77) The Collapsed, Crowned, and Civilized Churches

Sardis – The Collapsed Church

Around 612 BCE, the Assyrian Empire was conquered by the Neo-Babylon Empire. This opened up new horizons for the wealthy kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia, with its capitol at Sardis, which turned its attention from defending the eastern front to overrunning its western rivals, the Greek Ionian cities along the coast.

Lydian rulers, however, admired the Greeks and treated the Ionian cities leniently… Croesus, the last Lydian king, even paid for the construction of the temple of Artemis, which became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Thus, the Ionian coast city-states and the Lydians remained on peaceful terms with very tight cultural and commercial relations. Sardis was a centre for the traffic of goods and ideas between Mesopotamia and the Greek Ionian settlements, a crossroad of trade, and an ideal meeting point for the exchange of ideas, beliefs, customs, knowledge, and new insights. This rich exchange was one of the factors that, around 600 BCE, allowed the Ionian cities to turn into the intellectual leaders of the Greek world.

Cyrus II, King of Persia, invaded Sardis in 547 BCE…

Once Sardis was taken, the Persians also occupied the Ionian cities. About 500 BCE, the Ionian cities…declared their independence, triggering the Ionian revolt with the city of Miletus as the leading state, the first of many military conflicts between Greeks and Persians. A Greek army marched upon Sardis [as the capitol of the Persian province] and burned it to the ground…

the city surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE…

In 215 BCE Sardis was…made Seleucid’s administrative centre for the Anatolia region.

Sardis came under Roman rule in 133 BCE…and was the principal centre of a judicial district that included almost 30 Lydian and Phrygian settlements…made a provincial capital when Lydia was re-established as an administrative centre.

Tacitus reports an earthquake that affected the city in 17 CE:

That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in, such a disaster, by rushing out into the open country, for there people were swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said, collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and fires blazed out amid the ruin. The calamity fell most fatally on the inhabitants of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. (Tacitus, 2.47)

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. 

As we read the following account of Christianity in the generation of leadership immediately following John’s letter ~100 AD, we must take into account that this movement, so evidently falling away from biblical precepts, was developed, like Naziism, by the previous generation and passed down to the youth. In other words, as we read the beliefs held and propagated by the church at Sardis in ~140, we can see that they are the culmination of what John warned them was happening. “You have a name” – are famous – for being a vibrant source of life for the church, but “you are dead.”

Melito was a highly educated person, of illustrious origin, a „great luminary“ having remarkable retorical and prophetic abilities, who was chosento head the church of Sardis (aprox. AD 138-180)…

Melito is the first of the apologists who, in this acid polemics, openly accused the Jews of deicide, or put in other words he accused them of killing Jesus as incarnate God. According to him, they killed the One who created them, who honoured them, whom they confessed to and who called them Israel...They are responsible for every aspect of the crucification of Jesus, they got the nails ready that were supposed to perforate his limbs, they committed perjury against him, they had him drink vinegar and gall as if he were a thief, they had him whip-ped and they put a crown of thorns on his head, then sent him to death on the Great Celebration day. 

According to Melito, the relationship between Judaism and Christianity could be defined as follows: Judaism served the divine plans for a while, but after the Christ made himself manifest in the world as incarnate God, its existence  became futile and without any hope for the future. Judaism served as a model for the past ages, but with…the emergence of the Church, they replaced the law of Israel and Judaism…

We should ask ourselves what could be the real cause of such a harsh reaction from the part of Melito of Sardis. The first explanation at hand could be that the relationship between the Jewish and the Christian communities in Sardis were very tense...Therefore, it is important first to see how these relations evolved…the Seleucid king Antiochos III…transferred two thousand Jewish families to the most important cities of Phrygia and Lydia…who initially belonged to Mesopotamia and Babylonia…As a reward for their loyalty, Antiochos reconfirmed the rights of the Jews to live according to the laws of their fathers and reduced their taxes…some decrees from the time of Caesar…prove that the Jews were supposed to live according to their own customs and lawsThere is no mention of any conflict at all...By the middle of the 3rd century, the Jewish community in the city was attested as wealthy and prominent, counting nine city councillors…an indication of the high degree of social integration of the Jews in Sardis. The situation was similar in other cities…

Some researchers, like Reader Aasgaard, believe that the above mentioned passage of Melito represented a reaction of a tiny Christian community in Asia Minor, composed mostly of Jewish converts and their descendants…to…claim its own identity in…competition…with a highly powerful and influent Jewish community

Such kind of a competition was also demonstrated for the pagan…ethno-cultural environments…[which] contributed to the creation of a common religious phenomenology of this area, irrespective of the numerous local peculiarities…a melting pot where…influences from very heterogenous…Hittite, Luwian, Iranian, Lydian, Thracian, Celtic, Semitical, Egyptian, etc…

In brief, what this research paper is saying is that Christianity aligned itself with paganism against Judaism for political, economic and social benefits.

Another option [to explain Mellito’s polemic against the Jews] is…about a much more general attempt…to discourage those who frequently placed themselves on the fringes of [developing] Christianity…by adopting [maintaining] Jewish [read biblical] practices and conceptionsThe contents of the writing reflects…motivations that were designed…to make a clear-cut distinction between the Jewish and Christian environments and to eliminate any Jewish influence on the newborn Christianity.

“If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments [during an assault, begins symbolically with verbal assaults but escalates to physical]; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”

in the year 616 CE, Sardis’ life came to an end…that region fell to the Persians…and Sardis was sacked and devastated so completely that no attempt to restore the city has been recorded. This incident constitutes the end of Sardis’ civic life.

Philadelphia – The Closed Church

Philadelphia was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamon I[who] named the city for…his brother, who would be his successor, Attalus II (159–138 BC), whose loyalty earned him the nickname, “Philadelphos”, literally meaning “one who loves his brother”.

Philadelphia was included in the kingdom of Pergamum that Attalus III Philometer bequeathed to his Roman allies when he died in 133 BC, assigned to the administrative district of Sardis. As noted above in the section on Sardis, the Jewish population was influential in Sardis and there was a synagogue of Hellenizing Jews in Philadelphia.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 

The locality was subject to constant earthquakes. The frequent experiences of fleeing their homes and the city because of falling debris must have been foremost in their desire for security, which Jesus Christ assures them are in his hands, while Philadelphia’s “open door” can be nothing other than the opportunity to preach and teach the true, the biblical gospel.

I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” (I Corinthians 16:8-9)

I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (II Corinthians 2:12)

“praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:3)

In contrast to the Christians at Sardis, this church, although in the same district, kept the word of God and did not deny the name of YHVH’s Savior. This identification as “The People of the Book” segregated them from the pagans while incurring the same opposition from the non-Messianic synagogue as experienced by Yeshua, Steven, James, Paul, etc.

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Philadelphia was called the “little Athens” in the 6th century AD because of its festivals and temples. This indicates that the city wasn’t entirely converted to Christianity, and also the reverse – that the Church at Philadelphia hadn’t absorbed paganism.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

As described previously, any close companion / co-ruler with Christ, will experience trials and tribulations. The church at Philadelphia apparently had their fair share in the early days, so its faith was not put the test as happened with other churches which had it much easier.  A reasonable definition of “The hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world” limits it to a shorter period of time than a “day / era”, and locates it within the parameters of the account it is referenced, i.e., the Roman world.

Attila the Hun is a likely candidate for this event, known at the time as the The Scourge of God. For whatever reason, Atilla did not invade Asia Minor.

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In 439 CE Attila brokered the Treaty of Margus with Rome.

The annual payment of 700 pounds of gold, or about $19M in today’s dollars, bought the promise not to attack Roman towns. With a tenuous treaty in place, Roman legions guarding the border were pulled to fight in Sicily against the Vandals. With unguarded territory before them, Attila and his brother saw an opportunity to return to their raiding ways. They invented outrage and declared the treaty invalid.

Over the next ten years, the Huns invaded territory which today encompasses Hungary, Greece, Spain, and Italy. Attila sent captured riches back to his homeland and drafted soldiers into his own army while often burning the overrun towns and killing their civilian occupants.

In 441 CE, they launched their Danube campaign…a full-scale invasion that ravaged cities and towns in the trading province of Illyricum. D`espite the fact the legions were not there, these cities were well fortified and well defended. But…Attila ensured that the Huns mastered siege technology and were able to attack and capture fortified cities by means of textbook Roman military tactics…

Attila…brought his army within twenty miles of Constantinople…attacked and pillaged forts and cities, lacerating almost all of the territory surrounding the capital…he negotiated peace and an annual payment of 1400 pounds of gold, which is equivalent to $40M in today’s dollars…

In 446, Attila again manufactures outrage with the Romans, breaks the treaty, and begins to capture forts along the frontier. He invaded the Roman region of Moesia, in the present-day Balkans. In the process, he destroyed more than 70 cities, took survivors as slaves, and sent the loot back to his stronghold at the city of Buda, which is thought to be modern-day Budapest. He was considered invincible and “having bled the East to his heart’s content, Attila turned to the West…the Balkans in 446 and Italy in 452.

The city was taken by the Seljuk Turks in 1074 and 1093–94 but rapidly recovered in 1098, during the First Crusade,  by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I. While all the other cities of Asia Minor surrendered to the Ottomans, Philadelphia remained a free city until 1390, when after a prolonged resistance, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II assisted Sultan Bayezid I in subjugating Philadelphia to Turkish rule. Twelve years later it was captured by Timur, who built a wall with the corpses of his prisoners.

During the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) the retreating Greek army carried out a scorched-earth policy while it was retreating from Anatolia during the final phase of the war, which included what once was known as The City of Brotherly Love.

Laodicea – The Civilized Church

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Laodicea was built by Antiochus II Theos in ~ 250 BC in honor of his wife Laodice. In 188 BC, the city passed to the Kingdom of Pergamon, and therefore after 133 BC fell under Roman control.

The city was at the crossroads of north-south traffic between Sardis and Perga and east-west from the Euphrates to Ephesus. Laodicea quickly became a rich city, rich enough to be able to rebuild itself without outside help [I am rich and have need of nothing!] after the destructive earthquake of 60 A.D.

Laodicea was…a great center for the manufacturing of clothing – the sheep which grazed around Laodicea were famous for the soft, black wool they produced. [buy white raiment that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear]

Laodicea was also well known for it’s school of medicine.

One of the compounds used for…the eyes made of Phrygian stone (eye salve)…The term used by John in Revelation is the same that Galen uses to describe the preparation of the Phrygian stone. [Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see!]

No other city on the Lycus Valley was as dependent on external water supplies as Laodicea…

“The lukewarmness for which, thanks to this letter, the name of Laodicea has become proverbial, may reflect the condition of the city’s water supply. The water supplied by the spring … was tepid and nauseous by the time it was piped to Laodicea, unlike the therapeutic hot water of Hierapolis or the refreshing cold water of Colossae (Rudwick and Green 1958); hence the Lord’s words, ‘Would that you were cold or hot!’” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary).

Our Lord did not accuse the brethren in Laodicea of apostasy, nor with following some false prophet or engaging in emperor worship. The church is accused of being “lukewarm” — this is the only congregation about which the Lord had nothing good to say!

Its wealth allowed its citizens to indulge in Greek art, embellish the city with beautiful monuments, contribute to the advancement of science and literature and establish a great medical school. The city minted its own coins with inscriptions to Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors.

There was a large Jewish community in Laodicea, who sent the considerable sum of 9 kilograms (20 lb) of gold annually to Jerusalem for the Temple (Pro Flacco 28-68). Because early Christianity originated in, and depended upon Judaism, Laodicea very early became a seat of Christianity as a bishopric

Sixty canons of a Council of Laodicea, written in Greek, exist. They are of great importance in the history of discipline and liturgy.

Liturgy. Now there’s an element of Christianity we need to understand.

[L]iturgy was not a later ‘add-on’ instituted by a stultified church but was a vital part of Christian worship from the very beginning.The New Testament contains many references to the ongoing practice of liturgical worship as well as actual examples of first century liturgy…

In Acts 2:42, we read that the early believers “devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to THE prayers”. This…is a clear reference to set prayers that were repeated corporately when the believers met for worship. Similarly, in Acts 5:42, the Apostles appointed deacons to administer the distribution of food to the poor, so that they (the Apostles) could continue to “be devoted to THE prayers and to the ministry of the Word.”Once again, this is how it is written in the Greek, and it is a reference to liturgical, set prayers.

Not only do we have these references to the ongoing liturgical practices of the early Christians, but we have many actual examples of first century liturgy quoted within the New Testament letters themselves. Some of them are brief excerpts from well-known liturgy, such as:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14)

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17).

“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).

These are just a small sample of the many liturgical quotes contained within the New Testament…Philippians 2 contains a lengthy quote from what appears to be a well-known Christian creed:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:6-11)

Similar liturgical excerpts can be found in Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-3, 1 Peter 2:21-25 and 1 Timothy 3:16.

So far, so good. But at some point The simplicity of early church practices, grounded in the study and application of the holy scriptures in the synagogue, went baroque.

The evolution of Christian liturgy and its relationship with Jewish liturgy include the names of temple functionaries, such as readers, lectors, levites, and singers indicate appropriation from the temple liturgy not the synagogue, which at the time…consisted [simply] of scripture readings, with the Shema and Amidah. The elements from the Temple services retained in Christian liturgy include ceremonial actions such as processions and prostrations, and the antiphonal nature of prayers…

when the temple was destroyed, there were twenty-four kinds / sects of Judaism…Christianity started out as another expression of Judaism…which like that of the DSS sectarians, and the Samaritans…did not accept the oral Torah, which became enshrined in the Mishnah, Talmuds, and Midrash from 200 CE…

The written torah which Christians generally call the Old Testament (Tanakh) was retained. The New Testament, was added to the Scriptures that were accepted by the Christian Churchconverts of non-Jewish origin also would have imported their world views. This would have contributed to a variety of forms in the Christian stance...the increasingly gentile background of its converts who soon outnumbered those of Jewish origin…Certainly, the growth of the non-Jewish membership of Christianity led to the ‘mutation’ becoming unacceptable to so-called normative Judaism by the end of the first century…

The problem faced by the developing Christian theology was the harmonizing…of monotheism with the independent existence and the divine activity of Jesus as related in the gospels. From the second century onwards, the various Christological controversies were attempts to come to terms with monotheism, culminating in credal formulations and statements by ecumenical church councils on Christology.

Within the church itself, the definition of Christology led to…different strands of Christianity in the east and west…the establishment of authority within the church itself…

A specific Christian practice was the weekly Sunday, which commemorated the resurrection of Jesus…it appears to have been an established practice by the time of Ignatius in the early second century.

The primitive Christian festival calendar seems originally only to have celebrated Passover… the Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost being added at the earliest by the fourth century…in the mid second century, rites of initiation into the church were being practised, so that it could be surmised that Christianity had begun to forge a separate identity from Judaism…

In the first century, Christians could continue to pray in synagogues, though tensions were developing about the position of Jesus…the growing number of gentile believers who were not obliged to keep Jewish law was a major block to both common worship and social relations.

From the second century, specifically Christian liturgies began to be developed in a less Jewish style. As time progressed, east and west took differing paths, while schisms wracked the church in the wake of doctrinal conflicts not resolved by the numerous church councils. 

And when the early Church separated from its Jewish roots, where did it go?

Pagan elements of the Roman Empire are included in Christian ceremonial and made regular use of. Many so-called Christian “things” like ideas, signs, symbols and ceremonies have such an origin. They were taken up from other religions then…

The Mithraism of Christians

  1. The Mithraic Holy father wore a red cap and garment and a ring, and carried a shepherd’s staff – The Pope wears a red cap and garment and a ring and carries a shepherds staff.
  2. Priests of Mithraism bore the title Father. Catholic priests bear the title Father – despite “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven (Matthew 23:9).”
  3. Speaking in tongues is a feature of ancient religions too…

Worship of the Sun God

He was introduced into Rome in about AD 220, and by about AD 240 Pythian Games (i.e., festivals of the sun god Apollo Helios) were instituted in many cities of the Empire. The emperor Aurelian (270–275) elevated the sun god to the highest rank among the gods of Romans. Sanctuaries of the Sun and the gods of other planets (septizonium) were constructed. Also, the greatest of all Roman festivals was held on December 24–25, in honour of the Sun, Sol Invictus, at the time of the winter solstice, for from this date the length of the day began to increase. It was regarded as the day of the rebirth of the god. Emperor Constantine the Great, some 50 years later than Aurelius, wavered between the Sun and Christ. Finally, Christianity was accepted as the official religion, and…Jesus was…given the Sun’s birthday by an emperor decree. 

The Cult of Isis

Mother and childThe most popular of the Oriental mysteries was the cult of Isis. She and her son Horus were regarded by the Egyptians as the perfect mother and son…The Isis cult was already in vogue at Rome in the time of the emperor Augustus…

The highest god of the religion (for example, Sarapis in the Isis Mysteries) stood far above the stars and was their master. A man who decided to become a servant of this god stepped out of the circle of determination and entered into the sphere of liberty. The god could suspend determination, because he ruled over the stars; he could unravel the threads of the Moirai (the three spinners of fate); he could save his servant from illness and prolong his life, even against the will of fate. In the Isis Mysteries there was a theology of grace.

Henotheism [worshiping one primary god while acknowledging the existence of others] abounded: Isis was the essence of all pagan goddesses; Sarapis was the name uniting the gods Zeus, Pluto, Dionysus, Asclepius, Helios, and even the Jewish god YHWH (Yahweh). In the religion of Sol, an elaborate syncretistic theology was developed to show that all known gods of all nations were nothing but provisional names for the sun god.

Jesus took over the place of the sun god among Romans…the portrayal of Jesus gradually changed…to an emperor-like, tough, enthroned figure. One may say Christianity came to take over key elements of the Roman Emperor worship too, by presenting Jesus increasingly as a pantrocrator, world ruler…

And in Roman times the key Christian symbol was changed from a P (for fish) into a cross of various shapes too. The cross is not original.

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at Thessalonica (modern Thessaloníki), in northern Greece, there were statues of a whole series of Greek goddesses, each of whom was identified with Isis in one way or another to show that the Egyptian goddess was the essence and synthesis of Greek religion. Compare the Hail Mary – a Mother Isis in disguise – of the Catholic Church. Its elements correspond to the more ancient Isis worship.

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Many terra-cotta statues of Isis and her son Horus have survived from Roman Egypt; they are similar to the later statues of the Christian Madonna and Child

Merkelbach writes that “Christianity originated during the time…at which the mysteries reached their height of popularity.” The striking similarities between the mystery religions and Christianity can be explained by parallel developments from similar origins, as well as a counterpart to grand theft. In both cases, ritualistic religions were transformed along similar lines: from national to ecumenical religion, from ritualistic ceremonies and taboos to spiritual doctrines and ideas of revelation.

The ideas of Greek philosophy penetrated everywhere…

The mystery religions and Christianity had many similar features – e.g., a time of preparation before initiation and periods of fasting; baptism and banquets; vigils and early-morning ceremonies; pilgrimages and new names for the initiates. The purity demanded in the worship of Sol (the Sun) and in the Chaldean fire rites was similar to Christian standards. The first Christian communities resembled the mystery communities in big cities and seaports by providing social security and the feeling of brotherhood. In the Christian congregations of the first two centuries, the variety of rites and creeds was almost as great as in the mystery communities; few of the early Christian congregations could have been called orthodox according to later standards. The date of Christmas was purposely fixed on December 25 to push into the background the great festival of the sun god, and Epiphany on January 6 (“Orthodox Christmas”) to supplant an Egyptian festival of the same day. The Easter ceremonies rivalled the pagan spring festivals. The religious art of the Christians continued the pagan art of the preceding generations. The Christian representations of the Madonna and child are clearly the continuation of the representations of Isis and her son suckling her breast. The statue of the Good Shepherd carrying his lost sheep and the pastoral themes on Christian sarcophagi were also taken over from pagan craftsmanship. [Emphasis added]…

In the large Gnostic library…in upper Egypt, in 1945, Hermetic writings were found side-by-side with Christian Gnostic texts. The doctrine of the soul taught in Gnostic communities was almost identical to that taught in the mysteries: the soul emanated from the Father, fell into the body, and had to return to its former home. The Greeks interpreted the national religions of the Greek Orient chiefly in terms of Plato’s philosophical and religious concepts. Interpretation in Platonic concepts was also the means by which the Judeo-Christian set of creeds was thoroughly assimilated to Greek ideas by the early Christian thinkers Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Thus, the religions had a common conceptual framework. The doctrinal similarity is exemplified in the case of the pagan writer and philosopher Synesius. The people of Cyrene selected him as the most able man of the city to be their bishopI…in his pagan period he wrote hymns that closely follow the fire theology of the Chaldean Oracles; later he wrote hymns to Christ. The doctrine is almost identical.

The similarity of the religious vocabulary is also great. Mystery religions adopted many expressions from domains of Greek life: they spoke of the assembly (ekklesia) of the mystai; the voyage of life; the ship, the anchor, and the port of religion; and the wreath of the initiate; life was a stage and man the actor. The Christians took over the entire terminology; but many pagan words were strangely twisted: the service of the state (leitourgia) became the ritual, or liturgy, of the church; the decree of the assembly and the opinions of the philosophers (dogma) became the fixed doctrine of Christianity.

The Laodicean church must have been the first among the seven to master the art of ingratiating itself into society as an acceptable variation on broader religious and philosophical constructs. It was no longer good for God’s spiritual healing ministry, neither hot nor cold.

76) The Calculating, Crushed, And Corrupt Churches

“He that hath an ear, let him hear / respond to what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 2:1-7

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If we’re going to understand the prophetic value of these letters we need to know their historical reality.

“Unto the angel / Messenger / Pastor of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” 

This describes the actions of a regional religious leader who makes a regular circuit to support the offshoot churches, and informs us that The First Church of Asia had been successful in church planting.

Like New York, Ephesus was an international seaport city exchanging goods, services and ideas between Nations. According to some sources, Ephesus was at the time second only to Rome as a cosmopolitan center of culture and commerce. At the least it ranked third after Alexandria. Its population in Paul’s day is estimated to be 250,000 – 500,000 people, one of the largest in the Roman Empire, lesser only to Rome at 1 million permanent residents (not counting visitors) and Alexandria at ~500,000. The theater in which Demetrius raised a riot against Paul for his effective preaching against the vows / worship (ergo source of income) of Diana held 56,000 people, larger than a typical college football stadium.

Since prehistoric times the site of Ephesus was a place of pilgrimage for the worship of the Eastern mother goddess, reflected in the sexual rather than philosophical orientation of its religion, called in the Greek tongue Athena or Diana, twin sister of Apollo. This tourism and standard trading benefited greatly by a water route into the hinterland up the Meander River. 

Diana’s status in Asia Minor can be calculated by the wealth poured into her temple, which was the largest Greek temple built in its day. It took 100 years to build, and was ranked among the Seven Wonders of the World. “Apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on anything so grand,” the writer Antipater of Sid whom the on wrote of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Steps soared to a 400-foot-long terrace flanking 127 60-foot marble columns and a statue of the goddess.

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most people in the ancient world made vows to gods to achieve specific, well-defined, short-term goals, such as avoiding illness, ensuring a bountiful harvest, completing a voyage safely, getting rich, or attracting a desirable lover. If the goal was realized, the person who made the vow dedicated a statue or an inscription . . . to the god(s) to pay off the vow.” Rogers refers to this process as…“I give so that you might give,” creating with the gods, he writes, “a reciprocal relationship…

This standard MO is part of Paul’s teaching to Gentiles newly converted from paganism to YHVH’s Savior:

who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things.” (Romans 11:35-36)

NYC’s nickname “the Big Apple” was officially adopted as the result of a successful ad campaign intended to attract tourists. The term has always come down to simply mean the best and biggest of places to be, and New York City has long lived up to its nickname.

Ephesus’ nickname was “Lumen / Light of Asia”. This is referenced in YHVH’s Savior’s intro to the letter to this congregation where he reminds her that he holds and keeps the lights lit. The clear message here is that they need to stay connected to him in their constant struggle to be drawn into connection with Diana. A comparable opening to a letter to a church in NYC might reference biting into beautiful appearing but wormy apple.

The assembly established around 51 AD was a Messianic synagogue.

And [Paul] came to Ephesus…he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews...they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not…saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will…And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord…For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ…Paul…came [back] to Ephesus…and he went into the synagogue…But when divers…spake evil of that way [Jewish sect] before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannusby the space of two years…all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks…So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed…And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.(Acts 18:19-28, 19:1-23)

Ephesus, first bishop was Timothy, who Paul had expressly confirmed a Jew for the purpose of reaching Jews. Under Paul’s direct guidance it grew and multiplied, as in Antioch, with both circumcised Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles accepted into the assembly.

Then, almost 20 years later, knowing that the mother church at Jerusalem was about to be smashed and scattered, Paul wrote his literary and doctrinal masterpiece on the form and function of joint Jewish-Gentile leadership. This was the first time this doctrine was articulated. Ephesus’ location and sphere of influence made their assembly the logical one to pick up the reigns of leadership torn away from Jerusalem after 70 AD.

But Paul’s letter went over like a lead balloon. The Ephesian church rejected Paul’s teaching, sacked Timothy, and used their influence to lead all in Asia to abandon Paul as well. Thirty years later the assembly at Ephesus and her satellite churches were still solidly Jewish. Would they respond to John’s letter more positively than to Paul’s?

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liarsAnd hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee…thou hast left thy first love…Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.” (Revelation 2:5-6)

If we base our analysis on the biblical record, their first love can only be of Paul’s teaching.

First love is an impetuous force that drives actions from the heart. This is so contrary to human nature that it needs to be continuously re-energized by actions from the heart, or it gets lost over time, gradually replaced by a cost-benefit analysis calculating what’s best for the giver or returns the highest numbers. This develops into a dour, self-centered martyrdom, legalistic to a fault.

The primacy of this church – not the one in Rome – can be seen in the fact that Jesus sent his last apostle, John, to shore up their ministry after he was released from the nearby island of Patmos. Clement of Alexandria, writing towards the end of the second century reports “about the Apostle John…when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit.”  Timothy was welcomed back as bishop. Various traditions report that Paul’s devoted disciple Onesimus, a former slave, became the bishop of Ephesus.

“But this thou hast, that thou hates the deeds of the Nico-laitanes, which I also hate.” Revelation 2:6)

The Nicolaitanes are the charter members of the Roman Catholic Church.

For some time the leaders of the Ephesian were sound in Paul’s doctrine, demonstrated by the First Council of Ephesus.

In 190 Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, convened a synod to establish…the date of the Jewish Passover as the official date of Easter. Pope Victor I…repudiated the decision and separated those who disagreed from Rome.

In 200, the same Polycrates rebuked a bishop of Rome, writing to remind him of notable men who maintained church customs, “not deviating in the least but following the rule of the Faith” and quoting “We must obey God rather than men”

In the 4th century the nationalization of Christianity under Constantine paved the way for compromise, demonstrated in the complicated maneuverings at the Second and Third Councils of Ephesus in the 5th century. By the 6th century the harbor had silted up and the city faded into obscurity. In the 7th and 8th centuries Ephesus was taken by Islamic Arabs.

The city was captured in 1090 and destroyed by the Turko-Persian Sunni Moslem Seljuk Turks, but the Byzantines succeeded in retaking it and rebuilt it on the neighbouring hills around the church of St. John. In the 14th century the city was again plundered by the Turks in the first years of the fourteenth century, then by the Catalonian mercenaries in the pay of the Byzantines, and once more by the Turks. The church of St. John was transformed into a mosque, and the city was ruled by a Turkish ameer, who carried on a little trade with the West, but it could no longer maintain its Greek bishop.

The ruin of Ephesus was completed by Timur-Leng / Tamerlane in 1403 and by nearly a half-century of civil wars among its Turkish masters…in 1439 Mark of Ephesus (Marcus Eugenicus)…was the pastor of a miserable village, all that remained of the great city which Pliny once called…lumen Asiae.

Smyrna – The Crisis Church

Revelation 2:8-11

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” 

During the Roman period, Smyrna was apparently a city of great beauty and impressive architecture that circled Mount Pagus like a “crown”... (cf. Revelation 2:10 “crown of life”). Walking through the city, one would a see…temples to Zeus (including a large altar), Cybele (the Mother Goddess, near the harbor), Aphrodite, Dionysius, and the Emperors (probably Tiberius in 26 AD and Domitian before 96 AD), the harbor, a library, and a massive agora…In the 2nd century AD, Smyrna built another imperial temple to Hadrian. Along with inscriptions honoring the emperors and statues of Domitian and Trajan, coins issued by the city often depicted emperors and even the imperial temples, so it is obvious that Smyrna was dedicated to the worship of the emperor and the imperial cult…

Written during the time of Domitian and Christian persecution, the church at Smyrna faced even more opposition than most, due to the strong influence of emperor worship in the city, which at that time was required by law and punishable by imprisonment or death. An interpretation of the reference to the “synagogue of Satan” is tentative, but it may refer to Jews who not only opposed Christianity, but also participated in the imperial cult. Like many other cities of Asia Minor, there was a significant community of Jews, including at least one synagogue. Unfortunately, many of these Jews were fiercely opposed to Christianity, and just as Paul and his friends had been opposed and attacked by Jews in other cities, the Christians in Smyrna also faced persecution from not only the pagans, but the Jews. Polycarp, who had known and been taught by John the Apostle, was martyred in Smyrna at the instigation of Jews in about 156 AD (Martyrdom of Polycarp; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History). 

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

The ten days / eras of tribulation can be tentatively identified through history documented in Will Durant’s Caesar and Christ, and the reports of the early church historian Eusebius.

  1. Nero (reigned 54-68) ushered in the first empire-wide persecution of Christians in 64 when a fire burned out of control in Rome for nine days, destroying two thirds of Rome. Thousands of people were killed, hundreds of thousands made homeless and destitute. A hostile public accused Nero of torching Rome in order to rebuild a more luxuriant capitol like Alexandria or Antioch. To deflect their anger away from himself, Nero accused and convicted a defenseless and expendable minority. Christians were executed with exquisite cruelty topped by mocker. Some were covered with skins of wild beasts and left to be devoured by feral dogs; others were crucified; numbers were burned alive with some being covered with pitch and set on fire to serve as torches. Paul and Peter were martyred in Rome during Nero’s rule.
  2. Domitian (81-96) was a profligate like Nero who elevated himself to godhood. He required officials to refer to him in their documents as “Our Lord and God,” and the populace to sacrifice to his image. Remember, a sacrifice unites the identity of the god with the human, and “no man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). In 93 he organized persecution against Jews and Christians who refused. During this time John was banished to Patmos.

Notice that these two periods of persecution preceded John’s writing while at Patmos, so they aren’t included in the ten “day” but gave the Smyrnans a solid basis to understand and prepare for what was to come.

  1. By 112 persecution of Christians had become so intense that Trajan (98-117) issued a decree that Christians should not be hunted, only punished if encountered. Persecution broke out sporadically in one city at a time as a result of popular uprisings in the same way that riots in America were aroused by certain incidents in particular cities.
  2. In 156 under Antonius Pius Smyrna came under most savage persecution. Consistent with Jesus’ characterization of the unbelieving Jews as belonging to the synagogue of Satan, they inflamed the persecution. We can deduce that the church at Smyrna, like the church at Ephesus under Paul, were winning too many converts and disrupting the financial and power base of the status quo. In a letter sent to other churches detailing the persecution, some martyrs were whipped with scourges to a degree that their entrails and internal organs were laid bare. Some were forced to lie on sharp spikes. After going through every kind of torture they were thrown to the beasts for food. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and a companion of the Apostle John, was burned alive. It is reported of him that “at all times he taught the things which he had learnt from the apostles.”
  3. In 177 under Marcus Aurelius persecution flared up in mob onslaughts in city after city. Martyrs “heroically endured whatever the surging crowd heaped on them, noisy abuse, blows, dragging along the ground, plundering, stoning, imprisonment and everything that an infuriated mob normally does to hated enemies.” Torture was inflicted through the rack, whipping, mauling by beasts, being roasted in an iron chair, and being burned alive.”
  4. In 193-211 under Severus many overcame torture to remain faithful unto death, like Potameaena of Alexandria. “The judge, Aquila, subjected her whole body to dreadful agonies, and finally threatened to hand her over to the gladiators for bodily insult…Slowly, drop by drop, boiling pitch was poured over different parts of her body, from her toes to the crown of her head. Such was the battle won by this splendid girl.”
  5. In 235-238 Maximin instigated persecution of the leaders only of the churches.
  6. In 249-251 Decius ordered Christians to participate in heathen sacrifices. A letter to the church in Antioch describes how “they all ran in a body to the houses of the Christians, charged in by groups on those they knew as neighbors, raided, plundered, and looted.” One man who refused to utter blasphemous words was cudgeled, had pointed reeds driven into his face and eyes, and stoned to death. One woman was dragged by her feet over the cobbled street, beaten as they went, then stoned to death. One old lady was battered until her teeth were knocked out, then threatened with being burned unless she uttered the heathen incantations. She jumped into the fire on her own. No roadway was safe to traverse, always and everywhere everybody was shouting that anyone who did not join the blasphemous changes must at once be dragged away and burned. A vast number fled the cities, wandering over deserts and mountains until hunger, thirst, cold, sickness, bandits or wild beasts destroyed them. Many were enslaved by Saracens.
  7. In 253-260 Valarien’s seven year reign was marked by strong parallels with John’s description of the Antichrist. At first friendly and cooperative with Christians, he then took measures to rid his empire of them.
  8. In 284 during Diocletian’s reign, despite these persecutions, the church had swelled in numbers and strength throughout the empire. Even the Emperor’s wife and daughter were professing Christians. Old places of worship were torn down and spacious edifices built. “But increasing freedom transformed our character to arrogance…we began envying and abusing each other…with weapons of sharp-edged words.” (Eusebius) An imperial decree ordered the heads of churches everywhere to be imprisoned. During this time a Christian who refused to sacrifice was stripped, hoisted up naked, and his whole body scourged. Vinegar and salt was poured over his lacerated body, then piece by piece his body was roasted in a brazier. Some martyrs were torn to bits from head to foot with shards of pottery as sharp as claws, some crucified, some crucified head-down which allowed breathing so extended the torture even longer, and left to starve to death. Women were stripped naked, tied by one foot and hoisted high in the air head down presenting the most shameful and brutal spectacles. Others had their legs tied to tree branches forced down by the aid of machinery, which, when released back to their upright positions would slowly tear about the limbs of the victims. There are accounts of occasions where on a single day 100 men, women and children were tortured to death in an ever-changing succession of torments for the entertainment of the masses.
  9. in 286-305 under Maximian martyrs were killed in Arabia by the ax (doesn’t sound so bad in comparison, right?) in Cappadocia by breaking their legs, in Mesopotamia by being hung head down over a slow fire to be smothered by smoke, in Alexandria butchered like meat, in Antioch slow roasted over a brazier, In Pontus unmentionable and shameful suffering inflicted in their private parts and bowels.
  10. In 305-313 Maximin, the eastern potentate of a divided and crumbling Roman Empire, banished and attacked Christians.

After Constantine seized the day and the empire from Maximin and legalized Christianity, Smyrna prospered as a commercial gateway to the East, which then attracted the attention of many invaders.

  1. In 1084 the Seljuk Turks destroyed Smyrna and gave their name to the region.
  2. In 1130 the Persians destroyed the rebuilt Smyrna
  3. In 1402 Tamerlaine razed Smyrna and butchered the inhabitants in a legendary orgy of cruelty, raising a monument to himself with a thousand skulls.

In 1922 Smyrna was erased from the map, replaced by the Moslem city of Izmir.

in the final act in Turkey’s genocide of its Christian minorities...Mustapha Kemal’s army entered Smyrna on September 9th, 1922. By September 22nd…fire — lit by Turkish forces — swept through the city and burned the Greek and Armenian quarters to the ground, erasing anything that would remind future generations of their presence…

At the time, the city of Smyrna was predominantly Greek [Orthodox], known for its thriving commercial trade.

Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish troops, was a firebrand who made it known that he wanted to be called the founder of “New Islam…” The Allied Navy, comprised of the American, British and French ships anchored off the port…were a guarantee of their safety, they thought…

However…The Allied sailors and soldiers watched the Turkish troops unleash their hate on the non-Turkish residents — but…did nothing to intervene in the atrocity. Patriarch Chrysostomos, the head of all the Greek Orthodox faithful around the world, was hanged by Turkish soldiers after being brutally tortured. The atrocities had no end until Smyrna was emptied [of Christians].

Pergamos – The Corrupt Church

Revelation 2:12-17

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”

Wow. Satan’s seat, his government headquarters where he keeps a permanent residence, would be the equivalent of Washington DC. Wouldn’t that be in Rome? But our Lord is telling us that it is in Pergamos! Why on earth in Pergamos?

Pergamon, whose ancient name…means “people of the high city”, had been inhabited since prehistory.

There must surely be a connection with the nearby prehistoric temple complex Gobekli Tepe.

“This is the first human-built holy place…”

we can see to the horizon in nearly every direction…”This area was like a paradise,” says Schmidt, a member of the German Archaeological Institute. Indeed, Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant. And partly because Schmidt has found no evidence that people permanently resided on the summit of Gobekli Tepe itself, he believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity’s first “cathedral on a hill.”

So where did the vast number of laborers needed for such a building project reside? Close we find “the world’s oldest town” Catalhoyuk. 

One of the primary goals of the archaeological work is to gain some insight into why people chose to settle in communities like Catalhoyuk…The village had no streets or alleyways. Houses were packed so close together people entered their houses through their roofs and often went from place to place via the roofs, which were made of wood and reeds plastered with mud and often reached by ladders and stairways.

This describes a fort or a prison.

a 32-acre site in southern Turkey… Çatalhöyük was home to as many as 8,000 people at its peak

Recently, archaeologists…discovered “a compelling record of elevated levels of interpersonal violence”…About 25% of the 95 examined skulls showed healed injuries made by small spherical projectiles, probably a clay ball flung by a slingshot. Many of these clay spheres were also preserved around the site, according to the study.

See the post Sin City for details on the development and use of cities by Cain and his line to achieve domination. It’s just basic military strategy of gathering necessary resources.

Pergamos, AKA Pergamon, benefited greatly from becoming one of the first and most loyal supporters of Rome during the transition of power from Greece to Rome during the first and second Macedonian Wars (~240-200 BC).

Ah-ha! This makes sense now, in light of the spiritual forces behind the scenes in human government.

“Fear not, Daniel…I am come for thy words. 

  1. Babylon, the first empire of this series, was already conquered by Persian at the time of this prophecy
  2. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me…and when I am gone forth, lo,
  3. the prince of Grecia shall comeAnd a mighty king [Alexander the Great] shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his willAnd…his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity [Alexander’s four generals]
  4. even for others beside thosethe king of the north shall come (Daniel 11)

While Seleucid kings can certainly be identified in some of the actions of one or another individual labeled a king of the north, that doesn’t exclude Roman rulers from also being referenced. Cycles and repeating patterns of history are not only common but reported in announcements like “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be…” (Luke 17:26). Specific to the prophecy, actions known to have been performed by the third empire ruler Antiochus Epiphanes are prophecied to be repeated by a Roman emperor in the 1st Century 

“arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. (v 31)

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place…” (Matthew 24:15)

Daniel wouldn’t name Rome because, at the time of the prophecy in the 6th century BC, it was only a backwater frontier fort.

Possibly Carthage could have won the Punic Wars and become the fourth great Empire, Carthage was certainly fighting for the honor. Based on Daniel’s revelation, spirit beings swayed the balance of power to Rome.

Including Satan himself, naturally. But that doesn’t mean he moved his seat of government to Europe. He is deeply attached to the cradle of his civilization.

The known history of Babylon…begins with its most famous king: Hammurabi...This obscure Amorite [AKA hybrid giant, see the post A Nimrod By Any Name]…transformed the city into one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia…

The Assyrian Ashurbanipal of Nineveh (r. 668-627 BCE)…besieged and defeated the city but did not damage it to any great extent and, in fact, personally purified Babylon of the evil spirits which were thought to have led to the trouble. The reputation of the city as a center of learning and culture was already well established by this time.

Under Persian rule…Cyrus and his successors…made it the administrative capital of their empire…Babylonian mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy were highly respected.

achaemenid-empire-gif-1

Alexander the Great in 331 BCE…also gave great reverence to the city.

Alexander also kept the seat of government of his conquered eastern territories in Babylon.

At Alexander’s death, Seleucus was well situated as the governor of Babylon to seize control of the biggest and best chunk of territory, stretching from Iran to Syria.

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For those of us who believe in the spirit world, Satan’s backing of Seleucus is evident by the transfer of Babylon to Seleucus, and Seleucus’ success during the interminable power struggles between Alexander’s hopeful successors in the Wars of the Diadochi. However, the many battles over Alexander’s empire in general, and the city of Babylon specifically, led to the destruction of Babylon. By the time the Parthian Empire ruled the region in 141 BCE, Babylon was deserted and forgotten.

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Forcing Satan to move his seat of government. Remember, Satan knows scripture, so he was aware of the upcoming fourth empire, so he moved East.

This was unfolding during the Punic [for Phoenician] Wars from 264 BC – 146 BC between Rome, which had become the dominant power in the Italian peninsula, and Carthage, the greatest marine power in the Mediterranean. Built on the considerable wealth, knowledge and connections of Phoenician refugees from Alexander’s destruction of the great industrial and trade center of Tyre in 332 BCE, Carthage had a really good shot at becoming the fourth empire.

ancient-rome-15-638

So the logical place to face off against the rising power of the fourth empire was the western tip of his Seleucid empire.

And that was Pergamon. It all makes sense when we view world history from military strategy perspectives.

After backing the right horse in the Roman–Seleucid War of 192-188, Pergamon was rewarded with the bulk of the Seleucid territories, making it one of the major cultural centres of the Greek world, This kingdom was so large and rich that when the king of Pergamon died without an heir in 133 BC and bequeathed Pergamon to Rome, it was divided between Rome, Pontus, and Cappadocia, with the bulk of its territory becoming the new Roman province of Asia.

  • Pliny the Elder refers to the city as the most important in the province of Asia at the time, and the local aristocracy reached the highest circles of power in government at Rome. Think of the governor of Georgia becoming president of the country.
  • In 123 Hadrian elevated Pergamos above its local rivals, Ephesus and Smyrna by rewarding it the rank of metropolis – a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections, commerce, and communications. At this time Pergamon was one of the largest cities in the province of Asia, along with Ephesus and Smyrna, and had around 200,000 inhabitants.
  • Pergamos expanded its shrine to Asclepius (the god of healing) into a lavish spa which was considered one of the most famous therapeutic and healing centers of the Roman world. Galen, the most famous physician of antiquity aside from Hippocrates, was born at Pergamon and received his early training at the Asclepeion.

Most significant of all, the first imperial cult in the province of Asia was established in Pergamos, for Augustus, the first imperial cultist. Pergamos was rewarded with a coveted neocorate, a rank or dignity granted to cities which built temples to the Emperor or established cults of the Imperial family. The city received a second neocorate, from Trajan in AD 113/4, and its third from Caracalla about a hundred years later.

Many remains of Pergamon’s cult temples can still be seen – especially the masterpiece of the Pergamon Altar.

Pop quiz: Who is being worshipped at the this altar?

The Gigantomachy frieze on the outside walls of the Pergamon altar…The struggle of the Olympian gods, supported by Heracles, the astrological deities governing the days and hours and originating in the ancient race of the Titans, personifications of the forces of war and fate, sea creatures, and Dionysus with his followers, appears much rather to be a cosmological event of general ethical relevance. It…was certainly not designed without political considerations, as was the case with all artistic image metaphors depicting the struggle between the good and just principle — the Olympian gods and their helpers — and evil — the chaotic forces of nature in the form of the earthbound Giants…especially Zeus [deduced to be Satan in the post The Seed of the Serpent] father of the gods, and his daughter Athena, since they appear in prominent locations of the Gigantomachy frieze…

No research is undisputed concerning this most famous artistic masterpiece of Pergamon, neither the builder nor the date nor the occasion nor the purpose of the construction. –Wolfgang Radt

it is undisputed that the great altar of Pergamon is one of the most significant works, if not the apex, of Hellenistic art.

Its thousands of fragments were painstakingly excavated from 1878 until 1886 and its pieces transported to Berlin and the altar reconstructed and displayed in the new museum named the Pergamon Museum. This museum also houses a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon.

Pergamonmuseum Pergamonaltar

So the church at Pergamos were up against the lead adversary of all, and Jesus Christ understood that. Over and over he reminds us that the criteria by which our works are judged are faithfulness and perseverance, not productivity.

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.”

“Nicolaitans”...derived from two Gr. words, nikan, which meant “to conquer” and laos, which meant “people…”Balaam…from two Heb. words, bela which meant “to conquer” and ha’am, which meant “people…” the Gr. and Heb. forms of the same name…the seduction of the Israelites into immoral and idolatrous unions wth the women of Moab (Num 25:1-5Numbers 31:16) [is] attributed…to the evil influence of a prophet named Balaam…The decree of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:28, 29) had laid down…two specific conditions upon which Gentiles were to be admitted into Christian fellowship: they were to abstain from things offered to idols and from fornication. These were the very regulations which the Nicolaitans violated.

IIrenaeus said that they were followers of Nicolaus of Antioch, a proselyte who was among the seven men chosen to serve the Jerusalem congregation (Acts 6:5), who had forsaken true Christian doctrine…Clement of Alexandria…observed that the Nicolaitans abandoned themselves to pleasures like goats in a life of shameless self-indulgence (The Miscellianes 2:20).

They were a people who used Christian liberty as an occasion for the flesh, against such Paul warned (Gal 5:13). The…pagan society in which Christians lived…eating meat offered to idols was common. Sex relations outside marriage were completely acceptable…The Nicolaitans attempted to establish a compromise with the pagan society of the Graeco-Roman world that surrounded them. The people most susceptible to such teaching were, no doubt, the upper classes who stood to lose the most by a separation from the culture…

They prob. reasoned that…A Christian…was the recipient of grace which meant that grace and forgiveness were his no matter what he did. They were those ready to compromise with the world. They were judged by the author of Revelation to be most dangerous because the result of their teaching would have conformed Christianity to the world rather than have Christianity change the world. 

And isn’t that exactly what happened? Like Gomer, Pergamos committed spiritual adultery with her pagan neighbors, and her bastard son is politicized Christianity.

“Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:16)

During the Crisis of the Third Century, the economic strength of Pergamon collapsed. In 262 the city was badly damaged in an earthquake, then was sacked by the Goths shortly thereafter.

Pop quiz. Where did Satan move his seat? No, not Rome.

[T]he empire would see over 20 emperors rise and fall in the almost 50 years between 235-284 CE as compared with the 26 emperors who reigned from the time of Augustus Caesar (27 BCE – 14 CE) to Severus, 27 BCE – 235 CE, a period of over 250 years. The empire was restored through the efforts of Emperor Aurelian (270-275 CE) whose initiatives were developed further by Diocletian (284-305 CE) who is credited with ending the crisis and ensuring the future survival of the empire…

His final solution…was his famous division of the realm between the Eastern and the Western Roman Empires, which made each more manageable under the reign of their respective emperors…the Western Roman Empire for almost 200 years and the Eastern Roman Empire (known as the Byzantine Empire) until 1453 CE.

75) The Canon Of Scripture

Unlike religions such as Islam, where the Quran is only truly the Quran in the original Arabic…In any language in which the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are faithfully rendered, they are still the word of God,…necessary to bring the gospel message to all people everywhere.

The Old Testament Scriptures of the Hebrew Bible were brought into other common languages for centuries before the coming of Jesus Christ, and indeed were a great help to the early church. [Emphasis added.] After the time of Alexander the Great, Greek became the common language of much of the ancient world…Many Jews dispersed throughout that world began to speak Greek as their primary language. This eventually led to the need for a Greek translation [the Septuagint].

The Septuagint is often quoted verbatim in the New Testament and was very important to the early church. Gentile Christians knew nothing of Hebrew, and so the Septuagint was their Bible…The Early Church used the Old Testament, namely the Septuagint (LXX) among Greek speakers…The Apostles did not otherwise leave a defined set of new scriptures...[Emphasis added.]

Christian writers before 100 quote the Old, but never the New, Testament.

What, exactly, were they quoting and how did those scriptures come to be authorized?

Continue reading “75) The Canon Of Scripture”

Section XIV: Church Splits

The historical record shows that, just as Jesus and the New Testament writers foretold, various heretical ideas and teachers rose up from within the early Church and infiltrated it from without.Christ Himself warned His followers: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name… and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).

You can read many similar warnings in other passages (such as Matthew 24:11; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2 Peter 2:1-2; 1 John 2:18-26; 1 John 4:1-3).

Barely two decades after Christ’s death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote that many believers were already “turning away . . . to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He wrote that he was forced to contend with “false apostles, deceitful workers” who were fraudulently “transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). One of the major problems he had to deal with was “false brethren” (2 Corinthians 11:26).

By late in the first century, as we see from 3 John 9-10, conditions had grown so dire that false ministers openly refused to receive representatives of the apostle John and were excommunicating true Christians from the Church!

Of this troubling period Edward Gibbon, the famed historian, wrote in his classic work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of a “dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church” (1821, Vol. 2, p. 111).

It wasn’t long before true servants of God became a marginalized and scattered minority among those calling themselves Christian. A very different religion, now compromised with many concepts and practices rooted in ancient paganism (such mixing of religious beliefs being known as syncretism, common in the Roman Empire at the time), took hold and transformed the faith founded by Jesus Christ.

Historian Jesse Hurlbut says of this time of transformation: “We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 A.D., ‘The Age of Shadows,’…

“For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very dfferent from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (The Story of the Christian Church, 1970, p. 33)…

By the second century, faithful members of the Church, Christ’s “little flock” (Luke 12:32), had largely been scattered by waves of deadly persecution. They held firmly to the biblical truth about Jesus Christ and God the Father, though they were persecuted by…those who professed Christianity but were in reality teaching “another Jesus” and a “different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9).

Marcion rejected the theology of the Old Testament entirely and regarded the God depicted there as an inferior being. In the Antithesis, he claimed the theology of the Old Testament was incompatible with the teaching of Jesus regarding God and morality…

He spread his beliefs widely; they became known as Marcionism. In the introduction to his book “Early Christian Writings”, Henry Wace…”could not refuse to discuss the question raised by Marcion, whether there is such opposition between different parts of what he regards as the word of God, that all cannot come from the same author.”

In the second century CE the Christian writer and thinker Marcion of Sinope (c. 85–160 CE) refused to accept Yahweh, the deity described in the Old Testament, as the “Heavenly Father” proclaimed by Jesus.

Marcion concluded that the Old Testament god was…a mere tribal god of the Jewish people, while Jesus preached of a God marked by compassion, love, and mercy. Marcion wrote his Antitheses, in which he contrasts these two beings…

Speaking of antitheses, Marcion’s opinion is antithetical to Jesus’ and Paul’s words.

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.(Mark 12:28-34)

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do itI call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life.” (Deuteronomy 30)

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;” (Romans 10:6-8)

So how do people get by claiming that the God of the Old Testament is completely different from the God of the New?

There is a psychological condition called “splitting” found in the psychotic disorder of schizophrenia and Borderline personality disorder, which is called “borderline” precisely because it often hovers on the border of psychosis.

Splitting is a term that came out of classical (psychoanalytical or psychodynamic) schools of thought and refers to an unconscious ego defense mechanism by which a fairly complex entity cannot be accepted into consciousness in its entirety because it contains aspects that are both acceptable to a person as well as unacceptable. [Emphasis added.] Relatively underdeveloped personalities, most especially borderline personalities, have a hard time incorporating into consciousness seemingly contradictory aspects of the same person or thing. So, they unconsciously separate or “split” objects into two categories, seeing the “good” side of a person or thing as the part they find acceptable and the “bad” side of the person or thing as the part they find painful or unacceptable.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The defense mechanism of splitting allows dysfunctional personalities to reject the Old Testament righteous YHVH who punishes sin while believing in a contradictory New Testament YHVH’s Savior who blithely dismisses sin.

This is a disorder leading to self destruction.

Popular evangelist Andy Stanley…said that Christians need to “unhitch” the Old Testament from their faith…“Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures,[Really! This is a statement that demands research.] and my friends, we must as well.” 

In his sermon, Stanley expressed his concern that many Christians are turning away from the faith because of certain passages in the Old Testament. He argues the early church moved past the Old Testament for the sake of newly converted Gentile believers…

“Jesus’ new covenant, His covenant with the nations, His covenant with you, His covenant with us…does not need propping up by the Jewish scriptures,” Stanley told the congregation. “The Bible did not create Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus created and launched Christianity. Your whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling down…It’s liberating for men and women who are drawn to the simple message that God loves you so much He sent His Son to pave the way to a relationship with you…it’s liberating for people who find it virtually impossible to embrace the dynamic, the worldview, and the values system depicted in the story of Ancient Israel.” [Emphasis added]…

The video of Stanley’s “Aftermath” series on the North Point Community Church’s website has the following introduction.

“If you were raised on a version of Christianity that relied on the Bible as the foundation of faith, a version that was eventually dismantled by academia or the realities of life, maybe it’s time for you to change your mind about Jesus. Maybe it’s time for you to consider the version of Christianity that relies on the event of the resurrection of Jesus as its foundation. If you gave up your faith because of something about or in the Bible, maybe you gave up unnecessarily.”

Let’s consider the reality of a “version” of Christianity that unhitches from the foundation of the Old Testament.

To begin with, in the first century, what we call the Christian Church was unquestionably a minority sect of Judaism.

all the church…were all with one accord in Solomon’s porchAnd believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women…There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem…Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation.And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life…they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel…they doubted of them whereunto this would grow…And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said…Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sinsWhen they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them

  • For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
  • After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.” (Acts 5)

As the capitol of the Empire, Rome had become home to a vast population of Jews who had been brought back as slaves after wars, or had emigrated voluntarily for economic opportunities. Think New York City.

As in Jerusalem, the large population of Jews in Rome presented both opportunities for expansion among the people, and suppression by the entrenched leadership who feared reprisal by Rome for any disruption to Roman law and order.

[Writing in 59 BC] “You know what a big crowd it is, how they stick together, how influential they are in informal assemblies….” Cicero’s remarks…indicate misgivings about their separatist tendencies. “[T]he great section of Rome on the other side of the Tiber is occupied and inhabited by Jews, most of whom were…brought as captives to Italy [then] liberated by their owners… [T]hey have houses of prayer and meet together in them, particularly on the sacred Sabbaths when they receive as a body of training in their ancestral philosophy…

“with the proscription of the Egyptian and Jewish rites…a senatorial edict directed that four thousand descendants of enfranchised slaves…suitable in point of age, were to be shipped to Sardinia and there be employed in suppressing brigandage … The rest had orders to leave Italy, unless they had renounced their impious ceremonial by a given date.”

[In AD 41 The Emperor] Claudius…ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings”….[and then] “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome…” [Another Roman historian writes] Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because in their resentment against Christ they were continually creating disturbances…’

Paul’s first encounter with Aquila and Priscilla can be dated to around A.D. 49…

Paul addresses Christians in the city…in the late 50’s…[indicating] the development of Christianity in Rome…years before Paul’s direct contact with the people there. Christians such as Prisca and Aquila had returned to Rome after having been banished from the city…

From Paul’s greetings in Romans 16, we can discern the existence of several gatherings of Christians in the city…[S]ome of the individuals are identified as Jews…while many of the remaining are likely Gentiles…mirrors the shared identity the Jews felt in spite of their participation in separate synagogues…

Acts 2:10 includes visitors from Rome in the list of people who witnessed the events of Pentecost…

Once Jewish Christians reached Rome, they would have had relatively unhindered ministry access in the synagogues, since no Jewish controlling authority could step in to quickly and definitively oppose the propagation of the message.

A competing theory promotes Peter as the carrier of the gospel to Rome…More likely, relatively obscure Christians made contributions to the church’s establishment…“It is established that there were Jews living in Rome in the times of the apostles, and that those Jews who had believed [in Christ] passed on to the Romans the tradition that they ought to profess Christ but keep the law … One ought…to praise their faith; because without seeing any signs or miracles and without seeing any apostles, they nevertheless accepted faith in Christ.”

And sure enough, both the Jews as a whole and the sect of believers experienced too much direct persecution in Rome to be in a position to lead anything, the prime examples being Paul and Peter.

To all its subject peoples, Rome granted religious toleration as long as they also honored Roman gods…

In 63 B.C., the Romans conquered Judea…the Jews refused to pay homage to Roman gods. Rome gave in and…recognized Judaism as a legal religion, allowing Jews to worship freely…

Rome had good reasons to tolerate the Jewish religion. First, it was a well-established religion with a long history. Most important, Rome wanted to keep the people of Judea from revolting. Neither of these reasons applied to Christianity. This new offshoot of the Jewish religion had little support at first among the people of Judea…

[W]hen Rome first became aware of Christianity around A.D. 30…[t]hinking this sect might weaken the always bothersome Jewish religion, Emperor Tiberius asked the Senate to legalize the Christian faith and declare Christ a Roman god. But the Senate refused. Instead, it pronounced Christianity to be an “illegal superstition,” a crime under Roman law.

[In] A.D. 64, a fire began in…the great arena in Rome…and for six days consumed much of the city, including Emperor Nero’s palace.

Immediately, the rumor spread that Nero himself had caused the great fire to clear space for a new palace…

Fearful that Roman mobs would turn on him, Nero cast about for a scapegoat…an unpopular small religious minority, the Christians.

Christians made an easy target for scapegoating. The common people of Rome believed rumors about Christians…because they…withdrew from normal social life. Many pagans feared that the gods would become angry and punish the Roman people since Christians refused to participate in the old religious rituals…

Since the Christian religion was still illegal, it was easy to order mass arrests, trials, and executions. The Christian martyrs suffered horrible deaths. Roman historian Tacitus described Nero’s methods of execution:

Dressed in wild animal skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight. Nero provided his Gardens for the spectacle, and exhibited displays in the Circus…

For many years, Christians lived with the uncertainty that another persecution could erupt at any time.

Paul only reluctantly transferred leadership of the body of believers in YHVH’s Savior from Jews to Gentiles, detailed in his letter to the church in Ephesus, after he could not raise enough leadership among the Jews in Rome.

“And when we came to Rome…Paul called the chief of the Jews together…to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the [leadership for the] salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” (Acts 28:16-31)

“For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (The Story of the Christian Church, 1970, p. 33)…

By the second century, faithful members of the Church, Christ’s “little flock” (Luke 12:32), had largely been scattered by waves of deadly persecution. They held firmly to the biblical truth about Jesus Christ and God the Father, though they were persecuted by…those who professed Christianity but were in reality teaching “another Jesus” and a “different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9).

in the year 315, Constantine issued the following edict: We wish to make it known to the Jews and their elders and their patriarchs that if, after the enactment of this law, any one of them dares to attack with stones or some other manifestation of anger another who has fled their dangerous sect and attached himself to the worship of God [Christianity], he must speedily be given to flames and burn— together with all his accomplices. Moreover, if any one of the population should join their abominable sect and attend their meetings, he will bear with them the deserved penalties. This law had two purposes. One was to prevent Jews from interfering with relatives or friends who converted to Christianity. The other was to discourage Christians from converting to Judaism…[Actually, the edict is against the “population”, i.e. pagans, joining the original Jesus Movement of Messianic Judaism instead of Christianity.] By 325 CE, Constantine had absolute power in Rome; in ancient times this meant both political and religious power. That year he summoned 250 Christian bishops to a council in Nicaea… The council began by adopting a creed—a statement of common beliefs. The Nicene Creed expresses a belief in God, in Jesus Christ as the son of God, and in the Holy Spirit. But the bishops of the church went beyond simply defining what Christians believe. At this and later councils, they also moved to distinguish Christianity from Judaism. For example, early Christians, like other Jews, had observed the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week and then celebrated Jesus’s resurrection with special gatherings and meals on the first day of the week (Saturday night or Sunday). Now the council insisted that Christians would observe only Sunday and not the traditional Jewish Sabbath. The bishops also separated Christian commemorations of Easter from Jewish observances of Passover (the Jewish festival during which Jesus was crucified).

After the 2020 American elections that has got to sound like politics as usual.

Different ideas about Christ’s divinity lead to conflict

This was the setting in which the doctrine of the Trinity emerged. In those early decades after Jesus Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection, and spanning the next few centuries, various ideas sprang up as to His exact nature. Was He man? Was He God? Was He God appearing as a man? Was He an illusion? Was He a mere man who became God? Was He created by God the Father, or did He exist eternally with the Father?

All of these ideas had their proponents. The unity of belief of the original Church was lost as new beliefs, many borrowed or adapted from pagan religions, replaced the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

Let us be clear that when it comes to the intellectual and theological debates in those early centuries that led to the formulation of the Trinity, the true Church was largely absent from the scene, having been driven underground. (See the chapter “The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity” in our free booklet The Church Jesus Built for an overview of this critical period.).

For this reason, in that stormy period we often see debates not between truth and error, but between one error and a different error—a fact seldom recognized by many modern scholars yet critical for our understanding.

A classic example of this was the dispute over the nature of Christ that led the Roman emperor Constantine the Great to convene the Council of Nicaea (in modern-day western Turkey) in A.D. 325.

Constantine, although held by many to be the first “Christian” Roman Emperor, was actually a sun-worshiper who was only baptized on his deathbed…He was also vehemently anti-Semitic, referring in one of his edicts to “the detestable Jewish crowd” and “the customs of these most wicked men”—customs that were in fact rooted in the Bible and practiced by Jesus and the apostles.

As emperor in a period of great tumult within the Roman Empire, Constantine was challenged with keeping the empire unified. He recognized the value of religion in uniting his empire. This was, in fact, one of his primary motivations in accepting and sanctioning the “Christian” religion (which, by this time, had drifted far from the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles and was Christian in name only)…

Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 as much for political reasons—for unity in the empire—as religious ones. The primary issue at that time came to be known as the Arian controversy.

“In the hope of securing for his throne the support of the growing body of Christians he had shown them considerable favor and it was to his interest to have the church vigorous and united. The Arian controversy was threatening its unity and menacing its strength…

Arius, a priest from Alexandria, Egypt, taught that Christ, because He was the Son of God, must have had a beginning and therefore was a special creation of God. Further, if Jesus was the Son, the Father of necessity must be older.

Opposing the teachings of Arius was Athanasius, a deacon also from Alexandria. His view was an early form of Trinitarianism wherein the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were one but at the same time distinct from each other…

As emperor, Constantine was in the unusual position of deciding church doctrine even though he was not really a Christian. (The following year…he had both his wife and son murdered)…

Norbert Brox, a professor of church history, confirms that Constantine was never actually a converted Christian: “Constantine did not experience any conversion; there are no signs of a change of faith in him. He never said of himself that he had turned to another god . . . At the time when he turned to Christianity, for him this was Sol Invictus (the victorious sun god)” (A Concise History of the Early Church, 1996, p. 48).

When it came to the Nicene Council, The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: “Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council…

With the emperor’s approval, the Council rejected the minority view of Arius and, having nothing definitive with which to replace it, approved the view of Athanasius—also a minority view. The church was left in the odd position of officially supporting, from that point forward, the decision made at Nicaea to endorse a belief held by only a minority of those attending…more than three centuries after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection…

Nicene decision didn’t end the debate

After the council, the bishops went on teaching as they had before…Arius and his followers fought back and managed to regain imperial favor. Athanasius was exiled no fewer than five times. It was very difficult to make his creed stick” (pp. 110-111).

The ongoing disagreements were at times violent and bloody. Of the aftermath of the Council of Nicaea, noted historian Will Durant writes, “Probably more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in these two years (342-3) than by all the persecutions of Christians by pagans in the history of Rome” (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 4: The Age of Faith, 1950, p. 8). Atrociously, while claiming to be Christian many believers fought and slaughtered one another over their differing views of God..

“During the middle decades of this century, from 340 to 380, the history of doctrine looks more like the history of court and church intrigues and social unrest . . . The central doctrines hammered out in this period often appear to have been put through by intrigue or mob violence rather than by the common consent of Christendom led by the Holy Spirit” (p. 119)…

The inevitable results of the early Church incorporating pagan beliefs and practices and distancing itself from Judaism was that Judaism likewise determinedly eliminated Jesus Christ-ian, i.e. Messia-nic, elements from its new orthodoxy. This version, along with other monotheistic religions like Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and others rejects the Messiah as God in human flesh.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that YHVHS’s Anointed Savior /  Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”(I John 4:1-3)

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake…I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:7-18)

Despite the Son’s clear statements of being one with the Father and the Spirit and the utter lack of description of God in three persons anywhere in the Bible, “The greatest dogma of the Christian faith is the mystery of the Holy Trinity.” This was not accidental. The intentional program and inevitable results of the clearly heretical Church councils was to divide and conquer God’s people.

“In the second half of the fourth century, three theologians from the province of Cappadocia in eastern Asia Minor [today central Turkey]…proposed an idea that was a step beyond Athanasius’ view—that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit were…distinct from one another.

These men—Basil, bishop of Caesarea, his brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus—were all “trained in Greek philosophy” (Armstrong, p. 113), which no doubt affected their outlook and beliefs (see “Greek Philosophy’s Influence on the Trinity Doctrine“).

In their view, as Karen Armstrong explains, “the Trinity only made sense as a mystical or spiritual experience . . . It was not a logical or intellectual formulation but an imaginative paradigm that confounded reason. Gregory of Nazianzus made this clear when he explained that contemplation of the Three in One induced a profound and overwhelming emotion that confounded thought and intellectual clarity…

Little wonder that, as Armstrong concludes, “For many Western Christians . . . the Trinity is simply baffling” (ibid.).

Ongoing disputes lead to the Council of Constantinople

In the year 381, 44 years after Constantine’s death, Emperor Theodosius the Great convened the Council of Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey) to resolve these disputes. Gregory of Nazianzus, recently appointed as archbishop of Constantinople, presided over the council and urged the adoption of his view of the Holy Spirit…

Gregory berated the bishops for… [not] simply accepting ‘the Divine Word’ of the Trinity on his authority” (A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State, 2008, p. 96).

Gregory soon became ill and had to withdraw from the council…

Bizarrely, a man who up to this point wasn’t a Christian was appointed to preside over a major church council tasked with determining what it would teach regarding the nature of God

The Trinity becomes official doctrine

The council adopted a statement that translates into English as, in part: “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages . . . And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets . . .” The statement also affirmed belief “in one holy, catholic [meaning in this context universal, whole or complete] and apostolic Church . . .”

With this declaration in 381the Trinity as generally understood today became the official belief and teaching concerning the nature of God.

When we examine the results of adopting the doctrine of the Trinity, we find not only separation of God into multiple persons but also separation of Judaism from Christianity due to its emersion / identification / baptism into pagan secular government.

“if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits [what they produce]...A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:15-23)

The ultimate accomplishment of separating the event of the resurrection of Jesus from the Old Testament is separation of Christianity from its biblical foundation, making it Paganism which for thousands of years has been celebrating the resurrection of Tammuz and Mithras without the backing of the Old Testament. How can Christians who claim to be fundamentalists and Bible-believing be so blind when they celebrate Christmas and Easter?

Two thousand years later, on what are Christians basing their faith? The Apostles’ testimony of Jesus or Constantine’s edicts?

Section XVIII: I Came Not To Bring Peace, But A Sword

The reason the King List in Luke 3:23-38 goes all the way back in time to Adam, and not just to David, is to prove that Jesus of Nazareth inherited not only

  1. the right to rule over Israel from David,
  2. but also the authority to rule over God’s Kingdom of Heaven and Earth / Creation as Melchizedek from Adam through David.

Jesus’ Melchizedekian role is also expressed in the immediate continuation of Luke’s biography.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: [that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet…Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:13-17)]

and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And…he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and…began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:14-21)

We recognize the royal lineage from Judah, but I don’t think we also appreciate the clear statement that  Jesus also inherited the right to be  the lawgiver, like Moses, i.e. High Priest, along with his kingshipand that’s why the corrupt religious rulers of his day were getting the shivers at the idea of acknowledging him as the Melchizedek. 

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Messiah / Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst [dared] any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matt 22:41-46)

What we post-New Testament readers get from this is that Jesus is alluding to his divine paternity. While that is true, there is also another meaning in this passage that would have been the first thing to come to the minds of the 1st century Jews anticipating Messiah’s arrival.

The issue that Jesus presented to the Pharisees is that their expected Christ – the Messiah, the Promised One, the Seed of the Woman / Son of God going back in time to Adam – is not just the heir to King David’s throne over Israel, but the last of a series of Lords including and preceding and succeeding David who were granted dominion over all creation, signified by sitting, i.e. co-reigning with LORD / YHWH as Messiahs / Christs / Anointed Ones.

And the LORD said unto me…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:16-19)

With this background information, we can pick up on the unspoken exchanges between Jesus and the Pharisees, and the vociferous exchanges between Pilate and the Jewish rulers. Accepting Jesus as the King of the Jews would require not just overthrowing Herod in Judea, but Caesar in Rome, on whom the current Hellenized rulers, AKA Jews, depended for political, social and economic power.

And don’t overlook the rest of the passage from which Jesus is quoting.  The obsessively literate Pharisees wouldn’t have. There’s that sticky bit about “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.As we shall see, that would require a revolution against not just the current political, but also the religious, regime. This is why they dared not engage with Jesus any longer.

Continuing in Dr. Gibb’s account of history:

Once more the emphasis shifted when the king as priest was challenged by the growing claims of the professional clergy, so that the king’s major functions became limited to those of ruler, judge, and lawgiver under Yahweh. As a result of what Aage Bentzen calls ‘a sort of “secularisation” of kingship in later pre-exilic periods’, not only did the priests deny certain cultic rights to the king, but, according to Bentzen, even the function of lawgiving became less intimately associated with the Davidic kingship; the priests (that is, the Levites in the Deuteronomic sense) increasingly rivalled the king in this association. Thus we can see that, at the least, the rich meaning of the idea of the king as the son of God tended to fade in practice as time passed, no matter what dating may be agreed upon for the various passages which refer to his sonship, and that the priests in many respects picked up the pieces.”

By Jesus’ day both the Aaronic lineage of priests and the Davidic royal dynasty had been supplanted by first the Hasmoneans then the Herodians. Throw in the Roman overlords, and the Messianic Savior Melchisedec had to win a world war to regain his kingdom.

The Hasmonean dynasty [established by a priest, the brother of Judah the Maccabee / Hammer who led the victorious revolt against foreign rule] …was a ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea. From 110 BCE, with the Seleucid Empire disintegrating, the dynasty became fully independent, expanded into the neighbouring regions of Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea, and took the title “basileus[Greek for “king” or “emperor]. Some modern scholars refer to this period as an independent kingdom of Israel.

The dynasty had survived for 103 years before yielding to the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE. The installation of Herod the Great (an Idumean) as king in 37 BCE made Judea a Roman client state and marked the end of the Hasmonean dynasty. Even then, Herod the Great tried to bolster the legitimacy of his reign by marrying a Hasmonean princess, Mariamne, and planning to drown the last male Hasmonean heir at his Jericho palace. In 6 CE, Rome joined Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea (biblical Edom) into the Roman province of Iudaea. In 44 CE, Rome installed the rule of a Roman procurator side by side with the rule of the Herodian kings (specifically Agrippa I 41–44 and Agrippa II 50–100).”

“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” (Joh 11:45-48)

It is extremely important that we sidebar here to impress the point that John always uses the label “Jews” to refer to the rulers / lawmakers / judges, contrasting with “the people” who are those ruled, see John 7.

This class distinction, so well understood in the Roman terms patrician and pleb. was fundamental to all ancient through medieval societies.

The rise of democracy in relatively recent times was supposed to eliminate a powerfully oppressive class, but its continued existence can be recognized in the enduring favored status and prerogatives afforded to European royalty, the fundamental class struggle of Communism, and favored status of wealthy individuals who become the elite everywhere.

If we bear in mind that “the Jews” who clamored for Jesus’ death were a small fraction of the entire nation we can avoid the mistake of calling the entire nation, who became known as Jews after the exile from the land of Judea, “Christ killers.”

Given the history we just reviewed, the problem the chief priests faced was very real. If there was social unrest, the Romans would indeed swoop in and, as they had done previously with the Hasmoneans, replace their ineffective quislings with more effective governors.

In fact, this is exactly what they did shortly after this. But the Jewish rulers were between a Rock and a hard place because, if they allied with Jesus they would also lose their power because they would have to hand it over to him. Don’t miss the fact that the high priest, usurper though he was, knew the scriptures well enough to know that “the Christ / Messiah / Anointed One” is AKA “the Son of YHVH God,” i.e. King.

And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” (Matthew 26:63-65)

Nowhere in scripture is there a law that says an individual can’t claim to be the Son of God.  How else would the seed of David, legitimate heir to the Jewish throne, define himself? Like Herod’s law to slaughter the infant boys, this was a new law passed by the current lawmakers on the spot to safeguard their illicit power granted to them by the Roman god, son of god Caesar.

“Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe…

  • When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
  • Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
  • The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 
  • When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid [because pagans know what that means – this is a superhuman spirit-powered individual.] And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:5-11)

The viciousness of the rulers’ power struggle with Jesus betrays their deep terror that he could win it, as he had already won the hearts and minds of the people. Their desperation is recognized by both the locally ethnic king Herod and the foreign overlord Pilate, who began to feel a mix of emotions toward the man who is causing such a stir. They express awareness that he is being treated unjustly, and they have had so many power struggles of their own with the Jews that it is only reasonable that they consider making him their new regional religious / political ally. However, Jesus wasn’t playing that game, so Rome’s men then maintained, and even strengthened, their uneasy alliance with the existing local political-religious rulers.

“And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.” (Luke 23:8-15)

“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews – the Jews!- cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar…We have no king but Caesar.“ (John 19:12-15)

The Jewish rulers were very serious when they publicly proclaimed their subjugation to Caesar. Given their recent bitter loss of autonomous power to Caesar and his minion Herod, this underscores just how utterly opposed they were to Jesus becoming their king, and diagnoses how truly anti- Messiah / Christ they were.

On the other hand, the Pharisees, who we often think of as Jesus’ opponents, were in fact the fundamentalist Bible-believers of the day. Many searched the scriptures in search of the truth of Jesus’ claims that he was the fulfillment of prophecy. The writer of Hebrews, unquestionably a Pharisee given his knowledge of the law, figured out what Jesus was claiming.

Hebrews is a legal defense of Jesus’s claim to be, not just the king of Israel, but the Melchi-zedek, righteous human ruler of all creation. Visualize a lawyer delivering his opening argument in a courtroom filled with biased opponents and oppressed people yearning to breathe free.

Gregory Peck

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things…For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Sonunto the Son [of David] he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows…But to which of the angels [i.e. ancient gods like Enki or Zeus] said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Hebrews 1:1-13)

One of the most significant issues Jesus and his followers were dealing with is that the praiseworthy revolt by devout Levitical priests against the false king Antiochus Epiphenes turned into a coup d’etat against the true king Melchizedek. This is the historical context that the writer obviously has in mind in the following passage.

  • “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Messiah / Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. [Don’t miss that! The Son of God as the likeness of God, is God’s representative AKA the high priest.] As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:1-6)
  • Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb 5:10)
  • “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even YHWH’s Savior / Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6:10)
  • “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11)
  • “For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb 7:17)
  • “(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The LORD sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek:)” (Heb 7:21)
  • “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.“ (Hebrews 7:28)

“The oath” is the evidence that the lawyer pulls out with a flourish as the ultimate proof of the validity of Jesus’ claim. This only has legal proof in this court case because the documents in which it is found had already been accepted into evidence as being the Word of God, inspired scripture, TRUTH. Where is this oath? Originally relayed to David by the prophet Nathan in II Samuel 7, in Psalm 89 quoted above, and again in Psalm 132.

“Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.

The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it…

I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud. [David’s offspring]…His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.” (Psalm 132:8-18)

The evidence is piling up that the order of Melchizedek is a lineage of ruling “sons of God”, but the phrase “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” certainly seems to be a prophecy that can apply only to Jesus Christ under the New Covenant / Testament.

”No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.“ (Jonh 1:18)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

However, not just the Old Testament, but also the New Testament treats the term “begotten Son”, exactly as explained above by Dr. Gibbs, as an honor bestowed by the father, not an entitlement deriving from physical procreation. In current legalese, no person can force God to pay child support through a paternity lawsuit.

“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

  • So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said [pronounced as in “I hereby declare you man and wife.”] unto him, Thou art my Son, TODAY have I begotten thee.
  • As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest….” (Hebrews 5:4-6)

Notice also how the New Testament defines Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten son”, despite the fact that Abraham physically fathered Ishmael as well. The passage explains why – because Isaac was “called”, or proclaimed, or legally pronounced, written in the will AKA covenant, The Legitimate Heir who accurately reflects the Father and does the Father’s will.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:” (Hebrews 11:17-18)

“And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived…(Gen 16:3-4) And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife…I will…give thee a son ALSO of her…And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live [after me as my heir] before thee!

  • And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 
  • And as for Ishmael, I have heard [endorsed, agreed to] thee: Behold,
    • I have blessed him,
    • and will make him fruitful [in his endeavors, successful]
    • and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget,
    • and I will make him a great nation [dynasty, lineage, forever living on in his seed].
  • BUT my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” (Genesis 17:15-21)

I propose that we are so focused on the fact that Jesus is the mono-genes, the uniquely begotten Son of God that we are overlooking that, as the example of Abraham proves, there can in fact be other, just genos, begotten offspring. Jesus’ unique status as the Seed of the Woman fathered by God is well documented in Old Testament prophecies and New Testament records. We do not discredit this truth when we acknowledge that there are also other begotten sons of God. This is, after all, how biblical salvation is achieved.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” (I Peter 1:3-4)

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (I John 5:18-19)

It is critical to understand exactly what the writer of Hebrews was drawing our attention to when he goes on and on about Jesus Christ being the High Priest in the order of Melchisedec. It is because Christians / Anointed-ones are called to function under him as priests in that order.

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; 

  • Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
  • Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
  • And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” (Hebrews 8:1, 10:19-24)

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6)

“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:10-11)

the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5)

If we New and Improved Version Covenant don’t understand that our predecessor Old Covenant sons of God define the role that we are expected to fill, we won’t be fully functional.

the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this…Ye have wearied the LORD with your words…When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:7-17)

For example, God’s promise to be a father to David’s son is the guarantee of the joining of identities for the purpose of legitimacy and empowerment. Just like a marriage sacrament in which two become one, God had done the same with David and his predecessors.

I have found David my servant…With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him…He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” (Psalm 89:20-26)

The big deal in the commitment God made with David is not that he would be his father – that is standard practice for theocratic kings – but that David’s house(hold) / dynasty would endure forever. Those who filter this Old Testament statement through a New Testament lens of the finished work of Christ often interpret “forever” as avoiding hell and living in heaven after we die, with most of Christians going about life on earth as if nothing extraordinary happened when we accepted Jesus as our savior.

But the original Old Testament audience only had their culture and preceding scripture on which to base their understanding, passages like “the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent.” And so did the New Testament writer of Hebrews, who traces Jesus’ royal lineage further back beyond David, to Judah, to prove that we believers in Jesus are empowered by the priest-king Melchizedek of the whole world to defeat death in this lifetime.

we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Wherein in time past ye [Ephesian Gentile believers] walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom ALSO [Jews including Paul] WE ALL had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together [now] with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesian 2:1-5)

The us includes Old Covenant Bible believers. Who else did Jesus release from prison?

There is one body, and one Spirit, [by whom] even as ye [also] are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all…Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive…(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?…And hath raised us up together – [not only Jews and Gentiles, but Old Covenant and New Covenant participants], and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:…(Ephesians 4:4-10) 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, [even by Old Covenant participants] lest any man should boast…(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report…By faith Abel…Enoch…Noah…Abraham…Sarah…Isaac…Jacob…Joseph…Moses…Rahab…time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, obtained promises, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented…these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not THE promise [of restoration of eternal life]: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect [complete, whole as a body].”(Hebrews 11)

Wherefore seeing WE also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let US lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset US, and let US run with patience the race that is set before US…consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye [unlike the preceding list] have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12)

What it means to be priests and kings in the order of Melchizedek is that it is our responsibility to take dominion over the territory granted to us by God. We have to win it back from Satan, who currently has control over much of the earth and its population.  He is in fact:

  • king of the kings of the world who submit to him – “And the devil, taking him [Jesus] up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me [by his subjects; and to whomsoever I will I give it [he is a liar, does not give in return what he promised in a contract].” (Luke 4:5-6)
  • ” the god of this world [who] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4)

Like Hitler, Satan is catapulted to the highest position of government by humans who, lured by his lies promising power and wealth, put themselves under his authority.

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants   ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:15)

“…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

These passages are all examples of spiritual law – unalterable consequences – just like the laws of physics. As described in earlier posts, Yahweh’s Appointed Savior, the man Christ Jesus, legally reversed the human action that transferred dominion to Satan, thereby transferring dominion back to himself as a human, and to all humans who identify with him. Adam disobeyed God and submitted to Satan. Christ Jesus obeyed God and refused to submit to Satan. It’s really that simple.

And this is how we mere humans get out from under Satan’s tyranny, experienced in human bondage and misery in drug addiction, emotional disorders, broken families, financial ruin and political chaos. We obey God’s Word. Don’t over-spiritualize the following passage or limit its application to the future. It applies to us now.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [that’s exactly what we do when we make ourselves the authority of our life choices]But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and…humbled himself, and became obedient…Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him…That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth…” (Philippians 2:6-11)

When Yahweh’s Anointed Savior came to earth, he had two separate missions:

  1. physical restoration of the kingdom of heaven [on earth]
  2. and spiritual restoration of the kingdom of God.

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand [in earth as it is in heaven.]” (Matthew 4:17)

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

The kingdom of heaven exists from creation in physical qualities, but the spiritual kingdom of God is within a person in spiritual qualities of righteousness and eternal life.

“…behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Ro 14:17)

The real estate of heaven and earth is not the most valuable part of dominion. The humans who populate the kingdom are.  Humans can escape from the kingdom of darkness and find refuge and new life in the kingdom of God.

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear SonIn whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:12-14)

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)

1329d408de3d47634d3e73c622f95812We are born into, AKA able to survive within and interact with the resources of, the spiritual environment, AKA kingdom of God, when we put our faith in Yahweh’s Consecrated Savior’s atoning death and resurrection and spiritually merge our identity with him in a process called baptism. There is a good reason for associating baptism with birthing. People in societies where birthing occurred at home and openly with animals in fields knew that the newborn always emerged from the birth canal drenched from the breaking of the water sac.

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore…we also should walk in newness of life…Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:3-13)

Granting citizenship in the kingdom to immigrants who flock to the promise of a better life is not the same thing as restoring dominion / rule.   Humans must prove themselves worthy to reign with Christ.  That’s not all believers. Only those who follow their king into battle qualify to inherit a government post within God’s kingdom.

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest…Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. [Indicates closest, i.e. most trusted advisors.] But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.” (Mar 10:35-40)

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:16-21)

If we suffer [prove our loyalty and commitment like every fairy tale prince and princess], we shall also reign with him:” (II Tim 2:12)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4)

74) The American Nazis

We can figure out who considers themselves a Christian if we see them in church. But Monday – Saturday, do they look or act any differently from the rest of society?

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world….Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love…Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in usIf a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (I John 4:4-21)

This is not an arbitrary commandment. The foundation of a godly, i.e. righteous, peaceful relationship is, logically, sacrificing our self-righteous attitude of entitlement.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation [lifestyle] his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:6-18)

Since its inception in 1776, the United States of America has been considered the world’s most prominent advocate for freedom and liberty. Its emphasis on liberty and equality results from this nation’s dedication to and founding upon the Christian proposition that all men are created equal by God. This idea is clearly defined by influential Americans…in the Declaration of Independence…

Yet if this were true, then why, when it came to the Native Americans, did concern over their human rights and equality seem to disappear?…

In the mid 1840’s the term “Manifest Destiny” took many a man up to calling for an unmistakable drive for American expansionism…Manifest Destiny retains its roots deep in Puritan John Winthrop’s belief and challenge to the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 17th century…“For we must consider that we shall be as a city set upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” (Winthrop 1630) The charge to demonstrate Christian virtue and morality to all people can be closely linked to O’ Sullivan’s commentary on expansion as a way to achieve Winthrop’s goal. In his 1839 editorial in the Democratic Review, he states the following.

The far-reaching, the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In its magnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles; to establish on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated to the worship of the Most High — the Sacred and the True….governed by God’s natural and moral law of equality, the law of brotherhood — of ‘peace and goodwill amongst men.  (O’Sullivan 1845)…

What soon followed was the mass movement of hundreds of thousands of land-hungry white settlers across Native American lands. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into effect the Homestead Act, which gave 160 acres west of the Mississippi, to any man who was willing to farm it…

the United States government now had thousands of Indians that had no place to live. They also had nothing to eat, due to the mass slaughter of the buffalo, their main food supply, which was now valuable for their hides due to the massive demand in Europe. In order to facilitate all the Indians and the “promises” made in their treaties with the government, they began the Reservation System…

the reservations were usually hundreds of miles from where the Indians were accustomed to living…the long journeys that the Indians had to take in order to reach the reservations, in which many elderly, women and children perished…

In the 19th century the conditions of the reservations were deplorable. Disease, hunger and pneumonia were the chief killers amongst the reservation Indians. Hundreds died of diseases they had no names for, hunger due to the limited amounts of rations they were being given, and many froze to death, as no wood was given to the Indians, and the closest was, in most cases, miles away. Conditions have not changed in the 150 years. Still the Indians are without sufficient funds for food, heat or medicine. The government welfare checks that are provided to the Native Americans are, on average, barely enough to fill their propane-run heaters twice during the harsh winters on the reservations. The checks do not account for housing repairs either, as Native Americans are currently living in houses without roofs, doors or proper heating or air-conditioning. The houses that are provided are not maintained, and the Native Americans are not given money to do so themselves. With the casinos, most of the money they raise goes to education taxes for the state, which leaves very little profit for the Native Americans. States received $2.5 billion in taxes, regulatory payments and revenue sharing, resulting from state tribal gaming compacts.

(www.indiangaming.org/info/pr/press-releases-2009/NIGA_08_Econ_Impact_Report.pdf)

Jobs are not guaranteed in the least. The average national unemployment rate for reservation Indians, is around 80 percent. Most of the revenue generated by the Indians, per annum, is less 62 percent less than the American average as of 2011. Thus, without sufficient income, the reservation Indians cannot afford food to last them longer than a few days at a time.

Can we not see that the Americans’ conviction of superiority over other races and entitlement to others’ lands is absolutely equivalent to the Nazis?

World War II, which took place between September 1939 and September 1945, was the bloodiest conflict in human history. Though no exact casualty count for the war exists, it is thought that up to 85 million people were killed as a direct or indirect result of the conflict. The war involved all of the world’s great powers, and touched nearly every corner of the globe…

Hitler was able to ascend to power in Germany in part because he was successful in tapping the anger of the German people in response to the terms of their surrender in the First World War. The Treaty of Versaillescompelled Germany to give up large amounts of territory, and pay war reparations, which significantly damaged the German economy.

Worse than simply being equivalent, the Native American genocide was the precursor to the Nazi Holocaust.

The Holocaust is the greatest crime in history, one that people remain desperate to understand. Germany’s plunge from the heights of civilization to the depths of barbarism is an everlasting shock…

Americans have an especially insatiable appetite for Nazi-themed books, films, television shows, documentaries, video games, and comic books. Stories of the Second World War console us with memories of the days…when the United States was the world’s good-hearted superpower, riding to the rescue of a Europe paralyzed by totalitarianism and appeasement. Yet an eerie continuity [of Nazism] became visible in the postwar years, as German scientists were imported to America…the resulting technologies of mass destruction exceeded Hitler’s darkest imaginings. The Nazis idolized many aspects of American society: the cult of sport, Hollywood production values, the mythology of the frontier. From boyhood on, Hitler devoured the Westerns of the popular German novelist Karl May. In 1928, Hitler remarked, approvingly, that white settlers in America had “gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand.” When he spoke of Lebensraum, the German drive for “living space” in Eastern Europe, he often had America in mind.

Among recent books on Nazism, the one that may prove most disquieting for American readers is James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law” (Princeton)…Whitman methodically explores how the Nazis took inspiration from American racism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He notes that, in “Mein Kampf,” Hitler praises America as the one state that has made progress toward a primarily racial conception of citizenship, by “excluding certain races from naturalization.” Whitman writes that the discussion of such influences is almost taboo, because the crimes of the Third Reich are commonly defined as “the nefandum, the unspeakable descent into what we often call ‘radical evil.’ ” But the kind of genocidal hatred that erupted in Germany had been seen before and has been seen since. Only by stripping away its national regalia and comprehending its essential human form do we have any hope of vanquishing it… [Emphasis added.]

In our current age of unapologetic racism and resurgent authoritarianism, the mechanics of Hitler’s rise are a particularly pressing matter.

We are now over 50 years into the development of the Great Society and the War on Poverty. It is time to take stock in these programs from an objective and evidence-based perspective. When one does that, it is not only clear that the programs have been a failure, but also that they have disproportionately impacted the black community in the United States. The current state of dysfunction in the black community (astronomically high crime rates, very low rates of home ownership and single motherhood as the norm) are not the natural state of the black community in the United States, but closely tied to the role that social welfare programs play.Or as Dr. Thomas Sowell stated:

“If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals…”

The biggest problem resulting from the Great Society is the breakdown of the black family. This is a sensitive subject, but one that must be broached to fully understand the devastating impact that the Great Society has had on the black community in the United States.

When we review America’s racism we discover that not only is there the unapologetic White Supremacist side, there is an insidious side that poses as a savior but is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In 1965, when the Great Society began in earnest following the massive electoral landslide reelection of LBJ, the out-of-wedlock birthrate among the black community was 21 percent. By 2017, this figure had risen to a whopping 77 percent…with most of the unwed mothers being teenagers. We have documented extensively…the negative effects of the single-parent household on child development and outcomes. The black community is now entering its third generation of single parenthood as the norm, something that rose astronomically with the advent of the Great Society…

black women were more likely to be married than white women as late as 1950…In the 1950s, 52 percent of all black children lived with both parents until the age of 17. By the 1980s, that number had plummeted to 6 percent…

Among married black families, the poverty rate is 8 percent. Among black households headed by a single mother, that rate jumps to 37 percent.

There is no better predictor of male criminality than being raised in a fatherless home. 70 percent of all juvenile offenders in state reform institutions were raised in fatherless homes. This includes 60 percent of all rapists, 72 percent of all murderers, and 70 percent of long-term inmates…

Data provided by every census between 1890 and 1954 shows that black Americans were just as active – and sometimes more – in the labor market than their white counterparts. In 1900, for example, black unemployment was 15 percent lower than white unemployment. In 2017, it was 30 percent higher.

If the conventional narrative on black American poverty and general social dysfunction were correct – that this was caused by the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and private discrimination – wouldn’t we expect to see a decline in black unemployment rather than the opposite?…

By 1920, there were tens of thousands of black businesses in the United States…

This concept was known as double duty dollars.” The idea is that money spent at black businesses not only purchased goods for the consumer, but also played a role in advancing the black race in America. This, and not government handouts, was seen as the primary means of achieving, if not a perfect equality with whites, a social parity with them… [Emphasis added.]

national businesses tended to ignore the black market entirely. This, however, began to change in the 1950s…National businesses simply saw that there was an emerging black middle class with money to spend and didn’t want to get cut out of the market.

Today, black business ownership is in a state of “collapse” according to Marketplace.org

Another area where the impact of Great Society policies is seen is in statistics on black homeownership. The black homeownership rate is basically the same today as it was 50 years ago. There was a spike in black homeownership during the Bush years. However, these were largely a function of subprime mortgages being given out to people who couldn’t really afford them.

It’s difficult to ignore that black Americans vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, who champion the policies of the Great Society, which have largely destroyed the black family and black civil society. Why is this?

There are a number of factors in play here. First, the Democratic Party has little incentive to provide innovative solutions for such a loyal voter bloc…

The flip side of this is that there is not much incentive on the part of Republicans to court black voters…This is simple math: A large increase in the black vote doesn’t represent a whole lot of votes, but a minor increase in the white vote moves the needle significantly…Spiking the rural white vote to record levels while effectively ignoring all other voting blocs is what delivered Donald Trump the presidency.

The point here is that neither party is incentivized to offer solutions to black Americans…

Whatever the way forward is, one thing is clear: Social welfare programs ostensibly designed to help the black community have done little more than put the boot of government on the neck of black Americans.

Whether South or North, Democrat or Republican, America has not followed a godly path to a peaceful and productive society. The Christians who were fortunate to be born into status, wealth, opportunity, AKA Caucasian colonialists of the United States of America and Europe, don’t want to be equalized with impoverished peoples from colonized lands. We want to maintain our privileged lifestyle at their expense.

This aspect of Antichrist’s modus operandi is so very, very important that it is well worth digging in here to “get it”. Where-ever you find the highest achievements in the arts and sciences is where you will find Antichrist’s center of operations. This will be developed in greater detail in a later post, but to expedite our understanding of this critical concept, I will, as others have, allegorize Babylon with Berlin, the capitol of the world in the 1920’s, as rich in crime as it was in culture.

As you read the historical record of Berlin in its prime, realize that this also describes Nimrod’s Babylon. The power brokers in Berlin were struggling to reclaim the glory of the pre-war empire that was destroyed in the catastrophe of WWI. The power brokers in Babylon were struggling to revive the glory of the pre-flood empire that was destroyed in the catastrophe of the flood. Both were successful. Also as you read, file away for future examination the parallels between Berlin society and our own.

Germany, and Berlin in particular, was fertile ground for intellectuals, artists, and innovators from many fields during the Weimar Republic years...[between the two wars] Nine German citizens were awarded Nobel prizes during the Weimar Republic, five of whom were Jewish scientists, including two in medicine. Jewish intellectuals and creative professionals were among the prominent figures in many areas of Weimar culture…. With the rise of Nazism and the ascent to power of Adolf Hitler in 1933, many German intellectuals and cultural figures, both Jewish and non-Jewish, fled Germany for the United States [don’t miss that]…Remarkable for the way it emerged from a catastrophe, more remarkable for the way it vanished into a still greater catastrophe, the world of Weimar represents modernism in its most vivid manifestation…By 1919, an “influx” of labor had migrated to Berlin turning it into one of the most fertile grounds for the modern arts and sciences in history…Many foundational contributions to quantum mechanics were made in Weimar Germany or by German scientists during the Weimar period. While temporarily at the University of Copenhagen, German physicist Werner Heisenberg formulated his Uncertainty principle, and, with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, accomplished the first complete and correct definition of quantum mechanics, through the invention of Matrix mechanicsAlbert Einstein rose to public prominence during his years in Berlin, being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. He was forced to flee Germany and the Nazi regime in 1933…Physician Magnus Hirschfeld established the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexology) in 1919…Hirschfeld…was a vocal advocate for homosexual, bisexual, and transgender legal rights for men and women, repeatedly petitioning parliament for legal changes…Philosopher Rudolf Steiner, like Diefenbach, was a follower of Theosophy. Steiner had an enormous influence on the alternative health movement before his death in 1925 and far beyond…The integration of spirituality and homeopathy is controversial…Steiner was also an early proponent of organic agriculture, in the form of a holistic concept later called biodynamic agriculture…Prostitution rose in Berlin and elsewhere in the areas of Europe left ravaged by World War I. This means of survival for desperate women, and sometimes men, became normalized to a degree in the 1920s. During the war, venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea spread at a rate that warranted government attention…Crime in general developed in parallel with prostitution in the city…Berlin eventually acquired a reputation as a hub of drug dealing (cocaine, heroin, tranquilizers) and the black market. The police identified 62 organized criminal gangs in Berlin, called Ringvereine...Apart from the new tolerance for behaviour that was technically still illegal, and viewed by a large part of society as immoral, there were other developments in Berlin culture that shocked many visitors to the city. Thrill-seekers came to the city in search of…Berlin’s erotic night entertainment venues. There were an estimated 500 such establishments, that included a large number of homosexual venues for men and for lesbians; sometimes transvestites of one or both genders were admitted…There were also several nudist venues…Artists in Berlin became fused with the city’s underground culture as the borders between cabaret and legitimate theatre blurred…While a large part of the population continued to struggle with high unemployment and deprivations in the aftermath of World War I, the upper class of society, and a growing middle class, gradually rediscovered prosperity and turned Berlin into a cosmopolitan city.

When we understand that Babylon was not just a glorious manifestation of humanistic triumphs by godless egomaniacs, but also a vile pit of despair for the people enslaved by those power-addicted psychopaths, we can understand our characters’ motivations and relationships with each other as they joined forces with competing power-driven and death-dealing entities. With this in mind, in the context of the Cold War with the Communists, reconsider President Kennedy’s famous speech to Germans with its even more famous closing statement “I am a Berliner.”

73) America Is Not One Nation Under God

“I pledge allegience…to the republic…One nation, under God…”

The word “republic” derives from the Latin noun-phrase res publica (thing of the people), which referred to the system of government that emerged in the 6th century BCE following the expulsion of the kings from Rome…

  • Remember, in ancient times every government was a theocracy. Kings literally embodied the head national god. The Romans weren’t expelling the rule of a human dynasty, they were expelling the supervision of a national divinity over humans via the god’s Prophet – Priest – King: Spokesman IntercessorSovereign over Life and Death.

The first Mesopotamian ruler who declared himself divine was Naram-Sin of Akkad...sometime during the 23rd century BCE…This…coincides with the first world empire of the rulers of Akkad…It was also accompanied by certain changes in religion, in which the king proliferated the cult of the Ishtar…in her war-like aspect (‘ashtar annunitum) and began to refer to himself as the husband/warrior of Ishtar.

Some consider…the famous Hammurabi of Babylon (1792–1750 BCE) to have been divine.

According to Roman mythology, the gods had a hand in the founding of the city of Rome itself. Mars, god of war, and a [human woman] named Rhea Silvia were the parents of twin boysThey dethroned King Amulius…Romulus killed his brother…[and] went on to name the city after himself…

This is consistent with the biblical account of the proliferation of hybrid god-humans ruling from city-states at this time in history, starting with Nimrod / Hammurabi / Amraphel.

Republics recurred subsequently, with, for example, Renaissance Florence.

  • As Renaissance Florence demonstrates, Humanism’s rejection of universal standards of morality is a setup for the exploitation of the weak by the strong.

Cicero, the great Roman orator, became the core example for the Humanists...a turn back to the secular…a huge amount of classical Greek knowledge was now worked in…a new form of education, which the rich were adopting…

Some Humanists began to turn away from reforming the world and focused instead…as creators… who made their own lives and who should not be trying to imitate Christ but finding themselves…

Continue reading “73) America Is Not One Nation Under God”

72) The Israel Of God Is Still One Nation Under God

societies of the ancient world were theocratic the ancient Mesopotamian kings were regarded as chosen servants and regents of the gods, and the Egyptian pharaohs were thought to be directly descended from the sun god…ruling it through them. In both Egypt and Mesopotamia, as well as among other ancient peoples, kings also…intermediaries between men and the gods.

This was as true for Israel as it was for the other theocratic nations.

“These words spake YHVH’s Savior, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said…have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do…I have manifested thy name / attributes unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world…Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

  • As thou has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
  • Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one [family, nation, gens] in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17)

Continue reading “72) The Israel Of God Is Still One Nation Under God”

71) Gentile Leadership In Israel. Again.

There is a well-established precedent in scripture that Gentiles would rule over Israel whenever its own leadership failed to submit to YHVH’s Chosen Deliverer of the day.

According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me [Moses] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18)

“it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken…that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…

Continue reading “71) Gentile Leadership In Israel. Again.”

70) Redemption Restores A Right Relationship

  • when all these things are come upon thee…the curse…
    • And [thou] shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day…
  • That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee
    • if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul
  • For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off…But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart,
    • that thou mayest do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-3, 10-14)

Continue reading “70) Redemption Restores A Right Relationship”