From the book “THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH”
Bishops of Commoius’s reign: Pantaenus the philosopher
9. When the reign of Antoninus2 had lasted nineteen years, Commodus stepped into his shoes.3 In his first year, Julian was entrusted with the archbishopric of the province of Alexandria, Agrippinus having reached the end of his twelve years ministry.
10. At that time the school for believers in Alexandria was headed by a man with a very high reputation as a scholar, by name Pantaenus, for it was an established custom that an academy of sacred learning should exist among them. This academy has lasted till our own time, and I understand that it is directed by men of high standing and able exponents of theology, but we know that Pantaenus was one of the most eminent teachers of his day, being an ornament of the philosophic system known as stoicism. He is said to have shown such warm-hearted enthusiasm for the divine word that he was appointed to preach the gospel of Christ to the peoples of the East, and travelled as far as India. For there were, yes, there were even then many evangelists of the word eager to contribute an inspired fervour of apostolic pattern for the increase and building up of the divine word. Of these Pantaenus was one: it is stated that he went as far as India, where he appears to have found that Matthew's gospel had arrived before him and was in the hands of some there who had come to know Christ. Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to
1. Irenaeus found this story of the origin of the seventy in the Letter of Aristeas, said to be from the pen of a Persian noble. The statement about Ezra is no doubt based on 2 Esdras xiv. The improbability of these stories does not take away from the reliability of Irenaeus as a chronicler of the Christian era.
2. Marcus Aurelius.
3. 17 March A.D. 180.
them and had left behind Matthew's account in the actual Aramaic characters,1 and it was preserved till the time of Pantaenus's mission. He himself, after doing great work, ended up as principal of the academy in Alexandria, where both orally and in writing he revealed the treasures of the divine doctrine.
[IT IS A FACT OF HISTORY THAT MANY "ISRAELITES" WERE IN SOUTH INDIA AT THE TIME OF THE FIRST CENTURY A.D. JESUS HAD DIRECTED THAT THE GOSPEL WAS TO GO TO THE "SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL" - AND SO IT WAS DONE - EAST AS FAR AS INDIA AND WEST AS FAR AS THE BRITISH ISLES [WHO WERE ALSO HEBREW ISRAELITES] - Keith Hunt]
Clement of Alexandria
11. In his time Clement was noted at Alexandria for his patient study of Holy Scripture. He bore the same name as the former head of the Roman church, the pupil of the apostles. In his Outlines he refers by name to Pantaenus as his teacher, and it seems to me that in Book 1 of the Miscellanies there is a covert allusion to that scholar, After indicating the more distinguished members of the apostolic succession to which he had been admitted, he says this:
This work is not a careful literary composition designed to impress, but notes stored up for my old age, a tonic for a bad memory, no more than a sketchy outline of those clear and vital words that I was privileged to hear, and of blessed and truly remarkable men. Of these one was in Greece (the Ionian), a second in south Italy, a third in the Lebanon, a fourth from Egypt. Others lived in the East and included one in Assyria, and one in Palestine of Hebrew origin. When I met the last - in ability, the first - by tracking him down in his Egyptian lair, I found rest. These men preserved the true tradition of the blessed teaching straight from Peter, James, John, and Paul, the holy apostles, son receiving it from father - how few are like their fathers! By the grace of God, they came right down to me, to deposit those ancestral apostolic seeds.
Bishops of Jerusalem
12. In their time there was a noted bishop in Jerusalem who even now is famous almost everywhere - Narcissus, fifteenth
1. This seems to imply that Bartholomew found a Jewish community; ‘India’ may mean any country east of Ethiopia.
in the succession from the time of the siege of the Jews under Hadrian. It was then that the church there first consisted of Gentiles, who took the place of converts from the circumcision and were headed by the first Gentile bishop, Mark, as already explained. After him, as shown by the local succession-lists, came Bishop Cassian, followed by Publius, Maximus, Julian, Gaius, Symmachus, a second Gaius, then another Julian, followed by Capito, Valens, and Dolichian; finally Narcissus, the thirtieth from the apostles in unbroken succession.1
Rhodo and the disagreement about Marcion which he records
13. At the same period, Rhodo, an Asian by birth and, as he himself relates, a disciple at Rome of Tatian, whose acquaintance we made earlier, composed various books, ranging himself with the others against Marcion's heretical sect. He tells us that in his day it split into dissentient groups, describes the people who caused the split, and effectively refutes the falsehoods invented by each of them. Listen to what he writes:
Consequently, they no longer agree among themselves, but struggle to uphold irreconcilable views. One of their herd is Apelles, who prides himself on his mode of life and his grey hairs. He admits that there is a single Source, but says that the prophecies come from a hostile spirit, relying on the prophecies of a demoniac girl named Philumene. Others, like the captain himself, Marcion, introduce two Sources. These include Potitus and Basilicus, who followed the Pontic wolf,2 and failing, as he had done, to find an answer to the problem of evil, took the easy way out and announced two Sources, baldly and without proof. Others of them again plunged into still worse error and posited not merely two but three Natures! Their leading spirit is Syneros, according to those who claim membership of his school.
1. Eusebius has omitted two names after Capito - a second Maximus, and Antoninus.
2. Marcion, son of a Pontic bishop.
Rhodo also states that he conversed with Apelles:
The old man Apelles, in a discussion with me, was shown to be guilty of many erroneous statements. He therefore began to suggest that it was far better not to argue about doctrine at all, and for each man to stick to his own beliefs: those who placed their hopes in the Crucified would be saved, he declared, so long as they continued in good works. The most obscure part of his teaching, as I said before, was his doctrine of God, for he spoke of a single Source, as does our doctrine.
After a flail statement of Apelles's position, Rhodo continues:
When I said to him 'What is your proof of this? how can you speak of a single Source? Please explain,' he replied that the prophecies refuted themselves, as they had never once told the truth: they were inconsistent, false, and mutually destructive. As to how there was a single Source, he said he did not know but simply inclined to that opinion. Then when I adjured him to tell the truth, he swore he was absolutely sincere in saying that he did not understand how there was one uncreated God, but that was his conviction. I laughed and condemned him, because he called himself a teacher and had no idea how to establish what he taught.
In the same work, addressing himself to Callistio, Rhodo admits that he was once a disciple of Tatian at Rome. Tatian had produced a book on Problems. In it he had promised to set out what was obscure and puzzling in Holy Writ, so Rhodo announces that in a special work he will furnish the answers to Tatian's problems. There is also extant an essay of his on The Six Days of Creation.
The egregious Apelles voiced innumerable profanities about the Mosaic Law, and in treatise after treatise blasphemed the inspired words, making the most determined efforts to refute them, as he imagined, and demolish them altogether.
The false prophets of Phrygia, and the schism of Blastus at Rome
14. Filled with hatred of good and love of evil the enemy of God's Church left no trick untried in his machinations against mankind, and did his best to make a fresh crop of heretical sects spring up to injure the Church. Some members of these crawled like poisonous reptiles over Asia and Phrygia, boasting of Montanus 'the Paraclete' and his female adherents Priscilla and Maximilla, alleged to have been his prophetesses.
15. Others flourished at Rome, led by Florinus, an unfrocked presbyter, along with Blastus who had been disgraced in the same way. Between them they led many churchmen astray and got them under their thumb, each trying in his own way to pervert the truth.
Montanus and his hand of false prophets
16. To counter the so-called Phrygian heresy, the Power which fights for truth raised up an effective and invincible weapon at Hierapolis, in the person of Apolinarius, already referred to in these pages.1 With him were associated many learned men of the day, who have left us ample material for reconstructing the history. At the beginning of his polemic against these heretics, one of these writers first indicates that he had also argued with them orally to refute their pretensions. His preface runs as follows:
My dear Abircius Marcellus,
It is now a very long time since you invited me to write some kind of treatise against the sect called after Miltiades, but I have been rather hesitant until now, not from inability to refute falsehood and witness to the truth, but as a precaution against the danger that some people might think I was adding another paragraph or clause to the wording
1. p. 186.
of the New Covenant of the Gospel,1 to which nothing can be added, from which nothing can be taken away, by anyone who has determined to live by the Gospel itself.2 But a little while ago I visited Ancyra3 in Galatia and found the local church deafened with the noise of this new craze - not prophecy, as they call it, but pseudo-prophecy, as I shall shortly prove. So far as I was able, the Lord helping me, I spoke out for days on end in the church about these matters, and replied to every argument they put forward. The church was delighted and confirmed in the truth, while the enemy were repulsed for the time being and the opposition demoralized. So I was asked by the local presbyters, with the support of my fellow-presbyter4 Zoticus of Otrus, to leave them a summary of what I had said against the opponents of the word of truth. This I could not do, but I promised that if the Lord allowed me I would write it here and send it to them without delay.
After completing his explanation on these lines at the beginning of his book, he goes on to describe the originator of this heretical sect, as follows.
Their opposition and their recent schismatic heresy in relation to the Church originated thus. There is, it appears, a village near the Phrygian border of Mysia called Ardabau. There it is said that a recent convert5 named Montanus, while Gratus was proconsul of Syria,6 in his unbridled ambition to reach the top laid himself open to the adversary, was filled with spiritual excitement and suddenly fell into a kind of trance and unnatural ecstasy. He raved, and began to chatter and talk nonsense, prophesying in a way that conflicted with the practice of the Church handed down generation by generation from the beginning. Of those who listened at that time to his sham utterances some were annoyed, regarding him as possessed, a
1. Evidently the N.T. canon was already fixed. (‘Testament’ is of course a mistake for Covenant.)
2. Gal. iii. 15, Phil. i. 27, Rev. ii. 18-19
4. This implies that the unnamed writer was a bishop, as his authoritative manner suggests.
5. He is thought to have been a priest of Cybele.
6. Date unknown.
demoniac in the grip of a spirit of error,1 a disturber of the masses. They rebuked him and tried to stop his chatter, remembering the distinction drawn by the Lord, and His warning to guard vigilantly against the coming of false prophets.2 Others were elated as if by the Holy Spirit or a prophetic gift, were filled with conceit, and forgot the Lord's distinction. They welcomed a spirit that injured and deluded the mind and led the people astray: they were beguiled and deceived by it, so that it could not now be reduced to silence. By some art, or rather by methodical use of a malign artifice, the devil contrived the ruin of the disobedient, and was most undeservedly honoured by them. Then he secretly stirred up and inflamed minds closed to the true Faith, raising up in this way two others - women whom he filled with the sham spirit, so that they chattered crazily, inopportunely, and wildly, like Montanus himself. On those who were elated and exultant about him the spirit bestowed favours, swelling their heads with his extravagant promises. Sometimes it reproved them pointedly and convincingly to their faces, to avoid appearing uncritical -though few of the Phrygians were deceived. They were taught by this arrogant spirit to denigrate the entire Catholic Church throughout the world, because the spirit of pseudo-prophecy received neither honour nor admission into it; for the Asian believers repeatedly and in many parts of Asia had met for this purpose, and after investigating the recent utterances pronounced them profane and rejected the heresy. Then at last its devotees were turned out of the Church and excommunicated.
Having recorded these facts in his introduction, the author continues throughout the book to refute their error. In Book II he has this to say about their end:
They called us 'prophet-killers' because we would not receive their garrulous prophets - according to them, the ones whom the Lord promised to send to the people - so let them answer before God. Is there one person, my good sirs, among those from Montanus and the women onwards who started the chatter, who was persecuted by the Jews or killed by the wicked? Not one. Or was any one of them seized and crucified for the Name? No indeed. Very well then: was one of
1. 1 John iv. 6
2. Matt. vii. 15.
the women ever whipped in Jewish synagogues or stoned? Never anywhere.1 It was by a different death that Montanus and Maximilla are believed to have died. For it is thought that both of these were driven out of their minds by a spirit, and hanged themselves, at different times; and on the occasion of the death of each, it was said on all sides that this was how they died, putting an end to themselves just like the traitor Judas.2 In the same way it is commonly asserted that Theodotus, that wonderful fellow, the first trustee, shall we say, of their 'prophecy', was once raised aloft and taken up to heaven, where he experienced an unnatural ecstasy and entrusted himself to the spirit of deception, only to be sent spinning and perish miserably. That at any rate is how they say it happened. But we must not imagine that without seeing them we know the truth about such things, my friend: it may have been in this way, it may have been in some other way, that death came to Montanus, Theodotus, and their female associate.
Later in the same book he says that the holy bishops of the time attempted to silence the spirit that was in Maximilla, but were prevented by others, who were obviously in league with the spirit:
It will not do for the spirit which spoke through Maximilla to say in the same work of Astorius Urbanus:3 'I am driven away like a wolf from the sheep. I am not a wolf; I am word and spirit and power.'4 He must show clearly the power in the spirit and prove it, and by that spirit he must make himself acknowledged by those who were then present in order to test and converse with the spirit as it chattered - eminent men and bishops, Zoticus from the village of Cumane, and Julian from Apamea - who were muzzled by Themiso and his henchmen, who would not allow them to silence the lying spirit which was leading the people astray.
In the same work again, after putting forward other arguments to dispose of Maximilla's prophecies, he indicates the
1. See Matt, xxiii. 31, 34, 37 and 3 John 7.
2. Matt, xxvii. 5.
3. Otherwise unknown.
4. 1 Cor. ii. 4.
time at which he was writing this, and in the same sentence refers to her predictions, in which she foretold wars and revolutions and which he exposes as false:1
Surely it is now obvious that this too is a lie? Today it is more than thirteen years since the woman's death, and there has been neither general nor local war in the world, but rather - even for Christians - continuous peace, by the mercy of God.2
This passage is from Book 11. From Book III also I will quote short passages in which, replying to those who boasted that they too had lost many by martyrdom, he has this to say:
When all their arguments have been disposed of and they have nothing to say, they try to take refuge in the martyrs, alleging that they have a great number and that this is a convincing proof of the power of what in their circles is called the prophetic spirit. But this seems to be as false as false can be, for some of the other heretical sects have immense numbers of martyrs, but this is surely no reason why we should approve of them or acknowledge that they have the truth. To take one instance - those who as sectaries of Marcion are called Marcionites claim an immense number of Christian martyrs, but they do not truly acknowledge Christ Himself.... Hence whenever members of the Church called to martyrdom for the true Faith meet any of the so-called martyrs of the Phrygian sect, they part company with them and have nothing to do with them till their own fulfilment, because they will not be associated with the spirit that spoke through Montanus and the women. That this is true, and that it occurred in our own time in Apamea on the Maeander, in the case of Gaius and Alexander and the other martyrs from Eumenia,3 is perfectly clear.
1. Luke xxi. 9.
2. Presumably the thirteen years of Commodus's reign (a.d. 180-192).
3. In Phrygia.
Militates and the book which he wrote
17. In this work he also mentions Miltiades, a writer who was author of another polemic against the Montanist heresy. After quoting some of their sayings, he goes on:
The statements which I have summarized I found in a publication of theirs attacking the work in which our brother Alcibiades1 shows that a prophet ought not to chatter in a state of ecstasy.
Later in the same work he gives a list of those who had prophesied under the New Covenant, among whom he includes Ammia (otherwise unknown) and Quadratus.
But the pseudo-prophet speaks in a state of unnatural ecstasy, after which all restraint is thrown to the winds. He begins with voluntary ignorance and ends in involuntary psychosis, as stated already. But they cannot point to a single one of the prophets under either the Old Covenant or the New who was moved by the Spirit in this way - not Agabus or Judas or Silas or Philip's daughters;2 not Ammia at Philadelphia or Quadratus; nor any others they may choose to boast about though they are not of their number.... For if, as they claim, after Quadratus and Ammia at Philadelphia Montanus and his female disciples succeeded to the prophetic gift, let them tell us which of their number succeeded the followers of Montanus and the women. For the prophetic gift must continue in the whole Church until the final coming, as the apostle insists.3 But they point to no one, though this is the fourteenth year since Maximilla's death.
Let us turn now to Miltiades, who was referred to in one of these passages. He, too, has left us reminders of his own zeal for the oracles of God, in the works that he composed, The Greeks Answered and The Jews Answered, each subject being discussed separately in two books. In addition, he wrote a Defence before the Rulers of this World of the philosophy which he followed.
1. Presumably a slip for ‘Miltiades.’
2. Acts xi. 28, xv. 32, xxi. 8-10.
3. Reference doubtful.
Apolloniuss refutation of the Phrygians: his personal comments on some of them
18. While the so-called Phrygian sect was still flourishing in Phrygia itself, an orthodox writer named Apollonius embarked on a refutation, and produced a special polemic against them, proving point by point the fraudulent character of their 'prophecies' and revealing the sort of life lived by the leaders of the sect. Listen to his actual words about Montanus:
What sort of person this upstart teacher is, his own actions and teaching show. This is the man who taught the dissolution of marriages, who laid down the law on fasting,1 who renamed Pepuza and Tymion, insignificant towns in Phrygia, as Jerusalem, in the hope of persuading people in every district to gather there;2 who appointed agents to collect money, who contrived to make the gifts roll in under the name of 'offerings', and who has subsidized those who preach his message, in order that gluttony may provide an incentive for teaching it.
This is his summing-up of Montanus. A little farther on he has this to say of his prophetesses:
It is thus evident that these prophetesses, from the time they were filled with the spirit, were the very first to leave their husbands. How then could they he so blatantly as to call Priscilla a virgin?
Next he goes on to say:
Don't you agree that all scripture debars a prophet from accepting gifts and money?3 When I see that a prophetess has accepted gold and silver and expensive clothing, am I not justified in keeping her at arm's length?
1. Though our Lord fasted, He never urged His followers to do so. The adjurations in A.V. are spurious.
2. In order to be among the saved at the Second Advent, which according to Montanus was imminent.
3. No such prohibition can be found in the Bible. The writer may be alluding to the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.
Still farther on, he has this to say about one of their confessors:
Then there is Themiso, who is wrapped up in plausible covetousness, and who failed to raise aloft the standard of confession and bought his release by a heavy bribe. This ought to have made him feel small, but instead he vaunted himself as a martyr, and, copying the apostle, had the impudence to compose a ‘general epistle’ in which he instructed better Christians than himself, fought his battle with empty trumpetings, and blasphemed the Lord, the apostles, and Holy Church.
Again, about another of those whom they honour as martyrs he writes:
To confine ourselves to a single instance, let the prophetess tell us about Alexander, who calls himself a martyr, with whom she feasts, and whom many treat with profound respect. His robberies, and the other crimes for which he has been punished, there is no need for me to retail; they are filed in the record office. Who pardons whose sins? Does the prophet forgive the martyr's robberies, or the martyr the prophet's covetousness?1 The Lord said: 'Do not provide yourselves with gold or silver or two coats',2 but these people have done the exact opposite - they have transgressed by providing themselves with these forbidden things. I can prove that their so-called prophets and martyrs rake in the shekels not only from the rich but from poor people, orphans, and widows. If they have the courage of their convictions, let them take their stand on this and settle the question, on this condition, that if convicted they will for the future refrain from transgressing, for the fruits of the prophet must be carefully examined, for from the fruit the tree is known.3
For the benefit of those interested in the history of Alexander - he was tried by Aemilius Frontinus, the proconsul at Ephesus, not because of the Name but because of his impudent robberies: there had been previous convictions. Then by a lying appeal to the name of the Lord he secured his release, having deceived the faithful there, but his own diocese from which he came would not receive him, because he was a
1. An obvious allusion to sacramental absolution.
2. Matt. x. 9-10.
3. Matt. xii. 33.
robber. Any who want to know about him have the public archives of Asia to refer to. The prophet lived with him for years, and knows nothing about him, but I have exposed him, and in doing so have exposed the character of the prophet. I can show the same thing in the case of many others: if they dare, let them stand up to the exposure.
Again, elsewhere in the book he has this to say about their vaunted prophets:
If they deny that their prophets have accepted gifts, they will surely admit this, that if they are proved to have accepted them they are no prophets: I can provide endless proof of this. All the fruits of a prophet must be submitted to examination. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet paint his eyelids? Does a prophet love ornaments? Does a prophet visit the gaming tables and play dice? Does a prophet do business as a moneylender? Let them say plainly whether these things are permissible or not, and I will prove that they have been going on in their circles.
In the same work Apollonius informs us that he is writing it thirty-nine years after Montanus embarked on his career of spurious prophecy. He further states that while Maximilla was pretending to prophesy in Pepuza, Zoticus - who was mentioned by the previous writer - planted himself in front of her and tried to silence the spirit at work in her, but was prevented by her partisans. He also mentions one Thraseas as among the martyrs of that time. Furthermore, he states on the authority of tradition that the Saviour commanded His apostles not to leave Jerusalem for twelve years. He also makes use of evidences taken from the Revelation of John; and he relates how by divine power a dead man was raised by John himself at Ephesus. He makes other statements too, by which he has ably and fully demonstrated the error of the heresy under discussion. There we may leave Apollonius.
Serapion on the Phrygian heresy
19. The polemics of Apolinarius against the Phrygian heresy are referred to by Serapion, who, we have good reason to believe, was Bishop of Antioch in succession to Maximin in the period under discussion. He mentions him in a personal letter to Caricus and Pontius, in which he gives his own answer to the same heresy, and adds this:
In order that you may know this, that the working of the so-called New Prophecy of this fraudulent organization is held in detestation by the whole brotherhood throughout the world, I am sending you the writings of Claudius Apolinarius, Bishop of HierapoHs in Asia, of most blessed memory.
In this letter of Serapion's are preserved the signatures of various bishops, one of whom signed himself thus:
I, Aurehus Quirinius, a martyr, pray for your welfare.
Another, in this way:
I, AeHus Pubhus Juhus, from Develtum, a colony in Thrace, Bishop. As God in heaven lives, blessed Sotas of Anchialus wished to drive out Priscilla's demon, and the hypocrites would not permit him.
The autograph signatures of several other bishops, who were of the same opinion, are preserved in the document we are discussing. And there we will leave them.
The correspondence of lrenaeus with the schismatics at Rome
20. In opposition to those at Rome who were falsifying the sound precepts of the Church, Irenaeus composed various letters, entitling one To Blastus, on Schism, another To Florinus, on Sole Sovereignty, or God is not the Author of Evil — a notion which Florinus seemed to be defending. Again, when Florinus was inveigled by the error of Valentinus, Irenaeus composed his masterpiece The Octet,1 in which he also makes it clear that he himself was in the unbroken succession from the apostles. At the end of this work I have found a most graceful note of his which I cannot refrain from including in this book. Here it is:
If, dear reader, you should transcribe this little book, I adjure you by the Lord Jesus Christ and by His glorious advent, when He comes to judge the living and the dead,2 to compare your transcript and correct it carefully by this copy, from which you have made your transcript. This adjuration likewise you must transcribe and include in your copy.
May it prove salutary that these words were spoken by him and arc here recorded by me, so that we may keep those truly saintly men of an earlier generation in mind, as a splendid example of meticulous accuracy.
In the letter To Florinus already mentioned, Irenaeus refers once more to his associations with Polycarp:
Such notions, Florinus, to put it mildly, do not indicate a sound judgement. Such notions are out of harmony with the Church, and involve those who accept them in beliefs well-nigh blasphemous. Such notions not even the heretics outside the Church have ever dared to propound. Such notions the presbyters of an earlier generation, those taught by the apostles themselves, did not transmit to you. When I was still a boy I saw you in Lower Asia in Polycarp's company, when you were cutting a fine figure at the imperial court and wanted to be in favour with him. I have a clearer recollection of events at that time than of recent happenings - what we learn in childhood develops along with the mind and becomes a part of it - so that I can describe the place where blessed Polycarp sat and talked, his goings out and comings in, the character of his life, his personal appearance, his addresses to crowded congregations. I remember how he spoke of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord; how he repeated their words from memory; and how the things that he had heard them say about the
1. The eight aeons believed in by Valentinus.
2. 2 Tim. iv. 1.
Lord, His miracles and His teaching, things that he had heard direct from the eye-witnesses of the Word of Life,1 were proclaimed by Polycarp in complete harmony with Scripture. To these things I listened eagerly at that time, by the mercy of God shown to me, not committing them to writing but learning them by heart. By God's graced I constantly and conscientiously ruminate on them, and I can bear witness before God that if any such suggestion had come to the ears of that blessed and apostolic presbyter he would have cried out and stopped his ears, exclaiming characteristically: 'Dear God, for what times Thou hast preserved me, that I should endure this!' And he would have fled from the very place where he had been sitting or standing when he heard such words. The letters he sent either to the neighbouring churches to stiffen them, or to individual Christians to advise and stimulate them, furnish additional proof of this.
Apollonius martyred at Rome
21. During the same period - the reign of Commodus - our situation became easier, and by God's grace peace came to the churches throughout the world. Then, too, the message of salvation began to lead every soul of every race of men towards the devout worship of the God of the universe, so that now many in Rome itself who enjoyed the advantages of birth and wealth were moving with all their household and kindred towards their own salvation. Needless to say, the demon, who hates what is good and is envious by nature, found this beyond endurance. Once more he stripped for the fight, and manifold were the devices he invented to destroy us. At Rome he dragged into court Apollonius, one of the most distinguished for learning and philosophy of the Christians of the time, having induced one of his servants - fit men for the task - to accuse him. But the wretched man brought the case at just the wrong time, for by an imperial decree those who informed on such matters were not allowed to live. His legs were at once broken, this sentence being passed on him by the
1. 1 John i. 1.
judge Perenmius. But God’s most beloved martyr, when the judge pleaded with him long and earnestly, and pressed him to speak up for himself before the Senate, made before them all a most eloquent defence of the faith to which he was testifying, and by decree of the Senate found fulfilment in decapitation: under an old statute that still held good1 no other verdict was possible in the case of those who were once brought into court and refused to change their plea. Anyone who wishes to know what Apollonius said in court, the answers he gave when questioned by Perennius, and the whole of his defence to the Senate, will find it all in the register I have compiled of the early martyrs.
Notable bishops of the period [We are around 189 A.D. - Keith Hunt]
22. In the tenth year of Commodus's reign,2 after thirteen years service as bishop, Eleutherus was succeeded by Victor. At the same time, Julian having completed his tenth year, responsibility for the Alexandrian province was entrusted to Demetrius. Contemporary with them was the Serapion already mentioned, eighth from the apostles as Bishop of Antioch, and quite outstanding. Caesarea in Palestine was headed by Theophilus, while Narcissus, already referred to in this book,3 was still responsible for the Jerusalem diocese. Other contemporary bishops were those of Corinth in Greece (Bacchyllus) and of the diocese of Ephesus (Polycrates). No doubt a great many others were prominent at the time: naturally it is those of whose orthodoxy I have found written proof that I have listed by name.
The controversy about the Easter festival
23. It was at that stage that a controversy of great significance took place, because all the Asian dioceses thought that in
1. It is unlawful for Christians to exist.
2. A.D. 189.
3. p. 214.
accordance with ancient tradition they ought to observe the fourteenth day of the lunar month1, as the beginning of the Paschal festival - the day on which the Jews had been commanded to sacrifice the lamb: on that day, no matter which day of the week it might be, they must without fail bring the fast to an end. But nowhere else in the world was it customary to arrange their celebration in that way in accordance with apostolic tradition, they preserved the view which still prevails, that it was the improper to end the fast on any day other than that of our Savior’s resurrection.
[FIRST, THIS “FAST” STUFF WAS NOT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES; OBVIOUSLY IT HAD BEEN ADDED SOMETIME DURING THE SECOND CENTURY. SECOND, IT WAS NOT APOSTOLIC TRADITION TO DO WHAT THE NOW FORMING ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS DOING TO REMEMBER THE LORD’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION. THE RESURRECTION DAY IS NOWHERE TO BE OBSERVED WITH ANY KIND OF “CEREMONY” - “SPECIAL CHURCH SERVICE” ETC. IT IS JUST NOT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. NO APOSTOLIC WRITING HAS EVER BEEN FOUND FROM THE FIRST APOSTLES, ABOUT OBSERVING IN SOME WAY, THE RESURRECTION DAY. THIRD, THERE WAS ANOTHER PLACE WHERE THE 14TH PASSOVER MEMORIAL OF CHRIST’S DEATH WAS BEING OBSERVED - THE BRITISH ISLES - THAT PROVED WITH OTHER STUDIES ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
So synods and conferences of bishops were convened, and without a dissenent voice, drew up a decree of the Church, in the form of letters addressed to Christians everywhere, that never on any day other than the Lord's Day should the mystery of the Lord's resurrection from the dead be celebrated,2 and that on that day alone we should observe the end of the Paschal fast. There is extant to this day a letter from those who attended a conference in Palestine presided over by Bishop Theophilus of Caesarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem; and from those at Rome a similar one, arising out of the same controversy, which names Victor as bishop. There are others from the Pontic bishops, presided over by Palmas as the senior; from the Gallic province, of which Irenaeus was archbishop, and from the bishops in Osrhoene and the cities of that region. There are also personal letters from Bishop Bacchyllus of Corinth and very many more, who voiced one and the same opinion and judgement and gave the same vote. All these laid down one single rule - the rule already stated.
24. The Asian bishops who insisted that they must observe the custom transmitted to them long ago was headed by POLYCRATES, who in the letter which he wrote to Victor and the
1. 14 Nisan, the day of the Passover full moon.
2. i.e. that Easter must be celebrated on a particular day of the week, not of the month.
Roman church sets out in the following terms the tradition that he had received:
We for our part keep the day scrupulously, without addition or subtraction. For in Asia great luminaries sleep who shall rise again on the day of the Lord's advent, when He is coming with glory from heaven and shall search out all His saints - such as Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis with two of his daughters, who remained unmarried to the end of their days, while his other daughter lived in the Holy Spirit and rests in Ephesus. Again there is John, who leant back on the Lord's breast, and who became a sacrificing priest wearing the mitre, a martyr, and a teacher; he too sleeps in Ephesus. Then in Smyrna there is Polycarp, bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, the bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who also sleeps in Smyrna. Need I mention Sagaris, bishop and martyr, who sleeps in Laodicea, or blessed Papirius, or Melitp the eunuch1, who lived entirely in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis waiting for the visitation from heaven when he shall rise from the dead. All of the these kept the fourteenth day of the month as the beginning of the Paschal festival, in accordance with the Gospel,2 not deviating in the least but following the rule of the Faith. Last of all I too, Polyctrates, the least of you all, act according to the tradition of my family, some members of which I have actually followed; for seven of them were bishops and I am the eighth, and my family have always kept the day when the people put away leaven. So I, my friends, after spending 65 years in the Lord’s service3 and conversing with Christians from all parts of the world, and going carefully through all Holy Scripture, am not scared of threats. Better people than I have said: “We must obey God rather than men”4
Referring to the bishops who were with him when he wrote, and shared his opinion, he adds:
“I could have mentioned the bishops who are with me and whom I summoned in response to your request. If I write their names, the list will be very long. But though they know what an insignificant
1. or 'celibate'.
2. John xii. 1 and 12 show that the Crucifixion took place on Passover Day, which was always 14 Nisan.
3 Presumably since baptism.
4. Acts v. 29.
person I am, they approve my letter, knowing that I have not frittered away my long life but have spent it in the service of Christ Jesus.
Thereupon Victor, head of the Roman church, attempted at one stroke to cut off from the common unity all the Asian dioceses, together with the neighbouring churches, on the ground of heterodoxy, and pilloried them in letters in which he announced the total excommunication of all his fellow-Christians there. But this was not to the taste of all the bishops: they replied with a request that he would turn his mind to the things that make for peace1 and for unity and love towards his neighbours. We still possess the words of these men, who very sternly rebuked Victor.
Among them was Irenaeus, who wrote on behalf of the Christians for whom he was responsible in Gaul.
While supporting the view that only on the Lord’s Day might the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection be celebrated, he gave Victor a great deal of excellent advice, in particular that he should not cut off entire churches of God because they observed the unbroken tradition of their predecessors. This is how he goes on:
The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their 'day' last forty hours on end.2 Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers, who - apparently disregarding strict accuracy - in their naive simplicity kept up a practice which they fixed for the time to come. In spite of that, they all lived in peace with one another, and so do we: the divergency in the fast emphasizes the unanimity of our faith.
This argument he illustrates with two anecdotes which I may with advantage quote:
Among these were the presbyters before Soter, who were in charge of the church of which you are the present leader - I mean
1. Rom. xiv. 19.
2. A round figure, no doubt, but very close to the actual time from Christ's death to the finding of the empty tomb.
Anicetus, Pius, Hyginus, Telesphorus, and Xystus. They did not keep it1 themselves or allow those under their wing to do so. But in spite of their not keeping it, they lived in peace with those who came to them from the dioceses in which it was kept, though to keep it2 was more objectionable to those who did not. Never was this made a ground for repulsing anyone, but the presbyters before you, even though they did not keep it, used to send the Eucharist to Christians from dioceses which did. And when Blessed Polycarp paid a visit to Rome in Anicetus's time, though they had minor differences on other matters too, they at once made peace, having no desire to quarrel on this point. Anisettes could not persuade Polycarp not to keep the day, since he had always kept it with John the disciples of our Lord and the other apostles with whom he had been familiar; not did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to keep it; Anicetus said that he must stick to the practice of the presbyters before him.
Though the position was such, they remained in communion with each other, and in church Anicetus made way for Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist - out of respect, obviously. They parted company in peace, and the whole Church was at peace, both those who kept the day and those who did not.
Irenaeus, whose name means ‘peaceable’ and who by temperament was a peacemaker, pleaded and negotiated thus for the peace of the churches. He corresponded by letter not only with Victor but with very many other heads of churches, setting out both sides of the question under discussion.
[SO WE SEE HOW THE EASTER TRADITION AND PASSOVER TRADITION WAS ARGUED ON BOTH SIDES. IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS TO THE LOGICAL MIND, THAT THE FIRST APOSTLES, JOHN THE APOSTLE, AND THOSE TAUGHT BY THEM, HAD THE CORRECT TRUTH. IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT AT THIS POINT IN CHURCH HISTORY, BOTH SIDES CONSIDERED EACH OTHER AS PART OF THE “CHURCH OF GOD” IN GENERAL. AS TIME MOVED ON THOUGH, THE GAP GREW WIDER AND WIDER AS TO THE TEACHINGS AND TRADITIONS EACH SIDE GROUNDED THEMSELVES ON. EVENTUALLY UNDER THE ROMAN EMPEROR CONSTANTINE DURING THE FIRST PART OF THE 4TH CENTURY AND AFTER, WITH THE ROMAN THEOLOGY OFFICIALLY ACCEPTED AS THE STATE RELIGION, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WOULD PERSECUTE THOSE WHO DIFFERED FROM WHAT THEY TAUGHT AND PRACTICED - Keith Hunt]
Unanimous decision on the question of Easter
25. The Palestinian bishops of whom I spoke a little while ago, Narcissus and Theophilus, with Bishop Cassius of Tyre, Clarus of Ptolemais, and the others assembled with them, composed a lengthy review of the tradition about the Easter
1. Presumably the Quartodeciman Easter.
2. In Rome itself.
festival which had come down to them without a break from the apostles, at the end of which they add this appeal:
Try to send a copy of our letter to every diocese, so that we may not fail in our duty to those who readily deceive their own souls. We may point out to you that in Alexandria they keep the feast on the same day as we do, for we send letters to them and they to us, to ensure that we keep the holy day in harmony and at the same time.
[IT WAS PROPHESIED IN DANIEL THAT THE LITTLE HORN WOULD SPEAK GREAT SWELLING WORDS AGAINST THE MOST HIGH, AND WOULD THINK TO CHANGE TIMES, AND LAWS. THE MORE TIME WENT ON, THE MORE ROME CHANGED TEACHINGS AND PRACTICES AND TRADITIONS; HENCE HER THEOLOGY WOULD BE FAR REMOVED FROM THE THEOLOGY OF THE FIRST APOSTLES OF THE FIRST CENTURY - Keith Hunt]
The admirably written works of Irenaeus which have come into my hands
26. In addition to the letters and other works of Irenaeus already quoted, there is extant a very succinct and highly convincing essay directed against the Greeks and entitled Scientific Knowledge; another, dedicated to a fellow-Christian named Marcian, on the Exposition of the Apostolic Preaching; and a collection of addresses on various subjects, in which he mentions the Epistle to the Hebrews and the 'Wisdom of Solomon', quoting several passages from them. That completes the list of works by Irenaeus that have come to my cognizance. After thirteen years, Commodus reached the end of his reign and Severus took office as emperor, Pertinax having occupied the position for something less than six months following the death of Commodus.1
The extant works of Irenaeus’s contemporaries
27. Large numbers of short works composed with commendable zeal by churchmen of that early time are still preserved in many libraries. Those that I have read myself include Heraclitus on The Epistles of Paul; Maximus on the question so much discussed among the heretics, The Origin of Evil, and on Matter the Result of a Creative Act; Candidus on The Six Days of Creation; Apion on the same subject; also Sextus on
1. Pertinax reigned for three months and Julian for just over two.
The Resurrection; and an essay by Arabianus; and works by many other authors - lack of evidence make it impossible to give their dates or shed any light on their history.
Finally, there are a number of others whom I cannot even name, whose writings have come into my hands - orthodox church men, as is clear from their respective interpretations of Holy Writ, but unknown to us all the same, as they are not named in their writings.
Propagators of Artemons heresy, their character, their impudent corruption of Holy Scripture
28. In a polemic composed by one of these against Artemon’s heresy, which again in my own day Paul of Samosata has tried to revive, there is extant a discussion pertinent to the historical period under review.1 For the assertion of the heresy in question, that the Saviour was merely human, is exposed in this book as a recent invention, because those who introduced it were anxious to represent it as ancient and therefore Respectable. After adducing many other arguments to refute their blasphemous falsehood, the writer continues:
They claim that all earlier generations, and the apostles themselves, received and taught the things they say themselves, and that the true teaching was preserved till the times of Victor, the thirteenth Bishop of Rome after Peter: from the time of his successor Zephyrinus the truth was deliberately perverted. This suggestion might perhaps have been credible if in the first place Holy Scripture had not presented a very different picture; and there are also works by Christian writers published before Victor's time, written to defend the truth against both pagan criticism and current heresies -1 mean works by Justin, Miltiades, Tatian, Clement, and many more. In every one of these Christ is. spoken of as God. For who does not know the books of Irenaeus, Melito, and the rest, which proclaim Christ as God and
1. We know from another source that the work referred to was known as The Little Labyrinth. The author's name is uncertain; Lightfoot suggested Hippolytus.
man, and all the psalms and hymns written from the beginning by faithful brethren, which sing of Christ as the Word of God and address Him as God? How then can it be true that when the mind of the Church had been proclaimed for so many years, Christians up to the time of Victor preached as these people say they did? And are they not ashamed to slander Victor in this way, knowing perfectly well that it was Victor who excommunicated Theodotus the shoemaker, the prime mover and father of this God-denying apostasy, when he became the first to declare that Christ was merely human? If Victor regarded their views in the way their slanderous statements suggest, how could he have thrown out Theodotus, the inventor of this heresy?
That is all I have to say about the events in Victor's time. When he had held office for ten years, Zephyrinus was appointed to succeed him, about the ninth year of Severus's reign.1…………..
AND THERE I SHALL LEAVE THE WRITINGS OF EUSEBIUS, AS WE COME VERY CLOSE TO THE END OF THE SECOND CENTURY A.D.
AS FOR OTHER SO-CALLED “CHURCH FATHERS” AFTER THE SECOND CENTURY, THE READER CAN LOOK THEM UP ON THE INTERNET ETC.
WE HAVE SEEN THE MANY "FALSE PROPHETS" THAT WERE WAY OUT IN THEIR TEACHING AND PROPHECIES. WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN INCIDENTS OF PERSECUTION AND MARTYRDOM FOR BEING A “CHRISTIAN” IN THOSE TWO CENTURIES OF A.D. AND WE HAVE SEEN THE EMERGENCE OF AN EASTERN “CHURCH OF GOD” WITH EMPHASIS ON ASIA MINOR, AND A WESTERN “CHURCH OF GOD” AS COMING FROM THE CITY OF ROME.
WE HAVE SEEN CLEARLY THE HISTORY OF THE ACCEPTANCE OF "EASTER" IN ROME, AS OPPOSED TO THE 14TH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH IN THE HEBREW CALENDAR, TO REMEMBER THE LORD'S DEATH, AS OBSERVED IN ASIA MINOR, AS HANDED DOWN BY THE FIRST APOSTLES AND THE APOSTLE JOHN BEING THE LAST TO SURVIVE OF THE ORIGINAL 12 APOSTLES. WE HAVE SEEN ALSO THAT THE BRITISH CHURCH HAD OVER TIME, GOT SOME THINGS MIXED UP AND NOT ACCURATE IN OBSERVING THE PASSOVER AND UNLEAVENED BREAD FEAST. WE HAVE SEEN HOW ROME RESORTED TO THE ARGUMENT OF "THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM" GIVEN TO PETER, AND THE ARGUMENT THAT THE CHURCH WAS BUILT UPON PETER; WE HAVE SEEN THE BRITISH CHURCH DID NOT FIGURE HOW TO ANSWER THIS "SUPREMACY" TEACHING BY ROME; THEY DID NOT GO TO THE BOOK OF GALATIANS TO SHOW THE APOSTLE PAUL COULD CARE LESS ABOUT "THOSE WHO SEEMED TO BE SOMEWHAT" AND EVEN CORRECTED PETER WHEN PETER WAS WRONG. YES PETER STARTED OUT AS THE CLEAR LEADER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, SO IN THAT SENSE IT WAS FOUNDED UPON HIM - HE WAS THE MAIN SPOKESMAN AT THE BEGINNING, BUT PAUL IN GALATIANS MAKES IT VERY CLEAR THAT ONLY LASTED FOR A RELATIVELY SHORT TIME; WHEN PAUL WROTE WHAT THE CORRECT FOUNDATION WAS..... "NOW THEREFORE YOU ARE NO MORE STRANGERS AND FOREIGNERS, BUT FELLOW-CITIZENS WITH THE SAINTS, AND OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD. AND ARE BUILT UPON THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, JESUS CHRIST BEING THE CHIEF CORNER STONE" [EPH. 2:19, 20]. IT WAS TRUE THEN AS IT IS TODAY....PEOPLE DON'T READ ALL THE VERSES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, OR IF THEY DO THEY ARE NOT BLESSED WITH A GOOD MEMORY, TO ANSWER ROMAN CATHOLIC ARGUMENTS.
WE HAVE SEEN THE COMING OF THE GREAT FALSE TEACHING THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS JUST A HUMAN MAN. THIS TEACHING IS STILL HELD BY SOME IN THIS 21ST CENTURY - SAYING JESUS WAS MERELY A MAN WITH MORE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD THAN ANYONE ELSE. THIS TEACHING OFTEN GOES ALONG WITH THE TEACHING JESUS DID NOT EXIST UNTIL CONCEIVED IN MARY'S WOMB.
THE CHURCH OF GOD, SEVENTH DAY, HEADQUARTERS IN DENVER, USA, ALSO FOR NEARLY 130 YEARS OR SO, TAUGHT JESUS DID NOT EXIST FROM ETERNITY; THEN THEY RE-EXAMINED THAT TEACHING, FOUND THEY WERE VERY WRONG; THEY WROTE A FULL BOOKLET ABOUT 1987 ANSWERING ALL THEIR OLD ARGUMENTS AND OTHER PEOPLE'S ARGUMENTS, THAT JESUS DID NOT EXIST FROM ETERNITY. IT IS THE BEST IN-DEPTH EXPOUNDING ON THIS MATTER THAT I'VE EVER READ. THE READER IS ENCOURAGED TO REQUEST IT FROM THEM.