To some we seem slanderers and railers when we call the Roman pontiff “Antichrist.” But those who think so do not realize they are accusing Paul of intemperate language, after whom we speak, indeed, so speak from his very lips. And lest anyone object that we wickedly twist Paul’s words (which apply to another) against the Roman pontiff, I shall briefly show that these cannot be understood otherwise than of the papacy.”“Paul writes that Antichrist will sit in God’s temple [II Thes. 2:4]. In another place, also, the Spirit, describing his image in the person of Antiochus, shows that this kingdom will consist in boasting and blaspheming of God [Dan. 7:25; Rev. 3:10; 13:5]. Hence, we infer that this is a tyranny more over souls than over bodies, which is raised up against the spiritual kingdom of Christ.”“Secondly, that this tyranny is such as does not wipe out either the name of Christ or of the church but rather misuses a semblance of Christ and lurks under the name of the church as under a mask. All the heresies and sects which have been from the beginning belong to the kingdom of Antichrist. Nevertheless, when Paul foretells a falling away that is to come [II Thes. 2:3] by this description, he means that that seat of abomination will be raised up when a universal apostasy seizes the church, even though many scattered members of the church persevere in the true unity of faith. But Paul adds that in his time Antichrist began to undertake his work in the mystery of iniquity [II Thes. 2:7], which he was afterward to complete openly; by this we understand that this calamity was to be neither caused by one man, nor finished in one man.”“Now, he designates Antichrist by this mark, that he will deprive God of his honor in order to take it upon himself [II Thes. 2:4]. We ought consequently to follow this as the chief indication in searching out Antichrist, especially when such pride leads even to the public scattering of the church. Since, therefore, it is clear that the Roman pontiff has shamelessly transferred to himself what belonged to God alone and especially to Christ, we should have no doubt that he is the leader and standard-bearer of that impious and hateful kingdom.”
HT to The Sola System for this quote.