Born in Southern Bohemia circa 1350, Matthew of Janov became a disciple of reformer John Militz in 1372. Proving himself to be a brilliant student, he was awarded a scholarship to the University of Paris where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1376. Matthew remained in Paris the next five years continuing his theological studies and possibly writing the first draft of his treatise on the Antichrist. In 1381 he returned to Prague where he became a canon of the cathedral. The Archbishop befriended him, becoming his patron, giving him a benefice, while utilizing his preaching skills. Matthew was a theologian and writer whose 5-volume Regulae veteris et novi testamenti (Rules of the Old and New Testaments)is his monumental achievement. Matthew died in 1394, but not before he was forced to submit to the teachings of the Church regarding veneration of images (which he abhorred), and the forbidding of laymen receiving communion more than once a month. (He had insisted on daily communion.)
Early in his ecclesiastic career Matthew confesses he was torn between two paths: the strait and the broad. The broad way was not overtly evil, but more subtle because it appeared virtuous, praised by the majority as orthodoxy, while the strait path was viewed as suspect and dangerous by the church hierarchy. Matthew saw the prelates as “friends of this world,” whose “systematic vanity, their great discrepancy from the virtue and truth of Jesus, and from his words and deeds, which they zealously praised with their mouths alone.” Not only were the prelates guilty of “vain speech, gluttony and drinking,” but they justified their un-Christ-like lifestyle, saying, “We are only men; these things are the common practice of the great and learned.” In Matthew’s view, hypocrisy entered the Christian Church - especially the Roman Church - around A. D. 1200, when charity grew cold, iniquity abounded, and “the church of Christ abounded in the peace of this world, through riches and glory.” It was then that the Great Whore took her seat upon the scarlet beast and Antichrist’s body permeated the Church.
“Beasts indeed are infinitely many - or, rather, too many of them are wrapped up and fused together in the one scarlet Beast with seven horned heads, who is full of names of blasphemy. These are the modern hypocrites and fleshly Christians, who, after they have put together a law fashioned after the Mosaic model, having infinite ceremonies, observances, mandates, and doctrines of men, lay heavy burdens grievous to be borne on men’s shoulders, neither which they nor their fathers’ could bear..........[T]hrough them they glorify and enrich themselves....Therefore, with the great precepts of God cast into oblivion, as though abolished, they solemnize their own recent inventions, guard over them, proclaim them and magnify them among the ignorant and fleshly Christians......And by the multitude of these errors the cross of Jesus Christ and the name of the crucified Christ are brought into disrepute and made, as it were, alien and void among Christians.”
Interestingly, Matthew cites the offense which the poor, humble, suffering Jesus and His cross gives the prelates of his day, just as it does in our day with the likes of Joel Osteen and the Word-Faith preachers who avoid such biblical truths like the plague.
“The Lord Jesus instructed me to write all this which relates to the present condition of priests, that is, the carnal ones, and which throws light on the character of these times; only He knows the end result of this work in which He set before me. And He sent me His Spirit who shoots the fire into my bones and into my heart, leaving me no rest until I expose the hidden sham of the mother of harlots.”
“These priests are men who know nothing of the spirit of Jesus the crucified, who had never meditated day and night on the law of the Lord; carnal-minded priest who are not fully devoted to the study of the Holy Scriptures, who have not been instructed in them from their youth, yet, for all their shortcomings they boldly stand forth as teachers because they possess a certain gift of elocution......preaching the same sermons, time and again, with great ostentation. They are people who know nothing of the Bible. Such persons do not preach from devotion and from joy in the Divine Word, nor from zeal to edify the people; but because this is the business assigned to them, or because they are fond of displaying their speaking skills, or because they are seeking popularity, finding gratification in being favored and honored by the people. And so they draw upon their standard collection of sermons, fine words, and stories with which they make promises of large indulgences.”
“Lest the abomination of desolation should be plainly manifest to men, he has invented the fiction of another abomination still to come, so that the church, plunged still deeper in error, may pay homage to the fearful abomination which is already present, while she fantasizes another which is still in the future. It is a common everyday fact that Antichrists go forth in endless numbers, and still the church looks ahead for another future Antichrist.”
“Antichrist is and will be a man who opposes Christian truth and the Christian life by means of deception. He is and will be the most wicked Christian, falsely claiming that name, assuming the highest station in the church, while possessing the highest consideration, arrogating dominion over all ecclesiastics and laymen; one who holds the highest honors, who possesses the greatest wealth, yet who misappropriates the true riches of Christ, the Holy Scriptures, the sacraments, and all else which pertains to the Christian’s hope, for his own aggrandizement, to the gratification of his own worldly passions; deceitfully perverting spiritual things to carnal ends. By craft and subtlety he leads Christian people astray from the truth and power of Christ by means of what was designed for their salvation.”
“As John the Baptist pointed to Christ, so, too, do the signs of the times point to Antichrist already here. They point to him now and will continue even more so; they have revealed him and will continue to reveal him until the Lord shall destroy him with the breath of His mouth; and He will consume him by the brightness of His new revelation, until Satan is finally crushed under his feet. The friends of Christ, the army of preachers, who will destroy him, are bound together by the love and wisdom which come from God.”
“Thinkest thou that divine truth [in Malachi 4:5 & Rev. 11:3] points to the literal person of Elijah? Or does it point to another who is filled with the spirit of Elijah, having been enriched with his unique gifts?
I believe ‘Elijah’ is not meant to be taken literally by him or one person, but rather a multitude of holy preachers and teachers, through whom his overflowing spirit should restore all things, animating the dry bones........Furthermore, Scripture refutes the idea of a resurrected prophet coming back from the dead, for it says, If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither would they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead, Luke 16:31.”
“Those apostles and preachers of Antichrist, oppress the true apostles, wise men and prophets of Christ, persecuting them in various ways, boldly asserting that the ministers of Christ are heretics, hypocrites and Antichrists. And since many mighty members of Antichrist go forth in a countless number of ways, they persecute the members of Christ who are few and weak, compelling them to go from one city to another by driving them from the synagogues [excommunicating them]. Whenever one of the society of such Christians dares to be somewhat more free of speech, living more worthily of Christ than is common, he is called a ‘Beghard,’ or another name which implies heretic, or he is merely declared a hypocrite or fool. If this Christian dares imitate His crucified Master, even to a small degree, confessing His truth, he will at once experience a fierce persecution from one of Antichrist’s members. For if thou does not live as do Antichrist’s members, thou wilt be judged nothing else but a poor superstitious creature or a false guide.”
“Alas! Several colleges and multitudes of those who style themselves masters and men of wisdom lay down as an ordinance of God in the Church that images of wood, stone and silver, etc., are to be prayed to and worshiped by Christians, though Holy Scripture plainly contradicts such practice........And though God has ceased to perform His wonders in His own name and by His Word, these same wise men would have us believe He now works miracles through wood and stone images......Or has the Lord perhaps permitted the great enemy to perform signs and lying wonders to punish ungrateful Christians, allowing them to be seduced into falsehood through the instrumentality of men who outwardly appear very pious and holy, but, in fact, are no such thing?”
❑ Sola Scriptura: True reform returns to the teaching of the Bible.
❑ The visible Church contained a mixture of true and false carnal Christians. The true Church contained only the saints, the Elect.
❑ There is no distinction between priests and laity.
❑ There are only two spirits: Christ’s truth and Satan’s falsehood. Satan’s falsehood was on the rise.
❑ The worldly priests and religious were of the spirit of Satan.
❑ Unscriptural human traditions comprised the abomination of desolation.
❑ The Great Schism was evidence of Antichrist’s presence.
❑ All false Christians are members of the body of Antichrist, for they are contrary to the truth of Christ’s life and teaching.
❑ Antichrist is depicted in the Apocalypse as the Beast who rises from the sea.