From the book “THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH”
LIFE AND DEAD OF SOME OF THE APOSTLES #2
Philo’s account of the Egyptian ascetics
17. It is also recorded that under Claudius Philo came to Rome to have conversations with Peter, then preaching to the people there. This would not be improbable, as the short work to which I am referring, and which he produced at a considerably later date, clearly contains the rules of the Church still observed in our own day. And again, when he describes the life of our ascetics with the greatest precision, it is plain enough that he not only knew but welcomed with whole-hearted approval the apostolic men of his day, who it seems were of Hebrew stock and therefore, in the Jewish manner, still retained most of their ancient customs. In the work that he entitled The Contemplative Life, or The Suppliants, he first assures us that he will add nothing that goes beyond the truth, nothing of his own invention, to the account he is about to give. Then he says that they are called Therapeutae and their womenfolk Therapeutrides, and goes on to explain this title. It was conferred either because like doctors they rid the souls of those who come to them from moral sickness and so cure and heal1 them, or in view of their pure and sincere service2 and worship of God. Whether he invented this designation and applied it to them, fitting a suitable name to their mode of life, or whether they were actually called this from the very start, because the title Christian was not yet in general use, need not be discussed now.
This much is certain. He lays special emphasis on their renunciation of property, saying that when they embark on the philosophic life3 they hand over their possessions to their relations, then, having renounced all worldly interests, they go outside the walls and make their homes on lonely farms and plantations well aware that association with men of different ideas is unprofitable and harmful. That, apparently, was the practice of the Christians of that time, who with eager and ardent faith disciplined themselves to emulate the prophetic way of life. Similarly, in the canonical Acts of the Apostles it is stated that all the disciples of the apostles sold their possessions and belongings and shared them out among the others in accordance with individual needs, so that no one was in want among them; all who were owners of land or houses, Scripture tells us, sold them and brought the price they fetched and laid it at the apostles' feet, so that it was distributed to everyone in accordance with individual needs.4 Having testified to practices very similar to these, Philo goes on:
The community is to be found in many parts of the world, for it was right that what is perfectly good should be shared by both Greek and foreign lands. It is very strong in Egypt in each of the nomes, and especially in the Alexandrian area. The best men in each region set out as colonists for a highly suitable spot, regarding it as
1. Greek therapeuo.
2. Greek therapeia.
3. See p. 242 n.
4. Loosely quoted from Acts iv. 34-5.
the homeland of the Therapeutae. It is situated above Lake Mareotis1 on a low hill, very convenient in view of its security and the mildness of the climate.
Next, after describing the character of their dwellings, he has this to say about the churches in the area:
In every house there is a holy chamber called a sanctuary or 'monastery', where they celebrate in seclusion2 the mysteries of the sanctified life, bringing in nothing - drink, food, or anything else required for bodily needs - but laws and inspired oracles spoken by prophets, hymns, and everything else by which knowledge and true religion are increased and perfected.... The whole period from dawn to dusk is given up to spiritual discipline.3 They read the sacred scriptures, and study their ancestral wisdom philosophically, allegorizing it, since they regard the literal sense as symbolic of a hidden reality revealed in figures. They possess also short works by early writers, the founders of their sect, who left many specimens of the allegorical method, which they take as their models, following the system on which their predecessors worked.
It seems likely that Philo wrote this after listening to their exposition of the Holy Scriptures, and it is very probable that what he calls short works by their early writers were the gospels, the apostolic writings, and in all probability passages interpreting the old prophets, such as are contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews and several others of Paul's epistles. He then goes on to write this about their composing new psalms:
Thus they not only practise contemplation but also compose songs and hymns to God in all kinds of metres and melodies, setting them, as might be expected, to solemn measures.
A great many other points relevant to our subject are discussed in the same book, but it seemed necessary to pick
1. Lake Mariut, adjoining Alexandria on the south.
2. ‘Monastery’ means a place of seclusion.
3. The word from which 'ascetic' is derived.
out those in which the characteristics of Church life are displayed. If anyone does not agree that what has been described is peculiar to the gospel way of life but thinks it applicable to other people too, he will surely be convinced by Philo's next paragraph, in which, if he is reasonable, he will find the evidence on this point beyond dispute:
Having first laid down self-control as a foundation for the soul, they build the other virtues on it. None of them would take food or drink before sundown, as they hold that philosophy deserves daylight but darkness is good enough for bodily needs. So to the one they assign the day, to the others a small part of the night. Some think of food only once in three days - those in whom a greater passion for knowledge is rooted; others so delight and luxuriate as they feast on the wisdom that richly and ungrudgingly supplies their doctrines that they hold out even for twice that time, and scarcely taste necessary food once in six days, having accustomed themselves to this.
These statements of Philo seem to me to refer plainly and unquestionably to members of our Church. But, if after this someone insists on denying it, he will surely abandon his scepticism and be convinced by still clearer evidences which cannot be found anywhere but in the religious practices of Christians who follow the gospel. For Philo states that among the people in question there are women also, most of them elderly spinsters
who have remained single, not of necessity, like some priestesses of pagan cults, but of their own free will, through their passionate craving for wisdom, with which they were so eager to live that they scorned bodily pleasures, and set their hearts not on mortal children but on immortal, which only the soul that loves God can bring into the world.
A little farther on he adds this, in his vivid way:
Their explanations of the sacred scriptures are expressed figuratively in allegories. For the whole Law seems to them to resemble a living being, which for body has the literal precepts, for soul the meaning that is hidden in the words out of sight. This community was the first to make such meaning the object of special investigation, the words providing a mirror in which thoughts of extraordinary beauty are revealed.
Need I add to this an account of their meetings, or of the segregation of men and women living in the same place, or of the regular spiritual discipline still practised among us, especially during the commemoration of our Saviour's Passion, when it is our habit to abstain from food, spend whole nights in prayer, and devote ourselves to the word of God? All this is described, in precise accordance with the practice observed by us and us alone to this day, in Philo's own writings. He describes the all-night vigils of the great festival, the spiritual discipline in which they are spent, the hymns that we always recite, and how while one man sings in regular rhythm the others listen silently and join in singing the refrains of the hymns; how on the appointed days they lie on straw mattresses on the ground and - as he expressly writes - absolutely refuse to touch wine or any flesh food, drinking nothing but water and seasoning their bread with salt and hyssop. He further writes about the comparative status of those entrusted with the ministries of the Church, from the diaconate to the highest and most important office, the episcopate. Anyone who is anxious to gain precise knowledge of these things can learn them from Philo's account: anyone can see that when he wrote it he had in mind the first preachers of the gospel teaching and the customs handed down by the apostles from the beginning.
[GARBAGE TO THE LAST THOUGHTS OF EUSEBIUS….. WHAT IT DOES PROVE IS THE RISE OF BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION - THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WITH ALL ITS RITES, MONASTERIES, PRIESTS, NUNS, AND FAR OUT WAYS OF LIFE NEVER TAUGHT BY JESUS OR THE APOSTLES OR ANY TRUE CHILD OF GOD - Keith Hunt]
Philo's extant works
18. A copious writer and a thinker of wide range, studying Holy Writ from a lofty and elevated viewpoint, Philo expounded the sacred books from many different angles. At one stage he carried out his detailed examination of Genesis in systematic order, in the books which he entitled Allegories of the Sacred Laws. At another he carefully arranged under chapter headings the difficulties in the Scriptures, stating them and offering his solutions in the books to which he gave the titles of Questions and Answers in Genesis and Questions and Answers in Exodus. In addition to these, there are authoritative works by him on special problems, e.g. two on Farming, two on Drunkenness, and others with various appropriate titles such as What the Sober Mind Desires and Detests; The Confounding of Tongues; Flight and Discovery; Study Groups; Who Inherits the Treasures of God? or The Division into Equivalents and Opposites; and again, The Three Cardinal Virtues Propounded by Moses. In addition to these, there is his New Names and Why They were Given, in which he states that he also composed Covenants Books 1 and 11. There are also works of his on Emigration; Life of a Wise Man Perfected in Righteousness, or Unwritten Laws; Giants, or The Immutability of the Godhead; and The Mosaic Conviction that Dreams are Sent from God, Books i-v.
These are the books that have come into my hands dealing with Genesis. On Exodus I am acquainted with Questions and Answers Books i-v; The Tabernacle; The Ten Commandments; Laws Classified under the Appropriate Headings of the Decalogue Books i-iv; Sacrificial Animals and Varieties of Sacrifice; and How the Law Rewards Virtue and Punishes and Denounces Vice. His extant writings also include single volumes, e.g. The Statesman; the essay on Providence; and another work, The Jews; also Alexander, or Rational Behaviour in Irrational Animals. Nor must we forget Every Bad Man is a Slave, followed by Every Good Man is Free. Then came The Contemplative Life, or Suppliants, from which I have quoted passages describing life in the apostolic community. Interpretations of Hebrew Names in the Law and the Prophets is also said to be his work.
In Gaius's time he came to Rome and wrote an account of that monarch's revolting conduct, with characteristic irony entitling it Virtue. It is stated that when Claudius came to the throne Philo read this work from end to end at a full meeting of the Roman senate, and that his writings were so greatly admired that they were honoured with a place in libraries.
At this time, while Paul was completing his journey from Jerusalem by a roundabout route as far as Illyricum,1 Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome, and Aquila and Priscilla with the other Jews left Rome and sailed to Asia Minor, where they stayed with Paul the Apostle, who was busy strengthening the foundations of the churches, foundations laid by himself not long before. Our source of information is the inspired narrative of the Acts.2
Disaster in Jerusalem at the Passover, and events there in Nero’s reign
19. While Claudius was still on the throne, during the Passover Feast so riotous a tumult broke out in Jerusalem that of those Jews alone who were forcibly crushed together round the temple exits 30,000 trampled each other to death.3 Thus the Feast ended in distress to the whole nation and bereavement to every household. Josephus goes on to say that Claudius made Agrippa the son of Agrippa king of the Jews4 and sent Felix as procurator of the whole country, including Samaria, Galilee, and the district known as Peraea in
1. Rom. xv. 9; see also Acts xx. 2.
2. See Acts xviii. 2, 18-19, 23; xix. 1-7; of which Eusebius gives a garbled summary. Aquila and Priscilla had gone from Rome to Corinth, where Paul stayed with them. Later they accompanied him to Ephesus; his visit to Illyricum was probably later still.
3. Loosely quoted from Jewish War, p. 132.
4. Josephus does not mention the Jews. For Agrippa II, see Acts xxv-xxvi; for Felix, Acts xxiii-xxiv.
addition. He himself, having ruled the empire for thirteen years and eight months, died, leaving his throne to Nero.1
20. In Nero's reign, when Felix was procurator of Judaea, Josephus relates the quarrel between the priests, writing as follows in Antiquities Book xx:
A quarrel broke out between the chief priests on the one side and the priests and leaders of the Jerusalem populace on the other. Each of them recruited a band of the most reckless revolutionaries and put himself at their head, and when collisions occurred they greeted each other with abuse and stone-throwing. There was not a single person to reprimand them; the scandal went on with impunity, as though in a city without a government. Such impudence and audacity possessed the chief priests that they actually sent slaves to the threshing-floors to seize the tithes that were the priests' by right, so that destitute priests could be seen perishing of want. So completely was justice obliterated by the violence of the warring parties.2
Josephus also records that at the same period a type of bandits sprang up in Jerusalem. These, he says, in broad daylight and in the middle of the city murdered those who met them. Their favourite trick was to mingle with festival crowds, concealing under their garments small daggers with which they stabbed their opponents. When their victims fell the assassins melted into the indignant crowd, and through their plausibility entirely defied detection. First to have his throat cut by them was Jonathan the high priest, and after him many were murdered every day. More terrible than the crimes themselves was the fear they aroused, every man, as in war, hourly expecting death.3
21. A little later he goes on:
A greater blow than this was inflicted on the Jews by the Egyptian false prophet. Arriving in the country this man, a fraud who posed
1. Loosely quoted from Jewish War, p. 134.
2. Antiquities xx, viii, 8.
3. Jewish War, p. 135. Josephus calls these assassins by the Latin name sicarii, employed by Luke in Acts xxi. 38, quoted below.
as a seer, collected about 30,000 dupes,1 led them round by the wild country to the Mount of Olives, and from there was ready to force an entry into Jerusalem, overwhelm the Roman garrison, and seize supreme power, with his fellow-raiders as bodyguard. But Felix anticipated his attempt by meeting him with the Roman heavy infantry, the whole population rallying to the defence, so that when the clash occurred the Egyptian fled with a handful of men and most of his followers were killed or captured.2
This passage comes from Book 11 of the Histories.3 It is worth while to note what is stated about the Egyptian there and in the Acts of the Apostles, where in the time of Felix the military tribune at Jerusalem said to Paul, when the Jewish mob was rioting against him: “Then you're not the Egyptian who a little while back started a revolt and led the 4,000 Assassins out in the wilds?”4
Paul sent as a prisoner to Rome and there acquitted
22. As successor to Felix, Nero sent Festus. It was in his time that Paul was put on trial, and then conveyed in fetters to Rome.5 With him went Aristarchus, to whom somewhere in the epistles he naturally refers as a fellow-prisoner.6 And Luke, who committed to writing the Acts of the Apostles, ended his story at this point, after informing us that Paul spent two complete years at Rome under no restraint and preached the word of God without hindrance. There is evidence that, having then been brought to trial, the apostle again set out on the ministry of preaching, and having appeared a second time in the same city found fulfilment in his martyrdom. In the course of this imprisonment he composed the second Epistle to Timothy, referring both to his earlier trial and to
1. Note the figure given by Luke in the next paragraph.
2. Jewish War, p. 135.
3. Josephus does not use this title.
4. Acts xxi. 38.
5. See Acts xxiv. 27 to xxv. 27.
6. Col. iv. 10.
his impending fulfilment.1 Listen to his testimony on this point:
At my first trial nobody supported me: they all left me to my fate - may God forgive them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, that through me the message might be fully proclaimed in the hearing of the whole pagan world. Thus I was rescued out of the lion's mouth.2
This passage proves beyond question that on the first occasion, in order that the message proclaimed through him might be fully preached, he was rescued out of the lion's mouth, the reference being apparently to Nero, because of his bestial cruelty.3 He does not go on to add anything like 'he will rescue me out of the lion's mouth', for he saw by the Spirit that his death was imminent. And so after the words 'and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth' he goes on to say 'The Lord will rescue me from every evil attempt and keep me safe for His heavenly kingdom',4 indicating his forthcoming martyrdom. This he foretells more clearly still in the same letter, when he says: 'For I am already being offered as a sacrifice, and the time for my departure has come.'5 In this second Epistle to Timothy he remarks that only Luke is with him as he writes, and at his first trial not even he: presumably that is why Luke concluded the Acts of the Apostles at that point, having traced the course of events throughout the time he was with Paul. I have said this to show that it was not during the stay in Rome described by Luke that Paul's martyrdom was accomplished. The probability is that since at first Nero's disposition was
1. There is no satisfactory English equivalent for the word which Eusebius uses here and constantly applies to the martyrs. It seems to combine all the meanings given to it in various passages of the English N.T., viz. ‘fulfil’, ‘accomplish’, ‘perfect’ ‘finish’, ‘consecrate’.
2 Tim. iv. 16-17.
3. More probably Paul is speaking of danger in general, like the Psalmist whom he is quoting (Ps. xxii. 21).
4. 2 Tim. iv. 18.
5. 2 Tim. iv. 6.
milder,1 it was easier for Paul's defence of the Faith to be received, but that when he had gone on to commit abominable crimes, above all else he launched his attack on the apostles.
The martyrdom of James'the Lord's brother
23. When Paul appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews were disappointed of the hope in which they had devised their plot against him and turned their attention to James the Lord's brother, who had been elected by the apostles to the episcopal throne at Jerusalem. This is the crime that they committed against him. They brought him into their midst and in the presence of the whole populace demanded a denial of his belief in Christ. But when, contrary to all expectation, he spoke as he liked and showed undreamt of fearlessness in the face of the enormous throng, declaring that our Saviour and Lord, Jesus, was the Son of God, they could not endure his testimony any longer, since he was universally regarded as the most righteous of men because of the heights of philosophy and religion which he scaled in his life. So they killed him, seizing the opportunity for getting their own way provided by the absence of a government, for at that very time Festus had died in Judaea, leaving the province without governor or procurator.2 How James died has already3 been shown by the words quoted from Clement who tells us that he was thrown from the parapet and clubbed to death. But the most detailed account of him is given by Hegesippus, who belonged to the first generation after the apostles.4 In his fifth book he writes:
Control of the Church passed5 to the apostles, together with the Lord's brother James, whom everyone from the Lord's time till our
1. Nero's tyranny did not begin till A.D. 62, when Paul's first imprisonment was over.
2. Until late in A.D. 62.
3- p. 72.
4. He was born about the time that John died.
5. Presumably from Christ Himself.
own has called the Righteous,1 for there were many Jameses, but this one was holy from his birth; he drank no wine or intoxicating liquor and ate no animal food; no razor came near his head;2 he did not smear himself with oil, and took no baths.3 He alone was permitted to enter the Holy Place, for his garments were not of wool but of linen.4 He used to enter the Sanctuary5 alone, and was often found on his knees beseeching forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard like a camel's from his continually bending them in worship of God and beseeching forgiveness for the people. Because of his unsurpassable righteousness he was called the Righteous and Oblias6 - in our own language ‘Bulwark of the People, and Righteousness’ - fulfilling the declarations of the prophets regarding him.7
Representatives of the seven popular sects already described by me asked him what was meant by 'the door of Jesus', and he replied that Jesus was the Saviour.8 Some of them came to believe that Jesus was the Christ: the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in One who is coming to give every man what his deeds deserve,9 but those who did come to believe did so because of James. Since therefore many even of the ruling class believed,10 there was an uproar among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said there was a danger that the entire people would expect Jesus as the Christ. So they collected and said to James: 'Be good enough to restrain the people, for they have gone astray after Jesus in the belief that he is the Christ. Be good enough to make the facts about Jesus
1. Whenever the word 'righteous' occurs it must be remembered that to the Jew righteousness was a compound of morality, justice, and strict observance of the Law. It was the third of these that won James his title; his attitude to the Law was very different from Paul's; see Gal. i. 1-21.
2. See Num. iv. 1-5, where the Nazirite rules are laid down; see also Luke i. 15.
3. These two forms of self-denial are nowhere enjoined in Holy Writ.
4. i.e. he was authorized to wear priestly robes.
5. The Sanctuary, comprising Holy Place and Holy of Holies, was an oblong building replacing the original temple of Solomon. It stood within a series of courts, with which it formed the temple. The Sanctuary might only be entered by priests of Aaron's family, and, if we may trust Hegesippus, by Nazirites granted priestly privileges.
6. A Hebrew or Aramaic word, as yet unexplained.
7. Reference unknown.
8. John x. 9.
9. Rev. xxii. 12.
10. John xii. 42.
clear to all who come for the Passover Day. We all accept what you say: we can vouch for it, and so can all the people, that you are a righteous man and take no one at his face value.1 So make it clear to the crowd that they must not go astray as regards Jesus: the whole people and all of us accept what you say. So take your stand on the Temple parapet, so that from that height you may be easily seen, and your words audible to the whole people. For because of the Passover all the tribes have forgathered, and the Gentiles too.'
So the Scribes and Pharisees made James stand on the Sanctuary parapet and shouted to him: 'Righteous one, whose word we are all obliged to accept, the people are going astray after Jesus who was crucified; so tell us what is meant by "the door of Jesus".' He replied as loudly as he could: “Why do you question me about the Son of Man? I tell you, He is sitting in heaven at the right hand of the Great Power, and He will come on the clouds of heaven.”2 Many were convinced, and gloried in James's testimony, crying: 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' Then again the Scribes and Pharisees said to each other: 'We made a bad mistake in affording such testimony to Jesus. We had better go up and throw him down, so that they will be frightened and not believe him.' 'Ho, ho!' they called out, 'even the Righteous one has gone astray!' - fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah:
'Let us remove the Righteous one, for he is unprofitable to us.' Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their works.3
So they went up and threw down the Righteous one. Then they said to each other 'Let us stone James the Righteous', and began to stone him, as in spite of his fall he was still alive. But he turned and knelt, uttering the words: “I beseech Thee, Lord God and Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”4 While they
1. See Luke xx. 21; not a quotation but a cliche.
2. Matt. xxvi. 64. The name 'The Son of Man' suggests that James was thinking of Stephen's words in Acts vii. 56, the only recorded case of our Lord's favourite title for Himself being used by anyone else. As this title implied that Jesus, crucified like a criminal, was the final judge of all mankind foretold by Daniel and Enoch, when used by Stephen and James it was as deliberately provocative as when hurled at Caiaphas by our Lord Himself.
3. Is. iii. 10.
4. Luke xxiii. 34: Stephen had echoed his Master's forgiving spirit; James His very words.
pelted him with stones, one of the descendants of Rechab the son of Rachabim1 - the priestly family to which Jeremiah the Prophet bore witness,2 called out: ‘Stop! what are you doing? the Righteous one is praying for you.’ Then one of them, a fuller, took the club which he used to beat out the clothes, and brought it down on the head of the Righteous one. Such was his martyrdom. He was buried on the spot, by the Sanctuary, and his headstone is still there by the Sanctuary. He has proved a true witness to Jews and Gentiles alike that Jesus is the Christ.
Immediately after this Vespasian began to besiege them.3
This is the full account which, in agreement with Clement, is given by Hegesippus. So remarkable a person must James have been, so universally esteemed for righteousness, that even the more intelligent Jews felt that this was why his martyrdom was immediately followed by the siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them for no other reason than the wicked crime of which he had been the victim. And indeed Josephus did not hesitate to write this down in so many words:
These things happened to the Jews in requital for James the Righteous, who was a brother of Jesus known as Christ, for though he was the most righteous of men, the Jews put him to death.4
Josephus has also recounted his death in Antiquities Book xx:
Caesar sent Albinus to Judaea as procurator, when he was informed of the death of Festus. But the younger Ananus, who as I said had received the high priesthood, was headstrong in character and
1. Not really a person, but the Rechabites, a foreign tribe which had intermarried with the Levites and so acquired priestly status.
2. Jer. xxxv.
3. As Vespasian's invasion began in A.D. 67, this sentence has been thought to indicate a later date for James's martyrdom than A.D. 62, the date implied by Josephus, who was in Palestine at the time. But it is not necessary to interpret so strictly the word 'immediately' as used by a second-century writer, or fair to accuse Eusebius of inconsistency because he reproduces both Josephus and Hegesippus.
4. Not in our MSS. of Josephus but quoted by Origen too.
audacious in the extreme. He belonged to the sect of the Sadducees, who in judging offenders are cruel beyond any of the Jews, as I have already made clear. Being a man of this kind, Ananus thought that he had a convenient opportunity, as Festus was dead and Albinus still on the way. So he assembled a council of judges and brought before it James, the brother of Jesus, known as Christ, and several others, on a charge of breaking the law, and handed them over to be stoned. But those who were considered the most fair-minded people in the City, and strict in their observance of the Law, were most indignant at this, and sent secretly to the king imploring him to write to Ananus to stop behaving in this way: his conduct had been wrong from the first. Some of them, too, waylaid Albinus on the road from Alexandria, and explained that it was illegal for Ananus to assemble a council without his authority. Convinced by their arguments, Albinus wrote an angry letter to Ananus, threatening to punish him; in consequence King Agrippa deprived him of the high priesthood, which he had held for three months only, and appointed Jeshua son of Dammaeus.1
Such is the story of James, to whom is attributed the first of the ‘general’ epistles. Admittedly its authenticity is doubted, since few early writers refer to it, any more than to ‘Jude’, which is also one of the seven called general. But the fact remains that these two, like the others, have been regularly used in very many churches.2
Annianus bishop of Alexandria
24. In the eighth year of Nero's reign Annianus was the first after Mark the evangelist to take charge of the see of Alexandria.3
1. Antiquities xx, ix. 1.
2. There is no reason to doubt that the two epistles were written by James and Jude, 'brothers' of the Lord. In calling James's the first Eusebius is referring to its position in the canon, but it was also probably the first to be written, and possibly the first of all N.T. books.
3. Eusebius here implies that Mark died before Peter and Paul, but in Book v (p. 198) he quotes Irenaeus as saying that he wrote his gospel after Peter's death.
The Neronian persecution, in which Paul and Peter died
25. When Nero's power was now firmly established he gave himself up to unholy practices and took up arms against the God of the universe. To describe the monster of depravity that he became lies outside the scope of the present work. Many writers have recorded the facts about him in minute detail, enabling anyone who wishes to get a complete picture of his perverse and extraordinary madness, which led him to the senseless destruction of innumerable lives, and drove him in the end to such a lust for blood that he did not spare even his nearest and dearest but employed a variety of methods to do away with mother, brothers, and wife alike, to say nothing of countless other members of his family, as if they were personal and public enemies. All this left one crime still to be added to his account - he was the first of the emperors to be the declared enemy of the worship of Almighty God. To this the Roman Tertullian refers in the following terms:
Study your records: there you will find that Nero was the first to persecute this teaching when, after subjugating the entire East, in Rome especially he treated everyone with savagery.1 That such a man was author of our chastisement fills us with pride. For anyone who knows him can understand that anything not supremely good would never have been condemned by Nero.
So it came about that this man, the first to be heralded as a conspicuous fighter against God, was led on to murder the apostles. It is recorded that in his reign Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified, and the record is confirmed by the fact that the cemeteries there are still called by the names of Peter and Paul, and equally so by a churchman named Gaius, who was living while Zephyrinus was Bishop of Rome. In his published Dialogue with Proclus,
1. In A.D. 64 the Parthians were defeated, Rome was burnt, and the Christians were persecuted.
the leader of the Phrygian heretics,1 Gaius has this to say about the places where the mortal remains of the two apostles have been reverently laid:
I can point out the monuments of the victorious apostles. If you will go as far as the Vatican or the Ostian Way, you will find the monuments of those who founded this church.
That they were both martyred at the same time Bishop Dionyslu of Corinth informs us in a letter written to the Romans:
In this this way by your impressive admonition you have bound together all that has grown from the seed which Peter and Paul sowed in Romans and Corinthians alike. For both of them sowed in our Corinth2 and taught us jointly: in Italy too they taught jointly in the same city, and were martyred at the same time.3
These evidences make the truth of my account still more certain.
Beginning of the last Jewish war against Rome
26. In the course of his very long account of the catastrophe that overwhelmed the entire Jewish nation Josephus expressly states that, in addition to very many others, innumerable Jews in high positions were flogged with scourges and crucified in Jerusalem itself by Floras,4 and that he was procurator of Judaea at the time when the beginning of the war blazed up in the twelfth year of Nero's reign.5 Then he says that throughout Palestine the revolt of the Jews was followed by hopeless confusion, and that on every side the members of
2. 1 Cor. i. 12.
3. Letter to Soter, written c A.D. 170.
4. Jewish War, p. 140; Floras was procurator A.D. 64-6.
5. Jewish War, p. 138, Nero's twelfth year was A.D. 66.
the nation were mercilessly destroyed, as if they were enemies, by the inhabitants of the various cities:
The cities could be seen full of unburied corpses, the dead bodies of the aged flung down alongside those of infants, women without a rag to conceal their nakedness, and the whole province full of indescribable horrors. Even worse than the atrocities continually committed were the threats of terrors to come.1
Such is the account of Josephus, and such was the plight of the Jews.
1. Jewish War, p. 156.
TO BE CONTINUED
THE TERRIBLE HORRORS SOME CHRISTIANS WENT THROUGH [AND OTHERS AS WELL] FROM CRAZY DEMENTED DICTATOR CRIMINALS. EVEN TODAY IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD, YOU TAKE YOUR LIFE IN HAND IF YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN. ALL THE KILLINGS OF PEOPLE DOWN THROUGH TIME, IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE WE ARE YET TO HAVE A TIME OF TRIBULATION SUCH AS NEVER BEEN AND NEVER WILL BE AGAIN. ALL FORETOLD BY JESUS IN MATTHEW 24; MARK 13; AND LUKE 21. AND WITH IT ANOTHER TIME OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION, AS THE LAST OR 7TH RESURRECTION OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE COMES UP FOR THE LAST TIME. WE WANT THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO COME, WE WANT JESUS TO RETURN, BUT BEFORE HE COMES, THERE WILL BE SUCH HORRIFIC DISASTER ON EARTH….THE MIND CAN HARDLY COMPREHEND IT ALL; YET IT IS THE ONLY WAY NOW, THAT THE PEOPLE LEFT AT THAT TIME IN THE WORLD, WILL COME TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE TRUTH AND WAYS OF THE ETERNAL GOD, AND WANT TO FOLLOW WHAT IS RIGHT AND GOOD, WHAT IS HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS.