The first characteristic is
1) The little horn arises from the fourth beast (Daniel 7:8). The fourth beast represents Rome, so the little horn must be a Roman power.
Remember the image of Daniel 2? The legs were of iron, but the feet were of iron and clay. What does the clay represent? We know the iron represents pagan Rome. In fact, throughout history Rome has been recognised as the ‘Iron Kingdom’ or Empire. But what of the clay that is in union with the iron, but unable to cleave to one another?
The Bible is its own best expositor, so we shall go to the word of God to find our answer.
Isa 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Isa 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
So according to the above evidence, we see that clay represents God’s people, or His church. Therefore we can justifiably conclude that the feet of the image in Daniel 2, made of iron and clay, is a union of church and state. We see also in the text of Daniel 2 that the clay is miry clay. Miry clay is unworkable. It cannot be shaped by the potter into anything useful; it is fit only to be discarded. It may have begun its life as suitable clay for the fashioning of the potter, but became miry. This is therefore signifying the apostasy Paul spoke of that would take place after he had gone and before Christ comes. Thus it is an apostate church in union with the Roman power. Apostasy as most would appreciate is a falling away from grace, a state where previously the church was in a right relationship with God, but is now separated, the word apostasy in the Greek originally suggesting divorce. Understandable then when we later see the rock of Christ destroying the image, including the iron /clay union.
So according to Daniel 2, there is a union of church and state, and this union is Roman, and continues to be Roman, without pause or break, from the time of paganism to the present day and on until the second coming.
There is only one viable candidate that answers to the description. There is only one church power that grew out of Rome, there is only one church/state union that grew out of the Roman Empire, and continues to the present time. And that is the Roman Catholic Church.
The religion of Rome was adopted by the church. It is well known that Constantine the Great brought all sorts of pagan practices into the church. This is recognised by both secular and church historians. In fact, the name “Supreme Pontiff” (Pontifex Maximus) was used by the pagan Roman emperors. After the Edict of Milan was signed in the year 312 A. D., Christians were restored as bona fide citizens of the Roman empire.
Constantine, emperor of the Roman empire, was the architect of this Edict of Milan.
Regarding Constantine,Dave Hunt remarks:
“A brilliant military commander, Constantine also understood that there could be no political stability without religious unity. Yet to accomplish that feat would require a union between paganism and Christianity. How could it be accomplished? The Empire needed an ecumenical religion that would appeal to every citizen in a multi-cultural society. Giving Christianity official status was not enough to bring internal peace to the Empire: Christianity had to undergo a transformation so that pagans could ‘convert’ without giving up their old beliefs and rituals.
Constantine himself exemplified this expediency. He adopted Christ as the new god that had given him victory in the crucial battle at Milvian Bridge in 312 A. D., and brought him into Rome as its conqueror. Yet, as Caesar, he continued to function as the Pontifex Maximus of the Empire’s pagan priesthood, known as the Pontifical College. . . As a ‘Christian’ Emperor, he automatically became the de facto civil head of the Christian church and seduced her with promises of power. Thus began the destruction of Christianity and the process that created Roman Catholicism as it is today.” (Dave Hunt, Global Peace, pp. 106-107) .
“It was ‘Christianity’, in fact, which gave the Empire a unity and continuity that held it together culturally and religiously. When the Empire later disintegrated politically under the onslaught of the Barbarians, it was held together religiously by the all-pervasive presence of the Roman Catholic Church with its ingenious ecumenical blend of paganism and Christianity still headquartered in Rome.” (Dave Hunt, Global Peace, p.110).
John Henry Cardinal Newman makes this admission:
“We are told in various ways by Eusebius, that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees, incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness, holy water; asylums; holy days and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments; the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleisen, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church. (Henry Cardinal Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, p. 373).
Philip Schaff, one of the greatest church historians ever to wield a pen, wrote the following:
“But the elevation of Christianity as the religion of the state presents also an opposite aspect to our contemplation. It involved great risk of degeneracy to the church. The Roman state, with its laws, institutions, and usages, was still deeply rooted in heathenism, and could not be transformed by a magical stroke. The christianizing of the state amounted therefore in great measure to a paganizing and secularizing of the church. The world overcame the church, as much as the church overcame the world, and the temporal gain of Christianity was in many respects cancelled by spiritual loss. The mass of the Roman empire was baptized only with water, not with the Spirit of the gospel, and it smuggled heathen manners and practices into the sanctuary under a new name. The very combination of the cross with the military ensign by Constantine was the most doubtful omen, portending an unhappy mixture of the temporal and the spiritual powers.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 3, p. 93).
“St. Thomas. . . says that the Roman Empire has not ceased, but is changed from the temporal into the spiritual. . . It was, then, the Apostolic Church, which, spreading throughout the nations, already combined together by the power of the heathen empire of Rome, quickened them with a new life. . . the temporal power in the old heathen empire of Rome, and the spiritual power in the supernatural kingdom of God met together. . . these two powers were blended and fused together; they became one authority, the emperor ruling from his throne within the sphere of his earthly jurisdiction, and the Supreme Pontiff ruling likewise from a throne of a higher sovereignty over the nations. . . the material power which once reigned in Rome [was] consecrated and sanctified by the investiture of the Vicar of Jesus Christ with temporal sovereignty over the city where he dwelt. And now for these twelve hundred years the peace, the perpetuity and faithfulness of the Christian civilisation of Europe, has been owing solely in its principle to this consecration of the power and authority of the great empire of Rome, taken up of old, perpetuated, preserved, as I have said, by the salt which had been sprinkled from heaven, and continued in the person of the Supreme Pontiff, and in that order of Christian civilization of which he has been the creator.” (Cardinal Manning, The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, pp. 123-128).
Notice the following amazing declaration by Cardinal Manning:
“Now the abandonment of Rome was the liberation of the pontiffs. Whatsoever claims to obedience the emperors may have made, and whatsoever compliance the Pontiff may have yielded, the whole previous relation, anomalous, and annulled again and again by the vices and outrages of the emperors, was finally dissolved by a higher power. The providence of God permitted a succession of irruptions, Gothic, Lombard, and Hungarian, to desolate Italy, and to efface from it every remnant of the empire [remember this fact of history. Protestant futurists rewrite history and deny that the Roman Empire was ever divided]. The pontiffs found themselves alone, the sole fountains of order, peace, law, and safety. And from the hour of this providential liberation, when, by a divine intervention, the chains fell off from the hands of the successor of St. Peter, as once before from his own, no sovereign has ever reigned in Rome except the Vicar of Jesus Christ.” (Henry Edward Manning, The Temporal Power of The Vicar of Jesus Christ, Preface, pp. xxviii, xxix. London: Burns and Lambert, 1862).
This might well be the time to speak of the mysterious “restrainer” that the Apostle Paul refers to in II Thessalonians 2. The early church Fathers were practically unanimous in the opinion that the “restrainer” was a reference to the Roman empire in general and the emperors in particular. Paul indicates that the Church at Thessalonica knew who the restrainer was. And yet Paul speaks in veiled language. And why would this be? Simply because Paul could not speak openly about the empire which was governing in his day. If he had publicly stated that the Roman empire was going to be taken out of the way, the emperors would have had grounds to accuse Paul of sedition. So Paul had to be cautious in his comments. If the restrainer was the Holy Spirit, as many futurists believe, then why was Paul so cautious? It is clear that Paul could not define the “restrainer” openly. It was not necessary to do so because the Thessalonians knew what he was talking about.
So without doubt the Roman Catholic church rose out of Rome, inherited much of the pagan religion of Rome, and is in fact a mere continuation of the Roman Empire, only in another form. A further affirmation of this is in Daniel 8:9,10 which horn represents the whole Roman epoch both pagan and papal,we see a change in direction. Whereas at first its conquests are on a horizontal plane, in verse 11 it changes direction and focus and adopts a vertical focus, toward heaven.