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by Shaun Willcock
The Present Pope, Like Every Pope Before Him, Is...
Yes! That man, dressed in white, who looks so serene, who calls himself the "Holy Father", who addresses vast crowds from a balcony in the Vatican, whose followers number over a billion of the world's inhabitants — that man is the Antichrist! Of him the beloved apostle, John, wrote in the first century, saying, "ye have heard that antichrist shall come" (1 Jn.2:18). And come he did — precisely as prophesied in the Word of God.
The prophesied Antichrist was not Hitler. He was not Mussolini, or Lenin, or Stalin, those monsters of iniquity who appeared on the stage of history for a few brief years, and then went the way of all the earth. He is not some Communist dictator, or Muslim fanatic, alive right now. The Antichrist is the pope of Rome. He is every pope of Rome. The present pope is the Antichrist, the previous pope was the Antichrist, and the pope to come will be the Antichrist. Antichrist is alive today, and Antichrist was alive a hundred years ago, and a thousand years ago. Christians in the Dark Ages came up against Antichrist, and Christians today face him still. Hear the Word of God!
Jesus said, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt.24:5). Not just one man at the end of time, but many men, a succession of men, all claiming to come in the name of Christ, and each one of them claiming to be Christ. A succession of men, down through the centuries, one after another, each one spewing forth the same blasphemy. The Antichrist is the pope who is alive at any given moment.
"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 Jn.2:18). The last times began in the first century, as both John in this verse, and others, make clear (Acts 2:16,17; Heb.1:2; 1 Pet.1:20; Jude 18). There were already, in that first century, many lesser Antichrists; but as John wrote, another was coming, the Antichrist, greater than them all. But when was he to come?
The Bible gives the answer. At the time when John wrote, "the spirit of the Antichrist" was already in the world, but not the Antichrist himself: "and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 Jn.4:3). Paul wrote along similar lines: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way" (2 Thess.2:7). At that early time, the groundwork was being laid for the great and evil religious system that would continue developing as the years went by, finally coming to fruition a few centuries later; the "mystery religions" of ancient Babylon were present, and they were active, and there was a spirit at work, the spirit of Antichrist, guiding these currents along a path that would culminate in the great satanic masterpiece, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth" (Rev.17:5). And what was that? Nothing less than the Papacy, the religion of the popes, the Roman Catholic system.
Centuries earlier, the prophet Daniel had declared when the Papacy would arise, and where: "I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn" (Dan.7:8). The interpretation of this vision was also given: "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them" (Dan.7:24). The ten kings (or kingdoms) were the barbarian nations that overran the Roman Empire; and the little horn that came up among them, rising after them, was the Papacy, the kingdom of the popes. So it was prophesied, and so, precisely, was the prophecy fulfilled. And Paul prophesied of the very same thing, when he wrote: "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 [restrains; hinders; obstructs] will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed..." (2 Thess.2:6-8).
When he wrote these words, something, and someone, was restraining the full manifestation of that Wicked; that something was the Roman Empire, and that someone was the Roman emperor. But in the fifth century, this restraint was removed, and then that Wicked was revealed. And who was "that Wicked?" The very same as the Antichrist of John's prophecy! How do we know? By a comparison. John wrote of the Antichrist who was to come; Daniel wrote of the little horn arising after the fall of the Empire; and Paul wrote of the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition (2 Thess.2:3), who would be revealed once the Empire had been taken out of the way.
What, then, do the Scriptures reveal? They reveal that the spirit of Antichrist was at work in the first century already, preparing the way for the coming of the Antichrist. There were many lesser Antichrists, but one was coming who would be the Antichrist. And in fulfilment of the prophecies of Daniel, Paul, and John, he arose on the stage of history a few centuries later, in Europe, being revealed in all his wickedness once the Roman Empire had fallen. History, fulfilling divine prophecy, leaves us in absolutely no doubt as to Antichrist's identity. It was the Roman Papacy. Just as Christ is the Head of the true Church, so Antichrist is the head of the false "church". That false "church" is the Roman Catholic institution, perfectly described for us in Rev.17; and the only head of that false "church" is the pope of Rome.
Now, a common objection is usually raised at this point: "How," it is asked, "can the Papacy be the Antichrist, when the Scripture says that Antichrist denies the Father and the Son; denies that Jesus is the Christ; confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? The popes do not do this! They acknowledge these things!" In actual fact, the very verses which are pointed to by such objectors provide yet further evidence that every pope of Rome is the Antichrist. Here are the verses: 1 Jn.2:22 says, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 Jn.4:3 says, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist". And 2 Jn.7 says, "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.
This is a deceiver and an Antichrist." Those who attempt to use these verses to deny that the pope of Rome is the Antichrist do not understand the meaning of the word. They assume that one who is anti-Christ is one who is openly against Christ; one who openly opposes Him. He must (they argue) be an atheist, a Communist, a Muslim, or a Jew; he cannot be one who professes to love Him, to follow Him, to serve Him, and who calls himself a Christian.
But this is where they are terribly deceived! The Bible shows us clearly that the Antichrist, far from being an atheist, is very religious; and not just religious, but he professes to be a Christian! And none of the verses quoted above contradict this. In fact, they confirm it!
Firstly, the word, "Antichrist", itself. What does it mean? The Greek, "anti", means "instead of". It is often used to designate a substitute. It is used in 1 Tim.2:6 of Christ, who became a ransom, a substitute.
In 2 Thess.2:4, the Antichrist is described a "antikeimenos"(translated as "opposeth"), which means one setting himself in opposition, and particularly as a rival foundation, in the place of, or against, another foundation. Now, 1 Cor.3:11 says that Jesus Christ alone is the foundation. Very significantly, the words are, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ"; and the Greek word for "laid" is "keimenon". Thus, the Antichrist usurps the place of Christ, the only true foundation!
So, "Antichrist" means a substitute "Christ", an imitation of Christ — one who claims to take the place of Christ! And this is precisely what the pope of Rome does! He even terms himself "the Vicar of Christ"; and the word, "vicar", means one who takes the place of another; a substitute. Just as the vice-president is the one who takes the president's place in his absence, so the Roman pontiff claims to be the Vicar of Christ, the "vice-Christ", the one who takes the place of Christ on earth! Thus, the "Vicar of Christ" is the Anti-Christ; for the Greek "anti" has the same meaning as the Latin "vicar".
Secondly, the pope of Rome most certainly denies that Jesus is the Christ; denies the Father and the Son; confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh! How so?
The word, "deny", as used in these Scriptures, does not automatically imply atheism. Yes, a man may deny the Lord by denying His existence; but he may also deny Him, by apostacy — a departure from the truth! This is very plain from such Scriptures as Matt.10:33, Tit.1:16, and 2 Tim.3:5. Does the pope of Rome deny that Jesus is the Christ? Does he deny the Father and the Son?
Yes; in the following ways: He denies the Lord, firstly, in works. "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Tit.1:16). With their lips the popes profess to know God; but by their evil works they deny Him. A man can profess to be a Christian all he likes, but if his conduct is not godly, the profession of his mouth is worthless (Matt.15:8). If any man is truly in Christ, he is a new creature, and his works will not be the works of darkness. The works of the Papacy are the works of darkness — the works of the spirit of Antichrist. They have a mere form of godliness, but deny the power of true godliness (2 Tim.3:5).
The pope of Rome denies the Lord, secondly, by his damnable heresies. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them..." (2 Pet.2:1). None can deny that the pope of Rome is a false teacher, who disseminates damnable heresies; and he denies the Lord by these — such evil doctrines as that salvation is by works, and that Mary and so-called "saints" are necessary to salvation, and that Christ must be eaten physically in the blasphemous mass, and that regeneration is by baptism, to name just a very few. And does the pope of Rome confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh?
No, he does not. Oh, he may do it with his lips, saying, "I confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh"; but this is not the meaning of the words. And yes, he may confess such doctrines as the true divinity and humanity of Christ; but the words are not limited to these doctrines. To confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is to confess all the truth about Christ, as revealed in His Word: that He alone is the way to the Father; that there is salvation in no other; that He alone is the Head of the Church; that to eat His flesh and drink His blood, is to partake of Him spiritually, by faith, and not physically; that His sacrifice was perfect and complete and never to be repeated; etc., etc. All these great truths, the popes deny.
Men who in any way deny the truth regarding Christ are Antichrists; and the pope of Rome is the supreme Antichrist, for no one denies the divine truth regarding Christ as he does. The Antichrist, then, far from being an atheist, a Communist, a Jew or a Muslim, is one who claims to be the chief of all Christians, the Vicar of Christ, in fact he reaches the height of blasphemy and claims to be Christ Himself! Lest any think that it cannot be, consider the following: Pius IX was described as "the living Christ", and "the Lamb of the Vatican". And in a speech, he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Pius X said: "The Pope...is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh." Pius XI, on 30 April 1922, in the Vatican throne room, said: "You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on the earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on the earth."
The Canon Law in the Gloss on the Extravaganza of John XXII, AD 1316-1334, calls the Roman pontiff "Our Lord God the Pope." And this was continued in all editions of the Canon Law up to AD 1612. Martin V was addressed as: "The most holy and most blessed, who holds the celestial jurisdiction, who is Lord over all the earth...the anointed...the ruler of the universe, the father of kings, the Light of the World." During the Vatican Council, 9 January 1870, it was stated: "The Pope is Christ in office, Christ in jurisdiction and power...we bow down before thy voice, O Pius, as before the voice of Christ, the God of truth; in clinging to thee, we cling to Christ."
The Roman Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, said: "There is no difference between the Pope and Jesus Christ." The cardinal, Manning, said: "He [the Roman pope] was elevated to be, in his Divine Master's Name, King of kings and Lord of lords." In July 1993, when John Paul II visited Brazil, the Roman Catholic crowds sang, "You are the Christ!" And consider this: this Man of Sin, this Antichrist, usurps Christ's prophetic office, by claiming to be God's spokesman on earth; he usurps Christ's priestly office, by claiming the power to forgive sins, and to offer propitiatory sacrifices in the mass; and he usurps Christ's kingly office, by claiming to be the head of the Church. What is all this, but claiming to be Christ himself?
What did Jesus say? "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ" (Matt.24:5). How perfectly the prophecy has been fulfilled! So monstrous are his claims, so vile his works, that even Papist apologists have been forced to the inevitable conclusion that the pope, if he is not who he claims to be, must be the Antichrist! Priest Philip Fletcher, editor of the organ of the "Guild of Our Lady of Ransom", wrote in 1914: "The Vicar of Christ or Antichrist....If the Pope of Rome is not the Vicar of Christ, he must be Antichrist; there is no middle view." And Arnulphius, at the Council of Rheims, said of the pope: "Verily if he be void of charity...then he is Antichrist."
Throughout the ages Christians believed that the Papacy was the Antichrist. When the diabolical Jesuit Order came into existence, one of its members, Francisco Ribera, was commissioned to develop a theory of prophetic interpretation that would cause Protestants to turn their gaze from Rome and look elsewhere for the Antichrist. He developed, before the close of the sixteenth century, what came to be known as the "Futuristic" interpretation of prophecy, claiming that the Antichrist was not the pope of Rome, but that he would be someone who would arise in the future.
In time this Popish plot was eminently successful: today, the vast majority of Protestants do not believe the pope of Rome to be the Antichrist. Instead, they are expecting him to be some super-politician who has yet to appear. They have no idea that they are following a theory developed by a Jesuit with the intention of deliberately misleading them. And most, even if they knew the truth, would not care one whit anyway, so besotted have today's Protestants become with that mystical Babylon on the seven-hilled city, and with the man who heads it. Professing themselves to be Christians, most modern Protestants are as blinded as any Papist, and have eagerly embraced the Antichrist as a servant of Christ!
The Lord Jesus, just before He spoke of those coming in His name and claiming to be Christ, said, "Take heed that no man deceive you" (Matt.24:4). Christian reader, take heed that you are not deceived by the teachings of the Jesuit Ribera. Take heed that you are not deceived by those misguided Protestant teachers who have followed in his steps, proclaiming the same fanciful and speculative theories. And take heed that you are not deceived by that Man of Sin and Son of Perdition himself — by his friendly smile, or his crowd-pleasing manners, or his pious-sounding words! Be well-acquainted with the blasphemous doctrines, and blood-stained history, of the system of which he is the head; study these things in the light of the Word of God; and boldly proclaim the same truth which the saints of God through the ages have proclaimed:
THE PAPACY IS THE ANTICHRIST.
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