“Let us look at the Pope's kingdom, and first at the appearance or faces of the persons there… First look at the Pope — how he struts with his triple crown, with immeasurable splendour…. Then look as the lustre and wealth of his cardinals" etc! Dan. 8:23f.
Wrote Luther in his Answer to Emser12 (the famous Romish Apologist): "In Daniel [8:23f], we read: ‘At the end of the Roman Empire, a King[dom] shall arise whose power shall consist in his demeanour and appearance’ — i.e., in doctrines of [mere] men that teach only external customs and demeanour; for instance, the bishops’, priests’, and monks’ manner of life, which consists in their garb and external works and demeanour. ‘He shall destroy wonderfully, and through his policy he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand and have understanding [guile] to make and to multiply the commandments of men.'" Daniel 8:24.
"The Thomistic heresy," declared Luther,13 is precisely the same as that which Daniel (8:23) says has an 'unashamed face' (alias a 'fierce countenance'). Thus, that Prophet announces how this papal monarch or "king will arise at the termination of the four kingdoms — of which Rome, mighty with the sword, is one. Thus Daniel doubtless wishes to indicate that the tyranny of the Pope would commence — when the Roman Empire had declined and fallen."
Elaborating on this Daniel 8:23, Paul himself forecast that the powerful Roman Empire would for a long time retard or 'hold back' the appearance of the emerging Romish Papacy. At least until its own demise around 476 A.D.
Here Luther explains: "The Apostle similarly predicts, Second Thessalonians 2:8, that what holds it back — will continue to hold it back, until the former has been removed. Then, the ‘man of sin’ can be disclosed…. Paul says, Second Thessalonians 2:10-12, that the same 'son of perdition' will then come in!"
Now this figure is apparently not just a single person, but a whole series or dynasty of persons with the same basic character. Luther explains that "the Prophet Daniel [8:23] — and with particular significance — in Hebrew also actually calls him pesha’iym [‘transgressors’]. This actually means perverters or transgressors and apostates from faith….
“Paul, in the aforementioned saying, speaks of this abundantly. There he states [viz. in Second Thessalonians 2:10-12]: ‘they shall not receive the love of truth.’ Also again: ‘they shall not believe the truth’ — but ‘shall believe the lie’…. This [papal] king…will rule only with his own human doctrine." Though predicted in Scripture — the Pope thus stands against Scripture.
Daniel (8:23) himself declared: 'In the latter time…, a king of fierce countenance…shall stand up.' Observes Martin Luther:14 "Jerome [around 380f A.D.] translated it correctly, thus: ‘a king with a shameless face [impudens facie].' Yet we take it straight from the Hebrew words: 'oz-paanniym. This means: 'mighty in appearance'….
“That he would indeed arise, is not said about one person — but about the whole kingdom; and about his successors. Nor does it mean that this kingdom would last for just a short time. Christ too says the same: the abomination would stand in the holy city — that is, it would be strengthened firmly and securely; and with much support. Matthew 24:15 [cf. especially Daniel 12:6-12f]. Even Paul does not say this 'son of perdition' would soon go away – but that he 'keeps on sitting enthroned in the temple of God.' Second Thessalonians 2:3-4."
Moreover, Antichrist also stands up against the real message of Christianity. For indeed, the true "illumination of the Gospel," observed Luther,15 "will be darkened by the transgressions." Such would occur when — in that 'latter time' — the 'fierce' king[dom] will stand up, 'understanding dark sentences' alias the Vatican's vaticinations! Daniel 8:23f.