The Vatican officially teaches that the Pope is the substitute for Christ Jesus. The words of the official pronouncement are,
“The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’ ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise.”
Since the world has a man in position of “Vicar of Christ,” it is the biblical imperative to see the true office of the Vicar of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the universal care of the redeemed into the safekeeping of the divine Person of the Holy Spirit. Concerning this third Person of the Trinity who was to be His substitute, the Lord promised that, “when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Holy Spirit convicts of sin as He makes the sinner realize his lost condition, and convicts him of his need of Christ’s righteousness. He it is who brings a soul dead in sin to life in Christ. This miracle of grace is spoken of in Scripture as, “the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” The majesty, greatness, and indescribable power of the office of Vicar of Christ are such that a believer stands in awe of His divine Person. That any human being should lay claim to the office of Vicar of Christ is totally absurd and blasphemous.
The True Vicar of Christ
Because there is a direct connection between the redemption of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is a soul-damning error to mistake the work of the Holy Spirit as Vicar of Christ with the position or work of any man. As Christ Jesus had been the Master, Counselor, and Guide to the believers, He promised to send the Holy Spirit as His substitute so that He might abide with them for ever.” In the believers’ lives, the Holy Spirit has full, immediate, and universal influence; as the Scripture so wonderfully teaches, “now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The work of the Spirit is transforming; we are changed from one degree of glorious grace unto another, until by that same grace one day we will be perfect in Him in glory forever. How much therefore should Christians prize the full and complete ministry of the Holy Spirit! In the face of these awesome truths concerning the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, it is horrendous to learn that the Vatican proclaims, “The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls.” Persuading men and women that Christ the Lord left a mortal man to be His vicar on earth attempts to oppose the very purpose of Christ Jesus sending the Holy Spirit.
Counterfeit Vicar of Christ
Rome’s alleged office of Christ’s Vicar on earth is so all embracing and complicated that as one man Benedict XVI cannot exercise “supreme, full, immediate, and universal power.” Thus Joseph Ratzinger, who claims to be invested with the office, needs a vast hierarchy to command. The pyramid of power that constitutes his office of the “Vicar of Christ” consists of cardinals, patriarchs, major archbishops, metropolitans, coadjutor archbishops, diocesan bishops, coadjutor bishops, episcopal vicar, eparches, apostolic vicars, apostolic prefects, apostolic administrators and vicars general.
The Pope’s central authority, by which he judges all things, is officially called by the term “Holy See” rather than “the Vatican.” The Vatican’s web page states, “The term Holy See stands for the central authority of the Church, which transcends, even if it includes, the tiny sovereign State of Vatican City. Thus, the Holy See represents a world wide community and not only the citizens of Vatican City.” The Pope is the head of a sovereign state and at the same time a central authority to a worldwide community. In an insightful, official law the same Holy See declares, “The First See is judged by no one.” The Papacy declares itself to be supreme, accountable to no one; the sole judge of what is right and wrong, while simultaneously demanding that no one can judge it. The audacity of the Holy See reaches its zenith in the civil and political arenas as it proclaims, “It is solely the right of the Roman Pontiff himself to judge…those who hold the highest civil office in a state….” One of the Vatican’s hallmarks is that of judging those who lead nations.
These things ought to make Christians consider carefully if their eyes have seen within the Office of the Papacy what the Scripture calls “the Man of Sin,” or “the Antichrist,” because the Papacy gives the title of Vicar of Christ to its ongoing line of men—each of whom assumes this designation. It is because of this that we have the title of this presentation, “A Biblical Uncovering of the Pope and Papacy.” To understand the Pope we must at the same time understand ongoing line of men of men in the Papacy.
Historical Origins of the Man of Sin or the Antichrist
The papal religion, in effect, sets up a false Christ—the Pope. He claims to come in Christ's name as His vicar to invade and usurp all His offices. So, as such he is a rival, a deceiver, and the Antichrist. The Apostle Paul also clearly warned, “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.” The “man of sin” would appear as the outworking of the “falling away,” or “apostasia” (“apostasy” in English). Clearly, there was to be a large-scale apostasy that would lead to the emergence of the man of sin. Apostasy can only take place in the professing church of God, since there must be something from which to fall away. The embryo of the iniquity that would lead to this apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin were already at work in the apostle Paul’s day; thus, Paul said, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.”
The Scriptures elsewhere speak of the “mystery of godliness” and “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.…” By contrast, in verse 7 the exact opposite is spoken of, “the mystery of iniquity,” that is, the disclosure of the man of sin, the “son of perdition.” The mystery of iniquity was soon to show itself visibly in the form of the man of sin. The outcome of this apostasy would be “all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” Such apostasy was to be marked, not by open hostility, but by hypocrisy and deceit, which to the world appears righteous and holy. Apostasy by definition is deceitfulness and dishonesty, a withdrawal and defection from the true Gospel and true godliness.
To know the time, therefore, at which the man of sin will appear, the whole passage (vv 1-12) must be taken in context. The man of sin is set forth and appears at the removal of him “only he who now letteth.” In the previous verse, Paul reminds the believers “And now ye know what withholdeth….” What was it that the believers at that time knew? They knew that the Roman Empire kept all and everyone in check. In the Thessalonian’s mind, Rome, and only Rome, restrained. That early believers like Tertullian and Jerome had such convictions as well is documented.
The course of history precisely fulfilled what was stated in Scripture. First, the Emperor Constantine moved the seat of the empire to Constantinople. This move gave all the opportunity that could be desired for the growth of the power-seeking Roman bishops. Internal corruption and external pressures destroyed the Empire. It was only after the break-up of the Roman Empire that the Papacy gained ascendancy over the civil powers, and the man of sin became more apparent. When the Roman Papacy acquired the dominion that the Empire had had for centuries, which was rule in both the civil and religious spheres, then the Antichrist was seen and recognised by the Vaudois and others. In all history, it is hard to find a series of events corresponding more accurately with a prophetic statement than this.
The Place Where the Man of Sin Appears
The Apostle Paul states unmistakably the place where the man of sin would become visible, “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, showing himself that he is God.” He would appear in the “temple of God.” The word “temple” is constantly used by Paul to describe the people of God themselves. For example, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” This testifies that the man of sin would emanate from among the people of God as a result of the falling away, i.e. the apostasy, outlined in the preceding verse.
Presenting Himself as God
The authority and truth of the Lord’s written Word is of such importance that Scripture declares, “…thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” The Lord Jesus Christ said, “…the Scripture cannot be broken,” speaking of the absolute character of God’s written Word that He has magnified above His name. While many are unaware of it, the substance of II Thessalonians 2:4 is both the official claim and practice of the Papacy. This is documented in primary Roman Catholic sources. Verse 4 in the Scripture teaches, “...he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Consistently in Roman Catholic teaching and practice, the Pope is called “His Holiness.” Such a title applies solely to God. God is the only Being whose very nature is holy. Concerning the Pope’s assumed title, “His Holiness,” the Roman Catholic Church claims the following divine attribute, “The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful…he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.”
In the papal claim to “infallible teaching authority,” it is this very quality of God’s infallibility that is at stake. Thus, Rome’s official claim exalts the Pope “above all that is called God.” Likewise, the earned righteousness of Christ Jesus after the Resurrection gave Him “All power…in heaven and in earth.” The papal claim is officially expressed thusly, “The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, ‘supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls.’” In this assertion to a power given to the Lord Christ Jesus alone, the Pope again exalts himself “above all that is called God.” How many extra-marital affairs make it common sense to cry adultery? How much more official blasphemy is needed for the one who calls himself “His Holiness” to be identified correctly as the “man of sin?”
Extravagantly, apparently without trembling, the Roman Catholic Office of the Papacy in itself fulfills the Thessalonians text and definition of “Antichrist.” It is important to note that the Greek word for antichrist in the Bible means not simply against Christ, but more significantly, substituting anyone for Him. That the Papacy in a real sense has been living out this two-fold meaning of the Greek word, one is against the Lord Jesus Christ by presuming to take His place, is seen in its attempt to usurp His power and position as Prophet, Priest, and King. Full and supreme power belongs solely to the God-Man, Christ Jesus, who acts freely on each one in His church. This is evidenced in Ephesians 1:22-23, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
The Roman Catholic Church claims to take for itself His Divine position, according to her official teaching, “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” Within the human race, he is the worst and greatest enemy of Christ, who under the pretense of service to Christ dares to undermine His unique offices by covertly usurping His position and power. The wickedness within the Roman Catholic system has reached such horrendous proportions that it is difficult to keep up with the documented evidence. While conviction regarding the nature of this apostate church comes from God’s Word, present-day evils show the mystery of iniquity ever-increasingly at work.
A Further Overview of the Apostate Church
The Holy Spirit in Revelation 17 vividly depicts more of the features of the Apostate Church. It is done in graphically precise detail. The Apostle John beheld the ten-horned beast carrying a woman dressed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, precious stones, pearls; a harlot and the mother of harlots and abominations. She is the illicit lover of kings, merciless, cruel, and intoxicated “with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” These symbols are brilliantly portrayed. “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” This the Holy Spirit clarifies by proclaiming, “the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” The city indisputably is Rome. The name upon the harlot’s brow is “mystery.” She cannot be “heathen” Rome of which there was no mystery because her heathen character was never concealed. “Christian” Rome, however, is a mystery, for she is not what she appears. Babylon, in the book of Revelation, is a city and a harlot. Jerusalem, in the same book, is a city and a bride. Babylon is the fraudulent lover of earthly kings; Jerusalem is the chaste bride of the King of Kings. The contrast is between the faithful Church and the Apostate Church. Revelation 17 thus describes in detail the character of the Apostate Church.
Religious Power Seated on Civil Power
The woman is seen “sitting upon the scarlet-colored beast.” The woman, the Papal Church, is seated upon a scarlet-colored beast, the civil power. She controls and directs for her own ends the civil power on which she rides. The political, civil power is subordinate to the spiritual control of apostate Rome and is the Pope’s necessary instrument used to fulfill his aspirations and objectives. This is exactly the history of the Papal Church.
The Papal Church arose through the favor of the Emperors of the old Imperial Roman Empire. Constantine, who in 313 AD declared Christianity to be the state religion of Imperial Rome, set the stage for this. Before that time, the church was the fellowship of believers under one head, the Lord Jesus Christ, working under their pastors by the authority of the written Word as received in the gospel accounts of the life of the Lord, and the writings of the Apostles together with the Old Testament. The church by Constantine’s design, however, was to be organized and governed on the Imperial Roman Empire model. Thus was governance of the church divided into four great provinces and a bishop in each province elevated above his brothers. Historically, the power of the Bishop of Rome increased as the imperial power of the emperor declined. Besides Justinian’s edict in 538 AD, the edicts of the Emperors Theodosius II and Valentinian III proclaimed the Roman Bishop “as Rector of the whole Church.” So it is that by the edicts of civil powers, with the sanction of the Italian bishops, the Roman Bishop became the head of the Western clergy. By this time, however, the demise of the Imperial Roman Empire was at hand, and one might have thought that the state church would fall with the Empire. However, the Bishop of Rome claimed an authority higher than that given by civil power, in order that his position would be perpetually secure. Skillfully, he grasped to himself the ideal tool, the title of successor to the Apostle Peter, through which he claimed himself to have been invested with the authority of Holy God. In doing this, he rose to a position far above that of mere patriarchs and emperors. Wylie summarizes,
“With the assertion of this dogma the system of the Papacy was completed essentially and doctrinally, but not as yet practically. It had to wait the full development of the idea of vicarship, which was not till the days of Gregory VII [Hildebrand, 1073-85]. But here have we the embryonic seed—the vicarship to wit—out of which the vast structure of the Papacy has sprung. This it is that plants at the centre of the system a pseudo-divine jurisdiction, and places the Pope above all bishops with their flocks, above all kings with their subjects. This it is that gives the Pope two swords….The day when this dogma was proclaimed was the true birthday of the Popedom. The Bishop of Rome had till now sat in the seat of Caesar; henceforward he was to sit in the seat of God.”
To do this, of course, required intrigue, deceit, suppression of the Bible and the Gospel, all of which was accomplished over the course of time so that by the time of the great Reformers of the sixteenth century, it was clearly understood that the Papal church was the woman who rides the beast. Among us today is this same church, the Roman Catholic Church, still claiming the same authority and still pursuing the same agenda.
In Daniel 7, the little horn, which symbolizes the papacy, persecuted the saints and spoke against God “the most High,” but it would come to its end at the termination of 1260 years. That occurred in 1798 with the wounding of its head, i.e., the arrest of Pope Pius V, which was 1260 years after Justinian’s edict of 538 AD. The Papal Church languished and lost its civil power for decades. Revelation 13 explains however, a second rise of this same political-ecclesiastical institution as a last day power, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” This came to fruition just as Scripture had foretold. In 1929, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with Pope Pius XI officially conceding Vatican Hill from the nation of Italy to the Pope. The wound mentioned in Revelation 13:3 was healed! At the hand of civil power, the Papal Church had once again sprung forth as a landed theocracy, still claiming for her Pope the titles of Successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ.
While she became the smallest independent state in the world (108 acres), she again has become one of the greatest in political intrigue—in the words of Lord Acton, “the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix.” This is due the fact she is established as a sovereign state with civil power, wielding much sway in national and international law, particularly in the nations in which she has papal nuncios as ambassadors. At present, she maintains civil relations with 174 countries at embassy level. According to the Catholic Almanac, “An apostolic nuncio has the diplomatic rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary…a nuncio has precedence among diplomats in the country to which he is accredited and serves as dean of the diplomatic corps on state occasions.” Papal Rome’s history, i.e., her seeming demise in the past and now her increasing present day position in the world, show that she fits what the Holy Spirit revealed in Revelation 17.
Significance of Place, Attire, and Possessions
The place of residence of the Papal church was never in doubt, “the seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” The system itself still delineates the area of residence of the Papal State, “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper now is confined....” The revelation of God shows forth the attire and possessions of the Apostate system, “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.” Scarlet, the usual color of the robes of kings and military men, was and still is the favorite color of Papal Rome. Cardinals, for example, are clothed all in scarlet. Papal patriarchs, metropolitan archbishops, archbishops, and bishops wear purple and “the Pectoral cross.” “The Pectoral cross” is declared by Rome to be “decorated with gems; the Pectoral cross of a bishop usually contains relics of a martyr.” Papal Rome has the “the golden cup” in the chalice on her altar, which must be gold or gold-plated. Biblically, gold represents perfection and the things of God. Deceptively, Rome offers a “pure” outward display, but of her Eucharistic use of that golden cup she states, “…in the sacrifice of the Mass Our Lord is immolated.”, In Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice was once offered. Thus, the golden cup she holds out as the center of her worship to God is filled with the most odious of abominations, an apt image to denote her idolatry and superstition.
Description of the Inner Character
Revelation 17:5 delineates her inner character “upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” She is called “great” because of the scale of the Papal influence, and because of the multitude of kings, princes, and presidents with whom she has done business. The Papal Church is also invested with the title, “Mystery Babylon the Great.” Throughout her history, she has been an enigma. She continues to be so, even to those within her own system. Truly, God’s Word describes her as a “Mystery.” She is also called “Babylon” as she is the exact antitype of the ancient Babylon in her idolatry and cruelty. Babylon of old was only a miniature pastel portrait of her. “Babylon the great” titles herself as “Holy Mother Church.” She has the audacity to proclaim, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.” In truth, the Bible has revealed her inner character as, “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” The Pope and his Church bring into the worship of God the worship of the communion bread and Mary as “Mother of Mercy, the All Holy One,” with the Pope himself designated as “Most Holy.” The traditions of “Holy Mother Church” also bring into the worship of God the frustrated lives of celibate men and women, and worst of all, it brings in the idolatry which God hates. Icons and saints’ bones alike are venerated as relics. Papal Rome encourages people to contact the dead. She teaches, “In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead...Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping ‘them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.’” As the promoter of lewdness, through the institutions of her unholy traditions, there never was a more expressive or appropriate title applied to her than that penned by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John.
Her History of Persecution of True Believers
The Roman Church has employed kings and princes in her work of persecution. Her courts first tried and condemned the believers, after which they were delivered over to the civil authority to be executed. In the Papacy’s crusades against Bible-believing cities, towns, and territories, Rome enlisted the civil power of kings and potentates to carry out her cruel deeds. In those many years, the Papal system was “drunken with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” The Crusades against the Albigenses, the Vaudois, and the Waldenses were replete with outrageous slaughters and barbarities. The individual hounding down of true believers that resulted in atrocious torture and death is the documented history of the state religion of the Papacy. For centuries through her Office of the Inquisition, she organized wars against Bible-believing cities and territories. In the middle of the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent IV devised in detail for the many inquisitors how torture was to be perpetrated.
“Innocent IV gave comprehensive instructions regarding how torture was to be applied in his bull At Extirpanda (1252). This was revised and reissued by subsequent Popes. Torture is prescribed, but it was to stop short of pulling off limbs or causing death...Ruinous punishments are enacted on all who harbor or give advice or favor to a heretic. How completely the abominable system was the direct achievement of the Papacy is show[n] by the clause that no change could be made without the special authority of the Apostolic See.”
“From the birth of Popery in 600, to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existence of Popery.” Roman Catholic author, Peter de Rosa, wrote of the atrocities of the Roman Catholic torture machine,
“The record of the Inquisition would be embarrassing for any organization; for the Catholic Church, it is devastating. Today, it prides itself, and with much justification, on being the defender of natural law and the rights of man. The papacy in particular likes to see itself as the champion of morality. What history shows is that, for more than six centuries without a break, the papacy was the sworn enemy of elementary justice. Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of Inquisition. On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly machine.”
The Papacy has shockingly fulfilled the image from Revelation of the woman blood-drenched from six centuries of her murderous rampage. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit foretold of her lust for power and blood. History has recorded some of the gruesome details. Please view documented Inquisition video.
The State of Affairs in the Present Day
That the world refuses to learn from the experiences of history is to be expected; but now, likewise, New Evangelicals are hastening Romeward. The New York Times May 30, 2004 carried news of the alliance between Catholicism and Evangelicals that is restructuring America.
“In 1960, the last time a Roman Catholic ran for president on the Democratic ticket, evangelical Protestant leaders warned their flocks that electing John F. Kennedy would be like handing the Oval Office to the Antichrist…. Forty-four years later…Evangelicals and conservative Catholics have forged an alliance that is reshaping American politics and culture…. Exactly 10 years ago, a group of Evangelical and Catholic leaders and scholars released a document called ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together.’ It was the result of a dialogue started by two men: the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest in New York who edits the journal First Things, and Charles Colson…. The two men convened a group of prominent theologians and religious leaders. The Evangelical side included the late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, the religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and theologians like James I. Packer. The Catholic side included the late Cardinal John O’Connor of New York and the theologian Avery Dulles, now a cardinal. Their manifesto was primarily theological, but it included overt political pledges to work together on issues like abortion, government aid for religious schools and strengthening the ‘traditional family,’ in part a reaction to the growing gay rights movement. The document shook the Evangelical world…. By 2000, Mr. Colson and James Dobson, the broadcaster who founded Focus on the Family, were invited to the Vatican to address the bishops on the breakdown of the family, the first such appearance ever. Evangelical institutions like Wheaton College in Illinois and Gordon College in Massachusetts began inviting Catholics to speak on campus, Mr. Colson said.”
As the world and Evangelicals join hands in the dark with the Vatican, it affords immediate opportunity to contemplate what Scripture says about the nature of apostasy. It is appropriate also to understand how true believers of former times viewed their relationship with the Vatican. Bible believers of old recognized the apostate Church from the pages of Scripture and were prepared to both expose her and to face her in the strength and wisdom of the Lord. Among others there were, Dante, John Wycliff, John Huss, and Savonarola. During the Reformation, there were Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, John Bradford, and John Foxe. In the 17th and 18th centuries such as John Bunyan, the translators of the King James Bible, and the men who published the Westminster and Baptist Confessions of Faith. Sir Isaac Newton, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley. In more recent times, there were such as Charles Spurgeon, Bishop J. C. Ryle, and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. All these men and many more knew the precision of Scriptures regarding both the true bride of Christ and the Apostate woman “drunken with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs.” The written Word has been fulfilled in history, in both light and darkness. Like those believers of old, we can enter into battle because we have the secure proof that the Lord God is with us, and we will have the final victory. The words of the Apostle we repeat, “…having done all, to stand. Stand therefore.” The certainty of the final triumph should animate us in our efforts, and encourage us in our struggles. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” ♦
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