In 1929, the Italian Parliament ratified the Lateran Treaty settling the Roman Question and setting the stage for what some have since described as the healing of the deadly wound. Somewhere between that time and today, an idea developed that has since taken many minds captive.

This idea was that from 1929 to the second coming of Jesus there will be exactly seven popes, and the seventh one would reign for a “short time.”

God is waiting for people, not popes.

With a surface study of Revelation 17 in one hand and a February 12, 1929 San Francisco Chronicle headline, “healed wound of many years” in the other, advocates felt they had a valid Bible prophecy (though our pioneers taught a much longer healing process dating back to the 19th century). When Pope Benedict was elected, he was the 7th since 1929. And since he was 78, it did not appear that he would be in office very long and it seemed that the final crisis could burst forth at any time. However, Pope Benedict remained in office more than a “short space.” His reign was, in fact, longer than two of the previous popes noted in this interpretation (3. Pope John XXIII and 5. Pope John Paul I).

In addition, the election of Pope Francis I shows the interpretation to be false as he is the eighth since 1929. This fact, and that of the previous pope, number 7 who did not reign only for a short time or usher in the final events, was a crushing disappointment for some.

But for me at least, another pope was good news.

Many who have advocated this theory were devastated by the election of another pope. But for me at least, another pope was good news. The election of Pope Francis I helped debunk yet another newspaper interpretation. The gospel has survived a number of more recent false theories about the Second Coming, like Y2K, repeated Harold Camping predictions, the Mayan calendar scare, and now the 1929 interpretation.

The apostle might have included some of these predictions in his “rubbish” bin while directing us to “mature” our minds in the message of Christ our “Righteousness” (Philippians 3:8-15, NKJV). I hope you share our burden for this message that will “swallow up” all others (Review & Herald Extra, Dec. 23, 1890).

God is waiting for people, not popes. Not until the light of the character of the love of God illumines the darkness of every human being on Planet Earth, will we see a final end to sin and suffering. Amen.

Light Bearers has a complete outline on Revelation 17 (The Woman and the Beast) available as a free download here.

James Rafferty

James has spent more than 30 years preaching the gospel around the world in revival seminars and evangelistic meetings. He and his wife Risë have two adult children, Jeiel and Kierra.