The Number and the Name —
Vicarius Filii Dei and the
by Vance Ferrell
QUARTERLY FOR SECOND QUARTER, 2002
Thursday June 6
THE MARK AND NUMBER OF THE BEAST (Rev 13:16-18;
What is John's purpose in mentioning the mark and
number of the beast? Rev. 13:16-18.
Why do we say that those who keep Sunday do not have
the mark of the beast now? Why is it important that we make this point
The number of the beast. The mark, the name, and the number of the beast are
closely related (Rev. 13: 17). Many suggestions have been made to explain
the meaning of 666. Here we must be very careful. The Bible does not say
that the number is the added numerical value of the letters of a name. Some
see in the meaning of 666 a symbol of humanity separated from God. Humans
were created on the sixth day, and the number can stand as a symbol for
humanity without divine rest (the seventh day). Humans have claimed
ultimate independence from God (the cause of their fall), and even now
they do not want to find rest in Christ.
Over the years, numerous Bible students have come up
with various explanations for the 666. Some found significance in the fact
that if you added up the number of letters in the name of a former
president of the United States,
Ronald Wilson Reagan, it came to 666; others saw meaning in that, years
ago, all the buses in Jerusalem
had 666 on their license plates. This is futile speculation that adds
nothing toward understanding truth. The important point is that God's Word
has given us enough information to know what the key issues are and who the
players will be in the last days, even if we do not know all the details
for now, such as the precise meaning of 666.
Friday June 7
Please note the following points in conclusion to
this week's study:
Filii Dei (Vicar of the Son of God).
Since the Reformation, this papal title has been used to calculate the
number 666. But there are several questions that should make us
cautious. First, it is not clear that this title is an official one.
Second. there is no clear indication in
Revelation 13 that the number is based on the numerical value of the
letters of a name. The phrase "it is the number of a man"
(vs. 18, NIV) could be translated "it is the number of
[humanity]"; that is, of humans separated from God. Third, those
who insist in counting the numerical value of letters confront the
problem of - deciding which language will be used. Because the text
does not identify any language, the selection of a particular one will
be somewhat arbitrary. At the present time, the symbolism of intensified
rebellion, six used three times, and total independence from God seem
to be the best option. Time will reveal the full meaning of the
1941 DENIAL—Our Sunday Visitor has, for over a hundred years,
been the largest Roman Catholic weekly in America. In its August 3, 1941
issue, the Visitor declared for the first time that Vicarius Filii Dei is not on
the pope’s tiara. Here is the statement:
pamphlet has come to me entitled ‘The Mark of the Beast.’ It identifies the
Pope with this ‘mark’ referred to in Revelations XIII. 17, 18.
is too bad that the Seventh Day Adventists, who are so sensitive to
criticism themselves, should circulate a pamphlet so antagonistic to the
question you ask has been answered many times, although not in recent years
in this paper. If we have recourse to the best Biblical scholars or
exegetes, we find them applying the test from Revelations to Nero, the
arch-persecutor of Christianity in the first century. To give color to
their accusation, enemies of the Church publicize something that is not
at all true, namely that the Pope’s tiara is inscribed with the words
‘VICARIUS FILII DEI,’ and that if letters in that title were translated
into Roman numerals, the sum would equal 666."
(A.D. 37-68) only ruled the Roman Empire from A.D. 53 to 68, and it was not
until 64 that he began persecuting Christians (as a pretext to cover the
rumor that he himself was responsible for the burning of Rome that year). After a brief four years
in which Christians were persecuted, Nero committed suicide when the
citizens of Rome
arose in revolt.]
a matter of fact, the tiara of the Pope bears no inscription whatsoever. [More
on this later.]
ago a clergyman by the name of Reginald Ernest Hull gave a Latin ending to
his two Christian names and then figured out what the sum total would be if
he translated the letters into Roman numerals, and 666 eventuated. Your own
name might spell that number.
is the manner in which it was done: Reginal[d]us Ernestus Hull: From his
first name four numerals were drawn I L D V; from his second name only the
letter V was extracted; from his surname the three Roman numerals, namely V
above paragraph, they made up a fictitious name, and then latinized the first and middle names (but not the
last!), by twice added "us." Then they included the "d" which should not properly be latinized.]
the Roman numeral "D" stands for 500; the L stands for fifty and
since there are three ‘Ls’, they would effect [wrong word: should say
"result in"] 150; the three ‘Us’, which are identified with a ‘V’
would mean 15 more, and the letter ‘I’ would signify one—the total 666.
first thirty Popes lived in the golden age of Christianity and [it is
claimed] twenty-nine of them died martyrs for Christ. [In reality, there
were no "popes" until at least 400 years after the death of
Christ, because until that time, no single bishop ruled the other
churches.] Imagine any one of them being designated the beast of the
Apocalypse [the Catholic Bible name for the book of Revelation]. Among the
262 Popes who ruled over the Catholic Church from the time of Christ, all
but four or five, even according to the unwilling admission of unfriendly
historians, were among the holiest men of their times. [An astounding
statement for its inaccuracy. Entire books have been written about the evil
doings of the popes.] The few unworthy ones, who were placed on the throne
of Peter reached that position through the
intrigue of civil rulers. [Also untrue; they generally paid heavy bribes to
get elected, and then repaid themselves from the papal treasuries;
sometimes assassination was used.] Only five Popes have ruled over the
Church during the greater part of the last century and every person, unless
he be absolutely uninformed or ignorant, would
rate them among the saintliest people. [This article was written while Pope
Pius XII was collaborating with Bonito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.] We say
‘unless the person were uninformed or ignorant,’ designedly, because the
lives of these Popes have been written by Protestants as well as Catholics.
is very strange that people can regard themselves as religious and still
engage in an apostolate of vituperation and slander."—Our Sunday
Visitor, August 3, 1941, p. 7.
ARTICLE CAREFULLY WORDED—According to the above article, in 1941, the pope’s tiara
does not have the words Vicarius Filii Dei on it. The denial is carefully worded; (1) It
only speaks about the papal tiara (his jewel encrusted gold crown;
"tiara" is Latin for metallic crown), and does not mention the
pope’s mitre (his cloth cap). Both the tiara and
the mitre are in the shape of a triple crown,
signifying that he is the ruler of heaven (which is blasphemy), earth, and
under the earth (where purgatory and hell are supposed to be located). (2)
The denial is also careful not to mention what might have been written on
the tiara in the past. We will learn below that, by official Catholic
statements, the name has for centuries been on both the tiara and the mitre! We will also learn that the 1941 Visitor did
not mention what was written on the mitre—because
only 26 years earlier the Visitor said the name was on the mitre!
ANCIENT DOCUMENT HAS THE NAME—The so-called "Donation of Constantine" is one of
the most famous forgeries in the Roman Catholic history. Yet it is,
nonetheless, an important document, dating back over a thousand years. The
Donation was obviously written by the priests at the Vatican, and not by Constantine. (In later centuries, even
the papacy admitted that Constantine
did not write it.) This document states their view of the official title of
the pope, from Peter onward:
the Blessed Peter is seen to have been constituted vicar of the Son of
God on the earth, so the Pontiffs who are the representatives of that
same chief of the apostles, should obtain from us and our empire the power
of a supremacy greater than the clemency of our earthly imperial serenity
as seen to have conceded it."—Donation of Constantine,
quoted in Christopher B. Coleman, The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine, p. 13. Yale
University Press, New Haven, Conn.,
is a translation from the Latin. Here is the original:
"Sicut B. Petrus in terris vicarius Filii Dei esse videtur constitutus, ita et Pontifices, qui ipsius principis apostolorum gerunt vices, principatus potestatem amplius quam terrena imperialis nostrae serenitatis mansuetudo habere videtur, concessam a nobis nostroque imperio obtineant."—Ibid, p. 13.
TITLE IN 1439—Here is an official declaration of the Council of Florence,
held in Florence, Italy over 560 years ago:
define that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff holds the primacy
over the whole world, and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor
of the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and the true vicar of
Christ; the head of the whole church, and the father and doctor of all
Christians; and that to him, in the blessed Peter, was given, by our Lord
Jesus Christ, full power to feed, rule, and govern the universal church, as
is contained also in the acts of the ecumenical councils, and in the sacred
canons."—Council of Florence,
Session XXV, July 6, 1439, Definitio, in J.D. Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum [Holy Councils], Vol. 31, Col.
1031 [translated from the Latin].
TITLE IN 1862—A noted Catholic author wrote this 140 years ago:
highest power in the world, the Vicar of the incarnate Son of God . . sat in his tribunal."—Henry
Edward Manning, The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, 2nd ed., London: Burns and
Lambert, 1862, p. 46.
Manning (1808-1892) was a prolific defender of Catholicism. Later in the
same book, he said this:
in like manner they say now, See this Catholic Church, this Church of God, feeble and weak, rejected even
by the very nations called Catholic. There is Catholic France, and Catholic
Germany, and Catholic Italy, giving up this exploded figment of the
temporal power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. And so, because the Church
seems weak, and the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion
of his Master upon earth, therefore we are scandalised,
therefore we turn our faces from him."—Ibid, pp. 140-141.
writing in English, but in Latin, "Vicar of the Son of God" is
Vicarius Filii Dei,
just as the phrase occurs in the Donation of Constantine, where it is
applied to Peter.
NAME ON THE TIARA IN 1939—The 1941 Visitor article denied that the name was on
the papal tiara (gold crown) in 1941. But, according to the following
article, the name ("Vicarius Filii Dei" ) was on the tiara only two years
earlier, in 1939,—when it was placed on the head of Eugenio Pacelli, crowning him as Pius XII:
the papacy aimed at was not simply to be a temporal power by reason of
sovereignty over a little Italian state, but to exercise a universal
sovereignty over all sovereigns by reason of the spiritual office of the
pope, who was to be the master and arbiter of all other temporal
development of that ideal, the partial achievement of it, and some of the
reactions against it are what we must now consider. Lest this should seem
to the modern reader a threshing over of old straw and a discussion of dead
issues, there should perhaps be inserted here a reminder that all the
popes of the last six centuries have worn the triple tiara. According
to present-day Roman Catholic authorities, its three crowns signify
‘universal episcopate, supremacy of jurisdiction, and universal supremacy.’
In the coronation of all popes—including Pius XII, on March 12, 1939—the
tiara is placed on the candidate’s head with the words [in Latin]:
‘Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father
of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Saviour Jesus
Christ.’ If this phraseology had not been sanctified by long
usage, it would not have been coined in this generation to express the
relation of the pope to the political and social order; but it would not
have been created in the first place if it had not meant then what it
says—‘Ruler of the world.’ "—Paul Hutchinson and Winfred E.
Garrison, 20 Centuries of Christianity: A Concise History, 1st ed., 1959,
p. 120, Harcourt, Brace and World, New
York, p. 120.
ESTABLISHED—Contrary to what the 1941 Visitor claimed, we have
established that the pope’s special name is written on his golden crown.
But is anything written on his "everyday crown," the papal mitre?
1914 VISITOR STATEMENT—The answer was written 27 years earlier in the same
publication! Notice that the Visitor does not deny, but admits
that the title is in the pope’s mitre, and that
it totals 666. So the title is not only on the golden tiara (crown), but it
is also on the pope’s mitre (the cloth cap
shaped like three crowns on top of one another):
it true that the words of the Apocalypse in the 13th chapter, 18th verse
refer to the Pope?
words referred to are these: ‘Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding,
let him count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and
the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.’ The title of the Pope of Rome is Vicarius Filii Dei. This is
inscribed on his mitre; and if you take
the letters of his title which represent Latin numerals (printed large) and
add them together they come to 666:
VICARIVS FILII DEI
5 1 10 1 5 150 1 1 500 1
these together and the result will be 666 . .
every eminent man in Christendom, who has enjoyed the privilege of
possessing enemies, has had his name turned and twisted till they could get
the number 666 out of it."—Answers to readers’ questions in Our
Sunday Visitor, November 15, 1914, p. 3.
ONE RATIONALIZATION—Notice that the above 1914 Visitor denial was the
boast that nearly everyone’s name can, in its Latin numeral equivalents, be
tallied up to 666. That is also the same argument put forth by the 1941 Visitor
article and our June 2002 Quarterly!
1915 VISITOR STATEMENT—Only five months later, the Visitor once again
admitted that Vicarius Filii
Dei is inscribed on the papal mitre;—and once
again used the very same argument in an attempt to explain away the fact:
are the letters supposed to be in the Pope’s crown, and what do they
signify, if anything?
letters inscribed in the Pope’s mitre are these: Vicarius Filii Dei, which is
the Latin for Vicar of the Son of God. Catholics hold that the Church
which is a visible society must have a visible head. Christ, before His
ascension into heaven, appointed St. Peter to act as His representative.
Upon the death of Peter the man who succeeded to the office of Peter as
Bishop of Rome, was recognized as the head of the Church. Hence to the
Bishop of Rome,
as head of the Church, was given the title ‘Vicar of Christ.’ "—Answers
to readers’ questions in Our Sunday Visitor, April 18, 1915, p. 3.
FULLY ADMIT IT—The question in the 1914 Visitor asked whether
Revelation 13:18 refers to the pope. Significantly, to answer the
question the Visitor called attention, not to the word,
"pope," but to his official title, Vicarius
Filii Dei, as embroidered into the very fabric of
his three-level cap.
question, a few months later, asked whether the letters in the
"pope’s crown" had any meaning. The answer revealed that the mitre is one of his crowns, and once again
talked about that title on it. The reply also stated that every bishop
since Peter, has had that title. It is his permanent name.
that never—never—, in any of their statements, does Rome deny that Vicarius
Filii Dei is the pope’s official title!
How can we
be sure that Vicarius Filii
Dei is the official title of the pope? We can know it because it is the
only phrase written on both of his crowns!
OF THE POPE’S AUTHORITY—The rest of the above 1915 statement explains why the papacy
cannot abandon that title: It gives the pope his authority to rule.
of the papacy denounce this title as a malicious assumption. But the Bible
informs us that Christ did not only give His Church authority to teach, but
also to rule."—Ibid.
most important doctrine of Romanism is the claim that the one man, the
pope, rules in the place of God. And that is the claim by which you can identify him as the
beast of Revelation and the little horn of Daniel 7. His special qualities
are fourfold: a different kind of temporal kingdom, blasphemy against God,
the changing of God’s law, and the persecution of God’s people (Dan 7:8,
20-21, 24-25; Rev 12:13-17; 13:5-7).
IN PLACE OF GOD—As vicegerent of the Son of God, the pope has power to
change God’s law and to decide who will go to heaven and to hell.
Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or
interpret even divine laws . . Petrus
de Ancharano [d. 1416]
very clearly asserts this in Consil.
373, no. 3 verso:
can modify divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he
acts in the place of God upon earth, with the fullest power of binding and
loosing his [God’s] sheep."—Lucius
Ferraris, "Papa," art. 2, in his Prompta
Bibliotheca [Handy Library], Vol. 6, Venice;
Gaspar Storti, 1772, p. 29 [translated from the
[the popes] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty!"—Pope
Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter, "The Reunion of Christendom," dated
June 20, 1894, translated in The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII,
Benziger, 1903, p. 304.
MEANING OF THE CROWNS—Both his tiara and mitre are
shaped like three crowns on top of one another. It is of highest
significance that the "Vicarius" phrase
is on those crowns. The crowns symbolize the basis of his authority; the
phrase, Vicarius Filii
Dei, states it.
the Pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and of earth and
of the lower regions [Latin: infernorum;
hell]."—Op. cit., p. 26.
like to be the king of hell? The pope says he is. Perhaps that is so; he
has sent more people there than all others in history, holding a single,
OF THE CHANGEOVER—It is an intriguing fact that the papacy decided in 1941 to
stop bragging about the name on the papal tiara; and, instead, they began
telling people that the number 666 could apply to most anyone’s name. It
made that decision 61 years ago because of publications distributed by our
made our church a target for conquest, for we were about the only major
denomination which was still denouncing the pope.
(1962-1965) was a major event. A number of our leaders attended and
initiated friendly contacts at Vatican
headquarters. From 1965 to the present, we have sent special
representatives to World Council of Churches headquarters, in Geneva, to meet with
Protestant and Catholic leaders. Agreements have been made. Now we no
longer apply the 666 to the pope. For more on this, we refer you to the
following books of ours:
Adventist/Vatican Ecumenical Involvement Book 1: History—80 pp., 1999 $6.00 + $2.50 8-1/2 x 11
Documents—133 pp., 1999 $11.00 + $2.50 8-1/2 x 11.
HARVESTIME BOOKS - BOX 300
- ALTAMONT, TN