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The Roman Realm in Bible Prophecy

Who and what is the "Roman Realm"? It is the name used to refer to the 4th realm outlined in Bible prophecy. Its characteristics, timeframe, rulers and territory are outlined in Bible prophecy and are explored in more detail below. It is very important to understand that the "Roman realm", or just "Rome" as this fourth prophetic kingdom is often called, means much more than just the city of Rome in Italy, the Vatican, or the former Roman Empire. It refers to a complex realm that continues more than 2,000 years, includes vast territory, goes through multiple political phases and forms of government, is rich and fierce, and has world-wide power and influence financially, militarily, religiously and politically. It is diverse, or different, from all of the others realms (Dan. 7:7,19).

5 realms that rule God's people

We know from Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 that there are 4 earthly realms/kingdoms, before the everlasting realm of Jesus, that successively rule over God's people. More specifically, since God's people are everywhere, these realms rule over the location where God's organized church and its associated movement (first Israel, then the church as manifested through 7 phases - see the 7 Churches) have been largely focused or headquartered. These 4 realms are:
  1. Babylon (609 to 539 BC)
  2. Medo-Persia (539 to 331 BC)
  3. Greece (331 to 168 BC)
  4. Rome (168 BC to Second Coming)
  5. Jesus' Kingdom shared with the saints (Second Coming to Eternity)

The 4th realm: Rome

That the Roman realm is the last realm before Christ returns, and that it continues until Christ's return, is seen in several prophecies, including the following...
  • A. In Daniel 2, the iron legs of the image become feet of iron and clay with 10 toes, representing Rome becoming a divided realm that will still have much strength and unity, but never fully adhere together. A stone (Christ's realm) hits those feet, showing that the divided realm of Rome exists until the second coming.
  • B. In Daniel 7, there are four beasts (realms), and the fourth is in existence until judgment sits and the saints take the kingdom (Dan. 7:17-18, 26-27). This fourth beast (Rome) has 10 horns representing the divided realm of Rome, and an 11th horn that is diverse from the others and uproots 3 horns, representing the religious-political power of the Roman church. The realm has many phases and complexities, but is still a single beast; one single realm.
  • C. The red dragon in Rev. 12 represents Satan, working through the Roman realm, as it attacks the woman (God's church, initially the Jewish nation and later the Christian church) and her child (Christ), and then as it continues to persecute the woman for a time, times and half time (1260 years under papal ecclesiastical dominance), and finally as it attacks the remnant of her seed (the last church of God on earth before the second coming). This single beast, which represents a single realm, continues from the beginning of the Roman realm's power (168 BC) until the second coming.
  • D. The beast in Rev. 13 continues 42 months (1260 days), representing the Roman realm during its 1260 years of papal ecclesiastical dominance, and then it is wounded and rises to power again when the mark of the beast is given, indicating that this same beast (a single realm) continues to the second coming.

The government of the 4th realm

Though the Roman realm continues such a long time, from 168 AD until the second coming, its form of government changes in dramatic and complex ways.

When Rome became the dominant realm over Greece in 168 BC it was a republic. In 27 BC it transitioned into an empire under emperors who were granted authority by the senate. In 285 AD it divided into two halves, east and west. Over the next several hundred years, the eastern half morphed into a completely separate entity, adopting Greek instead of Latin, losing much of its traditional Roman character and becoming the Byzantine Empire. KEY POINT: Prophecy treats the 4th realm as continuing in the western half. (Note: This does not preclude the fall of the eastern half being portrayed in the 5th Trumpet of Revelation 9:1-11, which defines the political environment in the Roman realm as its people ("trees") were not yet attacked ("not hurt" - v.4) within its borders ("not hurt the grass"), but it allowed the Byzantines to be attacked ("hurt" - v.10), tortured and vexed ("they should be tormented" - 9:5) by the Ottoman armies ("locusts") right outside Rome's borders for 150 years ("five months") before cutting off all hope of support in 1449 (when the Council of Basel disbanded), releasing the Ottomans from fear of an east-west alliance, and letting the Byzantine Empire finally be destroyed ("kill them") during the 6th Trumpet.)

In 486 AD, the western half became decentralized as it divided into 10 tribes/kingdoms (Dan. 2:41). Three (Vandals, Ostrogoths, Heruli) of the 10 soon disappeared due to the influence of a political-religious power (papacy - Daniel 7:23-25) and the remaining 7 (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, Italians, Swiss) continue until the second coming (Dan. 2:44). Though divided, they have central influences that work across borders (Rome's "strength of iron" - Dan. 2:41) (such as the papacy, House of Habsburg, etc.), which tie them together and the Bible treats them as one prophetic unit or realm.

Prophecy defines this complex realm of Rome in several ways:
  1. Spiritually:

    The people in the Roman realm have been predominantly under the following religious influences through its history:

    • Pagan phase (168 BC to 538 AD) (primarily represented by the beast in Rev. 12)
    • Papal phase (538 to 1798 AD) (primarily represented by the 1st beast in Rev. 13) and the stout horn of Daniel 7.
    • Protestant Phase (1798 to Second Coming) (primarily represented by the 2nd beast in Rev. 13 and the beast in Rev. 17)
  2. Tribally:

    During the 2nd to 5th century, the Roman realm absorbed many people of various Germanic tribes. In 486, Rome's centralized form of government ended and divided into rule by 10 Germanic tribes (ethnic groups - people groups built on common culture and tradition). They continued as one realm, but in a divided or decentralized form of government. This was foretold in the prophecy of the 10 toes on the image of Daniel 2 and the 10 horns on the beast in Daniel 7.

    • A. Anglo-Saxons (English)
    • B. Franks (French)
    • C. Alemanni (Germans)
    • D. Lombards (Italians)
    • E. Suevi (Portuguese)
    • F. Visigoths (Spanish)
    • G. Burgundians (Swiss)
    • H. Heruli (conquered in 493 AD and faded out of history)
    • I. Vandals (conquered in 534 AD and lost distinctive ethnic identity)
    • J. Ostrogoths (withdrew from Rome in 538 AD, and absorbed into the Lombard Kingdom)

    Note: Prophecy refers to these tribes as 10 horns, however, depending on what date you are looking at them, 3 of the 10 tribes faded from history ("uprooted" - Dan. 7) leaving 7 active tribes.
  3. Politically:

    Though divided tribally among various nations in the realm, the nations have central political influences that tie them together so as to be treated as one prophetic realm. These political powers work across borders and rule in many nations simultaneously. These central influences are Rome's "strength of iron" (Dan. 2:41) that hold the divided (decentralized) realm together. These are also the 7 Heads that successively rule the realm of Rome (Rev. 17:10) during the 7 Time Periods of Revelation. One after another, they rise and fall, bringing judgment upon themselves by rejecting God as they experience the conditions described in the corresponding Trumpet (see Linking the 7 Trumpets and 7 Heads).

    • Head #1: Roman Senate (168 BC to 217 AD)
    • Head #2: Roman Military (217 to 486 AD)
    • Head #3: Merovingian Franks (486 to 752 AD)
    • Head #4: Papacy (752 to 1299 AD) (Note: Ecclesiastically Dominant Phase vs. Politically Dominant Phase: The Bible describes the 1260 years (538 - 1798 AD) as a time the papacy would have dominant power ecclesiastically, or in religious matters (blaspheme God, trample on truth, obscure the sanctuary and persecute God's people). On the other hand, the time period of the 4th Head (752 AD to 1299 AD) marks the papacy's political dominance in the realm, when it was the legitimizing factor for rulers. It was still able to convince rulers to do much of its bidding related to spiritual matters (executing heretics, banning books, etc.) during the 1260 years, but history shows it was only politically dominant for part of that time.)
    • Head #5: Council of Electors (1299 to 1449 AD)
    • Head #6: House of Habsburg (1449 to 1840 AD)
    • Head #7: Freemasonry (1840 to Second Coming) (Note: The 4th Head is revived as an 8th Head at the very end of time, because the 7th Head forms itself into a likeness of the papal church-state sytem of the Middle Ages (see "image of the beast" in Revelation 13).
  4. Territorially:

    The territory of the 4th realm, Rome, expanded dramatically during the 1600s to 1700s as the 7 tribes settled in the new world. The Roman realm now includes much of Europe, USA, Canada, South America, Central America, Australia, and more.

    Map of colonization of new world

    The United States of America as part of the Roman realm:
    Prophecies show a shift in focus from Catholic Europe during the Middle Ages to the Protestant USA during the end-times. The USA leads out in the implementation of major end-time events. Because of this, it is important to track the territorial expansion of the Roman realm to the USA in order to understand the connection between different symbols.

    The first European settlements in the United States began around 1600. Waves of immigration followed as western Europeans sought prosperity, opportunity and religious freedom. The colonies were considered an extension of the Europeans' homeland. The three main contenders for control of land in America were Spain, England and France. In the territory that eventually became the USA, the claims by the French (over 3 million square miles ceded in 1763), Dutch (Mid Atlantic States area in 1657) and Swedish (Delaware Bay area in 1657) were lost to the British. The British (English tribe) provided by far the largest number of immigrants and ruled the land. The USA took on the English language and laws, and continued as a predominantly English country after gaining its independence from Britain. The various people groups (Spanish, Germans, Dutch, French, etc.) who initially settled or lost control of territory claims to the British were allowed to remain and millions more have immigrated since. The late 19th to early 20th centuries saw a change from western European immigrants to mainly southern and eastern europeans, which prompted the first laws restricting immigration. Many other nationalities have also immigrated to the USA. Though the USA has one of the most homogeneous cultures in the world, it is still primarily a culture of the early English and western European settlers.

    Thus, in light of the complexities of the Roman realm, the USA can be described as follows: the USA (territory), like Britain, is seen primarily as an English (tribe) country that is politically influenced by Freemasonry (political influence) and spiritually influenced by Protestantism (religion).

    The shift of focus to the USA in end-times is especially seen in the following prophecies:

    • Daniel 11:40-45 - The events and key players through history from the realm of Medo-Persia down through the end of the realm of Rome are portrayed in chapter 11. The final verses culminate in a picture of the Roman realm (under the influence of Freemasonry and its web of secret societies - Head #7) with Britain and the USA (Horn A - the English tribe) as the primary superpowers, establishing an outpost/capital in Jerusalem. This occurred in 1948 in the aftermath of World War I and II and prophecy shows them resolutely holding that position until the end.

    • Revelation 13:11-18 - When the first beast's head is wounded in 1798, the second beast portrays the USA rising to power from a less populated area of the world. It grows and gains power to eventually enforce laws on all people and persecute by forming an "image of the [1st] beast" (church-state persecuting union) during the final events at the end.

    • Revelation 17 - While the beast's head that was wounded in 1798 is ascending back into power (beast that "shall ascend"), the beast continues to operate under its other successive heads. It portrays the Roman realm under its 7th Head as manifested in the USA during the 7th time period of Revelation (1840 - Second Coming), which ends up being controlled by a city of unfaithful churches (the Protestant daughter churches that apostatize and their Roman Catholic mother) that unite with state powers to persecute (church-state persecuting union) during the final events at the end.

Examples of the complexities of the Roman realm:

There are several beasts in Revelation that all symbolize the Roman realm, but each one focuses on a certain phase or component of its power. In light of the complexities of the Roman realm, any of the statements for each example below would be accurate, but the last description for each provides the most clarity:

The beast in Revelation 11 symbolizes:
  • France (territory / nation) during the French Revolution.
  • The French (tribe - Horn B).
  • Freemasonry (central political influence - Head #7) (the power that ruled in France during the Revolution).
  • The Protestant-led Roman realm (religion - spiritual phase #3) (the predominate religious influence at work).
  • The Roman realm led by Freemasonry as manifested in France during the French Revolution, which inflicted the deadly wound on the papacy in 1798 and unleashed Protestantism.
The 2nd beast in Revelation 13 symbolizes:
  • The USA (territory / nation).
  • The English (tribe - Horn A).
  • Freemasonry (central political influence - Head #7) (the power that rules in the USA).
  • The Protestant-led Roman realm (religion - spiritual phase #3).
  • The Roman realm led by Freemasonry as manifested in the USA, which provided a safe haven for Protestantism to flourish.