Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?  Should Christians be Nazarenes today?

Was there an early, original, Nazarene form of Christianity that was so persecuted and so maligned that even today it is overlooked and/or dismissed by most who profess Christ?

 

While the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches publicly place great emphasis on early Christian history, most other major groups which profess Christ such as the various Protestants, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), and the Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to minimize the importance of the immediate post-New Testament teachings and practices of the Christian Church.

 

Despite varying claims of “apostolic succession” by the Catholics and the Orthodox, some writers have recognized that there were differing “Christianities” in the two hundred years or so after Jesus died and that the form that became predominant was not the obvious leader from the beginning.[1] 

 

Since Jesus taught that the gates of Hades (death) would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18), from a biblical perspective, if Jesus was correct (and He was) there must still be a true Christian church in existence. 

 

Two Possibilities

 

Despite the fact that there were a variety of early heretics, there are really only two possibilities for the true church in the 21st century.

 

Either a highly Greco-Roman influenced group of one or more churches is Christ’s church or some group that has not come out of that tradition is. 

 

There are no other options.

 

Which of these would be a church that truly has ties to the original apostles and holds to their teachings? 

 

While most people would tend to go for the Greco-Roman influenced groups, most people simply have not looked into the teachings of the original church, learned when certain doctrines were changed by the Greco-Romans, or considered that there could be a group with ties to the apostles which is not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.

 

Could a small group actually be the continuation of the true church?  Or must the true church be a relatively large organization? 

 

Would Jesus’ true church be scorned by the world or a major player on the world scene?

 

The Church of God

 

Jesus, Himself, taught that the true church would be a "little flock" (Luke 12:32), hated by the world (Matthew 10:22), and persecuted (Matthew 10:23).  He also taught only a few would find the way to life in this age (Matthew 7:14; cf. Matthew 12:31-32).  Jesus was called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23).

 

Many within the relatively small collection of Sabbatarian churches that tend to call themselves Church of God ” (COG) (as well as certain Baptist and other groups) claim to have ties to the original apostles, as well as ties to spiritual ancestors throughout history.  They claim that these ties help demonstrate why they best represent original, apostolic, Christianity.

 

Historically, the old Church of God, Seventh Day (CG7) and the old Radio Church of God (which became the old Worldwide Church of God), taught that the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 represented eras of God's true church throughout history[2], that they had ties to the original apostles, and that groups with COG beliefs can be found throughout history. 

 

While certain groups with origins in those churches officially still hold to that teaching of church eras (e.g. [3]), some others no longer teach church eras (like the new WCG, which does now consider itself to be Protestant, and renamed itself Grace Communion International) or greatly de-emphasize that belief (like CG7, which is tending to become doctrinally closer to some Protestants).

 

But if a very small group could be “the true church,” does it make sense that God is only working through a relatively few during the church age?

 

While many apparently doubt that, the reality is that if the Catholics and traditional Protestants are correct, it appears (according to their own writings) that they believe that God is only going to save a relative minority of all people who ever lived. 

 

The Bible itself is clear that it is only by the name of Jesus Christ that humans can be saved:

 

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'  12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:8-12). 

 

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).

 

Since most humans that ever lived have never had truth of Christ preached to them, for the Catholics and Protestants to be able to teach that most humans will be saved would force them to minimize Acts 4:12 and Romans 10:14 or make major changes to their theology (which may be what the Roman Catholics have taken some steps to possibly do—such as then Pope Benedict’s 21st century approval of a paper essentially against “limbo”[4]).

 

Yet, if the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) is correct, while God is only working though a relatively small few in this age, God will ultimately offer salvation through Christ to all who ever lived—and we in the CCOG believe that the overwhelming majority of people who ever lived will accept God’s offer and be saved.  We believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing (Isaiah 46:9-10) God of love (1 John 4:8), was wise enough to come up with a plan of salvation that saves, and does not doom, the vast majority of humans that ever lived.  And that is why He sent His Son (John 3:16-17; 10:10).

 

We in the CCOG not only believe that such a view is biblical, to a degree we believe this view has had historical support (as this article will show) even among certain religious leaders still venerated by the Greco-Roman churches.

 

The Nazarenes Were in Jerusalem

 

Most people accept that the New Testament Church began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost around 31 A.D. (dates from 27-33 A.D. have been proposed).  The Bible records that after being filled by the Holy Spirit on that day, the disciples began to preach and thousands were added to the true Church that day (Acts 2).

 

And although the apostles dispersed, the Bible shows that in the early church, Jerusalem, and never Rome, was where its leadership conferred on topics of importance (see Acts 15; Galatians 1:18; 2:1-9).

 

Three of the four times that the Bible shows that Paul conferred with Peter, it was in Jerusalem (Acts 15; Galatians 1:18; 2:1-9).  And the fourth time, it was in Antioch (Galatians 2:11), which is just south of Asia Minor.

 

Furthermore, the the Bible shows that the Apostle Paul commended the Thessalonians in Greece for following the practices of those in Judea:

 

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

 

Christians May Have Been Warned to Flee to Pella

 

However, shortly after the deaths of Peter (circa 64-69 A.D.) and Paul (circa 64-68 A.D.), major changes happened in Jerusalem and elsewhere.  Sometime thereafter, the Apostle Philip settled in Asia Minor.  Around 67, or no later than 69 A.D., John apparently was in Ephesus and led the churches in Asia Minor.[5]

 

Beginning in 66 A.D., there were revolts in Jerusalem by the Jews that resulted in probably all the Christians fleeing and ended in Jerusalem’s destruction by the imperial Roman authorities.

 

Biblical archeologist Dr. Michael Germano reported:

 

…scholars speculate that the flight of the last remaining members of the church at Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost in CE 69, may have been recorded by Flavius Josephus who writes:

 

Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost as the priests were going by night into the inner court of the temple...they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking and heard a sound as of a multitude saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’ (Josephus, Wars, bk. VI, ch. v, sec. 3; Whiston 1957:825.)[6]

 

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports,

 

When Titus took Jerusalem (April-September, A.D. 70) he ordered his soldiers to destroy the city)...Meanwhile the Christian community had fled to Pella in Paraea, east of the Jordan (southeast of Jenin), before the beginning of the siege.[7]

 

Notice that the Christians were NOT involved in the fighting according to Catholic sources:

 

During the war of 70 none of the believers in Christ appear on scene, nor are any of the places inhabited by them mentioned as war zones, Therefore we may assume that the Christians remained aloof from the war on account of their new faith…We may, therefore assume that the faithful were indeed disturbed as a result of the war, but that they were not so involved as to compromise their community.[8]

 

The Orthodox Church recognizes an important early role for the church in Jerusalem,

 

The Church of Jerusalem, as the Mother of all Churches, during the first days of Christianity consisted of the centre of life. From it, the Holy Apostles went to visit all nations and renounced the whole world (Marc. 16, 15)…The “Lord’s City” was completely destroyed in 70 A.C. by Titos, resulting in great and tragic consequences to the Judaist and Christian lives.[9]

 

According to the fourth century Catholic historian Eusebius, during the first century,

 

James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Saviour...But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella.[10]

 

The Faithful Were Called Nazarenes

 

The faithful who claimed to have fled Jerusalem for Pella were called Nazarenes.  This may be because Jesus Himself was prophesied to be called by that name:

 

Jesus…He shall be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:1,23).

Seventeen times the Bible (NKJV) uses the expression “Jesus of Nazareth,” probably because Jesus used to live there (Matthew 2:23).  The New Testament uses the expression Nazareth, Nazarene, or Nazarene thirty-one times.

Theological scholar James Tabor wrote about some definitions of Nazarene (other than “one from Nazareth” or “separatist/consecrated”):

 

The Jesus movement was from early on referred to as the “Nazarenes,” which roughly translates as the “the Messianists” or the people of the “Branch”.[11]

 

The Protestant historian Philip Schaff noted:

 

A portion of the Jewish Christians, however, adhered even after the destruction of Jerusalem, to the national customs of their fathers, and propagated themselves in some churches of Syria down to the end of the fourth century, under the name of Nazarenes; a name perhaps originally given in contempt by the Jews to all Christians as followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They united the observance of the Mosaic ritual law with their belief in the Messiahship and divinity of Jesus, used the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, deeply mourned the unbelief of their brethren, and hoped for their future conversion in a body and for a millennial reign of Christ on the earth. But they indulged no antipathy to the apostle Paul...They were, therefore, not heretics, but stunted separatist Christians; they stopped at the obsolete position of a narrow and anxious Jewish Christianity, and shrank to an insignificant sect. Jerome says of them, that, wishing to be Jews and Christians alike, they were neither one nor the other.[12]

 

So there were Christians with Jewish practices that were sometimes called Nazarenes that historians teach claimed to have originated from the original Jerusalem church.  And they were different from the more narrow “Jewish Christianity” according to a Protestant scholar—but shrank into being considered to be an insignificant sect. 

 

They were also not popular with the Jews in the first few centuries A.D.  The Book of Acts records the following about the Apostle Paul from Jewish authorities:

 

5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).

 

Thus, originally the term Nazarenes appears to be applied to all Christians, and not some small part of it, as it is being applied to those that agree with the Apostle Paul.

 

Tertullian reported that the Jews called various professors of Christ, Nazarenes (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 8. Translated by Peter Holmes. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/03124.htm> viewed 10/02/13).

 

But apparently some Jews felt that the Christians were a bit secretive according to Harve Lewis:

 

The title Nazarene was given by the Jews to those strange people outside their own religion that seemed to belong to some type of secret sect…[13]

 

Notice how badly some Jews felt about Nazarenes according to a fourth century writing by the Catholic historian Epiphanius:

 

For not only do the Jewish children cherish hatred against them but the people stand up in the morning, at noon, and in the evening…Three times per day they say: ‘May God curse the Nazarenes.’[14]

 

The actual Nazarenes (as opposed to the Greco-Roman faith professors) ended up in “synagogues of the East” according to the Catholic priest Jerome.[15]  The “Nazarenes” referred to essentially ended up dwelling in Syria, Asia Minor, and Armenia (while others were in other lands).

 

The fourth century Catholic historian Epiphanius wrote of this group from the time of 69/70 A.D. until his day, and he starts out with an interesting admission:

All Christians were called Nazarenes once…They were so-called followers of the apostles…they dedicate themselves to the law…However, everyone called the Christians Nazarenes as I said before.  This appears from the accusation against Paul…[Acts 24:5]…

 

For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old…For they also accept the resurrection of the dead and that everything has origin in God…Only in this respect they differ from the Jews and Christians: with the Jews they do not agree because of their belief in Christ, with the Christians because they are trained in the Law, in circumcision, the Sabbath and the other things…

 

This heresy of the Nazarenes exists in Beroea in the neighborhood of Coele Syria and the Decapolis in the region of Pella and in Basanitis in the so-called Kokabe, Chochabe in Hebrew.  For from there it took its beginning after the exodus from Jerusalem and to go away since it would undergo a siege.   Because of this advice they lived in Perea after having moved to that place as I said.  There the Nazarene heresy had its beginning. [16]

 

So Epiphanius states that the remnant who fled to Pella from Jerusalem, while professing Christ, believed the entire Bible, kept the Sabbath, and had other practices that he considered to be Jewish.  Hence, here is a historical admission that the original church did keep the Sabbath and that for several centuries were often referred to as Nazarenes.  But instead of embracing original Christianity, Epiphanius teaches that it was an early “heresy”.

 

Modern scholars, like Larry Hurtado, have realized the Christians who claimed to be Nazarene including most considered to be proto-orthodox” held a binitarian view of the Godhead:

 

..."Nazarene" Christianity, had a view of Jesus fully compatible with the beliefs favored by the proto-orthodox (indeed, they could be considered part of the circles that made up proto-orthodox Christianity of the time). Pritz contended that this Nazarene Christianity was the dominant form of Christianity in the first and second centuries...the devotional stance toward Jesus that characterized most of the Jewish Christians of the first and second centuries seems to have been congruent with proto-orthodox devotion to Jesus...the proto-orthodox "binitarian" pattern of devotion…[17]

 

In a binitarian view of the Godhead, the one God Family began with two.  Binitarians believe that the Father is God and Jesus (the Son, also called the Word) is God, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.  This Godhead, according to the Bible (cf. Romans 8:29; Ephesians 3:15), is a family that others can some day be born into.

 

Scholar Ray Pritz noted:

 

The Nazarenes were distinct from the Ebionites and prior to them. In fact, we have found that it is possible that there was a split in Nazarene ranks around the turn of the first century. This split was either over a matter of christological doctrine or over leadership of the community. Out of this split came the Ebionites, who can scarcely be separated from the Nazarenes on the basis of geography, but who can be easily distinguished from the standpoint of Christology.[18]

 

It should be also noted that in early Jerusalem, there were apparently two groups professing Christ.  One that the Apostle Paul referred to as “the circumcision” (Titus 1:10) (often known as early Ebionites) was not truly faithful, while the other group was composed of true and faithful Jewish Christians (also called Nazarenes, but later also sometimes called Ebionites).

 

(Perhaps it should be mentioned for any that should come across it, that the so-called “Gospel of the Nazarenes” is misnamed and did not come from these Nazarenes according to Ray Pritz.[19]  Also, the modern day so-called “Church of the Nazarene” was a 19th century development[20] and does not have the type of "Judaeo-Christian" practices that the original Nazarenes did.)

 

There Were Changes in Jerusalem

 

Interestingly, according to Eusebius, at Jerusalem near 135 A.D.,

 

…until the siege of the Jews, which took place under {Roman Emperor} Adrian, there were fifteen bishops in succession there. All of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and were deemed worthy of the episcopate. For their whole church consisted then of believing Hebrews who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at this time. [21]

 

In other words, it is acknowledged by Catholic, Orthodox, and other historians that although there was a party Paul referred to as “the circumcision”, another part of the church in Jerusalem kept the true knowledge of Christ. Therefore, it should have originally been considered to be among the most reliable of any Christian churches. 

 

Jerusalem was also where the apostles would often meet, though most were not based there.  And apparently it remained the “headquarters” of the church until shortly after Paul, and possibly Peter, died. 

 

Its 70 A.D. destruction suggests that God did not intend that Jerusalem would remain as the church’s headquarters, and early history shows that some of its spiritual descendants (including the Apostles John and Philip) went to Asia Minor. 

 

Some Christians returned after 70 A.D. and seemed to have built a Christian synagogue, sometimes called the Church of the Apostles. Bargil Pixner wrote the following in Biblical Archaeology Review:

 

The earliest Christians were all Jews. Moreover, they did not regard themselves as having abandoned Judaism…

 

Not only were the original Christians all Jewish, but for several centuries Judeo-Christians and even some gentile Christians referred to their houses of worship as synagogues…

 

In 70 A.D. the Roman general Titus suppressed the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 A.D.) by utterly destroying Jerusalem and burning the Temple

 

The Judeo-Christian community in Jerusalem escaped this terrible catastrophe by fleeing to Pella in Transjordan and the countryside of Gilean and Bashan

 

…they decided to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild their sanctuary on the site of the ancient Upper Room — where the Last Supper had been held, where the apostles returned after witnessing Jesus' ascension on the Mount of Olives and where Peter delivered his Pentecost sermon as recorded in Acts 2. It was this site on which they made their synagogue. They were free to do this because they enjoyed a certain religious freedom from the Romans (religio licita) inasmuch as they were Jews who confessed Jesus as their Messiah, and not gentile converts.

 

The archaeological evidence is consistent with this suggestion…

 

Early Church writers identified this Judeo-Christian synagogue as the Church of the Apostles...[22]

 

And while their numbers varied, often these Christians were the majority of the professors of Christ in Jerusalem.  They were the clear majority until 135 A.D. and were possibly the majority (or a significant minority) in Jerusalem in parts of the third and fourth centuries.

 

The Nazarenes Had to Leave and Heretics Entered Jerusalem

 

Because of war, compromise, and politics, there was a change in beliefs and practices in Jerusalem that forced all true believers out by 135 A.D. 

 

There is an old Arabic Islamic manuscript that reports about those considered to be Judeao-Christians. It was published in English in 1966 by Shlomo Pines as The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. It was originally written by an Arabic Muslim around the tenth century named Abd al-Jabbar and called Tathbit Dala'il Nubuwwat Sayyidina Mahammad. One chapter of it is believed to be an Islamic interpretation of a lot of "Judeo-Christian" writings (some probably from true Nazarenes, others from Essenes, etc.).

 

A Harvard journal indicates that the source document came may have originated from the fifth, sixth, or seventh century (Howard G. The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 81, No. 1 (Jan., 1988), pp. 117-120), while others have claimed that part of it could have originally came from the first century or first half of the second (Pines, p. 21).

 

Here is the translation of one section:

 

(71a) 'After him', his disciples (axhab) were with the Jews and the Children of Israel in the latter's synagogues and observed the prayers and the feasts of (the Jews) in the same place as the latter. (However) there was a disagreement between them and the Jews with regard to Christ.

 

The Romans (al-Rum) reigned over them. The Christians (used to) complain to the Romans about the Jews, showed them their own weakness and appealed to their pity. And the Romans did pity them. This (used) to happen frequendy. And the Romans said to the Christians: "Between us and the Jews there is a pact which (obliges us) not to change their religious laws (adyan). But if you would abandon their laws and separate yourselves from them, praying as we do (while facing) the East, eating (the things) we eat, and regarding as permissible that which we consider as such, we should help you and make you powerful, and the Jews would find no way (to harm you). On the contrary, you would be more powerful than they."

 

The Christians answered:"We will do this."

 

(And the Romans) said: "Go, fetch your companions, and bring your Book (kitab)." (The Christians) went to their companions, informed them of (what had taken place) between them and the Romans and said to them: "Bring the Gospel (al-injil), and stand up so that we should go to them."

 

But these (companions) said to them: "You have done ill. We are not permitted (to let) the Romans pollute the Gospel. In giving a favourable answer to the Romans, you have accordingly departed from the religion. We are (therefore) no longer permitted to associate with you; on the contrary, we are obliged to declare that there is nothing in common between us and you;" and they prevented their (taking possession of) the Gospel or gaining access to it. In consequence a violent quarrel (broke out) between (the two groups). Those (mentioned in the first place) went back to the Romans and said to them: "Help us against these companions of ours before (helping us) against the Jews, and take away from them on our behalf our Book (kitab)." Thereupon (the companions of whom they had spoken) fled the country. And the Romans wrote concerning them to their governors in the districts of Mosul and in the Jazirat al-'Arab. Accordingly, a search was made for them; some (qawm) were caught and burned, others (qawm) were killed." [23]

 

The above, if accurate, would seem to have taken place in the second century (130s A.D.).

 

It is interesting for a number of reasons. It shows that there were two group that professed Christ then. One called "Christians" above, and the other (the faithful ones) called "companions." The fact that the companions would no longer associate with the compromisers showed that in whatever area the above occurred in, there were definitely two groups.  One group that got the Romans to persecute and the other group that fled the persecution.  It is also interesting to note that the “companions” were the ones with all, or at least part, of the New Testament. The "companions" were the faithful "Nazarenes."

 

For additional information, notice what the historian E. Gibbon observed:

 

The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity. They still enjoyed the comfort of making frequent and devout visits to the Holy City, and the hope of being one day restored to those seats which both nature and religion taught them to love as well as to revere. But at length, under the reign of Hadrian, the desperate fanaticism of the Jews filled up the measure of their calamities; and the Romans, exasperated by their repeated rebellions, exercised the rights of victory with unusual rigour. The emperor founded, under the name of Alia Capitolina, a new city on Mount Sion, to which he gave the privileges of a colony; and denouncing the severest penalties against any of the Jewish people who should dare to approach its precincts, he fixed a vigilant garrison of a Roman cohort to enforce the execution of his orders. The Nazarenes had only one way left to escape the common proscription, and the force of truth was on this occasion assisted by the influence of temporal advantages.

 

They elected Marcus for their bishop, a prelate of the race of the Gentiles, and most probably a native either of Italy or of some of the Latin provinces. At his persuasion the most considerable part of the congregation renounced the Mosaic law, in the practice of which they had persevered above a century. By this sacrifice of their habits and prejudices they purchased a free admission into the colony of Hadrian...

 

When the name and honours of the church of Jerusalem had been restored to Mount Sion the crimes of heresy and schism were imputed to the obscure remnant of the Nazarenes which refused to accompany their Latin bishop. They still preserved their former habitation of Pella, spread themselves into the villages adjacent to Damascus, and formed an inconsiderable church in the city of Bercea, or, as it is now called, of Aleppo, in Syria.  The name of Nazarenes was deemed too honourable for those Christian Jews, and they soon received, from the supposed poverty of their understanding, as well as of their condition, the contemptuous epithet of Ebionites.[24]

 

In other words, after the first Latin Bishop in Jerusalem (who may or may not have had any direct affiliation with Rome—the churches that became Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox at that time were still not unified but just starting to cooperate) was put in charge, those who had been faithful Christians were accused of heresy there in the second century.

 

The Roman Catholics claim that “apostolic succession” in Jerusalem ended when Ælia Capitolina was erected as The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 notes:

 

The shortest-lived Apostolic Church is that of Jerusalem. In 130 the Holy City was destroyed by Hadrian, and a new town, Ælia Capitolina, erected on its site.[25]

 

And while is now believed that Ælia Capitolina was erected in 135 (as opposed to 130 since the Bar Kokhba revolt was from 132-135 A.D.), this suggests that even Catholic scholars understand that there should no real “apostolic succession” occurred after this in Jerusalem—hence Jerusalem does not now have true apostolic succession. 

 

Because of this Jewish revolt, Emperor Hadrian outlawed many practices considered to be Jewish. The 20th century historian Salo W. Barron wrote:

 

Hadrian…According to rabbinic sources, he prohibited public gatherings for instruction in Jewish law, forbade the proper observance of the Sabbath and holidays and outlawed many important rituals.[26]

 

The Christians in Judea had a decision to make. They either could continue to keep the Sabbath and the rest of God's law and flee or they could compromise and support a religious leader (Marcus) who would not keep the Sabbath, etc.

 

The Orthodox Church in Jerusalem seems to acknowledge that a change came, but they are a bit guarded about it:

 

In 135 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian builds on the ruins of Jerusalem a new roman city and names it Aelia Capitolina and permits the Christians to come back. However the Jewish are not permitted to come in town.[27]

 

Notice the statement that “the Jewish are not permitted to come in to town”.  That is correct, but only in a limited sense.  It was not just the Jews; it was also those who kept “Jewish” (biblical) practices like the seventh-day Sabbath that were not permitted to come into Jerusalem after its 135 A.D. takeover.  Thus without clearly admitting it, the Orthodox seem to be acknowledging that changes did take place after 135 A.D. And, even though some Judaeo-Christians ultimately returned and remained separate from the Orthodox[28], those changes are proof that there was no faithful apostolic succession in Jerusalem.

 

Sadly as E. Gibbon reported, most, but not all, decided not to be faithful to original Christianity in 135 A.D.  He also made the following observation:

 

It has been remarked with more ingenuity than truth that the virgin purity of the church was never violated by schism or heresy before the reign of Trajan or Hadrian, about one hundred years after the death of Christ.[29]

 

Until one hundred years after Jesus Christ was crucified it appears that (with Alexandria, some Ebionites, and some small groups excepted) the majority of Christian communities not affiliated with Simon Magus or his followers apparently practiced true New Testament Christianity—or at least did not practice a version influenced by compromise to minimize Imperial persecution.

 

Splits in Jerusalem and Sunday Passover

 

History indicates that there were at least three splits in Jerusalem.  The first split being from the original Ebionites who did not believe in the virgin birth.  The second split was from those that eventually claimed to be the Orthodox who did not believe in truly following God’s law (though they claim otherwise). Thus, only a small number from Jerusalem remained faithful. 

 

Something similar may have occurred in Rome because of Emperor Hadrian’s anti-Jewish edicts.  Near this time a Sunday Passover may have began to replace a Nisan 14th Passover that the early Christians kept.  This could have been an attempt to persuade Emperor Hadrian that many who professed Christ in Rome were distancing themselves from practices considered to be closely tied to the Jews, who were now out of favor.

 

The third “split” was more of a takeover.  After Hadrian, some Christians and Jews did return to Jerusalem.  Later history records that Constantine’s supporters started to take over the Christian “synagogues” (Greco-Romans tended to call some of the meeting places of the Judaeo-Christians as “synagogues”) in the early part of the 4th century and completed that takeover once the “Byzantium empire had completely pervaded the country”.[30]

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that many scholars realize that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was apparently due to the persecution from Hadrian:

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)...

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to "the inclination to break away from Judaism." In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid “even the semblance of Judaism...”[31]

J.B. Lightfoot himself specifically wrote:

But the Church of Ælia Capitolina was very differently constituted from the Church of Pella and the Church of Jerusalem…not a few doubtless accepted the conqueror’s terms, content to live henceforth as Gentiles…in the new city of Hadrian.  But there were others who hung to the law of their forefathers…

…the Churches of Asia Minor…regulated their Easter festival by the Jewish Passover without regard to the day of the week, but…those of Rome and Alexandria and Gaul observed another rule; thus avoiding even the semblance of Judaism.[32]

Thus change set in among those in Hadrian’s new city.  And as Hadrian was based in Rome, that may be why change occurred there as well.

It is possible that the Roman “bishop” Telesphorus made a change to Sunday Passover around 135 A.D. to attempt to distance himself from the Jews in Rome. If he was the first Roman leader who did it, and if he thought that this would spare his life, he was wrong as he was apparently later killed by the Roman authorities (circa 136 A.D.). On the other hand, it is perhaps more likely that Hyginus, who was apparently Greek decided to introduce the Passover Sunday tradition in Rome, perhaps to direct the wrath of the anti-Jewish Roman authorities away from those who professed Christ but avoided some of the outward signs of Judaism.

Christian leaders that refused to switch from Passover on the 14th to a Sunday observance have been labeled Quartodecimans (Latin for fourteenth) by most historians—with the bulk of them apparently being in Asia Minor near the end of the second century. 

Was the True Church Expected to Change Doctrine?

Of course the question is, “Was the church supposed to change its beliefs and practices throughout history or be faithful to what the apostles originally received?”

 

 The Bible suggests that the church was not to change its doctrines as Jude wrote:

 

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

 

There were, however, apparently faithful Christians in parts of Palestine during the second and third centuries according to Catholic reporters:

 

The followers of the Lord remained also in Capharanum…At Tiberius we have evidence of the Judaeo-Christians, called Minim, from Jewish sources which tell of disputes in the 2nd and 3rd centuries…

 

Sakin…Nearby is Bainah, called an “engulfed” village just because it was inhabited by Judaeo-Christians.[33]

 

However, by the third and later centuries, the Greco-Romans tended to minimize the importance of those that held to original Christian teachings, like the original Ebionites did.

 

In the third century, there were very few real Christians in northern Africa.  Origen noted that there were two groups that he considered to be “Ebionites”, one who believed in the virgin birth (and that would be those who this paper suggests were also known as the Nazarenes) and those who did not:

 

Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law,—and these are the twofold sect of Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin, or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings…[34]

 

So Origen apparently combined both groups together under the name Ebionites.  This has caused some confusion among scholars of all persuasions, but it is clear that there were faithful true Christians who held to Jewish practices in the first and early second centuries in Jerusalem, while there were others that the Bible seems to warn about (Titus 1:10).  The historian E. Gibbons mentioned that those who were called Nazarenes were renamed as Ebionites.[35]

 

And although Origen apparently did not believe that Christians should have practices similar to Jews, the New Testament not only calls Gentile Christians “Jews”, it refers to them more with the term “Jew(s)” than it does “Christian(s)” (four and three times respectively).  Hence from the beginning God intended that His true church would appear to be somewhat Jewish.

 

But as history shows, most real Christians left Jerusalem in 135 A.D. and the majority of those who professed Christianity in Jerusalem immediately thereafter were not faithful to the original teachings of the Christian church.

 

Was the Headquarters for Christians Expected to Remain In One City?

 

Even though there are several churches that claim direct descent from places such as Alexandria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Jerusalem, and Rome—what the Orthodox call the “Apostolic sees”[36]-- one very real question is: Was the “headquarters” of the true church to remain in the same city?

 

Let us look at what Jesus taught on this matter:

 

22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:22-23).

 

Jesus, of course, has not yet returned. Whatever Christians there have been in the area of Palestine have been chased through all the cities in that geographic region since Jesus stated this (the Crusades also helped insure this).

 

Thus, Jesus must be referring to more cities than just those in the area of Palestine (such as those Jacob was alluding to in Genesis 49:1-27). Jesus, therefore, seems to be prophesying that it would not be possible that any headquarters of the true church could permanently remain in one city for hundreds, or nearly two thousand, years. These statements from Jesus would suggest that only a church whose headquarters moved relatively often could possibly be the true church.  

 

The concept is also confirmed in the Book of Hebrews:

 

4 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come (Hebrews 13:14).

 

Rome since the mid-second century, however, has been a continuing city (though several Roman Catholic Bishops were based out of Lyon, France), and thus neither Rome nor any other single city (as the Eastern Orthodox claim) could possibly have been the leadership city for Christians for multiple centuries.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the Bible clearly supports the idea that there could not have been one city that would be the place where all the top leaders of the Christian world would always be affiliated with.  Thus any who claim that one city has always remained a, or the, leader of Christendom from the beginning are in scriptural error.

Furthermore, perhaps it should be mentioned if there was to be one city from the beginning to the end, it would have had to be Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 21:2). 

Peter, around 50 A.D., was still in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-7).  Yet, by 70 A.D., the Christians abandoned it for a while and there is no evidence that I am aware of that showed any apostle returning to it after 70 A.D. (plus “bishop” Marcus apostatized after Hadrian’s edicts c. 135).

Irenaeus, considered to be a saint by the Catholics and the Orthodox, in the second century wrote:

 

Further, also, concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been "the city of the great King," it would not have been deserted. This is just as if any one should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters…The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, she (Jerusalem) was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also.[37]

 

So while the Orthodox also consider Irenaeus to be a saint and Jerusalem to be one of the five “Apostolic Sees”, Irenaeus basically taught that God was finished using Jerusalem as a type of headquarters in this age.

Jerusalem simply did not continue as THE leader of the church.   There simply was no city intended to be a headquarters for the church for over a thousand years in this age.  But the followers of the original practices of the church in Jerusalem, the Nazarenes, they were to continue.

John Moved to Asia Minor

 

Sometime before Jerusalem was destroyed, John moved to Asia Minor.  Note the following according to author and Lutheran minister, C. Bernard Ruffin:

 

The Christian writers of the second and third centuries testify to us as a tradition universally recognized and doubted by no one that the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province.[38]

 

John…made his way to Ephesus to take over the “orphaned” churches of Asia, once superintended by the martyred Paul.  This would have been around A.D. 66 or 67.[39]

 

Notice the timing.  The Christians had fled Jerusalem around this time, Paul and possibly Peter were martyred near then, and that is about when John took over the churches (and it may have been as late as 69 A.D.).

 

John Was the Last of the Original Apostles And Taught What He Learned from the Beginning

 

Paul once noted that it was "James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars" (Galatians 2:9) of the Church in Jerusalem (Cephas is the Aramaic word for Peter).

 

Certainly Peter was an important and pre-eminent apostle, however, once James and Peter were killed, this only left one pillar, the Apostle John—and he moved to Ephesus. 

 

Is it logical that if any one was to be the leader to succeed Peter it would be John? 

 

Is it logical that the one who wrote the last books of the Bible would be the primary leader of the church until he died?

 

Notice that John specifically taught what he learned from the beginning (which was in Judea):

 

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ... 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 1:1-3;2:3-4).

 

Thus, the Bible is clear that John taught the truth of Christianity from the beginning.  And he taught it so that others could have the same fellowship with the Father and the Son.  Thus, the Bible shows that faithful would follow John in order to be true Christians.

 

Passover & Footwashing: The Bible Teaches that Antichrists Would Not Follow John

 

Furthermore, it may be of interest to note that John wrote that the antichrists are those that did not follow him.  John taught,

 

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us (1 John 2:18-19).

 

So what may have been the first specific departure from the practices of John that we have a historical record of involving John's name?

 

The changing of the date of Passover (and later the practices associated with it).

 

The fact that a Roman church and a Latin-led church specifically decided on Sunday Passover shows that they intentionally, and at a relatively early stage (probably between 130-150 A.D. for Rome and 135 for the Latin-led church in Jerusalem), ignored his warning about antichrist. 

 

Catholic priest and scholar Bagatti admits this regarding John:

 

Since St. John spent the first years of his apostolate in Palestine, together with James, it is obvious that he had taken the custom of celebrating Easter on the 14th of Nisan from the mother Church.[40]

 

Thus, it was the original practice of “the mother Church” to keep Passover (often wrongly translated as “Easter” in English) on the 14th.

 

Some Catholics have apparently, however, used human reason and false tradition to ignore John’s practice.  Notice what the medieval historian and Catholic Priest Bede (also known as “the Venerable Bede”) recorded from a Catholic Abbot named Wilfrid who was trying to justify near the beginning of the eighth century why it was acceptable to not follow the Apostle John’s practices regarding Passover:

 

Far be it from me to charge John with foolishness: he literally observed the decrees of the Mosaic law when the Church was still Jewish in many respects, at a time when the apostles were unable to bring a sudden end to that law which God ordained…They feared, of course, that they might make a stumbling block for the Jewish proselytes…

 

So John, in accordance with the custom of the law, began the celebration of Easter Day in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, regardless of whether it fell on the sabbath or any other day.  But when Peter preached at Rome, remembering that the Lord rose from the dead and brought to the world the hope of the resurrection on the first day of the week…he always waited for the rising of the moon on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month in accordance with the customs and precepts of the law as John did, he proceeded to celebrate Easter as we are accustomed to do at this present time.  But if the Lord’s day was due, he waited for it, and began the holy Easter ceremonies the night before, that is on Saturday evening; so it came about that Easter Sunday was kept only between the fifteenth day of the moon and the twenty-first. So this evangelical and apostolic tradition does not abolish the law, but fulfills it, by ordering the observance of Easter from the evening of the fourteenth day of the moon in the first month up to the twenty-first day of the moon in the same month.  All the followers of St. John in Asia since his death and also the whole church throughout the world have followed this observance.  That this is the true Easter and that this alone must be celebrated…[41]

 

Does that make any sense? 

 

Let’s look at the facts:

 

  1. It is admitted that John and the early Church was fairly Jewish in their practices.
  2. It is admitted that keeping Passover on the 14th was a practice of the Apostle John.
  3. While Jesus was resurrected by Saturday evening, there is no early document (such as prior to the third century) that states that Peter changed the Passover observance (a time to proclaim “the Lord’s death” per the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:26) from the 14th of Nisan to a Saturday evening observance.
  4. Abbot Wilfrid is arguing that Peter began a Passover service on Saturday night which is why Easter on Sunday morning is now kept. 
  5. Most who now observe Easter Sunday do so during Sunday morning, yet as a resurrection holiday—not as a commemoration of Passover. 
  6. All those who followed John’s practices, for at least one hundred years after his death in Asia Minor, stated that they did keep Passover on the 14th and not on a Sunday[42].  So how could Abbot Wilfrid argue that they kept the same practice as the Romans who chose Sunday?
  7. Abbot Wilfrid admits that John followed the Bible in his own practice, but that somehow Peter allegedly made up a tradition that he did not learn from Jesus or the Bible (there is no verse in the Bible that states Passover should be observed on a Sunday), but that he came to on his own—and for which there is NO early historical proof.
  8. So while the Roman church does not observe the biblical practice of observing the days of unleavened bread, it apparently believes that the dates in Exodus 12:18 and Leviticus 23:5-6 regarding them need to be used to determine the date of Passover (that is where he would have needed to get the dates of the 15th and 21st from as they are the “days of unleavened bread associated with the Passover), but that the actual date (the 14th) of Passover should not be used unless it is on a Sunday.

 

Hence, John and the faithful in Ephesus did what the Bible taught.

 

But Catholics claim there is a later tradition from an unknown time that Peter supposedly reasoned that if Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, that the anniversary of His death should be observed on a Saturday night instead. 

 

This is illogical, as well as inaccurate.  Nor do I believe that John kept the correct date of Passover out of fear of the Jews.  There is nothing in the Bible or the historic accounts to indicate that this was the case (furthermore, it is more likely that Sunday was adopted out of fear of the Romans).  The Catholics should simply admit that although John kept Passover on the biblically correct date, they changed the date because of compromise and anti-Jewish sentiments.

 

Interestingly, in the second century, the Catholic saint Irenaeus wrote,

 

…the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles. [43]

 

And one of those biblically observed traditions was the observance of Passover on the 14th for over a century by those of Ephesus and Smyrna. [44]  Thus, even an early Catholic saint admitted in writing that those in Ephesus during his time (late 2nd century) were true to what they had learned from the apostles—and that included Passover.

 

Since the Bible warns that those who do not follow the practices of John are antichrists, those wishing to be faithful should give heed to follow the examples in the Bible and of John and observe Passover when he did.

 

They should not accept later traditions when they conflict with the Bible.

 

On a somewhat related note, notice the following from historian B.W. Bacon, apparently related to the passage mentioning feet being washed in 1 Timothy 5:10 and John 13:10 in 1st century Ephesus:

 

…a rite of the Ephesian Church, a washing of the feet of the Bride.  In 13:10 it is interpreted to remove post-baptismal sin.[45]

 

It is related because footwashing is a Passover-related practice that was being done in the Apostle John’s area.

 

Furthermore, notice an interesting passage from another historian:

 

The history of feetwashing is tantalizingly elusive...There are passing references to this rite in the first centuries. Continued for many years in the Eastern Church, feet washing eventually fell out of favour in the West… in that service Christ washed the feet of his disciples before he distributed the bread and the wine to his followers.[46]

 

Cyprian of Carthage in the mid-3rd century wrote:

 

Let them imitate the Lord, who at the very time of His passion was not more proud, but more humble. For then He washed His disciples’ feet, saying, “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”[47]

 

Around the early 6th century, Caesarius of Arles in a sermon (103.4) taught:

 

As often as the Paschal feast comes...Let them...wash the feet of their guests.[48]

 

John himself recorded that footwashing was a practice that Jesus implemented the same time He implemented the bread and the wine (cf. John 13:12-15; Matthew 26:17-28). 

 

Yet now, most who profess Christ do not do practice footwashing, and the few that do, normally do it once per year.  Since both the practices of bread & wine and footwashing were implemented by Jesus at the same time, it would seem that true followers of Christ would follow BOTH practices AND do them at the same frequency.

 

Astoundingly, look at what is admitted by a Lutheran scholar who does not believe Christians should follow John’s account of Jesus’ words on footwashing:

 

John xiii. 13-15. Now the principle argument for feet-washing as a Christian sacrament is based on the literal interpretation of these words by our Lord.[49]

 

And that is true.  The true literalists, those who do believe in sola Scriptura, will do what Jesus inspired the Apostle John to write.

 

 Those who do not actually believe the Bible will look for ways to reason around the meaning of the words of Christ, and instead follow traditions of men. 

 

Smyrna of Asia Minor and Polycarp

 

John lists the church in Smyrna after the church in Ephesus in Revelation 1:11. 

 

Also notice what Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd century:

 

Polycarp…was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time.[50]

 

Notice that Irenaeus is claiming that Polycarp was appointed bishop (pastor/overseer) of the Church in Smyrna by the apostles in Asia (which would most likely have been John and Philip and perhaps some others).

 

Notice that Irenaeus is claiming that there was a list of men who have succeeded Polycarp until the late 2nd century and that they held to the teaching of the apostles.

 

Passover Was Kept on the 14th of Nisan in Asia Minor

 

Polycarp also correctly kept the Passover.  Eusebius noted that in Polycarp’s region,

 

...the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's Passover. [51] 

 

An “older tradition” perhaps would be more accurately conveyed as the “original practice of the apostles” which was also specifically done by Jesus (cf. Mark 14:12-25).  Because that is what Polycarp and his spiritual descendants did—they continued the practices of the apostles in their area (known to have been Philip and John in the latter portion of the first century, but Paul earlier).

 

Although I believe that portions of the text were corrupted and the extant editions contain non-original additions, there is some interesting information in so-called The Life of Polycarp (if this document is based upon writings in the second century, it had changes that seem to be from the fourth century) that suggests that this “tradition” may not have first came to Smyrna from the Apostle John, but from the Apostle Paul:

 

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians …[52]

 

Hence the above seems to suggest that New Covenant practice of taking the bread and wine was to be taken during the season of unleavened bread (which would specifically be Passover)

 

Irenaeus reported:

 

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace with the whole Church, both those who did observe [this custom] and those who did not.[53] 

 

But were they truly in peace after that? 

 

I do not think so. 

 

Actually, I am convinced that Irenaeus glossed over the degree of disagreement. 

 

What really seems to have happened then is that Polycarp denounced a variety of Gnostic and other heretics during that trip.  Anicetus was new to his position, decided it was advantageous to defer to Polycarp for either one meal or Passover service, then Polycarp left (Protestant scholar H. Wace seemed to feel that this was a Passover service, see note [54]). 

 

The 15th century Jewish historian, sometimes called Rabbi Ifaac wrote:

 

Polycarp…Born late in the reign of Nero, he became a Nazarene.[55]

 

Perhaps it also should be mentioned that there is a document known as the Harris Fragments that also discusses Polycarp.  Basically it stresses that Polycarp’s connection with the Apostle John, indicates he was baptized at age 18, states he was appointed bishop of Smyrna by John, and that he died at martyr’s death at age 104.[56]

 

Polycarp and Smyrna Were Faithful

 

Regarding Smyrna, even The Catholic Encyclopedia states,

 

Smyrna...Christianity was preached to the inhabitants at an early date. As early as the year 93, there existed a Christian community directed by a bishop for whom St. John in the Apocalypse (i, II; ii, 8-11) has only words of praise…There were other Christians in the vicinity of the city and dependent on it to whom St. Polycarp wrote letters (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", V, xxiv). When Polycarp was martyred…the Church of Smyrna sent an encyclical concerning his death to the Church of Philomelium and others.[57]

 

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Eusebius records that upon his martyrdom Polycarp’s critics called him the “father of the Christians”[58] and that Irenaeus stated,

 

Polycarp related all things in harmony with the Scriptures.[59] 

 

Hence, even these Catholic writers support the idea that Smyrna was an important part of the true and faithful church even though the Catholic Church does not follow many of the Christian beliefs originally practiced there. 

 

The Nazarenes Knew the New Testament Canon

 

A couple of comments on the New Testament canon probably should be made. 

 

Now John, while living in Patmos and Ephesus, wrote the final 3-5 books of the Bible. Hence, he would be the logical one to have truly known the New Testament canon.  Thus, it had to be in Asia Minor where the canon was first known.

 

Furthermore, Revelation 22:18-19 itself suggests that God had John then finalize all that would be scripture—and all this occurred in Asia Minor, not Rome.

 

Interestingly, a review of Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians shows that it seems to refer to all 27 books of the New Testament[60]  (some scholars believe only most of the books are referred to[61]) and a couple from the Old Testament (Psalms, Jeremiah). Thus, Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians helps demonstrate that Asia Minor had the full biblical canon from the beginning (most likely because the Apostle John would have passed that knowledge on to Polycarp).

 

Notice the following from the late Protestant scholar, James Moffatt:

 

Was not the Apostolic Canon of scripture first formed...in Asia Minor? Was not Asia Minor ahead of Rome in the formation of the Apostolic, Episcopal, ministry?...The real thinking upon vital Christianity for centuries was done outside the Roman Church.[62]

 

Yet, it needs to be understood that those in Rome were confused about what books constituted the New Testament (for more information, please see ). 

 

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that around the end of the 4th century, the Nazarenes knew that they had the scriptures and that they came from God, not a Greco-Roman council. Epiphanius noted about the Nazarenes:

 

For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old…[63]

 

 Jerome wrote that the Nazarenes claimed:

 

…God has given us the Law and the testimonies of scriptures.[64]

 

Perhaps it should be mentioned that Ray Pritz appears to believe that Jerome got some of his information on the Bible from the Nazarenes and from various synagogues.[65]  If that is the case, then it would appear that the Greco-Roman claim, which I have heard many times, that it (the Greco-Roman Church) gave the world the Bible neglects to mention that their church most likely got the Bible from those in the true Church of God in Asia Minor and in Jerusalem (more on the canon can be found in the articles The New Testament Canon - From the Bible and History and The Old Testament Canon).

 

Theophilus and other Nazarenes

 

Ray Pritz indicated that Theophilus of Antioch was a Nazarene/Ebionite, and then he quoted R. M. Grant who determined that he:

 

…found strong Ebionite leanings in Theophilus, that this Bishop of Antioch "was following a Jewish or Jewish Christian source" and that "in spirit and in content he is very close to Judaism".[66]

 

Thus, we see "Judaeo-Christian" practices in Asia Minor, Jerusalem (a portion of it), and Antioch all during the second century.

 

Leaders in Asia Minor such as Melito of Sardis kept the Passover the same time as the Apostle John[67] and thus continued to have practices in common with the Christians in Palestine.  And once, when apparently there was a question abou the Old Testament canon, Melito went down to Jerusalem to consult with the Christians (the Nazarenes) there:

 

This fragment is highly significant as the first Christian Old Testament canon. It is also of interest that Melito traveled to Palestine, and is thus an indication that this is the Old Testament canon known by Palestinian Christians...[68]

 

Thus there were several ties between the Nazarenes of Asia Minor, Antioch, and Palestine late into the second century.

 

The Nazarenes Continued to Keep Just the Sabbath

 

What about the seventh-day Sabbath?

 

In the late fourth century, Epiphanius wrote:

 

Nazarenes...They not only {read} the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do. For unlike the previous sectarians, they do not repudiate the legislation, the prophets, and the books Jews call "Writings." They have no different ideas, but confess everything exactly as the Law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion--except for their belief in Christ, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that God is one, and that his Son is Jesus Christ...They are different from Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Christ, but since they are still fettered by the Law-circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest--they are not in accord with Christians.[69]

 

Note that the Nazarenes differed from the Jews and the majority of professing Christians. The Nazarenes were seventh-day Sabbath-keeping Christians who believed in obeying the law of God.   

 

Here is some of what the Catholic scholar Bagatti wrote:

 

In fact some Minim of gentile stock, following St. Paul, taught that the Law had been abolished with the exception of the Decalogue…

 

Some Jews…intensified the observance of the Law…especially regarding circumcision and the Sabbath.  The Judaeo-Christians in this were in accord with the Jews, but it is possible that some of them allowed themselves to be influenced by the Pauline idea that the rite of circumcision was no longer of obligation.

 

St. James in his letter (5, 13-16)…commands that in the case of grave illness the presbyters should be called…Jewish sources…describe some Judaeo-Christian presbyters who go to anoint the sick in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Min. Jacob practiced the rite…The custom of anointing the sick seems to have been an ordinary practice of the Nazarenes[70]

 

Since Epiphanius was of the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox form of Christianity, he did not consider the Nazarenes to be his type of true Christians. But the simple fact is that the Nazarene form of Christianity was the correct form and the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox was not faithful to the original apostolic teachings

 

Around 404 A.D. Jerome noted,

 

…the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e….keeping the Jewish Sabbath…there exists a sect among…  the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe…a most pestilential heresy. [71]

 

Did Gentiles Who Professed Christ Keep the Sabbath for Centuries?

 

But it was not just Jewish Christians keeping the Sabbath.  Noted historian K.S. Latourette wrote,

 

…for centuries even many Gentile Christians also observed the seventh day, or Sabbath. [72]

 

In the 5th century, “a certain Eusebius of Alexandria…speaks of the observance of the Sabbath”[73] apparently in parts of Egypt.

 

The mid-5th Century historian Sozomen reported,

 

The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.[74] 

 

This shows that Sabbath keeping continued in parts of Asia Minor through the time of Sardis and into what is sometimes considered to be the Pergamos era.

 

The Nazarenes Avoided Jewish Traditions, While Observing Biblical Practices

 

Jerome mentioned that the Sabbath-keeping Christians he ran into did not adhere to the Jewish traditions--in other words, although they kept the Sabbath, the Nazarenes did not keep the Sabbath like the Pharisees did:

 

Jerome declares:

 

"On Isaiah 9:1-4

 

"The Nazarenes, whose opinion I have set forth above, try to explain this passage in the following way: When Christ came and his preaching shone out, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali [the region of Galilee] first of all were freed from the errors of the Scribes and Pharisees and he shook off their shoulders the very heavy yoke of the JEWISH TRADITIONS. Later, however, the preaching became more dominant, that means the preaching was multiplied, through the gospel of the apostle Paul who was the last of all the apostles. And the gospel of Christ shone to the most distant tribes and the way of the whole sea. Finally the whole world, which earlier walked or sat in darkness and was imprisoned in the bonds of idolatry and death, has seen the clear light of the gospel" (p.64).

 

In this passage, we find that the Nazarene Christians -- like Yeshua the Messiah, Peter, James, John and especially Paul -- rejected Jewish traditionalism, invention, and additions to the Torah or Old Testament. They referred to them as the "very heavy yoke of the Jewish traditions." [75]

Perhaps it might be helpful to realize that Catholics do admit that the Nazarene Christians did observe the Feast of Tabernacles:

St. Jerome (PL 25, 1529 & 1536-7) speaking of how the Judaeo-Christians celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles…tells us that they gave the feast a millenarian significance (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision.  Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p.202).

Most Church of God groups with origins in the old WCG, like the Continuing Church of God, still observe the Feast of Tabernacles and have other practices kept by the faithful among the Nazarenes.

Eusebius and Other Scholars Often Did Not Report About the True Church

 

By this time, readers may wonder why they have not been aware of most of what is in this article.

 

There are several reasons, but perhaps the most pertinent is that beginning no later than Eusebius, most theological scholars have supported the Greco-Roman confederation.  And as supporters, they have had a tendency to not report and/or minimize the reporting of the true church—especially as it differed from the position later held by the Greco-Roman confederation.

 

Eusebius was perhaps the most thorough of the early church historians, but he definitely was selective about the details of many matters and people he reported about.

 

For example, even though Melito and Theophilus were major second century writers, much of their writings have been suppressed/lost.  I believe that it is clear that Eusebius suppressed many of them and others later “lost” them. 

 

Notice what the 19th century Protestant scholar Philip Schaff reported:

 

Melito was a chiliast...Eusebius is the first to give us an idea of the number and variety of his writings, and he does little more than mention the titles, a fact to be explained only by his lack of sympathy with Melito’s views. The time at which Melito lived is indicated with sufficient exactness by the fact that he wrote his Apology during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, but after the death of his brother Lucius, i.e. after 169 (see below, note 21); and that when Polycrates wrote his epistle to Victor of Rome, he had been dead already some years...Of the dates of his episcopacy, and of his predecessors and successors in the see of Sardis, we know nothing.

 

In addition to the works mentioned in this section by Eusebius, who does not pretend to give a full list, we find in Anastasius Sinaita’s Hodegos seu dux viæ c. aceph. fragments from two other works entitled είς τό π€θος and περί σαρκώσεως χριστού (the latter directed against Marcion), which cannot be identified with any mentioned by Eusebius (see Harnack, I. 1, p. 254).[76]

 

Eusebius certainly could have written more, but as Philip Schaff pointed out, Eusebius seems to have shied away from highlighting much that was different than the religion that his emperor (Constantine) liked.

 

Theophilus, according to what is in the Syrian version of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, was also one who opposed the heretic Marcion in writing[77].  But that document also no longer is available. 

 

Interestingly, Eusebius never went into details of what Melito or Theophilus wrote against Marcion.  Nor did Jerome, though he acknowledged that Theophilus did write a treatise against Marcion that still existed in his time.[78]

 

And I would take this one step further—I believe that the suppression of writings from both Melito and Theophilus against Marcion was intentional.  I believe that they would make it clear to those interested in the truth that the early church did support the Sabbath (and not Sunday) and clearly held to other teachings that the heretic Marcion introduced that were later adopted by the Greco-Romans. 

 

Eusebius was also one who falsely cemented the ties between the faithful of Asia Minor with the early Greco-Romans.  Notice what he reported:

 

At that time there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apolinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and finally, Irenæus.  From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from apostolic tradition.[79]

 

But the fact is that the Greco-Roman supporters and the Asia Minor faithful did not agree on Passover and other doctrinal issues—there was only one orthodox faith truly received from “apostolic tradition” and it was not the Greco-Roman one. 

 

But most people seem unaware of this. 

 

Perhaps I should add that in his writing known as De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Jerome did the same thing as Eusebius (who he cites as a major source[80]) by combining true leaders and Greco-Roman leaders together when he knew that they had different doctrines.

 

This lack of coverage, cloaking together true and heretical teachers, and subsequent “loss” of documents is not a coincidence.  Combing parts of biblical doctrines with anti-biblical traditions of men is what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for (Matthew 15:2-14).  Yet that, to a degree, seems to be what happened in the historical records.

 

It may be of interest to realize that after discussing Polycrates, Eusebius says almost nothing about the Smyrnaeans in Asia Minor for several decades.

 

Other scholars have noticed this as well.  For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia confirmed this when it stated:

 

We have no information concerning the further course of the matter under Victor I so far as it regards the bishops of Asia. All that is known is that in the course of the third century the Roman practice in the observance of Easter became gradually universal.[81]

 

There SHOULD HAVE BEEN more material, but Eusebius did not report it.

 

Furthermore, The Catholic Encyclopedia, in a different article, stated:

 

Of the lost works of Tertullian the most important was the defence of the Montanist manner of prophesying, "De ecstasi", in six books, with a seventh book against Apollonius.[82]

 

I also believe that this is why the book by Tertullian against the Quartodeciman Apollonius of Ephesus was also “lost”.  Instead of admitting this is the case, one Catholic scholar claimed the following about Apollonius:

 

Apollonius of Ephesus Anti-Montanist Greek ecclesiastical writer, between 180 and 210, probably from Asia Minor, for he is thoroughly acquainted with the Christian history of Ephesus and the doings of the Phrygian Montanists. If we may accept what the unknown author of "Praedestinatus" says (I, 26, 27, 28; P.L., LIII, 596), he was a Bishop of Ephesus, but the silence of other Christian writers renders this testimony doubtful.[83]

 

So, because some records were “lost” some prefer to not believe that there was a pastor/bishop from Ephesus named Apollonius who opposed Montanist and other heresies (Apollonius’ existence as an important church leader was reported by both Eusebius[84] and Jerome[85]).  I believe that there is most likely a reason that the records were intentionally silent regarding Apollonius—more about him would have been considered harmful by Eusebius.  Perhaps I should add that one source stated that Praedestinatus was a third century presbyter in Ephesus[86] and hence may have succeeded Apollonius (others indicate Praedestinatus was from a later period).

 

Furthermore, as mentioned previously, Eusebius knew of, and seems to have had, a writing by Irenaeus “to Blastus On Schism”[87], yet he did not report what it said.  I suspect that it would have revealed more of the truth that those in Rome were simply not as faithful as those in Asia Minor were.

 

Limited and Contradictory Reporting on the Faithful Nazarenes

 

But there is more.

 

Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant scholars tend to accept that the original Christian church was made up of Jewish converts that retained “Jewish practices”—and that this would have included the early church in Rome.  They tend to accept that those who stayed in Jerusalem until 135 A.D. were true and faithful Christians.  They accept that John and Philip died in Asia Minor and that they appointed leaders who in turn appointed other faithful leaders.  But they overlook the fact that all of these Nazarene groups had “Judaeo-Christian” beliefs.

 

How can these scholars claim that the Jerusalem Christians until 135 A.D., the Asia Minor Christians of the 2nd century, and the Antiochian Christians of the 2nd century were faithful, while on the other hand denouncing the Nazarenes in the 4th century as heretical? 

 

How can any “Christian” scholar accept the decisions of subsequent church councils to condemn those who held the first and second century Judaeo-Christian beliefs?

 

Instead of publicly accepting that the early church was “Judaeo-Christian”, most scholars tend to instead accept that the Greco-Romans ended up with a different set of beliefs but they are not sure why.  Notice what two different books on church history state:

 

The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church.[88]

 

For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises…we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul.[89]

 

But those statements are mainly only true in the Greco-Roman sense.  Those in Asia Minor, Antioch, the scattered Christians from Jerusalem, and others elsewhere continued in the original practices—the fact that some of their records were destroyed (hence “scanty” is accurate) and some were subject to Greco-Roman tampering (so some are suspicious) does not change the fact that the surviving records only show one original faith and that it was not kept by the Greco-Romans.  It was only because of cowardice, compromise, the toleration of certain heretics, and the acceptance of allegorizing teachings that “the church” that was “very different” came into existence.

 

Yet, if the world truly understood that the early faithful leaders did have what are known as “Judaeo-Christian” practices, this could shake the Greco-Roman religious world to its very foundations. 

 

Furthermore, notice what is essentially an admission from Catholic scholar Bagatti commenting on how little Eusebius reported about an early, Judaeo-Christian, church in on Mount Sion in Jerusalem:

 

In the latter text Eusebius takes Sion for the whole city and so does not intend to describe the state of Sion as such…To explain the silence on the mother church which certainly was in Sion, we can only identify this synagogue mentioned by the Bordeaux pilgrim with the church adapted for use by Judaeo-Christians, and therefore according to their usage, a synagogue.  This is confirmed by St. Cyril, who some half a score of years later…calls the place “a church of the Apostles”…[90]

 

Perhaps, I should add here that Catholic scholar Bagatti believed that non-reporting about the Nazarene Judaeo-Christians was intentional.  Notice:

 

St. Epiphanius, also a witness to the situation…In the Ancoratus, (40, PG 43,89-90) written in 373, the saint enumerates the Holy Sites of the Passion…Since the Cenacle, which is not mentioned, is of prime importance…and other places are of little importance, we must admit that the omission is intentional.  We guess that he did not wish to record it because he held the Judaeo-Christians as heretics.[91]  

 

In other words, the place that probably was the original church location in Jerusalem was a Judaeo-Christian place, but essentially the “historians of the Catholic Church” (Eusebius and  Epiphanius) omitted it.  Sort of a limited history—if their history was of the TRUE church.  Both of these “histories” de-emphasized the faithful biblical Christians in Asia Minor and elsewhere.

 

I suspect that full coverage of what really happened with the true church would have disclosed significant doctrinal differences from Rome that his emperor (Constantine) would not have liked.  I do not think that Eusebius wanted to tell Constantine that the faithful in Asia Minor and Palestine never accepted the Greco-Roman confederation nor the authority of the “Bishop of Rome”.

 

This suppression/destruction of early information also explains much of why early Church of God views still are not fully known by many today—documents that emphasized differences from the 4th century Greco-Roman confederation of churches were often suppressed or destroyed. 

 

On the other hand, perhaps the reason that there are a variety of binitarian supporting early writings from leaders such as Polycarp, Melito and others remaining is because Eusebius himself held to “semi-Arianism” according to Catholic sources.[92] 

 

Are Modern Scholars Aware of This?

 

But what about modern scholars? 

 

Do they not realize this?

 

Yes, to some degree they do.  But there are a variety of problems that scholars have. 

 

Those who do not now seem to have a strong theological bent, such as Bart Ehrman, clearly believe that there were a variety of “Christianities” and the Greco-Roman confederation is what most people are familiar with because it emerged as the religion of a sun-supporting emperor (Constantine).[93] Since he seems to realize that what now passes for mainstream Christianity really did not exist from the beginning (plus, I suspect, problems he has seen with it), he no longer sees himself as the evangelical Christian he once did.

 

In the early 20th century, another who turned against Constantinian “Christianity” (and pretty much all other forms), Llewelyn Powys, noted that there was only one place church history made sense with any type of apostolic succession:

 

…direct tradition of that apostolic succession which connects primitive Christianity with the disciples of Jesus. We must go to Asia Minor to do this.[94]

 

Yet, since Llewelyn Powys never found any church that traced itself and beliefs through Asia Minor , he concluded that the way the “Constantinian Christians” claimed to have formed simply was not biblically nor historically logical.  He also concluded that Christianity was a fallacy.  And those that are intellectually honest must realize that only a form of Christianity that is the same as that practiced in early Jerusalem and Asia Minor could possibly be the only true one.

 

Yet, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox scholars seem to think that the idea that the true church was small and persecuted, and throughout history has remained small and persecuted is beyond what they can personally accept.

 

Additionally Catholics and Orthodox scholars, even though they do not follow Polycarp’s teachings, gloss over this, while still calling Polycarp a saint.

 

And they also venerate as saints early leaders including Melito, Theophilus, Apollinaris, etc. who all held doctrinal positions that the Greco-Romans do not.  Instead of stopping and considering that Polycarp, Melito, Theophilus, Polycrates, Apollinaris, etc. were not in the same church as the Greco-Romans, they have chosen to gloss over the MAJOR doctrinal differences while at the same time indicating to the world that their FAITH NEVER CHANGED.

 

This is intellectually dishonest, but they do this all the time.

 

And as has been reported in this paper, many Catholic scholars, at least, do recognize they really do not have “apostle to bishop” transfer in ANY of the five so-called “Apostolic Sees” of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

 

Even though Catholic and Orthodox scholars know that Polycarp did have the original type of “apostle to bishop succession” they claim as essential to be part of the true church, they overlook the genuine Church of God as an insignificant, essentially upstart sect.  The fact that we hold better to the teachings of Polycarp and his spiritual successors than any other church seems to be impossible to them—even though it, as clearly documented in this paper, is true.

 

Notice the following written by Catholic scholar Bagatti:

 

There is a text, which is not very clear, in which St. Epiphanius speaks of pre-Constantinian Sion (PG 260-1); at first he says that “the small church” of the Christians had remained standing despite the change wrought in the city by Hadrian; then as if there had remained a “synagogue”, to which was connected the legend of the seven tabernacles.  When the Saint wrote there was secret strife between the Judaeo-Christian and gentile Christian communities, which kept the saint from expressing himself more clearly; but there is no doubt that he speaks in this text of the primitive church of Sion which he calls once a church then a synagogue.  In fact the pilgrim of Bordeaux calls it a synagogue (E 729) because {sic} officiated by the Judaeo-Christians.[95]

 

So he admits that Epiphanius knew of a primitive church (which probably did cease to function in Mt. Sion for some time during Hadrian’s reprisals) and that it was Judeao-Christian, but that does not seem to be enough reason for the scholar to question being Catholic himself.

 

On the other hand, the Protestant scholars may be worse.  Pretty much all 21st century Protestant scholars know that Polycarp and Polycrates were known as faithful early Christian leaders who stood up against the bishops of Rome.  Yet, since Protestant scholars frequently seek proof that Rome did not rule the churches throughout the entire world, it should be logical that they would want to emphasize Polycarp’s and Polycrates’ discounting the positions of the Roman bishops.  Yet, they also know that the earliest leaders who it has been documented to challenge Roman authority kept Passover on the 14th, advocated the Ten Commandments, and had various Judaeo-Christian practices.  They should be using Polycarp and Polycrates as MAJOR PROOF that Rome did not have supremacy over the early Christian world.  But they hold back.

 

Why?

 

Because few Protestant theologians believe in the Sabbath, only rarely do any publicly advocate adherence to all of the Ten Commandments, and almost never advocate original Nazarene Christian practices.  Protestant scholars tend to consider all of them burdens that have somehow been done away through Christ.  Thus, they simply cannot emphasize that the early faithful church must have been more prevalent in Asia Minor, Antioch, and Jerusalem than Rome. 

 

The fact that Protestants have so many Greco-Roman teachings, while often publicly professing loyalty to sola Scriptura, essentially gets them to gloss over or de-emphasize these facts of early Christian history.

 

There are some occasional exceptions.  In addition to various admissions in Catholic and other writings, Paul Brooks Duff for example observed:

 

The familiarity of Christians with Jewish practices in Asia Minor is striking.[96]

 

But it is more than striking—the original church of God always was familiar with certain practices considered to be Jewish—while many of the Greco-Roman orthodox beliefs and practices were added. The idea that the faithful Gentiles did not keep the Holy Days, etc. is in error.

 

Notice the following facts about the original church from E. Gibbon:

 

The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. It was natural that the primitive tradition of a church which was founded only forty years after the death of Christ, and was governed almost as many years under the immediate inspection of his apostle, should be received as the standard of orthodoxy. The distant churches very frequently appealed to the authority of their venerable parent, and relieved her distresses by a liberal contribution of alms. But when numerous and opulent societies were established in the great cities of the empire, in Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome, the reverence which Jerusalem had inspired in all the Christian colonies insensibly diminished. The Jewish converts, or, as they were afterwards called, the Nazarenes, who had laid the foundations of the church, soon found themselves overwhelmed by the increasing multitudes that from all the various religions of polytheism enlisted under the banner of Christ…[97]

 

In other words, the original apostolic church that the Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants all admit was faithful held to the law of Moses combined with the doctrine of Christ and they were the standard for every area until too many Gentiles who had polytheistic practices took over and ignored the original teachings.

 

Amazingly, a leading Protestant scholar (H. Brown) has admitted:

 

It is impossible to document what we now call orthodoxy in the first two centuries of Christianity.[98]

 

And that is true.  And he was specifically referring to doctrines like the trinity and other teachings that are contrary to what the Continuing Church of God holds.

 

Speaking of the trinity and its lack of ability to be documented, another trinitarian scholar (W. Rusch) has admitted:

 

The binitarian formulas are found in Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:14, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Tim 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:21, and 2 John 1:13...No doctrine of the Trinity in the Nicene sense is present in the New Testament...There is no doctrine of the Trinity in the strict sense in the Apostolic Fathers...[99]

 

Interestingly, H. Brown also wrote:

 

What we now call orthodoxy is a traditional understanding.  Is it the correct one?  The fact that heresy preceded orthodoxy, and appears to have been suppressed and supplanted by it, would seem to suggest the contrary…

 

If not, it would be necessary to concede that the history of orthodoxy is the history of usurpation—as indeed many eminent scholars have argued and continue to argue.[100]

 

Thus, some scholars will admit that many doctrines that are now denounced as heretical, clearly were in fact documented earlier, hence some were probably the original, Christian teachings.

 

Since many scholars have suppressed the truth, most have misunderstood it, and some others have destroyed documents that prove more of the truths of the early true church, most lay people do not have a real clue as to what happened.

 

Fourth and Later Centuries

 

It may be of interest to note that the Catholic scholar Bagatti stated that:

 

Gregory of Nyssa…He could not understand the mentality of the Judaeo-Christians…[101]

 

The same situation of two opposing communites appears in two letters of St. Gregory of Nyssa…in 381…he himself was not considered a true Christian by some who held the three resurrections, the millenarianism, the restoration of the Temple with bloody sacrifices; these are all doctrines of the Judaeo-Christians…[102]

 

From the phrases of the contemporary St. Cyril and others we learn that the church of Jerusalem, as such, was no longer considered “Christian” but “Nazarene”, because, notwithstanding the coming of the Christians of gentile stock, the community had preserved its primitive physiognomy.[103]

 

Epiphanius vouches (PG 41,401-2) for the desire of these Christians of Jewish race not to be called Christians or Jews but Nazarenes.  A late confirmation that the community of Jerusalem was not considered “Christian” but Nazarene is found in the relation of Severus ibn al Moqaffa (10th century) inserted into the History of the Councils…: “These are prodigies of the cross which are worked among the Syrians, called Nazarenes, on account of their history and way of life”.[104]

 

We in the Church of God have been called a variety of names.  I would suggest that we “Judeao-Christians” prefer that the Catholics call us Christians, members of the Church of God, or Nazarenes (as we trace our biblical history to those called that) and not Protestant (a movement that we were never part of).  However, I suspect that those that Epiphanius said preferred the term Nazarene to Christians, probably preferred that so that they would not be confused with the religion of the “Constantinian Christians”—who also apparently did not consider them to be their type of Christian.

 

Like the Judea-Christians mentioned above, we in the Continuing Church of God do believe in the three resurrections, millenarianism, the restoration of bloody sacrifices (but we do not believe that a Jewish Temple has to be rebuilt in this age for that to occur--nor is it clear that was a required position by the Judaeo-Christians of the late 4th century—but we do accept that will occur in the millennium as per Zechariah 14:21).

 

Jerome, in a letter to Augustine wrote that the Nazarenes were “a most pestilential heresy”.[105] 

 

But the Nazarenes were not new, just new to being considered to be a heresy.  The Nazarenes had long existed, but until the time of Constantine, they simply were not considered to be heretics.  Dr, Pritz noted:

 

…the earliest heresiologists did not include the Nazarenes for the simple reason that they did not consider them to be heretics…we arrive at this important conclusion: the lack of polemic against the Nazarenes until the fourth century does not show that they were a late phenomenon; rather it shows that no one until Epiphanius considered them heretical enough to add them to older catalogues…no one until Epiphanius felt it necessary to include the Nazarenes, even though they existed from the earliest times...[106]

 

Jerome also mentioned the Nazarenes when he wrote about the book of Isaiah:

 

The Nazarenes, who accept Christ in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old law…

 

The rest of the Nazarenes explain the passage this way…God has given us the Law and the testimonies of the scriptures.  If you are not willing to follow them you shall not have light, the darkness will always oppress you.[107]

 

Dr. Ray Pritz’s comment on that particular commentary discussing the Nazarenes by Jerome:

 

We may note that the complete lack of condemnation of the Nazarenes by Jerome.[108]

 

So what does all of that have to do with the Councils that agreed to the trinity?  In one sense, quite a bit.

 

Notice an interesting, but highly important, observation by the Catholic priest Bagatti:

 

In conclusion, regarding the Nazarenes, both St. Epiphanius and St. Jerome have nothing to condemn them for except the observance of customs forbidden by the Councils.[109]

 

And that is a major difference between the true Church of God and the Greco-Romans (and their Protestant offspring)— the Greco-Romans accept some of the Councils as authoritative (they are selective as some contradict others) and we in the true Church of God never have.  Actually, the Orthodox define themselves by seven of these councils so much that they call themselves “the Church of the Seven Councils” and teach “it is the seven councils which the Orthodox Church takes as its standard and guide”[110].

 

History clearly shows that it took a Council, and not the Bible, to declare the Holy Spirit the third person of a non-biblical trinity.  History also shows that the idea of the Holy Spirit being a separate divine person was NOT held by most prior to the late 4th century.

 

The Truth About Early Church History Is Not Widely Known

 

On the other hands, scholars like Bart Erhman, Ray Pritz, and Bellarmino Bagatti have at least recognized that what happened to the early Judaeo-Christian church has not been widely known.  The Catholic priest Bagatti, to cite one example, wrote:

 

The study of Judaeo-Christianity is still in its initial stages and I await new literary studies and new archaeological researches to get a better knowledge of a historical-religious situation that has now completely vanished.[111]

 

Of course, this religious situation has not completely vanished.

 

Summation

 

The subject of early church history and what happened in the beginning centuries of Christianity is controversial.  But that does not mean that it is not relevant to Christians today.

 

All Christians were at first called Nazarenes

 

It is clear that after leaving Jerusalem, the geographic focus of the New Testament Church and the immediate post-New Testament Church was Asia Minor.  It is only some of the Churches of God that claim descent through the Apostle John, Polycarp, Melito, and Polycrates while still adhering to their Quartodeciman and other practices and teachings. 

 

In the Fall of 2007, the Protestant publication, Christianity Today, had an article on church history that stated:

We are now in a period when it is not enough to know only about the Bible. The apologetics of the past is no longer adequate. Today’s questions involve not only how the Bible came to be, but even if there was originally such a thing as orthodoxy. It is a crucial question. Christians need to know a lot more about the second century. Roots matter, especially in the founding of a movement.[112]

And that is certainly true.  However if people look into their roots, the fact is that neither Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or other non-Church of God groups can document many of their “mainstream beliefs” as being accepted by true Christians in the second century.

 

While ever detail of early Christianity has not been preserved, it is historically accurate to conclude that there were Nazarene Christians in the Gentile areas of Ephesus and Smyrna who considered themselves as part of the true Christian Church who used the same Old Testament that non-Roman/Orthodox churches do, used the same New Testament that the Roman/Orthodox/Protestant churches do, who continued to keep various practices as they understood from scripture, who continued to keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days as they understood from scripture and the Apostles, and who did not accept any contrary.

 

I believe that those in the Continuing Church of God truly are the descendants of the only faithful group of first, second, third, and fourth century Christians as they hold to all true early Christian beliefs. 

 

The original Christians were called Nazarenes and held to many doctrines and practices that many considered to be Jewish.  But as there is no historical doubt that early Christians had those practices, those who wish to be true Christians should be following the practices of the Nazarenes today.

 

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:22).            

 

More on the history of the true church can be found in the following articles:

 

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed "apostolic sees" of the Orthodox have apostolic succession--despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view?  Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches?  Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim "saints" from both? "Saints" that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles' Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?

 

END-NOTE References



[1] Ehrman BD. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew.  Oxford University Press, USA, 2005

[2] Dugger AN, Dodd CO.  A History of True Religion, 3rd ed.  Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day).  1990 reprint.  And Hoeh H.  A True History of the True Church.  1959 ed.  Radio Church of God

[3]Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God. http://www.ccog.org/statement-of-beliefs-of-the-continuing-church-of-god/ viewed 09/28/13.

[4] Sanna I, et al. The Hope of Salvation for Infants who Die Without Being Baptized. International Theological Commission.  This present text was approved in forma specifica by the members of the Commission, and was subsequently submitted to its President, Cardinal William Levada who, upon receiving the approval of Benedict XVI in an audience granted on January 19, 2007, approved the text for publication. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html viewed 8/02/08

[5] Ruffin C.B.  The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary.  Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (IN), 1997, p. 94

[6] Germano M. Pella.  http://www.bibarch.com/ArchaeologicalSites/Pella.htm 06/20/07

[7]  Fortescue A. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. (Jerusalem (A.D. 71-1099). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company, NY. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York, pp. 355-361

[8] Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision.  Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p.7

[9] Archim. Titos (Chortatos). THE CHURCH OF JERUSALEM. Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem http://www.jerusalem-patriarchate.org/ May 24, 2005

[10] Eusebius. The History of the Church History, Book III, Chapter V, Verses 2,3.  Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert.  Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 45

[11] Tabor, James D. The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity.  Published by Simon and Schuster, 2007, p.133

[12] Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998

[13] Lewis, Harve Spencer.  The Mystical Life of Jesus. Published by Rosicrucian press, AMORC college, 1929. Original from the University of California. Digitized Dec 3, 2007, p. 61

[14] Epiphanius.  Panarion 29, 9,3 as cited in Pritz.  Nazarene Jewish Christianity.  Magnas, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 35

[15] Jerome.  Translated by J.G. Cunningham, M.A. From Jerome to Augustine (A.D. 404); LETTER 75 (AUGUSTINE) OR 112 (JEROME). Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series One, Volume 1, Chapter 13. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.  1886. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1999 printing, p. 339

[16] Epiphanius.  Panarion 29 as cited in Pritz, pp. 30-34

[17] Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 560-561,618

[18] Pritz,  p. 108.

[19] Ibid, pp. 85-86.  Pritz states the earliest appearance of the term “Gospel of the Nazarenes” did not occur until the ninth century and was then misnamed based upon a misunderstanding of another writing.

[20] Church of the Nazarene.  Wikipedia.  Viewed 08/02/08

[21] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book IV, Chapter 5, p.71. 

[22] Pixner B. Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion. Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990

[23] Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 14-15

[24] Gibbon, pp. 389-391

[25] Wilhelm J. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Apostolic Succession. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[26] Barron SW.  Social and Religious History of the Jews, Volume 2: Christian Era: the First Five Centuries.  Columbia University Press, 1952, p. 107

[27] The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem. http://www.holylight.gr/patria/enpatria.html viewed 11/30/07

[28] Bagatti.  Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine.  Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, pp.11,71-72

[29] Gibbon E. Chapter XV, Section I.

[30] Bagatti.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, pp.26,71-72

[31] Bacchiocchi S. God's Festivals in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives, Part 1, The Spring Festivals. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,,103

[32] Lightfoot, Joseph Barber.  Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: A Revised Text with Introduction, Notes and Dissertations. Published by Macmillan, 1881. Original from Harvard University. Digitized Oct 16, 2006, pp. 317, 331

[33] Bagatti.  The Church from the Circumcision, pp.21,22

[34] Origen.  Contra Celsus, Book V, Chapter 61.  In Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson, Volume 4, 1885.  Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 570

[35] Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Chapter XV, Section I. ca. 1776-1788. The Modern Library, NY, pp. 390-391

[36] History of the Orthodox Church.  St. Basil´s Cathedral, Nashville 2007. http://www.stbasilscathedral.org/custpage.cfm/frm/3087/sec_id/3087 viewed 11/28/07

[37] Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Chapter IV, Verse 1.

[38] Fonck L. Transcribed by Michael Little.  St. John the Evangelist. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[39] Ruffin , p. 94

[40] Bagatti.  The Church from the Circumcision, p. 80

[41] Bede. Edited by Judith McClure and Roger Collins.  The Ecclesiastical History of the English People.  Oxford University Press, NY, 1999, pp. 156-157

[42] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verse 6, p. 114

[43] Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses.  Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4, p. 416.

[44] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7, p. 114

[45] Thomas JC. Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine Community. Published by Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004, p. 151

[46] Hardinge, Leslie. The Celtic Church in Britain. Teach Services, Brushton (NY) 2000, pp. 111,116

[47] Cyprian.  The Epistles of Cyprian, Epistle 5, Chapter 2. In Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V

[48] Cited in Thomas JC, p. 145

[49] Bergstresser, Peter.  Baptism and Feet-washing. Published by Lutheran Publication Society, 1896. Original from the New York Public Library. Digitized Aug 2, 2006, p. 189

[50] Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4

[51] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIII, Verse 1, p. 113

[52] Pionius, Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2.  Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889,  pp.488-506.

[53] Irenaeus. Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus.  In Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 by Roberts & Donaldson.  Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1999 printing, p. 569

[54]  From Wace and Piercy, “For although former bishops of Rome, from Xystus to Soter, had never kept Nisan 14, they had always maintained full communion with any who came from dioceses where it was observed; e.g. Polycarp, whom Anicetus permitted to celebrate in his own church, both separating afterwards in peace.” Wace H, Piercy WC, eds. Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. edition. ISBN: 1-56563-460-8 reprinted from the edition originally titled A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature, published by John Murray, London, 1911, reprint 1999

[55] Hoffman , David. Chronicles from Cartaphilus: The Wandering Jew. Published by , 1853. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Sep 7, 2007, p. 636

[56] As cited and discussed in Hartog P. Polycarp and the New Testament: The Occasion, Rhetoric, Theme, and Unity of the Epistle to the Philippians and Its Allusions to New Testament Literature. Published by Mohr Siebeck, 2002, pp. 32,39,41,153-154

[57] Vailhe’ S.  Transcribed by Lucia Tobin. Smyrna. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV.  Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company.  Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight.  Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor.  Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[58] Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book IV, Chapter XV, Verse 26, p. 80

[59] Ibid. Book V, Chapter 20, Verse 6, p. 112

[60] Thiel B. Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians with New Testament Scriptural Annotations.  Trinity Journal of Apologetics and Theology, published June 18, 2008

[61] Holmes, p. 203

[62] Excerpt of James Moffatt's review. In: Bauer,  p.292

[63] Cited in Pritz, p. 33

[64] Cited in Pritz, p. 63

[65] Pritz, pp. 49-53

[66] As quoted in Pritz, p. 75

[67] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7, p. 114 

[68] Stewart-Sykes A. Melito of Sardis On Pascha. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood (NY), 2001, p. 72

[69] Epiphanius 29:7,1-5; Williams 1987: 117-118

[70] Bagatti.  The Church from the Circumcision, p. 108 , 255, 256

[71] Jerome.  Letter 112 to Augustine.

[72] Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1, Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, p.198

[73] Bagatti.  The Church from the Circumcision, p. 93

[74] Sozomen.  THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF SOZOMEN. Comprising a History of the Church, from a.d. 323 to a.d. 425. Book VII, Chapter XIX.  Translated from the Greek. Revised by Chester D. Hartranft, Hartford Theological Seminary UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. Principal of King's College, London. T&T CLARK, EDINBURGH, circa 1846

[75] The Mysterious Relationship of The Early Nazarene Christians and Rabbinic Judaism. http://hope-of-israel.org/nazarene.htm 07/08/06

[76] NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. SECOND SERIES TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES. VOLUME I, Chapter XXVI, by  PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D. AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine. Melito and the Circumstances which he records, 1890. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1999 printing, Note 1, p. 203

[77] Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Syriac version, Book 4 (Extract), Chapter 24. Spicilegium Syriacum (1855). This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font/Polytonic Greek

[78] Jerome.  De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 25

[79] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book IV, Chapter 21, verse 1, p. 86

[80] Jerome. De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), introduction

[81] Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Pope St. Victor I." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 10 Jul. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15408a.htm>

[82] Chapman, John. Tertullian.

[83] Grey F.W. Transcribed by Paul-Dominique Masiclat, O.P. Apollonius of Ephesus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[84] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XVIII, verse 1, p. 110

[85] Jerome. De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 40

[86] Hengstenberg, Ernst Wilhelm. The Revelation of ST John: Expounded for those WHO SEARCH The Scriptures, Volume 2. Published by T. & T. Clark, 1852. Original from Harvard University. Digitized Nov 16, 2007, p. 422

[87] Eusebius.  The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XX, Verse 1, p. 112

[88] Gibbon, Edward ; Eckler , Peter. History of Christianity: Comprising All that Relates to the Progress of the Christian Religion in "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," and A Vindication of Some Passages in the 15th and 16th Chapters. Published by P. Eckler, 1916. Original from the New York Public Library

Digitized Jun 19, 2006, p. 106

[89] Hurlbut JL. The Story of the Christian Church. Zondervan, 1967, p. 33

[90] Bagatti.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p.64

[91] Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, p.11

[92] Bagatti.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p. 49

[93] Ehrman BD. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

[94] Powys, Llewelyn.  The Pathetic Fallacy: A Study of Christianity.  Published by Longmans, Green, 1930. Original from the University of WisconsinMadison. Digitized Oct 11, 2007, p. 57

[95] Bagatti.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p.26

[96] Duff  PB. Who Rides the Beast?: Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse.

Oxford University Press US, 2001, p. 148

[97] Gibbon & Eckler, p. 117

[98] Brown, p. 5

[99] Rusch W.G. The Trinitarian Controversy. Fortress Press, Phil., 1980, pp. 2-3

[100] Brown, p. 5

[101] Bagatti. The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p. 49

[102] Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, p. 11

[103] Ibid, p. 12

[104] Ibid, p. 13

[105] Jerome.  Letter 112 to Augustine.

[106] Pritz, p. 75

[107] Cited in Pritz, pp. 58,62,63

[108] Ibid, p. 58

[109] Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, p.35

[110] Ware, pp.19,35

[111] Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, p.2

[112] Bock DL. Roots Matter: The Gnostic Hunger For Secret Knowledge. Christianity Today. Issue 96, Fall 2007, Vol. XXVII, No. 4, Page 42

 

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