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It's almost comical to see Princes, Presidents, and even computer systems vilified as this prophetic character.
Biblically, the term is only used five times, in 1 and 2 John. However, the "little horn of Daniel", and "the man of sin" from 2 Thessalonians 2:4 refer to the same power. As does the woman who rides the beast in Revelation, referencing a false Church riding a political system, controlled by this entity.
John used it to describe people who were formerly of them but turned away, or of those who flatly rejected Christ. He also used it to refer to a power which was developing in his day, but would continue on. A "spirit of anti-Christ" which was coming. As Paul also wrote, the mystery of iniquity which doth already work (though restrained in his day).
As prophecy indicated, it would rise when what was restraining it (Pagan Rome) was removed. As the empire crumbled around it, t he Papacy received its great power and authority not from Apostolic succession, but through the Edict of Emperor Justinian, which was implemented in 538 AD. It laid a legal framework, establishing the Bishop of Rome as the supreme Ecclesiastical power, backed by the weight of Rome's civil law. Justinian deposed Silverius, and installed Vigilius as Bishop of Rome, investing him with the authority of his Decretal Letter. (“Vigilius...ascended the papal chair (538 A.D.) under the military protection of Belisarius. " History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3 p. 327).
...meekly stepping to the throne of Caesar, the vicar of Christ took up the scepter to which the emperors and kings of Europe were to bow in reverence throughout so many ages. ” – American Catholic Quarterly Review, April 1911.
A reign of terror ensued. The despotism, corruption, and evils perpetrated by this power are legion, including bloody wars and inquisitions where millions of her opponents were martyred. The anti-Christ has been synonymous with the Papacy since Reformation times. All of the great reformers, in fact, all of Protestantism, held this view for centuries. Regrettably, about 100-150 years ago futurism succeeded in overturning historicism as the predominant eschatology, and now the truth is all but lost to the masses.
A Great Cloud of Witnesses:"Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Bunyan, the translators of the King James Bible and the men who published the Westminster and Baptist confessions of Faith; Sir Isaac Newton, Wesley, Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards; and more recently Spurgeon, Bishop J.C. Ryle and Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones; these men among countless others, all saw the office of the Papacy as the antichrist ."Taken from All Roads Lead to Rome, by Michael de Semlyen. Dorchester House Publications, p. 205. 1991.
Modern historicists still hold that the Papacy is anti-Christ and some influential dispensationalists do as well, including Dave Hunt. Dispensationalists of this persuasion, have significant differences in their timeline and view of Israel, but with historicists still manage to identify Rome as the seat of the anti-Christ.
Unfortunately, Roman Catholic futurism (from the Jesuit Ribera) is now the predominant view and is taught almost everywhere, even in conservative Evangelical circles. It is so entrenched and promoted, it is the only view most modern Christians have heard of, and anything to the contrary creates cognitive dissonance .
The Scofield Reference Bible, Hal Lindsey's " The Late Great Planet Earth ", the " Left Behind " series, are examples of modern indoctrination to this false view. It is counter-reformation doctrine that entered Protestantism primarily through John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren.
Antichrist would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and would rebuild Jerusalem, abolish Christianity, deny Christ, persecute the Church and rule the world for three and a half years. ...This futurist interpretation with its personal Antichrist and three and a half year period of tribulation did not take root in the Protestant church until the early nineteenth century. " The Blessed Hope" by George Eldon Ladd.
Ladd (among many well-respected scholars) traces this erroneous belief back to a Jesuit named Francisco Ribera around 1590. He was commissioned by the then sitting Pope to counter the reformers charge that the Papacy was the fulfilment of the Biblical anti-Christ.
You see, this question "Who is the anti-Christ" is not a new one. There are many ways that the Papacy fits the identifying marks, and the reformers were well versed in them. Here is just one, the number of his name - 666.
Andreas Helwig (and others) published the answer to this riddle centuries ago, by counting the numbers in the letters of the Popes official title -VICARIUS FILII DEI
Languages like Greek and Hebrew have numerical values to their letters and having a number to your name was common in ancient times.
NUMERAL NAME VALUE I unus 1 V quinque 5 X decem 10 L quinquaginta 50 C centum 100 D quingenti 500 M mille 1000
Father Reginald Martin :
Vicarius Filii Deimeans Vicar [or representative] of the Son of God, a term scholars believe first appears in a document known as the Donation of Constantine, dated to the eighth or ninth century. This is an apt description of the Pope, who is frequently referred to as the Vicar of Christ, and, at present, probably only the most bitterly anti-Catholic individuals would take offense at the title . However, this has not always been the case. Foes of Catholicism from the 16th to the 19th centuries delighted in pointing out that the title could be turned into the 666 that is the mark of the beast in the Book of Revelation.Some Catholics vehemently deny the use of this title by the Popes but it is found in the Donation of Constantine which was cited in writing by no less than 10 Popes as proof of their authority. The Donation of Constantine was eventually exposed as a pious fraud, but not before it had the desired effect of securing the power of the Papacy by deceit. The deception is just another proof of the illegitimacy of the entire system, and it's supposedly infallible head.
Here are actual pictures of the title in use:
A page of Gratian's Decretum printed in 1512 with the title vicariusfiliidei indicated by the arrow. The entire volume is online at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek , the title appears on photo 201 .
Photo of a 16th-century copy of the Donation previously online at the Vatican Secret Archive website. The phrase vicariusfilli Dei appears at the end of the 5th line down of the left page.
This is just 1 of 18 Biblical identifications of the anti-Christ given in the books of Daniel and Revelation. From its seat (the city of seven hills) to its official colors (scarlet and purple), to the timing and place of its rise (Western Europe from the divisions of Rome), no other power on earth matches all 18 points.
The Mohammedan power is proposed by some, but it fails the test and is actually the fulfilment of a different prophecy. To any serious student of prophecy who has not been blinded by the Vatican, all those identifying marks point to the Papacy as the anti-Christ (in place of Christ) system. Its future is severe and sudden judgement.
Wait a minute, doesn't the Catholic Church teach and believe in Christ? Not in a very important sense. Like the Gnostics of John's day, they promote a view of flesh being intrinsically sinful. They refuse to admit he came "in the flesh" like other men. To facilitate this deception, even his Mother Mary was made to have sinless flesh, different from the rest of mankind.
The decree of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, that Mary was sinless from her conception in her mother's womb, is considered to be an ex cathedra teaching, from Peter's Chair, an infallible article of faith binding on all Roman Catholics.
Ineffabilis Deus , Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1854)
1 John 4:2-3 ...confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world”
For further study on this topic, might I recommend " End of the Age and Strong Delusion ". It labors to "deprogram" those who have bought into Jesuit futurism, the counter-reformation deception that has become the predominate eschatology of modern Christianity.
This is one of the most hotly contested scriptures in the Bible. Early Greek Fathers saw it one way, Latin Fathers saw it another. Their views come down to us today wrapped in Arminian and Calvinist interpretations, and there are brilliant scholars with alternative ways of looking at it as well.
Personally, I reject Calvinism strenuously for its Manichean fatalism, introduced to Christianity by Augustine and later adopted by Calvin. However, I agree with the Calvinist camp on this text, with a few caveats.
With Arminians, I would agree that a regenerate person should have new motivations and be no longer DOMINATED by the sin nature. However, I disagree with those who deny that there is any sin nature left to war with at all. Even Wesley who fathered the doctrine of "Total Sanctification" did not make such a claim.
Only let it be remembered, that the heart, even of a believer, is not wholly purified when he is justified. Sin is then overcome, but it is not rooted out; it is conquered, but not destroyed. Experience shows him, First, that the roots of sin, self-will, pride, and idolatry, remain still in his heart. But as long as he continues to watch and pray, none of them can prevail against him. Experience teaches him, Secondly, that sin (generally pride or self-will) cleaves to his best actions: So that, even with regard to these, he finds an absolute necessity for the blood of atonement. The Sermons of John Wesley - Sermon 123 The Deceitfulness Of The Human Heart
My view is somewhat of a " hybrid ", in the sense that I see the subject of Romans 7 to be Paul and regenerate (as Calvinists generally interpret the text), but I see free will (Arminian - libertarian) as the hinge upon which the war within swings.
There is no doubt Paul is forcefully bringing home the point that the law exposes the wretchedness of our natures, but can't cure us, showing our desperate need of salvation in Christ. Like an alcoholic who first has to admit he has a problem before he will seek a cure, Paul has to expose the wretch within, so that we see our depraved nature, our sin problem.
There is an implicit “ in and of myself ”, which undergirds Paul's statements. He is attempting to emphasize our plight - that we are helpless in OUR OWN power and a legalistic approach is utterly futile.
Romans 7 is not wholly autobiographical. Paul is drawing from personal experience, but labouring to make a point. NOT that wretched failure and depravity should be normative for a Christian, but that we have a REAL sin nature that must be overcome. Therefore, sin must be BOTH atoned for, and warred against.
He uses the law to expose the sin problem, at the same time showing that legalism only exacerbates it, rather than solves it. This makes us appreciate more fully the atonement of the cross, and the sanctifying influence of the Spirit. They are together brought out so beautifully in chapter 8, as the SOLUTION which brings VICTORY.
However, there is more here. WHY must the subject of chapter 7 (OF A NECESSITY) be seen as regenerate? What makes this important to the overall meaning expressed through ch. 5,6,7 and 8?
I believe it is the "NOW AND NOT YET" nature of the salvation described in the flow of these chapters, that causes some people to miss the meaning. Not maintaining the proper balance of NOW BUT NOT YET also leads some to stray too far toward Gnosticism, perfectionism, or other errors.
In Romans 7:25 Paul thanks God for salvation in Christ, yet in the very same breath reaffirms the CONFLICT REMAINS. In fact, chapter 8 describes how to fight the conflict outlined in 7 (which remains). Still, how can it remain, when Paul also said we are dead to sin and dead to the law (chapter 6)?
The answer is TIMING. We can COUNT ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ (chapter 6) because it is a surety IF we meet the condition of continued faith, UNTIL the redemption of our bodies (chapter 8). While inwardly groaning as we wait for the completion, chapter 7 exposes our depravity through the law, and chapter 8 shows us the cure for our depravity through life in the Spirit (and atonement).
So we are NOW dead to sin and alive "in Christ", but not FULLY dead UNTIL glorification. We ARE redeemed and no longer under condemnation, but we must CONTINUE to struggle to overcome the flesh by the Spirit. If we attempt to "freeze" any part of this transaction and remove it from the "NOW BUT NOT YET" context, we open ourselves to error.
Some say Paul (who actually thanks God for his salvation in 7:25) cannot possibly be saved (since his body in chapter 7 is subject to sin and death). These same people have absolutely no problem seeing salvation in chapter 8, YET the body is STILL subject to SIN AND DEATH in chapter 8 .
Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, then EVEN THOUGH YOUR BODY IS SUBJECT TO DEATH BECAUSE OF SIN, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
So their reasoning is flawed, and an essential truth is lost. The redemption in Christ applies EVEN THOUGH our bodies are not yet glorified and STILL subject to sin and death. There is NO CONDEMNATION yet our redemption is NOT FINALIZED, until the glorification of our bodies. So there is STILL a VERY REAL struggle to face, a WAR to be fought.
1 Peter 2:11 ...abstain from fleshly lusts which wage WAR against the soul.
The old man of sin does not die easily, nor fully, UNTIL we are glorified. We NEED this awareness lest we become either DISCOURAGED or COMPLACENT as we learn to walk by the Spirit and put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13).
Encouragement for those who stumble:
1 John 2:1 I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
Warning Against Complacency
1 Cor 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
We are to strive for perfection (Phil 3:12), but practically speaking we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2 ), and groan inwardly until the final glorification of our bodies (Romans 8:23). There is no excuse for sin, for the power to OVERCOME is available and we are required to do so. Not that we will never sin, but it shall not be our master , we will not habitually sin, we will not make a practice of sin.
The Spirit can be resisted, grieved, even quenched, so if we do sin it's because of our free will choice, not because the power to overcome is not available. Thus " predestined monergism " and " once saved always saved " are falsified by how we relate to the " already, but not yet " nature of the salvation process. We must cooperate wth the Spirit, and it's not over until we are glorified. The process is synergistic and ongoing. If you choose to give up along the way, you will make a "shipwreck of your faith" (1 Tim 1:9).
Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end...
Rev. 21:7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
Those who deny the struggle of the regenerate taught in Romans 7 and 8 are on a dangerous path. When practical experience doesn't live up to their theology, disillusionment or self-deception are inevitable. We must overcome, but it is not easy or instantaneous.
Perseverance is required, real commitment over a lifetime. We will have difficult battles to fight but the Spirit will help us if we let him. If we have a temporary setback, forgiveness is available. We must not become discouraged - we must keep moving forward - we must overcome.
Romans 8 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but IF by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
"Proclamation of a gospel which promises only pardon, peace and power will result in converts who sooner or later become disillusioned or deceitful about their Christian experience.” Dunn, "Romans 7: 14-25 in the Theology of Paul," 273
This discussion has alot of comments so should be ending up in the "Top Discussions" section, which are chosen by number of comments. Some of yours used to be there, I'm not sure why they are not now.
I've got the developer working on it. Can you make a few comments here and then we can track them and see what's going on - thanks.
Hi Zack - all your stuff is there already, it just needs a few tweaks. The site has sales, so 320 bit versions of the songs would be good for that. If you could send them by dropbox and send your paypal payout email - I'll switch them for you.
Some nice pics to represent albums and songs would help too - some have none which excludes them from some promotions.