The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Emphasis Centered on Papacy as Prophesied Antichrist

I. Philpot-Concepts Molded by Predictions of Prophets

JOHN PHILPOT (1516-1555), archdeacon of Winchester and martyr at Smithfield, was born near Winchester and educated at New College, Oxford. His love of languages, especially Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, led him into contact with the writings of the fathers, and, above all, with Scripture. He studied civil law, and after leaving Oxford traveled through Italy, where, on account of his religion, he often faced peril. It was there that the conviction grew upon him that Romanism was untrue. He re turned to England about the time of the accession of Edward VI, in 1547, when the doors of the prisons holding the Reformers captive were thrown open, and John Hooper, John Rogers, and others were freed. PFF2 373.1

Philpot became archdeacon of Winchester under Edward VI, but his preaching was “obnoxious” to Stephen Gardiner, the deprived bishop of Winchester. Upon Mary’s accession to the throne Philpot distinguished himself by his bold stand for the Protestant cause, taking his position in a convocation of bishops and dignitaries against changing the established religion from Protestantism to Catholicism. At the close of this convocation he was haled before the bishop of Winchester (Gardiner), and was, without any personal citation, illegally deprived of his archdeaconry and committed to the king’s bench prison for nearly two years. On October 2, 1555, Philpot was removed to the sessions’ house, by Newgate, and, after having been examined before the queen’s commissioners, was by them committed to the custody of Bishop Bonner. He was confined in the bishop’s coal house, and here met with every insult. PFF2 373.2

He was examined fifteen or sixteen times. Back in 1554, while still in the king’s bench, he had participated in the famous disputations at Oxford, at the close of which Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer were condemned and excommunicated. PFF2 374.1

After he had suffered many indignities, still steadfast in purpose, he was condemned as a heretic. When he was brought to the stake at Smithfield in 1555, he kissed the wood, as he said, “Shall I disdain to suffer at this stake, when my Lord and Saviour refused not to suffer a most vile death on the cross for me?” After he was bound to the stake, he repeated psalms and prayed fervently until death ended his sufferings. PFF2 374.2


In his fourth examination before four bishops Philpot sets forth Paul’s prophecy of the great apostasy in the Christian church after the decay of the empire. PFF2 374.3

“Philpot:— ‘St Paul to the Thessalonians prophesieth, that there should come a universal departing from the faith in the latter days, before the coming of Christ; saying, “Christ shall not come, till there come a departing first.” ’ PFF2 374.4

“Cole:— ‘Yea, I pray you, how take you the departing there in St Paul? It is not meant of faith, but of the departing from the empire: for it is in Greek [apostasia]. ’ PFF2 374.5

“Philpot:— ‘Marry indeed you, master doctor, put me in good remembrance of the meaning of St Paul in that place; for apostasia is properly a departing from the faith, and thereof cometh apostata, which properly signifieth one that departeth from his faith: and St Paul in the same place after speaketh of the decay of the empire.’” 1 PFF2 374.6


And in his eleventh examination, before four bishops and other com missioners, Philpot contends that there have always been two churches, and continues: PFF2 374.7

” ‘In the New Testament is mention made of two churches, as it appeareth in the Apocalypse; and also St Paul to the Thessalonians maketh mention that antichrist, with his false generation, shall sit in the temple of God.’” 2 PFF2 375.1


Writing from prison shortly before his martyrdom, and addressing the Reformed church, Philpot cites the prophecies of Revelation 13 and 18 as the Biblical basis of separation from the Papacy. PFF2 375.2

“St John in the Apocalypse telleth us plainly, that none of those who are written in the book of life do receive the mark of the beast, which is, of the papistical synagogue, either in their foreheads or else in their hands, that is, apparently or obediently.... Finally, in the 18th of the Apocalypse, God biddeth us plainly to depart from this Babylonical synagogue, and not to be partakers of her trespass. St Paul to the Thessalonians commanded! us, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to ‘withdraw ourselves from every brother that walketh inordinately, and not according to the institution which he hath received of him. ’ PFF2 375.3

“Ponder therefore well, good brethren and sisters, these scriptures, which be written for your erudition and reformation; whereof one iota is not written in vain; which be utterly against all counterfeit collusion to be used of us with the papists in their fantastical religion.” 3 PFF2 375.4

Exhorting his sister to stand for the “truth,” Philpot said, “You are at this present in the confines and borders of Babylon, where you are in danger to drink of the whore’s cup, unless you be vigilant in prayer.” 4 PFF2 375.5

This cup has “sotted and made drunk the most part of Christendom,” he declares in dedicating his translation of a work by the Italian Reformer Curio. 5 PFF2 375.6