would rise up afterwards. Please note this, because he calls both the one that withholds a “he” (even though it is a ruling system and not particularly one man), and the system that would arise a “he”. The Antichrist is reflected both as a MAN of power and authority, and a SYSTEM of rule. Just as the pagan Roman rule of the day was both a MAN (Caesar), and a SYTEM of rule (the CAESARS continued in line, one man succeeding another).
(4.) Paul and John agree that the Antichrist system was already at work in the early church, and that it would arise from within the professing “church” of Jesus Christ.
Now let us continue:
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Th 2:8)
Paul now goes on to teach us that the wicked “Man of Sin”, the “Son of Perdition” will be revealed immediately upon the removal of the one that “withholdeth”, and that he will continue in power until the Lord consumes him with the Spirit of his mouth with the brightness of His coming. There are HUGE clues for us in this one verse: This verse solidifies our understanding that the Antichrist will be both a MAN and a SYSTEM. He will rule for the entire church age from his unveiling until the coming of Christ, with only a short period excepted (When he shall receive a deadly wound that will be healed – we will discuss this as we move forward).
Now we will examine the remainder of Paul’s exhortation, because it speaks volumes to us about the deception that reigns over the identity of Antichrist:
“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Th 2:9-12).
Paul has not changed his subject. He is still talking about the identity and the coming of the Antichrist. Note that he SPECIFICALLY states, that there will be a great deception about this issue, and that this deception proceeds from the decree of God Himself, and that since they did not RECEIVE from God the gift of “the love of the truth”, that they will be deceived into believing a lie about the Antichrist.
ANTICHRIST IS ANTI-GRACE AND HIS MARK IS THE TEACHING OF WORKS-BASED SALVATION
We will take an aside here to examine some things that will help us identify this pernicious and lawless Antichrist. Going back to a verse we looked at briefly, that being the next verse from the pen of Paul:
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Th 2:13)
Remember that Paul is being as wise as a serpent, but as harmless as a dove (Matt. 10:16). He has purposely and openly declared to the Thessalonians who the evil restrainer is (Pagan Rome), but he has done so in a manner that would protect the church from undue persecution. Now, continuing in this fashion, and directly following his statements, he offers a further clue as to the identity of Antichrist:
(1.) That God has CHOSEN and predestined those who would be saved through His own power is a clue to the identity of the one who would be ANTI-CHRIST, because this Antichrist will also deny this critical element of our faith. Paul plainly exhorts the church at Thessalonica that they will not be deceived by this Antichrist, because GOD has chosen his elect, and has decreed that they will identify him. Whereas in verse 10 he plainly states that the un-elect (reprobate) will be deceived about the identity of the Antichrist because God has withheld the BELIEF OF THE TRUTH from them, saying, “they received not the love of the truth”, he now tells us that the gift of BELIEF OF THE TRUTH comes from God and is bestowed upon His elect alone! God has from the beginning chosen those who would be saved by giving them the gifts of sanctification of the Spirit, and BELIEF OF THE TRUTH!
(2.) By identifying the Doctrine of Election with the great deception concerning the identity of Antichrist, Paul further establishes the fact that the Antichrist system will be known principally by its opposition to the Doctrines of Grace.
Let us see if John agrees with this assessment:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:18-22)
In his dissertation on Antichrist, John makes some important statements that we would do well to heed:
(1.) Antichrist (the Man and System) is still to come. John writes this epistle some time between 85-90 a.d., almost 20 years AFTER the destruction of the Jewish Temple. Just as in the book of Revelation, John makes NO MENTION of a current Temple standing in Jerusalem, in fact John’s only mentions of the Temple in the entire book of Revelation regards the Temple that is in heaven. There is no mention of the Jewish Temple AT ALL in John’s epistles, proving that the temple had already been destroyed, and that the revealing of Antichrist, and therefore the Antichrists destruction by the return of Christ was still future.
(2.) John states plainly that the Antichrist system is already in place (although in embryonic form), and that the System of Antichrist WENT OUT FROM US (verse 19) This agrees with Paul’s statement that the Apostasy was already beginning, and would precede the revealing of Antichrist. This also proves that the Antichrist would come from, and would claim CHRISTIANITY, and that their particular apostasy was one of false doctrine.
(3.) John asserts that the true believer has an UNCTION from the Holy One, and will not remain deceived about the identity of the Antichrist. This agrees with Paul’s teaching that;
a) Election is the key to understanding the identity of Antichrist, and,
b) The Elect will not be deceived because they are to receive this truth through the gift of BELIEF from God.
(4.) John states that we may identify the Antichrist because in doctrine and in action they “denieth the Father and the Son.” This is the evidence that we will examine next.
THE PAPACY DENIES THE FATHER AND THE SON
Let me first state that it is inconsistent and unacceptable that a teacher should commend the Authorized King James Bible as Holy Spirit given, while disdaining the plain statements of its principle human author (William Tyndale) and of its human translators (The King James Translators). We have already shown in our previous essay that the King James Translators identified the Papacy as Antichrist in their introduction to that book. Now let us read the words of Tyndale on this subject from his commentary on the 1st Epistle of John:
“Antichrist is one of the first who sees the light, and who comes and preaches Christ for a while, seeking his glory in Christ’s Gospel. But when he discovers that there will be no glory for himself besides that of preaching, then he goes and preaches that doctrine which is contrary to Christ. If he cannot disguise himself, nor his scheming, whereby his poisoned heresy is hidden under the bait of true doctrine, then is he a professed and open enemy.
The Apostles were clear-eyed and spied Antichrist at once, and put him to flight, weeding out his doctrine quickly. But when charity waxed cold, and the preachers began to seek themselves and to admit glory, and honor of riches, then Antichrist disguised himself after the fashion of a true Apostle and preached Christ with subtlety and cunning, bringing in first this tradition, later that tradition, darkening the doctrine of Christ, and setting up innumerable ceremonies, Sacraments and images, giving them significations at first, but later their signification was set aside, and works were instead preached as holy deeds to justify, to put away sin, and to save the soul. Antichrist taught that men should put their trust in works and whatsoever was unto his glory and profit; and under the name of Christ ministered, leaving Christ out altogether, becoming head of the congregation himself.”
Tyndale goes on to say,
“Christ in the Scripture is called the holy because he only sanctifieth and halloweth us. And he is called Christ, that is to say, anointed, because he anointeth our souls with the holy ghost and with all the gifts of the same. Ye are not anointed with oil in your bodies, but with the spirit of Christ in your souls; which spirit teacheth you all truth in Christ and maketh you to judge what is a lie and what is truth, and to know Christ from Antichrist. For except he taught your souls within, the pouring of words into your ears would be in vain. For they must be all taught of God, John 6:45. And the things of God no man knoweth, save the spirit of God; and the carnal man knoweth not the things of the spirit of God. On the contrary, the spiritual that is anointed with the spirit judgeth all things, 1 Cor. 2:11-15. Therefore, we are forbidden to call any of us Master upon earth, Matt. 23:10, seeing we have all one Master now who is in heaven who only teaches us with his spirit, though by the administration and office of a faithful preacher.”
And specifically concerning Antichrist and the Papacy, Tyndale says,
“Forasmuch as Antichrist and Christ are two contraries, and the endeavor of Antichrist is to quench the name of Christ, [it is asked by our adversaries] how can the Pope and his sects be Antichrist when they all preach Christ? Say I again to thee, how was Pelagius Antichrist, whose doctrine the Pope defendeth in the highest degree, and how were all other heretics Antichrist? Verily, Sylvester the Pope did what all heretics do –- he abused the name of Christ. He gathered offerings, tithes and rents in Christ’s name, bestowing them to his own honor and not Christ’s. He brought the conscience of the people into captivity through superstitious fear, as though such authority was given him by Christ. And every syllable [in Scripture] that sounded as though it fit his purpose, he expoundeth it falsely and fleshly, and therewith deceived and bewitched the ears of the people, making them his own possession, to believe what he wished, as though it made no difference to them if he preached true or false; so they believed and did as he biddeth them.
But all the texts which show the Pope his duty, he puts out of the way, including all the texts which set the conscience at liberty in Christ, as well as those which prove salvation to be in Christ only. With Pelagius he preacheth the justifying of works, which is the denying of Christ. He preacheth a false binding and loosing by confession to a priest which is not [grounded] in the trust and confidence of Christ’s shed blood. He preacheth the false penance of deeds, neglecting to preach that we rein the flesh so that we sin no more. Rather, he teaches that we make satisfaction to redeem our past sins. What else can this be but the denying of Christ, who alone made redemption for our sin? The Pope maketh of the works of the ceremonies, which were customarily used to be signs and remembrances of things to be believed or done, service unto God and his Saints which are spirits, to purchase with their merits whatsoever the blind soul imagines. All are the denying of Christ. For if thou wilt receive an anointing of grace or mercy from anywhere besides Christ, he is no longer Christ unto thee.”
So, concerning the 4th point we made above about John’s identification of Antichrist, Tyndale plainly states:
“Now, though the Pope and his sects give Christ these names, yet they rob him of the effect, taking their significations unto themselves, making of him a hypocrite, as they are themselves. They be right Antichrists who deny both the father and the son. For they deny the witness the father bare unto his son, as they deny the son of all power and glory that his father gave him.”
OCCLUDING THE IDENTITY OF ANTICHRIST – JESUIT PROPHECY TEACHINGS
We have shown previously where the Testimony of the Spirit concerning the identity of the Antichrist is uniform throughout the Church age. The martyrs of Christ, the reformed Bible translators, and the introduction to the Bible itself claim that the Papacy was the seat of Antichrist. Now let us look at how (as prophesied by Paul and John) this Antichrist, working in the spirit of the wicked one, would occlude his identity to those who had not received the gift of a love of the truth.
In my book SWARMS OF LOCUSTS (ISBN 595252974 – available at www.lazarusunbound.com), I show where the Jesuit Order created both Arminianism and the Futurist view of Prophecy in order to hide the identity of the Antichrist. I will review here very quickly.
FUTURISM IS JESUITICAL
The Jesuit priest Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), towards the end of his life, wrote a commentary in 1585 on the Apocalypse of John entitled In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij. This commentary was very likely commissioned during the Council of Trent (which authorized the Jesuits to attack the Reformation and to destroy Protestantism by whatever means necessary). Ribera died a year after his commentary appeared. Ribera proposed that the Antichrist in Revelation would not appear until the end of the age. This concept (which was also adopted by the Jesuit priest Robert Bellarmine) of a futurist Antichrist was later picked up by the Anglican Church, where it soon infected Protestantism through the preaching of Edward Irving and John Nelson Darby. Eventually it became codified in Apostate Protestantism through the notations in the Scofield Bible that appeared in the early 1900’s.
PRETERISM IS JESUITICAL
At about the same time in history (the late 1500’s), the Jesuits also created and put forth the contrary prophetic view that all prophecy had been fulfilled early in the church age, and therefore there was no reason to be looking for any present rule of “Antichrist”. Primarily this was accomplished through the teaching of the Jesuit priest named Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613), who also wrote a commentary on Revelation entitled Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse. This heretical prophetic school became the interpretation called “Preterism” which has multitudes of adherents today. Most Preterists or Futurists will defend themselves by claiming that they do not adhere EXACTLY to the beliefs of Ribera or Alcazar, even though in practice their faulty conclusions serve the same hideous purpose. Though Alcazar believed that Prophecy had been fulfilled in the first 6 centuries of the early church, his spiritual descendents (The Preterists) have gone even farther than did Alcazar in proclaiming that ALL prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 a.d. Just as Futurists will defend themselves by pointing out major interpretation differences that they have with Ribera, they must necessarily go farther then Ribera in proclaiming that the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Antichrist will be found TOTALLY outside of the Romanist religion – a proclamation that even Ribera the Jesuit was not willing to make.
So we see where these two Roman Catholic inspired prophetic schools STILL serve the purpose of diverting attention from the Antichrist Papacy and occluding and burying the plain statements of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles in this regard.
THE REVEALING OF ANTICHRIST
We go back now to our teaching on the unveiling of the Antichrist. We remind you that Paul and John had taught that the Antichrist system was extant in their days, and that this “mystery” was already at work (2 Th. 2:7). We have already read where John spoke of this mystery, teaching us that these teachers were already going about to spoil the Body of Christ, teaching of man’s authority, and robbing the Father and the Son of those titles and accomplishments due them. We also know that the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes (tyrannical and authoritative rule by Bishops and clergy over the flock) was already flourishing at the time (the mid 90’s a.d.), as it says in the Revelation:
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:12-15)
The Holy Spirit, through John reveals some blockbuster information to us here in the Apocalypse:
(1.) Pergamos is related to “Satan’s Seat”, and was where Satan then dwelt. We know from history that the religion of BABYLON, the Gnostic Mystery Religion, had passed to Pergamos from Babylon when that city was conquered by Cyrus in 539 B.C. The last King of Babylon was Belshazzar. Daniel teaches us (Daniel Chapter 5) that it was Belshazzar’s father Nebuchadnezzar who had taken the Holy vessels from the Jerusalem Temple. Belshazzar commanded that the Holy vessels be brought forth and that he would drink from them. Keep this in mind, because DRINKING FROM A GOLDEN CUP is a sign of Antichrist that we need to heed:
“Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.” (Dan 5:2)
In that very night, Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede took the kingdom. So Belshazzar was the last Babylonian King who was High Priest of the Cult of the Magi – the Babylonian Mystery Religion. When Cyrus the Persian attacked and conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., the Priests of the Babylonian religion fled to Pergamos, where they set up the SEAT and SYSTEM of this pagan and idolatrous religion.
(2.) John says that there exists in Pergamos, in addition to those who hold to the ecclesiastical tyranny of the Nicolaitanes, those that hold to the Doctrine of Balaam. This is another clue for us. We learn in the book of Numbers, Chapter 22, that Balaam was NOT a secular or pagan prophet, but he was recognized as a Prophet of God, WITHIN THE REALMS of the professing church. A leader of the people who professed to be obedient to God. Specifically, the doctrine of Balaam encouraged the people to “commit fornication”. This “fornication” was not speaking of sexual impurity, but signified the harlotry that Revelation would expose as the MYSTERY BABYLON, the WHORE CHURCH that would ensnare both Roman Catholics, and Arminian Protestants the world over.
Now let us follow the Pergamos clues forward through history:
(1.) The Supreme High Priest of the Babylonian Religion was called PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, or Supreme Pontiff. This title existed in Pergamos as the title of the Babylonian High Priest after the religion moved its headquarters to that city.
(2.) Pergamos became the seat of the Attalid Kingdom during the 3rd Century before Christ. Attalus III, the last king of this dynasty died in 133 B.C., and upon his death, he left his entire kingdom and all his peoples as an inheritance to be given over to Rome. Rome accepted this inheritance at the death of Attalus the Third. Along with the inheritance, went the title PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, as the rule of Pergamos was given over in marriage to the Caesars of Rome.
(3.) The Title PONTIFEX MAXIMUS remained the property of the Roman rulers until the Emperor Gratian refused the blasphemous title in 376 A.D. Two years later, the Bishop of Rome named Damasus I was elected PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, thereby becoming the Supreme High Priest of the Babylonian Mystery Religion. Catholics admit as much as I will show by this quote from Catholic apologist Mark Bonocore:
“Indeed, it was not until the Empire split in two, with the Western Empire going to the pious, youthful Emperor Gratian (c. 360 AD) that the Pope was given the title Pontifex Maximus. Indeed, feeling that it was not right for he himself to carry that title (since he was, after all, not a Christian priest) the pious young Emperor bestowed it upon Pope Damasus I, who became the first Pope in history to hold the title ‘Pontifex Maximus.’” (Mark Bonocore, Title "Pontifex Maximus" or "Supreme Pontiff")
(4.) Tertullian confirms that the Papacy is the evil SEAT OF SATAN spoken of by John. John specifically tied the forgiveness of Spiritual fornication with Antichrist:
“For now I hear a thing so horrible, that I could never be silent in the face of it… our good pontifex maximus, as the bishop of the bishops solemnly declares: “We do forgive even the cords of adultery and fornication." (Tertullian, De Pudicitia)
The early Church, almost unanimously decreed that the Antichrist would rule from Rome:
(1.) Irenaeus (130-202) – “…Lateinos (The Latin Man) has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel]. For the Latins (Romans) are they who at present bear rule…” (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus Haereses, Book V, Chapter 30)
(2.) Tertullian (145- 220 A.D.) – Speaking of the “one that letteth”, “What obstacle is there but the Roman state; the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall produce antichrist…” (Tertullian, Commenting on 2 Thessalonians 2)
(3.) Hippolytus (170-236 A.D.) – “The golden head of the image and the lioness denoted the Babylonians; the shoulders and arms of silver, and the bear, represented the Persians and Medes; the belly and thighs of brass, and the leopard, meant the Greeks, who held the sovereignty from Alexander’s time; the legs of iron, and the beast dreadful and terrible, expressed the Romans, who hold the sovereignty at present; the toes of the feet which were part clay and part iron, and the ten horns, were emblems of the kingdoms that are yet to rise; the other little horn that grows up among them meant the Antichrist in their midst” ([Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 27,28)
(4.) Cyril of Jerusalem (315 to 386 A.D.) – “But this aforesaid Antichrist is to come when the times of the Roman empire shall have been fulfilled... There shall rise up together ten kings of the Romans, reigning in different parts perhaps, but all about the same time; and after these an eleventh, the Antichrist, who by his magical craft shall seize upon the Roman power…” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, LECTURE XV)
(5.) Chrysostom – (347 to 407 A.D.) – “What then is it that withholdeth, that is, hindereth him from being revealed? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman empire, to whom I most of all accede. Wherefore? Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly…But because he said this of the Roman empire, he naturally glanced at it, and speaks covertly and darkly. For he did not wish to bring upon himself superfluous enmities, and useless dangers…” (Chrysostom in his commentary on 2nd Thessalonians)
The early church believed almost universally that the Antichrist was SOON to be unveiled, and that this unveiling was going to occur immediately after the Roman Empire was taken out of the way. Once again, we measure this understanding with the scripture.
As Paul says:
“Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.” (2 Th 2:5-6)
And John says:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18)
THE LITTLE HORN
Although it has become fashionable in “higher criticism” and in modern pop-prophecy circles to try to remove discussion of the “little horn” from our examination of the identity of Antichrist, we will see that that attempt is yet another way to occlude the identity of the Man of Sin.
I will delve deeply into the visions of Daniel in the study on the Apocalypse of John, but for now we will quickly view Daniel’s several visions for a peek at the little horn. In prophetic literature, it is common to have a prophet reveal a prophetic vision, then later reveal a second vision “or telling”, that revisits the first vision in greater detail, or from a different prophetic angle.
This same method was used by God in the opening chapters of Genesis, whereby Chapter 1 is a quick survey of the Creation, and Chapter two then goes into greater detail of events quickly examined in Chapter 1. From this, many hucksters and false teachers have concocted TWO CREATIONS, but the fullness of scripture only allows for one.
A vision early in the book of Daniel gives us this principle, and the interpretation thereof – and from there we can proceed.
In Daniel Chapter 2, Daniel is interpreting a vision to Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon:
“This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.” (Dan 2:32-33)
Daniel interprets the dream, and gives us the principle to understand the later vision of the little horn:
“This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” (Dan 2:36-43)
The details of the interpretation could fill books, but we will limit ourselves to the understanding of nations and of kingdoms that would rise and fall according to Daniel’s interpretation:
(1.) The Babylonian kingdom was the head of Gold. This Kingdom was overthrown by the…
(2.) Medo-Persian empire, which reigned in its stead, until the rise of the…
(3.) The Grecian (Greek) monarchy, which was then supplanted by the…
(4.) Roman empire.
When “feet” or toes are mentioned, as attached to the legs of iron, we are to understand these of THE LATTER DAYS of that Kingdom of iron, as it is divided into ten toes, which are ten kingdoms to which the Iron Kingdom is divided.
It is Historical fact that the Roman Empire broke into ten distinct kingdoms at the fall of Rome. These Kingdoms were:
1. The Kingdom of the Vandals.
2. The Kingdom of the Suevians.
3. The Kingdom of the Visigoths.
4. The Kingdom of the Alans.
5. The Kingdom of the Burgundians.
6. The Kingdom of the Franks.
7. The Kingdom of the Britains.
8. The Kingdom of the Huns.
9. The Kingdom of the Lombards
10. The Kindom of Ravenna.
Let us leave that for a moment, but we will come back to it. Now let us fast forward to a second vision, this one given to the Prophet Daniel.
“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” (Dan 7:2-8)
This is a revisitation of the earlier vision, but with more detail given, and with different aspects of the Kingdoms in view.
(1.) The Lion beast with eagle’s wings. Matthew Henry explains it thusly: “This was the Chaldean (Babylonian) monarchy, that was fierce and strong, and made the kings absolute. This lion had eagle's wings, with which to fly upon the prey, denoting the wonderful speed that Nebuchadnezzar made in his conquest of kingdoms. But Daniel soon sees the wings plucked, a full stop put to the career of their victorious arms. Divers countries that had been tributaries to them revolt from them, and make head against them; so that this monstrous animal, this winged lion, is made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart is given to it. It has lost the heart of a lion, which it had been famous for (one of our English kings was called Caeur de Lion - Lion-heart), has lost its courage and become feeble and faint, dreading every thing and daring nothing; they are put in fear, and made to know themselves to be but men.” This corresponds to the Head of Gold in Nebuchadnezzars dream.
(2.) The Bear beast. John Gill explains: “Another monarchy, and which succeeded the former, and rose up upon the ruins of it, the Medo-Persian monarchy; and so the Syriac version prefixes to this verse, by way of explanation, "the kingdom of the Medes'' like to a bear, less generous and strong than the lion; more rough and uncivil, but equally cruel and voracious; which describes the Medes and Persians as a fierce and cruel people, and less polished, and more uncivilized, than the Chaldeans; and answers to the silver breasts and arms in Nebuchadnezzar's dream” This Bear raised up “on one side”, showing that the Persian kingdom predominated, and had three “ribs” (nations) in the teeth of it, meaning that they were devoured by it, these being; Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt; which were consumed by the Medes and Persians.
(3.) The Leopard beast. The Geneva Bible notes state: “Meaning Alexander the king of Macedonia (Alexander the Great).” At his death, the Kingdom was divided by “his four chief captains, which had the empire among them after his death. Selencus (Seluecis) had Asia the great, Antigonus the less, Cassander and after him Antipater was king of Macedonia, and Ptolemeus had Egypt.” This aligns with the Greek empire seen by Nebuchadnezzar in the earlier vision.
(4.) The exceedingly strong and dreadful beast. Again, Gill explains, “exceeding powerful, as the Roman empire was, and terrible to all the kingdoms of the earth; its armies, wherever they came, struck terror among the nations, and threw them into a panic, killing, wasting, robbing all they met with; and especially it was terrible to Christians…” Once again, in this last beast or “section”, we see it divided into ten parts. This is true of the Roman empire, which consisted of ten parts: Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Sarmatia, Pannonia, Asia, Greece, and Egypt. But also, as we have shown, this 4th beast was later divided into ten kingdoms, then ten “toes” of the 1st vision.
Now we consider the ten “horns” of the last beast. “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” We know that just as the ten “horns” are kingdoms and authorities, so must this “little” horn (the 11th) which came up from among the ten. Sir Isaac Newton explains it thusly:
“Kings are put for kingdoms, as above; and therefore the little horn is a little kingdom. It was a horn of the fourth Beast, and rooted up three of his first horns; and therefore we are to look for it among the nations of the Latin Empire, after the rise of the ten horns. But it was a kingdom of a different kind from the other ten kingdoms, having a life or soul peculiar to itself, with eyes and a mouth. By its eyes it was a Seer; and its mouth speaking great things and changing times and laws, it was a Prophet as well as a King. And such a Seer, a Prophet and a King, is the Church of Rome. A Seer is a Bishop in the literal sense of the word; and this Church claims the universal Bishoprick.
With his mouth he gives laws to kings and nations as an Oracle; and pretends to Infallibility, and that his dictates are binding to the whole world; which is to be a Prophet in the highest degree. In the eighth century, by rooting up and subduing the Exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the Senate and Dukedom of Rome he acquired Peter's Patrimony out of their dominions; and thereby rose up as a temporal Prince or King, or horn of the fourth Beast. ” (Isaac Newton, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalyps, page 76)
So then, once again, we are left with the perfect fulfillment of the prophecy, as Apollos did when debating with the Jews concerning the fulfimment of the Messianic prophecies in Christ Jesus.
MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF HARLOTS
So we turn now to the Apocalypse of John (Revelation), where in the 17th Chapter, we are asked to consider a woman who is arrayed in purple and scarlet color, riding a scarlet-colored beast. Upon her forehead is written (signifying that God has marked her, and she is spiritually known as) “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
We have already shown where the Roman Catholic Church is that same Babylonian/Gnostic Mystery Religion which fled (upon attempting to drink from the Lord’s golden cup) into Pergamos from Babylon. This same MYSTERY religion became the Papist religion, centered in Rome. This scarlet woman is said (in Revelation 17:9) to sit on seven hills or mountains, which is the perpetual identification of the city of Rome, as is even admitted by the Papal Church herself, as it says in the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia:
“The seven hills of Rome, the scarlet robes of the cardinals, and the unfortunate abuses of the papal court made the application easy…” (Catholic Encyclopedia)
And this same Catholic Encyclopedia admits that this interpretation was common from the earliest days:
“From the Holy Land the circle widens to Rome, as a centre of pilgrimages. St. Chrysostom, as has been shown, expressed his vehement desire to visit it. And in the early church histories of Eusebius, Zosimus, Socrates, and others, notices are frequent of the journeyings of celebrated princes and bishops of the City of the Seven Hills.”
So we now can easily identify the WHO and the WHERE of the prophecy. John says this:
“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” (Rev 17:9)
There need be no deeper search, then for us to recognize that this scarlet woman sits in Rome. In prophetic literature, the woman is always seen to be a “church” or ecclesiastical body, and this particular woman is put in contrast with the righteous and honorable woman, “clothed with the sun”, the true church (or remnant) of Jesus Christ, who has not spoiled herself with harlotries and fornications. By this we mean, that the virtuous woman has not accepted the traditions and foul doctrines of works put forth by the evil and adulterous Church of Rome.
We note now that John’s second identification calls this woman THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS. By this we can see that she produces offspring, and these offspring are separate and distinct from her, going out from her and encouraging men to fornicate with them. These harlots must be recognized as the now apostate so-called “Protestant” churches, who, although they had once separated from her, they are now the children of their mother, harlots in their own right, imbibing from the same foul Jesuitical well of Doctrine now called ARMINIAN FREE-WILL THEOLOGY.
We tie the evil scarlet woman, back to her Babylonian Mystery roots, as we see she now has, “…a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Rev. 17:4). And this woman, the Roman Papacy is now and has been drinking freely from that cup, and has been made “…drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus…” (Rev. 17:6). So now we can place back into our collective memory the blood of tens of millions of Saints at the hand of the Papist Antichrist, and we can see why the testimony of the Spirit of God through the mouths of His martyrs was that this Papist Antichrist was to be identified by the real and true Church of God, and that this wisdom was to be imparted to those who God had elected to eternal life – that they might know their enemy, and be at perpetual spiritual war against him and all his foul minions.
It is certain that Satan and his soldiers are benefited by the attempts to occlude and confuse the identification of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition. But the scriptures uniformly testify against this man, and promise that God’s elect will not be deceived by him, will not worship according to his foul Doctrines, nor will they be moved from their warfare against him. Most of the religious world sits in anticipation. They wait for the unveiling of some political figure, waiting and watching as other candidates get eliminated like they would in some reality television show. The great deception is at hand, and only the elect will be protected from it.
In our last section on the Antichrist, we will examine the Testimony of History against the Antichrist.
I am your servant in Christ Jesus,