Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill, Often Called the Cenacle on Mt. Zion

By COGwriter

Which structure was possibly the first Christian church building? Could it have prophetic ramifications (watch also the video Might the oldest church building have prophetic ramifications?).

Many believe that the first building constructed by Christians was basically patterned after Jewish synagogues and was on the Western Hill in Jerusalem. A hill that some call Sion/Zion. Parts of this building remain today.

In terms of the earliest location of the Christian Church, notice a translation of a Latin quote from the first, and early second, century Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus: 

Annal. 15, 44...Christians...Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea where the mischief originated..(Annals of Tacitus.  As cited in Giles JA. Heathen records to the Jewish scripture history:containing all the extracts from the Greek and Latin writers, in which the Jews and Christians.  James Cornish, 1856. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Oct 17, 2008, p. 105)

The late fourth century historian Epiphanius recorded that in Jerusalem in Judea a Christian building was mentioned existing no later that by 130-135 A.D. Epiphanius wrote the following (a portion of which I have bolded for clarity):

 {Hadrian} found the temple of God trodden down and the whole city devastated save for a few houses and the church of God, which was small, where the disciples, when they had returned after the Savior had ascended from the Mount of Olives, went to the upper room. For there it had been built, that is, in that portion of Zion which escaped destruction, together with blocks of houses in the neighborhood of Zion and the seven synagogues which alone remained standing in Zion, like solitary huts, one of which remained until the time of Maximona the bishop and Constantine the king. (The Epiphanius of Salamis, Weights and Measures, chapter 14.  (1935),  pp.11-83. English translation transcribed by Roger Pearse. www.tertullian.org viewed 01/03/13)

That building may have been the first Christian building, at least in Jerusalem.

The “church of God” Epiphanius mentioned is believed to have been the building which has sometimes been called the Cenacle or Coenaculum.  It was located on a Jerusalem western hill that some have called Zion/Sion.

There is some controversy associated with the actual biblical Mount Zion. Certain Hebrew scriptures, such as Psalm 48:1-2 may seem to have it towards the north of Jerusalem, while this “church of God” is on a western, not northern hill (which seems more consistent with what is suggested in 1 Chronicles 11:4-8). Historically not counting possible heavenly references, there may have been three geographical locations all called Mt. Zion, if the old, claimed, Temple Mount area is included (cf. Pixner B. Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion. Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990: 16-35,60). It may also be of interest to note the true Church of God seems to collectively be referred to as being part of Mt. Zion in Hebrews 12:22-23. So statements about 'Zion' can have differing meanings.

Some legends suggest this building is near or where the last Passover of Jesus, Pentecost of Acts 2, and/or certain other notable New Testament events took place (like Matthias being chosen as an apostle, Acts 1:12-26).  While its New Testament referenced uses are unverified, archeological evidence supports that it was originally likely built there by Church of God Christians in the first century, perhaps because they considered it to be Mt. Zion. After I thought and wrote this, I found that others also had come to that conclusion (Schmalz R, Fischer R. The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church. Olim Publications, third printing, 2001).

As Epiphanius reported, this building was noticed by the Romans in the early second century.  It was a location that the Nazarene Christians used until they were forced out of it in the fourth century by supporters of Emperor Constantine’s professed faith. 

Since the "Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill" is believed to have been used as early as the first century by Christians, it may have been the original church "building" of those in the Church of God. It may well be that because of the references in Hebrews 12:18-24, 1 Peter 2:6, and Revelation 14:1 that the Christians choose the location because they believed it to be Mount Zion, a place of historical and prophetic interest.

When citing Acts 1:12, Eusebius also wrote about the building and he called it the "Holy Church of God":

"Then they returned from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is opposite to Jerusalem." The Mount of Olives is therefore literally opposite to Jerusalem and to the east of it, but also the Holy Church of God, and the mount upon which it is founded...(Eusebius. The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cæsarea, Book IV, Chapter 18. John W. Ferrar, editor. Society for promoting Christian knowledge, 1920. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized July 2, 2009, p. 30)

Although the Greco-Romans have built their type of church around it, some few of the original bricks continue. You can see the some of the original building bricks by looking at the front cover of the Jan-March 2013 edition of Bible News Prophecy magazine; a more recent photograph is shown on the back cover on the pdf booklet: Continuing History of the Church of God.

After rebellions by the Jews against the Romans, Jerusalem was mainly destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman General Titus. Many fled to Pella, then many of them came back. "Later witnesses describe them in their former residence in Mt. Zion" (Briand, p.13).

In 333 A.D. this building was observed by someone called the "Bordeaux pilgrim." Here is an account by a Catholic priest and scholar:

Precisely from the topographical aspects, the Bordeaux pilgrim in 333 wrote, "Within the wall of Sion appears to be a place where David had his place. And of the seven synagogues that were there, there remains only one, the remains of the others they plough and sow as the prophet Isaiah said" (E 729)...

As a positive fact we have it that the Bordeaux pilgrim saw on Sion only one synagogue. To explain the silence on the mother church which certainly was on Sion, we can only identify this synagogue as mentioned by the Bordeaux pilgrim with the church adapted by use by the Judeao-Christians, and therefore called, 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"...

(Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini, 1 Februari 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 26 Februari 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 64)

Cyril of Jerusalem called it the "Church of the Apostles" and believed that the upper portion is where the Holy Spirit came in Acts 2 (Cyril. Catechetical Lecture 16, Chapter 4: On the Article, And in One Holy Ghost, the Comforter, Which Spoke in the Prophets. Translated by Edwin Hamilton Gifford. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310116.htm>).

A late fourth century female pilgrim named Egeria (sometimes spelled as Etheria) referred to the location and claimed that it was mentioned in the New Testament:

the Lord, on the same day, and in the same place where the church now stands in Sion, came in to His disciples when the doors were shut. That is, when one of His disciples, Thomas, was absent, and when he returned and the other Apostles told him that they had seen the Lord...(THE PILGRIMAGE OF ETHERIA M.L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919, p. 85)

While the event above and Acts 2 most certainly did happen, and the remains of a wall "in Sion" is still there, biblically the New Testament locations may have been in place(s) different than that of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill.

Theodosius, who at least thrice called it "holy Sion," claimed that the building had once been "the house of St. Mark the Evangelist" (Travel And Travellers of the Middle Ages European civilization Volume 45 of The history of civilization / general editor C.K. Ogden. The history of civilization. European civilization Editors Arthur Paul Newton, Arthur Percival Newton Translated by E. D. Hunt. Psychology Press, 1996, p. 48).

Basically, what remains of the original building are some bricks in one section that rises up, with new materials added all along to create an entire wall.  While, based upon what one archaeologist told me, it probably glistened white in the first and second centuries, whatever “paint” it had before is no longer covering the original bricks. As far as can be determined, the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill seems to been the original Christian church building in Jerusalem. The reports that the building was built on the foundation of the stones and bricks removed from the Temple that was destroyed and taken apart between 70-73 A.D. would seem to support it.

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that there is a tradition that the Apostle Thomas may have had small church buildings in India around 52 A.D., though others deny it (Grey LE. No early church buildings because God called early Christians to build church communities (Part 002), September 8, 2009. http://www.examiner.com/article/no-early-church-buildings-because-god-called-early-christians-to-build-church-communities-part-002). This is difficult to prove for certain, but thought this should be included for those looking for the oldest church building or possibly original church building (some have also made a claim about Joseph of Arimathea building one in the British Isles, but this seems to be based on highly spurious documents).

The Constantinian Supporters Took it and Tried to Make Certain Claims

Although he originally proclaimed freedom of religion in his 313 A.D. Edict of Milan, in 331 Emperor Constantine changed his mind. In his so-called Edict Against Heretics, he decided that it was good to take property from those whose views the sun-god worshiping Emperor did not agree with:

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure?

FORASMUCH, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together.

We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and our care in this respect extends so far as to forbid the holding of your superstitious and senseless meetings, not in public merely, but in any private house or place whatsoever. Let those of you, therefore, who are desirous of embracing the true and pure religion, take the far better course of entering the catholic Church, and uniting with it in holy fellowship, whereby you will be enabled to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. In any case, the delusions of your perverted understandings must entirely cease to mingle with and mar the felicity of our present times: I mean the impious and wretched double-mindedness of heretics and schismatics. For it is an object worthy of that prosperity which we enjoy through the favor of God, to endeavor to bring back those who in time past were living in the hope of future blessing, from all irregularity and error to the right path, from darkness to light, from vanity to truth, from death to salvation. And in order that this remedy may be applied with effectual power, we have commanded, as before said, that you be positively deprived of every gathering point for your superstitious meetings, I mean all the houses of prayer, if such be worthy of the name, which belong to heretics, and that these be made over without delay to the catholic Church; that any other places be confiscated to the public service, and no facility whatever be left for any future gathering; in order that from this day forward none of your unlawful assemblies may presume to appear in any public or private place. Let this edict be made public.” (Eusebius of Caesarea. The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine, Book III, Chapters LXIV, LXV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. Volume I, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, (Edinburgh: repr. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955; the digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas)

So, in the fourth century, those supporting the Roman Emperor Constantine's claimed faith, ended up taking over the Jerusalem area and put up their own building:

In 333 the Bordeaux pilgrim found there a basilica erected “by order of Constantine”.  By then the holy place had passed from the hands of the Judaeo-Christians, who had held it until then, to those Gentile Christians. (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini, 1 Februari 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 26 Februari 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 61)

The “holy place” mentioned above had been a meeting place for the Christians.  This is the place that has been called Sion and the Cenacle.  The Greco-Romans eventually added a shrine and a variety of relics (Ibid, pp. 27-28,69).

Theodosius in the 6th century referred to it, "holy Sion, which is the mother of all churches" (Travel And Travellers of the Middle Ages European civilization Volume 45 of The history of civilization / general editor C.K. Ogden. The history of civilization. European civilization Editors Arthur Paul Newton, Arthur Percival Newton Translated by E. D. Hunt. Psychology Press, 1996, p. 48).

Interestingly, certain Catholics and some others still consider that it is the “Mother Church”:

the Cenacle...In this way, Jerusalem, the Holy City, will discover its aspect of peace and justice: this Holy City, from where the Mother Church greets all believers as brothers. (Archbishop Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Homily, April 5, 2012. http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/jerusalem-patriarch-s-holy-thursday-homily viewed 05/23/13).

But notice that although some consider it to be "the mother church," it seems that the Constantinian Christians implied that their shrine practices, etc. were original even though they were not.  This is also recognized by the Roman Catholic Priest and scholar B. Bagatti, who wrote:

In light of this evidence, which shows two rival communities, we can understand the curious information supplied by Gregory  Asharuni (7th cent.) regarding the ordering of the functions and religious pilgrimages established in the 4th century in the different shrines.  He says that St. Cyril bishop of Jerusalem (313-386) sent a request to bishop Peter of Alexandria to have the ancient lectionary compiled by St. James bishop of Jerusalem; Peter found it in the monastery of St. Anthony and sent it to the Holy City.  With the diffusion of this news, probably, the idea was to insinuate that the functions established in Jerusalem in the church after the erection of the various shrines, went back to the time of St. James himself, although they were not practiced by those who occupied the mother church of Sion. (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 11-12)

So, Priest Bagatti realizes that there were no shrine ties to the original Jerusalem church that the Apostle James had in the first century.  He believes that the Constantinian "Christians" wanted to imply that their pagan shrine practices were original, although there is no way that they could have been.  Sadly, it seems that he is correct about that. 

Furthermore, those Constantinian supporters had trouble with the real Christians who also did not consider the Constantinians to be true Christians:

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...in On Weights and Measures (PG 43, 259-263) he related how on Sion there was a small church of the Christians...which church remained till the time of the Bishop Maximus and the Emperor Constantine...although he wrote a half a century later, indicates that Epiphanius no longer considered the church of the Cenacle...as genuine, because it was no longer officiated by the bishop but by the Judeao-Christians.

The same situation of the two opposing communities appears in the letters of St. Gregory of Nyssa (PG 46,1009-24) a pilgrim to Palestine in 381…Of the Holy Places he enumerates…he excluded Sion.  Further he describes the poor impression  made by the Christians of the Holy City, divided into many sects, and finally manifests that 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. (Ibid, p. 11)

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. (Ibid, p. 12)

The above accounts show that the "Nazarene" "Judeo-Christians" included Gentiles who kept the original faith (the expression "primitive physiognomy" essentially conveys that they had the characteristics of the first/original/primitive Christians). It should be noted that we in the Continuing Church of God believe in the three resurrections, millenarianism, and a resumption of "bloody sacrifices."

Notice also that the accounts above show that while the Greco-Romans took over the Church of God building on the Western Hill of Jerusalem for some time, apparently they lost control for parts of the fourth century, though the Greco-Romans got it back and then kept control.

Furthermore:

The fact that Epiphanius stopped at bishop Maximus of Jerusalem (bishop 333–348) suggests that he no longer considered the Judeo ‐ Christian synagogue as a bona fide Christian meeting place but rather from the time of Maximus a seat of heterodoxy. By 325 Greco ‐ Roman Christianity, whose mission then included the eradication of all other forms of Christianity, sought to become the exclusive religion. By then it had distanced itself from the Judeo ‐ Christian Churches of God and all Jewish Christian sects. Nevertheless, the synagogue remained in the possession of the Judeo ‐ Christians until 381, when seized under an imperial decree issued by Theodosius I following the First Council of Constantinople, and turned over to the control of Greco ‐ Roman Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem (bishop 384/50 ‐ 386). (Germano M. The Ancient Church of the Apostles. Copyright © 2002 by Michael P. Germano, pp. 1-4).

Most people simply do not realize that Justin, Tertullian, and others were all aware that there were two significant groups of those who professed Christ. One retained the original Jewish-Christian practices, like the Passover on the 14th, and the other, a confederation of Greco-Roman locations that distanced themselves from those practices and instead implemented shrines and other practices that the original Christians would have condemned (for some details, please see the articles Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? and What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?).

Those of the Greco-Roman side preferred more rounded buildings as had Imperial authorities and followers of various pagan deities:

Mithratic temples were usually built in caves…In localities where there are no mountains, the “holy of holies” of the Mithraic temples was given a cave-like appearance by building special domes over it. (Badiozamani B. Iran and America: Re-Kind[l]ing a Love Lost . East West Understanding Pr., 2005, p. 96)

Since Emperor Constantine had been a worshiper of the sun-god Mithras (see Do You Practice Mithraism?), this may be why many of the church buildings that he commissioned often contained domes. And this has affected the Greco-Roman churches, as well as the mosques of Islam, to this day. Constantine and Theodosius commissioned a building, now known as the Hagia Sion, to be built next to the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill and it is a rounded appearing one (which may have be octagonal):

Photo of Jerusalem in Church of Santa Pudenzenia

Photo taken June 2013 of Mosaic of 4th Century Jerusalem in Church of Santa Pudenziana

Some believe that some of the bricks from the area of Solomon’s Temple (or at least the second temple, which is sometimes known as the Herodian Temple) were also used to build the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill back in the first century. Notice the following from the biblical archeologist and Catholic priest Bargil Pixner:

I BELIEVE that the famous Church of the Apostles... is really a Roman-period synagogue... not a usual Jewish synagogue, but a Judeo-Christian Synagogue.

At first, places where Jewish Christians worshipped were of course called synagogues. Only later, as I will explain, did Christian places of worship come to be called churches instead of synagogues.

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 Hebrew the Jewish house of prayer was – and still is – called Beit or Beth Knesset, which means simply "house of assembly." Under Hellenistic influence, this became "synagogue," a Greek word meaning "assembly."…

To distinguish themselves from the Jews, the gentile Christians began to refer to their gatherings by the Greek word ekklesia, also meaning “assembly.” This word was then applied to the gathering place and later to the church building itself. Another word for the building was the Greek kyriake, meaning “belonging to the Lord (kyrios),” from which the English word “church” is derived.

...this synagogue – or more precisely, its niche – is not oriented exactly toward the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temple once stood. As several observers have now noted, the synagogue is oriented slightly off north, rather than toward the northeast where the Temple was located. The difference is small, but important. And with the Temple Mount but a few hundred yards away, the builders surely knew the difference. In fact, the synagogue's orientation is toward what is presently the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, at the time the synagogue was built, was believed to be the site of Jesus' tomb and of his crucifixion at Golgotha.

Was this directional orientation intentional? I believe it was. Would it not be logical that, after the Temple had been destroyed, Judeo-Christians, instead of orienting their synagogues toward the destroyed Temple as was the case with traditional Jews, would orient their synagogues toward the new center of their redemption, the site of Jesus' burial and resurrection?...

In the lowest layer, Pinkerfeld found pieces of plaster with graffiti scratched on them that came from the original synagogue wall. In his own words: "In the first [Roman] period, the hall was plastered. The fragments were handed over to the late Prof. M. Schwabe for examination." Both Schwabe and Pinkerfeld died without publishing these graffiti.

Ultimately they were published by a team of experts from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum led by Professors Emmanuele Testa and Bellarmino Bagatti. Their interpretation is as follows:

"One graffito has the initials of the Greek words which may be translated as 'Conquer, Savior, mercy.' Another graffito has letters which can be translated as 'O Jesus, that I may live, 0 Lord of the autocrat.' ...

The historical conditions after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and some new archaeological evidence suggest the circumstances under which this Judeo-Christian synagogue was built…This destruction, indeed, included the western hill, Mt. Zion (Zion III)…

Thus, it is safe to conclude that the building that stood on the site of the adjacent Judeo-Christian synagogue also fell victim to the Roman onslaught…

The Judeo-Christian community in Jerusalem escaped this terrible catastrophe by fleeing to Pella in Transjordan and the countryside of Gilean and Bashan…they realized that the time of Jesus’ return was not yet at hand, they decided to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild their sanctuary…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. On the outside face of the synagogue, at the base of the eastern and southern walls, we can see building stones of the original Roman-period building, which still exists to a considerable height. These large stones (for example, in the third course, 3 by 3.5 feet [96 by 110 cm]) are assigned by most archaeologists to the Herodian period, that is, before 70 A.D. But these stones were not originally hewn for this building. They were brought here from elsewhere and are in secondary use. This is evident because the corners of the stones were damaged during transport. Moreover, squared ashlars (large rectangular stones) of different heights were used in the same course on the eastern wall. Had this been original construction, the heights of stones in any one course would have been uniform.

Someone during the Roman period (after the destruction of Jerusalem) must have erected this synagogue structure by using ashlars brought here from elsewhere. Who would have done this? I believe that the returning Judeo-Christians did it in the late first century, when they put up their synagogue on the site…The most probable period when such an imposing structure would have been built was between 70 and 132 A.D. According to Eusebius, during those years there was a flourishing Judeo-Christian community in Jerusalem presided over by a series of 13 bishops from the circumcision (that is, Judeo-Christians)...

Bishop Epiphanius (315-403 A.D.), a native of the Holy Land, transmitted to us the following information: When the Roman emperor Hadrian visited Jerusalem in 130/131 A.D., there was standing on Mt. Zion "a small church of God...

Who built this synagogue-church — already standing on the southwestern hill in 130 A.D. — in memory of the place of the Last Supper and the Pentecost event? Some information comes from a tenth-century Patriarch of Alexandria named Euthychius (896-940 A.D.), who wrote a history of the church based on all the ancient sources that were available to him. According to Euthychius, the Judeo-Christians who fled to Pella to escape the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. "returned to Jerusalem in the fourth year of the emperor Vespasian, and built there their church." The fourth year of Vespasian was 73 A.D., the year Masada, the last outpost of the Jewish rebellion, fell to the Romans. The Judeo-Christians returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Simon Bar-Kleopha, who was the second bishop of Jerusalem after James, "the brother of the Lord," and, like Jesus, a descendant of the royal Davidic family.

The Judeo-Christians probably built their church, at that time called a synagogue, sometime in the decade after 73 A.D. For its construction, they could have used some of the magnificent ashlars from Herod’s destroyed citadel, not far away. Or perhaps they used the stones from the ruins of the Temple itself...with the intention of transferring some elements of the Holy Temple to a site becoming a new Mt. Zion (Zion III).

If that is so, the event may in fact be referred to in one of the apocryphal Odes of Solomon composed about 100 A.D. by a rival sectarian Judeo-Christian group. The fourth ode begins:

“No man can pervert your holy place, 0 God, nor can he change it, and put it in another place, because [he has] no power over it. Your sanctuary you designed before you made special places.” (Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 736.)

Was this passage in condemnation of the effort of the Judeo-Christians who built the synagogue on Mt. Zion to transfer some of the holiness of the destroyed Temple to their place of worship on the new Mt. Zion by constructing it in part with stones from that Temple?  

From this time on, the western hill of Jerusalem was referred to by Christians as Mt. Zion (Zion III). Very few places in Jerusalem can point to such an enduring tradition as Zion's claim to be the seat of the primitive church. No other place has raised a serious rival claim...

By this time the Judeo-Christian synagogue on Mt. Zion had become known as the Church of the Apostles. It became known as the Church of the Apostles not only because the apostles returned there after witnessing Christ's post-resurrection ascent to heaven, but also because the building was built, as we have seen, under the leadership of Simon son of Kleophas. Kleophas was known as a brother of Joseph of Nazareth, therefore Simon was a cousin of Jesus. Simon was later considered one of the apostles, outside the circle of the 12. For this reason, the house of worship built by Simon could rightfully be called the Church of the Apostles.

(Pixner B. Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion. Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990: 16-35,60. Also found at http://www.centuryone.org/apostles.html --yet that site and others who seemed to have copied it have left out important statements on page 26, which are included above and italicized by me as they are left out of the that online version)

The original bricks seem to have come from the old Jewish Temple. I and another with me personally examined some of them on October 24, 2013. The original bricks physically constitute a type of "temple" in the sense that this seems to have been the closest thing to a physical church building (and actually more closely resembled a synagogue) where real Christians attended for services. (I have been informed by one person mentioned as a source elsewhere in this article that the English word church may have actually derived from a German word meaning circle as the Romans had rounded buildings related to sun god related worship--but this building was rectangular--but because of the common understanding of the word church, it can be considered as a church building.)

Here is a photo from October 2013 of some of the original bricks of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill:

Photo of Jerusalem in Church of Santa Pudenzenia

Here is more information from Bargil Pixner:

Their adherence to Jewish customs, especially circumcision and observance of Jewish holy days, naturally alienated them from the church of the gentiles. The fissure became a gaping canyon with the strongly anti-Judaic positions taken by the Byzantine church after the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.).

Though recognizing the authenticity of the place, the gentile Christians looked with suspicion and almost contempt at the synagogue of the Judeo-Christians on Mt. Zion, considering their way of life outdated, if not heretical...This was the situation during the second half of the fourth century A.D...

To fend off gentile influence, both pagan and Byzantine (that is, gentile Christian), the Judeo-Christians of Mt. Zion built a wall around their ancient sanctuary. It was this kind of ghetto wall that the Bordeaux Pilgrim referred to when he visited Mt. Zion in 333 A.D. He entered and exited through a wall, he reported...

In 1985, while a sewage channel was being dug in front of the Dormition Abbey, I took the occasion to examine the area archaeologically and was able to locate the foundation of the facade of this Crusader church. The southwest corner of the church is in an exact alignment with the southern wall of the building of the ancient Judeo-Christian synagogue (see Crusader remains). The bases of nine Crusader pilasters and the western section of the northern wall of the Crusader church were also discovered and preserved.

Thus, it was the Crusaders who first included the walls of the ancient Judeo-Christian synagogue, which had become the Church of the Apostles, into their own basilica. As the Madaba map clearly shows, even the big rectangular Byzantine Hagia Sion was separate from the remains of the older Church of the Apostles. (Pixner, Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion, pp. 29-30,34)

So, Dr. Pixner reported that the building was separate from the Constantinian one, but later the Crusaders decided to incorporate some of the original church/synagogue into theirs. The Muslims ended up taking it over and adding their own symbols in the building.

As far as when the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill was first built, notice the following from Dr. Michael Germano:

The ancient walls of the original structure consisted of worked limestone in a secondary use, laid in irregular courses of ashlars with chipped corners suggesting their origin was as salvage from a variety of destroyed buildings, such as those resulting from the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem, but absent any distinctive markings or stylistic features that would limit this secondary use to 1st–3rd century construction...

The architectural proportions of the original building appear to have been those of the Solomonic Temple with the height one ‐ half of the sum of the length and width...

The implication of these findings is that the original building was a relatively small Judeo ‐ Christian synagogue, with an interior hall of about 54.9 sq. meters, dating to the interim between the two Jewish wars with the Romans (70–130).

Several years ago, on November 26, 2008, in a paper submitted to evangelists in my former church association, I wrote that the ancient building known as the Cenacle was a possible building for the man of sin to sit in:

If a Jewish temple is not being discussed in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, then where might the “man of sin” sit?

… if Revelation 11:1-2 allows for it (which it may not, see further below), there is an ancient building, usually now referred to as the Cenacle (the word is a derivative of the Latin word “cena,” which means dinner), that may be the possible location.  It is believed to have been used by the original Christians in Jerusalem until the Greco-Romans took it through with Imperial support in the fourth century.

Michael P. Germano wrote:

In Jerusalem, just outside the Zion Gate of the Old City near the crest of Mount Sion, lie the partial remains of an ancient synagogue consisting of a niche, walls, floors, and foundations, incorporated into a dilapidated building…

Do these ancient ruins belong to the first-century Judeo-Christian synagogue seen by Roman emperor Hadrian on his grand progress? Are these the remnants of the building on Mt. Sion…called the Church of the Apostles and the Holy Church of God? These are the traditions…tradition suggests this is also the site of the Upper Room where Jesus of Nazareth observed his last Passover with his followers and where his disciples resided following his Crucifixion awaiting the Day of Pentecost…

The Cenacle

In this work its identity and title is simply “the ancient synagogue” or the Ancient Church of the Apostles. In the fourth and fifth centuries, however, orthodox…referred to the building in a variety of ways.

For Eusebius it was the “Holy Church of God” (Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel 6.18; Ferrar 1920b:30-31). Cyril said it was the “Upper Church of the Apostles” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 16.4; Schaff and Wace 1989a:116). Egeria often referred to it as “On Sion” (Wilkinson 1971:294). Epiphanius, alluding to it in its second century context, said when Hadrian visited Aelia Capitolina it was a small “Church of God” (Epiphanius, De Mensuris 14; Koester 1989:93). Theodosius said it was “Holy Sion which is the Mother of all Churches” (Wilkinson 1977:66)…

On July 30, 381, following the First Council of Constantinople, emperor Theodosius I issued an edict authorizing  the seizure of the properties of all non-orthodox churches. This resulted in the ancient synagogue, then in possession of Judeo-Christians, passing into Greco-Roman Christian control.  The surrender was made to the orthodox bishops. (The Ancient Church of the Apostles. Copyright © 2002 by Michael P. Germano, pp. 1-4).

Notice also the following report:

Even though the original Christians who used that location for nearly four centuries held to what are most often known as Judeo-Christian (as opposed to Greco-Roman) practices, there have been reports that the Catholics of Rome would like to expand their presence and basically takeover the Cenacle (Owen R. Vatican offers swap deal to regain site of Last Supper. The Times, October 13, 2005)…

Thus, it may be that what was possibly the first and original church building location of the original apostles could appear to be a potential location of the “temple of God”...the Bible shows plans for Jerusalem apparently for eternity (cf. Revelation 21:2-3), perhaps it may be that the ancient location of where the apostles themselves (who became part of  “the temple of God”) may possibly be what God had in mind when He inspired Paul’s writings.

But irrespective of which building is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, it would not seem to be possible for it to be a Jewish, non-Christian, temple in Jerusalem.

As I have since done more research on the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill, it appears that it is more likely to be the place that could fulfill 2 Thessalonians 2:4 than I originally thought. But I am still not certain.

Because of Revelation 11:1-2 and the persecution of Christians during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:17), it may be that a building more recently used by the faithful Christians might be better used for political purposes by “the man of sin,” than the remains of this ancient one in Jerusalem. However, there may also be 'political reasons' that site of the original Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill may be better choice for him. Including possibly also the fact that the Continuing Church of God has referred to it often, has it on its letterhead, it is on its songbook The Bible Hymnal, and even was featured on the front cover of its first magazine. I believe that the Continuing Church of God will be leading the final phase of the work, and this would include publicly identifying this 'man of sin' before many others do.  And this man of sin may wish to demonstrate that he is above the faithful church, by placing something there (cf. Daniel 11:31; Matthew 24:15) and sitting in the area of the original Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill.

The idea of Jerusalem being the “mother church” partially comes from the following scripture:

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:26, KJV)

We in the Continuing Church of God understand that scripture is referring to a spiritual situation, and not a building.  However, the wall of the building now called the Cenacle is still of interest and perhaps could have prophetic ramifications.

A scripture, written by the Apostle Paul, that should be of related interest would be the following commendation to a Gentile church for following the spiritual practices that those in Judea had:

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14, KJV).

Notice something reported by the 20th century Franciscan Jean Briand:

In his First Letter to the Thessalonians (2,14) St. Paul congratulates them for having "imitated the Churches of God in Jesus that are in Judea". This strongly indicates that other communities had been established around the one in Jerusalem. (Briand J. The Judeo-Christian Church of Nazareth.  Translated from the French by Mildred Duell. 1st edition, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1982, pp. 14-15)

It was the spiritual practices that the churches of God in Judea (which included Jerusalem) had were those that modern theologians tend to consider to be Jewish or Judeo-Christian.

Sadly, those practices were lost in Jerusalem by the Greco-Romans after the takeover in 135 A.D. under Emperor Hadrian which forced the truly faithful out. But some of the faithful later returned,  and until the time of Constantine often met in the location of the building now called the Cenacle.

But after they were forced out, changes were made. And between the changes, the Crusades, and other events, other than one wall, what stands at the location of the Cenacle is not an actual Church of God building.

Could the Area of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill Be 'the Holy Place'?

Jesus told His followers:

15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15-21)

14 "So when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house.  16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.  17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!  18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter.  19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.  20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. (Mark 13:14-20)

Where is this holy place? The implication in Jesus' words suggests it is related to Judea. And most likely this is a reference to something in or near Jerusalem.

Historically, it has been believed by various scholars that the actions by Antiochus Epiphanes IV, over a century before Jesus said this, was an 'ante-type' of what would happen in the future. Notice something consistent with that from the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary and a writing that follows it:

Mark 13:14

But when ye shall see - "Jerusalem compassed by armies" [stratopedoon] - 'by encamped armies;' in other words, when ye shall see it besieged, and the abomination of desolation, [to bdelugma  tees  ereemooseoos], Spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not - that is, as explained in Matthew (Matthew 24:15), "standing in the holy place."

(Let him that readeth (readeth that prophecy), understand.) That "the abomination of desolation" here alluded to was intended to point to the Roman ensigns, as the symbols of an idolatrous, and so unclean pagan power, may be gathered by comparing what Luke says in the corresponding verse (Luke 21:20); and commentators are agreed on it. It is worthy of notice, as confirming this interpretation, that in 1 Maccabees 1:54-which, though Apocryphal Scripture, is authentic history-the expression of Daniel is applied to the idolatrous profanation of the Jewish altar by Antiochus Epiphanes.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

In 175 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes became ruler of the Seleucids in Syria. In 168 he attempted a campaign to Egypt, but was thwarted by the rising Roman power. He turned his wrath on the Jews. Jerusalem was again ravaged by war. The city was captured and a Syrian garrison headquartered near the Temple Mount. The Temple sacrifices, observance of the seventh-day Sabbath and feast days, along with circumcision, were forbidden to all Jews. The penalty for practicing any of these was death. After about two months, the crowning blow was struck. Antiochus set up an altar to the Greek god Zeus on the Temple Mount and offered swine upon it. It was, as had been prophesied, an abomination of desolation (Kelly R. Coming - A Temple in Jerusalem? Part Two. Good News, March 1985).

Antiochus Epiphanes IV was a Greek king and persecutor of the Jews.

Notice also something from the Living Church of God (LCG):

Bible prophecies indicate that just before Christ's return, Jerusalem will become the focus of international attention. Jesus spoke of a coming desecration of the holy place [the Temple Mount—see Matthew 24:15] and that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies and taken over by Gentiles (Luke 21:20-24). (Winnail D. Are we living in the last days? Tomorrow's World, May-June 2000)

The Temple Mount has been called "the most volatile spot on the face of the earth." Bible prophecy indicates that significant events will occur on the Temple Mount just before Jesus Christ's return. These events will be a warning—for those who have eyes to see—that the end of this present age is near! (Winnail D. Jerusalem's amazing future! Tomorrow's World, March-April 2008)

Bible prophecy clearly indicates that more than prayer will occur on the Temple Mount prior to Christ’s return. In fact, the Bible indicates that Jewish sacrifices will again occur on the Temple Mount for a short time, before being stopped and replaced by what Scripture calls an “abominable” act of desecration (Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:15-16). (Changes coming to Temple Mount worship. TW News & Prophecy, April 8, 2015)

Notice that LCG went from "indicates" in 2001 & 2008 to "clearly indicates" in 2015 while also tying it to Matthew 24:15. But what if what is now considered to be the Temple Mount, is not the Temple Mount? Then it would not be the 'holy place' and since LCG seems to think that it is, it will not understand the fulfillment of Matthew 24:15. (For another view of the temple locations, see A Critique by Dr. Leen Ritmeyer and a Rebuttal by Dr. Ernest Martin).

The Book of Daniel tells of a someone coming from the line of Greco-Roman rulers who will implement persecution against God's saints in the end times:

23 "Thus he said:

'The fourth beast shall be
A fourth kingdom on earth,
Which shall be different from all other kingdoms,
And shall devour the whole earth,
Trample it and break it in pieces.
24 The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:23-25)

Could it be that the final Beast, the final King of the North, in biblical prophecy, will fulfill Jesus' words in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 by setting something up in the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill  or elsewhere in Jerusalem?  This could be.

Notice that Jesus said that knowing about this holy place is important. Many in the Church of Rome believes that this is a reference to a Catholic building. Many Protestants tend to believe that this has to be a Jewish temple (see also Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?), but since in the New Testament, Christians are the 'temple of God' (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), I do not believe it has to be a rebuilt Jewish temple.

The Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill is in Jerusalem certainly seems to fit the potential place Jesus was referring to. In several places in the Hebrew scriptures, Mt. Zion is referred to as holy (Psalm 2:6; Isaiah 64:10; Joel 2:1; 3:17; Zechariah 8:3).

Notice also the following:

3... the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Since the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill, known as Mt. Zion, was originally a Christian building, and is built on the foundation of the bricks of the last Jewish temple (cf. Ephesians 2:20), is it possible that this will be the place that the 'son of perdition' sits?

The sinful leader in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 is the same one as the final King of the North in Daniel 11. Thus, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 seems to occur the same time that the passages in Daniel 11:31-39 take place.

This Church of God building in Jerusalem is a place to consider to fulfill some prophecies.

More on 2 Thessalonians 2 is later in this article (see also Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?).

The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

 Jesus said to watch for JERUSALEM being surrounded by ARMIES, and to watch for a great ABOMINATION in God's sight being set up in the "Holy Place!"    Could anything be clearer? ...

This man will be a son of SATAN, spiritually, and perhaps even directly POSSESSED by SATAN HIMSELF! ...

The GREATEST SINGLE ABOMINATION OF ALL will be fostered by this SAME BABYLONISH SYSTEM! The Apostle Paul was inspired to give the whole story! He fearlessly foretold of a single man who was to ascend a great religious throne, and begin to make wholly BLASPHEMOUS and HIDEOUSLY ABOMINABLE proclamations — even appropriating to himself titles that belong only to GOD! He would eventually begin to claim that he, himself IS GOD!

Notice the great POWERS he will wield! "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God (acting AS IF HE WERE GOD HIMSELF!) sitteth in the TEMPLE OF GOD..." (II Thess. 2:4).

IN THE TEMPLE! OF COURSE! IN THE HOLY PLACE!

Just as Jesus Christ warned, this MAN, a human individual even now alive, and perhaps even NOW Satan inspired, WILL PLACE HIS THRONE IN THE VERY TEMPLE OF GOD, CLAIMING TO BE GOD!

Could ANYTHING be MORE of an evil, foul, dirty, slimy, blasphemous ABOMINATION in God's sight? (Armstrong GT. When you see the abomination... Plain Truth, July 1963)

God made a prophecy in the third chapter of Malachy...Continuing, "...shall suddenly come to His temple..." What kind of temple is He coming to? Are the Jews going to tear down the Dome of the Rock and build a new temple? Oh, no!... A holy temple! Christ is coming to His church! Christ is coming to His temple! Do we see that? The church is the temple. "...in whom ye are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Armstrong, Herbert W. Congress of Leading Ministers Hears Defined and Reemphasized Spiritual Organization of Church. Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, p. 10)

To learn more about who or what God considers to be His Holy Temple in the New Testament, check out the article Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?

Now, if Zion is holy to God, is it possible that those who are opposed to true Christianity could control and dominate it like the Muslims and Greco-Romans have?

The following scriptures would seem to be confirmation of that:

35 For God will save Zion
And build the cities of Judah,
That they may dwell there and possess it.
36 Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it,
And those who love His name shall dwell in it. (Psalms 69:35-36)

1 O God, why have You cast us off forever?
Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
2 Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old,
The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed —
This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.
3 Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations.
The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. (Psalms 74:1-3)

Psalm 74 clearly supports the view that someone would mess eveerything up. First the Greco-Romans did, then the Muslims did, then basically the Greco-Romans again.

But notice that things are to change:

13 You will arise and have mercy on Zion;
For the time to favor her,
Yes, the set time, has come.
14 For Your servants take pleasure in her stones,
And show favor to her dust.
15 So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord,
And all the kings of the earth Your glory.
16 For the Lord shall build up Zion;
He shall appear in His glory. (Psalms 102:13-16)

1 When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad. (Psalms 126:1-3)

27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice,
And her penitents with righteousness.
28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together,
And those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. (Isaiah 1:27-28)

4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. (Isaiah 4:4-5)

4 For thus the Lord has spoken to me:

"As a lion roars,
And a young lion over his prey
(When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him,
He will not be afraid of their voice
Nor be disturbed by their noise),
So the Lord of hosts will come down
To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. (Isaiah 31:4)

10 "Now I will rise," says the Lord;
"Now I will be exalted,
Now I will lift Myself up.
11 You shall conceive chaff,
You shall bring forth stubble;
Your breath, as fire, shall devour you.
12 And the people shall be like the burnings of lime;
Like thorns cut up they shall be burned in the fire.
13 Hear, you who are afar off, what I have done;
And you who are near, acknowledge My might."

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:10-14)

3 For the Lord will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody. (Isaiah 51:3)

10 Are You not the One who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
That made the depths of the sea a road
For the redeemed to cross over?
11 So the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness;
Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 51:10-11)

1 Awake, awake!
Put on your strength, O Zion;
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Shall no longer come to you
. (Isaiah 52:1)

8 Your watchmen shall lift up their voices,
With their voices they shall sing together;
For they shall see eye to eye
When the Lord brings back Zion. (Isaiah 52:8)

14 Also the sons of those who afflicted you
Shall come bowing to you,
And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet;
And they shall call you The City of the Lord,
Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 60:14)

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:2-4)

28 The voice of those who flee and escape from the land of Babylon
Declares in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God,
The vengeance of His temple. (Jeremiah 50:28)

24 "And I will repay Babylon
And all the inhabitants of Chaldea
For all the evil they have done
In Zion
in your sight," says the Lord. (Jeremiah 51:24)

6 He has done violence to His tabernacle,
As if it were a garden;
He has destroyed His place of assembly;
The Lord has caused
The appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion.
In His burning indignation He has spurned the king and the priest.

7 The Lord has spurned His altar,
He has abandoned His sanctuary;
He has given up the walls of her palaces
Into the hand of the enemy.
They have made a noise in the house of the Lord
As on the day of a set feast.

8 The Lord has purposed to destroy
The wall of the daughter of Zion. (Lamentations 2:6-8)

Notice also that the foundation is what God will keep:

16 Therefore thus says the Lord God:

"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily. (Isaiah 28:16)

The above portions that the Muslims and Greco-Romans built will be eliminated.

Is the 'Cenacle' the Site of the last Passover, Pentecost of Acts 2, or Other Events?

The idea of this location being the site of the last Passover and some other events is disputed. Here are some comments from a rabbi named Jeremy (last name not listed), who was referred to as the Director of the Anti Missionary Task Force on Mt Zion:

The Christians have a tradition that the place where Yeshu ate his last supper was in this neighborhood. This is not very likely, because in late second Temple Jerusalem this area was an aristocratic area, and it is unlikely that a group of Gallilean wanderers would find a welcome here. They were most likely in a poorer section of town, perhaps near the water pool down in old Jerusalem. Sometime after Yeshu was killed by the Romans, his followers had an ecstatic experience as they were gathered in an “upper room” celebrating Shavuot. This was an extremely important event for them. Who knows? This event might well have taken place in the Mt Zion area. If that was the case it means that they succeeded in finding some high class supporters. (Glick N. In Search of Mt. Zion and the True Tomb of King David. http://rabbinathanglick.blogspot.com/2010/08/authenticity-of-mt-zion-and-king-davids.html viewed 11/17/13)

Dr. Germano wrote the following:

In early Christian tradition the location of the Upper Room was the home of Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12). In his gospel John Mark, presumably the young man who followed soldiers taking Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest in the Upper City escaped naked when in attempting to grab him they got his sleeping garment instead (Mark 14:51), also uses anágaiǒn for upper room in reference to the venue of the Last Supper (Mark 14:15)...it is the traditional location of the meeting place on Shavuoth, a Sunday , where very early in the morning the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples some fifty days from the Resurrection creating the Church of God (Hebrew: qehal'el ; Greek: èkklesía tou Theou)...

The facts as given in Acts 1–2 make it unlikely that the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth occurred in even an extremely large residential upper room in Herodian Jerusalem and that neither the upper room of Acts 1:13 nor the Upper Room of Luke 22:8–10 and Mark 14:13 could have been the venue for the descent of the Holy Spirit. The apostles and their followers likely assembled on the Temple Mount (Acts 2:1), in Solomon’s Portico or one of the large halls in the Temple Court available for public religious meetings, very early in the morning on the Day of Pentecost and they all were seated in a building (Acts 2:2).

The venue of the Last Supper, the famous Upper Room where Jesus of Nazareth observed the Last Supper, apparently a Passover, with his disciples, probably was the Essene guesthouse on the western hill of Jerusalem (Mackowski 1980:141; Pixner 1992:64).

The house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, was relatively close to the place of Peter’s imprisonment pursuant to the order of Herod Agrippa I. Mary was a woman of means, apparently a widow, who was among the earliest disciples and the possessor of a first ‐floor room large enough for many people to assemble at a convenient location, evidently in the Upper City, with an entrance ‐ way separating the main house from the street by means of a courtyard. The upper room to which the apostles returned following the Ascension was probably the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. The Upper Room accounts in Luke 22:8– 10 and Mark 14:13, however, do not harmonize with the house of Mary account in Acts 12:12– 17.

While a very strict reading of a passage in Origin’s Commentary on Matthew suggests that he believed that the actual house of the Upper Room where the disciples had taken the Last Supper was on the western hill and still in place in his day he does not link this belief with the house of John Mark’s mother. Two Byzantine writers, Cyril of Jerusalem and Epiphanius, believed the location of the house of the Upper Room, served as a meeting place for Jesus’ disciples from the time of the Ascension to Pentecost, was in that part of the Upper City escaping the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in CE 70.

A review of the archeological evidence and the extant literary sources for the period CE 70– 325 revealed no site as a candidate for the house of Mary the mother of John Mark except the tradition relating to the Judeo ‐ Christian synagogue on Mt. Sion.

The literary and the archaeological evidence indicate that the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was total and not a single building remained standing. The implication is that the home of John Mark’s mother perished in the razing of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. The evidence suggests that the Upper Room where Jesus observed the Last Supper with his disciples was the Essene guesthouse on the western hill. The house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, certainly could have been where the Twelve stayed in the Upper City at the time of 18 the Ascension. The weight of the evidence is that the Holy Spirit descended on the assembled disciples on the Temple Mount not in an upper room. (Germano M. The Ancient Church of the Apostles: Revisiting Jerusalem’s Cenacle and David’s Tomb)

Thus, while this still could have been the original Christian church building, the legends regarding its possible references in the New Testament are currently less than certain. Notice another report:

Verse 13. - The upper chamber for an upper room, A.V.; where they were abiding for where abode, A.V.; son of James for brother of James, A.V. The upper chamber; perhaps the same room where they had eaten the Passover with Christ (Luke 22:12); but this is very uncertain, though affirmed by Epiphanius, and by Nicephorus, who further relates that the very house in which the upper chamber was built into the back part of the temple which the Empress Helena erected on Mount Sion. The word here is ὑπερῷον, there it is ἀνώγεον. The ὑπερῷον (Hebrew עֲליּהָ, 2 Kings 4:10, 11) was the room immediately under the roof; the ἀνώγεον was synonymous. (Pulpit Commentary, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/acts/1-13.htm, viewed 12/03/13)

So, there are basically third century reports that place it in the locations of Acts 1, and presumably Acts 2, and perhaps other locations. Notice Acts 1:12-13:

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. (Acts 1:12-13)

One concern is that it was 'a Sabbath's days journey' away. Although the Geneva Commentary claims that is two miles, the Jewish Encyclopedia states it was 2000 cubits, which was not close enough to the Mount of Olives for the Western Hill location. However, the Jewish Encyclopedia also said it was allowed to walk the 2000 cubits outside the city, then any distance within the city walls. Therefore it could be possible that this Western hill was close enough, as all the scripture in Acts 1:12 states is that the city of Jerusalem (its outer walls) were within a Sabbath days journey of the Mount of Olives. And, as one who has spent time on the Mount of Olives, I agree with the position that the Mount of Olives itself is about 2000 cubits (3000 feet) from the edge of the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

Solomon's and David's Tomb: Eastern or Western Hill? Where is Mount Zion?

Notice the following:

4 And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. 5 But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, "You shall not come in here!" Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). 6 Now David said, "Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain." And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief. 7 Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David. 8 And he built the city around it, from the Millo to the surrounding area. Joab repaired the rest of the city. (1 Chronicles 11:4-8)

6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you," thinking, "David cannot come in here." 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).

8 Now David said on that day, "Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul), he shall be chief and captain." Therefore they say, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house."

9 Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. 10 So David went on and became great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. (2 Samuel 5:6-10)

It has long been believed that this was the Western Hill that David took first, followed-up by taking the rest of Jerusalem.

Some believe that because of the existence of water on the Eastern hill, as well as reference to David's tomb in Nehemiah 3:16, that the Western Hill was not the City of David nor the location of his tomb.

Some believe that the Western Hill was basically picked because of New Testament references, including those references in Acts 1:12-13 and a memory lapse:

70 A.D. At that time, the Romans utterly destroyed the city, including the Temple, and in time people wondered where the ancient Davidic fortress could have been. First century residents of Jerusalem could not imagine the splendid palace of David having stood on the lowly eastern hill. Common opinion held that it must have stood on the highest hill of the city as they perceived it, the western hill. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus already refers to the City of David on the western hill. (Pixner, Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion, p. 21)

I personally do not believe that it is possible that the historian Josephus, who is believed to have lived from 37-100 A.D. did not know the location of the City of David, and forgot it because of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Hence this logic appears erroneous. Furthermore, Christians who had lived in Jerusalem before moved bricks from the original temple to this hill around 73-83 A.D. (see Pixner, pp. 26,28), because they seemed to believe it was Mt. Zion-- it is almost impossible that they would not have realized the true location of Mt. Zion. That being said, it is possible that Josephus' writings have been misunderstood, tampered with, or mistranslated (Birch WF. Ancient Jerusalem. Palestine Exploration Fund: Quarterly Statement. Palestine exploration fund, 1893 Original from Lyon Public Library, Digitized Apr 26, 2013, pp. 70-76)--but if not, if Josephus claimed the Western Hill is the location, I would tend to suspect that this is very good evidence of a Western Hill location for Mt. Zion.

As far as water goes, Bargil Pixner in his book, Paths of the Messiah and Sites of the Early Church from Galilee to Jerusalem, he mentions according to a Latin writing from around 370 A.D. that there was a small wadi that separated the area presently called Mt. Zion and the city of Jerusalem proper:

The North African Optatus of Mileve mentioned that around 370 Mount Zion was separated by a small wadi from the walls of Jerusalem. Mount Zion possessed its own circular wall at the beginning of the fourth century, which was different from the wall of Aelia Capitolina. (Pixner B. Paths of the Messiah and Sites of the Early Church from Galilee to Jerusalem: Jesus and Jewish Christianity in Light of Archaeological Discoveries. Translated by Keith Myrick, Sam Randall, Miriam Randall. Ignatius Press, 2010, p. 341)

The Optatus of Mileve helps demonstrate that there likely was water in the area, and there may well have been near the time of David and Solomon. Pixner also cites the Vitae prophetarum as a first century account that points to the Western Hiill being the location for David's tomb (Pixner, Paths of the Messiah and Sites of the Early Church from Galilee to Jerusalem: Jesus and Jewish Christianity in Light of Archaeological Discoveries, p. 337)

Now it also needs to be pointed out that because of lack of archaeological discoveries, most archeologists and various others believe that the tomb of David was in the area of the Eastern hill (Arvidson G. In search of: David's Tomb and Treasure, 2nd edition. Gary Arvidson, 2002). And that may be correct--though it seems to be a blatant contradiction of Joseph. It may well be that perhaps additional digs in the Western Hill conceivably change the view.

Furthermore, it may be an interest to note that according to Eusebius, the Romans went below surface level and devastated Mt. Zion. Eusebius believed that this occurance was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Micah 3:12 about Zion being plowed:

(b)...Therefore, it says this, "Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a storehouse of fruit," a prophecy which was only actually fulfilled after the impious treatment of our Saviour. For from that time to this utter desolation has possessed the land; their once famous Mount Sion, instead of being, as once it was, the centre of study and education based on the divine prophecies, which the children of the (c) Hebrews of old, their godly prophets, priests and national teachers loved to interpret, is a Roman farm like the rest of the country, yea, with my own eyes I have seen the bulls plowing there, and the sacred site sown with seed. And Jerusalem itself is become but a storehouse of its fruit of old days now destroyed, or better, as the Hebrew has it, a stone-quarry. (Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920), Book VIII, Chapter 3. pp. 140-141. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_de_10_book8.htm viewed 12/12/13)

The Roman historian Dio Casio claimed that the tomb of Solomon, which supposedly was by the tomb of David, collapsed at the time Hadrian c. 133/4 A.D.:

"Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, an event of which the people had had indications even before the war. The tomb of Solomon, which these men regarded as one of their sacred objects, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities." Dio's Roman History. FIFTH VOLUME: Extant Books 61-76 (A.D. 54-211). Book 69, Chapter 14. PRESENTED IN ENGLISH FORM BY HERBERT BALDWIN FOSTER, 1906; http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10890/10890-h/10890-h.htm#b69 viewed 12/05/13)

The Catholic priest Bargil Pixner wrote:

The last person we know of who knew the exact location of David's tomb was Rabbi Akiva. Eventually executed by the Romans for his support of the Second Jewish Revolt, Akiva was once asked why the graves of the Davidic dynasty were allowed within the city walls despite the fact that this would cause an area to be impure. He responded that the impurity of the graves was led out of the city through a rock channel into the Kidron River.8 This is important because the Kidron lies on the east side of the eastern hill. It clearly indicates that he placed the royal tombs on the eastern slope of the eastern hill close to the Kidron Valley, just where Weill discovered the tomb complex. Akiva's testimony provides an additional reason to believe David's tomb was on the eastern hill...

The first Christian witness to the view that David was buried in Bethlehem was the church father Eusebius. In his famous Onomasticon (c. 330 A.D.), he relates that both David and his father Jesse are buried in Bethlehem.9 (Pixner, Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion, p. 21)

8 Tosephta, Baba Bathra 1: II; Jerusalem Talmud, Nazir 57d.
9. J.P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Graeca (Paris, 1844), vol. 43, p. 420

More on David's tomb is in the Jewish Views section below, which seems to disagree with Bargil Pixner's conclusions about the eastern hill. The Bethlehem idea seems to be eliminated because of the Apostle Peter's testimony in Acts 2:29-30.

Bargil Pixner also reported that the the idea that David's tomb was supposed to be:

on the western hill...in a very confused document called "The Life of Saint Helene and Constantine," written in the tenth century by an unidentified Greek author to eulogize the work of Emperor Constantine's mother Helena.13 (Pixner, Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion, p. 21)

13. Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 754 {Donato Baldi, Enchiridion Locorum Sanctorum (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1982; reprint of the 2nd edition of 1955), no. 96.}

While Helena was confused on many things, it is possible that she was not on this. Bargil Pixner also relates another story from 1167 (also from Baldi's account) that some others were convinced that some type of divine protection over the Tomb of David in the western hill existed (Pixner, pp. 34-35). In the 20th century, the late evangelist Leroy Neff realized that there would be a coming temple on Mt. Zion, but he pointed to a south-eastern location, but not where many others have pointed to (see Location of the Prophesied Physical Temple).

Bargil Pixner reports that from the time the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill was built it (73-83 A.D. according to him) or no later than 100 A.D. the location was known as Mt. Zion. At risk of some repeat, notice:

one of the apocryphal Odes of Solomon composed about 100 A.D. by a rival sectarian Judeo-Christian group. The fourth ode begins:

“No man can pervert your holy place, 0 God, nor can he change it, and put it in another place, because [he has] no power over it. Your sanctuary you designed before you made special places.” (Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 736.)

Was this passage in condemnation of the effort of the Judeo-Christians who built the synagogue on Mt. Zion to transfer some of the holiness of the destroyed Temple to their place of worship on the new Mt. Zion by constructing it in part with stones from that Temple?  

From this time on, the western hill of Jerusalem was referred to by Christians as Mt. Zion (Zion III)...

The earliest mention of Zion in this new outlook is found in the apocryphal Life of the Prophets from the end of the first century A.D. It mentions that Isaiah's tomb was close to the Siloam Fountain, near the tombs of the Kings, "to the east of Zion." The "east of Zion" could only refer to Christian Zion on the western hill. (Pixner, Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion, pp. 26,28)

It would be logical that if it was known to be Mt. Zion that early, that it was known as Mt. Zion before the Romans destroyed nearly everything in 70 A.D.

Some Primarily Jewish Views

Fifteen times, the Hebrew scriptures refer to Mt. Zion as the "City of David" (NKJV). Jews have a tradition that inside of it, King David's tomb is located within it. But there are some debates as to where that Mt. Zion really is.

The Jewish Encyclopedia reported:

It is true that later tradition, both Jewish and Christian, agrees in placing Zion upon the southwestern hill; but even the latest attempts of Karl Rückert ("Die Lage des Berges Sion," Freiburg, 1898), Georg Gatt ("Sion in Jerusalem," Brixen, 1900, and "Zur Topographie Jerusalems," in "Z. D. P. V." xxv. 178), and C. Mommert ("Topographie des Alten Jerusalems," Leipsic, 1902) have not been successful in harmonizing this theory with the Biblical data. The theory is based chiefly upon (1) the direction of the old north wall, ending at the Ḥaram, as described by Josephus ("B. J." v. 4, § 2), and south of which Zion must (?) have stood, and (2) the place of David's burial, which, according to tradition, is usually placed on the southwestern hill (see "Z. A. P. V." xxiv. 180-185)...

City of David

The city at this epoch may have extended to the southwestern hill...

The Night Ride of Nehemiah

The population of the city was further augmented by the expedition under Ezra in the year 458, which comprised 1,496 men, besides women and children. It was through Ezra and Nehemiah that the new community was organized. It is difficult to estimate accurately the relation of these two to each other; but the material building up of the city seems to have been due to the latter. Whatever theories may exist regarding the composition of the Book of Nehemiah, the data there given are old and trustworthy. Nehemiah's night journey around the walls (Neh. ii. 13 et seq.), the account of the building operations (ib. iii.), and the route of the processions (ib. xii.), would give definite information as regards the extent of the city if the identification of the gates were in every case certain. A thorough exposition of the archeological data to be gotten from Nehemiah's accounts will be found in Ryssel's commentary ("Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch"). The most recent study of the subject has been commenced by H. Vincent in "Revue Biblique," 1904, pp. 56 et seq. In his night ride Nehemiah starts from the Valley Gate; goes in the direction of the well 'En-Tannin, then to the Dung Gate, the Fountain Gate, and the Pool of the King; passes through the valley; and returns to the Valley Gate. The location of these various places depends upon the position assigned to the Valley Gate. The word "Gai" undoubtedly stands for "Gai ben Hinnom"; and this must be identical with the Wadi al-Rababi on the south and its continuation northward on the west. Bliss has uncovered a line of wall starting southwest of the old Pool of Siloam and running in a northwestern direction, as well as remains of a gate 600 feet from what was the southwestern corner of the ancient city. This was probably the Valley Gate, although many identify the latter with the present Jaffa Gate, on the western side of the city. From the Valley Gate Nehemiah, taking the direction of the Serpents' Pool ("'En-Tannin"; sometimes identified with the pool of that name mentioned by Josephus ["B. J." v. 3, § 2]; by Caspari and Schick ["Z. D. P. V." xiv. 42], with the aqueduct which led the water from the Pools of Solomon; by Stade and Mitchell, however, with En-rogel ["Jour. Bib. Lit." 1903, p. 114]), proceeded to the Dung Gate, 1,000 cubits from his starting-point, and possibly the Harsith Gate of Jer. xix. 2, which in turn may be identified with a second gate, discovered by Bliss, 1,900 feet east of the first. He then went east, crossed the Tyropœon below the present Birkat al-Ḥamra, and came to the Fountain Gate near the Siloam Pool (here called the "pool of the king"), perhaps the "gate between two walls" through which King Zedekiah fled (II Kings xxv. 4; Jer. xxxix. 4, lii. 4), traces of which have also been found by Bliss. Nehemiah was then in the Kidron Valley, and, being unable to proceed farther along the walls, he returned to the city through the Valley Gate. It seems therefore that he examined only the southern and the southwestern walls of the city...The walls and gates as rebuilt under Nehemiah's directions are succinctly noticed in Neh. iii.; and their order is partially assured by the reverse enumeration, ib. xii. 38 et seq...an artificial pool (Neh. iii. 16)...(Jerusalem. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8604-jerusalem viewed 12/06/13)

Although it seems uncertain, the Jewish Encyclopedia accepts the possibility of a Western Hill location for the City of David. But perhaps more important, it seems to believe that the Bible shows that Nehemiah went to the Western Hill area. The fact that it is believed that the pool in Nehemiah 3:16 was an artificial one (the Bible, NKJV, calls it "man-made"), this would tend to allow for it to be on the Western Hill (though obviously that would be more difficult to maintain on the western side, unless there was some type of hidden or unknown spring back then).

The first century Jewish historian Josephus seemed to believe that the Western Hill location was the correct one. He made several references:

1. AS for Herod, he had spent vast sums about the cities, both without and within his own kingdom; and as he had before heard that Hyrcanus, who had been king before him, had opened David's sepulcher, and taken out of it three thousand talents of silver, and that there was a much greater number left behind, and indeed enough to suffice all his wants, he had a great while an intention to make the attempt; and at this time he opened that sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his most faithful friends with him. As for any money, he found none, as Hyrcanus had done, but that furniture of gold, and those precious goods that were laid up there; all which he took away. However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go farther in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flame that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly aftrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher, and that at great expense also. And even Nicolaus his historiographer makes mention of this monument built by Herod, though he does not mention his going down into the sepulcher, as knowing that action to be of ill repute; and many other things he treats of in the same manner in his book; for he wrote in Herod's lifetime, and under his reign, and so as to please him, and as a servant to him, touching upon nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing many of his notorious crimes, and very diligently concealing them. And as he was desirous to put handsome colors on the death of Mariamne and her sons, which were barbarous actions in the king, he tells falsehoods about the incontinence of Mariamne, and the treacherous designs of his sons upon him; and thus he proceeded in his whole work, making a pompous encomium upon what just actions he had done, but earnestly apologizing for his unjust ones. Indeed, a man, as I said, may have a great deal to say by way of excuse for Nicolaus; for he did not so properly write this as a history for others, as somewhat that might be subservient to the king himself. As for ourselves, who come of a family nearly allied to the Asamonean kings, and on that account have an honorable place, which is the priesthood, we think it indecent to say any thing that is false about them, and accordingly we have described their actions after an unblemished and upright manner. And although we reverence many of Herod's posterity, who still reign, yet do we pay a greater regard to truth than to them, and this though it sometimes happens that we incur their displeasure by so doing.

2. And indeed Herod's troubles in his family seemed to be augmented by reason of this attempt he made upon David's sepulcher; whether Divine vengeance increased the calamities he lay under, in order to render them incurable, or whether fortune made an assault upon him, in those cases wherein the seasonableness of the cause made it strongly believed that the calamities came upon him for his impiety; for the tumult was like a civil war in his palace, and their hatred towards one another was like that where each one strove to exceed another in calumnies. However, Antipater used stratagems perpetually against his brethren, and that very cunningly; while abroad he loaded them with accusations, but still took upon him frequently to apologize for them, that this apparent benevolence to them might make him be believed, and forward his attempts against them; by which means he, after various manners, circumvented his father, who believed all that he did was for his preservation. Herod also recommended Ptolemy, who was a great director of the affairs of his kingdom, to Antipater; and consulted with his mother about the public affairs also. And indeed these were all in all, and did what they pleased, and made the king angry against any other persons, as they thought it might be to their own advantage; but still the sons of Marianme were in a worse and worse condition perpetually; and while they were thrust out, and set in a more dishonorable rank, who yet by birth were the most noble, they could not bear the dishonor. And for the women, Glaphyra, Alexander's wife, the daughter of Archclaus, hated Salome, both because of her love to her husband, and because Glaphyra seemed to behave herself somewhat insolently towards Salome's daughter, who was the wife of Aristobulus, which equality of hers to herself Glaphyra took very impatiently. (Josephus. Complete Works: Antiquities, Book 16, Chapter 7. Translated by W. Whiston, Kregel Publications, 1960, pp. 345-346)

1. NOW the Jebusites, who were the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and were by extraction Canaanites, shut their gates, and placed the blind, and the lame, and all their maimed persons, upon the wall, in way of derision of the king, and said that the very lame themselves would hinder his entrance into it. This they did out of contempt of his power, and as depending on the strength of their walls. David was hereby enraged, and began the siege of Jerusalem, and employed his utmost diligence and alacrity therein, as intending by the taking of this place to demonstrate his power, and to intimidate all others that might be of the like [evil] disposition towards him. So he took the lower city by force, but the citadel held out still; whence it was that the king, knowing that the proposal of dignities and rewards would encourage the soldiers to greater actions, promised that he who should first go over the ditches that were beneath the citadel, and should ascend to the citadel itself and take it, should have the command of the entire people conferred upon him. So they all were ambitious to ascend, and thought no pains too great in order to ascend thither, out of their desire of the chief command. However, Joab, the son of Zeruiah, prevented the rest; and as soon as he was got up to the citadel, cried out to the king, and claimed the chief command.

2. When David had cast the Jebusites out of the citadel, he also rebuilt Jerusalem, and named it The City of David, and abode there all the time of his reign; but for the time that he reigned over the tribe of Judah only in Hebron, it was seven years and six months. Now when he had chosen Jerusalem to be his royal city, his affairs did more and more prosper, by the providence of God, who took care that they should improve and be augmented. Hiram also, the king of the Tyrians, sent ambassadors to him, and made a league of mutual friendship and assistance with him. He also sent him presents, cedar-trees, and mechanics, and men skillful in building and architecture, that they might build him a royal palace at Jerusalem. Now David made buildings round about the lower city: he also joined the citadel to it, and made it one body; and when he had encompassed all with walls, he appointed Joab to take care of them. It was David, therefore, who first cast the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, and called it by his own name, The City of David: for under our forefather Abraham it was called (Salem, or) Solyma; but after that time, some say that Homer mentions it by that name of Solyma, [for he named the temple Solyma, according to the Hebrew language, which denotes security.] Now the whole time from the warfare under Joshua our general against the Canaanites, and from that war in which he overcame them, and distributed the land among the Hebrews, (nor could the Israelites ever cast the Canaanites out of Jerusalem until this time, when David took it by siege,) this whole time was five hundred and fifteen years. (Josephus. Complete Works: Wars of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 3. Translated by W. Whiston, Kregel Publications, 1960, pp. 150-151)

1. THE city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had but one wall. The city was built upon two hills, which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which contains the upper city is much higher, and in length more direct. Accordingly, it was called the "Citadel," by king David; he was the father of that Solomon who built this temple at the first; but it is by us called the "Upper Market-place." But the other hill, which was called "Acra," and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over against this there was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by a broad valley. However, in those times when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled up that valley with earth, and had a mind to join the city to the temple. They then took off part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation than it was before, that the temple might be superior to it. Now the Valley of the Cheesemongers, as it was called, and was that which we told you before distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower, extended as far as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet water in it, and this in great plenty also. But on the outsides, these hills are surrounded by deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices to them belonging on both sides they are every where unpassable.

2. Now, of these three walls, the old one was hard to be taken, both by reason of the valleys, and of that hill on which it was built, and which was above them. But besides that great advantage, as to the place where they were situated, it was also built very strong; because David and Solomon, and the following kings, were very zealous about this work. Now that wall began on the north, at the tower called "Hippicus," and extended as far as the "Xistus," a place so called, and then, joining to the council-house, ended at the west cloister of the temple. (Josephus. Complete Works: Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 4. Translated by W. Whiston, Kregel Publications, 1960, pp. 552-553)

The 'Upper Market Place' in verse 1 of Wars, Book 5, Chapter 4, shown above has a footnote in another version that states: "The modern Sion; the western hill in Jerusalem" (Josephus, Arthur Richard Shilleto. The Works of Flavius Josephus. G. Bell and sons, 1890; Original from the University of California, Digitized Feb 26, 2009, p. 17).

On October 24, 2013, I was able to visit the visible remains of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill as well as go inside what the crusaders and Muslims eventually built upon it.

While attempting to take some photos and to video some of the remains of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill, I was approached by a Jewish rabbi named Avraham Goldstein of the Diaspora Yeshiva. He asked why I was there, so I explained it. He then asked me if the Continuing Church of God would like to be involved in an archaeological project related to that general area. He mentioned doing excavations related to what some believe is David's tomb, located below. Many consider that only a legend and not the real location--though the actual location of David's tomb has not been verified in many centuries. However a Jewish rabbi who claimed to visit it in 1163 A.D. stated it was below this particular Mt. Zion.

Avraham Goldstein also believes that the ark of the covenant may be directly below or near it via tunnels. I have reported to the brethren of the Continuing Church of God that we are considering having some possible involvement, because of various aspects of this project (see Letter: October 25, 2013). 

Avraham Goldstein basically stated that his group once controlled the building and allowed Israeli government to have it under the condition that it would not be just given to a group like the Catholics of Rome.

So, I asked him to put that in writing in an email. So he sent me one on November 3, 2013:

1. Concerning the Cenacle (The Last Supper Room). Originally it belonged to the Yeshiva, but the Yeshiva gave it over to the Israel Ministry of Religions to administer.

2. The condition upon which the Cenacle was given over to the Israel Ministry of Religions was that the status quo would be upheld ;- that it is open to all religions and is not the specific property of any one faith. The Catholic Pope would like to have it exclusively at the disposal of the Catholic faith and to hold mass there. As things stand today this is the only building that is open to Jews, Christians and Moslems. We do not want it to be assigned to just one faith which could create problems with the Palestinians - which is certainly unecessary...

With thanks for your kind consideration of all these matters and with best wishes to you and blessings from Mount Zion,

Rabbi Avraham Goldstein
Diaspora Yeshiva
Mount Zion

Here is something about the David's tomb theory from a Jewish rabbi named Nathan Glick:

Several years ago I was approached by the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mt Zion, Jerusalem along with the Mt Zion Foundation. They wanted me to write a script for a documentary which would champion the tradition that King David’s Tomb is located south of the Old City's Zion Gate, on a high point traditionally referred to as Mt Zion. I have some strong family connections to Diaspora Yeshiva, (my wife Becky is a Goldstein, if you know what that means.) I spent some of the best times of my life engrossed in learning on Mt Zion.

At the time there was talk of expanding the Christian presence on Mt Zion, and creating a world class center for Christian tourism there. The Christian traditions identify Mt Zion as the place where of the last supper and the Pentecost experience took place. They also claim it was central worship location for the early church. Diaspora Yeshiva felt threatened, and they were hoping that perhaps a documentary about the Jewish angle of Mt Zion would help galvanize support.

Of course the problem is that in the wake of the archeological work being done on the southern slopes of the Temple mount, nobody takes Mt Zion seriously. Most people, even religious Jews and Rabbis, assume that since King David’s Jerusalem was “down there” south of the Temple Mount that King David’s Tomb could not possibly be authentic and the high ground could not possibly be Mt Zion. The whole Mt Zion/King David’s Tomb thing is seen as big mistake. Kings David's Tomb is called by many "Pseudo Tomb of King David" or "King David's False Tomb."

It was with a heavy heart that I began writing the script because frankly I didn’t thing there was much of a case. Little did I know how quickly my mind would be changed. Traditions are not infallible, but they are amazingly resilient and stable over time. The identification of the high ground south of the old city as Mt Zion is an old and established one. It took only an open minded reading of the biblical texts to make everything appear in a new light.

In years past I used to say Tehillim at King David’s Tomb with the attitude that even if King David couldn’t possibly be buried here, if tradition identifies this place as his tomb then that means something spiritually. Today I say Tehillim at King David’s Tomb as a believer in the tradition’s authenticity. King David's Tomb is real and true! How did I get like this? Did I fall on my head? Did King David come to me in a dream? No, actually I just did some research and I reread some biblical texts and I listened to what they had to say. (Glick N. The Authenticity of Mt Zion and King David's Tomb. 2010 יום שני, 2 באוגוסט. http://rabbinathanglick.blogspot.com/2010/08/authenticity-of-mt-zion-and-king-davids.html viewed 11/10/13)

The following is an interview from a narrator named Joseph (J below) and the Jewish rabbi Gerald Goldstein of the Mount Zion Foundation (RG below).

RG: We are standing on the roof of King David's Tomb. Look around you at the view. You can understand why David wanted to take out this fortress before attacking Jerusalem itself...Samuel 2...Scripture is also very clear about where Kind David brought the Holy Ark of the Covenant. It says here in chapter 6 that he brought the Ark of the Covenant up to the City of David, that is the fortress of Zion…here to this very place… MOUNT ZION, dancing all in a very ecstatic and wonderful way...

J: So this place really is Mt Zion!

RG: Well there is a real established tradition, first recorded in writing by a student of the Ramban over 800 years ago, which says exactly this. Prior to the building of the Temple, Mt Zion… this very Mt Zion where we are standing…is where the Ark of the Covenant and the Divine presence resided. (Glick N. The Authenticity of Mt Zion and King David's Tomb. 2010 יום שני, 2 באוגוסט. http://rabbinathanglick.blogspot.com/2010/08/authenticity-of-mt-zion-and-king-davids.html viewed 11/17/13)

The following is an interview from a narrator named Joseph (J below) and the Jewish rabbi Avraham Goldstein of the Diaspora Yeshiva (RA below).

J:...If you think that Mt. Zion was the place of holy Ark of the Covenant…what sense would it make for King David to put his grave here? A grave is a source of Tum'ah, ritual impurity. And you are not allowed to bring impurity into a holy place!

RA: That is not accurate! There are different grades of holiness even on the Temple Mount, and while you could not put a grave in the temple building or near the Altar, you are allowed to place a deceased human body on the outer portions of the Temple Mount. The Talmud in tractate Pesahim learns this from the fact that Moshe Rabbenu took with him the bones of Yosef from Egypt. The level of holiness of Moshe's tent was equivalent to the holiness of the Temple mount. And right there was Yosef's ark…his coffin. In fact there is a really amazing passage in the Talmud tractate Sotah where is says that for years people would see Yosef's ark so close to the Ark of the Covenant, and they would wonder "Is it possible for a corpse to go along with the Divine presence?" And Moshe would reply "Yes! For this one fulfilled what is written in this one. Yosef fulfilled the Torah that was in the in the Ark of the Covenant."

J: So it makes sense King David would want to place his grave next to the Ark of the Covenant. It would be a way of saying that King David's fulfilled the Torah despite his many challenges. His life was an embodiment of the Torah.

RA: That's right. One of the traditions that the Talmud relates in tractate Berachot is that King David was more than a warrior, king and songwriter. He was a Torah scholar of Halacha and Jewish Law. A lot of people think that this story is unrealistic and that the Sages were remaking King Davis in their own image. But you know, when you are king, especially in the ancient world, you are responsible for maintaining the people’s connection with their God. Did you know that King Henry the Eighth wrote a religious work? Of course he had help from his friends. King Henry was far from being a pious person. But kings had to be involved in religion. Now David had very deep religious feelings, and it makes sense that he would have tried to have an impact of the religious life in his kingdom. Interestingly, the Talmud is clear in pointing out that David was not considered a great scholar at the time. The really smart sharp scholars did not take him seriously. But he never let his personal humiliation keep him from taking part in the discussion and trying to learn. For this he was greatly admired, because he loved the Torah selflessly and he didn’t act with the usual arrogance associated with kings.

J: Tell me more about the tradition of King David's Tomb.

RA: First you know that it says in the book of Kings that King David was buried in Ir David that is the "City of David", which as you now understand, is the same as Mt Zion. In addition we have a very good written text that affirms the tradition of the location of King David's tomb. Rabbi Benjamin of Toledo visited the land of Israel about 800 years ago, where he visited many places including the Royal Tomb on Mt Zion. He tells the story that the Tomb had been discovered about twenty years before his visit. Some workers were repairing a wall in a Christian monastery when they uncovered a cave. Some workers entered the cave and found a stone table with a golden scepter and crown placed upon them. When they tried to go farther, a great wind blew both workers out of the cave with a warning not to enter again…Mt. Zion isn’t some sort of mistake. It is a real sacred place to the Jewish People. King David’s tomb isn’t some crazy dream! It is real! And we Jews most of all tend not to see this, because of the claims of the archeologists. If we can’t climb up to the Temple Mount any more, we should visit Mt Zion and connect ourselves to the holiness of this place! The Christians want Mt Zion, and if we don’t dedicate ourselves to believing in its holiness we may, Heaven forbid, loose this place! (Glick N. In Search of Mt. Zion and the True Tomb of King David. http://rabbinathanglick.blogspot.com/2010/08/authenticity-of-mt-zion-and-king-davids.html viewed 11/17/13)

The following is an interview from a narrator named Joseph and a Jewish scholar, a rabbi named Jeremy (last name not listed as I mentioned before):

Jeremy:...Of the seven synagogues on Mt Zion, only one survived after the revolt, the one which the Bordeaux Pilgrim saw.

Joseph: Do you think it might still be here?

Jeremy: It is right here! You see that door way going into King David’s Tomb? That is the entrance to the last synagogue on Mt Zion.

Joseph: King David’s Tomb is that synagogue?

Jeremy: That is right! Come with me

[They enter the room opposite the room with the tombstone]

Jeremy: You are now in the old Synagogue. I like to call it “the Little Mt Zion Shul.”...

Joseph: Amazing! This little shul was built sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem by those Jews that returned. They put seven Shuls here! They must have known there was some serious holiness here. If this is Har Tzion, and King Davids Tomb was here; that would explain things.

Jeremy: well the actual Tomb is underground in a cave, but this shul could have marked the entrance to the cave, which was sealed. According to Rabbi Akiva in the Tosefta the cave with the tomb in it was especially constructed with a little tunnel exiting outside the city to the Kidron Valley, which by the way, runs around the entire eastern and southern side of the city. The Ritual corpse impurity of the burial cave would not rise upwards out of the ground and contaminate the city. So you could pray in this shul in a state of purity even if the cave was underneath part of it... Now, one of the things that changed after the Bar Kochba revolt was that Christians were on better terms with the Romans than were Jews. The Jewish Christians (known by Chazal as “the Minim”) did not participate in the revolt and used the persecution of faithful Jews as a springboard for bettering their own position in the eyes of the empire. After the suppression of the Bar Kochba revolt, there was a recognized Jewish Christian presence on Mt Zion, which actually didn’t get along very well with the Non-Jewish Christians who were centered farther north in the area of Yeshu’s supposed tomb.

Joseph: Why didn’t the Jewish Christians get along with the non-Jewish Christians?

Jeremy: Non-Jewish Christians though the Jewish Christians were heretics. Of course it was the Jewish Christians who were the originals, and you would suppose that everybody would rely on the Jewish Christians for authentic information about Yeshu. But Christianity was developing as a non-Jewish religion with non-Jewish attitudes and ideas. Eventually the Roman Empire became Christianized. At that point the non-Jewish Christians walked right in and took Mt Zion over. The original little shul became part of a much larger Church structure. This was eventually destroyed by Muslims. Again the little shul somehow survived. When the crusaders conquered Jerusalem from the Muslims they discovered the cave under the shul and placed a large stone monument to mark the spot. The little shul has been King David’s Tomb ever since...

Joseph:...Is there any evidence whatsoever for the little shul being built by Jewish Christians?

Jeremy: During the war of independence, King David’s Tomb was damaged by a mortar that came in through the window. An archeologist called Yaakov Pinkerfeld made a basic survey of the building and dug through a few layers of the floor in a few places. He found some plaster flakes with writing on them. He copied over the writing which seemed to be in Greek. Some Catholic scholars analyzed them and not surprisingly, concluded they Christian graffiti. The interpretations are not conclusive. Who knows? They could mean anything. Anyway, the graffiti is beside the point. There is no doubt that the little shul was taken over by Jewish Christians eventually. Then the non-Jewish Christians took it from them...

After a certain point the original Jewish Christians were considered heretics by the Non-Jewish Christians because they refused to buy into all the new ideas that had sprung up. (Glick N. In Search of Mt. Zion and the True Tomb of King David. http://rabbinathanglick.blogspot.com/2010/08/authenticity-of-mt-zion-and-king-davids.html viewed 11/17/13)

Of course, true Christians did not compromise and kept practices that many today still consider to be Jewish. The Greco-Romans, who ended up controlling the Roman Empire lands, were not true Christians, and it seems some Jews figured that out, though they still call the Greco-Romans Christians.

Now, I should add that I have read other materials that say this Mt. Zion location cannot be the site David's tomb, but again no one seems to really know for sure.

The Bible shows at one time the ark was there:

15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. 16 Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. 17 So they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. 19 Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house. (2 Samuel 6:15-19)

But it also shows that the ark moved from Mt. Zion:

1 Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the City of David, which is Zion. 2 Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with King Solomon at the feast in the month of Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 So all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 Then they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude. 6 Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. 8 The poles extended so that the ends of the poles could be seen from the holy place, in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. 9 Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. 12 Then Solomon spoke: "The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. 13 I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever." (1 Kings 8:1-13)

But, the ark was moved and did not stay there forever, as King Josiah had to have it moved it back (2 Chronicles 35:1-3). Also, since the temple that Solomon built was destroyed, the ark did not stay in it forever.

Furthermore, notice:

8 Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. 9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness,And let Your saints shout for joy. 10 For Your servant David's sake, Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed. 11 The Lord has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: "I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. 12 If your sons will keep My covenant And My testimony which I shall teach them, Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore." 13 For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: 14 "This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 15 I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation, And her saints shall shout aloud for joy. 17 There I will make the horn of David grow;I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed. 18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon Himself His crown shall flourish." (Psalms 132:8-18)

While Solomon wanted it to be in the temple he built to house the ark forever, God had David write Zion was the chosen location. If the ark of the covenant is found and now is below the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill, known as Mt. Zion or perhaps another area called Zion, that would have ramifications for the world as well as the Continuing Church of God.

The basic Jewish view is that Mt. Zion, the remains of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill, the Cenacle building (which for a time was an Islamic mosque) is a site of Jewish, Christians, and Muslim interest. Many archeologists believe that Zion is in a more eastern location--and because of the presence of water and ancient buildings that may be.

The Diaspora Yeshiva has taken the position that it would be best if the Western Hill is kept available to all, not just the Catholics of Rome. The Catholics of Rome, however, want it and biblically it seems that they are likely to end up with it.

Ark of the Covenant

As far as the ark of the covenant goes, in the Spring and Fall of 2013, a couple of different people emailed me and asked if the Continuing Church of God might possibly be involved in actually finding it--and those two people knew nothing about the dream that Fesilafai Fiso Leaana of New Zealand had related to the Continuing Church of God when they originally asked me about it--it was reported publicly in November 2013. 

The Bible itself shows that there is an ark of the covenant in heaven (Revelation 11:16), but some have suggested that this could have been what the ark of the covenant described to be built in Exodus 25:10-34 was based upon, and hence a physical ark is still on the earth.  Although there were physical and spiritual aspects of Fesilafai Fiso Leaana's dreams, if there is a physical ark of the covenant to be found, the Continuing Church of God may well be involved in it as we have been asked to be involved in a related archeological project and are considering it.  That is part of why in a post about dreams (see Dreams, the Bible, and the Continuing Church of God), I included the statement, "There are also other potential ramifications related to the ark of the covenant that I may attempt to publicly address in the future."

If the ark of the covenant is to be found physically on the earth, the Continuing Church of God may be involved in it.

Could Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill fulfill prophecy in 2 Thessalonians?

The Bible seems to teach that the son of perdition will sit in some type of place that Christians worshipped at:

3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

If this is referring to an ancient site, then perhaps it could be referring to one the “Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill” (though only a relatively few original bricks remain).

Even though much of the site is impacted by Greco-Romans, is it possible that God could possibly consider that the area is sufficiently related to the temple that it could possibly fulfill 2 Thessalonians 2:4?

Although this is not yet clear, there are some reasons to think that it might. Notice the following reports:

An historic agreement has been drafted between Israel and the Vatican. The Israeli authorities have granted the Pope an official seat in the room where the Last Supper is believed to have taken place, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, and where David and Solomon, Jewish kings of Judea, are considered by some researchers, to also be buried.  

It is the culmination of a long campaign by the Catholic Church to regain religious stewardship over the place where Jesus is supposed to have broken bread and drunk wine with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion.

This is an enormous issue pushed through without any public debate.

According to our sources, the agreement, which is expected to be ratified next June, gives the Pope a “special authority” over the second floor of the building, so that Christian pilgrims will be able to celebrate religious functions like Pope John Paul did in 2000.

The agreement constitutes Israel’s capitulation to the Vatican’s efforts to “Christianize” the holy site, like when a Catholic convent was built in Auschwitz.

The Catholic Church has long wanted control over part of the area on Mt. Zion so as to turn it into an international religious center for Catholics. The blueprint of the agreement reads as follows: “The Vatican hands over this use of the Cenacle to the Custody of the Holy Land which will keep the Cenacle open from 6 AM to 8 AM for the celebration of the Holy Mass”.

In the long term, the gesture will increase tensions between Jews and the large assets of the Vatican. The Church has long been working to reduce Jewish rights in Jerusalem and in the Old City. Now, after the Muslim Waqf authority expelled the Christians from the Temple Mount and turned it into a mosque, it’s the turn of the Vatican to lay its hands on the Jewish Jerusalem.

The Custody of the Holy Land, the Franciscan order who, with Vatican approval, is in charge of the holy sites, campaigns with the Arabs against Israel.

As far back as May 2000, Yasser Arafat met Islamic and Christian clergymen at the presidential offices in Ramallah to back Palestinian Arab sovereignty over Jerusalem. Among the clergymen who attended the meeting, Diodoros I, patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Torkom II, patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Patriarch Michel Sabbah and officials from the Custody of the Holy Land.

"An official meeting took place in Ramallah, Palestine, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine". This is the official note of the Vatican press office about the meeting between the Catholic officials and the PLO representatives which took place this week.

The Vatican is also asking that Israel hand over to the Vatican’s control dozens of sites, 19 in Judea and Samaria and 28 in Jerusalem. The Catholic Church want to discuss some properties on Mount of Olives, Har Hazeitim, which is the very history of the Jewish people. If you want to keep Jerusalem united, you have to keep Har Hazeitim. The Vatican knows that.

In 1989 charges were made by the Catholic authorities that Israel desecrated the Cenacle on Mount Zion. The charges, which appeared in the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire, said that the Israelis put a memorial plaque on the roof of the Cenacle. The plaque was put in place after the 1948 War of Independence in memory of soldiers who fell in the Old City and whose burial place was unknown. Every year, the bereaved families cleaned the plaque.

Why did the Catholic authorities complain? Last year a similar charge was made from the Catholic authorities that Israel wants to “Judaize” Mount Zion.

Should the Vatican gain sovereignty over Mount of Zion, millions of Christian pilgrims will flock to the site, and this will threaten the Israeli presence in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and Jewish access to the Western Wall.

The Vatican wants the Jews out of the Old City and apparently Israel’s government is agreeing with them. Turning the Cenacle into an active church is also a way of desecrating the holiness of the site known as the Tomb of David.

The Vatican and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation expressed a common position in the Basic Agreement of 15 February 2000, intended to support the recognition of a special statute for the City of Jerusalem. In the memorandum, signed by Vatican officials and the PLO, an organization dedicated to the mass deportation of Israel’s Jews, the Catholic Church wants Israel relinquishing sovereignty at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The Vatican-PLO agreement’s preamble on Jerusalem shows that the Vatican's attitude on Israel's capital is still stuck in the unforgivable anti-Semitic rhetoric of the 1940s.

Until 1948, Christian access to the Cenacle was severely limited, because it was used as a mosque. Since then, the State of Israel is committed to protecting the holy places of all religions, and guaranteeing the right of worship for all faiths.

But no Israeli government must tolerate any policy of division, “shared control” or “internationalization” that opens the door to a return to the Arab apartheid of Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967.

Jerusalem is not for sale. For thousands of years, the Cenacle area was almost always totally closed off to Jews. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/12814#.UZ6neti-iCb

Reportedly the outlines of a deal were reached last January, under which church properties used for religious purposes would remain tax-exempt, but not church-owned businesses. Israel would designate certain holy sites as safe from expropriation except in emergency situations for public safety, and a leasing arrangement would be worked out for the Cenacle on Mount Zion.

Although one never knows, experience says don't hold your breath...The two sides are scheduled to meet again in June, when we should get an indication of where the new leadership will come down. (http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/four-fronts-where-vatican-isnt-real-problem)

The Cenacle, the building on Mt. Zion...will once again be open for Catholic worship, it has been announced by spokesmen for the Vatican, the Israeli government and the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

The agreement, which is part of overall negotiations over the use of land owned by the church in Israel allows for Franciscan administrative control of the site, while ownership will remain with Israel, according to Fr. Peter Vasko, president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL).

The Franciscan Friars owned the site during the 14th and 15th centuries, but were expelled by the Ottoman Empire in 1550...

Negotiations between the Vatican and Israel began 20 years ago with a “Fundamental Agreement” designed to open the way to Vatican recognition of Israel. Negotiations halted for several years until the United States intervened and talks were resumed in 2004, Vasko said. (Sontag R. Upper Room on Mt. Zion To Open for Catholic Worship. Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, June 18, 2013. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/6/prweb10836870.htm viewed 06/22/13)

Vatican Pushing for Control of Mount Zion
 
Israel National News - Feb 19, 2014

Christian leaders reportedly pressured Israel to turn over control of Mount Zion in Jerusalem during a clandestine meeting of senior city officials.

The meeting took place Tuesday in the office of Attorney Amnon Merhav, the director-general of the Jerusalem municipality. It was attended by officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, President’s Office, Tourism Ministry, Police, Kotel Rabbi’s Office, and more.

During the meeting, representatives of Christian groups in the capital pushed Jerusalem leaders to give the Catholic Church control over the Mount Zion area that includes the “Hall of the Last Supper.” There have been reports that Israel’s government is planning to turn the building in question over to the Vatican prior to the Pope’s expected visit in May.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Israel and to lead a service in the Hall of the Last Supper.

The same building that houses the hall, which is holy to Christianity, also includes the tomb of King David, a holy site frequently visited by Jews. Some Church officials expressed upset over what they termed a major increase recently in the number of Jewish visitors to the site...

Several Members of Knesset and ministers have asked the Prime Minister to respond to rumors that he is planning to give control of the Mount Zion compound to the Vatican. To date, the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry have refused to respond, although Deputy Foreign Minister Zev Elkin stated in mid-2013 that the government has no such plans.

In response to reports regarding the Tuesday meeting, the city of Jerusalem released a statement saying, “The state of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality are paying special attention to the Mount Zion compound, with the goal of improving and updating the infrastructure and the municipal service, and of calming tension… The municipality will continue to lead the process as the central sovereign power on Mount Zion.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to respond. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/177615

May 1, 2014

An Israeli lawmaker claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken with Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef about the possibility of ceding the Tomb of David— located in an old church building that is also revered by Christians as the site of the Last Supper—to the Vatican.

The report—which has not been confirmed by the Israeli government—comes after earlier rumors that the government was engaged in secret negotiations with the Vatican about future control of the site.

The Tomb of David is on the ground floor of the building in Jerusalem, which dates back to the 4th century. The Cenacle, the site of the Last Supper, is on the upper floor...

Negotiations on the long-awaited juridical pact between the Vatican and Israel are a focus of renewed interest as Pope Francis plans for his visit to the Holy Land later this month. http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=21272

On May 26, 2014, Pope Francis held Catholic mass in the building connected to the original wall of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill today and hinted that his church began here.  Here are two news items, the first being the words of Pope  Francis:

26 May 2014

Dear Brothers,

It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist. Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples. Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth. From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart.

In the Upper Room, the risen Jesus, sent by the Father, bestowed upon the apostles his own Spirit and with this power he sent them forth to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30). To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget. The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning…

The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves. How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room! How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent. All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the Church’s holiness continues to flow: from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, the Upper Room reminds us of the birth of the new family, the Church, established by the risen Jesus; a family that has a Mother, the Virgin Mary. Christian families belong to this great family, and in it they find the light and strength to press on and be renewed, amid the challenges and difficulties of life. All God’s children, of every people and language, are invited and called to be part of this great family, as brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the one Father in heaven.  http://www.romereports.com/pg157002-pope-francis-homily-at-the-cenacle-en

May 26, 2014

JERUSALEM — The intimate Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Monday in the Cenacle, the hall on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion venerated by Christians as the room of the Last Supper, capped a Holy Land pilgrimage meant to promote peace and tolerance.

But ancient rivalries lurk just beneath the flagstones here, and the pope’s visit has brought them to the surface. Also holy to Jews and Muslims as the traditional burial place of the biblical King David, a prophet in Islam, Mount Zion has become a crucible of competing religious claims that touch on one of the most sensitive issues in the Middle East conflict…

“Here the church was born, and was born to go forth,” the pope said in his homily. “To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget. The church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here.”

On the lower floor, by David’s Tomb, Jews pray in a space that, for all intents and purposes, has become a synagogue. Many of the stone buildings that make up the rest of the Mount Zion compound, which sits just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, have been taken over by the Diaspora Yeshiva, a Jewish seminary.

With the pope’s visit, opposition has grown in ultra-Orthodox and nationalist religious Jewish circles to a deal between Israel and the Vatican to allow increased Christian prayer times. Many also believe that the Vatican is seeking ownership of the Cenacle, though Israeli and church officials have denied that. One rumor had it that Pope Francis was considering moving to Mount Zion.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/world/middleeast/mass-planned-on-mount-zion-stirs-ancient-rivalries.html?_r=0

Of course, while the true Church of God began in Jerusalem, the Church of Rome came a different way.  Notice that Pope Francis took the occasion today to push the portion of his agenda to hint that Rome is the true faithful descendant and heir of the original Christian Church, but that is not the case (see also Continuing History of the Church of God).  He also pushed his Marian agenda and tied that in with the same building.

As far as current Vatican denials that about wanting this location, the Vatican clearly does want it and will take future steps to attain it.  I speculated some time ago that the Vatican may ask for it in return for support to Israel on matters such as peace an/or trade.  The Vatican, in the past, has offered to trade a synagogue in Spain for it, so for there to be denials now that it is not trying to get it, seems hollow.

Notice that some Jews have concerns about Pope Francis, etc.:

June 9, 2014

Contrary to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich’s promises to Internal Affairs and Environment Committee chair MK Miri Regev (Likud-Beytenu) in mid-May not to change the status quo at King David’s Tomb, that status has been breached in a move endangering Jewish prayer at the holy site.

Rabbi Dvir Tal, dean of the King David Yeshiva, which is attached to the Diaspora Yeshiva on the site of the David’s Tomb Compound, told Arutz Sheva about the Catholic Mass services which were conducted at the site on Sunday, and which he reports have been held weekly since Pope Francis conducted Mass at the site two weeks ago on Monday.

Video footage, courtesy of Rabbi Tal, exposes the Mass prayers held on the second floor of the David’s Tomb Compound, which Christians term the “Room of the Last Supper.” The rabbi reports hundreds of Christian visitors, priests, Catholic monks and nuns praying at the site, as evidenced by the film…

Rabbi Avraham Goldstein, dean of the Diaspora Yeshiva, told Arutz Sheva in May that Jews will be prevented from entering the holy site altogether due to the Mass services, given that Jewish law forbids using a building used for idol-worship – a category which Catholic worship, with its use of effigies, falls under according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Tal reports that during the Mass service on Sunday, incense was burned, the scent of which spread throughout the Compound, engulfing the Tomb of King David on the ground floor as well. Christian visitors brought massive crosses to the prayers, and placed them in the “Room of the Last Supper” for the service.

Additional testimony was given to Arutz Sheva by Rabbi Yaakov Sevilia, an activist for King David’s Tomb. Rabbi Sevilia reported that lit candles were placed in the floor of the room in the shape of a cross.

“There’s a great pain here; it is hard to describe the depth of our frustration over the reality in which right above the Tomb of King David – David who every Jew is connected to and who the full redemption is dependent upon – they let idol-worship happen, which is more severe than murder and sexual indecency,” said Rabbi Tal, noting Jewish law’s position on the three cardinal sins.

“A gesture to the pope”

Rabbi Tal emphasized that the priests and monks at the prayers were associated with the Catholic church, as opposed to any other stream or order of Christianity. He argues that this point shows the Mass prayers indicate a gesture to the pope after his visit…

“The government is to blame”

Jerusalem Councilman Aryeh King added his condemnation of the Mass prayer services on Sunday night.

Writing on Facebook, King declared: “government of Israel and members of the coalition from all the coalition parties, I accuse you of collaboration and aid in harming the holy ones of Israel, the Tomb of King David!”  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/181518#.U5YKJ3aFTLA

Ultimately, I suspect that the Vatican will more directly own/control it. Yet, because of the possible connection to the tomb of King David, various Israelis have said that will not happen as they will not give up control (Cohen S. Elkin: Israel Not Negotiating with Vatican on King David's Tomb. July 18, 2013 http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/170027#.UeeAO40QbLM)--but according to biblical property, they will be wrong as Israel will give up all it has for a time.

Now in addition to meeting Avraham Goldstein when I was in Jerusalem, we have also spoken several times over the telephone in regards to this location. In 2013/2014 I repeatedly warned Avraham Goldstein that the Vatican wanted this location and would attempt to gain control of it. When I first told him that, he dismissed it as he felt his group had an arrangement with the Israeli government that would prevent this. I told him that this would not stop the Vatican and that more steps were being taken. He looked more into it and then realized that some really do wish to turn the site over to the Vatican. He even led a protest against Rome attaining the building in May 2014 (see 200+ Jews protest the idea of the Tomb of David and ‘Mt. Zion’ Church to be given to the Vatican). The next time I am able to go to Jerusalem, I hope to meet with him.

Here is a view of the side of the building with the additional bricks which were added by the Crusaders and others:

Photo of Jerusalem in Church of Santa Pudenzenia

The fact that the Church of Rome now has at least tentative permission for the Pope (and others) to have a seat there (as well as now their church services) suggests there is a chance the man of sin (the Beast of Revelation 13 and King of the North of Daniel 11, see Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?) might. There is also a report from December 2013 that the USA has proposed something that possibly could give the Vatican more control over this or other buildings in Jerusalem (WND: Kerry proposed deal to give Vatican control of at least one ‘holy site’ in Jerusalem).

Notice also:

28 The voice of those who flee and escape from the land of Babylon
Declares in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God,
The vengeance of His temple. (Jeremiah 50:28)

Thus, it may be that God does consider this location to be important to Him.

It should also be noted that the Church of Rome has a variety of ideas about this location and they do tie their version of Mary into it. On April 19, 1884, Cardinal Parocchi said:

It was in the Cenacle that was raised the first altar upon which the disciples offered the Divine Sacrifice the first time. It is of tradition in the Church that Saint Peter celebrated the first mass on the day of Pentecost immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost. The writings of the Holy Fathers prove it...the providential origin and the most ancient cradle for your congregation is the Cenacle of Jerusalem; and your principal foundress is Mary, queen and mother of the apostles in the Cenacle. (Félix J. Notre-Dame du Cenacle: Our lady of the Cenacle, or, of the retreat. Lafayette Press, 1896. Original from the New York Public Library, Digitized Aug 22, 2006, pp. 58-60)

The Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, also known as the 'Dormition Abby,' is also on that hill and has responsibilities for the church that is called Basilica of the Assumption (or Dormition).

Also notice that the Church of Rome has a religious society connecting Mary to the Cenacle:

The Society of Our Lady of the Cenacle was founded in 1826, at La Louvesc in France, near the tomb of St. John Francis Regis, the Jesuit apostle of the poor, by Jean-Pierre-Etienne Terme, a holy and zealous missionary priest of the Diocese of Viviers, and Marie-Victoire-Therese Couderc...The Society of Our Lady of the Cenacle honours particularly, and proposes to itself for its model, the retirement of the Blessed Virgin in the Cenacle, after the Ascension of our Lord, while the whole Church, expecting the Holy Ghost, "were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14). (Zimmerman, Benedict. "Religious of the Cenacle." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 30 May 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03518a.htm>)

I should also add the following from the website of the Marian Movement of Priests:

"Cenacle" is a word for the upper room where Jesus' apostles gathered together in prayer with his Mother Mary, and the Holy Spirit powerfully descended upon them. It was during this original Pentecost that the Catholic Church was born. Two thousand years later, Our Lady renews the call to gather together with her in cenacle of prayer in anticipation of the Holy Spirit...Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the first commitment for belonging to Our Lady's Movement. By this Act of Consecration we put our life into her hands, completely and without reserve, so that she may transform us into the image and likeness of her Son, Jesus. (Marian Movement of Priests. http://www.mmp-usa.net/cenacle_format.html)

The 'Marian Movement of Priests' is interested in promoting Mary and historically has been involved with a lot of claimed Marian apparitions.

But, might it be possible that an apparition that many will think is Mary could show up in the area of the ancient Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill? Perhaps could it be that a Marian statue/apparition will the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (Matthew 24:15) or have at least some connection to it? While this could happen on the Temple Mount, it is possible that the area known as Mt. Zion could fulfill this.

Concluding Thoughts

There remains in public view, some bricks on a wall of what could have been the first building built by Christians for worship services. It was patterned after a synagogue and seemed a bit like a small temple. It, and or its foundation, may contain some bricks from the Jewish temple.

If this is the building that the man of sin will sit in, then there are both historical and prophetic reasons to pay attention to this building.

Just like the fact that the priesthood was changed from the Levitical one to the Christian one through Christ (Hebrews 7:1-14), it may very well be that the physical temple that God may honor, in fact, could be the remains of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Wall (cf. 1 Peter 2:6; Revelation 14:1). And, it may be the place that the man of sin will sit to attempt to show that he is 'god,' though he later will be destroyed. Some believe that this building in on the biblical Mt. Zion, while others disagree.

Of course, keeping the faith and practices of the original Church of God in Jerusalem is more important than any physical building. And the group that is striving to do that the best in the 21st century is the Continuing Church of God (see also the free online booklet Where is the True Christian Church Today?).

The Bible is clear that God is putting together a spiritual building, that has connections to at least a type of Mt. Zion:

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

"Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." (1 Peter 2:4-6)

1 Peter 2:4-6 also makes me wonder if perhaps when stones were moved from the destroyed Jewish temple to the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill if that may not also suggest that Satan may wish to have the man of sin sit on the area of that Western Hill.

Notice also the following:

1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

If this is the same Mt. Zion that Jesus will stand on with His 144,000, then the area of the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill is one of prophetic interest to Jesus and His people.

But even if not or not of interest to the 'man of sin,' the building has historical interest as its remains should remind everyone that the original Church of God had more traits often considered Jewish than the bulk of faiths that claim Christianity (see the free online booklet Continuing History of the Church of God and/or also Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?).

Thiel B. Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill, Often Called the Cenacle. COGwriter (c) 2013/2014/2015/2016/2017 0506 http://www.cogwriter.com/church-of-god-cenacle.htm

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For more on church history, check out the the pdf booklet: Continuing History of the Church of God.