The Increasing Influence of the Papacy
Pope Francis was named Time’s Person of the Year. His influence continues to grow. What does the Bible say about the influence of the papacy in the future?
Last month Time magazine named Pope Francis its 2013 Person of the Year. Time contributor Howard Chua-Eoan said the new pope “comes at a time when the church seemed to be needing a huge burst of new energy.”
Time’s international editor Bobby Ghosh added, “He’s changed perceptions of the church from being this out-of-touch institution to one that is humble and merciful.” Ghosh also said, “He’s talking about homosexuality, about giving women a bigger say in the church. These are things that are very, very important. They’re not just words. He’s actually following them up with action.”
Indeed, from the day Francis became pope on March 13, he immediately gained international attention for his self-effacing personality. And many more are being drawn to his non-condemning views on homosexuality—including non-Catholics. In fact, The Advocate, a LGBT magazine, also named Pope Francis its Person of the Year for 2013!
People from all backgrounds, it seems, have taken notice of Pope Francis’ charismatic personality and nonjudgmental attitude. Many have put him on a high pedestal. Even during Francis’ first public appearance as pope, one of the cardinals reportedly said that “he talks like Jesus!”
A history of influence
Pope Francis appears righteous, humble and sincere; and these characteristics have added to his appeal. Interestingly, though the Bible extols these virtues, it also points out that it’s important not to be swayed just by outward appearances. There have been and will be people who appear good, but who turn out to be counterfeits.
Jesus Christ warned of religious deception that will sound appealing just before His return (Matthew 24:4-5). The Bible also reveals that the Roman Catholic Church will have great influence in the world at this future time.
Both the Bible and secular history show that the Catholic Church has a long history of world influence—and has deep connections with the old Roman Empire.
Even though the Roman Empire fell in A.D. 476, the Bible says that this “mortal wound” would be healed, and there would be 10 revivals of this empire (Revelation 13:3). A false church would be directly involved with the last seven revivals (Revelation 13:1-3).
The first three revivals were the Vandals (429-533), followed by the Heruli (476-493) and the Ostrogoths (493-554).
Jesus Christ warned of religious deception that will sound appealing just before His return. But it was with the next revival under Justinian in 554 that the Catholic Church began its political influence.
This papal influence continued under Charlemagne (800), Otto the Great (962), Charles V (1520) and Napoleon (1804). The most recent revival began in 1870 with the reunification of Italy under Garibaldi and ended with the defeat of the World War II Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (led by Hitler and Mussolini) in 1945.
It was during these last six revivals that the papacy turned the Roman Empire into the Holy Roman Empire. The Bible shows there will be one more revival of the Roman Empire under the influence of the papacy.
The final pope
The last revival of the Roman Empire is called the “beast” in the book of Revelation. The end-time false church is also referred to as a “beast”—distinct yet intricately connected to the first beast.
The pope at that time will have incredible influence over the last revival of the Roman Empire (which will be a union of European nations) and the world.
“He exercises all the authority of the first beast [the Roman Empire] in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast. … He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (Revelation 13:12-13).
Many will fear and stand in awe of this final religious leader. The miracles performed by this individual will cause many to believe God is truly with him. Yet they will be deceived because it is Satan who will give this religious leader the ability to perform these miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
How many millions of people will worship this last pope? The crowds that gather to see Pope Francis now will be tiny compared to those influenced by the last miracle-working leader.
The Bible says this man “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” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, emphasis added).
It’s not mere coincidence, then, that one of the pope’s titles is “vicar of Christ,” which means “in the place of Jesus Christ.”
The influence of Christ
Fortunately, this destructive and evil final revival of the Roman Empire will be short-lived. At the end of this time, Jesus Christ will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16).
Christ will stop this final pope and the world from their destructive ways (verse 19). As Prince of Peace, Christ will bring a lasting peace to the world by His influence (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 33:6, 9).
But you don’t have to wait until then to have Christ’s influence in your life. You can learn more now about God’s way of life that brings lasting peace.
Life, Hope & Truth will continue to keep our readers updated on Pope Francis and trends in Europe that relate to Bible prophecy.
To read our past coverage of Pope Francis, read “Pope Francis: The Pope for Everyone?”