Papal Rome

Papal Rome.1843…….Papal Rome.1850

Indisputably the most influential element in Roman history – Christianity. And the Roman Catholic Church was and is the “great whore” of Revelation 17 sitting upon the “scarlet colored beast” of the same chapter, the great red dragon of Revelation 12:3, pagan Rome. Even the name Roman Catholic Church reveals this fact. The Church arose as a political power in form similar to that Roman dragon which empowered it, “having seven heads and ten horns” [1]. Furthermore, Catholicism as a religion was and is thoroughly infused with Roman paganism. Thus, in light of prophecy/history, the overall concept of Rome should be seen as made up of two concepts, pagan and papal Rome.

It is well known that Christians were generally hated and persecuted throughout the pagan Roman Empire for nearly three centuries following Jesus’ death and resurrection. This all changed when Constantine framed the Edict of Milan (313) thereby granting freedom of religion throughout the Empire. Ironically, just eight years later, Constantine enacted the world’s first national Sunday law. The law forbid the pursuit of common business on Sunday in the Roman Empire, and it mandated that the day be observed by all as a sacred rest day. Since the seventh-day Sabbath is central to God’s holy covenant,[2] such an attack against God’s true holy day perfectly fulfills Daniel 11:30’s prediction that Rome would “have indignation against the holy covenant.”

At the Counsel of Nicea (325), Constantine standardized the rejection of Arianism – a form of Christianity which viewed Jesus as a Being created by and inferior to the Father – and he supported early Catholicism throughout the Roman Empire as he stood behind the statement “we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” included in the Nicene Creed. Nevertheless, paganism, though officially put away by the Roman Emperor was not yet to fully surrender its position in the Roman world.

The…collapse of paganism began under the reign of Constantine the Great (A.D. 312–337). This ancient ideology would actually go through several failed attempts to revive itself as the Roman state religion, until its eventual destruction at the hands of the rising power of Christianity.[3]

Secondary fulfillment of the prediction that “he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant” can be found in that a fundamental principle of the Roman Empire – paganism – would be grieved by Constantine’s general acceptance of Christianity yet it would still seek to fight against (albeit, unsuccessfully) the swelling influence of the New Covenant. Julian the Apostate (reigned 361 – 363) was the last fully pagan emperor of the Western Roman Empire. During his brief reign, he sought to “return” (as Daniel 11:30 puts it) paganism throughout the Empire. He tried to return Rome to its original religious beliefs and practices. With Julian died paganism’s last chance to revive as Rome’s official religious preference.[4] But as already noted, pagan, barbarian tribes soon overspread much of what had been Western Rome. Though many of these tribes converted to the Arian variant of Christianity, they had merely given up one form of paganism for another. Arian theology views Jesus as a God created by and inferior to the Father and views the Holy Spirit as a God inferior to Jesus. Arianism is “Christian” polytheism; it is Christian-flavored paganism. Arian paganism remained predominant throughout the territories of the ten kings until it received a final deathblow in 508 A.D.

Odoacer, the Heruli king, began to reign in the city of Rome in 476. To the Catholics’ consternation, he was an Arian, and he distinctly limited the power of the Roman bishop. In 493, Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths killed Odoacer, obliterated the Heruli nation, and began to reign over the Italian peninsula in Odoacer’s place. Despite this plucking up of one of the “ten horns” (the Heruli horn) in the little horn’s way,[5] Catholics fared no better under the reign of Theodoric, as he was also an Arian. A major break for the bishop of Rome came in 496 when Clovis, king of the Franks, became the first barbarian king to convert to Catholicism. From that time, the little, papal horn began to push its way upward out of the skull of the Roman beast, clinging at first to the Frankish horn like a vine clings to a trellis. Clovis became a powerful military defender of Catholicism and a potent enemy of Arianism. By the year 508, Clovis had brought into subjection “by alliances, capitualtions, and conquests, the Arborici, the Roman garrisons in the West, Brittany, the Burgundians, and the Visigoths”[6] and had received the honorary titles of Roman Patricius and Consul from the eastern emperor, Anastasias. The Franks’ victories amounted to a triumph of Catholicism.

Thus in A.D. 508 terminated united resistance to the development of the papacy. The question of supremacy between Frank and Goth, between the Catholic and the Arian religions, had then been settled in favor of the Catholics.[7]

Clovis’ 508 victory was a watershed in Christian history, and it was especially representative of the salient trend of the era – the subjugation of Arian nations and the setting up of papal supremacy. In 533, the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, declared war on the Vandals of North Africa. Smith writes that just prior to entering the war,

[Justinian] wished to secure the influence of the bishop of Rome, who had then attained a position in which his opinion had great weight throughout a large part of Christendom. Justinian therefore took it upon himself to decide the contest which had long existed between the sees of Rome and Constantinople as to which should have the precedence, by giving the preference to Rome in an official letter to the pope, declaring in the fullest and most unequivocal terms that the bishop of that city should be chief of the whole ecclesiastical body of the empire.[8]

Justinian’s decree concerning the pope further granted the bishop of Rome legal authority to prosecute heresy. Thus the pope of Rome received from a Roman Emperor a bequeathment of catholic (universal) religio-political authority pending the removal of the then-reigning Ostrogoth king from the city of Rome. After summarily destroying the Vandal kingdom – the second of the three horns to be plucked up [9] – Justinian’s general, Belisarius, engaged in a more protracted war campaign against the Ostrogoths. Rome was taken in 538 B.C., thus enabling the Catholic pope to take “his seat, and great authority.”[10] “And power was given to him [the Papacy] to continue forty and two months.”[11] “And they [the saints] shall be given into his hands [to persecute] until a time and times and the dividing of a time.”[12] “And the woman [the true church] fled into the wilderness [the desolate Dark Ages], where she hath a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days.”[13] From the year 538, the Papacy would have 1,260 years to “speak great words against the Most High,…wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws.” In 1798, forty-two [14] prophetic months after 538, Napoleon’s general would take the pope captive, “and none shall help him.”[15] That year would be the end of a seven-times scattering [16] of “the power of the holy people,”[17] the last three and a half times of which would be perpetrated by papalism.[18]

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[1] Revelation 13:1.

[2] Exodus 31:16, Isaiah 56:6.

[3] Daniel and Revelation, page 147.

[4] Ibid, 148.

[5] Daniel 7:8.

[6] Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, 271.

[7] Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, 330.

[8] Ibid, 275.

[9] Daniel 7:8.

[10] Revelation 13:2.

[11] Revelation 13:5.

[12] Daniel 7:25.

[13] Revelation 12:6.

[14] Revelation 11:2.

[15] Daniel 11:45.

[16] Leviticus 26:18.

[17] Daniel 12:7.

[18] Ibid.

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