It is written:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
We have learned that the “man of sin” is the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Yet where did the pope of the Roman Catholic Church originate?
In the church that Christ built, every congregation (local group of saved individuals) were to assemble and work together regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25). Every local “church” was united together in following the simple pattern of work and worship outlined in the sacred Writings of Christ’s Apostles (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 1:13).
In these congregations, where men were qualified, there were to be elders appointed to lead the local congregation (1 Peter 5:1-5; Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1). These elders were also identified as pastors (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11-15). Please notice from this last passage that “pastors” are different from “evangelists” or “preachers.”
The Apostles foretold that there would be a falling away from the Divine order that God gave to church, and sadly, it would begin within the church.
Acts 20:29-31-For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
1 Timothy 4:1-5-Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Remember that this “falling away” is associated by Paul with the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.
Church history reveals that this apostasy began in the first century when some congregations began to elevate one man over the rest of the elders in a local congregation. Within time, he took control of the local church; and then that church began taking control over other churches in the area.
“As the city churches began to evangelize those in the country, the city bishops began to assume authority over the country bishops. These were called the Metropolitans. Thus began the avenue by which the organizational structure eventually evolved into the hierarchical form of church government that exists today in the Catholic and some Protestant churches. BISHOPS over elders (beginning in the second century). METROPOLITANS (city bishops over country bishops). PATRIARCHS in five cities (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Rome).” (Calvin Fields, 10, 000 Faces Of Christianity: What Face Have You Seen? 5569-5574 (Kindle Edition); Xulon Press)
The following is written by a former Roman Catholic who became a member of the church of Christ after a very intense and heart wrenching investigation. He was encouraged to read a public debate that took place well over a hundred years ago between a member of the church of Christ and a Roman Catholic priest. He writes:
“However, his opponent was no slouch either. Described as a careful student of New Testament Greek, an outstanding educator, editor, and author, Alexander Campbell founded Bethany College in West Virginia, published two journals for a combined forty-two years, wrote several books, published a translation of the New Testament, addressed the United States Congress upon their dismissal of a session in order to hear him preach, and packed all church buildings wherever he spoke. When I read that all religious bodies in the United States had been influenced by this man because he almost single-handedly forced men to re-examine cherished traditions to see if they conformed to the truth of God, I knew this man did his homework and would press Bishop Purcell with his research. But, hey! That’s exactly what I want. No Catholic is going to question a bishop’s lecture on the origin of the pope, but how will it hold up when confronted by this Campbell fellow?… Campbell then quoted Du Pin, the Catholic historian. “St. Gregory does not only oppose this title in the patriarch of Constantinople, but maintains also, that it cannot agree to any other bishop, and that the bishop of Rome neither ought, nor can assume it.… [Peter] was not called universal apostle. That the title of universal bishop is against the rules of the gospel [the Scriptures], and the appointment of the canons [the laws formulated at the Church councils]: that there cannot be a universal bishop.” 2 Campbell then resumed his comments. But at this time [near the end of the 6th century] the patriarchs of Constantinople [John] and Rome [Gregory] were contending for the supremacy [of the church], and while it appeared to Gregory that his rival of the east was likely to process the title, he [Gregory] saw in it, everything anti-Christian and profane. When a new dynasty, however ascended the [Emperor’s] throne and offered the title to a Roman bishop, it [the title of universal patriarch] lost all its blasphemy and impiety, and we [then] find the successor of Gregory can wear the title of universal patriarch when tendered him by Phocas [the new Emperor], without the least scrupulosity. It is then a fact worthy of much consideration in this discussion, that John, bishop of Constantinople, first assumed the title of universal head of the whole Christian church, and that the bishop of Rome [Gregory] did in that case oppose it as anti-scriptural and anti-christian. Concerning the reputation of St. Gregory, I need not be profuse. Of the Gregories he is deservedly called the Great. Renowned in history as the one who stamped his own image on the Roman world for a period of five hundred years, yet he could not brook the idea of a pope, especially when about to be bestowed on his rival at Constantinople. St. Gregory, be it remembered, says Du Pin, did not only oppose the title in the case of John the Faster, as proud, heretical, blasphemous, &c., but could not agree to its being assumed by any other bishop; he affirmed that the bishops of Rome ought not, dare not, cannot assume this pompous and arrogant title. Thus stood matters as respects a supreme head up to within 14 years of the close of the 6th century. 3 Distressed, I wanted to tear out the page and burn it. But I would only be reacting dishonestly with the established and unchangeable facts of history. What had happened, happened. I dropped the book to my chest and stared at the ceiling. Wow! I thought with astonishment. No universal bishop until at least 588 A.D.! And when the first one finally arose, it was only the result of a power struggle between the two bishops of the two most important cities of the day. Unfortunately, a Catholic historian proved my earlier suspicions correct: the office of the pope was created by men, NOT God; and it was created centuries after the Church began. Even Gregory, the bishop of Rome, who would have been the pope if there was a pope, emphatically denied the Church to have a universal bishop over the universal Church. So, Gregory, one of the four most prominent patriarchs of the Church in that day, lets us know there was no universal bishop in the Church from its beginning unto at least 588 A.D.!” (Gary Henson, The Ivory Domino, 3266-3366 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.)); Charleston, AR; Cobb Publishing)
Henson then observes the Catholic rebuttal to this argument:
“Then, remembering Mr. Babbitt’s advice to observe how Bishop Purcell responded, I made use of his index to read every exchange of both men on this topic. Disappointed, because he was the Catholic champion, but not surprised because even the best cannot overturn the facts of history, Bishop Purcell’s feeble attempts to reply bounced away like pebbles tossed at a brick wall. He first asserted Du Pin was not an authentic historian. 4 Of course, if what Du Pin said cannot be refuted, then try to discredit the author; after all, this is what the Pharisees tried to do with the miracles of Jesus. 5 But the bishop’s diversion went nowhere. Campbell read from the front of Du Pin’s book the endorsements of notable and scholarly Catholics, the theological Doctors of Sorbonne, which included statements as: this book “never… lays down simple conjectures in place of demonstrative proofs”; “I find nothing to hinder its being printed”; and, “we have found nothing therein contrary to the Catholic faith, or to good manners.” 6 In other words, they found nothing wrong with Du Pin’s facts. Campbell added that the book was certified by the guardians of the Catholic press. 7 Campbell also pointed out that the bishop of Bardstown admitted Du Pin to be an “authentic historian.” 8 Even Bishop Purcell conceded, “I will remark that I consider Du Pin a learned man. I would even select him as a splendid illustration of the strength imparted to the human intellect by the Catholic intellectual discipline. He was truly a prodigy of learning and of precision of style.” 9 Campbell pointed out that “other historians record the same fact” 10 as Du Pin had stated which confirmed Du Pin’s historical report even more. Bishop Purcell could do no more than toss a mere pebble at this brick wall, but this pebble left not even a dent. Everything established Du Pin to be an authoritative historian, and, thus confirming, in 606 A.D., Boniface III became the very first pope, ever! The bishop next attempted to discredit Du Pin as a bad Catholic. 11 However, Campbell pointed out that Du Pin was buried in the Catholic Church in consecrated ground, which Bishop Purcell himself, only two or three months earlier, insisted as proof of a man’s good Catholic standing. 12 Besides, as Campbell correctly mentioned, 13 even if Du Pin was a bad Catholic, that would have nothing to do with his ability as an authentic historian to report the facts of history. Another pebble fell harmlessly to the ground. Bishop Purcell was running out of pebbles. He even resorted to the unprovable make-believe: “… they may have…,” 14 “… they might have been…,” 15 “… the most natural supposition.” 16 Also, in all of what the bishop said, I noticed he never, as in never-ever, attempted to discredit Du Pin’s report of Gregory’s denouncement of the existence of a universal bishop in the Church up to his day. Campbell noticed it too, and said, “Can he [Purcell] prove, or has he proved him [Du Pin] unfaithful in stating a single historical fact? Not one.” 17 No, the Catholic champion would not discredit Du Pin’s facts of history because he could not. He could not falsify Gregory’s statement because, as Campbell pointed out, “other historians record the same fact.” 18 It would have been as foolish for the bishop to deny those statements of Gregory as to have denied all the historians’ records of Columbus sailing to the American continents. The bishop knew that; he knew he could not deny the documents of history. Plain and simple: there was no universal bishop in the Church until Gregory’s successor, Boniface III, at the very beginning of the 7th century. Historians knew it. Those who read church history knew it. And now I knew it.” (Gary Henson, The Ivory Domino, 3326-3363 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Charleston, AR; Cobb Publishing)
The papacy of the Roman Catholic Church emerged as the result of a power structure with four other cities. It did not have its origin with Christ and His Apostles.
In our next study, we will see what Gary Henson himself learned about the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2.