This question originates from the website for my book, www.whenthepiecesfit.org. A recent visitor asked the question, “Is the Pope the Antichrist?” The short answer is “No!” The long answer is found in my book, particularly chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5. Rather than respond directly to the questioner, I decided to post an answer on the blog.
1. The Pope does not deny that Jesus is the Son of God. To the contrary, he (and the Catholic Church) affirms this belief. The antichrist will specifically deny the sonship of Jesus. 1 John 2:22 states, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” To deny the relationship of Father and Son is to deny the deity of Jesus Christ, Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit of God (Luke 1:35). The Scripture goes so far as to say that whoever denies what God has declared about His Son declares God to be a liar because he has denied what God has said about His Son (1 John 5:10).
Islam specifically fulfills this prophecy. From the Qur’an we read,
People of the Book [Christians], do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary, a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers and do not speak of a “Trinity”—stop [this], that is better for you—God is only one God, He is far above having a son, …. —Surah 4:171
If for no other reason than this reason alone, the Pope fails as antichrist. He does not deny Jesus to be the Son of God but affirms Him to be the Son of God.
2. The Antichrist will direct humanity to a false religion and a false god. Revelation 13:12 states, “He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.”
The point of this passage is that the Antichrist (the “he” in Revelation 13:12) will “direct” humankind to worship the “first beast” much like the Holy Spirit directs humanity to worship Jesus Christ, Savior, and Son of God. The “first beast” is the “deity” of a false religion who blasphemes, God, His name, and those who dwell in heaven (Revelation 13:5-6). This false deity is empowered by satan (Revelation 13:4), not by God, to wage war against the saints (Christians) and to “overcome them” (Revelation 13:7). The prophecy is that the entire world, other than Christians, will worship this false deity (Revelation 13:8). I interpret the first beast to be Allah, the god of Islam, who will one day lead Islam to be in dominion of the entire earth (Revelation 13:7-8). The Pope directs humanity to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Jesus, His Son, who died on the cross to save humanity from their sins.
The Pope is the head of the largest Christian denomination in the world. Many people come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior through the Catholic Church. He is likely the loudest voice in the world in support of the Kingdom of God. Catholicism may practice a different “method” of coming to Jesus, but it still begins and ends with Jesus. The Protestant Church, in fact, is the offspring of the Catholic Church. Without the Catholic Church there would be no Protestant Church.
3. The Pope has not waged war “against the those who hold to the testimony of Jesus” because they “hold to the testimony of Jesus.” The Antichrist will wage war against the saints for no other reason than their relationship with Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:17 states, “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Some might counter this statement by offering the Inquisitions as evidence, for surely, many, many Christians died during the Dark Ages at the hands of the Catholic Church. However, the Inquisitions were an act on the part of the Catholic Church to “purify” the Church from a strain of doctrine that the Catholic Church considered heresy. To purify from heresy is not the same as to wage war against “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus.” It is this reason that the dragon wages war against them. He was “thrown down” in his effort to “devour the child” (Jesus). Revelation 12:4. To protect the Church from heresy is an act to defend the Church not to destroy it. Whether we agree with the charge of heresy is not the point, nor, in fact, is the number who were killed the qualifying event. The Catholic Church is not an unbelieving empire, and it has not taken the lives of Christians because they were Christians.
Compare this to Islam. Islam is an unbelieving empire that wages a “holy war” against a specific religious group because they are the group that they are. This is the specific type of war that will be waged by the dragon. Revelation 13:17 states that one day only those “who have the mark of the beast” will be able to buy or sell, i.e., function in society. This prophecy will be fulfilled one day when the antichrist requires the world to convert to his false religion (the mark “666” is metaphoric for one who has converted to Islam) in order to feed one’s family, earn a wage, or interact in society in any way. This is “holy war” at its worst. This is not what the Catholic Church has ever done or ever will do.
If the Catholic Church is guilty of this charge, then so is the Protestant Church. Anabaptists were drowned by their Protestant brothers because they practiced “believer’s baptism” rather than infant baptism. Martin Luther stated this about the Anabaptists (see Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emire Fethi Caner, Christian Jihad, , p. 163):
- [Anabaptists] are in no case to be tolerated.… These are thieves and murderers of whom Christ spoke in John 7, persons who invade another man’s parish and who usurp another man’s office. … They must neither be tolerated nor listened to, even though they seek to teach the pure Gospel, yes, even if they are angelic and simon-pure Gabriels from heaven. … If he refuses [to keep his mouth shut] … consign the scamp into the hands of his proper master for heresy, the only proper punishment for a treasonous wretch.
The first Christian killed for the crime of re-baptism (believer’s baptism) was Felix Manz, who was drowned in Lake Zurich on January 5, 1527, by the Zürich council after it had passed an edict that made adult re-baptism punishable by drowning. Manz was the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of Protestants.
A passage often cited in support of the view that the Pope is the Antichrist is Revelation 17:5-6. This passage refers to “Babylon, the Mother of Harlots” who is drunk with the “blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” We must remember that to properly identify “Babylon,” all the requirements of the prophecy must be fulfilled, not just one. If the Catholic Church fulfilled Revelation 17:6 in the Inquisitions, how does it, likewise, fulfill Revelation 17:18 which states, “And the woman who you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” How does the Catholic Church fulfill this requirement when, even in Europe, the nations which comprise the failing European Union, refused to allow any mention of the Catholic Church or of God in their recent redrafting of their Constitution (see Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, p 107-108). If the Catholic Church is the “great city,” “Babylon,” that is to “reign over the kings of the earth,” why doesn’t the governing document of the European Union require the practicing of the Catholic faith as a condition of membership? In fact, it does the opposite. It intentionally omits references to God!
4. The Pope has never declared that Jesus is not the “Christ.” This failure is similar to our first point above. According to 1 John 2:22, the antichrist will deny that Jesus is the Christ, i.e., the Messiah. “Christ” is a title, not a name. To Christians, Jesus is the suffering servant Messiah of Isaiah 53, who delivers humanity from sin (see Isa. 53:4–6), thereby granting eternal life to all who believe (John 3:16). The Pope nor the Catholic Church has ever declared Jesus not to be the Messiah. To the contrary, the Catholic Church has declared Jesus to be the Messiah.
5. Old Testament prophecies. Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are both filled with prophecies that The Catholic Church (or a “Revived Rome”) fails to fulfill. All of these prophecies are fulfilled by Islam. For example, Daniel 2:43 states, “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery. The phrase “combine with one another in the seed of men” requires the “last empire” to include adherents of that empire who somehow require a “blood descent” to be qualify for that empire’s legitimacy. The Catholic Church and her priests, bishops, etc., are all male. They are prohibited from marriage. How can the Papacy ever fulfill the requirement “combine in the seed of men” if the requirement for priesthood is celibacy? For those who hold to the Revived Roman Empire view and see the European Union as the embodiment of the last empire, how is this prophecy to be fulfilled by the European Union? Is membership in the European Union going to be based on matrimonial alliances of the leaders of the member states? Hardly!
Proponents of the view that the Pope is the Antichrist do so without considering the whole of Bible prophecy. We cannot look only at Revelation 13 and 17 and conclude that the Pope and the Catholic Church fulfills this prophecy because of the deaths of many during the Dark Ages, or the misuse of Papal power during this and other periods (resulting in the Protestant Reformation). The Pope must fulfill prophecies in Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 as well as the whole of Scripture. It is the sons of Ishmael (Genesis 16:12) and of Esau (Psalms 83) that do fulfill these prophecies, not the Catholic Church;
- Galatians 4:21-31 “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother… And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”
The sons of the bondwoman have been fighting the loss of promise ever since the time of Ishmael. It is this loss of promise that has made them vulnerable and susceptible to the deceit of the dragon, and able to be used by the dragon as his instrument of death.
The Catholic Church may have had its stumbles along the way, but so has the Protestant Church. The Pope (along with the Catholic Church) is a “son of promise” whose sins are covered by the blood of Christ just like all other believers in Jesus. One day, we will join in our testimony of praise as we worship together at the feet of the Lamb in the throne room of God. There we will join uncountable numbers, including the martyrs of the Church, whose martyrdom came at the very hands of those gathered in worship of the Lamb. We will praise the Lamb together having robes “washed in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 5:9-13; 7:13-17)
For a complete review of this question, readers are directed to chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 of Islam the Cloak of Antichrist (www.whenthepiecesfit.org).(If you would like a free copy of my book for the cost of the postage, let me know by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.)