5. “A Time, and Times, and Half a Time”
THE little horn of Daniel 7:8, 25, was to reign for “a time and times and the dividing of time.” This same “time, and times, and half a time “is also mentioned in Revelation , and in the sixth verse it is said to be “a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” In prophecy a day always stands for a year. (Ezekiel 4:6) This prophetic period is therefore 1260 literal years. We shall now show that these 1260 years began in 538 A. D., and invite the reader to notice the four great changes that took place that year:
1. We have already seen that the little horn symbolised the Papacy, and that three Arian kingdoms, which stood in its way, were plucked up by the roots, and that the last of these received its deathblow in 538 A. D. through the efforts of Justinian, the faithful son of the church of Rome.
2. History states that the work of Justin and Justinian in elevating the Papacy to power brought on a new era, introducing the Middle Ages:
“Accordingly, the religious and
political tendencies of the Empire now took so different a direction as to
positively constitute the dawn of a new era. . . . Thus at last
“The reign of Justinian is more
remarkable as a portion of the history of mankind, than as a chapter in the
annals of the
“With the conquest of Rome by Belisarius, the history of the ancient city may be considered as terminating; and with his defence against Witigis [A. D. 538], commences the history of the Middle Ages. “Greece Under the Romans,” George Finlay, pp. 198, 240, Dent edition, revised by author, 1877.
3. Even the Papacy itself changed, so there was a new order of popes after 538 A. D. History relates:
“Down to the sixth century all popes
are declared saints in the martyrologies. Vigillius (537-555) is the first of a
series of popes who no longer bear this title, which is henceforth sparingly
conferred. From this time on the popes, more and more enveloped in worldly
events, no longer belong solely to the church; they are men of the state, and
then rulers of the state.” “Medieval
In the foregoing quotation the date of Vigillius should be 538 instead of 537 for the following reason:
“Vigillius having been thus ordained in
the year 537. . . . and the death of Silverius having been certainly not
earlier than 20 June, A. D. 538, it is evident that for at least seven months
his position was that of an unlawful anti-pope, his predecessor never having
been canonically deposed.” - Dictionary of Christian Biography, Drs. Smith
and Wace, Vol. IV, art. “ Vigillius,” P. 1144.
For this reason A. Bower says:
“From the death of Silverlus the Roman
Catholic writers date the Episcopacy of Vigillius, reckoning him thenceforth
among the lawful popes.” - “History of the Popes,” Vol. II, p. 488, under
the year “538.”
“His [Silverius’] death happened on the
20th of June . . . 538.” -
Dr. Philip Schaff says: “Vigillius, a
pliant creature of Theodora, ascended the papal chair under the military
protection of Belisarius (538-555).” “History of the Christian Church”
(7-vol. ed.), Vol. III, p. 827. New,
4. Dr. Summerbell gives still another reason why we should date the beginning of the papal supremacy from 538. He says: Justinian . . . enriched himself with the property of all ‘heretics’- that is non- Catholics, and gave all their churches to the Catholics., published edicts in 538 compelling all to join the Catholic Church in ninety days or leave the empire, and confiscated all their goods. “History of The Christian Church,” pp. 310, 311. Cincinatti: 1873. The same is stated by Samuel Chandler in ‘History of Persecution,” pp. 142, 143; and by Edward Gibbon, in “Decline and Fall,” chap. 47, par. 24.
The State Religion
Thus we see that Roman Catholicism was
made the state religion in 538, and all other religions were forbidden. What
gave special significance to these edicts of Justinian was the fact that he had
already in 533 declared the bishop of Rome to be the head of the universal
church, and had subjected all the priests even of the East under the see of
Rome. This fact he wrote to Pope John II on
“With honor to the Apostolic See. . . . We hasten to bring to the knowledge of Your Holiness everything relating to the condition of the Church, as we have always had great desire to preserve the unity of your Apostolic See, amid the condition of the Holy Churches of God, as they exist at the present time, that they may remain without disturbance or opposition. Therefore, We have exerted Ourselves to unite all the priests of the East and subject them to the See of Your Holiness. . . . For we do not suffer anything which has reference to the state of the Church, even though what causes the difficulty may be clear and free from doubt, to he discussed without being brought to the notice of Your Holiness, because you are the head of all Holy Churches, for we shall exert Ourselves in every way (as has already been stated), to increase the honor and authority of your see. . . .
“Therefore we request your paternal affection, that you, by your letters, inform Us and the Most Holy Bishop of this Fair City, and your brother the Patriarch, who himself has written by the same messengers to Your Holiness, eager in all things to follow the Apostolic See of your Blessedness, in order that you may make it clear to Us that Your Holiness acknowledges all the matters which have been set forth above.” - “The Civil Law of Justinian,” translated by S. P. Scott, A. M. (in 17 volumes), Book 12, pp. 11-13.
To this letter Pope John II answered:
“John, Bishop of the City of
“Among the conspicuous reasons for praising your wisdom and gentleness, Most Christian of Emperors, and one which radiates light as a star, is the fact that through love of the Faith, and actuated by zeal for charity, you, learned in ecclesiastical discipline, have preserved reverence for the See of Rome, and have subjected all things to his authority, and have given it unity. . . .
“This See is indeed the head of all Churches, as the rules of the Fathers and the decrees of Emperors assert, and the words of your most reverent piety testify. . . .
“We have received with all due respect the evidences of your serenity, through Hypatius and Demetrius, most holy men, my brothers and fellow bishops, from whose statements we have learned that you have promulgated an Edict addressed to your faithful people, and dictated by your love of the faith, for the purpose of overthrowing the designs of heretics, which is in accordance with the evangelical tenets, and which we have confirmed by our authority with the consent of our brethren and fellow bishops, for the reason that it is in conformity with the apostolic doctrine. . . .
“Therefore, it is opportune to cry out with a prophetic voice, ‘Heaven will rejoice with You, and pour out its blessing upon You, and the mountains will rejoice, and the hills be glad with exceeding joy.’ . . .
“The favour of Our Lord remain forever with you, Most Pious Son, Amen. . . .
Both of these letters appear in the “Code of Justinian,” as well as the following law:
“Concerning the Precedence of Patriarchs:
“Hence, in accordance with the provisions
of those Councils, we order that the Most Holy Pope of Ancient Rome shall hold
the first rank of all the Pontiffs, but the Most Blessed Archbishop of
Constantinople, or New Rome, shall occupy the second place after the Holy
Apostolic See of Ancient Rome, which shall take precedence over all other
Under date of March 25, 533, Justinian,
writing to Epiphanius, Patriarch of Constantinople, stating that he had written
the above letter to the pope, “repeats his decision, that all affairs touching
the Church shall be referred to the Pope, ‘Head of all bishops, and the true
and effective corrector of heretics.”‘ “The Apocalypse of
“The epistle which was addressed to the Pope, and another to the Patriarch of Constantinople, were inserted in the volume of the civil law; thus the sentiments contained in them obtained the sanction of the supreme legislative authority of the empire. . . .
“The answer of the Pope to the imperial
epistle was also published with the other documents; and it is equally
important, inasmuch as it shows that he understood the reference that had been
made to him, as being a formal recognition of the supremacy of the see of
“The recognition of the Roman see as the highest ecclesiastical authority (cf. Novellae, cxxxi) remained the cornerstone of his [Justinian’s] policy in relation to the West.” - New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Vol. VI, art. “Justinian,” p. 286. Thus we see that the way had been prepared in 533, in anticipation of the three final acts which were to occur in 538, when the Arian powers were destroyed, Catholicism made the state religion, and the Papacy placed under the protection of the state, which gave rise to the long struggle between church and state as to which should be supreme.
Close of the 1260 Years
Having now seen that the 1260 years of papal supremacy began in 538 A. D., it is an easy matter to find their close. Adding the 1260 years to 538 brings us to the year 1798. And if we have given the right application to this prophecy, history must record an event in 1798 that would appear like a death stroke to the Papacy. Turning to history we find just such an event recorded:
The official Swedish newspaper,
Slockholms Postlidning, for
“Rome, the 21st of Feb. , Pope Pins VI, has occupied the papal chair for all of twenty-eight years, but the 15th inst. his government in the Papal States was abolished, and five days later, guarded by one hundred French soldiers, he was taken away from his palace and his capital. . . .
“His . . . property was sold by the French, and among it were seven hundred head of cattle, one hundred fifty horses, and eight hundred cords of wood. . . .
“Poor Pius! He must have felt very sad
as he left
Rev. E. B. Elliott, A. M., says of these events:
“In the years 1796, 1797, French dominion being established by Bonaparte’s victories in Northern Italy, . . . the French armies [urged] their march onward to the Papal Capital. . . . The aged Pope himself, now left mere nominal master of some few remaining shreds of the Patrimony of Peter, experienced soon after in person the bitterness of the prevailing anti-papal spirit. . . .
“On pretence of an insult to the French
Ambassador there, a French corps d’armee under Berthier, having in February,
1798, crossed the Apennines from Ancona, and entered Rome, the tricolour flag
was displayed from the Capitol, amidst the shouts of the populace, the Pope’s
temporal reign declared at an end, and the Roman Republic proclaimed, in strict
alliance fraternization with the French. Then, in the Sistine Chapel of the
Vatican, the ante-hall to which has a fresco painted by Papal order
commemorative of the Protestant massacre on St. Bartholomew’s day, (might not
the scene have served as a memento of God’s retributive justice?) there, while
seated on his throne, and receiving the gratulations of his cardinals on the
anniversary of his election to the Popedom, he was arrested by the French
military, the ring of his marriage with the Church Catholic torn from his
finger, his palace rifled, and himself carried prisoner into France, only to
die there in exile shortly after.” - “Horae Apocalypticae,” Rev. E. B.
Elliott, A. M., Vol. III, pp. 400, 401.
Arthur R. Pennington, M. A., F. R. Hist. Soc., says of this event:
“One day the Pope was sitting on his throne in a chapel of the
Rev. Joseph Rickaby, an English Jesuit, writes:
“When, in 1797, Pope Pius VI fell grievously ill, Napoleon gave orders that in the event of his death no successor should be elected to his office, and that the Papacy should be discontinued.
“But the Pope recovered. The peace was
soon broken; Berthier entered
Rev. George Trevor, Canon of York, writes of this eventful year:
“The object of the French Directory was
the destruction of the pontifical government, as the irreconcilable enemy of
the republic. . . . The aged pope was summoned to surrender the temporal
government; on his refusal, he was dragged from the altar. . . . His rings were
torn from his fingers, and finally, after declaring the temporal power
abolished, the victors carried the pope prisoner into
An English secular writer, John Adolphus, says of 1798:
“The downfall of the papal government,
by whatever means effected, excited perhaps less sympathy than that of any
other in Europe: the errors, the oppressions, the tyranny of Rome over the
whole Christian world, were remembered with bitterness., many rejoiced, through
religious antipathy, in the overthrow of a church which they considered as
idolatrous, though attended with the immediate triumph of infidelity; and many
saw in these events the accomplishment of prophecies, and the exhibition of
signs promised in the most mystical parts of the Holy Scriptures. “History
God’s prophetic clock had set the year 1798 as the end of the papal supremacy, and when that hour struck, the mighty ruler on the Tiber, before whose anathemas the kings and emperors of Europe had so long trembled, went “into captivity” (Revelation 13:10), and his government in the Papal States was abolished. Thus the historical events fit exactly into the mold of prophecy, and establish the fact that “we have also a more sure word of prophecy; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn.” 2 Peter 1:19. But prophecy foretells that this “deadly wound” would be healed, and that the world once more, for a brief moment, would follow the papal power. (Revelation 13:3) In the following chapter we shall consider the other specifications of this remarkable prophecy.