Who is the Antichrist?
ROME IN BIBLE PROPHECY PT. 2
By John Aziza
Who or what is the the antichrist? Is he a person or political office? Is he here now or will he appear in the future? Or... has he already appeared, as some claim, in the days of ancient Rome?
To answer these questions, we must start with the basics. The term antichrist embodies the word evil, and evil rarely works in the open.
Instead, evil is usually disguised in
a facade of righteousness to better conceal its true character and intentions (2 Cor. 11:14). That is why identifying the antichrist is so tricky. But the good news is that the Bible doesn't leave us clueless. In fact, it provides us with all of the necessary earmarks to successfully identify the antichrist so we can avoid being deceived.
The following points taken from Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 will help us unmask the identity of the antichrist and better understand his end times role:
1. THE ANTICHRIST MUST ARISE OUT OF ROME (DANIEL 7:7)
In Daniel 7, the prophet sees a vision in which four "beasts" emerge out of the "sea". The beasts, of course, are merely symbolic and represent the rise of four world empires that would come to rule in the following order: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (Dan. 7:17, 23). Nearly all Bible scholars agree on the identity of these beasts exactly as described.
In Daniel 7:7, we are introduced to the fourth beast, Rome, which is said to be “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly”. Another distinguishing factor is that it has ten horns:
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns...I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn” (Dan. 7:7-8).
Now according to the above passages, the fourth beast or empire is more diverse than any that came before it: "it was diverse from all of the beasts that were before it". But by far its most distinguishing feature is the "little horn" that emerges from among the ten. This "little horn" is commonly identified as the antichrist and that's why the rest of Daniel 7 is focused on describing its appearance and actions. Now since the little horn is an extension of the fourth beast, we can be certain that the antichrist arises out of Rome.
2. THE ANTICHRIST LITTLE HORN UPROOTS AND SUBDUES THREE “HORNS” OR KINGDOMS
The ten horns protruding from the fourth beast symbolize ten kings or kingdoms that would eventually rule Rome (Dan. 7:24). According to history, barbarian tribes descended upon imperial Rome from the north and split it into ten kingdoms ruled respectively by the Visigoths (Spain), Anglo-Saxons (England), Franks (France), Alemani (Germany), Burgundians (Switzerland), Lombards (Italy), Suevi (Portugal), Heruli (now rooted up/extinct), Ostrogoths (now rooted up/extinct), and Vandals (now rooted up/extinct).
So these are the original barbarian nations that ruled ancient Rome and later Europe.
But notice the fact that the little horn antichrist is said to uproot and subdue three of the ten horns or kingdoms which came up before it:
“I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.... And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.” (Dan. 7:8, 24).
According to Dr. Mervyn Maxwel, a theologian and historian, the events described in the preceding verses came to fulfilment when the final three kingdoms listed were conquered by Catholic emperors subject to the papacy and working on its behest. In his book God Cares, he describes the results of these historic events as follows:
"The Catholic emperor Zeno (474-491) arranged a treaty with the Ostrogoths in 487 which resulted in the eradication of the kingdom of the Arian Heruls in 493. And the Catholic emperor Justinian (527-565) exterminated the Arian Vandals in 534 and significantly broke the power of the Arian Ostrogoths in 538. Thus were Daniel's three horns the Heruls, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths 'plucked up by the roots.' " (God Cares, volume 1, page 129)
So here we see that the Arian Heruls, Arian Vandals, and Arian Ostrogoths were essentially destroyed for following the non-trinitarian theology of Arius, a presbyter of the early Church. Arius was pronounced a heretic at the Council of Nicea in A.D 325, which later resulted in the severe persecution of those who followed his theology (Arianism). Because of these events, it is easy to see how the Catholic papacy matches best to the little horn antichrist of Daniel 7.
3. THE ANTICHRIST LITTLE HORN ARISES AFTER THE TEN HORNS AND IS DIVERSE FROM ALL OF THE OTHERS
“...and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first... whose look was more stout than his fellows” (Dan. 7:24, 20b).
According to the above verses, the little horn is said to emerge “after” the ten horns and to be more “diverse” and “stout” (stronger) than all of the others. In light of this information, it is important to note that Rome's Vatican papacy arose after the barbarian occupation of imperial Rome and created a form of government more powerful and well organized than its competitors. Eventually, its barbarian rivals were either forcefully vanquished or subdued as they converted to Roman Catholicism.
Now most Bible scholars identify the "little horn" as the antichrist of prophecy based on Daniel's precise description of his character and actions. What isn't agreed upon and largely contested is the little horn's actual identity. The question of who he is and when he will show up is central to this debate. Currently, the popular view among Christians is that the antichrist is a dominant political figure that will emerge sometime in the future. But the purpose of this study is to demonstrate that Daniel's little horn antichrist is here now. In fact, the antichrist has been here for nearly the entire Church age. It is our firm conviction that the antichrist of Daniel 7 represents the Vatican and its leader the pope (i.e. the papacy). After all, consider the fact that the Vatican emerged after the ten barbarian nations of Europe carved out Rome. Furthermore, it is the smallest European state in existence--a LITTLE horn with a very powerful government indeed (see here). The reason for this is because emperor Constantine extended special political power to all of Rome's Bishops, which later resulted in the pope gaining temporal ascendancy over the whole of Europe.
4. THE ANTICHRIST LITTLE HORN IS A MAN WHO SPEAKS BLASPHEMOUSLY AGAINST GOD (DAN. 7:8,11,25)
Daniel's little horn is the only one said to have "eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things" (v.8). In other words, this kingdom has a special leader or spokesperson.
But how does the little horn "speak great things" and what does that even mean? The answer to this is located in verse 25, where we are told that the little horn will “speak great words against the Most High”. This means that he will speak blasphemously against God. Now according to the Bible, any person who claims the power to forgive sin or be equal with God is guilty of blasphemy (see Mk. 2:7, Luk. 5:21, Jn. 10:23). So here again the Catholic Pontiff is a perfect match. Consider the fact that nearly all popes have committed exactly this type of blasphemy, as evidenced in the following quotes:
"... I alone have the mission to guide and direct the barque of Peter; I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE." - Pope Pius IX
Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) wrote: “We may according to the fullness of our power, dispose of the law and dispense above the law. Those whom the Pope of Rome doth separate, it is not a man that separates them, but God. For the Pope holdeth place on earth, not simply of a man but of the true God.” (Volume 1, Book of Gregory 9 Decret. c. 3)
The Lateran Council addressing Pope Julius II in an oration delivered by Marcellus said: “Take care that we lose not that salvation, that life and breath which thou hast given us, for thou art our shepherd, thou art our physician, thou art our governor, thou art our husbandman, thou art finally another God on earth.” (Council Edition. Colm. Agrip. 1618)
Pope Nicholas said of himself: “I am in all and above all, so that God Himself and I, the vicar of God, hath both one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do... wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man, but of God, what do you make of me but God? Again, if prelates of the Church be called of Constantine for gods, I then being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be above all gods. Wherefore, no marvel, if it be in my power to dispense with all things, yea with the precepts of Christ.” (Decret. par. Distinct 96 ch. 7 edit. Lugo 1661)
The RC New York catechism states: “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.”
The title “Lord God the Pope” appeared in the Canon Law of Rome: “To believe that our Lord God the Pope has not the power to decree as he is decreed, is to be deemed heretical.” (The Gloss extravagances of Pope John XXII Cum. Inter, tit XIV Ad Callem Sexti Decretalium, Paris, 1685)
Father A. Pereira acknowledged: “It is quite certain that Popes have never disapproved or rejected this title “Lord God the Pope” for the passage in the gloss referred to appears in the edition of the Canon Law published in Rome by Gregory XIII.”
Pope Nicholas I declared that “the appellation of God had been confirmed by Constantine on the Pope, who being God, cannot be judged by man.” (Labb IX Dist.: 96 Can 7 Satis Evidentur Decret Gratian Primer Para)
“I acknowledge no civil superior, I am the subject of no prince, and I claim more than this, I claim to be the supreme judge on earth and director of the consciences of men, I am the last supreme judge of what is right and wrong.” (Sermon in the Pro Cathedral, Kensington, Tablet Oct 9, 1864)
These words appeared in the canon law of Rome: “To believe that our Lord God the Pope has not the power to decree as he is decreed is to be deemed heretical.” To this effect, Father A. Pereira acknowledged: “It is quite certain that Popes have never disapproved or rejected this title “Lord God the Pope” for the passage in the gloss referred to appears in the edition of the Canon Law published in Rome by Gregory XIII.”
Pope Nicholas I declared that the appellation of God had been confirmed by Constantine on the pope, who being God, cannot be judged by man.
5. THE ANTICHRIST LITTLE HORN ARISES OUT OF ROME AND CONTINUES TO EXIST UNTIL CHRIST'S RETURN (DAN. 7:25-27)
According to Daniel 7:23, Rome will "devour the whole earth...and break it in pieces". While this seems dismal, we are promised some good news also. In Daniel 7:11, the antichrist little horn and the Beast (Rome) are "slain... and given to the burning flame" at Christ's return. But this implies that Rome must continue to rule at least until the Ancient of Days (Jesus Christ) returns to destroy it and redeem the Saints from antichrist persecution (Dan. 7:25-26). This fact is often overlooked.
So now that we understand all of this, let's ask ourselves an important question. What political entity or office arose out of ancient Rome and continues to exist until presently? The answer to this is quite simple. Only the Catholic papacy arose out of ancient Rome and has continually existed for nearly two millennia. And according to Bible prophecy, it will remain so until Christ returns to abolish the papacy once and for all.
Note: The papal office is currently the oldest surviving political office in world history.
6. THE ANTICHRIST LITTLE HORN CHANGES “TIMES AND LAWS” (DAN. 7:25)
Only the pope of Rome has changed both the calendar and the Laws of God. Pope Gregory was responsible for giving us the current Gregorian calendar (universally adopted) and setting time according to the Roman method, thereby usurping the Biblical calendar. The popes have also changed God's law, moving the Sabbath to Sunday and changing the commandments of Christ in numerous ways. To see this, we need only to look at the whole Catholic system for proof.
7. THE ANTICHRIST'S NUMBER MUST ADD UP TO 666 (REV. 13:16-18)
According to Revelation 13:16-18, the antichrist's number must add up to 666. Bible scholars take this passage to mean that the antichrist's name must add up to 666. But in Revelation 19:16, we discover that both names and titles are interchangeable: "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Therefore it can be said that the antichrist’s title must add up to 666.
Now it's important to note that the official language of the Catholic church is Latin, the same language spoken by the Romans of Christ's time (see here). With this in mind, let’s examine the pope's official Latin title VICARIUS FILII DEI, which is said to be etched across his mitre. This title literally means IN PLACE OF THE SON OF GOD or INSTEAD OF CHRIST. So would you care to guess what this title might add up to in the Latin numerical system? If you guessed 666, then you were indeed correct! See below for the full computation of Vicarius Filii Dei in the Latin numerical system:
VICARIUS FILII DEI
THE LITERAL MEANING:
VICARIUS - substituting for, or in place of
FILII - Son
DEI - God
V = 5
I = 1
C = 100
A = no value
R = no value
I = 1
U/V = 5
S = no value
F = no value
I = 1
L = 50
I = 1
I = 1
112 + 53 + 501 = 666
D = 500
E = no value
I = 1
NOTE: Catholics have been known to deny the veracity of Vicarius Filii Dei as an official papal title precisely for the reason indicated above. However, it clearly appears as the pope's proper/official title in the following documents:
1. Pope Leo IX, In Terra Pax Hominibus, 1054.
2. Pope Nicholaus IV, letter to Caydonius the Tartar, 1289.
3. Pope John XXII, Licet juxta doctrinam, 1327.
4. Pope Paul VI, Rivi Muniensis, 1965.
5. Pope Paul VI, Bafianae, 1968.
6. The Donation of Constantine, Distinctio 96
7. Gratian's Decretum, 1512
8. Summa de Potestate Ecclesiastica, Augustinus Triumphus, 1473
9. Familiar Instructions And Evening Lectures On All The Truths Of Religion, by Monseigneur Louis Gaston A. de Sègur, translated from the French, Vol. II.; London: Burns & Oates, 1881, p. 204.
In respect to the papal mitre displaying Vicarius Filii Dei in lettering, the April 18, 1915 issue of Our Sunday Visitor, a popular Catholic publication, clearly affirms this fact (see here).
8. THE POPE'S TITLE ( VICARIUS FILII DEI OR VICARIUS CHRISTI) LITERALLY MEANS ANTICHRIST
The Greek word anti, which is the prefix of antichrist, translates to mean “instead of” or “in place of” (see here). This point is important because the New Testament was originally penned in Greek. Now while the modern English commonly uses “anti” to describe the notion of being against something, the New Testament uses anti (Strong's NT Greek #473) to describe the substitution of one thing for another (see here). So this makes better sense in relation to the antichrist references found in the epistles of John (1 Jn. 2:18; 2 Jn. 1:7).
Someone who claims to be “another Jesus” is essentially denying Christ's unique and divine attributes and attempting to substitute himself for the real Jesus, which is exactly what the popes of Rome have done throughout the centuries.
NOTE: Roman Catholics believe that Mary was conceived without sin and forever remained so. In fact, they dogmatically deny that Mary passed on a sinful nature to Jesus (see their doctrine on the “immaculate conception”). This means that Jesus had no “fleshly” sin nature, which invalidates the testimony of Scripture affirming that Christ came in the flesh and was “tempted in all points as we, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). It also meets the criteria given in 2 John 1:7 as to the doctrine of antichrist.
9. THE FIRST BEAST IN REVELATION 13 IS NEARLY IDENTICAL TO THE FOURTH BEAST IN DANIEL 7—BOTH SYMBOLIZE ROME IN DIFFERENT STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority....So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (Rev. 13:1-2; 17:3).
It's important to recognize that the fourth beast in Daniel 7 and the first beast in Revelation 13 are nearly identical. This indicates that they are essentially the same beast, and the few differences between them are symbolic for Rome in its different stages of development. To demonstrate this, let's compare the information in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 to see how much of it is similar:
It rises out of the sea
All four of the original beasts studied in Daniel 7 came up out of the sea. Likewise, the first beast in Revelation 13 is seen emerging out of the sea, which tells us that it's related to the same configuration of empires listed in Daniel 7.
It has seven "heads" that represent seven mountains upon which the "woman" sits
This is an important clue because, according to Revelation 17:9, the beast's seven heads represent seven mountains upon which the “woman" sits. So the seven mountains serve as the "woman's" headquarters. Notice:
“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth” (Rev. 17:9).
But who exactly is this “woman” and what does she represent? Thankfully, the answer to this is disclosed in verse 18 of the same chapter where we are told that the woman is symbolic for a "great city" that rules over the “kings of the earth”:
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18).
So, when adding up this information, it tells us the following: The beast's seven heads are symbolic for seven mountains that serve as the headquarters of a "great city" with global power and influence. Now, since a mountain in the Bible may also describe a hill (see here), we can confidently deduce that Rome, the city of seven hills, is the best possible match for this prophetic symbol. After all, Vatican Rome is the only city in the world with unparalleled influence over monarchs, presidents, and heads of state (see here and here).
Essentially, the first beast in Revelation 13 is symbolic for papal Rome or the papacy. And the woman atop this beast, depicted as a “great whore” (Rev. 17-18), is symbolic for the Roman Catholic Church—the beast's religious component. But the Great Whore is clearly multifaceted in everything she represents. For instance, she is a great city (Rome). She is an apostate church (the Roman Catholic Church) and the perfect example of an illegitimate union between church and state. And she is a whore, because she masquerades herself as a church while engaging in prostitution with the "kings of the earth" (Rev. 17:2).
Note: this point will be examined further in part 3 of this study when we explore the identity of Mystery Babylon.
It has ten horns with ten crowns
There is a significant difference between the ten horns of the first beast in Revelation 13 and those of the fourth beast in Daniel 7. The fourth beast in Daniel 7 is said to have ten horns that symbolize the ten kings or kingdoms arising from it. Out of the ten, three are “plucked up” and destroyed by the little horn antichrist examined earlier in Daniel 7:8. But while three of the ten horns in Daniel 7 perish as previously described, none of those in Revelation 13 appear to suffer the same fate. In fact, the ten horns mentioned in Revelation 13 are crowned and said to receive a brief period of rule with the beast (Rome) to whom they belong. Notice:
“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (Rev. 17:12).
So there is only one way to reconcile this difference. The ten horns of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 represent the ten barbarian nations that ruled ancient Rome and Europe. These existed during the earliest stages of the papacy. But the ten horns belonging to the first beast in Revelation 13 are a group of rulers who will arise sometime in the future and receive short-lived political rule with the pope. This prospect is highly feasible when considering the Club of Rome's plan to divide the world into ten individual regions controlled at the top by the United Nations. It could also be that these ten modern-day rulers are already here working in tandem with the papacy (via the EU or another UN program). In other words, this prophecy may have already been fulfilled.
It has "names of blasphemy" upon its seven heads
As demonstrated earlier, the beast's seven heads represent the seven hills of Rome, which is the precise headquarters of the Roman Catholic church. Of course, we also demonstrated how the Catholic church is guilty of much blasphemy because she attributes to the pope names and titles belonging only to God and claims he can forgive sin. This means that there is a clear correlation between the blasphemy of Daniel's fourth beast (Dan. 7:8,11,25) and the “names of blasphemy” attached to Revelation's first beast that should not be overlooked. If anything, it is further proof that the two beasts are one and the same and merely symbolize the blasphemous quality of the papacy. This is another reason why we should identify the pope with the “man of sin” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, who bears the same characteristic of blasphemy described in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. Notice:
“...that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
So, based on this clear linkage, we can be confident that Daniel 7, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 13 all point to the same antichrist of Bible prophecy. And this antichrist is none other than the papacy or popes of Rome.
It has the combined appearance of a lion, bear, and leopard
The beast in Revelation 13 is papal Rome in its final phase of development. It is depicted as a conglomerate beast containing elements from all three of the beasts that preceded it, as listed in Daniel 7 (the lion, bear, and leopard). These symbolisms are remarkable because they so precisely describe the ecumenical character of the papacy.
Consider the fact that as the Roman Catholic church developed in Europe, it gradually incorporated a greater amount of paganism into its liturgical practice. In fact, it adopted elements of worship belonging to the “mystery religions” of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece (see Alexander Hyslop's "The Two Babylons"). Papal Rome eventually became a strange combination of the old pagan religions with a Christian facade.
It is especially noteworthy that since the second Vatican Council of 1962-1965 (Vatican II), Rome has openly embraced unity with all of the world's religions. Vatican II represents the most ambitious ecumenical movement in modern history. Even now, Rome's ecumenical gestures continue as pope Francis routinely meets with religious leaders from all Faith traditions to form ecumenical unity (see here).
So the beast in Revelation 13, containing elements from all of the previous world empires is a perfect depiction of papal Rome and its ecumenical agenda to unite world religions under one umbrella, conveniently led by the antichrist pope. Indeed, it's not hard to recognize the pope's antichrist role in all of these religious affairs. But we must not forget that the pope's "power, seat, and great authority" are derived directly from the dragon (satan) according to Revelation 13:2.
10. THE ANTICHRIST SUFFERS A MORTAL WOUND BUT IS LATER "HEALED" AND REVIVED (REV. 13:3, 12b,14b)
“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Rev. 13:3).
Rome's papacy did indeed suffer a mortal wound when during the Protestant Reformation of 1517 the pope lost almost all of his political and religious power. But that changed in 1929 when the Vatican signed the Lateran Treaty with Benito Mussolini. This restored the papacy's political power in Europe and represented a partial healing of its “deadly wound”. Nearly a century later, the Vatican would enjoy yet another remarkable victory. Indeed, its religious or ecclesiastical power was officially recovered on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (October 31, 2017). On this very historic date, the world's most influential Protestants gathered with high ranking Catholics to sign a joint statement of unity declaring the "protest to be over" (see my documentary on this event here). This marked the complete healing of the antichrist's deadly "wound", as clearly visible in the following news excerpts:
"The Roman question tonight was a thing of the past, and the Vatican was at peace with Italy... In affixing the autographs to the memorable document healing the wound which had festered since 1870, extreme cordiality was displayed on both sides" --The San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 11, 1929 (see here).
“The Pope is again an independent sovereign ruler, as he was throughout the Middle Ages, though his temporal realm, established today, is the most microscopic independent State in the world, and probably the smallest in all history" --The New York Times, Feb. 12, 1929 (see here).
“The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, presented a text by the Anglican communion affirming a joint declaration by the Roman Catholic church and global Protestant bodies, described as 'a sign of healing after 500 years of division'”. --The Guardian, Oct. 31, 2017
“This sense of fellowship, if not full unity, has carried through to the Reformation festivities. ...Pope Francis met with Lutherans in Sweden to express longing “for this wound in the body of [anti] Christ to be healed...” --The Atlantic, Oct. 29, 2017 (emphasis mine).
The "beast that was..., and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit".
In Revelation 17, the beast's death and resurrection is described as follows:
“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition...when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev. 17:8).
So according to the above passage, this beast “was” or existed before, “is not” (ceases to exist temporarily), and “shall ascend out of the bottomless pit ” (re-emerge again at the end of time). Interestingly enough, this is precisely what happened with Rome. While Rome maintained control throughout its imperial and papal phases, it suffered a severe political setback when the Protestant Reformation caused it to lose much of its grip over Europe. However, the real damage came after Napoleon Bonaparte's forces conquered Rome and forced the pope into captivity in 1798. Napoleon's actions represented the final death blow to the papacy. And it wasn't until 1929 that the papacy would miraculously re-emerge to receive full political power in Europe. Once again, it is stunning how the Bible so specifically predicted these events.
11. THE “BEAST” AND THE “HARLOT” ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BLOODSHED OF SAINTS AND PROPHETS
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them...and shall wear out the saints...and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan. 7:21, 25).
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Rev. 13:7).
“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus...” (Rev. 17:6).
“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (Rev. 18:24).
Papal Rome couldn't score higher on this point. It is a fact of history that the Roman Catholic church murdered countless of Christians for the mere crime of "heresy" during the years of the Inquisition. Millions of Protestants were martyred simply for defecting from the “Mother Church”. Among them were the Waldenses, Albigenses, Hussites, and the Pasagians. But to better appreciate the magnitude of Rome's enormous slaughter of Believers notice the following quotes:
"From the birth of Popery in 606 to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible 13 historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existence of popery." —History of Romanism By John Dowling pp. 541, 542. New York: 1871
"That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history . . . It is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of imagination can adequately realize their sufferings." (W. E. H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vol. 2, p. 32, 1910 edition)
So the evidence is staggering. Rome persecuted Christians at the beginning of the Church age, throughout the middle ages, and will do so again at the end of time, if we are to believe Bible prophecy: “...and they [God's people] shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (Dan. 7:25).
12. “FOR MANY SHALL COME IN MY NAME, SAYING, I AM CHRIST; AND SHALL DECEIVE MANY” (MAT. 24:5).
As the single largest religion in the world, the Catholic Church is nearly two billion strong. The pope routinely receives the worship and adulation of the Catholic faithful who see him as the infallible “Christ substitute”. But consider the fact that only the Roman Pontiffs have taken upon themselves the title of Vicar of Christ (in place of Christ) while promoting this deception to so "many" millions of Catholics. In simple terms, there has never been a more successful christ counterfeit than the pope of Rome. Therefore the pope meets the criteria found in Matthew 24:5 better than anyone else. Also, the "many" referred to in Matthew 24:5 may very well implicate the many popes that have existed throughout the past 2,000 years all of whom believed themselves to be vicar of Christ.
NOTE: Pope John Paul II's funeral attracted the largest gathering of heads of state outside the United Nations, with four kings, five queens, and at least seventy presidents and prime ministers paying their respects. Those who attended BOWED before his coffin, including George W. Bush, who openly admitted to seeing this pope as God (see here at minute marker 1:37).
(A) Throughout the Reformation period, there was never any disagreement among Protestants over their conviction that the pope of Rome was the antichrist of Bible prophecy or that the Roman Catholic Church was Mystery Babylon (Revelation 17-18). All of them to a man freely held to this belief and Protestants continued to hold this view UNIVERSALLY all the way into the late 1800's. There wasn't a single denomination of Protestantism that dissented from this view until John Nelson Darby introduced his dispensational theology in the late 1860's. This fact in itself is extremely noteworthy. Essentially, the above expressed points implicating the pope as the antichrist of Bible prophecy represent the traditional view of Christianity.
(B) Manuel Lacunza (1731-1801), Francisco Ribera (1537- 1591), and Luis de Alcasar (1554–1613) were Catholic Jesuit priests who were responsible for inventing the eschatological views of futurism and preterism. According to these two views, the antichrist will be a single man who arrives at the end of history (futurism) or he previously existed in the form of Emperor Nero in the first century A.D. (preterism). But few realize that the purpose of their writings was to remove the onus of antichrist from the pope who was widely regarded as such by the Protestants of their time. Ignorant of these facts, most Christians today fully embrace the futurist view of Bible prophecy and expect a future antichrist at the end of time. But this false belief system was conveniently erected by Jesuits working for Rome. Notice:
"Lacunza's fully developed system played a major role in the Counter-Reformation, the purpose of which was to remove the stigma of Antichrist from Rome, and as such, is a very important work in regard to the history of the Reformation, and the counter-Reformation which followed, which was a reaction to the teaching of Reformers such as Martin Luther and John (Jean) Calvin that the Papacy is the Antichrist of scripture. As Lacunza's book had been placed twice upon the index of forbidden books by the Vatican, first in 1819, and then five years later in September, 1824; this ' . . . of course made the book even more acceptable to Protestants - the fact that Rome had condemned it.' 
"In 'Death of the Church Victorious' Ovid Need Jr., asserts that although the Jesuits then tried to introduce this system into Protestant theology several times over the next century, they were not successful until Presbyterian Pastor Edward Irving read Lacunza's work under the pseudonym of Ben Ezra "A Converted Jew" and then translated it into English. ...In order to turn the blame away from the Papacy, the Roman Catholic Jesuits started teaching that the Antichrist was some future individual that would come at the end of time. Hendrie continues: 'William Kimball, in his book Rapture, A Question of Timing, reveals that Lacunza wrote the book under the pen name of Rabbi Juan Josaphat Ben-Ezra. Kimball attributes the pen name to a motive to conceal his identity, thus taking the heat off of Rome, and making his writings more palatable to Protestant readers.'"
It may surprise you to learn that the points outlined in this teaching have been often repeated for the past 500 years. The truth is that the identity of the antichrist is no hidden mystery. The great Protestant Reformation which rose up against the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church had revealed the identity of the antichrist centuries ago and with stunning detail. But it did so because of the Reformer's diligent and painstaking study of the Scriptures and the antichrist characteristics provided in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. The Reformers understood the fact that the papacy was the very agent of antichrist and they suffered grievously for it.
Sadly, the vast majority of "protestant" Christians today are completely ignorant of what the Reformers revealed concerning the prophetic and historical antichrist. Instead, they now embrace the Jesuit's counter-reformation teaching that pegs the antichrist as a future leader, taking the focus and heat off the true antichrist, the pope of Rome. But they only favor a false, future antichrist because the Jesuits have so succeeded in burying the impeachable evidence that damns their “infallible” leader.
So it is my hope and prayer that God would use my meager efforts and those of other diligent Bible students to call attention to the true antichrist of Bible prophecy. And if I have succeed in this regard, I can only attribute my success to our Lord and Savior, who would have all men walk on the pathway of illumined truth in the dark days ahead.