Prophetic World Empires
from Babylon to the End Time Beast
Submit Bible questions, through our easy to use form,
to our team of mature Christians known as the Email Evangelists.
God has revealed, in the books of Daniel and Revelation, the world-ruling Gentile (non-Israelite) empires (kingdoms) that would exist from the time of Babylon's empire to the Second Coming of Jesus - a span of more than 2,600 years! Biblical prophecy predicts no less than fifteen empires and the most influential false religious system the devil would create. The symbolic Bible prophecies that proclaim such events BEFORE they happen are:
The large image of a man dreamed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Daniel 2).
The prophet Daniel's dream of four great beasts: A lion, bear, leopard and one strong beast with iron teeth and ten horns (Daniel 7).
Daniel's vision of a ram and a male goat (Daniel 8).
The apostle John's vision of a woman riding a beast with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 17) along with an end time beast that will rule the world just before the Second Coming of Jesus (Revelation 13:1-8).
One simple but profound question generated from Bible prophecy concerns ancient Israel. Why would God allow Gentile nations to dominate the world instead of his chosen people - the Israelites? The Bible records God making a very special promise to the people of Israel just before they crossed the Jordan River to receive their inheritance in the land of milk and honey. He promised to make them HIGH ABOVE all the nations IF they keep his commandments (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).
God promised to make the Israelite nation preeminent in the world IF they obeyed his voice. Over time, however, they increasingly rejected God's way to the point where they refused to have him as their King and instead requested a human king be put over them (1Samuel 8:5-7). Eventually, because of their ongoing disregard for God's laws, ten of Israel's tribes were conquered and taken out of the land by the Assyrian empire (723 B.C.). The remaining tribes (Judah, Benjamin and Levi) lived in Palestine until they too, because of disobedience, were conquered and taken from their inheritance. Because Israel rejected God, he rejected them and gave their promised leadership role in the world to others - the Gentile empires which are listed below.
Represented in Bible prophecy as:
Head of Gold (Daniel 2:32, 38)
First Beast like a Lion (Daniel 7:4)
Babylon was the kingdom that ruled the earth at the time when Nebuchadnezzar dreamed an image of a man.
In 612 B.C. King Nabopolassar of Babylon defeated the Assyrian Empire and sacked its capital city of Nineveh. It was this victory that began Babylon's period as a world empire. The empire's greatest King was Nebuchadnezzar (reigned 605 - 562 B.C.), who conquered the Kingdom of Judah, took the inhabitants as captives to Babylon and, in 586 B.C., burned Jerusalem and destroyed its temple. Babylon's world supremacy lasted for only 73 years.
Persian Empire (Medo-Persian Empire)Represented in Bible prophecy as:
Chest and Arms of Silver (Daniel 2:32, 39)
Second Beast like a Bear (Daniel 7:5)
Ram with two horns (Daniel 8:3-4, 20)
Persia is the second beast (prophetic kingdom) to rule the earth. This kingdom actually represents two kings ("ram with two horns") - the king of Media and king of Persia.
Astyages became king of Media in 585 B.C. Cyrus the Great became king of Persia, though not an independent ruler, in 559 B.C. Like his predecessors, Cyrus had to recognize Median dominance over his kingdom ("one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last"). In 549 Cyrus overthrew the Medes and King Astyages (who was a family member, possibly Cyrus' grandfather).
The Persian empire is considered the most powerful kingdom of the ancient world. At its height it ruled more than 2.9 million square miles (7.5 million square kilometers) of land that spanned three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. The Persians were the largest empire in ancient history in terms of total land controlled. It is estimated that in 480 B.C. Persia had 50 million people living under its authority - or roughly 44% of the entire world's population. It was during the reign of Cyrus the Great that captive Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem.
Macedonian (Greek) Empire of Alexander the GreatRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Division of kingdom into four pieces
Belly and Thighs of Bronze (brass) (Daniel 2:32, 39)
Beast (Leopard) with four Heads (Daniel 7:6)
Male Goat with large horn and four smaller horns (Daniel 8:5-8, 21-22, 11:3-4)
After Alexander's death (the "broken horn") the "four that stood up in its place" to rule in his stead were his four generals. This means the empire that Alexander built and its subsequent division into four pieces are counted as the third, fourth, fifth and sixth prophetic kingdoms to rule the earth.
Alexander the Great, born in 356 B.C., was an ancient Greek king whose father was King Philip II of Macedon. Soon after ascending to the throne in 336 B.C. due to his father's assassination Alexander began a military campaign to realize his father's expansion plans. His conquests included the Persian Empire, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Egypt and Mesopotamia. The empire's boundaries stretched as far west as the Ionian sea and as far east as the Himalayas and India. Alexander never lost a battle (though many times he was outnumbered) and is considered one of the most successful military commanders in history.
The Greek kingdom, after Alexander's death in 323 B.C., was NOT passed to either of his two sons ("but not among his posterity"). Instead, as the prophecies indicated, it was divided up into four separate kingdoms by his generals Ptolemy, Antipater, Seleucus and Antigonus.
Roman EmpireRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Two Legs of Iron (Daniel 2:33, 40-43)
Fourth Beast with teeth of iron and ten horns (Daniel 7:7, 23-24)
The transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire highly likely occurred in 27 B.C., when the Senate granted extraordinary powers to Augustus - who many consider to be the first true Roman Emperor.
The greatest extent of the empire occurred with Trajan's conquest of Dacia in 117 A.D., which gave the kingdom control of 2.5 million square miles of territory (6.5 million square kilometers). Rome is considered the third largest and most powerful of the ancient empires (behind the empires of Persia and the Han dynasty). At the time of Jesus it is believed Rome controlled a total population of 60 million people.
In 395 A.D. the united kingdom split into two separate pieces: The Eastern (Byzantine
) Empire, which lasted until 1453 A.D. and the Western Empire, which lasted until 476 A.D.
The Great False Religious SystemRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Little horn among ten horns that causes the first three to be removed (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24-27)
Mystery, Babylon the Great, a whore riding a beast who is the mother of harlots (Revelation 17:1-6, 18)
Prophecies represent the Roman Catholic Church and the Papacy. Rome is the "great city" that rules over the kings (kingdoms) of the earth.
The great whore of Revelation 17 did not ride any of the seven prophetic heads (empires) mentioned in Daniel 2 (Babylon, Persia, Greece (four heads) and Rome before its split) nor the first three horns of the fourth beast of Daniel 7. It did, however, mount and ride the fourth beast's last seven horns. These last seven horns of Daniel 7 are the same as the seven heads ridden by the great whore in Revelation 17.
The title "Supreme Pontiff" (Pontifex Maximus or "highest office") was first used around 220 A.D. by Tertullian to refer to the head of the Roman church. It wasn't until the 590's A.D. that this title was used in an formal sense to refer to the Pope.
Additional Bible Study Materials
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel - Its teachings and humor
Picture of St. Peter's Square
Does the Pope rule over the world's SMALLEST state?
Did the Popes receive the "keys of the kingdom" and authority over the church from PETER?
The VandalsRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
First of ten horns / kings / kingdoms related to Rome's classical empire (Daniel 7:24)
First of three horns "plucked up" due to a little horn (Daniel 7:8, 20)
The kingdom was overthrown at the behest of the Papacy.
The Vandals migrated to live in Roman territory around 400 A.D. King Geiseric led the tribe to North Africa in 429. In 439 they created their own kingdom which included parts of Africa that were controlled by Rome plus islands such as Sardinia, Malta and Corsica. They sacked Rome in the year 455. The Vandals defeated the fleets sent against them from both the Western (460 A.D.) and Eastern (468 A.D.) Roman empires. Their empire collapsed, however, in 534 A.D. when Belisarius (commander of Byzantine Emperor Justinian's army) defeated them at the battle of Hippo.
The HeruliRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Second of ten horns / kingdoms (Daniel 7:24)
Second of three horns "plucked up" due to a little horn (Daniel 7:8, 20)
The kingdom was overthrown at the behest of the Papacy.
Under Odoacer (who became the first barbarian King of Italy) the Heruli deposed the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D. In 508 their short-lived empire came to an end when they were destroyed by the Lombards.
The OstrogothsRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Third of ten horns / kingdoms (Daniel 7:24)
Third of three horns "plucked up" due to a little horn (Daniel 7:8, 20)
The kingdom was overthrown at the behest of the Papacy.
In 493 A.D. Theodoric the Great became the first king of the Ostrogothic kingdom and replaced Odoacer as ruler of Italy. The Ostrogoths considered themselves upholders of the direct line of Roman traditions. In 535 A.D. the Byzantine emperor Justinian attacked the Ostrogoths and started what would become the nineteen year long Gothic War. In 554 the Ostrogothic empire finally fell.
Partial Restoration of the Roman EmpireRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Fourth of ten horns related to Rome's classical empire (Daniel 7:24)
First of seven heads of scarlet Beast rode by the great religious whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
Under Byzantine emperor Justinian I the Eastern empire conquered many of the lands lost by the Western Empire when it collapsed in 476.
Justinian, who reigned 527 to 565 B.C., was the first Eastern Roman (Byzantine) king who sought to reclaim the glory of Rome through conquering lands lost by the Western Empire. As a "Christian" emperor he considered it his divine duty to restore Rome's kingdom to its ancient boundaries. During his reign he fought many wars (Iberian, Vandalic, Gothic, Moorish, etc.) and did conquer many territories formerly controlled by the West (Italy, Africa, southern Hispania, etc.).
Although he considered himself "priest and king" over the Empire, Justinian officially recognized the Roman See (office of the pope) as the highest ecclesiastical authority.
Charlemagne (Charles the Great)Represented in Bible prophecy as:
Fifth of ten horns related to Rome's empire (Daniel 7:24)
Second of seven heads of Beast rode by the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
Charlemagne, crowned by the Pope, was the first Roman Emperor in Western Europe since the fall of the empire in 476 A.D.
Charlemagne was king of the Franks (starting in 768 A.D.) and the Lombards (starting in 774 A.D.) before becoming Emperor. In 799 A.D. Pope Leo III was mistreated by the Romans who tried to put out his eyes and tear out his tongue. After escaping and fleeing to Charlemagne the Pope requested his position be restored. Charlemagne traveled to Rome, then entered it with the Pope in November 800 A.D. A synod was held December 1 and the charges against Leo pronounced false.
On Christmas Day in 800, during Mass, the Pope crowned Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans. This was the first time in history a Pope crowned a Roman Emperor. Charlemagne became the papacy's chief protector. He would ultimately unite most of Christian Europe under his rule.
Otto the GreatRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Sixth of ten horns related to Rome's empire (Daniel 7:24)
Third of seven heads of Beast rode by the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
In 962 A.D. Otto the Great, in Rome, was crowned the first "Holy" Roman Emperor by the Pope.
Otto the Great was king of Germany and Duke of Saxony (starting in 936) and king of Italy (starting in 961) before becoming Emperor. He is considered the founder of the Holy Roman Empire.
Otto considered himself the protector of the Church in part due to his belief he had the "divine right" to rule. He strengthen ecclesiastical authorities such as bishops and abbots at the expense of the secular nobility.
Charles VRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Seventh of ten horns related to Rome's empire (Daniel 7:24)
Fourth of seven heads of Beast rode by the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
In 1530 Charles was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope.
Charles was also Lord of the Netherlands (starting in 1506) and the first king of Spain (starting in 1516). He was of the house of Hapsburg, who produced all the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors from 1438 to 1740 A.D. Charles became king of the Romans / Italy in 1519. He ruled as Emperor from 1530 to 1556. It was during his reign that the Hapsburg Dynasty, for the first and only time, achieved the status of a true world empire.
Charles is best known for his role in opposing the Protestant Reformation. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits), formed initially to peacefully combat Protestantism, was started during his reign.
Napoleon I (Bonaparte)Represented in Bible prophecy as:
Eighth of ten horns related to Rome's empire (Daniel 7:24)
Fifth of seven heads of Beast rode by the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
Napoleon was crowned King of Italy by the Pope in 1805, a title which he held until 1814 A.D.
In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire formally dissolved when the last Emperor abdicated following his defeat at the hands of Napoleon and the French. Napoleon reorganized most of the empire into the Confederation of the Rhine, which eventually was composed of 9 kings and 28 princes. The confederation collapsed in 1813 after Napoleon's failed attempt to conquer Russia.
Otto von BismarckRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Ninth of ten horns related to Rome's empire (Daniel 7:24)
Sixth of seven heads of Beast rode by the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
The 'one is' king that will come after five have fallen (Revelation 17:10)
The five kings / kingdoms that fell before Bismarck's rule were Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V and Napoleon. After a series of short wars, Otto was able in 1871 to unify numerous German states into a powerful Empire. He was the first Imperial Chancellor of the Empire from 1871 to 1890.
Otto created a "balance of power" in Europe that preserved the peace in the region from 1871 until 1914 (World War I).
Benito Mussolini - Adolf HitlerRepresented in Bible prophecy as:
Tenth of ten horns related to Rome's empire (Daniel 7:24)
Seventh of seven heads of Beast rode by the great whore (Revelation 17:1-6)
The 'other that has not yet come' king (Revelation 17:10)
Represents the European empire (kingdom) created by Hitler and Mussolini. In 1938 it became one of the wealthiest empires (by size of GDP) in modern times.
Mussolini was Prime Minister of Italy from 1922 to 1943. Hitler was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Supporters of Mussolini's attempt to create an Italian empire called it the New Roman Empire. Interestingly, in 1917 the British Security Service (MI5) paid Mussolini £100 a week to help him get started in politics.
In 1929 the Lateran treaties were signed by Mussolini and the Vatican. The treaties established the independence of Vatican City within Italy and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. The treaties also included a legal provision whereby the Italian government would protect the honor and dignity of the Pope by prosecuting offenders.
The term "Third Reich," meaning the third German empire, is often used to refer to Germany during its years under Nazi control. The Nazis considered the first Reich to be the Holy Roman Empire from 962 to 1806 A.D., and the second Reich to be the German Empire from 1871 to 1918 A.D.
Final World Empire / Government Represented in Bible prophecy as:
Ten Toes of Iron and Clay ultimately destroyed by God's kingdom (Daniel 2:41-44)
King that will kill Christians and fight the return of Jesus (Daniel 8:23-25)
Beast with seven heads and ten horns who will rule earth 42 months (Revelation 13:1-8)
Beast with two horns like lamb but spoke like a dragon (Revelation 13:11)
Eighth head that is Beast "that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth" (Revelation 17:11)
Ten horns (kings) that will give their power to fight against the Lamb (Revelation 17:12-14)
The full meaning of these prophecies has yet to occur