Since the beast of Revelation 13 (little horn of Daniel 7) plays such a significant role in Bible prophecy, it is important to have a solid identification of this power. The purpose of this information is not to blame individuals who may unwittingly be associated with this entity. But God, in His love for people, wants us to beware of Satan's deceptions that would lead us to destruction. So, with no intention of defamation, we direct your attention to the Biblical data identifying this power. To the Bible's specifications we simply add historical information.
"In all ages of the Church, from the days of Gregory the Great down to the present, men have pointed to the papacy as the fulfillment of the prophecy. That interpretation is set forth in the Homilies of the Church of England and by all the Reformed Churches. The interpretation, however, has been ignored or rejected by critics, for reasons which need not be specified. It can, however, stand all the tests of criticism." -Dr. Charles H. H. Wright, Daniel and His Prophecies, p. 168. London: 1906.
Let us examine each of the identifying marks to confirm that the union of religious and civil power embodied in the Papal office is indeed the very entity predicted in these Scripture passages.
1. Its Geographic Location
"Among them" Daniel 7:8
In order to rise among the other horns, the little horn would have to arise where the ten nations existed which had taken over the Western Roman Empire. The papacy did indeed arise in the very city of Rome itself.
2. The Time of its Rise to Power
"After them" Daniel 7:24
Since the Roman Empire is considered by historians to have fully given over its authority to those ten nations by the year A.D. 476, we must look for the little horn to receive its power sometime after 476. It did, as we will see later.
3. The Circumstances of its Rise
"He shall subdue three kings" Daniel 7:8, 20, 24
The Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths would not recognize the Bishop of Rome as the head of the church, and were deposed.
4. Its Comparison with the Other Kingdoms
"Diverse from the first" Daniel 7:24
The papacy was a different kind of power than the other kingdoms. While they possessed strictly secular authority, the pope claimed religious as well as civil power. The eyes, mouth and stoutness of this horn reveal its superiority over the other kingdoms.
5. Its Inherited Characteristics
"Like unto a leopard, . . . a bear, and . . . a lion" Daniel 7:12; Revelation 13:2
The vital aspects of the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece are preserved in the papacy. The priesthood and sacramental ritual of Catholicism were taken directly from the Babylonian cults. Also from ancient Babylon came the worship of a virgin mother-goddess. The Persian sun-worship religion, Mithraism, has been preserved in amazingly precise detail in the holidays and religious customs of the Catholic people. Doctrines and philosophies of Greek Gnosticism taught by the church fathers and adopted by early Catholic councils are still alive today. The Catholic Cardinal Newman gives an extended list of things "of pagan origin" which the papacy brought into the church "in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen:" "the use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense . . . candles . . . holy water . . . holydays . . . processions . . . sacerdotal vestments . . . the ring in marriage . . . images . . . the ecclesiastical chant . . ." -J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1920 ed., p. 373.
6. Its Inherited Authority
"The dragon gave him . . . his seat" Revelation 13:2
Revelation 2:13 also mentions Satan's seat. Before the rise of the papacy, Satan used pagan Rome as his persecuting agent against Christianity. This was "he who now letteth . . . until he be taken out of the way." 2 Thess. 2:6, 7. On the vacated seat of the Roman Empire arose the papacy. Said one historian, "The Pope . . . is Caesar's successor." -Adolf Harnack, What is Christianity? (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1903), p. 270.
7. Its Claims
"A MOUTH SPEAKING GREAT THINGS AND BLASPHEMIES" Daniel 7:8, 11, 20, 25; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:1, 5, 6
The Bible gives two definitions of blasphemy:
"They have assumed infallibility, which belongs only to God. They profess to forgive sins, which belongs only to God. They profess to open and shut heaven, which belongs only to God. They profess to be higher than all the kings of the earth, which belongs only to God. And they go beyond God in pretending to loose whole nations from their oath of allegience to their kings, when such kings do not please them. And they go against God, when they give indulgences for sin . This is the worst of all blasphemies." - Adam Clarke Commentary on Daniel 7:25.
8. Its Persecuting Activity
"Shall wear out the saints of the most High" Daniel 7:21, 25; Revelation 13:7
"For professing faith contrary to the teachings of the Church of Rome, history records the martyrdom of more than one hundred million people. A million Waldenses and Albigenses perished during a crusade proclaimed by Pope Innocent III in 1208; beginning from the establishment of the Jesuits in 1540 to 1580, nine hundred thousand were destroyed; one hundred and fifty thousand perished by the Inquisition in 30 years; within the space of thirty-eight years after the edict of Charles V against Protestants, fifty thousand persons were hanged, beheaded, or burned alive for heresy; eighteen thousand more perished during the administration of the Duke of Alva in five and a half years." -Brief Bible Readings for Busy People, No. 8.
"That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history . . . . It is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of imagination can adequately realise their sufferings." - W. E. H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe (1955 ed.), Vol. 2, p. 40.
9. Its Duration
"A time, and times, and half a time" Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 12:14
"Forty and two months" Revelation 11:2; Revelation 13:5
"A thousand two hundred and threescore days" Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:6
These three expressions all refer to the period of time during which the papacy was to exercise its supremacy.
"A time and times and the dividing of time."
A "time" represents a year (Daniel 4:16; 11:13, margin). One prophetic year equals 360 prophetic days. In Aramaic (the original language used in Daniel 7:25) the word "times" means "two times." So let's add it up.
1 time = 360 prophetic days
2 times = 720 prophetic days
half time = 180 prophetic days
TOTAL = 1260 PROPHETIC DAYS
"Forty and two months"
A prophetic month consists of 30 prophetic days. So let's multiply it.
30 days per month
x 42 months
TOTAL = 1260 PROPHETIC DAYS
With seven references in Scripture to this time period, one thing is clear. The papacy was to be in power for exactly 1260 prophetic days. The scale for interpreting prophetic time periods in the Bible is "each day for a year." Two Biblical instances when this scale was used are Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. In Daniel 9:24-27 this scale was used to predict the very year of Christ's crucifixion. By adding that information to the details given in the first part of that same prophecy (Daniel 8:14), we figured the starting point of the great Day of Atonement foreshadowed in the ancient ceremonial system. That same scale applies to the prophecy at hand:
1 prophetic day = 1 literal year
1260 prophetic days = 1260 LITERAL YEARS
History confirms the fact that the papacy held supremacy for exactly 1260 years. In A.D. 533, emperor Justinian issued a decree recognizing the bishop of Rome as the "head of all the holy churches." But full sovereignty could not be realized as long as the Ostrogoths held power in Rome. You remember that the Ostrogoths were the last of the three kingdoms which would not recognize the Roman bishop's authority. Then in 538 the Ostrogoths were overwhelmingly defeated. The bishop of Rome, with unchallenged political and ecclesiastical authority, was now the most powerful man in the West. That year, 538, marks the beginning of the 1260 years of papal supremacy. Now let's do some addition.
On February 10, 1798, during the French Revolution, Napoleon's general, Berthier, entered Rome, proclaimed a republic, and took the pope prisoner. The pope died shortly thereafter in Valence, France. That year, 1798, marks the end of the 1260 years of papal supremacy.
10. Its Apparent Death
"As it were wounded to death" Revelation 13:3
We have just described the death blow which the papacy received exactly 1260 years after it had gained its supremacy. Two factors reveal the significance of this event:
11. Its Healing
"His deadly wound was healed" Revelation 13:3
In 1870 the Italian government took over the city of Rome. But in 1929 Cardinal Gasparri met Premier Mussolini in the Lateran Palace to sign the Treaty of the Vatican, returning political power to the papacy. The Catholic Advocate in Australia (April 18, 1929, p. 16) said that its effect was to "heal a wound of 59 years." The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle of February 12, 1929 carried the headline, "Heal Wound of Many Years." The Associated Press dispatch of the event said, "In affixing the autographs to the memorable document, healing the wound which has festered since 1870, extreme cordiality was displayed on both sides." Thus in 1929 Vatican City was recognized as an independent state, the pope its king. Religious and civil power were once again united in the papal office.
12. Its World-Wide Popularity
"All the world wondered after the beast" Revelation 13:3
On March 9, 1929 the pope could say, "The peoples of the entire world are with us." Today there is not a man on earth who receives more publicity, or whose movements are more closely followed than the pope.
13. Its Number
"Six hundred threesccore and six" Revelation 13:18
Let us notice four facts about the mystical number 666:
1. It is "the number of the beast " (verse 18).
2. It is "the number of a man " (verse 18).
3. It is "the number of his name " (verse 17).
4. If a person "hath understanding" he can " count the number" (verse 18).
The Catholic Douay Bible has this note on Revelation 13:18: "The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number." So all we need is an understanding of the pope's name and we will be able to add it up ourselves. The Catholic weekly, Our Sunday Visitor , April 18, 1915, says, "The letters inscribed in the Pope's miter are these: VICARIUS FILII DEI, which is the Latin for 'VICAR OF THE SON OF GOD.'" This title is applied to the pope in Roman Catholic literature of high standing ( Prompta Bibliotheca , by Ferraris, in the article "Papa"). In English this expression is applied to the pope eleven times by Cardinal Manning in his book, The Temporal Sovereignty of the Pope . Thus the title is of undisputed authenticity. It expresses very plainly the position the pope claims to possess. How does one count the number of his name? Before the use of numbers as we have them today, letters of the alphabet were given numerical significance. In ancient heathen cults much thought was given to the preparing of titles which contained the desired numerical significance. You are familiar with Roman numerals, the numbering system used in ancient Rome. I=1; V or U=5; X=10; L=50; C=100; D=500. Let's add up the numerical value of the pope's title.
V = 5 F = 0 D = 500
I = 1 I = 1 E = 0
C = 100 L = 50 I = 1
A = 0 I = 1 501
R = 0 I = 1
I = 1 53
U = 5
S = 0
112 TOTAL: 666
14. Its Attempt to Tamper with God's Law
"He shall...think to change times and laws" Daniel 7:25
Primarily, the activities of the little horn are directed not merely against human authority, but against God Himself. Says the text, "He shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High." The "times and laws" that he would "think to change" would therefore be "of the most High." The papacy would actually claim the right to alter divine precepts.
Consider the following statement made in Pope Nicholas' time. "The pope has authority and has often exercised it, to dispense with the commands of Christ...He can dispense above the law, and of wrong make right, by correcting and changing laws."
Again, "The pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws.... The pope 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 sheep." - Lucius Ferraris, "Papa," art. 2, in Prompta Bibliotheca . You remember that the Ten Commandments are the only part of the Bible which God both spoke with His own voice and wrote with his own finger. They are found in Exodus 20:3-17. Let's notice a few examples of where the papacy has thought to change God's law. You will find these changes in a standard Catholic catechism.
God's second commandment says in Exodus 20:4-6, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." But because it speaks against the use of graven images which are a vital part of Catholic worship, the papacy has completely removed God's second commandment from its teachings. Then in order to come up with ten, they divide the tenth into two separate commandments, again attempting to change God's law.
Our text says he shall "think to change times and laws ." The only law of God that has to do with time is His fourth commandment. It says: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work."
How the Papacy changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday