"Even so, Come
[quickly], Lord Jesus"
Few subjects have intrigued the student of prophecy more than
the Antichrist—“Man of Sin.” Small wonder, all
Bible-believing Christians with the Apostle John long to be united
with our Heavenly Bridegroom at his return, the event which will
bring the satisfying grand fulfillment of
hope” (Titus 2:13). Excited by Paul’s clue in 2
Thessalonians 2:8 that the Man of Sin must first be revealed
before Christ returns, speculation on the identity of this
mysterious figure has always been intense….
Eager for their Bridegroom’s return, Christians during the
first three centuries concluded that the Pagan Roman Empire was
undoubtedly the Man of Sin. In the sixteenth century, the rallying
cry of the Reformation leaders was that Papacy was the Man of Sin.
And so the imminent return of Christ was the heart-throbbing
expectation of Christians during the centuries that followed.
With the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and Jewish
zealots calling for the construction of the third temple, a
literal, superhuman Man of Sin sitting in a literal temple in
Jerusalem became a popular option of prophetic interpretation.
What are the scriptural merits of this popular concept of
How can we identify the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, which must
come before Jesus Christ can return for his Bride, his Church?
When then can John’s prayer representing the longings of the
Church for centuries be answered?
The Antichrist and
The literal Man of Sin concept holds that the four beasts of
Daniel 7 represent four governments or empires. The
horn” of the fourth beast (vss. 8, 11, 20) symbolizes a
single individual who is the Man of Sin. At the same time this
concept claims that the Leopard Beast of Revelation 13 pictures
not a government, but a personal Man of Sin and that the ten horns
(verse 1) picture ten governments that support this worldwide
dictator. But this interpretation is completely inconsistent with
|Horn = Individual Man of Sin
Beast = Government
|Horns = Governments
Beasts = Individual Man of Sin
Once the Bible identifies a symbol, then we are on shaky ground
to assign that symbol a different meaning. Since Daniel identifies
these beasts as governments, most agree that these beasts of
Daniel 7 are universal empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and
Rome. By what logic then are the beasts of Revelation symbolic of
an individual when beasts in Daniel are admittedly governments?
Also, is it not inconsistent to claim the little horn in Daniel is
a man, whereas the horns of Revelation are governments?
Consistency requires a uniform application of the beasts and horns
in both Daniel and Revelation.
The justification for this reversal of interpretation is the
claim that the Leopard Beast of Revelation 13 is referred to by a
personal pronoun he; whereas the government beasts of Daniel are
not. This reasoning, however, is simply not valid. The fourth
beast (Daniel 7:19,20), which all agree represents the Roman
Empire, is also referred to by the personal pronoun his.
Additionally, the beasts picturing Medo-Persia and Greece in
Daniel 8:3-7 are continually referred to by the personal pronouns
he and him. Therefore,
“him” do not at
all necessarily indicate a man.
In Daniel and Revelation beasts are governments of long
duration—empires. Horns are governmental powers within these
empires. They can be sequential as in Daniel 7. Or they can be
contemporaneous as in Revelation 13. According to history, Papacy
was a power which grew out of the Roman Empire. Papacy as the
“little horn” of Daniel 7 was a sequential government
power erupting as a horn from within the Pagan Roman Empire. But
in Revelation 13 Papacy is represented as a beast, actually a
continuation of the Roman beast of Daniel 7 from the time the
little horn emerged—the Papal Holy Roman Empire.
The Persecution of the Saints
Several other factors concerning the Little Horn prove that
Antichrist is a system and not an individual. The
horn… wears out the saints of the most high” (Daniel 7:25).
This fact presents a dilemma if a personal Antichrist wears out
the saints during a future
“seven-year tribulation.” If,
as some claim, the true Church is taken to heaven before the
“tribulation,” who are the
“saints of the most
high” that are persecuted by the Man of Sin? They reply that
these are the
“tribulation saints” (Revelation 7:14) and
not the saints or Church of Christ who are taken before the
tribulation. They add that these
will be in the Kingdom as subjects, but have no part in reigning
with Christ in his Kingdom. This reigning in the Kingdom, they
say, is reserved exclusively for the Church of Christ who previous
to the tribulation have been gathered together to Christ.
This difference cannot be correct. The same saints that are
persecuted by the Little Horn, the Man of Sin, are also given the
Kingdom. The sequence of events in Daniel 7 is significant: First,
Christ is brought before the Heavenly Father and given the Kingdom
(vss. 13, 14). The saints of Daniel 7, like Christ, are given the
Kingdom (vss. 21, 22) after the Little Horn
“made war with
[them] the saints and prevailed against them.” Notice—the
saints that are persecuted by the Little Horn are the same saints
that reign with Christ. The saints of Daniel 7 are not the
“tribulation saints” of Revelation 7. Only Christ and
his Church reign in his Kingdom. Therefore,
“the saints of
the most high” of verse 22 are not the
saints,” but the Church of Christ who reigns with Christ.
This consistent reasoning also provides us the time element for
the Man of Sin. The Little Horn persecutes these saints.
Consequently, the Little Horn, the Man of Sin, must be revealed
before the Day of Christ when the saints are resurrected—and
before the tribulation occurs. Thus, a future, literal Man of Sin
concept crumbles. The Man of Sin could not persecute saints who
already are in heaven.
“The Seven Years’ Tribulation”
In fact, the whole
“seven-year tribulation” concept
dissolves before the Book of Daniel.
“The saints of the most
high” are worn out by the Little Horn for a period of a
“time, times, and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25),
which most agree refers to 3 ½ years or 1260 days. Since the
saints persecuted by the Man of Sin are the Church who reign with
Christ and not the tribulation saints, this 1260-day persecution
must occur before the great tribulation and not be part of that
The popular, literal Man of Sin view just does not harmonize
with Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, the very scriptures that are used
as an evidence for this teaching…. We must go back to the basic
scriptures of the Apostles which clearly delineate the
characteristics that enable us to identify the Man of Sin—the
What Do the Apostles
The Apostle Paul’s discussion in his letter to the
Thessalonians is essential in identifying the Man of Sin. In 2
Thessalonians 2:3-9 (kjv), Paul mentions three names for
The Man of Sin (Vs. 3)
The Mystery of Iniquity (Vs. 7)
That Wicked [One] (Vs. 8)
If the Man of Sin and Mystery of Iniquity are, indeed, names of
the same entity, then we have an important clue as to both the
identity and the time of operation of the Man of Sin.
Most translations—including the New International Version (NIV)
and The New American Standard (NAS)—leave no doubt that all
three names refer to the same entity.
2 Thess. 3:3-8 (NIV)
2 Thess. 3:3-8 (NAS)
3 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.
|3 Let no one in any way deceive
you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first,
and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of
|4 He opposes and exalts himself
over everything that is called God or is worshipped, and
even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming
himself to be God.
||4 who opposes and exalts himself
above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he
takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as
|5 Don’t you remember that when
I was with you I used to tell you these things?
||5 Do you not remember that while
I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
|6 And now you know what is
holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper
||6 And you know what restrains him
now, so that in his times he may be revealed.
|7 For the secret power of
lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds
it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the
||7 For the mystery of lawlessness
is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so
until he is taken out of the way.
|8 And then the lawless one will
be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the
breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his
||8 And then that lawless one will
be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His
mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.
Notice the names,
“Man of Lawlessness” and
“Mystery of Lawlessness” (vss. 3 and 7). These two
translations are based on the two oldest Greek manuscripts of the
New Testament where the same Greek word anomia is the
basis of both names,
“Man of Sin” (anomia) and
“mystery of iniquity” (anomia).
Actually, all three names (vss. 3, 7 and 8) contain this same
basic Greek word. The NAS translates this basic Greek word anomia
in the English,
“man of lawlessness" (vs. 3),
“mystery of lawlessness” (vs. 7) and
one” (vs. 8).
Constantine Tischendorf, the
new testament with readings of old manuscripts (London: Sampson
Low, Marston and Company, Limited, 1869), 330.
“that lawless one”
(vs. 8) that is destroyed during the Lord’s second advent is the
“man of lawlessness” (vs. 3) who is also called the
“mystery of lawlessness” (vs. 7).
|NAS That Lawless One
|| Man of Lawlessness
|| Mystery of Lawlessness
|KJV That Wicked
|| Mystery of Iniquity
Although the name
lawlessness” is more Scripturally accurate, the name
“Man of Sin” is the name of popular usage. Therefore, we
will continue to use
“Man of Sin” in this treatise as
rendered in the King James Version.
Origin of the Man of
Having established the Man of Sin and
Mystery of Iniquity as names of the same entity, we can readily
understand the important clues the Apostle Paul provides us in 2
Thessalonians 2:7 identifying the Man of Sin.
Paul calls the Man of Sin the Mystery of
Iniquity and observes that it is already at work in his day. The
Man of Sin could not be a literal man for he would be nearly two
thousand years old by now!
Why did Paul call the Man of Sin the Mystery of Iniquity? Paul’s
lesson of contrast is clear. Remember the beautiful mystery of the
true Church described in his letters (Ephesians 5:30-32;
Colossians 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 12:12-28). Christ is
one member, but many”! Just as the human body is a union of
many members, so the church is the body of Christ. Just as there
is a mystery class of righteous or justified believers who compose
Christ, so there is a mystery class of iniquity—evil workers—who
Removal of Pagan Rome
All agree the King James Version is a poor translation of vss.
7 and 8,
“For the mystery of iniquity [Man of Sin] doth
already work [in Paul’s day]: only he who now letteth [Greek,
will let [restrain] until he be taken out
of the way. And then shall that Wicked [Man of Sin] be
revealed.” All other translations are similar to the NAS.
“For the mystery of lawlessness (Man of Sin) is already at
work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out
of the way. And then that lawless one (Man of Sin) will be
The Pagan Roman Empire was the restraining factor. Any
profession of Christianity, true or false, was restrained in
varying degrees during the first three centuries of church
history. But the political power opportunists were ever present in
the Church. When Constantine became Emperor of Rome, the
power-grasping Nicolaitan element found its opportunity and
Christianity was declared the religion of the Roman Empire. When
“he” (Pagan Rome) ceased to restrain the Christian
Church, it was just a matter of time before a worldly Christian
Church claimed to be the kingdom of God on earth.
 The Greek word kateko
is incorrectly rendered
“letteth” in the KJV. Kateko is used eighteen
other times in the New Testament and in every instance contains
the thought of
“hold” (possess) or
(restrain). the new
englishman's Greek concordance of the new testament
(Wilmington, DE: Associated Publishers & Authors, 1976), 417. It
“withholdeth” in the KJV of vs. 6 and
“restrains” in the NAS version of vs. 6.
Revealed before Return of Christ
The Man of Sin is a
“mystery” or secret during its
incipient beginnings. This secret stage is in contrast to its revealment during its future full-scale operation. And that
revealment, Paul explains, would come before
together unto him” (vss. 1-3), which many refer to as the
Carefully study 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, NAS:
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to
2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your
composure or be disturbed. . .to the effect that the day of the
Lord has come.
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will
not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of
lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.
Verse 2 establishes that
“the day of the Lord”
“the coming of our Lord and our gathering
together with him.”
When Paul says in vs.3,
“it will not come,” he is
“the day of the Lord” (vs. 2). Since the
day of the Lord is the time of the
“coming of our Lord Jesus
and our gathering together to him,” we may conclude the
“man of lawlessness" or the
“Man of Sin” is
revealed before the first resurrection of the saints or
This sequence presented by the Apostle Paul presents a problem
to those who hold the pre-tribulation rapture scenario (that Jesus
returns to rapture his saints before the tribulation). Paul is
here teaching that the Man of Sin is revealed before
gathering together to him,” whereas, pre-tribulationists
believe the Man of Sin is revealed after their rapture.
who hold that the church will be taken before the tribulation.
Preceded by a Doctrinal Apostasy
“The day of Christ” could not come except there come
“a falling away first” [apostasy] and secondly,
“that man of sin be revealed” (vss. 2-3, KJV).
These two events must precede
“the day of Christ.”
“falling away [Greek, apostasia]”
and then the
“Man of Sin be revealed.” Many believe this apostasia is a rebellion or wave of anarchy that will cause the
world to accept a superman dictator who will during the last half
of the 7-year tribulation be revealed as the
However, this Greek word apostasia as used in the Bible means
“a defection from the truth” and not a
political rebellion. Apostasia is used twice in the New Testament—here
and in Acts 21:21, where the text speaks of those who
“forsake” the teachings of Moses. The
revealment of the Man of Sin, which is a system and not an
individual, will be preceded by a doctrinal defection and not a
James Strong, strong's
exhaustive concordance (Grand Rapids: Guardian Press), Gk.
 New Englishman's Greek
Concordance Of The New Testament, 76.
Exalted in the Temple, the Church
“Man of Sin”
the temple of God.”
2 Thess. 2:4 (NAS)
…who opposes and exalts himself [above every so-called] god
or [object of worship,] so that he takes his seat in the temple
of God, displaying himself as being God.
Can there be any doubt as to what
“temple of God”
Paul means? Paul speaks of only one temple of God in all his
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God”
(1 Corinthians 3:16). Paul speaks of Christians as being
“built upon the foundation of the apostles” and
“Jesus Christ…the chief corner stone; in whom all the
building…together groweth up unto an holy temple in the
Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21). The church of Christ is now
the temple of God.
Some speculate that Israelis will construct a literal temple
just before or during the first part of a 7-year tribulation. But
when God destroyed His literal temple in A.D. 70 during the
destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, that temple was only a
picture or type of the Church which is the actual or antitypical
temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). God left no instructions for
the Jews to build a temple before He sets up His Kingdom in
Jerusalem. By no stretch of the imagination will a man-initiated,
man-ordained temple built before God’s Kingdom be accepted and
called by God as His temple—"the temple of
Therefore, when the Apostle Paul said the Man of Sin will exalt
“the temple of God,” he meant Antichrist
would exalt itself in the
“temple” of professed
“Know ye not, ye are the temple of God.”
Apostle John and Antichrist
Most students of prophecy agree that the Antichrist and the Man
of Sin are one and the same entity. The Apostle John’s
evaluation of Antichrist in 1 John 2 somewhat parallels the
Apostle Paul’s description of the Man of Sin in 2 Thessalonians
1 John 2:18 (NAS)
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard
that [the] antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have
arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour
By the authority of the Apostle John, the Christian
dispensation is called the
“last hour” during which the
Antichrist—the Man of Sin—would come.
“In Place Of”
The Apostle John calls the Man of Sin the
“Antichrist” for good reason. The name Man of Sin
implies an entity that would be against or opposing the righteous
ways of Christ. But the Greek prefix anti signifies
“in place of.”
Anti is used 20
times in the New Testament as a complete word and never does it
have the meaning of
“against.” Nineteen times it is
“for” as in Romans 12:17,
man evil for evil.” We should not return or
replace evil with evil. Thus
“Antichrist” replaces the
position of Christ. Since Antichrist is also called the Man of
Sin, obviously the operating principles of this system would be
also against the principles of Christ.
Exhaustive Concordance, Gk. Word #473.
Englishmen's Greek Concordance Of The New Testament, 467.
Summary of the Apostles’ Clues:
The Man of Sin was at work in Paul’s day, but was not a
literal man for then he would be almost 2,000 years old.
The Man of Sin is a counterfeit body of Christ, that is, a
system of lawlessness intent on setting up a pseudo Kingdom of God
contrary to God’s arrangement and laws.
The Man of Sin was held back by the Pagan Roman Empire until a
Roman Emperor joined forces with the power-hungry element of the
The Man of Sin system would be in full operation, identified
and revealed before the dead and living in Christ are
“gathered” to him.
The revealment of the Man of Sin system would be preceded by
the apostasy, a great defection from pure Christian doctrine.
Professed Christians are the temple of God in which the Man of
Sin will be exalted.
“Antichrist” signifies not only against Christ, but
in place of Christ.
A Search Through
Using the clues left by the Apostles Paul and John, we will
trace through history for the Antichrist/Man of Sin system with
the searchlight of the Scriptures. Our time frame, of course, is
the Christian Age—between the Apostles’ day and the gathering of
the dead and living in Christ to himself in the first resurrection
at our Lord’s return.
The Apostle Paul said,
“The apostasy comes first.” No
Protestant will deny that in the first centuries of the Christian
Age, there was a great
“falling away” (apostasy). Paul
again warned of this apostasy in 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.
times (not the
“last times”—the Greek literally means
after the present time) some will fall away from the faith, paying
attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…Men who
forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from meat…” This
description gives us further clues as to specific characteristics
“Man of Sin.” There is, of course, only one
church that for centuries prohibited its clergy to marry and
forbade the eating of meat on Friday.
Jude was one of the last writers of the New Testament. By the
time Jude wrote the book that bears his name, some of the apostles
had already died in the Lord. False teachers had become
influential. It was necessary for Jude to sound an alarm to
“earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the
saints” (vs. 3). Jude warns that just as predicted,
“certain men crept in unawares” and were teaching error
(vss. 3,4). Then he devoted the rest of his epistle to warning
against the dire consequences of their doctrine. Yes, just as Paul
predicted in his first letter to Timothy (4:1-6), the apostasy
would shortly follow.
Debut of the Man of Sin
The defection from pure doctrine that continued in the next few
centuries was incredible. The system that this error developed was
monstrous in both its claims and deeds. Indeed, very soon the Man
of Sin made a debut in full splendor….
Pompous rituals and elaborate ceremonies replaced the simple
preaching of the Gospel. Salvation was sought no longer through
the blood of Christ alone—but from holy water, relics of saints,
medals and amulets, the rosary and the intercession of Mary.
Multitudes flocked to converted heathen temples to pray to and
adore the very same idols which the Pagans had worshipped a short
time before. The names of the statues were simply changed from
those of Pagan gods and heroes to the names of Christian martyrs
and saints. The Roman Emperor, who as Pontifex Maximus
(“Chief Religious Ruler”) had been the head of all the
Pagan priests, vacated his office in favor of the Bishop of Rome,
the new Pontifex Maximus. Whereas the Roman emperors had claimed
to possess the
“Keys of Janus and Cybele,” the new
supreme pontiffs, dressed in the same costume as their forerunners
(the Pagan Roman emperors), claimed possession of the
of St. Peter” and attempted to prove that the Apostle Peter
had once been the Bishop and Pope of Rome—a claim completely
unsubstantiated by history.
This Man of Sin growing out of the apostasy as foreseen by
“himself above every so-called god or object of
worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God,
displaying himself as being God” (NAS). Since the
“temple” Paul refers to is not a literal building, but
the Church of God, the self-exaltation of the Popes of Rome in the
Church of God was extravagant beyond measure. Applying divine
prerogatives, they claimed that every human being must be subject
to their authority.
The System—Not Individuals
Not any one Pope was the Antichrist—much less is every
Catholic or Pope a Man of Sin. The Man of Sin, the Antichrist, the
“Mystery of Iniquity,” is the Papal system. It is not an
Astounding as these false claims are, they deceived the whole
Christian world during most of Papacy’s dark reign. Only a
faithful few escaped their baneful influence and remained loyal to
their true Lord and Head. And as already noted, the Greek prefix
anti signifies not merely
“opposing,” but also
“instead, in the place
of.” Thus, Antichrist is not simply an opponent of our Lord
and his truth, but an impostor, a usurper of his position.
Claiming to be the
“Vicar of Christ” on earth and
“Head of the Church,” each Pope in turn, has
applied the Messianic promises and titles of Scripture to himself.
Even kings were required to kiss the Pope’s great toe, in
supposed fulfillment of Psalm 2:12,
“Kiss the Son, lest he be
angry.” However, attributing the purest motives to the Popes,
the Papacy would still be the Antichrist
If the development of such a pompous church defected from the
original simplicity and purity of the apostolic church seems
implausible, a glance at history will confirm our conclusions. The
testimony of history presents a clear case of how the Papacy
developed and claimed to be reigning in the place of Christ and
his Kingdom on earth. (See Appendix A for an historic
documentation of Antichrist’s incredible rise to power.)
Man of Sin Becomes the
Three centuries of defection from the teachings of the Apostles
had gradually prepared the worldly Church to step into the role of
the Antichrist. In A.D. 313 Constantine embraced Christianity and
the Church embraced Constantine. Although the next century
witnessed an even further development of the Man of Sin, still, a
minority of faithful Christians were not in harmony with this
aberrant church-state organization. But with the stroke of a pen
by the intellectual spokesman of the Church, the Man of Sin was
finally transformed into The Antichrist—in the primary, fullest
sense of the word—“instead
Between A.D. 413-426, Augustine wrote in a 22-volume work, the
city of god, that Christians were all wrong in waiting for the
second advent before the Kingdom of God is established on earth.
Rather, he advanced the idea, the Catholic Church united with
imperial Rome was in reality the Kingdom of God now reigning on
earth. Augustine proceeded to weave an incredible fabric of
prophetic fantasy to prove his new theology. He
claimed that Christ at his first advent was the
that smote the image and would fill the whole earth (Daniel 2):
That stone increased and filled the whole earth: that he
showed is His Kingdom, which is the church, with which He has
filled the whole face of the earth.
The Millennium, Augustine advocated, was figurative of the
period between the first and second advents.
“From the first
coming of Christ to the second time…during this interval, which
goes by the name of a thousand years, he [Satan] should not seduce
the Church.” That Satan was bound for a
thousand years in God’s Kingdom, Augustine construed to mean
Satan could only
prohibited and restrained from seducing those nations which belong
“By the abyss” is meant the countless
multitudes of the wicked…when prevented from harming believers
he takes more complete possession of the ungodly.
Augustine taught two resurrections for his Kingdom, the
“first resurrection” of Revelation 20 is spiritual—“from
the death of sin to the life of righteousness.” The second
resurrection is that of the body which occurs at the end of the
world, when the thousand years end. Thus he wrote,
two resurrections,—the one the first and spiritual resurrection,
which has its place in this life…the other the second, which
does not occur now, but in the end of the world.”
The Catholic Church readily embraced Augustine’s theology
that the Kingdom of God had begun. Then for centuries nothing
could stand in the way of extending this kingdom to the ends of
the earth. The Catholic Church, no longer a chaste virgin waiting
the return of her espoused Bridegroom to set up his Kingdom (2
Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 22:17), united with the kings of
earth to set up her own kingdom. Revelation 17 describes such a
union as symbolic
To this day, the Vatican with its vast network of ambassadors
that reach around the world still claims to be the Kingdom of God
“Who Sits as God in the Temple of God”
2 Thessalonians 2:8
Before Pagan Rome became Papal Rome, the Pagan Emperor claimed
the title of Pontifex Maximus, that is, the Greatest Religious
Ruler. As a demigod, in some sense descended from their heathen
deities, he was worshipped and his statues adored. Then when Pagan
Rome became Papal Rome, the Emperor who still possessed the title
of Pontifex Maximus was delighted with Augustine’s teaching that
the Papal Roman Empire was the Kingdom of God on earth. But still
it was the Catholic civil Emperor and not yet the Papacy that sat
as God in the temple of God and declared himself the divine ruler
over all Christians.
At that point in history (AD 413), no single one of the
eighteen hundred bishops of the empire was yet prepared to demand
recognition as the head or pope. But several had their eyes on the
prize. The prestige of the bishops of Rome, however, rapidly grew
when the seat of the empire was transferred to Constantinople. As
the city of Rome fell subject to the invasion of the barbarians
from the north, the bishop of Rome was left as the most permanent
and time-honored protector. Finally, in A.D. 455, the city of Rome
was invaded and plundered by the Vandals, and Leo, the bishop of
Rome, improved the opportunity for claiming spiritual power.
Beware! I am the successor of St. Peter, to whom God has
given the keys of the kingdom of heaven…I am the living
representative of divine power on the earth: I am Caesar, a
Christian Caesar…I absolve all subjects from allegiance to
kings; I give and take away, by divine right, all thrones and
principalities of Christendom.
Succeeding bishops of Rome made the same pompous claims, but it
was not until A.D. 533 that the bishop of Rome was so recognized
by the Roman Emperor, Justinian I. Excerpts from a letter from
Justinian reveals significantly the emperor’s acknowledgment of
the Pope John, Patriarch of Rome—as well as what the emperor
expected in return:
The victorious Justinian…to John, the most holy archbishop
of the fostering city of Rome…we have hastened to make subject
to the See of your Holiness, and to unite with it, all the
priests of the whole Eastern district…your Holiness…who is
the Head of all the holy churches. For in all points…we are
eager to add to the honor and authority of your See…now we
entreat your Blessedness to pray for us, and to obtain for us
the protection of heaven.
In another letter to the bishop of Constantinople, the arch
rival of Pope John, the Emperor Justinian warned him to
acknowledge Pope John of Rome as
“his supreme Holiness, the
Pope of Ancient Rome.” The Eastern Roman
Emperor not only accepted the Bishop of Rome as Pope or head of
the Catholic Church, but also as the authority over the Emperor
However, one problem remained for complete sovereignty of the
Church: The Ostrogothic kingdom that ruled Italy challenged the
Pope’s authority. Consequently, Justinian dispatched his army to
Italy. In A.D. 539 the Ostrogoths were defeated, an
event significantly marked in prophecy. The
horn” (Papal Rome) that grew out of the
dreadful and terrible” (Pagan Rome), first needed to displace
“horns" (political powers). The third
“horn”—the Ostrogoths— now out of the way, the
“little horn” could then be free to flourish and speak
“great things” (Daniel 7:7-8). Now the Pope of Rome
reigned supreme as the Pontifex Maximus—both civil and
ecclesiastical ruler—over the entire Papal Roman Empire.
“The Holy Roman Empire”
The French kings, Pepin and Charlemagne, each in turn brought
his army to the protection of Papacy’s dominion. In A.D. 800
Charlemagne formally presented Papacy with the Papal States and
the reign of the
“Holy Roman Empire” began.
from being holy, its history was written in blood. This transfer
of power from Pagan Rome to Papal Rome was also a fulfillment of
the prophecy in Revelation:
“And the beast which I saw
[generally accepted as Antichrist]…the dragon [civil Rome] gave
him [Antichrist] his power and his seat and great authority”
The following is a capsulation of this supreme sovereignty of
The pontiff…trod on the necks of Kings, made and unmade
sovereigns, disposed of states and kingdoms, and, as the great
high-priest and vicegerent of the Almighty on earth, established
an authority as lord paramount, and reigned over heads of other
Did Papacy as the Man of Sin fulfill sitting
temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2
Thessalonians 2:4)? A standard Roman Catholic authority will speak
The Pope is of such dignity and highness that he is not
simply a man but, as it were, God, and the vicar
[representative] of God…the pope’s excellence and power are
not only about heaven, terrestrial and infernal things, but he
is also above angels…He is of such great dignity and power
that he occupies one and the same tribunal with Christ…The
pope is, as it were, God on earth…the Pope is of so great
authority and power that he can modify, declare or interpret the
As the centuries progressed, the Popes became more and more
arrogantly articulate in their presumptuous claims.
holds the place of the true God,” declared Pope Innocent III
(A.D. 1198-1216). The Lateran Council (A.D. 1123) acclaimed the
“Prince of the Universe.” St. Bernard (A.D.
1090-1153) wrote that
“none except God is like the Pope,
either in heaven or on earth.” And Pope Nicholas (A.D.
“What can you make me but God?” Ferrar’s
(Roman Catholic) Ecclesiastical Dictionary states,
is as it were, God on Earth.” No wonder the
“And there was given unto him a mouth
speaking great things and blasphemies… And he opened his mouth
in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his
tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:5,
“Little Horn” of Papacy which grew out
of the Roman Empire beast fits the description with
like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.”
 These following quotes and citations from
Augustine's writing are found in the collection, A
Select Library Of The Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers
(hereafter abbreviated NPNF). These quotes and citations are also
found in the prophetic
faith of our fathers by Le Roy Edwin Froom (Washington,
D.C.: Review and Herald, 1950), Vol. 1, 473-490.
 Augustine, Tractate
4 On The Gospel Of John, Sec. 4, NPNF, 1st Series, Vol. 7,
 Augustine, The
City Of God, Book 20, Ch. 8, NPNF, 1st Series, Vol. 2, 428.
 Ibid., 428.
 Ibid., 425, 426.
Is At Hand (New Brunswick: Bible Students Congregation of
New Brunswick, 1977), 295.
 Volume of the Civil Law. Codices lib. I
tit. i (A.D. 533).
 Ibid., 75.
 Gibbon, The
Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Vol. 3, 536
(including footnote), 537.
 John M'Clintock and James Strong, Cyclopaedia
Of Biblical, Theological, And Ecclesiastical Literature
(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877), Vol. 7, 630, and Vol. 9,
 Adolphe Thiers & Edward E. Bowen, The
Campaigns Of Napoleon (London: Rivingtons, 1875), 89, 90.
 John Ferrar, An
Ecclesiastical Dictionary (London: John Mason, 1858).
 Ibid., Thomas J. Capel, The
Pope: The Vicar Of Christ, The Head Of The Church (New
York: Pustet & Co., 1885). Fox's
Book Of Martyrs cited by H. Gratton Guinness, The
Approaching End Of The Age (London: Hodder and Stoughton,
The Man of Sin Revealed
Since it is necessary that the
“Lawless One will be
revealed” before the Lord returns, has this prophecy (2
Thessalonians 2:8) been fulfilled? The answer is yes. The Man of
Sin was understood and
“revealed” in the writings of the
sixteenth century Reformation. The historic Protestant
identification of Antichrist is not a matter of superficial
arguments against a common adversary—the Papacy. The Reformers
comprehended root causes and serious consequences of sin in man
and his institution. The Romish Church is the religious
personification of fallen human nature.
The noted historian D’Aubigne observed,
reproach Rome with anything which does not recoil upon man
himself.” For good reason, the Apostle Paul
calls Antichrist the Man of Sin. The Little Horn (Daniel 7:8) had
“eyes like the eyes of man.” The leopard-like beast
which all agree is the same power as the Little Horn—is said to
“the number of a man” (Revelation 13:18). The Papal
system was developed by man—not God. But many were very good
men. They might even have worked with great energy and self
sacrifice to build up the Church of God on earth. But they
gradually shaped the development of the church according to
“the eyes of man”— man’s carnal wisdom and
understanding. More and more the Church of Rome bore the image and
“Man” until it sat in the temple of
God acting as if it were God. The Papacy was the embodiment of the
singular sin of all ages—man taking the place of God.
glorified him not as God…but became vain in their
imaginations” (Romans 1:21).
Lest we become haughty in identifying the Man of Sin, we must
realize the Antichrist succumbed to the same struggle that every
individual leader in the Church of God faces to this day. The
temptation was and still is to dominate and rule.
Although many pre-Reformation writers perceived Papacy as the
Man of Sin, the leaders of the sixteenth century Reformation wove
this identification into a larger prophetic mosaic. That Martin
Luther, the father of the Reformation, recognized the Papacy as
the Man of Sin is obvious,
“We are convinced that the Papacy
is the seat of the true and real Antichrist.”
The Protestant Church of the Reformation saw Papacy as more
than the apostate church. Prophecy became the rallying point of
the Reformation. Protestants identified the Papacy as the
prophetic Antichrist of Daniel and Revelation. They acted on that
belief and many died for that conviction:
From the first, and throughout, that movement [the
Reformation] was energized and guided by the prophetic Word.
Luther never felt strong and free to war against the papal
apostasy til he recognized the pope as antichrist. It was then
he burned the papal Bull. Knox’s first sermon, the sermon
which launched him on his mission as a Reformer, was on the
prophecies concerning the papacy…All the Reformers were
unanimous in the matter…It nerved them to resist the claims of
that apostate church to the uttermost. It made them martyrs, it
sustained them at the stake. And the views of the Reformers were
shared by thousands, by hundreds of thousands.
Not only did the Reformers proclaim the mighty truth of
justification by faith for the liberation of men’s souls, but
they nerved thousands to break from the tyranny of the dark ages
of the Papacy by explicitly identifying the Antichrist of Bible
prophecy. The symbols of Daniel, Paul and John were applied with
tremendous effect. The realization that the incriminating finger
of prophecy rested squarely on Rome aroused the consciousness of
Europe. In alarm, Rome saw that she must successfully counteract
this identification of Antichrist as the Papacy—or lose the
The Counter Reformation
Jesuit scholarship rallied to the Roman cause by providing
alternatives to the historical interpretation of the Protestants:
“Futurism”—Antichrist, a Man in
The most successful tack was taken by Francisco Ribera
(1537-1591) of Salamanca, Spain. He was the founder of the
Futurist system of prophetic interpretation. Ribera argued that
Antichrist would appear in the distant future. About 1590 Ribera
published a 500-page commentary on the apocalypse denying the
Protestant application of Antichrist to the Church of Rome. The
following is a synopsis:
While the first few chapters in the Revelation were assigned
to ancient Rome in the time of John, the greater part of the
prophecies of the Revelation were assigned to the distant future—to
events immediately preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Antichrist would be a single evil person who would be
received by the Jews and would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
Antichrist would rule the world from this temple in Jerusalem
for a literal three and a half years.
Doesn’t this 1590 presentation sound like a page right out of
Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth—or some other current
evangelical’s writings on the Antichrist and the 7-year
Joseph Tanner in 1898 made these observations on the origin of
The Jesuit Ribera tried to set aside the application of these
prophecies to the papal power by bringing out the Futurist
system, which asserts that these prophecies refer properly not
to the career of the papacy, but to that of some future
supernatural individual, who is yet to appear, and to continue
in power for three and a half years. Thus, as Alford says,
Jesuit Ribera, about A.D. 1580, may be regarded as the Founder
of the Futurist system in modern times.
Ribera’s futurism was polished and popularized by the great
Papal controversialist, Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621) of Italy.
He took up the battle against Protestantism and became the
foremost apologist for Rome in the Counter Reformation. Bellarmine
insisted that the prophecies concerning Antichrist in Daniel, Paul
and John had no application to the Papal power. Between 1581 and
1593 he published the most detailed defense of the Catholic faith
ever produced. The following quotation summarizes:
For all Catholics think thus, that Antichrist will be one
certain man; but all heretics teach…that Antichrist is
expressly declared to be not a single person, but an individual
throne or absolute kingdom, and apostate seat of those who rule
over the church.
For 300 Years Protestants
The Reformation Cry identifying Papacy as the Antichrist
predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 nerved countless thousands to
leave the Roman Catholic Church. The concept fabricated by
Catholic Jesuits that an individual Antichrist seated in a literal
temple in Jerusalem would reign for 3 ½ years had little
effect. So clearly was Papacy
“revealed” as the Man
of Sin that Protestants stood united for nearly 300 years in
declaring this fact. Dr. L. E. Froom, the accepted authority on
prophetic exposition in the Christian Church, noted that in the
nineteenth century, three centuries after the Reformers first
revealed Papacy as the Antichrist, all the leading prophetic
expositors (62 European and 57 American) were
“a unit in
identifying the Antichrist as the Papacy.”
Wake Up, Protestants!
Two hundred and forty years after the Jesuit Ribera founded the
Futurist school (individual man of Sin who will reign in a literal
temple for 3 ½ years), John Darby, embraced Ribera’s Futurist
Darby, a founder of the Plymouth Brethren, embellished the idea
of a future Antichrist with a Pre-tribulation-Secret-Rapture
concept. S. P. Tregelles, whose scholarly works are still highly
esteemed among evangelicals, was an associate of Darby in the
Plymouth Brethren. Tregelles identified the origin of the Secret
I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that
there should be a Secret Rapture of the Church at a secret
coming until this was given forth as an
Mr. Irving’s church from what was then received as being the voice
of the Spirit. But whether anyone ever asserted such a thing
or not it was from that supposed revelation that the
modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose…it
came not from Holy Scriptures, but from that which falsely
pretended to be the Spirit of God.
concept is not scriptural. Furthermore, this concept traces back
to a Protestant, John Darby. He ironically utilized the
Catholic idea of a one-person Antichrist to counter the historic
Protestant belief of Papacy as Antichrist, which had stood for
300 years. However, Darby’s Catholic view did not
become popular among born-again Christians until after World War
Although a vociferous minority currently has yielded the
300-year-old historic Protestant view of Antichrist in favor of a
Catholic view, the Antichrist was still unmistakably identified.
That the Papacy is Antichrist was the rallying cry of the
Reformation! There can be no doubt that the Man of Sin, The
Antichrist, was completely "revealed" to the Christian
Church as a necessary prerequisite to the second advent of Christ
(2 Thessalonians 2:8).
But Antichrist will again take center stage at an
"end-time drama" before it’s complete demise.
 J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History
Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century, Vol. 1 (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 32.
Martin Luther's Works, ed. Briefwechsel (Weimar,
1930-1948), Vol. 2, 167, cited in What
Luther Says, ed. Ewald M. Plass, Vol. 1, 34.
 H. Grattan Guinness, Romanism
and the Reformation (Toronto: S. R. Briggs, [n.d.]),
 Joseph Tanner, Daniel
And The Revelation (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1898),
 Robert Bellarmine, De
Summo Pontifici, Disputations, 1593, Bk. 3, 185.
 Dr. L. E. Froom, The
Prophetic Faith Of Our Fathers, Vol. 4, 396.
 S. P. Tregelles, The
Hope Of Christ's Coming, p. 35, cited by George L. Murry, Millennial
Studies-A Search For Truth (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
The 1260 Days of Daniel
Saints Are Worn Out
As established in Chapter 1 of this treatise,
the saints that are persecuted by the
(Daniel 7:25) compose the Church who reigns with Christ. Further,
it was proven this 1260-day persecution must occur before the
great tribulation and not be part of that tribulation. These
persecuted saints are not the
What and when is this 1260-day period? The Bible is its own
interpreter. That is, the Lord has put into the Bible certain
rules for interpreting symbols, parables, time prophecies, etc. If
we ignore these basic Scriptural rules, then our understanding of
scriptures will be confused. The Scriptural key for interpreting
time prophecy is found in Ezekiel 4:1-8. A 390-day period is
prophesied and a key is also provided,
“I have appointed thee
each day for a year.” By this divinely provided rule of
interpretation, 390 days equals 390 years. Based on this
day-equals-a-year key revealed in Ezekiel, all readily agree that
in the Seventy Weeks prophecy (Daniel 9:24), the seventy weeks
refer to 490 years and not 490 literal days (70 weeks x 7 days =
Why then do some make an exception to the 1260 days of Daniel
and Revelation and insist on a literal period of 1260 days?
According to the Lord’s rule of a day for a year, this period
would be 1260 years. When did it begin? How did it end? As already
proven, A.D. 539 marked an important prophetic date when the last
of the three horns (civil powers)—standing in the way of the Pope
of Rome being recognized as the civil ruler of the Roman
Empire—was removed (Daniel 7:8).
What followed was 1260 years of unrelenting, pitiless bloody
persecution of so-called heretics. Then it was that Popes,
councils, theologians, kings, crusaders and inquisitors combined
their fiendish powers to exterminate every opponent. This
persecution reached its ultimate in the
Inquisition.” Established by Pope Innocent III in A.D. 1204,
it was applied with unimaginable cruelty in every country. Whole
villages and towns were indiscriminately slaughtered on the theory
“God will know his own.” Tens of thousands were
burned alive at the stake, while countless others were subjected
to torture by the most hideous inventions. The following history,
which can be verified by numerous records, is but a glimpse into
the nightmare of the Dark Ages:
The Nightmare of the Dark Ages
Pope Innocent III proclaimed a crusade against the Albigenses
and offered to all who would engage in it the pardon of all sins
and an immediate passport to heaven without passing through
purgatory. The city of Beziers was stormed and taken in 1209 and
the citizens, without regard for age or sex, perished by the sword
to the number of sixty thousand. Lavaur was besieged in 1211. The
citizens were without discrimination put to death, four hundred
being burned alive. The flourishing country of Languedoc was
devastated, its cities burned, and its inhabitants swept away by
fire and sword. It is estimated that one hundred thousand
Albigenses fell in one day.
All this rioting in blood and villainy was done in the name of
religion: professedly for the glory of God, but really to uphold
Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God [the church], showing
himself that he is a god…. The clergy thanked God for the work
of destruction and a hymn of praise was sung for the glorious
victory at Lavaur.
But it would be a great mistake to suppose that the crusades
against whole communities were the only persecutions. The quiet,
steady crushing of individuals, in the aggregate also numbering
thousands all over Papacy’s wide domain ground steadily on
“year after year, decade after decade, century after
century” wearing out the saints of the Most High.
Charles V, Emperor of Germany and King of Spain and the
Netherlands, persecuted the friends of the Reformation throughout
his extensive dominions. Paolo reckons the number who in the
Netherlands were executed on account of their religion at 50,000;
and Grotius gives the list of the Belgic martyrs at 100,000.
Charles, with his dying breath, exhorted his son, Philip II, to
carry on to completion the work of persecution and extermination
of heresy which he had begun.
Francis and Henry, the French kings, followed the example of
Charles and Philip…The massacres of Merindol, Orange and Paris
are forcible illustrations of their zeal in the cause of
Antichrist. Roman Catholic historians admit that in compliance
with a commission approved by the French parliament in Merindol,
thousands, including men, women and children, were massacred,
twenty-four towns were ruined and countrysides left waste and
desolate. Five hundred women were thrown into a barn set on fire.
When any leaped from the windows, they were received on the points
of spears. Women were violated and children were murdered in the
sight of their parents. Some were dashed over precipices and
others dragged naked through the streets.
In the massacre of Orange in A.D. 1562, the Italian army sent
by Pope Pius IV was commanded to slay men, women and children. The
defenseless heretics were slain with the sword, precipitated from
rocks, hanged, roasted over slow fires and exposed to shame and
torture of every description.
The massacre of Huguenots in Paris on St. Bartholomew’s day
in 1572 is stigmatized even by Catholic historians as ferocious
cruelty, without a parallel in all antiquity. The carnival of
death lasted seven days. The city flowed with human blood and the
same scenes were accordingly enacted in nearly all the surrounding
provinces. Estimates of number slain vary from 25,000 to 70,000.
For this signal victory, a medal was struck by the king in memory
of the massacre, bearing the inscription,
“The slaughter of
the Huguenots, 1572.” The other side presented the raised
figure of Pope Gregory XIII.
In 1641 Antichrist proclaimed a
“war of religion” in
Ireland and called on the people to massacre the Protestants by
every means in their power. Protestant blood flowed freely
throughout Ireland, houses were reduced to ashes, towns and
villages were almost destroyed. Thousands died of cold and hunger
while endeavoring to migrate to other lands. In the province of
Ulster alone, over 154,000 Protestants were either massacred or
expelled from Ireland.
The total number of deaths directly or indirectly accountable
to the so-called
“Holy Inquisition” is incalculable due
to the limitations of recorded history. However, if we tally the
many historic accounts, we can attribute several million deaths to
Papacy down through the centuries.
When dealing with such numbers, the enormity of human suffering
also becomes incomprehensible. After a point, figures and details
begin to dull the mind of its sensitivity. But perhaps the Apostle
Paul succeeded in encapsulating the enormity of the diabolical
acts of the Papacy by the title,
“The Man of Sin.” That
system has proved itself capable of escalating astronomically
every sin conceivable to man.
Papacy’s Persecuting Power Broken
This steady, relentless crushing of whole communities as well
as individuals over many centuries lasted until Papacy’s
persecuting power was broken by Napoleon imprisoning the Pope in
1799. Pius VI died in prison. The historian of Napoleon’s wars,
describing the capture of Toledo by his army, discussed the
opening of the Inquisition prison:
Graves seemed to open, and pale figures like ghosts issued
from dungeons which emitted a sepulchral odor…. Many of them
were reduced to cripples…. The number of machines for torture
thrilled even men inured to the battlefield, with horror…. In
a recess in a subterranean vault…stood a wooden figure made by
the hands of monks and representing the Virgin Mary…. On
closer scrutiny it appeared that the forepart of the body was
stuck full of extremely sharp nails and small narrow
knife-blades, with the points turned toward the spectator. The
arms and hands were jointed, and the machine behind the
partition set the figure in motion. One of the servants of the
Inquisition was compelled by command…to work the machine as he
termed it. When the figure extended her arms, as though to press
some one lovingly to her heart…hugged it closer and closer,
and when the attendant, agreeably to orders, made the figure
unclasp her arms and return to her former position, the knapsack
was perforated to the depth of two or three inches and remained
hanging on the points of nails and knife blades.
No wonder the vision of the long 1260 years of persecution of
God’s people had such a terrifying effect on Daniel,
for me Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face
grew pale….” From 539 to 1799, the saints were relentlessly
persecuted. During the 1260 years in which Papacy persecuted the
true Church, the Bible was also suppressed. The period of
persecution and suppression was long and wearing.
Seven-Year Tribulation—A Jesuit Fabrication
A thorough search through a Bible concordance—preferably an
exhaustive concordance—will reveal not a single verse of
Scripture mentioning a 7-year tribulation. Not one! The only other
possibility for construing a 7-year tribulation, is piecing two
back-to-back 1260-day (or 3 ½-year) periods which would then
equal 7 years. But the only place (Revelation 11:2,3) where 1260
“days” are mentioned in two succeeding verses, does not
justify a 2520-day or 7-year tribulation. All exponents of the
Pre-tribulationist and/or the Futurist school readily concede that
verses 2 and 3 of Revelation 11 are concurrent. They refer to
events during the same 1260-“day” period. They
cannot be added together to make seven years.
While the Scriptures prophesy a
which will conclude the Age, they do not describe a 7-year
tribulation. The concept of 7 years’ tribulation was a
convenient invention of the Catholic Jesuits which Protestants
have bought. The 1260
“days” obviously are symbolic of
years which occurred during the Christian Age. The combined
testimony of the following scriptural citations is conclusive:
||1260 Years of Papal Power
||Little Horn wears out saints 1260 days*
||Papal power grew out of fourth beast,
||Scattered the power of the holy people
||Holy city trod under foot 42 months (or
1260 days*); two witnesses prophesy in sackcloth
||City identified in Rev. 21:2 as Bride of
Christ; Old & New Testaments
spoke, in dead language of Latin
||Woman flees into wilderness, nourished
||Symbolic of Church, 2 Cor. 11:2,
sustained during a spiritually barren time
||Leopard beast (Papacy) blasphemes God
and makes war with saints 42 months (42 x 30 = 1260 days*)
||Beast same as Little Horn of Daniel
which persecutes saints who later reign with Christ
*Key: 1 day = 1 year (Ezekiel 4:6)
More Convincing Evidence
Four characteristics by which the Man of Sin are identified are
summarized in Daniel 7:25:
“And he  shall speak great
words against the most High, and  shall wear out the saints of
the most High, and  think to change times  and laws.”
The first two points have already been considered, namely, the
preposterous words by which popes claimed to be
and the wearing out of the true Church by Papacy. Additionally,
the Papacy did
“change times.” Unwilling to await the
unfolding of God’s plan, Papacy changed the time of Christ’s
Kingdom by declaring Papacy’s rule over the nations as God’s
kingdom on earth. Another example of Papacy’s attempting to
“change times” is in its changing of the calendar.
How did Papacy also
“change…laws”? The precepts and
commands of God meant little. By the claimed right of issuing
“dispensations,” the Popes frequently set aside the
moral laws. Murder of heretics was called praiseworthy; subjects
were encouraged to rebel; oaths and contracts were cancelled;
torture was declared to be an
“act of faith.” Spying,
intrigue, perjury and theft were pronounced virtuous deeds when
performed in the service of the church. Not content, moreover, in
dispensing with divine laws, the popes were always ready to create
new ones if convenience so required. Clerical celibacy was
prescribed; meat was forbidden for centuries on Fridays;
ecclesiastical taxes were levied and often personal liberties of
the people were forbidden. Papacy’s rational for changing divine
law is pointedly reflected in the following quote from a Catholic
The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can
modify, declare or interpret the divine law…. The pope can
sometimes counteract the divine law by limiting, explaining,
But no individual—even a Pope—qualifies as the Man of Sin,
the Antichrist. All the characteristics and actions of the Little
Horn of Daniel unmistakably brand the Papacy as the great
 These diabolical events are documented in the following
Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay, The
History Of England From Ascension Of James II (New York:
Harper & Bros., 1861).
John L. Kotley, the rise of
the dutch republic, 1855.
Jean Hinore D. Aubigne, History
Of The Great Reformation (New York: Robt. Carter, 1842).
White, elements of
Edward B. Elliot, Horæ
Apocalypticæ (London: Seeley, Jackson & Holliday,
William Byron Forbush, Ed., Fox's
Book Of Martyrs (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company,
Thiers & Bowen, The
Campaigns Of Napoleon, cited by H. Grattan Guinness, The
Approaching End Of The Age (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1878),
Wounded to Death
Revelation 13:3, 14
Some, wrongly expect a superman Antichrist
at the end of the Age who is wounded—then healed—based on
Revelation 13:12-15. Is this reasonable? According to this
scenario, the Antichrist superman is killed. Then this Antichrist
superman is miraculously raised from death to life. How
preposterous. Only the power of the Heavenly Father can raise a
being to life. (Even Jesus had to pray for the Father’s power to
raise Lazarus. John 11:41-44) Certainly, the Heavenly Father would
not raise an Antichrist superman to life! And no amount of satanic
power can raise the dead to life. (In view of this obvious
problem, some conclude the Antichrist man will just seem to
die and then be revived.)
Then according to this scenario, the Two-Horned Beast/False
Prophet—another individual who possesses great satanic power—
“image of the beast.” They claim the image will
be a statue likeness of the superman Antichrist. Using satanic
power, the Two-Horned Beast/False Prophet will then cause this
statue to come to life and speak. All who would not worship him
would be killed. The absurdity grows…this scenario is not
anticipating a statue becoming mechanically or electronically
animated. (That would not be a miraculous phenomenon.) The claim
is satanic power will infuse life into this statue transforming it
into a living creature—a human-type being. This is impossible.
Only the power of God can create a living being.
Reason returns to interpretation when we realize that these
prophecies in Revelation are highly symbolic. The language of
Revelation is consistently symbolic. Just as the Leopard Beast is
symbolic of Papacy, a system, so the Two-Horned Beast and the
Image of the Beast are also church-state systems. Exercising
similar power as the Papacy and working together with the Papacy,
the Image of the Beast will probably be a Protestant federation
united with civil government.
While it is unreasonable to suppose satanic power creating a
human-type being, it is customary to speak of organizations
“dying” or one organization putting
into another organization. The Papal Leopard Beast, the Two-Horned
Beast and the Image of the Beast interpreted as organizations,
harmonizes with the highly symbolic terminology of Revelation 13.
A literal superman Antichrist scenario does not.
Papacy’s Deadly Wound
The Papal Leopard Beast was to be wounded,
“And I saw one
of his [Leopard Beast’s] heads as it were wounded to death; and
his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the
beast” (Revelation 13:3). Has this happened?
Many believe that the Protestant Reformation inflicted this
deadly wound that was eventually healed. Just prior to the
Protestant Reformation, it is interesting to note by contrast the
unchallenged position Papacy enjoyed:
Just prior to Luther’s movement, the Pope, in a bull
closing the Laternal Council, A.D. 1517, felicitated himself and
his bishops, because the unity of the Catholic church was at the
moment untroubled by a single heresy. There was an end of all
resistance to Papal tyranny.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five
Theses to the church door at Wittenberg with a resounding blow of
the hammer that severed Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and
England from Papal Europe. The Protestant Reformation succeeded in
wounding the Papal Beast!
But when the Protestant churches united with the state...
Reformation and cleansing for a time ceased, and, instead of
progressing with the cleansing, the reformers gave attention to
organizing themselves, and to revamping and repolishing many of
the old Papal dogmas, at first so loudly condemned. Thus did
Satan decoy the reformers into the very "harlotry"
(union of church and state) which they had denounced in the
Church of Rome. And thus the deadly wound which Papacy had
received was for a time healed. Rev. 13:3
666—The Number of the Beast
The fascinating identifying number of Antichrist is 666,
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the
number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number
is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:18). What
does this number signify?
The number seven is the most frequently used number in the
Bible and has long been thought to denote completeness or
perfection. Three sevens (777) would signify the ultimate in
perfection. (“Holy, holy, holy” denotes God’s holiness
to the greatest magnitude. Revelation 4:8) Six, on the other hand,
is symbolic of human imperfection. Therefore, 666 would denote the
ultimate of human imperfection—great depravity. Just as the
Little Horn had the
“eyes of a man,” Antichrist
is the creation of imperfect man’s wisdom. When an institution
of imperfect man attempts to replace God (2 Thessalonians 2:4),
the result can only be an ingenious deception of greatest
corruption—symbolized by 666.
This number 666 is not going to be displayed prominently on
worshippers like a barcode on everybody’s forehead—or even on
I.D. cards that everyone has to carry in his or her wallet. The
number of Antichrist will only be discerned by
“Let him that hath understanding count the number of the
beast.” The numerical value of the letters of many names have
been found to total 666. How can it be determined which name is
correct? First, the
“wisdom from above” will enable one
to Scripturally confirm that Papacy is the Antichrist. Then with
“understanding,” one can sift through the many
numerical interpretations and correctly calculate the numerical
value of its name.
Interpretations are many. But once Papacy has been Scripturally
identified as Antichrist, the number of Antichrist’s name
becomes apparent. There is one title that the Popes of Rome have
assumed to themselves and caused to be inscribed over the door of
the Vatican, which exactly fits the number 666. That title is
Vicar of the Son of God,
“Vicarivs Filii Dei”
This title refers to the Pope as reigning vicariously in
the place of the Son of God—which coincides exactly with the
meaning of Antichrist—in the place of Christ. This confirms
that the organization the Pope heads—Papacy—is the Antichrist.
of the Son
When the numerical values of the letters of this title are
added together, the irresistible conclusion points to the Vatican
as the Antichrist Beast of Revelation:
|Number of the
This prophetic, numerical identification of Papacy is further
confirmation that the Antichrist is really the Papacy. The Papacy’s
career also fits the description of being
then recovered. Papacy, the Antichrist, is very much alive—ready
for its end-time role in prophecy.
 H. Grattan Guinness, Light
For The Last Days (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1887), 74.
Kingdom Come (New Brunswick: Bible Students Congregation of
New Brunswick, 1977), 110, 111.
Robert Fleming, The
Rise And Fall Of Rome Papal (London: Houlston &
Stoneman, Pateroster Row, 1849), 47, 48.
The Antichrist in the
The twentieth century has certainly
witnessed the Papacy again as a prominent force in world affairs.
By maneuvering as a world political power, it has affected the
course of world events. One area has been Papacy’s support of
In 1919 Archbishop Pacelli (who
later became Pope Pius XII) gave Hitler Church money to
his small, struggling band of anti-Communists ‘to quell the
devil’s work,’ as Pacelli told Hitler.”
Hitler’s Nazi-ism was born. By the Vatican exerting
international pressure, part of Ukraine was taken from Communist
Soviet Russia and given to Catholic Poland.
Much to the Vatican’s delight, in 1922
Mussolini set up a Fascist dictatorship in Italy. Finally, because
of the Vatican’s political power, any Vatican representative was
forbidden to enter the Soviet Union. Then from 1925 onward,
the real Vatican campaign against the Soviet Union
flood the whole world.”
Under Vatican pressure, in 1926
Pilsudski set up a Catholic Fascist dictatorship in Poland. For
over 15 years Catholic priests accompanied Polish soldiers in
expeditions to punish the so-called
in parts of the Ukraine previously annexed by Poland. Orthodox
churches were burned and
“thousands upon thousands” were
Between 1929 and 1942 the
Vatican focused on establishing powerful Fascist political and
military blocks designed to oppose and finally to destroy
Communism and Socialism. First, the Vatican would support Fascist
parties within the various nations of Europe that were devoted to
the destruction of Socialism and Communism within the country.
Second, the Vatican would support the takeover of that government
for the purpose of war against the Soviet Union. Powerful
economic, social and financial forces throughout the world would
assist in this double purpose.
The Vatican even reached out to Japan as
reflected in the Catholic Times (November 23, 1934):
In the event of a war between Japan and
Russia, Catholics would sympathize with Japan, at least in so
far as religion is concerned, so let us beware of any
Anglo-American bloc against Japan involving us on the side of
Understandably, the Vatican was not
pleased with the U.S. involvement in the Grand Alliance (Great
Britain, United States and Russia) of World War II. The Vatican in
1929 signed the Lateran Treaty with Mussolini, which
guaranteed the full and independent sovereignty of the Vatican
State in Vatican City. Also Fascist Italy paid the Vatican a vast
sum of money to compensate for the loss of the Papal States in
In 1933, the Pope had Francz von
Papen persuade President Hindenburg to appoint Hitler to be a
Chancellor of Germany. Fritz Thyssen, a rich
Catholic steel magnate who financed Hitler, wrote an article in
the Swiss Arbeiterzeitung entitled,
“Pius XIII, As Nuncio,
Brought Hitler to Power.” Impressed with the
organization of the Papacy, Hitler is quoted as saying the
I learned much from the Order of the
Jesuits…until now there has never been anything more grandiose
on the earth than the hierarchical organization of the Catholic
Church. I transferred much of this organization into my own
In 1936 the Vatican and Mussolini
backed General Franco’s bloody civil war against the Spanish
Republic and vigorously supported his Fascist regime.
Then between 1939 and 1941 the Vatican pressured Austria,
Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium and France to cave in to Germany.
With the fall of Czechoslovakia, the Vatican and Hitler in 1939
set up a Catholic Fascist State in Slovakia headed by a Catholic
Prelate Monsignor Tiso. His regime was brutal towards Jews and
non-Roman Catholics. (After the war he was executed for war
The Pope even collaborated with Hitler
regarding the invasion of Poland:
The Pope had been informed of the war
plans of Hitler to invade Poland. Hitler had told of his grand
strategy and his ultimate aims. He had to risk a European war in
order to achieve them, but they were worth it. The ultimate and
main goal was the invasion of Soviet Russia. To do that Hitler
needed to occupy Poland…. The Pope would have to use all his
influence in persuading the Poles to settle matters with Hitler….
If the Poles refused, Hitler would invade Poland. He asked the
Pope, first not to condemn the invasion, and secondly not to ask
the Catholics in Poland to oppose it, but to rally them to a
crusade against the Soviets. Hitler made two promises: he would,
this time, respect all the privileges of the Church in Poland,
and secondly, the occupation of Poland would be
“temporary”…. Pius XII accepted. He did, however,
put forward three conditions…. Once more Hitler promised all
that the Vatican asked.
The Vatican began to exert pressure on
the Polish Government, through the services of Cardinal Hlond,
and in French Catholic circles, so that, if the worst should
happen, the French would not enter the war against Germany. The
France and Great Britain had a mutual
defense pact with Poland against aggression by Germany. The Pope
was feverishly negotiating with the Western Powers to acquiesce to
the occupation of Poland and then join Hitler in a war against the
Soviet Union. Before his invasion of Poland, Hitler gave the Pope
the opportunity to dissuade France from hostilities. General
Pétain, Laval and General Weygand (of Belgium birth) were the
pawns in this ploy. By Papal intrigue Pétain became Premier of
France and Weygand Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Pétain,
Lavan, Weygand and the Papacy had a plot to surrender France to
Hitler without the firing of a shot. Then France would become a
Fascist-Catholic State under the dictatorship of Pétain. This
plan failed the last minute when Mussolini demanded certain
territories in France. Hitler invaded Poland. After bringing
Poland to her knees in less than a month, Germany’s military
might turned to the West. When Belgium was invaded, Weygand of
France and the Vatican induced King Leopold to surrender
prematurely. This threw the Allied timetable off.
Meanwhile, by Papal intrigue in French
affairs, the power of Pétain, Lavan and Weygand consolidated to
the point that they could surrender France long before the
military was ready to cede defeat. Of course, a Fascist-Catholic
State ruled in Belgium and France until the Allied liberation. All
opposition was ruthlessly suppressed.
Hitler promised the Pope that a German
victory in Europe would result in a
“new Christian Europe,
formed by Catholic States and by victorious Germany, who together
would bring about the complete restoration of a Christian Europe,
the prosperity of the Catholic peoples….”
In 1941 the Axis Powers and the
Vatican set up the Catholic Fascist Party, Ustashi, in Croatia
under the dictatorship of Ante Pavelic. Archbishop Stepinac was
the Supreme Military Vicar of the Ustashi Army. Jews were
murdered, Serbian Orthodox churches were destroyed and Serbs were
given the choice to convert to Roman Catholicism or be killed.
Under the headline,
Catholic Church is Accused of Complicity in the killing of
New York Times (September 6, 1994), gave the real reasons for
the cancellation of the Pope’s visit to Sarajevo:
Serbian anger, which is evident in the
Bosnian Serbs’ refusal to assure the Pope’s visit, is
essentially rooted in the events of World War II, so a papal
visit might have been greeted with whistles and boos. During the
War, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac,
greeted the installation of the Pavelic regime as
hand at work” and never publicly denounced the onslaught on
Serbian civilians. The ferocity of this onslaught, which often
involved conversion of Greek Orthodox Serbs to Roman Catholicism
at gun point or their massacre in churches, was well known in
The article then described some
executions of masses of Serbs by the Croats. As incredible as it
sounds, Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Croatia in
September of 1994 lauded Cardinal Stephinac as a national hero and
“vigilant, true pastor of his flock”—despite his
World War II involvement with the murderous Pavelic regime.
When in 1943 it was known that
Germany would eventually lose the war, the Vatican and Britain
tried to plot the fall of Hitler and then have Germany join forces
with Great Britain and the U.S. in a war against Russia.
In 1945 The Axis
Powers and the Vatican lost World War II and until 1989
Communism swept over one third of the world. But in 1982
through 1989 Pope John Paul and former President Reagan
successfully plotted the downfall of the Communist Empire (Time,
February 24, 1992). Regarding this clandestine campaign,
Archbishop Pio Lashi said to the U.S. diplomat, Vernon Walters,
“It is a very complex situation…listen to the Holy Father
[Pope]. We have 2,000 years experience at this.” It was
“Step by reluctant step, the Soviets and
the Communist government of Poland bowed to the pressure imposed
by the Pope and the President.” Finally in 1989 the
Communist Empire fell. A leading newspaper reported that Mikhail
“Pope John Paul II played a major
political role in the collapse of communism in Eastern
Europe.” The Papacy finally triumphed over her
The New Look of Papacy
for an Old Concept
In 1990 the Vatican’s ultimate agenda
is revealed in the following statement the Pope made on April 21:
A united Europe is no longer a dream.
It is not utopian memory from the Middle Ages [emphasis
added]. The events that we are witnessing show that this goal
can be reached.
The Pope wants to revive the Holy Roman
Empire of the Middle (Dark) Ages! …How is this possible? After
World War II, the Papacy’s rapprochement with Protestants began
to intensify. Ecumenism seems the appropriate solution for both
Catholics and Protestants in mutually bolstering up their
credibility—and survival. Although essentially the Papacy has
not changed, a few cosmetic alterations have helped the Roman
Church have a new look. Vatican II has played a significant role
in the face-lift project. Bible studies in the Church—albeit
restricted—are now permitted. Meat on Friday is okay.
Philanthropic activities around the world abound. Services no
longer have to be exclusively in Latin. And the Church of Rome
beckons to its
“separated brethren”—the Protestant
Churches. Have the Protestant Churches forgotten why they
In November of 1993, Moody Bible
Institute in its periodical said,
“Today, for good or bad,
the lines that separate evangelicals and Roman Catholics are
fading. More and more people from both sides are working together…”
Charles Colson wrote,
“It’s high time that all of us who
are Christians come together regardless of the difference of our
confessions and our tradition…” Today the ministries of
Billy Graham, Luis Palau, World Vision and charismatic groups such
as YWAH involve activities with Catholics.
In 1994 a group of 40 prominent
evangelical and Catholic scholars and leaders agreed that
Christians must stop aggressive proselytizing of one another’s
flocks and work together more closely to
“contend against all
that opposes Christ and His cause.” The statement, signed
March 29 in New York further stated,
“We dare not by needless
and loveless conflict between ourselves give aid and comfort to
the enemies of the cause of Christ.” Finally, the statement
“Not since the 16th century have Protestants and
Catholics ‘joined in a declaration so clear in respect to their
common faith and common responsibility.’”
In May of 1995
Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical on Christian unity,
“Ut Unum Sint”
(“That They May be One”). The encyclical was an
unprecedented call for Protestant and Orthodox denominations to
dialogue on a Christian unity that would accept the authority of
the Pope. In response, a prominent group of Orthodox, Roman
Catholic and Protestant scholars and church leaders gathered in
South Carolina to re-examine the road to unity. In spite of much
disagreement, the consensus was to keep open the dialogue at
On May 12, 1999, the co-chairman
of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission issued the
“The Gift of Authority.” It stated,
need for a universal primacy exercised by the Bishop of Rome [the
Pope] as a sign and safeguard of unity within the reunited
Church” (cf. Authority in The Church 11, 9).
On October 31, 1999, the Lutheran
World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church issued the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which they said
ended a conflict that began with Martin Luther in 1517.
The Antichrist is posturing for its
end-time scenario with the image of the beast and false prophet.
Paul J. Murphy, La Popessa
(New York: Warner Books, 1980), 52.
 Avro Manhattan, The Vatican
In World Polics (New York: Horizon Press, Inc. 1949), 272.
Ibid., 272, 280.
Ibid., 273-275 (Many references
given for documentation).
Manhattan, The Vatican In World Politics, 168, 169.
Murphy, La Popessa, and
Manhattan, The Vatican In World Politics, 22-24.
Manhattan, The Vatican In World Politics, 168,169.
Leon Lehmann, Behind The
Dictators (1942), Fritz Thyssen, I Paid Hitler (1941).
Hermann Rauschning, Hitler
Said To Me (1939), 266-267.
Manhattan, The Vatican In World Politics, 95-99.
Ibid., 247-265, 340-341.
Ibid., 282-291, 307-322.
 Avro Manhattan, The Terror
Over Yugoslavia, the threat to yugoslavia (London: waters, 1953).
John Loftus & Mark Aarons, The
Secret War Against The Jews (New York: St. Martin's Press,
World, March 6, 1992.
New York Times, April 23, 1990.
After Papacy brought the demise of Communism, Pope John Paul’s
stated agenda was the re-establishment of the Holy Roman Empire of
the Middle Ages/Dark Ages. The ecumenical activity of the 1990s
could well mark the buildup to Antichrist’s End-Time reign.
Although Revelation 13 showed the Antichrist, Papal reign
during the 1260 days—years—ended in 1799, verses 15-18 predict
a future End-Time rise to power of Antichrist. This time
Antichrist will be united in power with the image of the beast. If
the beast is symbolic of a system—Papacy—then the image of the
beast is symbolic of a system—probably a federation of
Protestant churches headed by the Church of England. This would
explain the reason for the ecumenical activity within
Protestantism. The Church of England has already acknowledged the
headship of Papacy in such a union.
The image of the beast—a federation of Protestant churches—together
with the beast—Papacy—will control the thinking of the people.
Only those with the mark, name or number of the beast will be able
to buy or sell, that is, express doctrinal views in a public
forum. All others will be persecuted. At the same time Revelation
17 predicts a church-state union between Papacy and ten kingdoms
or nations of Europe. Many students of prophecy are pondering the
role of the European Union in this scenario. Possibly this is a
reference, not to ten nations, but to the ten language grouping of
nations that has averaged out in Europe over the centuries.
Actually there are more than ten nations in the European Union.
This reign of Papacy with the European Union will be short
lived. They will do battle with the Returned Lord—the Lord of
Lords and King of Kings—and the beast, the image of the beast
and the kings of the earth will meet their Waterloo. Revelation
Triumph of Christ over Antichrist
Thus the Apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:8) assures us that
this inglorious saga of the Man of Sin will finally have a fitting
And then shall that Wicked [Antichrist] be revealed, whom the
Lord shall Consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall
destroy with the brightness of his [Christ’s] coming [Greek, parousia,
The Papacy, which for centuries claimed to be the Kingdom of
God, was in reality the Man of Sin. Such an exaggerated claim
inevitably corrupted leaders of that system. And that corruption
wrought the incredible carnage of human suffering that Papacy
perpetuated down through the centuries. Many have been the engines
of human oppression and destruction throughout history, but the
Antichrist has been unique. By taking the place of Christ and his
true Kingdom, Antichrist also misrepresented God’s true
character and wonderful plan.
But Christ will triumph over Antichrist. The Man of Sin has
been revealed. After a brief rise to power, it remains for Christ
to destroy that pretentious, counterfeit Kingdom of God during his
parousia or presence. Then the true Kingdom of God will be
set up which will rule in righteousness throughout the whole
earth. Instead of oppressing, Christ’s Kingdom will bless.
Instead of misrepresenting God’s character, Christ’s Kingdom
will practice it. Instead of replacing and opposing God’s plan,
Christ’s Kingdom will fulfill it.
Antichrist's Rise to Power
In the first century the Christians were not of sufficient
importance to be generally persecuted by the government…. They
had no great men in their ranks, either…[of] wealth, or social
position…. Yet in this century converts were multiplied in every
city, and traditions point to the martyrdoms of those who were
prominent, including nearly all of the apostles. [John Lord, old
roman world (New York: Chas. Scribner & Co., 1867),
The Second Century—
Foundation for Future Power Laid
In the second century, there were controversies in the Church…but
no outward conflicts, no secular history…. But they had
attracted the notice of the government and were of sufficient
consequence to be persecuted…bishops had become influential, not
in society, but among the Christians; dioceses and parishes were
established; …ecclesiastical centralization commenced… the
weapons of excommunication were forged…Gnosticism was embraced
by many leading minds…the formulas of baptism and the sacraments
became of great importance; and monarchism became popular. The
Church was thus laying the foundation of its future polity and
The problem of organization lay in determining the center of
that power. After the weakening of the mother church at Jerusalem…The
church of Rome…claimed to have been founded by Peter…. [Will
Durant, caesar and christ
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944), 616, 617.]
The Third Century—
Bishops Contend for Power
The third century saw the Church more powerful as an
institution… Christianity had spread so extensively that it must
needs be either persecuted or legalized…. Almost in every city,
the ancient churches were found insufficient to contain the
increasing number of proselytes; and in their place more stately
and capacious edifices were erected…. Prosperity had relaxed the
nerves of discipline. Fraud, envy and malice prevailed in every
congregation. The proselytes aspired to the Episcopal office,
which every day became an object more worthy of their ambition.
The bishops, who contended with each other for ecclesiastical
pre-eminence, claimed a secular and tyrannical power in the
church. [Lord, old roman
The story of Paul of Samosata, who filled the metropolitan see
[bishopric] of Antioch…may serve to illustrate the condition and
character of the times [A.D. 270]. Paul considered the service of
the church a very lucrative profession. His ecclesiastical
jurisdiction was venal and rapacious: he extorted frequent
contributions from the most opulent of the faithful, and converted
to his own use a considerable part of the public revenues. …His
council chamber, and his throne, the splendor with which he
appeared in public, the suppliant crowd who solicited his
attention, the multitude of letters and petitions to which he
dictated his answers, and the perpetual hurry of business in which
he was involved, were circumstances much better suited to the
state of a civil magistrate than to the humility of a primitive
bishop. [Edward Gibbon, the
history of the decline and fall of the roman empire
(Chicago: Donahue Bros., 1900), Vol. 1, 633, 646,647.]
It was the opinion of the Christians that the emperor [Decius]
would more patiently endure a competitor for the purple than a
bishop in the capital [Rome]. [Cyprian, Epistol. 55 cited in
Gibbon, The History Of The
Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, 623.]
The Fourth Century—
Removal of the Restraint to Papacy’s Power
The Pagan Roman Empire, however, was at first a restraining
factor (2 Thessalonians 2:7). But by the fourth century the Pagan
Roman Empire was rapidly failing. Its strength and unity were
divided among six claimants to the imperial honor when Constantine
became emperor. In order to unite his empire, Constantine
converted to Christianity in A.D. 313. Then declared Christianity
the religion of the Roman Empire. At this point, Pagan Rome ceased
to be the restraining power and was
“taken out of the
way.” Pagan Rome died and Papal Rome was born.
On this questionably blessed event, history records:
Whether Constantine embraced it [Christianity] from conviction
of its truth, or from policy, is a matter of dispute…. Worldly
ambition pointed to the course which the emperor pursued in
declaring himself a Christian…. Constantine made it the religion
of the empire, and thenceforth we find its influence sullied with
earthly things…. No particular bishop was regarded as head of
the whole Church, but the emperor was such in point of fact….
[Emma Willard, universal
history in perspective (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co.,
War and commerce had spread the knowledge of the gospel beyond
the confines of the Roman provinces; and the Barbarians…soon
learned to esteem a religion…embraced by the greatest monarch,
and the most civilized nation of the globe…. The gratitude of
the Church has exalted the virtues and excused the failings of a
generous patron who seated Christianity on the throne of the
Roman world. [Gibbon, The
History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Vol.
2, 182, 183.]
With Pagan Rome out of the way and Constantine the inheritor of
the Pontifex Maximus title in the Christian Church, the Man of Sin
was free to grow and thrive. Soon civil rulers became the
persecuting arm of the Catholic Church as pointed up in the
“Edict of the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius
I,” February 27, 380 A.D.—“We order those who follow
this doctrine to receive the title of Catholic Church, but others
. . . are to be punished not only by Divine Retribution but
also by our own measure.” [Sidney Z. Ehler and John B.
Morrall, church and state
through the centuries: a collection of historic documents with
commentaries (London, 1954), 7.]