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Notes on Daniel: Who is the Little Horn?

By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008

What internal evidence is there in the text of Daniel 7 that the “fourth kingdom” could possibly extend into the Middle Ages or later?

Some are convinced of this by the language of Daniel 7 in which three of the ten horns on the head of the Roman beast are uprooted by the ever-growing
supposed eleventh subsequent “little horn” which then becomes very “stout.”

First, John Calvin does make an application of Daniel to the current day (his day) in which the church is persecuted. I would make this application also, especially when dealing with Daniel 12. There is no doubt that Daniel can be applied to present day occurrences. But the prophecy was meant to point to the time of the Messiah.

Second, this interpretation of “the little horn” is interesting because many interpret the little horn as the “eleventh” horn. Of course, the number eleven is mentioned nowhere in the text. The little horn does not come after the ten horns, but as it has been translated — “in the midst of them” — or — “among them.”

Daniel 7:8 — “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. “

I must conclude that this speaks of Nero Caesar. He is the little horn “among them” the sixth of the ten Emperors. Thus he is “another little horn.”

Note that the passage says: “Three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” Nero was born the year after Augustus died. Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius, who lived after his birth, were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.

Some have argued here that this does not negate that horn’s further
growth into the Romish-Papal Antichrist as stated by the same Calvin in his discussion of Dan. 7:25 in his Institutes and also in his Commentaries on 2 Thessalonians 2 and 1 John 2 and 4.

I say the little horn is Nero. Calvin disagrees with me and claims that it is Julius Caesar. But he strongly sweeps away any speculation that the little horn could apply to the papacy or the Turks. These interpretations are “both wrong.”

Wherefore it is our duty not to read carelessly what is here written, but to weigh seriously and with the greatest diligence what the Spirit intends by this vision. I was attentive, therefore, says he, to the horns, and behold one small one arose among them. Here interpreters begin to vary; some twist this to mean the Pope, and others the Turk; but neither opinion seems to me probable; they are both wrong [emphasis mine – JCR ], since they think the whole course of Christ’s kingdom is here described, while God wished only to declare to his Prophet what should happen up to the first advent of Christ. This, then, is the error of all those who wish to embrace under this vision the perpetual state of the Church up to the end of the world. But the Holy Spirit’s intention was completely different. We explained at the beginning why this vision appeared to the Prophet because the minds of the pious would constantly fail them in the dreadful convulsions which were at hand, when they saw the supreme dominion pass over to the Persians. And then the Macedonians broke in upon them, and acquired authority throughout; the whole of the East, and afterwards those robbers who made war under Alexander suddenly became kings, partly by cruelty and partly by fraud and perfidy, which created more strife than outward hostility. And when the faithful saw all those monarchies perish, and the Roman Empire spring up like a new prodigy, they would lose their courage in such confused and turbulent changes. Thus this vision was presented to the Prophet, that all the children of God might understand what severe trials awaited them before the advent of Christ. Daniel, then, does not proceed beyond the promised redemption, and does not embrace, as I have said, the whole kingdom, of Christ, but is content to bring the faithful to that exhibition of grace which they hoped and longed for.

Daniel 7 is important here because the language here closely parallels Revelation 13. If we are to “count the number of the beast,” then we need to know who is the little horn of Daniel 7.


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Your comments are welcome!

Dear Jay,
My passion is also prophecy. I was a mild dispensationalist for many years. I have come to the same conclusion about Nero in Daniel 7. We can all learn something from each other in spite of the percentage of error that is unavoidable. I would like to share some research with you concerning Daniel 11:40. What “time of the end” do you think Daniel is referring to? I look forward to hearing from you. Walt

Posted by Walt Horton on 09/04/2008 08:57 AM #

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