Jesuit Futurist vs. Protestant Historicist Interpretation of II Thess.2
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
Let no man seduce you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, which is an adversary & is extolled above all that is called God…. “How then can the Pope be Antichrist, as the [Protestant] Heretics fondly blaspheme, who is so far from being exalted above God, that he prayeth most humbly not only to Christ, but also to his Blessed mother and all his Saints.”
“Look for my answer in the annotations upon this verse.”
“As a hypocrite the Pope prays to Christ and Saints: yet in his blasphemous doctrine and decrees, he exalteth himself above all that is called God, or worshipped. Even so, he calls himself the servant of servants, yet makes slaves of all Kings that will submit themselves under his tyranny, making them kiss his feet and hold his stirrup. When he rides borne on men’s shoulders, they are to wait upon him as his vassals. He treads upon Emperors’ necks, deposing of both Kings and Emperors at his pleasure.”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
Therefore, God will send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged which have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity….. “St. Augustine says, ‘God will send because God will permit the Devil to do these things.’ Whereby we may take a general rule that God’s action or working in such things is his permission [and not because he positively decreed it as a judgment beforehand].”
“Look for my answer in the annotations upon this verse.”
“God’s action in such things is not only a permission, but a just judgment and execution of the same against the reprobate which deserve it. And these are St. Augustine’s words, ‘The Apostle doubted not to add and say, Therefore God shall send unto them the efficacy of error, that they may believe a lie. For God shall send because he shall by his just judgment permit the Devil to do these things, although he does them of an unjust and malignant purpose. That all may be judged which have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity. Therefore, being first judged, they shall be seduced, and being seduced, they shall be judged, but being judged they shall be seduced by those judgments of God which are secretly just and justly secret, by which he never ceases to judge since the beginning of sin by the reasonable creature. But being seduced, they shall be judged in the last and manifest judgment by Jesus Christ, who shall judge the just most justly, who himself was judged most unjustly.’ By citing the exact words of Augustine it is manifest how dishonestly the Jesuits use the Church Fathers, twisting their meaning, in an attempt to prove their arguments.”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
….be not easily moved from your sense….as though the day of our Lord were at hand…. “The curiosity of man fed by Satan’s deceits, hath sought to know and to give out to the world, such things as God will not impart to him, nor be necessary or be profitable for him to know in so far that in the Apostle’s days and after, some have feigned revelations, both out of Scripture and from conjecture in astronomical calculations, prophesying to the world the time of Christ’s coming to judgment. Those who attempted to deceive the Thessalonians are representative of all those who will yet come to do the same. And St. Augustine proves that no man can be assured by the Scriptures of the day, year or age that the end of the world or the second Advent shall be.”
“When the disciples asked our Saviour of the signs that should go before the destruction of the Temple and with it the end of the world, Christ answered it as two separate questions, not comprising one and the same events as the disciples had imagined. His answers are distinctly separate. He first, therefore, foretells the signs which should go before the destruction of the Temple, affirming that this should take place before 100 years or one age should be completed. This came to pass accordingly, for it was destroyed before one half an age or 50 years expired. Afterwards, He lay before their eyes the tokens that should precede the latter day. By so doing, He shuts up the prophecy with the same clause: that they should all be fulfilled before the expiration of one age or 100 years from the time they begin. Wherefore it is evident that the age wherein the latter day shall come, may be known of them upon whom the day shall come. This truth is yet more evident by the differentiation the Evangelists make between the age and the day and hour. For after Christ had ratified unto them the signs and tokens which were to accompany the last age, He adds, but of the day and hour no man can know. As if He would say, I have thus far fulfilled your request touching the knowledge of the time of the end of the world by telling you the age wherein it shall be, but the day and hour, or other particular times, shall be hidden. We, Protestants, therefore, with Christ, dare confidently affirm that the age may be known, but more particular times are sealed up and kept from us. We leave them in the power of our Heavenly Father.”
Cartwright discerns foundational contradictions in Jesuit Futurist eschatology
“And herein whatsoever modesty and hatred of curiosity you pretend out of Augustine’s 80th Epistle, you prove yourselves to be more malapert and curious then some of those whom you accuse: For when you determine there to be 3 ½ years of Antichrist’s reign preceding the latter coming of Christ, you thereby teach that a man may not only attain to the knowledge of the age of Christ’s return, but also the year and month in which the world will end. From this teaching it is to be observed how deceitful a rule of interpretation of the Scriptures it truly is when the Papal Church follows this error which most of the ancient Church Fathers followed. And it is not only deceitful, but inconsistent, in that you Jesuits do not follow the Fathers in their belief that the world shall end within the term of 6,000 years.”
[Editor’s Note: Fulke did not comment on this verse.]
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
Let no man seduce you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first and the man of sin be revealed…… “Though we cannot be assured of the moment, hour or any certain time of our Lord’s coming, yet he warranteth us that it will not be before certain things be fulfilled, which must come to pass by the course of God’s providence and permission before, which are divers, whereof in other places of Scriptures we be forewarned. Here he warneth us of two especially: of a revolt, defection or an apostasy, and of the coming or revelation of Antichrist. These two are intertwined as one, each depending on the other, and shall occur in close proximity to one another (as it is commonly thought), and therefore Augustine makes them out to be one and the same thing.
“This apostasy or revolt, in the judgment of all ancient writers, is the general forsaking or fall of the Roman Empire.” [Editor’s Note: Citations are given for Tertullian, Jerome, Chrysostom, Ambrose and Augustine.] “All of these fathers Calvin presumptuously condemns for their error and folly in this point because their interpretation does not agree with the Protestants’ view that the Pope is Antichrist. To establish their false impiety, the Heretics interpret this revolt or apostasy to be a general revolt of the visible Church from God, whose house or building, they say, was suddenly destroyed and lay many years in ruin, ruled only by Satan and Antichrist. So saith the aforesaid Arch-heretic here, though in other writings he contradicts himself or speaks in a manner by which it is impossible to understand. And his forefathers, Wickliffe and Luther, his fellows and followers, Illyricus, Beza, and the rest are so at odds with him and each other as to the time of the Church’s falling away that it is horrible to see their confusion, and a pitiful fact of life that any reasonable man would even follow such companions into perdition.
“But concerning this error and falsehood which teaches the Church’s defection or revolt, it is sufficiently refuted by Augustine against the Donatists in many of his writings. He proves that the Church shall not fail, even unto the end of the world, nor in the time of Antichrist. Instead, Augustine affirms the Donatists deny Christ, robbing Him of His glory and inheritance bought with His blood, when they teach that the Church may fail or perish. Jerome refutes the same wicked Heresy taught by the Luciferians, proving against them that they make God subject to the Devil, and Christ poor and miserable, when they imagine the Church, His Body, may either perish or be driven to any corner of the world. It is enough for the Christian reader to know that it is an old deceit and excuse of all Heretics and Schismatics, by which they defend their forsaking God’s true Church, when they allege the [professing, visible] Church has perished, and the true Church remains hidden, or the true Church consists of only themselves and their followers, wherever they dwell. The Christian reader should also know that this false teaching is reproved by the holy Doctors of the primitive Church, and that it is against Christ’s honor, power, providence and promise.
“If our Adversaries had taught that this revolt, which the Apostle foretells shall come before the end of the world, should be understood of great numbers of Heretics and Apostates revolting from the Church, they would have spoken truth. For John calls such apostates, [who fall away from the faith], ‘Antichrists.’ And it is very likely that this great defection or revolt shall not only be understood of defection from the Roman Empire, but more specifically of defection from the Roman Church and most points of orthodox Christianity. This revolt began by Heretics ages ago by their resisting and hating the Seat of Peter (which they called The Chair of Pestilence in Augustine’s day) because our Church is Christ’s fort erected against Hell’s Gates and all Heretics. In these present days the precursors of Antichrist have wonderfully increased so that it seems his coming is near at hand. Though it is true the external state of the Catholic Church may cease, as well as the public worship of Catholics in the Church while Antichrist reigns for a few days, yet the due honor and obedience of Christians toward it, and the invisible communion in their heart with it, and the practice of its rites in secret, openly confessing the faith if occasion require, these shall not cease….
“This fact is certain and wonderful in all men’s eyes, being of necessity due to God’s providence and singular prerogative, that this Seat of Peter still stands when all other Apostolic seats have vanished; that it has lasted while the ancient Roman Empire has not; that the Popes stood without wealth, power or human defense while the Emperors used all their means to destroy them, killing more than 30 Pontiffs one after the other…….; that despite the Popes own divisions among themselves, and manifold difficulties and dangers in their elections; that despite the great vices which have been noted in some; not one of these nor any other endeavor or scandal could prevail against the See of Rome, nor ever will prevail until the end of the world draws near, at which time this revolt (of which Paul speaks) takes place.”
“In the second section of the Jesuits’ Notes, in order to divert the true interpretation of Paul’s prophecy from that of the Apostasy of the Roman Church, they would mislead their Reader in ‘the falling away,’ that it be falsely understood of men falling away from the Roman Empire, which cannot possibly be the Apostle’s meaning in this place. For first, the Apostle’s word here is used by the Scripture and Ecclesiastical writers, to denote an ecclesiastical, and not a ‘civil’ falling away. It is also absurd to confuse the subject with its cause, the execution of this judgment with the time in which the execution shall be. For in verse 7, the Apostle declares that this Apostasy shall take place when he that letted then should be taken away, meaning the Roman Empire.” [Editor’s Note: Thus, according to the Jesuits, the Roman Empire must be taken out of the way before the falling away from the Empire can take place, which is absurd!] “Moreover, the Apostle speaks of this same defection in terms of defection from the faith in 1 Timothy 4:1…….As you have dealt with Tertullian and Chrysostom in falsification of their teaching on this matter, so have you untruly spoken of M. Calvin, who does not reject the judgment of all these Fathers, but only their teaching which follows your judgment. Furthermore, if all the ancient writers are in agreement with your view here, as you claim, then you have done very unadvisedly in choosing these four Fathers because out of the four only two, Jerome and Ambrose speak on your side, while the others, Tertullian and Chrysostom, not only do not give witness to your cause, but quite against it for ours. If we had said, The Church should fall away or cease to be, one word of the Prophet, who calls the Church ‘an everlasting people’ would have more weight to confute us then all this.
“But in the third section of their Annotation, the Jesuits playing the tall men, lay on load, and fight without an Adversary. For they heap Doctor upon Doctor to prove that the Church cannot fall away, or be in one corner or angle of the world, which we deny not. But against this view, they are unable to utter one word refuting our position: that those in the Church through outward profession only may fall away, or that there may be a time wherein the true Church scattered throughout all the world may lie hid in solitary places (which is the question), partly because of its fewer numbers and partly for fear of Church tyrants. Yea, in the very next section, themselves appearing too wise, affirm that the Catholic Church, through a great universality of revolt from it, shall be driven to make her conventicles in secret……
“In their fifth section, the Jesuits imagine great wonders in the marvelous continuance of their Roman Catholic Church, but it is only they who see the so-called miracles. It is true that their seat in Rome stands by God’s providence when all others have fallen away. But how else could the Devil himself and his kingdom stand unless it were by God’s holy providence? But their meaning is that it stands in the truth. But this conclusion begs that which is the question, considering that we deny it, and prove by many discourses of whole books that the Church of Rome has been Antichristian for the past 980 years or so…..”
“……Divers of the ancient Fathers understood this revolt to be a revolt from Christ, from God, and from the truth, not from the Roman Empire. Therefore, there was no such presumption in Calvin when he refused certain Fathers for their teachings, on the one hand, whom without contempt he called learned and wise, and received others, whom he judged interpreted more agreeably to the truth. For when you say he refuses the interpretations of those Church Fathers who agree with you because they do not agree with him that the Pope is Antichrist, indeed, his opinion is blasphemous against your Lord God, the Pope, but against the God of Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ, it is not. Nor is it fiction, but rather a true interpretation. And although the word, ‘apostasy,’ do rather signify a defection from Christ rather than that of the Roman Empire, yet even a defection from the Roman Empire suits the prophecy as well as the interpretation that the Pope is Antichrist. For the Pope was not openly revealed to be Antichrist before the Roman Empire was forsaken and divided into many Kingdoms, all subject to the Pope. This apostasy, therefore, is rightly interpreted to be a wicked revolting from God, by the greatest multitude of men. Calvin calls it a certain general defection of the visible Church, which being newly built was overthrown by the tyranny and subtlety of Antichrist. Yet the spiritual house of Christ, the Church of His Elect, were marvelously preserved by His grace, and never perished from the world. Calvin often affirms that this preserving of His Elect Church is not contrary to the general apostasy or defection prophesied. For the revolt prophesied is that of hypocrites who falsely profess the truth, but in their life and doctrine deny the power thereof; who seem to be the Church and are not. Neither does Calvin, Wickliffe or Luther use any collusion of words to hide the matter, but plainly speak so that you can understand them when they say: The true Church of Christ is perpetual, and yet there was a certain general apostasy of the visible Church, that is, of the greatest multitude of men who seemed to be the Church by their outward profession, but lacking faith, were not the true Church of Christ. Therefore, being seduced with error revolted toward Antichrist.
“We do not teach a defection or revolt from Christ by the true Church, but only of that which seems to be the Church and is not. For it had nothing of Christianity but an outward profession in name and ceremonies. For we acknowledge that the true Church, though obscure, driven, as it were, into the wilderness by the tyranny of Antichrist, yet still continued dispersed throughout the world, to be the glorious Spouse of Christ, no less betrothed when experiencing persecution as when experiencing peace and tranquility. St. Augustine does not refute our opinion, but only that of the Donatists, who said that they were the true Church. This opinion of theirs your Popish heresy resembles when you affirm the Church has perished out of the world except in Europe where your Pope sits and bears rule. Contrarily, we hold with St. Augustine, that God has His Church of the Elect in all parts of the world wherever the substance of Christian faith unto salvation is truly taught, though it may not be free from errors of all kinds. Also, the Church is wherever two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, even if it is in Rome under the most cruel persecution of Antichrist……….
“Let us see whether this apostasy agrees to you. According to your own thesis it cannot apply to us since your Church is still able to meet publicly without fear of reprisals from Antichrist. If the apostasy does agree to you, then no doubt you are the Church of Antichrist. To decide this controversy who is better than St. Paul who prophesied of the apostasy? In 1 Tim. 4, he gives evident notes of this apostasy, all of which agree with your Church and not ours. For after he had set forth that great mystery of religion or piety consisting in the doctrine of Christ….he added that the Spirit speaketh not obscurely, but evidently and plainly, that in the latter time, some shall revolt from the faith placing the chief religion and piety in abstinence from marriage and meats, forbidding both, speaking lies in hypocrisy, while attending to spirits of error and doctrines of devils. In this place, since it is an evident revelation of God’s Spirit, it is manifest that this revolt from true religion is discerned by its hypocritical abstinence and forbidding of marriage and meats, both of which you Jesuits, and your Church, are guilty by some men all the time and by all men some of the time. In fact, you account those who follow these observances more holy and religious than others who do not. Since these evident notes, given so that we might know who are those who revolt from the faith, from the Church, and from Christ, are found in you, therefore, they do argue invincibly that you are the defection, you are the apostasy, you are the rebels, and not we, in whom no such marks can be found…..
“You affirm falsely that Peter’s Chair still stands at Rome while all other Apostolic Sees have disappeared. The See of Antioch stands even to this day, and has a Patriarch. Likewise the See of Alexandria, and the See of St. Andrew at Constantinople…….That the Christians honored the memories of the Apostles, whom the Heathen tyrants had slain, has nothing whatsoever to do with the dignity of the Pope, who holds neither the Apostles’ doctrine or humility. But when the later Kings and Emperors, who were to become the horns of the Beast, submitted their crowns and scepters not only to idols which the Pope made of the Martyrs, but also to the very feet of that sinful man, it plainly declares him to be the successor, neither of Christ, nor of Peter, nor of the holy Martyrs, but to be the King of Pride who exalts himself above all Princes who have been placed in office according to God’s ordinance. Thus, he exalts himself above God. That the Popedom has continued uninterrupted in worldly pomp and dignity for 800 or 900 years also agrees with the prophecies of the tyranny of Antichrist. For the Church of Christ flourishes in spiritual glory, though it exits in adversity and not worldly dignity and prosperity……. Kings and princes who lived after the manifestation of Antichrist have served as vassals to maintain his usurped tyranny; yea, their numerous wars and divisions have greatly augmented his tyrannical dominion. And although the pride, cruelty and filthiness, and all other vices of the Popes have been greater and more notorious than of any Heathen tyrants, their tyranny, by the just judgment of God has continued for the ultimate greater punishment of the contemnors of His Gospel. And to give you more comfort, Scripture promises that Antichrist will continue in some way or other, even until the coming of our Saviour Christ to judgment. Some of you Jesuits have been bold to affirm that although the See of Rome should one day be utterly overthrown (with good reason, for the prophecy predicts as much!), yet the Pope will remain the Bishop of Rome, Peter’s Successor, even though he moves his Seat to Calcutta. And I might add, should he forget to bring his triple-crowned papal tiara with him, he need only borrow that which the Idol of the Devil worshipped there wears, for it is remarkably similar to his!”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
The man of sin….. “There were many even in the Apostles time (as we see in 1 John 4 and in the writings of the ancient Fathers) that were forerunners of Antichrist, whether they did it by force and open persecution as Nero and other Heathen or Heretical Emperors did, or by false teaching and other deceits, as did the Heretics of all ages. According to Jerome, all these belonged to Antichrist, for they were not in communion with Pope Damasus. Also, he said that all who have new names peculiar to their heresies, such as the Arians and Donatists, (and as we now call Calvinists, Zwinglians, etc.), are all Antichrists. Yea, the later heretics of our times are much more prevalent than the former, for various reasons which we will later expound. Nevertheless, not one of them is that great Adversary, enemy and impugner of Christ, who is by special distinction named, The Antichrist, 1 John 2; the man of sin, the son of perdition, the Adversary, described here in 2 Thess. and elsewhere as one who opposes himself directly against God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Jesuits taught a fundamental falsehood held by today’s Futurists: The Antichrist is one man, not a succession holding one office
The Heathen Emperors were many; Turks be many; Heretics have been and are now many. Therefore, they cannot be that one great Antichrist which is spoken of here, and which by the article always added in the Greek signifies one special, singular man; for his peculiar and direct opposition to Christ’s person is described also in John 5:43; inferring the particular stock and tribe from which he should be born: namely, of the Jews, who shall receive him as Messiah; and of the tribe of Dan, according to Irenaeus, Jerome and Augustine. In Rev. 13 we are told the time of his appearance is near the end of the world; his reign is short; his unique waste and destruction of God’s honor and all religion; his feigned miracles; his description under types and figures as written by the Prophets in the Old and New Testament – all these and many other arguments prove him to be one special notorious Adversary in the highest degree, unto whom all other persecutors, Heretics, Atheists, and wicked enemies of Christ and His Church are but members and servants.
“And this is the most common teaching of all ancient Fathers. Yet, according to the Heretics, they make out Antichrist to be a whole order or succession of men. This they hold against the former obvious Scriptures and reasons, so that they can establish their foolish and wicked paradox: that Christ’s chief minister is Antichrist, yea, the whole order. Wherein Beza pricketh especially high when he makes Antichrist (even this great Antichrist) to have lived in St. Paul’s day, though he was not known to the world. Who this person was God only knows, unless he speaks of St. Peter because he was the first of the order of Popes. And it is certain that unless Peter was Antichrist, neither the whole order, nor any of the order can be Antichrist, since all his successors followed him in dignity and Christian orthodoxy. None of the Heretics can prove otherwise. Therefore, if those who succeeded Peter be Antichrist, let Beza boldly accuse Peter also, as well as the ancient Catholic Fathers, for they also must have served and worked (though unaware) towards the setting up of the great Antichrist…. Another malapert scholar from the same heretical Reformed school places the mystery of Antichrist working in the See of Rome even in St. Peter’s time, making the two holy Fathers, St. Gregory and Leo, workers and furtherers of Antichrist….whereof we give the good Christian reader a more diligent warning to beware of such damnable books and Masters, who carry many ill advised people to perdition.”
“Let not the reader marvel if the Jesuits are so painful to disguise Antichrist, thereby to procure his escape from the hands of his pursuers, for they know well that if the master thief, the principle robber, be convicted and condemned, they which are his accessories in the same robbery cannot escape. Therefore, they think it good to have men believe that Antichrist is but one singular man, in whose death should die all the impiety attributed to him by the Apostle. This opinion is so vain, that if it were not for the fact that its origin can be traced to errors of the ancient Church Fathers, it would not be worthy to dispute. For though many of them, by virtue of the clear light of this Scripture and others in the Revelation, easily found Antichrist’s cage to be in the city of Rome. But if they had lived to see the managing of that city hundreds of years later, they would never have sought further for the unclean bird then to the Bishop of Rome, who had hatched his cockatrice eggs there years ago. For whatsoever is said pertaining to Antichrist in this Scripture fits the Pope perfectly, as we shall soon prove, for it has been written about him, once he grew to his prime and full age of Antichristianity. I ask, who can doubt but that the Pope is Antichrist, to whom this definition and description fits so well? For no matter how one attempts to apply the prophecy to another, its clothes will never fit so perfectly and precisely. No, it will either be too wide or too narrow; too short or too long. All reasonable judgment shall easily see that the Apostle did not err in measuring the ‘clothes’ of this prophecy. Again, common sense dictates that if the Apostasy spoken of by the Apostle is found in that pestilent seat of the Bishop of Rome, who forbids to marry and eat meats, both of which God has ordained to be soberly used with thanksgiving, it follows that the Antichrist cannot be far from thence. Hitherto commeth the spiritual whoredom of most abominable Idolatry, and the denying of the Lord that redeemed them by establishing justification by their own works, either of which doth destroy the foundation of the holy faith wherein that Church was first betrothed unto Christ.
“Thirdly, he is Antichrist whose rule over the city of Rome was hindered by the Roman Emperor. The rule of the Bishop of Rome over that City was hindered by the Roman Emperor. Therefore, the Bishop of Rome is Antichrist. This proposition is Paul’s, who affirmed that there was a person extant and alive when he wrote, who hindered the revelation and full growth of Antichrist. That Paul was speaking of the Roman Emperor is evident by the secretive way he spoke, so that he would not endanger the Churches more than need be, thereby covertly referring to the Roman Emperors [as the ‘let’ which hinders]. This truth has the Papists and Jesuits at their wits end, unable to pervert this fact. The assumption of our argument is proved because it is an historical fact that upon the removal of the seat of the Empire to Constantinople, the Bishop of Rome gained supremacy in both Church and State. This he now enjoys. Furthermore, though Paul refers to the ‘let’ as a ‘he,’ verse 7, when the Emperors were a succession of men who ruled the Empire from Rome, he implies the same truth concerning Antichrist: a succession of men who rule the Church and Empire from Rome. Again, when the Apostle declares that the mystery of Antichrist which began in his time was not to be fully weeded out, but by the latter coming of Christ, it is manifest that it is impossible that one, singular man could fulfill the prophecy, though he should live to the age of Methuselah………………..
“The reasons whereupon the Jesuits would ground their opinion of Antichrist’s being one singular man are yet more ridiculous than the opinion itself. Their first argument is that the Greek article restrains him to be one singular man. The Jesuits are, indeed, better able to teach rules of grammar than divinity. But it appears by this they are fit for neither. For how shall they teach that which they never learned, considering the Greek article, ό, may be translated ‘a’ man of sin just as well as ‘the’ man of sin; ‘an’ Antichrist or ‘the’ Antichrist……
“……..It is of no weight when the Jesuits claim Antichrist to be a Jew from the tribe of Dan who will be received by them at the end of the world. This contradicts the prophecies of our Lord and Paul, who declare that the Jewish nation will be commonly and ordinarily called of the Gospel. Therefore, they might as well have assigned this apostasy among the Jews now, or in the times of the Apostles when defection was fully upon them, rather than wait until the end of the world. For at that time it is prophesied that they shall return again to their Fathers house, from which they have for so long been banished. It is also necessary that Antichrist share similar traits with his forerunners. Thus, since the forerunners are apostates from the true Church, Antichrist must also be a Christian apostate and not a Jew…..
“The third argument they bring to prove Antichrist to be one singular man is that of the note of his proper name, Rev. 13, is not unlike their other arguments. First, no proper name of Antichrist is noted in Rev. 13, only the time wherein he should be revealed. Secondly, if any name is noted, it does not follow that Antichrist must be one singular man. For it is known that the names of Pharaoh, Ptolemy, Caesar, etc., are names common to many successive Kings and Emperors of Egypt and Rome, etc…..
“Last of all, the Jesuits say that his feigned miracles and prophecies of both testaments prove him to be one singular man only, hoping to add more weight to their argument. But feigned miracles need not be limited to one man only, and can be wrought by many as they can by one. The argument from the testaments is nothing less than begging that which is in question in the first place…….
“As for the note of infamy in the new name, ‘Calvinists,’ etc., which they themselves falsely and slanderously thrust upon us, although unworthy of answer, is answered earlier. As for the ancient Fathers cited on their side, yet who did err, it is no marvel that they were not easily able to discover the identity of Antichrist, for in their age this mystery, though brewing, was doing so secretly and, as it were, underground. And as for the Church Fathers’ claiming Antichrist’s pedigree to be Jewish, as some thought from the tribe of Dan, this error is easily explained. For in their time the deadly hatred of the Jews for Christ was most apparent [adding fuel to their erroneous speculation]….. Even Bellarmine agrees with us that it is without all ground of Scripture or reason that Antichrist shall be from the tribe of Dan. Let the Reader mark diligently what Augustine writes of this matter. For he testified, City of God, Book 20, Chapter 19, that there were many who affirmed that by the term, ‘Antichrist,’ they understood not only the Prince of the revolt, but his whole body and multitude of men belonging to him. This judgment he rather allows then reproves. Irenaeus applies the tribe of Dan to Antichrist only insofar as in him is comprehended the Latin Kingdom…….Your insinuation of M. Beza’s teaching that Peter was Antichrist is so palpably false, that your own cankered and malicious heart doth not think that which your venomous mouth doth speak…….”
“The Scripture does not call foreign persecutors Antichrist, though they are enemies of Christ, but only such as went out from us, being none of us, 1 John 2:19, speaking of heretics and false Christian teachers. Yet not every heretic is that great Antichrist, but he who above all others impugns Christ, prevailing more than all others in seducing the wicked to their destruction. And to discharge the Pope from being that great Antichrist, you Jesuits affirm Antichrist must be one particular single man; not one Office, Kingdom and succession of men therein, as is the Papacy, in which the tyranny of Antichrist is upheld to this day, and will continue even until the coming of Christ. Let us examine then the grounds for your argument by comparing it to Scripture. By so doing, we shall plainly prove that Antichrist is not one singular man, but an Office or Kingdom of men, continuing under one head by successions, whereunto also we will join the testimony of the ancient and most approved Writers of the Primitive Church.
“First, you say, the Heathen Emperors, Turks, and Heretics were many, therefore they could not be this one great Antichrist. Although regarding Heathens and Turks your conclusion is true, yet it does not follow in your argument of the latter, which you take for proof, thinking it settles the very controversy in question. The Heathen persecutors and Turks are outside the scope of the professing Church, whereas Antichrist, it is taught, must sit in the visible Church of God. As you yourselves confess, other Heretics are but limbs and members of that impious body, whereof the Antichrist is the head or chief. Your main argument concerns the Greek article which you claim always signifies one special and singular man. But this reasoning is so false that young children who have scarcely tasted of the Greek tongue are able to disprove it by infinite biblical examples: e.g., Luke 4:4; Mark 2:27; 2 Tim. 3:17; Matt. 12:35; 1 John 2:18; Matt. 5:25; John 10:10…..
“Secondly, you argue Antichrist shall be born of the tribe of Dan, Gen. 49:17. But that is a weak conjecture and cannot be proved out of the text. To help your case you allege the testimony of the Fathers. But Irenaeus cites Jeremiah speaks of the coming of Nebuchadnezzar by way of the city of Dan, not Antichrist, as even St. Jerome also testifies. Another conjecture to prove your point is that the tribe of Dan is not numbered among the saved in Rev. 7. The reason for this is manifest, for the tribe of Levi fills the twelfth place, which in the account of the Church [i.e., the saved] was not to be omitted. But hereof we may not infer that none from the tribe of Dan were saved, and much less, that Antichrist was to be born from this tribe. Irenaeus explains how we are to judge his conjectures, as well as those of others: upon their fulfillment and not before……
“The note of Antichrist’s name, Rev. 13:18, being the number of the Beast, doth plainly prove that Antichrist is no singular man. For this Beast from the sea signifies, according to all interpreters in one manner or another, the Roman Empire in which Antichrist the Heathen and Heretical persecutors. And the number of his name, 666, is contained in the noun, Lateinos, the Latin Man, not only because he sits at Rome, the chief city of the Latin Empire, but because his tyranny is chiefly in the Latin Church, enforcing the public exercise of Religion to be in Latin. Yea, generally speaking, he has had all civil contracts concerning buying an selling written in the Latin tongue. And this name, Lateinos, was one which Irenaeus thought very likely to be the name of Antichrist almost 1400 years ago because it was the Kingdom of the Latins who then reigned. So, you see, by the plain judgment of Irenaeus that it is not necessary to understand this text, or any other, as do the Jesuits, that Antichrist must be one singular man, but rather one Kingdom, of which every King or chief ruler is Antichrist. The time of his revealing is not to be delayed until the end of the world. Rather, the time of his destruction will then take place by the coming of Christ. Antichrist’s reign is not literally called ‘short,’ [Matt. 24:22; Rev. 12:12], but it is in comparison with the eternal reign of Christ. Similarly, the coming of Christ to judgment is accounted ‘short’ in God’s judgment, to whom a thousand years are as a day, and one day as a thousand years.
“Finally, by his feigned miracles, or any figure of him in Scripture, it cannot be proved that he is a singular man. Let us, therefore, prove from Scripture that he is not one singular person. First, it is most evident from this text when it is said, the man of sin shall be revealed, whereby it can rightly be gathered (as St. John also correctly says) that Antichrist existed even back then, but he was not revealed, or openly manifest, but secretly carried about in his many members. So says St. Paul, verse 7, The mystery of iniquity doth even now work, and shall not be utterly destroyed before the second coming of Christ. Therefore, seeing it is impossible that one man could have continuance from the Apostles’ time to the Day of Judgment it is manifest Antichrist is no one singular man, but a continual succession of Heretics; first secretly, then openly, advancing themselves against Christ and God His Father. The most clear testimonies of St. John agree with our interpretation:
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is Christ. The same is Antichrist, which denies the Father and the Son. Every one that denieth the Son hath not the Father.(1 John 2:22-23)
“This note agrees with all Heretics, but principally to the Pope, who denies the offices of Christ, as other Heretics had denied His person. And again:
Every spirit which confesseth not Jesus Christ come in the flesh is not of God, and the same is the spirit of Antichrist, which you have heard that he cometh, and now he is in the world. (1 John 4:3)
There are many deceivers entered into the world which confesseth not Jesus Christ, that he is come in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist. (2 John 7)
“Mark that many deceivers are ‘the’ deceiver and ‘the’ Antichrist, when preceded by the Greek article ό. Again:
Little children, this is the last time, and as you have heard that ό Antichrist, ‘the’ Antichrist, comes, even now there are many Antichrists. (1 John 2:18)
“Therefore, Antichrist is not one, but many, and his coming is not deferred until 3 ½ years before the end of the world, as the Papists by a gross misunderstanding of the mystical time described in the Apocalypse would have it. But the Antichrist was to come in mystery, secretly, even in the Apostles’ time. That mystery, by the malice and subtlety of Satan, which is the spirit of Antichrist, ceased not to work until the open and plain revelation of his pride was publicly professed in the Papacy……..
“Seeing, therefore, it is manifest by the Scripture that Antichrist comprises the whole body of Christ’s enemies through this last age until the end of the world, wherein there is yet a principal head to be openly revealed. Why then should it be counted a foolish paradox that the Pope is Antichrist? You argue that he is Christ’s chief minister; a sound argument, if it were not at the heart of the controversy. You slander Beza, yet he does not say anything which contradicts St. Paul and St. John…..But you are sure ‘that except Peter were Antichrist, neither the whole Order, or any member thereof can be Antichrist.’ I have said before you can never prove that Peter was of that Order of Popes, which are now Antichrists. You say they are Peter’s lawful successors in dignity and in truth of Christ’s religion. This, indeed, you say. But where is the proof that St. Peter ever took upon himself to dispense with God’s Law, enacting laws in opposition, or to usurp authority above earthly Princes, or to make articles of Faith, and hundreds of other matters which the Popes have done and continue to do? This allegation, that Peter was the first Pope, the Papists, those limbs of Antichrist both alive and dead, neither could nor can now prove by what he taught. That which Beza said concerning the ancient Fathers, who were unaware that they helped in the setting up of the great Antichrist, its truth cannot be denied. For when they yielded to the usurped claim of the Bishops of Rome who, long before the revelation of Antichrist (the mystery of iniquity working greatly in that See) exalted themselves……..Yea, the Papists themselves confessing Peter called Rome ‘Babylon’ must need grant that Rome is the See of Antichrist and that the mystery of Antichrist did work there, even in St. Peter’s time, or else why should he call it ‘Babylon’?.........”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
……the son of perdition that is extolled above all that is called God, or that is worshipped…. “The great Antichrist which must come near the world’s end, shall abolish the public exercise of all other religions, both true and false, pulling down the Blessed sacrament of the altar, wherein consists the special worship of the true God, as well as Idols of the Gentiles and sacrifices of the Jews. Generally, all kinds of religious worship will be abolished, with the exception of that which is directed to him alone. This was prefigured in Darius, Daniel 6, who decreed that no God or other man can be prayed to for a certain number of days, he alone receiving prayer. How can the Protestants then for shame and without obvious contradiction aver the Pope to be Antichrist? For he honors Christ, the true God, with all his power, not as they say, that he honors Idols. He posits no divine honors to himself as Antichrist must do. He humbly prays to God and kneels down with humility in every Church at divers altars erected in memory of the Saints, praying to them. He says or hears Mass daily with all devotion, he confesses his sins to a Priest as other poor men do, he adoreth the holy Eucharist which Christ affirmed to be His own Body. The Heretics call it an Idol (no marvel then that they make the Pope, Christ’s Vicar, Antichrist, when they make Christ Himself an Idol). These are the religious duties performed by the Pope, whereas Antichrist shall have none, nor pray to any other, at least not openly.”
“To prove that the Pope doth not extol himself above all that is called God, the Jesuits bring forth the argument that he humbly ‘prayeth to Christ and all his Saints, etc.’ It is a greater work and costlier then the Jesuits’ ‘poverty’ is able to afford, to prove that ‘the Pope humbly prayeth to Christ and his saints. It is far easier for them to prove he prays, then to prove he prays ‘humbly.’ Again, where they prove the Pope’s humility unto Christ by the honor given the Sacrament of the altar, whom he takes for Christ Himself, we could give an exception. For when he passes by it, he gives a scornful nod and beckoning. Likewise, Hildebrand, in his mad mood, threw it into the fire. Also, in reality, he gives small honor to the Saints, for when he makes them all stand, awaiting his courtesy or refusal in bestowing upon them Sainthood. Furthermore, it is said that his power is greater than all the Saints. Moreover, if he did pray humbly to them when it is known that humility toward Angels in worshipping them is condemned, Col. 2:18, it will follow that the more humbly he prays to them the more presumptuously and wickedly he prays. But to grant that his prayer to Christ and his Saints with confession of sins were in itself blameless according to its outward show and judgment of men is to forget that we are warned of those who approach God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him, Matt. 15:8. There are those, we are told, who profess God in show and word, yet deny Him in deed and truth, Titus 1:16. Also, it is often the most obsequious way of putting down Christ without attracting unwarranted attention, by first kissing Him, saying, ‘Hail, Master.’ And this secret undermining of Christ, under color of kissing Him affectionately, agrees well with what the Apostle calls a ‘revolt,’ a ‘mystery,’ or secret thing. And it is also said in verse 10, that he should come with deceit of unrighteousness, which prophecy would not properly fit if he were to openly profess enmity to Christ. And therefore, it is false when they say, Antichrist shall worship none openly, which is spoken without any grounds or likelihood of truth, for very name, ‘Antichrist,’ gives us to understand that his heresy shall not simply consist of opposing God, but rather be against Christ, though he were to claim to be His Vicar, which the term also signifies. The Apostle John declared that his brethren which went out from him did set themselves against Christ, though they acknowledged the Father, 1 John 2:22-23. From this we may surmise that Antichrist shall also disguise himself by the pretended worship of the true and living God when he battles Christ.
“As to his show of love for Christ, let us go to his words and look to his deeds. Let us pass by his lips and take heed to his hands and feet, for seeing they have tread upon the necks of Emperors, God’s Lieutenants on earth, and seeing the Emperors have been given the Popes’ feet to kiss, and their highness to wait upon his stirrup, they cannot be any other feet than that of Antichrist, especially so when we consider that our Saviour Christ gave reverence even unto the Roman’s Deputies when they were his deadly and bitter enemies. Let us further consider that this Beast, not contented to tread all power in earth under his filthy feet, climbeth to heaven, taking upon himself the authority to command the Angels. And that he takes upon himself to do all that God can do, i.e., to make something out of nothing. In fact, the Pope claims to do that which God cannot, that is, to make that which is unjust just [outside of Christ], make new articles of faith, etc. For God cannot lie, nor deny Himself, which He should do if He were to do either of those things. Neither would it be an example of His power, but rather of weakness, if He were to do those things.
“The Pope openly exalts himself above Christ, for he teaches that the pardon which Christ purchased by his precious blood serves only to deliver us from the fault of actual sin. Whereas he makes his own pardons, grounded upon the satisfaction of men, sufficient to deliver us both from fault and punishment. And as for the open profession of these horrible blasphemies in words, although they are an impudent impiety such as no soil should bear to have spoken, without sinking under the burden of them, yet the Italian soil (the mother of all venomous things) hath borne it. For the Pope was well content in the Lateran Council to be saluted by the name of God. Can they be ignorant of the gloss which saith, ‘Our Lord God the Pope’? If they are not, we then ask to what record can they direct us to seek where any correction has been made regarding such blasphemy. Thus, it is evident that the Protestants blaspheme not, but speak the words of truth when they affirm the Pope lifts himself above all that is called God. Through the lie of turning the glory of the immortal God into a piece of bread, this blasphemy was made the more easily and with greater speed. For by shaking off all reverence and fear of the Almighty, he hath climbed up to the height of pride whereunto he now sits.
“That the great Antichrist came nine hundred years ago, you have heard by the testimony of Gregory 1st. As for your other assumptions, that he will abolish the public exercise of all Religions, both true and false, with the exception of worship directed toward himself, hath no Scriptural basis whatever, although it is true that Antichrist shall not acknowledge any Religion. Yet under the color of Religion and God’s service he usurps all honor due God. So saith St. Jerome, that Antichrist shall obtain his Antichristian exaltation by counterfeiting that he is the Captain or Chief of God’s Covenant (as does the Pope). He should, by Jerome’s judgment advance himself above all religion. And therefore, though we are not bound to seek a figure of Antichrist in the blasphemous decree of Darius, yet the Pope (not temporarily, but perpetually) decrees, in effect, that none other but himself be acknowledged of God. Seeing he alone takes it upon himself to dispense against the Law of God, which argues that he arrogates to himself authority above God the Lawmaker. For no law can be dispensed with unless by the same authority by which it was made, or by one greater. He exalts himself above Christ, as well as His Prophetic, Kingly, and Priestly offices, not only by abrogating His institution of the Supper with both bread and wine, and many other notorious matters, but also in granting full pardon for all sins, absolving men from both the punishment and guilt, which he denies to have been done by Christ in the Sacrifice of His death and passion. Yea, he disposes Christ out of His eternal Priesthood by setting up another Sacrifice and Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, whereby he protests against the sufficiency of the Sacrifice and Priesthood of Christ, also making everyone of his vile creatures, the Mass-priests, superior to Christ the God-man, whom they claim to offer to God, His Father…..Against the Holy Ghost the Pope exalts himself, blaspheming the Scriptures inspired by Him, when he alleges they are imperfect and insufficient for the instruction of the Church without his traditions and decrees. For he pronounces that to be profane, forbidding as if unholy, that which the Holy Spirit has sanctified, e.g., marriage and meats, and even gives the blessing of ‘special holiness’ to those who follow his precepts. By usurping the office of the Holy Spirit, in applying the merits of Christ and the effect of His Passion according to his pleasure, by his indulgences and pardons, and by Sacraments and ceremonies of his own invention, the Pope exalts himself above God. When he claims in all things pertaining to faith and morals he cannot err, but has the Spirit of Truth, exempting himself from judgment by mere mortals, though he were to carry infinite thousands with him to Hell, besides innumerable other blasphemous, proud speeches, doctrines and decrees, whereof his laws and religion are full, the Pope proves himself to be exalted above God.
“Therefore, although to blind the eyes of the simple, he feigns humility with a pretended show of adoring God in an external manner, yet he cannot likewise dissemble his pride and contempt of God, for many times it breaks forth into open blasphemy, as hath been noted in divers of them. But that which is notorious in all the Popes and maintained by all, cannot be hidden, e.g.; when, in his great pomp, the Sacrament which he pretends to honor as God us carried before him on a horse, while he is carried upon men’s shoulders; when the Pope’s throne is set before the Altar; when Kings must carry the Cross in their right hands, laying it at the Pontiff’s feet; or when, in the celebration of the Jubilee, the Pope allegedly opens the gates of Paradise with a golden hammer, as well as hundreds of other examples of his Antichristian pride as expressed in the Pontificals and practiced in his Solemnities.”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
….so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he were God.
A second lie held by both Jesuits and today’s Futurists: The Jewish Temple will be rebuilt for the Antichrist to occupy
“Most ancient writers expound this of the Temple of Jerusalem which they think Antichrist shall build up again, as being from the Jews stock, and to be acknowledged by that obstinate people (according to our Saviour’s prophecy, John 5) for their expected and promised Messiah.” [Editor’s Note: References to Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Cyril of Jerusalem and Jerome are then cited.] “Not that he shall suffer them to worship God by their old manner of sacrifices (all of which he will either abolish or convert to the adoration of himself alone; though at first to apply himself to the Jews, he may at first be circumcised and keep some part of the Law) for in this verse it is said that he shall sit in the Temple of God, that is, he shall be adored there by sacrifice and divine honor, defacing the name and worship of the true God. This is what they believe will be the abomination of desolation foretold by Daniel, mentioned by our Saviour, prefigured and resembled by Antiochus and others, who defaced the worship of the true God by profaning the Temple, especially by abrogating the daily sacrifice, which was a figure of the only sacrifice and continual oblation, in the Church, of Christ’s holy body and blood. For that abolishing of the former was a figure of abolishing the latter, to be done principally and universally by Antichrist himself (as is now seen by his forerunners, the Protestant Heretics) in all nations and Churches of the world (though Mass may then be celebrated in secret, as is now done in nations where Princes use secular force to prohibit it). Although Antichrist may have his principal seat and honor in the Temple and city of Jerusalem, yet he shall rule over the whole world, especially prohibiting that principal worship instituted by Christ in His Sacraments, as being the proper Adversary of Christ’s person, name, law, and Church, the profaning and desolation of which, by the taking away the sacrifice of the altar, is what is meant by the abomination of desolation, the alone work of Antichrist.
The Jesuits admit some Church Fathers believed Antichrist to be an apostate Christian ruler who sits in the Church
“St. Augustine and Jerome believe that by ‘Antichrist’s sitting in the Temple’ signifies sitting in the Church of Christ, rather than in Solomon’s Temple. But it is not as if he was to be a chief member of the Church of Christ, or a special part of His mystical Body, being at the same time Antichrist while continuing to be a member of the Church of Christ, as the Heretics feign to make the Pope Antichrist (whereby they plainly confess the Pope to be a member of the Church, ‘in the very bosom of the Church,’ as Beza states) for it is ridiculous assertion when they say that all heretics whom St. John called precursors of Antichrist were those who went out from the Church. They claim that the great Antichrist himself should be of the Church and in the Church, continuing in it until Christ’s return in judgment. However, the doctrine which declares the whole Church is prophesied to revolt from God is no absurdity to those who teach it. But the truth is, the Antichristian revolt prophesied in these Scriptures, is that which revolts from the Catholic Church; and Antichrist, if he were ever once a part of the Church, shall be an Apostate and renegade outside of the Church, usurping dominion over it by means of tyranny, challenging the worship, religion and government thereof, so that he himself shall be adored in all the Churches of the world, which he wills to leave standing for his honor. And this is what is meant by ‘sitting in the Temple’ or ‘against the Temple of God,’ as some interpret it. If any Pope has ever or will ever do this, let our Adversaries call him Antichrist.
“And let the good Reader observe that there are two special causes why this great man of sin is called ‘Antichrist.’ The first, for impugning Christ’s Kingdom on earth, that is to say, His spiritual regiment which he constituted and appointed in his Church, and the form of government ordained therein, applying all to himself by singular tyranny and usurpation, in which kind St. Athanasius is bold to call the Emperor Constantius, ‘Antichrist,’ for being an Arian heretic, when he made himself Prince over all the Bishops and President of Ecclesiastical judgments, etc. The second, for impugning Christ’s Priesthood, which is most properly exercised on earth by the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, instituted for the commemoration of His death, and for the external exhibition of godly honor to the Blessed Trinity. This type of external worship by sacrifice no lawful people of God ever lacked. And by these two things you may easily perceive that the Heretics of these days do more exactly and with more precision prepare the way of Antichrist and extreme desolation, than any who ever preceded them. For the special heresy of the Protestants is always that which is against the spiritual primacy of Popes and Bishops, as well as against the sacrifice of the altar, in which two things the sovereignty of Christ in earth consists.”
“In the first section, the Jesuits would feign build the Temple of Jerusalem for Antichrist, but their mortar will not cleave. Wherefore they are constrained in the second section to pull it down again [i.e., when they had to admit that not all the Church Fathers were unanimous in that interpretation.] And yet notwithstanding, it had been wisdom for them to hold to the former opinion of Antichrist’s sitting in the literal Temple of Jerusalem because it is most suitable for perpetuating their fable of Antichrist: that he be born a Jew of the tribe of Dan. And verily it must needs be a strong delusion that carries men to believe such an invented tale concerning Antichrist, not only contrary to truth, but even to all show and appearance of the truth, when they say that in the day of the mass conversion of the Jews, they should run, flocking to one singular man, Antichrist. Secondly, the theory that he should be known to be born of the tribe of Dan opposes Scripture which declares the distinction of the tribes was to last only until the first coming of the Messiah, Gen. 49:10. Thirdly, it is fantasy to believe that the Jews should behave contrary to that which they have known and always professed, forsaking the tribe of Judah for Dan. Fourthly, it is absurd that the Jews should follow Antichrist, the very one who shall overthrow their tradition of worshipping God by sacrifices and other ceremonial Laws instituted by Moses; which the Apostle Paul affirms to be a veil which hangs before their eyes, and shall hang until such time as they shall be converted unto Christ. Fifthly, it is impossible that the Jews, from the time of Christ, and even before, though they have abhorred the gross Idolatry of worshipping creatures, should suddenly turn to that which they detest. Sixthly, it is improbable that the Gentiles, toward the end of the world, as provoked by the calling of the Jews, who shall be gathered in greater multitudes unto the outward profession of the Gospel, should then turn around, making a universal revolt from the truth. Seventhly, it is impossible that the Jews and Gentiles throughout the world, between whom there is a deadly and irreconcilable hatred, especially in their manner of worshipping God, so that they could never be united except in the truth through the blood of the cross of Christ, should suddenly reconcile in a religion which is foreign to them both. Lastly, it is impossible that in such a short span of time (without any previous teaching) the Jews should fall to such gross Idolatry, as to worship a mortal man, as the only and ever-living God. Such Idolatry was never practiced by the Egyptians and Chaldeans, by far the grossest and beastliest Idolaters who ever lived, with the lone exception of the Papists. In fact, no religion, whether Jew or Gentile, teaches that one person can be both God and man, [so the likelihood that the world, as a whole, would embrace such a religion is nil.]
“……………….The Jesuits then attempt to use our words against us by having us admit the Pope is a legitimate member of the Church, agreeing with them that he sits as ruler. But in truth, far be it for us to make such a Sodomite Harlot to be a member of the mystical Body of Christ. Neither does their argument of Papal legitimacy hold just because Beza stated the Pope sits in the midst of the Church, unless, that is, the Jesuits esteem that a Wolf in the midst of the flock is really a sheep because he is their midst. Let them, therefore, know that when we say that the Pope sits in the midst of the Church, we mean that upon his entry he first had his seat and tyrannical government among the Churches of God, including those who did not consent to the usurpation of Boniface 3rd. In this respect we might use the Temple in Jerusalem as a similar example. For though it was abominable in the sight of Christ, soon to be destroyed, it was still called the Temple of God, speaking of its former condition. Wherefore the Popish Church is called the Temple of God because before her apostasy she was the Church of God. Similarly, it is not unusual to call the corpse of a man by his name, though he no longer occupies the carcass. And lastly, the true and living Church of God is, for the most part in our day, not gathered from amongst the Jews, Turks or other infidels, but from the people who live under the spiritual bondage of the Pope. The Apostle’s pen was divinely directed in affirming Antichrist should sit in the Temple of God. As for the Jesuit’s dream that Antichrist’s Image shall be set up in Churches constructed of lime and stone, as are the Images set up in the Popish synagogues for adoration, is both childish and far from the meaning of Scripture, for it never calls any literal building made for the assembly the Temple of God. Besides, the Temple in Jerusalem was a figure of Christ, His Church being the true Temples. And yet, if the Jesuits were to seek such an Image worshipped, where else need they go but to Rome, where anyone may view the Beast, whose throne exceeds that of Princes, being born upon the shoulders of his scarlet knights, to whom the miserable people bow down and kneel. Thus, in contradistinction to Christ, who humbled himself never so low, the Pope, a mere man, hath exalted himself on high…..
“And whereas they attempt to posit to us Antichristian tendencies, they mark out two things in particular that suggest we are the immediate forerunners of Antichrist: Church government and a sacrifice contrary to that ordained by Christ. We are well content that these are the essential issues, for who is so blind so as not to see that the Pope hath utterly overthrown the whole government of Christ by placing one Bishop over all the Churches of the world, whereas Christ would have one Bishop in every Church. Furthermore, he sets in office Cardinal Deacons who eat up the poor, whereas Deacons should gather for the poor; and he sets up Cardinal Priests to rule and overrule the Bishops instead of Elders, who should (in an inferior degree) assist the Bishops. The Pope takes from the Church the right to elect and dispose of her ministers, as well as the excommunication and absolution of her repentant or unrepentant Citizens. He takes away the offices Christ Himself ordained, while adding many which Christ never made mention, nor did it ever enter into His heart to name them.
“And as for the sacrifice of Christ, is not the Pope he who makes himself the head of the Church, and consequently, its Chief Priest? Is it not he who makes anyone and everyone he sees fit to be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, even bastard sons of priests? Is it not the Pope who offers and causes to be offered a sacrifice for the quick and the dead? Does he not offer Christ often, making His sacrifice no better than the sacrifices of sheep and oxen, which sacrifices had need to be repeated often because they had no virtue in themselves to take away sin? Finally, is it not he that (in pretence) offers and causes to be offered the Son of God, making himself and his priests greater than our Saviour Christ? For Christ when offering Himself to the Father did so by the eternal Spirit of God, who is greater than the body and soul of His human nature.”
“Though some of the ancient Fathers supposed that Antichrist should sit in the Temple at Jerusalem, yet they had no reason from the Word of God to teach this. For the Temple of Solomon had been utterly destroyed never to be rebuilt. Yet even if another were to be built, it could not be called ‘the Temple of God’ because the Apostle calls the Church, ‘the Temple of God,’ 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 3:12. By this, the Apostle means that Antichrist shall sit in the visible Church of God, that Church which is so-called and commonly reputed to be Christian, and there usurps divine authority. The Jesuits’ theory that the abomination of desolation consists chiefly in abolishing the Popish Mass is a vain presumption without authority of the Scriptures or testimony of the ancient Fathers. Rather the Mass is the abomination that bringeth desolation because it overthrows the virtue of the sacrifice and Priesthood of Christ, of which is the only comfort of all Christian men’s consciences.
“Then the Jesuits turn about and confess that by the judgment of St. Augustine and Jerome Antichrist should sit in the Church of Christ, rather than in the Temple of Solomon. Yea, according to St. Augustine he should not only sit in the Church of God, but take claim that he and his retinue are the only true Church; not only sitting in the Temple of God, but sitting as the Temple of God. Nothing could be said more properly of the Pope, for he boasts he is both head and foundation of the Church, and that there is no other Church of God but he and his body. Chrysostom agrees with Augustine and Jerome, saying Antichrist shall be worshipped in the stead of God, being placed in the Temple of God, not only in Jerusalem, but in the Churches. Theodoret says, ‘He calls the Temple of God the Churches in which Antichrist shall arrogate unto himself the chief seat, endeavoring to show himself as God.’ Primasius says, ‘That which is called God is the Church. That which is worshipped is the highest God. Thus, the man of sin shall sit in the Temple of God boasting that he is the Temple of God, or sitting as God he boasts he is God.’ This statement comes originally from the Rules of Tyconius, from which Augustine also took his opinion.” [Fulke cites more Church Fathers to prove his point.] “Thus, you Jesuits see that by the mouths of the best and most approved Authors’ judgments, Antichrist should sit in the Church of God. Yet you claim that even if this were true, ‘he would not be a chief member of the Church of Christ, or a special part of his mystical body.’ Indeed, Antichrist is no member or part of the true Church, the mystical Body of Christ, but he sits in the visible Church, boasting himself to be the chief head thereof; yea, as though he and his body were the Church itself, as Augustine and Primasius testify. He taketh upon him the chief seat in the church, as Theodoret says. Therefore, because all things agree so aptly to the Pope, it is impossible the great Antichrist can be found anywhere else. We Protestants do not view the Pope to be a member of the Church of Christ. Rather he is its enemy, usurping tyranny over the Church, and thereby declaring he is Antichrist. And whereas St. John writes that Antichrist and his precursors should go out from the Church, it is a true saying. For the Pope has gone from the doctrine of the Apostles and out from the Church of Christ, whereof his predecessors, the Bishops of Rome, were once true members and servants of the Church. Yet those heretical Popes continued in the outward face of the Church, professing Christianity, though they were never true members of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. An example of the spirit of Antichrist working in John’s time is found in 3 John 9, where the proud prelate Diotrephes would not receive John, having usurped tyranny in the Church. Though professed members of the Church, such heretics are really its enemies. And even that which you Jesuits affirm of Antichrist is true of the Pope. For he has revolted from the Catholic [i.e., ‘universal’] Church of Christ, and boasts that he and his members alone are the Church. He usurps his rule of the Church by means of tyranny, and challenges worship, religion and the government thereof. He is adored in all Popish Churches (where his sacrilegious decrees are obeyed) above and against the laws of God. And so he sits in the Temple, against the Temple, so therefore, by your own description we may call him Antichrist.”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now what letteth you know: that he may be revealed in his time. “St. Augustine plainly professes he does not understand these words, nor those which follow concerning the mystery of iniquity, and least of all those which the Apostle adds, Only that he which holdeth now, do hold, etc. Which may humble us all and restrain the confident rashness of these times, namely that of the Protestant Heretics, who boldly feign hereof whatsoever is agreeable to their heresy and fantasy. The Apostle had told the Thessalonians before, by word of mouth, a secret point which he would not utter in writing, and therefore refers them to his former talk. The mystery of iniquity is commonly understood as referring to the work of Heretics, doing those things which Antichrist shall do, though not openly, but covertly, under the cloak of Christ’s name, quoting Scriptures, the word of the Lord, all with a show of holiness, etc. Whereas Antichrist himself shall openly attempt and achieve the aforesaid desolation. Satan is now being served by underhanded Heretics, and shall toward the end of the world bring Antichrist forth, revealing him to all openly, which is implied by the expression used here, to be revealed, that is, to appear in his own person.
“These other words used by St. Paul, Only that he which now holdeth, hold, some expound of the Emperor, during whose continuance in his office God shall not permit Antichrist to come, meaning that the very Empire shall be completely desolate, destroyed, and taken away before or by his coming. This is more than a defection from the Roman Empire, when before in verse 3 a revolt is prophesied. For there shall be a revolt from the Church also, but it shall not be utterly destroyed. Others say that it is an admonition to all faithful to hold fast their faith and not go be beguiled by such false Christians who, under the name of Christ or Scriptures, seek to deceive them. For these Heretics who now pretend to follow the Christian religion and Gospel will one day plainly breach the faith they profess in a revolt and open apostasy when Antichrist appears. This is the one all Heretics serve in mystery, that is, covertly, according to the Devil’s doctrines, though the world seeth it not, nor even considered when the mystery of iniquity first began. But now, every day, more and more men perceive the Heretics tend toward Atheism and Antichristianity.”
“That the Apostle understands the Roman Empire as ‘the Let,’ is manifest both by reason and authority. For so general an Apostasy could not be unless there had first been a general and catholic [i.e., ‘universal’] establishment of the Gospel, which occurred under the Emperor Constantine, as well as most Emperors after him, until such time Antichrist came to sit at Rome.” [Editor’s Note: Because the ‘falling away,’ which comes first, is to be understood as apostasy from Christian truth.] Secondly, after the general establishment of the Gospel, it could not so easily be displaced, unless it was done by one who succeeded unto the same authority as the Emperor, having the same strength to pull down that which the previous Emperors erected. He would also need to have the same arm of power and worldly authority to root up that which the Emperors before him had planted. Lastly, that Let being then in existence, which was hindering the discovery and revelation of Antichrist, the Jesuits are free to assign (if they can) anything but the Roman Emperor, whose place Antichrist could not take until he was removed from office. And howsoever it seems humble of Augustine to doubt what this Let should be, others (with great consent and full resolution) assign the Let to be the Roman Empire. We have heard previously the judgment of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Chrysostom and Jerome concerning this. In addition, Lactantius and Ambrose concur: the Let is the Roman Empire. We dare the Jesuits to call these men ‘presumptuous’ merely because they affirm precisely that which Augustine doubted. If they do not, why then do they charge Protestants with presumption when we agree with the aforesaid Fathers! Furthermore, in the same place where the Jesuits cite Augustine, he goes on to say that it is not absurdly believed that this is spoken of the Roman Empire. In fact, in another place he declares that to be his opinion!
“And whereas the Jesuits would pervert the meaning by saying, Antichrist shall not come until the Roman Empire shall be utterly overthrown, it is utterly untrue. First of all, it is said that the harlot (which is known and confessed to be the Antichrist) shall ride upon the Beast, and shall be borne up by it. This could not be possible if the Beast, which is the Roman Empire, should be taken away before Antichrist come. Secondly, according to the measure of the decrease and weakening of the Roman Empire, the Antichrist likewise increases and grows stronger. And as the Emperors became withered, the Antichrist flourished. And therefore, St. John says, the Beast goes to destruction, noting thereby the present time wherein he shall, little by little, like a shrinking candle, go out. This was necessary for an entrance of the revelation of Antichrist: that the Emperor should be removed from Rome, without which Antichrist could not have appeared. And although the Emperors kept some Imperial rights and prerogatives after Antichrist was discovered, yet the Pope took them away by degrees, until the Emperor had remaining the bare name and title………”
“St. Augustine, who did not see the fulfilling of this prophecy, professed his ignorance, as did Irenaeus, in part. Yet most of the ancient Writers understand the Let to be the Roman Empire. And as long as it stood Antichrist could not possess the city of Rome, the very place appointed as the seat of his tyranny…..That we Protestants feign nothing upon this text is manifest because we affirm nothing but that which the ancient Fathers have said before us. Because we see these things as openly revealed which to them were more obscure because the prophecies were not yet fulfilled, we note the person more boldly and clearly as we pronounce the fulfilling of this prophecy. We agree with you Jesuits, that the mystery of iniquity is the covert working of Heretics towards the manifestation of Antichrist himself. The Pope is obviously Antichrist when he openly blasphemes the Scriptures as insufficient; or notwithstanding the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Christ, under both the elements of bread and wine, the Pope deprives the people of the Lord’s blood; also, in that he may lead infinite thousands of souls to Hell with him for his wicked life; and though the Pope impudently boasts that he is not to be reproved or judged by any man; though he brags he cannot err; that he hath all Laws in the closet of his breast; that he is above all Laws; that his will is in the stead of reason; and many other similar statements which you Jesuits cannot deny prove him to be Antichrist.
“The other words (as I said) which the ancient Fathers for the most part expound of the Roman Empire, which was utterly subverted before Antichrist was in his highest exaltation, but now is nothing but a name and shadow of an Empire, and a long time since it had any modicum of power, ceased to be the Roman Empire…..When you conclude all men perceive our doctrine and doings tend to lean toward plain Atheism and Antichristianity because it is nothing but impudent, railing without any proofs it is true, I pass it over as unworthy of any answer.”
1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
……whose coming is according to the operation of Satan, in all power and lying signs and wonders. “Satan, whose power to hurt is abridged by Christ, shall then be let loose and shall assist Antichrist in all manner of signs, wonders and false miracles, whereby many shall be seduced; not only Jews, but all who are carried away by means of only the vulgar speech of Heretics who work no miracles. Much more shall those deceived so easily by the Heretics follow this man of sin doing so great wonders. And such as those who do now follow Heretics and who shall then receive Antichrist deserve to be forsaken of God, because they had forsaken the unity and happy fellowship of Saints in the Catholic Church, where alone is found the charity of truth, as the Apostle here speaks [verse 10].”
“By false miracles the Apostle means not only feigned miracles, but those that are wrought indeed, but yet for the purpose of deceiving and confirming falsehood. For we do not deny the Pope and his Popelings the working of miracles, just as Moses and our Savior Christ did not deny the miracles worked by the false Prophets. And the Jesuits themselves (though unaware) have yielded this point. For they make the argument that the difference between Antichrist and us is in the working of miracles, which we do not, and which Antichrist must needs work. Here, therefore, they have surely overthrown a principle supporting structure of their tottering religion, which concludes that the working of miracles is good because their Priests can do miracles. And if by false miracles they understand feigned miracles which only appear real, yet are not, that note of Antichristianity is so notable in the Popish Church that there shall never be found a heresy or by-way from the truth, so infamous in this kind of fraud and mocking of men as there is in Popery, where it is so often and grossly used that their own friends and supporters are constrained to confess that her Priests, for filthy lucre’s sake, shamefully deceive the people with miracles.”
“Beside the strange and wondrous works of Antichrist in removing the Monarchy from Greece to France [i.e., from the Eastern Roman Empire to the Western Roman Empire] and then to Germany, to the utter overthrow of it in both places, along with divers other translations of Kingdoms, deposing of Emperors and Princes, and setting up his vassals in offices throughout dominions, there never existed any heathen religion so full of false miracles, lying signs and wonders, as the religion of Antichrist. Most of which are nothing but monstrous fables, some magical illusions of the Devil, and crafty conveyances of master magicians. Reports of these may be found in their books containing Legends, Festivals, Sermons, etc., which are so stuffed with alleged miracles that it may be said that practically nothing is considered sufficiently proved without confirmation by a number of false and frivolous miracles. Yea, they cease not, even to this day, to perpetuate these miraculous fictions, such as their miraculous hosts and miraculous blood of Christ, which was really a confection of honey and saffron made fresh as often as it pleased them. Or other miracles, such as the Virgin’s milk and ten thousand false tales of relics which reside in every corner of the Pope’s dominion. Besides new healings, such as the alleged restoring of Margaret Jessup’s limbs at the Sacrament of Miracles who, sadly, was unable to be cured of her whoredom or lameness. Miraculous visions, such as the Vision of the Black Dog and other fables abound. Our Protestant doctrine, having manifest testimony of the holy Scriptures, has no need for miracles to confirm it. Although God Himself (for the persuasion of His Church) worketh great things, which being done by Him, ought to be wonderful in our eyes, such as the marvelous preservation of our Sovereign Lady against so many conspiracies, treasons, rebellions, murderings, poisonings, conjurings, invasions, and other devilish practices devised by Antichrist and his limbs, directed against her person, Realm and Kingdom, non-stop for these thirty years. This is as glorious a work of his merciful protection as ever was seen in any age, or which has been recorded in any story, holy or profane. Yea, I know not whether anything remotely similar was ever known before.”