I partially recollect a quote I heard from a long time ago, which was something to the effect of, “Constantinople fell and she fled West bringing the Bible with her.” Well, that is what happened. Prior to the Ottoman victory over Constantinople it was, despite all idolatry and corruptions, a home to scholars and great collections of ancient biblical manuscripts (particularly Greek New Testament manuscripts). When the smart people got out of the besieged city they mostly headed West into Europe, bringing with them both their learning and the treasuries of the Word of God. This just happened to coincide with the precise moment in history when a man named Johannes Gutenberg had invented the world’s first printing press. No prizes for guessing what was the first ever complete book to be printed by him (in 1455). Yes, The Holy Bible. This was not just a timely coincidence!
What followed that first printed Bible was… more Bibles, multiple translations of the Bible, translations of translations, translations from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and translations and editions in many, many different languages. You get the picture. The printing press started rolling and Bibles were becoming two-a-penny. The key differences between a printed book and an old fashioned manuscript or the old hand written books are size and cost. This was the era of the ‘little book’, which has ever increasingly become more and more accessible to everyday folk around the world. The effects of the freely available Bible upon both truth seekers and the enemies of the truth continue to rock the world to this very day.
In chapter seven we saw God’s servants being sealed before judgements came upon the old Roman empire. In chapter eight we saw the destruction of the West bringing us to the year AD 476. In chapter nine we saw the long but eventual destruction of the East, in AD 1453. This means there is nearly a thousand years of history that has been taking place meanwhile in the West. We will say a few things about this period of time when we reach later chapters that speak of a period of 1260 years but for now I’ll just try to summarise the scene in the West…
The Western empire has collapsed. Out of its ashes has arisen a new coalition of power of European kings (centring particularly around 10 key nations over time) and the papacy. Yes, far from destroying the religion of Rome (as it was by then) the barbarian nations, which conquered Western Rome adopted the papal religion and successive popes had gradually gained the mastery over these European kings and had become the de facto ‘king of kings’ in Europe.
In this simple Revelation overview I will not be attempting to cite the many quotations of successive popes and other ‘Church’ authorities down the centuries but just in case you are not well read in real Church history it is perhaps necessary to just quote a few to be sure that you understand the absolute depths of Anti-Christ apostasy that has been reached by the so called Holy Roman Church.
PAPAL TITLE INCLUDE (note, current tense!):
Pontifex Maximus – meaning, The Great High Priest – a former title of the Roman Caesars.
Vicar of Christ – Vicar, means ‘in place of’. (The term ‘Anti-Christ’ can mean either ‘against’ or ‘instead of’ Christ).
Our Lord God The Pope – as used in multiple official addresses to the Pope down the centuries.
SOME PAPAL QUOTES (still not retracted):
“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
POPE BONIFACE VIII
“We declare, assert, define and pronounce to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is to every creature altogether necessary for salvation. I have the authority of the King of Kings. I am all in all, and above all, so that God Himself and I, the Vicar of Christ, have but one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do. What therefore, can you make of me but God?”
POPE BONIFACE VIII
“I alone am the successor of the apostles, the vicar of Jesus Christ. I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
POPE PIUS IX
As with the history of the papacy we also cannot begin to explore all of the earth shattering events of the Reformation. (There will be a third Revelation ‘earthquake’ ahead relating to all this). However, in connecting the dots to this time and the translation of the Bible we should at least mention John Wycliffe, who has been called the Morning Star of Reformation. His translation, the first full Bible translation made in nearly a thousand years, was completed in 1382 – just a little before the Reformation burst into full flood. His only available source was the old Latin Vulgate but with the English language just reaching a stage in its development to what most people will recognise as English today he broke the spell of the Latin language. Latin was the tongue and text of the elites, and is still used in Roman Catholic religious rites to this day, but Wycliffe had a driving desire to make the Word of God known to the ordinary men and women of his day and age.
So much was he hated and vilified for his work that some years after his death his body was dug up and his bones burned, then cast into the River Swift (in Leicestershire, England). There’s a well know quote about this event…
“Thus the brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into the narrow seas; and they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine which now is dispersed the world over.”
In response to Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther and many other translators’ work Pope Pius IV made the following statement…
“The Bible is not for the people; whosoever will be saved must renounce it. It is a forbidden book. Bible societies are satanic contrivances”.
Pope Pius IV 1559
This is just one example of the many attacks made upon the Bible itself and those who translated it. Bible burnings were almost as common as ‘heretic’ burnings throughout Europe. However, as prophesied in this chapter of Revelation, the era of the little book had come and with it came both sweetness and bitterness. Through this little book, John, and all the other authors of the Bible books would “prophesy again.”