Do these kings grow up as “horns” at one time and appear all at once?
A popular method of interpreting the “ten horns” is in an alliance of ten kingdoms who rule together “in one hour” (cf. Revelation 17:12) rather than as ten separate rulers of the same kingdom who succeed one another. However, there is a chronological succession if we compare Daniel 7 to Revelation 17:10 – “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” Therefore, a better question to ask would be as follows.
Are the seven kings of Revelation among the ten kings of Daniel or are they a different group?
Let’s begin with the seven kings. John writes, “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space” (Revelation 17:10). I can only conclude that John means plainly, “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” This is a linear statement. The implication is that there is a succession of kings.
The five Roman emperors who “are fallen” are Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius who each fell before Nero.
The sixth emperor was Nero. John writes, “one is.” Nero was alive when John wrote the prophecy.
The seventh is Galba who reigned only six months. “He must continue a short space.”
Now here is the difficulty. There are ten horns, but no heads in Daniel 7. There are seven heads and ten horns in Revelation 17.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns…. The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise (Daniel 7:7,24).
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. (Revelation 17:9-12).
We can wonder how ten horns can literally fit on seven heads – or we can note the symbolism of the numbers. Before we make a big deal over why Revelation used the number “seven” to describe the heads of the beast, instead of just the ten horns of the beast in Daniel 7, consider the following.Daniel uses the Hebrew words “seven,” “seventy” and “weeks” a total of ten times. In Revelation, John uses the words “seven” and “seventh” a total of 59 times. In essence, the message of Revelation is that the “seventy sevens” had been completed and the final monumental events described in Daniel were about to take place in John’s day. This is the reason why the number seven is used as the organizational pattern for the Book of Revelation. “Seven” is used as an indicator to point to the “seventy sevens” of Daniel 9.
Is there is any suggestion that the ten horns of Daniel 7 are ten separate kings in chronological stages of growth rather than ten kings in a single national alliance?
Some preterist commentators, such as David Chilton in Days of Vengeance, have claimed the ten horns of Revelation are the provincial Roman governors under Nero. However, preterists generally agree that the seven heads denote the first seven among the ten Roman emperors. In my view, the simplest solution to this supposed difficulty is that the ten horns in both Daniel and Revelation denote these seven emperors plus the next three, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian.
First, Daniel does not speak of seven horns, but “ten horns.” Since John speaks of “seven heads and ten horns,” I conclude that the “seven” heads of Revelation also bear the “ten horns” of Daniel.
Second, John says the eighth “is of the seven” (Revelation 17:11). This is an idiom that we might have difficulty with today. Apparently, he means that the eighth was revealed to him later, but he is of the seven. In other words, the eighth king is one of the seven. He is the king who “is” at the time John is writing Revelation. In other words, the “eighth” that John saw is actually the same emperor as the “sixth.” If this seems to be a stretch to say the eighth “is of the seven,” actually the sixth, compare this with 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.
It makes sense to say that “another little horn” was Nero because Tiberius, Claudius and Caligula did not persecute the early Christians. On the contrary, Nero was the first emperor who heard the Gospel preached by the Apostle Paul and spoke “great things” against Christ and His Church.
Third, many people have concluded since John says that the ten kings have received no power as yet, but will receive power in one hour with the Beast, then these ten kings must be contemporaneous and not successive.
“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them” (Revelation 17:12).
It is easy at first glance to say, as Chilton does, that these are ten Roman governors contemporaneous with Nero. But if we say that these ten horns of Revelation are the same as the ten horns of Daniel, then this is not a consistent interpretation.
The ten kings are ten consecutive emperors, but they also symbolize the unified imperial might of Rome. “They have received no power as yet” means that Rome as a kingdom has received no power to make war with Christ and the Church until Nero comes along. The ten horns are the ten Caesars who reigned up until the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. They are the line of kings that Daniel saw as synonymous with the Fourth Kingdom. Even though five of the first ten are dead, in one hour there will be a kingdom, a power and a unified will having the sole purpose to persecute the Church. This kingdom, power and will is embodied in the “little horn” of Daniel 7 and the king who now “is” of Revelation 17.
Fourth, if we take the “Great Tribulation” to mean the three-and-a-half year persecution of the Church (December AD 64 to June 68) and the three-and-a-half year Roman-Jewish War (April AD 67 to September 70), it makes sense for John to see a dividing line at the death of Nero. John saw in a prophetic vision a group of seven kings and then a group of ten kings. Revelation pointed to the time of the sixth emperor as the time when the first century Church would see the Great Tribulation begin, the persecution under Nero. The time of the tenth emperor was when the Temple at Jerusalem was destroyed. Kenneth Gentry explains in The Beast of Revelation: Identified.
As the Roman Civil Wars broke out in rebellion against Nero, Nero committed suicide on June 9th, AD 68. John informs us that the seventh king was “not yet come.” That would be Galba, who assumed power upon Nero’s death in June, AD 68. But he was only to continue a “short space.” As a matter of historical fact, his reign lasted but six months until January 15th, AD 69. He was one of the quick succession of emperors in the famous era called by historians: the Year of the Four Emperors.
In other words, if Galba was the seventh emperor, the next three of the Daniel’s ten horns were, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian. The ten Roman emperors would also be the ten horns of John’s Revelation, who “receive power as kings one hour with the beast.” Titus, Vespasian’s son, was the Roman general who destroyed the Temple in AD 70. Daniel saw the “days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44) paralleling the period of the ministry of the Messiah until the destruction of Jerusalem.
Without this comparison of Scripture interpreting Scripture, one could conclude almost anything about the Little Horn and the ten kings. Many interpreters have drawn the most irrelevant conclusions. If Revelation is consistent with Daniel, we see that the “sixth king” of Revelation 17 is the same as the “Little Horn” of Daniel 7. Nero was the sixth emperor in succession – the king who “is” at the time of John’s writing (Revelation 17:10).
For a more detailed analysis, see: Who are the Ten Kings of Revelation 17?