“WILL THE REAL ISRAEL PLEASE STAND UP”
Any serious discussion on the similarities and/or differences between the Two Covenants; the Old and the New Testaments, must inevitably seek to understand, by “ rightly dividing the Word of Truth” the prophetic role of both the Nation of Israel; the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as the role of the Christian Church in History and Prophecy.. That the temporal promises to the literal Jews are actual and true, cannot be denied. Both Old ( Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah, for example) AND New ( particularly Paul’s Epistles and John’s Apocalypse) Covenants attest to this fact. Even the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, warns the Christian Church of his day not to become too confident in prematurely assuming that the literal Jews had been done away with and had therefore been replaced by the Christian Economy.(Romans 11:1,2,19-28). Far from it, Paul, whilst confirming the fact that the Christian Church was indeed prophesied of by the Jewish prophets, and referred to in types by the Jewish Law and Ceremonies, and understood by both as “Israel” in a “ spiritual” manner only, consistently affirms that this spiritual “Israel of God”( Galatians 6:16) in NO wise replaces the promises, nor absorbs the promises, that God has given to the Literal Jewish Nation. We see from Paul’s statements that the covenantal promises made to temporal Israel are permanent, and any share in these promises by the Church of the New Covenant are solely to be considered “ in conjunction with” and not “ apart from” the future promises given to the literal Jews.
The Apostle Paul conveys five major vital points of concurrence between the promises made to the Literal Jews and the Christian Economy:
a) The “ blinding in part” of the Jewish people as an entire nation being the “ full sight of the Gentiles” ( Romans 11: 25);
b) The “ engrafting of the Gentiles”( the wild olive tree) into the “ spiritual seed of Abraham”( the good olive tree) ( Romans 11: 19-24);
c) The temporary casting out and rejection of the literal seed of Abraham, the Jews, and the fact of their future restoration to full covenant standing with God at Christ’s “ parousia” ( second coming) ( Romans 11: 26);
d) The “ dearness of the literal Israel ( seed of Abraham) to the Father”, and therefore the “ dearness of the spiritual (seed of Abraham) to the Son” ( Romans 11: 28);
e) The notion that the Church as typologically representative (in a spiritual manner) NOT of the entire Jewish Nation, but of the Levitical Priesthood only, who held no “ temporal inheritance” and were “ pilgrims on this earth”, is, once again, the ONLY spiritualizing Apostolic concession given to the Church, ( Hebrews 11: 13) and remains the key to a full understanding of how and why Christians ( the Church) are to be understood as a “ priesthood of all believers”, which was in the Old Testament represented by the Levitical Priesthood, whose tabernacle and temple service hearkened in type also to a still HIGHER order of priesthood; that of Melchizedek, the Gentile/Canaanite king of Salem, to whom even Abraham gave tithes… ( Hebrews 5: 9-11).
The thorough consideration and interplay of all of the above points must be considered when assumptions are made in favour of, or against, the notions that the church has replaced literal Israel, or that perhaps literal Israel has replaced the church, or that literal Israel has been discarded, or that the church has or will itself be eventually discarded. The correct doctrine is that the Old Covenant Jews always possessed a “ remnant” of believers who embodied and embraced the OT “ Faith of Abraham”, into which remnant, or “ seed of Abraham’s Promise”, the Gentile believers of the New Covenant have literally been “ ingrafted”. This implies, just as the Literal Israel of the Old Covenant were “ not all of Israel”, but only the “ remnant who held the Faith of Abraham” and “ hoped in the coming Messiah” ( the “ Emmanuel, or “ God-With-Us” of the OT prophet Isaiah), and were “ pilgrims in this earth”, that so in the case of the Literal Church of the New Covenant, only those who share in the “ Faith of Abraham” and “ await Christ’s appearing” and have “ no place to lay their head” in this wicked world, may actually be considered as co-heirs of “ Abraham’s Promise”.. This vital point also implies that just as the vast majority of the Jewish population were “ not all of Israel”, so the greater population of professed Christendom is “ not all of Christ’s”, but only the remnant, once again, who “ await His appearing”. Matthew 7: 21-23 conveys forever the frightening reality of the foregoing conclusions; that only a “ remnant” of Christendom ( just as a “ remnant” of Jewish Israel of the OT) will be saved, and that vast numbers of outward so-called believers ( who even claim to believe in Jesus “ as Lord”) will be cast out with the worldly and the wicked. “…..
MATTHEW 7: 21-27
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matt 25:11; Luke 6:46; Luke 13:25; Acts 19:13; Rom 2:13; Jas 1:22); 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?( Jer 14:14; Jer 27:15; Luke 13:26); 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Ps 6:8; Matt 25:12; Matt 25:41; Luke 13:25; Luke 13:27); 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (Jer 17:8; Luke 6:47; Rom 2:13; Jas 1:25); 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand (Ezek 13:11; Rom 2:13; Jas 1:23); 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Hebrews 10: 26-31 enforces the fearful finality of a relapse into habitual sin AFTER Baptism, Regeneration, and Cleansing by the Blood of Christ’s vicarious sacrifice, and explains the reasoning behind Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:21-27:
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Num 15:30; Matt 12:31; Heb 6:4; 2Pet 2:20; 1John 5:16); 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: (Num 35:30; Deut 17:6; Deut 19:15; Matt 18:16; 2Cor 13:1); 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Deut 32:35; Deut 32:36; Rom 12:19); 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
And likewise James 2: 14-26 has the following to say to those who believe that one can be saved by Faith without that Faith being followed and “ perfected” by devout and godly Works of Righteousness:
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (Matt 7:26; Jas 1:23); 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (Luke 3:11; 1John 3:17); 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.7 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (Mark 1:24); 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (Gen 22:10); 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6); 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (Josh 2:1; Josh 6:23; Heb 11:31); 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
For the above mentioned reasons, and in light of the fact that the OT Church, as well as the NT Church, have always consisted of a “ remnant of Faithful Believers” which will be kept, whereas the majority of mere “ outward professors” will be discarded ( as depicted in Matthew 7 and elsewhere); both in the OLD as well as the NEW Dispensations, we come to the understanding that, since “ God is no respector of persons”, ANY attempt to attribute FULL rights of the Abrahamic Covenant and Promise to both outward Literal Israel AND outward Literal Christendom, must fail, and fail dismally.. Hence the confusion when attributing ALL the promises of Literal Israel to “ literal Israel”, and ALL the promises of literal Israel to “ Literal Christendom”; or even a “ spiritualized Christendom” for that matter… All of these must fail, since the “ seed of Abraham’s Promise” are the remnant of Faithful and Obedient believers scattered throughout the Old AND the NEW Covenant Dispensations, and do not comprise “ in toto” the complete body of professors to either the Jewish OR the Christian Covenantal outward body of believers. In the Old Covenant, those who possessed the “ Faith of Abraham” looked FORWARD to the source and fulfillment of that Faith in the coming Messiah nonetheless.. The New Covenant Faithfull, however, now look BACKWARD to the source and fulfillment of the same Faith in the Messiah who CAME, and who will also COME AGAIN…
The Covenant God made with Abraham is indeed an everlasting Covenant, but it is one which is qualified by FAITH and WORKS of RIGHTEOUSNESS ( according to James the Apostle), and NOT by racial descent only.. The Mosaic Covenant, however, was intimately associated with the race and people of literal Israel and, according to the prophet Zechariah who wrote his “burdens” and prophecies @ 518 B.C., at one point in their history ( some time after Zechariah’s days and before the time of the Maccabees’ cleansing of the second temple which Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian King, had defiled by entering the Holy of Holies and sacrificing a pig in honour of Jupiter/Zeus on the altar ) was actually “ broken” by God due to the great extent of national sin, only to be “ rejoined and renewed” AFTER the nation of Israel had been purged and chastised, and had finally fully repented and returned back to God the Father… Yet in the midst of the breaking of the national (Mosaic) Covenant, the everlasting Covenant made with Abraham’s “ Faithfull Seed”; the “ church of the Remnant of believers”, remained intact and inviolate.. So it is, that the everlasting Covenant God made with the spiritual seed of Abraham, both Jew AND Gentile, would continue only and always in the “ Remnant of the Faithfull” who awaited the Messiah’s appearing, and who “ do the will of God” and not their own will.
Zechariah 11 :
1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. 3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. 6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them. 7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. 8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. 9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. 10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. 11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD. 12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. (Matt 26:15; Matt 27:9); 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. 17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened. (Jer 23:1; Ezek 34:2; John 10:12);…..
Jameisson, Fausset and Brown, in their famous commentary on the Bible, had the following comments on the breaking of the covenant with the outward people of Israel during Zachariah’s day, as found in Zechariah 11: 11-12:
10. covenant which I made with all the people—The covenant made with the whole nation is to hold good no more except to the elect remnant. This is the force of the clause, not as MAURER, and others translate. The covenant which I made with all the nations (not to hurt My elect people, Ho 2:18). But the Hebrew is the term for the elect people (Ammim), not that for the Gentile nations (Goiim). The Hebrew plural expresses the great numbers of the Israelite people formerly (1Ki 4:20). The article is, in the Hebrew, all the or those peoples. His cutting asunder the staff “Beauty,” implies the setting aside of the outward symbols of the Jews distinguishing excellency above the Gentiles (see on Zec 11:7) as God’s own people.
11. poor . . . knew—The humble, godly remnant knew by the event the truth of the prediction and of Messiah’s mission. He had, thirty-seven years before the fall of Jerusalem, forewarned His disciples when they should see the city compassed with armies, to “flee unto the mountains.” Accordingly, Cestius Gallus, when advancing on Jerusalem, unaccountably withdrew for a brief space, giving Christians the opportunity of obeying Christ’s words by fleeing to Pella.
waited upon me—looked to the hand of God in all these calamities, not blindly shutting their eyes to the true cause of the visitation, as most of the nation still do, instead of referring it to their own rejection of Messiah. Isa 30:18-21 refers similarly to the Lord’s return in mercy to the remnant that “wait for Him” and “cry” to Him (Zeph 3:12; Zeph 3:13).
And in the time of the prophet Hosea, shortly before the fall of Samaria in the early 8th century B.C., a similar breaking-off had occurred between God and the literal people of Israel. Hosea 1: 8-11 describes the consequences as well as the final results ( the restoration to covenant favour) of this event, and the promise of a distant future restoration of the Jews under their Messiah as their “ one head”:
8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (Gen 32:12; Rom 9:25-26); 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. ( Isa 11:13; Jer 3:18; Ezek 37:16; Ezek 37:22; Eph 2:14-16);
Bishop Fausset expounds this event in his Bible Cyclopedia as follows:
(“not My people”.) Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah (“not loved”), and Lo-ammi are the three children of the prophet Hosea’s wife, Gomer, taken by God’s command. “Jezreel” symbolised the coming destruction of Jehu’s line, as Jehu had destroyed that of Ahab of Jezreel; also that as Jezreel means both God sows and God scatters, so God will yet sow Israel whom He now scatters (Hos 1:4-6; Hos 1:9-10; Hos 1:11), “great shall be the day of Jezreel,” i.e. great shall be the day when they shall be God’s seed planted in their own land by God (Jer 24:6; Jer 31:28; Jer 32:41; Amo 9:15; Hos 2:23). “I will sow her (Jezreel, the sown one, Hos 2:22) unto … Me in the earth.” Not only Judaea, but the whole earth shall be the seed plot wherein Gentile nations shall be the spiritual growth of the Jewish seed sown everywhere (Mic 5:7; Rom 11:12; Rom 11:15; Zec 10:9). Lo-ruhamah, changed into Ruhama, means that He will first withdraw His “loving mercy” and at last restore it. And Lo-ammi, changed into Ammi, that He will make Israel, now “not His people” owing to apostasy, to become again “His people.” The three children symbolize successive generations:
(1) Jezreel represents the dynasty of Jeroboam I, ending with Jehu’s shedding the blood of the last of the line at Jezreel;
(2) Lo-ruhamah, a daughter, represents the effeminate period which followed;
(3) Loammi, a son, represents Jeroboam II’s vigorous dynasty, which however brought no revival of religion; still Israel was not God’s people really, and so should be no longer so in name but cast away.
Some have attempted over the centuries to enforce the Covenantal promises to the literal seed of Abraham, by persecuting the New Covenant Church. In like manner, many have attempted to enforce the promises to the “ spiritual seed of Abraham” by persecuting literal Israel, and denying them any historical spiritual rights to being at least in part members of a “ Faithful Remnant Church” during the OT Dispensation. Others, like the pagan Roman Emperors, have denied any such rights to either, and have sporadically persecuted both. The “ remnant of the Faithfull”, though never a secret body of believers as some have implied, but always outward and openly ready to suffer for Messiah’s sake by “ letting their light shine forth” and “ not hiding their light under a bushel”, have perennially been the REAL subjects of ferreting, inquisition, persecution and attempted extermination.
Indeed, until shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70/71 AD, and the subsequent complete dispersion of the Jewish nation by the Emperor Hadrian, by the mid second century AD, shortly after the revolt of the false Messiah Bar Cochba, the wrath of the Jews against the very early Christian Church was still extreme, and hence the early Church, by Apostolic sanction, had to sever all symbiotic associations with unconverted Jews and Jewish heretics such as the Ebionites and the Elkasites, who had, until then, been their chief persecutors, and the first instigators of such persecution.
Subsequent to this dispersal of the power of the Jews and their banishment in the first half of the second century AD, the role of persecutor changed. The opportunity for the Jews to persecute the Christian Faith had dwindled, and the new opportunity was seized upon by the Emperors of Rome in imitation of Nero; the murderer of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and the first Roman Emperor to openly attempt the annihilation of the “ new sect of the Christians”…
(From McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia):
A Roman emperor, celebrated in the history of the world as a tyrant and a debauchee, figures in ecclesiastical annals chiefly because of the intolerant and persecuting spirit which he manifested towards the followers of Jesus in the Eternal City. His full name was Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus (originally Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus). He was the son of Domitius Ahenobarbus and of Agrippina, daughter of Germanicus, and was born in 37 at Antium. After the marriage of his mother, in third nuptials, with her uncle, the emperor Claudius, Nero was adopted by that prince, and Nero’s name changed as above given. His education was carefully looked after. He was placed under the tuition of the philosopher Seneca (q.v.), and appears to have improved his opportunities. He is said to have persevered in his studies, and to have made great progress especially in the Greek language, of which he exhibited a specimen in his sixteenth year by pleading in that tongue the rights or privileges of the Rhodians and of the inhabitants of Ilium; but he possessed little oratorical skill (Suetonius, Nero, c. 7; Tacitus, Annales, 12:58). Nero was so much trusted by Claudius that he finally married him to his daughter Octavia. When he was about seventeen years of age Nero’s abandoned mother poisoned her husband, Claudius, and by means of her criminal favors succeeded in raising her son to the throne (A.D. 54),………”
“Neronian Persecutions were really the first severe trials which the Christians of Rome had to endure. They occurred in A.D. 64, and were instigated by Nero (q.v.) himself. Although we possess no positive information as to the manner in which the first Christian community was established at Rome, it appears certain that it was not originally instituted by the apostles. It is more probable that the frequent intercourse of the Roman Jews with Palestine and Jerusalem led at an early time to the introduction of the new doctrines, the believers still remaining connected with the synagogues. They became gradually more numerous; and the frequent controversies which here, as in other cities, arose among the Jews, partly on their own tenets, partly concerning the person and the coming of Christ, led at last to open disturbances, and gave occasion to the emperor Claudius to publish in 41 a strict edict banishing all the Jews, including those who acknowledged Christ. The edict, however, did not receive a very severe execution, only the leaders, such as Aquila, whom we find mentioned in the N.T., being banished. As to the others, there was probably some alleviation made in the decree; but while allowed to remain at Rome, they were not permitted to assemble in the synagogues until a new edict, promulgated about the end of the same year, again restored them this privilege also, and guaranteed the Jews religious liberty throughout the empire. This temporary closing of the synagogues, however, led the Christians to organize places of worship for themselves, and to form an independent community. Their number now increased so rapidly that St. Paul, who had been informed of their position by Aquila at Corinth, expressed in his Epistle to the Romans the desire to visit them, which he fulfilled three years later, when he was led as a prisoner from Cesarea to Rome, remaining there a while, and laboring for the new religion with such success that Tacitus speaks of the Christians of Rome as “an immense multitude.” The rapid increase of the Christians made them of course unpopular at Rome. Suetonius, in his Nero (chap. 16), speaks of them as a “dangerous sect.” They were mistrusted because they abstained from participation in the sacrifices and other heathen ceremonies, and were hated because they were believed secretly at work against the peace of Roman citizens. They were accused of misanthropy, and were suspected of all manner of crimes. But no open intent to persecute them manifested itself until Nero ordered ceremonies after the great fire, and the Christians failed to participate. They were now accused as the authors of the conflagration; first, probably, by friends of the court, in order to turn public animosity from Nero, who was by many believed to have favored the burning of Rome. The emperor himself took up the public rumor, and acted upon it as a verity. “He inflicted,” says Tacitus, “the most exquisite tortures on those men, who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded with deserved infamy,” and a vast multitude, or as Tacitus has it, “ingens multitudo,” were put to death in the most shocking manner. Indeed, it appears from the detailed accounts of Tacitus that Nero’s proceedings were quite different from mere capital executions according to the Roman law; for the Christian martyrs were not simply put to death, but their execution was made to gratify the bloodthirstiness of the tyrant, and to serve as an amusement to the people……….”
McClintock and Strong in the Cyclopedia also state the following concerning the Emperor Hadrian and the Jewish revolt under Bar Cochba:
“…..Hadrianus, P. Aemilius
the 14th Roman emperor (from A.D. 117-138), was a relative and the ward
of Trajan, and married Julia Sabina, the granddaughter of Marciana sister
of that emperor. In regard to the place of his birth, the statement of
Spartianus (De vita Hadricani, 1) that he was born at Rome Jan. 24, A.D.
76, is generally regarded as the more reliable, though others name Italica in
Spain, where his ancestors had settled in the time of Scipio (see Eutropius,
8:6, and Eusebius, Chronicon, No. 2155, p. 166, ed. Scaliger). Aided by
the preference of Trajan’s wife, Plotina, and showing himself capable in the
positions entrusted to him, he rose rapidly, and on the death of Trajan
succeeded to the empire,………”
“The peace of his reign was broken by one serious war. Among the Jews a
spirit of discontent had been kept alive ever since the capture of Jerusalem
by Titus. Wishing to eradicate this spirit by the destruction of the Jewish
nationality, Hadrian issued an edict forbidding the practice of circumcision,
and determined to erect on the ruins of Jerusalem a new Roman city, to be
called after himself, Aelia Capitolina. Consequently a furious revolt of the
Jews broke out under the lead of Bar Cochba, a pretended messiah, and it
was only after having suffered great losses, and having almost exterminated
the Jewish nation (500,000 Jews were said to have perished), that the
imperial armies succeeded in crushing the revolt, although the able general,
Julius Serverus, had been called from the distant shores of Britian to lead
them. Aelia Capitolina rose over the ruins of the Holy City, but the Jew
was forbidden, on the pain of death, to enter it, and from that time the race
was dispersed through the world. Antoninus Pius annulled the prohibition
of circumcision. Hadrian died at Baiae July 10, 138; but his last days had
been marked by such outrageous cruelties that Antoninus, his successor,
with difficulty secured the customary honors to his memory.…….”
The Ebionites, who were the first “ Judaizers” as recorded in the New Testament Scriptures, and the first to raise up persecution against Christians ( though themselves claiming in part the Faith of Christ) gave rise to a number of Judaizing sects, such as the Mandaeans and the Nasoreans shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. But it was not until the arch-heretic Christian Priest ARIUS, a disciple of Lucian of Antioch, during the late 3rd and early 4th centuries A.D., who openly denied the Godhood of Christ, that the original Ebionite doctrines came into more universal acceptance within Christendom itself, and threatened to overwhelm almost the entire Roman Empire with their heresies and blasphemies against the person and nature of Christ/ Messiah. Within a few centuries of Arius’ advent, however, the great majority of the invading pagan nations which overran the Western Roman Empire converted to Arianism, whereas the Eastern Roman Empire remained at least nominally in catholic orthodoxy until @ 1453 A.D.; the time of the fall of Constantinople to the invading Turks. The Turks, however, brought with them merely a new form of Arianism; the doctrines of Mahommed and Islam, which differed very little from the Arianism of the Gothic invaders of the Western Roman Empire during their marauding conquests in the 5th century A.D…
(McKlintock and Strong had the following to say on the Ebionites):
a sect of Judaizing Christians who received the doctrines of the Gospel
very partially, and denied the divine nature of Christ. They do not appear
to have been at any time numerous, and it is doubtful whether they ever
obtained such consistency as to have a definite creed.
1. The Name. — The name is derived from the Hebrew ˆ/yb]a,, poor. This
term was anciently applied in derision to Christians in general (Epiphanius,
adv. Haer. 29:1), and came later to designate Jewish Christians (Origen,
cont. Celsum, 2:1).
2. History. — Dorner (Person of Christ, Edinb. translated 1:189 sq.) traces
the Ebionitish tendency as far back as the Epistle to the Hebrews. “From
that zeal for the law with which Paul had to contend, the Judaizing spirit
was led not at first to impeach the Christology, but rather the Soteriology,
or the work of Christ. But the consequence of the legal stand-point soon
showed itself. The party which the Epistle to the Hebrews had in view
must have over-estimated the law of the O.T. regarding holy times, places,
acts, and persons alike, and have been wanting in the Christian knowledge
which knows how to secure to the O.T. its abiding significancy, which it
has as a divine institute without imperiling the newness and conclusive
completeness of Christianity.” Epiphanius traces the origin of Ebionitism to
the Christians who fled to Pella after the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 66
(adv. Hoer. 29:1). According to Hegesippus (Hist. Ecclesiastes 4:22),
one Thebutis, at Jerusalem, about the beginning of the second century,
“began to corrupt the Church secretly on account of his not being made a
bishop.” “We find the sect of the Ebionites in Palestine and the surrounding
regions, on the island of Cyprus, in Asia Minor, and even in Rome. Though
it consisted mostly of Jews, Gentile Christians also sometimes attached
themselves to it. It continued into the fourth century, but at the time of
Theodoret was entirely extinct. It used a Hebrew Gospel, now lost, which
was probably a corruption of the Gospel of Matthew” (Schaff, Church
History, 1, § 68, page 214).
3. Doctrines. — Dr. Schaff sharply distinguishes Ebionism from
Gnosticism as follows: “Ebionism is a Judaizing, pseudo-Petrine
Christianity, or a Christianizing Judaism; Gnosticism is a paganizing or
pseudo-Pauline Christianity, or a pseudo-Christian heathenism. The former
is a particularistic contraction of the Christian religion; the latter a vague
expansion of it” (Church History, § 67). According to the same writer, “the
characteristic marks of Ebionism in all its forms are, degradation of
Christianity to the level of Judaism, the principle of the universal and
perpetual validity of the Mosaic law, and enmity to the apostle Paul. But,
as there were different sects in Judaism itself, we have also to distinguish at
least two branches of Ebionism, related to each other, as Pharisaism and
Essenism, or, to use a modern illustration, as the older deistic and the
speculative pantheistic rationalism in Germany, or the two schools of
Unitarianism in England and America.
1. The common Ebionites, who were by far the more numerous, embodied
the Pharisaic legal spirit, and were the proper successors of the Judaizers
opposed in the epistle to the Galatians. Their doctrine may be reduced to
the following propositions:
(a.) Jesus is, indeed, the promised Messiah, the son of David, and the
supreme lawgiver, yet a mere man, like Moses and David, sprung by
natural generation from Joseph and Mary. The sense of his Messianic
calling first arose in him at his baptism by John, when a higher spirit
joined itself to him. Hence Origen compared this sect to the blind man
in the Gospel who called to the Lord without seeing him, ‘Thou son of
David, have mercy on me!’
(b.) Circumcision and the observance of the whole ritual law of Moses
are necessary to salvation for all men.
(c.) Paul is an apostate and heretic, and all his epistles are to be
discarded. The sect considered him a native heathen, who came over to
Judaism in later life from impure motives.
(d.) Christ is soon to come again to introduce the glorious millennial
reign of the Messiah, with the earthly Jerusalem for its seat.
2. The second class of Ebionites, starting with Essenic notions, gave their
Judaism a speculative or theosophic stamp, like the errorists of the Epistle
to the Colossians. They form the stepping-stone to Gnosticism.
Among these belong the Elkesaites” (Schaff, Ch. Hist. 1, § 68, 214 sq.).
The pseudo-Clementine homilies teach a speculative form of Ebionism,
essentially Judaizing in spirit and aim.
4. Ebionism has reappeared, since the Reformation, in Socinianism (q.v.),
and in the other forms of what is called Unitarianism (q.v.). Some Unitarian
writers have undertaken to show that Ebionism was the original form of
Christian doctrine, and that the Church doctrine as to the person of Christ
was a later development;.. A far abler advocate of the Socinian view is Baur,
“Baur agrees with the old Socinians in the statement that the Jewish
Christianity of the apostolic age was Ebionite. But, unlike them, he holds
that we find within the canon a great departure from, and advance upon,
this humanitarian doctrine of Christ’s person. He professes to discover in
the New Testament the consecutive stages of a progress which, beginning
with the Unitarian creed terminates in the doctrine of Christ’s proper
divinity. There occurred at the end, or before the end, of the apostolic age,
a reaction of the Jewish Christianity, which with Baur is identical with the
Judaizing or Ebionite element; and this type of Christianity prevailed
through the larger part of the second century…..”
It is to the heretical doctrines of Arius and the Ebionite and Elkasaite Judaizers, by historically proven descent, that Mahommed and Islam receive their historical origin.
( From McClintock and Strong): Arianism:
“…..A heresy with regard to the person of Christ which spread widely in the church from the fourth to the seventh centuries. It took its name from Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, said to have been a Libyan, and a man of subtle, but not profound mind. The most probable account is that he was educated in the school of Lucian the martyr at Antioch; and the doctrinal position of Lucian (scientifically nearer to the subsequent doctrine of Arius than of Athanasius) helps to explain not only how Arius’s view arose, but also how it happened to be so widely received (comp. Dorner, Person of Christ, div. 1, vol. 2, p. 490; Socrates, Hist. Eccl. 2, 10; Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. 3, 5). He is said to have favored Meletius (q.v.), who was deposed A.D. 306; but it appears that Peter, bishop of Alexandria, the great enemy of Meletius, ordained Arius deacon (Sozom. Hist. Eccl. 1:15) about A.D. 311, but soon, on account of his turbulent disposition, ejected him. When Peter was dead, Arius feigned penitence; and being pardoned by Achillas, who succeeded Peter, he was by him raised to the priesthood, and entrusted with the church of Baucalis, in Alexandria (Epiphan. Haeres, 68, 4). It is said that on the death of Achillas, A.D. 313, Arius was greatly mortified because Alexander was preferred before him, and made bishop, and that he consequently sought every occasion of exciting tumults against Alexander; but this story rests simply on a remark of Theodoret (Hist. Eccles. 1, 2) that Arius was envious of Alexander.
I. Ancient Arianism. —
1. First Period: to the Council of Nice. — The eloquence of Arius gained him popularity; and he soon began to teach a doctrine concerning the person of Christ inconsistent with His divinity. When Alexander had one day. been addressing his clergy, and insisting that the Son is co-eternal, coessential, and co-equal with the Father in, Theod. 1:11), Arius opposed him, accused him of Sabellianism, and asserted that there was a time when the Son was not, since the Father who begot must be before the Son who was begotten, and the latter, therefore, could not be eternal (Socrat. Hist. Eccl. 1, 5). Such is the account, by the early writers, of the origin of the controversy. But if it had not begun in this way, it must soon have began in some other. The points in question had not arrived at scientific precision in the mind of the church; and it was only during the Arian controversy, and by means of the earnest struggles invoked by it, carried on through many years, causing the convocation of many synods, and employing some of the most acute and profound intellects the church has ever seen, that a definite and permanent form of truth was arrived at (Dorner, Person of Christ, div. 1, vol. 2, p. 227)…..”
The famous Christian expositor and Apologist; John of Damascus, writing in the early 8th century, has the following to say on the Arian origin of Islam in his “ Fountain of Knowledge”: (ON HERESIES):
“…..Heresy 101. There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist. They are descended from Ishmael, who was born to Abraham of Agar, and for this reason they are called both Agarenes and Ishmaelites. They are also called Saracens, which is derived from Zappocq KSVOL, or destitute of Sara, because of what Agar said to the angel: ‘Sara hath sent me away destitute.’ (99) These used to be idolaters and worshiped the morning star and Aphrodite, whom
in their own language they called Khabar, which means great. (100) ” And so down to the time of Heraclius they were very great idolaters. From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk,(101) devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration. He says that there is one God, creator of all things, who has neither been begotten nor has begotten. (102) He says that the Christ is the Word of God and His Spirit, but a creature and a servant, and that He was begotten, without seed, of Mary the sister of Moses and Aaron.(103)……”
[(99) Cf. Gen. 16.8. Sozomen also says that they were descended from Agar, but called themselves descendants of Sara to hide their servile origin
(Ecclesiastical History 6.38, PG 67.1412AB) .
(100) The Arabic kabirun means 'great,' whether in size or in dignity. Herodotus mentions the Arabian cult of the 'Heavenly Aphrodite' but says that the Arabs called her Alilat (Herodotus 1.131) .
(101) This may be the Nestorian monk Bahira (George or Sergius) who met the boy Mohammed at Bostra in Syria and claimed to recognize in him the sign of a prophet.
(102) Koran, Sura 112.
(103) Sura 19; 4.169.]
It ought to be noted that “ Aphrodite/ Venus/ Alilat/Allah” is a heathen deity representing the “ morning star”, which the Romans called “ son of Aurora ( Dawn), or “ Lucifer”…. ( please refer to the following definition by Sir William Smith; “Dictionary of Antiquity”, article: “Lucifer”:
“…..Lucifer, or Phosphorus, that is, the bringer of light, is the name of the planet Venus [ in Greek “ Aphrodite”], when seen in the morning before sunrise. The same planet was called Hesperus, Vesperugo, Vesper, Noctifer, or Nocturnus, when it appeared in the heavens after sunset. Lucifer as a personification is called a son of Astraeus and Aurora or Eos, of Cephalus and Aurora, or of Atlas. By Philonis he is said to have been the father of Ceyx. He is also called the father of Daedalion and of the Hesperides. Lucifer is also a surname of several Godesses of Light, as Artemis, Aurora, and Hecate…..”
The title of Venus/Aphrodite/Alilat/ Allah, in Arabic, of “ Akhbar” was anciently the same as “ Khabar”, both meaning “ great”. The name was contracted and applied also to the “ Kaaba” at Mecca where the ancient Arabs worship the “ stone of Aphrodite” believed to have fallen from the heavens. The Christian Church during the Dark Ages, at least in the East, firmly believed that Islam, which was generated from the heresy of Arius and the Ebionites and Elkasaites, was the forerunner of the final Antichristian movement, and would culminate in the last Antichrist.
For the first two centuries in the Western regions of the Roman Empire, and much longer in the East, the written language and theology of the Church was still Greek Gentile ( the entire New Testament being recorded in Greek), and NOT Hebrew or Latin. We must stress that the early tension between Christians and the Jews in the Roman Empire of the first two centuries of the Christian Era, and the rejection of Jewish influences in support of the New Covenant, was a very JUST and necessary tension, since the bloody animosity of the Jews against the early Church was so extreme and real, that Christians had no option but to remain separate and predominantly Gentile in nature… Yet about this time occurred three quite extraordinary stirrings within the Christian Church itself which were to have permanent repercussions for both Jew AND Gentile:
1) The revival of the GNOSTICISM of Simon Magus ( the Samaritan convert from Zoroastrian Magianism as recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts, who later apostasized and became the opponent of Saint Peter at Rome) and the fusion of the Gnosticism of Alexandria with the earlier Judaizing Ebionitism by the heretic Cerinthus;
“.…. Ever since the conquests of Alexander the Great, an intense interest had been felt throughout Asia Minor and Egypt in Hellenistic philosophy and Oriental theosophy; and while the old mythologic fables and professed systems of positive revelation had lost their authority, many thoughtful persons had discovered under these what they looked upon as a uniting bond of truth and the elements of a universal religion……. The result was that, near the time of the first promulgation of Christianity, a number of new systems of religious philosophy sprung up independently in different countries, and exhibited similar characteristics. They were usually formed by incorporating with the national religion what seemed attractive elements in foreign systems, and softening down what was harsh and incredible in the popular faith and worship. In this way we discover a nearly simultaneous origin of the Judaistic philosophy at Alexandria, of Essenism and Therapeutism in Egypt and southern Palestine, of the Cabbalistic literature in Syria and the East, and of New Platonism among the Hellenistic nations. These were all offshoots from the same general root, and not necessarily deriving anything original, but unquestionably drawing much assistance from one another. Similar circumstances everywhere called forth similar phenomena with no conscious interdependence….. We thus account for the origin of Gnosticism, and easily reconcile the conflicting views of different writers respecting it. As the early ecclesiastical writers were themselves acquainted almost exclusively with Occidental literature, they ware in the habit of ascribing the rise of Gnosticism to the study of Grecian philosophy, and especially of Platonism, and they appeal to the cosmogonies of Hesiod and others for the exemplars of the Gnostic speculations…….” (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia: “Gnosticism”).
The first codification of “ Gnosticism” within the early Christian Church was made by Simon Magus ( as mentioned by Luke in the book of Acts of the Apostles), who apostasized from the Faith and became an opponent of the Apostle Peter at Rome. His later successor in the heresy was one “ Valentinus”, who brought the teachings of Simon Magus into a more popular form. Essentially, it consisted of the revival of the ancient Philosophies of the heathens, coupled with the initiation rites of the “ mystery religions”, particularly Zoroastrianism, Hermeticism and Mithraism, and is referred to in Scripture as the “ mystery of INIQUITY which doeth already work…” The legacy of Simon Magus was married to early Christian Judaizing tradition by the heretic Cerinthus who flourished in the late first century and early second century A.D., against whom the Apostles John, Paul and James raised an outcry in their Epistles….
“…..Cerinthus, a traditional opponent of St. John. It will probably always remain an open question whether his fundamentally Ebionite sympathies inclined him to accept Jewish rather than Gnostic additions. Modern scholarship has therefore preferred to view his doctrine as a fusing together and incorporating in a single system tenets collected from Jewish, Oriental, and Christian sources; but the nature of that doctrine is sufficiently clear, and its opposition to the instruction of St. John as decided as that of the Nicolaitanes.
Cerinthus was of Egyptian origin, and in religion a Jew. He received his education in the Judaeo-Philonic school of Alexandria. On leaving Egypt he visited Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Antioch. From Palestine he passed into Asia and there developed τῆς αὐτοῦ ἀπωλείας βάραθρον (Epiph. xxviii. 2). Galatia, according to the same authority, was selected as his headquarters, whence he circulated his errors. On one of his journeys he arrived at Ephesus, and met St. John in the public baths. The Apostle, hearing who was there, fled from the place as if for life, crying to those about him: “Let us flee, lest the bath fall in while Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is there.”
The value of this and other such traditions is confessedly not great—that of the meeting with St. John in the bath is told of “Ebion” as well as of Cerinthus;—but a stratum of fact probably underlies them, and they at least indicate the feeling with which the early “Churchmen” regarded him. Epiphanius, by whom the majority are preserved, derived the principal portion of his statements partly from Irenaeus, and partly, as Lipsius has shewn with high probability, from the now lost earlier work of Hippolytus on heresies.
His doctrines may be collected under the heads of his conception of the Creation, his Christology, and his Eschatology. His opinions upon two of these points, as preserved in existing works, support the usual view, that Cerinthus rather than Simon Magus is to be regarded as the predecessor of Judaeo-Christian Gnosticism.
Unlike Simon Magus and Menander, Cerinthus did not claim a sacred and mystic power. Caius the Presbyter can only assert against him that he pretended to angelic revelations (Eus., Theod.). But his mind, like theirs, brooded over the co-existence of good and evil, spirit and matter; and his scheme seems intended to free the “unknown God” and the Christ from the bare imputation of infection through contact with nature and man. Trained as he was in the philosophy of Philo, the Gnosis of Cerinthus did not of necessity compel him to start from opposition—in the sense of malignity—of evil to good, matter to spirit. He recognized opposition in the sense of difference between the one active perfect principle of life—God—and that lower imperfect passive existence which was dependent upon God; but this fell far short of malignity. He therefore conceived the material world to have been formed not by “the First God,” but by angelic Beings of an inferior grade of Emanation (Epiph.). More precisely still he described the main agent as a certain Power (δύναμις) separate and distinct from the “Principality” (ἡ ὑπὲρ τὰ ὅλα αὐθεντεία, v. Suicer, Thes. s.v. αὐθ.) and ignorant of τὸν ὑπὲρ πάντα θέον. He refused in the spirit of a true Jew to consider the “God of the Jews” identical with that author of the material world who was alleged by Gnostic teachers to be inferior and evil. He preferred to identify him with the Angel who delivered the Law (Epiph. and Philastr.). Neander and Ewald have pointed out that these are legitimate deductions from the teaching of Philo. The conception is evidently that of an age when hereditary and instinctive reverence for the law served as a check upon the system-maker. Cerinthus is a long way from the bolder and more hostile schools of later Gnosticism.
The Christology is of an Ebionite cast and of the same transition character. It must not be assumed that it is but a form of the common Gnostic dualism, the double-personality afterwards elaborated by Basilides and Valentinus. Epiphanius, the chief source of information, is to many a mere uncritical compiler, sometimes following Hippolytus, sometimes Irenaeus. Now it is Christ Who is born of Mary and Joseph (Epiph. xxviii. 1), now it is Jesus Who is born like other men, born of Joseph and Mary; He differs from others only in being more righteous, more prudent, and more wise; it is not till after baptism, when Jesus has reached manhood, that Christ, “that is to say, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,” descends upon Jesus from above (ἄνωθεν ἐκ τοῦ ἄνω Θεοῦ· ἀπὸ τῆς ὑπὲρ τὰ ὅλα αὐθεντείας, Iren.), revealing to Him and through Him to those after Him the “unknown Father.” If, as Lipsius thinks (p. 119), Irenaeus has here been influenced by the later Gnostic systems, and has altered the original doctrine of Cerinthus as given in Hippolytus, that doctrine would seem to be that he considered “Jesus” and “Christ” titles given indifferently to that One Personality Which was blessed by the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Power on high (ἡ ἄνωθεν δύναμις). This Power enables Jesus to perform miracles, but forsakes Him at His Passion, “flying heavenwards.” So, again, it is Jesus, according to one passage of Epiphanius, Who dies and rises again, the Christ being spiritual and remaining impassible; according to a second, it is Christ Who dies, but is not yet risen, nor shall He rise till the general resurrection. That passage, however, which allows that the human body of Jesus had been raised from the dead separates its author completely from Gnostic successors…..” ( Wace: Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature)…
Epiphanius; Bishop of Salamis in the late 4th century, in his great apologetical work called the “ Panarion”, had the following to say on the origin and legacy of Cerinthus:
“…..Against Cerinthians or Merinthians,
1,1 Now Cerinthus in turn, the founder of the so-called Cerinthians, has come from this bestial seed, bringing the world his venom. But almost nothing different from Carpocrates [one of the early Gnostic heretics] is spouting out into the world, just the same harmful poisons.
1,2 For he slanderously gives the same account of Christ as Carpocrates, that he was born of Mary and Joseph’s seed, and likewise that the world was made by angels.3 In the inculcation of his teaching he differs from Carpocrates in no way except only in this, that he adhered in part to Judaism. He, however, claims that the Law and prophets have been given by the angels, and the law-giver is one of the angels who have made the world.
1.4 Cerinthus lived in Asia and began his preaching there. I have already said of him that he too preached that the world was not created by the first, supreme power—and that when “Jesus,” the offspring of Mary and the seed of Joseph, had grown up, “Christ,” meaning the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, came down to him in the Jordan4 from the God on high, revealing the unknowable Father to him, and through him to his companions. 1, And therefore, because a power had come to him from on high, he performed works of power.5 And when he suffered, the thing that had come from above flew away from Jesus to the heights.6 Jesus has suffered and risen again but the Christ who had come to him from above flew away without suffering7—that is, the thing which had descended in the form of a dove—and Jesus is not Christ. 2,1 But he too has come to grief, as all you lovers of the truth can see. He claims that the law-giver is not good, but he sees fit to be obedient to his Law—plainly, as to a good one. (2) How can the evil one have given the good Law? If it is good not to commit adultery and good not to murder, how much more must the giver of these commandments be better—if it be granted that the person who does not do these things is good! And how can someone who advises what is good, and gives a good Law, be accused of doing evil? The man who takes this sort of line is crazy!
2,3 Now this man is one of the ones who caused the trouble in the apostles’ time when James wrote the letter to Antioch and said, “We know that certain which went out from us have come unto you and troubled you with words, to whom we gave no such commandment.”
(4) He is also one of those who opposed St. Peter because he had gone to St. Cornelius when Cornelius had been vouchsafed a vision of an angel and had sent for Peter. And Peter was dubious and saw the vision of the sheet and the things that were in it, and was told by the Lord to call nothing common or unclean.
(5) And so Cerinthus stirred the circumcised multitudes up over Peter on his return to Jerusalem by saying, “He went in to men uncircumcised.”
(6) Cerinthus did this before preaching his doctrine in Asia and falling into the deeper pit of his destruction. For, because he was circumcised himself he sought an excuse, through circumcision if you please, for his opposition to the uncircumcised believers.
3,1 But because the Lord unfailingly cares for mankind, safeguards the clarity of the truth in the sons of the truth, and has granted the holy apostle Peter to give the refutation of Cerinthus and his party, the stupidity of Cerinthus becomes evident. (2) St. Peter said, “I was in the city of Joppa, and at midday, about the sixth hour, I saw a sheet let down, knit at the four corners, wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things. And he said unto me, Slay and eat. And I said, Not so, Lord; for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And, behold, immediately there were two men already come unto the house, and the Spirit said unto me, Go with them, nothing doubting.”
3,3 And then he explained how this had been said to him as a parable and how he had been doubtful at the time, till the Lord showed him plainly the things he was teaching him through the words and images. (4) For the instant he opened his mouth when he had come to Caesarea, the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius. And seeing this, Peter said, “Can any man forbid water to these, which have been counted worthy to receive the Holy Ghost as we were at the beginning?” (5) But all this was a mystery and an act of God’s lovingkindness, so that St. Peter and everyone else would realize that the salvation of the gentiles is not of man but of God. God had granted the gift of the Holy Spirit, the vision of the angel, and the acceptance of Cornelius’ prayer, fasting and alms, beforehand, so that the apostles—St. Peter especially, and the other apostles—would deprive no one truly called by God of that with which they had been entrusted.
4,1 But these doings took place then at the instigation of that false apostle Cerinthus. Another time too, he and his friends caused a discord at Jerusalem itself, when Paul arrived with Titus, and Cerinthus said, “He hath brought in men uncircumcised with him”—speaking now of Titus—“and polluted the holy place.” (2) And so Paul says, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But because of the false brethren, unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ, to whom we gave place by subjection not even temporarily.” And he used to command the uncircumcised, “Be not circumcised. For if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” (3) Circumcision was a temporary expedient until the greater circumcision arrived, that is, the laver of regeneration—as is plain to everyone, and is shown more clearly by the things the apostles said, especially the holy apostle Paul. For he insists, “To them we gave place by subjection, not even temporarily.”
4,4 But to anyone who is willing to observe what the apostles went through at that time, it is amazing how the things a spirit of imposture inspired this faction to do betray the character of those who caused the commotion among the apostles with their heresies. (5) For, as I have said, no slight disturbance arose then, after they had rebelled, become false apostles, sent other false apostles—first to Antioch, as I have said already, and to other places—to say, “Except ye be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (6) And these are the ones the apostle Paul calls “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
5,1 For they use the Gospel according to Matthew—in part and not in its entirety, but they do use it for the sake of the physical genealogy—and they cite the following as a proof-text, arguing from the Gospel, “ ‘It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master.’ (2) What does this mean?” they say, “Christ was circumcised; be circumcised yourself ! Christ lived by the Law; you too do the same.” And therefore some of them are convinced by those specious arguments as though overcome by deadly drugs, because of the circumcision of Christ. (3) They discount Paul, however, because he did not obey the circumcised. Moreover they reject him for saying, “Whosoever of you are justified by the Law, ye are fallen from grace,” and, “If ye be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.”
6,1 In turn this Cerinthus, fool and teacher of fools that he is, ventures to maintain that Christ has suffered and been crucifi ed but has not risen yet, but he will rise when the general resurrection of the dead comes. (2) Now this position of theirs is untenable, both the words and the ideas. And so, in astonishment at those who did not believe in the coming resurrection of the dead, the apostle said, “If the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised; “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” and, “Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners.” (3) Again, he likewise gives their refutation to those who say that Christ is not risen yet by saying, “If Christ be not raised, our preaching is vain and our faith is vain. And we also are found false witnesses against God, that he raised up Christ, if so be that he raised him not up.” , as though it was apostolic preaching that Christ was not risen and the dead are not raised (at all).
6,4 For their school reached its height in this country, I mean Asia, and in Galatia as well. And in these countries I also heard of a tradition which said that when some of their people died too soon, without baptism, others would be baptized for them in their names, so that they would not be punished for rising unbaptized at the resurrection and become the subjects of the authority that made the world. (5) And the tradition I heard of says that this is why the same holy apostle said, “If the dead rise not at all, why are they baptized for them?” But others explain the text satisfactorily by saying that, as long as they are catechumens, the dying are allowed baptism before they die because of this hope, showing that the person who has died will also rise, and therefore needs the forgiveness of his sins through baptism.
6,6 Some of these people have preached that Christ is not risen yet, but will rise together with everyone; others, that the dead will not rise at all.(7) Hence the apostle has come forward and given the refutation of both these groups and the rest of the sects at once on . And in the testimonies that he gave in full he produced the sure proof of the resurrection, salvation and hope of the dead (8) by saying, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality,” and again, “Christ is risen, the firstfruits of them that slept.” This was to refute both kinds of sects at once and truly impart the unsullied doctrine of his teaching to anyone who wanted to know God’s truth and saving doctrine.
7,1 Hence it can be observed at every point that Cerinthus, with his supporters, is pathetically mistaken and has become responsible for the ruin of others, since the sacred scriptures explain it all to us, clearly and in detail. (2) For neither is Christ the product of Joseph’s seed—for how could the “product” be a sign and, further, how will be words of Isaiah be upheld, “Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,” and so on?
(3) Further, how can the holy Virgin’s words to Gabriel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” be fulfilled—and his answer, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee,” and so on? (4) And once more, how can their stupidity not be exposed when the Gospel plainly says, “Before they came together she was found with child?”
7,5 But that they did not come together at all is plain to see. Heaven preserve us from saying so! Otherwise, he would not have made provision to entrust her to the holy virgin John after the crucifi xion, as he says, “Behold thy mother”—and to her, “Behold thy son.” (6) He should have entrusted her to her relatives, or to Joseph’s sons, if they were his sons by her—I mean James, Joses, Jude and Simon, Joseph’s sons by another wife. Joseph had no relations with the Virgin, heaven forbid—after childbearing the Virgin is found inviolate…..”
2) The arrival of the MONTANIST movement is the second great influence in the 2nd century A.D. to which attention must be drawn in relation to the forementioned developments;
“……Montanus (1), a native of Ardabau, a village in Phrygia, who, in the latter half of the 2nd cent., originated a widespread schism, of which traces remained for centuries.
I. Rise of Montanism.—The name Montanus was not uncommon in the district. It is found in a Phrygian inscription (Le Bas, 755) and in three others from neighbouring provinces (Boeckh—3662 Cyzicus, 4071 Ancyra, 4187 Amasia). Montanus had been originally a heathen, and according to Didymus (de Trin. iii. 41) an idol priest. The epithets “abscissus” and “semivir” applied to him by Jerome (Ep. ad Marcellam, vol. i. 186) suggest that Jerome may have thought him a priest of Cybele. That after his conversion he became a priest or bishop there is no evidence. He taught that God’s supernatural revelations did not end with the apostles, but that even more wonderful manifestations of the divine energy might be expected under the dispensation of the Paraclete. It is asserted that Montanus claimed himself to be the Paraclete; but we believe this to have merely arisen out of the fact that he claimed to be an inspired organ by whom the Paraclete spoke, and that consequently words of his were uttered and accepted as those of that Divine Being. We are told that Montanus claimed to be a prophet and spoke in a kind of possession or ecstasy. He held that the relation between a prophet and the Divine Being Who inspired him was the same as between a musical instrument and he who played upon it; consequently the inspired words of a prophet were not to be regarded as those of the human speaker. In a fragment of his prophecy preserved by Epiphanius he says, “I have come, not an angel or ambassador, but God the Father.” See also Didymus (u.s.). It is clear that Montanus here did not speak in his own name, but uttered words which he supposed God to have put into his mouth; and if he spoke similarly in the name of the Paraclete it does not follow that he claimed to be the Paraclete.
His prophesyings were soon outdone by two female disciples, Prisca or Priscilla and Maximilla, who fell into strange ecstasies, delivering in them what Montanus and his followers regarded as divine prophecies. They had been married, left their husbands, were given by Montanus the rank of virgins in the church, and were widely reverenced as prophetesses. But very different was the sober judgment formed of them by some of the neighbouring bishops. Phrygia was a country in which heathen devotion exhibited itself in the most fanatical form, and it seemed to calm observers that the frenzied utterances of the Montanistic prophetesses were far less like any previous manifestation of the prophetic gift among Christians than they were to those heathen orgiasms which the church had been wont to ascribe to the operation of demons. The church party looked on the Montanists as wilfully despising our Lord’s warning to beware of false prophets, and as being in consequence deluded by Satan, in whose power they placed themselves by accepting as divine teachers women possessed by evil spirits. The Montanists looked on the church leaders as men who did despite to the Spirit of God by offering the indignity of exorcism to those whom He had chosen as His organs for communicating with the church. It does not appear that any offence was taken at the substance of the Montanistic prophesyings. On the contrary, it was owned that they had a certain plausibility; when with their congratulations and promises to those who accepted them they mixed a due proportion of rebukes and warnings, this was ascribed to the deeper art of Satan. What condemned the prophesyings in the minds of the church authorities was the frenzied ecstasy in which they were delivered.
The question as to the different characteristics of real and pretended prophecy was the main subject of discussion in the first stage of the Montanist controversy. It may have been treated of by Melito in his work on prophecy; it was certainly the subject of that of Miltiades περὶ τοῦ μὴ δεῖν προφήτηϖ ἐν ἐκστάσει λαλεῖν; it was touched on in an early anonymous writing against Montanism , of which large fragments are preserved by Eusebius (v. 16, 17). Some more of this polemic is almost certainly preserved by Epiphanius, who often incorporates the labours of previous writers and whose section on Montanism contains a discussion which is clearly not Epiphanius’s own, but a survival from the first stage of the controversy. We learn that the Montanists brought as Scripture examples of ecstasy the text “the Lord sent a deep sleep (ἔκστασιν) upon Adam,” that David said in his haste (ἐν ἐκστάσει) “all men are liars,” and that the same word is used of the vision which warned Peter to accept the invitation of Cornelius. The orthodox opponent points out that Peter’s “not so” shews that in his ecstasy he did not lose his individual judgment and will. Other similar instances are quoted from O.T…..”
The following very revealing and disturbing quotation from John of Damascus on the Montanistic practices is worthy of careful consideration.. Montanus was a priest of Cybele, according to Jerome, and the tradition of Cybele was inherited by the Roman “ Sybils”, particularly the “ Sybil of Thyatira” historically known as “ Sambatha” to which the Apocalypse of John alludes. The prophetic utterances and traditions of the Sybils ( the daughters of Je-Zebel, of “ Ahab” fame) are to this day held in esteem and are perpetuated by the Roman Papacy and Church:
“…..48. The Cataphrygians, or Montanists, or Ascodrugites accept the Old and New Testaments, but they also introduce other prophets of whom they make much a certain Montanus and a Priscilla.
49. The Pepuzians, who are also called Quintillians, and with whom the Artotyrites * are connected, constitute a distinct heresy. Although they belong to the Cataphrygians, they hold other things which these last do not. Pepuza, which is a certain town lying between Galatia and Cappadocia and Phrygia, they hold sacred. In fact, they claim that it is Jerusalem. There is, however, still another Pepuza. Furthermore, they permit women to hold authority and to officiate as priests. And they celebrate certain mysteries during the course of which they pierce a new-born child with bronze needles, as is the custom of the Cataphrygians. Then, having mixed flour with its blood, they bake a host of which they partake as communion. They also tell a mythical tale of Christ revealing Himself there in Pepuza to Quintilla or Priscilla, in female form. They use both the Old and New Testaments, altering them in conformance with their own ideas.
* The correct form is Tascodrugite. According to Epiphanius, it is a name of Phrygian origin meaning ‘nose-pegger/ from their custom of putting the forefinger to the nose while praying (Panarion, Heresy 48.14, PG 41.877B) . (also) * ‘Bread and cheese eaters’……….”
( It ought to be noted that during the revival of Montanism at the time of the Reformation in Europe by the Radical Militant AnaBaptists of Thomas Muntzer and his predecessors, the rallying cry for the AnaBaptist peasants was “ BREAD and CHEESE”.. Their battle standard was the “ Rainbow”, which has continued to this day in the form of the “ new Rainbow Movement”; the “ New Age Movement” and the “rainbow alliance”…. Montanism was also a prominent feature of the French Revolutionaries ( to which the present “ New Age Movement also appeals), who, being largely drawn from the French Martinist Masonic Lodges, donned the “ red Phrygian cap” as their disctinctive symbol of historical allegiance, under the pretense of the “ emancipation of the peasants and lower class”… Engels, of Marx and Engels fame, wrote an entire book on the historical connections between the AnaBaptist Revolution in Europe, the French Revolution, and the Socialist Revolutions of 1848; the precursors of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.. The Communist president of former Yugoslavia; Tito, who held sway over Yugoslavia for many decades, proudly draped a scene from Muntzer’s AnaBaptist Peasant Revolt in Germany as a backdrop in his office, in honour of Engels’ and Marx’s legacies…..)
3. The advent of the Montanist Tertullian and the commencement of Latin Christianity from the cradle of Montanism is the third great influence to arise from the forementioned developments…
The first two of the above influences to arise in the second century A.D. had in common the desire to establish a “ kingdom of God on earth” and to inaugurate a “ new millennium” utopia which would be presided over by the adherents of the respective twain heresies.. Cerinthus had been the first to revive the Ebionite Judaizing claims for a literal kingdom of the Jews on earth in express imitation of the TRUE, which was accurately depicted by the Apostle John in the Apocalypse. Cerinthus presented, however, a counterfeit kingdom on earth to the world, and qualified and permeated it with a thorough Gnostic heretical element and theology that stemmed from the NeoPlatonic Gnostic school at Alexandria, and was in effect the revival of the ancient “ Golden Age” pagan aspirations, which sought to bring back the “ lost age of Saturn”… This mix of Judaizing Ebionite Heresy and Gnosticism, was regarded by the later Nicean Bishops of the Patristic Church as such an aberration, that they threw the TRUE baby out with the bathwater at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, and placed in the Nicean Creed an anti-Cerinthian clause which denied in effect the possibility of a “genuine” and literal kingdom to the Jews ( the Millenium). The famous clause of “ and His Kingdom shall have no end” was specifically designed to counter Cerinthus’ Gnostic Ebionite Jewish Kingdom-on-earth theories..
“…..The Chiliastic eschatology of Cerinthus is very clearly stated by Theodoret, Caius, Dionysius (Eus.), and Augustine, but not alluded to by Irenaeus. His silence need perhaps cause no surprise: Irenaeus was himself a Chiliast of the spiritual school, and in his notes upon Cerinthus he is only careful to mention what was peculiar to his system. The conception of Cerinthus was highly coloured. In his “dream” and “phantasy” the Lord shall have an earthly kingdom in which the elect are to enjoy pleasures, feasts, marriages, and sacrifices. Its capital is Jerusalem and its duration 1000 years: thereafter shall ensue the restoration of all things. Cerinthus derived this notion from Jewish sources. His notions of eschatology are radically Jewish: they may have originated, but do not contain, the Valentinian notion of a spiritual marriage between the souls of the elect and the Angels of the Pleroma…..” ( Wace: Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature; “ Cerinthus”).
The pre ( ante)- Nicene Church, however, including church Fathers such as Barnabas, Irenaeus, Justyn Martyr, Papias and Hippolytus, in the main firmly believed and taught that there would be a literal Jewish kingdom of Messiah/Christ on earth ( the millenium), but that it would NOT have anything in common with the Gnostic-Ebionite “ Golden Age of Saturn” Kingdom of Cerinthus, whose teachings on the subject were understood to be the very ones that would in the last days usher in the final Antichrist, who was regarded universally to be an Apostate Jew descended from the Jewish tribe of DAN ( according to Jeremiah’s prophecy to that effect), and whom the entire Jewish nation would eventually receive and embrace UNTIL the time when, having rebuilt their temple, he would proclaim himself to be God, and thereby abominate the latter-day sanctuary/temple of the Jews..
Jeremiah 8:14-17 proceeds thus (original KJV):
14 Why doe wee sit still? Assemble your selues, and let vs enter into the defenced cities, and let vs be silent there: for the Lord our God hath put vs to silence, and giuen vs waters of gall to drink, because we haue sinned against the Lord. (Jer 4:5; Jer 9:15; Jer 23:15); 15 We looked for peace, but no good came: and for a time of health, and behold trouble. (Jer 14:19);
16 The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones, for they are come and haue deuoured the land, and all that is in it, the citie, and those that dwell therein. (Jer 4:15);
17 For behold, I wil send serpents, cockatrices among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you; saith the Lord. Ps 58:4-5;…..”
“…….Cerinthus denied also the resurrection of Christ. He adhered in part to
Judaism, and considered the Mosaic law binding on Christians. He taught
that the righteous would enjoy a paradise of delights in Palestine, and that
the man Jesus, through the power of the Logos again coming upon him, as
the Messiah, would reign a thousand years” (Farrar, Ecclesiastes Dict.
s.v.). It is supposed that Cerinthus and his doctrines are alluded to in John’s
Gospel. The system of Cerinthus seems to combine Ebionitism with Gnosticism, and the Judaeo-Christian millenarianism……” ( McClintock and Strong’s article on “Cerinthus”).
The despised doctrine of the future Millenial Rule of Christ Jesus from the throne of David in Jerusalem in a revived Jewish Kingdom based in Palestine ( as believed in by the Apostles and their earliest disciples) became despised precisely because of its counterfeiting by the heretic Cerinthus. It became scornfully referred to as “ Chiliasm”, and after the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., only a handful of Bishops such as Methodius of Olympus, were to find any degree of success in promulgating it… Bishop Fausset in his “ Bible Dictionary” had the following to say on the true Millenium:
“The millennium. The period of Christ’s coming reign with His saints over this earth, delivered from Satan’s presence. As Satan and His kingdom in successive stages sink, Christ and His kingdom rise (Revelation 19-20). Satan, having been foiled in his last desperate attempt to overthrow Christ’s kingdom by Antichrist or the beast, shall by the just law of necessary retributive consequence be bound immediately afterward and imprisoned in the bottomless pit a thousand years. On the same just principle they who have suffered for Christ, and not worshipped the God-opposed world power, shall come to life again and reign with Christ (2Ti 2:12), at His coming, a thousand years. Their resurrection is “the first resurrection.” “The rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years are finished: blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
Ten, the “world number”, raised to the third power, the “divine number”, expresses the world pervaded by God. Possibly the “thousand” may extend much longer than the literal number. So also (Phi 3:10.) Paul’s ambition was to “attain the resurrection from out of the rest of the dead” (exanastasis). So our Lord declares (Luk 20:35), “they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the dead cannot die any more, for they are equal unto the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” Again, to the apostles (Luk 22:18), “ye are they who have continued with Me in My temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom as My Father hath appointed unto Me, that ye may eat and drink with Me at My table, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Again (Mat 19:28), “ye that have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Those “beheaded (virtually or actually, literally, hatcheted) for Jesus and for the word of God” stand first; then they” who have not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands,” i.e. did not treat the world’s riches, ambitions, and pleasures as their portion. Jesus implies, in reply to the request of Zebedee’s two sons, that there are places of peculiar honour reserved by the Father for those who drink Christ’s bitter cup (Mat 20:22-23). Thus, “whosoever shall lose his life for Christ’s sake (in will or deed) shall save it” (Mar 8:35). Satan thought to destroy God’s people by persecutions (just as previously to destroy Christ, Revelation 12); but the church is not destroyed from the earth, but raised to rule over it; Satan himself is shut up for a thousand years in the “abyss” (” bottomless pit”), preparatory to the “lake of fire,” his final doom. As before, by Christ’s ascension, he ceased to be accuser of the brethren in heaven, so during the millennium he ceases to be seducer and persecutor on earth.
As long as he rules in the darkness of the world we live in an atmosphere tainted with evil physical and spiritual (Eph 2:2). Christ’s coming will purify the world (Mal 3:3). Sin will not wholly cease, for men shall be still in the flesh, and therefore death will come, but at long intervals, life being vastly prolonged as in the days of the patriarchs (Isa 65:20); but sin will not be that almost universal power that it is now. Satan will no longer seduce the flesh, nor be the “god” and “prince of this world” (Joh 14:30; 2Co 4:4), which now “lieth in the wicked one” (1Jo 5:19). The flesh, untempted from without, shall become more and more subject to the spirit. Christ with His saints, in transfigured bodies, will reign over men in the flesh. The millennial nations will be prepared for a higher state, as Adam would have been in paradise, had he never fallen (Rev 21:1-24; Rev 21:26).
This will be the manifestation of “the world (“age”, aion) to come” already set up invisibly in the saints in “this world” (Heb 2:5; Heb 5:5). As each seventh year was Israel’s year of remission, so of the world’s seven thousands the seventh shall be its sabbatism (Heb 4:9, margin). Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Cyprian, expected an earthly millennial kingdom; not until millennial views carnally confounded the state of the transfigured king-priests with that of the subject nations in the flesh, and the church itself sought a present visible kingdom with Rome as its center, instead of hoping for it only when Christ shall come, was the doctrine abandoned by the church and apostasy set in. Earth, not becoming transfigured until after the millennium, shall not be, during it, the meet home for the transfigured saints; but from heaven they with Christ rule the earth, the comparatively free communion between the heavenly and earthly churches being typified by Christ’s communion at short intervals with His disciples during the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension.
Old Testament prophecy everywhere anticipates Christ’s kingdom at Jerusalem: Jer 3:17; Isa 4:3; Isa 11:9; Isa 35:8; Isa 60:61; Isa 60:65-66; Ezekiel 37 to 48, etc., etc. He confirms His disciples’ expectation of it, but corrects their impatience to know the time (Act 1:6-8). The kingdom begins, not as the carnal Jews thought, from without, but from within, spiritually; then when Christ shall be manifested it shall be manifested outwardly (Col 3:4; 1Jo 3:2). The papacy blasphemously anticipates the visible headship which Christ shall then assume, “reigning as kings” without Christ (1Co 4:8).
“When Christianity became a worldly power under Constantine, the future hope was weakened by joy over present success” (Bengel); the church becoming a harlot ceased to be the bride going to meet her Bridegroom. The saints’ future priesthood unto God and Christ “in His temple” (Rev 1:6; Rev 5:10; Rev 7:15; Rev 20:6) is the ground of their kingship toward men. Men will be willing subjects of the transfigured priest-kings whose power is the attraction that wins the heart, not counteracted by devil or beast. Church and state will be coextensive; and the church and the world no longer in mutual repulsion. The distinction between them shall cease, for the church will be co-extensive with the world. The veil shall be taken off Israel first, then off all people, and the kingdoms of this world shall be the kingdoms of Christ (Rev 11:15; Isa 25:7). Christ’s glorious appearing, the church’s transfiguration, antichrist’s destruction, and Satan’s binding, will dispose the nations to embrace the gospel.
As a regeneration of elected individuals “taken out” from Jews and Gentiles (Act 15:14) goes on now, so a regeneration of nations then. As the church begins at Christ’s ascension, so the visible kingdom at His second advent. What the transfigured priest-kings shall be in heaven, that the Israelite priest-kings shall be on earth. A blessed chain of giving and receiving: God, Christ, the transfigured bride, i.e. the translated church, Israel, the world of nations. The outpouring of the Spirit on Israel (Zec 12:10) will usher in the new period of revelation, which has been silent so long as Israel, God’s chosen mediator of revelations, and of establishing His manifested kingdom on earth, has been in the background. God from the first, in dividing to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, set their bounds “according to the number of the children, of Israel” (Deu 32:8). Now is the time of preaching; then shall be the time of liturgy of “the great congregation” (Psa 22:25; Ezekiel 40 to 48; Zec 14:16-21; Isa 2:3).
Art and music will be the handmaids to spiritual worship, instead of drawing off the soul to sensuousness. Society will be pervaded by the Spirit of Christ. Earthly and heavenly glories shall be united in the twofold election: elect Israel in the flesh shall stand at the head of the earthly nations; the elect spiritual church, in the heavenly kingdom, shall reign over both. These elections are for the good of those to whom they minister respectively; compare, as to Israel’s mediating blessedness to the nations, Rom 11:12; Rom 11:15; Mic 5:7. The extent of rule (the “ten” or “five cities”) is proportioned to the degree of faithfulness, as the parable teaches (Luk 19:13; Luk 19:15; Luk 19:17; Luk 19:19); all vessels of glory are filled, but those of larger dimensions are of larger capacity for glory (2Ti 2:20-21; Isa 22:24).
Peter (2Pe 1:16-18) makes the transfiguration the earnest of Christ’s coming in glory (Matthew 17); it is the miniature specimen of the millennial kingdom: first, Christ in glory, then Moses a specimen of those raised from the dead at Christ’s coming, then Elijah a specimen of those who never taste death, but being found alive are transfigured in a moment (1Co 15:51-52); finally Peter, James, and John, the specimen of Israel and the nations in the flesh who shall desire the tabernacling among them of Christ and the transfigured saints: “Lord, it is good to be here,” etc. The privilege of our high calling in Christ is limited to the time of Satan’s reign; when he is bound there will be no scope for suffering for, and so no longer the reward of reigning with, Him (Rev 3:21; 1Co 6:2.).
Even during the millennium there is a separation between heaven and earth, humanity transfigured and humanity in the flesh. Hence, apostasy can take place at its close; out of the one element of evil in it, the flesh, man’s birthsin the only influence then preventing the saving of all souls. In the judgment on this, the world of nature is destroyed and renewed, as the world of history was before the millennium. Only then the new heaven and earth are perfected. The millennial heaven and earth, connected but separate, are but a foretaste of the everlasting state, when the upper and lower congregations shall be no longer separate and new Jerusalem shall descend from God out of heaven. The millennium shall be the last season of grace; for what can move him in whom the church’s visible glory, evil being circumscribed on all sides, evokes no longing for communion with the church’s King? As the history of nations ended with the church’s millennial manifestation in glory, so that of mankind in general shall end with the separation of the just from the wicked. (Auberlen, Daniel and Revelation.)
As “kings” the transfigured saints shall have subjects; as “priests” they shall have people to whom they shall mediatorially minister blessings from God, namely, the men on earth. The scene of the kingdom is not in, but “under, heaven”; on or over the earth (Rev 5:10; Dan 7:27). The kingdom shall be where the tares once were (Mat 13:41), i.e. on earth. “The meek shall inherit the earth”; like Caleb, alone faithful among the faithless, inheriting the very Mount Hebron on which his feet trod 40 years before (Mat 5:5; Num 14:23-24; Jos 14:9). It will be a time of Sabbath peace, uninterrupted by war (Heb 4:9; Isa 2:4; Zec 9:10; Hos 2:18). Even the savage animals shall lose their ferocity (Isa 11:6-9; Isa 65:25). Christ’s king-priesthood (Zec 6:13) shall be explained in the services of the glorious temple at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40-48).
The marriage of the Lamb and bride, then begun in heaven, shall unfold the mysteries of the now obscure Song. The theocracy, or rule of God in Christ, shall supersede the misrule of earthly potentates who ruled for self. Finally, when the corrupt flesh and Satan shall have been cast out forever after the millennium, the general resurrection, judgment, and regeneration of our home shall follow.The same Spirit regenerates the believer’s soul now (Rom 8:11), his body at Christ’s coming, and his home (Psa 104:30; Rev 21:1) after the millennium. The earth, once baptized with water, shall be baptized with fire (2Pe 3:7; 2Pe 3:10-13). Earth and nature shall be regenerated, as the nations were previously in the millennium.
The saints not merely, as in it, reign from heaven over the earth; but the heavenly Jerusalem, having the glory of God, shall descend on earth, far eclipsing Israel’s Jerusalem in the millennium. The saints shall be God’s city and bride, God causing His glory to shine out through them, as the flame through a jasper colored lamp (Rev 21:10-11-23). “The nations of them which are saved,” namely, during the millennium (which will be the age of the regeneration of nations as this is the age of the regeneration of individual souls) “shall walk in the light of” the heavenly Jerusalem, i.e. the wife of the Lamb; for the elect church shall hold the primacy among the redeemed throughout eternity, because she alone shall have witnessed for Christ in the face of an opposing world and the prince of darkness (Rev 21:24).
In the primitive paradise there was but a garden with a solitary pair; but in the final paradise and the regenerated earth city and garden shall be combined, the perfect communion of saints with individual blessedness and perfection. Satan loosed no more; the saints under the blessed necessity of sinning no more; the groans of nature hushed (Rom 8:18-23); no more sea, literal or figurative (Dan 7:2-3; Isa 57:20; Rev 21:1; Rev 21:4); no more pain, crying, death. When Christ shall have accomplished the purpose of His mediatorial kingdom by bringing all things into subjection to the Father, God will be all in all. The unity of the Godhead will then be prominent, as His Trinity is now; “His name will be one,” and He will come then first into direct communion with His redeemed. Lord, hasten it in Thine own time (Zec 14:9; 1Co 15:24)……”