At first consideration, it would seem like a farfetched notion – that a religious leader, and one that is supposed to represent Christianity, would wind up being the Beast, a man the Bible foretells will make his appearance during these Last Days. But after contemplating some of the characteristics attributed to this soon to be revealed entity from off the pages of prophecy, maybe a case could be made for the possibility that such a person as the Antichrist could emerge from a religious institution. And what better place to start than Rome, a city that has been very prominent in early history and has been mentioned by Bible prophets to play a key role in end-time events.
There are those in Christian circles – who are keeping an eye on current events as they further develop and start to line up prophetically with conditions foretold to occur before the second coming of Christ – who are suggesting that the current pope, Francis, is acting more and more like the coming third person of the unholy trinity, the False Prophet, more so than any other possible candidate presently in the world.
Just as there is a Holy Trinity consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Satan will attempt to mimic the Trinity by having one of his own: Lucifer will be the head; the Antichrist/Beast will be a mere human being initially, then Satan will indwell this person midway through the Tribulation Period; and a False Prophet, who will be the one pointing the earth’s population to look to the Beast and worship him.
The Bible warns that there will be a one-world government and a one-world religion during the last seven years. Revelation 17 and 18 give characteristics and attributes of these coming systems. The late Dave Hunt did an excellent expose on the coming religious system in his classic book, “A Woman Rides the Beast.”
It is hard to see any other entity in the world other than Roman Catholicism when considering all of the indicators mentioned in Revelation 17 concerning the false religious system: a city on seven hills; her primary colors of adornment for its bishops and cardinals are purple and scarlet (no other worldwide religion uses those colors like Rome); she is drunk on the blood of saints (Papal Rome slaughtered hundreds of thousands of true Christians who would not bend the knee to the papacy, as detailed in Foxes “Book of Martyrs”), and the historical record indicates that the papacy was also instrumental in the raising up and disposing of kings throughout medieval Europe, mostly leaders who were beholden to the papacy.
There is not any other institution on the world scene that even comes close to mirroring the qualifiers of Revelation 17 than does the religion of Romanism.
Will a return to the days of papal Inquisitions be thrust upon the world again when the old Roman system is revived and Satan empowers his future man of sin?
Francis, as the current pope, has been busy with the process of ecumenism, just as his predecessors were before him. He has been working overtime with trying to unite other religions to join with Catholicism, just as long as the central figure of these untied faiths is the pontiff in Rome. He has especially been making inroads with the leaders of the Muslim faith in an effort to get the adherents of Islam to fall under the leadership of the papacy. The pope has also reached out to Protestant leaders to try to get them to unite with Rome. Even ex-Roman Catholics – formerly known as heretics during the Reformation years but are now politely referred to as “separated brethren” – have been included in the invite to side up with Rome, with the proviso being, again, that the pope will be head of all.
Pope Francis has also made declarations that there needs to be a central governance for all and that nationalistic ideas need to be done away with. Obviously, he was not a supporter of Trump, and the former president’s Make America Great Again campaign could not be stomached by such an ardent supporter of globalism as Francis.
It is also interesting to consider that the very term “Roman Catholicism” has a central governance implication to it. The word Catholic or Catholicism means universal. Whereas having “Roman” attached to it would imply a global church or religion – as in a “One-World Religion” – but with the caveat that Rome is at the center of it and its governance must emanate from the city on seven hills.
To those who see Francis as a type of the coming False Prophet, could he really be considered a possible candidate? In Revelation 13, it talks about the Beast arising out of the sea, whereas the False Prophet is coming up out of the earth. That could infer that the Antichrist is seen arising from the sea of humanity or out of the Gentile nations (non-Jewish or Israeli); however, the False Prophet shown coming out of the earth could be an indicator that he will come out of the Land of Israel, perhaps.
The Jews are still awaiting their messiah, having not recognized that Jesus was the one promised to come to them. And before the Messiah would arrive, they were looking for Elijah to appear to herald the soon arrival of their long-awaited redeemer. Elijah was a true prophet of Israel and called down fire from Heaven. The False Prophet is going to mimic that activity and cause fire to come down from the sky, by the power of the dragon, to try to persuade onlookers to worship the Beast. Satan does not miss a trick.
If the Jews are looking for the return of the true prophet of Elijah to appear first before the coming of the Messiah, it would seem more likely that Satan would use a false Elijah-type out of the Jewish nation to deceive Israel and ultimately get them on board to buy into the false peace plan that the Beast will present to them. All the true prophets of the Bible were from the land of Israel. It would be a hard sell for the Jewish people to accept a prophet from outside their community — especially one that will deceive them into signing a false peace accord — and for them to entrust their security to a man who will arise in a revived Roman government.
As far as indicators go, pointing to a person who will ultimately become the Antichrist and who comes from within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire or even Rome itself, there are a few.
Daniel 9:26 talks about the seventy weeks of years determined for the Jewish people and how 69 of those weeks have already transpired, with just the last week of years to be fulfilled – the seven years of the Tribulation Period. It mentions “the people of the prince that shall come” as the ones who destroyed the city of Jerusalem forty years after Christ was crucified. Those were Roman troops who sacked the city, so the prince to come will appear out of that same region. That prince also is the one who confirms with Israel the seven-year false peace treaty, or as the Bible calls it, “the covenant with death and hell.”
Revelation 17:9 talks of the topography of where the false religious system is situated: “And here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.” Rome is world-famous for being the City of Seven Hills. The Vatican lies squarely on one of those hills. Further, the Revelation 17 discourse ends with this verse: “And the woman which thou saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the Earth” (Rev 17:18). Undoubtedly, Rome was that great city that reigned during the time of the Apostle John, who scribed those words, and she will rise again to assume that position once more.
Another interesting Bible verse talks about the rise of a “little horn.” In Daniel 7:8, he mentions that he was considering the 10 horns – the 10 kings who will arise in the Last days and align themselves with the Antichrist – and among them arose this little horn. “Little” might suggest a relatively new or young kingdom or nation but also could be a reference to the size of this kingdom. Is this perhaps pointing to the rise and establishment of Vatican City, where the Roman Pontiff is not only the Holy See of his religion but also has the title of the King of Vatican City?
The Vatican is a city-state and is sovereign apart from the dictates of Italy, but nonetheless, situated in Rome. It gained its independence from Italy in 1929. Comprising an area of only 121 acres, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. It is ruled by the Bishop of Rome, the pope. He could and does fulfill a dual role: not only the head of the Roman Catholic church but also a horn, or power, or king of a country.
We are also told in scripture that this fourth beast will be diverse from the first three systems that preceded it, according to the makeup and strength of each succeeding kingdom that Daniel wrote about. What could be more diverse than having a religious affiliation? We are told also that this man of sin will come in peacefully at first, but through intrigue and deceit, he will continue to gain strength and will prosper.
It would seem to me that a quasi-religious individual would make for a more ideal candidate than a purely secular one for the role of an antichrist. The devil is all about deception, and in order to have a Christ-like figure in his trinity, one would think that Satan would use a person from a supposed Christian religion, who is highly regarded throughout the globe and is adored by the faithful when he visits countries with a huge Roman Catholic population. Who better to select for the role of a false “prince of peace”?
After all, when the Rapture occurs, don’t you think that the earth’s population would rather seek answers from a religious type to find out what has just happened versus going to a purely secular leader or an agency like the UN? What could they tell the people? They do not have supposed connections to God or to a higher source to offer any relief. No, a religious leader could offer more soothing reassurance, could better assuage fears, and offer a sense of hope. That type would be better suited to lay the groundwork for mass deception.
On top of that, there has been a lot of talk recently of the UFO connection and how those supposed occurrences could explain away the disappearance of a lot of humanity after the Church is removed from Earth. Some say that this will be a part of the strong delusion, that this theory will be pushed forward and ultimately will get people to fall in line with the Antichrist’s agenda and get people to worship him.
But another consideration could be that if indeed a Roman Pontiff is chosen by Satan to be his Antichrist figure – more than likely not the current pope, but another who by intrigue and manipulation will be rapidly promoted – the deceptive manifestations of the so-called “Marian” apparitions could go a long way in elevating this figure to his prominent role. Many of the Catholic faithful already believe in these supposed appearances of “Our Lady” and do not see them for what they are – a trick of deception manipulated by Satan, who can appear as an “angel of light.”
Back in my former Roman Catholic years, I had visited the one in Fatima, Portugal. Who has not heard of “Our Lady of Fatima”? Fatima was also the name of one of Mohammed’s daughters, and it was clever of the enemy to have one of those “visitations” take place in a rural part of Portugal called Fatima, where that name could be used to attract new Muslim converts to the new One-World Religion.
Between the 1.3 billion members of Roman Catholicism plus the billion or so population of the followers of Islam, that would already be a third of the entire earth’s inhabitants swayed by any future apparitions to get on board with the new world leader’s program. Is it any wonder then that Francis has been busy having talks with the Muslims? The pope and leaders of the Muslim faith are now in the process of building a joint worship center in the United Arab Emirates. Perhaps soon, they will have one in Fatima also?
Another consideration to ponder when pointing to the possibility of a pope/antichrist figure is the name antichrist itself. Not only does the title suggest being opposed to Christ or Christianity, but “anti” is also used to infer that he would be in the place of or stand in for the actual Christ. Each pope assumes the title of the “vicar of Christ” upon being elected by their college of Cardinals. That means that they are acting as an earthly representative of Christ, or to stand in the place for Christ. That alone is a cause for concern.
The Holy Spirit’s role in the world is to point us to Jesus. He indwells all true believers. A person standing in the place of Christ is not necessary nor biblical. Many of Rome’s doctrines are anti-biblical or anti-Christian, and they have leveled anathemas or curses on followers of Christ for believing in what the Word of God reveals to us in His plan of salvation. With the Holy Spirit being Christ’s representative in the world, another is not needed to stand in for Him. Unless, of course, this stand-in is a false Christ or, at the very least, is in opposition to Christ.
The term Holy Father, when looking to a sinful man, is also a blasphemous title. Our Holy Father resides in Heaven, not in Rome. One could easily be set up to worship a false Christ figure if they are already attributing to him terms reserved for God alone – Our Holy Father – and for believing that this man is acting in the place of Christ, a position that the Holy Spirit fulfills.
The Bible also says that the future antichrist will not regard the desire of women. This could indicate that the person may be homosexual, or the desire of women is to get married, and Rome has forbidden their priests to marry – a doctrine of demons as the apostle Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3. Another “doctrine of devils” found in that passage was the command to abstain from eating meats. Rome used to enforce that policy in the past during the Lenten season but has in recent years abandoned that practice.
Early Church reformers – Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer and John Knox, among others – identified the Roman Papacy as the Antichrist. Not the particular pope at the time necessarily, but the office of the pope was antichrist.
The Westminster Confession of 1646: “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God” (25.6)
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod states about the Pope and the Catholic Church:
“There are two principles that mark the papacy as the Antichrist. One is that the pope takes to himself the right to rule the church that belongs only to Christ. He can make laws forbidding the marriage of priests, eating or not eating meat on Friday, birth control, divorce and remarriage, even where there are no such laws in the Bible. The second is that he teaches that salvation is not by faith alone but by faith and works. The present pope upholds and practices these principles. This marks his rule as antichristian rule in the church. All popes hold the same office over the church and promote the same antichristian belief, so they are all part of the reign of the Antichrist.”
Scripture tells us that the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” the Antichrist will be a lone figure to arise in the Last Days. Still, the early reformers, made up of true believers in Christ, who broke away from the bondage and false theology of the Roman system, recognized that the teachings of the Catholic Church were antichrist.
Some of these antichrist teachings include the plan of salvation. God’s word tells us that it is a free gift offered to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for redemption (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; John 3:16, to name a few). Rome denies this and says that works are required as well. They have even placed an anathema or curse on true Christians who believe in faith alone for redemption.
Another false teaching is that Christ’s work on the cross is not complete. According to Rome, He must be represented or re-sacrificed daily on their altars during their mass. Christ said, “It is finished,” to imply that His sacrifice was sufficient to cover the cost of all sins during this one-time event (Hebrews 10:12). Rome says no. The mass is required, and the followers of Roman Catholicism must pay a penalty for their sins via Penance, then spend time in a false place called Purgatory because Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient. You cannot get any more anti-Christ than that.
These and many more anti-Christian beliefs and tenets – too many to list here – from a supposed Christian church based in Rome, who pride themselves with their self-proclaimed title of the ‘One True Church.’
It is interesting to note that in Revelation 17, the primary focus of the discourse is the woman riding the beast, and not so much the beast itself. There are other passages in Daniel and Revelation that give insight into the beast that is to come. The apostle John, exiled on the isle of Patmos, is given a vision of this woman riding on the back of this beast system. The rider of an animal is usually the one in control of it. It is guiding it; it is steering it; it is manipulating it.
If the woman indeed is the false religious system headquartered in Rome and will comprise all faiths of the world after the Rapture to unite with her – to make up the One-World Religion – then it would seem that it is this religious entity that is controlling the beast initially, as he rises to power. The question is: is he one of their own or just a figure that they have groomed or helped put in power to achieve their ends?
The papacy has been very instrumental in the formation of a confederated European power base and the aligning of countries within the old Roman Empire to come together – “with whom the kings of the Earth have committed fornication” (Revelation 17:2). Will she also be key in putting one forward from within their ranks to eventually head the One- World Government?
We are told that about midway through the Tribulation Period, the 10 kings aligned with the Antichrist are going to turn on this Roman religious system and destroy her. It would seem apparent that initially, the beast and his 10-king power structure will use this religious system to great effect to enable him to quickly rise to power. It will be key to getting him established and to get worldwide support for all to fall in line behind him. Could the clay seen in the image of 10 toes from Daniel’s vision of the last ruling government holding together the “iron” countries be a religious compound that unites them all to form this conglomeration – at least initially?
According to Revelation 17:16-17, it will be God Himself who will put the thought and motive into the minds of the 10 kings to hate this religious entity, turn on her and destroy her. She has served her purpose presumably to align these nations at the start but will be an impediment to the desired goal of world conquest. Satan also will at that time be indwelling this antichrist/beast figure and will demand all worship directed to him. The One-World Religious system will be crushed by his forces.
In Matthew 24:4, the Olivet Discourse, where Jesus is asked by his disciples of signs that will precede His return to Earth and of things to transpire at the end of the age, Jesus first words were to not let any man deceive you and that many would come in His name, claiming to be Christ and would deceive many. Deception will be prominent, and false Christs will abound.
The papacy claims that their priests have the power to transform wafers during their mass into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, and that each one contains all the elements of His humanity and divinity. This occurs on a daily basis around the world and has been the key focal point of their worship service, going back centuries: presenting a false Christ to their faithful to ingest Him and be saved. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mass deception, if you will. False Christs presented in a false sacrificial system because they do not believe in what He said He did on the cross: “It is finished.”
The popes also, in time past, have made the claim that they are God on Earth:
“We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.” – Pope Leo XIII Encyclical Letter of June 20, 1894, The Mark of the Beast
“For thou art the shepherd, thou art the physician, thou art the director, thou art the husbandman, finally thou art another God on earth.” – Labbe and Cossart’s “History of the Councils,” Vol. XIV, col. 109
“The Pope is not simply the representative of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, he is Jesus Christ Himself, under the veil of the flesh, and who by means of a being common to humanity continues His ministry amongst men” – Evangelical Christendom, January 1, 1895
The Pope is of so great dignity, and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it were God and the vicar of God.” – Ferraris Ecclesiastical dictionary
“The Pope and God are the same, so he has all power in Heaven and earth.” – Pope Pius V, quoted in Barclay, Chapter XXVII, p. 218, “Cities Petrus Bertanous.”
“The Pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth…by divine right, the Pope has supreme and full power in faith, in morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true vicar, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians. He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils; the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God himself on earth.” – Quoted in the New York Catechism
When the Antichrist is fully indwelt by Satan midway through the Tribulation Period, and from the rebuilt Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem declares himself to be God, will it be a secular world leader – either physically in that place or via an image of him placed there – or will it be a Roman Pontiff making a claim that they have already made claims to in one form or another over the years? Time will tell.
The Antichrist will not be revealed until after the Rapture of the Church. Chapter 4 shows representatives of the true Raptured Church in Heaven already, wearing crowns of gold on their heads, signifying that the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ has already taken place and rewards given. It is not until Chapter 6 that the Lamb – Jesus Christ – opens the first seal of the scroll, unleashing upon the world the Antichrist. The world would not receive Christ, but this man they will receive.
It is interesting to note that the man of sin is shown to be on a white horse. The popes are always shown to be wearing a dazzling white cassock whenever they are viewed in public, whether riding around in the white popemobiles amongst their adoring fans, waving from the balcony of the basilica, or conducting meetings with heads of state. Always white.
So, the pope: will he be the False Prophet? Probably not, but he seems to be acting like the frontrunner for the job right now. Is he a false teacher? Most certainly. Is he a false Holy Father? Without question. Is he representative of a false Holy Spirit type, claiming to be Christ’s representative in the world (even though Jesus clearly taught that He would send the Comforter into the world to indwell all true Bible-believing Christians and guide them)? Of course, he is.
Does he claim to be a stand-in for Jesus Christ, who not only opposes scriptural truth regarding salvation and what Jesus accomplished for us but also claims the title of “Vicar of Christ,” to mean he is here in place of Christ? Without a doubt.
Will one of Roman Catholicism’s popes become the Antichrist, who not only opposes God but blasphemes His name and exalts himself to be equal with or even above God, since they claim they have the power to call down Christ from Heaven to be transformed into a wafer? Time will tell, but his office is already well on its way to make the declaration that he is God by claiming other titles that are or should be reserved alone for the Creator of the universe.
What better candidate than one of those to be selected by Satan to be his false Christ in his unholy trinity?
“Take heed that no man deceives you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).
“Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto Heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5).