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Posts tagged ‘False teaching’

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 16:5-12 – Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

|| Mark 8:14-21; Luke 12:1

MT16:5 Now the disciples arrived on the other side of the lake and they forgot to bring loaves of bread with them. MT16:6 So, Jesus told them, “Watch and pay attention regarding the leaven[1] of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” MT16:7 The disciples now carried on a dialogue among themselves, “We brought no loaves of bread.” MT16:8 Realizing what they were talking about, Jesus said to them, “Men of very small faith,[2] why are you having this dialogue just because you did not bring loaves of bread? MT16:9 Do you not perceive[3] or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many surplus baskets you gathered? MT16:10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many surplus baskets you gathered? MT16:11 Why do you not realize that I was not speaking about loaves of bread? Rather, be alert regarding[4] the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” MT16:12 Then the disciples finally got the point that Jesus was not talking about the leaven of loaves but rather the teaching of[5] the Pharisees and Sadducees.

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[1] Leaven: Compare Mark 8:15 where Jesus includes the party followers of Herod; and, Luke 12:1 where “hypocrisy” is included. See notes on Matthew 13:33.

[2] Men of very small faith: See notes on Matthew 8:26.

[3] Do you not perceive: One gets the feeling that the miracle of feeding the crowds was more of an object lesson for the apostles.

[4] Be alert regarding: Jesus believed in Biblical Truth and made no effort to compromise his teachings with others. He wanted his disciples to pay close attention to what others taught and view as ‘leaven’ (or corrupt doctrines) those teachings or manners which did not line up with his own teachings.

[5] The teaching of: Jesus has mentioned three groups in this context. Regarding the Pharisees (self-righteous conservatives) Josephus records: “And so great is (the Pharisees’) influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence.” [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 288 (x, 5)] “They believe that souls have power to survive death and that there are rewards and punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or vice: eternal imprisonment is the lot of evil souls, while the good souls receive an easy passage to a new life.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 14 [i, 3]) “Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.… [The Pharisees] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates.” [The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14)]

            Sadducees (liberal free-thinkers) ‘denied the workings of fate, maintaining that an individual, by his own actions, was solely responsible for what befell him.’ [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 172, 173 (v, 9)] They ‘rejected the many oral traditions observed by the Pharisees and also Pharisaic belief in the immortality of the soul and in punishments or rewards after death. In their dealings with one another, the Sadducees were somewhat rough. They were said to be disputatious. According to Josephus, their teachings appealed to the wealthy.’ [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 298 (x, 6); XVIII, 16, 17 (i, 4); The Jewish War, II, 162-166 (viii, 14)]

            Herodians (political) are unknown in secular history but much involved in the politics of Jesus’ homeland. Compare Matthew 12:9-14; Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 20:21-26.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:9-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?

Matthew 13:33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Fermented Whole

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

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We are redeemed; we are “bought with a price”

We are redeemed; we are “bought with a price,” even ” the precious blood of Christ.” He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. This being so, eternal torment cannot be the penalty for our sins, because our Redeemer, upon whom they were laid, is not suffering eternal woe. He tasted death for every man, and the evidence that His sacrifice was satisfactory is in that lie was raised from the dead by the power of the Father.* (Eph. 1: 18, 19; Acts 2: 24.) Let those who believe in eternal torment ask themselves the solemn question, ” Has a ransom, a propitiation, a corresponding price, a satisfaction, ever been offered for what is due on account of my sins ?”

Since the Scripture teaching on the Ransom makes clear so much that before was not so, it is not surprising that William Tyndale, the great Reformer, said that the doctrine of the Ransom is the “touchstone to try all teachings.” A few illustrations of the Ransom teaching as a “touchstone” have been given. The student will at discretion apply this “stone” to other religious or so-called Bible teachings. Whatever he finds out of harmony with the Ransom is to be rejected
forthwith; time spent with it is wasted. Although there may be beautiful thoughts expressed by some who openly or covertly deny the Ransom, we are not to go through their error for the sake of a few good things which, by the grace of God, we can get from His Word, without wading through a mass of false teaching.

But some one will say that the Apostle commands us to ” prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thes. 5: 21.) It cannot be that the Apostle means that God’s people are to undertake to acquaint themselves with all the details of all the religious teaching in the world. Life is too short for this. He Himself wrote that there was one foundation, Christ, and other foundation can no man lay. If a teaching be presented for our consideration, we are not to shut our eyes and ears, and, as it were, run away from it without knowing what it is. We are to prove it ; and the first question will be, Does it agree with the one foundation, the fact that Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all ? ” If it do not agree, even though the words ” r a n s o m ” and ” p r o p i t i a t i o n ” be frequently employed, the task of proving it is finished — perhaps in
one minute — and our obligation toward it is discharged in full. If the teaching presented be found to be harmonious with the Ransom, it will be right for us to examine it more closely, and derive whatever blessing we may from its presentations.

The Ransom as a “touchstone” will not only be a test of all teaching brought to it, but it may also be a test of the student, in that some long cherished beliefs may be found to be inconsistent with the faith in the Ransom. Happy will he be to whom the “touchstone” does not become a “stumbling stone and rock of offence,” as it was to the Jews, and is now to a large number in Christendom. — 1 Cor. 1: 2 3 ; 1 Pet. 2 : 8.

-NCA 1929, April, p. 29

“2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NAS)

“and, “A Stone Of Stumbling And A Rock Of Offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this [doom] they were also appointed.” (1 Peter 2:8 NAS)

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NAS)

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In I Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul exhorts the brethren not to practise sin, because (v. 19) “. . . ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price.”

Bought with a Price

Now just how was this transaction fulfilled? Was the Lord Jesus as a sinless spirit being in heaven, and before He came to the earth, so valuable that His life was of sufficient worth to cover the whole human race? or so valuable as to be worth more than all the human race?

Some Christians think along these lines. Yet this is not the way the Scriptures describe the transaction.

The Scriptures say that He “gave himself a ransom for all.” Ransom means “corresponding price,” or “a price to correspond.” When we go into a shop to buy an article we are told the price. We hand over the counter just exactly the price demanded for the purchase of that article. The seller hands over the article, which now belongs to the purchaser. The article has changed hands at a price satisfactory to both parties. If the shopkeeper likes he may quite rightly and justly give you your money back, and you may justly retain the article also, receiving the price as a gift along with the
purchase. Thus, you see, everything is quite in order, and each party to the transaction is still perfectly satisfied.

Just so, along lines somewhat similar, was the ransom or corresponding price paid for the purchase of the human race, and himself, the price paid by Jesus the Purchaser, was returned to Him when He was raised from death by the Father, to whom He had offered himself without spot.

-NCA 1929,May p. 104

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus was born, got a beginning, after the many years he was been promised to come. After he learned how to behave and what to do, getting the Bible teaching from his earthly parents (Mary and Joseph) and his Jewish teachers in his parents community (the Essenes) he came into the public around the age of thirty and had himself baptised by his cousin John. At the moment he raised from the water the heavens opened and God declared that there the world could see His beloved son.

“16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, [and] coming upon Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”” (Matthew 3:16-17 NAS)

It was by that son of man and son of God that we could find salvation because it was God Who did raise an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David His servant.  As such the salvation is of the Jews, but Jesus, who only wanted to do the Will of his Father, was not recognised by the majority of the Jews as the Messiah. They rejected him, but Jesus invited all to come to him and to accept him as the Way.

It was for all people that Jesus voluntary gave his body to be brought on the ‘slaughter bank’ by impalement, coming his life to  an end. The God of gods Who is the Most High and can not die made Jesus than higher than the angels (though he was lower than them before) and took him to sit at His right hand to become a mediator between God and man.

It is God’s wish that  all flesh shall see the salvation of God. And those who want to belong to the Body of Christ do have to take care that many people come to see who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. They have to take care that people come to know what they worship and that they get a  “stedfast” belief in the Word, and become of all accepted worthy, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners,  for the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.

For God did not send His son to the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him, and find hope for all of their beloved, a chance to enter the Kingdom of God for free, because the Ransom is paid by Christ Jesus.  And there is not salvation in any other, for there is no other name under the heaven that has been given among men, in which it behoved us to be saved.

As followers of Christ, bought free by him, we should present ourselves also to him and his heavenly Father.  For it was becoming to Him, because of whom are all things, and through whom are all things, many sons to glory bringing, the author of their salvation through sufferings to make perfect.

“And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant — ” (Luke 1:69 NAS)

“And All Flesh Shall See The Salvation Of  God.’”” (Luke 3:6 NAS)

“”You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4:22 NAS)

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost [of all.]” (1 Timothy 1:15 NAS)

“”For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”” (Luke 19:10 NAS)

“”For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (John 3:17 NAS)

“”And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12 NAS)

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10 NAS)

“Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6 NAS)

The Servant of his Father asks from us also to become servants for God, for Christ and for each-other. To be worthy to come in front of the heavenly Father we do have to Flee from Immorality and have to do our best to stay clean and worthy to enter the gates of the Kingdom. We thereby should always Remember the day that we were running in the darkness and should therefore be patient with others trying to bring them to God. Christians do have the task to tell others why we need a ransom, and to let there eyes be opened to come to see that there is a Ransom for all.

No person has greater love than this one who surrendered his soul in behalf of his friends. In the ransom by Jesus Love is been perfected with us.

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Preceding articles:

You do not belong to yourselves,for you were bought with a price

Joining for a new year in the assurance to be bought with a price

Nazarene Commentary 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 – Flee from Immorality

To be continued with: How Many were Bought

Find also on this subject / Vindt ook over dit onderwerp:

In English Atonement and the race been bought

In het Nederlands: Verzoening en de gekochte race

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Additional articles:

  1. Trouble is coming
  2. Nazarene Commentary Luke 1:67-80 – Zechariah’s Prophecy
  3. God’s Special Gift
  4. A Living Faith #1 Substance of things hoped for
  5. One mediator
  6. Why do we need a ransom?
  7. Ransom for all
  8. Suffering redemptive because Jesus redeemed us from sin
  9. Love been perfected with us
  10. No person has greater love than this one who surrendered his soul in behalf of his friends
  11. Your Sins Are Forgiven
  12. Called Christian
  13. Servant of his Father
  14. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #5 To meditate and Transform
  15. Remember the day
  16. Patient waiting
  17. Fellowship
  18. Being of good courage running the race

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  • Moving Through Time: Timeline of Religion (pcr.wpengine.com)
    Since the beginning of time, mankind has formed beliefs of the unexplainable and unknowable. Over thousands of years, these beliefs became traditional, customary, and institutionalized within regional societies. People continue to express an interest in spiritual matters from all corners around the world. Everybody has pondered the meaning of life, what happens after we die, what existed before us, and whether any other life exists in the universe. Mankind may never know concrete answers regarding the spiritual. In fact, humans may destroy the planet before we can discover the remaining life in unexplored regions. Nevertheless, we continue to seek spiritual enlightenment and a connection with our Creator.
  • God is Love (dailybibleplan.com)
    Great freedom comes from understanding the true heart of God.  Praise Him today for His great love for us.  Be blessed knowing that God’s perfect love for you will never fail.
  • ‪#‎LivingthePromise God is preparing me (seanwhitenack.wordpress.com)
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • Jesus is Matchless (theencouragementexpress.com)
    people change people as much as ideas change people. The power of personality is strong. One could find many illustrations to prove that often personality is greater than the idea. Such is the case with Christianity. The secret of the power of Christianity is not in its ethics. It is not in Christian ideas or philosophy, although Christianity has a philosophical set of ideas. The secret of Christianity is found in a Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • What was Abolished in Christ ? (isaiahministries.wordpress.com)
    It is said of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, that He “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Tim. 1:10. Death is the result of sin. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
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    We read that Christ “was manifested to take away our sins.” 1 John 3:5. He is the sin-bearer, “Who His own self carried up our sins in His body to the tree, that we having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24, R.V., margin. Sin is lawlessness, and Christ was manifested to take away, not the law, but lawless-ness.
  • What does the Bible say about finding a husband? (mmfit1.wordpress.com)
    We must enter into the second most-important relationship of our lives (marriage), not under an emotional cloud, but with eyes wide open.  Our most important relationship, with our Lord and Savior, has to be the focus of our lives
  • Thankfulness from A to Z! (pamelastephens.me)
    Can you think of hymns, or praise songs that truly express your gratitude for an Awesome God?  It is an act of worship to allow your spirit to be transported into the heavenlies with these melodies; but it is more than just a tune, combined with the words it becomes a heart felt prayer as we sing!  Consider, meditate and praise Him for  His blessings from A to Z! “Count your blessings, name them one by one! Count your many blessings see what God has done!”
  • November 16th (learning2walkdaily.wordpress.com)
    Paul is challenging the people to get past the small things that have grown to divide them and focus on Jesus. This has obviously mushroomed over time into many sects, some of which may even be the “official” church of some nations. Now, more than ever, in such an unfriendly time for the church, we should all be heeding Paul’s instruction and simply strive for unity through Jesus Christ.
  • To an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, (activeinspiration.wordpress.com)
    According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

Position and power

History of Christianity

1. The early days of Christianity

1.1.       Considered as a danger

1.1.1.  Position and power

The founder of the Christianity, Jesus from Nazareth, the Christ, prayed that between his followers could exist unity (John 17:21), and the apostles really tried to keep the unity of the Christian municipality (1 Corinthians 1:10; Jude 17-19), but already in the first century false teachings entered Christianity.

The fact, that the Christians were a closely united body, fresh, vigorous, hopeful, and daily increasing, while the heathen were for the most part a loose aggregation, daily diminishing, made the true prospective strength of the church much greater. But they remained strongly surrounded by all kinds of several pagan belief forms and popular activities which could be sometimes very tempting.

With the years going by, the Christians came to stand for all sorts of trials and persecution.  As the first disciples they draw consolation and encouragement from their meetings.  Consequently the apostle[1] Paul wrote to the Hebrews 10:24, 25: “let us keep paying attention to one another, in order to spur each other on to love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” Those words are much more than a command to come and remain together. They provide a through God inspired standard that counts for all Christian assemblies— and actually for each occasion that Christians come together.

The apostles had been aware that dispute in the belief could lead to vehemently, discord and even enmity. (Acts of the Apostles 23:7-10) The apostles and early inspired men of the first century defended the Christian faith in two ways: verbally (Acts 22.1, Philippians 1.7, 16, 2 Timotheüs 4.16) and by means of literature (1 Corinthians 9.3).
Already in their time the apostles had to warn the followers of Christ for false teachers and wrong teachings which slowly entered the faith already n the first century.

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus...

Conversion of Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus

The apostle John refutes misconceptions of how to live godly in the face of the docetic-gnostic teachers infiltrating the church (1 John 2.1). “For many deceivers have entered into the world, who confess not that Yahshua the Messiah has come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (2 John 1:7 KJBPNV) “Because a number of false teachers have gone out into the world, who do not give witness that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Such a one is a false teacher and Antichrist.” (2 John 1:7 BBE)

Peter writes: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1 KJBPNV) “Especially those who follow their old natures in lust for filth and who despise authority. Presumptuous and self-willed, these false teachers do not tremble at insulting angelic beings;” (2 Peter 2:10 CJB)

No one of genuine concern wants to be wrong on what the Bible teaches. Therefore we must be cautious and ready to see all the biblical evidence as slowly or quickly as it is analyzed. In principle, it is what we find in Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians: “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 KJBPNV)

Abiding in the words of the Gospel (John 8.31-32) we must be patient, hoping to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and let the scriptural facts reveal themselves on their own terms. Some early Christians were lacking that patience and found it not pleasant to give up their old customs. They then became attracted by those who found that it did not matter so much to love so strictly.

As long as the apostles lived, they protected the municipality. The history shows that the early Christians were not concerned by the political matters of the Roman Realm and that they had no prominent class of clergymen. Instead they were all diligent proclaimers of Gods kingdom. To the end of the first century, they had given testimony in all parts of the Roman Realm and had made disciples in Asia, Europe and North-Africa. (Colossians 1:23). These performances in the preaching meant however not that it was not longer necessarily to remain spiritually watchful. Jesus predicted coming lay yet far in the future.

Sects had to be avoided, since they belonged to the works of the meat (Galatians 5:19-21). Christians were admonished to promote no sects neither to let them self bring on a wrong track by false teachers (Acts of the Apostles 20:28; 2 Timothy 2:17, 18; 2 Peter 2:1). In his letter to Titus the apostle Paul commanded that a man who after a first and a second serious admonition continued to promote a sect, had to become rejected, what apparently meant that he must become rejected from the municipality (Titus 3:10). Those who refused to become involved by the causing of disunion within the municipality or by the supporting of a particular party, would distinct themselves through their faithful walk and give a token to own Gods approval. This was what Paul apparently meant when he said to the Corinthians: “For there must be also factions or sects among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Corinthians 11:19).

The Christians kept high principles of morality and probity, and with fiery diligence made the message of hope known. Thousands left Judaism and accepted Christianity (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:7). In the eyes of the Jewish religious leaders Jesus’ followers were unfaithful or apostate.  (Acts of the Apostles 13:45.) These furious leaders were of opinion that Christianity annulled their traditions. Yes, it denied even the view that they had on heathen! From 36 C. T. a heathens could become Christian and believe and hope in the same privileges as Jewish Christians. (Acts 10:34, 35).

Because of their high morality beginnings and the holding fast on to their belief conviction on more than one issue superior the Christians in the Roman world became not loved. Their separateness of the world (Johannes 15:19) triggered aversion. They did not take up political office and refused military service. As consequence of this they “became proposed as men that were dead for the world, and useless for all matters of life”, according to the historian August Neander. Not being part of the world, meant also to avoid the godless ways of the Roman world. “The small Christian-communities disturbed the pleasure making pagan world with their piety and decency”, explains the historian Will Durant (1 Petrus 4:3, 4). By pursuing and bringing the Christians before court perhaps the Romans tried to bring well the tormenting voice of the conscience till silence.

Extent of the Roman Empire from 133 BC unto 117 AD

Extent of the Roman Empire from 133 BCT unto 117 CT

The first-century Christians preached the good news of God’s kingdom with unshakable diligence (Matthew 24:14). About 60 C. T. Paul could say that the good news’ was preached in whole the creation that under the heaven is ‘(Colossians 1:23). At the end of the first century, Jesus’ followers had made supporters and disciples in the whole Roman Realm — in Asia, Europe and Africa! Even some members of “the house of Caesar” became Christians (Philippians 4:22). This diligent preaching woke resentment.  Neander says:’ Christianity steadily progressed under lay men from all forms of population and threatened to bring the state religion to fall.’ You can imagine how considerably important it really could be to let men infiltrate to let bring them on other thoughts.

Jesus’ followers offered Jehovah exclusive devotion (Matthew 4:8-10). Perhaps this aspect of their adoration brought them more than what else in conflict with Rome. The Romans were tolerant to other religions, as long as their supporters also participated at the emperor adoration. The early Christians normally could not participate at such adoration. They looked at themselves as people, that were due account at an authority that was higher, than that of the Roman state, namely Jehovah God (Acts 5:29). As a consequence of this a Christian became, though he was further in such a way in all respects such an exemplary citizen, considered as an enemy of the state.

There was yet another reason, about which faithful Christians in the Roman world became “objects of hatred”: Common backbiting over them was believed stylus, accusations, for which the Jewish religious leaders were in not small extent responsible, (Acts 17:5-8). About 60 or 61 C. T., when Paul waited in Rome for his trial by emperor Nero, prominent Jews said over Christians: “Really, what concerns this sect, it is us known that she experiences everywhere arguments” (Acts 28:22). Nero would certainly have heard defamatory stories over them. In 64 C. T. he chose, when he was held responsible for the fire that Rome afflicted, according to reports to use the already everywhere slandered Christians as scapegoats. This appears to have brought on a wave of violent persecution that had as target to exterminate the Christians.[2]

The false accusations that were brought in against the Christians were often based on a mixture of straight lies and a twist of their belief views. Because they were monotheistic and not adored the emperors, they were labelled as atheists. Because some non-Christian family members revolted with their Christian family members, they became accused to disrupt their family (Matthew 10:21). They were constituted for cannibals, an accusation that was based according to some sources on a twisting of the words that Jesus had uttered during the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:26-28).

Towards the end of Nero’s reign the Christians were required, under the heaviest penalties, even that of death, to offer sacrifices to the emperor and to the heathen gods. After the death of Nero the persecution ceased, and the followers of Jesus enjoyed comparative peace until the reign of Domitian, an emperor little behind Nero in wickedness.

The dispersion of the Jews, and the total destruction of their city and temple in 70 C.T., are the next events of consideration in the remainder of the first century. The numbers that perished under Vespasian in the country, and under Titus in the city, from A.D. 67-70, by famine, internal factions, and the Roman sword, were one million three hundred and fifty thousand four hundred and sixty, besides one hundred thousand sold into slavery.[3]

Domitian,” says Eusebius, the father of ecclesiastical history, “having exercised his cruelty against many, and unjustly slain no small number of noble and illustrious men at Rome, and having, without cause, punished vast numbers of honourable men with exile and the confiscation of their property, at length established himself as the successor of Nero in his hatred and hostility to God.”[4] He also followed Nero in deifying himself. He commanded his own statue to be worshipped as a god, revived the law of treason, and surrounded himself with spies and informers to bring a second persecution of the Christians.

Christianity, in spite of Roman emperors, and Roman prisons, and Roman executions, pursued its silent steady course. In little more than seventy years after the death of Christ, it had made such rapid progress in some places as to threaten the downfall of paganism.

Artemis Apollon Herakles

Artemis Apollon Herakles

Christians got the hatred of pagan worshippers on their neck. As the making of small silver temples of the goddess Artemis was a profitable business in the old Ephesus. But when Paul preached over there, a considerable number Ephesians reacted positively to his preaching and turned for this purpose their back to the adoration of Artemis. Now their trade was threatened, caused the silver blacksmith a tumult (Acts 19:24-41).  Something similar did happen after Christianity had expanded itself until Bithynia (now Northwest-Turkey). Not long after the Christian Greek Writings were finished, the ruler of Bithynia, Pliny the Younger, informed that pagan temples became left and the sale of feed for offering animals drastically collapsed. The Christians were blamed — and were prosecuted — because in their adoration there was no place for animal offerings and idols (Hebrew 10:1-9; 1 Johannes 5:21). It is clear that the spread of Christianity practiced influence on particular established interests connected with pagan adoration, and, those who as consequence of this lost as well trade as earnings, fumed about this.

By the progress of Christianity the temporal interests of a great number of persons were seriously affected. This was a fruitful and bitter source of persecution. The heathen temples became more and more deserted, the worship of the gods was neglected, and victims for sacrifices were rarely purchased. This naturally raised a popular cry against Christianity, such as the one at Ephesus: “This, our craft is in danger to be set at nought, and the temple of the great goddess Diana to be despised.”

goddess of hunting

Diana goddess of hunting

A countless throng of priests, image-makers, dealers, soothsayers, augurs, and artisans, found good livings in connection with the worship of so many deities. All these, seeing their craft in danger, rose up in united strength against the Christians, and sought by every means to arrest the progress of Christianity. The cunning priests and the artful soothsayers easily persuaded the vulgar, and the public mind in general, that all the calamities, wars, tempests, and diseases that afflicted mankind, were sent upon them by the angry gods, because the Christians who despised their authority were everywhere tolerated.[5] They invented and disseminated the vilest calumnies against everything Christian and laid many and grievous complaints against the Christians before the governors. This was especially so in the Asiatic provinces where Christianity was most prevalent.The First Christians naturally withdrew themselves from the pagans and became a separate and distinct people and held their meetings secretly. They could not but condemn and abhor polytheism, as utterly opposed to the one living and true God, and to the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ; this gave the Romans the idea that Christians were unfriendly to the human race, seeing they condemned all religions but their own. Hence they were called “Atheists,” because they did not believe in the heathen deities, and derided the heathen worship.[6] But that confinement of that pagan population seemed not always even easy.


[1] “apostle” signifies one “sent forth.”

[2] In the month of July A.D. 64 a great fire broke out in the Circus, which continued to spread until it laid in ruins all the ancient grandeur of the imperial city. The flames extended with great rapidity, and Rome being a city of long narrow streets, and of hills and valleys, the fire gathered force from the winds, and soon became a general conflagration. In a short time the whole city seemed wrapped in one sheet of burning flame.

[3] Dean Milman’s History of the Jews, vol. 2, book 16, page 380

[4] Roman History, Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 19, page 406

[5] Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1, page 67. Cave’s Primitive Christianity; early chapters

[6] Christian worship, in true simplicity, without the aid of temples and priests, rites and ceremonies, is not much better understood now by professing Christendom than it was then by pagan Rome. Still it is true Today a lot of name Christians want also to see priests in special clothes and services with offerrings, incense and symbols in temples or special church buildings. Instead of knowing that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

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