Luther on Islam and the Vatican and the Romish Papacy in Daniel 8:23
Now Daniel 8:20-23 makes predictions concerning “the latter time” of the rule of the four Greek kingdoms to arise after Alexander the Great, which themselves lasted down to the emergence of the Roman Empire as the last of the old Empires of Babylon –> Medo-Persia –> Greece –> Rome. It predicts that “in the latter time” — something extremely important would at length occur. It predicts that then, “when the transgressors have come to the full — a king[dom] of fierce faces (‘az paaniym or countenances), understanding dark opinions (chiydooth) shall stand up.”
So, in “the latter time” of the four kingdoms and “when the transgressors have come to the full — a[nother] kingdom of fierce faces understanding dark opinions” would arise. Here, the B.C. 270 Greek Septuagint has: “en eschatoo i tees basileias autoon…anasteesetai basileus anaidees prosoopoo kai sunioon probleemata.” Jerome’s own A.D. 404 Latin Vulgate translates it: “post regnum eorum…consurget rex impudens facie et intelligens propositiones.” Significantly, even the A.D. 1976 New International Version or NIV renders it: “In the latter part of their reign…a stern-faced king[dom] a master of intrigue, will arise.”
Moreover, that would occur only after a period of apostasy – namely “when rebels have become completely wicked” (thus the NIV), or “when the transgressors have come to the full” (thus the 1611 Authorized Version commissioned by King James). Very significantly, the emergence of both Islam and the Papacy marked the culmination of a period of apostasy from God’s True Revelation on the part of those who had professed to adhere to it.
Too, certainly many of the views of Mohammed in the Koran — are indeed “dark opinions.” As Dr. Martin Luther says of this verse Daniel 8:23 and those which follow it: “One might have though the Prophet Daniel was…talking about the Turks…, if St. Peter [Second Epistle 2:1-3f] had not come and taught us of what kingdom we should understand the Prophet: namely…of that one which pushes up from within the people of God and of those who sits in the stead of teachers and bishops.”10
So, though certainly not to the exclusion of Islam, Daniel 8:23 does seem to be referring especially to the Vatican. For Daniel’s very words “dark opinions” here imply such obscure forthtellings or soothsaying vaticinia. Moreover, as Dr. Luther goes on to observe: “This king[dom] would be a powerful king[dom]…; as powerful as a[ny] Roman king[dom] had previously been!”
Explains Luther:11 "What a wonderful power this rare kingdom now has! It is mighty: not with horns; not with claws; nor with sword or harness — but in appearance [as regards ‘ countenances’ or paaniym (Dan. 8:23)]…. The statement is not that it becomes mighty from [one] face — but from many] faces” alias the whole plural series of not just one-faced or even two-faced but rather of many-faced Popes.
“Nor can it refer to the Kingdom of Christ.” For that “indeed has no face [cf. Luke 17:20] but consists only in Spirit….
“This prophecy cannot apply to the Turks [or the Muslims], nor to any other kingdom supported by force and weapons. For such are indicated by teeth, horns and claws."
“Its predecessor-kingdoms are all warlike. Dan. 7:3-5,19,23,24a. Yet [this], their blasphemous successorkingdom, is not. Dan. 7:8,11,24b,25 & 8:23-25.
“This kingdom…is supported by neither spiritual nor temporal weapons.” So Luther concludes: “It is obvious that this King[dom] must be [that of] the Antichrist — i.e., the Withstander of Christ and of His Kingdom [Dan. 7:8f,20-21,24b,25-26]….