The "little horn" and "the man of lawlessness"

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The "little horn" and "the man of lawlessness"

Post by steve » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:10 am

Another email I received and responded to that may interest others:

On the radio show recently you talked with a guy about 2 Thessalonians 2 and Daniel 7 (the little horn horn/man of sin) and were saying that the horn seemed to have a career beyond the fall of the Roman Empire. I was trying to find that idea in both scriptures but couldn't, could you show me where that is so I can study it?

Hi Greg,

You are right that this is not plain. However, it is the way that Western church fathers and reformers interpreted Daniel 7, in juxtaposition with 2 Thessalonians 2.

There is no unambiguous mention of the little horn's continuing, chronologically, after Daniel 7:11. However, the little horn is described later in the chapter (vv.20-26). Both verses 8 and 24 mention the little horn arising after, and among, the ten horns.

The reformers believed that the ten horns represented the European nations into which the Roman Empire dissolved after the fall of Rome, in 476. This would suggest the rise of the little horn subsequent to the fall of Rome, though it would not be possible to prove this interpretation.

Jerome, writing about half a century prior to the fall of Rome, wrote about Daniel 7:8 —
"We should therefore concur with the traditional interpretation of all the commentators of the Christian church, that, at the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall be ten kings who will partition the Roman world among themselves. Then an insignificant eleventh king shall arise..."

Writing about 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Jerome writes—
“[Paul] shows that that which restrains is the Roman Empire; for unless it shall have been destroyed, and taken out of the midst, according to the prophet Daniel, Antichrist will not come before that…Let us therefore say what all ecclesiastlcal writers have delivered to us, that when the Roman Empire is destroyed, ten kings will divide the Roman world among themselves, and then will be revealed the man of sin.”

Earlier still, Hippolytus (AD 170-236) was a disciple of Irenaeus. He wrote:

"As these things, then, are in the future, and as the ten toes of the image are equivalent to (so many) democracies, and the ten horns of the fourth beast are distributed over ten kingdoms, let us look at the subject a little more closely, and consider these matters as in the clear light of a personal survey. The golden head of the image and the lioness denoted the Babylonians; the shoulders and arms of silver, and the bear, represented the Persians and Medes; the belly and thighs of brass, and the leopard, meant the Greeks, who held the sovereignty from Alexander’s time; the legs of iron, and the beast dreadful and terrible, expressed the Romans, who hold the sovereignty at present; the toes of the feet which were part clay and part iron, and the ten horns, were emblems of the kingdoms that are yet to rise; the other little horn that grows up among them meant the Antichrist in their midst…"

Other fathers wrote similarly, expressing the same view—

“Beseech the God of heaven that the Roman State might be preserved, lest, more speedily than we suppose, that hateful tyrant should come.”

“What Is the restraining power? What but Roman State, the breaking up of which by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall Introduce Antichrist upon [its own ruins]?”

Cyril of Jerusalem:
“This, the predicted Antichrist, will come, when the times of the Roman Empire shall be fulfilled….Ten kings of the Romans shall arise together…among these the eleventh is Antichrist, who, by magical and wicked artifices, shall seize the Roman power.”

“…after the failing or decay of the Roman Empire, Antichrist would appear.”

“One may naturally enquire, What is that which withholdeth?…when the Roman Empire is taken out of the way, then he [Antichrist] shall come. And naturally. For as long as the fear of this empire lasts, no one will willingly exalt himself, but when that is dissolved. He will attack the anarchy, and endeavor to seize upon the government both of man and of God.”

Among the early Protestants, it was universally held that the papacy, rising in the vacuum left by the fall of the Roman empire, was the little horn and the man of lawlessness—

Martin Luther —
“I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist.”

The translators, in The Epistle Dedicatory of the KJV —
“[King James] hath given such a blow unto that man of sin [the pope] as will never be healed.”

Westminster Confession, chapter 25 —
“VI. There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God.”

Some of the above citations I have no reference for, having collected them from various second-parties, who did not always footnote their work, as I would prefer to be able to do.

I would also mention that the above view of the little horn was not held widely in the Eastern Church, which saw the four beasts of Daniel 7 as Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. They saw the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanies.

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Re: The "little horn" and "the man of lawlessness"

Post by TruthInLove » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:17 pm

Hi Steve,
steve wrote:The reformers believed the ten horns represented the European nations into which the Roman Empire dissolved after the fall of Rome in 476.
steve wrote:I would also mention that the above view of the little horn was not held widely in the Eastern Church, which saw the four beasts of Daniel 7 as Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. They saw the little horn as Antiochus Epiphanes.
I think the Eastern church's view makes much more sense in many regards although I'm not sure they had Daniel quite figured out completely. There are certain things about identifying the 4th beast as Rome that don't quite add up. I've covered these elsewhere on this forum but - somewhat predictably, like a moth to the flame I suppose :) - I'd like to take this opportunity to reiterate some of them and possibly get a discussion started.

Here are 4 difficulties I would respectfully raise regarding the view that the 4th beast is Rome and that the 10 horns are the European nations into which it dissolved:
  • The little horns of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 are very similar and characterized by very similar actions. In Daniel 8, the He-Goat on which the little horn grew is explicitly stated to be Greece.
  • The 4th beast was said to be completely destroyed prior to the establishment of the Kingdom of God. If the Kingdom of God was established at the 1st advent of Christ as Christ Himself said it was, and Rome didn't fall until 476 A.D., how can Rome fit this description? Even if we take the destruction of the 4th beast to be the conquering of the pagan religions of Rome by Christianity when Constantine made it the official religion, that didn't happen for nearly 3 centuries after Christ.
  • There is more stated about the 10 horns than just their rising up. 3 of those 10 horns were uprooted by the little horn. How does the Roman Empire and the Papacy fit this description?
  • Rome did not by any means tread down the whole earth in the manner that the 4th beast did. Greece on the other hand was nearly the size of the Persian Empire which was the largest empire the world had ever seen.
Thoughts anyone?

- Carmine

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Re: The "little horn" and "the man of lawlessness"

Post by dwilkins » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:36 am

I tend to lean towards Rome as the fourth beast as opposed to Greece. However, an intriguing third option is the Zealot movement in Judea. The link below is to a detailed argument of this: ... -movement/

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Re: The "little horn" and "the man of lawlessness"

Post by TruthInLove » Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:56 am

Hi all,

It's been several months since this last post. Based upon Doug's referral above, I've done considerable reading of the research of Adam Maarschalk. He does have some interesting ideas on this topic and makes some good points. I'm still evaluating his work so I can't say I'm completely convinced but his passion and willingness to discuss this topic seriously, openly and honestly are admirable and make for some edifying interactions.

Recently, I actually interviewed Adam regarding his research. A transcript of this interview can be found here: ... aarschalk/

This was a great experience. I'd encourage anyone interested in a preterist view of prophecy but who isn't quite satisified that Rome was the Beast from the sea of Revelation to give his research a read. He's a great researcher and presenter. He's also very approachable, friendly and willing to discuss questions about his views. He and I will both be actively monitoring the post for any comments or questions so please, feel free to offer feedback.


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