Revelation Chapter 13b | Table of Contents | Revelation Chapter 14a

Revelation Chapter 13 continued (c)

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      The word used for mark in this prophecy is {Greek- xavragma} charagma, and is defined to mean, “a graving, sculpture; a mark cut in or stamped.” It occurs nine times in the New Testament, and with the single exception of Acts 17:29, refers every time to the mark of the beast. Of course, we are not to understand in this symbolic prophecy that a literal mark is intended, but the giving of the literal mark, as practiced in ancient times, is used as a figure to illustrate certain acts that will be performed in the fulfillment of this prophecy. From the literal mark as formerly employed, we learn something of its meaning as used in the prophecy, for between the symbol and the thing symbolized there must be some resemblance. The mark as literally used, signified that the person receiving it was the servant of the person whose mark he bore, acknowledged his authority, and professed allegiance to him. So the mark of the beast, or of the papacy, must be some act or profession by which the authority of that power is acknowledged. What is it?
      Characteristics of Papal Power. —It would naturally be looked for in some of the special papal power. Describing that power under the symbol of a little horn, Daniel speaks of it as waging a special warfare against God, wearing out the saints of the Most High, and thinking to change times and laws. The prophet expressly specifies on this point: “He shall . . . think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. These laws must certainly be the laws of the Most High. To apply the expression to human laws, and make the prophecy read, He shall speak great words against the Most High, and think to change human laws, would be doing evident violence to the language of the prophet. But apply it to the laws of God, and let it read, He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and laws of the Most High, and all is consistent and forcible. For the word “law” the Hebrew has {Hebrew- hd*} dath, and the Septuagint reads, {Greek- novmo$}
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nomos, in the singular, “law,” which more directly suggests the law of God. The papacy has been able to do more than merely “think” to change human laws. It has changed them at pleasure. It has annulled the decrees of kings and emperors, and absolved subjects from allegiance to their rightful sovereigns. It has thrust its long arm into the affairs of nations, and brought rulers to its feet in the most abject humility. But the prophet beholds greater acts of presumption than these. He sees it endeavor to do what it was not able to do, but could only think to do. He sees it attempt an act which no man, nor any combination of men, can ever accomplish, to change the law of the Most High. Bear this in mind while we look at the testimony of another sacred writer on this very point.
      The apostle Paul speaks of the same power in 2 Thessalonians 2. He describes it, in the person of the pope, as “that man of sin” “sitting as God in the temple of God” (that is, the church), and exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.” According to this, the pope sets himself up as the one for all the church to look to for authority, in the place of God.
      We ask the reader to ponder carefully the question how he can exalt himself above God. Search through the whole range of human devices, go to the extent of human effort, and by what plan, by what move, by what claim, could this usurper exalt himself above God? He might institute any number of ceremonies, he might prescribe any form of worship, he might exhibit any degree of power; but as long as God had requirements which the people felt bound to regard in preference to his, so long he would not be above God. He might enact a law, and teach the people that they were under as great obligations to that as to the law of God; then he would only make himself equal with God.
      But he is to do more than this; he is to attempt to raise himself above Him. Then he must promulgate a law which conflicts with the law of God, and demand obedience to his own law in preference to God’s law. The most effective way in
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which he could place himself in the position assigned in the prophecy would be for him to change the law of God. If he can cause this change to be adopted by the people in the place of the original enactment, then he, the law changer, puts himself above God, the lawmaker. This is the very work that Daniel said the power represented by the little horn would think to do.
      Such a work as this the papacy will accomplish according to the prophecy, and the prophecy cannot fail. When this is done, what do the people of the world have? They have two laws demanding obedience— one the law of God as originally enacted by Him, an embodiment of His will, and expressing His claims upon His creatures; the other, a revised edition of that law, emanating from the pope of Rome, and expressing his will. How is it to be determined which of these powers the people honor and worship? —It is determined by the law which they keep. If they keep the law of God as given by Him, they worship and obey God. If they keep the law as changed by the papacy, they worship that power.
      But further, the prophecy does not say that the little horn, the papacy, should set aside the law of God, and give one entirely different. This would not be to change the law, but simply to give a new one. He was only to attempt a change, so that the law that comes from God and the law that comes from the papacy are precisely alike, excepting the change which the papacy has made. The two laws have many points in common. But none of the precepts which they contain in common can distinguish a person as the worshiper of either power in preference to the other. If God’s law says, “Thou shalt not kill,” and the law as given in by the papacy says the same, no one can tell by a person’s observance of that precept whether he designs to obey God rather than the pope, or the pope rather than God. But when a precept that has been changed is the subject of action, then whoever observes that precept as originally given by God, is thereby distinguished as a worshiper of God; and he who keeps it as changed is thereby
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marked as a follower of the power that made the change. In no other way can the two classes of worshipers be distinguished.
      From this conclusion, no candid mind can dissent, but in this conclusion we have a general answer to the question, “What constitutes the mark of the beast?” The answer is simply this: The mark of the beast is the change which the beast has attempted to make in the law of God.
      Change in the Law of God. —We now inquire what that change is. By the law of God, we mean the moral law, the only law in the universe of immutable and perpetual obligation. Defining the term “law” according to the sense in which it is almost universally used in Christendom, Webster says, “The moral law is summarily contained in the decalogue, written by the finger of God on two tables of stone, and delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai.”
      In our comment on Daniel 7:25, in regard to the prediction of the prophet that the papacy would “think to change times and laws,” we produced evidence from the Roman Catechism based on the unquestioned authority of the Council of Trent, and published by order of Pope Pius V by the Vatican press in Rome, that the church changed the day of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. While that catechism records the full wording of the fourth commandment as it reads in the Bible, and while it is retained in full in the official Catholic Bible in Latin, the Vulgate, and in its official translation into English, the Douay Bible; yet the teaching catechisms provided for Roman Catholic priests and teachers in modern times omit all that commandment but the first sentence, “Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.” and add extended testimony that the change of the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday was made on the authority of the Catholic Church and apostolic tradition.” Whatever may be said on the text of the Catechism of the Council of Trent and that of the Roman Catholic Bible about retaining the entire commandment as it reads in the Scripture, nevertheless the practice of the prelates and priests is
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to teach only observance of a Sabbath institution, but locate it on the first day of the week instead of the seventh, by the authority of the church.
      Let it be borne in mind, that, according to the prophecy, he was to think to change times and laws. This plainly conveys the idea of intention and design, and makes these qualities essential to the change in question. But respecting the omission of the second commandment, Catholics argue that it is included in the first, and hence should not be numbered as a separate commandment; and on the tenth they claim that there is no plain a distinction of ideas as to require two commandments; so they make the coveting of a neighbor’s wife the ninth command, and the coveting of his goods the tenth.
      In all this they claim that they are giving the commandments exactly as God intended to have them understood; so, while we may regard them as errors in their interpretation of the commandments, we cannot set them down as professedly intentional changes. Not so, however, with the fourth commandment. Respecting this commandment, they do not claim that their version is like that given by God. They expressly claim a change here, and also that the change has been made by the church. How these later catechisms, with their ecclesiastical imprimatur, read, is illustrated herewith.
      Some of the simpler catechisms make no mention of a change in religious days, but state categorically that the Sabbath commandment teaches Sunday observance:
      “Q. Say the Third Commandment.
      “A. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
      “Q. What is commanded by the Third Commandment?
      “A. To sanctify the Sunday.” [35]
      Others say that the Catholic Church changed the day of worship. In A New Catechism of Christian Doctrine and Practice, we find the following under the subject of the third commandment:
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      “What day was the Sabbath?
      “The seventh day, our Saturday.
      “Do you keep the Sabbath?
      “No: we keep the Lord’s Day.
      “Which is that?
      “The first day: Sunday.
      “Who changed it?
      “The Catholic Church.” [36]
      In the well-known Baltimore catechism, we find this explanation:
      “Q. What it the third Commandment?
      “A. The third Commandment is: Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
      “Q. What are we commanded by the third Commandment?
      “A. By the third Commandment we are commanded to keep holy the Lord’s day. . . .
      “Q. Are the Sabbath day and the Sunday the same?
      “A. The Sabbath day and the Sunday are not the same. The Sabbath day is the seventh day of the week, and is the day which was kept holy in the old law; the Sunday is the first day of the week, and is the day which is kept holy in the new law.
      “Q. Why does the Church command us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath?
      “A. The Church commands us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath because on Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and on Sunday He sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.” [37]
      In The Catholic Christian Instructed we read:
      “Q. —What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday preferably to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?
      “A. —We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition.
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Picture on this page.
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      “Q.—Does the Scripture anywhere command the Sunday to be kept for the Sabbath?
      “A.—The Scripture commands us to hear the church (Matt. 18:17; Luke 10:16), and to hold fast the traditions of the apostles (2 Thess. 2:15), but the Scriptures do not in particular mention this change of the Sabbath.” [38]
      In A Doctrinal Catechism we find further testimony to the same point:
      “Ques. —Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
      “Ans. —Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her— she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” [39]
      In An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine we find this testimony:
      “Q. —How prove you that the church hath power to command feast and holy days?
      “A. —By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.
      “Q. —How prove you that?
      “A. —Because by keeping Sunday they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin.” [40]
      In The Catechism Simply Explained, are these questions and answers:
      “What is the third commandment?
      “The third commandment is, ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.’
      “What are we commanded by the third commandment?
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      “By the third commandment we are commanded to keep the Sunday holy.
      “The Jew’s Sabbath Day was the Saturday; we Christians keep the Sunday holy. The Church, by the power our Lord gave her, changed the observance of the Saturday to the Sunday.” [41]
      This is what the papal power claims to have done respecting the fourth commandment. Catholics plainly acknowledge that there is no Scriptural authority for the change they have made, but that it rests wholly upon the authority of the church. They claim as a token, or mark, or the authority of that church the “very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday,” and set it forth as proof of its power in this respect.
      “But,” says one, “I supposed that Christ changed the Sabbath.” A great many suppose so, for they have been so taught. We would remind such persons, however, that according to the prophecy the only change ever to be made in the law of God, was to be made by the little horn of Daniel 7, the man of sin of 2 Thessalonians 2; and that the only change that has been made in it is the change of the Sabbath. Now, if Christ made this change, He filled the office of the blasphemous power spoken of by both Daniel and Paul— a conclusion that is repulsive to any Christian.
      Why should anyone labor to prove that Christ changed the Sabbath? Whoever does this is performing a thankless task. The pope will not thank him; for if it is proved that Christ wrought this change, then the pope is robbed of his badge of authority and power. No truly enlightened Protestant will thank him; for if he succeeds, he only shows that the papacy has not done the work which it was predicted it should do, that the prophecy has failed, and that Scriptures are unreliable. The matter would better stand as the prophecy has it, and the claim which the pope unwittingly puts forth better be granted.
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      When a person is charged with any work, and that person steps forth and confesses that he has done the work, that is usually considered sufficient to settle the matter. So, when the prophecy affirms that a certain power shall change the law of God, and in due time that very power arises, does the work foretold, and then openly claims that he has done it, what need have we of further evidence? The world should not forget that the great apostasy foretold by Paul has taken place; that the man of sin for long ages held almost a monopoly of Christian teaching in the world; that the mystery of iniquity has cast the darkness of its shadow and the errors of its doctrines over almost all Christendom; and that out of this era of error and darkness and corruption, the the theology of our day has come. Would it, then, be strange if there were yet some relics of popery to be discarded before the Reformation will be complete? Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ church, speaking of the different Protestant sects, says:
      “All of them retain in their bosom, in their ecclesiastical organizations, worship, doctrines, and observances, various relics of popery. They are at best a reformation of popery, and only reformations in part. The doctrines and traditions of men yet impair the power and progress of the gospel in their hands.” [42]
      The nature of the change which the little horn has attempted to effect in the law of God is worthy of notice. True to his purpose to exalt himself above God, he undertakes to change that commandment which, among them all, is the fundamental commandment of the law, the one which makes known who the lawgiver is, and contains his signature of royalty. The fourth commandment does this; no other one does. Four others, it is true, contain the word God, and three of them the word Lord, also. But who is this Lord God of whom they speak? Without the fourth commandment it is impossible to tell, for idolaters of every grade apply these terms to the
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multitudinous objects of their adoration. With the fourth commandment to point out the Author of the decalogue, the claims of every false god are annulled at one stroke. The God who here demands our worship is not any created being, but the One who created all things. The Maker of the earth and the sea, the sun and the moon, and all the starry host, the Upholder and Governor of the universe, is the One who claims, and who from His position has a right to claim, our supreme regard in preference to every other object. The commandment which makes known these facts is therefore the very one we might suppose that power which designed to exalt itself above God, would undertake to change. God gave the Sabbath as as a weekly reminder of Himself, and as a memorial of His work in creating the heavens and the earth, a great barrier against heathenism and idolatry. It is the signature and seal of the law. This the papacy in its teaching and practice has removed from its place, and has substituted another institution, which the church sets forth as the sign of its authority.
      Issue Is Between Sabbath and Sunday. —This change of the fourth commandment must therefore be the change to which the prophecy points, and the Sunday sabbath must be the mark of the beast! Some who have long been taught to regard this institution with reverence will perhaps start back with little less than feelings of horror at this conclusion. We have not space, nor is this perhaps the place, to enter into an extended argument on the Sabbath question, and an exposition of the origin and nature of the observance of the first day of the week. Let us submit this one proposition: If the seventh day is still the Sabbath enjoined in the fourth commandment; if the observance of the first day of the week has no foundation whatever in the Scriptures; if this observance has been brought in as a Christian institution, and designedly put in place of the Sabbath of the decalogue by that power which is symbolized by the beast, and placed there as a badge and token of its power to legislate for the church— is not the change from Sabbath
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to Sunday inevitably the mark of the beast? The answer must be in the affirmative. They hypotheses just set forth are all certainties.
      Who Receives the Mark of the Beast? —It will be said again, Then all Sundaykeepers have the mark of the beast; then all the good of past ages who kept this day had the mark of the beast; then Luther, Whitefield, the Wesleys, and all who have done a good and noble work of reformation, had the mark of the beast; then all the blessings that have been poured upon the reformed churches have been poured upon those who had the mark of the beast; and all Christians of the present day who are keeping Sunday as the Sabbath, have the mark of the beast. We answer, Not so! We are sorry to say that some professedly religious teachers, though many times corrected, persist in misrepresenting us on this point. We have never so held; we have never so taught. Our premises lead no such conclusions.
      Please give close attention. The mark and the worship of the beast are enforced by the two-horned beast. The receiving of the mark of the beast is a specific act which the two-horned beast is to cause to be done. The third angel’s message of Revelation 14 is a warning mercifully sent out in advance to prepare the people for the coming danger. There can therefore be no worship of the beast, nor receiving of his mark such as prophecy contemplates, until it is enforced by the two-horned beast, and knowingly accepted by the individual. We have seen that intention was essential to the change which the papacy has made in the law of God, to constitute it the mark of that power; so intention is necessary in the adoption of that change by the individual, to constitute it the receiving of that mark. In other words, a person must adopt the change knowing it to be the work of the beast, and receive it on the authority of that power in opposition to the requirement of God, before it can be said that he has received the mark of the beast.
      But how is it with those mentioned above, who have kept Sunday in the past, and the majority of those who are keeping
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it today? Do they keep it as an institution of the papacy? —No. Have they decided between this and the Sabbath of our Lord, understanding the claims of each? —No. On what ground have they kept it, and on what do they still keep it? —They suppose they are keeping a commandment of God. Have such the mark of the beast? —By no means. Their course is attributable to an error unwittingly received from the Church of Rome, not to an act of worship intentionally rendered to it.
      But how is it to be in the future? The church which is to be prepared for the second coming of Christ must be entirely free from papal errors and corruptions. A reform must hence be made on the Sabbath question. The third angel of Revelation 14 proclaims the commandments of God, leading men to the true Sabbath in the place of the counterfeit. The dragon is stirred, and so controls the wicked governments of the earth that all the authority of human power shall be exerted to enforce the claims of the man of sin. Then the issue is fairly before the people. They are required by the law of God to keep the true Sabbath; they are required by the law of God to keep the true Sabbath; they are required by the law of the Catholic Church, or the pseudo-Protestant church, and of the land to keep the counterfeit sabbath. For refusing to keep the true, the message threatens the unmingled wrath of God; for refusing the false, earthly governments threaten them with persecution and death. With this issue before the people, what does he do who yields to the human requirement? He virtually says to God, I know your claims, but I will not heed them. I know that the power I am required to worship is unchristian, but I yield to it to save my life. I renounce your allegiance, and bow to the usurper. The beast is henceforth the object of my adoration; under his banner, in opposition to your authority, I henceforth array myself; to him, in defiance of your claims, I henceforth yield the obedience of my heart and life.
      Such is the spirit which will actuate the hearts of the beast worshipers— a spirit which insults the God of the universe to His face, and is prevented only by lack of power from overthrowing
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His government and annihilating His throne. Is it any wonder that Jehovah pronounces against so Heaven-daring a course the most terrible threatening that His word contains?
      The Closing Work. —We have now seen what would properly constitute an image to the beast, such as the two-horned beast is to make, and also the prospect that such an image will sometime be set up in the United States of America. We have also learned what constitutes the mark of the beast, which is to be enforced upon all the people. An ecclesiastical organization composed of different sects in the land, in coalition with Roman Catholicism, by the promulgation and enforcement of a civil Sunday-sabbath law, would fulfill what the prophecy sets forth in reference to the image and the mark of the beast. These movements, or their exact equivalent, are called for by the prophecy. The line of evidence leading to these conclusions is so direct and well defined that there is no avoiding them. They are a clear and logical sequence from the premises given us.
      When the application of Revelation 13:11-17 to America was first made, as early as the year 1850, these positions were taken respecting a union of the churches and a Sunday-law movement. At that time no sign appeared that such an issue would ever arise. But there was prophecy. The United States had given abundant evidence by its location, the time of its rise, the manner of its rise, and its apparent character, that it was the power symbolized by the two-horned beast. There could be no mistake in the conclusion that it was the very nation intended by that symbol. But here were predictions indicating a union of church and state, and the enforcement of the papal sabbath as a mark of the beast. It was no small act of faith to take the position at that time that the United States would pursue such a policy without any apparent probability it would do so.
      The founders of the American Republic, in drafting its organic laws, never intended that any trouble should arise
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over a question of conscience. The Federal Constitution and most of the State constitutions have provisions guaranteeing the fullest religious liberty. But the development of the Sunday-law movement since 1850 amply demonstrates that the prophecy can be fulfilled in spite of the safeguards against intolerance erected by the founding fathers.
      Just how the tyranny over the souls and bodies of men is to be developed is not specified in the prophecy. It may come by one man or a set of men —political, religious, or otherwise. But it controls all— small and great. It governs finances, for rich and poor feel its grip. It rules economics, for no one can buy or sell without its permission and mark. It dictates religion, for it forces all, under penalty of death, to worship according to its laws.
      It is naturally repugnant to the American mind to think that religious persecution might mar the fair record of the nation founded on liberty at all. But during the entire history of the country, from its very founding, farseeing statesmen have recognized that the tendency to enforce religious dogmas by civil law is all too common with mankind, and is liable to break out in active persecution in unexpected places.
      To the honor of the nation, it should be said that throughout its history noble statesmen have largely held in check the tendency which the founders foresaw working in the body politic. But no American can shut his eyes to the fact that paralleling these noble efforts, zealous but misguided religious leaders have attempted the civil enforcement of religious usages.
      The prophecy predicts that a period of persecution will come. The two-horned beast causes all to receive a mark, and all who will not worship the image to be killed; that is, he wills, purposes, and endeavors to do this. He makes such an enactment, passes such a law. But it does not follow that all, and we do not think even many, will be put to death. God will interpose in behalf of His people. Those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience will be kept from falling in this
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hour of temptation. (Revelation 3:10.) Those who have made God their refuge will be kept from all evil. (Psalm 91:9, 10.) All who are found written in the book will be delivered. (Daniel 12:1.) As victors over the beast and his image, they will be redeemed from among men, and raise a song of triumph before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:2-4.)

      Verse 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.
      The Number of His Name. —The number of the beast, says the prophecy, “is the number of a man.” If it is to be derived from a name or title, the natural conclusion would be that it must be the name or title of some particular or representative man. The most plausible expression we have seen suggested as containing the number of the beast, is one of the titles applied to the pope of Rome. That title is this: Vicarius Filii Dei, “Vicegerent of the Son of God.” It is worthy of note that the Douay Version of the Bible has the following comment on Revelation 13:18: “The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number.” Taking the letters out of this title which are used as Roman numerals, we have V, 5; I, 1; C, 100; I, 1; U (formerly the same as V), 5; I, 1; L, 50; I, 1; I, 1; D, 500; I, 1. Adding these numbers together we have 666.
      It has been argued that the title of the popes should be reckoned according to the Greek gematria, since John wrote in Greek, but since the title appears in Latin, and Latin is the official language of the Church of Rome and the language of its adopted Bible, the Vulgate, such a procedure would destroy the numerical value of that title in its own language. It would seem reasonable that a Latin title should exhibit its Latin numerical values rather than Greek values.
      As to the practice of representing names by numbers we read: “It was a method practiced among the ancients, to denote names by numbers.” [43]
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      “Representing numbers by letters of the alphabet gave rise to a practice among the ancients of representing names also by numbers. Examples of this kind abound in the writings of heathens, Jews, and Christians.” [44]
      “It was a method practiced among the ancients, to denote names by numbers: as the name of Thouth or the Egyptian Mercury was signified by the number 1218. . . . It hath been the usual method in all God’s dispensations, for the Holy Spirit to accommodate His expressions to the customs, fashions, and manners of the several ages. since then this art and mystery of numbers was so much used among the ancients, it is less wonderful that the beast also should have his number, and his number is 666.” [45]
      This title, Vicarius Filii Dei, or some equivalent form of it, has appeared so frequently in Roman Catholic literature and rituals for centuries, that it scarcely seems necessary to add other proof of its validity and importance. Some of the variations of the title are: Vicar of Christ, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Vicar of God. A quotation from the noted Cardinal Manning illustrates these various forms of the same title:
      “So in like manner they say now, “See this Catholic Church, this Church of God, feeble and weak, rejected even by the very nations called Catholics. There is Catholic France, and Catholic Germany, and Catholic Italy, giving up this exploded figment of the temporal power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ,’ And so, because the Church seems weak, and the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth, therefore we are scandalized, therefore we turn our faces from him.” [46] (Italic ours.)
      Several other variations of this title are used elsewhere in the same book.
      On the importance of the pope’s position as indicated by the title under consideration, or its equivalents, we quote from
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J. A. Wylie, in his comment on the Apology of Ennodius written in defense of Pope Symmachus:
      “We find the council [of Rome, A.D. 502 or 503] convoked by Theodoric demurring to investigate the charges alleged against Pope Symmachus, on the grounds set forth by his apologist Ennodius, which were, ’that the Pope, as God’s Vicar, was the judge of all, and could himself be judged by no one.’ ‘In this apology,’ remarks Mosheim, ‘the reader will perceive that the foundations of that enormous power which the popes of Rome afterwards acquired were now laid.’” [47]
      In recent years, the validity of this title has been questioned, but historical evidence remains that this arrogated title has served to support the authority of the popes in building up their vast temporal supremacy during the heyday of Romanism in medieval times, and in maintaining their spiritual authority to this day.
      The particular title Vicarius Filii Dei appeared as early as 752-774 in a document historically known as the “Donation of Constantine.” Though this document was later proved to have been written by someone else and signed with the name of Constantine the Great to give it the weight of his authority —a practice not uncommon in medieval times— yet this so-called Donation of Constantine was used as valid by at least nine of the popes over a period of seven centuries or more in establishing the spiritual and temporal supremacy of the bishops of Rome.
      The title itself was obviously an invention to designate the office of Peter as the first pope in harmony with the widely known claim of the Roman Catholic Church that the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, 19, conferred upon Peter the first bishopric of the church —a view which Protestants have never allowed— and that this bishopric descended to his successors in the papal seat, as stated in the Donation of Constantine and maintained by the church to this day. [48]
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      The document employing the title was confirmed by a church council, says Binius, a high Roman Catholic dignitary of Cologne, quoted by Labbe and Cossart. [49] It was incorporated in Roman Catholic canon law by Gratian, and when this last-named work was revised and published, with endorsement by Pope Gregory XIII, the title was retained. [50] When Lucius Ferraris wrote his elaborate theological work about 1755, he gave under the article “Papa” the title Vicarius Filii Dei, and cited the revised canon law as his authority. Again when Ferraris’s work was revised and enlarged, and published in Rome in 1890, the document and title were still retained. [51]
      Of Ferraris’s theological work just cited, the Catholic Encylopedia says that it “will ever remain a precious mine of information.” [52]
      We quote herewith from the Latin of the Donation of Constantine, confirmed by a church council, incorporated in Roman Catholic canon law, and cited by Ferraris:
      “Ut sicut Beatus Petrus in terris Vicarius Filii Dei fuit constitutus, ita et Pontifices eius successores in terris principatus postestatem amplius, quam terrenae imperialis nostrae serenitatis mansuetudo habere videtur.” [53]
      Christopher Coleman translates this paragraph from the Canon law of Gratian as follows:
      “As the blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted Vicar of the Son of God on the earth, so the pontiffs who are the representatives of that same chief of the apostles, should obtain from us and our empire the power of a supremacy greater than the clemency of our earthy imperial serenity.” [54]
      A freer translation by Edwin Lee Johnson, professor of Latin and Greek, Vanderbilt University, reads: “Just as the
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Blessed Peter was appointed on earth vicar of the Son of God, so also it seems that the Pontiffs, his successors, hold on earth the power of the chief rule rather than (that) His Excellency, His Imperial Serene Highness on earth, (should hold it).”
      Thus closes Revelation 13, leaving the people of God with the powers of earth in deadly array against them and the decrees of death and banishment from society upon them for their adherence to the commandments of God. Spiritism will be, at the time specified, performing its most imposing wonders, deceiving all the world except the elect. (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.) This will be the “hour of temptation,” or trial, which is to come, as the closing test, upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth, as mentioned in Revelation 3:10. What is the issue of this conflict? This important inquiry is not left unanswered. The first five verses of the following chapter complete the chain of this prophecy, and reveal the glorious triumph of the champions of the truth.

      [1] See Archibald Bower, History of the Popes, Vol. III, pp. 409-420; George Croly, The Apocalypse of St. John, p. 251.
      [2] Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest, pp. 34-36.
      [3] Ibid., pp. 26, 27.
      [4] Ibid., pp. 32, 33.
      [5] Quoted by Hon. Charles Sumner, “Prophetic Voices About America,” Atlantic Monthly, September, 1867, p. 290
      [6] George Alfred Townsend, The New World Compared With the Old, p. 635.
      [7] John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, p. 735, comment on Revelation 13:11.
      [8] George Alfred Townsend, The New World Compared With the Old, p. 635.
      [9] Edward Everett, “Oration Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1824,” Orations and Speeches, p. 42.
      [10] W. Carlos Martyn, The Pilgrim Fathers, p. 89.
      [11] “The People and Progress of the United States,” The United States Magazine, Vol. II, August, 1855, p. 71.
      [12] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The New Revelation,” Metropolitan, January, 1918, p. 69.
      [13] Ibid., p. 75.
      [14] William Stainton Moses, Spirit Teachings, p. 74.
      [15] Ibid., p. 189.
      [16] James A. Findlay, in The Rock of Truth, p. 288.
      [17] William Stainton Moses, Spirit Teachings, pp. 150, 151.
      [18] State Bar Association of Connecticut, Annual Report 1916, p. 73.
      [19] Annals of Congress, Vol. I, p. 28.
      [20] Ibid., p. 32.
      [21] The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. I, p. 45.
      [22] U. S. House Reports, 43d Congress, 1st Session, No. 143.
      [23] “Notes on Virginia,” Query 17, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. VIII, p. 402.
      [24] The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, Vol. III, p. 307.
      [25] David McAllister, The National Reform Movement, Its History and Principles, p. 16, Constitution of the National Reform Association, Art. II.
      [26] The Church and the Government, p. 7.
      [27] Christian Statesman, December 11, 1884, p. 2.
      [28] History of the International Reform Bureau, p. 2.
      [29] U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings, Reorganization of the Federal Judiciary, Part 3, p. 681.
      [30] Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, Report of the First Meeting of the Federal Council, Philadelphia, 1908, pp. 5, 6.
      [31] Ibid., p. 103.
      [32] “Sunday Mail,” U. S. House Reports, Vol. II, No. 271, pp. 1-4.
      [33] Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol. II, p. 296.
      [34] Humphrey Prideaux, The Old and New Testament Connected in the History of the Jews, Vol. II, pp. 78, 79.
      [35] James Butler’s Catechism, p. 34.
      [36] James Bellord, A New Catechism of Christian Doctrine and Practice, pp. 86, 87.
      [37] A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, No. 2, Prepared and Enjoined by Order of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, p. 65.
      [38] Richard Challoner, The Catholic Christian Instructed, p. 202.
      [39] Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, p. 174.
      [40] Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, p. 58.
      [41] H. Canon Cafferata, The Catechism Simply Explained, p. 89.
      [42] Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptism, p. 15.
      [43] Matthew Henry, Commentary, Vol. III, p. 1065, note on Revelation 13:18.
      [44] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. II, p. 1025, note on Revelation 13:18.
      [45] Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol. II, p. 298, 299.
      [46] Cardinal Manning, The Temporal Power of the Year of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, pp. 140, 141.
      [47] J. A. Wylie, The Papacy, pp. 35, 36.
      [48] See Christopher Coleman, Constantine the Great and Christianity, p. 178.
      [49] P. Labbe and G. Cossart, Sacrosancta Concilia, Vol. 1, col. 1539-1541.
      [50] Corpus Juris Canonici, 1622.
      [51] Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca (Rome 1890), Vol. VI, p. 43, col. 2.
      [52] Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Vol. VI, p. 49, art., “Ferraris.”
      [53] Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca (Edition of 1890), art., “Papa,” II, Vol. VI, p. 43.
      [54] Christopher B. Coleman, The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine, p. 13.

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