According to reformed theology, in the Savoy Declaration of Faith, Chapter 26 (Of the Church), paragraph 4, the Pope is the Antichrist.

There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

Also in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 26 (Of the Church), paragraph 4, we found the same, the Pope as the Antichrist.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

But how can he be THE Antichrist, as 2 Thessalonians 2: 2-9 says, if it is talking about a position and not a person. Would not be more in line with the concept of the spirit of the antichrist, of which it is spoken of in 1 John 2: 18-19 and 1 John 4: 2-3.

How can this paragraph be interpreted? The Pope is an antichrist or the Pope is the Antichrist?

  • People will interpret Scriptures the way they think best!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 19:09
  • Does this help: What is a brief history on the idea that the Pope is the Antichrist?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 19:24
  • Which pope in particular? There seem to have been good ones and bad ones. // Rule in the local Church by elders is the New Testament pattern. Not from afar, from a central government (episcopalian) nor by democracy, by unordained members of the congregation (congregationalist), but by elders (the presbyterian model). Not that the congregation and especially the trans-local ministeries (apostles and prophets) shouldn't have a major input. But there is sadly often a mismatch between ordained and God-ordained. Not just in one denomination. Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 11:34

1 Answer 1


If I say 'B is that A' it does not exclude the possibility of also saying 'C is that A'.

That the Savoy Declaration (and others that followed it) states the Pope of Rome as being 'Antichrist' does not mean that the authors meant to exclusively define 'Antichrist' to mean 'Pope of Rome'. They were locating what, to them (as Reformers), was the prime example of what they considered to be 'antichrist' in their own experience and in their own times.

The wording is quite precise :

... is that antichrist.

The very definition of the word 'antichrist' (according to the meaning of the Greek prefix 'anti' see Strong 473) is that it is in opposition to Christ.

It is any form of religion that, rising up in an organised manner, globally, competes with Christ, as the King of Kings, reigning (by divine and angelic power) from the throne of God in heaven and competes with Christ, as the Head of the Church, reigning (in Spirit) over the Body of Christ gathered on earth.

To say, in English, 'that' antichrist does not mean it is 'the' antichrist.

The demonstrative pronoun 'that' does not have the power of the definite article 'the', in English, or in other languages. It locates something as being an example of a concept. It does not define that which is located as being the only example of the concept.

I may point to my pet, if I am displeased with its lack of loyalty to me, and say 'that Judas' meaning it has betrayed me in some fashion. But I am by no means asserting that my pet is the only representation on earth, presently, which bears treacherous characteristics.

I believe the wording of the Savoy Declaration (and its followers) is quite precise and demonstrates your alternative in your question 'an antichrist'.

  • In the footnotes of the Confessions they put 2 Thessalonians 2: 2-9 as a source for these declarations, so "that" is making reference to this specific being, the Man of Evil. For this reason I change that into the and make it definite. Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 13:24
  • @wildmangrove does the footnote mean the verse was the justification for the statement, or only that it's a related topic? I've seen a lot of concordances, topical guides, and biblical dictionaries over the years, and too often people put in a cross-reference because the same two words were found in the verses despite two very different meanings. In other words, you're bringing an interpretation into play that could easily be false. The author may only have intended to spur thought on the part of the reader (and considering it's a treatise justifying anti-Catholicism, that's very likely).
    – JBH
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 15:23
  • @JBH The Confessions of Faith try to be a faithful exposition of the doctrines found in Scripture and the footnotes are used to confirm each one of the articles, as proof of what is asserted. Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 16:17
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    @wildmangrove um, says who? Every author(s) tries to be as faithful as they can, but every author brings a "black box" of interpretational views with them. Even the most professional admit they're never 100% perfect. Can you find a commentary by one of the editors/authors supporting your interpretation? If not, it's just your interpretation.
    – JBH
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 16:42
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    @wildmangrove Yup. OK? There was a tremendous amount of anti-papal sentiment in England, well before Henry beheaded Anne Bolyne in 1536, but it continued for a while. They went out of their way to paint everything Catholic as evil. So, you're using an anti-Catholic document to ask your question. What are you expecting? Were they talking about only Alexander VIII? Every pope after him? every pope before him? Or is this just an extension of your rant against Bergolio? (Keep in mind, I'm not Catholic.)
    – JBH
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 18:51

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