- How long did the Roman Empire last?
- Answer requested
- by Wesley Black
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- Answered just now
- V e r y good question.
First, we can divide it into two.
When did it begin? When did it end?
And either of them is related to a third, what is it?
If it is “command of city of Rome over a territory larger than Rome,” the answer is shortly after 753 BC to present. A bit short of 3 millennia.
If it is “unified command of Latin speakers outside Italian peninsula” it is from Punic wars to … whenever Byzantines ceased to be fluent in Latin. Probably sth above 13 centuries.
If it is “command of a kinglike character inheriting dignities from Julius Caesar” it began in the time of Julius Caesar and ended in World War I or its aftermath. Czar Nicolas II and Emperor Charles I left their monarchic positions after signing treaties with the Entente powers. So, sth like 2000 years.
Now, which of these senses is most relevant to the Bible?
I would say that the Imperium of the Senate, of the Roman Republic, could have been the Fourth Beast of Daniel (while Antiochus IV Epiphanes, prefiguring Antichrist, was a Greek, he was also subservient to Roman Senate). However, if we speak of what is holding back (in Thessalonians) so the mystery of iniquity cannot fully come forth, in the time of St Paul, it was arguably the dignity of Caeasars, and indeed both Lenin and Hitler appeared in power after Charles the Last and Czar Nicolas had lost it.
Note, there are some other conventions, like saying “it lasted to 476 AD” or “it lasted to 1453 AD”. While more common, I think they are less meaningful than the said Bible relevant ones, and less likely to correspond to a good definition of what the “Roman Empire” means.
The one where 476 AD could be relevant would be “ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue”, but that is only on the reading that ten nations are what is meant not only with “ten toes” which aren’t actually mentioned, but also the vision of ten horns, which I believe refers to sth other and closer to actual end times.
Also, as to Roman Republic’s Empire, “ten horns” corresponds to “Decemviri legibus faciundis” - two committees of ten men who were making laws. But arguably, the ten kings of the endtimes might well be such of different nations, or could refer to prime ministers of Israel.
Reading “nations of former Roman territory after 476” into ten horns is bad as to end times prophecy and probably not much better as to secular cultural understanding of Romanity either.