Is the pope, or the next pope, the antichrist?

Question: "Is the pope, or the next pope, the antichrist?"

There are many speculations about the identity of the Antichrist. One of the most frequent “victims” of the speculation is the pope of the Roman Catholic Church. In the days of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and some of the other reformers were convinced that the pope of that time was the Antichrist. Pope John Paul II was commonly identified at the Antichrist until his death. The current pope, Benedict XVI, is an equally popular target. Why is this? Is there anything in the Bible that would indicate that a pope will be the Antichrist?

The speculation about the pope possibly being the Antichrist revolves primarily around Revelation 17:9. Describing the evil end-times system symbolized by a woman riding a beast, Revelation 17:9 declares, “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.” In ancient times, the city of Rome was known as “the city on seven hills” because there are seven prominent hills that surround the city. So, the thinking goes, we can know that it is somehow connected with Rome. So, if the evil end-times system is somehow connected to Rome – it does not take much thought to see a potential connection with the Roman Catholic Church, which is centered in Rome. Numerous passages in the Bible describe an “antichrist” who will lead the anti-Christ movement in the end times (Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:5-8). So, if the end-times evil world system is centered in Rome, and led by an individual – the pope is a likely candidate.

However, many other Bible commentators say the woman cannot be the Catholic Church and the seven hills cannot refer to Rome. They cite the fact that Revelation chapters 17-18 clearly identify her as the city of Babylon. (We know the city of Babylon by a different name today—Baghdad.) In addition, verse 10 clearly identifies the seven hills as symbolizing seven kings, five of which “have fallen, one is and one is to come.” Clearly this cannot refer to the seven hills of Rome. Rather, this is a reference to seven world empires ruled by the seven kings. At the time of the Revelation, five world empires had come and gone—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece—one (Rome) existed, and one (Antichrist’s world empire) had not yet come.

Whoever he turns out to be, the important thing is to be warned of his coming and learn to recognize not only the Antichrist, but all who possess his spirit. First John 4:3 tells us how to identify the spirit of Antichrist: "but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." The current pope, Benedict XVI, acknowledges Jesus as being from God and Jesus as coming in the flesh (see 1 John 4:2). While we disagree with Pope Benedict XVI on numerous areas of Catholic doctrine, his view of the Person of Jesus Christ is biblical. Therefore, it’s hard to believe that Pope Benedict XVI is the Antichrist. While we believe it is possible for a pope to be the Antichrist, the Bible does not give specific enough information to be dogmatic. A future pope very well may be the Antichrist, or perhaps the Antichrist’s false prophet (Revelation 13:11-17). If so, this future pope will be clearly identified by a denial of Jesus as coming in the flesh.

Recommended Resource: A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt.

Related Topics:

Who is the antichrist?

Was Saint Peter the first Pope?

What is the whore of Babylon / mystery Babylon?

What does the Bible say about the pope / papacy?

Is papal infallibility Biblical?

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Is the pope, or the next pope, the antichrist?