The subject of the antichrist is another of the many biblical themes that is often only partially understood-or misunderstood altogether. Because of this, we must deal with this topic as well.
"Antichrist" is a word used only by one biblical writer. John writes of antichrist five times in two of his epistles. One of these times he writes it as a plural, "antichrists," and another time he refers to "the spirit of antichrist." John seems to speak of antichrist as an end-time individual, but also as a group of people ("antichrists") who have "the spirit of antichrist." But since John himself defines the term for us, let us read 1 John 2:18-23,
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
John's primary definition of antichrist is "the one who denies the Father and the Son." He explains this, saying that the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ has not only denied the Son but the Father as well. One cannot claim to worship the Father if he rejects the Son. Jesus was the incarnation of the God of the Old Testament.
This statement appears to be specifically directed at the followers of Judaism who had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and yet claimed to be worshipping the God of the Old Testament. John disagrees with this, saying, "whoever denies the Son does not have the Father."
John also gives us certain evidences that help us to put the subject of antichrist into context. He tells us plainly in verse 18 that the fact that "many antichrists have arisen" is proof that "it is the last hour." John understood that in the "last hour" there would be the rise of antichrist (singular) and antichrists (plural). If there were antichrists already in John's day, how much more today-for we, too, believe that we are now living in the last hour (of the Pentecostal Age).
John further says that these antichrists had at one time been "of us." This can mean one of two things: (1) they used to be part of the fig tree nation of Judah that was under God's covenant, but that by rejecting Jesus as Messiah, they left the covenant and are no longer Judahites in the sight of God; or (2) they were Judahites who at one time accepted Jesus as Messiah, but later rejected Him and presumably returned to Judaism.
Either way, John's definition of the term "antichrist" would have been understood in his day to be directed at those who called themselves Judahites ("Jews"), claiming to worship the Father, but who had actually rejected the Father by rejecting the Son. John apparently had some revelation that this would occur "at the last hour." Of course, by this broad understanding of timing, "the last hour" would have begun with the rejection of Jesus and His crucifixion.
But the way John describes it, it is as though he expected to see a greater manifestation of this return to Judaism in the last days. John says that " from this we know that it is the last hour." He does not cite the rejection of Jesus at the time of His crucifixion, but rather by Christians returning to Judaism after having first accepted Him. The rejection of Jesus and His crucifixion was really the last hour of the previous age, the Passover Age. A second rejection surrounding His second coming would signal the last hour of the Pentecostal Age.
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in the first century, lived from 30-107 A.D. This makes him a contemporary of all the apostles, though he outlived John by about ten years. It was said that as a small child, he was one of the 500 who witnessed the risen Christ. He wrote a number of epistles, including one to the Church in the town of Magnesia. His Epistle to the Magnesians, Chapter 10, reads,
"It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus and to Judaize, for Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, so that every tongue which believeth might be gathered together to God."
There is a second, longer version of Ignatius' letter, where this passage reads,
"It is absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue, and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end. For where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism."
Again, Ignatius writes in Chapter 6 of his Epistle to the Philadelphians,
"If anyone preaches the one God of the law and the prophets, but denies Christ to be the Son of God, he is a liar, even as also is his father the devil, and is a Jew falsely so-called, being possessed of mere carnal circumcision."
Ignatius shows his acquaintance with John's teachings, not only about Judaism, but also he refers to John 8:44, where Jesus said to the Jews who rejected Him, " You are of your father, the devil." Likewise, when Ignatius refers to "a Jew falsely so-called," it is apparent that he is referring to Rev. 2:9, where the angel tells John,
9 I know... the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
This is essentially repeated in Rev. 3:9, where we read,
9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie-behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved YOU."
So we see that Ignatius not only rejects Judaism, but he also puts a great gulf between Judaism and Christianity. He calls Judaism "the synagogue of Satan." He also plainly believes that those who rejected Jesus, for all their claims, are not the true Judahites (Jews) at all. They are only Jews "falsely so-called." These are strong words, and they make manifest the great wedge between the good figs and the evil figs.
Justin Martyr (70-155 A.D.), in his Dialogue with Trypho, gives us the normal, recommended attitude of Christians toward the evil figs. Justin had met Trypho in Greece some time after the end of the Bar Kokba revolt (135 A.D.) in which Trypho had fought. Justin shows that Jonah, the type of Christ, was in the earth until the third day, and then he preached the warning to Nineveh that after forty days Nineveh would be overthrown. Justin relates this to Jesus and to Jerusalem, saying that after Jesus was in the grave three days, He taught the disciples forty days, and the disciples bore witness forty YEARS until Jerusalem (" Nineveh ") was overthrown. Justin then tells Trypho in Chapter 108,
"Yet you not only have not repented, after you learned that He rose from the dead, but, as I said before, you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but His disciples stole Him by night from the tomb, where He was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that He has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.... Besides this, even when your city is captured, and your land ravaged, you do not repent, but dare to utter imprecations on Him and all who believe in Him. Yet we do not hate you, or those who, by your means, have conceived such prejudices against us; but we pray that even now all of you may repent and obtain mercy from God, the compassionate and long-suffering Father of all."
1 John 2:19 gives us the reason why these antichrists left the faith. It was God's purpose to make manifest their hearts. They had to leave in order that it might be clear to all that they really did not have faith in Jesus Christ from the beginning. Perhaps we can say that they had been persuaded in their minds to follow Christ, but they did not really have faith. Faith and persuasion are two different things. To be persuaded is to be convinced by external evidence, such as reading the Bible. Faith comes by hearing the Word. Persuasion is in one's head; faith is in one's heart. It is often difficult to tell the difference and one must simply await the harvest to see if the people bear fruit or not.
John says to the believers in his letter,
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
John was writing to people who did know the truth and who would not depart from it and return to Judaism. John was not writing out of a motive of hatred for those who had rejected Jesus-but neither did he shrink from speaking the plain truth, for only by making the choice clear can men choose to belong to the evil fig tree or the good fig tree.
Christian Judaism in the Last Hour
In the past few decades the delineation between these two trees has become fuzzy once again. More Christians are converting to Judaism than Jews are converting to Christ. Many of those Christians who convert to Judaism think that they can carry Jesus into Judaism. They think that Judaism would be the true religion if only Jesus could be placed on top of all the rabbinic traditions of men.
One prime example of a Jewish convert is Pat Boone. On Dec. 21, 1977 Pat Boone published a letter for the Copley News Service entitled, "Why I Became a Jew." It reads:
Dear Pat Boone,
More and more I hear you talking about Jewish things on television. My question is, have you converted to Judaism?
In a very real way, you could say that I've become Jewish.
This is true of my whole family. Obviously, none of us has been born in a racially Jewish family-but we do strongly identify with the ancient heritage of the people of Israel and feel that we have been adopted into that "chosen" family.
My oldest daughter, Cherry, reads and writes Hebrew, and is married to Dan O'Neill, who not only is fluent in Hebrew, but who lived and worked on two Israeli kibbutzim during the time surrounding the Yom Kippur war.
Occasionally, we have special Hanukkah parties in our home, and attend services at a nearby conservative temple.
Aren't we Christians? Yes, we are. And that's why we're feeling so Jewish!
What so few people realize these days is that Christianity is a Jewish religion! In fact, as I have explained to a number of rabbis (who have most frequently agreed with me), I see Judaism as divided into four main branches: Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, and Christian.
We're members of the Christian branch of Judaism.
Abraham is the father of the Arab, the Jew-and the true Christian. God told him that through his offspring, he would bless all the people of the world. And he's done it.
Yes, I have become a Jew. My whole family have become Jews, following the Rabbi and Messiah Yeshua. We have placed our lives and destinies in the hands of the Carpenter from Nazareth who gave His life for us and about whom John proclaimed: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world."
When my family and I were in Israel a couple of years ago, we discovered that Jews everywhere in that land acknowledged that there was a historical Yeshua who lived around the Sea of Galilee, who performed wonderful miracles, who was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem, and who was a "wonderful teacher." Their faith in the reality of the man Jesus was stronger in most cases than many Christians in this country. But how could a man be a "wonderful teacher" and a demented egomaniac at the same time?
Pat Boone is a classic proof that we are living in "the last hour," when men think there is life in the evil fig tree. Pat Boone is a product of modern evangelical and pentecostal teaching, which supports the evil fig tree, thinking that this tree will some day bear fruit. Is Christianity really just one of four branches of Judaism? No, this is antichrist.
We are living in the last hour, the time of the second appearance of Christ. The evil figs rejected Jesus as King of Judah, denying Him the throne and dominion mandate that was rightfully His. In His second appearance He is rejected again-this time, as the Prince of the tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). In this appearance, His robe is "dipped in blood" (Rev. 19:13), even as Joseph's coat of many colors was dipped in blood (Gen. 37:31).
In this second appearance, the conflict is not over the dominion mandate, but over the fruitfulness mandate. It is a question of who is the inheritor of Joseph's birthright (1 Chron. 5:1, 2). It is a question of who has the right to be called by the birthright name of ISRAEL (Gen. 48:16). Does the evil fig tree have the right to be called Israel, or does that name belong to Jesus Christ and to those who accept Him in His second appearance?
This is the real issue that faces the Church today. Those who support the right of the evil figs to usurp the name Israel are (unwittingly) betraying Christ in His second appearance, even as Judas supported the usurpers of the throne in Christ's first appearance.
The Literal Meaning of Antichrist
The Greek term, "antichrist," is composed of two Greek words: anti and christos. In Matt. 2:22 we have an illustration of the meaning of anti. It reads,
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of [Greek: anti] his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.
The word anti means "in place of" in the sense of someone replacing another. It is more than just acting on behalf of another, such as a vice president who acts on behalf of the president during his absence. The vice president would not dare to do anything that the absent president would not do, for if he presumed to do so, then the vice president would actually be a usurper. The word anti, as applied in Matt. 2:22 above, means that Archelaus replaced his father Herod, who had died. If, on the other hand, Archelaus had overthrown his father Herod and then ruled Judea "in place of" his father Herod, men would say that he had usurped the throne unlawfully.
John uses the term "antichrist" in the latter sense. The people had usurped the throne of the true King, Jesus Christ. They were ruling "in place of" or anti Christ. This is why John describes the antichrist in terms of those who reject the King, denying that Jesus is the Messiah that the Father had sent to rule the earth.
Judas supported the Jewish leaders and betrayed Jesus. Judas is thus called "the son of perdition" in John 17:12. Paul says in 2 Thess. 2:3, 4,
3 Let no man in any way deceive you; for it will not come unless the apostasy [ apostasia, "casting away'] comes first, and the man of lawlessness [ anomia ] be revealed [ apokaluphthe, "unveiled"], the son of destruct-tion [i.e., perdition], 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
Paul spoke of this event as taking place in the future. He links it to the "day of the Lord," which, Paul says, will not take place until the "apostasy" first takes place and the unveiling of the man of lawlessness. We know from this that the "day of the Lord" had not yet occurred when Paul wrote his epistle. The "day of the Lord" was the time that the enemies of Christ would be overthrown, and Christ would be given His rightful place as Heir of all things. That is, He would be given both the dominion mandate of Judah and the fruitfulness mandate of Joseph.
But for this to take place, the usurper must be exposed, overthrown, and cast away. It is self-evident that in all this there is "apostasy." But the word apostasia literally means "a casting away," not a "falling away," as if someone passively fell. The word apostasia is used again in Acts 21:21, where Paul was accused of teaching the people to "forsake" Moses. The word literally means to "cast away" Moses. In that sense, the word can refer to an apostasy FROM the law of Moses. But it literally means to cast away Moses.
So in 2 Thess. 2:3 Paul uses the term again. Something must first be cast aside before the day of the Lord can come. What is it that must be cast away? Paul seems to be saying that the "man of lawlessness" and "son of destruction" must be cast away first. The man of lawlessness is not the same as the son of destruction. The son of destruction is obviously a reference to Judas (John 17:12). The man of lawlessness seems to refer to the Jewish leaders themselves, who had usurped the throne in a lawless manner.
In Acts 2:23 Peter says in his pentecostal sermon,
23 this man [Jesus], delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless [anomos, " LAWLESS "] men and put Him to death.
This same Greek word anomos ("lawless") is used again in 2 Thess. 2:8, where Paul says that "the lawless one will be revealed " or unveiled by Christ's coming. I do not know why the NASB (quoted above) used the term "godless" instead of lawless. Their mistranslation makes little sense. The Greek word for "godless" is atheos. This word is used in Eph. 2:12, where it speaks of the "gentiles" as " having no hope and without God [atheos, "godless"] in the world." On the other hand, the Greek word anomos comes from the word nomos, which means law. The "a" makes it negative, "lawless."
The fulfillment of the role of "man of lawlessness" and "son of destruction" is no longer a role played by a single individual such as Judas. In the second appearance of Christ, the role is played by a company of people. The man of lawlessness is to be thought of as a collective noun.
So Paul was drawing upon his knowledge of the events in Jerusalem surrounding Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion when he penned the letter to the Thessalonian Church. He saw the man of lawlessness as a corporate body of evil figs led by the chief priests of the temple. Paul saw the son of destruction, or son of perdition, as Judas, the betrayer who helped them usurp the throne and the dominion mandate from Jesus, the rightful King.
Paul says that this "man of sin," in usurping the throne of God in His temple, had replaced Jesus Christ as King. This "man of sin" then " takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God " (2 Thess. 2:4). Verses 7, 8 continue,
7 The mystery of lawlessness is already at work, only He [God] who now restrains [the evil figs] will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then that lawless one will be revealed ["unveiled"] whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.
Paul is saying that the evil figs who have usurped the throne of God in His temple will be exposed, revealed, or unveiled at the time of Christ's second appearance. Is this the antichrist ? Yes, of course it is, but it refers specifically to the leaders of Zionist Jewry and also to the leaders of Judaism in general, all of whom are lawless by biblical definition. These rabbinic leaders have blinded the eyes of the common Jews into supporting the revolt of Absalom against David-that is, the Jewish leaders against Jesus.
Likewise, most Christian prophecy teachers today see the rise of antichrist as really a new thing, with very little biblical precedent. They generally do not see (or choose to ignore) the story of Absalom and Ahithophel and how this was a prophetic allegory of the New Testament events. Very few understand how these things have been repeated in the twentieth century with the rise of Zionism and the "State of Israel." For this reason, much of Church teaching has misled the people into becoming one with Judas, betraying their Friend and Master.
It is God, though, who has blinded the eyes of His people in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Even as Israel 's eyes were blinded during the entire forty years that Moses led them in the wilderness (Deut. 29:4), so also has the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38) of the New Testament been blinded during its forty Jubilees of wandering under the anointing of Pentecost. None of this could have happened if God had opened the eyes of His people.
Many are expecting a "rapture" to remove the Church from the earth at the beginning, middle, or end of a seven-year tribulation. During this tribulation, they say, the Antichrist will appear as a world leader and will set up his headquarters in a newly-rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. We show in our book, The Laws of the Second Coming, that the concept of the "rapture" needs to be re-defined in terms of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is NOT an escape from the earth, but a transformation of the body. The overcomers who fulfill this feast will have the ability to do as Jesus did after His resurrection. They will be able to "travel" freely between heaven and earth, first teaching people on earth and then ministering to the Father in heaven.
Whether or not a single Jewish leader will emerge as the Antichrist or not, we will wait and see. It makes little difference, though. The important thing to know is that the entire evil fig tree deserves no Christian support, either financial or political. It must be that the lawless ones must usurp the dominion and fruitfulness mandates, but we ought to remain faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and be willing, if necessary, to live with David in the wilderness, rather than in the palace under Absalom.
As for the idea of the tribulation and its duration, we must reserve this topic for another book explaining the Book of Revelation. It is unfortunate that almost never is a topic complete in itself. But this much is written that you may know and not be taken by surprise when events happen in a way different from what Christian prophecy teachers are saying.
The Spirit of Antichrist in the Church
There are, of course, other applications of this term. ANYONE who usurps the throne reserved for Jesus Christ is antichrist. All who support the usurpation are under a "spirit of the antichrist" (1 John 4:3).
We saw earlier that the term "antichrist" literally means "in place of Christ." In the rise of the Roman Catholic Church in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, historians speak of the consolidation of power under one head-Rome. The Bishops of Rome soon came to be called "the Vicar of Christ." A Vicar means one who rules in place of Christ.
Now the term "vicar" can be a rather benign term, so long as the vicar sees himself as "under Christ" and having authority only to dispense rulings and judgments that Christ Himself would have dispensed if He had been ruling on earth in person. Thus also, when David ruled Jerusalem, He was in that sense a "vicar," for he ruled in God's throne but considered himself to be under the authority of God. David dispensed justice as God saw it, not as he himself necessarily saw it. David sought to know the mind of God, so that he would know precisely how to rule the people as God would rule.
But the Roman Bishops have become "vicars" in the other sense of the word. They consider themselves to be above Christ and the apostles and above the divine law. Pope Boniface VIII, who became pope in 1294 A.D. wrote in his Unam Sanctum,
"All the earth is my diocese, and I am the ordinary [the one who ordains or gives authority] of all men, having the authority of the King of all kings upon subjects. I am all in all and above all, so that God Himself and I, the vicar of God, have but one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do. In all that I list my will is to stand for reason, for I am able by the law to dispense above the law, and of wrong to make justice in correcting laws and changing them ..
"Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of men, but of God, what can you make me but God ? Again, if prelates of the Church be called and counted of Constantine [the pope, not the emperor by that name-ed.] for gods, I then, being above prelates, seem by this reason to be above all gods.
"Wherefore, no marvel if it be in my power to change times and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ ; for where Christ biddeth Peter put up his sword, and admonishes His disciples not to use any outward force in revenging themselves, do not I, Pope Nicolas [using another past pope's decree as a precedent to prove his authority] writing to the bishops of France, exhort them to draw out their material swords? And whereas Christ was present Himself at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, do not I, Pope Martin, in my distinction, inhibit the spiritual clergy to be present at marriage feasts, and also to marry? Moreover, where Christ biddeth us lend without hope of gain, do not I, Pope Martin, give dispensation to do the same? What should I speak of murder, making it to be no murder or homicide to slay them that be excommunicated?
"Likewise against the law of nature, item against the apostles, also against the canons of the apostles, I can and do dispense; for where they in their canon command a priest for fornication to be deposed, I through the authority of Sylvester, do alter the rigour of their constitution, considering the minds and bodies also of men to be weaker than they were then."
This quote comes from Guinness' book, Romanism and the Reformation, pages 30 and 31. Pope Boniface appeals to the decrees of past popes, claiming the papal right, as Vicar of Christ, to dispense with the laws of Christ and of the apostles. He is saying, in other words, that he is ANTICHRIST. That is, he rules in place of Christ, but has usurped the throne of Christ. The fact that past popes issued such decrees-and he gives examples of such decrees-are themselves the proof of his right to do so! I suppose he claims this right on the grounds that God let him get away with it.
What the Jews did in the Passover Age-making void the law through their traditions of men-the Roman Church did in the Pentecostal Age. Both, in their own way, usurped the authority of Christ. In this way, the spirit of Judas continued to thrive in the Church, and the spirit of antichrist began very early, even in the days of the apostles. In fact, this is not simply a problem of Judaism or Roman Catholicism. The spirit of antichrist is in nearly every denomination of Christianity in the form of the doctrine of "submission to men."
Church members are told that they are in rebellion against God if they are not in submission to a pastor or "recognized" denominational Church. While this is a less extreme manifestation of the spirit of antichrist than that found in the Roman Church, it is there nonetheless. People are taught that there must be a priest between them and Jesus. In effect, they are not allowed to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ unless it conforms to the doctrines of the denomination. They are often discouraged from hearing the voice of God for themselves, lest they hear something different from what the denomination teaches. Anything God speaks to them must be subject to a veto by the priest or pastor.
This, too, is antichrist. God has not given the five-fold ministry as vicars, but as servants to teach the people how to hear God for themselves, to teach and counsel the people as they grow in Christ and learn His mind. But to usurp authority over them is to rape the bride of Christ, even as Absalom did to David's concubines.
Now, as of August 12, 2002, this is the official theological position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Jews Saved Apart from Christ?
Given the similarity between Judaism and Roman Catholicism-each usurping the throne of God, and each having their traditions of men that nullify the law of God-it is not surprising that these two religions should finally kiss.
From 1948-1993, while the evangelical churches were exulting in the "prophecies of Israel" being fulfilled, the Roman Catholic Church at first refused to recognize the Jewish state as "Israel" and the inheritors of the Covenant with God. But on December 30, 1993 the Vatican finally established diplomatic relations with the Israeli state and recognized them as " Israel." In so doing, they agreed with the Zionists and with evangelical Christianity that the Jews were the lawful inheritors of the fruitfulness mandate given to the sons of Joseph.
Then in March 2000 Pope Paul II visited Jerusalem, proclaiming to the world that the Jews were "Israel" and "the people of the Covenant." Thirty-six years earlier, in 1964, a past pope also visited Jerusalem, but it was not an "official" visit, and he had refrained from calling them " Israel." And so this new policy represented a departure from previous thinking.
The Jews may certainly be the people of the old covenant, but that covenant has been abolished, because the people broke that covenant. That covenant is no covenant at all. It has been nullified for a long time. The only way that ANYONE can be in a covenant relationship with God is through the New Covenant. This comes only by means of Jesus Christ. The Jews of Judaism who reject Jesus Christ are NOT the people of this Covenant. If they will accept the terms of the New Covenant and accept Jesus Christ as its Mediator, then they are welcome to be engrafted into this Kingdom Fig Tree. But Christians have no business becoming Jews and trying to be engrafted into a cursed fig tree. One cannot do so without becoming part of the body of Judas Iscariot.
The ultimate kiss of Judas occurred on August 12, 2002 when the American bishops of the Roman Church issued their official statement recognizing Judaism as a second true religion that has the power to save Jews apart from accepting Jesus as Messiah.
Their entire statement is online at: http://www.usccb.org/, which is the website of the "United States Conference of Catholic Bishops." The document is entitled: Reflections on Covenant and Mission. "This article was issued by the National Council of Synagogues and Delegates of the Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. The article gives a history since the Second Vatican Council's declaration in 1965 called Nostra Aetate. It says,
"The post-Nonstra Aetate Catholic recognition of the permanence of the Jewish people's covenant relationship to God has led to a new positive regard for the post-biblical or rabbinic Jewish tradition that is unprecedented in Christian history."
In other words, this new teaching is "unprecedented." Neither Jesus nor the disciples taught this. It is a climactic example of the "Vicar of Christ" nullifying the words of Jesus and the apostles, including Peter himself, to whom the Church gives feigned reverence.
"Knowledge of the history of Jewish life in Christendom also causes such biblical texts as Acts 5:33-39 to be read with new eyes. In that passage the Pharisee Gamaliel declares that only undertakings of divine origin can endure. If this New Testament principle is considered by Christians today to be valid for Christianity, then it must logically also hold for post-biblical Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism, which developed after the destruction of the Temple, must also be 'of God'."
Here they say that because Judaism has endured for the past 2,000 years, they must be "of God." It is ironic that they would issue such a statement just before the Israeli state is destroyed! They are challenging God to either destroy Judaism (and the Israeli state) or leave it alone and let it be validated as being "of God." We ought to watch what God does now to answer this challenge. The article continues,
"From the point of view of the Catholic Church, Judaism is a religion that springs from divine revelation. As Cardinal Kasper noted, 'God's grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e., the faithful response of the Jewish people to God's irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to His promises."
This is saying that if a Jew is merely faithful to Judaism, then he is saved. They reason that God made an "irrevocable covenant" with the Jews, so that regardless of whether or not they accept Christ, they will be saved by that covenant.
Paul makes it clear that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Can any man receive justification apart from Christ? Will Jews be justified by their works, while the rest of "us gentiles" have to be saved by faith in Christ? If this is how a Jew is saved, then no Jew has ever been saved in all of history. The "doers of the law" are certainly justified (Rom. 2:13), but because all have sinned, the law must condemn all men without exception (Rom. 3:19).
To say that Jews are saved by the works of the law is to condemn all Jews, not to save them. The Catholic teaching here may placate the Jews, but they are merely confirming them in their unbelief and to certain judgment. I, on the other hand, do my best to warn them of the judgment to come, both at the Great White Throne and also the more immediate judgment that will surely come upon the Israeli state. They may not like to hear this, but it is what they need to hear.
Paul says in Gal. 1:13 how he acted as a member of Judaism in good standing:
2 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it.
In Gal. 4:25, Paul says that the children of the old Jerusalem are in bondage. But apparently the Catholic Church has decided to leave the Jews in their bondage. Paul also said in 1 Thess. 2:14, 15,
14... for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men.
Yes, their "hostility" is the problem (Lev. 26:40, NASB). The Roman Catholic article continues,
"This statement about God's saving covenant is quite specific to Judaism. Though the Catholic Church respects all religious traditions and through dialogue with them can discern the workings of the Holy Spirit, and though we believe God's infinite grace is surely available to believers of other faiths, it is only about Israel 's covenant that the Church can speak with the certainty of the biblical witness. This is because Israel 's scriptures form part of our own biblical canon and they have a 'perpetual value... that has not been canceled by the later interpretation of the New Testament'.
"According to Roman Catholic teaching, both the Church and the Jewish people abide in covenant with God."
I can understand the Church not knowing the difference between the Jews and Israel, because God was responsible for causing Israel to be "lost sheep." It was necessary in His plan for Israel to be lost, even as Joseph was lost and presumed dead until his revealing in the end. However, to say that God's "saving covenant" was given to the Jews in the ancient past, and that this saves them even if they continue to reject Jesus Christ, is rank heresy.
It is not that this is really a new doctrine. In fact, the same article explains that it has been pushed by Prof. Tommaso Federici for the past 25 years. The article says,
"He argued on historical and theological grounds that there should be in the Church no organizations of any kind dedicated to the conversion of Jews. This has over the ensuing years been the de facto practice of the Catholic Church."
Really? So for the past 25 years the Catholic Church has considered Jews to be already saved, so long as they are faithful to Judaism, which hates Jesus and rejects Him as Messiah? Well, it is about time that they make this doctrine public. They continue:
"... the Church must bear witness in the world to the Good News of Christ, so as to prepare the world for the fullness of the kingdom of God. However, this evangelizing task no longer includes the wish to absorb the Jewish faith into Christianity and so end the distinctive witness of Jews to God in human history."
Let me see if I understand this correctly. The Roman Church believes that if a Jew accepts Christ, he will lose his status as a Jew and no longer be one of God's "chosen." If all Jews were to accept Christ, then this would "end the distinctive witness of Jews to God in human history."
Perhaps we ought to admonish Jesus' disciples for following Jesus. Perhaps we ought to chastise the 3,000 who were converted on the day of Pentecost. Perhaps the Great Commission did not include Jews at all. Perhaps Paul erred greatly in preaching in the synagogues. Perhaps Peter himself was wrong in being a minister to the circumcision. Was the early Church working against the plan of God by seeking to convert Jews? It must take a team of serious scholars to come to that conclusion. We continue reading:
"Thus, while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God. The Catholic Church must always evangelize and will always witness to its faith in the presence of God's kingdom in Jesus Christ to Jews and to all other people....
"However, it now recognizes that Jews are also called by God to prepare the world for God's kingdom. Their witness to the kingdom, which did not originate with the Church's experience of Christ crucified and raised, must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity."
We thank the Catholic Church for clarifying their heresy in public. My opinion, of course, carries no weight. So I will simply quote Peter, whom the Catholics name and claim as their first pope, who said in Acts 4:10-12,
10 Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 He is the Stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.
Peter spoke these words to the high priest of Judaism (4:6). It is evident that the Roman Church today is NOT the same Church as it was in the book of Acts. What happened to the Roman Church is the same as what happened to the Old Testament Church. In both cases their traditions made void the law of God. Apparently, they have discovered that the Jews had a right to overrule Moses, even as the Roman Church now claims the right to overrule Jesus and the Apostles!
The Church tells us that God has continued His covenant with the evil figs and that the divine law did not really cut them off from among their people for refusing to apply the blood of Jesus Christ to their heart altars.
The Church taught Replacement Theology for a thousand years, where the Church supposedly replaced the Judah tree. But now the Church teaches that the evil figs of Judaism have been growing and flourishing alongside of the good figs-and that BOTH are in a right relationship with God. Those of the good fig tree must have faith in Jesus Christ; those of the evil fig tree may reject Him, as long as they follow the traditions of men in the religion of Judaism.
If the promises to the Fathers in Israel means that Jews are saved apart from obedience and apart from accepting Jesus as the Messiah, then that covenant is far better than the New Covenant under which the Church operates. Under the New Covenant, men are required to follow Jesus to be saved, and therefore, they say, the vast majority of humanity is doomed to hell. But how fortunate is the Jew, who is under a better covenant than we, who can reject and even hate Jesus Christ and still be saved by following the traditions of Judaism!
If that were true, it would have been far better for Jesus to have never come to give us a New Covenant. Judaism should have remained the one true religion, and men should simply have converted to Judaism. One might ask, "What if a person converts from Catholicism to Judaism? Does his conversion grant him a special privilege of salvation that Catholics do not enjoy? Which covenant is REALLY the "better covenant": the old or the new?
The spirit of antichrist is alive and well.