SDA Adventist claim 538 AD – 1798 AD = 1260 years prove the Papacy is the Anti-Christ and that Catholic Church oppressed God’s peoples

SDA Adventist claim 538 AD – 1798 AD = 1260 years prove the Papacy is the Anti-Christ and that Catholic Church oppressed God’s peoples.

On another thread the question was asked

Since many people today believe the Catholic Church oppressed people in the “Dark Ages” it is good to respond by educating them about two particular Popes who lived holy lives.

SDA Adventist claim 538 AD – 1798 AD = 1260 years prove the Papacy is the Anti-Christ

Their interpretation of Revelation chapters 11 – 13 is that the Anti-Christ will reign 1260. They claim the Catholic legal authorities. This combined power was used by the Church used its religious authority to control secular and Catholic Church to oppress God’s people during this time.

And even today many other Protestants as well as Atheists believe the Catholic Church controlled secular authorities for the purpose of oppressing and controlling people.

During this long period you can find both good and bad examples of Catholic individuals. But, throughout this period it was more of the state trying to control the Church, and the Catholic Church trying to break free and assert its independence from the state, than it was the Church controlling the State governments.

The Seventh Day Adventist claim is based on one historian’s account that the Papacy had suffered a mortal blow when Napoleon’s General Berthier entered Rome on February 10, 1798, and imprisoned Pope Pius VI, the Bishop of Rome.

And counting 1260 years backward from AD 1798, the Seventh Day Adventists ended up with AD 538 as being the beginning of the Anti-Christ. They hold that the Papacy ruled the

“Dark Ages” from 538 A.D. to 1798 A.D., or 1260 years during which it oppressed God’s people.

Revelation 13:4 – 5

“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”

42 months = 3.5 years

Also see Revelation 11:3, and 12:14

Two good examples are of Popes Vigilius (died 555 Ad),

and Pope Saint Martin I, martyred in 653 AD.

They lived holy lives resisting control of the State.

See more at


This is a perfect example of forcing facts to meet your preconceived conclusion. The “rules” as laid out above are arbitrary. They started with the premise that the Papacy is the Antichrist and that the Antichrist will rule for 1260 years. Both of those premises are a stretch to begin with based on a very arbitrary and superficial reading of Revelation.
I’m pretty sure the Bishop of Rome exercised some level of civil authority prior to 538… Pope St Leo protecting the city from the Huns comes to mind. And the Pope certainly continued to rule Rome and the Papal States for decades after 1798.


All such apocalyptic groups seem to me to be as much bookeeper as Christian. Essentially, they must cook the books to arrive at their beliefs.


I asked the original question.

I still find one is hard-pressed to “prove” the Papacy began their power in 538. A fllimsy argument can be made 535, but 538?

Nothing happened in 538 that was significant to increasing the Pope’s power. If anything, it was a period of serious caesaropapism.

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The First Pope under the Byzatine Papacy, so first one chosen by justianian. Also Rome was re conqured with them gaining some land outside it

Most anti-Catholics claim the Papacy was “invented” in 325. As to the Adventists, bless their hearts, they are juggling numbers to make their faith work.

But, John wrote that “many antichrists” had already gone out into the world! Am also wondering how a Pope exercising secular power and keeping peace can be the “man of lawlessness.” Again, the antichrist denies that Christ has come in the flesh. Ah, Mr. SDA, which Pope has done that?


As an aside, ever research their brain-damaged, mercury poisoned, bed-ridden “visionary”? Ellen Gould white - although thety rarely mention her these days. Poor thing. May she rest in peace.

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As I said. Caesaropapism. The Emperor had the power, not the Pope.

This is not proof of the Pope having secular power. If anything, he was a puppet of the emperor.

The Pope’s power could arguably be “proven” from 535, with the Duchy of Rome. The Pope, however, did not directly rule the Duchy. And of course, the real secular papal power began with the Papal states in 754.

538 is nothing. Again, it all goes to EGW claiming that 1798 was the “mortal wound” because her “prophecies” did not see far enough into 1870 (TGC was published in 1858, twelve years before 1870). So they had to clutch at straws to find something “significant” in 538. And when their Goth theory didn’t pan out, they now try to find their justification in Justinian and his code? Just look into the succeeding centuries from there through Nicea II, and see who really called the shots?

Pish-posh, say I. Papal power was essentially 754 to 1870, but that does not fit nicely into their 1260 years now, does it?

Rather than “prove” that the papacy is the anti-Christ, it more like proves, according to Biblical principles, that EGW was a false prophet.


There are a lot of fallacious SDA claims. One is that the Roman numeral’s in the Pope’s Latin title add up to 666, but ironically, so do the numerals in Ellen Gould White’s name, who is the SDA founder. This is likely another one of these claims.

Where does it say 1260 years?


Their interpretation of Revelation chapters 11 – 13

Interestingly, I read today on an Adventist website a growing debate on the limitations of Adventist interpretation of the Bible. The credibility of their claims is being questioned within on a broader scale.

I mean where does it says 1260 years. It says 1260 days or around 3.5 years.

It’s called the Day-year principle. It is the belief that in prophecy one day = one year. So when Daniel speaks of time, times, and half a time where time equals a year, that, since jewish calendars had 360 days in a year, that is equivalent to one year (360) plus two years (720) plus half a year (180) equaling 1260 days (years).

Yes I know the principle, only the principle has no basis from Scripture.

Well, since we’re on a Catholic site, that’s obvious. But the scriptural basis often used is Numbers 14:34 According to the number of the forty days, wherein you viewed the land: year shall be counted for a day. And forty years you shall receive your iniquities, and shall know my revenge:

Again how is that possibly used as a PRINCIPLE for prophetical interpretation. Where is the link even the hint that we have permission to do that?

I can equally go 1 = 1000 and 1000 = 1.

The method of interpretation by SDAs is wrong in the first place, which opens up the means to really interpret prophecy anyway we want to, and if we are searching for a 1260 year beast we can come up with fairly much anything we want to.

My questions to them are the usual:

  1. Can you please show me in Revelation where the word “antichrist” appears in the original Greek?

Why do I ask them this? Because you won’t find it at all in Revelation. Scott Hahn had mentioned this in one of his recordings, & when I checked on BibleHub, it gave me these citations for the original Greek for “antichrist”:

5 Occurences in the NT:

1 John 2:18 (2)

  1. Where is the Catholic Church explicitly named as the “antichrist” in Revelation?

If they can’t show me this explicitly - & they argue that they rely on Scripture alone for their beliefs as their authority - I want to see it explicitly in writing, otherwise, they’re not being consistent with their beliefs & how they apply it to others.

I agree, just presenting their basic background as I was one of them. I’ve made that point before too, one could easily find something like the rise of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottomans that fits 1260 years if one was so inclined.

But don’t forget about the 2300 year claim as well though…

What happened to Jesus’ words that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church? That blows a big hole in this theory.

SDAs typically respond that according to The Great Controversy there always existed a faithful few that were oppressed by the Romans that passed on the true faith until the Reformation and the colonization of the Americas allowed full expression of it in the world.

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