The 1260 Day Prophecy

Objection to be answered:
but the Goths weren't Defeated in 538, what about Totila?

by Ulrike

A well known and respected scholar, whom we have all respected, has, in the past few weeks presented ideas on prophecy which are a CLEAR DEPARTURE from the very foundation of our understanding of prophecy and who is starting to proclaim sentiments we have often heard from those who oppose us.

He has termed it a "refreshing, new understanding" BUT it is really NOT NEW or REFRESHING at all. We have met these things in years past and feel deeply the disappointment because one whom we have looked to as a teacher and leader, seems now to have undertaken to upset the very foundation of our prophetic understanding.

In the following pages I will present why I believe our understanding of the 1260 year period is well founded--

Paragraph's from Prof. Bacchiocchi’s letter are printed in “brown”.

The 1260 day/years

Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D. writes:

Historically, our Adventist church has interpreted this prophetic period as representing the 1260 years of Papal domination from 538 to 1798. Supposedly the prophetic period of the Antichrist began in 538 when Justinian's general, Belisarius, defeated the Ostrogoths, thus enabling the Pope to regain some of his power. The period terminated in 1798 when Napoleon's general, Bethier, entered Rome with a French army, proclaiming the end to the political rule of the papacy, and taking with him the pope prisoner to France.

This interpretation poses two major problems, which thinking Adventists have long recognized. In fact during the past few months I have received several email messages and calls from pastors who have asked me to help them understand more fully what really happened in 538.

The first problem is the questionable significance of 538. We noted earlier that Justinian's triumph over the Ostrogoths in 538 was short lived, because under their new leader, Totila, the Ostrogoths quickly recaptured most of their lost territories. In other words, this event did not significantly boost the power of the Papacy, which still faced constant harassments from various rulers for centuries to come.

I guess I was rather mystified by the fact a scholar would make generalities like the above.

First what was Justinian’s, or rather his general's, (Belisius) victory in 538? Was it "extinguishing" the Ostrogoths? No, it was the retaking of ROME (the imperial city) from the RULE of the Ostrogoths, and out from under Ostrogoth' reign, and thus placing it under ROMAN LAW-- that law which Justinian had codified just a few years earlier-- which contained the declaration that the Pope (not necessarily a specific individual pope, as there was a removal of Pope Silverius and the replacing of Pope Vigilius right then in 538) but the recognized pope, who was seated in Rome, was BY THE NEWLY CODIFIED ROMAN LAW, head of all churches and in charge of "dealing" with the "heretics".

It is true that the Goths were not defeated as a whole nation until several years later, it is true that after this victory of Belisarius in 538, the city of Rome itself was twice retaken by Totila, the new leader of the Goths. But he never ended up setting up any Empire there.
First, in 545, Totila laid siege to Rome, which held out for about a year. Belisarius, who was sent by Justinian to defend Rome, was given hardly no troops, and could not withstand the siege. Rome fell in December 546. Totila considered destroying the city, but Belisarius wrote him in protest, pointing out how it would damage his reputation if he destroyed a city of such beauty, and Totila gave up his plan and instead evacuated Rome, taking with him the senators and sending the rest of the populace into Campania.

As soon as Totila left Rome to recover other cities, Belisarius re-entered Rome, rebuilt and repopulated it and prepared it to withstand yet another siege. Totila returned with his troops and attacked, but was repulsed and had to withdraw. Belisarius was not receiving much support from back home-- Justinian was busy fighting the "new Persians". Belisarius, discouraged, went home.

In 549 Totila again attacked Rome and entered the city, but then he decided to "punish" the Sicilians and crossed to Sicily, to slaughter the inhabitants. Justinian was shocked and sent troops to get rid of Totila. Narses (Justinian's General) defeated Totila's armies and Totila was killed. This was 552-- a little over two years after he entered Rome.

It was Totila's “recapturing of Rome” which was very short lived!

According to “A Survey of European History” by Ferguson and Bruun, page 157:

“Theodoric's (Ostrogothic king 493-526) works died with him. Factional strife broke out soon after his death, and by 555 the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy had been crushed by the armies of the eastern emperor, Justinian. That hardly sounds like the Ostrogoths came back into control after 538. Oh yes, there were some fierce battles fought BUT they NEVER “regained the “kingdom” which Theodoric had held-- and they were defeated--crushed.

And that law gave the POPE the LEGAL position as head of all churches with authority to deal with all heretics.

Yes, there were lots of wars-- but the Roman code of law, THAT LAW WHICH LEGALLY DECLARED THE POPE HEAD OF ALL CHURCHES, and defender against all heretics, was established in ROME in 538, and even though suffering some political setbacks during that time, that Roman LAW was ALWAYS brought into force again and stood as THE LAW, in Rome, from 538 until Napoleon’s new CODE OF LAW replaced it 1260 years later.

Totelia’s victories were short, very short lived, Rome was RECOVERED for Justinian by Narses.

No, dominion, no new power was SET UP in Rome other then the power of the Papacy.

There was NO CHANGE in the law which decreed that now the Pope was "head of all churches" and responsible to "deal" with all "heretics".

Thus in 538, the "saints" were literally "given into his hands, at the beginning of the 1260 years, in 538.

(Main Resource: "Justinian the Great" by Tomas Fitzgerald As well as other encyclopaedias and history books.)

For more on the significence of 538 see my webpage:
The 1260 Day/Years

The second problem with the traditional interpretation is its failure to account for the basic meaning of this prophetic period, namely, a time in which God's people are persecuted on the one hand and are protected on the other hand. It is evident that the persecution and protection of the church did not begin in 538 nor did it end in 1798.

The 1260 years identify the “power” that “scatters “God’s people”. It is NOT limited to the identification of the true church or to God's protection.

The 1260 years are consistently linked to the time period after Christ's death and resurrection when an earthly power will have primacy over God's saints and seeks to destroy them.

Daniel 12:7 It shall be for a time, times and half a time (3 and half= 1260 day/years) when the power of the holy people has been shattered, all these shall be finished.

Daniel 7:25 He (the stout horn) shall persecute the saints of the most high and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time. (1260 day/years)

Rev. 12:6 And the woman (God's true church) fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God, where she was nourished for 1260 days.

Rev. 12:13-14 And the dragon persecuted the woman...she flew into the wilderness...where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time...

Rev. 13:5-6 (The sea beast) is given authority to continue for 42 months (1260 day/years) and it is granted to him to make war with the saints and overcome them.

And since Daniel 12:5-13 is the heavenly explanation of Daniel 10-11, we also find in the vision part the war against God's saints. This war against the saints is described in Daniel 11:33-35

For many days they will fall by the sword and flame, by captivity and refine them and purify them until the time of the end, because it is for an appointed time.

And what is the appointed time of this persecution? Daniel 12:7 says it is for a time, times and half a time (1260 years) that the power of the holy people shall be shattered.

This time period of papal primacy and oppression began when Justinian's decree, declaring the pope's authority over all churches and authorizing him to deal with all "heretics" went into effect.

It ended in 1798 when Napoleon sent his general Berthier to Rome. Rome was declared a republic, the pope was imprisoned where he died, and the new pope operated under Napoleon's new laws that removed from him all former primacy. The primacy law lasted exactly 1260 years.

In 538 the JUSTINIAN'S LAW with its intolerant religious clauses was established in ROME where the Pope resided.
BOOK 1. .

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.

Let those who do not accept those doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes, and, having been removed from the threshhold of all churches, be utterly excluded from them, as We forbid all heretics to hold unlawful assemblies within cities. If, however, any seditious outbreak should be attempted, We order them to be driven outside the the walls of the City, with relentless violence, and We direct that all Catholic Churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.
Justinian's Code

Those provisions in 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.


—Bill No. 9, likewise of the same date (February 15, 1798), titled "Acte du Pepule [peuple] Souverain" (An Act of the Sovereign People) —certified and signed by three notaries, and confirmed by General Berthier—makes 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."


Even though the "revolution" was not yet completed, the DECALARATION OF INDEPENDENCE was made.

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