Marcion was considered to have been the son of the Bishop of Sinope in Pontus (an area in what is now north-west Turkey) and born around 110 A.D. He apparently came to Rome around 140 A.D. and founded a heretical group around 144 A.D. He was denounced by Polycarp of Symrna around 155 A.D. when Polycarp visited Rome. And later by others, including Melito of Sardis. Here is a link to a related sermon: Marcion: The first Protestant reformer?
Marcion was a famous heretic in the second century. Many consider him to have been the best organized of the early heretics. Some have suggested he was actually a reformer, of the Protestant sort, instead of an early heretic.
If so, was he right? Is Protestantism right?
In the 1800s, Johann August W. Neander, after writing that Marcion had taken certain doctrines from Gnostics (Gnostics have been condemned by nearly all Protestant and Roman Catholic scholars; and the initial condemnations seem to have been in the New Testament: cf. 1 Timothy 6:20) wrote that Marcion was a Protestant:
"Marcion...a genuine Protestant (if we may transfer to this ancient day this appellation...)" (Neander JAW. The history of the Christian religion and Church during the three first centuries, tr. by H.J. Rose [from vol.1 of Allgemeine Geschichte der christlichen Religion]. Translated by Henry John Rose. 1841. Original from Oxford University, Digitized Aug 21, 2008, p. 121).
A. Harack later interprets A. Neander as calling Marcion the first Protestant, a view he also tended to hold:
In his first monograph on Marcion, Adolf von Harnack quoted approvingly the opinion of August Neander according to which Marcion was the "first Protestant." (Marcion and his impact on church history Volume 150 of Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literature. Editors: Gerhard May, Katharina Greschat, Martin Meiser. Walter de Gruyter, 2002, p. 131).
Though celebrated as “the first Protestant” by Adolf von Harnack for his radical interpretation of the Pauline distinction between Law and gospel, Marcion was the most formidable heretic of the 2nd cent. and the spiritual father of a perennial danger for Christian theology. (Soulen R & R. Handbook of Biblical Criticism. Presbyterian Publishing Corp, 2011, p. 122)
One problem with learning about Marcion is that we have none of his direct writings available (though there are some 'gospel' accounts that he and his followers allegedly used). Mostly what is available are writings from those who opposed him. And most of those early writings that we have were written by those who were also heretics themselves.
Perhaps the earliest writing that mentions Marcion or his followers was by the apostate Justin (who most Protestants consider to be a saint), who, probably by the mid-second century wrote:
And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works. All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them. And whether they perpetrate those fabulous and shameful deeds--the upsetting of the lamp, and promiscuous intercourse, and eating human flesh--we know not; but we do know that they are neither persecuted nor put to death by you, at least on account of their opinions. But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you. (Justin. First Apology, Chapter XXVI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
The term "these men" from Justin refers to Simon Magus, Meander, and Marcion.
Justin also wrote:
And, as we said before, the devils put forward Marcion of Pontus, who is even now teaching men to deny that God is the maker of all things in heaven and on earth, and that the Christ predicted by the prophets is His Son, and preaches another god besides the Creator of all, and likewise another son. And this man many have believed, as if he alone knew the truth, and laugh at us, though they have no proof of what they say, but are carried away irrationally as lambs by a wolf, and become the prey of atheistical doctrines, and of devils. (Justin. First Apology, Chapter LVIII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
There are, therefore, and there were many, my friends, who, coming forward in the name of Jesus, taught both to speak and act impious and blasphemous things; and these are called by us after the name of the men from whom each doctrine and opinion had its origin. (For some in one way, others in another, teach to blaspheme the Maker of all things, and Christ, who was foretold by Him as coming, and the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, with whom we have nothing in common, since we know them to be atheists, impious, unrighteous, and sinful, and confessors of Jesus in name only, instead of worshippers of Him. Yet they style themselves Christians, just as certain among the Gentiles inscribe the name of God upon the works of their own hands, and partake in nefarious and impious rites.) Some are called Marcians, and some Valentinians, and some Basilidians, and some Saturnilians, and others by other names; each called after the originator of the individual opinion, just as each one of those who consider themselves philosophers, as I said before, thinks he must bear the name of the philosophy which he follows, from the name of the father of the particular doctrine (Justin. Dialog with Trypho, Chapter 35. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
What may be of note is that unlike most of the other writers, Justin does not complain that Marcion taught against the Law or Jewish practices. This is probably because Justin considered those teachings of Marcion to be closer to his own beliefs.
Slightly later in the second century Marcion was denounced by COG leader/bishop Melito of Sardis who taught the millennial reign of Christ. Melito condemned Marcion in a work titled περί σαρκώσεως χριστού, but only fragments of that work seem to have been found (NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. SECOND SERIES TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES. VOLUMES I–VII. UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D. AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine. Melito and the Circumstances which he records. Schaff, Philip (1819-1893) Print Basis: New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Note 1, p. 203).
Later in the second century, the apostate Irenaeus, one that some Protestants have claimed to have apostolic succession through (and that the Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodox consider to be a saint) wrote:
Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by the Lord. For this reason were four principal (kaqolikai) covenants given to the human race: one, prior to the deluge, under Adam; the second, that after the deluge, under Noah; the third, the giving of the law, under Moses; the fourth, that which renovates man, and sums up all things in itself by means of the Gospel, raising and bearing men upon its wings into the heavenly kingdom. These things being so, all who destroy the form of the Gospel are vain, unlearned, and also audacious; those, [I mean,] who represent the aspects of the Gospel as being either more in number than as aforesaid, or, on the other hand, fewer. The former class [do so], that they may seem to have discovered more than is of the truth; the latter, that they may set the dispensations of God aside. For Marcion, rejecting the entire Gospel, yea rather, cutting himself off from the Gospel, boasts that he has part in the [blessings of] the Gospel (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses (Book III, Chapter 11:8-9). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
1. With regard to those (the Marcionites) who allege that Paul alone knew the truth, and that to him the mystery was manifested by revelation, let Paul himself convict them, when he says, that one and the same God wrought in Peter for the apostolate of the circumcision, and in himself for the Gentiles. Peter, therefore, was an apostle of that very God whose was also Paul; and Him whom Peter preached as God among those of the circumcision, and likewise the Son of God, did Paul [declare] also among the Gentiles (Book III, Chapter 13, Verse 1).
In his book against Marcion, Justin does well say: "I would not have believed the Lord Himself, if He had announced any other than He who is our framer, maker, and nourisher. But because the only-begotten Son came to us from the one God, who both made this world and formed us, and contains and administers all things, summing up His own handiwork in Himself, my faith towards Him is steadfast, and my love to the Father immoveable, God bestowing both upon us." (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses (Book IV, Chapter 6:2). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
And that the Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man is justified, which also those who were justified by faith, and who pleased God, did observe previous to the giving of the law, but that He extended and fulfilled them, is shown from His words. "For," He remarks, "it has been said to them of old time, Do not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That every one who hath looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." And again: "It has been said, Thou shalt not kill. But I say unto you, Every one who is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment." And, "It hath been said, Thou shalt not forswear thyself. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; but let your conversation be, Yea, yea, and Nay, nay." And other statements of a like nature. For all these do not contain or imply an opposition to and an overturning of the [precepts] of the past, as Marcion's followers do strenuously maintain; but [they exhibit] a fulfilling and an extension of them (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses (Book IV, Chapter 13:1)
2. Moreover, he shall also examine the doctrine of Marcion, [inquiring] how he holds that there are two gods, separated from each other by an infinite distance (Book IV, Chapter 33, Verse 2).
1. Now I shall simply say, in opposition to all the heretics, and principally against the followers of Marcion, and against those who are like to these, in maintaining that time prophets were from another God [than He who is announced in the Gospel], read with earnest care that Gospel which has been conveyed to us by the apostles, and read with earnest care the prophets, and you will find that the whole conduct, and all the doctrine, and all the sufferings of our Lord, were predicted through them. But if a thought of this kind should then suggest itself to you, to say, What then did the Lord bring to us by His advent? (Book IV, Chapter 34, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
The above bolded quote suggest that Marcion's followers seemed to hold a view similar to one held by many Protestants today--that the precepts of the part (the ten commandments) are overturned.
Irenaeus also noted that the faithful Church of God leader/bishop Polycarp opposed Marcion:
But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles -- that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?" "I do know thee, the first-born of Satan."(Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Polycarp, and other true early Christian writers, kept all the ten commandments that were first mentioned in the Old Testament (an article of related interest may be The Ten Commandments and the Early Church). This is how Polycarp (and others) differed from many of the early heretics like Marcion (more on Cerinthus can be found in the article Cerinthus: An early heretic).
Irenaeus taught that Marcion was a successor to Simon Magus:
1. Cerdo was one who took his system from the followers of Simon, and came to live at Rome in the time of Hyginus, who held the ninth place in the episcopal succession from the apostles downwards. He taught that the God proclaimed by the law and the prophets was not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the former was known, but the latter unknown; while the one also was righteous, but the other benevolent.
2. Marcion of Pontus succeeded him, and developed his doctrine. In so doing, he advanced the most daring blasphemy against Him who is proclaimed as God by the law and the prophets, declaring Him to be the author of evils, to take delight in war, to be infirm of purpose, and even to be contrary to Himself. (Irenaeus, Book 1, Chapter 27, Verses 1-4).
It is interesting to note that he believes that Marcion was the one to get 'Christians' to accept being part of carnal warfare--as real Christians would not do this (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?). As far as Simon Magus goes, check out the article Simon Magus, What Did He Teach?
Another to specifically oppose Marcion was Church of God leader/bishop Theophilus of Antioch (late 2nd century). The Syriatic version of Eusebius' Church History notes:
BUT as to Theophilus, concerning whom we have said that he was Bishop of Antioch, there are three treatises by him against Antolycus, and another which is inscribed "Against the heresy of Hermogenes," in which he uses testimonies from the Revelation of John; and there are other books by him which are suitable for teaching. But those, who pertained to heretical doctrine, even at that time like tares were corrupting the pure seed of the doctrine of the Apostles; but the Pastors which were in the churches in every country, were driving them like beasts of the wilderness away from the flock of Christ; at one time by teaching and exhortation to the Brethren, but at another time openly before their faces they contended with them in discussion, and put them to shame; and again, also, by writing treatises they diligently refuted and exposed their opinions. But Theophilus, together with others, contended against them; and he is celebrated for one treatise, which was ably composed by him against Marcion, which, together with the others that I have already mentioned, is still preserved. And after him Maximinus received the Bishoprick of the Church of Antioch, who was the seventh after the Apostles.
But Philip, respecting whom we have learned from the words of Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth,2 that he was Bishop of the church of the city of Gortyna, he also composed with accuracy a treatise against Marcion (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Syriac version, Book 4 (Extract), Chapter 24. Spicilegium Syriacum (1855). This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font/Polytonic Greek).
This is of interest because it shows that both Philip and Theophilus also wrote against the heretic Marcion (though the document, while apparently available to Eusebius, is currently unavailable).
Notice what the Protestant historian Kenneth Latourette stated:
Marcion insisted that the Church had obscured the Gospel by seeking to combine it with Judaism (Latourette KS. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: to A.D. 1500. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1975, p. 126).
In other words, the original true Church of God truly did combine faith in Christ with practices that Marcion considered to be to Jewish. And Marcion was denounced by leaders from Asia Minor for rejecting the true faith.
In the third century, Hippolytus of Rome wrote:
But Marcion, a native of Pontus, far more frantic than these (heretics), omitting the majority of the tenets of the greater number (of speculators), (and) advancing into a doctrine still more unabashed, supposed (the existence of) two originating causes of the universe, alleging one of them to be a certain good (principle), but the other an evil one. And himself imagining that he was introducing some novel (opinion), founded a school full of folly, and attended by men of a sensual mode of life, inasmuch as he himself was one of lustful propensities. This (heretic) having thought that the multitude would forget that he did not happen to be a disciple of Christ, but of Empedocles, who was far anterior to himself, framed and formed the same opinions,--namely, that there are two causes of the universe, discord and friendship. For what does Empedocles say respecting the plan of the world? Even though we have previously spoken (on this subject), yet even now also, for the purpose, at all events, of comparing the heresy of this plagiarist (with its source), we shall not be silent. This (philosopher) affirms that all the elements out of which the world consists and derives its being, are six: two of them material, (viz.,) earth and water; and two of them instruments by which material objects are arranged and altered, (viz.,) fire and air; and two of them, by means of the instruments, operating upon matter and fashioning it, viz., discord and friendship. (Empedocles) expresses himself somehow thus:- "The four roots of all things hear thou first: Brilliant Jove, and life-giving Juno and Aidoneus, And Nestis, who with tears bedews the mortal font." (Hippolytus. Refutation of All Heresies (Book VII), Chapter XVII. Translated by J. H. Machmahon. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight)
Marcion taught against the law and the Creator's Sabbath--the seventh-day Sabbath. Marcion eliminated or overlooked many portions of the Bible. His attitude seems to have been similar to Luther's in this respect (Martin Luther's attitude toward the Bible can be found in the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).
TertullianMuch of what is available about the Marcionites was written by Tertullian.
In the late second/early third century, Tertullian wrote:
The flesh is not, according to Marcion, immersed in the water of the sacrament, unless it be in virginity, widowhood, or celibacy, or has purchased by divorce a title to baptism, as if even generative impotents did not all receive their flesh from nuptial union (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book I, Chapter 29. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
With regard, then, to the pending question, of Luke's Gospel (so far as its being the common property of ourselves and Marcion enables it to be decisive of the truth,) that portion of it which we alone receive is so much older than Marcion, that Marcion, himself once believed it, when in the first warmth of faith he contributed money to the Catholic church, which along with himself was afterwards rejected, when he fell away from our truth into his own heresy (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
But we now advance a step further on, and challenge (as we promised to do) the very Gospel of Marcion, with the intention of thus proving that it has been adulterated. For it is certain that the whole aim at which he has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments, so that his own Christ may be separate from the Creator, as belonging to this rival god, and as alien from the law and the prophets. It is certain, also, that with this view he has erased everything that was contrary to his own opinion and made for the Creator, as if it had been interpolated by His advocates, whilst everything which agreed with his own opinion he has retained. The latter statements we shall strictly examine; and if they shall turn out rather for our side, and shatter the assumption of Marcion, we shall embrace them. It will then become evident, that in retaining them he has shown no less of the defect of blindness, which characterizes heresy, than he displayed when he erased all the former class of subjects.
Such, then, is to be the drift and form of my little treatise; subject, of course, to whatever condition may have become requisite on both sides of the question. Marcion has laid down the position, that Christ who in the days of Tiberius was, by a previously unknown god, revealed for the salvation of all nations, is a different being from Him who was ordained by God the Creator for the restoration of the Jewish state, and who is yet to come. Between these he interposes the separation of a great and absolute difference--as great as lies between what is just and what is good; as great as lies between the law and the gospel; as great, (in short,) as is the difference between Judaism and Christianity. Hence will arise also our rule, by which we determine that there ought to be nothing in common between the Christ of the rival god and the Creator; but that (Christ) must be pronounced to belong to the Creator, if He has administered His dispensations, fulfilled His prophecies, promoted His laws, given reality to His promises, revived His mighty power, remoulded His determinations expressed His attributes, His properties. This law and this rule I earnestly request the reader to have ever in his mind, and so let him begin to investigate whether Christ be Marcion's or the Creator's. (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 6. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Deny now, Marcion, your utter madness, (if you can)! Behold, you impugn even the law of your god. He unites not in the nuptial bond, nor, when contracted, does he allow it; no one does he baptize but a coelebs or a eunuch; until death or divorce does he reserve baptism. Wherefore, then, do you make his Christ a bridegroom? This is the designation of Him who united man and woman, not of him who separated them (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 11. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Marcion acquired his very perverse opinions not from a master, but his master from his opinion! … He displayed a hatred against the Jews' most solemn day, He was only professedly following the Creator, as being His Christ, in this very hatred of the Sabbath... (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 12. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
But Christ prohibits divorce, saying, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, also committeth adultery" (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 34. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
We must now encounter the subject of marriage, which Marcion, more continent than the apostle, prohibits. For the apostle, although preferring the grace of continence, yet permits the contraction of marriage and the enjoyment of it, and advises the continuance therein rather than the dissolution thereof. Christ plainly forbids divorce, Moses unquestionably permits it. Now, when Marcion wholly prohibits all carnal intercourse to the faithful (for we will say nothing about his catechumens), and when he prescribes repudiation of all engagements before marriage, whose teaching does he follow, that of Moses or of Christ? (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 7. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Our heretic must now cease to borrow poison from the Jew--"the asp," as the adage runs, "from the viper"--and henceforth vomit forth the virulence of his own disposition, as when he alleges Christ to be a phantom. Except, indeed, that this opinion of his will be sure to have others to maintain it in his precocious and somewhat abortive Marcionites, whom the Apostle John designated as antichrists, when they denied that Christ was come in the flesh; not that they did this with the view of establishing the right of the other god (for on this point also they had been branded by the same apostle), but because they had started with assuming the incredibility of an incarnate God.
Now, the more firmly the antichrist Marcion had seized this assumption, the more prepared was he, of course, to reject the bodily substance of Christ, since he had introduced his very god to our notice as neither the author nor the restorer of the flesh; and for this very reason, to be sure, as pre-eminently good, and most remote from the deceits and fallacies of the Creator. His Christ, therefore, in order to avoid all such deceits and fallacies, and the imputation, if possible, of belonging to the Creator, was not what he appeared to be, and reigned himself to be what he was not--incarnate without being flesh, human without being man, and likewise a divine Christ without being God! But why should he not have propagated also the phantom of God? Can I believe him on the subject of the internal nature, who was all wrong touching the external substance? (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book III, Chapter 8. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Marcion must even expunge from the Gospel, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" and, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs,"--in order, forsooth, that Christ may not appear to be an Israelite (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 7. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath: He kept the law thereof, and both in the former case did a work which was beneficial to the life of His disciples, for He indulged them with the relief of food when they were hungry, and in the present instance cured the withered hand; in each case intimating by facts, "I came not to destroy, the law, but to fulfil it," although Marcion has gagged His mouth by this word. For even in the case before us He fulfilled the law, while interpreting its condition; moreover, He exhibits in a dear light the different kinds of work, while doing what the law excepts from the sacredness of the Sabbath and while imparting to the Sabbath-day itself, which from the beginning had been consecrated by the benediction of the Father, an additional sanctity by His own beneficent action. For He furnished to this day divine safeguards,--a course which His adversary would have pursued for some other days, to avoid honouring the Creator's Sabbath, and restoring to the Sabbath the works which were proper for it. Since, in like manner, the prophet Elisha on this day restored to life the dead son of the Shunammite woman, you see, O Pharisee, and you too, O Marcion, how that it was proffer employment for the Creator's Sabbaths of old to do good, to save life, not to destroy it; how that Christ introduced nothing new, which was not after the example, the gentleness, the mercy, and the prediction also of the Creator (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 12. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
In like manner does He also know the very time it behoved Him to suffer, since the law prefigures His passion. Accordingly, of all the festal days of the Jews He chose the passover. In this Moses had declared that there was a sacred mystery: "It is the Lord's passover." How earnestly, therefore, does He manifest the bent of His soul: "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." What a destroyer of the law was this, who actually longed to keep its passover!...If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion's theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: "I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread," which means, of course, the cross upon His body (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 40. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
For Marcion does not in any wise admit the resurrection of the flesh, and it is only the salvation of the soul which he promises (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 10. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Marcion's averment is quite a different matter, that the Creator in anger avenges Himself on the truth of the rival god which had been detained in unrighteousness. But what serious gaps Marcion has made in this epistle especially, by withdrawing whole passages at his will, will be clear from the unmedullated text of our own copy. It is enough for my purpose to accept in evidence of its truth what he has seen fit to leave unerased, strange instances as they are also of his negligence and blindness (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 13. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Pray tell me, Marcion, does your god build up the authority of his law on the work of the Creator?... Now, although Marcion has erased (the next clause), "which is the first commandment with promise," still the law says plainly, "Honour thy father and thy mother" (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 18. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Now, if it is our gospel which has spread everywhere, rather than any heretical gospel, much less Marcion's, which only dates from the reign of Antoninus, then ours will be the gospel of the apostles. But should Marcion's gospel succeed in filling the whole world, it would not even in that case be entitled to the character of apostolic (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 19. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Now tell me, Marcion, what is your opinion of the apostle's language, when he says, "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath, which is a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ?" We do not now treat of the law, further than (to remark) that the apostle here teaches clearly how it has been abolished, even by passing from shadow to substance--that is, from figurative types to the reality, which is Christ. The shadow, therefore, is His to whom belongs the body also; in other words, the law is His, and so is Christ. If you separate the law and Christ, assigning one to one god and the other to another, it is the same as if you were to attempt to separate the shadow from the body of which it is the shadow. Manifestly Christ has relation to the law, if the body has to its shadow (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 19. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Of course the Marcionites suppose that they have the apostle on their side in the following passage in the matter of Christ's substance--that in Him there was nothing but a phantom of flesh. For he says of Christ, that, "being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant," not the reality, "and was made in the likeness of man," not a man, "and was found in fashion as a man," not in his substance, that is to say, his flesh; just as if to a substance there did not accrue both form and likeness and fashion. It is well for us that in another passage (the apostle) calls Christ "the image of the invisible God." For will it not follow with equal force from that passage, that Christ is not truly God, because the apostle places Him in the image of God, if, (as Marcion contends,) He is not truly man because of His having taken on Him the form or image of a man? (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 20. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).
Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,--in the reign of Antoninus for the most part,--and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity,with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Marcion, indeed, [went] with the two hundred sesterces which which he had brought into the church, and, when banished at last to a permanent excommunication, they scattered abroad the poisons of their doctrines. Afterwards, it is true, Mar-cion professed repentance, and agreed to the conditions granted to him--that he should receive reconciliation if he restored to the church all the others whom he had been training for perdition: he was prevented, however, by death (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 30. Translated by Peter Holmes. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Marcion, in order that he might deny the flesh of Christ, denied also His nativity, or else he denied His flesh in order that he might deny His nativity; because, of course, he was afraid that His nativity and His flesh bore mutual testimony to each other's reality, since there is no nativity without flesh, and no flesh without nativity. As if indeed, under the prompting of that licence which is ever the same in all heresy, he too might not very well have either denied the nativity, although admitting the flesh,--like Apelles, who was first a disciple of his, and afterwards an apostate,--or, while admitting both the flesh and the nativity, have interpreted them in a different sense, as did Valentinus, who resembled Apelles both in his discipleship and desertion of Martian. At all events, he who represented the flesh of Christ to be imaginary was equally able to pass off His nativity as a phantom; so that the virgin's conception, and pregnancy, and child-bearing, and then the whole course of her infant too, would have to be regarded as putative. These facts pertaining to the nativity of Christ would escape the notice of the same eyes and the same senses as failed to grasp the full idea of His flesh. Chapter 1
And yet, according to the world's wisdom, it is more easy to believe that Jupiter became a bull or a swan, if we listen to Marcion, than that Christ really became a man. (Tertullian. On the Flesh of Christ. Translated by Peter Holmes. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Tertullian realized that Marcion taught doctrines of antichrist.
Thus, even though Marcion was condemned by Polycarp and Melito as a heretic about two decades before Eleutherius became “Bishop of Rome,” apparently he and his heresies were long tolerated by the Roman Church. As Tertullian's account suggests, Marcion, like Luther (please see the article The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong) was probably also anti-semitic.
Clement of Alexandria wrote:
They blaspheme against the will of God and the mystery of creation in speaking evil of birth. This is the ground upon which Docetism is held by Cassian and by Marcion also, and on which even Valentine indeed teaches that Christ's body was "psychic." (Clement’s Stromata, Book III, in English, Chapter XVII, Verse 102. The Library of Christian Classics: Volume II, Alexandrian Christianity: Selected Translations of Clement and Origine with Introduction and Notes by John Ernest Leonard Oulton, D.D., Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Dublin; Chancellor of St. Patrick’s and Henry Chadwick, B.D., Fellow and Dean of Queens’ College Cambridge, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1954. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book3-english.html viewed 04/03/12)
Notice that Marcion and others denied that Jesus came in the flesh. According to scripture, that is a doctrine of antichrist (2 John 7). See also Some Doctrines of Antichrist.
Did not Marcion help fulfill the following?
3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4, NASB, 1977)
Marcion slipped into the Church of Rome, denied Jesus, and taught licentiousness to violate God's law, and even though Polycarp condemned him, the Church of Rome tolerated him. Certain Protestant scholars trace their movement through him as they have no others in early church history close to the their faith.
It is also reported:
Marcion who fasted on the Sabbath to show his contempt for the God of the Old Testament whom he considered to be evil (Bacchiocchi S. Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday. The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, Rome, 1975, p. 62).
Fasting on the Sabbath was a practice adopted by the Roman Church, but not the Churches in Asia Minor in the second and third centuries.
Even though Marcion was condemned by Polycarp as a heretic about two decades before Eleutherius became bishop, apparently he was not put out of the Roman Catholic Church then--apparently because he gave a large donation (which was eventually returned by the Roman Church).
Also notice this report from Tertullian showing that Marcion rejected the Book of Revelation:
We have also St. John's foster churches. For although Marcion rejects his Apocalypse, the order of the bishops (thereof), when traced up to their origin, will yet rest on John as their author (Tertullain. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 5. Online version. Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Knight).
Notice what Martin Luther wrote about the Book of Revelation,
About this book of the Revelation of John...I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it (Luther, M. Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522).
Neither Marcion nor Martin Luther cared for the Book of Revelation. But Jesus did.
Jerome Taught that Marcion Tried to Destroy the Law
In the early fifth century, Jerome made a comment about Marcion:
I say these things, not that I may, like Manichæus and Marcion, destroy the law, which I know on the testimony of the apostle to be both holy and spiritual. (Jerome. Translated by J.G. Cunningham, M.A. From Jerome to Augustine (A.D. 404); LETTER 75 (AUGUSTINE) OR 112 (JEROME), Chapter 4/Verse 13. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series One, Volume 1, Chapter 13. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. 1886. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1999 printing):
Sadly, many have destroyed at least part of the law and have followed Marcion's example.
The Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Marcion and his followers:
Marcionites Heretical sect founded in A.D. 144 at Rome by Marcion and continuing in the West for 300 years, but in the East some centuries longer, especially outside the Byzantine Empire. They rejected the writings of the Old Testament and taught that Christ was not the Son of the God of the Jews, but the Son of the good God, who was different from the God of the Ancient Covenant. They anticipated the more consistent dualism of Manichaeism and were finally absorbed by it. As they arose in the very infancy of Christianity and adopted from the beginning a strong ecclesiastical organization, parallel to that of the Catholic Church, they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known...
...according to Tertullian (De Praeser., xxx) he made the Roman community the gift of two hundred thousand sesterces soon after his arrival. this extraordinary gift of 1400 pounds (7000 dollars), a huge sum for those days, may be ascribed to the first fervour of faith, but is at least as naturally, ascribed to a lively hope. The money was returned to him after his breach with the Church. This again is more natural if it was made with a tacit condition, than if it was absolute and the outcome of pure charity. Lastly, the report that Marcion on his arrival at Rome had to hand in or to renew a confession of faith (Tert., "De Praeser.," xxx,; "Adv. Mar.", I, xx; "de carne Christi", ii) fits in naturally with the supposition of his being a bishop, but would be, as G. Krüger points out, unheard of in the case of a layman.
We can take it for granted then, that Marcion was a bishop, probably an assistant or suffragan of his father at Sinope. Having fallen out with his father he travels to Rome, where, being a seafarer or shipowner and a great traveler, he already may have been known and where his wealth obtains him influence and position. If Tertullian supposes him to have been admitted to the Roman Church and Epiphanius says that he was refused admittance, the two statements can easily be reconciled if we understand the former of mere membership or communion, the latter of the acceptance of his claims. His episcopal dignity has received mention at least in two early writers, who speak of him as having "from bishop become an apostate" (Optatus of Mileve, IV, v), and of his followers as being surnamed after a bishop instead of being called Christians after Christ (Adamantius, "Dial.", I, ed. Sande Bakhuysen)...
Marcion was no Gnostic dreamer. He wanted a Christianity untrammeled and undefiled by association with Judaism. Christianity was the New Covenant pure and simple. Abstract questions on the origin of evil or on the essence of the Godhead interested him little, but the Old Testament was a scandal to the faithful and a stumbling-block to the refined and intellectual gentiles by its crudity and cruelty, and the Old Testament had to be set aside. (Arendzen J.P. Transcribed by Tom Crossett. Marcionites. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).
So Roman Catholic scholars seem to believe that Marcion was a major heretic, that he once had association with the Roman Catholics, and that he wanted to separate Christianity from the Old Testament and practices considered to be Jewish.
The Beginning Protestant Reformer?
Some have noted that despite being denounced, various views of Marcion were adopted by the Greco-Roman churches.
Here is a statement in the 21st century from John Garr:
In the middle of the second century, the Hebrew foundations of Christian faith were attacked by the first great heresy that challenged the church...The heresy was called Marcionism after Marcion, a very wealthy man who was strongly influenced by Hellenic culture, the ideas of Plato, and much of Gnosticism. Marcion wanted to separate Christianity from any connection with Judaism and the law. He said that the Old Testament was a record of a failed religion that should be destroyed, and actually had been destroyed by Jesus Himself. He even went so far as to rewrite Matthew 5:17, where Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Think not that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to destroy them but to fulfill them.” Marcion turned it around and said that Jesus’ actual words were “Think not that I have come to fulfill the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to fulfill them but to destroy them.” Further, he took some of Paul’s epistles and some sections of the book of Luke and edited them to eliminate any connection with Judaism or the Old Testament. As a result of his actions, church leaders finally branded him a heretic and excommunicated him.
With this background one would think Marcion would have faded into history, but the residue of his influence has continued to permeate the Christian church even to the present time. It is probably best characterized as antinomianism—the position of being against the law—which is very much a part of many denominations. Many antinomians would say that they are preaching the gospel of the grace of God, and that grace and law are violently opposed to each other and cannot exist in one another’s presence. So the idea that the law has been completely abrogated, that the Old Testament is no more of any effect, that Jesus came to destroy the law, and that believers today are only under the grace of God, is fundamentally neo-Marcionism. (Is Christianity Off Base? Vision magazine, Fall 2004. http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/page.aspx?id=437 viewed 08/29/13)
In certain respects, Marcion was like Martin Luther, as he also reworded parts of the Bible and discounted many books in it. Martin Luther changed or diminished the importance of at least 18 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, Jonah, Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation). (see Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).
In the twentieth century, the scholar K. Latourette wrote:
Marcion is reported to have been influenced by one of the Gnostics and Gnostic conceptions can be found in him...what he was profoundly convinced was the simplicity of the Good News. Marcion insisted that the Church had obscured the Gospel by seeking to combine it with Judaism. He maintained that the God of the Old Testament and of the Jews was an evil God...This God, whom he called by the Platonic term Demiurgos, a word employed by the Gnostics, had created the world with its resounding evils...He taught that God had given a stern and inflexible law for the governance of men...
Christ, so Marcion contended, came down from heaven and began proclaiming a new kingdom and deliverance from the rule of the malevolent Demiurge...
Men have been emancipated from the legalistic requirements of the Demiurge and of his creature, Judaism. Marcion believed that Paul understood ths Gospel (Latourette KS. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: to A.D. 1500. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1975, pp. 126,127).
While modern Protestants would not word the above the same way, there are similarities in that Protestants believe that Jesus did come to distance Christians from apparently all of the laws of the Old Testament--they also tend to interpret Paul's writings in that manner--many Protestants do not, for example, understand the Book of Galatians (to better understand it, see the article Comments on Galatians).
Also, in the twentieth century, the Protestant scholar HOJ Brown wrote:
The first great heretic broke drastically with the faith of the early church in abandoning the doctrine of the imminent, personal return of Christ...Marcion did not believe in a real incarnation, and consequently there was no logical place in his system for a real Second Coming...Marcion expected the majority of mankind to be lost...he denied the validity of the Old Testament and its Law...As the first great heretic, Marcion developed and perfected his heterodox system before orthodoxy had fully defined itself...Marcion represents a movement that so radically transformed the Christian doctrine of God and Christ that it can hardly be said to be Christian...Orthodox Lutheranism sometimes elevates the contrast between Law and Gospel to a degree reminiscent of Marcion (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 65,67,455).
Notice the following:
Reinhold Seerig (1859-1935)...considered himself very much a Lutheran...Seerig makes Marcion his model:
Marcion consciously sought to reform...he is the first in the chain of Reformers, the last and greatest of which was Luther. His appearance attests to us...that legalistic Christianity had grown stronger in the church...
Seerig believed in the eighty years between Paul and Marcion Christianity had so deteriorated into legalism that a radical dualistic, anti-Jewish heresy such as Marcion's represented a necessary reformation...Marcion sought to undo what he felt was a pernicious legalism by teaching a radical dichotomy of Law and Grace (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 65-66).
In other words, some Protestant scholars admit that those practicing "legalistic Christianity" in the second century were so substantial that a heretic reformer was needed! And that this reforming had anti-Jewish and anti-law sentiments. It is only because of heretics and heresies that mainstream Christianity holds many of the doctrines it now holds.
Marcion essentially taught that the ten commandments were done away and burdensome--like many Protestant leaders do this day. Yet, the Bible teaches:
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. (1 John 5:1-4)
God's commandments are not burdensome (see also The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil). Yet, the Apostle Paul warned about the mystery of lawlessness:
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
While this appears to have started by the time of Simon Magus, Marcion and others promoted it further (see also Mystery of Iniquity).
Jesus warned against those who would claim to have done things in His name, yet practiced lawlessness:
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23 21)
The view on the law remains one of the Differences Between Protestants and the Continuing Church of God today (the other main difference is that the Churches of God believe the Bible over Tradition, yet Martin Luther and his followers never really did believe in the cry of Sola Scriptura).
And while Marcion, like the Protestants, believed that most are lost, the Church of God believes that the Bible reveals that the plan of the true God, the God of Love, is that nearly all will be saved (which is also documented in the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from most Protestants).
Speaking of Martin Luther, the Bible, in Romans 3:28, states,
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Yet, Martin Luther, in his German translation of the Bible, specifically added the word "allein" (English 'alone') to Romans 3:28-a word that is not in the original Greek. Notice what Protestant scholars have admitted:
...Martin Luther would once again emphasize...that we are "justified by faith alone", apart from the works of the Law" (Rom. 3:28), adding the German word allein ("alone") in his translation of the Greek text. There is certainly a trace of Marcion in Luther's move (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 64-65).
Hence, Martin Luther continued the practices of the heretic Marcion. An article of further interest may be The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong.
Perhaps it should be noted that most historians generally accept as accurate the position of Irenaeus that Marcion did not have continuity with the original apostles, but essentially sprang up with his own independent heresy, as did many of the other early heretics:
For, prior to Valentinus, those who follow Valentinus had no existence; nor did those from Marcion exist before Marcion; nor, in short, had any of those malignant-minded people, whom I have above enumerated, any being previous to the initiators and inventors of their perversity. For Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too, Marcion's predecessor, himself arrived in the time of Hyginus, who was the ninth bishop. Coming frequently into the Church, and making public confession, he thus remained, one time teaching in secret, and then again making public confession; but at last, having been denounced for corrupt teaching, he was excommunicated from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Thus, no one who believes that they should heed Jude's admonition "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) would follow Marcion as Marcion was a deviation, not a faithful reformer.
The Bible and Some Modern Protestant WritersThe Bible shows who will, and who will not, be in God's kingdom:
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (Revelation 22:14-15).
But many contrary to scripture, certain Protestants/Baptists seem to have a differing view, one closer to that of Marcion.
In its Ten Commandments article, Wikipedia reported:
Modern Evangelicalism, under the influence of dispensationalism, commonly denies that the commandments have any abiding validity as a requirement binding upon Christians (Ten Commandments. Wikipedia, viewed 7/30/08).
And sadly, this is a fairly common Protestant view as the following quotes may help demonstrate:
The 10 commandments are Abolished
Today Christians keep the Law of Christ which is superior! 1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2 (http://www.bible.ca/7-10-commandments.htm viewed 7/31/08).
The Ten Commandments Were Abolished
Saturday, 5. July 2008, 22:51:09
Introduction The ten commandments are no longer lawful: they are not binding on the Christian. Christian scripture says the ten commandments were abolished Ephesians 2:15; a bible believing person is no longer bound to follow them; in fact (http://my.opera.com/richardinbellingham/blog/the-ten-commandments-were-abolished viewed 7/30/08).
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT FOR CHRISTIANS (Richard Bethel. http://www.bethelministries.com/ten_commandments.htm viewed 7/30/08).
The Ten Commandments: Christ Nailed to the Cross (The Ten Commandments: Christ Nailed to the Cross. By William A Worley. Published by the Author?, 1959).
Prof. M.D. Canright, an ordained Baptist preacher says:..."The Ten Commandments and the whole Jewish law are abolished, and the Sabbath is not binding upon Christians...we are not under the Ten Commandments, but under Christ" (Religious Delusions: A Psychic Study By J. V. Coombs Published by Kessinger Publishing, 2003, pp. 34-35).
One of the Ten Commandments was not carried over into the Law of Christ...
Not all of the Ten Commandments were carried over into the law of Christ (Jeffrey W. Hamilton, preacher. La Vista Church of Christ. http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2004-11-23.htm viewed 7/30/08).
The Ten Commandments were given to the Jews; and when Christ came and died they were all nailed to the cross (The marked Bible By Charles Lindsay Taylor. Published by Pacific Press, 1922. Original from the University of California. Digitized Nov 30, 2007, p. 53).
The keeping of the Sabbath as commanded on the tables of stone was nailed to the cross...The Sabbath of the ten commandments had its mission (The Gospel Day: Or, the Light of Christianity By Charles Ebert Orr. Published by Gospel Trumpet, 1904 Original from the New York Public Library Digitized Jul 18, 2006, pp. 336-337).
A couple of years back I heard a Protestant "scholar" named Dr. Kenny Rhodes falsely claim that “God never gave the ten commandments to the Gentiles” and that not all of the ten commandments are reiterated in the New Testament (the Bible disagrees, please see the article Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect?). He also inaccurately claimed that the ten commandments did not carry over in the New Testament (the Bible disagrees, please see What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments?). For one of his proofs, he correctly said that if we keep the ten commandments that we would have to keep the Sabbath command as well. I do, of course keep the Sabbath commandment. So, I am not sure how that is proof that one does NOT need to keep the commandments—Jesus, Paul, James, and John (and perhaps others) wrote that we are to keep those commandments (see also, Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect?).
Yet, the fact is that Gentile Christians did believe that they were to keep the ten commandments (for proof, see The Ten Commandments and the Early Church).
It should be understood that it was only the disciples of Simon Magus (warned against in Acts 8) and those that tended to follow the heretic Marcion in the second century that did not teach adherence to the ten commandments (for more details, please see the article The Ten Commandments and the Early Church).
Certain Protestants and others who believe that Christians felt that the ten commandments were somehow done away, simply are proven wrong by the fact that faithful Christians as well as most others who professed Christ in the second century did not teach that. Instead, nearly all understood from the Bible and the teachings and the the practices of the apostles that the ten commandments were to be kept by Christians.
Since the Church of Jesus was always to endure, how could it have gone for centuries teaching that Christians were supposed to keep the ten commandments to the teaching that seemed not to appear in many quarters until the seventeenth century or later that the ten commandments were done away?
This is totally illogical and should serve as a wake-up call to those who are misinterpreting scripture as well as ignoring the facts of history.
Although a view held by many Protestant ministers is that the ten commandments were done away, that now one only needs to believe on Jesus Christ, and that the only commandment now is love one another (another common Protestant view is that nine of the ten commandments are in effect, but one, the Sabbath, has been changed), Protestant leaders tend to feel that since God showed His love for us by sending His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16), that this sacrifice allows Christians to love one another without the need to keep the ten commandments. This view seems to ignore the plain scriptures which show that Jesus kept and taught the ten commandments, Paul kept the ten commandments, as did the other New Testament writers.
Many Protestants misunderstand the following:
38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Many Protestants seem to feel that admission of being a sinner is all that is necesary for repentance. And while that is an important point to realize, repentance means to CHANGE direction. To stop violating the law of God--the law of love. Notice the definition of sin according to the Bible:
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4, KJV)
Thus many Protestants do not understand what repentance actually is, thus they may not be converted as the hope they are.
Those who do not advocate observing the ten commandments also seem to overlook a couple of other interesting scriptures in the Book of Revelation:
17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17)
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).
Both of these scriptures show that the saints during the end-time believe in Jesus AND keep the commandments of God (though many Protestants feel that the ten commandments were only for the Jews to keep, this ignores the fact that the ten commandments were all in effect before Mount Sinai and that the Bible calls New Testament believers 'Jews' more often than it calls them Christians).
All who claim Christ may wish to consider what the following means:
118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes,
For their deceit is falsehood (Psalm 119:118).
Not All Protestant Leaders Were Against the Ten Commandments
It is of importance to note that not all called "Protestant leaders" have espoused the anti-Ten Commandments view.
For example, look at what both Martin Luther and William Tyndale specifically wrote,
The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments...we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit (Luther Martin. The Smallclad Papers. 1537. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau Published in: _Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church_. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), pp. 453-529).
...the law and the gospel may never be separate...Here may ye perceive that two manners of people are sore deceived. First, they which justify themselves by outward deeds...Those are also deceived which...having no respect to the law of God...say, God is merciful, and Christ died for us; supposing that such dreaming and imagination is that faith which is so greatly commended in holy scripture. Nay, that is not faith, but rather a foolish blind opinion...They that have this right faith, consent to the law, that it is righteous and good...The right christian man consenteth to the law that it is righteous, and justifieth God in the law; for he affirmeth that God is righteous and just, which is the author of the law." (Tyndale W. Doctrinal Treatises and Introduction to Different Portions of The Holy Scriptures, by 1536. Edited by The Parker Society. The University Press, Cambridge, 1848, pp. 11-13).
Most Protestants today do not tie the gospel in with the law.
Interestingly, Tyndale also wrote,
...neither move to heart or hand without his commandment; it is right that we have a needful holy days to come together, and learn his will, both the law which he will have us rule by, and also the promises of mercy which he will have us trust unto...keep the commandments (ibid, pp.24-25,81) and "Simon Magus believed...but had no right faith...For he repented not, consenting unto the law of God" (ibid, p.124).
It also should be noted that the Protestant leader John Wesley also taught that the law should be kept (Fanning S. Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routeldge, New York. 2001, reprinted 2006, p. 187), though he (like Tyndale) misunderstood about the Sabbath.
The Bible makes it clear that the law of God and the commandments of God are truth and righteous, and are tied to salvation, but that the wicked are far from God's law. Notice a few more verses from Psalm 119:
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.
126 It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void. 127 Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold!
142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.
144 The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.
150 They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law.
151 You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.
152 Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
163 I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law
166 LORD, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments.
172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.
While the basic view of the genuine Church of God is that the commandments show love, the basic Marcion and Protestant view (Tyndale not withstanding) seems to be that the law contained in the ten commandments is done away and that they show love apart from the law. In the view of the genuine Church of God, the cause of many of the problems people now experience is because they have rejected God's governance over their lives, including keeping His laws. The main Protestant view seems to be that most of the problems people have are because they live on the Earth, and that for some reason other than obeying God's commandments, paradise--which they normally define as being in heaven--will be better than Earth.
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty (James 2:8-12).
James, of course, was talking about several of the ten commandments.
James also wrote, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17).
In the view of Martin Luther, the primarily acknowledged founder of Protestantism, the book of James was an epistle of straw (more information can be found in the article Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther: What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?). Yet, this position of Martin Luther seems to directly contradict II Timothy 3:16-17,
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
And of course, Marcion did not value all the books of the Bible either.
Notice the following about the new covenant:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness" (Hebrews 8:10-12).
Furthermore the Apostle Paul taught:
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?...For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord...What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'...Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Romans 6:14-15,23;7:7,12).
(This article will not take the time to discuss all of the writings of Paul that the Apostle Peter wrote are improperly twisted, II Peter 3:15-16, but here is a link to the article Paul and the Ten Commandments which shows that Paul taught that all ten commandments are to be kept.)
Perhaps I should add here that the idea that one needed to keep the commandments was clear to most of those who professed Christ in the second century. Even though he held some heretical views, around 180 A.D. Irenaeus (who most Protestant theologians believe was a true early Christian) wrote:
Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King...may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book 1, Chapter 10, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Preparing man for this life, the Lord Himself did speak in His own person to all alike the words of the Decalogue; and therefore, in like manner, do they remain permanently with us, receiving by means of His advent in the flesh, extension and increase, but not abrogation (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Chapter 16, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
The term Decalogue refers to the ten commandments as remaining permanently and that they have not been abrogated.
Furthermore, Irenaeus in the following passage, shows that in the second century, the idea that God would resurrect people and provide an opportunity for salvation was clearly known:
Then, too, Isaiah himself has plainly declared that there shall be joy of this nature at the resurrection of the just, when he says: "The dead shall rise again; those, too, who are in the tombs shall arise, and those who are in the earth shall rejoice. For the dew from Thee is health to them." And this again Ezekiel also says: "Behold, I will open your tombs, and will bring you forth out of your graves; when I will draw my people from the sepulchres, and I will put breath in you, and ye shall live; and I will place you on your own land, and ye shall know that I am the LORD." And again the same speaks thus: "These things saith the LORD, I will gather Israel from all nations whither they have been driven, and I shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the sons of the nations: and they shall dwell in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell in it in peace; and they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and dwell in hope, when I shall cause judgment to fall among all who have dishonoured them, among those who encircle them round about; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God, and the God of their fathers." Now I have shown a short time ago that the church is the seed of Abraham; and for this reason, that we may know that He who in the New Testament "raises up from the stones children unto Abraham," is He who will gather, according to the Old Testament, those that shall be saved from all the nations, Jeremiah says: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, who led the children of Israel from the north, and from every region whither they had been driven; He will restore them to their own land which He gave to their fathers" (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna, and was a disciple of the Apostle John, the last of the original apostles as well as the last of the writers of the New Testament to die. What did he and other second century Christian leaders teach about the ten commandments?
Notice what Polycarp, around 120 A.D., wrote:
But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing," or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).
"But the love of money is the root of all evils." Knowing, therefore, that "as we brought nothing into the world, so we can carry nothing out," let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness; and let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord. Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity; and to train up their children in the knowledge and fear of God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter IV. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).
Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked," we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory ...For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit; " and "neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God," nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).
I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. "Abstain from every form of evil." For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others ? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord ? (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter XI. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).
In the above, Polycarp referred to at least six commandments (numbers 1,3,5,7,9,10). And probably nine (2,6,8), since stealing (and he wrote against the "love of money" which leads to stealing) and murder (plus Polycarp said not to repay "blow for blow") do not reflect love and idolatry is a form of "false-witnessing".
Furthermore, since in Polycarp's area, when reporting his martyrdom, the Smyrnaeans referred to Friday as the "day of preparation" and mentioned "the great Sabbath", it is obvious that the fourth commandment about the Sabbath was also kept (additional information is included in the articles (The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad and Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath).
Theophilus was a leader of the church in Antioch in the latter part of the second century. The Orthodox Church considers him to have been a successor to the Apostle Peter, while Protestant scholars normally concede that he was a true Christian.
Theophilus, around 180 A.D., wrote:
And on the sixth day God finished His works which He made, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because in it He rested from all His works which God began to create...Moreover, [they spoke] concerning the seventh day, which all men acknowledge; but the most know not that what among the Hebrews is called the "Sabbath," is translated into Greek the "Seventh" (ebdomas), a name which is adopted by every nation, although they know not the reason of the appellation...God having thus completed the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and all that are in them, on the sixth day, rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapters XI, XII, XIX. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Now we also confess that God exists, but that He is one, the creator, and maker, and fashioner of this universe; and we know that all things are arranged by His providence, but by Him alone. And we have learned a holy law; but we have as lawgiver Him who is really God, who teaches us to act righteously, and to be pious, and to do good. And concerning piety He says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I am the LORD thy God." And of doing good He said: "Honour thy father and thy mother; that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long in the land which I the LORD God give thee." Again, concerning righteousness: "Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, nor his land, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his beast of burden, nor any of his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbour's...Of this divine law, then, Moses, who also was God's servant, was made the minister both to all the world, and chiefly to the Hebrews...Of this great and wonderful law, which tends to all righteousness, the ten heads are such as we have already rehearsed (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book III, Chapter IX. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Thus, it is clear that Polycarp, Theophilus, and others endorsed all ten of the commandments in the second century. More information is available in the article The Ten Commandments and the Early Church.
Because of the genuine Church of God teaching on the subject of the ten commandments and other biblical matters, this shows that it has not compromised regarding subjects such as condoning abortion, homosexuality, female ministry, military service, the Sabbath, or many other subjects that have negatively affected nearly all of the Protestant churches (nearly all, for example, follow Martin Luther' teachings and do condone military service for Christians).
Marcion set a slipperly slope, that various Protestants seem to want to fall with.
Marcion was possibly the first organized heretic to teach against the law of God. He also may have been the first major one to discount the Old Testament, as well as portions of the New Testament (like the Book of Revelation). Because he did not teach the return of Jesus Christ, he was apparently one of the first to oppose the doctrine known as millenarianism.
Yet, it is clear that the Jesus and the early Christians kept and taught the ten commandments, frequently referred to the Old Testament, and taught that Jesus would return and reign. Marcion also may have been the first associated with Christianity to publicly do away with the Sabbath. And sadly, his example of fasting on the Sabbath was for a time picked up by Rome--if Rome was the true Church why would those in it follow the lead of a heretic?
Since Polycarp of Smyrna was a faithful teacher who learned from the Apostle John, was he wrong in opposing Marcion?
No, Marcion was an apostate and a heretic.
Since Polycarp was not wrong, should any who profess Christ look to Marcion as a Christian reformer?
And although most who profess Christ understand that, many who do not believe that they actually must keep all ten of the commandments are actually following some of Marcion's teachings.
Some Protestant scholars have either specifically praised Marcion or at least acknowledged similarities in his message and the message of those who followed Martin Luther.
Because certain Protestant scholars trace their movement through him as they have no others in early church history close to the their faith.--'Protestantism' is not part of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, hence should not be contended for (Jude 3). Instead it is a modern form of Marcionism.
Those who are truly Christian follow the teachings of the Bible over Traditions. We in the Continuing Church of God teach that Marcion was an apostate heretic and not a true Christian. We do NOT trace our history through him (see also Continuing History of the Church of God).
Here is a link to a related sermon: Marcion: The first Protestant reformer?
Some items of possibly related interest may include:
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
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