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Seventh Day Adventist (SDA)

1260  Years,  Papacy ≠  Anti-Christ


SDA  Adventist claim 538 – 1798, 1260 years prove the Papacy is the Anti-Christ


Part 1.  The Events to 538 AD.  -  this page

Part 2.  The Events between 538 – 1798

Part 3. God’s Gift



My Seventh Day Adventist (SDA)  friend sent me an argument on how the historical record from 538 to 1798 AD  “proves”  that the Papacy is the Anti-Christ.  


They claim that the Papal system, the combined powers of Church and State, the Pope united with the Emperor, is the Anti-Christ which oppresses the people of God.  They claim this Papal system began to rule in AD 538. 


Their claim is based on one historian’s account that the Papacy had suffered a mortal blow when Napoleon’s General Berthier entered Rome on February 10, 1798, and imprisoned Pope Pius VI, the Bishop of Rome.  Although not usually mentioned by the SDA is that the Pope died, but not until 1799.


Their interpretation of Revelation chapters 11 – 13  is that the Anti-Christ will reign 1260 years.


And counting 1260 years backward from AD 1798, the Seventh Day Adventists ended up with AD  538  as being the beginning of the Anti-Christ.  They hold that the Papacy ruled the

“Dark Ages” from 538 A.D. to 1798 A.D., or 1260 years.


Revelation 13:4 – 5
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”


42 months = 3.5 years


Revelation 12:14
“But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year.”  NAB


And they claim this is confirmed by


Revelation 11:3
“And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”


42 months x  30 days/month
 = 1260 days  and this
 = 1260 years they claim because they figure a day stands for a year. 

(See Numbers 14:34, but consider  2 Peter 3:8  )


Numbers 14:34 
“According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.”   RSV


2 Peter 3:8 
“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  RSV



“Dark Ages” from 538 A.D.-1798 A.D., or 1260 years.


And it is true that the Empress Theodora played a big role in getting Vigilius to be the Pope in AD 538.




However, a study of history actually disproves the SDA claim.


The two previous Popes Agapitus and Silverius had stood firm in their opposition against the heresy of Monophysitism.  Monophysitism is a heresy that denies that Jesus Christ has a Human Nature, as it only accepts that Christ has a Divine Nature. 


It is possible that Agapitus suffered martyrdom because of his opposition to this heresy.  We know that his successor, Pope Silverius, did so.


Justinian I was crowned Emperor of the Byzantine Empire in 527 AD at Constantinople and his wife Empress Theodora was proclaimed Augusta.  She ruled by his side, as his partner, and joint monarch sharing his throne as she took an active role in decision making.


Patriarch of Constantinople Anthimus was a secret Monophysite and a favorite of the Emperor’s wife Theodora.  He had become the patriarch of Constantinople. 


However, when Pope Agapitus went to Constantinople and Anthimus refused to affirm the two natures of Christ, Agapitus deposed Anthimus.  In a determined effort to have Anthimus restored Theodora conspired to get Vigilius elected as Pope.


“But before Vigilius left Constantinople, Theodora called him to her in secret.  She asked him to make her a promise of what he would do if, by her help, he achieved his great ambition of becoming Pope.  Under her prodding, he promised to abrogate the Council of Chalcedon and approve the Monophysite belief of Patriarchs Theodosius, Anthimus, and Severus. 


She then promised in her turn to order Belisarius, and when he took Rome, to make Vigilius Pope  - and to give Vigilius seven hundred pounds of gold.  “With pleasure Vigilius made the promise,” we are told, “for love of episcopacy and gold; and after making the promise, he set out for Rome.” 
[The Building of Christendom, the second volume of  Warren Carroll
s history,  page 168]


Pope Vigilius before he had become Pope had promised to Empress Theodora to do the very thing the anti-Christ would do and promote this heresy denying the Incarnation, that Christ came in the flesh and became the God-Man. 


2 John 7  “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.”


Theodora sent her General Belisarius to get rid of Pope Silverius.  Belisarius delivered Silverius to Vigilius.  And Vigilius sent the Pope Silverius into exile on the island of Palmaria where he starved to death in AD 538. 


Vigilius obviously knew that – as now the new Pope - his life was on the line to support that heresy that he had embraced before becoming Pope.


The election of Vigilius to the papacy had taken place in the most desperate of times.


A.D. 538

“The clergy of Rome, the faithful of the Church, must accept as Pope this man [ Vigilius ]  who had in all probability martyred his predecessor, who had promised to embrace heresy to gain the Papacy – and collected seven hundred pounds of gold in the bargain.  Even if few then knew this last, something of the kind must have been suspected.  In all the history of the See of Peter there is no darker moment than this, the Year of Our Lord 538, with Rome in the hands of Theodora’s minions while she waited in Constantinople for the fulfillment of the remainder of the promise of  “our most dear deacon Vigilius.”


“She waited.  And She waited.  Silverius lay in his forgotten grave. …”   

[The Building of Christendom, the second volume of  Warren Carroll’s history,  page 171 -172.] 


Empress Theodora was waiting for the new Pope to restore the heretic Anthimus who denied that Christ had a Human Nature.


If ever the Devil had his chance, now was his time.


Everything was now in place in AD 538. 


It was set up for what should have been a slam dunk win for Satan - and all those who hate the Catholic Church.  Pope Vigilius prior to becoming Pope had promised Empress Augusta Theodora to promote the heresy of Monophysitism.


This would have fulfilled what was prophesied that the Anti-Christ would do, that is deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh,  that God the Son,  would Become true God and true man, cf. 2 John 7.


But remember Jesus’ promise to Peter and his successors.



Pope Vigilius responded to Empress Theodora in 538 or 539 AD who had taken the title of Lady Augusta ,


“Far be this form me, Lady Augusta; formerly I spoke wrongly and foolishly, but now I assuredly refuse to restore a man who is a heretic and under anathema 
[the deposed Monophysite Patriarch of Constantinople, Anthimius.]  
Though unworthy, I am vicar of Blessed Peter the Apostle, as were my predecessors, the most holy Agapitus and Silverius, who condemned him. ”  

[The Building of Christendom, the second volume of  Warren Carroll’
s history,  page 161.]


Strengthen by the grace of Jesus Christ, Pope Vigilius who had previously promised to promote the heresy consistent with the teaching of the Anti-Christ and who used immoral means to ascend to the Papacy was now transformed.  He preached the truth that Jesus Christ is True Man and True God.





SDA  Adventist claim 538 – 1798, 1260 years prove the Papacy is the Anti-Christ


Part 1.  The Events of 538 AD.  -  this page

Part 2.  The Events between 538 – 1798

Part 3. God’s Gift




Jesus Promises,  see


Matthew 16:13-19,  Luke  22:28-32, and  John 21:15-18











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