Petrus Romanus: The Papacy as Antichrist


By Cris D. Putnam

The idea that the pope or office of the papacy is the biblical Antichrist offends modern sensibility. Contemporary culture elevates political correctness as a cardinal virtue albeit many of its staunchest proponents are intolerant of those who advocate objective truth. It seems pluralism rules the day in religious discourse. Even in evangelical circles, ecumenism disavows such an idea. However, protestant tradition is not politically correct. The purpose of this series is to survey the history of the notion that the papacy fulfills the prophetic descriptions of Antichrist and to follow the data where it leads. This presentation will first give a broad overview and summary of the biblical data and then it will offer a sampling of significant Protestants who have contended for the idea. Two noteworthy proponents, Francis Turretin and Charles Hodge, will be discussed more thoroughly. Finally, a brief discussion will be offered on contemporary responses and conclusions will be drawn. While the argument that the papacy fulfills the prophecies of the Antichrist is sound and compelling, it seems unwarranted to conclude that it does so exclusively.
 
 

The Antichrist in Prophecy

The concept of antichrist traces back to Israelite history where Israel as the chosen people of God were threatened or opposed by a pagan Kings. For example, concerning the Babylonian King, Isaiah writes, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north” (Is 14:13). Ezekiel paints a similar portrait of the King of Tyre (28:2) and Gog of Magog (38-39). This self-proclaimed apotheosis is also found in the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and 8. Even more, it is seen in Daniel 11:36-37. Antiochus IV Epiphanes who desecrated the second temple typifies the eschatological figure and the infamous “abomination of desolation” is seemingly spoken of as future event by Jesus (Mt 24:15). This deified tyrant figure appears in the New Testament in Paul’s description of the “man of lawlessness” who “proclaims himself to be God” (2 Th 2:4). In John’s Apocalypse, he is the beast from the abyss whose image is idolatrously worshipped (13:1-18). In Mark 13:22, Jesus warns near the time of his return that false Christs (pseudochristoi) and false prophets (pseudoprophētai) will deceive people by doing signs and wonders (cf. Matt 7:15; 24:11, 23–24). These texts form a composite picture from which scholars and expositors have formed a model of who this is and how he might manifest.

The Greek term antichristos can be taken two ways as “opponent of Christ” or as “false Christ.” This is due to the twofold meaning of the prefix “anti.” It can mean “against” or “instead of.”[1] It is only used explicitly in 1 John 2:18.22; 4:3; 2 John 7, and in other apocryphal Christian literature. If we look to John’s epistles we see that antichrist is defined as “he who denies the Father and the Son” (1 Jn 2:22b). This meets the “against” sense the prefix “anti.” Yet, John also seems to distinguish between a single Antichrist “who is coming” and a plural “many antichrists who have come,” (1 Jn 2:18). Leon Morris offers, “Perhaps we should bear in mind that John refers to ‘the spirit of the antichrist’ as well as ‘the Antichrist’ (thus using both neuter and masculine); indeed, he refers to ‘many antichrists’ in whom that spirit finds expression (1 John 4:3; 2:18).”[2] Thus, it seems prudent to be flexible in one’s view. Even so, in 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul’s use of: 1) “man of lawlessness;”2) ” son of destruction;”3)”he who opposes and exalts himself;”4) “he whose coming is after the working of Satan” points to a single individual. Due to this and because Jesus is described as defeating an individual (cf. 2 Th 2:8; Re 19:20), one should understand the general term “antichrist” as many individuals culminating with an ultimate incarnation, “the Antichrist,” just prior to the Parousia.

Most interpreters conflate the two meanings of “anti” with a figure who poses as Christ while initially clandestinely opposing God in allegiance with Satan. This portrait of a deceptive usurper is well supported by the above mentioned passages. Yet, the futurist interpretation has not been the dominant view of the Apocalypse historically. Since the reformation, there has been a large body of biblical scholarship which posits the events in the book of Revelation as milestones along church history. We believe that this approach has merit and will suggest a hybrid of futurist and historical interpretation. While speculations on the identity of Antichrist have run the gamut from Muhammad to President Obama, arguably, until very recently, the dominant opinion since the reformation has been the Roman Catholic pope albeit not a single pope rather the office of the papacy. Even though strictly historical interpretations seem inadequate, a hybrid of historical with a still yet ultimate realization of “the Antichrist” offers more promise. Nevertheless, it is demonstrable that from the time of Luther to the present day, there has been a consistent and compelling argument that the office of the papacy fulfills the prophetic type of antichrist.
 

Next we begin a survey of some of the major proponents of the papal Antichrist.

[1] L. J. Lietaert Peerbolte, “Antichrist.” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2nd extensively rev. ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden; Boston; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 62.

 

[2]Leon Morris, vol. 13, 1 and 2 Thessalonians: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984), 129.

 

Personal Update & Exegetical Research on 2 Thessalonians 2 :1-12

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! My own is is ongoing as my wife and I are boarding a plane to spend a week with her parents in Iowa.  I really appreciate those of you who read my posts here on a regular basis and I have some exciting news. First, I finished my Masters of Arts degree in Theological Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary last Fall semester. While now I have some credentials to serve in this capacity, I have hopes of perhaps teaching at the college or seminary level, so I will be pursing further study at Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary this Spring. I will be concentrating on Greek intensives, with the goal of entering the PhD program in the near future. Second, I have signed a contract to co-author a book with Tom Horn on the Malachy Prophecy of the Popes. The reason I have not posted here much lately is that I have been working 14 hour days on that project. I assure you the subject is much deeper than I ever imagined. The research for this book has taken me places I never imagined possible. Look for some jaw dropping revelations this Spring.

My last research project  for my Master’s Degree was an exegetical paper on Paul’s most definitive statement concerning the Antichrist and end-times, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. It is a notoriously difficult pericope for exegesis but I chose it due to my deep interest in things eschatological.  Fee and Stuart even use it as an example of “problem passages:”

In many cases the reason the texts are so difficult for us is that, frankly, they were not written to us. That is, the original author and his readers are on a similar wavelength that allows the inspired author to assume a great deal on the part of his readers. Thus, for example, when Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are to recall that he “used to tell [them] these things,” and therefore “you know what is holding him back” (2 Thess 2:5–6), we may need to learn to be content with our lack of knowledge. [1]

Even so, I think this passage has a very important word for us today. In lieu of cutting an pasting the entire paper, I am going to post the introduction and a link to down load the pdf if yu want to read the whole thing. I derive several important implications for the modern church which I may post later as a separate post but  I wanted to make it available to you now as 2012 promises to be a big year.

Introduction

No one likes waiting. Patience, persistence and perseverance are not popular words. They convey capricious craving, laborious longing and unrequited love. How intense is the longing when waiting for one of infinite worth? Christians live in the tension of what is called the “already but not yet” paradigm. This refers to the idea that Christ inaugurated the kingdom at the first advent but it will not be fully realized until the second at the eschaton. Gordon Fee writes, “The theological framework of the entire New Testament is eschatological.”[2] Thus, there is a tension inherent in the Christian worldview that eclipses all the yearnings of adolescence. It is the groaning of creation itself (Rom 8:22).

The purpose of this paper is to interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 using sound exegetical methodology. This presentation will first give a survey of the historical and literary context, and then it will offer exegesis of the text. Difficulties arise because Paul assumes knowledge on the part of the original recipients that subsequent generations do not have. Allusions to the Old Testament will be discussed based on Paul’s background. Each issue will be handled sequentially. The paper will attempt to show that because we still live in the apocalyptic tension of the already/not yet, the eschatological content still has great value for the contemporary church. Paul taught the Thessalonian church that they would recognize the “day of the Lord” by two harbingers: the apostasy and the appearance of the man of lawlessness.

Download: 2 Thessalonians 2 Exegetical Research – Cris D. Putnam

 

[1]Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 69.

[2]Ibid, 145.

Armageddon OT Background to the Battle for the Cosmic Mountain 5

By Cris D. Putnam

THE BATTLE

The Antichrist figure finds his counterpart in the Hebrew Bible as Gog in Ezekiel 38-39. To demonstrate this point, a brief examination of the name גּוֹג Gog is required. In Ezekiel, Gog is clearly the enemy of Israel from the land of Magog or possibly “from the land of Gog.” In scripture, the proper names Agag and Gog were rendered somewhat interchangeably from the Hebrew.  For instance, Agag appears in 1 Samuel: “And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword”(1 Sa 15:8). He was the King of the Amalekites, a nephilim tribe, who was defeated and spared by Saul, but later killed by Samuel. It is interesting that the Septuagint translators rendered the name “Gog.” Yet, modern translations render it Agag. For instance, Numbers 24:7 which is a poetic oracle by Balaam concerning Israel and how they have God’s favor.

Remember, Balaam was a sorcerer hired to curse Israel but his diabolical efforts were frustrated by God. Thus, in the traditional rendering, the context is appropriate that Israel’s king will be superior to Gog. For instance,the ESV renders it,“Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag (Gog), and his kingdom shall be exalted”(Nu 24:7). Well enough, this traditional rendering of the prophecy is assuredly concerning Saul’s defeat of Gog, nephilim king of Amalekites. Yet strangely the LXX translation by Brenton reflects a different manuscript which makes it seem as if Gog is from Jacob’s seed:

And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and sees Israel encamped by their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him. And he took up his parable and said, Balaam son of Beor says, the man who sees truly says, he says who hears the oracle of the Mighty One, who saw a vision of God in sleep; his eyes were opened: How goodly are thy habitations, Jacob, and thy tents, Israel! as shady groves, and as gardens by a river, and as tents which God pitched, and as cedars by the waters. There shall come a man out of his seed, and he shall rule over many nations; and the kingdom of Gog shall be exalted, and his kingdom shall be increased. ( Num 24:5-7 LXX Benton 1851 )[1] (emphasis added)

The kingdom of Gog will be exalted? This is astonishing! Is this just a bad translation or could this reading infer the sorcerer Balaam was predicting the kingdom of Antichrist? Many have speculated he must be Semitic for the Jews to accept him as Messiah. Balaam is an odd character for a pagan sorcerer as he also predicted Christ and the star of Bethlehem in his final oracle (Num 24:17). The prophetic literature gets even stranger.

Missler makes reference to the name Gog being used in the Septuagint while drawing a parallel to its use Ezekiel and Revelation. The LXX Translation by Brenton 1851 renders, “Thus has the Lord God shewed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east; and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog” (Am 7:1). The original context of this passage is that judgment is coming to the Northern kingdom, Israel. It is a vision given to Amos of a locust army invasion similar to that in Joel. Yet, Amos begs the Lord to repent of it and the Lord does not carry it through (cf. Am 7:3). The thing that makes this use of Gog distinct is that it is not a variant translation from the Masoretic text because the Masoretic uses no name at all. See a comparison here.  Missler draws significance from juxtaposing “locusts have no king” (Pr 30:27) against the “locusts” in Amos and Revelation who do have a king, arguing that it implies Amos and John must not be talking about insects:

The locusts in Revelation 9 have a king, Apollyon or Abaddon, but Proverbs 30:27 says that locusts have no king. So these locusts are not natural locusts; they are demon locusts. If that’s the case, then Gog, who is the king of the locusts, is a demon king.[2]

While the purpose of proverbs was not entomology, this reasoning seems quite reasonable. The terms grasshopper and locust are interchangeable as their is no taxonomic difference between locust and grasshopper species. In English the term “locust” is used for grasshopper species that change morphologically and behaviorally to form swarms. Research at Oxford University has identified that swarming behaviour is a response to overcrowding. Clearly the prophet is using locusts and caterpillar symbolically for invading hoards. The ancient Israelites had an agrarian economy. Invading armies are destructive to cities as insects are to crops. It implies annihilation. In the case of Amos’s original context, it would be the Assyrians who did in fact completely destroy the Northern kingdom. But the future context of Revelation speaks of a devastation by demonic entities.

Yet the only use of the proper name Gog in the NT appears in the book of Revelation and applies to a war after the millennium when Satan is released after being bound for 1,000 years. The locust imagery also recalls imagery from the book of Revelation 9 and the locust army of Joel:

In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces,(Re 9:7)

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run. As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle.(Joe 2:4–5)

The two passage must refer to the same event because their really can be only one ultimate Day of the Lord. The locusts/war horses here are thought to represent the demon hoards who attack during the tribulation. The descriptions harken chimeric monstrosities. Tom Horn explores possible biotech avenues for making these monsters a reality in his books Apollyon Rising and Forbidden Gates. In the former he ponders Joel’s insectoid horde:

When the numerous ancient texts from inerrant Scriptures to extra-biblical sources are added up, there is persuasive evidence that Joel’s army could indeed be more than simple grasshoppers, and that this massive Gibborim army that runs upon the wall from which nobody can escape could be the result of man’s willingness to play “god” in reviving forbidden science and opening “gates” to what lurks beyond.[2a]

Others see what is widely believed to be “aliens” also taking part in this scenario. There does seem to be cultural trend toward belief in extraterrestrial life. It seems a likely cover story for demonic entities. In fact, the entities that gather the worlds armies for the battle of Armageddon bear an uncanny resemblance to what are commonly believed to be aliens.

“And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.(Re 16:13–14)

Many believe this is the strong delusion mentioned by Paul (2 Thes 2:11). Dr. David Allen Lewis and Robert Shreckhise postulate that these demonic spirits that look like frogs are indeed what the popular media deems “greys.” [2b]  Paradox Brown carries this line of thought a little further offering:

But note that John doesn’t say the three evil spirits “ARE three frogs”. He says they “looked like frogs”… Let’s say that John was shown in his Revelation vision an image of something he had never seen before… It makes sense that if John didn’t know what this creature was, and had never seen anything like it, that he would describe it as “looking like” something he was familiar with. [2c]

Thus, it appears we have a menagerie of insectoid and reptilian transgenic entities involved in the Armageddon scenario. The secular world will likely assume they are from outer space as they have been heavily propagandized in that direction. We can infer that since Gog is the “caterpillar king” of this army, he is likely one and the same as Apollyon or Abaddon (cf. Am 7:1 LXX ; Rev 9:11). It seems likely that Gog in Ezekiel 38 & 39 is the Satanically empowered general in the end time war, the Beast.

Much has been written associating the Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39 with the battle of Armageddon. There are demonstrable parallels yet seemingly the book of Revelation explicitly places it one thousand years after Armageddon (cf. Rev 19:19; Rev. 20:8 ). Amillennialists (those who deny the 1000 year kingdom) like Kline attempt to conflate the battles described in Revelation 19 and 20.[3] Yet this lacks coherence as Heiser points out several insurmountable difficulties to this view. [4] Still, both Kline and Heiser agree that Gog can be associated with the Antichrist. This finds support in the Qumran War Scroll (1QM), which reveals it is Satan and his powers that are behind the usurpers:

For this shall be a time of distress for Israel, [and of the summons] to war against all the nations. There shall be eternal deliverance for the company of God, but destruction for all the nations of wickedness. All those [who are ready] for battle shall march out and shall pitch their camp before the king of the Kittim and before all the host of Satan gathered about him for the Day [of Revenge] by the Sword of God.[5]

The Qumran War Scroll reflects the same end time war as the Ezekiel text and accredits it to Satan. However, in Revelation 20 the Antichrist has been defeated and what is described is the release of Satan. Heiser convincingly solves this by viewing Gog as both. He writes, “I have argued that Ezekiel 38-39 will be fulfilled in two events: (1) Armageddon, which also is the fulfillment of Daniel 11:40-45; and (2) The subsequent, separate battle of Rev. 20:7-9.”[6]

“He shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites.(Da 11:41)

“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.(Re 20:7–8)

Thus the Satanically possessed Beast of Revelation is Gog in the battle of Armageddon and Satan himself is Gog in the post-millennium war. While Heiser argues that the Magog war is fulfilled in two stages of the “already but not yet” fulfillment scenario, this present treatment suggests a similar but novel solution.

One of the better arguments against placing the Magog war prior to the tribulation as many traditional dispensationalists do as well as against the recapitulation view of Amillennialists is that Ezekiel 38 describes Israel as already completely regathered in the land (Eze 38:8, 12) and dwelling securely without defenses (Eze 38:11).[7]  This certainly does not apply to Israel’s current situation or to the preconditions for the battle of Armageddon. Today Israel is under constant threat and has very real barrier walls. It is also inconsistent with Armageddon because it is in the latter part of the great tribulation. Surely after enduring the trumpet and bowl judgments they will not be together in a secure peaceful state. Furthermore, the dry bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37 describes Israel’s rebirth contingent with the Messiah (Eze 37:15-28). Interestingly, Ezekiel 39:28 is a world wide call to Jews to return from the diaspora. Accordingly, it seems that chapter the 39 war precedes what is described in 38. Only after Ezekiel 39:28 will the diaspora be completely undone and the nation at peace. While others have postulated an earlier Psalm 83 war, The Ezekiel 38 war makes more sense in light of it being post millennium exactly as it says in Revelation 20. The biblical text solves the problem without an extra war. Thus, I completely agree with Heiser that Ezekiel 38 is the satanic showdown after the millennium. However, from this point forward an alternative interpretation is offered.

It is the proposal here that Ezekiel 39 describes the battle of Armageddon which temporally precedes the Magog war of chapter 38.  The prophetic books are in a state that makes it extremely challenging to determine where one oracle ends and another begins. The modern chapter divisions are arbitrary and were imposed during the thirteenth century AD. While, the traditional view is that chapter 39 is restatement of 38, this is a tacit acknowledgement that chapter 38 resolves satisfactorily.[8] In other words, because they are both complete units and not dependent upon each other, they can arguably represent distinct battles. In Ezekiel 38, some of the Nations question and do not battle (Eze 38:13) but at the battle of Armageddon (Zec 14: 12) it seems all the nations of the world will be gathered against Jerusalem. The Ezekiel 39 battle is addressed to all the nations (Eze 39:7). Furthermore, chapter 39 is inaugurated with a new “Thus says the Lord God.” This interpretation suggests that chapters 38-39 are two distinct wars for the following seven reasons: One, Gog and his armies are described as brought out to battle at the beginning of each chapter in unique circumstances (38:4-9; cf. 39:2). Two, chapter 38 clearly states that the land was restored from war (Ez 38:8). It is suggested that this refers to the Ezekiel 39/Armageddon war. Three, the chapter 38 war ties together with the post millennium release of Satan (Rev.20:7-10; cf. Eze 38:16, 22) and the white throne judgment (Rev.20:11-15) with “I will enter into judgment with him” (Eze 38:22). Four, the nations will know that their defeat was by the Lord and that Israel will know the Lord from that day forward (Eze 39:21-22). This arguably convenes the inauguration of the millennium. Five, the nations will understand why Israel was exiled and abandoned by God (Eze 39:23). This explains the tribulation. Six, the Lord will restore and gather Israel (Eze 39:25-27). This seems to be concurrent with the return of Christ in Ezekiel 37:15-28 and is a precursor to the chapter 38 war. Seven, Israel knows their God from that day forward and God never hides his face from them again (Eze 39:28-29). Consequently, the prerequisite regathered and secure status of Ezekiel 38 (Rev. 20) is arguably the result of the previous Ezekiel 39 (Rev. 19) war. All that is required for one to accept is that these are two oracles in a non-chronological order, a contention which is hardly unprecedented.

It is also compelling that in the Ezekiel 39 war, Gog is described as coming “from the uppermost parts of the North” and “against the mountains of Israel” (v.2). This language strongly concurs with the “mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north” interpretation of Armageddon. Brevard Childs’ scholarship on the enemy from the north and the chaos tradition suggests a possible connection:

Isa 14:12 ff. is a taunt against the king of Babylon and not directly related to the enemy tradition. Nevertheless, it is quite remarkable that the king who dared to “sit on the mount of assembly in the far north is described as the one “who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms.”[9]

It may be helpful to view this as cosmic north referring generally to the supernatural realm. In the aftermath, Gog falls on the mountains of Israel. In light of the case for supernatural warriors, it is interesting to note the distinction made between his hordes and people (Eze 39:4). In other words, his hordes are not necessarily human. There is a massive feast of carrion for the birds (39:4; cf. 17-20) which is correlated directly with Revelation 19:17-19. This also finds a parallel in Isaiah 18 and oracle addressing the inhabitants of the world (Is 18:3) and which culminates with the inauguration of Gods’ millennial kingdom (Is 18: 7ff).

Isaiah 18 Ezekiel 39 Revelation 19
 “They shall all of them be left to the birds of prey of the mountains and to the beasts of the earth. And the birds of prey will summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.”(Is 18:6) “You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.(Eze 39:4)“As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood.” (Eze 39:17) “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.(Re 19:17–19)

There is only one time on the prophetic timeline in which one could say that God will reveal himself to all the nations and no longer tolerate his name being profaned (Eze.39:7; cf. Rev. 19:15). There is really only one day that he will regather all of Israel to their land while pouring out his spirit (Eze.39: 29;  cf. Joel 2:28).  Because these things are established “from that day forward”(Eze 39:22), this war will necessarily conclude just prior to the Millennium (Rev 20:4). That necessitates that this war happens on the narrow sense Day of the Lord, Armageddon or the battle of Har Mô∙ʿēḏ – the Cosmic Mountain of God.

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain!

Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming;

it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!

Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people;

their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.

Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns.

The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness,

and nothing escapes them.

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run.

As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains,

like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble,

like a powerful army drawn up for battle.

Joel 2:1-5

Get a signed copy of Pandemonium’s Engine here for $10.00


[1] Septuagint Online, http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/Numbers/index.htm (accessed 9/03/2011).

[2] Chuck Missler, “Hosea and Amos: Prophets to the Northern Kingdom,” http://www.khouse.org/articles/2011/962/ (accessed 9/02/2011).

[2a] Thomas Horn, Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (Crane, MS: Defender, 2009), 221.

[2b] David Allen Lewis and Robert Shreckhise, UFO: End-Time Delusion (Green Forest, Ark.: New Leaf Press (AR), 1991), 46.

[2c] Paradox Brown, A Modern Guide To Demons And Fallen Angels (Roswell NM: Seekye1 Publishing, 2008), 255.

[3] Kline, “Har Magedon,” 219.

[4] Heiser, Islam, 98-101.

[5]Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 141. [1 QM 15.2-3]

[6] Heiser, Islam, 102.

[7] Heiser, Islam, 100.

[8] Ralph H. Alexander, “Ezekiel” In , in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 6: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 934.

[9] Brevard S. Childs “The Enemy From the North and the Chaos Tradition.” (Journal of Biblical Literature, 1959), 196

Armageddon OT Background to the Battle for the Cosmic Mountain 4

Apollyon by Gbrush

THE DIVINE USURPER

There is an interesting parallel involved with the term Armageddon in that the phrase “in Hebrew” only appears in one other instance within the book of Revelation. According to Alan Johnson, “it is better to understand the term [Armageddon] symbolically in the same manner as ‘in Hebrew’ in Rev 9:11 alerts us to the symbolic significance of the name of the angel of the Abyss”[1]  This is the angel of the bottomless pit namely Abbadon in Hebrew or Apollyon in Greek. Thomas Horn reveals:

Abaddon is another name for Apollo (Rev. 9:11), identified historically as the king of demonic “locusts” (Revelation 9:1-11). This means among other things that Apollo is the end-times angel or “King of the Abyss” that opens the bottomless pit, out of which an army of transgenic locusts erupts upon earth. [1a]

According to Kline, the technique of juxtaposing a Greek and Hebrew term is called Hebraisti and was favored by John. It is also used four times in his Gospel, three of which are also place names (Jn. 5:2; 19:13, 17). Because the book of Revelation is full of symbols, word plays, juxtapositions and parallels, it is not too fanciful to postulate that the Holy Spirit was making a prophetic statement between these two Hebraisti.

The “Antipodal to the Abyss” argument offered by Kline further supports the “mount of Assembly” hypothesis.[2] This line of reasoning derives from the fact that both accounts juxtapose polar opposites in the cosmic scheme of things: the Mountain of God on one end and the pit of hell on the other. For example the Isaiah passage contrasts the ambition “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God…” (v.13) against “But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (v.15). Similarly, we find in the book of Revelation’s two Hebraisti: the divine mountain and the bottomless pit. This is a compelling correlation between the two accounts. Kline argues,

In short, then, we find that in Isaiah 14 and the book of Revelation there are matching antonymic pairings of har môcëd and har magedön with the pit of Hades. Within the framework of this parallelism the har môcëd of Isa 14:13 is the equivalent of the har magedön of Rev 16:16 and as such is to be understood as its proper derivation and explanation. Accordingly, har magedön signifies “Mount of Assembly/Gathering” and is a designation for the supernal realm. (Kline, 1996, 208)

The evidence is compelling that the term Armageddon speaks well past the gathering of earthly armies for war and to a deeper supernatural battle for the cosmic mountain of God.

The context of the assembling the armies by demonic spirits (Rev. 16:14) is practically a word play to the “mount of assembly.” Furthermore, the allusion to the taunt song in Isaiah 14:12- 15 creates astonishing parallels. The Hebrew phrase “הילל בן־שׁחר” (Helel Ben-Shachar) in verse 12, meaning “morning star, son of dawn” has been interpreted to be varying entities. Many scholars agree that this is related to Ugaritic mythology concerning Baal and Athtar.[3] While Isaiah could be simply borrowing from local mythology for an illustration, it seems as if the prophet sees through the King of Babylon to the wicked spiritual power behind him. The book of Daniel suggests that earthly kingdoms have cosmic overlords (Dan. 10:13; 20). A paradigm which fits nicely with the Beast of Revelation who is similarly empowered by the great red dragon identified as Satan (Rev. 12:9; 13:2).

In Ugaritic lore this usurper is argued to be Athtar, who was referred to as Venus (morning star), who seeks to displace Ba’al.[4] The ancient Near Eastern context strongly favors this as the original source material. Other scholars relate this passage to an ancient Babylonian or Hebrew star-myth similar to the Greek legend of Phaethon.[5]  Even so, one can imagine that in a cosmic sense all of these myths stem from a common event. There was an angelic rebellion. The New Testament is clear that Angels rebelled (Matt. 25:41; Rev 12:9) and the earth is currently under the power of a usurper (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Jn 5:19). While the King of Babylon could hardly hope to “ascend to heaven above the stars of God” it certainly speaks to his extreme hubris. C.S. Lewis famously said, “it was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”[6] Helel Ben-Shachar’s frustrated divine ambition harkens the account of a war in heaven in Revelation 12:7-17 where Satan is thrown to earth suggesting “the man who made the earth tremble…” (Isa. 14:16).

In fact, this taunt song is where the popular name for the devil, Lucifer, is derived from “morning star” as it is rendered in the Latin Vulgate.[7] During the intertestamental period, this account of the angels fall was associated with the morning star was subsequently associated explicitly with the name Satan, as seen the Second Book of Enoch (29:4; 31:4). The Qumran War Scroll describes this activity of Satan and his powers:

But Satan, the Angel of Malevolence, Thou hast created for the Pit; his [rule] is in Darkness and his purpose is to bring about wickedness and iniquity. All the spirits of his company, the Angels of Destruction, walk according to the precepts of Darkness; towards them is their [inclination].[8]

The association of Lucifer to Satan continued with the church fathers because he is represented as being “cast down from heaven” (Rev. 12:7–10; cf. Lk. 10:18).[9] This event likely took place at the cross when Jesus disarmed the powers (Col 2:15). Because Peter ascribes “morning star” to Christ (2 Pet 1:19) and the fact that it is also a title John uses for Jesus (Rev. 22:16), it has been suggested that this, “Lucifer,” could be pointing to the Antichrist’s parody of Jesus.[10] Accordingly, the prefix “Anti” means “instead of” as well as “against.”[11] Paul expounds on this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5 writing he is the, “man of lawlessness, the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Of course, that would likely be on Mount Zion, the cosmic mount of assembly, as well.

This is where my research paper for Dr Heiser left it but interestingly, just last week, my friend Peter Goodgame posted a commentary on Isaiah 9-14 where he came to a similar conclusion. Goodgame argues:

The name “Morning Star, Son of the Dawn” is Helel ben Shakar in Hebrew, or “Lucifer, Son of the Morning” in the KJV. If we view this person as the end-times Antichrist rather than Satan then it makes perfect sense. He is taunted by Israel after his final attempt to rule over the nations comes to an end.[12]

Recalling Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, the King of Babylon is a well-known prophetic type of the Antichrist. Considering that the Isaiah taunt song was originally directed at the King of Babylon, a man, this seems likely. Please follow the footnote to read Peter’s thoughts. Even more, I also have been corresponding with Tom Horn, who wrote me just  week or so ago about the spirit who rises from the Abyss. In his book Apollyon Rising, Horn points out that the Antichrist as a man is indwelt by the spirit Apollyon which rises from the abyss (Rev 9:11). This brings a remarkable conjunction in world mythologies:

In view of these texts, we recall how Zeus—the Greek identity for the father of Apollo—was acknowledged as ‘Satan’ in Rev. 2:12-13. The fallen angel ‘Apollo’ who unlocks the bottomless pit and unleashes the thunderous hoards of Great Tribulation locusts is therefore none other than the son of Satan and the spirit that will inhabit Antichrist.[13]

Indeed, there is a convergence of mythologies and prophecies pointing to the same event. It seems that the Isaiah taunt song is speaking on multiple levels. First, Isaiah directed it overtly to the King of Babylon, on another level it was a polemic against the neighboring Ugaritic pantheon which was also hinting at the primordial fall of the biblical Satan, and even more intriguing it is a prophecy of a demonically possessed man, who as a “morning star” will come in battle against Israel in the last days and then claim to be God on the divine mountain.  That battle is Harmageddon.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed,

saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

(Ps 2:1–6)

….to be continued with part 5: The Battle

Get a signed copy of Pandemonium’s Engine here for $10.00

 


[1] Johnson, “Revelation”, 551.

[1a] Thomas Horn, Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (Crane, MS: Defender, 2009), 140.

[2] Kline, “Har Magedon,” 208.

[3] Michael S. Heiser, “The Mythological Provenance of Is. XVIV 12-15: A Reconsideration of the Ugaritic Material.” Vestus Testamentum LI,3,( 2001): 356-357.

[4] Heiser, “The Mythological,” 356-357.

[5] Kaufmann Kohler, “Lucifer,” http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=612&letter=L (accessed March 5 20011).

[6] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (NY: Harper Collins. 2001), 122.

[7]G. J. Riley. “Devil.” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2nd extensively rev. ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden; Boston; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 246.

[8] Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised and extended 4th ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 139.

[9] Tertullian, Contra Marcionem,  11, 17.

[10]M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1989), 177.

[11] L. J. Lietaert Peerbolte, “Antichrist” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible , 62.

[12] Peter Goodgame, The Giza Discovery: Pete’s Commentary on Isaiah 9-14, http://www.redmoonrising.com/Giza/isaiahasshur.htm (accessed 08/31/2011).

[13] Thomas Horn, Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (Crane, MS: Defender, 2009), 142.

The Spirit of Antichrist: Polycarp vs. Bishop John Shelby Spong


It has been said that there are no new heresies. In light of that, apologists have a wealth of scholarship to draw upon in the works of the apostolic fathers. One such early leader, Polycarp, died for his faith when he refused to treat the emperor as a god.  It is interesting to note that Christians were called atheists by the Romans because they denied their pantheon of gods. Polycarp was martyred February 22, 156 when he would not renounce Christ. Here is an excerpt from the very oldest of Christian martyrdom accounts, The Martyrdom of Polycarp:

‘Swear by the genius of Caesar; change your mind; say, “Away with the atheists!” ’ Then Polycarp looked with a stern countenance on the multitude of lawless heathen gathered in the stadium, and waved his hands at them, and looked up to heaven with a groan, and said, ‘Away with the atheists.’ The Proconsul continued insisting and saying, ‘Swear, and I release you; curse Christ.’ And Polycarp said, ‘Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’[1]

In my study this week, I was researching the arguments concerning John’s epistles 1, 2, and 3 John. One of the supporting arguments for the Johannine authorship of 1 John is that it was quoted very early in second century by his disciple Polycarp. Polycarp was an inspired apologist who fought vigorously against heretics. He quotes 1 John 4:2-3 in reference to the Antichrist and false teachers. When it came to refuting heresy, neither John nor Polycarp minced words or bothered with pleasantries.

As I read Polycarp, it occurred to me that these words certainly travel across the many years and cultural conditions and can still find application today. I teach a Sunday school class of single adults. A year or so ago a visitor told me that, “Not everyone believes in atonement theology.” I replied with something along the lines of, “I don’t see how anyone can call themselves a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word without believing in the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.” A week or so later I saw him carrying a book by the Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, Jesus For the Non Religious.

It is without a doubt that my visitor’s aberrant “non-atonement theology” was fueled by Spong’s book. Unfortunately, I think Spong convinced him. He no longer attends our church. I believe Spong is a prime example of the sorts of teachers that John was warning the first century church of. Notice the denial of classic Christian doctrines set out in the preface of his book,

The second stream flowing through both my professional life and my writing career was the recognition that the expanding knowledge of my secular world had increasingly rendered the traditional theological formulations expressed in such core Christian doctrines as the incarnation, the atonement and even the trinity inoperative at worst, and incapable of making much sense to the ears of twenty-first-century people at best.[2]

The incarnation, atonement, and trinity are not exactly negotiable doctrines. Under the classical definition, without them, the word “Christian” is unintelligible.  But he errs in that this skepticism is not a product of the twenty-first century. It’s nothing new; I think Paul addressed it especially well in 1 Corinthians 1:20-25. While there are many sound refutations of Spong’s work available online, I thought I would put Spong up against Polycarp, who warned the church in Philippi concerning the spirit of antichrist and false teachers.

The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians

7. For everyone “who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is antichrist”; and whoever does not acknowledge the testimony of the cross “is of the devil”; and whoever twists the sayings of the Lord to suit his own sinful desires and claims that there is neither resurrection nor judgment—well, that person is the first-born of Satan. Therefore let us leave behind the worthless speculation of the crowd and their false teachings, and let us return to the word delivered to us from the beginning; let us be self-controlled with respect to prayer and persevere in fasting, earnestly asking the all-seeing God “to lead us not into temptation,” because, as the Lord said, “the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Polycarp, Phil. 7) [3]

Polycarp presented three criteria based on three essential Christian doctrines: 1) The Incarnation 2) The Cross 3) The Resurrection. He first quotes 1 John “For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is antichrist” (1 John 4:2–3). This refers to the incarnation, the doctrine that God incarnated into human flesh, Jesus Christ (Phil 2:6-8). While Spong previously expressed his incredulity in the preface, he makes his position on this doctrine crystal clear later in the book:

Therefore, when I say that God was in Christ or when I assert that I meet God in the person of Jesus, I mean something quite different from the theological definitions of the past that forged doctrines like the incarnation and the trinity, both of which depend on a theistic definition of God. So in order to get to the essence of who Jesus was and even who Jesus is, I must get beyond the traditional theistic definition of God that I now regard as both simplistic and naïve, to say nothing of being wrong.[4]

Thus, he has qualified himself by Polycarp’s first criterion.  Polycarp’s second qualification is, “Whosoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross, is of the devil;” Spong writes:

This means that anyone seeking to discover the meaning of Jesus today must be prepared to acknowledge that this story of the crucifixion is not history. While Jesus was undoubtedly crucified by the Romans, the familiar details that accompany the story of the cross are not literally true and did not actually happen. [5]

Thus, he denies the testimony of the cross meeting criterion two. Polycarp’s third warning was, “and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the first-born of Satan.” According to Spong,

The resurrection language of the gospels is literal nonsense. Earthquakes do not announce earthly vents. Angels do not invade time, space and history to roll back a stone, to make a historic resurrection announcement. A resuscitated Jesus does not walk out of his tomb in some physical form that can eat, drink, walk, talk, teach and expound on scriptures. [6]

Thus, we see Bishop Spong abundantly meeting all three of Polycarp’s criteria. Making Spong, in Polycarp’s words, the antichirst, of the devil, and first born of Satan. I suppose Spong can be grateful that modern apologists are not usually so blunt… ;) In closing, I will defer to Jude: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ” (Jud 3–4)

 


[1]James Stevenson, A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337 (London: SPCK, 1987), 25.

[2] John Shelby Spong, Jesus For the Non Religious,(New York: Harper Collins, 2007),  ix.

[3]Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers : Greek Texts and English Translations, Updated ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 213.

[4] Spong, Jesus, 214.

[5] Spong, Jesus, 112.

[6] Spong, Jesus, 122.