The Trinity Controversy: The Three Horns & The Justinian Code
The piece of history between God’s people and the work of apostasy has a very interesting unfolding of events. It contains many foundational pieces of understanding which we would do well to understand. Of these particular events, it was nothing less than a great controversy between two classes who professing Christians who professed to be the followers of Christ: one class keeping the Sabbath, the holy days, and the keeping of the doctrine of God & Christ, and the other, regarding Sunday, other adopted pagan holidays, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Seventh day Adventist historian and pioneer J.N. Andrews said the following regarding that particular period of time:
“The doctrine of the Trinity which was established in the church by the council of Nice, A. D. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous, measures by which it was forced upon the church which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical history might well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush.” (J. N. Andrews, March 6, 1855, Review & Herald, vol. 6, no. 24, page 185)
We are going to expand on that “ecclesiastical history” briefly, to see one of the most strong measures that it was imposed upon the church by force. In prophetic history, we read of the Roman Kingdom:
Daniel 7:7-8 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (8) I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Now that beast was the “fourth kingdom upon the earth” (v. 23) It had ten horns.
Daniel 7:24-25 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. (25) And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
Now, let’s examine these ten horns from this fourth kingdom, which can be none other than the Roman kingdom. Three of the horns were indeed uprooted, and we will see why in a moment.
It was after 483 CE that Rome was divided into ten divisions, just as Daniel 7 prophesied of the fourth kingdom to rule the world. It was during the time of the Roman kingdom that the gospel of Jesus Christ went forth with great power, yet not all was well in the newly established converts from the Gentiles. There was from converts from Judaism and of the Gentiles, those who had a tendency to unsettle the faith. Seeing this, Paul declared:
2 Thessalonians 2:7 “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (restrains) will let (restrain), until he be taken out of the way.”
Paul already saw elements at work to bring in the falling away, but knew that there were three kingdoms that must be subdued by this ecclesiastical power that was to arise and speak great words against the Most High.
Acts 20:29-30 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
This “mystery of iniquity” was being restrained to a large degree, God permitting the gospel to go forward, and many were being brought to Christ. Yet in this fourth kingdom, a little horn, “speaking perverse things”, arose. Paul saw with prophetic vision the little horn, who he declared to be “the man of sin”, which the vision of Daniel declared should “shall speak great words against the most High”. Paul further understanding also that it was the fourth kingdom that this crooked power was to come forth, who would “think to change times and laws”, he said “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:31)
To the church in Rome, he spoke regarding this thinking “to change times and laws” speaking on the mind that is alienated from the gospel of God.
Romans 8:6-7 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
He admonished the Hebrew converts to Christ to keep the faith, “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” ( Hebrews 10:25) Paul saw that the departure of God’s appointed times also unsettling the faith of the people, and playing an intricate role in the development of the Papacy.
Then a “little horn” that would think to change God’s appointed times and His laws, and was diverse from those ten horns, was to rise up. This point was fulfilled by none other than the Papacy, they plainly make their boast about. (See side letter from Catholic archbishop Thomas Enright)
So startlingly clear are the facts. So traced out are the lines of prophecy, that it could not be mistaken that it is anything but the Papacy mentioned in this prophecy. Those who try to apply it to any other power must forgo the plainest, and most abundant evidence historically furnished by God from the sacred Scripture. The power that ruled the world with iron teeth was nothing less than the Papal church/state union during the dark ages: this was that diverse little horn power.
Paul recognized that it was an ecclesiastical power that would rise up, and it had interestingly been those three horns, three “kings” from the kingdom of Rome, that were resisting this “little horn”, and must be “taken out of the way” (2 Thes. 2:7). To find those three horns that must be subdued, the three kingdoms that were uprooted in Rome before the presence of the little horn, we must look for the development of that “little horn” this side of CE 483, after the kingdom of Rome was divided into ten. As we have already clearly noted, there was, in fact, just such a pretentious power, seeking acknowledgment of its boastful claims.
As early as the beginning of the sixth century the bishops of Rome had become powerful enough to exert considerable of that influence at the imperial court which ere long exalted them to a station where they could command the kings of the earth. There was only one hindrance to their supremacy, — the opposition of the three non-Trinitarian, Sabbathkeeping tribes- to the doctrines of the Catholics, especially to that of the Trinity. These opposing powers were rooted up, the Visigoths in 508 were driven into Spain by the church state union of Clovis in France, the Vandals in 534 were wholly exterminated, and the Ostrogoths who occupied Rome in 538 were uprooted from the land, and chased down into extinction.
The word “Vandalism” comes from the kingdom that honored both the Sabbath, and were decidedly non-Trinitarian. The Vandals destroyed the graven images of the idolatrous Romans and were then subjected to a bad name by later historians due to the preeminence of the Catholic religion across the face of the whole earth. Their position against both pagan assemblies, and the Trinitarian concept of “God” were reviled, and made them objects of supreme hatred by the Catholic monarchs. It is a matter of record however, that the Vandals occupation of Rome was exemplary.
Another interesting fact regarding these tribes has to do with the triple crown of the Papacy: “It is a remarkable fact, that the popes to this day wear a triple crown, — a fact that exists in regard to no other monarchs. . . . The papacy [is] well represented by the little horn.’ . . . In fact, this one power absorbed into itself three of these sovereignties.” — Barnes’s Notes on Daniel, p. 307
“In 533, Justinian entered upon his Vandal and Gothic wars. Wishing to secure the influence of the pope and the Catholic party, he issued that memorable letter which was to constitute the pope the head of all the churches, and from the carrying out of which, in 538 [when the last of the three Arian horns was plucked up], the period of papal supremacy is to be dated. And whoever will read the history of the African campaign, 533-534, and the Italian campaign, 534-538, will notice that the Catholics everywhere hailed as deliverers the army of Belisarius, the general of Justinian.”-Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, p. I36. .
“The celebrated letter of Justinian to the pope in the year 533, not only recognized all previous privileges, but enlarging them, and entitling the pope and his church to many immunities and rights, which afterward gave origin to the pretensions displayed in the canon .law.”-Gavazzi ‘s Lectures, p. 66.
The Catholic conquests had been growing and succeeding greatly. With Pope Leo (often termed “the great“) the Papacy politically began to wax “exceedingly great” (Daniel 8:9-10), and preoccupied a great part of the kingdoms of Rome in 508 through the nominal conversion of Clovis to Catholicism from paganism. That was only the beginning of the conquests of Rome. Only 30 years later, the center of the kingdom, Rome itself, was to be taken.
The only thing withstanding the rising of this power was the non-trinitarian, Sabbathkeeping Vandal and Ostrogothic kingdoms. These were withstanding the establishment of the supremacy of the Papacy in all the earth, and who occupied the Kingdom of Rome. However, the prophecy must be fulfilled: even these horns must be uprooted: they would be subdued before the face of the Papacy. Finally, the restraining of the strange, concealing powers of iniquity, taking the form of a Christian profession, were now, through the emperor Justinian, “taken out of the way”, and was to be established on the throne of Rome over the kings of the earth.
In 534, having victory over the Vandals, a letter was issued (mentioned above) called “The Justinian Code.” This decree was practically a declaration of war on all Christians, and all faiths, who would not submit to be swallowed up in the papal religion. It gave homage to the Pope, and promising the banishment of all who did not bow to Rome Pontiff, the Catholic church, and all who would not submit to her doctrines, chiefly, the Trinity. The Ostrogoths alone were left by 534 A.D. and though they occupied Rome, the rest of the kingdoms now surrounded them. Justinian, in 538 A.D., uprooted the Ostrogoths from that place of Rome, and they were chased down and exterminated from being a kingdom, as the Justinian Code declared. In so doing, the Sabbathkeepers and the non-Trinitarians were the few, and not the many. The pursued, and the persecuted. Hunted down like wild beasts, and those who professed to be Christians, holding themselves like wild beasts, destroyed veraciously those who kept “the commandments of God and had the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12)
Thus is found the fulfillment of the verse found in Daniel 11:37-39. Speaking of the Papacy, it says:
“Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. (38) But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. (39) Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.”
Read for yourself how the Justinian Code, the most “infamous, measures by which it was forced upon the church which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical history” fulfills this verse particularly:
THE MOST SACRED EMPEROR JUSTINIAN.
CONCERNING THE MOST EXALTED TRINITY AND THE
CATHOLIC FAITH AND PROVIDING THAT NO ONE
SHALL DARE TO PUBLICLY OPPOSE THEM.
1. The Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius to the people of the City of Constantinople.
We desire that all peoples subject to Our benign Empire shall live under the same religion that the Divine Peter, the Apostle, gave to the Romans, and which the said religion declares was introduced by himself, and which it is well known that the Pontiff Damascus, and Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, embraced; that is to say, in accordance with the rules of apostolic discipline and the evangelical doctrine, we should believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a single Deity, endowed with equal majesty, and united in the Holy Trinity.
(1) We order all those who follow this law to assume the name of Catholic Christians, and considering others as demented and insane, We order that they shall bear the infamy of heresy; and when the Divine vengeance which they merit has been appeased, they shall afterwards be punished in accordance with Our resentment, which we have acquired from the judgment of Heaven.
Dated at Thessalonica, on the third of the Kalends of March, during the Consulate of Gratian, Consul for the fifth time, and Theodosius.
2. The Same Emperors to Eutropius, Praetorian Prefect.
Let no place be afforded to heretics for the conduct of their ceremonies, and let no occasion be offered for them to display the insanity of their obstinate minds. Let all persons know that if any privilege has been fraudulently obtained by means of any rescript whatsoever, by persons of this kind, it will not be valid. Let all bodies of heretics be prevented from holding unlawful assemblies, and let the name of the only and the greatest God be celebrated everywhere, and let the observance of the Nicene Creed, recently transmitted to Our ancestors, and firmly established by the testimony and practice of Divine Religion, always remain secure.
(1) Moreover, he who is an adherent of the Nicene Faith, and a true believer in the Catholic religion, should be understood to be one [pg. 10] who believes that Almighty God and Christ, the son of God, are one person, God of God, Light of Light; and let no one, by rejection, dishonor the Holy Spirit, whom we expect, and have received from the Supreme Parent of all things, in whom the sentiment of a pure and undefiled faith flourishes, as well as the belief in the undivided substance of a Holy Trinity, which true believers indicate by the Greek word a [alpha]. These things, indeed do not require further proof, and should be respected.
(2) Let those who do not accept those doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes, and, having been removed from the threshhold of all churches, be utterly excluded from them, as We forbid all heretics to hold unlawful assemblies within cities. If, however, any seditious outbreak should be attempted, We order them to be driven outside the the walls of the City, with relentless violence, and We direct that all Catholic Churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.
Given at Constantinople, on the fourth of the ides of January, under the Consulate of Flavius Eucharius and Flavius Syagrius.
3. The Emperor Martian to Palladius, Praetorian Prefect.
No one, whether he belongs to the clergy, the army, or to any other condition of men, shall, with a view to causing a tumult and giving occasion to treachery, attempt to discuss the Christian religion publicly in the presence of an assembled and listening crowd; for he commits an injury against the most reverend Synod who publicly contradicts what has once been decided and properly established; as those matters relative to the Christian faith have been settled by the priests who met at Chalcedony by Our order, and are known to be in conformity with the apostolic explanations and conclusions of the three hundred and eight Holy Fathers assembled in Nicea, and the hundred and fifty who met in this Imperial City; for the violators of this law shall not go unpunished, because they not only oppose the true faith, but they also profane its venerated mysteries by engaging in contests of this kind with Jews and Pagans. Therefore, if any person who has ventured to publicly discuss religious matters is a member of the clergy, he shall be removed from his order; if he is a member of the army, he shall be degraded; and any others who are guilty of this offence, who are freemen, shall be banished from this most Sacred City, and shall be subjected to the punishment prescribed by law according to the power of the court; and if they are slaves, they shall undergo severest penalty.
Given at Constantinople, on the eighth of the Ides of February, under the consulship of Patricius.
4. John, Bishop of the City of Rome, to his most Illustrious and Merciful Son Justinian.
Among the conspicuous reasons for praising your wisdom and gentleness, Most Christian of Emperors, and one which radiates light [pg. 11]as a star, is the fact that through love of the Faith, and actuated by zeal for charity, you, learned in ecclesiastical discipline, have preserved reverence for the See of Rome, and have subjected all things to its authority, and have given it unity. The following precept was communicated to its founder, that is to say, the first of the Apostles, by the mouth of the Lord, namely: “Feed my lambs.”
This See is indeed the head of all churches, as the rules of the Fathers and the decrees of the Emperors assert, and the words of your most reverend piety testify. It is therefore claimed that what the Scriptures state, namely, “By Me Kings reign, and the Powers dispense justice;” will be accomplished in you. For there is nothing which shines with a more brilliant lustre than genuine faith when displayed by a prince, since there is nothing which prevents destruction as true religion does, for as both of them have reference to the Author of Life and Light, they disperse darkness and prevent apostasy. Wherefore, Most Glorious of Princes, the Divine Power is implored by the prayers of all to preserve your piety in this ardor for the Faith, in this devotion of your mind, and in this zeal for true religion, without failure, during your entire existence. For we believe that this is for the benefit of the Holy Churches, as it was written, “The king rules with his lips,” and again, “The heart of the King is in the hand of God, and it will incline to whatever side God wishes”; that is to say, that He may confirm your empire, and maintain your kingdoms for the peace of the Church and the unity of religion; guard their authority, and preserve him in that sublime tranquillity which is so grateful to him; and no small change is granted by the Divine Power through whose agency a divided church is not afflicted by any griefs or subject to any reproaches. For it is written, “A just king, who is upon his throne, has no reason to apprehend any misfortune.”
We have received with all due respect the evidences of your serenity, through Hypatius and Demetrius, most holy men, my brothers and fellow-bishops, from whose statements we have learned that you have promulgated an Edict addressed to your faithful people, and dictated by your love of the Faith, for the purpose of overthrowing the designs of heretics, which is in accordance with the evangelical tenets, and which we have confirmed by our authority with the consent of our brethren and fellow bishops, for the reason that it is in conformity with the apostolic doctrine.
The following is the text of the letter of the Emperor Justinian, Victorious, Pious, Happy, Renowned, Triumphant, always Augustus, to John, Patriarch, and most Holy Archbishop of the fair City of Rome:
With honor to the Apostolic See, and to your Holiness, which is, and always has been remembered in Our prayers, both now and formerly, and honoring your happiness, as is proper in the case of one who is considered as a father, We hasten to bring to the knowledge of Your Holiness everything relating to the condition of the Church, as We have always had the greatest desire to preserve the unity of your Apostolic See, and the condition of the Holy Churches of God, as they [pg. 12] exist at the present time, that they may remain without disturbance or opposition. Therefore, We have exerted Ourselves to unite all the priests of the East and subject them to the See of Your Holiness, and hence the questions which have at present arisen, although they are manifest and free from doubt, and according to the doctrines of your Apostolic See, are constantly firmly observed and preached by all priests, We have still considered it necessary that they should be brought to the attention of Your Holiness. For we do not suffer anything which has reference to the state of the Church, even though what causes difficulty may be clear and free from doubt, to be discussed without being brought to the notice of Your Holiness, because you are the head of all the Holy Churches, for We shall exert Ourselves in every way (as has already been stated), to increase the honor and authority of your See.
[Novella 131 was issued in 545 A.D.]
Therefore We order that the sacred, ecclesiastical rules which were adopted and confirmed by the four Holy Councils, that is to say, that of the three hundred and eighteen bishops held at Nicea, that of the one hundred and fifty bishops held at Constantinople, the first one of Ephesus, where Nestorius was condemned, and the one assembled at Chalcedon, where Eutyches and Nestorius were anathematized, shall be considered as laws. We accept the dogmas of these four Councils as sacred writings, and observe their rules as legally effective.
Hence, in accordance with the provisions of these Councils, We order that the Most Holy Pope of ancient Rome shall hold the first rank of all the Pontiffs, but the Most Blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, or New Rome, shall occupy the second place after the Holy Apostolic See of ancient Rome, which shall take precedence over all other sees.
Source: Corpus Juris Civilis (The Civil Law, the Code of Justinian), by S.P. Scott, A.M., published by the Central Trust Company, Cincinnati, copyright 1932, Volume 12 [of 17], pages 9-12, 125.