In a previous post called, “The Roman Catholic Antichrist,” I shared a quote from the Scottish National Covenant. It includes a list of the Roman Catholic heretical teachings and abominable practices. I wanted to take some to explain a difficult topic. By “difficult”, I mean difficult to accept because of so many views on the end times. We have to admit that this is now a rare view in the church. Through a series of posts I will share reasons why the reformers held to the view that the office of Pope is the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2) , the antichrist (1 John 2) , and the beast of Revelation (Revelation 13).
The Westminster Confession
This view of the man of sin is confessional. The Westminster divines felt that it was so important that they included it in their confession of faith. They did not include every single doctrinal belief in the confession but they chose not to excluded this one. It is also included in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Here is what it says in the Westminster Confession, chapter 25:
“VI. There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God.”
They also provided these scripture proofs for their position:
“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:3-9
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,”
“And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”
The Antichrist and The Man of Sin
The title “antichrist” comes from 1 John 2:18-23:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”
Some like to separate the antichrist, the man of sin, and the beast but historically they were seen as the same. Francis Nigel Lee compiled a list of theologians who believed that the antichrist and the man of sin are the same. This is not an exhaustive list but it get the point across.
“The following Theologians regarded Rev. 13: 1f’s Sea-Beast as Antichrist: Irenaeus (A.D. 185), Tertullian (200f), Cyprian (250), Victorinus (300), Lactantius (315), Ephraim (370), Ambrose (390), Augustine (430), Primasius (560), Andreas of Caesarea (580), Bede (730), Berengaud (830), Walafrid Strabo (840), Haymo (850), Bruno Segni (1120), Peter Waldo (1120), Bernard of Clairvaux (1130), Richard of St. Victor (1170), Joachim of Floris (1200), Eberhard of Salzburg (1240), Pierre Jean d’Olivi (1240), Albert the Great (1280), Ubertino of Casale (1305), John Wycliffe (1384), Walter Brute (1390), Matthias of Janow (1394), John Purvey (1428), John Huss (1415), Tyndale (1536), Osiander (1552), Joye (1553), Bale (1563), Von Amsdorff (1565), Virgil Solis (1567), Conrad (1570), Jewel (1571), Bullinger (1575), John Foxe (1587), John Napier (1593), Pacard (1604), Brightman (1614), Cappel (1615), David Pareus (1618), Cramer (1619), James the First (1625), Alsted (1627), Mede (1631), Grotius (1640), Gerhard (1643), Helwig (1643), John Cotton (1652), Tillinghast (1655), Durham (1657), Holyoake (1658), Cocceius (1669), Increase Mather (1669), Spener (1670), Sherwin (1670), Goodwin (1680), Roger Williams (1683), Jurieu (1687), Phillipot (1695), Cotton Mather (1696), Fleming (1701), Matthew Henry (1712), Cressener (1718), Daubuz (1720), Burnet (1724), Sir Isaac Newton (1727), De Bionens (1729), Pyle (1735), John Willison (1745), Jonathan Edwards (1747), Bengel (1752), Aaron Burr (1757), Isaac Backus (1767), Petri (1768), John Gill (1771), Langdon (1774), Bishop Thomas Newton (1782), Hans Wood (1787), Ben Gale (1788), Thomas Scott (1788), John Wesley (1791), Samuel Hopkins (1793), Timothy Dwight (1796), Jeremy Belknap (1798), Faber (1806), Romeyne (1808), Elias Smith (1808), Andrew Fuller (1810), Cunninghame (1813), Alexander Keith (1828), Robert Scott (1834), Junkin (1836), Hinton (1842), Bishop Elliott (1844), Albert Barnes (1851) and most Protestant commentators from then onward prior to the Church’s later and massive collapse into theological liberalism.” – John’s Revelation Unveiled
The push-back on combining the man of sin and the antichrist happens because of the description of each one. The antichrist seems to be one who is against Christ, whereas the man of sin seems to not be against Christ because he claims to be him. Is it against Christ if someone claims to be God when they are not? Of course it is! The description of the man of sin, who claims to be God, would then fit the description of the antichrist. Also, the word “anti” in the original language does not always mean “against” but it can also mean “instead of” or “in place of.” If this is true, then the antichrist is someone who takes the place of Christ. The word “anti” is used this way in many places found in scripture.
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”
1 Corinthians 11:15
“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”
The Universal View Among the Reformers
The view that the antichrist, man of sin, and the beast is the office of papacy was also universal among the reformers. This does not mean that this was the only view because it wasn’t. This was a held by the majority of the reformed church. Here is another list from Francis Nigel Lee of theologians who believed that the beast of Revelation is the papacy.
“The following Theologians, following adumbrations already in A.D. 840 by Walafrid Strabo, regarded Rev. 13: 1f’s Sea-Beast as the Papacy-in-embryo: Peter Waldo (1120 A.D.), Eberhard of Salzburg (1240), John Wycliffe (1384), Matthias of Janow (1394), John Purvey (1428), John Huss (1415), Tyndale (1536), Osiander (1552), Joye (1553), Bale (1563), Von Amsdorff (1565), Virgil Solis (1567), Conrad (1570), Jewel (1571), Bullinger (1575), James the First (1625), Helwig (1643), Cocceius (1648), John Cotton (1652), Tillinghast (1655), Thos. Goodwin (1680), Roger Williams (1683), Phillipot (1695), Cotton Mather (1696), Cressener (1718), Sir Isaac Newton (1727), Burnet (1724), Bengel (1740), John Willison (1745), Jonathan Edwards (1747), Bengel (1752), Aaron Burr (1757), Isaac Backus (1767), John Gill (1771), Bishop Thomas Newton (1782), John Wesley (1791), Samuel Hopkins (1793), Timothy Dwight (1796), Jeremy Belknap (1798), and most Protestant commentators such as David Brown and Bonar and Fairbairn from 1800 onward – prior to the Church’s massive collapse into theological liberalism (as a result of the impact of the so-called ‘Enlightenment’ and the French Revolution).” – John’s Revelation Unveiled
The reason why this topic is important is because of the attack against the true church of Christ by an apostate church. The Pope wants to stop the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be ready to share that gospel with anyone who embraces Roman Catholicism. We truly love our neighbor and warning them about the Pope would be a great act of love. I will address these questions and more, in this series:
- Have the Popes claimed to be God?
- Who is the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians?
- Is the Pope the beast of Revelation?
- What does 666 mean?
- Has the Pope done any signs and lying wonders?