The Antichrist in Scripture – The Popes According to Luther and Calvin

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"A profitless and fanciful belief about the imminent return of Christ had gained wide currency….   First [however,] there must come apostasy in the Church — and a great part of the World turn from God in faithlessness.   Indeed, Antichrist must reign in God’s temple….

"Under the Papacy there is nothing more well-known and common, than the [as yet still] ‘future’ coming of Antichrist.   And yet they are so dull, that they [Papists] do not see that his tyranny is being exercised over them!…   The Papists have imagined an Antichrist who is [only yet] to harass the Church for three and a half years [just before Christ’s Second Coming]. 

"All the marks by which the Spirit of God has pointed out Antichrist, [however,] appear clearly in the Pope[s].   Let us remember that Antichrist has not only been indicated by God’s Spirit!….  The marks by which he may be discerned, have also been ascribed to him.

"Those who think that he would be just one man, are dreaming!   For Paul…plainly shows that it would be a kingdom (Second Thessalonians 2:3).   He first foretells a falling away that would spread throughout the whole Church….   Then he makes the head of this apostasy, the adversary of Christ who would sit in God’s Temple and claim divine honours.   Unless we deliberately want to err — let us learn to know Antichrist from Paul’s description!…

"Anyone who has learned from Scripture…what the Pope usurps for himself, will not have much difficulty in recognizing Antichrist….   He will be annihilated by the Word of the Lord…. Christ will scatter the darkness in which Antichrist will reign, by the rays which He will emit before His coming….   The preaching of this doctrine is referred to as Christ’s ‘coming’ to us."

— John Calvin, Commentary on First John 2:18 and Second Thessalonians 2:3-8 [A.D. 1550-51].

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The Antichrist!   When would he appear?   Where would he rule?   Who would he be? How long would he last?    And what would cause his termination?

Martin Luther, the great Protestant Reformer, carefully answers all five of these important questions.   So too does John Calvin.   They do so — from the infallible Word of God.

In this essay, we first trace especially Luther’s understanding of Church History — from Daniel’s Babylon, to the Protestant Reformation.   Second, we note that Reformer’s understanding of the Old Testament predictions about Antichrist.   Third, we present Luther’s views of the various Antichrist predictions in the New Testament — from Matthew to Revelation. Fourth, we show how Luther’s views are restated and developed by Calvin and Calvinism on the Antichrist.   Finally, we shortly summarize the above findings. 

1.   Church History from Daniel’s Babylon to the Protestant Reformation

Around 540 B.C., Daniel1 predicted that all new prophesying would cease — soon after the then-still-future baptism and death of Jesus Christ.   This would be near the time of the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70 — and also near the time the Bible would be completed.   Thereafter, not even the Pope of Rome could add to that Prophetic Scripture — without being plagued by God, for polluting it.   See too: Second Peter 1:16-21; 2:1-3; Revelation 22:18f.

In Daniel 12:1a (cf. 10:5-21), God in the sixth century B.C. predicted that ‘Michael’ would arise or "stand up."   For Michael is "the great Prince" of the children of Daniel’s people, the nation of Israel.   In Hebrew, ‘Michael’ (or Miy-ka-’El) means: ‘Who is like the Triune God?’

Yes, Who indeed?   Only the One Who was and is the central Person of that Trinity!   Only our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

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