It is critical to note that their understanding of Daniel 7 was based on their understanding of Daniel 2, since they understood these prophecies to be related, and to provide a continuous and progressive revelation of events from Daniel's time to the return of Christ.
What did they believe?
- That the Fourth Beast is Rome, and its ten horns are the divisions into which the Roman Empire would be fragmented.
- That these fragments are in Western Europe, which is where they will attempt to recombine
- That these fragments are democracies, kingdoms, nations (some strong, some weak), which would continue to attempt to recombine into a restored empire such as that from which they had come
- That many such attempts would be made throughout history, until they would ultimately form a system which would almost re-establish the empire - but would be broken at the return of Christ
Which men believed this? Many - but let's just concern ourselves with those who predicted it prior to the Reformation, prior to the events, in fact.
The following men (all Roman Catholics), wrote of these events prior to their fulfillment:180
'Also Daniel, looking forward to the end of the last kingdom - i.e. to the ten last kings among whom the kingdom of those men shall be partitioned and upon whom the son of perdition shall come - declares that ten horns shall arise in their midst... Daniel says again: 'And he shall desolate the holy place... and he shall be lifted up in his heart... He shall also ruin many by deceit, and lead many to perdition'...
'In a still clearer light, John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord's Disciples what shall happen in the last times - and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the Empire which now rules, shall be partitioned.
He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel - telling us that thus it had been said to him: 'And the ten horns which you saw, are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet.
But they shall receive power, as if kings, one hour with the beast'... God shall also send them the operation of error, so that they may believe a lie' [II Thessalonians 2:10-12]...
'When he, [the] Antichrist has come, and of his own accord concentrates the apostasy in his own person and accomplishes whatever he shall do according to his own will and choice - he shall also sit in the temple of God... His coming John has thus described in the Apocalypse [Revelation 13:2-14]: 'And the beast which I had seen, was like a leopard; and his feet like a bear; and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon conferred his own power upon him and his throne'...
'After this he likewise describes his armour-bearer, whom he also terms a false-prophet: 'He spoke like a dragon... The name of the Beast or the number of his name... is 666... Lateinos has the number 666; and it is... very probable... this was the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel].
For the Latins are they who at present [that is, in 185 AD] bear rule... This Antichrist shall... devastate all things... But then the Lord will come from Heaven on the clouds... for the righteous.'
Irenaeus, 'Against Heresies' III:7:2.
'In the vision of the Prophet, the ten horns are things that are yet to be...
Behold, a Fourth Beast!'... That there has arisen no other kingdom after that of the Greeks save that [Roman Empire] which stands sovereign at present, is manifest to all... From it, will spring ten horns...
We ought to look for the ten horns which are to spring from it - when the time of the Beast shall be fulfilled and the little horn which is Antichrist suddenly shall appear [future tense] in their midst, and righteousness shall be banished from the Earth... We ought not to anticipate the counsel of God, but exercise patience and prayer - so that we do not fall on such times. We should not, however, refuse to believe that these things will come to pass... These things also shall certainly be fulfilled...
'The Fourth Kingdom...from which the ten horns are to spring... [are] to be apportioned among ten crowns. And amid these, another little horn shall rise - which is that of Antichrist. It shall pluck up by the roots the three others before it... with a view to acquiring for itself universal dominion.
And, after conquering the remaining seven horns, he will at last begin, inflated by a strange and wicked spirit - to stir up war against the saints and to persecute all everywhere, with the aim of being glorified by all and being worshipped as god...'
Hippolytus, 200, 'Scholia on Daniel' (III), on chapters. 2:31 to 7:19.
'The Fourth Beast (was) dreadful and terrible: it had iron teeth, and claws of brass.'
Who, then, are meant by this - but the Romans, whose kingdom that still stands, is expressed by the iron?'
'For,' says he, 'its legs are of iron'.... By the toes of the feet he meant, mystically, the ten kings that rise out of that kingdom.
As Daniel says: 'I considered the beast; and look, (there were) ten horns behind - among which shall come up another little horn, springing from them.'
'By this, none other is meant than the Antichrist which is to rise. These things, then, are destined to come to pass... The toes of the image turn out to be democracies. And the ten horns of the Beast - are distributed among ten kings.'
Hippolytus, 200, 'Fragments from Commentaries' 2:1-3.
'That day shall not come, unless, indeed, there come a falling away, he means indeed of this present empire...and he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken our ot the way. What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms shall introduce Antichrist upon its ruins?'
Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, chapter XXIV.
Between the years 250 to 300 some unnamed person wrote comments called 'scolia' in the margin of the writings of Hippolytus. They are really good and there is a detailed exposition of Daniel 7, where each of the beasts are analyzed and interpreted.
He says, Babylon, of course, is the first, the bear is Persia, the leopard is Greece and the four heads of the leopard are the fourfold division of Alexander's kingdom. He names each of the principalities. He makes a very accurate historical interpretation of Daniel's prophecy. The scolia then go on to the fourth beast:
'...a fourth beast. Now that there has arisen no other kingdom after that of the Greeks except that which stands sovereign at present, is manifest to all....for there is no other kingdom remaining after this one, but from it will spring 10 horns.
And it had ten horns, for as the prophecy of the leopard with four heads...was fulfilled, and Alexander's kingdom was divided into four principalities, so also now, we ought to look for the ten horns which are to spring up from [the fourth beast] when the time of the beast shall be fulfilled, and the little horn, which is Antichrist shall appear suddenly in their midst.'
Hippolytus, Fragments from the Commentaries, Scolia 6-9.
'…innumerable and most ferocious Nations occupied the territories of the Gauls. The Quades, the Vandals, the Sarmatians, the Halani, the Gipedes, the Heruli, the Saxons, the Burgundians, the Alemanni and (O sorrowful Republic!) the armies of Pannonians wasted whatever lay between the Alps and the Pyrennees, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the Rhine.'
Jerome, 'Epistle 123 to Ageruchia', c. 345-430..
Subsequent to Jerome, the Roman empire fragmented, just as these men had foretold.
Many did not think it would ever be restored, but various shortlived attempts were indeed made to perform this - by Charlemagne, by Napoleon, and even by Hitler.
It is now, of course, being restored by the European Union, which is the most successful attempt ever made since the Empire was dissolved in 476.
The interpretation was also held to by:354-430
: Augustine - Catholic Bishop424
: Salvianus - Catholic800
: Berengaud – Catholic
'…[by Daniel's fourth Beast] the Romans are designated. It is described as having had ten Horns, signifying those Kingdoms which destroyed the Roman Empire... The Vandals conquered Africa for themselves; the Goths, Spain; the Lombards, Italy; the Burgundians, France; the Franks, Germany; the Huns, Pannonia; and the Alani and the Suevi… depopulated many areas.'
Berengaud, 830, 'Exposition of the Apocalypse in the Works of Ambrose', Tome vii, ed. Ven., 1781.
: Joachim of Floris - Catholic Abbot1240
: Eberhard - Catholic Archbishop1250
: Grossetesse - Catholic Archbishop1522
: Luther - Reformer1553
: Joye – Reformer
'The Roman Empire, the fourth division, dispersed and decayed into Germany, England, Spain, France et cetera, shall be mixt together but yet they shall not cleave. They shall be confederate to make a new and all-one monarchy, but all in vain.’
George Joye, Exposition of Daniel, c. 1553.
: Conradus - Reformer1576
: Bellarmine - Catholic Cardinal1669
: Increase Mather
‘The ten kings which give their power to the Beast are in Europe.
That part of the world was to be principally the Seat of the church of Christ during the reign of Antichrist, who must continue until Christ himself shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming.’
Increase Mather, ‘Ichabod: Or, A discourse, shewing what cause there is to fear that the glory of the Lord, is departing from New-England’, page 64, 1669.
: Cotton Mather - Puritan1639
: Dutch Dordt Bible – Calvinist
'Hungary, Spain, France, England, Scotland, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Bohemia, and Naples etc.'
Dordt Dutch Bible, 1639.
: Grotius - Dutch Independent Theologian1650
: Bossuet - Catholic Bishop
'…[the ten Kingdoms seem to be] Vandals, Huns, Franks, Burgundians, Suevi, Alani, Heruli; to whom succeeded Lombards, Germans, Saxons.'
Bossuet, 1650, Roman Catholic Bible commentator.
: Matthew Henry - Anglican1791
: Manuel de Lacunza y Díaz - Jesuit Priest1796
: Timothy Dwight - Anglican1813
: Adam Clarke - Anglican1851
: Albert Barnes – Presbyterian
'If the Papacy was 'the eighth [Head], and of the seven' then it is clear that this must refer to some form of civil administration lying between the decline of the Imperial and the rise of the Papal power...
All this power was concentrated in the Papacy; all that revived or prolonged Roman power had now passed into the Papacy, constituting that mighty dominion which was to be set up for so many centuries over what had been the Roman World...
The 'ten Horns... are ten Kings'... Soon they passed into the more permanent forms of administration, which succeeded them in Europe... With the rising Papal power, they would exercise their authority in connection with that and under its influence... In history, all these King[dom]s... became Roman Catholic, and were united in the support of the Papacy... until the Reformation in the sixteenth century....
The same powers, represented by the ten Horns that were formerly in alliance with the Papacy, shall become its enemy and contribute to its final overthrow... The ten Kingdoms on the Beast would ultimately hate the Harlot and destroy her... The Nations of Europe embraced within the limits of those ten Kingdoms, shall become hostile to the Papacy...
The period will come and that probably not far in the future when those powers that have for so many ages sustained the Papacy will become its determined foes, and will rise in their might and bring it forever to an end... That mighty power, which has controlled so large a part of the Nations of Europe for more than a thousand years of the World's History, will come to an end.'
Albert Barnes, 1851, Analysis and Commentary on Revelation.
: Apostolos Makrakis - Greek Orthodox1933
: Phillip Mauro - Episcopalian
...and many others.
Thus far, we have shown that the one interpretation of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 was held to by a host of men (some of whom interpreted it so correctly as to be able to predict future events accurately before they occured), and that these men (separated though they were by years, geography and creed), had the same understanding of the progressive fulfillment of these prophecies.
We shall next consider how they related to Revelation 13.