The Antichrist not the Roman Papacy, but a Man Possessed by the Devil

Eric Jon Phelps
By Eric Jon Phelps July 7, 2013 18:33

The Antichrist not the Roman Papacy, but a Man Possessed by the Devil

“Now, in accordance with these texts [Revelation 11:7; II Thessalonians 2:3-10], and many others which might be quoted, we find that all the Christian writers of the first six centuries (that is all who make reference to the subject) regarded the Antichrist as a real person, a specific individual.  We might fill many pages by giving extracts from their works, but three must suffice.  The first is taken from a very ancient document, entitled “The Teaching of the Apostles,” which probably dates back to the beginning of the second century:—

‘For in the last days the false prophets and destroyers shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate.  For when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and deliver up one another; and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, who shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do lawless deeds such as have never yet been done since the beginning of the world.   Then shall the race of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be offended and shall perish, but they who have endured in their faith shall be saved under the very curse itself.’

Cyril of Jerusalem 313-386 AD“Our second quotation is taken from the writings of Cyril, who was Bishop of Jerusalem in the fourth century:—

‘This aforementioned Antichrist comes when the times of the sovereignty of the Romans shall be fulfilled, and the concluding events of the world draw nigh.  Ten kings of the Romans arise at the same time in different places, perhaps; but reigning at the same period.  But after these, the Antichrist, is the eleventh, having, by his magic and evil skill, violently possessed himself of the Roman power.  Three of those who have reigned before him, he will subdue; the other seven he will hold in subjection to himself.  At first he assumes a character of gentleness (as if a wise and understanding person), pretending both to moderation and philanthropy; deceiving, both by lying miracles and prodigies which come from his magical deceptions, the Jews, as if he were the expected Messiah.  Afterwards, he will addict himself to every kind of evil, cruelty, and excess, so as to surpass all who have been unjust and impious before him; having a bloody and relentless and pitiless mind, and full of wily devices against all, and especially against believers.  But having dared such things three years and six months, he will be destroyed by the second glorious coming from heaven of the truly begotten Son of God, who is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the true Messiah; who, having destroyed Antichrist by the Spirit of His mouth, will deliver him to the fire Gehenna.’

Gregory_Bishop of Tours_538-594 AD“Our last quotation is made from the writings of Gregory of Tours, who wrote at the end of the sixth century A.D.:—

‘Concerning the end of the world, I believe what I have learnt from those who have gone before me.  Antichrist will assume circumcision, asserting himself to be the Christ.  He will then place a statue to be worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem, as we read that the Lord has said, “Ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.” ‘

[Gregory of Tours (538-594 AD) not only believed the Antichrist would be a man, but that a Third Hebrew Temple would be built in Jerusalem to host the statue of that man—the future Antichrist.  Thus, the teaching that there must be a rebuilt Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem prior to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was not invented by Jesuits (such Alcazar or Ribera) or dispensationalists (John Nelson Darby, Cyrus I. Scofield, Sir Robert Anderson, David Baron, Clarence Larkin, Arno Gaebelein, Alva J. McClain, Ford C. Ottman and others).  The belief that the coming Antichrist was to be a man—not the Papal System, that his talking statute would be placed inside a Third Hebrew Temple to be built in Jerusalem—not inside the “Body of Christ” also called “a temple”—without the use of the definite article in the underlying Greek (Eph. 5:21), is the result of reading the Scriptures in a literal fashion while circumscribed by the contexts of the various passages under consideration.  To this invaluable rule of hermeneutics these early bishops adhered.  EJP]

“Our purpose in making these quotations is not because we regard the voice of antiquity as being in any degree authoritative: far from it: the only authority for us is ‘What saith the Scriptures?’.  Nor have we presented these views as curious relics of antiquity—though it is interesting to discover the thoughts which occupied some of the leading minds of past ages.  No; our purpose has been simply to show that the early Christian writers uniformly held that the Antichrist would be a real person, a Jew, one who should both simulate and oppose the true Christ.  Such continued to be the generally received doctrine until what is known as the Dark Ages were far advanced.

Waldo Peter Luther Memorial Worms, Germany 1140-1218“It is not until we reach the fourteenth century (so far as the writer is aware) that we find the first marked deviation from the uniform belief of the early Christians.  It was the Waldenses,—so remarkably sound in the faith on almost all points of doctrine—who, thoroughly worn out by centuries of the most relentless and merciless persecutions, published about the year 1350 a treatise designed to prove that the system of Popery was the Antichrist.  It should however be said in honor of this people, whose memory is blessed, that in one of their earliest books entitled ‘The Noble Lesson,’ published about 1100 A.D., they taught that the Antichrist was an individual rather than a system.”

Pink, Arthur W., The Antichrist, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1988; originally published in 1923) pp. 26-28.

Eric Jon Phelps
By Eric Jon Phelps July 7, 2013 18:33
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