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Is the Pope The AntiChrist?

In the reformation Luther and Calvin named the Pope as the Antichrist. A treatise of Martin Luther written shortly before his death in 1546 was entitled, “Against the Roman Papacy; an Institution of the Devil.” Luther began his tirade, “The Most Hellish Father, Saint Paul III, in his supposed capacity as the bishop of the Roman church…”1 In that treatise he says that the pope is “the head of the accursed church of all the worst scoundrels on earth, a vicar of the devil, an enemy of God, an adversary of Christ, a destroyer of Christ’s churches, a teacher of lies… a brothel-keeper over all brothel-keepers and all vermin, even that which cannot be named; an Antichrist…”2

The Westminster Confession, Presbyterian creed of the next century, includes an article in which it boldly identifies the pope as Antichrist.

“There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that exalteth himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God” (chapter 25, art. 6). “3

The Internet is full of websites that say that the pope is the antichrist.4 However, there have been claims that Roman emperors, kings, presidents, and depots like Hitler and Stalin were antichrists. Today, there are claims that US President Obama or Russian President Putin are the antichrist.

Biblical Basis

There is a biblical basis for considering who the antichrist is.

Let no one deceive you* by any means, because [that Day will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction [or, the one destined to be lost], 2Th 2:3ALT

The word “apostasy” above is apostasia in the Greek. It means a falling away from the faith, or a rejection of the faith. This verse says that before the Lord returns “the antichrist” will be revealed. This next verse says that the antichrist comes out from the believers.

Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest how that they all are not of us.1Jo 2:18-19

What is the biblical definition of the antichrist? The next verse tells us that he is someone who denies that Jesus is the Christ;

Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also.1Jo 2:22-23

In 1 John we are advised to “prove every spirit.” And it says that the way to “prove the spirit” is to evaluate whether they confess Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit which confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it cometh; and now it is in the world already.1Jo 4:1-3

There is a spirit that says the messiah has not been born which is what “is not come in the flesh” means. This spirit says that Jesus is not from God. This spirit is everywhere today. This is the spirit of antichrist.

There is a major difference between the spirit of antichrist which is that spirit that denies Christ and “the antichrist”, the man of perdition, the world leader who will take the world leadership role in the end times.

To me, as much as the papacy has used whores, murdered many in the inquisition, and many other misdeeds including Vatican excesses of luxury that may continue to this day, none of those misdeeds qualify for denying the Father and the Son. So, while these deeds may disqualify the popes from leadership positions, it doesn’t qualify them as “the antichrist”. Perhaps there were popes who weren’t believers, who, despite their title, didn’t believe that Jesus was the annointed one from God, and as such, would have been representive of the antichrist. But what I have read of recent popes doesn’t indicate that. So if in Martin Luthor’s time, the popes did represent the spirit of antichrist, I don’t see anything that says that is the case today.

Although the only places in Scripture the name Antichrist is used are I and II John (I John 2:18,22,4:3, II John 7), the Bible is replete with instruction regarding the reality we call Antichrist. The key passages are Daniel 7, 8, 11; Matthew 24; II Thessalonians 2; and Revelation 13, 17 and 18.

Conclusion

Statements that the pope is “the antichrist” by Lutherans or followers using the Westminster Confession are clearly divisive. If it was true during the reformation it doesn’t appear to be the case today. If anything, the constant parade of accusations that the pope, or some despot, or king or president is “the antichrist” is more sensationalism than anything else. While some world leaders may speak against Christ and the spirit of the antichrist has been around for ages now, “the antichrist” is still future.

1 Luther’s Works, Fortress Press, Volume 41, pg 263
2 ibid., page 357-358
3 http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_3.html
4 See http://www.ianpaisley.org/antichrist.asp, http://www.trosch.org/jpi/antichrist.html, http://www.pacinst.com/antichri.htm as examples.

© copyright 2009 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.

February 13th, 2009 Posted by | Roman Catholicism | 2 comments