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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Roman Empire

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This is more often spoken of in scripture than is generally recognised. In the vision of the great image by Nebuchadnezzar, four great empires are prophesied of, each being inferior to its predecessor. The fourth is the Roman empire, which in its last phase is compared to iron and clay, materials which would not unite: the kingdom would be divided in itself. In the visions of Daniel the same four kingdoms are further portrayed, and whereas the first three are compared to known animals, the Roman is compared to some dreadful monster that cannot be named: cf. Daniel 7:7 .

The history of the Roman empire fully answers to the prophecy. There were many changes before the line of emperors, but there was always the democratic element in the ruling power. When there were emperors they depended upon popular choice — mostly upon the soldiers, and the senate endorsed the choice of the army. The emperor exercised imperial power, but had to please the troops. There were the two elements at work, the iron and clay, which would not unite. Of the first twelve emperors, seven were either put to death, or committed suicide to escape a more violent end.

There is no empire mentioned in scripture as succeeding Rome, and the iron and clay elements, as the relics of Rome, are at work more or less in all civilised countries. The same empire is described in the Revelation as a beast that was , and is not , and yet it shall be present, or come. It is further described as "there are seven kings," or forms of government (Kings, B.C. 753; Consuls, 509; Dictators, 498; Decemvirs, 451; and Consular Tribunes, 444): "five are fallen, and one is " (Imperial, B.C. 31; it existed when John wrote): "and the other is not yet come." Revelation 17:10 . From this we learn that the Roman empire will be reconstructed: it will be a union of ten kings (ten horns), and will be of the seven numerically, but will be the eighth as being of a new order.

The empire will make a covenant with the Jews for a week (seven years), but will break it in the middle of the week. Daniel 9:27 . It will be in close association with another great power, symbolised by a beast (the Antichrist), coming up out of the earth, and both will be energised by Satan. Revelation 13:1-18; Revelation 17:8-18 . The empire will be used by God to destroy Babylon (Papal Rome), and will then be itself destroyed.

Palestine became subject to Rome in B.C. 63. It was an officer of the Roman empire that delivered the Lord to be crucified, and it was the Romans who were used by God to punish His people and destroy their city. They alas, in their pride have been displaying this before the world ever since in the Arch of Titus at Rome.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Roman Empire'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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