What will be the relation between the ‘dormant’ Roman Empire and the antichrist? The general view seems to be that he will not simply replace the latter, but in some way grow out of the latter. Newman writes:
As far as the testimony of the early Church goes, antichrist… will appear suddenly, at the very end of the Roman Empire, which once was and now is dormant; he will knit it into one and engraft his Judaism and his new worship (a sort of Paganism, it may be) upon the old discipline of Caesar Augustus.
This fits with the vision of the prophet Daniel, who saw the ten horns (representing 10 rulers) and then an eleventh horn (representing the antichrist) on the head of the fourth beast, not separate from it. Both Daniel and the apostle John indicate that antichrist will have power over these other ‘horns’, i.e. they are not just previous persecutors of the Church, but simultaneous with him.
Is it possible to foresee any way in which the revival of the Roman empire as a persecuting force could come about? In all seriousness, one is struck by the applicability of the revealed data to the European Union. It covers roughly the territory of the Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire combined, with the exception, for now at least, of those provinces which Islam has wrested from Christian hands. It is formally and by constitution a godless state. It is ‘lawless’, not just in the sense of fostering sins that cry to heaven, but in the more humdrum sense that it ignores the rule of law in order to further its own power. It even has a material connection with the dynastic line that leads ultimately to Octavian, in the person of Otto von Habsburg (who was, I’m sure, a most noble man), the last Heir Apparent of a reigning emperor, and for twenty years an MEP.
Of course it may be the European Union is merely a foreshadowing, and that it will be dissolved long before ὁ ἄνομος comes on the scene. Still, if it should ever divide its executive power among ten men, whether their authority is over different geographical regions or different aspects of life, I think it might be time to brace oneself.