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His Faithful Witness - The Book of Revelation
Week 28, 2016
The church at Pergamos is commended by the Lord for being faithful even in the days of Antipas, whom the Lord called His “faithful witness.” That this is linked to “Satan’s throne” is no accident. Paul wrote in
II Thessalonians 2:3-4:
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,
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 (NKJV).
The early church fathers who addressed this subject seemed to agree that they expected this “man of sin,” or the “abomination of desolation” (see Daniel 11:31) as Daniel referred to it, to take its seat in the temple of God, which is the church. None of the early church fathers, or even the Reformers until the 1844 Advent Movement, foresaw a rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem or the man of sin manifesting there. Rather they saw him manifesting in the church.
Antipas means “anti-pope” or “anti-father.” This was a movement that rose up after the church became the state religion of the Roman Empire. This movement resisted the exceptional authority given to the bishops, especially to the Bishop of Rome, by the Emperor. Those in this movement believed that the only Head of the church was Jesus, and that no man should presume His rightful place or be called “father,” a title that should be reserved for the Lord alone.
Over a thousand years later, the Reformers rose up to be “antipas” as well. They declared the institution that exalted men to Christ’s rightful place as the head of the church to be the “abomination of desolation,” or “the abomination that desolated” the church by separating the people from their direct relationship to the Lord by putting men in His place.
There are other factors to this issue that deserve a much deeper study of the writings of the early church fathers and the Reformers. Some we will cover later in this study of the Book of Revelation. In this one revelation that John had, there are connections to virtually every important doctrine, the spiritual traps every Christian and church must learn to recognize and avoid, and historic examples of how they played out—a history written in advance!
The authority structure the Lord built His church upon was brilliant for its simplicity. If was efficient and effective, unlike anything the world had ever seen. With the elevation of the bishops to a position above elders and deacons, and then the archbishops and the Bishop of Rome as the head of the church, the ecclesia of the church was radically changed into a reflection of the worldly, human authority of the time.
As we continue to cover what unfolded from this, it is easy to see why the Reformers would call this “the abomination of desolation,” or the way that it is literally translated, “the abomination that desolates.” With this, the character and nature of the church was transformed from an image of Christ to everything that was in fact antichrist, opening the way for the darkness of the times.
next week 29