The world has been riveted to the headlines coming from the Vatican since the resignation of Pope Benedict and the installation of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope in the long and colorful history of the Roman Catholic Church. Devout Catholics—along with nominal believers and hundreds of millions of non-Catholics—have been fascinated by the pageantry, formality, wealth, and deeply ingrained traditions of this ancient church.
The public face of the Roman church has been marred and stained by misconduct within the priesthood going back for decades. Many look to the new pope, widely reputed to be a genuinely humble person, to make major reforms. Some are pressing for acceptance of same-sex marriage and for women in the priesthood, among other issues.
Speaking of women, the New Testament mentions two women as symbols of churches. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John describes what he saw in vision, “And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement” (Revelation 17:3–7).
This vivid description of a woman, picturing a great false church, seems to fit a familiar picture.
Jesus instructed His disciples, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). It is interesting, then, that some churches specifically use the title “Father” for their priests. Jesus also told his disciples,“But I say to you, do not swear at all” (Matthew 5:34). Yet, as the College of Cardinals entered the conclave to elect the new pope, members took an oath of secrecy in violation of Christ’s instruction.
In setting an example of humility, Jesus entered Jerusalem for his final Passover and the events that would lead to his execution, on the foal of a donkey without pomp or ceremony, in stark contrast to the recent spectacle.
Francis leads a large church that has for centuries been a powerful religious and political force in the world. By contrast, Jesus called His Church the “little flock” (Luke 12:32). Another contrast with the recent papal ceremonies can be found in Jesus’ own example; far from presenting Himself with pomp and opulence when He came to proclaim His Father’s Kingdom, He set an example of profound humility when he entered Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.
Scripture makes it clear that in the end times there will be “a woman dressed in purple and scarlet”—a great false church. Such is not a church that Jesus would build. But there is another “woman”—a small, persecuted Church that carefully obeys God’s commandments and announces His coming Kingdom.
Though His church would be relatively small, Jesus made it plain that it would not die out, “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [the grave] shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, somewhere, there is “a little flock” clinging to the doctrines and practices of the original Church of God.
The Bible describes this true Church as “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). This “woman,” being persecuted, will seek refuge: “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place…” (Revelation 12:14) The most faithful remnants of this Church are described when the “woman” escapes: “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God” (Revelation 12:6).
If you want to know more about “the other woman,” the Church that Jesus Christ built, request our enlightening booklet Restoring Original Christianity. It is free of any charge, and will change your life for the better.