The Great Controversy in the First to Fourth Centuries AD

There can be few episodes in earth’s history more illustrative of the Great Controversy’s working out in human affairs than the repeated bloody persecutions of the early Church. The stories of heroic fortitude and commitment shown by the early Christian martyrs inspired the believers of their own time and literally has inspired (and continues to inspire) Christians for two thousand years.

At times, however, we may misunderstand some aspects or implications of the early persecutions. The Church Father Tertullian (c.160–c.254 AD), famously avowed: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Many Christians have taken his statement as a universal and eternal verity. Among Seventh-day Adventists in Western countries, I have observed a tendency to suggest that we ought to desire persecution, since perhaps then our church growth might be reignited. In my experience, the articulation of such sentiments is usually qualified—when I was a boy what one heard was that perhaps “a bit of persecution” would be good for Adventists in Australasia, Europe or North America—it might shake us out of our complacency and force us to rely on God. Alternatively, we find in Tertullian’s words a consolation for the travails of our persecuted fellow believers around the world: they may be suffering right now, yet not only will they win an eternal crown, but also they are securing the future of the church in their countries in the here and now. So we tell ourselves.

Both of these tendencies are evident in the following statement, from the evangelical blogger, Nathan Pitchford. In 2006 he wrote:

The famous observation of Tertullian that, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” has a depth of insight which is all too often lost on believers today. … We would have no problem affirming that the blood of the martyrs is a hurdle which, by God’s grace, can be overcome. But to say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church is an altogether different concept. If martyrdom is a surmountable obstacle to the growth of the Church, then the Church might advance just as well, even better, without it. But if the blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church, then without it, the Church does not grow.[1]

But was Tertullian right? Does his epigram accurately describe the reality of church history?

* * *

We know that although the early church was made up largely of peasants, paupers and (as the Romans would have thought) inveterate revolutionaries and dubious oriental sorcerers, nevertheless, somehow this disreputable movement transcended its origins to sweep the Roman world; and it did so despite determined efforts, first by the Sanhedrin in Palestine and Syria, and then by officials of the greatest empire known in the world at the time. However, some of our ideas of the early Church and its place in the Roman Empire are inaccurate. Persecution was as not much a part of the story of early Christians as we often think. Christians didn’t have to face martyrdom frequently, at least not on a widespread scale. The popular image of cruel Roman governors regularly seizing brave Christians off the streets, torturing them, and then feeding them to the lions, is somewhat misleading. In fact, persecution, though often intense when it occurred, was usually episodic, local, and highly inconsistent. As James O’Donnell and Candida Moss have stressed in recent provocative would-be revisionist studies, probably the majority of Christians in the Roman Empire lived peaceful lives, like those of their neighbors, and passed to their rest without being disturbed by the authorities.[2]James Carroll, in his best-selling Constantine’s Sword, agrees: “violent oppression of Christians was relatively rare and sporadic.”[3]

There were persecutions under Nero in AD 64 (marked by what even contemporary Romans regarded as unusual cruelty—but it may have been limited to Rome and its environs) and in 81 (under Domitian, which again may have been geographically limited—the evidence is ambiguous). However, the next imperially directed persecutions (and possibly the first empire-wide campaigns against Christians) were in the 250s, when “the emperor Decius decreed that steps be taken to ensure that everyone in the empire . . . be shown to have sacrificed to the gods on behalf of the welfare of the state”, and then again in the early 300s, when the emperors Diocletian and Galerius launched what seems to have been a systematic attempt to uproot and discourage the practice of Christianity.[4] Even during the worst imperial persecutions, suspect Christians could easily avoid punishment, by performing a token public religious act. Those who refused were celebrated and commemorated in early Christian literature and art, but many quietly conformed in public, kept worshipping and taking the sacraments in secret, and resumed open Christianity when the persecutory laws were relaxed, which they invariably were.

O’Donnell, Moss and others go too far in claiming that suppression and persecution were largely irrelevant and had no lasting impact. After all, if “large-scale persecution of Christians by the Roman state was rare”, there were rather more ‘locally inspired’ bouts of persecution, which produced their share of martyrs. One of the best-known persecutions, in the province of Bithynia-Pontus by Pliny the Younger during the reign of Trajan (c.112), was one such episode of provincial oppression: but Christians were still killed! The number of deaths due to persecution is the reason why, by the second century, before the persecutions of Decius, Diocletian and Galerius, martyrology had become “a distinctive Christian literary genre.’[5] Furthermore, recent critics such as O’Donnell and Carroll demonstrate paucity of insight. As Martin Goodman argues, although Christians were subject ‘only to brief outbursts of organized, empire-wide persecution by the state . . . these episodes inflicted deep trauma.’[6]

Nevertheless, under the Roman Empire, most Christians, in most places, most of the time, did not have to choose between martyrdom and apostasy. Can it be said, then, that martyrdom was the cause of the church’s growth?

* * *

There is another point, too: there is little reason to think that the suffering of the martyrs—their heroic self-sacrificial witness—did move ancient people to convert to their faith. Having carefully analyzed such testimony as we have from third-century sources, Edwards concludes “that the strength of the church was lessened periodically by deaths and defections during persecution and that, when peace came, a number of the lapsed did not live long enough to complete the lengthy penances [that were typically] imposed [by the church] as a condition of their return.”[7] The fact that, by the second century and thereafter, “the church was large enough … to survive repeated massacres and lynchings,” as well as “the abuse … and the … ridicule” of sophisticated Latin satirists, truly testifies to the “patience of the saints”, or many of them—if they had not been willing to maintain their faith in the face of persecution, then of course the movement would have died out. Yet it is a mistake to attribute its growth to persecution. As Edwards notes, in fact, Tertullian’s epigram is the only ‘ancient testimony … that pagans were converted by the fortitude of martyrs.’[8]

* * *

In sum, while in the first century the blood of martyrs does seem to have been something like the seed of the church in the first century, allowing it to survive the sanctions of the Sanhedrin and Emperor Claudius, and the bloody persecutions of Nero and Domitian, this was not the case in the second century and after. Nor is this a coincidence, I think. The first century was the period when extraordinary miracles were still worked, as related in Acts. I believe God was more interventionist at this time than in any other era of Christian history, because He needed to be—the early believers were few in number and lacking resources; without direct divine assistance, the movement could have failed before it had begun. Just as the age of miracles largely passed with the death of the disciples, however, so God began to let us take responsibility for our own fate.

Consequently, if the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church, it was because God directly intervened and worked miracles to make it so—not because that is the normal, mundane function or effect of persecution. As an historian of religious violence, as I survey the history of Catholic persecution of Protestants (and Protestant oppressions of Catholics) in early modern Europe, the Japanese persecution of Christians from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, and Muslim persecution of Christians across the Middle East and North Africa across many centuries, I am struck by how extremely effective persecution has been in disrupting evangelism and witnessing.

If we assume that the Seventh-day Adventist Church will flourish today where it is oppressed we are making an unwarranted assumption, one that can trivialize the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Rather, we should, as scripture commands, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3). We know that these victims of the Great Controversy will be honored in heaven; but on earth their sufferings may ultimately bear no fruit. It is a grim truth. And for that reason we should honor them and, in prayer, take our stand beside them, asking God to give them the strength to be faithful.


[2]James J. O'Donnell, The Ruin of the Roman Empire (New York, 2008); Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution (New York, 2013).

[3]James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword. The Church and the Jews: A History (New York, 2001) 167.

[4]Martin Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations (New York, 2007), 509-11.

[5]See G. E. M St. Croix, “Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?", Past and Present, no. 26 (Nov 1963): 9; Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem, 509, 512.

[6]Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem, 511.

[7]Mark Edwards, ‘The Beginnings of Christianization’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge, 2006), 138.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

There have been many assumptions about the church for the first 400 years, but with paucity of verifiable evidence, we have only what has been written by various historians. Rodney Stark, sociologist on church history as given the probable growth during that period, based on available accounts.

For the first 100 years, he estimated that there were 7,530 Christians, or a .0126 percent of the estimated population of 60 million; to 315 A.D.of 17.4 milion, or 18 percent of the population which represents an average growth of 43 percent per decade that the Mormon church has maintained over the past century.

There were many prominent people who were converted: Erastus was the city treasurer; the Roman centurion; Pomponia Graecina, was a woman of the senatorial class; Lydia, a seller of purple doubtlessly had wealthy customers who could afford her dyes. These are the the figures who are authoritative and looked to by the lower classes. The church was aided by the gifts of wealthy benefactors, also.


.The main problem for the church today is where does Daniel 8:9-14, and especially verses 9-11 fit in history. Do these verses apply to Rome or to the Papacy.?

Is Rome present in chapter 8? .CF the following church teachings.

“There is not just one beast or kingdom missing from this vision. There are, in fact, two beasts missing, namely, Babylon and Rome. From the full vision in chapter 7 with four beasts and a little horn a reduction down to two beasts and the little horn has taken place.”. —. Shea, DARCOM, Vol. 1p. 41.

“And finally, as in chapter 7, the little horn succeeds the reign of beasts and remains to the end the sole power. Unfortunately, it is the same as the one encountered in chapter 7.” Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel, p. 124.

“Martin Probstle, a former student of mine, wrote his dissertation on Daniel 8:9-14. He concluded that in Daniel 8 not only is Babylon missing but also pagan Rome. He sees the little horn in both chapters describing only the papacy; and the textual evidence seems to support him.” Pfandl, for BRI, email, 23/08/2011.

"The Little Horn – Part 1 (Dan. 8:9, 10, 23-25). — After a discussion on how this little horn would oppose truth, it is revealed that it would be allowed to do so for “two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. (Dan. 8:14).” Teachers SS Quarterly, April-June, 2002, pp. 44-45.

“Only after 2300 evenings and mornings will the destructive rampage of the little horn stop, — (Dan. 2:34; 11:45.).” Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel, p. 127, 131, 152, 168.

“But then, the little horn (8:9) does something that no other kingdom has done: It goes against the Prince of the Host in the heavenly sanctuary.” 2002 Teachers SS Quarterly, p. 41.

“The same picture is used in Daniel 8. The little horn attacks the heavenly host and casts “down some of the host”. (vs 10); it then goes into the sanctuary where he “exalted himself as the Prince of the host” (vs. 11, NKJV). The little horn is attacking heaven and a ministry in heaven. p. 44. — 2. A host is placed over the daily ministry. Hence the text says that the horn misappropriated the daily ministry of Christ and then “set over,” or appointed, its own host to control or minister it.” 2002 Teachers SS Quarterly, p. 48.

8:11, 12 “— In chapter 8 the same power wages war against the Prince of the host, God’s faithful servants, truth, and the foundation of and the services in the sanctuary. — In this way, Gods sanctuary, his Prince, and the continual sanctuary service are all eclipsed by the activity of a host that the imposter has set up.” Stefanovic, DANIEL wisdom to the wise, pp. 306-308.

“The tāmîd, “the continual,” designates the daily work of the priest in the holy place. Since the “Prince of hosts” is a heavenly being (cf. Joshua 5:14) the sanctuary in Daniel 8:9–14 must be the heavenly one.”

“The main concern of this vision is the attitude of the little horn toward the sanctuary and the priestly work of the Prince (verses 11, 12). It attacks the host of heaven, defeats them (verse 10), and goes after the Prince and the sanctuary. This spiritual attack is described in military terms. The tāmîd is taken away from the Prince, and the foundation/place of the sanctuary is cast down and rejected. Then, in a spirit of rebellion/transgression (verse 12), the little horn sets up its own force to control the tāmîd. — The little horn somehow affects the
Prince’s tāmîd, or continual mediation in the holy place. The question of the horn’s interference with the mediatorial work of the Prince in the Most Holy Place is addressed in Daniel 8:13, 14.” 12BC. 394-395.


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Around 100 a.Ch Pliny theYo unger wrote an official letter In Latin !) to emperor Traian about how to handle the Christians in his province Pontus / Bithynia (See Google : Pliny the Yiounger and Trajan on the Christians) This letter illustrates the social background - Romans are sent to Rome, Non - Romans he judges himself And you learn of their everyday life, the worship on their special day (Unfortunately for Adventists the day is not defined), their “crime” and the punishment. Traces and grafitti in Pompeji simply have a date limit 79 a.Ch., some speak of fakes made by the RC, anyway .- the approximately 7 530 seem quite understimated. Latest archaeological work finds jewelry with Christian symbols in Carnuntum, near Vienna, a large civilian city and a gerat military camp right on the border, obviously secretly worn and in quite an amount at once made public after Constatines decree. Since the Legio decima victrixy after controlling Palestine and performing the crucification of Christ was moved to Carnuntum,we can suppose that some very early Christian elements were imported. Just before the decree of Constatine the official of the highest known rank was dismissed from his office in Uper Noricum because of his conversion to Christianity. Making use of his juridical knowledge he hurried to help some of his fellow believers in Steyr - and therefore was drowned in the Enns river. One of the last martyrs. Monastery St. Florian keeps his martyrdom in rememberance…

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This choice of topic among others, from the Sabbath school lesson, reminds me of being in an SDA elementary school during 2nd grade and the school teacher telling us about the death decree, time of trouble and, the swords breaking like straw of those coming to kill us. At least 2 of my children didn’t hear this until they were in 6th & 8th grade.

I was thinking that maybe some of the phobia and paranoia for SDA Sabbath school attendees can be traced to the persecution complex obsession of the denomination. Is this why most do not verbally contribute in Sabbath school because they are paralyzed by future scenarios?

Maybe some SS teachers can lay it on thick by reading several sentences from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

Sabbath morning edit:
Persecution is the sensational aspect and tangential events related to power struggles.
Satan was on a power trip and the great controversy is over who is in charge and how should beings live in this universe. Jesus mentions in MATT 7 how one needs to take the beam out of their eyes before they can take a splinter out of the eyes of others.
The disciples were on their own power trips…who is going to be the greatest.??
The Jewish clergy were on their power trips and sensed it was threatened with the cessation of sacrifice doctrine. The disciples needed to go through their upper room experience to shed their power trips. Humans inherit God wannabe, power trips from their ancestors…(“You will be like God…”)

Pastors of today fall in the same power trip mode as they play god with their sermons. They minimize the influence of God/Holy Spirit by crowding out scripture and its meaning with their commentary and stories, etc. This is why this lesson is so relevant and has practical application for today. 99% of Christian clergy are deceived and deceivers. Many if not most SDA pastors are stuck in the same mode as evidenced by their preaching approaches (homiletics)


The most horrific and graphic persecution of early Christians was in Rome’s Colosseum, where allegedly, Christian families, men women and children were attacked by deliberately starved, ravenous beasts

I have visited Rome’s Colosseum and observed the cages ( beneath the now decayed flooring) where the wild beasts were kept.

I have several observations:

If Steven Spielberg, cinematographer, were to use computer graphics to portray these events in film, we would all run screaming, from any screening.

If we, created lower than the Angels, could not tolerate viewing such agonizing atrocities how can the Angels endure it?

Does God run a psychiatric clinic for Angels suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?? Are Angels robotic automatons without any feeling or compassion?? Is there such a myriad of Angels that they only get assigned thirty minutes of guardian duty every century so as not to bond with their human protégés??

EGW, in her recording of these events in the Colisseum, gives such a bland dispassionate account, that one intuitively knows she must have plagiarized the account from some dull history tome. Had she seen these awful atrocities in vivid Technicolor, with the screams of the tortured in Dolby stereophonic sound, and with IMAX screen intensity, she would have known that the horror of early century atrocities, would unquestionably cause “the universe” to have LONG AGO vindicated God and indicted Satan.

EGW in her “Great Controversy” continues to elaborate atrocity after atrocity extending over many centuries, any one of which would lead any
thinking sane observer, to indict Satan for his cruelty and thus vindicate God.

Yet EGW, astonishingly ends her anthology of atrocities with the startling statement, that the “end will come, when the universe vindicates God”.

Is EGW’s “universe” populated with primitive primates as depicted in the movie PLANET OF THE APES?

Angels and “unfallen beings” on other planets must have long ago tired of “live streaming” of genocides, holocausts, epidemics, famines, rapes, murders, wars, plagues and pestilences, invading their idyllic havens.

That they have not LONG AGO arbitrated an end to EGW’s “Great Controversy” makes one question the validity of the entire hypothesis!


"Persecution was as not much a part of the story of early Christians as we often think. "

Missing from almost all Protestant (including Adventist) histories are the stories of specific martyrs in the years 100-1000 AD… This gap has allowed readers to fill the blank canvas with fancies and convenient truisms, snd given rise to quasi-historical myths such as the “great controversy” theme.

Reading the stories of Polycarp, Perpetua, Sebastian and many others gives a completely picture and view of faithful Christianity over these vast years. We find they battled personal demons of mental illness, hallucinations and heresies. Very few would be considered models of Christian virtue of the morally -acceptable type, despite their hagiographies. What may surprise modern readers is how many women were martyred and why their deaths became exemplary for later Christians.

On another note, the received versions of early Christianity read and relied upon by SDA writers are almost completely Euro-centric, ignoring the huge numbers and varieties of Eastern Christianity, which was more widespread and popular and influential than the branch based in Rome.

For recent scholarship on the early martyrs, see Candida Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Ideologies, and Traditions (Yale: 2012). Her first book, The Other Christs: Imitating Jesus in Ancient Christian Ideologies of Martyrdom (Oxford, 2010) won the 2011 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.


In the 21st century the tables are turned, at least in the West. The Evangelicals are the blood thirsty ones. Carpet bombing is a vote getter. Tom Z


The use of fairy tales in psychotherapy has proved beneficial in exploring the child’s inner thoughts and feelings, expose conflicts and frustration, reduce anxiety and gain mastery over developmental tasks. But as we enter adulthood some developmental tasks are not easily and fully resolved and become “excess baggage” as we age mentally. From a psychodynamic viewpoint, religion shares with fairy tales the same concerns about exploring our inner thoughts and feelings, expose our conflicts and frustrations, reduce anxiety and gain mastery over our ultimate task of facing death.

One of the developmental tasks a child needs to resolve is to accept the reality that the “good” mother, who cares and loves the child, is the same “bad” mother who frustrates the child by being unable to meet his needs and demands as he grows, matures and develop into a more complex individual. The same theme is fodder to EGW’s “Great Controversy” where unresolved dynamics are exploited and externalized to the cosmic battle between Jesus Christ and Satan. For this reason, the “validity of the entire hypothesis” of EGW will remain alive and well as long as William Wordsworth’s “The child is the father of the man…” proves true particularly among us SDAs. Thus the Great Controversy’s connection to religion may just be conveniently coincidental.


I think you misunderstand the issue. The vindication of God to the un-fallen universe, according to EGW, is to demonstrate that humanity can live in complete obedience to God’s Laws. Satan’s claim is that God’s law, the basis of his character is not perfect, evidenced in the total depravity of humanity. God’s law is vindicated when the 144,000 live without a mediator to pardon any sin. It must be shown that the “Law of the Lord is Perfect” to vanquish all excuse for sin. Then stability of the cosmos, God’s government, is secure for eternity, the Great Controversy is finally over. This is the theme of EGW’s Great Controversy between Christ and Satan—proving that God’s law is not faulty giving a reason for the existence of sin, thus the opposition government of Satan. How can there be a Judgment Day if the Law is defective? If this is the case then God himself is imperfect because he requires an impossible obedience.

Jesus has already proven that “the law is perfect” and that is why he is our redeemer.The 144000 were "firstfruits"Jews of the first century AD who accepted Jesus as the Messiah before the fall of Jerusalem.

Revelation tells us that "the accuser of the brethern was cast down ". You can not have a trial without charges and/or evidence.With the sins of the believer covered with the blood of Jesus and no accuser to remind the universe of them we need not fear the future.

As the universal man Jesus has done it all. Since the dawn of creation we have always had a redeemer and we always will have.There is no basis in Scripture to suggest mortal man must stand on his own without Christ at his side.

The fact that Jesus was always committed to die for his creation is all the vindication of God the unfallen worlds have ever had or needed


The historicist interpretation is far from a “neat fit” to history. The accepted interpretation can only be maintained with euro-centrism, anti-catholicism, retro-fitting the dates, semantic shifts (e.g. from military to “spiritual”) and ignoring much of the NT evidence that the prophecies of Daniel were considered fulfilled in the first century.


Reducing the great controversy to a matter of defining and defending the Law is just a species of legalism. The cosmos is not waiting to figure out if the Law is sufficient, or if humans have sufficient obedience to merit eternity with them.

God is Love, not Law. Christ is the full expression of God’s character for Christians, not the Law in any of its many versions. He did not merely fulfill the Law, as if that is all that is required for salvation, but showed a superior way of sacrifice and forgiveness–none of which was required by the Law.


Hi Graeme,

A concise and valid evaluation. “The fact that the historic interpretation is far from a neat fit to history,” is well established as demonstrated by current interpretations. However that does not necessarily mean the method is faulty, or that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, cf below.

The Proposed Identity of the Little Horn of Daniel 8.
The following identification and application of the little horn of Daniel 8 is presented for evaluation. The writer proposes the Scriptural evidence reveals the little horn of Daniel 8:9 represents the Roman Empire only, a position that questions the traditional Adventist position that the little horn of Dan. 8:9 represents Rome, pagan and papal, as well as the current church position, that applies the little horns of Dan. 8:9 to the Papacy only.

It is proposed the identification of the little horn of Daniel 8 is revealed by the fourth beast of 7:7-8. In chapter 7 we find the first beast king, 7:17, that applies to Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon, and the first beast kingdom, 7:23, that applies to the first kingdom age of the world, 7:23, are synonymous, 2:37-38. This is the only instance where a single beast king and dynasty rules for an entire beast kingdom age of the world. As the second, third, and fourth, kingdom ages are ruled by more than one king and kingdom, Daniel saw beasts and animals, with heads and horns that represented the various kings and kingdoms who would rule during the last three kingdom ages of the world, 7:7-8; 8:3-9.

As it is generally accepted chapters 7 and 8 are a repeat and expand of chapter 2, it appears the fourth beast and its horns reveals the identity of the little horn of 8:9. Just as the second and third beast kings of 7:17, Cyrus and Alexander the Great, are represented by horns on the ram and the goat, so it follows the fourth beast king, Caesar Augustus, is represented by the first horn that belongs to the fourth beast.

As Daniel reveals each head 2:38, or horn 7:8, represent a single king and kingdom, the number of kingdoms represented by the fourth beast in chapter 7, reveals the identity of the kingdom represented by the little horn of 8:9. In chapter 7, there are twelve different kings and kingdoms, represented by the fourth beast and its horns. The first king and kingdom, Caesar Augustus and the Roman Empire is represented by the fourth beast king of verse 17. Then in verse 7, Daniel saw the fourth beast had 10 horns, that represent the 10 invading kings and kingdoms who divided the western division of the Roman Empire. Then Daniel saw “another little horn arise among them,” verse 8. One kingdom + 10 kingdoms + another kingdom = 12 Kingdoms.

As Daniel is very clear the little horn of 7:8 is another, that is different, to the first, the little horn of 8:9, what further information is needed to establish the identity of the first little horn? Thus the question, why do scholars insist the little horns of Daniel 7 and 8 represent the same king and kingdom, when history reveals the Papal kingdoms were ruling Western Rome, and Roman Emperors were ruling Eastern Rome, from 800 A.D. or 955 A.D until 1453 A.D.? Just as the five Greek kings and kingdoms are represented by five “notable horns,” so the kingdoms of Rome and the Papacy, are represented by two little horns in chapters 7 and 8.

There are several reasons why many believe the two horns are one and the same horn, cf. the following quotes.
“We believe before we reason. Once beliefs are formed, we seek out confirmatory arguments and evidence to justify them. We ignore contrary evidence or make up rationalizations to explain it away. We do not like to admit we are wrong. We seldom change our minds.” Michael Schemer, 'The Believing Brain…"
“All truth passes through three stages:
First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” Arthur Schopenhauer.
As there are 12 kingdoms represented by the fourth beast in Dan. 7:7, 8, and 17, it is proposed the process of identification and elimination reveals the first little horn of 8:9, represents the Roman Empire only, and the second little horn of 7:8, represents the Papacy only. How often is it that the answer to something that has puzzled people for ages, is self evident?

Further evidence that reveal the two little horns represent two different kingdom powers.

• The Little Horn of Daniel 8:9, the Roman Empire, is an iron or Statecraft power.
• The Roman Empire was the first iron kingdom to rule during the fourth kingdom age.
• The Roman Empire is not synonymous with the fourth kingdom Age of man that continues until the S.C., as history reveals the Roman Empire fell in 1453 A.D.
• The Roman Empire is represented by the fourth beast king in 7:17.
• The Roman little horn came from one of the four winds and Rome became great. Rome persecuted the saints, crucified Christ, and destroyed the temple, 8:8-11
• History reveals Rome conquered the last Greek kingdom in 30 B.C. and finally fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D.
• During the fourth kingdom age represented by the feet and the toes, various iron and clay kingdoms divided the fourth beast kingdom and ruled in a manner represented by the symbols of iron and clay in chapter 2, 2:33, 41-43.
• Various historians, Bible scholars, and the SOP, have understood the iron symbol of 2:33 and 41-43 represents statecraft kingdoms, cf. the land and scarlet beasts of Rev.

• The Little Horn of Daniel 7:8, the Papacy, is a miry clay or Churchcraft Power.
• The Papacy was the first miry clay kingdom to rule during the fourth kingdom age.
• The Papacy is represented by the little horn of Daniel 7:8.
• The Papacy arose in the midst of the 10 kingdoms, 7:7-8.
• The Papacy was the twelfth kingdom represented by the horns of the fourth beast to arise during the fourth kingdom age.
• The Papacy began to rule in 538 A.D. and received a deadly wound in 1798, 7:25.
• The Papal little horn that has eyes and a mouth, it is a blasphemous power 7:25.
• The first “iron mixed with miry clay” marriage, in the time of the feet, involved the Roman Empire and the Papacy, in 538 A.D.
• A second “iron mixed with miry clay” marriage, in the time of the feet, involved the kingdoms of Western Rome and the Papacy, and is commonly referred to as the Holy Roman Empire. Historians are divided over the dates for this marriage, 800 A.D or 955 A.D.
• A third “iron mixed with miry clay” marriage, in the time of the toes, is prophesied in Revelation 13 and 17:12. This marriage involves the 10 horn kings (who have not received their kingdoms as yet) and the Papacy, 2:44; Rev. 13 and 17.
• Various historians, Bible scholars, and the SOP, have understood the clay symbols of 2:33 and 41-43 represent churchcraft kingdoms, cf. the sea beast and scarlet woman.
• Papal Rome is not a phase of pagan Rome as both ruled concurrently for 915 years.

Ranald McLeish.

Seems like a lot of these posts aren’t really engaging with the author’s point and much of his text. Which is a pity since it presented a fresh view of this topic, that I admit I’d always thought about as being just a matter of martyrdom making the church grow. Thanks to Dr Trim for a well-written and revisionist take on the topic. I will pray for persecuted Christians now!


Thanks for posting your understanding of the “horn” symbolism. You may have more faith in the historicist project than I do, as I think the dates 538 - 1798 etc are historically spurious. However, but I am encouraged that you felt free to share your views!

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Hi Graeme,

As I mentioned lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. “Believe your prophets and so shall ye prosper” is just as true today.

For over 60 years the church has recognized it has a problem with Daniel 8:9-14. Unfortunately Glacier View did not solve the problem, and the problem has remained in the too hard basket ever since. cf. the following appraisal by a former GC person.

*“I doubt that any administrative committee could agree on how to answer. I think more and more of the leadership are either uncertain in their own mind of the traditional position or simply believe it is a useless debate that cannot be won. BRI has no interest in doing new study on this because they have published several volumes with scores of scholarly papers and probably think nothing has changed. It simply is not a topic that most Adventist leaders are interested in getting into again; the Ford situation cost the church many, many valued workers in one way or another and the new generation is tired of the fighting over small, technical issues. What is the point? What does it achieve? If we prove we are correct in our traditional interpretation, what does it achieve in any larger spiritual or missional sense?”

What if we believed the prophet Daniel?
What if the traditional identification of the Little horn is wrong?
What if Jesus is the star of the chapter instead of the Papacy?
Is there any one who will consider these “What if’s?”

Irrespective, I have faith that one day the dry bones will get up and walk.


Why would any make a difference in anyone’s salvation? TMI.

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Hi Elaine,

Either God sits on his throne in heaven, and Jesus is our High Priest, or not.

Surely the idea that a Papal host has dethroned God and currently controls the MHP effects everyone’s salvation.

The idea that anyone can dethrone God shows complete disbelief in God as the Supreme Being. It only affects those who believe that their salvation depends on whether any human is able to dethrone God. What a small concept of God!

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