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Is the Papacy Really the Little Horn of Daniel 7?

The Loud Cry Ministry believes in the principals of the Reformation. And greatly admires the work of all the great reformers. In fact we count them as heroes of the faith. In the future as time allows we plan to prepare material to help aid Catholics in understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. However this ministry is not an anti-Catholic ministry! Heaven knows there are already enough of them out there on the web today. Big announcement! So brace yourself! This ministry no longer considers Rome to be the antichrist. This may be shocking to many reading this, and that is why we encourage you to keep reading. Ample evidence will follow and more will be added as time allows. This website is a continual work in progress that will take months if not years to fully prepare.

We do not defend Catholicism’s teachings. There are a great many things which our Roman Catholic friends believe which this ministry considers to be unscriptural and contrary to the gospel itself. WIth that said, if you are persuaded to believe the papacy fulfills the 1260 days in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, please consider the following information I am about to share with you. There are many facts from history which clearly reveal to us why previously understood historical positions, which were the entire basis of applying these prophecies in the books of Daniel and Revelations to the Western Roman Empire; were in fact incomplete half truths from history which play its role in creating a bias in the hearer to persuade him of this antichrist theory.

For instance it is believed that the last of the three horns were uprooted in 538 AD when the Ostrogoth’s were supposed to have vanished out of existance. Allow me to set the historical record straight!

538 AD is the year when the Ostrogoth’s were driven out of Rome. The Ostrogoth’s later recovered from their defeat, went on the offensive, and re-occupied Rome from 541 to 548 AD. That is a major significant fact! Especially if you want to maintain that the papacy was in absolute control of the state as a religio-political power from 538-1798; based entirely on the notion that uprooting the third horn marked the starting date for this prophecy! God is not so careless as to allow something like a temporary defeat of a heathen tribe to start one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible!

Would God truly call this “uprooting” when just three years later this same tribe came back with a vengeance and successfully conquered the city of Rome for more than 7 years? God does not make mistakes. The interpretations of men can and do, but God’s word is never wrong! God inhabits eternity and knows the end from the Beginning. The fact that the Ostrogoth’s occupied Rome from 541 to 548 AD is undeniable proof that the Ostrogoth’s were not uprooted in 538 AD, and that the papacy did not control the state of Rome ever since that same year.

None of these tribes were destroyed by the Pope. Any history textbook will explain that the Heruli were defeated by the Lombard’s, the Vandals and Ostrogoth’s by the Byzantines. The defeat of the Heruli did not aid the Papacy in any meaningful way, so it makes no sense to claim the Papacy uprooted the Heruli. Besides there were FIVE tribes uprooted, not just three!

Ever hear of Attila the Hun? Not only where the Heruli, Ostrogoth’s, and Vandals uprooted, the Huns which were a major barbarian tribe that invaded Rome was uprooted as well. Are we to ignore that fact to make prophecy fit outdated interpretations from 400 years ago?

The Reformation was a era when books were few because the printing press had just recently been invented a few decades before; and at this time historians were few in number!

It was not until the late 19th century when institutions such as the Smithsonian, and the British Museum, and Harvard University, began investing the talents of scores of university trained men with doctorates in history; charging them with the task of sorting out what really happened through out history. The worlds foremost authorities of history possessed every book known to mankind in depositories such as the Library of Congress while they carried out their work. These unbiased men disproved a great many things which atheists and evolutionists had published just decades before against ALL Christianity! Frustratingly enough many of the lies they printed back then are still being circulated even with all this evidence to the contrary, with absolutely no evidence to support their claims.

The Graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, Holland, 1888
The Graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, Holland, 1888

Many theories from the 16th century which have grievously been handed down to us came out of an era known as the Dark Ages, it is not called that for no reason! The Reformers were all Catholics at one time. What each of the Reformers experienced was almost overwhelming when when you consider the fact that after centuries of spiritual darkness they came to understand Righteousness by Faith, and began to see all these wonderful truths in the Bible for the first time. This striking contrast with Catholicism, gave them an unbrandished world view about Rome, since the Western Roman Empire was all they knew.

The Reformers were not from the Eastern Roman Empire, from the lands where the Bible was written and from where these prophecies really were to be applied! More on that later. The Reformers wrote of things they did know. And all they knew was Rome and what it was like to come out of this church!

“In 538 A.D. Silvarus was banished by Belisarius and the deacon Vigilius was then elected Pope.” Faith of our Fathers Vol. 1 p 516.


“Vigilius… ascended the papal chair (538 A.D.) under the military protection of Belisarius.” – History of the Christian Church Vol. 3 p. 327.

In 538 AD Silvarus, the Bishop of Rome, refused to open the gates while Justinian’s army was attacked by invaders just outside the city of Rome. Justinians wife who was a Christian convinced her dear friend, Silvarus to open the gates. Once Justinian and his army under the General Belisarius were safely inside Rome, Justinian deposed Silvarus for his treachery against his authority, and replaced him with the deacon Vigilius, and at that time Justinian decided to return to Constantinople where he would be safe against the ever invading barbarians. After Vigilius defied Justinian 554AD he was imprisoned and replaced by yet another puppet ruling pope, by order of the Caesar.

“At length Justinian summoned a Fifth Ecumenical Council to Constantinople (553 A.D.), which confirmed all the edicts of the Emperor. Vigilius wrote a “constitutum as Imp.,” in which he rejected the teaching of the three capitula, but refused to condemn their writers. A period of imprisonment, however, induced him to yield in 554. He died on his return to his see in 555.” Kurtz’s Church History- Complete Vol.1 pp. 204,205

It was after Justinian died in 565, that the papacy then had full control over the state, and then grew to authentic power, for the first time under Pope Gregory I (the Great) after 600 A.D.. The Decretal of Justinian in 533 (not 538 AD) made the Pope the delegated head of state however the pope still had to answer to the Caesar who maintained the real power over Rome until 565. Therefore The Papacy did not wield uncontested authority until 565 AD. 565-1798 is only 1233 Years, falling short of the 1260 required to meet the allotted time period in prophecy.

Uprooted means uprooted! The fact that the Ostrogoth’s occupied Rome from 541 to 548 AD is undeniable proof that this barbarian tribe was not uprooted in 538 AD. The papacy was delegated the proper legal authority by Justinian in 533 AD (not 538), nothing legally happened in 538 accept for the election of a new pope. In 533 Justinian merely made the arrangement legal which had long been between the Bishops of Rome and the Caesars since the time of Constantine the Great in the fourth century .

The marked event by the Reformers for the year 538 AD is the supposed fall of the Ostrogoth’s which as history gives witness to, did not actually happen in 538 AD. They were wrong! And Protestants are still passing this bad information along in ignorance, to support this antichrist theory. More than that the Bishop in Rome did not have authority over the state of Rome free from the controlling hand of Caesar until Justinian’s death in 565 AD. The only dates this era supports as worthy of any notice for the papacy legal rights over the state are 533 and 565AD. 538 AD has no real prophetic support as a starting date for the Popes reign over the state whatsoever! The election of a new pope is hardly grounds to start the 1260 years! The entire point of the 1260 year theory has to do with the Pope’s control over the state.

“The Bishop of Rome in the seat of Caesar (due to the death of Justinian 565 AD) was now the greatest man in the west, and was soon forced to become the political as well as the spiritual head. To the western world Rome was still the political capital hence the whole habit of mind, all ambition, pride, and sense of glory, and every social prejudice favored the evolution of the great city in the ecclesiastical capital.” – Alexander Clarence Hick, The Rise of the Medieval Church p. 168

In 1798 Pope Pius VI was captured by Napoleon and put in prison and later died. Many Protestants teach that this marked the end of the 1260 years which they derived from Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. As we have already given evidence, the third horn as it were, was not truly uprooted in 538 AD. Therefore nothing substantial can be cited as warranting that date as the beginning of the 1260 years.

As to the end of the 1260 years, If throwing a pope in prison is all that took then you you will find it of keen interest that Justinian threw Pope Vigilius in prison for refusing to give into his wishes in 554 AD and after his death Justinian appointed yet another puppet pope who would actually follow his orders. This is undeniable evidence that Justinian was still in charge of affairs in Rome. Justinian had merely delegated his authority to the Vigilius in 538. Justinian NEVER gave up his power over Rome to Vigilius. No Caesar would! Justinian wanted a puppet to rule Romes affairs on HIS BEHALF so that he could pull the strings from a safe distance in Constantinople were he would be far from the reach of the invading barbarians

Papacy Established in 538 A.D.

In the 1888 edition of The Great Controversy Mrs. White wrote:

“The 1260 years of papal supremacy began with the establishment of the papacy in A. D. 538, and would therefore terminate on 1798.” (p. 266)”This period, as stated in the preceding chapters, began with the establishment of the papacy, A. D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time, when the papacy was abolished and the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.” (p. 439)

While the 1888 version speaks of the “establishment” of the papacy in 538 A.D., the 1911 edition tones down the wording somewhat, speaking of the “supremacy” initiating in 538 A.D.:

“The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in A. D. 538, and would terminate in 1798.” (page 266)”This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the papacy, A. D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time, the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled,’ He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.'” (p. 439)

In his newsletter Dr. Bacchiochi points out that the supremacy of the papacy was actually established centuries prior to 538 A.D.:

“In my dissertation [From Sabbath to Sunday] I have shown that the development of the papal primacy began already in the second century, when the Pope exercised his ecumenical authority by imposing on Christian churches at large Easter-Sunday, weekly Sunday, and by condemning various movements like the Montanists.”

Dr. Bacchiocchi is certainly not the first Adventist historian to question the 538 date. For years Adventist historians and theologians have searched in vain for any evidence that anything significant happened to the papacy in 538. To this point in time, nothing has been found. However, one thing is certain: the papacy was not established in 538.

When did the supremacy of the papacy begin? Dr. Bacchiochhi writes:

“The development of the ‘supremacy of the papacy’ began long before 538. In his book on The History of the Christian Church–which has served for many years as the standard text book for church history classes–Williston Walker devotes chapter 6 to the ‘Growth of the Papacy’ during the fourth and fifth centuries. He points out that during this period there were influential popes like Damasus (366-384), Innocent I (402-417), and Leo I, called ‘the Great’ (440-461), who greatly advanced both the spiritual and temporal power of the papacy.

“For example, the last Pope mentioned, Leo I, known as ‘Leo the Great,’ greatly increased the political prestige of the papacy by threatening with hell fire Attila the Hun, when he was approaching Rome in 451 with his terrifying soldiers. Attila obeyed the Pope and withdrew beyond the Danube. Later Pope Leo secured concessions from the Vandals when they took Rome in 452. He is called ‘Leo the Great’ for advancing and consolidating the power of the papacy.

The development of the supremacy of the papacy is a gradual process that can hardly be dated from 538. The process began already in the second century as the primacy of Bishop of Rome was widely recognized and accepted.”

Dr. Bacchoicchi goes on to point out that the papacy did not achieve temporal sovereignty until 756 when the pope acquired the territories of Central Italy. The papacy controlled these territories until 1870 when the king of Sardinia took over the papal territories.

In addition to the rise of the papacy, another reason that 538 is considered to be a fulfillment of prophecy by Adventists is because of the supposed overthrow of the “three horns” on the head of the fourth beast by the “little horn” power (Dan. 7:8). Adventists identify the three horns as the Arian tribes of the Herulis, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths, the last of which was said to be uprooted in 538. In the previous issue of Endtime Issues (#86), Dr. Bacchiochi casts doubt on this theory:

“The first problem is the questionable significance of 538. We noted earlier that Justinian’s triumph over the Ostrogoths in 538 was short-lived, because under their new leader, Totila, the Ostrogoths quickly captured most of their lost territories. In other words, this event did not significantly boost the power of the Papacy, which still faced constant harassment from various rulers for centuries to come.

“The second problem with the traditional interpretation is its failure to account for the basic meaning of this prophetic period, The persecution and protection of the church did not begin in 538, nor did it end in 1798. These are realities that have characterized the whole history of God’s church throughout the centuries. Some of the most bloody persecutions by Roman emperors occurred during the first four centuries.”

On this point Dr. Bacchiocchi agrees with the best of historical scholarship regarding this time period. The Ostrogoths did suffer military setbacks during the period beginning with a Byzantine invasion of Italy in 535 and ending in 540 with the fall of the Ostrogoth capital of Ravenna. However, during the period of 541 through 548 the Ostrogoths regained the upper hand, went on the offensive and recaptured a good part of their former territory including Rome. The war continued until 561 when the last Ostrogoth leader was captured and put to death. “With that final defeat, the Ostrogothic name wholly died.” (Wikipedia) So, to be accurate, the Ostrogoths were not fully uprooted until the early 560s.

Dr. Bacchoichi has shown convincingly that the 538 date corresponds to no significant event in history and that the supremacy of the Papacy actually began centuries earlier. Now, what about the ending date of the 1260-day prophecy? Was the papacy abolished in 1798? On page 579 of the 1888 Great Controversy Ellen White writes:

“The infliction of the deadly wound points to the abolition of the papacy in 1798.”

And in the 1911 edition:

“The infliction of the deadly wound points to the downfall of the papacy in 1798.”

While 1798 is a day of some significance for the papacy, it certainly does not indicate the “abolition” or even the “downfall” of the papacy. When Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner by the French General Berthier, the papacy suffered humiliation, but it would be a gross exaggeration to describe this event as the “downfall” of the papacy.

In his newsletter Dr. Bacchiocchi explains what happened after the pope was captured in 1798:

“The imprisonment of Pope Paul VI was condemned by Russia and Austria. Both nations decided to join forces to restore the Pope to his Pontifical throne in Rome. When the French government was confronted with this new coalition and with popular uprisings, it decided to transfer the Pope to Valence, in France, where he died 40 days later, on August 29, 1799.”The death of Pius VI can hardly be seen as the ‘abolishment’ or ‘the downfall of the Papacy.’ It was simply a temporary humiliation of the prestige of the Papacy. In fact, Pius VI was able to give directives for the election of his successor. Few months after his death, the Cardinals met in Venice on December 8, 1799, and elected Barnaba Chiaramonti, who took the name of Pious VII, in deference to his predecessor.

“The new Pope was able to negotiate with Napoleon the Concordat in 1801 and the Organic Articles in 1802. These treatises restored to the Pope some of the territories of the States of the Church and regulated the extent of the Papal authority in France.

The following years marked, not the downfall, but the resurgence of papal authority, especially under the Pontificate of Pius IX (1846-1878). In 1854, Pius IX promulgated the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. …

“The crowning event of Pius IX’s pontificate was the convening of the First Vatican Council on December 8, 1869. It had a remarkable large attendance from all over the Roman world and on July 18, 1870, the Council promulgated the dogma of Papal Infallibility. This dogma has greatly enhanced the authority of the Pope, and discredits any attempt to attribute to 1798 the downfall of the papacy.”

Anyone who has studied Christian history can verify that the dates of 538 and 1798 do not accurately mark the beginning and ending dates of the period of papal supremacy. The Bishop of Rome was consolidating power centuries before 538, and the papacy continued to grow and thrive even after the temporary setback of 1798. These dates were concocted by Adventists because they were convenient. These dates fit nicely into the prophetic jigsaw puzzle they were building. The dates were picked because they fit in the puzzle, not because they actually delineated the years of papal supremacy.

The Little Horn of Daniel 7, and the Beast of Revelation, and the Harlot of Revelation 17 do in fact come out of the ashes of the Ancient Roman Empire, however we need to look to the lands of the Bible in the Eastern Roman Empire to find their fulfillment. The call to come out of Babylon, belongs to the lands where Babylon fell. Lands now occupied by the largest antichrist body of people on the planet. The followers of Islam!

Why Islam is the Antichrist of Bible Prophecy

Conclusion: It cannot be proven from history that the Bishops in Rome had legal right over the state for 1260 years. The dates do not add up. The facts surrounding the dates given to support this theory are actually groundless.

Nothing I have shared today should be considered a defense of Catholicism itself. The Bible alone is the bearer of truth to the world. However it is time for Evangelicals to completely come out of the Dark Ages and prepare for the days which are ahead.

About David M. Curtis

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David is a self-employed business owner who enjoys web and graphics design, a good TV show or movie, spending time with his animals and friends. For many years,David taught the Bible on the west coast 5 days a week over the radio for a broadcast he called, "The Loud Cry Ministry." David has been in ministry his entire adult life, having visited and taught in churches coast to coast, including churches in California, New York, Tennessee, Kansas, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Oregon and Washington. David has been in marketing for over a dozen years now having owned or managed four offices, with hundreds of employees. David is responsible for creating and developing projects that cost in excess of half a million dollars, and absolutely loves developing new concepts and ideas and turning them into a reality. Currently David resides in Cincinnati OH where he works from home managing his online business US Home Work Force for the past three years, in which he provides websites and training for thousands of people all across the country helping them to earn a substantial income over the Internet.
  • Jeff Sexton

    When the papacy came into power does not affect the prophecy nor does the amount of power, in fact a smaller amount of power would fit the prophecy better seeing as how it speaks of a small horn. What does matter is the length of time that the Antichrist made war against God’s people. Why do say that all of the reformers were at one time Catholic? Though Catholism just about wiped out true unperperverted gospel teaching Christians, not everyone became Catholic, and for that matter neither was the first church, the church of Jerusalem. Their doctrinal statements completely contradict those taught by the Catholic Church. Many churches of today have excepted their teaching such baptismal rejuvenation and falling from grace.

  • Jeff Sexton

    Dan.7:21,25 the horn made war with God’s people & prevailed for 3 1/2 prophetic years or 42 months & in Rev.12:6 a woman or typology of Israel fleas into the wilderness for 1260 prophetic days which also equals 42 months. The importance of this time is the amount of time is how long war was made against the saints not when the papacy came to power or fell. This all seems to me as some form of smoke screen to cover a small portion of huge amount of evidence pointing at the papacy as the little horn.

    • Jeff Sexton

      What about the woman adorned in gold & precious stones clothed in scarlet & purple (Pope, cardinals, & priests) who rides on a seven headed dragon & it tells us the heads are seven mountains (the Vatican is the city on 7 hills). He blasphemes against God, just recently the Pope said that Christ was a failure on the cross & just look back through their records at the multiple offences against God not to mention they did war against Christians, killing & torchering millions for how many years? We do not have to twist Catholism into the position of Antichrist, must twist it out. Again I don’t hate Catholics, I didn’t write the book, I would like to see them saved.

      • Jeff Sexton

        He is also a or practically the only religious & political leader in the world. High priest of the Catholic Church ( which we have a high priest that doesn’t require an Earthly Vicar) & priminister of the Vatican. Pushing the Antichrist into the future places a large gap in Daniel’s 70 week prophecy & does not coincide with historical events that have already occurred that align perfectly with Daniel’s prophecy. Besides that futuristic Antichrist theory was conjured up by a Jesuit priest commissioned by the Pope to take pressure off of him from the reformers for being the Antichrist. Look up Fransisco Ribera Jesuit not the athlete. This teaching has been brought in large part into most churches through the Schofield study Bible.

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