Keith Hunt - Canonization of the New Testament #10 - Page Ten   Restitution of All Things

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The Canonization of the New Testament #10

Why the Rejection of the Apostle John

(published in 1984)

by Ernest Martin


     The modern Christian finds it almost impossible to believe
that Christians of the latter half of the first century would
renounce the apostle John's position of authority within the
Christian church, but they did! The evidence of this is found in
John's own writings as well as historical documents written by
Christians who lived within a hundred or so years after John's
death. What is so uncanny about this denial is the fact that John
was an apostle from the very beginning of Christ's ministry, was
specially selected to be a witness with Peter and his brother
James to the Transfiguration (which Peter thought so important),
was a personal observer of Christ after His resurrection from the
dead, was among the select group of apostles who received private
teachings and instructions from Christ during the 40 days after
His resurrection, was ordered by Christ to take care of his aunt
until her death (none other than Mary, the mother of Christ),
that he was the one (with Peter) who was instrumental in
establishing the Christian church throughout Palestine, was
reckoned by Paul as one of the three "pillar" apostles to whom
Paul had to submit his teachings for administrative and doctrinal
approval, (no, Paul had to submit his teaching to no one - Christ
had personally taught him - Gal 1 - Keith Hunt), was one so
distinguished by Christ that he produced for the church a written
Gospel plus three epistles (which are the four Biblical books
emphasizing love), and was permitted by Christ to live beyond
Peter's death to write the concluding prophetic message to the
world (the Book of Revelation), but in spite of this, his
authority and teachings were rejected by many Christians during
the last 30 to 35 years of his life!

     People today find it difficult to comprehend why such a
state of affairs could have existed while John was alive. But it
     This situation has a bearing on the development and
acceptance of the New Testament canon. If John's authority to
direct the Christian church was being rebuffed at the very time
the canon was being formed, it should not be surprising that
John's canon itself might be suspect. This is the reason why
John's New Testament did not meet with universal approval at
first. But John's canon did prevail, at least for the first three
centuries among orthodox Christians. This is because of the great
influence of people like Polycarp and Irenaeus (in the middle and
late second century) who maintained John's authority in essential
matters of faith. Both these men were from Asia Minor, and both
were governed by the teachings and authority of John. If it would
not have been for these men (and others who shared their views),
the shift of authority within the Christian church would have
gravitated very early away from Ephesus. And, as time went on,
the authority did leave the region where the New Testament canon
had its origin. Since Rome was the center of political activity,
it soon became necessary (so many people thought) that Christian
authority should also be moved to Rome. This became an
accomplished fact in the fourth century when Constantine assumed
the emperorship. Indeed, Constantine created two "Romes." One was
the original city in Italy (which finally came to govern
Christian affairs in the western part of Europe) and the other
was new Rome on the Bosphorus (which governed most Christians in
the eastern parts of Europe and Asia).

     What region was left in the lurch when the Empire was
married to the Church? It was that which the apostle John had
established as the center of Christianity from the fall of
Jerusalem until his death about A.D.98. Christians ceased to look
towards the region that John made his residence and where the New
Testament was canonized. And the rejection began to happen very
early in the history of the Christian church.

A Strange Set of Circumstances!

     We must now refer to some historical evidences which moderns
find hard, if not impossible, to believe, but what they state
actually happened! There remains a genuine letter of Clement,
Bishop of Rome, written to the church at Corinth about A.D.95,
which contains excellent moral and ethical teachings reflecting
the doctrinal standards of the New Testament, yet the letter
fails to mention the apostle John even once, or that he had any
authority to deal with matters then affecting the Corinthian
church! The interesting point that moderns find baffling is the
fact that, in all probability, the apostle John was still alive
and about to write his Book of Revelation when Clement composed
his letter to Corinth! This is an astonishing set of
circumstances which has puzzled later Christians. Indeed, when
one surveys the words within the 65 chapters that Clement wrote
to the Corinthians, one would not believe that the apostle John
was even in existence or had ever existed!

     Strange, isn't it, that Christ's first cousin and one of the
founding apostles of the Christian church was not consulted in
matters concerning the Church at Corinth (about 300 miles away)
while the Corinthians were receiving instructions from Rome (some
700 miles distant). Look at a hypothetical example of a similar
situation using a modern illustration. Suppose the Catholic
community of Lyons, France wrote to other Christians at Florence,
Italy (some 700 miles away) about straightening up their
Christian lives and taking 65 chapters to do it, but not once
mentioning the Pope at Rome (who lived only 300 miles away) as
having any authority to decide the matter! Such a situation would
seem almost absurd today. But that is very similar to what we
find in A.D.95 when Clement of Rome wrote the Church at Corinth.

No one considered John's authority at all!

     Even more intriguing is the fact that the problems affecting
the church at Corinth about A.D.95 were the same ones that John
himself encountered around Ephesus within his 30 years'
experience in that area. Professor Marsh in "Hasting's Dict. of
the Apostolic Church" summarizes the problems in Corinth.

"The Epistle of Clement itself supplies complete information as
to the circumstances under which it was written. Dissension had
arisen within the Christian community at Corinth, and the church
was torn asunder. The original ground of contention is not
mentioned, but the course of the strife is clearly indicated. A
small party of malcontents (1:1; 47:6) had used their influence
to secure the deposition of certain presbyters, men duly
appointed according to apostolic regulations, who were, moreover,
of blameless reputation and unfailing zeal in the performance of
their duties (44:3). A fierce controversy was raging, and the
Corinthian Church, hitherto renowned for its virtues, especially
such as are the outcome of brotherly love, had become a
stumbling-block instead of an example to the world (47:7). Once
before, the Church at Corinth had shown the same spirit of
faction (I Cor.1:10,12). History was now repeating itself, but
the latter case was much worse than the former. Then, the
contending parties had at least claimed to be following the lead
of apostolic men, but now the main body of the Church was
following 'one or two' contumacious persons in rebellion against
their lawful rulers (chapter 47)" (vol.I, p.216).

     What a state of affairs! Clement and the Church at Rome
thought they had to do something about this dissension. But one
thing is conspicuous for its absence! There is no appeal to the
apostle John to help the Corinthians in this matter - either to
John's writings or to his personal authority! The matter even
goes deeper than that! The very things for which Clement was
criticizing the Corinthians were the things the apostle John
talked about the most in his epistles! Here was Clement
complaining about "one or two" taking the preeminence in the
church over the constituted authorities, and that very thing is
what the apostle John emphasized was going on concerning his
authority in Asia Minor. John said:

"I wrote something to the congregation but Diotrephes, who likes
to have first place among them does not receive anything from us
with respect ... He goes on chattering about us with wicked
words. Also, not being satisfied with these things, neither does
he himself receive the brothers [a group of John's
representatives], and those who are wanting to receive them he
tries to hinder and to throw out of the church" (3 John 9,10).

     Why does Clement fail to mention anything of John's
experience in Asia Minor? If a similar situation of rebellion
developed in any modern church congregation which uses the Bible
as its guide, the first section of Scripture that a minister
would refer to is the one just cited from Third John! After all,
it gives (in the plainest of language) a Biblical authority to
put down such people who want the supremacy against official
authorities in the church. But Clement not only did not refer to
this section of John, he avoided all the writings of John which
impinged upon the very problems being faced in Corinth. In
Clement's chapters 42 to 47 (inclusively) his emphasis rehearsed
the rebellions recorded in the Old Testament and how God dealt
with them. Clement also referred to the early schismatics in the
Corinthian church whom Paul had to deal with. But not once does
Clement mention John!

     Then, beginning in the middle of chapter 47, Clement
recorded a major section about the merits of brotherly love
(which subject occupies the whole of Clement's chapters 47 to 51
inclusively), yet there still is no reference to John or his
writings! What is strange is the fact that the very subject of
brotherly love is that with which the apostle John is most famous
in the Biblical canon - there are a total of 42 references to
"love" in his Gospel, and on 46 occasions John emphasizes "love"
in his three short epistles.

     Of course, it could be said that Clement may not have had
John's Gospel or three epistles in his possession when he wrote
First Clement. This may be, but it does not relieve the problem
as far as John's authority is concerned. Since John was no doubt
still living when Clement wrote [or just recently died, since
Clement apparently said that the "pillar" apostles were then dead
(5:2), but this may only have meant James and Peter], it is still
surprising that Clement made no reference to John or his writings
when he was only 300 miles away from Corinth!
     One thing Clement does underscore, however, is that the
apostles Peter and Paul (who had been intimate with the churches
at Corinth and Rome) were the "good" apostles (5:3). This
statement implies that John, and the others, were not as "good"
(whatever Clement meant by the term) as were Peter and Paul.
Clement also called Paul and Peter "distinguished apostles"
(47:1-4), but he did not grace the apostle John with such
distinction! It is not to be imagined that Clement was
repudiating John's apostleship (he could have done that easily
had he desired). In the case of the Corinthian problems Clement
simply felt it not necessary to convoke that authority. He only
called attention to the teachings of Peter and Paul. To the
Corinthians both of them were the "good" and the "distinguished"
apostles. Still, why did Clement avoid any mention of John when
he was no doubt alive and no more than 300 miles away?

     The matter does not stop there! About 20 years later,
Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch, was taken as a prisoner to Rome
where he was finally martyred in the capital city. He passed by
the churches of western Asia Minor and wrote seven letters from
or to them. These are valuable documents to show what was
happening in the Christian church at the time. But note this!
Again, there is not one reference to the apostle John! This
silence is as conspicuous as it was in Clement's letter, but it
is even more difficult to explain because Ignatius composed
letters not only to the Christians at Ephesus (where John had
spent some 30 or 35 years of his final ministry and where he
wrote his Gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation),
but he wrote to Polycarp whom we know to have been an intimate
disciple of John. Yet there is not a single mention of John or
his authority in any matter of discussion! And certainly, by the
time of Ignatius' trip to Rome (c. A.D.115) John's writings were
then published!

     About 20 or so years later (between A.D.140 and A.D.160)
Justin Martyr also wrote some major works on the value of
Christian teaching yet he only referred to John's works once (and
even that may have been a common oral statement that was
circulating among Christians) (Justin's First Apology, ch.61
referenced to John 3:5). Though many scholars feel that Justin
must have been aware of John's Gospel, he does not seem to place
any major authority upon it as a witness. This tendency to avoid
John in some quarters presents the historian with some intriguing

     It should not be thought, however, that everyone avoided a
mention of John. There was Polycarp who was his intimate friend.
Polycarp wrote a short letter to the Philippians (about A.D.115
since it shows Ignatius still alive, 13:2). In it he quoted from
John's canonical letters. Polycarp stated: "For everyone who does
not confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is antichrist"
(To The Philippians 7:1). This is a reference to I John 4:2,3 and
2 John 7. Polycarp even taught that Christians ought to "return
to the word handed on to us from the beginning" (Philip.7:3)
which was what the apostle John demanded in his epistles.
Polycarp also recalled the words of Christ in John's Gospel and
his epistles: "He that raised Him from the dead will raise us
also, if we do His will and walk in His commandments, and love
the things which He loved" (cf.John 7:17; 14:15; I John 2:6,17;
     This witness of Polycarp is essential. He was the Bishop of
the Church at Smyrna (located a short distance north of Ephesus)
and was one who personally heard John speak. Indeed, Polycarp had
been ordained, according to Irenaeus, by the apostles themselves
(Eusebius, Eccl.Hist. IV.14). Since Irenaeus as a youth had heard
Polycarp speak about his conversations with the apostle John
(Eusebius, ibid., V.20), this is powerful evidence that Polycarp
was one who had a deep respect for John and his authority.

     With this in mind, we should remember an event in the
history of the Christian church which might give us some
information on why the authority of John was not acknowledged by
many within the church. In the year A.D.154, Polycarp made a
journey to Rome in order to talk with Anicetus who was Bishop of
the city. Though the meeting was friendly, there was one major
doctrinal matter that needed to be solved (among a number of
minor ones). It concerned the time for completing a short fast
period before the celebration of the Eucharist. Polycarp stated
most emphatically that he, and the other Bishops of Asia Minor,
had been taught by the apostle John to observe the time of the
Eucharist on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month - on
the day before the Passover of the Jews. This meant that the time
for celebration could fall out to any day of the week. With the
Romans, however, they had started, about A.D.140, to keep the
Eucharist on a Sunday following the Passover week. Though John
had set the example of following Jewish calendar indications in
this matter, Polycarp was unable to persuade the Bishop of Rome
to abandon the new method of observance adopted by the Romans.
This is a clear example of Roman authorities expressing a
superiority over the opinions of the apostle John.
     There was a reason for doing this, and the change seemed a
logical one. Before the Jews in Palestine went to war with the
Romans in A.D.132 (which ended in the complete destruction of
Jewish power in Judaea by A.D.135), it was common for the
beginning of all Jewish years (and consequently their months and
holydays) to be determined by the Sanhedrin that had been set up
at Jamnia, in the coastal region west of Jerusalem. But when the
Emperor Hadrian so disrupted Jewish influence in Judaea after
A.D.135, no more official announcements for determining the
beginning of the calendar year were permitted the Jews. This put
their calendar into confusion. Consequently, the times for the
Jewish annual holydays began to slip out of their normal seasons
for observance.

(Not true at all - the Jews always retained a Sanhedrin and never
lost the maintaining of a calendar - Keith Hunt)

     The Jewish year was a Lunar-Solar one. The normal Lunar Year
is about 11 days shorter than the Solar and about every three
years an extra (thirteenth) Lunar month had to be added to the
calendar in order to keep it abreast with Solar time. In a period
of 19 years, there were seven extra months added to the calendar
in order to maintain the Jewish festivals in their proper seasons
of the Solar Year. This was not done haphazardly. In fact, it
required an official body of Jewish elders in Jerusalem (when the
Sanhedrin was there) and then Jamnia (after A.D.70) in order to
accomplish this task. The Jewish community throughout the world
was then informed, usually a year or so in advance, when the
proper years and months could begin. But after the disastrous war
of A.D.132 to A.D.135, the Sanhedrin which had been located at
Jamnia was prevented from functioning and Jews throughout the
world were denied any official sanction for the beginnings of
their years and months. Chaos resulted over the Jewish calendar!
It meant that no Leap Months (the thirteenth months) were being
utilized! Progressively, the Jewish festivals began to be
celebrated eleven days earlier each year: Without the addition of
the "Leap Months," by A.D.142 (a short seven years after the
Jewish/ Roman War) the Passover was beginning to be observed as
early as January (Louis Finkelstein, Akiba, pp.236-239, 274).

If it was so it was only for a relatively few short years, and I
question if it really happened at all - Keith Hunt)

     This was an intolerable situation and something had to be
done about it. It was accomplished by the establishment of a new
Sanhedrin in Usha of Galilee about A.D.142. 

(So, just as I said, only a few short years, if there was any
'loss' in the first place - Keith Hunt)

     From then on the Jews were once again provided with official
pronouncements concerning the times of the beginnings of their
years and months. This new calendar was, unlike the former ones,
based primarily on calculations rather than on actual
observations of the Moon. This is because the emperor Hadrian
forbade any Jew from approaching the city of Jerusalem, and his
decree remained in force for another 200 years! 

(What Martin does not tell you is that the Jews ALWAYS used
'calculation' as well as 'observance of the moon' hence finally
moving to calculation was not a strange thing - Keith Hunt)

     This presented a problem to Christians because the new
calendar had one feature about it which was offensive to many
     In the 17th year of the Jewish calendar cycle the Passover
was observed two days before the Vernal Equinox. This was
contrary to all tradition of earlier times. In the past it had
become a cardinal rule that Passover had to be celebrated after
the start of Spring! 

(Not so at all - Martin is here leading far off into left field.
The Passover observance never took into account the so-called
'Spring Equinox.' There are studies on this Website dealing in-
depth with the calendar as well as the 'equinox' - Keith Hunt)

     Anatolius, an early Christian scholar, called attention to
the fact that all previous Jewish authorities vouched that in the
time of Christ the Passover was always held after the Vernal
Equinox. He said: "This may be learned from what is said by
Philo, Josephus, and Musaeus; and not only by them, but also by
those yet more ancient, the two Agathobuli, sirnamed 'Masters,'
and the famous Aristobulus, who was chosen by among the seventy
interpreters for the sacred and divine Hebrew Scriptures....
These writers, explaining questions in regard to the Exodus, say
that all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the
Vernal Equinox in the first month" (Eusebius, Eccl.Hist VII.

(The traditions of men, and un-Scriptural at that. No where in
the Bible is the Passover declared that it must be AFTER the so-
called Spring Equinox. You can search in vain throughout the
Bible and you will never find anything about the Spring Equinox
in  regards to anything - Keith Hunt)

     And, in the very year that Polycarp went to Rome to inform
Anicetus that the Eucharist should be celebrated according to the
calendar of the Jews, that year was the 17th of the Jewish
Metonic cycle.

(And it means nothing. Polycarp went to Rome because the apostle
John had clearly taught the Passover for Christians was to be on
the 14th day of the first month in the Jewish calendar year -
Keith Hunt)

     Anicetus would have none of it! As a matter of fact, when
the Jewish calendar began to be in disarray at the end of the
Jewish/Roman War (A.D.135), many Christian authorities took it
upon themselves to calculate their own Full Moon for the
Eucharist ceremonies. And some, notably those at Rome, simply
abandoned an association of the Eucharist with the Full Moon and
decided to observe it on a Sunday (the day of Christ's
resurrection) after the Full Moon of Spring had occurred.

(True to a point, clearly man made traditions coming into effect.
But it was also because Rome was ADOPTING pagan customs, and also
because they wanted to move away from anything 'Jewish' so they
would not come under persecution from the secular Roman
government. All this is proved in Dr.Samuele Bacchiocchi's book
"Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday" which is found on this
Website - Keith Hunt)

     Polycarp, however, felt it better to remain with the Jewish
calendar determinations on this matter.

(And so it was for a number of centuries, known in Church History
as the "Quarterdecimin Controversy" - "The 14th Controversy" -
also found in detail on this Website - Keith Hunt)

     Polycarp was not able to convince Anicetus that the Jews
should have authority on this issue. He and Anicetus simply
observed their own respective Eucharists and parted in a friendly
manner. This shows that there were no other major doctrinal
differences between the two church communities in A.D.154. But it
does indicate that the opinions which came from those who
followed directly in the footsteps of the apostle John in Asia
Minor had no influence upon the clerics at Rome.

(There were many DIFFERENCES arising between the "churches" of
the West and those of the East [Asia Minor]; including the
Sabbath/Sunday issue, but history only seems to have recorded the
disagreement with the West and East churches, over the Passover
observance - Keith Hunt)
     The parting of Polycarp and Anicetus in a friendly way was
not the end of the story. About the year A.D.190 another
controversy came up over this same matter. This time, Victor, the
Bishop of Rome, was not at all pleased with the people in Asia
Minor who continued to follow the disciples of John. He brazenly
excommunicated those who looked to Ephesus as the center of
Christian authority. Irenaeus, who sided with the Roman way of
calculating the time for the Eucharist, rebuked the Bishop of
Rome for such a unilateral decision (Eusebius, Eccl.Hist V.24).
Again it must be recognized that there is no hint that there were
other major doctrinal differences between the two church regions.
For what it's worth, the Jewish convert to Christianity,
Hegesippus, mentioned that on a trip from the East to Rome in the
middle of the second century he consulted with a number of
Bishops about their doctrinal positions and found them all in
general agreement (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., IV.22). And, when one
surveys the letters of Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Justin it
seems that this opinion of Hegesippus' was in the main correct
for the orthodox churches. The churches around Ephesus would have
been little different from those in Rome on the basic Christian
doctrines except in the matter of celebrating the Eucharist!

(Sunday/Sabbath had not yet taken on a major doctrinal
difference, for many Christians practiced observing BOTH days. It
was a gradual moving away from anything "Jewish" and had not
become that great of a matter in the 2nd century, but
Passover/Easter HAD become a dividing difference between the West
and East churches - Keith Hunt)

     There was, however, a distinct desire for some Bishops to
exercise administrative power over others. Irenaeus considered
this wrong. This is why he felt compelled to admonish Victor of
Rome not to be so rash in his dealings with the churches of Asia
Minor where John's disciples remained! Nevertheless, Rome was
slowly beginning to exercise a position of leadership among most
Christian congregations.

(Yes, it was a GRADUAL movement towards Rome dominating the
Christian world, with its new adoptive practices in certain
areas, it was slow at first, taking about 3 centuries to gain the
upper hand. It was Constantine in the 3rd century, who becoming
Emperor of Rome, gave the final weight to establishing Rome's
Christian theology over the Roman Empire. Many will be surprised
to know that Rome for centuries practiced FULL water baptism, and
it was only over many centuries that "infant" baptism was finally
adopted - Keith Hunt)

     It was Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage, about A.D.250, who
finally stated that Rome had inherited the Petrine authority of
primacy (the "keys" being given by Christ to Peter), but even
then Cyprian did not think this gave supreme authority to Rome in
all doctrinal and administrative matters (Turner, Catholic and
Apostolic, p.228). In fact, Cyprian even disputed with the Roman
Bishop on numerous issues and quoted the statement of Christ
(John 20:21ff.) that "all the apostles" had been given a type of
equal authority (Cyprian, Unity of the Church, p.4). It was not
until the Council of Chalcedon in A.D.451 that the Petrine theory
of supremacy for the Roman Bishop was finally made "official" in
the Empire, and that is when Christ's reference of the "keys"
being given to Peter was introduced to prove that leadership
(Bruce, The Spreading Flame, p.341).

Why Was John Rejected?

     The witness of Polycarp and others from Asia Minor make it
clear that there were no major doctrinal differences between the
churches which had been under John's control and those in Greece
and Italy. Also, in Clement's letter to the Corinthians there
were no major doctrinal divergences between the Church at Rome
and that at Corinth. Even the dissensions occurring at Corinth
did not involve doctrinal issues! And with Igantius' seven
epistles he revealed a doctrinal unanimity between the churches
of Asia and Rome. As a matter of fact, Ignatius was warning the
churches about the same Gnostic beliefs that John himself was
worried about (believing that Christ had not come in the flesh).

(Overall this is true. The East [Asia Minor churches] still held
the churches of the West [Rome etc.] as BROTHERS in Christ, that
is why Polycarp and Polycrates were willing to go to the effort
of going to Rome to debate the issue of the Passover/Easter
observance - Keith Hunt)

     Since the doctrinal positions were reasonably stable, why,
then, was there a non-recognition of John's opinions by these men
in the late first century and up to the last part of the second?
One might imagine that John may have wanted to heed Jewish ways
more than those in Greece and Rome (because the controversy over
the time for celebrating the Eucharist was whether the church
should observe it according to the calendar of the Jews or a new
Christian one). True, John may have expressed more attachment to
Jewish ways, but anyone who reads his Gospel is fully aware that
John had no sympathy, with the actual observance of the Jewish
Sabbath or their holydays! To John, the Mosaic holydays had
become "the Jews' holydays" and he made a plain statement that
Christ had cancelled the weekly Sabbath for Christians (John 5:18
see Greek). He even showed Christ's lack of attention to the
Mosaic Passover period of the Jews because he records that Christ
was feeding the five thousand in Galilee (John 6:1-15) when the
Law expressly taught that all able-bodied males should be in
Jerusalem for the festival (Exo.23:17; Deut.16:16). Christ also
failed to arrive at the Feast of Tabernacles on time though that
was required too (John 7:1-17). The fact is, Christians believed
Christ to be "the Prophet" of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and this gave
Him power to do as he pleased!

(This is all "garabage" from the pen of Martin. This is not the
place to prove the statements above by Martin concerning John and
Christ, about the Sabbath and Festivals, are WRONG and are the
typical responses from the Catholics and Protestant churches.
Martin at one time, as a scholar and minister, in the Worldwide
Church of God, taught and observed the 7th day weekly Sabbath and
the Festivals of the Lord. Many studies on this Website as well
as a number of books by Dr.Samuele Bacchiocchi DISPROVE the
arguments of Martin and others concerning the weekly Sabbath and
Feasts of the Lord - Keith Hunt)

     And though John emphasized getting back to the Christianity
that was given "from the beginning," John was not speaking of
keeping the rituals of Judaism. He was making an appeal to return
to the teaching which he was presenting in his Gospel. John gave
a thoroughly spiritual interpretation to the teachings of Christ
and they had nothing to do with the physical performance of
keeping Sabbaths, Feast Days, or observing Temple ceremonies.

(The weekly 7th day Sabbath, the FOURTH commandment of the great
Ten, and the Festivals of the Lord, are NOT "rituals" or "temple
ceremonies" of Judaism, as fully proved by my other studies on
this Website - Keith Hunt)

     John's teaching was far from Judaism. It was to his Gospel
that John was referring when he told his readers that they ought
to get back to the teachings of Christ which were given "from the
beginning." He did not mean that his readers ought to return to
the teachings of Moses! Indeed, John accepted the writings of
Paul (which he helped to canonize) and they also made it clear
that observing the food and drink laws of the Old Testament and
the Mosaic holydays were not required in the Christian
dispensation (Gal.4:10; Col.2:16,17).

(Once more, complete NONSENSE and very bad theology understanding
from Martin, who once observed, for many years, the teachings he
now wanted to "do away with." The answer to his arguments and
many others like him, on the subject of Sabbath, Feasts, and
clean and un-clean foods, are found in detail, on this Website -
Keith Hunt)

     Actually, when one analyzes the teachings of John in his
Gospel and epistles, it becomes evident that he could not have
been teaching too much out of the mainstream of Christian
doctrines which were then being preached in the world. This
includes what was being taught at Rome and Corinth. If one will
look at the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians and the seven
letters of Ignatius, there is hardly a syllable of doctrinal
teaching that varies from that of Paul and Peter - and even that
of John himself!

(Now that is only agreed upon when you KNOW the TRUE truths of
what those apostles taught and practiced - Keith Hunt)

     This is an extraordinary thing! Why is it that the main
doctrinal positions seem to be the same (or the differences were
of no major consequence) and yet the authorities of Greece and
Italy (from the records we have available) pay no attention to
the apostle John or his authority?

(Again, this is all "conjecture" by Martin, as to true
Christianity between the East and the West, and what Paul and
Peter taught. During the 2nd century there was MUCH in common
with the East and the West, but DIFFERENCES were slowly arising,
and some from the West were moving away from what some were
calling "Judaism." John holding true to apostolic Christianity,
as also taught by Peter and Paul, was not looked upon with favor
by people coming along like Clement and Ignatius - Keith Hunt)

     The answer may come from the writings of John himself. In
his Third Epistle John said that a certain Diotrephes was one who
liked to have first place among those in the church (3 John 9).
Diotrephes was not accepting John's authority, and he was casting
out of the church those who wanted to rely on the apostle John!
It seems almost impossible for some of us moderns to believe that
someone like Diotrephes could continue to call himself a
Christian while rejecting the authority of the apostle John to
his face! But John records that such a thing was happening. And
note this. At no time does John accuse Diotrephes of preaching
false doctrines! He may have been, but John says nothing about
such a deviation! It seems that Diotrephes simply wanted to have
the first place of rulership within the Christian church. This
was the same thing that was happening in the Corinthian church
when Clement wrote to them. There were no doctrinal issues at
stake-only matters involving who was to govern! But why did
Diotrephes turn against the authority of John? Why didn't Clement
and Ignatius mention John?

(What Martin again does not tell you is that John wrote that even
THEN in his day, there were many "anti-christs" out there. So
false doctrines WERE creeping into the Churches of God [1 John
2:18,19] - the commandments of God were being "done away with"
and those who did not want to live as Christ lived, were entering
AND teaching people to depart from such fundamental Christianity
[1 John 2:1-6] - Keith Hunt)

     We may have an answer to this if we can first recognize a
little about the temperament of John! Of all the apostles, he is
the one least understood by most modern interpreters. Most have
considered him to have been a wishy-washy individual that could
only talk about conciliation between peoples and especially a
brotherly love among all Christians. True, those things he
emphasized but his attitude was far from that of being weak and
non-resolute. Just the opposite was the case!
     Christ gave John and his brother James (who were both his
first cousins) the title "Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17). Giving
this title signified that they were to be the very spokesmen of
God, it meant they would speak the words of God in the manner in
which thunder would roar from the heavens! This typified the
brashness of their attitudes! A good example of showing this was
the incident of the Samaritans who rebuked Christ. "And when the
disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou
that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them,
even as Elijah did?" (Luke 9:54). Though Christ had to reprove
the two brothers for their harshness, this does show the bold
temperament that the brothers possessed! With this in mind, it
seems to be no accident that it was John who wrote the Book of
Revelation. Its theme could well have suited John's personality
in the basic sense. It is a book of judgment, of "blood and
guts," of punishment for all wrong-doers. Indeed, there is no
mercy extended within its pages for those deserving retribution.
It describes God's dealing with sin - forthwithly! Was the
apostle John selected to record these final judgments against
unrighteousness because his attitude blended in with their manner
of delivery?

     The two Sons of Thunder were also highly ambitious (along
with their mother) in petitioning Christ for seats of authority
on either side of him (Matt.20:20). The other apostles became
angry with these two brothers for their audacious attitudes in
wanting to rule over everyone else!
     There is another illustration which expresses John's nature.
He seemed to be one who would not "give and take" on matters
which he considered important. Things had to go exactly the way
he thought proper, and he was not considerate of those who would
show a deviation from his opinions. Indeed, if anyone taught
anything different from John or his assistants, John allowed no
one leeway in dealing with such an individual. In his Second
Epistle he taught that if any man would come to a person's home
and not bring the exact teachings that John was relating then no
one was permitted to speak with him (2 John 10,11). While such a
trait is admirable when matters of essential doctrinal truths are
at stake, it may appear a very severe attitude if the opinions
involve insignificant social customs or traditions. And this may
be the very thing that caused some Christians to have
reservations about being in the company of John and his
assistants. Scholars have long recognized this. Professor Riggs,
in the "Dict. of Christ and the Gospels," relates:

"It is commonly thought that John was of a gentle, contemplative
nature, and almost effeminate in character. Contemplative he was,
and the Gospel is but an expression of his profound meditation
upon the character and work of his Master, but a moment's
reflexion upon some of the scenes of the Gospels (see Matthew
20:20-24, Luke 9:49,54), in correspondence with which are some of
the legends regarding his later life, will show that this Apostle
was, at least in earlier life, impetuous, intolerant, and
ambitious. Doubtless he was effectively moulded by the Spirit of
Christ during his long discipleship, but he was always stern and
uncompromising in his hatred of evil and in his defense of truth"
(vol.I, p.869).

     This temperamental trait of John may well be the answer why
many Christians around the world (who wished a more conciliatory
approach to Christian ethics and doctrines) found an uneasiness
around John and his assistants!

     Of course, this may not be the answer. There could be
several (unknown) reasons why John was shunned by people even
while alive. But recognizing the nature of John's personality
affords a rational reason why people found him hard to get along
with. At no time, however, would true Christians question his
apostolic authority in critical matters involving major doctrinal
subjects. But in other situations it was different. We are
certain that Clement and Ignatius avoided all mention of John (or
of his authority) though they no doubt agreed with him on most of
his doctrinal points. This general "agreement" must have been the
case because Polycarp was certainly a personal hearer of John and
he did not censure Anicetus of the Roman church (in A.D.154)
about any major doctrinal deviations other than the matter of not
celebrating the Eucharist at the Full Moon with the Jews!

(Yes, at this time in the second century, the churches of the
East still recognized the churches of the West as brothers in
Christ, there was no doubt MORE IN COMMON between themselves than
there was in differences. The point John makes in his letters is
very clear, the teachings of departing from the commandments of
God WAS APPEARING in and among the Christian world. After the
second century these false teachings really started to get a
foot-hold. The Roman Catholic church as it is today, was not like
it was in the second century. Yet, Jude saw the tide turning in
the first century and told his readers to strive for the faith
once delivered to the saints - Keith Hunt)

     As for me, it looks like the main problem within the
orthodox body of church believers (not of course the tangential
ones of the Gnostics, the extreme Jewish Christians, etc.) was
the temperament of the leaders more than anything else. Yet there
must have been some decisions of John reflecting his traits which
were offensive to some Christians, especially those in Corinth
and Rome. We may have available an answer around which the
difficulties can be resolved.

(It was NOT JUST his temperament or traits. It was also what he
taught. The letters of John make it abundantly clear the
commandments of God are not "done away with" - Keith Hunt)

     It may appear an odd thing to say, but it seems that John
and his assistants seemed to show a lack of hospitality with
certain groups within the church, even though John emphasized
"brotherly love" more than anyone else! This especially looks
like the case in John's dealings with Gentile Christians in
Western Asia Minor. He made the definite statement to men under
his jurisdiction who were his travelling evangelists not to take
any hospitality from any of the Gentiles whom they met on their
journeys! He told his friend Gaius that he gave his assistants
specific instructions that "It was in the name [of Christ] that
they went forth receiving NOTHING from the Gentile peoples" (3
John 7). In a word, John expected his travelling evangelists only
to reside with and to take support from Christians who were not
Gentiles! John could hardly have meant "unconverted heathen"
because such people would not have given his evangelists support

     At first glance one might be tempted to believe that John
was a Jewish type of Christian who still adhered to the Mosaic
Law and avoided all contact with Gentiles, even Gentile
Christians! In no way could this be true! While very early in the
history of the church, Paul had to confront Peter (when some came
to Antioch from James) when he and Barnabas withdrew from
fellowshipping with Gentiles (Gal.2:11-16). But that anti-social
attitude was only expressed by the main body of Jewish Christians
in the period before A.D.70. And though John insisted that the
Eucharist among his followers should be celebrated on the day
prior to the Jewish Passover, it is inconceivable that John was a
strict "Jewish Christian," especially when one reads his polemics
against Jewish rituals and festivals in his Gospel! And besides,
Polycarp, who was clearly a close personal friend of John and his
disciple, wrote letters to and received them from Ignatius in
A.D.115 (not 20 years of John's death) and they were in unanimity
that Christians should not take up the ceremonies of Judaism. "Do
not be deceived by strange doctrines or by antiquated myths,
since they are useless. For if we are still living in conformity
to Judaism, we acknowledge that we have not received grace" (To
the Magnesians, 8:1). Another verse: "If, then, those who lived
in antiquated customs came to newness of hope, no longer keeping
the Sabbath but living in accordance with the Lord" (9:1). And to
the very people of the Church at Philadelphia to whom John
himself wrote not 20 years before, Ignatius taught: "If anyone
interprets Judaism to you, do not listen to him. For it is better
to hear Christianity from a man who has received circumcision [a
converted Jew] than Judaism from one who has not [a Gentile
teaching the Law]" (To the Philadelphians, 6:1).

(There is a great DIFFERENCE between "Judaism" [the traditions of
the Jews - as Jesus also noted - Mark 7] and what are truths from
God - Keith Hunt)

     Some might think that both Polycarp and Ignatius were going
contrary to the teachings of John by referring to the customs of
the Law in this manner, but this cannot be so. John, himself, was
as adamant in his Gospel on the issue as Polycarp in his
agreement with Ignatius. Recall again that Polycarp also went to
Rome in A.D.154 and discussed matters of doctrine with Anicetus.
If the basic teachings of the Mosaic Law had been kept by John
(and the others in Asia Minor), why didn't Polycarp also tell
Anicetus that the Romans ought to start keeping the Sabbath, the
holydays of the Jews, and the food laws of Moses? After all,
Polycarp was a personal disciple of the apostle John! No such
discussions came up, nor would they, because John, himself, did
not keep such "Jewish" ceremonies by the end of the first
century! And besides, the apostle Paul had already made it
abundantly clear that Christians were not required to perform
such observances (Gal.4:10; Col.2:16,17).

(Once more false and erroneous theology by Martin. Church History
shows that overall "Christianity" had not FULLY departed from
observing the 7th day weekly Sabbath and Festivals of the Lord
during the second century. Some no doubt had, but in the same
manner, some, as in Rome, had adopted Easter in place of the
Passover on the 14th. As Polycarp and Polycrates were willing to
debate the matter with the bishops of Rome in their day, this
would have also been the same for the weekly Sabbath, clean and
un-clean foods etc. Just because history does not tell us that
Polycarp and Polycrates did not debate the weekly Sabbath topic
etc. does not prove they never did. As Polycarp and Polycrates
were willing to still hold the Roman church as brothers in
Christ, even with the Passover/Easter difference, they were
willing no doubt to be just as "brotherly" with the Sabbath,
Festivals, and other issues - Keith Hunt)

     Since it could not be possible that John was demanding his
travelling evangelists to refrain from obtaining hospitality from
Gentiles because John was practicing the Old Testament laws of
separation, why then did he refrain from support by Gentile
Christians? If we look closely at the history of what was
happening in the Christian church at this time, we may get close
to the answer. The problem appears to rest in the custom of
"eating and not eating" certain types of food. Specifically, it
concerned the meats which were being bought in the meat markets!
While the matter would seem of little importance to us today
(because the problem has long been solved), at the close of the
first century and even throughout the second, there was a major
argument going on concerning meats which had been sacrificed to
idols! And John was in the thick of it!

(No such "issue" is presented in the New Testament as such, but
it could have been possible John was in such an issue in certain
parts of his evangelical travels - Keith Hunt)

     This explanation at first may seem absurd. Was it possible
that such an emphasis was placed on this matter as late as the
last decade of the first century? Absolutely, and the matter was
brought up by the apostle John himself! At the very time that
Clement was writing to the Corinthians (without once mentioning
John), John was writing to two churches in Western Asia Minor -
churches which he believed to be true churches of Christ - but
who had some errors in them that needed to be corrected. One of
his main concerns was that the leaders of the churches were
teaching that it was all right "to eat things sacrificed to
idols" (Rev.2:14,20). To John, this was a very serious breach of
conduct! It had nothing to do with the observance or
non-observance of Mosaic ceremonies or food laws, but it had to
do with what the apostles had decreed for Gentile believers back
in A.D.49. At the Jerusalem Conference it had been determined
that Gentiles were not to eat things offered to idols (Acts
15:29; 21:25).
     There was, however, a problem of interpretation on this
matter. The apostle Paul gave his opinion that it was all right
to eat things bought in the meat markets (which were normally
offered originally to idols) as long as the Gentile Christians
did not participate in the actual rituals of the sacrifice (I
Cor.10:24-32). Indeed, Paul felt that it was even all right to
consume meat in an idol's temple as long as no brother was
offended by such action (I Cor.8:3-13), but he acknowledged that
a weak brother might think that the Christian was partaking of an
idolatrous ritual if one did, so he recommended against it.
Yet people in Corinth and Rome (and in other Gentile areas) had
to eat and almost all meats which could be purchased were first
sacrificed to idols. They had to buy their food as other Gentiles
did. As a result, they were constantly coming in contact with
"meats offered to idols." No doubt John agreed with Paul's
earlier opinion on the matter, but it appears that some in the
Christian church were letting the interpretation get out of hand
by the end of the first century, John became concerned about the
situation (especially in Pergamos and Thyatira). They were going
too far and he thought their conduct was now close to idolatry
itself! So, John put his foot down! A reflection of John's
attitude is seen in the last verse of his First Epistle. After
writing five chapters on brotherly love and about staying away
from false and destructive doctrines, he closed his epistle with
six short words, but with a powerful emphasis! "Little children,
keep yourselves from idols" (I John 5:21).

     This admonition could hardly have applied to "Jewish
Christians," because shunning idols was one of the cardinal
features of that segment of Christianity. But John was not
advocating a "Mosaic Christianity." He was warning all Christians
under his authority (no matter of what race they were) to flee
from any appearance of idolatry. And it was his opinion that some
Christians were simply going too far, and this especially applied
to Gentiles. This may be the reason why John adopted a strong and
strict attitude on the matter of buying meat in the shambles or
eating any meat offered to idols. At least we know that he
commanded his own travelling evangelists to accept no hospitality
from Gentile Christians within his jurisdiction (3 John 7). 

(The reason that John took nothing from the Gentiles, may have
been the same attitude that Paul had towards taking nothing from
certain churches, so he was not indebted towards them. He often
worked at his trade, took nothing from those who may have had a
wrong attitude towards him, IF he had taken physical goods and
money from them. What Martin suggests as John taking nothing from
Gentiles, may not be the answer at all - Keith Hunt)

     It was surely something they were doing or not doing (though
they were Christians) which prompted John to command such
strictures. And without doubt we can know that the matter of
eating meats from the Gentile meat markets was a major issue at
the time.

(No, we do not know it was a major issue at this time in the life
of John, and the Christian church. Nothing in the New Testament
suggests that this was an issue in the church at the close of the
first century - Keith Hunt)

     In fact, the problem continued to be brought up within the
Christian church even throughout the second century. There is a
Christian document known as "The Didache" ("The Teachings of the
Twelve Apostles") which was written sometime between A.D.120 and
A.D.180. It purports to give a synopsis of apostolic teaching
which came from the written and oral words of the apostles. And
in the midst of the doctrines which this work saw essential for
maintaining, there is a section on refraining from meats offered
to idols. "Now concerning food, observe the traditions as best
you can. But be sure to refrain completely from meat which has
been sacrificed before idols, for it represents the worship of
dead gods" (6:3)

(This writing "The Didache" is a bunch of words from the darkened
minds of false teachers of Christianity, and has no bearing at
all on what is the truth of the Bible - Keith Hunt)

     This reference shows the question we are discussing was very
much alive throughout the middle part of the second century! As
for the Romans and the Corinthians, they had the letters of Paul
explaining that it was all right to eat such food if one's
conscience was not bothered (that is, the conscience of another
believer), but it was not proper if the conscience of any weak
brother was injured (Rom.14:1-6; 1 Cor.8:4-13; 10:23-32). The
truth is, it was difficult to know how to practice this liberty
which Paul had given. It appears that the Romans and Corinthians
(and some in Asia Minor) were more lenient on this matter than
others, and they decided to follow the "good" and "distinguished"
apostles Paul and Peter on the issue. Others felt obliged to be
more strict. And in that age, it was enough to separate the
Christian communities from one another. Again, this whole matter
may seem absurd to us of modern times, but this was not the case
in the first and second centuries!

(True Christians KNEW what the truth was, and knew how to
practice it. They had many years after the instruction of Paul on
the matter, to understand and practice it correctly. John would
have continued to teach what Paul was inspired to write on the
matter. It was only an issue in the 2nd century within the false
Christianity that was slowly arising from Rome and those
influenced by the Roman church - Keith Hunt)

     As for John, he simply interdicted the practice
(Rev.2:14,20) and in this he was followed by the Christians who
wrote The Didache. After all, it had been commanded by the
Jerusalem Conference of apostles, so why shouldn't its strict
adherence be applied? John was more offended by such Gentile
customs (because they smacked of idolatry) and even Paul had
taught on such matters to: "Give none offence, neither to the
Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God" (I
Cor.10:32). John had little to do with Gentile Christians if they
were lax over this issue, and it appears that many of them were!

(Martin is grasping at straws. It is NOT at all clear from the
New Testament, that this was the issue as to why John was not
taking anything from Gentiles. And what was going on within the
rising of false Christianity during the second century, is
another matter entirely - Keith Hunt)

     This may be the answer to the lack of communication between
John and some other Christians - notably Gentile Christians!

(It is good that Martin gives "This MAY BE the answer ..." For
the truth of the matter is that we do NOT know THE SPECIFICS of
the answer at all. We do know for sure, as it is written in
John's letters, some, many, anti-christs were there in his day,
and were teaching the commandments of God were "done away" - John
clearly defends the position that God's commandments are to be
obeyed. And yes, John was at times, a person who pulled no
punches, shot from the hip, spoke without mincing words, and did
lay the cards on the table - Keith Hunt)

     Though their other doctrinal beliefs were basically the same
(and they all recognized one another as Christians, albeit "weak

(Now, that is a good way for Ernest Martin to put it "weak ones"
- there were many weak in the faith during the second century,
many who were turning from the faith once delivered to the
saints, turning to adopt pagan rites and customs such as Easter,
and eventually Sunday in place of the 7th day Sabbath - Keith

there were the different social and traditional customs about
which some were more strict than others. And, as everyone knows,
the matter of foods (what one allows himself to eat or what he
will not eat) is one of the most divisive traits imaginable. It
has separated chief Christian friends (Gal.2:11-16) and even
whole sections of the Christian church (Acts 15:24-29). And
unfortunately, there are many modern examples of it!

(There is way MORE behind the "food" issue of the New Testament
than just the matter of clean and un-clean foods. Just the clean
and unclean per se would not have divided the Christian community
to the degree Martin would like us to believe - Keith Hunt)
     The Christian churches also tended to separate from one
another in regard to the temperaments and desires of the various
leaders. The apostles of Christ seemed to represent a variety of
personality types. Thankfully, they did not express a bland type
of homogeneity that would make them to be a group of men
unnatural to our own experience regarding human relationships.
     These differences provided both some weaknesses and
strengths in presenting the Gospel to the world. Some, no doubt,
wanted to have their own way in the interpretation of standard
doctrinal matters within the Christian church. This is how Peter,
Paul and John could be different from one another in certain
things, but in complete unanimity in the basic teachings of

     In spite of the differences, the Gospel message triumphed in
the world primarily because the first apostles saw it incumbent
upon them to preserve the New Testament writings. The whole of
Second Peter was written to acknowledge the canonization that
Peter and John had been commissioned to complete. When one
realizes that the New Testament mentions the fact of its own
canonization, then it should be natural for normal Christians to
accede to the authority of the two apostles who accomplished the
job. It was the creation of the canon that finally stabilized a
set of Christian doctrines which were to be maintained until the
Second Advent. When later doctrinal and administrative problems
arose within the Christian communities, there could always be the
sacred canon to provide a beacon light of truth (the standard
truth) for all Christians to heed.

(Now that I can fully agree with - Keith Hunt)

     Admittedly, there may be other explanations which could
better satisfy a reason why Clement and Ignatius failed to
involve John in affairs concerning the churches of Corinth and
Rome. But since it can be shown that there were no major
doctrinal discussions between the men mentioned above, nor
between Polycarp and Anicetus, nor even as late as those between
Irenaeus and Victor, it appears that social customs and
personality differences among the orthodox leaders were the main
reasons for early separations within the Christian church. The
fiery temperament of John and his uncompromising attitude towards
any semblance of idolatry (even the buying of meats in the meat
markets, though true Christian Gentiles would not have taken part
in the rituals) were enough to separate the influence of
Christian leaders in the last part of the first century. 

(No, it was WAY MORE than that of "meats" - it was the start of a
deep apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints. And
just because Polycarp and Polycrates were still holding out the
hand of fellowship to the bishop of Rome and others, even when
major doctrinal difference were emerging [like Passover/Easter]
does not distract away from the basic truth of John in stating
many anti-christs were ALREADY in the world - Keith Hunt)

     These matters to us today may seem almost trivial, but this
was not the case with those in the first century, and this
especially applies to those who had been reared with strong,
traditional Jewish beliefs.

(It was not a case of "been reared with strong traditional Jewish
beliefs" - it was a case of TRUE Godly religious faith, once
delivered to the saints, as opposed to false Judaism [the
traditions of men - Mark 7] and adoption of other false doctrines
and customs. The teachings of John in his Gospel and letters was
not looked upon with favor by the likes of those coming along in
the second century who would be looked upon eventually as the
founding fathers of the Roman Catholic church. That's the basic
reason as to why John was ignored or discounted - Keith Hunt)

     From the third century onwards, however, the Christian
church began to absorb more Gentile customs into its midst. This
was no doubt a natural development (whether for ill or good). And
by the fourth century the church became wedded to the state and
from then on a more regimented Christianity developed which
resembled the Old Testament state and church concept of religious
belief - though with different holydays and customs from those of

(The popular church had then completed its corruption into the Babylon
Whore woman of the book of Revelation. She then was able to ride
the Beast, as she will again, for one last time, at the time of
the end, during the last 42 months of this age, before the
glorious return of Christ. See the expounding of the book of 
Revelation in "The New Testament Bible Story" - Keith Hunt)

     But before this happened, the New Testament canon (which was
finalized by John) was given to the early church as the
authoritative standard for Christian doctrine and ethics. Only
later, in the fourth and fifth centuries, did the Western
churches depart from the early manuscript order of the New
Testament books. The original order, however, should never have
been tampered with. It is my belief that the time has come for
the world to return to the original arrangement of the sacred
canon which came from the hand of the apostle John and his
assistants. When this is done, a new appreciation of the Biblical
books can emerge.


To be continued

Entered on this Website June 2008


The basics of Ernest Martin's thesis on the canonization of the
New Testament is correct. The apostles were mightily moved and
inspired by the Holy Spirit during the first century A.D. It is
impossible for me to think that they would not be inspired to
formalize the cannon of Sacred New Testament Scripture. The
"order" of the books of the New Testament makes complete sense as
Martin claims most of the original MSS show. Certainly the
Gospels and Acts should come first, to be read by new converts,
then the General epistles of James, Peter, and John. Then the
epistles of Paul, and lastly the book of Revelation.

Keith Hunt

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