Here Luther comments:71 "Christ says: ‘Many shall come in My Name!’ So well was this destruction announced; in these actual words — about the false-teachers — ahead of their time! It is not that they would openly do away with the Way of Christ; nor point to another; nor deny the doctrine of the Gospel. They would point to the external appearance of it!
"However, they would present Christ and the Gospel hypocritically. They would highly praise themselves about this. Yet alongside — as they are now doing! — they would deceitfully introduce difficulties and blockages. Thereby, they would in time extirpate and destroy the Way of the Lord and the Gospel. Thus, they would preserve in their midst nothing more than the mere name and title of Christ and the Gospel."
Luther continues:72 "Also under the pretence and Name [of Christ], everything has merrily proceeded from the Antichrist which he has indeed dared to attempt. He would have deceived the very elect, if that were possible. As Christ declared (Matthew 24:24): ‘For there shall arise "false-christs" and false-prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders. Insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect!’"
Luther adds:73 "Who was it who said the Pope alone comes in the Name of Christ?" The Papists! In fact, however, the Pope "only pretends to be the ‘Vicar of Christ’ — the Viceroy of God on Earth….
"Some have not sufficiently read what Christ has said — there in Matthew 24:4-5. ‘Many shall come in My Name’…. They have now made ‘one and the same thing’ out of the Pope and out of Christ. They gossip that Christ and the Pope are each a [mixed] human being, and that the Pope is not to be separated from Christ.
"O, what a nonsensical blasphemy above all blasphemies is this! The godless and shameless paederasts, the stranglers, the church-robbers and the bloodthirsty tyrants — are supposed to be ‘mixed’ with Christ and to be one with Him? O come, dear Lord Jesus, and at once put an end to them!"
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In his 1546 Preface to the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians,74 Luther explains that "because of misunderstanding, the [51f A.D.] Thessalonians [mis]understood that the Last Day was already at hand…. In chapter two, he teaches that before the Last Day, the Roman Empire must first pass away — and Antichrist set himself up as a god in Christendom, and seduce the unbelieving World with false doctrines and signs."
Anent Second Thessalonians 2:3, already in 1520 Luther was declaring75 that "the Pope can be called the ‘man of sin’…. O Christ my Lord, look down…and destroy the devil’s nest at Rome! Here sits [enthroned] the man of whom St. Paul has said that he shall exalt himself
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above You, sit[ting] in Your Church and set[ting] himself up as a god — the man of sin and the son of perdition! What else is the papal power, than only the teaching and increasing of sin and evil — the leading of souls to damnation under Your Name and guise?"
In Second Thessalonians 2:3f, Luther thus found76 "the tyranny of the Pope…and all his Papists…. They are guilty of all the souls that perish under this miserable captivity…. The Papacy is of a truth the kingdom of Babylon, yea, of very Antichrist! For who is ‘the man of sin’ and ‘the son of perdition’ — but he that with his doctrines and his laws increases sins and the perdition of souls in the Church, while he sits [enthroned] in the Church as if he were a god? All this the papal tyranny has fulfilled, and more than fulfilled, these many centuries. It has extinguished faith, obscured the Sacraments, and oppressed the Gospel. But its own laws — which are not only impious and sacrilegious, but even barbarous and foolish — it has enjoined and multiplied, World without end." Cf. Daniel 7:25 & 11:36f!