Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Christians with the true faith will be persecuted

Saturday, April 25th, 2015


Artist depiction of Catholic saint Dominic presiding over burning two at the stake

COGwriter

Is persecution for Christians over? Well, obviously not. In addition to persecution for those who profess Christ in various Islamic lands, losing religious rights and freedoms in certain Western lands, and the promotion of immoral behavior by nations around the world, persecution will specifically be coming to true Christians.

Jesus foretold persecution.

Many are aware of some of the early persecutions, but few understand what teachings true Christians were persecuted for in the fourth century and beyond–some may seem shocking. At least two major persecutions are prophesied to come. Which doctrines are expected to be causes for the coming persecutions? Are the Greco-Roman churches planning on persecuting Sabbath-keepers, those who do not accept a non-biblical Mary, and those who do not wear crosses?

All the faithful will be subject to persecution and being betrayed by professing believers (Matthew 24:9-13, Mark 13:12-13; Luke 21:16-18; Daniel 11:32-35).

In the past (for details see Persecutions by Church and State), Christians in the Church of God were persecuted because they:

  • Kept Passover on the 14th
  • Refused to eat unclean meat
  • Would work on Sunday
  • Had false accusations railed against them
  • Were binitarian
  • Kept the Sabbath
  • Were not trinitarian
  • Taught that the pope was an Antichrist and precursor of the final Antichrist
  • Rejected papal authority
  • Did not accept idols
  • Had different teachings than the Church of Rome
  • Had writings Rome did not like
  • Rejected Roman sacraments
  • Objected to the dress of the Roman ministry
  • Considered Rome to be the prophesied Babylon
  • Taught that in the time of the final Antichrist that some would fall away
  • Had practices that Rome considered Jewish
  • Refused to baptize infants
  • Did not participate in carnal warfare
  • Taught the Kingdom of God
  • Teaching the millennium
  • Baptized adults

In the future, according to Catholic teachings, they also will be persecuted for:

  • Not accepting non-biblical teachings about Mary
  • Not accepting the Great Monarch (Beast, King of the North)
  • Teaching that the Kingdom of God will come soon
  • Not wearing crosses
  • Teaching after the Great Tribulation begins that Jesus will return within a few years

Christians have been persecuted for holding doctrines that we in the Continuing Church of God hold and are clearly expected to be persecuted in the future for holding Continuing Church of God doctrines.

The Book of Daniel shows a two-part persecution coming (I added the a and b below for emphasis):

25 a 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 b For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

First of all (a), he shall persecute certain of the saints, which is consistent with what Jesus said was coming:

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)

Much of the above will affect the Philadelphian Christians (cf. Revelation 12:13), but they will later be protected (Revelation 3:8-10) in the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time (Revelation 12:14-16; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Part of why they will be persecuted is for proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and probably also for identifying the coming King of the North, who will not wish to be identified that way. This will likely result in internet and other restrictions on getting the truth of God out to the world (cf. Amos 8:11-12).

Second of all (b), the remaining saints will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. This is the portion of the COG, the non-Philadelphians, who are NOT protested in the wilderness as Revelation 12:17 shows this separation:

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)

While many in the Church of God have experienced economic and social persecution in their walk with Christ, future severe persecution, beginning first with the Philadelphia remnant of Christians, is expected.

Persecution is a fact of history. It has happened before and we should be prepared for the fact that it will happen again. And during the time of the final persecutions, the Bible records:

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).

Thus, though the Philadelphian Christians will be subject to intense persecution first before this, even the Laodiceans (The Laodicean Church Era) and other Christians will receive some praise if they endure the persecutions that will then come during the time of “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10).

While many seem to not wish to pay attention to this subject, the reality is that persecution has existed throughout history against those with Church of God doctrines. Jesus predicted that as well as more persecution to come. Some may be shocked by certain doctrines that Christians have been persecuted for (and often by those who profess to be Christian).

Those in the true Church of God have always been the side being persecuted and has never been on the side of the persecutors. And this will be true again in the future.

Some items of related interest may include:

Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
This is PETRA! This is a 1962 Good News article by the late Dr. Hoeh.
Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? What does the Bible really teach? Does the Church flee or is it taken up just prior to the great tribulation? Who really is left behind? There is also a YouTube video with information Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.

100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and Armenian church history

Friday, April 24th, 2015


Murdered Armenians 1915

COGwriter

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the date traditionally believed to have been the start of the Armenian genocide in 1915.

Germany released a statement:

April 24, 2015

YEREVAN — Armenia marked the centenary Friday of a mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as Germany became the latest country to recognize it as a genocide.

Turkey denies that the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in what is now Turkey in 1915 constitutes genocide, and relations with Armenia are still blighted by the dispute.

Germany’s parliament approved a resolution Friday branding the killings a “genocide,” risking a diplomatic rupture with Ankara in a significant change of stance for Turkey’s biggest trade European Union trade partner.

The European Parliament refers to the killings as genocide, as did Pope Francis this month. The U.S. has refrained from doing so. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as recently as Thursday refuted the description of the killings as genocide.  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/armenian-genocide-100th-anniversary-germany-becomes-latest-use-term-n347641

Here is some information about what happened a century or so ago:

The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն Hayots Tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, “Great Crime”), was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. (Armenian Genocide, Wikipedia, accessed 04/12/15)

The government of Turkey has tended to deny it was genocide, instead saying that most were killed in WWI and civil wars during the time.  The Armenians strongly disagree.

Armenians still face issues.  Last years, a COG member sent me the following:

My mom’s side relatives have lived in Aleppo, Syria all their lives, which has had a large thriving Eastern Orthodox Christian Armenian community for nearly a century. A number of them have left during the recent turmoil if they were able. An article in a recent daily news update on cogwriter referred to Christian persecution there. Well, the rebel groups are the ones bombing churches and persecuting those who refer to themselves as Christians (including Armenians). Two of my relatives were kidnapped by rebel forces (now released by ransom money). My relatives are upset at the so-called Arab Spring. It has destroyed the peace, the economy and their way of life, which they were happy with. The more secular Arab leaders like Assad have treated professing Christians very well for decades (though they may be harsh in other ways). The Armenians had no trouble with their religion, churches, schools, cultural activities, and speaking the language. They were highly regarded in the community. Now the rebels want to overthrow the regime and have a fanatical Moslem government, and, like you say, eventually try to establish a caliphate across the Middle East. They persecute any group calling itself Christian and are causing the disintegration of the Orthodox Christian communities.

The situation in Syria has been horrible. I have been praying for those affected in Syria for some time and again ask others to also do so. The post at COGwriter that he specifically referred to was Obama Administration considered to be a facilitator of ‘Christian’ persecution.

While the Continuing Church of God does not consider that the modern Armenian Orthodox are part of the Church of God, there are certain doctrinal similarities (as well as important doctrinal differences, see Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God).

The records of history demonstrate that early as the first century A.D. there were Church of God Christians in Armenia. The Armenian Orthodox have claimed:

Christianity was preached in Armenia as early as the second half of the first century by the two disciples of Jesus Christ, namely, St. Thaddeus (John 14:22-24) and St. Bartholomew (John 1:43-51). During the first three centuries Christianity in Armenia was a hidden religion under heavy persecution.

The true Church of God has long endured persecution and I do believe that there were true Christians in Armenia for quite some time.

Around the time of Constantine it was known that there were binitarian Paulicians in Armenia who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Tamar Davis reported:

Eustathius was succeeded by Erius, a priest, and semi-Arian…Erius…condemned multiple marriages by the priests…Erius also condemned fasts, stated feasts, prayers for the dead, and the celebration of Easter; he urged a purer morality and a stricter observance of the Sabbath. He had many followers, whose numbers were augmented by one of Paul of Samosota, from whom they were called Paulicians. Notwithstanding the opposition of the prelates, who invoked the secular arm to prevent the defection of their spiritual subjects, the tenets of this sect struck deep root in Armenia and many of its eastern provinces, and finally the great body of Christians in the former country, withdrew from the Episcopal communion, and publicly espoused the sentiments of the Paulicians…The bishops of Syria, Pontus, and Cappadocia, complained of the defection of their spiritual flocks…induced the Grecian emperors to commence, and continue for nearly two centuries, the most terrible persecutions against the Paulicians.

Armenian scholar Nina Garsoian in The Paulician Heresy, wrote: “It would, then, appear that the Paulicians are to be taken as the survival of the earlier form of Christianity in Armenia” (p. 227). She also wrote that the Paulicians were “accused of being worse than other sects because of adding Judaism” (p. 213).

The Catholic Encyclopedia calls the Paulicians heretics because they were basically against idolatry and Catholic ritualism:

The Paulicians, as part of their heresy held…that all external religious forms, sacraments, rites, especially material pictures and relics, should be abolished. To honour the Cross was especially reprehensible.

Furthermore, note this historical writing about the Paulicians in Armenia:

From the earliest ages they have devoutly hated the error and idolatry of the Greeks. Like the primitive Christians, they have ever exhibited an unconquerable repugnance to the use or abuse of images, which, in the eighth and ninth centuries spread like a leprosy…and supplanted all traces of genuine piety in the visible church…

The Catholic saint and doctor Jerome said that various of the Nazarene Christians were in Armenia in the fourth and fifth centuries (see Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?). Some of the Paulicians and many of the Nazarene Christians were part of the Church of God.

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many of the Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. After being relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils.

The Eastern Orthodox also oppressed the Bogomils. Notice this odd admission from an Orthodox scholar (bolding mine):

The Orthodox, as have all religions, berated other confessions and denominations. But Orthodoxy was always benign – no “jihad”, no bloodshed, no forced conversions and no mass expulsions – perhaps with the exception of the forcible treatment of the Bogomils. It was all about power and money, of course. Bishops and archbishops did not hesitate to co-opt the Ottoman administration against their adversaries…

Notice that the Orthodox claim to have not caused bloodshed, forced conversions, or mass expulsions of any group, except what they did to the Bogomils. It is not completely clear how they treated others, but obviously, they felt mistreating people that were associated with the original Church of God was acceptable. Of course, some of the Orthodox began their persecutions much prior to the Bogomils with the early Paulicians (not just the Samosatans), various (like 4th century) Sabbath-keepers, and the Quartodecimans.

This type of persecution is consistent with what happened to true Christians in the Pergamos and Thyatira eras of the true Church of God.

The historian, Fred C. Conybeare observed this about the Armenians affiliated with the Paulicians:

They are accused by their Armenian opponents of setting at naught all the feasts and fasts of the Church, especially Sunday…The Sabbath was perhaps kept… they were probably the remnant of an old Judaeo-Christian Church, which had spread up through Edessa into Siuniq and Albania…We know that the Pauliani continued to keep Passover on the fourteenth of Nisan…Of the modern Christmas and of the Annunciation, and of the other feasts connected with the life of Jesus prior to his thirtieth year, this phase of the church knew nothing. The general impression which the study of it leaves on us is that in it we have before us a form of Church not very remote from the primitive Jewish Christianity of Palestine.

The following is from the Catholic Priest Basil Sarkisean’s work Manichaean Paulician Heresy and is from a 987 A.D. letter written by Gregory of Narek against the Paulicians (Note that I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

Then among the observances which we know to have been repudiated by them as neither apostolic or divine the mysterious prayers of genuflexion…

The Font is denied by them…

the communion of immortality…is denied…

We know that they deny the adored sign, which God, made man, raised and carried on his shoulders.

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote:

The Bogomils…Its doctrine of God is highly dualistic…There is no True Trinity

One of their so-called “dualistic” teachings was that this is Satan’s world. One scholar noted that an:

…important idea of Bogomils and Cathars, i.e. that this world is the kingdom of the devil.

Perhaps it should be noted that groups like the faithful in the Church of God also believe that this is Satan’s world (cf. Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4). This will change, however, when Christ returns (Revelation 11:15). This being Satan’s world is part of the reason that the Bible warns us to not love this present world (1 John 2:15-17).

Another reason that their teachings are called dualistic is probably because, as non-trinitarians (see also Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?), they would have most likely been binitarian (see also Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).

Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The heresy of the Bogomili was started in the tenth century…followers called themselves Christians and considered their faith the only true one. In Bosnia they were named Paterines. The Paterines, or Bogomili…forbade intercourse with those of other faiths, disbelieved in war.

The true Church of God remains opposed to Christians participating in carnal warfare (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?).

It is of historical interest to note the following doctrinal admissions in the article on the Paulicians in The Catholic Encyclopedia (bolding mine):

They honoured not the Cross, but only the book of the Gospel. They were Iconoclasts, rejecting all pictures…

The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy is bad, as also all Sacraments and ritual. They had a special aversion to monks…

Since Gibbon the Paulicians have often been described as a survival of early and pure Christianity, godly folk who clung to the Gospel, rejecting later superstitions, who were grossly calumniated by their opponents…

In Armenia the sect continued in the “Thonraketzi” founded by a certain Smbat in the ninth century. Conybeare attributes to this Smbat a work, “The Key of Truth”, which he has edited. It accepts the Old Testament and the Sacraments of Baptism. Penance, and the Eucharist. This work especially has persuaded many writers that the Paulicians were much maligned people. But in any case it represents a very late stage of their history, and it is disputed whether it is really Paulician at all.

The following is apparently from the work History of Armenia by Chamich and is from a 1054-1058 A.D. letter written by Gregory Magistros against the Manichaean (Note that I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

…they represent our worship of God as worship of idol. As if we, who honour the sign of the cross and the holy pictures, were still engaged in worshiping devils.

Those who opposed idols and icons (see What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?) were often persecuted (see Persecutions by Church and State).

Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia article also admits:

The emperor Alexius Comnenus is credited with having put an end to the heresy. During a residence at Philippopolis, he argued with them and converted all, or nearly all, back to the Church (so his daughter: “Alexias”, XV, 9). From this time the Paulicians practically disappear from history. But they left traces of their heresy. In Bulgaria the Bogomile sect, which lasted through the Middle Ages and spread to the West in the form of Cathari, Albigensians, and other Manichaean heresies, is a continuation of Paulicianism. In Armenia, too, similar sects, derived from them, continue till our own time.

Notice that even some Roman Catholic scholars know that it is possible that some of the Paulicians were the survivors of an early and pure Christianity and that they had spiritual descendants that continued into the future (Alexius Comnenus died in A.D. 1118 and essentially dealt with the Paulicians at Philippopolis in the late eleventh century), such as those within the Thyatira era, as well into modern times! This, combined with Gibbon’s account, is supportive of the view that a laying on of hands continued from the beginning, through the late eleventh century and beyond. The Cathari were also known to be pacifists, as were the faithful among the Paulicians. Of course, there were many called by those names that were not faithful. But completely faithful or not, they were often persecuted.

There has long been a history of persecution against those who hold Church of God teachings. And the Armenians, including those that no longer hold Church of God teachings, have also been persecuted. The persecution and atrocious massacre by the Turks about a century ago is still an important issue for Armenians. The persecution of Armenians in Syria and elsewhere in the 21st century is atrocious as well.

Between civil war, chemical weapons, murders, deaths, and war crimes, it is terrible what the people in Syria, Armenian or not have had to endure. They, along with all of us, need to pray “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10, KJV).

Items of possibly related interest may include:

Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
What Should You Know About Turkey in Prophecy Do you know the Turkish people descended from? Did the Ottoman Empire possibly fulfill a promise in Genesis? Will Turkey support the European King of the North or Arabic King of the South? Will it betray one of them? Will Turkey be involved in the encouraging the destruction of Israel? Is Turkey going to become Catholic? Is Turkey mentioned in Psalm 83, Daniel 11, and elsewhere in the Bible? This video provides answers.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians? A related sermon would be: Christians, Violence, and Military Service.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.
Is the Future King of the South Rising Up? Some no longer believe there needs to be a future King of the South. Might Egypt, Islam, Iran, Arabs, or Ethiopia be involved? Might this King be called the Mahdi or Caliph? What does the Bible say? A YouTube video of related interest may be: The Future King of the South is Rising.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Rise of the King of the South The Bible tells of the formation of a power of nations that are in the Middle East and North Africa that are part of the final “King of the South” (Daniel 11:40-43) The Muslim Brotherhood wishes to have an Islamic empire with basically the same nations. This YouTube video explains what to expect from such a confederation.
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2023 or 20xx? There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2015, 2016, or 2017? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2014 o 2015? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon video: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Just What Do You Mean the Kingdom of God? A booklet that was written by Herbert Armstrong answers questions about the Kingdom.
Damascus and Syria in Prophecy Will Bashar Assad hold power as he has it? Does the Bible show that Damascus, the capital of Syria, will be destroyed? What will happen to Syria? Will the Syrians support the final King of the South that the Bible tells will rise up? Which scriptures discuss the rise and fall of an Arabic confederation? Does Islamic prophecy predict the destruction of Syria. This is a YouTube video.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Greco-Roman or Jewish Christianity: Which do Roman Catholic scholars teach was the original faith?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

History of Early  Christianity

COGwriter

Was the Christian church originally Greco-Roman or did it resemble Jewish-Christianity?

Was the early Christian church led by a pontiff from Rome?

If the Apostle Peter was the primary leader of the original Christian Church of God, then was his successor Linus or would it make more sense that it was the Apostle John?

Many would be surprised what Roman Catholic scholars admit and teach about early church history.

For example, did you know that it was the written position of late 20th century Cardinal Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou that church history has generally been mistaught and missed many aspects of what he called Jewish Christianity? He specifically wrote that this has led to a “false picture of Christian history” (Daniélou J, Cardinal. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, Philadelphia, p. 2). And while there are issues with aspects of his research, he was correct that the vast majority have not been properly taught the truth of church history and overlooked Christianity that is more “Jewish” than that accepted by most of the mainstream churches. Sadly in the 21st century, many seem to prefer the false version of history than the real one.

Cardinal Daniélou’s view is also consistent with the following writing from the Catholic ‘father of church history’ Eusebius:

2. But I have learned this much from writings, that until the siege of the Jews, which took place under Adrian, there were fifteen bishops in succession there, all of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and were deemed worthy of the episcopate. For their whole church consisted then of believing Hebrews who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at this time; in which siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after severe battles.

3. But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchæus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas.

4. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision. (Eusebius. Church History, Book IV, Chapter 5. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice that these early bishops “received the knowledge of Christ in purity,” hence their teachings should have continued. However, this did not last as this church was eliminated after a Latin took it over.

What about apostolic succession in Rome?

The Church of Rome teaches:

…that Peter founded the Church of Antioch, indicates the fact that he laboured a long period there, and also perhaps that he dwelt there towards the end of his life…It is also probable that Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor for it can scarcely be supposed that the entire period between his liberation from prison and the Council of the Apostles was spent uninterruptedly in one city, whether Antioch, Rome, or elsewhere… Peter returned occasionally to the original Christian Church of Jerusalem…The date of Peter’s death is thus not yet decided; the period between July, 64 (outbreak of the Neronian persecution), and the beginning of 68 (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is not biblically clear that Peter founded the church in Antioch (Stephen or Barnabas seems more likely, see Acts 11:19-22), but he probably spent a lot of time there Antioch (Galatians 2:11). However, it is clear even from Catholic history that Peter spent little time in Rome and thus did not fix his residence there. Even though certain scholars like J.P. Kirsch believe that Peter went to Rome, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, even he admits this about Peter,

we possess no precise information regarding the details of his Roman sojourn (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

No precise information means that the Roman Church has essentially relied on accounts, nearly all of which were written over 100 years after Peter’s death, that say that he was in Rome and/or died in Rome. This is especially true because the biblical accounts never specify Rome and those that do specify locations of Peter point to Asia Minor and Jerusalem.

Hippolytus, considered by Roman Catholic scholars, as one of their greatest early theologians wrote:

Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia (Hippolytus. On the Twelve Apostles Where Each of Them Preached, and Where He Met His End. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus even these Roman accounts suggest that Peter could not have been in Rome very long (and biblical evidence, Acts 3:1-11; 4:13; 8:14; Galatians 2:9, suggests he was often with the Apostle John). A careful reading of 2 Peter 1:14-18 and Matthew 17:1-5 indicates that Peter was with James or John right before he died. Yet, since James died in Judea (Acts 12:1) by 39 A.D. and there is no evidence that John was in Rome prior to 90 A.D., this would suggest that Peter was NOT in Rome when he wrote that “the laying away of my tabernacle is at hand” (2 Peter 1:14, RNT)–for more information on Peter’s death and burial, including information from Catholic scholars (such as the Antonio Ferrua who is credited for finding Peter’s body, but later stated that he did not believe that he found Peter), see the article The Apostle Peter.

Thus the statement “Early Christian history tells us that before his death, he fixed his residence at Rome” seems biblically and historically false.

Interestingly, when personally addressing the leadership for the Christians who lived in Rome, Paul never mentioned Peter or any who were later claimed to be Roman bishops, even though he listed at least 27 others (see Romans 16).

The Catholic Encyclopedia article about the Epistle to the Romans mentions this about Paul not mentioning Peter:

The complete silence as to St. Peter is most easily explained by supposing that he was then absent from Rome. Paul may well have been aware of this fact, for the community was not entirely foreign to him. An epistle like the present would hardly have been sent while the Prince of the Apostles was in Rome and the reference to the ruler (xii, eight) would then be difficult to explain. Paul probably supposes that during the months between the composition and the arrival of the Epistle, the community would be more or less thrown on its own resources. (Merk A. Transcribed by W.G. Kofron. Epistle to the Romans. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Another explanation is that Peter simply was not in Rome long enough for Paul or any early writer to consider that Peter was actually the bishop of Rome.

Note that it takes MONTHS from when Paul could have written the epistle and for it to get to Rome. How could Paul have possibly assumed that that Peter was not in Rome then and would not be in it for months? Only because he knew Peter was not some type of bishop of Rome! Because if Peter was the bishop of Rome, Paul would have most likely at least referred to him or his absence in this epistle, as at some time he would have expected Peter to read it in Rome. But this never took place. Since it is believed that “Romans was likely written in the fall of A.D. 57″ (The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1876), it is most likely that Peter had not even been to Rome (as until at least 54 A.D. he had meetings in Jerusalem–see below).

Eamon Duffy, a Catholic scholar and a member of the Pontifical Historical Commission, observed:

Paul’s epistle to the Romans was written before either he or Peter ever set foot in Rome, to a Christian community already in existence (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p.8).

Some modern Catholic scholars have admitted that Peter and the other Apostles were not a bishops, and could not have taken up residence in any city:

A “bishop” is a residential pastor who presides in a stable manner over the church in a city and its environs. The apostles were missionaries and founders of churches; there is no evidence, nor is it likely at all, that any one of them ever took up permanent residence in a particular church as its bishop (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 14).

The cited Catholic quotes show that the Church of Rome acknowledges that Peter labored long in Asia Minor (hence, he could not truly have been the bishop of Rome then as they are quite far apart–it normally took MONTHS to travel from Rome to Asia Minor in those days, plus there were no telephones or fast ways to communicate), tended to return to Jerusalem (which is near Asia Minor), spent little time in Rome, could not have been the bishop of any city, and that there are no precise details of anything that Peter did in Rome. While it is possible that Peter visited and even died in Rome (and this has been contested by some scholars), that of itself would not seem to be a reason for the city of Rome to have to be the place of the headquarters of the true church.

There also is no known early document that states that upon his death Peter bequeathed the cathedra to anyone (recall also that Jesus Himself died in Jerusalem, and the importance of His death to the Church is more significant than that of Peter). When Jesus discussed the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16) with Peter, this was in the Jerusalem area. When the Holy Spirit was given in Acts 2, this was in Jerusalem. Later, Peter and the other apostles spent a great deal of time in Asia Minor.

Furthermore, Rome was a Gentile area, not full of circumcised Israelites.

Who does the Bible teach had that responsibility? Look at what Paul wrote:

7. But contrariwise when they had seen that to me was committed the Gospel of the
prepuce, as to Peter of the circumcision 8. (for he that wrought in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles) (Galatians 2:7-8).

Thus it does not appear that Peter was considered to be the bishop of Rome during Paul’s lifetime (and they both died about the same time) as Rome was clearly a Gentile area. If Peter, and he alone, had the keys, the fact that, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia “Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor” shows that PETER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE TIME THAT HE “HAD THE KEYS”! IT IS AN ABSOLUTE FACT THAT PETER WAS NOT THE BISHOP OF ROME BEGINNING WITH THE START OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH that began on the Pentecost after Jesus was resurrected (Acts 1-2). NOR COULD PETER HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE THIRTY-PLUS YEARS AFTER THAT TIME AS HE TRAVELED WITHIN ASIA MINOR AND TO JERUSALEM REPEATEDLY.

Rome is simply not close enough to Asia Minor or Jerusalem for Peter to have been based out of Rome. Thus Antioch or other regions within Asia Minor would seem to have been the main areas that Peter possibly could have had an episcopate. Actually, the book of Galatians specifically mentions that Paul visited Peter on two occasions, and both of those were in Jerusalem and not Rome. Why? Because Rome was still not the headquarters of the Church at a very late time in Peter’s life. This is clearly documented from the Bible:

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days (Galatians1:15-18).

21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ (Galatians 1:21-22).

1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me…
9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:1,9).

What does all that mean? According to The Catholic Encyclopedia,

St. Paul’s conversion was not prior to 34, nor his escape from Damascus and his first visit to Jerusalem, to 37 (St. Paul. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911).

Thus the earliest possible date for Paul to have made his second recorded visit to Jerusalem with Peter was 54 A.D. (3 years plus 17 plus 34 A.D., and it may have been later, like 57 A.D.). And from there, Peter told Paul to go to the Gentiles again. Hence Peter could not have become the Apostle to the Gentiles in Rome until much later (if at all)! Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia admits,

It is comparatively seldom that the Fathers, when speaking of the power of the keys, make any reference to the supremacy of St. Peter (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Power of the Keys. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Also notice the following from a Roman Catholic priest and scholar:

The conferral of the power of the keys of the kingdom surely suggests an imposing measure of authority, given the symbolism of the keys, but there is no explicit indication that the authority conferred was meant to be exercised over others, much less that it be absolutely monarchical in kind…In Acts, in fact, Peter is shown consulting with other apostles and even being sent by them (8:14). He and John are portrayed as acting as a team (3:1-11; 4:1-22; 8:14). And Paul confronts Peter for his inconsistency and hypocrisy…Paul “opposed him to his face because he was clearly wrong” (Galatians 2:11; see also 12-14) (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 30-31).

Notice that even traditions of early Catholic writers did not teach that Peter was given sole authority as the devout Catholic historian von Dollinger noticed:

Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these three texts, yet not one of them who commentaries we possess–Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas–has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter!

Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter’s confession of faith in Christ; often both together (Cited in Hunt D. A Women Rides the Beast. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR) p. 146).

It was not until quite late that the Roman Catholic decided that Peter was the first bishop of Rome:

(254-57)…Stephen I seems to have been the first pope to have appealed to the classic “you are Peter’ text in Matthew’s Gospel (16:18) as the basis for Roman primacy…Peter was not regarded as the first Bishop of Rome until the late second or early third century (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 27,28).

Hence, it may be that the idea that Peter was the only apostle that church leadership could be traced through and that it must be Rome does not appear to have much early support.

It needs to be understood that as far back as the second century, both Irenaeus and Tertullian taught that some version of “apostolic succession” occurred in areas other than Rome. Furthermore, even into the 21st century, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the legitimacy of churches of the Eastern Orthodox based in cities such as Constantinople , Jerusalem, and Alexandria who were founded by someone other than the Apostle Peter (which tradition states were founded by the Apostles Andrew, James, and the gospel-writer Mark, respectively). More information can be found in the article Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom?

It is important to note that several Catholic scholars recognize that there is no proof that anyone was actually considered to be a bishop in Rome until sometime in the second century. One such Catholic scholar, A. Van Hove, wrote this about early bishops:

  • This local superior authority, which was of Apostolic origin, was conferred by the Apostles upon a monarchic bishop, such as is understood by the term today. This is proved first by the example of Jerusalem, where James, who was not one of the Twelve Apostles, held the first place, and afterwards by those communities in Asia Minor of which Ignatius speaks, and where, at the beginning of the second century the monarchical episcopate existed, for Ignatius does not write as though the institution were a new one.
  • In other communities, it is true, no mention is made of a monarchic episcopate until the middle of the second century (Van Hove A. Transcribed by Matthew Dean. Bishop. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, although there were bishops in Jerusalem and Asia Minor in the first and second centuries, there is no mention of a monarchic episcopate (a bishopric) in other places, like Rome, until the middle of the second century.

Furthermore, even some more recent Catholic scholars understand that the New Testament provides no support for the idea that one of the apostles appointed someone to be “bishop of Rome”.

The consensus of scholars is that there was NOT an apostolic succession of bishops starting from Peter in Rome. And notice that according to Roman Catholic scholars, the first clear bishop of Rome was not until the middle or latter half of the second century:

ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop. Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142-ca. 155) did the Roman Church have a monoepiscopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). Those who Catholic tradition lists as Peter’s immediate successors (Linus, Anacletus, Clement, et al.) did not function as the one bishop of Rome (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.25).

To begin with, indeed, there was no ‘pope’, no bishop as such, for the church in Rome was slow to develop the office of chief presbyter or bishop…Clement made no claim to write as bishop…There is no sure way to settle on a date by which the office of ruling bishop had emerged in Rome…but the process was certainly complete by the time of Anicetus in the mid-150s (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, 2nd ed. Yale University Press, London, 2001, pp. 9, 10,13).

…we have good reason to conclude that by the time of Anicetus (155-66), the church of Rome was being led by a bishop whose role resembled Ignatius or Polycarp (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 143).

We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…”Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?”…the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222).

As I see the problem and its possible solution, it is not a question of apostolic succession in the sense of an historical chain of laying on of hands running back through the centuries to one of the apostles; this would be a very mechanical and individualistic vision, which by the way historically could hardly be proved and ascertained. The Catholic view is different from such an individualistic and mechanical approach. Its starting point is the collegium of the apostles as a whole; together they received the promise that Jesus Christ will be with them till the end of the world (Matt 28, 20). So after the death of the historical apostles they had to co–opt others who took over some of their apostolic functions. In this sense the whole of the episcopate stands in succession to the whole of the collegium of the apostles. To stand in the apostolic succession is not a matter of an individual historical chain but of collegial membership in a collegium, which as a whole goes back to the apostles by sharing the same apostolic faith and the same apostolic mission (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Keynote speech from the Conference of the Society for Ecumenical Studies, the St. Alban’s Christian Study Centre and the Hertfordshire Newman Association at St. Alban’s Abbey, Hertfordshire, England, on May 17, 2003).

In March, 2006…I argued unity, unanimity and koinonia (communion) are fundamental concepts in the New Testament and in the early Church. I argued: “From the beginning the episcopal office was “koinonially” or collegially embedded in the communion of all bishops; it was never perceived as an office to be understood or practised individually” (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Cardinal Kasper to Anglican Communion “The Aim of Our Dialogue Has Receded Further”. CANTERBURY, England, JULY 31, 2008 (Zenit.org)).

These are astounding admissions. These Roman Catholic scholars are essentially admitting that there was no possible succession of bishops beginning with Peter in Rome, there was NOT one bishop who led all of Christendom from the beginning, but that the succession of a bishop from the Apostle John to Polycarp did occur (and it occurred probably 60 years earlier).  Leaders like Apostle John and Polycarp practiced what many Catholic scholars considered to be Jewish Christianity (such as observing Passover on the 14th and not a Sunday).

When Ignatius wrote his various letters in the early second century, he referred to Polycarp as a bishop and mentioned bishops in nearly all of his letters. However, in his letter to the Romans he neither addresses it to any particular leader in Rome, nor does he ever refer to anyone as a bishop in Rome.

Various Catholic writings state that Hegesippus came to Rome in the mid-2nd century and asked about its early leaders. F.A. Sullivan and R.P. McBrien seem to suggest that those Romans apparently mentioned names of leaders they had heard of (as most would have had no direct contact with any from the first century) as there were no early records with names. Because there was, at the time of Hegesippus’ visit, a bishop of Rome and there had long been bishops in Jerusalem and Asia Minor, F.A. Sullivan also suggests that Hegesippus and later writers presumed that the early Roman leaders were also monarchical bishops, even though that is not considered to have been likely.

While there were certainly a lot of religious leaders in Rome, since the actual Christian Church (according the Catholics and nearly all those who profess Christ) began in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Christ’s crucifixion, it is important to realize that both the Bible and Roman Catholic approved writings support the idea that there were true churches in the region the Bible refers to as Asia Minor (nearly all of which is now part of the country of Turkey).

When the Apostle John, for example, wrote the Book of Revelation, he was the last of the original 12 apostles to remain alive (and as an Apostle he ALSO would have been was part of the foundation of the church as Ephesians 2:19-22 teaches). And he specifically addressed Revelation “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4), and later listed those seven (vs. 1:11) all of which were in Asia Minor (here is an article on The Seven Churches of Revelation). He also never positively addressed the church in Rome in that or any other or his known writings (nor, except in his gospel account, did he ever mention Peter). Furthermore, The Catholic Encyclopedia records this about John,

John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body…the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province (Fonck L. Transcribed by Michael Little. St. John the Evangelist. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

But there is no scriptural reason to think that John only considered that the churches in Asia Minor were under his leadership. Actually, in one of his other letters, John also wrote “To the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1)–which appears to be a reference to the entire Church (see also Revelation 12:17). Hence he felt he had a leadership position related to the entire Church, not just those in Asia Minor.

This also appears to be confirmed from this quotation that Eusebius records:

Take and read the account which rims as follows: “Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit…” (Eusebius. Church History, Book III, Chapter 23. Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Referring to Irenaeus’ writings, Eusebius writes:

And in the third book of the same work he attests the same thing in the following words: “But the church in Ephesus also, which was founded by Paul, and where John remained until the time of Trajan, is a faithful witness of the apostolic tradition.” (Eusebius. Church History. Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Now John greatly outlived Peter and is believed to have lived as late as 95-100 A.D. John was an apostle, the early leaders of Rome were only presbyters. The Bible clearly teaches that apostles were first (I Corinthians 12:28). Notice that even Roman Catholic scholars understand:

Unlike Peter, the pope is neither an apostle nor an eyewitness of the Risen Lord (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.33).

Since that is true, it makes no sense that the Apostle John would be somehow subordinate to Linus, Anacletus, Clement, and Evaristus, all of whom have been claimed to have been pontiff after Peter died and while John was still alive.

What is true, and what does make sense, is that John had a disciple named Polycarp who became the bishop of Smyrna. While Ignatius may have had prominence in-between, his writings clearly endorsed Polycarp’s leadership. Polycarp was probably 25-30 years old when John died. Polycarp himself lived until his was martyred around 156 A.D. Look at what else is admitted by the Catholic historian Irenaeus about the early Church in Asia Minor, under the leadership of Polycarp:

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…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 (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).

So we have from this Roman Catholic source that Polycarp and his successors in Asia Minor (at least until the time that Irenaeus wrote this, around 180 A.D.) practiced the true teachings that they learned from the apostles (it should be noted that these churches had several doctrines that differ from those currently held by the Roman Church, some of which are documented in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome). This is also later essentially confirmed by Tertullian:

Anyhow the heresies are at best novelties, and have no continuity with the teaching of Christ. Perhaps some heretics may claim Apostolic antiquity: we reply: Let them publish the origins of their churches and unroll the catalogue of their bishops till now from the Apostles or from some bishop appointed by the Apostles, as the Smyrnaeans count from Polycarp and John, and the Romans from Clement and Peter; let heretics invent something to match this (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum. Circa 200 A.D. as cited in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is probable that Tertullian was aware of elders in Rome prior to Clement (as Irenaeus wrote prior to him), as well as bishops of Smyrna prior to Polycarp, but that Tertullian felt that the apostolic succession could only have gone through Polycarp (who he listed first) or Clement. It must be understood that Tertullian’s writing above, according The Catholic Encyclopedia, is one of the most important writings regarding the Catholic Church. Specifically the Catholic Church teaches:

Among the writings of the Fathers, the following are the principal works which bear on the doctrine of the Church: ST. IRENÆUS, Adv. Hereses in P.G., VII; TERTULLIAN, De Prescriptionibus in P. L… (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus Catholics themselves must recognize the importance of these statements by Tertullian–there were two churches with proper apostolic claims as far as he was concerned. And not just Rome–but one in Asia Minor that had been led by the Apostle John through Polycarp and his descendants.

The one in Asia Minor was considered to practice Jewish Christianity according to various Roman Catholic scholars (e.g. Daniélou J, Cardinal. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, Philadelphia).

 

Here is a link to a ContinuingCOG YouTube video titled: Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view?  Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches?  Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
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Did early Christians believe in the immortality of the soul?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

History of Early  Christianity

COGwriter

The vast majority in the Greco-Roman faiths of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxism, and Protestantism believe that humans have an immortal soul. Yet, the Continuing Church of God does not.

What does the Bible teach?  What was that the teaching of early church leaders often venerated as saints by the Greco-Romans on this?

This was addressed in a sermon titled Are humans immortal? that was played by many in the Continuing Church of God yesterday.

The terms immortal and immortality are not found in the Old Testament (NKJV).

Interestingly, Ezekiel recorded:

Behold, all souls are Mine;
The soul of the father
As well as the soul of the son is Mine;
The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).

Notice that Ezekiel says that souls that sin shall die. But since it is appointed unto men once to die (Hebrews 9:27), is this talking about the first or second death (Revelation 2:11;20:6,14;21:8)?

Well, notice the next several verses from Ezekiel:

But if a man is just And does what is lawful and right;
If he has not eaten on the mountains,Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife, Nor approached a woman during her impurity;
If he has not oppressed anyone, But has restored to the debtor his pledge; Has robbed no one by violence, But has given his bread to the hungry And covered the naked with clothing;
If he has not exacted usury Nor taken any increase,But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity And executed true judgment between man and man;
If he has walked in My statutes And kept My judgments faithfully–He is just; He shall surely live!”Says the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 18:5-9).

Ezekiel is obviously talking about the first death.

Why?

Notice that the just man shall live. This is in contrast to the one who practices sin, who shall die. And, think about this point, the just man was already alive, hence the fact that he shall live suggests that God will resurrect him so that he can live forever.

Ezekiel basically continues and again warns:

The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20).

These writings in the Old Testament seem to set the stage for the writings in the New Testament.

The New Testament

The New Testament teaches the same basic doctrines as the Old Testament, but tends to expand on them.

Jesus confirmed that souls can and will be destroyed when He taught:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body (Matthew 10:28).

If souls were truly immortal, then they could not be destroyed. Jesus taught that death was like sleep:

11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead” (John 11:11-14).

Notice also that Jesus taught that eternal life was given at a later time, in the age to come:

29 Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life (Luke 18:29-30).

Thus, humans do not possess that eternal life now. The dead are asleep now:

14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)

Perhaps the most famous passage in the New Testament is John 3:16. It states:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Notice the contrast above. Humans would perish (and this means eternally, since all die physically) if God had not loved the world enough to send Jesus so that the believers could have everlasting life.

Paul clearly understood this concept as here is some of what he wrote about immortality:

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” NKJV (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

Notice that Paul is saying that we must be changed in order to possess immortality, and that the sleeping dead will be raised. And that this occurs at the resurrection. No human has immortality now.

Nor did Paul as he taught:

I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (Phillipians 3:8-13).

Thus, the immortality attained at the resurrection is not something that Christians have today.

Furthermore, all humans cannot possible possess immortality now. Look at what the Apostle John taught:

…you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15).

Since many people are or have been murderers, this proves that not all humans possess immortality.

Currently, look at who only has immortality:

He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

Thus, Jesus is the only one who was born human that who alone currently possesses immortality.

Other than the quotes above, the following are all the remaining times the NKJV uses the terms immortal or immortality:

…who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality (Romans 2:6-7).

…our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal (1 Timothy 1:16-17).

Note that every passage in the Bible that uses the terms immortal or immortality say that Jesus has immortality, that humans do not have it, that Jesus came so that humans can have it, and that He came to abolish death.

Why would this even be an issue if humans were already immortal?

Furthermore although some have used the term “soul sleep” in a negative manner towards those of us who believe that death is like sleep, notice what the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (1 Corinthians 15:16-18)

It is proper for Christians to teach and believe that death is like sleep. Those who condemn “soul sleep” are also condemning Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

Second Century Church Writings

But what about the early Church? After the apostles died (John being the last around 100 A.D.), there were early church writers who continued to teach what the apostles taught, which is what is in the Old and New Testaments. Many of the second century writings here are from true Church of God saints, and most of these writings are accepted as coming from “saints” according to the Greco-Roman churches.

Here is something from what is believed to be “the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived” (Holmes M.W. Ancient Christian Sermon. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004). This Ancient Christian Sermon contains these statements about it:

Now I do not think that I have given any mean council respecting continence, and whosoever performeth it will not repent thereof, but will save both himself and me his councilor. For it is no mean reward to convert a wondering and perishing soul, that it may be saved (15:1).

For if we have received commands, that we should make this our business, to tear men away from idols and to instruct them, how much more is it wrong that a soul which knoweth God already should perish! (17:1).

Souls that can perish cannot be immortal.

Notice this from Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians:

For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon His head, that He might breathe immortality into His Church (Chapter 17).

Especially [will I do this] if the Lord make known to me that ye come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that ye obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ (Chapter 20).

Ignatius is essentially teaching that Christ suffered to give immortality to the Church and we in the Church when we properly partake of Passover can live forever in Christ–otherwise we would die.

Be sober as an athlete of God: the prize set before you is immortality and eternal life, of which you are also persuaded (Ignatius. Letter to Polycarp, Chapter 2).

Polycarp of Smyrna (mid-2nd century) taught that the body and soul were to be resurrected, hence he taught against the immortality of the soul doctrine:

I bless you for because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 14:2. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p.239).

Though the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch now lists him in their succession list, around 170 A.D. Theophilus of Antioch wrote a position that seems to differ from current Eastern Orthodox doctrine on immortality:

When thou shalt have put off the mortal, and put on incorruption, then shall thou see God worthily. For God will raise thy flesh immortal with thy soul; and then, having become immortal, thou shalt see the Immortal, if now you believe on Him; and then you shall know that you have spoken unjustly against Him (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 1, Chapter VI. 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).

For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God…so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God…For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXVII. 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).

But God at least, the Father and Creator of the universe did not abandon mankind, but gave a law, and sent holy prophets to declare and teach the race of men, that each one of us might awake and understand that there is one God. And they also taught us to refrain from unlawful idolatry, and adultery, and murder, fornication, theft, avarice, false swearing, wrath, and every incontinence and uncleanness; and that whatever a man would not wish to be done to himself, he should not do to another; and thus he who acts righteously shall escape the eternal punishments, and be thought worthy of the eternal life from God (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXXIV. 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).

Probably prior to 180 A.D., Melito of Sardis, a famous church leader and writer, wrote:

He killed death which had put man to death (Melito. Homily On the Passover, Verse 66. Translation from Kerux: The Journal of Online Theology, http://www.kerux.com/documents/KeruxV4N1A1.asp 09/14/05). .

And by this, Melito is teaching that Jesus could provide immortality, as humans did not possess it (he obviously is not referring to physical death, as Christians have died throughout history).

Even though he held some heretical views, Irenaeus is considered to have been an important early theologian by Catholics and Protestants (around 180 A.D.) wrote, that:

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).

Thus Irenaeus did understand the idea that humans do not possess immortality and that it is a gift of God. And this gift is only given to those that have kept His commandments.

He also understood that the resurrection was physical:

We therefore have formed the belief that [our] bodies also do rise again. For although they go to corruption, yet they do not perish; for the earth, receiving the remains, preserves them, even like fertile seed mixed with more fertile ground. Again, as a bare grain is sown, and, germinating by the command of God its Creator, rises again, clothed upon and glorious, but not before it has died and suffered decomposition, and become mingled with the earth (Irenaeus. Fragments of Irenaeus, Fragment VII. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.).

And even though he was not part of the true Church of God, Justin wrote:

Justin also stated, “For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians” (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

While those of us in the Continuing Church of God would agree that souls die (Ezekiel 18:4) and are not taken to heaven upon death (Job:14:14; John 3:13), those in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches would seem to disagree with Justin here.

The second century apologist Tatian and associate of Justin wrote:

The soul is not in itself immortal, O Greeks, but mortal. Yet it is possible for it not to die. If, indeed, it knows not the truth, it dies, and is dissolved with the body, but rises again at last at the end of the world with the body, receiving death by punishment in immortality (Tatian. Translated by J.E. Ryland. Tatian’s Address to the Greeks, Chapter XIII . Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Polycrates of Ephesus in the late second century wrote and told the Roman Bishop Victor:

Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24, Verse 5. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Thus immortality was something to be obtained, not something inherent. And the idea of man’s destiny to become God was known in the second century.

Tertullian was a second century religious leader outside the Church of God. And although he held doctrines that we in the COGs would find to be heretical, he is considered to have been an important early theologian by Roman Catholics. Tertullian wrote:

The resurrection is first, and afterwards the kingdom. We say, therefore, that the flesh rises again, but that when changed it obtains the kingdom. “For the dead shall be raised incorruptible,” even those who had been corruptible when their bodies fell into decay; “and we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. For this corruptible”–and as he spake, the apostle seemingly pointed to his own flesh–” must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” in order, indeed, that it may be rendered a fit substance for the kingdom of God. “For we shall be like the angels.” This will be the perfect change of our flesh–only after its resurrection. Now if, on the contrary, there is to be no flesh, how then shall it put on incorruption and immortality? Having then become something else by its change, it will obtain the kingdom of God, no longer the (old) flesh and blood, but the body which God shall have given it. Rightly then does the apostle declare, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;” for this (honour) does he ascribe to the changed condition which ensues on the resurrection (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).

Thus, he is correctly teaching that we are not now immortal and not as we now are fit for the kingdom of God–this occurs after the resurrection.

Third Century

The Catholic bishop Hippolytus was a third century religious leader outside the Church of God. And although he held doctrines that we in the COGs would find to be heretical, he is considered to have been one of the greatest early theologians by Roman Catholics.

Hippolytus wrote:

Let us believe then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven, (and entered) into the holy Virgin Mary, in order that, taking the flesh from her, and assuming also a human, by which I mean a rational soul, and becoming thus all that man is with the exception of sin, He might save fallen man, and confer immortality on men who believe on His name (Hippolytus. Against Noetus, Chapter 17. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Notice that Hippolytus taught that Jesus needed to come in order to confer immortality on men. He would not have to do that if humans were immortal.

Hippolytus also wrote:

For concerning the general resurrection and the kingdom of the saints, Daniel says: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” And Isaiah says: “The dead shall rise, and those in the tombs shall awake, and those in the earth shall rejoice.” And our Lord says: “Many in that day shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live” (Hippolytus. On the End of the World, Chapter XXXVI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Notice that Hippolytus is showing that death is like sleep and the dead must be raised.

The Catholic bishop Victorinus (ca. late third century) wrote:

“To him that overcomes I will give the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone.” The hidden manna is immortality; the white gem is adoption to be the son of God; the new name written on the stone is “Christian.” (Victorinus. Commentary on the Apocalypse. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm> viewed 12/27/08)

There would be no reason to give immortality if it was possessed upon birth.

Pertaining to peoples in the third century, Eusebius about wrote that some in Arabia:

They said that during the present time the human soul dies and perishes with the body, but that at the time of the resurrection they will be renewed together (Eusebius. Church History, Book VI, Chapter 37).

The immortality of the soul doctrine seemed to enter the Greco-Roman churches from compromises with paganism and likely originated in Egypt. A spurious document apparently from the second or early third century may have been used to introduce the immortality heresy into the Alexandrian Orthodox:

Now, the proof that the soul is immortal will be put past doubt, not from what it says, or from what I hear, but from what I see: for seeing it with my eyes, I shall ever after hold the surest conviction of its immortality; and no fallacy of words or uncertainty of hearing shall ever be able to disturb the persuasion produced by sight. (The Recognitions of Clement, 1.5. In the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, Vol. VIII. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1995. Note: This text is considered to have been spurious and probably not written by Clement of Alexandria. It seems to be a second century document and could have impacted the views of Gregory the Wonder Worker and others.)

Notice that the claim for immortality above is NOT based on the Bible, but what the author claims to see. The Bible teaches that we are to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)–yet perhaps the first “pro-immortality” Greco-Roman writing does not appeal to scripture, unlike the future immorality writers generally did.

Since it is believed that Origen referred to this Recognition work c. 231, he would have been familiar with it, though some believe passages may have been added to it in the fourth or even later centuries (Smith T. Introductory Notice to The Recognitions of Clement. ANTE-NICENE FATHERS VOLUME 8. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages Edited by ALEXANDER ROBERTS, D.D., and JAMES DONALDSON, LL.D. Revised and Chronologically Arranged, with Brief Prefaces and Occasional Notes by A. CLEVELAND COXE, D.D. T&T CLARK EDINBURGH, pp. 73-74).

But it should be noted that in the mid-late third century a mystic often now referred to as Gregory the Wonder Worker. Gregory studied under Origen in Alexandria Egypt. Gregory was the first to claim to see “Mary,” helped introduce heretical doctrines, and may have been the first of the Greco-Roman bishops to teach that the soul was immortal:

We prove, then, that the soul is simple…that what is simple is immortal…If, therefore, the soul is not corrupted by the evil proper to itself, and the evil of the soul is cowardice, intemperance, envy, and the like, and all these things do not despoil it of its powers of life and action, it follows that it is immortal. (Gregory Thaumaturgus. On the Soul, Chapters 5, 6. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0608.htm> viewed 06/05/11)

Sand is simple, but that does not make it immortal, yet the simplicity argument is supposedly proof of the false doctrine.

And while this doctrine was not commonly accepted for a while, his change did get accepted (though to a significant degree because of others, but also likely some he at least indirectly affected). But it never should have been accepted. in Ezekiel 18:4 the Douay-Rheims Bible (a well known Roman Catholic rendition of scripture into the English language) teaches ” the soul that sinneth, the same shall die” and “The soul that sinneth, the same shall die” in Ezekiel 18:20.

Fourth Century

Athanasius was a fourth century religious leader outside the Church of God. And although he held doctrines that we in the COGs would find to be heretical (including some held by Gregory Thaumagutus), he is considered to be a major saint and historical figure by the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

But even he understood the concept that after the resurrection, that Christians were to become God and that they had to inherit immortality, as man otherwise is mortal. Notice what he wrote:

…that by death immortality has reached to all, that by the Word becoming man, the universal Providence has been known, and its Giver and Artificer the very Word of God. 3. For He was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality (Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word, Chapter 54, Verses 2-3. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

…for us, that us who are mortal and temporal, the Lord, become man, might make immortal, and bring into the everlasting kingdom of heaven? (Athanasius. Discourse I Against the Arians, Chapter 48, Verse 1. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

‘The Word became flesh,’ that He might make man capable of Godhead…He created us, the Economy of our salvation; that though by the serpent’s deceit we fell from Him, we might not remain quite dead, but having in the Word the redemption and salvation which was afore prepared for us, we might rise again and abide immortal, what time He should have been created for us ‘a beginning of the ways,’ and He who was the ‘First-born of creation’ should become ‘first-born’ of the ‘brethren,’ and again should rise ‘first-fruits of the dead.’ (Athanasius. Discourse I Against the Arians, Chapters 59,75. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

The fourth century Catholic apologist and teacher Lactantius wrote:

For since man consists of two parts, body and soul, of which the one is earthly, the other heavenly, two lives have been assigned to man: the one temporal, which is appointed for the body; the other everlasting, which belongs to the soul. We received the former at our birth we attain to the latter by striving, that immortality might not exist to man without any difficulty. That earthly one is as the body, and therefore has an end; but this heavenly one is as the soul, and therefore has no limit. We received the first when we were ignorant of it, this second knowingly; for it is given to virtue, not to nature, because God wished that we should procure life for ourselves in life.

For this reason He has given us this present life, that we may either lose that true and eternal life by our vices, or win it by virtue…For other animals incline towards the ground, because they are earthly, and are incapable of immortality, which is from heaven; but man is upright and looks towards heaven, because immortality is proposed to him; which, however, does not come, unless it is given to man by God. For otherwise there would be no difference between the just and the unjust, since every man who is born would become immortal. Immortality, then, is not the consequence of nature, but the reward and recompense of virtue…God seeks to be worshipped, and to be honoured by man as a Father, that he may have virtue and wisdom, which alone produce immortality. For because no other but Himself is able to confer that immortality, since He alone possesses it, He will grant to the piety of the man, with which he has honoured God, this reward, to be blessed to all eternity, and to be for ever in the presence of God and in the society of God (Lactantius. Divine Institutes, Book VII, Of a Happy Life, Chapter 5).

The fourth century, Bishop Ambrose of Milan wrote:

The third death is that of which it is said: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.” In that death not only the flesh but also the soul dies, for “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” For it dies to the Lord, through the weakness not of nature but of guilt. But this death is not the discharge from this life, but a fall through error…The heathen mostly console themselves with the thought, either of the common misery, or of the law of nature, or of the immortality of the soul. And would that their utterances were consistent, and that they did not transmit the wretched soul into a number of ludicrous monstrosities and figures!

But what ought we to do, whose reward is the resurrection, though many, not being able to deny the greatness of this gift, refuse to believe in it? And for this reason will we maintain it, not by one casual argument only, but by as many as we are able…The blossom of the resurrection is immortality, the blossom of the resurrection is incorruption (Ambrose of Milan. Book II. On the Belief in the Resurrection, verses 37, 50, 54).

Thus even into the fourth century, the immortality of humans was not taught as is now accepted by Catholics and Protestants. But this seemed to change as many who professed Catholicism ended coming from a background in Mithraism (such as Emperor Constantine).

Mithraism Taught the Immortality of the Soul

In the fourth century, there was a sort of merging between the Greco-Roman churches and many who had been followers of the sun-god Mithras. And while the Greco-Romans did not adopt everything associated with Mithraism, they did adopt some practices and beliefs that those who followed Mithras had.

While many Roman emperors had been followers of Mithras, they tended to distain forms of Christianity. However this changed with Emperor Constantine.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

…it was especially in the western part of the empire that the veneration of Mithras predominated. Would it not be possible to gather all the different nationalities around his altars? Could not Sol Deus Invictus, to whom even Constantine dedicated his coins for a long time, or Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, venerated by Diocletian and Galerius, become the supreme god of the empire? Constantine may have pondered over this. Nor had he absolutely rejected the thought even after a miraculous event had strongly influenced him in favour of the God of the Christians…As pontifex maximus he watched over the heathen worship and protected its rights…It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas. Consequently Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun.

(Herbermann, Charles, and Georg Grupp. “Constantine the Great.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 1 Sept. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04295c.htm>)

It should be mentioned that the coins dedicated to Mithras still were produced for years after Constantines’ alleged acceptance of “Christianity”.

Mithraism taught the immortality of the soul. And though that was not the original position of the Greco-Roman churches, scholars recognize that both Mithraism and mainstream Christianity ended up with a similar teaching on this subject:

The resemblances between Mithraism and Christianity may be quickly summed up,—belief in the immortality of the soul (Aiken C.F., Mithraism and Christianity. The Catholic University bulletin, Volume 19, 1913. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Dec 19, 2008, p. 380)

They both admitted the existence of a Heaven inhabited by beatified ones, situate in the upper regions…they both, finally, believed in the immortality of the soul (Cumont, Franz. Translated from the second revised French edition by Thomas J. McCormack. The Mysteries of Mithra. Chicago, OThe Catholic University bulletin Author Catholic University of America Publisher Catholic University of America., 1913 Item notes v. 19 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Dec 19, 2008pen Court [1903] p. 193).

Because of Emperor Constantine’s strong influence (perhaps also combined with Gregory the Wonder Worker’s writings), it should be little surprise that the Greco-Romans began to change to accept a teaching that they original taught against. But for a while, the “immortality of the soul” view was in the minority.

Others also noticed some of this. Here is some of what the late Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about it in a paper dated November 23, 1949:

In Avesta, Mithra was the genius of celestial light…The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was another view which was very prominent in Mithraism…Of all the mystery cults, Mithraism was the greatest competitor of Christianity…That Christians did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 213-214, 217, 222, 224).

So, immortality of the soul was a prominent view within Mithraism and the Greco-Romans adopted it for their form of “Christianity”. (For more on Mithraism, please check out Do You Practice Mithraism?)

Here is a link to a ContinuingCOG YouTube video titled: Are humans immortal?

Some articles to assist in your studies may include:

Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
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.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Pope Leo IX and the Sabbath

Saturday, April 18th, 2015


Pope Leo IX

COGwriter

April 19th is a date that some in the Church of Rome honor, as one of their saints, Pope Leo IX (whose name had been Bruno). Here is some of what they teach about him:

Son of Count Hugh of Egisheim. Cousin of Emperor Conrad II. Chapter canon of Saint Stephen’s, Toul, France. Deacon. Soldier and officer in the imperial army. In 1021, while still in the military, he was chosen bishop of Toul, France, a position he held for 20 years. Commanded troops under emperor Conrad II in the invasion of Italy in 1026. http://saints.sqpn.com/pope-saint-leo-ix/

Although it is known that Christians were not militaristic, the Greco-Roman faith became militaristic around the time of Emperor Constantine (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?). Yet despite claims of being a Christian, Bishop Bruno was certainly militaristic.

We in the Continuing Church of God do not consider that Pope Leo IX was a real Christian, despite him being considered as a saint of the Church of Rome.

Leo IX was believed to have been a factor in causing the Great Schism between the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox in 1054.

While politics and other doctrines are believed to have played a major role in the schism, some have suggested that the Orthodox tendency to somewhat honor the seventh day Sabbath (in addition to Sunday) was also a factor:

[A] treatise, entitled in Latin Adversus Graecorum Columnias was composed in the form of a debate about the year 1054 by Cardinal Humbert. The Cardinal had been sent by Pope Leo IX early in 1054 as the papal nuncios to Constantinople to endeavor to bring the Greeks into conformity with the religious practices of the Roman (Latin) Church. The mission however did not succeed. The treatise was composed as a further attempt to dissuade the Greeks from holding on to certain divergent religious practices such as veneration of the Sabbath…The Cardinal argues that the Latins in no way resemble the Jews in their observance of the Sabbath…He proceeds then to show the Greeks that they are the ones who judaize as they observe the Sabbath in the identical manner of the Jews.

Dr. Bacchiocchi observed:

R.L. Odom has persuasively brought out that the Roman insistence on making the Sabbath a day of fast contributed greatly to the historic break between the Eastern and Western Christian Church which occurred in A.D. 1054. (Cited in Bacchiocchi Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday, p. 67)

So, Pope Leo IX had a militaristic background, had a Cardinal that was opposed official honoring of the Sabbath, and this was apparently one of various factors for the split with the Eastern Orthodox.

A split that has gone on for close to a thousand years, but one that the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox are looking to resolve.

Some items of related interest may include:

Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians? A related sermon would be: Christians, Violence, and Military Service.
The Coming Persecution of the Church Jesus foretold persecution. Many are aware of some of the early persecutions, but few understand what teachings true Christians were persecuted for in the fourth century and beyond–some may seem shocking. At least two major persecutions are prophesied to come. Which doctrines are expected to be causes for the coming persecutions? Are the Greco-Roman churches planning on persecuting Sabbath-keepers, those who do not accept a non-biblical Mary, and those who do not wear crosses? This is a video.
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Why Should American Catholics Should Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Is 1 John 5:7-8 proof of the trinity?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

COGwriter

Some claim that 1 John 5:7-8 is proof of the Greco-Roman trinity. This recently happened to me.

But is 1 John 5:7-8 really even supposed to be in the Bible?

The above drawing is also used by some trinitarians to explain the trinity, even though it clearly violates laws of logic. It was basically developed because although most who profess Christ claim to believe in the trinity, it is a concept that is contradictory, so trying to show it in a drawing supposedly makes the illogical easier to understand.

But was the trinity a doctrine of the New Testament or early Christians?

Here is what one modern historian has written about it:

Like other doctrines that became central to the faith, however, belief in the Trinity was a historical development, not a “given” from the early years of the faith. A. The basic notion of the Trinity is that there are three persons in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are all equally God and of the same substance, but despite the fact there are three persons, together, they compromise only one God, indivisible in nature. B. This doctrine does not appear to be a doctrine pronounced by the historical Jesus, Paul, or any other Christian writer during the first hundred years or so of Christianity. C. It cannot be found explicitly stated in the earliest Christian writings. The only passage of the New Testament that declares the doctrine (1 John 5:7-8) was not originally part of the text but was added by doctrinally astute scribes at a later date (it is not found in any Greek manuscripts until the 11th century) (Ehrman B. From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity, Part 2. The Teaching Company, Chantilly (VA), 2004, p. 43).

According to the above, the trinity was not an original Christian belief and that only passage in the New Testament that declares that doctrine (1 John 5:7-8) was added at a later date.

Here is the version of 1 John 5:7-8 as improperly shown in the NKJV and the modern Douay Rheims:

7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. (1 John 5:7-8, NKJV)

7 And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. 8 And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one. (1 John 5:7-8, Douay-Rheims)

But much of what is shown above was ADDED to the original biblical texts.

Here is what the original text supports according to Dr. Daniel Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (a trinitarian institution) wrote:

The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7-8:

“5:7 For there are three that testify, 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.” –NET Bible

Notice that this is much shorter than what most Protestant or Catholic translators now show. Even certain trinitarian scholars realize that instead of teaching the trinity, the above has to do with Jesus and baptism (see Nelson Study Bible, p. 2147 which is also quoted in the article Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?). It was only after someone scribbled a side note well after the Bible was written that the trinitarian view was added.

How late was the addition that makes it longer?

Here is more from Dr. Daniel Wallace on the longer addition:

This longer reading is found only in eight late manuscripts, four of which have the words in a marginal note. Most of these manuscripts (2318, 221, and [with minor variations] 61, 88, 429, 629, 636, and 918) originate from the 16th century; the earliest manuscript, codex 221 (10th century), includes the reading in a marginal note which was added sometime after the original composition. Thus, there is no sure evidence of this reading in any Greek manuscript until the 1500s; each such reading was apparently composed after Erasmus’ Greek NT was published in 1516. Indeed, the reading appears in no Greek witness of any kind (either manuscript, patristic, or Greek translation of some other version) until AD 1215 (in a Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council, a work originally written in Latin)…

The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522) because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared (1516), there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek manuscripts that included it…

In reality, the issue is history, not heresy: How can one argue that the Comma Johanneum must go back to the original text when it did not appear until the 16th century in any Greek manuscripts? (Wallace DB. The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7-8. http://bible.org/article/textual-problem-1-john-57-8)

Although the NIV gets I John 5:7-8 right, in the KJV, Douay-Rheims, NKJV and many other translators of I John 5:7-8 include words not in the original text. On page 1918, The Ryrie Study Bible reminds everyone, related to the NKJV:

“Verse 7 should end with the word witness. The remainder of v. 7 and part of v. 8 are not in any ancient Greek manuscript…”.

In other words the words “in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth” are not inspired and are not supposed to be in the Bible.

Now lest any Catholics have a different view, although the CHANGED version of the Latin Vulgate contains a version of this, the Codex Amiatinus (Codex Amiatinus. Novum Testamentum Latine interpreter Hieronymo. Epistula Iohannis I V:6-8. Constantinus Tischendorf, Lipsiae. 1854 http://books.google.com/books?hl=pl&id=x0opAAAAYAAJ&q=NOVUM_TESTAMENTUM_LATINE#v=onepage&q=NOVUM_TESTAMENTUM_LATINE&f=false viewed 04/21/12), which is believed to be the closest to the original document that Jerome originally translated into Latin, also does not have this as The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

Codex Amiatinus The most celebrated manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Bible, remarkable as the best witness to the true text of St. Jerome…(Fenlon, John Francis. “Codex Amiatinus.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 21 Apr. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04081a.htm>)

Note: Yes, I personally read the Latin in the Codex Amiatinus and compared it to the changed version and more modern version of the Latin Vulgate which differs from the early version in that the modern version adds “in caelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus. Et hi tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra:” (Latin Vulgate . com is provided by Mental Systems, Inc. http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=1&b=23&c=5 viewed 04/21/12).

In other words, Catholic scholars realize that the texts that Jerome used to originally put together the Latin Vulgate Bible (the basic Bible for Catholics) did not have the late addition (which, of course, it could not originally have had as that addition came about many centuries after Jerome did his translation).

Basically, what seems to have happened is that a monk put a personal note related to his interpretation of the ‘three’ mentioned in the first part of 1 John 5:7. One or more scribal monks after him, inserted his note actually in the text. It was NOT inspired by God.

The Protestant and Catholic Bibles that have the added words are relying on very late documents that were not considered to be original.  Some, of course, have ignored the truth about the origin of 1 John 5:7-8 and wish to believe that because early heretics seem to have possibly referred to it (one popular online source falsely claims that Tertullian, who followed the heretic Montanus, quoted the omitted words in Against Praxeas–this is not true as I have read that writing and it is not in there–but even if it was, Tertullian was a heretic follower who did not seem to have the proper canon), that it must be true–but that of course is a lie.

Even various trinitarian scholars have concluded that 1 John 5:6-8 essentially has to do with Christ–not the “trinity” (see Nelson Study Bible, p. 2147 which is also quoted in the article Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?)

Some sadly, of course, have ignored the truth about the origin of 1 John 5:7-8 and wish to believe that because early heretics seem to have possibly referred to it (one popular online source falsely claims that Tertullian, who followed the heretic Montanus, quoted the omitted words in Against Praxeas–this is not true as I have read that writing and it is not in there–but even if it was, Tertullian was a heretic follower who did not seem to have the proper canon), that it must be true–but that of course is a lie.

I would like to mention here that BECAUSE most Bibles contain the false long addition to 1 John 5:7-8, that Muslims often cite this as absolute proof that the Bible has been tampered with and cannot be trusted like they claim the Koran can. The belief and use of 1 John 5:7-8 causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5). No honest translator should have ever included it in the Bible as anything other than a footnote that it was improperly added in later centuries as a pretended addition to the text.

Origins of Certain Trinitarian Terms

The Cathecism of the Catholic Church itself admits that the Church (not the Bible) had to come up with terms of “philosophical” (pagan/Greek) origin to explain the trinity:

251 In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to develop its own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: “substance,” “person,” or “hypostasis,” “relation” and so on (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 74).

According to a Catholic bishop named Marcellus of Ancyra wrote, around the middle of the fourth century, certain aspects of trinitarianism came from paganism and the term “hypostases” entered the professing Christian world from a heretic named Valentinus:

Now with the heresy of the Ariomaniacs, which has corrupted the Church of God…These then teach three hypostases, just as Valentinus the heresiarch first invented in the book entitled by him ‘On the Three Natures’. For he was the first to invent three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he is discovered to have filched this from Hermes and Plato (Source: Logan A. Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), ‘On the Holy Church’: Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9. Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95 ).

So, it was a heretic that introduced the trinitarian term hypostasis.

The term “substance” basically comes from a Greek term that was introduced to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches by the pagan sun-worshiping Emperor Constantine. Protestant scholar H. Brown noted:

Although Constantine is usually remembered for the steps he took toward making Christianity the established religion of the Roman Empire, it would not be wrong to consider him the one who inaugurated the centuries of trinitarian orthodoxy. It was he who proposed and perhaps even imposed the expression homoousis at the Council of Nicea in 325, and it was he who provided government aid to the orthodox and exerted government pressure against nonconformists. ( Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988)

It should be noted that it is understood, even by some Catholic scholars, like Priest Bellarmino Bagatti, that those considered to be Judeao-Christians did not accept the Emperor’s non-biblical term:

The point of view of the Judaeo-Christians, devoid of Greek philosophical formation, was that of keeping steadfast to the Testimonia, and therefore not to admit any word foreign to the Bible, including Homoousion. ( 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, pp. 47-48)

Regarding the New Testament, even a trinitarian scholar has admitted that the Bible promotes a binitarian view, and does not teach what is now considered to be the trinity:

The binitarian formulas are found in Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:14, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Tim 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:21, and 2 John 1:13…No doctrine of the Trinity in the Nicene sense is present in the New Testament…There is no doctrine of the Trinity in the strict sense in the Apostolic Fathers…(Rusch W.G. The Trinitarian Controversy. Fortress Press, Phil., 1980, pp. 2-3).

The terms trinity, threeness, or trinitarian are not found in the Bible. The Protestant reformer Martin Luther himself taught:

It is indeed true that the name “Trinity” is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man. (Luther Martin. The Sermons of Martin Luther, Church Postil, 1522; III:406-421, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

According to Roman Catholic sources, the term trinity, in relation to the Godhead, did not come until the late second/early third century. Yet, the idea of the trinity was apparently voiced by the heretic Montanus and as well as developed by a famous Gnostic heretic named Valentinus in the mid-2nd Century. One of the so-called Montanist Oracles, spoken by Montanus was:

“I am the Father and the Son and the Paraclete.” (Didymus, De trinitate iii. 41. 1.) (Assembled in P. de Labriolle, La crise montaniste (1913), 34-105, by Bates College, Lewston (Maine) http://abacus.bates.edu/Faculty/Philosophy%20and%20Religion/rel_241/texts/montanism.html 01/31/06).

This is one of the first references to a trinitarian view of the Godhead (the other earliest one was from the heretic Valentinus–it is unclear which was first). The paraclete is a term used to signify the Holy Spirit (it is from the Greek term parakletos). Eusebius records (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapters 18-19) that church leaders in Asia Minor and Antioch, such as Apollonius of Ephesus, that Serapion of Antioch, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, and Thraseas of Eumenia opposed the Montantist heresies (Apollinaris of Hierapolis and Thraseas of Eumenia were Quartodecimans, and Apollonius likely was as well). And Irenaeus recorded that Polycarp denounced Valentinus.

The reality is that the longer addition of 1 John 5:7-8 was unknown to early Christians as it was not part of the Bible. And shockingly to some, the early faithful clearly held what has been called a binitarian or semi-Arian view of the Godhead.

Those interested in studying this doctrine in more detail, should consider looking at the following documented items:

Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?.
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 seemingly list two different genealogies for Jesus. Why?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
What is the Holy Spirit? This is an article by Rod Reynolds.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a longer article than the Binitarian View article, and has a little more information on binitarianism, and less about unitarianism. A related sermon is also available: Binitarian view of the Godhead.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Valentinus: The Gnostic Trinitarian Heretic He apparently was the first Christ-professing heretic to come up with the idea of three hypostases.

‘The Month of the Holy Eucharist’

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015


Eucharist Host in a Monstrance

COGwriter

April is called ‘the Month of the Holy Eucharist” by certain Catholics.

Did early Christians use a round eucharistic host?

A careful comparison of what is taught in the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church along with eucharistic practices should make this clear to any truly interested in the truth.

Let’s first start out with two translations of a quote from the Apostle Paul:

1 Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, Douay-Rheims)

1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NKJV)

The Apostle Paul is teaching that Christians are to follow or imitate him as he imitates Christ (the Greek word translated as follow/imitate above is mimetes; the English word mimic comes from it). Thus, all should be careful to carefully follow Jesus and the Apostle Paul in this regard.

Notice what Jesus said:

6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6)

Article 3, under the Seven Sacraments of the Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the eucharist. Section II asks and answers the question, What is this Sacrament Called? Several names are listed, including “The Breaking of Bread” (#1329).

It also states the following:

1339 Jesus choose the time of the Passover…And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them…(Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 373)

Now the above is scriptural. Here are some related scriptures:

19 And the disciples did as Jesus appointed to them, and they prepared the pasch.

26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. (Matthew 26:19,26 Douay-Rheims)

22 And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. (Mark 14:22, Douay-Rheims)

19 And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. (Luke 22:19, Douay-Rheims)

Notice, it is very clear that Jesus BROKE the bread on Passover (Pasch means Passover).

The Apostle Paul confirmed that it was the practice of the early Christians to break bread:

16 The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? (1 Corinthians 10:16, Douay-Rheims).

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.

24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, Douay-Rheims)

The Apostle Paul followed Jesus’ practice and broke bread. Furthermore, notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches in its article “Host”:

…the first Christians…simply used the bread that served as food. It seems that the form differed but little from what it is in our day. The loaves discovered in an oven of a bakery at Pompeii weighed about a pound each. One of these, being perfectly preserved, measured about seven inches in diameter and was creased with seven ridges which facilitated the breaking of the loaf without the aid of a knife. (Leclercq, Henri. “Host.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07489d.htm>)

Notice the article basically says that the practice of the first Christians, which is consistent with the Bible, was to use normal loaves of bread that resemble what is still in use today. And that it was broken. (The article never says where the round host actually came from, other than it was first mentioned in writing in the fourth century by Epiphanius and that earlier paintings in catacombs and bas-reliefs showed something like that. But I should state that the oldest early painting in a catacomb I am aware of has a woman, Priscilla, presiding over the ceremony, so the Church of Rome may wish to be careful about relying on that as they do not allow women to do that. Hence, the earliest picture of the eucharist host did not come from what is practiced in today’s Roman Catholicism–so the question from whence the Catholics adopted it remains.)

Thus, to have a Passover/eucharistic ceremony where they bread is not broken is certainly not imitating Jesus, the Apostle Paul, nor the early Christians. It is a change that the Church of Rome must have gotten outside of the Bible.

Yet, in the eucharistic ceremonies in the Catholic Church, the bread is not broken. Instead, it is a round host that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says can/should be worshipped and adored (CCC #1378, p. 385). Yet, there is no indication that the early Christians or the apostles did anything like that.

They basically taught that it was to be eaten.

Worshipers of sun-gods worshiped round symbols. Early Christians did not.

As far as the word “host”, The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

The bread destined to receive Eucharistic Consecration is commonly called the host , and though this term may likewise be applied to the bread and wine of the Sacrifice , it is more especially reserved to the bread.

According to Ovid the word comes from hostis, enemy: “Hostibus a domitis hostia nomen habet”, because the ancients offered their vanquished enemies as victims to the gods. However, it is possible that hostia is derived from hostire, to strike, as found in Pacuvius. (Leclercq, Henri. “Host.”)

The word “host” (or derivatives) do not appear to be a direct translation of any of the original Hebrew or Greek that the Bible was actually written in. Hence, it does not seem to be a biblical term, but instead may have pagan ties according to certain Catholic researchers. Does anyone really think that Jesus wanted to be considered the “host” of pagan militaristic rituals?

Since it did not come from the Bible, the Eucharistic Host is not holy.

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that some Roman Catholic priests, like Nicholas Gruner and Paul Kramer have raised concerns about eucharistic ceremonies in languages other than Latin. Notice the following:

Latin Mass…The truth is — in English, Italian, and Spanish, among others — the vernacular translations of the consecration of the wine makes it of doubtful validity…as has been demonstrated by Father Paul Kramer in his book The Suicide of Altering the Faith in Liturgy (Gruner N. Is Antichrist Coming Next? The Fatima Crusader, 96, Autumn 2010, p. 10).

Now, in case everyone is unaware of this, it should be pointed out that the original apostles spoke Greek (cf. Acts 21:37-39) and other languages, but there is no indication that any of them used Latin in any early Christian ceremony (and even if they did, it certainly was not a widespread, or universal, practice). Even Tertullian, the so-called “father of Latin theology” did not begin to write until around 190 A.D. Latin mass is a CHANGE. Those who are true traditionalists would realize that the original and early Passover services were not done in Latin and there is no valid reason to insist on Latin today. Those who insist on Latin and those who use a round host are absolutely altering the liturgy of the faith of the original Christians.

Cannot those who claim to be Catholic traditionalists see this?

Similarities Between Egyptian and Roman Eucharistic Practices

It has been reported that there were many similarities between ancient pagan Egyptian practices and the Roman eucharist:

The Egyptians celebrated ten great mysteries on ten different nights of the year. The first was the night of the evening meal (literally the last supper), and the laying of offerings on the altar…

The altar or communion-table thus provisioned was the coffin lid. This also was continued in the ritual of Rome, for it is a fact that the earliest Christian altar was a coffin. According to Blunt’s Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology (p. 16), this was a hollow chest, on the lid or mensa of which the eucharist was celebrated. This, as Egyptian, was the coffin of Osiris that constituted the altar on which the provisions were laid in Sekhem for the eucharistic meal. Hence the resurrection is described as “dawn upon the coffin of Osiris.” Therefore he rose in spirit from the mummy in the coffin, beneath the lid which constituted the table. This was the body supposed to be eaten as the eucharist, which was represented by the provisions that were laid upon the altar for the sacramental meal…The first of the Osirian mysteries is the primary Christian sacrament. “Provisioning the altar ” was continued by the Church of Rome. “The mysteries laid upon the altar” which preceded ” the communion of the body and blood of Christ ” were then eaten in the eucharistic meal (Neale, Rev. J. M., The Liturgies, Introd., p. 33). Thus we see in the camera obscura that the provisions laid on the altar or table represented the flesh and blood of the victim about to be eaten sacramentally. The night of the things that were laid upon the altar is the night of the great sacrifice, with Osiris as the victim. The things laid on the altar for the evening meal represented the body and blood of the Lord. These, as the bread and wine, or flesh and beer, were transelementecl or transubstantiated by the descent of Ra the holy spirit, which quickened and transformed the mummy Osiris into the risen sahu, the unleavened bread into the leavened, the water into wine. Osiris, the sacrifice, was the giver of himself as “the food which never perishes” (Rit, ch. 89).

The Christian liturgies are reckoned to be the “most pure sources of eucharistical doctrine.” And liturgy appears to have been the groundwork of the Egyptian ritual. It is said by one of the priests (Rit., ch. i), “I am he who reciteth the liturgies of the soul who is lord of Tattu “—that is, of Osiris who establishes a soul for ever in conjunction with Ra the holy spirit in the mysteries of Amenta. In one character Osiris was eaten as the Bull of Eternity, who gave his flesh and blood as sustenance for humanity, and who was the divine providence as the provider of food. (Massey G. Ancient Egypt, the light of the world: a work of reclamation and restitution in twelve books, Volume 1. T. F. Unwin, 1907. Original from Princeton University, Digitized Mar 19, 2008, pp. 220-221)

A more recent author reported, somewhat “tongue-in-cheek”:

Of course, average Catholics have no idea their beloved Eucharist is nothing more than an updated version of an ancient Babylonian occult practice. When this religion spread to Egypt, the Egyptians worshipped the sun god, Osiris, and the priests claimed “to have magical powers which enabled [the priests] to change the great Sun God, Osiris, into a wafer.” Because the Eucharist is based upon the ancient worship of the sun, the host is made into the shape of a circle—the shape of the sun…Alberto warns that Catholics are also unaware that the initials on their hosts, IHS, really stand for the Egyptian gods Isis, Hoeb, and Seb. This was the origin of the Catholic practice of the Eucharist, the central act of worship in Roman Catholicism. ..

As this religious system was forming, many Christians realized the real occult nature of the Catholic Church and rejected it. They fled into the hills and took the true copies of the Scriptures with them. When they were caught, they were given the choice to convert or be killed. This is the origin of such groups as the Waldneses and Anabaptists. (Gonzalez D. Steps of Grace. Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, p. 39)

Now, some of the above seems to be his former belief and speculative (and understand that not all who were called Waldneses or Anabaptists were true Christians). Yet it is clear that the round host most certainly did not come from the Bible nor the earliest faithful Christians.

Some may argue that it matters not what ancient pagans did to worship their gods. But notice what the Bible teaches:

2 Destroy all the places in which the nations, that you shall possess, worshipped their gods upon high mountains, and hills, and under every shady tree: 3 Overthrow their altars, and break down their statues, burn their groves with fire, and break their idols in pieces: destroy their names out of those places. 4 You shall not do so to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 12:2-4, Douay-Rheims)

29 When the Lord thy God shall have destroyed before thy face the nations, which then shalt go in to possess, and when thou shalt possess them, and dwell in their land: 30 Beware lest thou imitate them, after they are destroyed at thy coming in, and lest thou seek after their ceremonies, saying: As these nations have worshipped their gods, so will I also worship. 31 Thou shalt not do in like manner to the Lord thy God. For they have done to their gods all the abominations which the Lord abhorreth (Deuteronomy 12:29-31, Douay-Rheims).

So, God does not want altars like the pagans had to be used to worship Him. Nor does He want their practices continued.

And while some have argued that God allowed the pagans to have practices that they did so that they could later accept Christ, the reality is that the early Christians did not have a round eucharistic host that was consecrated over an altar. There is no justification in scripture nor in the earliest traditions of the Christian church for getting away from the practices of Jesus and Paul in this area.

As far as origin of the initials IHS, The Catholic Encyclopedia offers an alternative explanation:

IHS

A monogram of the name of Jesus Christ. From the third century the names of our Saviour are sometimes shortened, particularly in Christian inscriptions (IH and XP, for Jesus and Christus). In the next century the “sigla” (chi-rho) occurs not only as an abbreviation but also as a symbol . From the beginning, however, in Christian inscriptions the nomina sacra, or names of Jesus Christ, were shortened by contraction, thus IC and XC or IHS and XPS for Iesous Christos. These Greek monograms continued to be used in Latin during the Middle Ages. Eventually the right meaning was lost, and erroneous interpretation of IHS led to the faulty orthography “Jhesus”… Towards the close of the Middle Ages IHS became a symbol , quite like the chi-rho in the Constantinian period. (Maere, René. “IHS.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07649a.htm>)

The familiar monogram I H S was first popularized by St. Bernardine of Siena in the early fifteenth century (Hassett, Maurice. “Monogram of Christ.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 28 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10488a.htm>).

Notice the following from another Catholic author (bolding mine):

SAINT BERNADINE OF SIENA 1380-1444…He is especially remembered for his zeal…and he popularized, with the help of St. John Capistrano, a symbol representing the Holy Name. The Gothic letters for the name of Jesus, “IHS,” were set in a blazing sun to whose tongues of fire and spreading rays he attributed mystical significance. For a time the Saint was denounced as a heretic and the symbol regarded as idolatrous…(Cruz JC. The Incorruptibles. Nihil Obstat Henry C. Bezon, November 11, 1974. Imprimatur +Philip M. Hannan, Archbishop of New Orleans, November 19, 1974. TAN Books 1977, p. 127)

IHS…{an} innovation over five hundred years ago. (Cruz, p. 127)

Notice that the IHS and the use of the sun as a symbols were innovations and that the promoter was properly condemned as a heretic when he initially promoted them. Innovations like that were NOT part of the earliest tradition of the Christian church and have pagan elements.

So, the Catholics are not truly clear where IHS came from, they suggest that IHS appeared in Catholicism no early than the fourth century, and that for centuries their church did not know the meaning of the abbreviation, it did not become popular until much later, and the one who popularized was denounced as a heretic promoting idolatry. This, of course, is not proof that IHS did or did not come from Egypt. Yet, the lack of knowing where IHS came from supports the possibility that it likely came from outside of Christianity.

The use of broken bread, without IHS, is still observed by faithful groups in the 21st century like the Continuing Church of God.

Do you follow the practices of the early faithful Christians?

Some articles to assist in your studies may include:

Marcus, the Marcosians, & Mithraism: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria? Where did IHS and the host come from?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Could the place of protection in the wilderness be Petra?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

COGwriter

The Bible tells of a place in the wilderness where some Christians are subject to protection (Revelation 12:14-16).  Could this be Petra in Jordan?

One of many sermons by the Continuing Church of God at the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel and is titled Might Petra be the Place of Safety?

It covers information such as:

The Bible teaches that a portion of the Christians will be protected in a wilderness area during the Great Tribulation. Might this place be Petra in Jordan? Which places do the show can and cannot be the place of safety? Is the idea of Christians fleeing to an area with caves during the reign of the Beast and Antichrist an old one or a modern invention? Which Christians get this protection and which do not? Will those who do not go be subject to persecution? Do Catholic prophecies warn against this place of protection?

As far as Petra goes there are several clues in the Bible that suggests Petra or a place similar to it. But part of this is based upon where the place of protection is not.

Some Clues about Where the Place Isn’t

Although some have suggested that the Bible gives no clue about where the place of safety will be, this is inaccurate. First notice that apparently some of God’s people will apparently be in the area of Judea and Jerusalem around this time:

5 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:

“Blow the trumpet in the land;
Cry, ‘Gather together,’
And say, ‘Assemble yourselves,
And let us go into the fortified cities.’
6 Set up the standard toward Zion.
Take refuge! Do not delay!
For I will bring disaster from the north,
And great destruction.” (Jeremiah 4:5-6)

The above passage is suggesting that there will be a time that will come that those in Judea and Jerusalem will have to flee into a place of defense. This is consistent with what Jesus told His followers to do in Matthew 24 :15-16 when they see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel (which happens right after the sacrifices, which have not yet started, have been stopped). And Jeremiah is basically warning that disaster will come from the north–in this case apparently the King of the North. And this may be because some of God’s people have fled to Judea/Jerusalem in order to escape from some of the persecutions from this northern power (for more information on WHEN to flee, please see the article Who is the King of the North?).

In Luke 21:20-21, Jesus confirmed the concept that some of His people would be in the same area and would need to flee:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.

It thus appears that the place of safety is not in Jerusalem or Judea.

Since the Bible also warns that God’s people should flee Babylon and go out of Chaldea (Jeremiah 50:8;51:6,44-45; Zechariah 2:7; Revelation 18:4), Babylon and Chaldea apparently are not the places either.

Notice the following,

“Flee from the land of the north”, says the LORD…Up Zion! Escape you that dwell with the daughter of Babylon (Zechariah 2:6,7).

This not only suggests that the place may not be in a northern land, but that some Christians will have need to flee from the land of the north.

Since the Bible seem to forecast near total destruction to the islands of the world (Revelation 6:12-14; 16:17-21), no island seems to be a likely place (more information can be found in the article Islands and Bible Prophecy).

More Information About the Place

“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure” (Isaiah 33:15-16)…”Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations” (Isaiah 45:20).

Isaiah thus indicates this place will be a fortress of rocks for those that escape from the nations (note: the escaping from the nations suggests that groups with origins in CGI, such as ICG and CEM, are in error for teaching that God intends to protect people where they are).

It is also of interest to note that those that escape will be assembled–they are not lone independents–this is also consistent with Zephaniah 2:1-3

Gather yourselves together, yes gather together, O undesirable nation, Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the day of the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.

The Hebrew words translated as Zephaniah means “Yahweh Hides” or “Yahweh Has Hidden” (Holy Bible: Vine’s Expository Reference Edition, p. 826). Notice that a decree is issued, apparently by a church leader–and I believe that the leader will be part of the Continuing Church of God. This would seem to happen after the gospel has been preached enough to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14), Jewish sacrifices are stopped, and the abomination is set up (Daniel 9:27; 11:31) per Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24:15-16.

It remains my prayer that those who are Philadelphians and are scattered in groups will soon assemble together, before it is too late.

Furthermore, Zephaniah continues by suggesting that the place will not be in Gaza, at the seacoast, nor Canaan, the land of the Philistines,

For Gaza will be forsaken, And Ashkelon desolate; They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted. Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast; The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, the land of the Philistines (2:4-5).

According to the commentary at Nelson’s Study Bible on these verses Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron are major cities of the Philistines and Cherethites is simply another name for Philistines. The land mentioned is currently primarily occupied by the Palestinians.

Since people are to leave Judea, are not to go to Gaza, nor Canaan, nor to various places in the north, which direction can they go? Well, they cannot go west because the Mediterranean sea is in the way. This would seem to suggest going east, south, or possibly southeast (southwest would take one to Gaza).

Where is the Place?

David wrote, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5). This may have a dual meaning. It may be referring to the tribulation and may also be referring to an interesting event in David’s life. David was hiding in the woods from Saul (I Samuel 23:19), and “When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the wilderness of Maon…So David made haste to get away from Saul…so they called that place the Rock of Escape” (I Samuel 23:25,26,28). The word translated ‘Rock’ is Sela and the word translated as ‘rock’ are derivatives of the same word. Thus there was a Sela of Escape for David.

Jesus taught, “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20) which is consistent with Revelation 12:14 which clearly states that it is a place to go to, it is in the wilderness, and it is away from the presence of the serpent. The word translated as wilderness, is translated as desert in the NIV. This word is eremos, which Strong’s defines as lonesome, waste, desert, desolate, solitary, wilderness. Thus, it is not protection in our own houses (as some have erroneously suggested), nor is it protection in a large city. It is somewhere in the wilderness.

Petra, the rocky outpost in Jordan has been speculated to be the place. And where is Petra?:

Situated within the harsh desert, Petra’s vitality was dependent upon an intricate hydraulic system fed by a perennial spring. This spring, the Ain Musa (Spring of Moses), is fabled to have been one of the places where Moses struck the rock with his staff to produce water for his wandering people after their flight from Egypt. Not surprisingly, the valley in which Petra is situated, the Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses) is also named after the Biblical patriarch. In addition, Moses’ brother Aaron is believed to be buried atop the Jebel Haroun (Mount of Aaron), a mountain just south of the city. The belief that Aaron was buried so near Petra is especially noteworthy because it played an important role in Petra’s rediscovery by John Burckhardt (Petra: History, Myth, and Earthquakes; Standford.edu website).

In terms of its location from Jerusalem, Petra (Sela on some Bible maps) is mainly south and slightly east of Jerusalem.

Philadelphians and the Wilderness

In the New Testament, while not all Christians are promised physical protection, the Philadelphians are promised to be protected from the Great Tribulation and this place is in the wilderness according the the Book of Revelation:

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:7-10)

13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 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 12:13-17)

Places, such as Petra, are in the wilderness and in a biblically possible location.

While Petra may not be the place, it is a place to be considered. A YouTube video of interest could be Might Petra be the Place of Safety?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Might Petra be the Place of Safety? The Bible teaches that a portion of the Christians will be protected in a wilderness area during the Great Tribulation. Might this place be Petra in Jordan? Which places do the show can and cannot be the place of safety? Is the idea of Christians fleeing to an area with caves during the reign of the Beast and Antichrist an old one or a modern invention? Which Christians get this protection and which do not? Will those who do not go be subject to persecution? Do Catholic prophecies warn against this place of protection?
This is PETRA! This is a 1962 Good News article by the late Dr. Hoeh.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory.
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2015, 2016, or 2017? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2014 o 2015? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon video: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives.
Blood Moons and Prophecy There are four ‘blood moons’ expected in 2014 and 2015. Do they signal the Day of the Lord or the return of Jesus Christ? A related YouTube video is also available: Blood Moons, Prophecy, 2014, and 2015.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots.  They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent.

Melito of Sardis honored in name, but not in practice by many

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015


Ruins in Ancient Sardis

COGwriter

Today, the Church of Rome considers to be a memorial day for the Church of God leader, Bishop Melito of Sardis.

Here is some information about him from Wikipedia:

Melito of Sardis (Greek: Μελίτων Σάρδεων Melíton Sárdeon) (died c. 180) was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed as a prophet by many of the faithful. His feast is celebrated on April 1.(Melito of Sardis, viewed 02/22/2014)

In an article titled St. Melito, The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about him:

Bishop of Sardis, prominent ecclesiastical writer in the latter half of the second century. Few details of his life are known. A letter of Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor about 194 (Eusebius, “Hist. Eccl.”, V, xxiv) states that “Melito the eunuch [this is interpreted "the virgin" by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius], whose whole walk was in the Holy Spirit”, was interred at Sardis, and had been one of the great authorities in the Church of Asia who held the Quartodeciman theory. His name is cited also in the “Labyrinth” of Hippolytus as one of the second-century writers who taught the duality of natures in Jesus. St. Jerome, speaking of the canon of Melito, quotes Tertullian’s statement that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful. Of Melito’s numerous works almost all have perished, fortunately, Eusebius has preserved the names of the majority and given a few extracts (Hist. Eccl., IV, xiii, xxvi). They are (1) “An Apology for the Christian Faith”, appealing to Marcus Aurelius to examine into the accusations against the Christians and to end the persecution (written apparently about 172 or before 177). This is a different work from the Syriac apology attributed to Melito, published in Svriae and English by Cureton from a British Museum manuscript. The latter, a vigorous confutation of idolatry and polytheism addressed to Antoninus Caesar, seems from internal evidence to be of Syrian origin, though some authorities have identified it with Melito’s Peri aletheias. (2) Peri tou pascha…written probably in 167-8. A fragment cited by Eusebius refers to a dispute that had broken out in Laodicea regarding Easter, but does not mention the precise matter in controversy.(3) Eklogai, six books of extracts from the Law and the Prophets concerning Christ and the Faith, the passage cited by Eusebius contains a canon of the Old Testament. (4) He kleis, for a long time considered to be preserved in the “Melitonis clavis sanctae scripturae”, which is now known to be an original Latin compilation of the Middle Ages. (5) Peri ensomatou theou, on the corporeity of God, of which some Syriac fragments have been preserved…Fourteen additional works are cited by Eusebius.

This citation shows that Melito wrote a lot, lived in Sardis (a city in Asia Minor, not near Rome), and that which is preserved (some of which will be in the article) disagrees with positions taken by the Catholics of Rome. Specifically, Melito took different positions on idols in worship, The Old Testament Canon, and the quartodeciman position (the Catholics in Rome chose Sunday, while Melito of Sardis chose Nisan 14–see article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome). He also held other positions that would seem to be more supportive of those held by the Churches of God than those held by the Catholics and the Orthodox.

The Eastern Orthodox consider Melito to be a saint:

“St. Melito of Sardis” (The Immortal Dies http://www.orthodox.clara.net/melito.htm, 10/05/05).

St. Melito of Sardis in Lydia” (Serbian Orthodox Cathedral Bulletin, May 8, 2005).

The following is from Protestant writers (though found at a Catholic website),

[A.D. 160-170-177.] Melito may have been the immediate successor of the “angel” (or “apostle”) of the church of Sardis, to whom our Great High Priest addressed one of the apocalyptic messages. He was an “Apostolic Father” in point of fact; he very probably knew the blessed Polycarp and his disciple Irenaeus. He is justly revered for the diligence with which he sought out the evidence which, in his day, established the Canon of the Old Testament (Roberts and Donaldson. Melito, the Philosopher, in Ante-Nicene Fathers. Located in REMAINS OF THE SECOND AND THIRD CENTURIES http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0850.htm 9/05/05).

It is interesting that various ones outside of the Church of God would wish to honor Melito, because almost no groups outside of the Church of God abide by the doctrines that he taught.

Melito was a binitarian. Here is some of what he wrote about the Holy Spirit:

The tongue of the Lord-His Holy Spirit. In the Psalm: “My tongue is a pen” (Melito. From the Oration on Our Lord’s Passion, IX. In Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson, Volume 8, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 760).

…The finger of the Lord-the Holy Spirit, by whose operation the tables of the law in Exodus are said to have been written (Melito. From the Oration on Our Lord’s Passion. In Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson, Volume 8, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 761).

Yet, Exodus 34:1 states,

And the LORD said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.

This shows that Melito believed that the Holy Spirit was simply the power of God, something that God uses, as opposed to being the third person in any trinity.

Note: these appear to be the only surviving references where Melito mentions the Holy Spirit, hence he in no way appears to have supported a trinitarian concept of God.

Melito also took a strong stand against relying on the teachings of fathers (also called Tradition) above the truth:

Again, there are persons who say: Whatsoever our fathers have bequeathed to us, that we reverence. Therefore, of course, it is, that those whose fathers have bequeathed them poverty strive to become rich! and those whose fathers did not instruct them, desire to be instructed, and to learn that which their fathers knew not! And why, forsooth, do the children of the blind see, and the children of the lame walk? Nay, it is not well for a man to follow his predecessors, if they be those whose course was evil; but rather that we should turn from that path of theirs, lest that which befell our predecessors should bring disaster upon us also. Wherefore, inquire whether thy father’s course was good: and, if so, do thou also follow in his steps; but, if thy father’s course was very evil, let thine be good, and so let it be with thy children after thee. Be grieved also for thy father because his course is evil, so long as thy grief may avail to help him. But, as for thy children, speak to them thus: There is a God, the Father of all, who never came into being, neither was ever made, and by whose will all things subsist…

And then shall those who have not known God, and those who have made them idols, bemoan themselves, when they shall see those idols of theirs being burnt up, together with themselves, and nothing shall be found to help them (Melito. Translation by Roberts and Donaldson. A DISCOURSE WHICH WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF ANTONINUS CAESAR, AND HE EXHORTED THE SAID CAESAR TO ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND SHOWED TO HIM THE WAY OF TRUTH. Online version copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/melito.html 9/04/05).

Notice that Melito clearly condemned those who made idols and apply the name of God to them. Notice that he also taught that believing they are acceptable because of the traditions of fathers is in error.

Melito Was One of A Long Line of Leaders From the Apostle John Who Kept Nisan 14 Passover

John was the last of the original twelve apostles to die. His final years were spent in Ephesus (as well as Patmos). The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded this passage from Polycrates to Victor (Bishop of Rome) which mentions Melito:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man.’ (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

It should be noted that Polycrates is explaining that from the beginning of the New Testament Church and in accordance with the Gospel, that the Apostles John and Philip (saints), Apostle Philip, Polycarp of Smyrna (who the Catholics and Orthodox consider to be a saint), Thraseas (who the Catholics and Orthodox consider to be a saint), Melito (who the Catholics and Orthodox consider to be a saint), and now he, Polycrates, refused to stop observing Passover on the exact day (the 14th of Nisan–the term quartodeciman means 14th) in order to go on Sunday as the Roman bishops tried to insist on.

Melito wrote something now called The Homily On the Passover by Melito (there is also a related sermon video also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover).

While like the Apostle Paul (see 2 Peter 3:15-16), Melito wrote a few statements about the law that some twist or misunderstand, Melito endorsed keeping the commandments. Notice that he wrote that it was a sin to break what the Bible shows is the first commandment:

If, therefore, a man forsake the light, and say that there is another God, it is plain from what he himself says that it is some created thing which he calls God. For, if a man call fire God, it is not God, because it is fire; and, if a man call water God, it is not God, because it is water; and, if he so call this earth on which we tread, or these heavens which are seen by us, or the sun, or the moon, or some one of these stars which run their course without ceasing by Divine command, and do not speed along by their own will, neither are these gods; and, if a man call gold and silver gods, are not these objects things which we use as we please? and, if he so call those pieces of wood which we burn, or those stones which we break, how can these things be gods? For, 1o! they are for the use of man. How can `they’ escape the commission of great sin, who in their speech change the great God into those things which, so long as they continue, continue by Divine command? (A Discourse Which Was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar).

As mentioned before, Melito wrote against breaking the second commandment (idols). Melito was claimed to be one who observed the annual Sabbaths (like the first day of unleavened bread), hence would have kept the fourth commandment. In verse 49 of his Homily on the Passover, he refers to parental honor and dishonor (suggestive of endorsing the fifth commandment).

In fragment V he complains about the wickedness of murder (commandment 6) and “false witness” (commandment 9).

In his Discourse Which Was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar, Melito also objected to violating the seventh and tenth commandments, specifically adultery and lusting for another’s wife.

While that is only eight of the ten commandments, I would suggest that he did not approve of taking God’s name in vain (third commandment) nor stealing (eighth commandment)–and he may have specifically wrote against those as well, because in many of his writings we only have fragments that remain today.

Various Protestant theologians have written against the need to try to keep the Ten Commandments (see also Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants).

On the other, Protestants do agree with Melito’s de facto canon of the Old Testament (see also The Old Testament Canon). Furthermore, even the Catholic saint and doctor Jerome did, even though the Church of Rome also decided to add other books to their Old Testament (see also The Old Testament Canon).

Millennial Teachings

Melito had millennial teachings.

The late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou noted that Melito taught the millennium (The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 389). Here is more information about Melito’s views:

A few years after Saint Justin’s death, and in the surrounding areas of Ephesus, Melito of Sardis, a well-known bishop and his followers defended millennialism. He undoubtedly borrowed some of his theories from his compatriot, Papias and relied on the Apocalypse. (Gry L. Le millenarisme dans ses origines et son developpement. Alphonse Picard, Paris, 1904, pp. 81. Translated into English by Gisele Gaudet, March 2015.)

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

…a large number of Christians of the post-Apostolic era, particularly in Asia Minor, yielded so far to Jewish apocalyptic as to put a literal meaning into these descriptions of St. John’s Apocalypse; the result was that millenarianism spread and gained staunch advocates not only among the heretics but among the Catholic Christians as well…Papias of Hierapolis, a disciple of St. John, appeared as an advocate of millenarianism. He claimed to have received his doctrine from contemporaries of the Apostles…A witness for the continued belief in millenarianism in the province of Asia is St. Melito, Bishop of Sardes in the second century (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Millennium and Millenarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Yet the Catholic Church also teaches against this doctrine. The same article then mentions:

The most powerful adversary of millenarianism was Origen of Alexandria. In view of the Neo-Platonism on which his doctrines were founded and of his spiritual-allegorical method of explaining the Holy Scriptures, he could not side with the millenarians. He combatted them expressly, and, owing to the great influence which his writings exerted on ecclesiastical theology especially in Oriental countries, millenarianism gradually disappeared from the idea of Oriental Christians…St. Augustine was for a time, as he himself testifies (De Civitate Dei, XX, 7), a pronounced champion of millenarianism; but…Augustine finally held to the conviction that there will be no millennium…The Middle Ages were never tainted with millenarianism; it was foreign both to the theology of that period and to the religious ideas of the people.

So essentially it is admitted that the millennial view was held by many early leaders, but that finally it was discarded but what became the Roman Catholic Church. Even though, this was a view held by a variety of Catholic-declared saints, including Melito (see also the article on Millenarianism).

Not only do they no longer teach millenarianism, the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox condemn this belief. Notice the following two accounts:

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism… (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995).

Though some Ancient Church Fathers of the first three centuries AD had Chiliast leanings, the Orthodox Church formally denounced Chiliasm at the Second Ecumenical Council, in 381 (Orthodox Christian Beliefs and Practices. © 2006-2007 Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. http://www.uocc.ca/en-ca/faith/beliefs/ 08/18/07).

In other words, Orthodox Church scholars know that early Christian leaders, which it calls, “Ancient Church Fathers” taught chiliasm (called millenarianism in Latin), yet it CHANGED that teaching in a church council. More information can be found in the article Did The Early Church Millenarianism? And Roman Catholic scholars now condemn it as a teaching of Antichrist. Yet, both consider that a leading second century advocate of it, Melito of Sardis, was a faithful saint.

Melito held many positions that those outside the Church of God do not hold to this day (more can be found in the article Melito of Sardis).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Melito of Sardis Who was this 2nd Century Church Leader? What Old Testament did he list? What did he teach that most who call themselves Christian later change?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings, that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD.
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism? Was the millennium (sometimes called chiliasm) taught by early Christians? Who condemned it? Will Jesus literally reign for 1000 years on the earth? Is this time near? A related sermon is titled The Millennium.
COGwriter Position on Other Churches and Religions What is the fate of those who do not know Christ? What about those who profess Christ outside the Church of God?
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.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

Which annual days did early Christians keep?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

History of Early  Christianity

COGwriter

This time of year, those faithful in the Churches of God have been following Paul’s admonition to examine themselves prior to the start of the Spring Holy Days (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

While most people realize that Jesus observed what many consider to be “Jewish” Holy Days, most have apparently not realized that the observance of these days was the practice of nearly all of those who professed Christ in the first few centuries of Christianity.

The first century Christians observed the all holy days listed in Leviticus Chapter 23. Specifically the New Testament shows that they observed the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4;20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8), the Day of Atonement (called the Fast, Acts 27:9) the Feast of Tabernacles (called the Feast, Acts 18:21) and Last Great Day (John 7:37). And that the fulfillment’s of the Feast of Trumpets is also described in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 8-11).

Catholic scholars realize that these practices were continued as well.

For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Passover:

The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ’s death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration…The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast…Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip (Holwek F. G. Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Well, actually those in the true church in the Orient observed the 14th day of Nisan (see article on Polycrates or Apollinaris). However, the basic point is that the Catholic Church admits that Christ was slain on the Passover and that it still should be observed (even though they changed the name, intent, and the date–also the Jews never called it Easter).

For another example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Pentecost:

Pentecost…A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10)…Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth”…In Tertullian (De bapt., xix) the festival appears as already well established (Holweck F.G. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Pentecost (Whitsunday). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In the early third century, the Catholic theologian Origen listed the following as being celebrated:

If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example… the Passover, or Pentecost…(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VIII, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

It is likely that other days were also then celebrated. While Origen listed what would be considered to be the Spring Holy Days, some were still keeping those known as the Fall Holy Days.

Notice what a respected Protestant scholar reported about the second century:

The most important in this festival was the passover day, the 14th of Nisan…In it they ate unleavened bread, probably like the Jews, eight days through…there is no trace of a yearly festival of the resurrection among them…the Christians of Asia Minor appealed in favor of their passover solemnity on the 14th Nisan to John (Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A Text-book of Church History. Translated by Samuel Davidson, John Winstanley Hull, Mary A. Robinson. Harper & brothers, 1857, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 17, 2006, p. 166).

So, like the Apostle John (the last of the original apostles to die), the early faithful Christians observed Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

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

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

We in the Continuing Church of God also keep the Feast of Tabernacles and believe that it foreshadows the coming millennium.

The early Church clearly kept the what are now known as Jewish Holy Days and saw Christian fulfillment’s in them (especially the Spring ones). And since the Apostles observed them in the New Testament, shouldn’t they and not Christmas be celebrated by true followers of Christ. Gradually, those under Catholic influence stopped celebrating the Fall Holy Days.

Even into the late 4th century, history records that the Fall Holy Days were still being celebrated by some who professed Christ.

Yet, the Catholic saint John Chrysostom preached against them following in 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do

If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…

Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2.. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).

Now this actually causes a problem for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. First, it shows that until at least the late fourth century, that some who professed Christ still kept all the Holy Days. Secondly, even the current pontiff acts like the Fall Holy Days are venerable (he used the term “a blessing” in a news item about them previously). And thirdly, since the Catholic Church claims that it still keeps a version of Passover (though under the name Easter in English) and Pentecost, then their saint, John Chrysostom, should never have condemned all of the festivals that God gave the Jews.

Yet John Chrysostom condemned them.

A book called The Life of Polycarp contains some possibly helpful information about Polycarp. Polycarp is considered to have been a saint by the Church of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Continuing Church of God.

For example, it specifically mentions the Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And it endorses keeping them:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians…but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink (Chapter 19).

And on the sabbath, when prayer had been made long time on bended knee, he, as was his custom, got up to read; and every eye was fixed upon him. Now the lesson was the Epistles of Paul to Timothy and to Titus, in which he says what manner of man a bishop ought to be. And he was so well fitted for the office that the hearers said one to another that he lacked none of those qualities which Paul requires in one who has the care of a church. When then, after the reading and the instruction of the bishops and the discourses of the presbyters, the deacons were sent to the laity to enquire whom they would have, they said with one accord, ‘Let Polycarp be our pastor and teacher’ (Chapter 22).

And on the following sabbath he said; ‘Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God…’ (Chapter 24).

Hence there is an ancient document that claims that Polycarp did keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days (of course, other ancient documents, as shown in this article, support this). And there would have been no reason for Greco-Roman supporters in the 4th century to change the document to indicate that he did so, hence The Life of Polycarp does claim that Polycarp kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

Polycrates, who was bishop of Ephesus, wrote the following around 195 A.D.:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘ We ought to obey God rather than man’…I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

This shows that he and many people considered to be saints by the Greco-Roman churches observed Passover on the 14th. There is no doubt that the so-called “Jewish” Holy Days were still observed by the faithful Christians in Asia Minor and elsewhere for centuries after Christ did. Gentile leaders kept the Holy Days.

What was not observed, until probably the 4th century, even by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, was Christmas. Birthdays were also not observed until about that time. Nor was a 40 day period called Lent, nor Valentine’s Day, nor many other days that many observe today.

In apparently the third century Apollinaris (who is generally considered to have been a bishop and saint) wrote,

There are, then, some who through ignorance raise disputes about these things (though their conduct is pardonable: for ignorance is no subject for blame — it rather needs further instruction), and say that on the fourteenth day the Lord ate the lamb with the disciples, and that on the great day of the feast of unleavened bread He Himself suffered; and they quote Matthew as speaking in accordance with their view. Wherefore their opinion is contrary to the law, and the Gospels seem to be at variance with them…The fourteenth day, the true Passover of the Lord; the great sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the lamb, who was bound, who bound the strong, and who was judged, though Judge of living and dead, and who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who was lifted up on the horns of the unicorn, and who was pierced in His holy side, who poured forth from His side the two purifying elements, water and blood, word and spirit, and who was buried on the day of the passover, the stone being placed upon the tomb (Apollinaris. From the Book Concerning Passover. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors; American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby).

Apollinaris is showing then that the Passover is (Nisan 14) and that it signifies the sacrifice of Christ, both of which are the positions of the Churches of God.

Adventist researcher Daniel Liechty reported Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s and later kept the biblical Holy Days (such as the Feast of Trumpets called Day of Remembrance below) (and those are days his church does not observe):

The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles.. They held to the biblical holidays. Passover they celebrated with unleavened bread…The first and last seventh day of Passover were full holidays…There is no mention of circumcision, so it is unlikely that they practiced circumcision (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).

The biblical Holy Days are still observed by faithful groups in the 21st century like the Continuing Church of God.

Do you follow the practices of the early faithful Christians?

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito’s Homily on the Passover.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues” and led by the Holy Spirit? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Pentecostés: ¿Es más que Hechos 2? plus one by Herbert Armstrong HWA sobre Pentecostés). Here is a YouTube sermon titled Pentecost: Feast of Firstfruits.
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Should you keep the Fall Holy Days?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? A related sermon video would be Feast of Trumpets and the Book of Life as well as The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach?
The Last Great Day: Shemini ‘Azeret What is the ‘eighth day’ of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
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?
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 c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would 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. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.