Original Christian Church building in Jerusalem, and then Constantine’s building

Hagia Sion (left) and Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Wall (right)
Mosaic (4th century) in Church of Santa Pudenziana, Rome


Do you know about the two early church buildings that were in Jerusalem in the fourth century?

The late fourth century historian Epiphanius recorded that in Jerusalem in Judea a Christian building was mentioned existing no later than by 135 A.D.–and that it was built in the first century.

Epiphanius wrote the following (a portion of which I have bolded for clarity):

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

That building may been the first Christian building. It looked more like a rectangular synagogue than the type of rounded buildings that people in the world today consider to be a church.

The “church of God” structure Epiphanius mentioned in the fourth century is believed to have been the building which has sometimes been called the ‘Cenacle.’ It was located on a Jerusalem western hill that is often called Mt. Zion/Sion (there is some controversy associated with the actual biblical Mount Zion).

In the fourth century, the sun-god worshiping Emperor Constantine had a rounded building built next to it, which is known as the Hagia Sion. Notice something from a Catholic scholar about the two buildings:

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

The “holy place” mentioned above had been the general location of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill, which could have been the original worship building that Christians built. This is the place that has been called Sion and the Cenacle. The Greco-Romans eventually added a shrine and a variety of relics (Ibid, pp. 27-28,69). The basilica was a different building.

Although they did not have cameras back then, a representation of both buildings still exists. A mosaic of Jerusalem at the time was constructed and placed in a church in Rome known as Santa Pudenziana. My wife and I visited it in June 2013 and she photographed the mosaic of Jerusalem in its main apse.

I was able to see the remains of these buildings in Jerusalem in October 2013, but they look different than they did in the fourth century.

A part of the wall of the COG building still remains above ground, and various foundation stones below ground (it was on the front cover of the first Bible News Prophecy magazine).

The original COG building may have future interest. The Church of Rome wants this building and has often taken steps to try to acquire it (see, for example, Jews claim that they have been improperly blocked from visiting the ‘tomb of David’ since the Pope’s visit to Mt. Zion).

Though some feel otherwise, since Christians are ‘the temple of God’ in the New Testament, there is not a biblical requirement that a Jewish temple must be rebuilt before the millennium begins (see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).

But might there be a physical building before then?

The Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill, was a Christian building constructed shortly after 70 A.D. and was composed, to a great degree, of stones/bricks from the previous Jewish temple.

It is possible that it will play a role in end time prophecy (see Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications?) as there is a chance the man of sin (the Beast of Revelation 13 and King of the North of Daniel 11) may sit in it (Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?).

Perhaps the Church of Rome will end up, for a time, with the building it wants.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? Although people like Timothy LaHaye teach a third Jewish temple is required, who is ‘the temple of God” in the New Testament? Does the Bible require a rebuilt Jewish Temple?
Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building?
Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? After a 20 year negotiation, the Church of Rome has negotiated the right to have Catholic mass in the building known as the Cenacle. It is in the area where the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill once stood. This is believed to be the location of the earliest Christian church building. How does the Bible define the ‘temple of God’ in the New Testament? Could this be the area where the ‘man of sin’ will sit in the “temple of God’ that Bible prophecy discusses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? This is a YouTube video.
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?
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a version in Mandarin: 主编: 谁是’大罪人’?Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and CCOG: Four Years Revealing Philadelphia? Here is a written link to a version of that first sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?

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