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Who is the antichrist?

HO or what is the Antichrist? Evil alliance - or sinister individual? Some say his appearance is still in the future. Others say he appeared long ago in the days of ancient Rome. But the Bible indicates that he is alive today! Bible prophecies teach that this Antichrist power will play a crucial role in the final events of earth's history. Do you know who he is? Are you sure? You need to be, for you can't understand last-day events until you understand this evil power.

In God's Word there are nine characteristics of the Antichrist in Daniel 7 so we can be certain of his identity. (It would be wise to read the whole chapter of Daniel 7 in your own Bible.) And even though some might find these truths painful, we must be honest enough to accept them as His revealed will. We would also like to point out that this subject deals with a religious system, not individuals. Now lets discover these nine points.

Don't forget that all of these nine identification points come directly from the Bible. They are not some human opinion or speculation. Historians could tell you quickly what power is being described, because these points fit only one power - the papacy. But in order to be certain, let us carefully examine all nine points one by one. There must be no room left for doubt. Let's take a closer look below at the nine points.

1. The little horn would come "up among them" - that is, from among the 10 horns that were the kingdoms of Western Europe.
"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." Daniel 7:8.

So it would be a little kingdom somewhere in Western Europe.
The geographical location of the papal power is in Rome, Italy - in the heart of Western Europe.

2. It would have a man at its head who could speak for it.
"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." Daniel 7:8.

The papacy meets this identifying mark because it does have one man at the head - the pope - who speaks for it.

3. It would pluck out or uproot three kingdoms to make way for the rise of the papacy.
"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." Daniel 7:8.

The emperors of Western Europe were largely Catholic and supported the papacy. Three Arian kingdoms, however, did not - the Vandals, Heruli, and Ostrogoths. So the Catholic emperors decided they must be subdued or destroyed. Here is how theologian and historian Dr. Mervyn Maxwell describes the results in volume 1, page 129, of his book God Cares: "The Catholic emperor Zeno (AD 474-491) arranged a treaty with the Ostrogoths in AD 487, which resulted in the eradication of the kingdom of the Arian Heruls in AD 493. And the Catholic emperor Justinian (AD 527-565) exterminated the Arian Vandals in AD 534 and significantly broke the power of the Arian Ostrogoths in AD 538. Thus were Daniel's three horns-the Heruls, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths - 'plucked up by the roots.' It is not difficult to recognize that the papacy fits this point.

4. It would be different from the other 10 kingdoms.
"And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings." Daniel 7:24.

The papacy clearly fits this description, as it came on the scene as a religious power and was different from the secular nature of the other 10 kingdoms.

5. It would make war with and persecute the saints.
"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;" Daniel 7:21.
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Daniel 7:25.

That the church did persecute is a well-known fact, and the papacy admits doing so. Historians believe the church destroyed at least 50 million lives over matters of religious conviction. We quote here from two sources:
► "That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history."
In The History of the Inquisition of Spain, D. Ivan Antonio Llorente provides these figures from the Spanish Inquisition alone: "31,912 persons were condemned and perished in the flames," and 241,450 were "condemned to severe penances."
Lest anyone should think that we are attacking fellow Christians by identifying the little horn power, please keep in mind that the prophecy is aimed at a system and not individuals. There are sincere, devout Christians in all churches, including the Catholic faith. Daniel 7 is simply a message of judgment and correction upon a large religious institution that compromised with paganism, as many other churches have also done.
Other prophecies point out the faults of the Protestant and Jewish faiths. God has true people in all religions. His true people (no matter what their faith) will always humbly accept the correction of the Lord and will not shut their ears and hearts against Him. We should be thankful that God's Word speaks with impartial honesty on every subject.

6. It would emerge from the pagan Roman Empire - the fourth kingdom.
"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns."
Daniel 7:7
"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." Daniel 7:8.

We quote two authorities on this point:
"The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptized. ... The very capital of the old Roman Empire became the capital of the Christian empire. The office of Pontifex Maximus was continued in that of the pope."
"Whatever Roman elements the barbarians and Arians left ... [came] under the protection of the Bishop of Rome, who was the chief person there after the emperor's disappearance. ... The Roman church ... pushed itself into the place of the Roman World-Empire, of which it is the actual continuation."

7. God's people (the saints) would "be given into his hand" for "a time and times and half a time."
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Daniel 7:25.
Several things need clarification here:
A time is a year, times is two years, and half a time is half of a year. The Amplified Bible translates it: "Three and one-half years."
► Prophetic Time:
Time = 1 year
Times = 2 years
1/2 time = 1/2 year
This same time period is mentioned seven times in the books of Daniel and Revelation (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5): three times as a "time, times, and half a time"; twice as 42 months; and twice as 1,260 days. Based on the 30-day calendar used by the Jews, these time periods are all the same amount of time: 3 1/2 years = 42 months = 1,260 days.
One prophetic day equals one literal year. (Look at these two verses.)
"And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." Ezekiel 4:6.
"After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise." Numbers 14:34.

Thus, the little horn (Antichrist) was to have power over the saints for 1,260 prophetic days; that is, 1,260 literal years.
The rule of the papacy began in A.D. 538, when the last of the three opposing Arian kingdoms was uprooted. Its rule continued until 1798 when Napoleon's general, Berthier, took the pope captive with hopes of destroying both Pope Pius VI and the political power of the papacy. This period of time is an exact fulfillment of the 1,260-year prophecy. The blow was a deadly wound for the papacy, but that wound began to heal and continues healing today.
This same period of persecution is mentioned in Matthew 24:21 as the worst period of persecution God's people experience. Verse 22 tells us it was so devastating that not one soul would have survived if God had not shortened it. But God did shorten it. The persecution ended long before the pope was taken captive in 1798. It is plain to see that this point, likewise, fits the papacy.

8. It would "speak great words against" or blaspheme "against God."
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Daniel 7:25.
"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months." Revelation 13:5.

The Bible says the same power speaks "great things and blasphemies."
Blasphemy has two definitions in Scripture:
Claiming to forgive sins.
"And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Luke 5:21.
Claiming to be God.
"The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." John 10:33.
This point fits the papacy perfectly. Let's first look at the evidence for it claiming to forgive sins, taken directly from its own literature: "Does the Priest truly forgive the sins, or does he only declare that they are remitted? The Priest does really and truly forgive the sins in virtue of the power given to him by Christ." The papacy further undermines Jesus by setting up a system of confession to an earthly priest, thus bypassing Jesus, our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1; 8:1, 2) and only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Next, consider the evidence for it claiming to be God: "We [the popes] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty." Here is more evidence: "The pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh."

9. It would "intend to change times and law."
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Daniel 7:25.
The Amplified Bible translates "law" as "the law." The reference is to changing God's law. Of course, no one can really change it, but has the papacy attempted to do so? The answer is yes. In its catechisms, the papacy has omitted the second commandment against veneration of images and has shortened the fourth commandment from 94 words to eight and divided the tenth commandment into two commandments. You can check this for yourself. Compare the Ten Commandments in any Catholic catechism with God's list of the commandments in Exodus 20:2-17. Or you can click here to see the Bible Ten Commandments vs. the Roman Catholic Ten Commandments.
There is no doubt that the little horn power, the Antichrist of Daniel 7 is the papacy. No other organization fits all nine points. And, incidentally, this is not a new teaching. Every Protestant Reformer, without exception, spoke of the papacy as Antichrist.

What does Wikipedia Encyclopedia say under the heading "Antichrist?"
In Wikipedia Encyclopedia on the internet under the heading "Antichrist" we find the following regarding the Protestant Reformers. (See link at the bottom of this article.)

The following Protestant Reformers all believed the papacy to be the Antichrist:

John Wycliffe

Martin Luther

John Calvin

Thomas Cranmer

John Thomas

John Knox

Roger Williams

Cotton Mather

John Wesley

Also, most Protestants of the 16th-18th centuries, felt that the Early Church had been led into the Great Apostasy by the Papacy and identified the Pope with the Antichrist.

Luther declared that not just a pope from time to time was Antichrist, but the Papacy was Antichrist because they were "the representatives of an institution opposed to Christ".

The Centuriators of Magdeburg, a group of Lutheran scholars in Magdeburg headed by Matthias Flacius, wrote the 12 volume Magdeburg Centuries to discredit the Catholic Church and lead other Christians to recognize the Pope as the Antichrist. So, rather than expecting a single Antichrist to rule the earth during a future Tribulation period, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as a present feature in the world of their time, fulfilled in the Papacy.

The Protestant Reformers tended to hold the belief that the Antichrist power would be revealed so that everyone would comprehend and recognize that the Pope is the real, true Antichrist and not the vicar of Christ. Doctrinal works of literature published by the Lutherans, the Reformed Churches, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Anabaptists, and the Methodists contain references to the Pope as the Antichrist.

The identification of the Pope with the Antichrist was so ingrained in the Reformation Era, that Luther himself stated it repeatedly.

Martin Luther himself stated it repeatedly: "This teaching [of the supremacy of the pope] shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ, because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God." "nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of the very Antichrist. For who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny."

John Calvin similarly wrote: "Though it be admitted that Rome was once the mother of all Churches, yet from the time when it began to be the seat of Antichrist it has ceased to be what it was before. Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt ... I shall briefly show that (Paul's words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy."

John Knox wrote on the Pope: "Yea, to speak it in plain words; lest that we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, for, as for your Roman Kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, whereon stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the pope, to be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks."

Thomas Cranmer on the Antichrist wrote: "Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of Antichrist, and the pope to be very Antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons."

John Wesley, speaking of the identity given in the Bible of the Antichrist, wrote: "In many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles. He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped - Commanding angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour; suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice-God. Indeed no less is implied in his ordinary title, "Most Holy Lord," or, "Most Holy Father." So that he sitteth - Enthroned in the temple of God - Declaring himself that he is God - Claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone."

Roger Williams wrote about the Pope: "the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself ... speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the Son of Perdition."

The identification of the Roman Catholic Church as the apostate power written of in the Bible as the Antichrist became evident to many as the Reformation began, including John Wycliffe, who was well known throughout Europe for his opposition to the doctrine and practices of the Catholic Church, which he believed had clearly deviated from the original teachings of the early Church and to be contrary to the Bible. Wycliffe himself tells (Sermones, III. 199) how he concluded that there was a great contrast between what the Church was and what it ought to be, and saw the necessity for reform. Along with John Hus, they had started the inclination toward ecclesiastical reforms of the Catholic Church.

► Huldrych Zwingli, the Swiss Reformer became the pastor of the Grossmünster in Zurich (1518) he began to preach ideas on reforming the Catholic Church. Zwingli, who was a Catholic priest before he became a Reformer, often referred to the Pope as the Antichrist. He wrote: "I know that in it works the might and power of the Devil, that is, of the Antichrist".

► William Tyndale, the English Reformer held that while the Roman Catholic realms of that age were the empire of Antichrist, any religious organization that distorted the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments also showed the work of Antichrist. In his treatise The Parable of the Wicked Mammon, he expressly rejected the established Church teaching that looked to the future for an Antichrist to rise up, and he taught that Antichrist is a present spiritual force that will be with us until the end of the age under different religious disguises from time to time. Tyndale's translation of 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, concerning the "Man of Lawlessness" reflected his understanding, but was significantly amended by later revisers, including the King James Bible committee, which followed the Vulgate more closely.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod states about the Pope and the Catholic Church: There are two principles that mark the papacy as the Antichrist. One is that the pope takes to himself the right to rule the church that belongs only to Christ. He can make laws forbidding the marriage of priests, eating or not eating meat on Friday, birth control, divorce and remarriage, even where there are not such laws in the Bible. The second is that he teaches that salvation is not by faith alone but by faith and works. The present pope upholds and practices these principles. This marks his rule as antichristian rule in the church. All popes hold the same office over the church and promote the same antichristian belief so they all are part of the reign of the Antichrist. The Bible does not present the Antichrist as one man for one short time, but as an office held by a man through successive generations. It is a title like King of England.

For the full article on Wikipedia Encyclopedia, of the definition of the Antichrist, click here.

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