The Mark of Antichrist?

By COGwriter

Many wonder what 'mark' or marks may be associated with the final Antichrist.

Could it have to do with time of worship or work?  What does the Bible teach?  Are there any statements in past and recent history that point to that or something like that? What does the Church of Rome claim its mark is?

To know the mark/marks of the Antichrist, it first would make sense to see what the Bible states about the Antichrist. Here is a link to a related sermon What is the 'Mark of Antichrist'?

What Does the Bible Say About Who is the Antichrist?

The terms 'antichrist' and 'antichrists' are only used in the Bible five times (four and one respectively), and are only found in four verses of the Bible—all written by the Apostle John.

Those verses are 2 John 7, 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, and 1 John 4:3. All of them discuss some aspect of theology, which suggest, therefore, that the final Antichrist is mainly a religious figure.

Let's examine all of the 'antichrist' verses. Here is something that the Apostle John wrote:

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist (2 John 7).

This scripture says that antichrists are deceivers “who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”  Was John trying to say that the Antichrist is not acknowledging that there was a person named Jesus?

This seems highly unlikely, as even many atheists acknowledge there was one referred to as Jesus Christ who lived in the flesh. This doctrine of Antichrist seems to have something to do with not actually believing a member of the Godhead actually emptied Himself of His divinity to become human (even though that is what happened according to Philippians 2:6–7) and/or not humbling oneself to truly accept Christ to live His life in their flesh--this is a doctrine that certain faiths officially adopted because of the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.

This former teaching earlier entered parts of the Greco-Roman in the second century from a heretic who came to Rome from Egypt named Valentinus.  Valentinus wrote a treatise titled On the Three Natures, and according to Marcellus of Ancyra, Valentinus stole the ideas from Plato and Hermes (Logan A. Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), 'On the Holy Church': Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9.  Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95).  

A one-time follower of Valentinus, called Marcus, was believed to be the precursor of the final Antichrist according to Irenaeus:

1. But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.

2. Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence. When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated,) and pouting from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: "May that Chaffs who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner man, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil." Repeating certain other like words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after him.

3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy, and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy (Book 1, Chapter 13, Verses 1-3).

This "precursor of antichrist" implemented a eucharistic ceremony very similar to the one that the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox currently use (see Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist?). False worship is a sign of Antichrist.

John also wrote:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. 3 And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world (1 John 4:1–3).

This scripture similarly states that the “spirit of Antichrist” is not confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.  It also shows that apparently some of Antichrist's teachings began when John was still alive.  A false prophet named Montanus also introduced a doctrine similar to Valentinus to the Greco-Romans in the second century (Assembled in P. de Labriolle, La crise montaniste (1913), 34-105, by Bates College, Lewston (Maine) http://abacus.bates.edu/Faculty/Philosophy%20and%20Religion/rel_241/texts/montanism.html 01/31/06), but according to the Bible other heretical groups already held to some version of this.

These verses specifically tie in the idea that false prophets have the spirit of Antichrist.  Thus, it would seem consistent with these passages to conclude that the final Antichrist would be a false prophet (which is a term that John uses later in the Book of Revelation 16:3; 19:20; 20:10).  The false prophet is also connected to, and is, the second beast of Revelation 13, who is the Beast of the Earth in Revelation 13:11-17.

In addition, related to Antichrist, John also wrote:

18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:18–22).

These scriptures show that while there will be a final Antichrist, even since John’s time, there have been pretended believers.  These passages also state that if people were true believers, they would have continued with John's practices. 

John was clearly inspired to write that antichrists were those who claimed to be of the faith, yet did not continue in the practices that John and the faithful had.  Promotion of false aspects of worship is the identifying mark of antichrists.

Jesus, Himself, warned that people would worship Him in vain:

21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'  23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23)

3 He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' 5 But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" — 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:3-9)

So, what type of vain traditions began many centuries ago?

The first clearly documented change, that is now a tradition, that the Greco-Roman churches adopted was switching Passover to be on a particular Sunday, instead of on the 14th Nisan, which the records of history clearly acknowledge that the Apostle John kept (Polycrates, Letter to Bishop Victor).  

This change to Sunday occurred in Rome and with the followers of Marcus in Jerusalem apparently no later than 135 A.D. (Marcus is considered to have a been a leader by the Greek Orthodox).

The late Seventh-day Adventist scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday (which was originally supposed to be Passover) and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek/Latin bishops in Jerusalem, starting with Marcus, who took over after the rebellion was crushed):

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)...

The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians...

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to "the inclination to break away from Judaism." In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid "even the semblance of Judaism" (Bacchiocchi S. God's Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).

So, it was not because of the Bible or the teachings of the Apostles, but compromise and fear that contributed to the adoption of Sunday.  The Bible shows that the Antichrist power, the beast of the earth in Revelation 13:11-17, will use persecution and fear in the end times as well (Revelation 13:15-17).

Antichrist doctrines of Simon Magus, Nicolatians, Justin, and Marcion

Probably starting no later than with Simon Magus (Acts 8:18-24), the “mystery of lawlessness” that the Apostle Paul wrote of was “already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

Irenaeus wrote that followers of Simon Magus felt that the apostles were too influenced by Jewish opinions and that the faith needed to be distant from that (Against Heresies. Book III, Chapter 12, Verses 11-12).

One of the reasons that it is considered to be a mystery is that the supporters of changing the practices of the faithful claimed to be faithful, while they were also distance themselves from the faithful like John.

In addition to Simon Magus, the Bible specifically warns a groups called the Nicolaitans whose deeds the Church of God in Ephesus was praised for hating (Revelation 2:6). Scriptural references to the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6;14-15) seem to be referring to a group who wrongly seemed to feel that various of their physical actions/deeds were not of spiritual consequence.  The Nicolaitans were seemingly among those “who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 4, NIV; see also What is the Mark of Antichrist?) and/or were certain “semi-Gnostics” who instituted anti-biblical practices—they understood a false gospel.  (The Apostle Paul warned about this in 2 Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:6-7.)

For example, while Justin Martyr positively referred to the Apostle John's writings at least twice (First Apology, Chapter 61 and Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 81), he distanced himself from John's practices, while endorsing a compromise with pagan Roman culture.

In Ephesus around 135 A.D., Justin wrote the following, in response to a Jew named Trypho:

But if, Trypho, some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them (Justin.  Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 47. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus, Justin admits that there were two groups in Ephesus, one that kept all the law and the other that did not. He also admits that he did not approve of those who kept the law. Justin Martyr records this accusation from Trypho:

But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or Sabbaths…you do not obey His commandments (Justin Martyr.  Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 10. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).    

This confused Trypho.  Justin was claiming to be pious and faithful, but was actually practicing the mystery of lawlessness.

While the Christians in Ephesus were told to live differently than the other Gentiles in whose nation they co-existed with (Ephesians 4:17), those with Justin Martyr could not be distinguished. It is interesting to note that Trypho expected that Justin would have kept the Sabbath--this is because that was the common practice of those that professed Christ in Asia Minor.  Polycarp of Smyrna, for example, lived there and kept practices like the festivals, Sabbaths, and Passover on the 14th (and not Sunday, see Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenæus, Chapter 3; Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2; Polycrates. Letter to Bishop Victor).

It is believed that the discourse between Trypho and Justin Martyr took place in Ephesus, though Justin Martyr later ended up in Rome (Lebreton J.  St. Justin Martyr. The Catholic Encyclopedia)--which may have been when he adopted or further pushed Sunday on Rome.

Justin's writings prove that there would have had to be two very different professing Christian groups in Ephesus. Justin Martyr specifically claimed his group did not observe the Sabbath, keep the Feasts, or eat unleavened bread (Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 18)—yet, according to the Catholic historian Eusebius, Polycrates later confirmed that Passover was continually kept on the 14th and unleavened bread was still eaten annually by the Christians who were the followers of Polycarp and John in Ephesus (Eusebius.  Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

Justin was the first writer to specifically discuss worship on Sunday:

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter (The First Apology. Chapter LXVII).

According to most scholars, this writing occurred in 150 A.D. The Greek expression he used was τῇ τοῦ Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳ which literally seems to mean "on the day said to be Helios" (Helios was the name of the Greek sun god). Helios was the name of the Greek sun god, and Justin was telling the Greek reading Roman emperor (if he ever actually saw the letter) that Justin's faith was consistent with those who worshiped the sun god. The apostate Justin is considered to be a saint by the Greco-Roman-Protestant faiths.

As Dr. Bacchiocchi  indicated, some of the first documented changes that the Greco-Roman churches adopted was distancing themselves from practices considered to be Jewish.  Sometimes because of fear of imperial persecution, but sometimes because of hate towards Jews or things considered to be Jewish.

The heretic Marcion hated the seventh-day Sabbath and things he considered to be Jewish:

Marcion acquired his very perverse opinions not from a master, but his master from his opinion! … He displayed a hatred against the Jews' most solemn day, He was only professedly following the Creator, as being His Christ, in this very hatred of the Sabbath... (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 12. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Marcion insisted that the Church had obscured the Gospel by seeking to combine it with Judaism (Latourette KS. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: to A.D. 1500. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1975, p. 126).

Although he is considered to be an apostate, Marcion was accepted by the Church of Rome.  

He was later denounced by Polycarp of Smyrna, when Polycarp visited Rome:

Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?" "I do know thee, the first-born of Satan." (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

So, Polycarp personally denounced one who taught against the Sabbath.  Yet, Rome kept him for decades. 

Irenaeus (a Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant saint) reported:

Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

One that Polycarp denounced, and is now considered an apostate by the Church of Rome, flourished under Bishop Anicetus of Rome.  Some Protestants have embraced Marcion as an original Protestant.  Yet, Marcion was an antichrist.

Also, perhaps it should be noted Polycarp and Anicetus did not agree on the date of Passover (Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenæus, Chapter 3)--Anicetus wanted Sunday, while Polycarp held to the 14th like the Apostle John (Polycrates. Letter to Bishop Victor).

So, from early times, we see that there were two groups.  One that held to the practices of the faithful like the Apostle John and Bishop Polycarp, and the Greco-Roman one that choose Sunday.

The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded that Polycrates of Ephesus, around 195 A.D. wrote the following to the Roman Bishop Victor who, as the previous writing showed, wanted all who professed Christ to change Passover from the 14th of Nisan to Sunday:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man' (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

According to the Apostle John, antichrists were those who did not keep with the practices of him and the faithful Christians.

So, we are starting to see the earlier development of this 'mark' of the Antichrist.  This, while to a degree the result of compromise from Imperial authorities, was a change adopted by and pushed by ecclesiastical leaders. 

This is well before Imperial authorities actually officially endorsed Sunday. Sunday was a mark of religious leaders who claimed to be Christian, but did not continue in the original practices.

The Apostle Jude wrote "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).  Choosing Sunday for Passover or weekly worship services was not part of that faith.

The Imperial Government Gets Involved

In the early fourth century Constantine became Emperor of Rome. He personally claimed to see an apparition of the sun god Sol in a grove of Apollo in Gaul in 310 (discussed in Rodgers, Barbara S. “Constantine’s Pagan Vision, ”Byzantion, vol. 50, 1980, pp. 259–78).

Even after his alleged conversion to his claimed version of the Christian faith in 312 (if he was ever baptized, it was supposedly on his death bed in 337 A.D., despite him declaring himself a lay “Christian” bishop by 325), Emperor Constantine still put the sun god Sol on his coins.

Constantine was devoted to Sunday and decreed circa March 7, 321:

Let all judges, the people of cities, and those employed in all trades, remain quiet on the Holy Day of Sunday. Persons residing in the country, however, can freely and lawfully proceed with the cultivation of the fields; as it frequently happens that the sowing of grain or the planting of vines cannot be deferred to a more suitable day, and by making concessions to Heaven the advantage of the time may be lost (Code of Justinian, Book III, Title XII, III. THE JUSTINIAN CODE FROM THE CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS. Translated from the original Latin by Samuel P. Scott. Central Trust Company, Cincinnati, 1932).

Shortly after the above decree, Eusebius recorded this about Constantine:

Accordingly he enjoined on all the subjects of the Roman empire to observe the Lord's day, as a day of rest (Eusebius. Life of Constantine, Book IV, Chapter 18).

Notice that "the Lord's day" became enjoined by a decree of a Roman Empire. Also notice the following:

There is a large body of civil legislation on the Sunday rest side by side with the ecclesiastical. It begins with an Edict of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, who forbade judges to sit and townspeople to work on Sunday (Slater T. Transcribed by Scott Anthony Hibbs. Sunday. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight).

The bolded quote shows one of the first official intertwinings of European politics and Catholic doctrine. Despite the fact that he was not baptized nor ordained, the influence of the sun-god worshiping Emperor Constantine, who declared himself a bishop, was highly significant:

So prominent had Christians and their day become that when the Emperor Constantine proclaimed Sun Day as the weekly holy day for all Romans, some Christians believed that it was for their sake. More likely Constantine, like many Roman aristocrats of the time, was simply trying to find common ground for his mixed pagan and Christian subjects, especially his soldiers. Unity was for the good of the state and the emperors' power (Harline C. Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl. Doubleday, NY, 2007, p. 17).

However, after a time, Constantine did clearly begin to provide more favor the Roman version of 'Christianity' which (like the pagans, but unlike the Church of God) endorsed Sunday.

In 325 A.D., he convened the Council of Nicea which endorsed Sunday as the weekly day of worship as well as the day for Passover.

Of course, the Greco-Roman faiths liked this as they had already adopted Sunday in most regions (though they still had to face opposition in Asia Minor).  After that council, those in the Church of God who kept the Sabbath as well as Passover on the proper date were considered to be heretics and outcasts.

According to Eusebius' Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, the Roman emperor Constantine stated:

Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.

Of course, Jesus was a Jew and did not teach that the Jews were detestable.  Jesus also taught that it was important to love one's neighbor (Matthew 22:39), including Jewish ones (cf. Luke 10:27-37), but Emperor Constantine did not truly accept that.

Constantine was also a worshiper of the sun-god Mithras and December 25th was Mithras' birthday (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?), and later that day became adopted as Christmas (What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?).

To endorse his preference towards the weekly and annual (Passover) Sunday-keeping Greco-Roman faith, Emperor Constantine authorized Imperial persecution, when around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure? (Chapter LXIV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

Some of those referred to as Paulians (Paulicians) and Cataphrygians were part of the true Church of God; thus they would have rejected Sunday and other doctrines that Emperor Constantine endorsed. And like some other persecutions, the Edict included those truly in the Church of God and those not in the true church. Herod, when he tried to kill Jesus, persecuted an entire nation, killed many babies, but Jesus' family fled the persecution and He survived. Constantine's tactics seem similar.

Constantine's edict represented an unholy alliance between a pagan king on the earth and the Greco-Roman churches.

The Bible warns:

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.  5 And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. (Revelation 17:1-6)

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the Church of Rome considers itself to be the “Mother” of all the world’s churches. 

There is an inscription in Latin on the outside walls of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.  This building, which I have visited on more than one occasion, has the following which has is  translated into the English language as:

Sacred Lateran Church Mother and Head of All Churches of the City and the World

This is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome that contains its papal throne (Cathedra Romana).  It is the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope (it ranks above all other churches in the Roman Catholic Church, even above St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican).  It is claiming to be the ‘mother.’

There was an unholy alliance between a religion that professed Christ and a ruler with ties to the sun god Mithras.  Many were intimidated by this and the related persecution (see also Persecutions by Church and State).

Yet, this did not stop all Sabbath-keeping (see Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).  Nor stop all from trying to keep the Holy Days.

The Greco-Romans Take More Steps Against the Sabbath and Biblical Holy Days

Concerns existed in Asia Minor and elsewhere that some who professed Christ still would keep the Sabbath and the biblical Holy Days.

The Council of Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana in 364 A.D. took more steps to stop this.  Notice what it declared in three of its Canons:

Canon 29

Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.

Canon 37

It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.

Canon 38

It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety. (Synod of Laodicea (4th Century). Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3806.htm>)

This, however, also did not stop all Sabbath keeping or attempts at Holy Day observance.

Yet, notice the following:

"Question:  Which is the Sabbath day?
"Answer:  Saturday is the Sabbath day.
"Question:  Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
"Answer:  We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea [c. 363] transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday." (The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 3rd ed., p. 50)

"The seventh-day Sabbath was . . . solemnised by Christ, the Apostles, and the primitive Christians, till the Laodicean Council did in a manner quite abolish the observations of it." (Dissertation on the Lord’s Day, pp. 33, 34, 44)

Sunday certainly did not come from the Bible.  And certain Catholics refer to the Council of Laodicea as their justification for this unbiblical change.

Speaking of the Bible, what does it teach about the Sabbath and the Lord's Day (see also Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?)?

8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)

13 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.' (Exodus 31:13-17)

5 And He said to them, "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:5)

9 There must still be, therefore, a seventh-day rest reserved for God's people (Hebrews 4:9, NJB)

The Bible shows that the Sabbath is a sign between God and His people. And that remains today for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).

Yet, the fact that all did not follow that declarations from Councils or Synods enraged various Greco-Roman ecclesiastical leaders.  So, they got the State again involved:

Edicts of Theodosius against the heretics, A.D. 380-394...Theodosius...decreed that...by the death of the offender; and the same capital punishment was inflicted on the Audians, or Quartodecimans, who should dare to perpetrate the atrocious crime of celebrating on an improper day the festival (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788).

Bishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom declared the following in 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now...If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies...Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together. (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).

The wicked and unclean fast of the Jews is now at our doors. Thought it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean...But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews I:1; III:4. Preached at Antioch, Syria on Sunday, September 5, 387 A.D.).

It is by overlooking what the Bible states that one would say that the so called “Jewish” holy days are not “great.”

The New Testament calls one of the so-called “Jewish” holy days “great.” Notice the following from both a Protestant and a Catholic translation: 

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out (John 7:37, NKJV)

And in the last, the great day of the festivity JESUS stood, and cried (John 7:37, Rheims New Testament).

The biblical dates are great and the pagan substitutes are lies.

Furthermore, John Chyrsostom endorsed keeping a version of Passover as well the Day of Pentecost (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, pp. 53, 55, 56). 

Why he felt that attempting to keep the Fall Holy Days was worse than the Spring ones remains a puzzle from a biblical perspective.

In the late fourth century, Sabbath-keeping was still going on in Jerusalem:

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, or as some believe, his successor John II…the saint…adds “…Keep away from all sabbathical observances, and do not call some foods clean and unclean because they are all indifferent”. (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 89).

There were two groups in Jerusalem in the fourth century—the Greco-Roman one that did not keep the Sabbath and the other which did (see also Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries?).

It should be noted that Emperor Constantine decreed the death penalty on any who would not eat pork (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 13-14; Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 31-32).

There were also more intertwinings between the Greco-Roman churches and the Roman state.

Notice the following from the Emperors of the East and West:

Arians, Macedonians, Pneumatomachians, Appollinarians, Novatians or Sabatians, Eunomians, Tetradites or Tessarecaidecadites, Valentinians, Paulians, Papianists, Montanints or Priscillians, Phrygians, Pepuzites, Marcionists, Borborites, Messalians, Euchites, or Enthusiasts, Donatists, Audians, Hydroparastetes, Tascodrogites, Batracites, Hermogenians, Photinians, Paulinists, Marcellians, Ophites, Encratitians, Carpocratitans, Saccophores, and Manicheans, who are to be classed as guilty of the worst of all heretical crimes, shall never have the power to assemble or reside in the Roman Empire. Moreover, Manicheans must be expelled from towns, and delivered up to extreme punishment, for no place should be left them in which they may cause any injury even to the elements. Moreover, all laws which have formerly, at different times, been enacted against them and others who are opposed to our religion, shall always be observed in all their force...Given at Constantinople, on the third of the Kalends of June, under the Consulate of Felix and Taurus, 428. (The Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian to Caesar Florentius, Praetorian Prefect. Justinian Code, Book 1. Citied in Scott, S. P. The Civil Law, XII, Cincinnati, 1932).

While many of the above were heretics, please understand that the Pneumatomachians were basically binitarian, Appollinarians would have been expected keep Passover on the 14th and have certain other COG practices, and some of the Sabatians likely kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Various Paulians also had COG doctrines.

Notice something from the Catholic pope they call "Gregory the Great" (died 604):

Gregory, in an epistle to the Empress Constantina, wrote vehemently against this usurpation of the distinction, declaring that, "whoever doth call himself universal bishop, or desireth to be so called, doth in his elation forerun Antichrist." (Newton T. Dissertations on the Prophecies. Longman and Company, 1832. Original from Montserrat Abbey Library, Digitized Mar 22, 2011, p. 404)

He also stated:

Gregory, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved sons the Roman citizens.

It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these but preachers of Antichrist (Gregory I. Registrum Epistolarum, Book XIII, Letter 1).

Hence, even within the area of Rome, some people were keeping the Sabbath in the late sixth/early seventh century.  And now, its top leader was indicating that keeping the practice of Jesus, the Apostle John, and the early faithful Christians, was a doctrine of Antichrist.

Antichrist in the Middle Ages

Notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Papal-Antichrist theory was gradually developed by three historical bodies: the Albigenses, the Waldenses, and the Fraticelli, between the eleventh and the sixteenth centuries: are these the expositors from whom the Church of Christ is to receive the true interpretation of the prophecies?" (Maas AJ. Antichrist. In The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some of the Albigeneses and Waldenses, and seemingly some of the Fraticelli kept the seventh-day Sabbath and considered that the papacy represented the Antichrist.

One Pope Leo actually decided that killing those associated with the Church of God was not appropriate. This was confirmed by the Third Lateran Council in 1179, which apparently decided that economic blackmail was better:

As St. Leo says, though the discipline of the church should be satisfied with the judgment of the priest and should not cause the shedding of blood, yet it is helped by the laws of catholic princes so that people often seek a salutary remedy when they fear that a corporal punishment will overtake them. For this reason, since in Gascony and the regions of Albi and Toulouse and in other places the loathsome heresy of those whom some call the Cathars, others the Patarenes, others the Publicani, and others by different names, has grown so strong that they no longer practise their wickedness in secret, as others do, but proclaim their error publicly and draw the simple and weak to join them, we declare that they and their defenders and those who receive them are under anathema, and we forbid under pain of anathema that anyone should keep or support them in their houses or lands or should trade with them. If anyone dies in this sin, then neither under cover of our privileges granted to anyone, nor for any other reason, is mass to be offered for them or are they to receive burial among Christians. With regard to the Brabanters, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, Coterelli and Triaverdini {17 }, who practise such cruelty upon Christians that they respect neither churches nor monasteries, and spare neither widows, orphans, old or young nor any age or sex, but like pagans destroy and lay everything waste, we likewise decree that those who hire, keep or support them, in the districts where they rage around, should be denounced publicly on Sundays and other solemn days in the churches, that they should be subject in every way to the same sentence and penalty as the above-mentioned heretics and that they should not be received into the communion of the church, unless they abjure their pernicious society and heresy(Third Lateran Council, Canon 27. 1179 A.D. Translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner).

The Third Lateran Council took place under Pope Alexander III, Frederick I being emperor. There were 302 bishops present. It condemned the Albigenses and Waldenses (The 21 Ecumenical Councils. Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/library/almanac_14388a.htm 02/12/06).

But economic boycotting and shunning was not enough.

One Protestant scholar noted:

The next major step in the establishment of the Inquisition was taken by Innocent III...In the West, the same pope launched a "Crusade" against the Cathars, or Albigenses, of Southern France in 1208...In the second century of the Christian Era, most Christians refused to take up arms at all.. One millennium later, Christians were not only fighting for the church against "infidels" who had conquered ancient biblical lands, but against other Christians, heretical ones, who only asked to be able to live in peace on their ancestral soil...No matter how dreadful the use of violence against the dualistic Albigenses was, it must be acknowledged that their heresy is incompatible with Christianity, indeed with biblical religion as such...Perhaps for medieval popes the crucial factor that caused them to condemn dissidents was really the dissidents' rejection of papal authority (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 260-261).

Notice that the Protestant scholar seems to feel that murdering Cathars and Albigenses who simply wanted to live in peace (but were not Greco-Roman trinitarian) is more compatible with Catholic/Protestant "Christianity" than being faithful to the teachings of Christ and the early Christians who were against warfare. Are the real heretics those who were faithful to New Testament teachings against warfare or those who changed those teachings and killed?

And from the Catholic side, notice some of what Canon 3 of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 decreed:

Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, that as they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, so for the defense of the faith they ought publicly to take an oath that they will strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church; so that whenever anyone shall have assumed authority, whether spiritual or temporal, let him be bound to confirm this decree by oath (Twelfth Ecumenical Council: Lateran IV 1215, Canon 3.  From H. J. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Translation and Commentary, (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1937). pp. 236-296. as cited in: Medieval Sourcebook.  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/lateran4.html viewed 04/08/10).

Hence, persecution has been justified by many Greco-Romans.

Later, the famous inquisition, also in southern France, began in earnest in 1231/1233 when Pope Gregory IX charged the Dominican order with wiping out Cathari (their name mean Puritan, and that is where the Puritan developed from) and others they considered to be heretics.

Orthodox seers and writers have also taken positions against those with original Judeo-Christian practices.  One example would be a 1249 A.D. vision of “Blessed Hieronymus Agathaghelos” which claimed that “the blasphemies of the Sabbatians have stained and soiled for many centuries” (Cited in Tzima Otto, p. 135; Dr. Otto herself refers to those with Nazarene/Judeo-Christian beliefs as “Christian traitors” on p. 240)--Hieronymus Agathaghelos also predicted their public execution (Tzima Otto, 134,135,240). 

There is a long history of Greco-Roman church leaders attempting to eliminate those part of, or sympathetic to, the Church of God (see also Persecutions by Church and State).

The Albigneses in France were condemned by various councils. And one, the Council of Albi (sometimes spelled Alby) in 1254 apparently stated:

They savour of Judaism...they observe the Jewish sabbath, but say that the holy Dominical day is no better than any other day; let them be accursed (Quoted in Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 64).

Although the Bible teaches that there are many antichrists, but that one will later be the Antichrist. And essentially all the antichrists preach a message different from John--hence we in the Churches of God recognize that to a degree, all false religious teachers claiming Christianity are antichrists--we do not limit this to Roman or Orthodox Catholic leaders (we also include Protestant leaders).

This seems to be consistent with what one group told Bernard the Inquisitor, in the early 14th century, who reported:

...they claim that there is a double Antichrist, one spiritual or mystical and the other the real, greater Antichrist...(Bernard Gui: Inquisitor's Manual, Chapter 5. Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. http://phi.kenyon.edu/Projects/Margin/inquisit.htm 04/09/07).

As far as a spiritual or mystic antichrist and a later one, that is consistent with what the Apostle John taught in 1 John 2:18. The "spiritual antichrists" would be perhaps all false Christian leaders (this is not at all limited to Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders, it includes even some who claim to be in the Church of God), while the "real Antichrist" is the final MAJOR false prophetic leader.

Notice the following account of some in France were subject to the inquisitors in the late 15th century:

On the 14th of September, 1492, about thirty persons were committed to the inquisitional dungeons of Toulouse upon a charge of Judaism...Of there was Anthony Ferrar, who had been a pastor or teacher in the Sabbatarian church of that city. After remaining in prision ten days, he received a visit from an Italian monk named Gregory...

Greg.--But Anthony, you must be a liar and a deceiver, for I have been credibly informed that yourself, and all of your friends, were of the cursed race of Israel.

An.--It is false, we were honest Frenchmen, and Christians, followers of Jesus...

An.--We say that the ten commandments are still binding.

Greg.--Yes, and instead of observing the festivals of the Holy Church, and honouring the holy day of the Lord, on which he rose from the dead, you were accustomed to meet for worship upon the old Sabbath, or Saturday.

An.--We did, indeed, rest and attend divine worship upon the seventh day, even as God commanded (Quoted in Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 87-88).

So, believers were prohibited, persecuted, tortured, etc. by a power that was against the observation of the seventh-day Sabbath.  These actions by the Greco-Romans are not Christian, but anti-Christian. See also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

Notice what the New Testament Book of Hebrews teaches (note: two Protestant and three Catholic translations are shown):

3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." 5 And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." 6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience...9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NIV).

3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; 5 and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,.. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NASB)

3 We, however, who have faith, are entering a place of rest, as in the text: And then in my anger I swore that they would never enter my place of rest. Now God's work was all finished at the beginning of the world; 4 as one text says, referring to the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. 5 And, again, the passage above says: They will never reach my place of rest. 6 It remains the case, then, that there would be some people who would reach it, and since those who first heard the good news were prevented from entering by their refusal to believe…9 There must still be, therefore, a seventh-day rest reserved for God's people,  10 since to enter the place of rest is to rest after your work, as God did after his.  11 Let us, then, press forward to enter this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of refusal to believe and be lost. (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NJB)

3 For we, that have believed, shall enter into their rest; as he said: As I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: and truly the works from the foundation of the world being perfected. 4 For he said in a certain place of the seventh day thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works…9 Therefore there is left a sabbatisme for the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his.  11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of incredulity. (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, The Original and True Rheims New Testament of Anno Domini 1582)

3 For we who believed enter into [that] rest, just as he has said: “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest,’” and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. 4For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”; 5 and again, in the previously mentioned place, “They shall not enter into my rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains that some will enter into it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience,... 9 Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. 10 And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his. 11 Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, New American Bible)

Thus, the New Testament clearly shows that the command to keep the seventh day Sabbath is in the New Testament. It also shows that only those who will not observe it because of their disobedience argue otherwise.

Waldensian Treatise Against Antichrist

It should be understood that others considered that the teaching, practices, and actions of the Greco-Romans showed that they were antichrist.

"Antichrist is a falsehood, or deceit varnished over with the semblance of truth, and of the righteousness of Christ and his spouse, yet in opposition to the way of truth, righteousness, faith, hope, charity, as well as to moral life. It is not any particular person ordained to any degree, or office, or ministry, but it is a system of falsehood, opposing itself to the truth, covering and adorning itself with a show of beauty and piety, yet very unsuitable to the church of Christ, as by the names, and offices, the Scriptures, and the sacraments, and various other things, may appear. The system of iniquity thus completed with its ministers, great and small, supported by those who are induced to follow it with an evil heart and blind-fold—this is the congregation, which, taken together, comprises what is called Antichrist or Babylon, . . . His ministers are called false prophets, lying teachers, the ministers of darkness, the spirit of error, the apocalyptic whore, the mother of harlots, clouds without water, trees without leaves, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, wandering stars, Balaamites and Egyptians.

"He is termed Antichrist because being disguised under the names of Christ and of his church and faithful members, he oppugns the salvation which Christ wrought out, and which is truly administered in his church—and of which salvation believers participate by faith, hope, and charity. Thus he opposes the truth by the wisdom of this world, by false religion, by counterfeit holiness, by ecclesiastical power, by secular tyranny, and by the riches, honours, dignities, with the pleasures and delicacies of this world. It should therefore be carefully observed, that Antichrist could not come, without a concurrence of all these things, making up a system of hypocrisy and falsehood—these must be, the wise of this world, the religious orders, the pharisees, ministers, and doctors; the secular power, with the people of the world, all mingled together. For although Antichrist was conceived in the times of the apostles, he was then in his infancy, imperfect and unformed, rude, unshapen, and wanting utterance. He then wanted those hypocritical ministers and human ordinances, and the outward show of religious orders which he afterwards obtained. As he was destitute of riches and other endowments necessary to allure to himself ministers for his service, and to enable him to multiply, defend, and protect his adherents, so he also wanted the secular power to force others to forsake the truth and embrace falsehood. But growing up in his members, that is, in his blind and dissembling ministers, and in worldly subjects, he at length arrived at full maturity, when men, whose hearts were set upon this world, blind in the faith, multiplied in the church, and by the union of church and state, got the power of both into their hands.

"Christ never had an enemy like this; so able to pervert the way of truth into falsehood, insomuch that the true church, with her children, is trodden under foot. The worship that belongs alone to God he transfers to Antichrist himself—to the creature, male and female, deceased—to images, carcasses, and relics. The sacrament of the eucharist is converted into an object of adoration, and the worshipping of God alone is prohibited. He robs the Saviour of his merits, and the sufficiency of his grace in justification, regeneration, remission of sins, sanctification, establishment in the faith, and spiritual nourishment; ascribing all these things to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own works, to the intercession of saints, and to the fire of purgatory. He seduces the people from Christ, drawing off their minds from seeking those blessings in him, by a lively faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and teaching his followers to expect them by the will and pleasure and works of Antichrist.  ("A Treatise concerning Antichrist, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacraments" as shown in Jones, William. The history of the Christian church from the birth of Christ to the xviii. century, Volumes 1-2, 3rd edition. R.W. Pomeroy, 1832. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Feb 6, 2009, pp. 337-340)

False worship is against Christ.  From the time of the apostles, false ministers did appear and were prophesied to appear:

3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it! . . .

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:3-15)

The Greco-Roman religion was built upon false, antichristian, views of the law of God and salvation.

What About Martin Luther and Protestantism?

While Protestants like to act like they were not involved in persecution or doctrines of antichrist, that is not the case.

The Anabaptists were condemned by the Lutherans because they did not support infant baptism, taught one could reject salvation, taught that Christians should not be soldiers, taught that there would be an end to punishments, and that Jesus would rule with His people on the earth:

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children...

Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs. Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage. They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to Christians.

Article XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment. Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils. They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed. (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

In the sixteenth century, "Anabaptists" taught millenarianism and were condemned by Roman Catholics for that belief (Birch D. Trial Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. lvii).

Look at this admission from the Protestant scholar and theologian H. Brown:

Although classical theology is certainly not without its problems, historically it is almost always the case that the appeal to the Bible alone...leads to the reemergence of ancient heresies...The Reformation began with the slogan "To the sources!" and sought to deal a fatal blow to the place of church tradition in shaping life and faith...Despite their efforts not to be influenced by the authority of tradition, each of the major Reformation churches found itself borrowing from the past and building up a traditionalism of its own...when the Anabaptists and other radicals discovered Scripture to be teaching things the Lutherans found detestable, Lutherans learned the usefulness of tradition...(Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 335,350-351).

It should be noted that the above is not limited to one Protestant scholar, even Martin Luther truly did not believe in rallying cry sola scriptura.

Furthermore, Martin Luther himself had many people killed. Notice the following:

"I, Martin Luther, slew all the peasants in the rebellion, for I said that they should be slain; all their blood is upon my head. But I cast it on the Lord God, who commanded me to speak this way" (Werke, Erl. Edition, lix, p. 284 ‘Table Talk’ as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.96).

It is reported that 100,000 perished at that time. Martin Luther also advised his followers:

...to burn down Jewish schools and synagogues, and to throw pitch and sulphur into the flames; to destroy their homes; to confiscate their ready money in gold and silver; to take from them their sacred books, even the whole Bible; and if that did not help matters, to hunt them of the country like mad dogs (Luther’s Works, vol. Xx, pp. 2230-2632 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.99).

Hence, it would appear that Martin Luther had little problem persecuting those who differed from him, even if they felt their practices were based upon the Bible.

Notice the following actions taken against the Anabaptists by the Protestant "Reformers":

It is well known that the Lutheran princes and prelates practiced upon the Anabaptists all the cruelties to which they themselves had been subject by the

Roman hierarchs. The names Luther, Calvin, and Zuinglius, have been marked in this indelible stain...

Calvin, who could smile with complacency over the tortures of those who refused to be governed by his own opinions; and Zuinglius, who, when questioned regarding the fate of certain Anabaptists, replied,

"Drown the Dippers"

(Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 106).

“In order to set up an effective system, Calvin used the State to inflict more severe penalties. Such penalties proved to be much to {sic}severe, fifty-eight being executed and seventy-six exiled by 1546”. These numbers are supplied by the Presbyterians themselves, and only the Lord knows how many Saints of the Lord were really executed for their faith! See- Christianity Through The Centuries, by Cairns, page 338 (Duff, Rex.  ANABAPTIST HISTORY. The Official Website of Anabaptists.  http://www.anabap.com/anabaphistory.htm viewed 3/30/08).

Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli ended up killing, often by drowning, the Anabaptists who promoted and practiced adult baptism (Bacchiocchi S. “ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED”. ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 197, 2008 ).

Zwingli (as also Luther and Calvin) had conceived of Zurich as a Christian state, a single unified Christian society… The Anabaptists were thus viewed as a threat to the stability of the social order and less as mere theological heretics (Storms S.  Zwingli and Anabaptists.  Nov 8, 2006.  © Copyright 2008 Enjoying God Ministries.  http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/19-zwingli-and-anabaptists viewed 3/30/08).

Unholy alliances between the Protestants and government help demonstrate that they are among the daughters of mystery Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:5). For more on Protestantism, see also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

What Do Catholics Consider to Be Their Mark?

Roman Catholics consider that Sunday is their mark:

“Sunday is our mark of authority. .  . .The church is above the Bible, and this transference is proof of that fact.” The Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.

“Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change (from Saturday to Sunday) was her act.  It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and religious without her, and the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters. The Catholic Mirror,  September 23, 1893. (as reported in: Wehr J.  Who Are These Three Angels? Hartland Publications, 1997, p. 112)

“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. 'The Day of the Lord' (dies Dominica) was chosen, not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church's sense of its own power. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically…keep Saturday holy”.  Priest Leo Broderick, Saint Catherine Catholic Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995. (as reported in Morgan K.  Sabbath Rest. TEACH Services, Inc., 2002, p. 59)

“It was the Catholic Church which…transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of the Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the church.” (Monsignor Louis Segur. “Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today.” Patrick Donahoe, 1868, p 225 (note some other sources say p. 213); as cited in Hartland Publications. What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life? 2004, p. 83)

So, Catholics believe that their authority is shown by adoption of Sunday.  Notice also the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Church, on the other hand, after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the Third Commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord's Day (Stapleton, J.H. The Ten Commandments. Transcribed by Marcia L. Bellafiore. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

A non-biblical change was made.  It did not come from Jesus nor His early faithful followers. Perhaps it should also be mentioned that some Catholics consider the cross to be their mark (see also What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol? and The Mark of the Beast).

What do the Eastern Orthodox Catholics teach?

The Orthodox believe that Sabbath is Saturday (to this day, the Greek word for Saturday is pronounced 'sabbado' - as is the case in many other languages). Hence, Saturday is the old Sabbath and Sunday is the Lord's Day or the Day of Resurrection. In the Orthodox tradition, Saturday always has the feastly character of the Jewish sabbath; it is never a strict fasting day. Moreover, it has always been the liturgical practice to serve Divine Liturgy both on Sabbath and the Lord's Day, and this remains the case in Orthodox monasteries. However, Christians are not under the Law and they are not subjects of the Old Creation. The old Sabbath was the seal of the old creation, whereas Sunday is seal of the New Creation, the first or eighth day. For this reason, Gentile Christians have never been bound by Sabbatical laws on the old Sabbath. (Cleenewerck L, editor. Orthodox Answers: Sabbath. http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/details.asp?ID=10 viewed 06/13/09)

As the day after the seventh day (when God rested from His six days of creation) and as the day of Christ’s Resurrection, Sunday early on came to be understood in a mystical way among Christians as the “Eighth Day.” ... And from ancient times, Christian baptisteries and fonts have been built with eight sides, indicating the newly baptized are entering the realm of the Eighth Day, the day of eternal rest (Heb 4:1-11) in Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom. (The Sabbath Day, Sunday, and the Eighth Day. St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Bellingham, Washington. http://www.saintsophias.org/the-sabbath-day.html viewed 10/30/14)

So Roman Catholics claim Sunday is their mark, whereas Eastern Orthodox ones say Sunday is a seal. Both groups know Saturday is the Sabbath, but long ago accepted Sunday as the weekly day for worship and Easter. Both groups also accepted the decisions of the pagan Emperor Constantine's Council of Nicea. Both groups plan to have a reunion commemorating that Council as well (watch 3rd Council of Nicea in 2025?). They both push and accept Sunday and ignore/reason around scriptures such as Hebrews 4:9-11, to instead accept a day revered by paganism.

In his 1951 Encyclical Letter, Evangelii Praecones, Pope Pius XII wrote:

. . . the Catholic Church has neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies. (Pius XII, Pope as cited in Jesus Christ and the Gentile Mission. Gregorian Biblical BookShop, 2002, p. 355)

Notice what the late Pope John-Paul II taught:

In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ's Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). ...

"God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3) . . .

The commandment of the Decalogue by which God decrees the Sabbath observance is formulated in the Book of Exodus in a distinctive way: "Remember the Sabbath day in order to keep it holy" (20:8). And the inspired text goes on to give the reason for this, recalling as it does the work of God: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy" (v. 11). Before decreeing that something be done, the commandment urges that something be remembered. It is a call to awaken remembrance of the grand and fundamental work of God which is creation, a remembrance which must inspire the entire religious life of man and then fill the day on which man is called to rest. Rest therefore acquires a sacred value: the faithful are called to rest not only as God rested, but to rest in the Lord, bringing the entire creation to him, in praise and thanksgiving, intimate as a child and friendly as a spouse. ...

We move from the "Sabbath" to the "first day after the Sabbath", from the seventh day to the first day: the dies Domini becomes the dies Christi! . . .

Sunday is not only the first day, it is also "the eighth day", set within the sevenfold succession of days in a unique and transcendent position which evokes not only the beginning of time but also its end in "the age to come". (APOSTOLIC LETTER DIES DOMINI OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY AND FAITHFUL OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY. 31 May 1998. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_05071998_dies-domini_en.html viewed 10/29/14)

I would add here that Jesus was NOT resurrected on the day we now call Sunday (see What Happened in the 'Crucifixion Week'?) and Passover was not intended to be kept weekly and called Easter (the name of a pagan goddess).

Roman Catholic leaders know which day is the biblical Sabbath and seventh day, but still push Sunday. I would add here that the 'eighth day' argument came from Gnostics that claimed Christianity. Although Catholics and Protestants have denounced the Gnostics, both groups have leaders that clearly embraced the 'eighth day' (for details, see Sunday and Christianity).

Former Pope Benedict XVI claimed that Easter Sunday was an identifying sign:

The intention of this Eucharistic Congress, which ends today, was once again to present Sunday as the "weekly Easter", an expression of the identity of the Christian community and the centre of its life and mission.

The chosen theme - "Without Sunday we cannot live" (PASTORAL VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO BARI FOR THE CLOSING OF THE 24th ITALIAN NATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Esplanade of Marisabella Sunday, 29 May 2005. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050529_bari_en.html viewed 10/29/14)

And Easter is truly a sign that those who observe it have deviated from the Bible and changed from the practices of the Apostle John. The claim that Christians cannot live without Sunday is wrong and indicates a willingness to kill those that will not keep it.

Notice more from former Pope Benedict XVI:

After reflecting in the past on the Roman Martyrology and on Sacred Music, you are now preparing to examine in depth the theme: "Sunday Mass for the sanctification of the Christian People". Because of its spiritual and pastoral implications, this is a very timely topic.

The Second Vatican Council teaches that "the Church celebrates the Paschal Mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the "Lord's Day' or "Sunday'" (Sacrosanctum Concilium,n. 106). ...

Inspired by knowledge of this, St Ignatius of Antioch asserted: "We are no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord's Day" (Ad Magn. 9, 1). ... (LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO CARD. FRANCIS ARINZE ON THE OCCASION OF THE STUDY DAY IN HONOUR OF THE 43rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE PROMULGATION OF THE CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY, SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM. 27 November 2006. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20061127_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html viewed 10/29/14)

Truly a 'mystery of lawlessness.' Sunday does not set apart of sanctify God's people. According to Jesus, it is the truth of God's word that sets true Christians apart:

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17-19)

The Bible teaches to observe, not every Sunday, but every Sabbath. And the 'Paschal Mystery,' by which he is supposed to be referring to as Passover, is to be kept annually. That was clearly the practice of the apostles and the early faithful (see Polycrates' letter to Victor). As far as his appeal to Ignatius, that is a mistranslation and Benedict should have known that (see also Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath).

One should ask themselves, if the Greco-Roman churches are true Christian faiths tied to the word of God, why they repeatedly and often bring up false arguments to try to convince all to follow their changes to weekly-Sunday and Easter-Sunday.

The Vatican also wants to again get civil authorities to promote/force Sunday rest.

Pope: No-work Sundays good, not just for faithful

July 5, 2014, p.m. CAMPOBASSO, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis has lamented the abandoning of the traditionally Christian practice of not working on Sundays, saying it has a negative impact on families and friendships. . . While he said poor people need jobs to have dignity, he indicated that opening stores and other businesses on Sundays as a way to create jobs wasn’t beneficial for society.

Francis said the priority should be “not economic but human,” and that the stress should be on families and friendships, not commercial relationships. He added: “Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if working on Sundays is true freedom.” He said that spending Sundays with family and friends is an “ethical choice” for faithful and non-faithful alike. http://news.yahoo.com/pope-no-sundays-good-not-just-faithful-130300599.html

(Pope Francis pushes for no work on Sunday–a prelude to a new Sunday law? What about Saturday?)

Sunday is not the biblical day of rest, but a substitute adopted by pagans that others compromised with.

Catholics consider that Saturday will be a sign/mark of the Antichrist.

Notice the following Catholic prophecies:

Dionysus of Luxembourg (died 1682) Antichrist...will teach that...Saturday is to be observed instead of Sunday (Connor, p.85).

St. Hildegard (died 1179): Antichrist...His doctrine of faith will be taken from the Jewish religion and seemingly will not differ much from the fundamental beliefs of Christianity, for he will teach that there is one God who created the world, who rewards the obeyers of his commands and trespassers he chastises, who will raise all from the dead in due time. This God has spoken through Moses, therefore the precepts of the Mosaic law are to be kept, especially circumcision and the keeping of the Sabbath (Culleton R. Gerald. The Reign of Antichrist, Reprint TAN Books, Rockford, IL, 1974, p. 127).

Notice the following Catholic prophecy:

Catholic writer and priest P. Huchedé (19th century): “After having weakened the faith of Christ in the minds and hearts of many, he will proceed to show that the law of Moses still prevails; he will re-establish the Sabbath and all the legal observances; and he will invite the Jews to re-establish their nationality, after which he will declare himself the true messiah; he will endeavor to prove the truth of his assertion from Scripture—he will declare his design of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple and of bringing the whole world under his dominion…According to St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Cath. 15), he will win the esteem and attachment of mankind by his urbane and unbounded kindness…he will work all kinds of miracles…He will therefore appear as performing miracles similar to all those wrought by Jesus Christ…Antichrist being a Jew, will be circumcised; he will observe the Mosaic law…Then by order of the tyrant the continual sacrifice shall be abolished (Dan. 9:27).  The holy sacrifice of the Mass shall no longer be offered up publicly on the altars.  The Church shall be devastated; the sacred vessels desecrated; the priests shall be scattered…It appears certain, then, that the Roman empire will be completely demolished by Antichrist and that he will substitute another in its place (Huchedé, P.  Translated by JBD. History of Antichrist.  Imprimatur Edward Charles Fabre, Bishop of Montreal.  English edition 1884, Reprint 1976.  TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 17,18,26,54).

But Jesus observed Saturday instead of Sunday this what Catholics teach. Actually, there are a lot of Catholic private prophecies that point to Jesus Himself being the Antichrist (see Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus?), but the Catholics do not see it that way.

Forces Associated with Antichrist are Currently Conspiring

Notice also:

23 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24 "Son of man, say to her: 'You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.' 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord God,' when the Lord had not spoken. (Ezekiel 22:23-29)

Pope Francis has deceptively claimed that those who do not support his ecumenical agenda are influenced by Satan (watch Pope Francis and the Devil's Unity) and Protestant Olav Fykse Tveit, who is the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, went so far as to falsely equate rejection of the 'climate change' agenda with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (watch The 'Unpardonable Sin' and 'Climate Change'?). These religious leaders are projecting a false vision to get people to profane God's holy plan of salvation and to not know the difference between the holy and the unholy, the clean and the unclean!

The ecumenical and interfaith leaders do not truly believe in God's Sabbath or Holy Days and often endorse idolatry (see also Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?).

Herbert Armstrong on the Mark Pushed By Antichrist

Regarding the mark of the Beast, the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

Those who receive the plagues are breakers of God's Commandments, and also at the same time receivers of the MARK! It becomes more and more plain that the mark of the beast represents COMMANDMENT-BREAKING.
Notice this again in Colossians 3:5-6: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry [transgressions of some of the Ten Commandments]: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience." …

SUNDAY observance — Christmas, New Year's, Easter, etc. — this is the MARK of the BEAST!

The Church did cause all under the "Holy Roman Empire" to receive this "mark," during the middle ages. Has she stopped? …

Those martyrs, over a thousand years ago, were killed BECAUSE they would not worship the Church, conform to its idolatry and pagan beliefs and customs, or worship the so-called “Holy Roman Empire,”—and BECAUSE they refused to receive the MARK of the beast!...

Those who receive the plagues are breakers of God’s Commandments, and also at the same time receivers of the MARK! It becomes more and more plain that the mark of the beast represents COMMANDMENT-BREAKING...idolatry...Some worship idols carved out of stone, or wood, or marble...The Sabbath was made FOR MAN. So said Jesus (Mark 2:27). It was made WHEN man was made (Genesis 2:1-3). It was MADE—and it was Christ, the Eternal, who made it! Therefore HE is Lord of the Sabbath! It was made to keep man in the true knowledge of the IDENTITY of the true God, to keep him from idolatry. ( Armstrong HW.  The Mark of the Beast.  1952, booklet)

Now, they are going to compel disobedience to God...they’re not going to compel you to commit adultery...they might to worship idols and they might not, they won’t compel you to use profanity. But I’ll tell you what they will compel you to do, to observe Sunday instead of the Sabbath. (Armstrong HW. The Mark of the Beast.  Sermon Transcript 28-Dec-1982; Alternately dated 11-Dec-1982)

As far as commandment breaking goes, as stated before, the Greco-Roman antichrists of the past have advocated breaking ALL the Ten Commandments and will do so in the future.

The second beast of Revelation 13 (vs. 11-17), the two-horned beast (vs. 11), is the final Antichrist.

Let's quote some of the verses in the Bible related to "another beast," the two-horned beast and Antichrist:

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 6 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:11-17)

The above clearly shows that this false prophet will deceive most of the world into accepting a false religion that worships "the image of the beast." The fact that an image gets breath suggests demonic involvement. Since the Bible portrays Jesus as a Lamb (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8), and the two-horned beast as a dragon that looks like a lamb, this is a false Christ (Jesus also predicted false christs and false prophets, Matthew 24:24). This second beast is the Antichrist and the false prophet.

In the time of Roman Emperor Decius, those charged with being Christian were subject to be killed, unless they would sacrifice to pagan gods:

In order to weed out Christians in his Empire, Emperor Decius (249-251) issued an edict requiring all citizens of the Empire to sacrifice to him in the presence of a Roman official and to obtain a Certificate Of Sacrifice called a libellus. This posed a moral problem for the Christians. They could sacrifice and live. They could refuse to sacrifice and be killed. (Sweeny Silver S. Footprints in Parchment: Rome Versus Christianity 30-313 Ad. AuthorHouse, 2013, p. 97)

Some, back then, paid bribes to officials in order to get the document (Ibid, p. 97).

It is possible that some type of document will be issued by the final Beast power that banks may require to keep open accounts and government officials may require to allow one to live. The two versions of the libellus I have read basically state that one is sacrificing to the pagan gods and has consumed the meat offered to idols. This also would be expected to include biblically unclean meats, so that was another way that the Roman authorities attempted to root out believers.

As far as identity goes, Catholic sources also agree that this beast is the false prophet:

" And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. " ] He is speaking of the great and false prophet who is to do signs, and portents, and falsehoods before him in the presence of men (Victorinus--a Catholic Saint. Commentary on the Apocalypse. c. 290).

The Two Beasts (13:1-18)...

"And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and it had two horns..."...The beast and the false prophet (the beast of the earth) are seized...(Cited in Connor, Edward. Prophecy for Today. Imprimatur + A.J. Willinger, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno; Reprint: Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford (IL), 1984, p. 103,108).

Notice the following from a 20th century Catholic scholar:

Priest S. Berry (20th Century): Then the earth whence comes the second beast is a symbol of the Gentile nations in revolt against the Church. The two horns denote a twofold authority -- spiritual and temporal....the prophet will probably set himself up in Rome as a sort of anti-pope...(From Interpretation of the Apocalypse, quoted in Culleton R. Gerald. The Reign of Antichrist, Reprint TAN Books, Rockford, IL, 1974, 199-200).

Notice what an Orthodox scholar observed:

Dr. H. Otto Tzima (20th century): The antipope - the Episcopal of the Beast, alias the false prophet (Tzima Otto, H. The Great Monarch and WWIII in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Scriptural Prophecies. The Verenika Press, Rock Hill (SC), 2000, p. 138).

The final Antichrist will use deceit, promote a god before the true God, force idolatry, get people killed, and push the mark of the Beast through economic means (Revelation 13:14-17). All this has been done by Greco-Roman-Protestant leaders in the past, yet a more intense time is prophesied for the future.

We are in a time when there are more 'ecumenical discussions' between the Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. The Bible warns against being part of this end time Babylon (Revelation 18:4). These ecumenical moves are dangerous for the Catholics (see Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox?), Protestants (see Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction!), Orthodox (see Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics), and the world (see Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?).

But we are seeing a growing 'Babylonian' confederation between many groups, including ones that do not profess Christ (see United Nations: Humankind's Last Hope or New World Order? and Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?).

According to Roman Catholic scholars the Apostle John's references to Babylon in the Book of Revelation (circa 95 A.D.) are references to Rome. Notice what the commentary in the Rheims' New Testament, the Catholic accepted translation of the Latin Vulgate into English, states:

The author of the Commentaries upon the Apocalypse set forth in St. Ambrose name, writeth thus: This...sometime signifieth Rome, specially which at that time when the Apostle wrote this, did persecute the Church of God. But otherwise it signifieth the whole city of the Devil, that is, the universal corps of the reprobate. Tertullian also taketh it for Rome, thus, Babylon (saith he) in St. John is a figure of the city of Rome, being so great, so proud of the Empire, and the destroyer of the saints. Which is plainly spoken of that city, when it was heathen, the head of the terrene dominion of the world, the persecutor of the Apostles and their successors, the seat of Nero, Domitian, and the like, Christ's special enemies, the sink of idolatry, and false worship of the Pagan gods (Annotations on Chapter 17 of the Apocalypse. The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2004, copyright assigned to VSC Corp. Page 583).

There are more modern Catholic writers that realize this as well. For details, check out What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History?

The Greco-Roman confederation has often violated all the Ten Commandments:

  1. They officially have a wrong concept of Jesus and deny He truly came in the flesh (see Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?).  They put tradition derived from paganism before the true God and do not understand the gospel (see also What is the Gospel?).
  2. They practice and encourage idolatry.  While Protestants do not feel this applies to them, they adopted many Greco-Roman traditions including, to a degree, veneration of the cross (see also What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol?).
  3. The take God’s name in vain when they refer to themselves as the ‘Church of God’ (see also Where is the True Christian Church Today?).
  4. They changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and even Sunday they do not keep as the Sabbath is to be kept.  The Church of Rome even claims Sunday as its mark, and boasts that the Protestants followed them in keeping it.
  5. The Church of Rome has traditions such as ‘godparents’ which seem to go against the command to honor one’s father and mother. The donations they request related to purgatory, seem reminiscent of the type of practice Jesus condemned the Pharisees for (see Matthew 15:3-9).
  6. The Greco-Roman-Protestant faiths have been involved in getting faithful Christians murdered.  They also normally advocate military participation in this world, which early Christians did not do (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?).
  7. The Greco-Roman churches have committed spiritual adultery warned against in Revelation 17 by their relationships with the political leaders on the earth.  They also encourage adultery by their divorce/annulment practices in violation of Jesus’ instructions (Matthew 19:8-9).
  8. Through persecutions and confiscation of property, they have sometimes legalized stealing.  They also do not provide tithes and offerings to the true Christian church, which is another form of stealing (Malachi 3:8-9).
  9. Through improper ‘sacraments’ to preaching a false gospel, they bear false witness (Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:6-7).
  10. Because of how they covet followers, they have compromised with paganism on many points.  Because many of their followers covet aspects of paganism, they are drawn to the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches.

The Greco-Roman faiths practice lawlessness.  One of the reasons this is a ‘mystery of lawlessness’ is that the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Eastern Orthodox all teach that the Ten Commandments are to be kept, yet they advocate violating them.

See also the free online booklet: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

The Mark of False Christianity

The mark or sign of false Christianity was to claim Jesus and be involved with promoting lawlessness according to Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23).

A ‘mark’ that the Church of Rome has claimed is its change from Sabbath to Sunday. Its change from Passover to Easter-Sunday has been claimed to be its identity.

Notice also the following:

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand  For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

The Beast power will think to change to change times and law.  The Imperial authorities as well as the ecclesiastical Greco-Roman authorities have already done this in the past, but it is to lead to more persecution in the future. While Daniel 7:25 clearly ties a change of time to the 3 ½ years, it should be noted that Sunday has been a sign of the Roman Empire since Constantine enacted the first known Sunday law in 321 A.D.  The impression that Daniel 7:25 makes is that this ruler will persecute and perhaps try to change the calendar (and likely religious observances).  But since the final Beast is making changes, it would not seem that Sunday, per se, is his mark. 

The Aramaic word translated in Daniel 7:25 as “persecute,” bela', is only used once in the Bible.  Since it can convey the idea of mental affliction (or “wearing out” as the KJV suggests), it is possible that if the calendar was adjusted, that this would cause Sabbath-keepers not in a place of safety to have mental affliction.  However, since other verses in Daniel point to more intense persecution (e.g. 7:21, 8:24), it may be that “persecute” is a better translation of bela'.

Notice also:

9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11)

Now, since most of the antichrist faiths oppose the Sabbath, and the final Antichrist will be in league with the Beast of the Sea power of Revelation 13:1-10, enforcing Sunday will be a way to identify and eliminate true Christians in the end time.

The Bible says:

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  (1 Peter 5:8-10)

Satan is upset with God’s people.  He will go against those who are true Christians that keep God’s law:

13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.  14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:13-17)

(Note: That some Christians are subject to protection during the final three and one-half years before Jesus returns. These are the Philadelphian Christians of Revelation 3:7-13; for more details, check out There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra.)

Do the Greco-Romans have any plans for those who refuse to keep Sunday or worship idols?

Sadly, yes.

The Eastern Orthodox have a prophecy that various Sabbath-keepers will be publicly executed and the time period is supposed to be when the "Great Monarch" rises up:

Blessed Hieronymus Agathaghelos (1279): And lo, an evil assembly of the crafty leader, dressed in black mourning apparel…those who were taking in a most hypocritical manner the most holy name of Christ…those were the most filthy citizens of Pentapolis…these are semi-godless men…they will have to pay the price before the public executioner of the Sabbatians. (Tzima Otto, H.  The Great Monarch and WWIII in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Scriptural Prophecies. Verenika Press, Rock City (SC), 2000, pp. 134,135,240). 

Note “public executioner of the Sabbatians” is how that portion of the phrase is shown as a translation on page 240 and seems to make the most historical sense of the Greek being translated. Sabbatians means Sabbath-keepers. The fact that there is a "public executioner" for them, supports the idea that people like us in the genuine Church of God will be subject to execution and other likely forms of persecution.

A Roman Catholic prophecy tells of those who will be murdered for not having a symbol of idolatry on the forehead:

Anne Catherine Emmerich (October, 1820): citizens and peasants, many of whom were marked on the forehead with a red cross. As this army drew near, the captives and oppressed were delivered and swelled the ranks whilst the demolishers and conspirators were put to flight on all sides (Emmerich AC. The Life of Lord Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations. Schmöger edition, Vol. IV. Nihil Obstat: D. Jaegher, 14 Februari 1914. Imprimatur: A.C. De Schrevel, Brugis, 14 Februari 1914. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 2004, pp. 290-291).

Forcing Sunday, forcing idolatry, economic blackmail, murder, and persecution are tools of Antichrist. The true Christian church should never be persecuting (see Persecutions by Church and State and Where is the True Christian Church Today?).

While those in the world will go along with this, true Christians will not:

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

True Christians will persevere and keep all of God's commandments and not engage in lawlessness.

Lawlessness is the ‘mark’ of antichrists, and Sunday and idolatry are two marks that have been used in the past and are expected to be in the future.

Antichrist will be influenced by Satan and his demons and will persecute those that will not support his mystery of lawlessness. Commandment breaking is the mark of Antichrist.

Thiel B. The Mark of Antichrist, http://www.cogwriter.com/mark-of-antichrist.htm (c) 2014/2016/2017 0610

Here is a link to a related sermon What is the 'Mark of Antichrist'?

More on Antichrist is in the article Some Doctrines of Antichrist. More information on the true Christian church is available in the free online booklet Where is the True Christian Church Today? More information on the history of the true and false church can be found in the free online booklet Continuing History of the Church of God.

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