The Identity of the “Little Horn”


Daniel recorded this book in 6th century B.C., so whatever was prophesied at that time would take place in the future.  In other words, Daniel was a prophet and not a historian. 


Daniel’s dream/vision can be divided into 3 parts:


1.  Verses 3-14   The dream is described

2.  Verses 16-18  The dream is summarized

3.  Verses 19-27  The dream is explained


History records the rise and fall of the 4 great beasts (kingdoms) listed in verses 4-7.  These beasts are as follows -


A LION – Verse 4

The Babylonian Empire – King Nebuchadnezzar.  The head of gold of the statue described by Daniel in Chapter 2.


A BEAR – Verse 5

The Medo-Persian Empire – The breast and arms of silver of the statue described by Daniel in Chapter 2.  The ribs were the kingdoms of Lydia, Babylon and Egypt which they conquered.


A LEOPARD – Verse 6

The Grecian Empire – Alexander the Great.  The 4 heads represent the empire divided among his 4 generals at his death.



The Roman Empire – Caesars.  The 10 horns represent the 10 kingdoms the fallen empire was originally divided into in A.D. 476.



This horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.  This symbolizes a personality within a kingdom, rather than just an impersonal kingdom.




a)      “Whose appearance was greater than his fellows”, Verse 20.  (He was more powerful than the other governments/kingdoms).

b)      “Making war against the saints and prevailing against them”.  Verse 21.

c)      “Shall persecute the saints of the Most High”.  Verse 25.

d)      “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High”.  Verse 25.

e)      “He shall intend to change times and laws”.  Verse 25.

f)        “Then saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and a half of time”.  Verse 25.

This horn arose out of the remnants of the fallen Roman Empire.  Daniel 2:44


I believe that this “Little Horn” describes the PAPAL DYNASTY for the following reasons when comparing its characteristics with the actual history:


a)      Prior to the 8th century A.D. the authority of Catholic popes was generally limited to church affairs.  In A.D. 755 however, the French ruler Pepin gave Pope Stephen III the kingdom/principality of Ravenna.  Then in A.D. 774, Charles the Great, King of France, gave the kingdom of the Lombards to Pope Adrian I.  Later in A.D. 817 Lewis the Pious, son of Charles the Great, ratified the state of Rome to Pope Paschal I.  This started the rapid acquisition of political territories, transforming it into a political-ecclesiastical organization/government.  It was the joining of church and state.  The Roman Catholic Church became the most powerful force in Europe.  In reference to the 3 horns, which fell before him, verse 20 or described in verse 24 as “He shall subdue 3 kings”, I am of the opinion that these 3 kingdoms/powers were the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths.

Heruli – were an Arian group under the command of Odoacer, who was killed by Theodoric in 493 and thus ended as a group of peoples. The Heruli were German troops in Rome who mutinied in 476 and brought an end to the Western Roman imperial line.

Vandals – Arian tribes who entered Roman territory in 409, settling in Spain. Crossed into Africa, eventually took Rome in 455, and were defeated by Justinian’s general, Belisarius, in 534.

Otrogoths – These German tribes came to power in Rome after the Heruli were destroyed in 493. This Arian group held power in Rome until Belisarius expelled them from Rome in 538. Last know date of the Ostrogoths as a kingdom was 553.


The rest of the kingdoms eventually became the nations we know today as England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Switzerland.


b & c) The Roman Catholic church has been a vicious persecutor of believers through the          

           Church age.  For example:  The Spanish Inquisition was a tribunal established in

           the Middle Ages by the Roman Catholic Church to “suppress error”.  Persecution 

           and torture were used against the “enemies” of the church.  In A.D. 1252 Pope

           Innocent IV sanctioned torture by the civil authorities upon heretics.  (New

           Catholic Encyclopedia, Washington D.C., Volume 14, p. 208)


      d) The Popes have exercised blasphemous arrogance.  An example of a papal claim:

           “Our Lord God the Pope; another God upon earth.  King of Kings, Lord of Lords. 

           The same is the dominion of God and the Pope.  To believe that our Lord God the

           Pope might not decree, as he decreed, it were a matter of heresy.  The power of the

           Pope is greater than all created power, and extends itself to things celestial,

terrestrial, and infernal.  The pope doeth whatsoever he listeth, even things                                                                                                                                                                                                unlawful and is more than God.” (Newton, p. 456)


When Cardinal Hildebrand became Pope in A.D. 1073 he state that the Roman Pontiff should not only be the universal head of the church, but also the ruler of the world. (C.F. Newton pp. 241-245, Sanderson pp. 334-336)


e)      According to Catholic dogma, ecclesiastical authority and tradition carry as much

weight, if not more, than the Word of God itself.

Examples of changing times and law (word):  Instituting Holy days and seasons, celibacy, saint worship, adoration of idols, transubstantiation, etc.


f)       The saints under the oppressing hand of the Roman Catholic Church for a time,

times and half a time.  This phrase represents 31/2 years.  Daniel wrote that when this period is up, all the events foretold in his prophecies would be finished (Daniel 12:5-7).  The phrase occurs in Revelation 12:14 and similar periods of 42 months and 1,260 days are mentioned elsewhere in Revelation.  Here in symbolic language is the Church Age.  The period of time from the Day of Pentecost to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Roman Catholicism almost completely dominated, oppressed and suppressed the religious secular world until its power and influence was weakened by the Protestant Reformation Movement.   (Protestants – those protesting against the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.)


Daniel declares the purpose of the ages as being the establishment of the Kingdom of God and its eternal possession by the saints of the Most High, King Jesus.  Verses 18, 22 and 27.


In verses 13 and 14 Daniel describes the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days and being given dominion, glory and an everlasting kingdom.  The book of Revelation Chapter 5 describes the same event.


All this was made possible by the redeeming work of the cross, where Jesus Christ, the Son of Man was crucified for our sins as the Lamb of God.  He died for us, as us because of His great love for us.  He was then resurrected from among the dead because we had been justified (Romans 4:25) and reconciled us back to God the Father  (2 Cor. 5:18-21)




All scriptural quotations are from the New King James Translation.

Newton, Thomas (1831). Dissertations on the Prophesies (London: Blake) Sanderson, Edgar, Lamberton, J.P., McGovern, John (1900).  The World History and Its Makers. (Chicago:  Universasl History Publishing Co.) Volume 1.