Pope Francis speaks of ancient Ephesus and also condemned ‘fundamentalists’

Amphitheater of Ancient Ephesus
(Photo by Joyce Thiel)


In his general audience today, Pope Francis spoke about Ephesus:

4 December 2019

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The Gospel’s journey continues without a pause in the Acts of the Apostles, and it goes across the city of Ephesus manifesting all its salvific scope. Thanks to Paul, about twelve men receive Baptism in Jesus’ name and experience the effusion of the Holy Spirit, who regenerates them (Cf. Acts 19:1-7). Several, then, are the miracles that happen through the Apostle: the sick are cured and the possessed are liberated (Cf. Acts 19:11-12). This happens because the disciple is like his Master (Cf. Luke 6:40) and renders Him present by communicating to brethren the same new life that he received from Him.

God’s power, which breaks out in Ephesus, unmasks those that wish to use Jesus’ name to carry out exorcisms but without having the spiritual authority to do so (Cf. Acts 19:13-17), and it reveals the weakness of magic arts, which are abandoned by a great number of persons who choose Christ and abandoned magic arts (Cf. Acts 19:18-19). A real reversal for a city such as Ephesus, which was a famous center for the practice of magic! Luke thus stresses the incompatibility between faith in Christ and magic. If you choose Christ, you can’t take recourse to a magician: faith is confident abandonment in the hands of a reliable God, who makes Himself known not through occult practices but by revelation and with gratuitous love. Perhaps some of you will say to me: “Ah, yes, this thing of magic is something ancient: today, this doesn’t happen in a Christian civilization.” But, be careful! I ask you: how many of you go to engage in tarot cards, how many of you go to have your hands read by soothsayers or have cards read to you. And to the question: “But why, if you believe in Jesus Christ, do you go to the magician, to the soothsayer, to all these people?” Answer: “I believe in Jesus Christ but for good luck I also go to them.” Please, magic isn’t Christian! These things that are done to divine the future or divine so many things or change situations of life, aren’t Christian. Christ’s grace brings you all: pray and entrust yourself to the Lord.

The spread of the Gospel in Ephesus damages the silversmiths’ trade — another problem –, who make the statues of the goddess Artemis and the cult of this goddess (Cf. Acts 19:23-28). https://zenit.org/articles/popes-general-audience-on-st-pauls-ministry-in-ephesus/

It is true that the Apostle Paul went to Ephesus. It is true that Ephesus was known for the occult and idolatry.

According to tradition, the Apostle Paul spoke at the amphitheater shown at the beginning of this post.

Paul gave a warning when he left Ephesus:

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

25 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:17-31)

The Apostle Paul was warning that people claiming to be Christian leaders would change doctrine and leave important fundamental truths.

Though Pope Francis was praising what Paul did in Ephesus, notice the following report from Michael Synder:

December 2, 2019

Pope Francis specifically attacked fundamentalists, and in today’s world that is considered to be perfectly okay.  The following comes from the official transcript of the remarks that the Pope made on the 18th of November

Beware of the fundamentalist groups: everyone has his own. In Argentina too there is a little fundamentalist corner. And let us try, with fraternity, to go forward. Fundamentalism is a scourge and all religions have some kind of fundamentalist first cousin there, which forms a group.

Ostensibly, these remarks apply to fundamentalists from all religions.  But by mentioning Argentina, the Pope made it exceedingly clear who his real target was.

There aren’t any “Muslim fundamentalists” or “Hindu fundamentalists” in Argentina.  The fundamentalists that he was referring to are the Christian fundamentalists in Argentina, and in the very next sentence he denounced such people as “a scourge”.

Of course “a scourge” is another way of saying “a plague”, and what do we try to do to “a plague” when one breaks out?

That is something to think about.

And although the term “fundamentalist” is now sometimes used to refer to other religions, from the very beginning it has always been a Christian term. http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/pope-francis-declares-that-christian-fundamentalists-are-a-scourge

Notice something from the New Living Translation:

1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. (Hebrews 6:1)

Traditionally, it has been believed that the Apostle Paul wrote the above.

The Continuing Church of God is put out this sermon related to some of those doctrines on its ContinuingCOG channel:


Hebrews 6 discusses six basic/elementary doctrines that Christians are expected to know so that they are able to gone to perfection. They have been called “the six great doctrines of Hebrews 6.” These doctrines are “the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2, NKJV). In this sermon, Dr. Thiel goes over each of them. He also explains a bit about going on to perfection.

Here is a link to the sermon: Basic Doctrines of Hebrew 6.

The reality is that many of the ‘fundamental’ doctrines that the Apostle Paul taught in Ephesus have been discarded and changed by the Church of Rome.

Since the Ephesus portion of the early church was the apostolic and early post-apostolic period, the faithful ones during that time obviously believed the teachings of the apostles and writings in the New Testament.

Here are summaries some of the doctrines held during the time of the Ephesus Church:

Baptism was by immersion and only for adults.
The complete Bible with the proper Old Testament and New Testament was relied on by the true Church in Asia Minor.
A Binitarian view was obviously held by the apostolic and post-apostolic true Christian leaders.
Birthdays were not celebrated by early Christians.
Celibacy for Bishops/Presbyters/Elders was not a requirement.
Christmas was not observed by any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings.
Church governance was properly hierarchical.
Church services were not like ritualistic like modern “mass” that many attend.
Duties of Elders/Pastors were pastoral and theological, not predominantly sacramental.
Easter was not observed by the apostolic church.
The Fall Holy Days were observed by true early Christians.
The Father was considered to be God by all early professing Christians.
Holy Spirit was not referred to as God or as a person by any early true Christians.
Hymns were mainly psalms, not praises to Christ.
Idols were taught against, including the use of the cross.
Immortality of the soul or humans was not taught.
Jesus was considered to be God by the true Christians.
The Kingdom of God was preached.
Lent was not observed.
Military Service was not allowed for true early Christians.
Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth) was taught by the early Christians.
Monasticism was unheard of in the early Christian church.
Passover was kept on the 14th of Nisan by apostolic and second Century Christians in Asia Minor.
Pentecost was kept on Sunday by certain Jews and was observed then by professing Christians.
The Resurrection of the dead was taught by all early Christians
The Sabbath was observed on Saturday by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church.
Salvation was believed to be offered to the chosen now by the early Church, with others being called later, though not all that taught that (or other doctrines) practiced “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Sunday was not observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians.
The Ten Commandments were observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians. And they were numbered the way that thegenuine Church of God and the Eastern Orthodox Church still number them) which differs from the numbering used by the Roman Catholic Church or the Lutheran Church).
Tithes and Offerings were given to support the ministry, the churches, the needy, and evangelical travels and proclamation.
Tradition had some impact on the second century Christians but was never supposed to supercede the Bible.
The Trinity was not a word used to describe the Godhead by the apostolic or second century Christians.
Unclean Meats were eaten by the early allegorists, but not by true Christians.
The Virgin Birth was acknowledged by all true ante-Nicene Christians.

The above were beliefs of the original Christian church. We in the Continuing Church of God hold to all of these views today.

Back on on December 17, 1983, Herbert W. Armstrong gave a sermon that was titled Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Notice how it began:

“Greetings, everybody! This afternoon I want to speak on the mission of the Philadelphia Era of the Church, this Church today in comparison to the first era of the Church, the Ephesus Era of the Church.

And his basic conclusion was that the Philadelphia Era of the Church held to the original beliefs that the original Ephesus era of the Church of God held to (see also 18 Truths Restored to the Churches of God).

The Continuing Church of God has the following this sermon from its ContinuingCOG channel:

Ephesus is the first of seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. It was considered the most prosperous city outside of ancient Rome. It was a city on the Aegean Sea. Where the Ephesians Gentiles? What beliefs did they hold. What was the period of time that the Ephesian church era dominated? What happened towards the end of its era? What did Marcus do in 135 A.D.? What did the Apostles Paul and John write related to Ephesus? What were the “two groups” on Ephesus? What are some of the lessons it has for us today? Was Ephesus considered to be an Apostolic See? What happened to Ephesus that fulfilled prophecy? Dr. Thiel addresses these issues and more.

Here is a link to the video sermon: Ephesus Church Era.

One concern about Pope Francis’ anti-fundamentalist comments is that this may be part of the justification for the coming persecutions of faithful Christians (cf. Daniel 7:25; 11:29-38; Revelation 13; see also Persecutions by Church and State).

Christians have been persecuted for holding original biblical beliefs before and will be again.

Pope Francis is helping set the stage for that.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc. Here is a link to a related video sermon: Ephesus Church Era.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.Here is a link to a related video sermon: The Smyrna Church Era.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and COG-7th Day.
6. 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.
7. 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. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy. See also Do You Hold to Any of These Laodicean Prophetic Errors?
Joyce’s Photos of Ephesus Both the Apostles Paul and John wrote to the church at Ephesus. The Apostle John, with possibly Mary (Jesus’ mother), moved to Ephesus. The Christian leader Polycrates lived in Ephesus.
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.
The Spanish Inquisition and Early Protestant Persecutions Was the Church of Rome really responsible for this? What happened? A video of related interest is titled: The Past and Future Inquisition.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
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?
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, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?]
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? (And the Protestants) Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and three video sermonette are also available:  Pope Francis signs ‘one world religion’ document! and The Chrislam Cross and the Interfaith Movement and Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
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? Here is a link to a related sermon: Eastern Orthodox 40+ Similar Beliefs to the CCOG.
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians? A related sermon is available: The Second Commandment, Idols, and Icons.
Some Doctrines of Antichrist Are there any doctrines taught outside the Churches of God which can be considered as doctrines of antichrist? This article suggests at least three. It also provides information on 666 and the identity of “the false prophet.” Plus it shows that several Catholic writers seem to warn about an ecumenical antipope that will support heresy. You can also watch a video titled What Does the Bible teach about the Antichrist?
The Last Pope Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Why might Pope Francis be the last pope? What happens if he is? Biblical and other prophecies help explain what to expect.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Amazon Book What does the Bible say about a pope near this time? Is the final pope to be an antipope and antichrist? Does Catholic prophecy point to Pope Francis as being the dreaded “Peter the Roman”? This 186 page book provides information and answers.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle This electronic version of the printed book which is available for only US$2.99. And you do not need an actual Kindle device to read it. Why? Amazon will allow you to download it to almost any device: Please click HERE to download one of Amazon s Free Reader Apps. After you go to for your free Kindle reader and then go to The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle.

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