Prophetic 1260 day/years of Daniel and Revelation
1260 Days/Years
Prophetic Meaning

by Ulrike

Biblical use of the 1260 day/years
How did the reformers interprete the 1260 day/years?
Counter attack on the 1260 day/years
So what did happen in 538 and 1798?

Biblical use of the 1260 day/years

Daniel 7.25
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

A Time = 1 year
Times = 2 years
Dividing of Times = 1/2 year.
360 X 3 =1080 180 = 1260

Daniel 12.7
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Rev. 11.2
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Rev. 11.3
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Forty two months = 42 X 30 = 1260

Two hundred and threescore = 1260

Rev. 12.6
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Rev. 12.14
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Rev. 13.5,8
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months...and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

This same power depicted as controlling religious affairs for 1260 years, will again arise. It's deadly wound healed. Together with the "power of the dragon" and "force of the second beast" the world will be brought to a crises. (See Rev. 13) Therefore it is imperative that we understand this issue.

How did the writings of the Reformers interpret these 1260 day/years?

The Reformers looked at prophecy through the HISTORICIST method.
This method is not very popular in our day. Today we have Preterism, which teaches that most of prophecy has been fulfilled way back in the past. We have Futurism, which teaches that prophecy will only be fulfilled at some future date.
In contrast Historicism teaches that biblical predictions are being fulfilled throughout history, a divinely predicted chain of events leading us into the future. The great prophecies of Daniel span time from the Babylonian empire clear down to the restoration of all things at the end of time. Revelation prophesies the history of the Church from the Apostolic Era to the future restoration of all things.

Historicists teach The "Year-Day" principle - In prophetic language, a day of symbolic time represents a year of actual, historic time. The "Time, Times and Half a time," "3 1/2 years," "1260 days", and "42 month" time period, which occurs seven times in Daniel and Revelation, is understood by Historicists to be 1260 literal years fulfilled in history.

The day/year principle is an old principle already recognized by the Jews, even before the time of Christ. The Jews also identified the four beasts of Daniel, as Babylon, Media Persia, Greece and Rome.

However, the historicist interpretation developed later as the book of Daniel was "unsealed". The early church believed Christ would come SOON. They did not anticipate that we'd still be here 2000 years after Christ's first advent. The long periods of time were "sealed". But as early as 1190 AD one can find the 1260 days, spoken of as 1260 years. (An example is Abbot Joachim, of Floris)
Throughout the writings of the Reformers we see the growing conviction that these 1260 day/years pertained to the papacy's reign.

Walter Brute, a fourteenth century Welsh, Lollard scholar, a follower of Wycliff and a graduate of Oxford wrote that the "woman" of Revelation 12, or true church, had fled to Britain where for 1260 years the true faith had been maintained. He adopted the year-day principle for all prophetic time periods. The 1260 years were the papal persecution, just as the 10 days-- or years (Rev. 2:10) referred to the Diocletian persecution. (See Dawn of Reformation Vol. 1 p. 279)

John Napier--(1550-1617) Scottish mathematician and devoted Protestant writes in his "Plain Discovery of the Whole Revelation of Saint John" in his Scottish script:

"The 42 moneths, a thousand two hundred and threescore prophetical days, three greate days and a halfe and a time, times and a halfe a time mentioned in Daniel, and in the Revelation, are all one date...signifie the Church of Christ fled into the wildernes...everie one of them 1260 iuliane yeares...and the whoore, who in the Revelation is stiled spiritual Babylon, is not reallie Babylon, but the verie present Citie of Rome.....There is one particular Apostatik kingdome, who is the chief and principall of all Antichrists, and is that great Antichrist, whom Paul calles the man of sinne....

All the reformers attributed the 1260 day/years to the domination of the papacy. They had varying starting and ending dates, and it wasn't until Napoleon's time that 1798 became a recognized end point for the 1260 years.

Edward King, F.R.S., F.S.A. (1735-1807) was educated at Cambridge, wrote:

"Is not the Papal power, at Rome, which was once so terrible, and so domineering, at an end?
But let us pause a little. Was not this End, in other parts of the Holy prophecies, foretold to be, at the End of 1260 years? And was it not foretold by Daniel, to be at the END of time, times, and half a time? which computation amounts to the same period. And now let us see: hear; --and understand. THIS IS THE YEAR 1798. And just 1260 years ago, in the very beginning of the year 538, Belisarius put an end to the Empire, and Dominion of the Goths in Rome.
He had entered the City on the 10th of the preceding December, in triumph, in the name of Justinian, Emperor of the East; and had soon after made it tributary to him: leaving thenceforward from A.D,. 538, NO POWER in Rome, that could be said to rule over the earth, excepting the ECCLESIASTICAL PONTIFICAL POWER." (page 768 "Remarks on the Signs of the Times" in 1798)

David Simpson (1745-1799) theologian and religious writer, educated at St. Johns College, Cambridge, a Methodist, wrote:

"Is it not extremely remarkable, and a powerful confirmation of the truth of Scripture prophecy, that just 1260 years ago from the present 1798, in the very beginning of the year 538, Belisarius put an end to the empire of the Goths at Rome, leaving no power therein but the Bishop of that Metropolis?
Read these things in the prophetic Scriptures; compare them coolly with the present state of Europe, and then, I say again, deny the truth of Divine Revelation, if you can. Open your eyes, and behold these things accomplishing in the face of the whole world. This thing is not done in a corner." (page 166 "A Plea for Religion and the Sacred Writings)

Counter attack on the 1260 day/years.

Indeed the prophetic finger was pointing so strongly at the papacy that a "counter reformation" was launched. The Jesuit order was established to "undo" the reformation.

Jesuits Ribera, of Spain,(1537-1591) and Bellarmine, of Rome, (1542-1621) set forth the Futurist interpretation of prophecy.

Robert Ballarmine especially focused on destroying the day/year principle. The apocalyptic symbols were assigned either to the distant past or the distant future, thereby eliminating application to the long papal ascendancy during the Middle Ages. Bellarmine was astute at making the most of disagreements amongst the reformers. Luther had at first questioned the canonicity of Revelation and Bellarmine seized on this to present himself as the defender of scripture.

Bellarmine also dug up the concept of some "ancients" who had taught that antichrist would reign for three and a half literal years. He said antichrist was one individual man, not a system. Even honest Catholics debated him, asserting that Antichrist is a system, or organization, or falling away.

Bellarmine said that prophetic "time" simply denoted a unit-- such as a day, a year, or a millennium and generally sought to place the whole concept of prophetic time on a platform of confusion.

Thus the forces were set in motion to heal the wound. Textbooks on history were rewritten --
Today-- it is difficult to find the date 538 in the chronicles of history. The capture of Rome by Belisarius is buried somewhere in the total conquest against the Goths.

What happened to the "historicist" interpretation of prophecy which gave the Reformation its fire to stand against the oppression of the papacy? Historicist interpretation of prophecy has basically been removed from mainstream Protestantism! The Jesuit futuristic (and preterest) interpretations have almost totally swept the field. This was something which HAD to happen, if the wound is to be healed, and the whole world returns to the papacy as predicted in Rev. 13. We have now reached a time when the counter reformation has almost completely wiped out the prophetic interpretations of the reformation and the papal supremacy is once again coming into being.

So what actually did happen in 538 and in 1798?

538 marks the establishment of Justinian's newly codified ROMAN LAW in Rome, with it's authority in the hands of the church to be the supreme authority on "spiritual truth" and to punish heritics. It also marks a transition point, where the papacy, now sitting in the seat of Rome which Emperor's have deserted is gaining freedom from imperial control. Prior to this it was Emperors that called church councils and passed edits, but now the west was breaking free, (not immediate, not complete) but yet the year marks an important transition is taking place.

First let's look at a little history.

"By the end of the fifth century, German, rather than Roman, rule existed in Italy, Gaul, Britain, Spain, and most of North Africa. The power of the Roman emperors was restricted to the eastern Mediterranean and hence forth centered in Constantinople not in Rome." ("Ancient & Medieval History" Hayes and Moon, p. 448)

After years of turmoil resulting from attacks from various tribes, Italy was experiencing a measure of restoration of peace and civilization under the strong rulership of the Gothic Theoldoric.

So we enter this era with the city of Rome being under German, or Gothic rule. Theoldoric had been educated in Constantinople, and followed many Roman ways, but in the matter of Religion the Gothic Theoldoric was, first of all an Arian, but he was very tolerant to differing religious thought. Catholics, Arians, Jews were all able to follow their differing religious beliefs.

Now consider Justinian (527-565) emperor of the eastern Roman Empire with head quarters in Constantinople. Religious olerance was not part of his method of governing. He felt it his duty to control religion.

Justinian used is legal powers to control the religious beliefs and practices of his subjects. He made orthodox belief a qualification of full citizenship.....Those who refused to conform to the orthodox doctrine were not allowed to inherit property. They could not give evidence in court against the orthodox. Death by burning was the penalty for being a professed member of the Manichaeans." ("Justinian the Great" by Thomas Fitzgerald, p.100) The reign of Justinian was a uniform yet various scene of persecution; and he appears to have surpassed his indolent predecessors, both in the contrivance of his laws the rigour of their execution. The insufficient term of three months was assigned for the conversion or exile of all heretics; ad if he still connived at their precarious stay, they were deprived, under his iron yoke, not only of the benefits of society, but of the common birthright of men and Christians." (Gibbons, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" chp. 47 p. 837)

The newly codified Roman law which included some intolerant clauses against religious freedom, coming into practice in the city of Rome, was due largely to work of this emperor.

Historians tell us that Justinian codified the Roman law. He employed a lawyer named Tribonian, who, with a committee of 16 lawyers gathered together all the numerous laws which had governed Roman over the centuries previous. This law was codified. Then, in an imperial rescript in 534 A.D. the Roman bishop was recognized as the head of all the churches, and given full authority as such.

"Lives of Popes" by Richard McBrien page 89, tells us Pope John II (533-535) wrote to emperor Justinian and the emperor, incorporated the pope's letter, as well as that of the canons of the first four ecumenical councils and his own (in which he acknowledged the Apostolic See as the head of all the Churches) in his famous Code of Justinian.

According to Croly, in the "Apocalypse of St. John" pages, 167,168, Justinian wrote to the pope in 533,

"We have made no delay in subjecting and uniting to Your Holiness all the priests of the whole East. We cannot suffer that anything which relates to the state of the church, however manifest and unquestionable, should be moved, without the knowledge of your Holiness, who are THE HEAD OF ALL THE HOLY CHURCHES."

Justinian, according to Bruce Shelley, in "Church History in Plain Language" p. 146 ,147 "never distinguished Roman state tradition from Christianity. He considered himself to be completely a Roman emperor and just as fully a Christian emperor. Here lay the source of his whole theory, the unity of the empire and the Christian religion". The state itself was conceived to be the only community established by God, and it embraced the whole life of man. ..the mission of the pious emperor as the maintenance of the Christian faith in its purity and the protection of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church from any disturbance."

Archibald Bower tells us;

"By an edict which he (Justinian) issued to unite all men in one faith, whether Jews, Gentiles, or Christians, such as did not, I the term of three months embrace and profess the Catholic faith, were declared infamous, and as such, excluded from all employments, both civil and military, rendered incapable of leaving anything by will, and their estates confiscated, whether real or personal. These were convincing arguments of the truth of the Catholic faith; but many, however, withstood them; and against such as did, the imperial edict was executed with the utmost rigor., Great numbers were driven from their habitations with their wives and children, stripped. Others betook themselves to flight, carrying with them what they could conceal, for their support and maintenance; but they were plundered of the little they had.%u201D (History of the Popes Vol. 1 p. 334) (See also Gibbon%u2019s %u201CDecline and Fall of Rome, chapter 47, p. 616-617)

Gibbon's also tells us in chapter 41 that as the conquest of the west progressed Justinian was "impatient to abolish the temporal and spiritual tyranny of the Vandals, he proceeded without delay to the full establishment of the Catholic Church." This recognition, that made the papacy THE HEAD OF ALL CHURCHES, was incorporated into the Justinian Code. Thus the Catholic faith was official recognized by law, as the only orthodox religion of the empire and the two mighty forces of state and religion were legally united under the papacy.

However the Gothic king Theodahad was reigning in Italy. Therefore the exaltation of the papacy in Rome was in decree only and could not be put into effect.

Justinian's general, Belisarius was fighting the Vandels in North Africa, recaptured Carthage and put an end to the Vandal kingdom, and the plans were to also destroy the Goths.

Agapitus I, was Pope for only a little over a month and was ordered by King Theodahad to go to Constantinople and tell Justinian not to drive out the Goths from Rome. Agapitus I, went to Constantinople where he died suddenly. King Theoldahad made arrangements for the appointment of Pope Silverius. (536-537) (see "Justinian the Great"; by Fitzgerald p. 104)

By this time, Justinian's armies had already taken Sicily and Naples as well as Dalmatia in the north. The Gothic nobles were unhappy with their king Theodahad and replaced him with Witigis who had proven himself in battle, in the hope that he would save Italy from Justinian%u2019s re-conquest.

Witigis left a garrison of 4000 men in Rome and took most of his forces to the north --Ravenna. He also took with him senators from Rome to ensure that Rome stay loyal to him.

When Justinian's general, Belisarius and his army came to Rome Dec. 536, the garrison of 4000, feeling they could not defend the city, simply took off and Belisarius marched right in. The pope Silverius and the senate begged Belisarius to treat Rome as an open city, but Belisarius turned it into a fortification.

Reading the story in Gibbon's book "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" chapter 41, we see both Belisaruas and Witiges (the Gothic Leader) preparing for battle that winter. Belisarius fortifying the city, bringing in large amount of food, making water secure, sending women and children to a safer city. Witigis was busy putting together and equiping a vaste army of Goths.

Some have maintained that Rome was "taken" in 536, not 538, but 536 was just the beginning, as we shall see.

Witigis with his Gothic army, then marched on Rome and besieged the city. The siege began in 537 and lasted over a year. Battles were fought during this time. It was also during this time that Pope Silverius was accused of plotting with the Goths and deposed, Silverius was banished to Patora in Lycia, but was still the "official" pope till November of 537.

Vigilius was put in his place. Vigilius became pope "officially" in November 537 and ruled till 555.

It was in 538 that Witigis, the leader of the Goths finally withdrew his armies that were besieging Rome and marched northward to Ravenna, the Gothic capital, with the Romans in hot and deadly pursuit. Thus it was in 538 AD that Rome was won-- not in 537 or 536.

It was general Belisarius, who by command of Justinian, took over Rome from the Goths in 538 (though the Goths were not driven out of Italy till years later.) Some will argue that because the Goths were not yet driven out of ALL of Italy the date 538 isn't relevent. But ”A survey of European Civilization by Ferguson and Bruun, tells me on page 166,

“By 540 he (Belisarius) had conquered all of the peninsula south of the river Po. In both North Africa and Italy the imperial administration and law were reintroduced”

The IMPERIAL administration and law were reintroduced---now Justinian's Code, formulated a few years earlier, could take effect in Rome. The pope could authorize religious matters and take care of heretics.

So, even though there was still political unrest and turmoil in the country of Italy, 538 marks a transition point in the powers of the papacy. There was a political vacuum in Rome -- which the pope began to fill. It was his beginning to being the leading power operating as the continuation of the western roman Empire. The authority of the papacy began its l260 years of reign in 538 when Rome was conquered and the law of Justinian became the law of Rome. That law gave the pope his authority.

Now, what happened to the law in 1798?

Popes had faced "bad times" before, what was different in 1798?
Not only was the pope taken captive in 1798, but a new set of laws was established.
Napoleon codified a whole new set of laws
The codified law of Justinian had been the Roman law during all those centuries.
But in 1798, the code of Napoleon becomes the law as it affected the papacy.

Dated Feb. 15. 1798
Bill No. 8 included:

"In consequence, every other temporal authority emanating from the old government of the Pope, is suppressed, and it shall no more exercise any function...."

Bill No. 9 The people of Rome cast off Papal Yoke.

Thus we see the official rule of the papacy for 1260 years. A rule authorized by Justinian%u2019s law, and evoked by Napoleon's law.

Napoleon placed the Protestants on a parity with Roman Catholics and took away the "primacy" aspect of papal leadership.

This is marked in history as the birth of a new era. The rule of the Catholic church, working through monarchs and aristocrats was over. The democratic gospel brought in by the revolution set up the independence of the people. The schools were taken out from under the jurisdiction of the church and run by the state.

According to Bruce Shelley in "Church History in Plain Language" page 358

Napoleon had the good sense to work out an agreement with the pope....BUT the Church had lost forever its position of power. France and the rest of Europe could never return to a society held together by an alliance of throne and altar."

Shelley said, the church had lost it's power FOREVER...but prophecy says the wound will heal and the world will once again be herded into a society held together by enforced devotion to "throne and altar".

To understand the issues facing us in the last great battle for our souls, we need to know what the issues are. Be not deceived! Scripture has plainly told us who the contenders are, that we might not be deceived.

In 538 the reign of the Ostrogoths was broken in the city of Rome, and JUSTINIAN'S newly codified law with it's clauses giving the papacy authority to enforce one religion on all was established in ROME where the Pope resided.

We desire that all peoples subject to Our benign Empire shall live under the same religion that the Divine Peter, the Apostle, gave to the Romans,...

We order all those who follow this law to assume the name of Catholic Christians, and considering others as demented and insane, We order that they shall bear the infamy of heresy; and when the Divine vengeance which they merit has been appeased, they shall afterwards be punished in accordance with Our resentment, which we have acquired from the judgment of Heaven.

Let no place be afforded to heretics for the conduct of their ceremonies, and let no occasion be offered for them to display the insanity of their obstinate minds. Let all persons know that if any privilege has been fraudulently obtained by means of any rescript whatsoever, by persons of this kind, it will not be valid. Let all bodies of heretics be prevented from holding unlawful assemblies, and let the name of the only and the greatest God be celebrated everywhere, and let the observance of the Nicene Creed, recently transmitted to Our ancestors, and firmly established by the testimony and practice of Divine Religion, always remain secure.
Justinian Code

The Justinian LAW came to an end with the famous Bill No. 8 of February 15, 1789.


"The Roman people are now again entered into the rights of sovereignty, declaring their independence, possessing the government of ancient Rome, constituting a Roman Republic.

"The General-in-chief of the French army in Italy declares, in the name of the French Republic, that he acknowledges the Roman Republic independent, and that the same is under the special protection of the French army.

"The General -in chief of the army acknowledges, in the name of the French Republic, the provisional government which has been proposed by the sovereign people.

"In consequence, every other temporal authority emanating from the old government of the Pope, is suppressed, and it shall no more exercise any function...."

Rome, the 15th of February, 1798; first year of Liberty, proclaimed in the Roman Forum, and ratified on the Capitol, with free voice, and subscribed to by innumerable Citizens.
Berthier's declaration

About fifty official handbills and circulars, many in paralleling French and Italian columns, were printed and posted in Rome during the papal overthrow and the establishment of the republic under Berthier in 1798.

The famous Bill No. 8, in parallel French and Italian, dated Pluviose 27 (February 15), is a formal declaration by "Citizen Alexander Berthier, General in Chief." In this he makes the announcement:

The Roman people are now again entered into the rights of sovereignty, declaring their independence, possessing the government of ancient Rome, constituting a Roman Republic.


%u2014Bill No. 9, likewise of the same date (February 15, 1798), titled "Acte du Pepule [peuple] Souverain" (An Act of the Sovereign People) %u2014certified and signed by three notaries, and confirmed by General Berthier%u2014makes this clear-cut declaration:

The people of Rome, long tired of the monstrous despotism under which they groaned have on various occasions tried to shake off this yoke. The magic of public opinion and political interests combined into a mighty force have not allowed their efforts to succeed. And a despotism of that nature becomes the more insulting the more its weakness and arrogance corresponds to its misery.

But at last, the people, fearing to be exposed to an hideous anarchy and in despair to fall under even a worse tyranny have mustered all their courage in order to evade these sinister consequences and to reclaim the primitive rights of their sovereignty.

Assembled in the presence of the Eternal and the whole universe, they solemnly and unanimously declare to have had no part whatever in the crimes and assassinations committed by the government against the French Republic and her nation. They disapprove of these crimes and detest their originators and invoke upon them (vow them) eternal shame.
They further have suppressed, abolished and crushed the political, economic, and civil authorities of the former Roman government and have constituted themselves a free and independent sovereignty in taking up all executive and legislative powers which its legitimate representatives shall exercise according to the immortal rights of man based on the principles of truth, justice, liberty, and equality.

They have declared that their desire is that no attack against religion or the spiritual authority of the pope should be made and that they reserve to themselves the right by their representatives to provide for the comfortable sustenance [of the Pope] and to ensure the safety of his person by a national guard.

"The present act has been signed by several thousand persons who, with many others, have read, approved and confirmed it by their acclamations on the Capitol. On the 27. Pluviose in the 6. year of the Republic."

Home Page, Daniel Studies

Answering some issues raised by Bacchiocchi on 1260 day/years etc.
Answers to Objections on the 1260 day presentation
Essay on the 1260, 1290, 1335 day/years of Daniel 12
More on the Counter Reformation
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