The “Bible Only” Revelation Commentary: The easiest Bible book to understand!
The 5-minute beginner’s guide to totally understanding Revelation.
1. Revelation written in AD 66
2. Flee Jerusalem or be destroyed in AD 70
3. The central synchronism is the Ezekiel’s account of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC.
Original publication date: February 2018. This updated version date: March 2021
Author: Steven Rudd. Free of charge at: www.bible.ca/revelation
Bible Only Revelation Commentary
Steven Rudd Feb 2018
DOWNLOAD: FREE PDF
Preface: Completely understand Revelation in 5 minutes
Intro 1: Ezekiel Decodes Revelation
Dating, Chronology & Eschatology
Daniel and Revelation
By Steven Rudd, Feb 2018: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections
The book of Revelation is the easiest book in the Bible to understand… that is of course if you were a Jew living in Jerusalem in AD 66. Revelation is a Jewish document written by Jews for Jews. Much of the imagery was foreign and meaningless to 1st century Gentile converts to Christianity and even more so today. The overarching theme of the book of Revelation is the extinction of physical Mosaic Judaism with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple as the final phase of fulfilment of Jeremiah 31:31. The key to unlocking Revelation is the direct synchronism between the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC and AD 70 triggered by the rebellion of the Jews against two of God’s “anointed servants” of Daniel 2 (Nebuchadnezzar and Titus). The two destructions happened on the exact same day of the year, the 10th Av. Both Nebuchadnezzar and Titus were crown princes when they captured Jerusalem and both went on to become kings.
Chronology is an important tool to unlock the Bible. The Law of Moses was given on Pentecost 1446 BC and the Law of Christ was given 1480 years later on Pentecost AD 33. The double prophecy of 2 Samuel 7:12–17 predicted the temple of Solomon in 967 BC and the Church of Christ (Temple of Christ) exactly 1000 years later on the day of Pentecost AD 33. In Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks (Dan 9:27), it is exactly 490 years to the solar day from the decree of Artaxerxes in 458 BC (Ezra 7) to the resurrection of Christ in AD 33. Josephus records 7 miraculous signs that began Passover AD 65 and ended Passover AD 66. The First Jewish War began on Pentecost AD 66 and lasted 7 years until the fall of Masada in AD 73. Following the prophecy of Jesus that the tribulation will fall upon “this generation”, it was exactly 40 years to the day from the crucifixion of Christ on Passover AD 33 and the Fall of Masada on Passover AD 73.
There are two key Revelation verses that prove when and why it was written: Rev 11:8 and 17:10. These two scriptures trump the “fluff statements” of uninspired church fathers like Irenaeus, commonly used by “Late-dater s” as the primary support that John wrote Revelation in AD 96 and that Rome is the book’s target of destruction. This, in spite of the fact that Late-dater s cannot pin a specific date for this event. For Late-dater s then, the historical fulfillment is a fuzzy blur. Even worse, late-daters get the central message of the book wrong which they say is the superficial and overly simplistic “victory of Christians”. Revelation opens with promises of persecution from the Jews among the 7 churches of the first century (ch2-3) and closes with the last remaining Christians on earth being annihilated (by Muslims), save the intervention of God (20:7–11), which triggers the second coming. Victory on Earth is clearly NOT the central theme of Revelation. In fact, the central theme of Revelation is the punishment for the Jewish rejection of their Messiah, the Jewish persecution of Christians as seen in Rev 1:9; 2:9-10 and murder of Old Testament prophets. The symbolic language of Revelation describes historic events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Jews destroyed Jerusalem first, then the Romans
Josephus strongly placed the blame for the destruction of the temple upon the three waring Jewish Zealot leaders inside the city, Eleazar ben Simon, Simon ben Giora, John of Gischala. Even Jewish Josephus commented that God destroyed the city in His wrath and justice because of the moral wickedness. Josephus judged the Jewish Zealots guilty for desecrating and destroying the temple themselves and judges the Romans innocent because they took every possible step to protect the temple from being destroyed by the Jews. This echoes the six trials before the crucifixion of Christ where the first three Jewish trials judged Jesus guilty and the last three Roman trials judged Him innocent. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and that the Rabbis wanted Him killed out of envy. Pilate did everything in his power to save Jesus from the Jews by publicly pronouncing Him innocent, flogging as a substitute for death, circumventing the leaders by offering a prisoner exchange to the masses and finally a public washing his hands of guilt.
"When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged (a second time), he handed Him over to be crucified." (Matthew 27:24–26)
When the Jews publicly accepted responsibility for crucifying their Messiah with the words, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”, God’s wrath and justice was demonstrated in the destruction of Jerusalem as recorded in the book of Revelation.
Revelation is judgement upon Jews first, then Romans
However, Pilate permitted innocent Jesus to be crucified and Nero persecuted Christians for 42 months (AD 64-68) so the Book of Revelation also punishes the Roman Empire. In both 587 BC and AD 70, God punished Babylonians and Romans for their participation in destroying the city. However, Titus, like Nebuchadnezzar took steps to save the temple from fire, while the Jews were destroying the temple with their own hands. On two occasions during the final siege in AD 70, Titus sent Josephus to the city wall to persuade those inside to surrender in order to save the temple. Titus even condemned the Jews inside the city as savage beasts for hypocritically defiling the temple by turning it into a military fortress and filling it with 8,500 of dead bodies and blood. Pagan Titus said to the Jews, “You wicked villains? Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this temple” (Wars 4.201,313; 6:110,126). Ironically, even Josephus the Zealot, viewed Roman Titus as more righteous than his fellow Jews. In January AD 68, the Jews caused the extinction of their own High Priesthood by choosing the unfit Phannias ben Samuel by lot, then executing the two legitimate High Priests, Ananus ben Ananus and Jesus ben Gamaliel, a month later.
Beast from Sea and Earth
In Revelation, the two-horned sheep “Beast from the Earth” represents the Jews who destroy the spiritually dead city and temple from within and the ten-horned, seven-headed “Beast from the Sea” represents the Roman Empire who finish the job by burning the corpse.
Ezekiel decodes Revelation
Revelation was a “1st century remake” of Ezekiel’s old storyline of the destruction of Jerusalem, start to finish, except the date changed from 587 BC to AD 70. Revelation is like a new modern version of the original Cinderella story where all the details have changed, but the plotline is identical; everyone knows what happens next and everyone knows how it ends. We know Ezekiel is a “blow by blow” account of the first destruction of 587 BC. Revelation follows and borrows from Ezekiel, chapter by chapter in the second destruction of AD 70. While all commentators are aware of John’s use of Ezekiel in Revelation, this author is the first (to his knowledge) to identify John’s direct sequential “thought for thought” borrowing, dependence and synchronism with Ezekiel. This was all designed by the Holy Spirit who, word for word, inspired both of the prophets Ezekiel and apostle John. The synoptic Gospels all contain the “Olivet Discourse” (Mt 24, Lk 21:20, Mk 13) with detailed accounts of Jesus’ prediction and warnings to flee Jerusalem before it was destroyed. The Gospel of John skips the Olivet Discourse and says nothing because it was written after AD 70. As Dr. Scott Stripling brilliantly observed, “The book of Revelation is John’s Olivet discourse written in AD 66”.
Ezekiel and Revelation us symbolic language to describe real events of war
We are certain that the symbolic “apocalyptic” language in Ezekiel describes the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Since the book of Revelation uses the identical symbolic “apocalyptic” language as Ezekiel, it should be obvious then, that Revelation is describing the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. In both Ezekiel and Revelation, symbolic language describes the actual physical event of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Synchronisms between Ezekiel and Revelation
There are countless synchronisms between Ezekiel and Revelation which both echo the identical message of, “Come out from among them” living in Jerusalem or be killed. During the 70-year Babylonian captivity of 605-536 BC, the blessings of Jerusalem were transferred to Babylon where the Jerusalem Jews lived in sanctuary and the curses of Babylon were transferred to Jerusalem. Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah called Jerusalem “Egypt and Sodom” and then the city was destroyed. Josephus even called Jerusalem “Sodom” (Wars 5.566). The transference of God’s curses from Babylon to Jerusalem is repeated in Revelation, when once again, the curses of mystical Babylon (now long extinct) were transferred to literal Jerusalem. John directly identifies Jerusalem which is “mystically called Egypt and Sodom, the city where Jesus was crucified” (Rev 11:8). We know that “Babylon” was a well understood nickname for Jerusalem long before John wrote Revelation because Apostle Peter, who served as an elder in his home church in Jerusalem (1 Pe 5:1), actually called Jerusalem, “Babylon”. (1 Pe 5:13). Revelation is easy to understand when you realize that Jerusalem is called “Babylon”, “the great city”, “the whore”, “Sodom” and “Egypt”. Just as God decreed the destruction of Jerusalem in 593 BC when Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon (which was also the year Ezekiel started preaching) so too God decreed the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 66 when the Jews rebelled against Rome, which was also when John wrote Revelation. Although Revelation is primary dependent upon Ezekiel, John also drew heavily from Jeremiah and to a lesser degree Daniel, Zechariah, Isaiah, and a handful of specific messianic texts and the synoptics. He also drew from current messianic expectation theology as witnessed in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Nero, the 6th Roman Caesar as “666”, Beast from Sea
In addition to “Nero Caesar” isopsephically (letter to number sum) equalling the number 666, the simple meaning behind the number 666 is to repeat “6th Caesar”, three times. So “666” equals “6th Caesar, 6th Caesar, 6th Caesar”. It is repeated three times for emphasis. Rev 17:10 proves the book was written in AD 66 under Nero and counts 7 officially recognized Caesars: “seven kings [Julius to Vespasian]; five have fallen [Julius to Claudius], one is [Nero, the “beast” whose name equals 666], the other has not yet come [Vespasian]. Daniel 7:7-8 counts 10 Roman Caesars from Julius to Vespasian by including the three unofficial “usurper Caesars” (Galba, Otho and Vitellius) who reigned in short turbulent succession for a total of 13 months (9 June 68- July AD 69). Incredibly Daniel foresaw these three “usurper” Caesars (all of whom where killed and beheaded) were never officially installed. Daniel removes the 3 usurpers from the list of ten which agrees with John’s 7! “Rome had ten horns… a little horn, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it (Galba, Otho and Vitellius)”. Wow. Wow. Wow. How simple is that and how amazing is the Holy Spirit! “666” has no special religious meaning except it is the “number of a name” (Isopsephy). If Nero’s mother was inspired by Johnny Cash and named him “Sue” [שושנה], the “number of the beast from the sea” would have been 658! The number of Jesus’ name is 888! Look your spouse’s isopsephic name up on the internet because if it also equals 666 like Nero, it will explain a lot of things!
Civil War: Three Jewish Rebel leaders: Eleazar ben Simon, Simon ben Giora, John of Gischala
In Revelation 13, Nero is the Beast from the Sea who persecutes Christians 42 months from the burning of Rome in AD 64 until he died in AD 68. The three Jewish rebel leaders fighting a civil war inside Jerusalem in AD 69 are also represented in “the beast from the earth” because they destroy their own city and temple from within, while righteous Titus takes several steps to save the temple from destruction (Wars 6.214-217). The liberation of Jerusalem began Tuesday 6th August AD 66 [15th Av] when the rebel Jews used the wood donated to the Temple Altar of Burnt Offerings during the festival of Xylophory. In a self-inflicted literal Holocaust, the Jews used their own holy Altar wood to start burning their own city! (Josephus Wars 2.425). Jesus warned, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, recognize her desolation is near. Flee” (Lk 21:20)! But even more remarkable is the fact that it was Jewish armies that first surrounded Jerusalem, not Roman as commonly mis-taught. Under the command of Manahem, Jerusalem was liberated on 15th September AD 66 (Josephus Wars 2.433-440) and he surrounded and paraded his army around the outside city wall. While the Jews were rejoicing that the city was liberated, the Christians fled the city, knowing that it was a sign of impending destruction! The same thing happened in 593 BC when Zedekiah rebelled, triggering the withdrawal of God’s grace and pronouncement of its impending destruction. On 10th November AD 66 the Romans withdrew and “left behind them their engines for sieges, and for throwing of stones, and a great part of the instruments of war. So, the Jews went on pursuing the Romans as far as Antipatris, after which, seeing they could not overtake them, they came back and took the engines and brought them into Jerusalem” (Josephus Wars 2.553). When Titus arrived on Monday 7th March AD 70, he observed the city split into three parts through the 3-way civil war of the 3 rebel leaders fighting each other inside the city. Revelation 16 twice refers to the three rebel leaders as “three unclean spirits like frogs, the spirits of demons who bring war to Jerusalem” (v14) and "The great city was split into three parts”. (v19). The Jews were using the Roman Ballista and Catapults against each other inside the city. Josephus even called the Jews a “wild beast” (like John in Rev 13) and records the civil war in detail:
“The sedition at Jerusalem was revived, and divided into three factions, and that one faction fought against the other; which partition in such evil cases may be said to be a good thing, and the effect of divine justice. (3) Now as to the attack the zealots made upon the people, and which I esteem the beginning of the city’s destruction, it hath been already explained after an accurate manner; as also whence it arose, and to how great a mischief it was increased; (4) but for the present sedition, one should not mistake if he called it a sedition begotten by another sedition, and to be like a wild beast grown mad, which for want of food from abroad, fell now upon eating its own flesh.” (Josephus Wars 5:4-6)
Figurative language describes First Century Roman warfare
In September AD 66 the Jews captured a large number of Roman war machines (Ballista, Catapults) and brought them into the city and attacked their fellow Jews inside Jerusalem during the turbulent civil-war. Revelation 9 and 16 uses figurative language to describe the “Roman engines” (Ballista and Catapult). The one talent white hail stones represent the one talent white stone Ballista balls and the locust/scorpion represents the catapult. “Scorpion” was the common name used in the first century for the Roman catapult. While today, futurists and premillennialists see US F-16 fighter Jets, the Christians in Jerusalem in AD 66, immediately recognized “one-talent hail and scorpions” as symbolic language of the very war machines the Jews had captured from the Romans and had brought inside the city. How much simpler could it be? This was long before the Romans arrived with a full battalion of new replacement Ballista and Catapults to attack the Jews from outside the city wall. When Titus arrived, the Jews in Jerusalem were getting bombarded from both their fellow Jews from within and the Romans from the outside.
The Number 7, Dead Sea Scrolls and Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice
The central number in Revelation is 7 and endless pages have been written decoding its meaning in vain, without ever discovering the truth that it has no symbolic meaning at all. It simply traces back to Elijah who performed miracles in 3, 3 ½ and 7. The use of the number 7 in Revelation was a way to give John’s Apocalypse a “Jewish familiar literary feel”. Every synagogue used a songbook called “The Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice” that used the number 7 to the point of obsession. It was a collection of 13 songs, sung acapella, (because instrumental music was banned in synagogues), consecutively in a 13-week cycle. The outstanding feature of its use of the number 7 was as familiar to every first century Jew as “Jesus Loves Me” is to Christians today. As early as 90 BC, Dead Sea Scroll 11QMelchizedek is evidence that the Jews were long using the number 7 as an organizing numeric framework in their literature. So, when Revelation was structured around the number 7, Revelation had the “feel” of “Jewish literature” that the Jews in Jerusalem would be familiar with. This enhanced their acceptance of the message in Revelation to “leave it all behind” and flee Jerusalem or die.
Archaeology and Ancient Literary Sources
John also borrowed specific Jewish Messianic terminology widely used and understood by all Jews before the birth of Christ as witnessed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew coinage and other ancient Jewish literary sources. Every feature of Revelation 20, including the dragon, 1000-year reign of the Messiah, war with Gog and Magog and final judgment are drawn primarily from current Jewish Messianic eschatological theology witnessed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, not the Old Testament. Even the New Testament references the first century Jewish theology of the “Days of the Messiah” several times. As incredibly helpful as archaeology can be in illuminating first century Jewish culture, it is highly fragmented and incomplete. Additionally, it is highly likely that some of the symbolism in Revelation is based upon local current events, lost to history the same way the burning down of Farmer Brown’s barn in a small town is known by all the locals, but no one outside the area ever hears about it. Also remember about 1 million first-hand witnesses inside the city were killed by the Romans. With this in mind, the author has not attempted to ascribe meaning to all the minute details in Revelation. In other words, a Christian living in AD 66 would immediately understand and recognize many of the symbols in Revelation that may be impossible for us today to ever understand being so far removed in time and culture.
The Apostle John wrote Revelation on Patmos in AD 66 and his Gospel and 1,2,3 John at Ephesus after being released from Patmos in AD 98. Today, all Christians still await the future second coming of Christ, wherein the dead will be raised into a spirit body, the living will be changed into a spirit body, the physical universe will be uncreated (Rev 20:11) and all will be judged before God who then creates a new heaven and earth (Rev 21). Come, Lord Jesus!
Take the “Bible Only” test:
This commentary is called, “The 5-minute beginner’s guide to totally understanding Revelation.” But anyone can do a public reading up this point in only 3 minutes and that is all you really need! Read Revelation right now with the above ideas in mind and the book becomes very simple. Imagine you are a Christian living in Jerusalem in AD 66. Instead of trying to assign specific meaning to all the colourful apocalyptic language, just view it as poetry that describes the destruction of Jerusalem. A key to understanding is to substitute “Jerusalem” in place of “Babylon”, “City”, “Egypt”, “Sodom”, “The Harlot”. So, stop reading this commentary right now and go read Revelation for yourself! Afterwards, you will agree with me that Revelation is the easiest book in the Bible to understand!
About the “Bible Only Revelation Commentary”
The author is a firm believer in the word-for-word inspiration and all sufficiency of the Bible. The author wrote this commentary in Feb 2018 in about two weeks. Three additional weeks were required for a few peripheral documents, graphics and custom web page programming so it was available to all free online. The author has in his possession and has read a few sections of the other commentaries on Revelation listed below in years past. However, they were not re-read in preparation for this effort. Instead, it was while preparing monographs on Jehoiakim and Zedekiah the previous year, using the Bible alone, that this author concluded that the message of Revelation was clearly and unmistakably a warning for the Christians to flee Jerusalem before its destruction. In the Lord’s church, there are seven major commenters used widely as resources: early date: Foy E. Wallace 1966, Arthur Ogden 1985/1998; late date: John Hinds 1936, Jim McGuiggen 1976, Homer Hailey 1979, Robert Harkrider 1997, Dan King 2018. [Note: King’s commentary came out after this commentary was first published in Feb 2018 and included herein after Aug 2019.] In Sept 2019, the author read sections of Arthur Ogden’s early date commentary for the first time. The author has re-examined, with personal curiosity (and perplexity) how each of these commentaries interpret a small handful of specific key passages and ideas. The author also owns 120+ additional Revelation commentaries in his Logos Software collection that span every point of view. Most of these, being futurist or premillennial are hopelessly self-confused within their own contradictory theological errors and of little value to truth.
First, this commentary is based initially and fundamentally on the Bible alone. Once the author had established that Revelation was a warning for the Christians to flee Jerusalem, using the Bible alone, he then added on top of this scriptural foundation a layer of complimentary evidences from Biblical archaeology, coins, Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient literary sources.
Second, none of the other commentators share any commonality with the author’s unique and new approach of using Ezekiel to decode revelation.
Third, the correct use of ancient literary sources and archeology. The Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice was an ancient literary source that not only predates Revelation but was clearly used as a template in the literary style by Apostle John. Every Jews in the first century BC was familiar with the Jewish “Days of the Messiah end times” eschatology doctrine but Christians today have never heard of it. Or as the jazz song says, “It never even entered their mind”. Yet this ancient ubiquitous messianic theology, witnessed in Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient literary sources, was used by John as a template in every detail of Revelation 20.
Fourth, late-date commentators like Hailey make the fatal mistake of “spiritualizing the entire book away” by viewing Revelation as using symbolic language to convey symbolic events and meanings. In fact, Revelation uses symbolic language to convey real and specific historical events. Jehovah’s Witnesses make the same mistake in the Rich man and Lazarus by viewing the symbolic language of Luke 16:19 to represent symbolic ideas to deny the obvious and real Bible doctrine of conscious life and torment after death. In fact, the story in Luke 16 uses symbolic language to convey real historical events in the spirit world by employing recognizable physical objects like fire, fingers, water as an associative reference point. Spiritualizing both the symbols and their target meaning in the entire book of Revelation, therefore, denies the obvious core message to flee Jerusalem or die. Finally, Hailey even spiritualizes the 70 weeks of Daniel 9, apparently unaware that the decree in Ezra 7 to rebuild Jerusalem counts exactly 490 solar years to the very day from 3th April 458 BC to 3th April AD 33 (Gregorian/Solar calendar). Instead, Hailey started the 70 weeks at the decree of Cyrus which he misdates to 538 BC (correct 536 BC) and ends in AD 70, for a total of 607 years (actual 605 years).
Fifth, Hailey fabricated the concept of “worship the emperor or die”, without citing a single ancient literary source and assigned it to the meaning of the “beast from the earth” in Rev 13:11. In the first three centuries, Christians supposedly died unless they confessed Caesar as God, but it is all a myth. Harkrider expanded Hailey’s fiction, suggesting Christians who would not worship Caesar were executed and considered “guilty of treason” (p. liii), again without a single ancient literary source. It all seemed to fit so perfectly, given the long list of Egyptian Pharaohs, Assyrian kings and Roman Caesars who viewed themselves as incarnate gods! Roman emperors were historically fully deified after death and with few exceptions, they downplayed the idea while alive, fully aware they were just ordinary men. The Roman Senate did not view the Emperor any differently than the American Senate views the President of the United States. This is not to say that the Caesars did not welcome the delusions of his people to worship them. In an effort to find a single ancient literary source to support the “worship the emperor or die” idea, Dan King in his commentary quotes the Pliny/Trajan correspondence letters, which as we will see, actually refute the “worship the emperor or die” concept as he and all others require for the late date of Revelation.
Sixth, the few commentators who contain chronological information are usually wrong. The author has taken great care to correctly chronologically date Bible books, individual chapters in Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel as well as correctly mapping the location of Bible cities and events. Early-dater Alex Ogden got many things correct, but his chronology is often wrong. The Crucifixion was in AD 33 but Ogden dates it to AD 30 (p12). The fall of Babylon was in 539 BC but Ogden dates it to 536 BC (p45), perhaps unaware that Darius and Cyrus were co-regent from 539-536 BC. The decree of Cyrus was issued in 536 BC after Darius died. The 70 weeks (490 years) of Daniel 9:24-28 were 458 BC – AD 33, but Ogden dates it 457 BC – AD 33 because he was unaware the ancients had no zero year (p58). The correct calculation is 490 years - AD 33 + 1 = 458 BC. These little details make a huge difference. For example, the 70 weeks of Daniel are 490 solar years to the day from the decree of Artaxerxes in Ezra 7 in 458 BC to the resurrection on 5th April AD 33.
When you get the cartography right, and the chronology right, and the archaeology right, your interpretation of the book of Revelation will be right. The Bible is the most historically accurate book on earth. What you read in the Book you find in the ground.
The author has preached full-time every Lord’s day for almost forty years, a grandfather of two and is a staff archeologist with the ongoing excavation in Israel at Shiloh where the tabernacle tent of Moses stood for 305 years from 1399 - 1094 BC.
Blessings, Steven Rudd Feb 2018.
“All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
(Arthur Schopenhauer, 1818 AD)
By Steve Rudd, February 2018: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.
Ezekiel Decodes Revelation
A. Ezekiel Decodes Revelation: There is almost a perfect, chapter by chapter, topic by topic, thought by thought sequential correspondence between Ezekiel and Revelation.
Ezekiel Decodes Revelation
Chapter by Chapter topical/chronological correspondence between Revelation & Ezekiel
Ezekiel Decodes Revelation
Prophets Commissioned: Ezekiel and John
Ezekiel 2-3 in July 593 BC
Why was Revelation written to 7 Asia churches?
Scene of God’s Throne
Ezekiel 1 in July 593 BC
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Seals: 4 horses of War
Ezekiel 4-5 in Aug 593 BC
5th Seal: Martyrs beneath Altar
Ezekiel 6 in 592 BC
6th Seal: Avenging Terror upon Jerusalem
Ezekiel 7-8 in 592 BC
Christians Marked on Forehead with Seal of God
Ezekiel 9 in Sept 592 BC
7th Seal: Grace Withdrawn, Destruction Decreed
Ezekiel 10:1-2 in Sept 592 BC
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Trumpets against Jerusalem
Ezekiel 10-12 in Sept 592 BC
5th Trumpet/1st Woe: 5 month Civil War
Roman “Scorpion” (catapult) Roman “engines” are Symbolized as Scorpions and Locust: Rev 9:7-10.
1 Maccabees 6:48–52
6th Trumpet/2nd Woe: Armies of Titus arrive
Ezekiel 24 in 589 BC
Two Witnesses: Ezekiel & Jesus ben Ananus
Ezekiel 2 in July 593 BC
Ezekiel 16 in Sept 592 BC
Ezekiel 23 in Aug 591 BC
Ezekiel 40-48 in Oct 574 BC
Two Witnesses: Jesus predicted literal signs
Lk 21; Mt 24
The 7 signs of Josephus
Josephus Wars 6:288-300
Two Witness: Ezekiel and Jesus ben Ananus
Josephus Wars 6:300-309
7th Trumpet/3rd Woe: Temple Destroyed
Mosaic Judaism Extinct
Hebrews 8:6-7; 8:13; 10:9
Ezekiel Fulfilled: “Foursquare Temple Prophecy”
Ezekiel 40:47; 43:3
The prophecy was fulfilled on 19th July AD 70: Wars 6:164-165
War in Heaven
Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice
The Beast from the Sea: Nero/Rome
The Beast from the Earth:
2 Horned Jewish Sheep in Dragon’s Clothing
144,000, Wine Cup of Wrath Prepared
Ezekiel 14:19-22 in 592 BC
Jeremiah 25:15-18 in 587 BC
7 Bowls to Avenge Christians in Heaven
Ezekiel 24 in 589 BC
7 Bowls of Wrath
Ezekiel 13 in Sept 592 BC
Ezekiel 23 in Aug 591 BC
Ezekiel 24 in 589 BC
7th Bowl: Rev 16:19 = 1st January AD 70 = Beginning of Final Siege
Roman Engines were Called Ballista
Jerusalem the Great Harlot Rides on Rome
Ezekiel 16, 23 in Sept 592 BC
Jerusalem Temple Destroyed
“Come out of her, my people”
Monday 6th August AD 70, Ezekiel 33:21 on 19th Jan. 586 BC
Celebration, Marriage, Scavenger’s Feast, Hell
Ezekiel 39 in Jan 586 BC
1000 Years “Days of the Messiah”
Ezekiel 37-40 in Jan 586 BC
Ezek 38:2; 39:1,6
Messianic Expectation Window: 49 BC – AD 33
Daniel 2 & 9
Messianic Expectation “Days of Messiah” theology
Dead Sea Scrolls
Holy Spirit Borrowed “Days of Messiah” Terminology in Revelation
Dead Sea Scrolls
Gog and Magog “Days of Messiah” Terminology in Jewish Literary Sources
Dead Sea Scrolls
Satan Released after 1000 years, “Days of the Messiah” for Final War
Dead Sea Scrolls
“Days of Messiah”: The End, Uncreation of Matter
Dead Sea Scrolls
“Days of Messiah”: The Great Judgement
Dead Sea Scrolls
Heaven, New Jerusalem
Ezekiel 40-48 in Oct 574 BC
Isa 65:17; 66:22
Come Lord Jesus “Maranatha”
1 Cor 16:22
Full-Preterism: “Left Behind”
Lord Jesus came on Pentecost, 22nd June AD 66
B. Synchronism: Israel Rebels against two Kingdoms of Daniel 2: Babylon and Rome
1. Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue of 4 world kingdoms in Daniel 2 was interpreted by Daniel in 602 BC. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego all surrendered in obedience to what God commanded through Jeremiah in 605 BC, which is the first year of the Babylonian captivity. (Jer 45:1–5, 605 BC)
2. Twice the Jews rebelled against their “God Ordained Overlords” which triggered the destruction of Jerusalem: Nebuchadnezzar and Nero
3. Jewish liberation of Jerusalem in 593 BC and AD 66 triggered the final destruction sequence that came to an end in 587 BC and AD 70.
4. Ezekiel and John both start preaching “Woe is Jerusalem” the same year the Jews think they are at peace and attained independence.
a. Ezekiel chapter 1 begins in 593 BC, the same year Zedekiah rebels against God’s first anointed world ruler: Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Dan 2:36-38).
C. Synchronisms between two destructions of Jerusalem: 587 BC in Ezekiel & AD 70 in Revelation:
1. Quick facts:
a. Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC and AD 70 on the same day of the year and day of the week: Monday 10 Av
b. Both Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC and Titus in AD 70 were "princes" who later became kings after capturing Jerusalem!
2. In 593 BC, Ezekiel began preaching the year Zedekiah rebelled against Jerusalem, an act that triggered God’s withdrawal of blessings from Jerusalem, transferring them to Babylon. Zedekiah was the last hope for Israel, but when he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, in spite of making specific oaths of submission in the name of YHWH to Nebuchadnezzar, God withdrew his grace from Jerusalem and transferred it to Babylon. The curses of Babylon were also transferred to Jerusalem in advance of its destruction in 587 BC. Likewise, in AD 66, when the Jews rebelled against Rome—God’s appointed government over Israel (Dan 2)—it triggered the final withdrawal of grace from the Herodian temple in advance of its destruction in AD 70.
3. It is amazing that John and Ezekiel prophesied destruction upon Jerusalem while both were in exile and both were the exact same distance from Jerusalem: 1000 KM. Both John and Ezekiel were captives in a foreign land exactly 1000 km (5400 Stadia) from Jerusalem. (1 Sadia was 185 meters) 1,000,000 (1 million) meters/185= 5400 Stadia
4. The five major commenters used in the Lord’s church today (early date: Wallace 1966, Ogden 1985/1998; late date: Hinds 1936, McGuiggen 1976, Hailey 1979, Harkrider 1997) were not only completely unaware of most of the above discussion regarding Jewish culture and eschatology, they were also oblivious to the primary synchronism between the two destructions of 587 BC & AD 70. They also failed to notice how the book of Revelation was a sequential rewrite, chapter by chapter, thought for thought of the book of Ezekiel. To be sure, Wallace and Ogden were able to correctly understand that Revelation was written as a warning to the Christians to flee Jerusalem “using the Bible alone”. But with no archeological experience, they missed what was obvious to the first century Christians, that hailstones weighing 1 talent [34.2 kg] were the exact weight of Ballista canon balls used by the Romans during the First Jewish War (Josephus Wars 3.166-167). The author has not only excavated throwing stones used in war, he is familiar with their size and weight. However, the author came to his conclusions using the Bible alone separate and apart from archaeology or ancient Jewish sources. The Jews in Jerusalem were all familiar with the book of Ezekiel which presents a precise chronology, down to the day of the week, of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC.
5. The seven “autograph copies” of Revelation arrived in Jerusalem in AD 66 around Passover time when the Judean Governor Gessius Florus first provoked the Jews to anger at Caesarea by desecrating their synagogue with an unclean sacrifice of birds and then stealing 17 talents of synagogue gold destined for the Jerusalem Temple collected from weekly freewill offerings on the Sabbath. Shortly after, Florus unsuccessfully tries to steal money in the Jerusalem Temple. Once they read Revelation, and John’s message to “flee the city”, many immediately took flight. The official liberation of Jerusalem began on 26th August AD 66 and by 10 Nov. AD 66 Jerusalem was fully liberated and guarded by Jewish armies. Notice this key synchronism with the 587 BC destruction. In 593 BC Jerusalem was liberated from under Babylonian control and appeared safe when Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Yet the message of Ezekiel and Jeremiah was to flee the city and surrender to the Babylonians and live in a foreign land. The unbelieving Jews in 593 BC rejected the warnings of Jeremiah and took false comfort in Zedekiah’s rebellion, their own Jewish armies and the false prophecies of Hananiah. This event replayed itself on 10th November AD 66, when the First Jewish War fully liberated the city, or so they thought, from under Roman control of “666” Nero (the 6th Caesar from Julius 3x). Indeed, they rejoiced that for the first time since 605 BC and for 47 short years under the Maccabees (110-63 BC) the Jews had once again liberated the city of Jerusalem in AD 66. The Christians became unsettled knowing the city was about to be destroyed. In both destructions of the Temple, God’s grace was withdrawn when the Jews rebelled against “God’s anointed” (Dan 2) Babylonian Kings and Roman Caesars. In both cases, the unbelievers walked by sight and took comfort in their human armies but the believers walked by faith abandoned the city in obedience to God’s specific command. In both cases it was when Jewish armies surrounded the city that the faithful the city was about to be destroyed and it was time to flee the city. When the Jerusalem Christians read Revelation, they would immediately connect Jerusalem with Babylon, “the great city” and the Harlot. Indeed, Apostle Peter served as one of the Elders of the Jerusalem church and in 1 Peter 5:13 called Jerusalem “Babylon”.
Jerusalem is the central focus of Revelation
Babylon, Sodom, Egypt, The Harlot, The Great City of many nations
When reading the book of Revelation replace BABYLON/GREAT CITY/HARLOT with JERUSALEM and it will suddenly make perfect sense.
A. Revelation called Jerusalem Babylon, Egypt, Sodom, Harlot: Symbolic mystery names
1. Symbolic, mystery names: Sodom, Egypt, Babylon and harlot are all mystery names for Jerusalem!
a. "and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (Revelation 17:5)
b. "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." (Revelation 11:8)
2. Christians understood this language to apply to Jerusalem:
a. TWO WITNESSES OF REVELATION: "Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. … “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. … When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom (see Jer 23:14-15) and Egypt (Ezekiel 23:2–27, 591 BC), where also their Lord was crucified (Jerusalem)." (Revelation 11:1-8)
b. "The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly." (Revelation 17:4–6)
c. "After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her [Jesus, persecution of Christians that had Jerusalem as the command post].” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” (Revelation 19:1-3)
d. While Rome killed Christians, the blood of the prophets is directly fulfilled what Jesus said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matthew 23:37–24:2)
3. The non-Christian Jews were the one’s who wrongly connected this with Rome, especially in light of the first Jewish war that broke out in AD 66.
a. Christians today, like non-Christian Rebel Jews, both thought the Messiah was coming to do physical battle with Rome, escape occupation and rule literally in Jerusalem for 1000 years.
b. Christians today, like non-Christian Rebel Jews, view Babylon in Revelation as Rome.
4. Revelation was like a parable:
a. When the non-Christian Jews living in Jerusalem read Revelation, its true meaning was hidden like a parable of Jesus.
b. So the Christians correctly understood Babylon/Egypt/Sodom/Harlot was Jerusalem.
c. The non-Christian Jews would NEVER connect Babylon/Egypt/Sodom/Harlot with Jerusalem and assume it Rome, just like many Christians today.
B. Jerusalem was the “Great City” Rev 11:8
1. Yes, Rome was also a Great city, but never in Revelation!
2. Jerusalem is called “The great city” 8 times: Revelation 16:19; 17:18; 18:10; 18:16; 18:18; 18:19; 18:21
a. "The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath." (Revelation 16:19)
b. “The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18)
c. "standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’" (Revelation 18:10)
d. "saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls;" (Revelation 18:16)
e. "and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’" (Revelation 18:18)
f. “And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’" (Revelation 18:19)
g. "Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer." (Revelation 18:21)
3. "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." (Revelation 11:8)
4. Jeremiah called Jerusalem “the great city” before it was destroyed in 587 BC: Jer 22:8
a. “Many nations will pass by this city; and they will say to one another, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this great city?’" (Jeremiah 22:8)
5. Ancient literary sources that call Jerusalem the GREAT CITY:
a. Agatharchides 169 BC: Called Jerusalem the strongest of all other cities:
i. “When Agatharchides [169 BC] had premised this story, and had jested upon Stratonice for her superstition, he gives a like example of what was reported concerning us, and writes thus: “There are a people called Jews, who dwell in a city the strongest of all other cities, which the inhabitants call Jerusalem, and are accustomed to rest on every seventh day; on which times they make no use of their arms, nor meddle with husbandry, nor take care of any affairs of life, but spread out their hands in their holy places, and pray till the evening.” (Josephus Against Apion 1.208–209)
b. Josephus: AD 70: Called Jerusalem a Great city, even GREATER than Rome:
i. “it had so come to pass, that our city Jerusalem had arrived at a higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. (12) Accordingly it appears to me, that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews [AD 70], are not so considerable as they [Jews in AD 70] were.” (Josephus Wars 1.11-12)
ii. Josephus called Jerusalem a GREAT CITY in AD 70 after it was destroyed: “And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? (376) Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations.” (Josephus Wars 7.375-376)
c. Tacitus: AD 100: called Jerusalem "a famous city" (Histories 5:2,4,9-13)
i. “As I am now to record the death-agony of a famous city, it seems appropriate to inform the reader of its origins. … Others again find a famous ancestry for the Jews in the Solymi [ie. Pisidia, Lycia] who are mentioned with respect in the epics of Homer: this tribe is supposed to have founded Jerusalem (4) and named it after themselves. … Much of Judea is thickly studded with villages, and the Jews have towns as well. Their capital is Jerusalem. Here stood their Temple with its boundless riches. Outer defences covered the city; then came the royal palace; and the Temple was enclosed by an inner bulwark. The Jew, and the Jew alone, was allowed to approach the gate of the Temple, and all but priests were denied access within its threshold. 8. Much of Judea is thickly studded with villages, and the Jews have towns as well. Their capital is Jerusalem. Here stood their Temple with its boundless riches. Outer defences covered the city; then came the royal palace; and the Temple was enclosed by an inner bulwark. The Jew, and the Jew alone, was allowed to approach the gate of the Temple, and all but priests were denied access within its threshold. While the Assyrian, Median and Persian Empires dominated the East, the Jews were slaves regarded as the lowest of the low. In the Hellenistic period, King Antiochus (10) made an effort to get rid of their primitive cult and hellenize them, but his would-be reform of this degraded nation was foiled by the outbreak of war with Parthia, for this was the moment of Arsaces' insurrection. (11) Then, since the Hellenistic rulers were weak and the Parthians had not yet developed into a great power (Rome, too, was still far away), the Jews established a dynasty of their own. These kings were expelled by the fickle mob, but regained control by force, setting up a reign of terror which embraced, among other typical acts of despotism, the banishment of fellow-citizens, the destruction of cities, and the murder of brothers, wives and parents. The kings encouraged the superstitious Jewish religion, for they assumed the office of High Priest in order to buttress their regime. 9. Roman control of Judaea was first established by Gnaeus Pompey. As victor (12) he claimed the right to enter the Temple, and this incident gave rise to the common impression that it contained no representation of the deity—the sanctuary was empty and the Holy of Holies untenanted. Though the walls of Jerusalem were dismantled, the shrine remained intact. During the civil war which then afflicted the Roman world, the eastern provinces passed under the control of Mark Antony and Judaea was conquered by the Parthian king Pacorus. But the invader was killed by Publius Ventidius, and the Parthians driven back across the Euphrates, while Gaius Sosius brought the Jews to heel. (13) Antony gave the kingdom to Herod, and it was enlarged by the now victorious Augustus. At Herod's death, without waiting for the imperial decision, a certain Simon usurped the title of king. He was dealt with by the governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus, (14) while the Jews were disciplined and divided up into three kingdoms ruled by Herod's sons. (15) In Tiberius' reign all was quiet. Then, rather than put up a statue of Gaius Caesar in the Temple as they had been ordered, the Jews flew to arms, though the rebellion came to nothing owing to the assassination of the emperor. (16) As for Claudius, he took advantage of the death or declining fortunes of the Jewish kings to commit the government of the province to Roman knights or freedmen. One of these, Antonius Felix, played the tyrant with the spirit of a slave, plunging into all manner of cruelty and lust, and marrying Drusilla, grand-daughter of Cleopatra and Antony. This meant that while Claudius was Antony's grandson, Felix was his grandson by marriage. 10. However, the Jews patiently endured their fate until Gessius Florus became governor. (17) During his term of office war broke out. An attempt by Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, to repress the movement led to indecisive battles and more often to defeats. When Gallus died a natural death—or else committed suicide in mortification—Nero sent out Vespasian. Good luck, a distinguished record and excellent subordinates enabled him within the space of two summers (18) to plant his victorious flag throughout the whole of the flat country and in all the cities except Jerusalem. The next year was preoccupied by the civil war and passed without activity so far as the Jews were concerned, but when peace reigned in Italy foreign affairs once more claimed attention. Rising anger was felt at the fact that by this time only the Jews had failed to submit. It also seemed advisable that Titus should remain at the head of the armies to cope with all the eventualities or mishaps which might confront a new dynasty. 11. So after encamping, as I have said, before the walls of Jerusalem, he paraded his legions in formation before the eyes of the enemy. The Jews, marshalled close under their walls, were in a position to venture further out if they were successful and had a place of refuge ready at hand in case of defeat. Titus sent against them cavalry and some cohorts in battle order, but the encounter was indecisive. Then the enemy gave ground, and for some days thereafter fought a succession of engagements just in front of the gates. Finally, repeated losses drove them behind the walls. The Romans then concentrated on an assault. After all, it seemed beneath them to wait for hunger to do its work on the enemy, and the troops actually asked to be allowed to risk their lives. Some did so because they had real courage, many from mere bravado and a desire for rewards. As for Titus, his imagination dwelt on Rome, wealth and pleasure: it would be long before these dreams were realized if Jerusalem were destined not to fall in the immediate future. But the city occupied a commanding position, and it had been reinforced by engineering works so massive that they might have rendered even a flat site impregnable. Two lofty hills were enclosed by walls skilfully staggered and forming re-entrant angles designed to expose the flank of an attacker. At the edge of the crags was a sharp drop, and a series of towers dominated the scene, 105 feet high where the rising ground helped, and 135 or 120 feet high on the lower contours. (19) These presented an impressive appearance, and to the distant observer seemed to be on a level. There were further walls inside around the palace, and a conspicuous landmark was the lofty castle of Antonia, so named by Herod in honour of Mark Antony. 12. The Temple was like a citadel and had its own walls, which had been even more laboriously and skilfully constructed than the rest. The porticoes around it constituted in themselves an excellent defensive position. To these advantages must be added a spring of never-failing water, chambers cut in the living rock, and tanks and cisterns for the storage of rainwater. Its builders had foreseen only too well that the strange practices of the Jews would lead to continual fighting. Hence everything was available for a siege, however long. Moreover, after Pompey's capture of Jerusalem, fear and experience taught them many lessons. So taking advantage of the money-grubbing instincts of the Claudian period, they purchased permission to fortify the city, and in the days of peace built walls meant for war. Already the home of a motley concourse, its population had been swollen by the fall of the other Jewish cities, for the most determined partisan leaders escaped to the capital, and thereby added to the turmoil. There were three different leaders and three armies. The long outer perimeter of the walls was held by Simon, the central part of the city by John, and the Temple by Eleazar. John and Simon could rely on numbers and equipment, Eleazar on his strategic position. But it was upon each other that they turned the weapons of battle, ambush and fire, and great stocks of corn went up in flames. Then John sent off a party of men, ostensibly to offer sacrifice but in reality to cut Eleazar and his followers to pieces, thus gaining possession of the Temple. Hence-forward, therefore, Jerusalem was divided between two factions, until, on the approach of the Romans, fighting the foreigner healed the breach between them. 13. Supernatural omens had occurred, but their expiation by the offering of victims or solemn vows is held to be unlawful by a nation which is the slave of superstition and the enemy of true beliefs. In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure. Few people placed a sinister interpretation upon this. The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world. This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, true to the selfish ambitions of mankind, thought that this mighty destiny was reserved for them, and not even their calamities opened their eyes to the truth. We are told that the number of the besieged, old and young, men and women, amounted to 600,000. All who could bear arms did so, and more than their numbers warranted had the courage necessary. They displayed an inflexible determination, women no less than men, and the thought that they might be compelled to leave their home made them more afraid of living than of dying. This, then, was the city and nation which Titus faced. Since a headlong assault and the element of surprise were ruled out by the lie of the ground, he proposed to employ earthworks and mantlets. Each legion had its allotted task, and there was a lull in the fighting while they pushed on with the construction of every conceivable device for storming Cities, whether invented long ago or due to the ingenuity of modern times. (Tacitus, Histories 5:2,4,9-13, 100 AD)
d. Pliny: AD 100: "by far the most famous city, not of Judæa only, but of the East"
i. Beyond Idumæa and Samaria, Judæa extends far and wide. That part of it which joins up to Syria is called Galilæa, while that which is nearest to Arabia and Egypt bears the name of Peræa. This last is thickly covered with rugged mountains, and is separated from the rest of Judæa by the river Jordanes. The remaining part of Judæa is divided into ten Toparchies, which we will mention in the following order:—That of Hiericus, covered with groves of palm-trees, and watered by numerous springs, and those of Emmaüs, Lydda, Joppe, Acrabatena, Gophna, Thamna, Bethleptephene, Orina, in which formerly stood Hierosolyma [=Jerusalem = “Sacred Solyma.”], by far the most famous city, not of Judæa only, but of the East, and Herodium, with a celebrated town of the same name. (Pliny, Natural History 5:15)
e. Appian of Alexandria: AD 150: Jerusalem was the greatest and most holiest city to the Jews:
i. “In this way the Romans, without fighting, came into possession of Cilicia and both inland Syria and Cœle-Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, and all the other countries bearing the Syrian name from the Euphrates to Egypt and the sea. The Jewish nation still resisted, and Pompey conquered them, sent their king, Aristobulus, to Rome, and destroyed their greatest, and to them holiest, city, Jerusalem, as Ptolemy, the first king of Egypt, had formerly done. It was afterward rebuilt and Vespasian destroyed it again [AD 70], and Hadrian did the same in our time [AD 135]. On account of these rebellions the tribute imposed upon all Jews [by Pompey in 63 BC] is heavier per capita than upon the generality of taxpayers. The annual tax on the Syrians and Cilicians is one per cent of the valuation [63 BC] of the property of each.” (Appian of Alexandria, Syrian Wars, 8.50, 150 AD)
6. Jerusalem was much greater than Rome historically speaking:
a. Jerusalem was one of the oldest cities in the world and was founded shortly after the tower of Babel in 2850 BC.
b. Jerusalem was governed by Melchizedek at the time of Abraham when Isaac was born in 2066 BC
c. Rome was founded 21st April 753 BC
d. The glory of Jerusalem at the time of Solomon exceeded that of glory of Rome at its peak in AD 70.
7. Jerusalem was the center of civilization:
a. "Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her." (Ezekiel 5:5)
b. One of the reasons why Constantine moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to “New Rome” i.e. Constantinople (Byzantium) is because it was much closer to the center of commerce than Rome.
8. The Jewish Christians would understand that it was Jerusalem because of "crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying,
a. “‘What city is like the great city?’ “And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’ “Rejoice over her [destruction of Jerusalem], O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city [Jerusalem], be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. … because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery [idolatry in 587 BC, Rejecting Christianity as false, when it was true. “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth. [crucifying Jesus and persecuting the church].” (Revelation 18:18–24)
C. Jerusalem was the city of “Many Nations” Rev 11:9
1. Jerusalem was known as a uniquely international city:
a. Jews from all over the world during Passover were still inside when the siege began.
2. The Hebrews had a long history of inter-marrying with foreign nations to make the Hebrew population “international”
a. Moses married a Cushite/Midianite in 1485 BC
b. Salmon married a Canaanite in 1390 BC
c. Boaz married a Moabite in 1284 BC
d. Jesse (David’s father) married an Ammonite
e. David married Jews only
f. Solomon married anybody but a Jew (almost)
3. The Great city had people from every nation in it:
a. "Those [in Jerusalem] from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb." (Revelation 11:9)
b. "The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath." (Revelation 16:19)
4. Josephus wrote during the destruction
a. “Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in a prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. (429) Accordingly the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world.” (Josephus Wars 6.428-429)
5. Luke recorded every nation under earth attended the Passover in Jerusalem:
a. "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” (Acts 2:5–11)
D. Jerusalem was Babylon: Rev 11:9
1. Apostle Peter, Bishop of Jerusalem, called Jerusalem, “Babylon”:
a. Peter, Bishop/Elder/Shepherd of the church in Jerusalem, writing from Jerusalem called Jerusalem, BABYLON! Unless you are Roman Catholic this is an easy point to see: "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you [Just as Peter was shepherding the Jerusalem flock among himself], exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. … She [the church] who is in Babylon [Jerusalem], chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark." (1 Peter 5:1-4,13)
2. Ezekiel called Jerusalem a harlot “Like Babylon”
a. “The Babylonians came to her to the bed of love and defiled her with their harlotry. And when she had been defiled by them, she became disgusted with them. “She uncovered her harlotries and uncovered her nakedness; then I became disgusted with her, as I had become disgusted with her sister. “Yet she multiplied her harlotries, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt." (Ezekiel 23:17–19, 591 BC)
E. Jerusalem was Sodom: Rev 11:9
1. Jerusalem was also called “Harlot Sodom”
2. In 730 BC, Isaiah called Jerusalem both Sodom and a Harlot (Isa 1:10,21).
a. "Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah." (Isaiah 1:10)
b. "How the faithful city has become a harlot, She who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, But now murderers." (Isaiah 1:21)
c. "The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves." (Isaiah 3:9)
3. Jesus said that any city that rejected the Gospel will be as guilty as Sodom. (Mt 10:15)
4. Ezekiel called Jerusalem “Harlot Sodom” in 591 BC
a. "Your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister [Judah], who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters." (Ezekiel 16:46, 591 BC)
b. Two different chapters in Ezekiel (16 & 32) record the allegory of two sisters but in chapter 16 Jerusalem is “Sodom sister” and in chapter 23 Jerusalem is “Egypt sister”.
5. Jeremiah called Jerusalem “Harlot Sodom” in 587 BC
a. "But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a more shocking thing: they commit adultery [Harlot] and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from wickedness; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah. Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets: “I am going to make them eat wormwood, and give them poisoned water to drink; for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.” (Jeremiah 23:14–15, 587 BC)
6. Jeremiah said the sin of Jerusalem was worse than “Sodom” in 586 BC
a. "For the iniquity of the daughter of my people Is greater than the sin of Sodom, Which was overthrown as in a moment, And no hands were turned toward her." (Lamentations 4:6)
7. In Jeremiah 23:14-15, notice Harlot Sodom and wormwood are used in the same passage, and wormwood is the 3rd trumpet: Rev 8:10-11
a. "The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter." (Revelation 8:10–11)
8. Homosexual cities destroyed: Sodom/Gomorrah (Genesis 19:4-8 in 2067 BC) and Gibeah of Benjamin (Judges 19:22-24 in 1290 BC)
a. In an exact repeat of the sodomy that Lot experienced, the men of Gibeah demand that the old man turn his male guest over to them for homosexual sex.
b. Gibeah of Benjamin later became the first capital city of Israel under Saul. The site was known then as Gibeah of Saul, located about 5 km north of Jerusalem. Iron age I installations have been excavated including the corner of Saul’s Palace. After Saul, the city was never used again as a capital city. David chose first Hebron then Jerusalem.
d. Both stories (Gen 19:4-8 and Judg 19:22-24) are told exactly 69 Hebrew words in the Masoretic Text manuscript.
v4) Before they lay down
v22) While they were celebrating, behold
the men of the city
the men of the city
the men of Sodom
certain worthless fellows
the house both young and old all the people from every quarter.
the house pounding the door
v5) And they called
and they spoke
to the owner of the house, the old man
and said to him,
"Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us,
Bring out the man who came into your house,
that we may have relations with them."
that we may have relations with him."
v6) But Lot
v23) Then the man, the owner of the house,
went out to them at the doorway and shut the door behind him.
went out to them
v7) And said,
and said to them,
"Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.
"No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly do not act wickedly since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly.
v8) Now, behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man
v24) Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine
Please, let me bring them out to you,
Please let me bring them out that you
and do to them whatever you like
Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish
only do nothing to these men inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.
But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.
69 Hebrew words in manuscript
125 English words in NASB
69 Hebrew words in manuscript
126 English words in NASB
9. The Jerusalem Murderous Gay Pride Parade when the city was literally overrun with homosexuals in June AD 69: “they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions”.
a. “They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in feminine wantonness, without any disturbance till they were satiated therewith; while they decked their hair, and put on women’s garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, (562) and imitated, not only the ornaments, but also the lust of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness, and they invented unlawful pleasures of that sort. And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; (563) nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and when their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks and ran everybody through whom they alighted upon.” (Josephus Wars 4.561–563, June 69 AD)
10. On 5th June AD 70 Josephus called Jerusalem “Sodom” in AD 69 while it was being destroyed:
a. “I (Josephus of Jerusalem in AD 69) cannot but speak my mind, and what the concern I am under dictates to me, and it is this: I suppose, that had the Romans made any longer delay in coming against these villains, the city would either have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the country of Sodom perished by, for it had brought forth a generation of men much more atheistical than were those that suffered such punishments; for by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed.” (Josephus Wars 5:562-566)
F. Jerusalem was Egypt: Rev 11:9
1. Jerusalem is also called “Harlot Egypt”
2. Two different chapters in Ezekiel (16 & 32) record the allegory of two sisters but in chapter 16 Jerusalem is “Sodom sister” and in chapter 23 Jerusalem is “Egypt sister”.
3. Ezekiel 23:2–27, 591 BC is an entire section assigning Babylon, Assyria and Egypt upon Jerusalem:
a. "‘Thus I will make your lewdness and your harlotry brought from the land of Egypt to cease from you, so that you will not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt anymore.’" (Ezekiel 23:27, 591 BC)
b. “The Babylonians came to her to the bed of love and defiled her with their harlotry. And when she had been defiled by them, she became disgusted with them. “She uncovered her harlotries and uncovered her nakedness; then I became disgusted with her, as I had become disgusted with her sister. “Yet she multiplied her harlotries, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt." (Ezekiel 23:17–19, 591 BC)
4. In 587 BC Jeremiah demonstrated that the former Jerusalemites literally renounced their Jewish citizenship and became Egyptians in Egypt.
a. The residents of Jerusalem who returned after hiding from Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC returned to Jerusalem, then moved “en mass” to Egypt as a single group. Notice all of them worshipped idols.
b. The former Jerusalemites first called Jeremiah a liar when he warned them not to go to Egypt:
i. "For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “As My anger and wrath have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so My wrath will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you will become a curse, an object of horror, an imprecation and a reproach; and you will see this place no more.” The Lord has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go into Egypt!” You should clearly understand that today I have testified against you. For you have only deceived yourselves; for it is you who sent me to the Lord your God, saying, “Pray for us to the Lord our God; and whatever the Lord our God says, tell us so, and we will do it.” So I have told you today, but you have not obeyed the Lord your God, even in whatever He has sent me to tell you. Therefore you should now clearly understand that you will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence, in the place where you wish to go to reside. But as soon as Jeremiah, whom the Lord their God had sent, had finished telling all the people all the words of the Lord their God—that is, all these words— Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You are not to enter Egypt to reside there’;" (Jeremiah 42:18–43:2)
c. The former Jerusalemites renounced their Jewish citizenship to become Egyptians:
i. "Then Jeremiah said to all the people [former Jerusalemites who moved to Egypt], including all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, as follows: ‘As for you and your wives, you have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled it with your hands, saying, “We will certainly perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” Go ahead and confirm your vows, and certainly perform your vows!’ “Nevertheless hear the word of the Lord, all Judah who are living in the land of Egypt, ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the Lord, ‘never shall My name be invoked again by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “As the Lord God lives.” ‘Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until they are completely gone. ‘Those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number. Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs. ‘This will be the sign to you,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am going to punish you in this place, so that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for harm.’" (Jeremiah 44:24–29)
G. Jerusalem was the Great Harlot: Rev 17:4-6
1. Jerusalem called a harlot: "How the faithful city has become a harlot, She who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, But now murderers." (Isaiah 1:21)
2. Jerusalem was also called “Harlot” as a “mystery name”.
3. "The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly." (Revelation 17:4–6)
4. The woman was the same as Babylon = The great City.
5. Sodom, Egypt, Babylon and harlot are all mystery names!
When was Rome Destroyed fulfilling Revelation?
Revelation “AD 96 Late-dater s” are unable to point to a date for the destruction of either Rome or the Roman empire in history that even remotely fits the description in Revelation.
Question for those who say the Great City/Harlot/Babylon was Rome:
QUESTION: Supply the date when Rome was destroyed like Revelation said? [cricket sounds]
A. AD 476 for the destruction of Rome fulfilling Revelation. There are two problems with this:
1. FIRST: The capital city of the Roman Empire moved from Rome to Constantinople in AD 329, which means even if the city of Rome was destroyed (which it never was) it had no effect upon the Roman Empire itself. The Roman Empire continued well past the 9th century AD.
a. “In this year (AD 329) the pious Constantine, while founding Constantinople, decreed that it was to be styled 'New Rome' and ordered it to have a senate. He set up a porphyry column with a statue of himself on top of it at the place where he began to build the city in the western part, by the gate leading out towards Rome. He decorated the city and brought to it works of art and statues of bronze and marble from every province and city.” (Aramaic Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, Constantine 25th year, AM 5821, AD 328/329]
b. Even worse for late-daters, is the fact that there was no significant war or turmoil at Rome which triggered Constantine to move the capital to Constantinople.
c. Rome was retired as the capital city of the empire in a friendly peaceful and quite event.
2. SECOND: The western provinces of the Roman Empire, including the city of Rome ceased to part of the Roman Empire in AD 476 not because of a major war or destruction, but from a slow gradual bleeding of power and influence.
a. Over a gradual period of time starting in AD 329, “the vigour of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians” in AD 476. (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Vol IV, p161, 1902 AD).
b. So, Rome was not destroyed like Revelation describes, it simply had a flag-changing of governments, from Roman to Barbarian on AD 476. Rome was not destroyed in AD 476 it was overrun and occupied by the Barbarians. Keep in mind that the seat of Roman power has been peacefully transferred from Rome to Constantinople 140 years earlier.
B. AD 322 Constantine’s conversion and edicts of toleration of Christianity for the destruction of Rome fulfilling Revelation. There are two problems with this:
1. FIRST: That’s not a destruction or a curse but a blessing.
2. SECOND: That’s exactly opposite to the narrative in Revelation!
3. Most late-date authors try to find Revelation’s fulfillment of the destruction of Rome via Constantine’s conversion and edicts of toleration of Christianity. Of course, it is a spiritualized fiction that Revelation describes the destruction of Rome when in fact it turns out Rome adopts Christianity.
4. While it may be argued that the conversion of Constantine in AD 322 marked the fulfillment of Daniel 2:44 “God’s kingdom, the church, will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever." (Daniel 2:44), this event simply cannot be what Revelation is talking about. The conversion of Constantine and the adoption of Christianity and further establishing the Roman empire is EXACTLY OPPOSITE to what Revelation said happened to Rome and the Roman Empire. Late-dater s simply have not through this through carefully. If they had, their treatment of the destruction of Rome would not always be one of vague generalities and inferential allusions. The destruction of Jerusalem, on the other hand is one of the best documented events in world history. So exactly when was Rome destroyed? [crickets]
5. Constantine built a baptistery c.315 which still survives next to the Lateran basilica. This was the only baptistery in Rome until the 5th century.
6. “In this year (AD 322); as some say, Constantine the Great together with his son Crispus was baptized in Rome by Silvester.' The inhabitants of Old Rome preserve even today the baptismal font as evidence that he was baptized in Rome by Silvester after the removal of the tyrants.” (Aramaic Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, Constantine 18th year, AM 5813, AD 321/322)
7. The Aramaic Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor document that the Roman Empire even survived the Islamic invasion of the 7th century and continued well past AD 815.
8. Constantinople (Byzantium) was an easily defensible peninsula protected by water on three sides and only one small land invasion danger from the west. Constantinople was very, very hard to invade. It was on an economic crossroads.
9. The Byzantines WERE the Roman empire referring to themselves on coinage as “Imperium Romanum”.
C. Daniel 2:44 and Revelation duplicate prophecies of the same destruction of Rome. There are two problems with this:
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever." (Daniel 2:44)
1. FIRST: Daniel 2 speaks of the destruction of Roman Empire not just the city of Rome.
a. The Roman empire and the city of Rome were not destroyed in AD 322, the empire simply became complaint to Christianity.
b. The Roman empire and the city of Rome were not destroyed in AD 476. The capital of Rome had been moved in AD 330 to Constantinople and the Empire thrived long past AD 815.
2. SECOND: The fulfillment of Dan 2:44 shows that the preceding kingdoms were destroyed upon the arrival next kingdom. The “destruction of the fourth kingdom” occurred at the same time God’s kingdom arrived, not some long drawn out process that took hundreds of years when the Roman empire co-existed side by side with God’s kingdom.
a. The spiritual church/kingdom “destroyed” the Roman Empire in AD 33 on the day of Pentecost.
b. "Therefore Pilate asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” … Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:33–37)
c. The prophecy has four earthly kingdoms and one spiritual kingdom.
d. Three earthly kingdoms put an end to three earthly kingdoms. Rome physically “destroyed” the Greek kingdom in a gradual process between 49-31 BC.
e. The church kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. We would not expect a spiritual kingdom to physically destroy a physical kingdom like Rome. To look for a physical destruction at the hands of the church is misguided.
f. Therefore, it is clear that the very arrival and establishment of the church in AD 33 brought about the kind of destruction that Daniel was speaking about.
g. Daniel was not saying that the Christ or the church would physically destroy the Roman empire in the same way the Roman empire destroyed Greece. Instead we need to look at the establishment of the kingdom of Christ through the church from a spiritual perspective. This is what Daniel was talking about in Dan 2:44.
3. When late-daters attempt to connect the prophecy of Dan 2:44 as a “physical destruction” of the Roman Empire with the book of Revelation, we again ask where and when that physical destruction took place!
Messianic Expectation in Coins & Dead Sea Scrolls
1. Biblical messianic window opens in 49 BC: Dan 2:39; 7:5
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever." (Daniel 2:44)
a. The messiah could not come until the beginning of the 4th kingdom of Rome began in 49 BC when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River.
b. The Jews were very aware of the that the Greek kingdom was succeeded by the new Roman Empire.
c. "Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ," (Luke 3:15)
d. "Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
a. Daniel 9:24-27 was the most important messianic time prophecy in the Tanakh and prophecies the period from when the City of Jerusalem would be rebuilt to the Resurrection of Christ on 5th of April AD 33 (Julian calendar).
b. The 70 weeks is actually 490 years, computed on the basis of assigning a year to a day: 70 x 7 days = 490.
c. Ezra 7 tells us the prophecy began in 458 BC in the 7th year of Artaxerxes. Converted to Gregorian solar calendar = 3rd April 458 BC.
d. 490 years - 458 BC + 1 = AD 33. (Remember there was no zero year in ancient times, so + 1 year.) Converted to Gregorian solar calendar = 3rd April AD 33
e. Using the Solar Calendar (Gregorian), Dan 9 prophecies exactly 490 years, to the very solar day, 3rd April 458 to 3rd April AD 33 when Christ rose from the dead.
f. The messianic window closes when the messiah finishes his work.
g. In the LXX of Daniel 9:27, the messiah is not cut off in the middle of the last week (as the MT says), instead it says he finishes his work at the end of the 70 weeks, which was when he rose from the dead and was declared the Son of God: Rom 1:4.
B. Bible coins, the Widow’s Mite and Revelation: Rev 22:6
1. In the author’s book on Bible Coins, he identified the common widow’s mite as a “Messianic Star” coin echoing the prophecy of Balaam in Num 24:17.
2. What is amazing is that Jesus’ took two widely used and very common first century messianic terms and combined them into one statement in Revelation:
a. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Rev 22:16)
Even more amazing is that each statement is found used
in Dead Sea Scrolls written before the birth of Christ. The “messianic star” is
witnessed in many Hasmonean and Judean coins and Dead Sea Scroll 4Q175-4QTestimonia.
C. Dead Sea Scrolls and Revelation 20: Messianic expectation
1. Revelation 20 draws directly from Jewish Messianic eschatological theology and is recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls
a. In the author’s book on the Septuagint, he documented that in AD 66, Hebrew was extinct throughout the world as a working language - except in Jerusalem.
b. As soon at the Christians in Jerusalem read the book of Revelation, with its many “Hebrew language” symbols (666, Abaddon, Har-Magedon etc.), they instantly connected it directly with Ezekiel and were struck with Déjà Vu.
c. The Greek speaking Jews in Asia used the Greek Septuagint as their standard “synagogue pulpit Bible” and would be unable to easily decode the Hebrew symbolism without help.
d. But to the Jews in Jerusalem, the symbolism was automatically and instinctively understood by all. Couple this with their knowledge and use of the Jewish messianic expectation terminology of the day as witnessed in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish messianic coins in their pockets.
The “root of David” is witnessed in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q174-4QFlorilegium.
3. Although some of the Jewish concepts of the coming Messiah were in error, the Holy Spirit borrowed the identical terminology and then applied it correctly. Most preachers today are unaware of the fact that first century Jewish eschatological belief was that the world would exist for 7000 years and that the Messiah must come and reign for the last 1000 years, known as the “days of the Messiah”.
4. Additionally, the Messiah had to come within the window of 4292 – 6000 years after creation. Since the Septuagint dates creation at 5554 BC, that means the Messiah must come before AD 446. Every Jew before AD 100, including Josephus in AD 70 (5467 BC) and Philo in AD 30 (c. 5500 BC) followed the autograph Septuagint Chronology. The author’s research strongly indicates that someone after AD 100 changed the longer Septuagint numbers used by the first century Jews to the shorter Masoretic numbers in our Bibles today. This means that Jesus’ birth 5554 after creation, fully qualified him within the window of expectation (4292 – 6000 AC). Daniel’s two-time prophecies in Daniel 2 (days of Rome) and the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 (458 BC - AD 33) narrowed the window of expectation to between 49 BC and AD 33. In 10 AD the Testament of Moses predicted the Messiah would come before the death of Herod the Great’s three sons who were Governors of Judea: Archelaus (1BC-6AD), Antipas (1BC-AD 39) and Philip II (1 BC- 34 AD). (Testament of Moses 6:7-7:1, 10 AD). The heightened Jewish Expectation of the Messiah existed at the time of John the Baptist, “The people were in a state of expectation” (Lk 3:15).
5. The primeval chronology of Gen 5 & 11 were deliberately corrupted by the Jews in 160 AD at Zippori by shortening the age of the earth from 5554 BC down to 4174 BC for the explicit purpose of pushing Jesus of Nazareth outside the opening window of expectation of 4292 BC. This revision was embodied at Zippori, first in the Seder Olam Rabbah, then second, by modifying the numbers in their Hebrew text of the scriptures that we know today as the Masoretic Text (MT). The net effect was that Jews began to teach that Jesus could not be the Messiah, because he came 118 years too early (4292 - 4174 = 118). This revised chronology found in the Seder Olam Rabbah is the cornerstone of Jewish Chronology to the present day with AD 2018 = 5778 after creation. With 222 to go till their future Messiah must come, this gives Jews today comfort… until we pass year 6000 in 2240 AD and they, like all other date-setters either ignore it or come up with a new revised prediction. These same corrupted numbers are found in virtually all modern Christian Bibles today since the Old Testament (Tanakh) follows this same Masoretic text which calculates creation at 4174 BC. Fast forward to AD 1800 and you have 6000 years of earth history approaching plus or minus 150 years because of chronological errors by Christians. This spawned a collection of new cult churches that predicted the world would end (Christadelphians, John Darby, Millerites, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s witnesses) whose dates all failed and all of whom expected Jesus to rule on earth for a literal 1000 years. The most recent was the Jehovah’s Witnesses who predicted the end of the world in year 6000 After Creation in AD 1975. All this date setting, pretribulation rapture invented by John Darby in AD 1830 and premillennialism theology, were derived from first century Jewish “days of the Messiah” eschatology based on the corrupt chronological numbers in the Masoretic text. The author was first (as far as he knows) to identify that the Jews at Zippori in AD 160 even corrupted the Masoretic text of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 in order to disconnect Jesus of Nazareth from the prophecy. The Masoretic text has the Messiah cut off in the middle of the last week, which has thrown Christians into confusion. The Septuagint (Codex Sinaiticus) said nothing about the Messiah being cut off but has the Messiah “finishing his work” at the end of the last week. Most preachers are unaware that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 1 Nisan 458 BC (Ezra 7:7-26) to 5th April AD 33 is exactly 490 years TO THE SOLAR DAY. Not understanding first century Jewish eschatology and culture is a serious impediment to correctly interpreting Revelation written with first century cultural imagery. Remember, the Jerusalem Jews understood it all instantly, we must go outside the Bible to learn it.
6. Once you learn the “Day of the Messiah” theology of the first century Jews, it starts popping out at you in the New Testament. Apostle Peter directly referenced the current Jewish thought of the “days of the Messiah” in Acts 3:19-20 in his second sermon at the temple, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Messiah appointed for you". The Jews to whom Peter was preaching, immediately recognized the terminology while preachers today entirely miss it, the same way they also miss it in in Revelation 20.
Moses’ Sunset Clause & the Extinction of Judaism
Moses’ Sunset Clause and Extinction of Mosaic Judaism in AD 70: Deut 18:18
The Cross of Jesus where the Son of God shed his blood and accomplished much!
1. The Sunset clause of Moses: Deut 18:15
a. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. “This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ “The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. ‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." (Deuteronomy 18:15–19)
b. This was repeated at the Transfiguration where Moses, Elijah appeared but Jesus ALONE shone: "And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:2–5)
2. Abolished Mosaic Judaism:
a. We know that the Law of Moses, including all Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross on the 3rd April AD 33.
b. "having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." (Colossians 2:14–17)
3. Abolished the First Covenant of Moses just like Jeremiah said:
a. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah," (Jeremiah 31:31)
b. "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6–7)
c. "When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail." (Hebrews 8:13–9:5)
d. Notice the Ten Commandments WERE the first covenant, now abolished by Christ: Ex 34:28; Deut 4:13)
4. Destroyed the power of the Devil over sin:
a. "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil," (Hebrews 2:14)
b. "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser [Satan] of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." (Revelation 12:10–11)
5. Abolished the physical temple and replaced it with the church:
a. "The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken." (John 2:18–22)
b. "And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split." (Matthew 27:51)
c. "The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly, both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience," (Hebrews 9:8–9)
d. This was a theological transference in AD 33 because the physical temple, whose grace God vacated at the cross, continued till AD 70.
6. When Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 it brought about the extinction of Mosaic Judaism forever.
a. It is impossible for Jews to ever re-establish Temple worship because all the tribal records including genealogies, have been lost. There is not a Jew alive today, who knows which tribe he is part of. Those Jews today who claim to be of a specific tribe, generally claim to be priestly, but still cannot prove it except by their last name (i.e. Cohen) or less than 200-year history. The rest, when pressed how they know, will tell you “God told me”. And remember there were three Priestly divisions, each of which has specifically partitioned jobs at the temple.
b. Animal sacrifices are forever extinct being impossible without the Levitical Priesthood.
c. Synagogue worship practice by today’s Jews is as non-biblical as Islam. (Remember, Islam is a religion founded on 1/3 Judaism, 1/3 Christianity and 1/3 Arab Paganism.) Synagogue worship is not found in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
d. Additionally, Rabbinic Judaism had invented so many additional NON-BIBLICAL rules today (never eating milk with any meat even if they are two species of donor animals, Sabbath mode elevators and appliances) that there is almost no resemblance to Mosaic Judaism.
e. Mosaic Judaism was a theocratic system identical to an Islamic Caliphate (Muslim’s borrowed the idea directly from Jews) where the country was run by Priests who lived in 70 Levitical cities with 6 court houses located in cities of Refuge.
f. It will take a special miraculous divine act of God to restore physical Temple worship.
g. God will never restore physical temple worship because the blood of Christ was offered as the perfect Passover lamb who atoned, once for all, the sins of every human who lives. Torah-compliant Jews today can be saved, if they believe Jesus rose from the dead, repent of their sins, confess the name of Christ and be immersed in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins.
h. "But in those [temple animal] sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Hebrews 10:3–4)
i. "then Jesus said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He [Jesus] takes away the first [covenant: Mosaic Judaism] in order to establish the second [covenant: Christianity-law of Christ]. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet." (Hebrews 10:9–13)
j. In AD 70, the non-Christian Jews who crucified Jesus were the enemies of YHWH and were destroyed.
7. Messianic Jews who try to practice both religions need to heed this warning from Paul:
a. "And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:3-4)
The Synagogue was God’s providential bridge between Temple worship and
the church. Jews who deny Christ and continue to
worship in synagogues have missed the boat… the Boat of Salvation is the
9. The cross abolished all special status of humans based upon race, sex, nationality or bloodline.
a. Without Christ, Jews today are in the same spiritual condition as Muslims or unbelievers.
b. This is was the message of both Moses and the Messiah
c. "let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10–12)
d. "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)
e. "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)
10. The New Testament teaches "replacement theology": Christians are True Jews
a. "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. "And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust. When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet. " (Matthew 21:33-46)
b. "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God." (Romans 2:28–29)
c. "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh," (Philippians 3:2–3)
d. The allegory of Gal 4:21ff: Israel replace by Church: "Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written, "REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND." And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? "CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON [physical Isarel], FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN [Church]." So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. " (Galatians 4:21-31)
e. "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God [Christians]. " (Galatians 6:15-16)
11. "Abraham's offspring are determined by faith and water baptism not blood": Gal 3:27; Rom 9:6-9
a. "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED." That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. " (Romans 9:6-8)
b. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. " (Galatians 3:26-29)
12. Justin Martyr believed and taught "replacement theology": Christians are True Israel
a. Christ is King of Israel Christians are the True Israelite race is the topic in chapter 123. (Justin Martyr, Dialogues, Chapter 123, 130 AD)
b. "As, therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we [Christians], who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race." (Justin Martyr, Dialogues, Chapter 135, 1885 AD translation, 130 AD,)
c. “The marriages of Jacob were types of what Christ would do. It was not lawful for Jacob to marry two sisters at the same time. So he worked in the service of Laban for [one of] his daughters, and, when he was deceived about the younger, he worked another seven years. Now, Lia represented your people [Jews] and the Synagogue, while Rachel was a figure of our Church. And Christ still serves for these and for His servants that are in both.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue 134)
d. "As therefore from the one man Jacob, who was surnamed Israel, all your nation has been called Jacob and Israel; so we from Christ, who begat us unto God, (like Jacob, and Israel, and Judah, and Joseph, and David,) are called and are the true sons of God, and keep the commandments of Christ" (Justin Martyr, Dialogues, Chapter 123, 130 AD)
e. "For all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in their hearts.' ... But though a man be a Scythian or a Persian, if he has the knowledge of God and of His Christ, and keeps the everlasting righteous decrees, he is circumcised with the good and useful circumcision, and is a friend of God, and God rejoices in his gifts and offerings." (Justin Martyr, Dialogues, Chapter 28, 130 AD)
f. “As Christ is called Israel and Jacob, so we, [Christians] hewn out of the side of Christ, are the true people of Israel. But let us listen to the words of Scripture: “And I will bring forth the seed of Jacob and of Juda, and it shall inherit My holy mountain. My elect and My servants shall inherit it, and shall dwell there. And there shall be in the forest folds of sheep, and the valley of Achor shall be to My people who sought Me a resting place for their herds. But as for you, who forsake and forget My holy mountain, and prepare a table for the demons, and fill mixed wine for the demons, I will deliver you up to the sword. You shall all fall by slaughter, because I called you and you did not obey; I spoke and you did not heed; and you did evil in My eyes, and you have chosen the things that displease Me.” There you have the very words of Scripture. You can readily see that the seed of Jacob mentioned here is of another kind, for you cannot understand it as referring to your people. It is absurd to think that those who are of the seed of Jacob should leave a right of entrance to them who are born of Jacob, or that He who repudiated His people as being unworthy of His inheritance should again promise it to them as though He received them. But the Prophet says: “And now, O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. For He has dismissed His people, the house of Jacob; because their land was filled, as from the beginning, with oracles and divinations.” So, we must here conclude that there were two seeds of Juda, and two races, as there are two houses of Jacob: the one born of flesh and blood [Jews], the other of faith and the Spirit. [Christians]’” (Justin, Dialogues 135, 1948 AD translation, 130 AD)
g. “Therefore, as your whole people [Jews] was called after that one Jacob, surnamed Israel, so we [Christians] who obey the precepts of Christ, are, through Christ who begot us to God, both called and in reality are, Jacob and Israel and Juda and Joseph and David and true children of God.’” (Justin, Dialogues 123, 130 AD)
13. You believe in Replacement theology if…
a. …you believe the Bible when it says Christians are the true Jews today: Romans 2:28-29: "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. ", "for we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, " (Philippians 3:3)
b. …you believe that Israel is the church: "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel [church] of God." (Galatians 6:15-16) The peace in this passage is for those who walk according to Christ so CANNOT refer to fleshly/physical Israel that utterly rejects Christ.
c. …you believe Jews must believe in Jesus to be saved and are as lost as Muslims and atheists until they do. (Jn 3:16; Jn 14:6)
d. …you believe the New Testament (second covenant) of Jesus Christ replaced the Old Testament (first covenant) Jer 31:31 + Heb 8:6-13
e. …you believe that keeping both the First and Second covenants at the same time is like a woman married to two men at the same time (Romans 6:1-7)
f. …you believe the body of the Christian is the temple that God dwells in today not some building made of stone, wood or curtains. (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20)
g. …you believe the Saturday Sabbath was abolished and Christians worship on the first day of the week (Sunday).
h. …you believe the calendar of 7 Jewish feasts are not to be kept by Christians: Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi), First Fruits (Yom habikkurim), Pentecost (Shavu'ot), Trumpets (Yom Teru'ah), Atonement (Yom Kippur), Tabernacles (Sukkot).
i. …you believe that the entire law of Moses has been abrogated and replaced by the law of Christ and that if you want to keep just one part of the law of Moses, YOU MUST KEEP IT ALL!
j. …you believe that you do not need to be circumcised to be saved. Acts 15:1-3
k. …you believe there is no distinction in the mind of God towards all men: Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, male or female (Gal 3:28-29)
The role of Archaeology in understanding Revelation
A. The Synagogue is the prototype of the New Testament church in everything:
1. The New Testament Christian Church is an exact replica of the Jewish Synagogue
This copying of design extends to Byzantine church building architecture.
2. There are many allusions to synagogue worship liturgy in the New Testament that most preachers are completely blind to.
a. The book of James was written in AD 36 and refers to a church assembly as a “synagogue” (Jas 2:1) because at this time, just before the great dispersion where Stephen was stoned, the Christians were sharing the synagogues with their fellow Jews. Before conversion to Christ, these Jewish Christians would have been active in the Jewish synagogue, contributing to the upkeep, donating large sums of money and labour to built them. In Jerusalem, there were about 400 synagogues.
b. Jesus referred to the Moses’s Seat (Mt 23:2,5; Lk 6:16-20 of which 4 Moses’ seats have been archeologically excavated.
Even the seating in James 2 was synagogue-terminology including the footstool reference!
3. Most are unaware that Christian baptism by
immersion for remission of sins was practiced in thousands of synagogue mikvaot as early as 280 BC in Alexandria, Egypt as a ritual cleansing every sabbath before entering the
B. 3000 Baptized in the Pool of Siloam: Acts 2
1. The author has twice excavated the Pool of Siloam in AD 2005, which was the very Mikveh where the 3000 souls were baptized on the day of Pentecost when the Jews were told to, “Repent and be immersed in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
a. Discovered in AD 2004, the Pool of Siloam is an Olympic sized swimming pool ritual purity mikveh used by hundreds of thousands of Jews during Passover.
b. They would start at the temple, walk down the “descent stairs” to the pool, be immersed for ritual purity, then walk up a separate set of “ascent stairs” and be admitted into the temple.
3. The Apostle Paul, for example, had immersed himself in a mikveh at least 250 times before entering the synagogue between the age of 13 and 20, but he was immersed one last time in the synagogue mikveh at Damascus in AD 36 when Ananias commanded him, “Why do you delay Paul, arise and be baptized for the remission of your sins.” (Acts 22:16)
a. Just as the blood of Christ ended animal sacrifices (which could not atone for sin), so too Christian baptism ended synagogue baptism (which never actually washed away any sins).
b. Paul was the “Moses-like lawgiver” of the New Covenant who learned the law directly from Jesus at Mt. Sinai in Arabia. (Gal Indeed, the author identified 25 antitypical similarities between Moses and Paul.
4. BYZANTINE CHURCH ARCHITECTURE: Kh. El-Maqatir (Biblical Ephraim of Jn 11)
a. June AD 69 Vespasian destroyes Ephraim then comes to Jerusalem (Josephus Wars 4:549-555)
b. Ephraim of John 11, was the last city destroyed by
Vespasian in AD 69 before he reaches Jerusalem. See Josephus Wars 4:551. (Kh.
Maqatir, Cav1, 2013 AD) The author helped excavate and photographed the bones
of these 8 women and children killed by Vespasian. They were excavated in AD
2013 in the largest underground hiding system ever discovered in the territory
c. At Maqatir, the author has also excavated a full immersion water baptistry in one of the oldest church buildings in the world that dates to AD 375, located 15 km north of Jerusalem on highway 60, 1 km west of Et Tell.
C. Ritual purity in the first century and the Lord’s Supper
1. “Around 100 B.C. a major shift occurred in Late Second Temple period Judaism. Pious Jews interpreted Leviticus 11 and 15 literally and began to replace pottery with chalk stone vessels which they viewed as insusceptible to ritual impurity. What started as a small wave grew into a tsunami affecting burial, bathing, and cooking. Both the material cultural remains and the text of the New Testament bear witness to these changes.” (Dr. Scott Stripling)
2. Ritual purity stone vessels at the time of Jesus were widely used.
a. The Cana wedding featured 6 stone vessels.
b. The Jews felt that vessels carved out of a single stone remained pure.
c. Pottery vessels (formed and fired clay) would only be used once, then broken.
3. Foot washing and Lord’s supper: 13 cups and a basin
a. It is likely, if given the choice, Jesus would have surely used stone vessels for the Last Supper on Thursday night, Nissan 14, in accordance with current vogue.
b. "Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." (John 13:5)
c. Jesus even tell us that there were 13 cups on the last supper table, “Take this (Jesus’s cup) and share it among yourselves (i.e. into your own 12 cups)” Lk 22:17.
4. The author has personally excavated a first century ritual purity stone vessels in addition to a complete wash basin and cups.
a. It became clear to the author, that Jesus used “stoneware” as the holy grail and the foot-washing basin in the upper room as John 13 records.
5. So again, not understanding first century culture is a serious impediment to correctly interpreting Revelation written with first century cultural imagery.
Dating Revelation to AD 66
Internal Evidences that Date Revelation to AD 66
I. Internal Evidences that Date Revelation to AD 66:
A. Internal Evidence #1: Revelation was written for Hebrew speaking Jews in Jerusalem because he uses special Hebrew words, only those in Jerusalem would understand.
In AD 66, the Hebrew language was extinct throughout the world except in Jerusalem and had been for over 400 years.
a. Only Hebrew speaking Jews would understand to transliterate the Greek “Nero Caesar” into Hebrew “NRON QSR” to equal the number sum of “666” in Rev 13:8. "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." (Revelation 13:18)
b. "They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon." (Revelation 9:11)
c. "And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon." (Revelation 16:16)
2. Strictly Hebrew origin words used in the Greek New Testament:
i. Abaddon: Rev. 9:11
ii. Armageddon: Rev. 16:16
iii. Hallelujah: Rev. 19: 1-6
iv. Maranatha: Rev 22:20 (Transliteration of Aramaic into Greek “Lord, Come” equal to 1 Cor 16:22)
i. Gehenna: Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28 and eight more times.
ii. Hos(i)anna: Matt. 21:9 (common term across every language)
iii. Immanuel: Matt. 1:22
iv. Beelzebub: Matt. 12:24; (common term across every language)
v. Rabbi: Matt. 23:78; 26:25, 49; (common term across every language)
vi. Rama: Matt. 2:18
vii. Sabbath: Matt. 12:1 (common term across every language)
viii. Satan: Matt. 4:1
ix. Zion: Matt. 21:5
i. Beelzebub: Luke 11:15, 18, 19 (common term across every language)
ii. Sabbath: Luke 4:16...42 times in all. (common term across every language)
i. Hos(i)anna: John 12:13 (common term across every language)
i. Hos(i)anna: Mark 11:9, John 12:13 (common term across every language)
ii. Sabbath: Mark 1:21–25, 2:17 (common term across every language)
iii. Qorban: Mark 7:11 (explained for Greek readers)
iv. Rabbi: Matt. 23:78; 26:25, 49; Mark 9:5, 11:21, 14:45 (common term across every language)
f. 1 Corinthians: Belial: 1 Cor. 6:15
g. Hebrews: Cherubim: Heb. 9:5
3. Transliterations of Aramaic in the Greek New Testament. Only Mark and John (written post 70 AD) record and translate Aramaic words for their Greek readers living outside Judea and provide evidence that the natural working language of Jesus was Aramaic not Hebrew. John translates many Aramaic words into Greek so the readers, who spoke Greek and not Aramaic, could understand the meaning:
a. Jesus gave apostle Peter the Aramaic name “Cephas” (Lit. kepha) which means “rock”. John 1:42 tells us that while Peter’s original name from Jesus was Cephas (Aramaic) he became known in history (and to us) by the Peter, which is a Greek transliteration of Cepahs.
b. “Thomas” is a transliteration of Aramaic toma “twin”
c. “Matthew” is a transliteration of Aramaic Mattay; bar
d. Aramaic word for son "bar", is found in Bartholomew, Bar-Jonas, Barsabbas, Barabbas;
e. “Golgotha” is a transliteration of Aramaic golgolta “skull”
f. “Akeldama” is a transliteration of Aramaic haqel dema “bloody ground”
g. Martha is a transliteration of Aramaic mareta
h. “Maranatha” (1 Cor. 16:22) is a transliteration of Aramaic Maran “Our Lord” and eta “come.”
i. “Bethesda” (Jn 5:2) "Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew [Aramaic] Bethesda, having five porticoes." (John 5:2)
j. “Gabbatha” (Jn 19:13) "Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew [Aramaic], Gabbatha." (John 19:13)
k. “Golgatha” (Jn 19:17) "They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew [Aramaic], Golgotha." (John 19:17)
l. "rabboni" (Jn 20:16) "Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew [Aramaic], “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher)." (John 20:16)
m. "Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew [Aramaic], Latin and in Greek." (John 19:20)
n. “Messiah” (Jn 1:41) "The Greek transliteration of the Aram. mešīḥâ (=Heb. māšīaḥ) occurs in the NT only here and in 4:25." (Gospel according to John 1–12, AYBC, Jn 1:41, 2008 AD)
o. "hosanna" (Jn 12:13)
p. "Maranatha" (Rev 22:20).
4. Language use by New Testament book:
a. Languages of the first century:
i. The only place that Hebrew was still spoken in the world was Jerusalem in AD 66.
ii. Inside Judea, Jews spoke Aramaic as their default language at the home dinner table and Greek as their working language of commerce in the market place.
iii. Outside Judea (almost) all Jews spoke Greek only.
i. Matthew was written to the Jews in Jerusalem before AD 70
ii. Matthew never explains Hebrew words
iii. Matthew never translates Aramaic words into Greek
c. The Gospel of Mark:
i. Mark was written to a Greek-only audience and translates Aramaic words into Greek like John does: "but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’" (Mark 7:11)
ii. Mark uses three common Hebrew words understood across all languages but must translate the Hebrew specialty word “Corban” for his Greek audience.
iii. Only Mark and the gospel of John explain Aramaic words for their Greek audiences.
d. The gospel of Luke:
i. Luke’s gospel uses two Hebrew words: Beelzebub: Luke 11:15, 18,19 and Sabbath. Both were common terms across every language
ii. Luke never uses or translates Aramaic specialty words
iii. Luke was written to Greek speaking audience
e. The gospel of John
i. written in AD 98, was written to a Greek audience who could not speak Hebrew or Aramaic.
ii. John uses three common Hebrew words understood across all languages.
iii. John transliterated Aramaic specialty words that the Jews in Judea would be familiar with for his Greek audience.
iv. Only Mark and the gospel of John explain Aramaic words for their Greek audiences.
5. Conclusion: Revelation was written for the Hebrew speaking Jews in Jerusalem.
a. The Book of Revelation was written to an audience that spoke Hebrew. (Aramaic is a different language from Hebrew)
b. Revelation is unique in the New Testament because it is the only book that uses and explains ideas in Hebrew words for an audience that would speak Hebrew.
c. A working knowledge of Hebrew would be required to transliterate the Greek “Nero Caesar” into Hebrew “NRON QSR” decode the number sum of “666” in Rev 13:8. It only works in the Hebrew Language.
B. Internal Evidence #2: Revelation echoes Jesus’ teaching to flee the city “Come out” when it was surrounded by armies because it would be destroyed within one generation of 40 years.
1. One Generation: AD 30-70.
2. “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;" (Revelation 18:4)
3. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;" (Luke 21:20–21)
4. 96 AD is too late to make any sense.
C. Internal Evidence #3: Nero is identified as the 6th Caesar from Julius:
1. "Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while." (Revelation 17:9–10)
2. Leaving Julius out of the Roman empire is like leaving out George Washington in the count of US presidents.
3. See Rev 17 in Revelation commentary for details.
D. Internal Evidence #4: Nero is identified as “the beast”:
1. After the burning of Rome, Nero persecuted Christians for 42 months from 15th November AD 64 till he died on 9th June AD 68.
2. Revelation must have been written after the spring of AD 65 in order to easily identify Nero as “the beast from the sea” who persecuted Christians in Rev 13.
3. By the time Revelation was written in the spring of AD 66, Nero had secured a wide reputation as “the beast” among Christians. This reputation would carry forward for centuries in the writings of early Christians.
E. Internal Evidence #5: Revelation 11:1 John measures the temple:
1. This alone, is a very powerful internal evidence that Revelation was written BEFORE AD 70 because he is told to measure the Jerusalem temple.
2. If Revelation was written in AD 96, this passage must AGAIN be spiritualized away and ignored.
F. Internal Evidence #6: Revelation 11:1: John measures the temple for 42 months AT THE SAME TIME the two Witnesses (Jesus ben Ananus) are prophesying proves he was alive in AD 70:
1. That the angel measures the temple for 42 months, is an inference and not a direct statement. The direct statement is that the angel leaves out the outer tabernacle because it has been given over to the Gentiles for 42 months. However the very next statement is that the Two witnesses prophecy for 42 months. The conclusion is that John’s measuring, the outer court given to Gentiles and the work of the Two witnesses all happen within the 42 months.
2. "Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” (Revelation 11:1–3)
3. Full-Preterists must have John raptured by Pentecost Sunday, 22nd June AD 66 and the fact that John was to measure the temple at the same time the two witnesses were prophesying “Woe is Jerusalem” proves John was alive in AD 70 therefore falsifying Full-Preterism.
4. Even worse for Full-Preterists, is an archeological literary evidence that Christians lived across the rapture of Pentecost Sunday 22nd June AD 66, after which, every Christian on earth is raptured directly into heaven leaving zero Christians on earth. The church, now extinct, must restart from scratch using the Bible only. But here you have Jesus ben Ananus in Josephus prophesying 7 years 5 months starting AD 62 down to a week before Pentecost AD 70 (7th March AD 70).
5. So, the two witnesses of Revelation not only help date the book of Revelation to when Josephus said Jesus ben Ananus lived, but provides at least two Christians (Jesus ben Ananus and Apostle John) who lived before and after the “Full-Preterist Rapture of Pentecost Sunday, 22nd June AD 66”.
Internal Evidences that Date Revelation to AD 66
II. Dating Revelation from ancient literary sources
Fluff vs. Scripture: The problem of using ancient literary sources to date Revelation
There is no unanimity among ancient literary sources which suggest three different dates when Revelation was written. Apostle John says he wrote Revelation while on Patmos, which is a deserted island except for the jail. Literary sources are divided in that some indicate John wrote Revelation under Nero, while others under Domitian. The book of Revelation was rejected as not inspired by the eastern/Greek church down to 4th century. Several literary sources deny that Apostle John wrote Revelation.
A. Revelation was written under Nero in AD 66:
1. Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons AD 160:
a. Scholars are divided on exactly what Irenaeus was saying: Revelation was “seen” (revealed by vision) or John was seen (alive) years after Revelation was written. The context is his attempt to identify exactly who 666 refers to in Revelation. Irenaeus suggests that 666 refers to an unknown future person named Titan. The context, therefore, is to determine exactly who 666 refers to. Irenaeus then says that even John, year after he wrote Revelation never personally gave any further clues as to who 666 refers to while alive at the time of the end of Domitian’s reign in AD 96.
b. Irenaeus said: “the number six hundred and sixty-six  … Inasmuch, then, as this name “Titan” has so much to recommend it, there is a strong degree of probability, that from among the many [names suggested], we infer, that perchance he who is to come shall be called “Titan.” We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen [εωραθη] not a very long time ago, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 5.30.3)
c. “The logic of the sentences seems to me to require this interpretation. The statement that the vision was seen at the close of Domitian’s reign supplies no reason why the mysterious numbers should have been expounded ‘by him who saw the apocalypse,’ had he judged such an exposition needful. If, on the other hand, we refer εωραθη [was seen] to St John, the meaning is plain and simple. We may expand the sentences thus: ‘Had it been needful that the explanation of the name should be proclaimed to the men of our own day, that explanation would have been given by the author of the Book. For the author was seen on earth, he lived and held converse with his disciples, not so very long ago, but almost in our own generation. Thus, on the one hand, he lived years after he wrote the Book, and there was abundant opportunity for him to expound the riddle, had he wished to do so; and, on the other hand, since he lived on almost into our generation, the explanation, had he given it, must have been preserved to us.’ … The passage of Irenaeus is urged against dating the Apocalypse shortly after Nero’s death. A suggestion, however, has been made in a French periodical: it is a question of the interpretation of Irenaeus. The writer raised the question whether Irenaeus means to say that the Apocalypse itself belongs to Domitian’s reign. What is the subject of εωραθη? He or it? For the latter, note the phrase just used. But there is the fact that the language of Irenaeus is difficult on this [i.e. the common] theory. Why yap [Greek – “for”]? But if Irenaeus meant that he, John, was seen, this is in accordance with his favourite phraseology.” (The Date of the Apocalypse, S. H. Chase, Journal of Theological Studies 8, p431, 1907 AD)
d. “The great work of Irenæus, now for the first time translated into English, is unfortunately no longer extant in the original. It has come down to us only in an ancient Latin version, with the exception of the greater part of the first book, which has been preserved in the original Greek, through means of copious quotations made by Hippolytus and Epiphanius. The text, both Latin and Greek, is often most uncertain. Only three mss. of the work Against Heresies are at present known to exist. … Irenæus, even in the original Greek, is often a very obscure writer. At times he expresses himself with remarkable clearness and terseness; but, upon the whole, his style is very involved and prolix. And the Latin version adds to these difficulties of the original, by being itself of the most barbarous character. In fact, it is often necessary to make a conjectural re-translation of it into Greek, in order to obtain some inkling of what the author wrote.” (Introductory Note to Irenæus Against Heresies, Alexander Roberts, H. Rambaut, p311, 1880 AD)
e. Several later writers misinterpreted Irenaeus to mean Domitian not Nero. Therefore quoting them to prove Irenaeus actually meant Domitian is a mistake of circular reasoning.
i. Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Seven times Pliny refers to Nero as “Domitius Nero” in his Natural History: “For this reason it is that both King Demetrius, Caesar the Dictator [Julius], the prince Caius [Caligula], and Domitius Nero, have at different times made the attempt to cut through this neck by forming a navigable canal [Isthmus of Corinth]; a profane design, as may be clearly seen by the result in every one of these instances.” (Pliny, N. H. 4.5)
ii. “Guericke, in his “Introduction to the New Testament” (1843) retracts his former opinion in favor of the later date, and although he understands Ἀποκάλυψις as the subject of ἑωράθη, suggests that Δομετιάνου, being without the article, is not a proper name, but an adjective, belonging, in accordance with the Greek formations, not to Domitian (which would make an adjective of the form Δομιτιανικός), but to Domitius, which was Nero’s name—Domitius Nero. This would make Irenaeus testify to the fact that the Apocalypse was written near the end of the reign of Nero.” (Date of the Apocalypse from Internal Evidence, M. James Macdonald, Bibliotheca Sacra 26, p483, 1869 AD)
f. “A careful scrutiny of the Irenaean evidence for a late date for Revelation tends to render any confident employment of him suspect. The difficulties with Irenaeus in this matter are many and varied, whether or not his witness is accepted as credible. A bold “thus saith cannot be conclusive of the matter.” (Before Jerusalem Fell, Kenneth L. Gentry, p67, 1989 AD)
2. Muratorian Canon AD 170:
a. “The blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name, in this order: the first to the Corinthians, the second to the Ephesians, the third to the Philippians, the fourth to the Colossians, the fifth to the Galatians, the sixth to the Thessalonians, the seventh to the Romans. Moreover, though he writes twice to the Corinthians and Thessalonians for their correction, it is yet shown-i.e., by this sevenfold writing-that there is one Church spread abroad through the whole world. And John too, indeed, in the Apocalypse, although he writes only to seven churches, yet addresses all.” (Muratorian Canon 3, 170-200 AD)
b. Predecessor: This might mean that Paul had revelation available to him to follow as a pattern in writing to the seven churches of his epistles. The last letter written to a church by Paul dates to around AD 60. This would indicate that Revelation was written between AD 55-60. However, “predecessor” might simply mean that John was a Christian before Paul chronologically in time and that the clear pattern seen in John’s Revelation of writing to seven churches, was also seen in Paul’s writings as well.
3. Tertullian AD 200:
a. Tertullian says that Nero was a greater persecutor than Domitian. Tertullian says that Domitian stopped persecuting Christians shortly after starting and that he released all his prisoners he had cast into jail, which would certainly include Apostle John at Patmos. Late-dater s are caught in a contradiction between sources. Tertullian says Domitian released John early in his reign but Victorious (see below) says Domitian did not release John until after he died.
b. “Consult your histories: you will find in them that Nero was the first to rage with the imperial sword against this religion [Christianity] which was just at that particular time coming to life at Rome. We actually glory that such a person took the lead in condemning us. For, whoever knows him can understand that nothing save some magnificent good was ever condemned by Nero. (4) Domitian, too, somewhat of a Nero in cruelty [I.e. sub-type of Nero], made some attempts. But—being also, to a certain degree, human—he soon put a halt to what he had initiated and even recalled those whom he had exiled. Such have always been our persecutors, unjust, wicked, depraved men whom you yourselves are accustomed to condemn, while you have regularly recalled those whom they have condemned.” (Tertullian Apol. 5.2-4, 200 AD)
c. “How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood [in Rome by Nero]! where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s! where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s [the Baptist] where the Apostle John was first plunged [in Rome by Nero], unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!” (Tert., De praesc. haer. 36)
i. “he [Tertullian] relates, that the Apostle John also had been at Rome; that Nero had him cast into a vessel of boiling oil, and when he remained uninjured, he (Nero) banished him to an island. Hieronymus says concerning this account, “Tertullian informs us, that John having been cast by Nero into a vessel of boiling oil, came forth from it more free from hurt and sounder” than he had entered it. That is something entirely new: none of the Fathers has previously made mention thereof; scarcely any has copied him; even Hieronymus repeats it merely as a statement of Tertullian’s, which without doubt he alone has drawn from the book of the Pseudo-Prochorus concerning the life of John.” (St. Peter: Was He Ever at Rome, and Bishop of the Church at Rome?, William Graham, J. Rivington, p88, 1851 AD)
ii. “Now it strikes me, that Tertullian plainly means to class Peter, Paul, and John together, as having suffered at nearly the same time and under the same emperor [Nero]. I concede that this is not a construction absolutely necessary; but I submit it to the candid, whether it is not the most probable. If the preceding remarks are well founded, then Clement and Tertullian are to be ranked with those fathers who ascribe to the Apocalypse to the time of Nero, or a period immediately afterwards.” (A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Moses Stuart, Vol 1, p284, 1845 AD)
4. Clement of Alexandria AD 200:
a. “And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit.” (Clemement Al., Quis div. 42, AD 200)
b. In AD 200, Clement never names who the tyrant who could be either Nero or Domitian. In AD 325, Eusebius names Domitian as the tyrant then quotes Clement’s statement as proof Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.23.
c. Nero as Clement’s “tyrant”:
i. Nero killed Paul: “And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero” (Clem. Al., Misc. 7.17)
ii. Nero set up the Abomination of Desolation in the temple: “And Christ our Lord, “the Holy of Holies,” having come and fulfilled the vision and the prophecy, was anointed in His flesh by the Holy Spirit of His Father. In those “sixty and two weeks,” as the prophet said, and “in the one week,” was He Lord. The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place. And that such are the facts of the case, is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said.” (Clem. Al., Misc. 1.21)
iii. Commonly called a Tyrant: “In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many, many wild beasts of Arabia and India but this beast, which is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs. However they say it a civil beast and inhabits the midst of cities; but to this extent it is more savage than the beasts of mountain and of forest, that whereas lions and panthers can sometimes by flattery be tamed and change their disposition, stroking and petting this beast does but instigate it to surpass itself in ferocity and devour at large. And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mothers, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet.” Apollonius of Tyana (c. AD 15-100)
iv. Juvenal (100 AD) “The depravity of the parents who dared to bribe with great confidence in the gifts [of their sons]. No deformed or ugly youth ever unsexed [sodomized] in the citadel of the cruel tyrant in his castle. Never did Nero have a bow-legged as his favourite, or one that was hump-backed [diseased or run-down appearance] or pot-bellied!” (Juvenal, Satires 10.306, translated from Latin by Steven Rudd, born 50 AD)
v. Finally, Nero is known to set Rome ablaze then blame it on Christians, triggering a massive persecution in Rome, highlighted in Rev 13 as the Beast from the Sea for 3.5 years until he died.
5. Epiphanius of Salamis 315-403 AD:
a. Epiphanius twice says that John wrote the book during the time of “Claudius [Nero] Caesar.”
b. Note that Nero used the full name of Claudius Nero Caesar and is not to be confused with his predecessor, Claudius Caesar who died in AD 54.
c. See: Epiphanies, Heresies/Panarion 51:12,33, 315-403 AD
6. Syriac Revelation Title Page AD 550:
a. “It is well known that the Peshito, the oldest Syriac version of the New Testament, does not contain the Apocalypse. But the title-page of a Syriac version of the Apocalypse in the sixth century declares that it was written by John in Patmos, whither he was banished by Nero.” (The Date of the Apocalypse, J. Ritchie Smith, Bibliotheca Sacra Vol. 45, No. 178, p304, 1888 AD)
7. Arethas of Caesarea 6th century:
a. Jamison Faucett, Brown commentary date Arethas to 6th century, others to AD 900.
b. Arethas’ commentary on Revelation directly connects Rev 6:12; 7:1; 7:4 with the destruction of Jerusalem.
c. “Some refer this [Rev 6:12] to the siege of Jerusalem by Vespasian.” (Arethas of Caesarea, commentary on Revelation 6:12, 600 AD)
d. “Here, then [Rev 7:1], were manifestly shown to the Evangelist what things were to befall the Jews in their war against the Romans, in the way of avenging the sufferings inflicted upon Christ.” (Arethas of Caesarea, commentary on Revelation 7:1, 600 AD)
e. “When the Evangelist received these oracles [Rev 7:4], the destruction in which the Jews were involved was not yet inflicted by the Romans.” (Arethas of Caesarea, commentary on Revelation 7:4, 600 AD)
f. “And He who gave this revelation to the Evangelist, declares, that these men shall not share the destruction inflicted by the Romans. For the ruin brought by the Romans had not yet fallen upon the Jews, when this Evangelist received these prophecies: and he did not receive them at Jerusalem, but in Ionia [Patmos] near Ephesus. For after the suffering of the Lord he [John the apostle] remained only fourteen years at Jerusalem, during which time the tabernacle of the mother of the Lord, which had conceived this Divine offspring, was preserved in this temporal life, after the suffering and resurrection of her incorruptible Son. For he continued with her as with a mother committed to him by the Lord. For after her death it is reported that he no longer chose to remain in Judaea, but passed over to Ephesus, where, as we have said, this present Apocalypse also was composed ; which is a revelation of future things, inasmuch as forty years after the Ascension of the Lord this tribulation came upon the Jews.” (Arethas of Caesarea, commentary on Revelation, 600 AD)
B. Revelation was written under Domitian in AD 96:
1. Victorious AD 300:
a. While Victorious clearly believes that Domitian condemned John to Patmos, he also believes that Nero is the Beast whose head was fatally wounded and will rise again as the antichrist in keeping with the widely believed Redivivus myth about Nero.
b. Late-daters say Domitian was the 6th “living Caesar” (Rev 17:11) but he is 9th if Julius is counted first and 8th if Augustus is counted first.
c. Though late-daters love to quote Victorius who says it was Domitian who exiled John, they fail to note that Victorious contradicts “Domitian being killed, all his judgments were discharged. And John being dismissed from the mines, thus subsequently delivered the same Apocalypse (Victorious, Revelation 10:11, 300 AD)
d. says John wrote Revelation under Caesar Nerva, after Domitian had died!
e. “And He says unto me, Thou must again prophesy to the peoples, and to the tongues, and to the nations, and to many kings.”] He says this, because when John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Cæsar Domitian. There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse; and when grown old, he thought that he should at length receive his quittance by suffering, Domitian being killed, all his judgments were discharged. And John being dismissed from the mines, thus subsequently delivered the same Apocalypse which he had received from God. This, therefore, is what He says: Thou must again prophesy to all nations, because thou seest the crowds of Antichrist rise up; and against them other crowds shall stand, and they shall fall by the sword on the one side and on the other.” (Victorious, Revelation 10:11, 300 AD)
f. “Now that one of the heads was, as it were, slain to death, and that the stroke of his death was directed, he speaks of Nero. For it is plain that when the cavalry sent by the senate was pursuing him, he himself cut his throat. Him therefore [Nero as the antichrist], when raised up [Nero- Redivivus-raised from dead], God will send as a worthy king, but worthy in such a way as the Jews merited. And since he is to have another name, He shall also appoint another name, that so the Jews may receive him as if he were the Christ [Nero-false messiah]. … Finally, also, he will recall the saints [Christians], not to the worship of idols, but to undertake circumcision, and, if he is able, to seduce any; for he shall so conduct himself as to be called Christ by them [Nero-false messiah]. But that he rises again from hell [Nero- Redivivus-raised from dead], we have said above in the word of Isaiah: “Water shall nourish him, and hell hath increased him;” who, however, must come with name unchanged, and doings unchanged, as says the Spirit.” (Victorious, Revelation 17:16, 300 AD)
2. Eusebius 325 AD:
a. Strangely, although Eusebius believes Revelation was written at the time of Domitian around AD 96, Eusebius rejects that John the apostle was the author. Instead, Eusebius believes there was a second “John the presbyter” who wrote the book. See below and Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.39 and 7.24-25.
b. Late-daters say Domitian was the 6th “living Caesar” (Rev 17:11) but he is 9th if Julius is counted first and 8th if Augustus is counted first.
c. When Domitian had displayed great cruelty toward many and had killed without fair trial no small number of well-born and famous men at Rome and had punished countless other notable men without cause by banishment to foreign lands and by confiscation of their property, he finally established himself as Nero’s successor in hatred and hostility toward God. In fact, he was the second to promote a persecution against us, although his father Vespasian contrived nothing unusual against us. At this time, report has it that the Apostle and Evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the Island of Patmos because of his testimony to the divine Word.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.17-18)
3. Jerome AD 400:
a. John was … “An Apostle, because he wrote to the Churches as a master; an Evangelist, because he composed a Gospel, a thing which no other of the Apostles, excepting Matthew, did; a prophet, for he saw in the island of Patmos, to which he had been banished by the Emperor Domitian as a martyr for the Lord, an Apocalypse containing the boundless mysteries of the future.” (Jerome Against Jovinianus 1.26, 400 AD)
C. Revelation was written under Trajan AD 98-117:
1. Dorotheus Bishop of Tyre (6th century)
2. Theophylact (11th century)
3. “Dorotheus, a sixth-century ascetic, and Theophylact, an eleventh-century Byzantine exegete, place John’s exile in the time of Trajan.” (NICNT Revelation, Robert H. Mounce, p15, 1997 AD)
D. Evidence Apostle John was imprisoned twice by Nero and Domitian/Trajan:
1. There are two versions of the Acts of John which record very similar stories of John being sent to Patmos by two different Emperors: Nero and Domitian.
a. The two stories are very similar in their details.
b. This may be in indication that John was imprisoned twice and may account for the two traditions witnessed in the sum of ancient literary sources.
c. This may be an indication of later textual editing by replacing Nero for Domitian in the story or vice versa.
d. In both stories the Emperor hears of John in Ephesus preaching that Rome will fall. This cannot be used as evidence that Nero had a copy of Revelation because John wrote Revelation during his imprisonment. The Book of Revelation did not trigger the imprisonment. The imprisonment triggered the writing of the book of Revelation which condemned Rome in Rev 13.
2. About the Acts of John:
a. The Acts of John come down to us in a variety of manuscripts and languages.
b. It is the Syriac manuscript version of Acts of John that say Nero sent John to Patmos.
c. “Composed toward the end of the second century, this book is the earliest of several apocryphal acts collected by the Manichaeans. Like other apocryphal works of this type, the Acts of John records in rather loose order, a series of exaggerated miraculous events that extol the central figure. The book includes several narratives: John’s journey to Rome; his exile on Patmos and return to Ephesus” (Eerdmans’ Bible dictionary, Acts of John, p589, 1987 AD)
d. In the Syriac Acts of John it is clear that Patmos is the location of John’s prison. Notice that Nero sends men to Ephesus and arrest John and put him in prison. The church at Ephesus sent a bribe to Nero in Rome who then sent men back to Ephesus to decree release of John. If John was imprisoned in Rome, he would have been on the ship from Rome to Ephesus. Notice it was only after Nero’s men arrived at Ephesus that John was set free. Finally John boards a ship from Patmos (not actually named) and travels to Ephesus by sea. This proves it was a local prison near Ephesus that also required a ship to get to Ephesus. Obviously Patmos is where John was imprisoned by Nero.
3. The two ancient accounts:
a. Nero sent John to Patmos in Syriac Apocryphal Acts of John the Son of Zebedee, AD 150: “This history was composed by Eusebius of Cæsarea [AD 325] concerning Saint John, who found it in a Greek book [AD 150], and it was translated into Syriac. … After these things, when the Gospel was increasing by the hands of the Apostles, Nero, the unclean and impure and wicked king, heard all that had happened at Ephesus. And he sent (and) took all that the procurator had, and imprisoned him; and laid hold of Saint John and drove him into exile [on Patmos]; and passed sentence on the city that it should be laid waste. And after three days, believing men of the city assembled, (ܣܐ) and counselled one another and said: “Let us assemble at the church, and see what each man is willing to give, and take a bribe, and offer it to this wicked ruler, and he will give up to us this (man), who turned us away from error unto our Lord.” And when they had taken counsel thus, they collected three hundred pounds of gold, and took ten men, and they went on board a ship to go to Nero, the wicked king, and give the bribe, and bring back the holy (man). And when they had gone and entered into Rome, at midnight, when the impure Nero was asleep, the Lord sent to him an angel; and he appeared to him in a flame and bearing a sword, and awakened him. And when he had opened his eyes and looked upon him, he cried out and said: “I pray thee, what I have to do with thee?” The angel says to him: “Send back the man whom thou hast taken from Ephesus and cast into exile; and if not, this sword shall enter into thy unclean heart before the sun rises.” And the angel smote him and took away his speech, and he was howling like a dog. And his slaves came in when they heard his lamentation, and said to him: “What is the matter with thee, my lord the king?” And he made a sign, and they brought him ink and a sheet of paper, and he wrote: “Straightway,—if it be possible, to-day,—let John, the son of Zebedee, the Galilean, whom I took away from Ephesus, pass the night in it.” And he wrote also, and sent (word) to Ephesus quickly, that every one (ܣܒ) who was in prison [at Patmos, not in Rome], should come out and do as he pleased. And there came sailors and men clad in arms, and took the letters written by the king’s hand, and went on board ship, and went [to Patmos] (and) found John at midday kneeling and praying. They say to him: “The king [Nero] has commanded that we should convey thee to the place where thou wast.” And they took him [from Patmos], and went on board ship, and sailed on the sea in peace [from Patmos to Ephesus], and brought him to the gate of Ephesus, and returned to Rome. And those men who had brought the bribe, when they heard that the holy (man) had returned to Ephesus, said: “We worship Thee, Father and Son and Spirit of holiness, who hast done what Thy fearers wished.” And they went on board ship, and brought those three hundred pounds (of gold with them), and came. And when they had entered Ephesus, they showed the gold and narrated all that had happened, and there was joy through the whole city; and they took counsel one with another, and deposited the gold in a house, and hired artificers, and built with it two churches for the worship of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. And Saint John went up (and) sat in the hut; and all the free men of the province of Asia gathered together unto him, and he was teaching and preaching concerning our Lord Jesus; and the word of Nero was established over his own place, but (ܣܓ) he did not dare again to give orders regarding the province of Asia. It was this wicked man, who slew Paul and Peter.” (Acts of John the Son of Zebedee, Syriac apocryphal: 150 AD)
b. Domitian sent John to Patmos in Apocryphal Acts of John AD 150: “And the fame of the teaching of John was spread abroad in Rome; and it came to the ears of Domitian that there was a certain Hebrew in Ephesus, John by name, who spread a report about the seat of empire of the Romans, saying that it would quickly be rooted out, and that the kingdom of the Romans would be given over to another. And Domitian, troubled by what was said, sent a centurion with soldiers to seize John, and bring him. [and brought him to Rome after which] … John sailed to Patmos, where also he was deemed worthy to see the revelation of the end.” (Acts of John, Apocryphal, 150 AD)
4. Theophylact Ochrid Metropolitan of Bulgaria c. AD 1100:
a. In his “Preface to the Commentary on the Gospel” of John says that John was banished under Nero, 32 years after the Ascension of Christ [I.e. AD 33 + 32 = AD 62]
b. However, in his commentary Matthew 20:33 says John was banished under Trajan.
c. So we have two contradictory statements by the same author.
i. This may indicate that John was imprisoned twice by Nero and Trajan.
ii. This may also represent a change of his own opinion over time that the author never corrected in the earlier work.
E. Acceptance into canon and authorship of Revelation questioned down to AD 400:
1. Historically, the Latin Western church always accepted Revelation as inspired, but many in the Eastern Greek church rejected it as inspired until the end of the 4th century.
a. Eusebius accepted Revelation as inspired, but noted many did not: “Of the writings of John besides the Gospel, the first of the Epistles [1 John] is acknowledged without controversy by men of today as well as by the ancients, but the other two are disputed [2 & 3 John], and opinion on the Apocalypse [Revelation] with most persons even today tends in either direction. However, at the proper time, this also will receive consideration from the testimony of the ancients.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.24)
2. No uniformity about who wrote Revelation.
a. From AD 250 Dionysius the great “Pope of Alexandria”, accepted the book of Revelation as inspired but rejected it was written by John the Apostle. Dionysius taught that a different John, known as “John the Presbyter” wrote revelation.
b. “Still against John the Apostle as the author of the book, it has been said that some fathers of the Greek church, such as Dionysius of Alexandria [AD 250] and Eusebius of Caesarea, ascribed the Apocalypse to “another John” quoting an alleged tradition on two Johns buried at Ephesus, one of them the apostle and author of the Gospel, the other probably the seer.” (Could the Author of Revelation step forward, please?, Hugo A. Cotro, DavarLogos 14, 1, p77, 2015 AD)
c. “After Dionysius’ time [AD 250] doubts of its [the book of Revelation] authenticity became quite widespread in the Eastern Church, and among the doubters was Eusebius, who evidently wished to ascribe it to the mysterious presbyter John, whose existence he supposed to be established by Papias in a passage quoted in chap. 39, § 4, below (compare the note on the passage). Eusebius’ treatment of the book is hesitating. He evidently himself discredited its apostolic authority, but at the same time he realized (as a historian more keenly than Dionysius the theologian) the great weight of external testimony to its authenticity, and therefore he gives his readers the liberty (in the next chapter) of putting it either with the Homologoumena or with the νόθοι. It legitimately belonged among the Homologoumena, but Donysius’ attitude toward it doubtless led Eusebius to think that it might at some time in the future be thrown out of the canon, and of course his own objections to its contents and his doubts as to its apostolicity caused him to contemplate such a possibility not without pleasure (see the next chapter, note 1). In chapter 18, above, he speaks of it as the “so-called” Apocalypse of John, but in other places he repeats many testimonies in favor of its authenticity (see the next note), and only in chapter 39 does he state clearly his own opinion in the matter, which even there he does not press as a fixed conviction. The reason for the doubts of the book’s genuineness on the part of Eusebius and so many others lay evidently most of all in objections to the contents of the book, which seemed to favor chiliasm, and had been greatly abused for the advancement of the crassest chiliastic views. Many, like Dionysius of Alexandria, were no doubt influenced also by the idea that it was impossible that the Gospel and the Apocalypse could be the works of one author, and they preferred to sacrifice the latter rather than the former. The book has found objectors in almost every age of the Church, but has continued to hold its place in the canon (its position was never disturbed in the Western Church, and only for some two or three centuries after Eusebius in parts of the Eastern Church) as an authentic work of the apostle John.” (NPNF-CE2.1, Philip Schaff, Henry Wase, Eus., Hist. eccl. 7.25.1, The Apocalypse of John, footnote 3)
d. “[Eusebius says:] Besides all these the two books on the Promises were prepared by him. The occasion of these was Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, who taught that the promises to the holy men in the Divine Scriptures should be understood in a more Jewish manner, and that there would be a certain millennium of bodily luxury upon this earth. 2 As he thought that he could establish his private opinion by the Revelation of John, he wrote a book on this subject, entitled Refutation of Allegorists. 3 Dionysius opposes this in his books on the Promises. In the first he gives his own opinion of the dogma; and in the second he treats of the Revelation of John, and mentioning Nepos at the beginning, writes of him in this manner: 4 [Eusebius quoting Dionysius c. AD 250] “But since they bring forward a certain work of Nepos, on which they rely confidently, as if it proved beyond dispute that there will be a reign of Christ upon earth, I confess that in many other respects I approve and love Nepos, for his faith and industry and diligence in the Scriptures, and for his extensive psalmody,6 with which many of the brethren are still delighted; and I hold him in the more reverence because he has gone to rest before us. But the truth should be loved and honored most of all. And while we should praise and approve ungrudgingly what is said aright, we ought to examine and correct what does not seem to have been written soundly. … Therefore that he was called John, and that this book is the work of one John, I do not deny. And I agree also that it is the work of a holy and inspired man. But I cannot readily admit that he was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, by whom the Gospel of John and the Catholic Epistle were written. … But I am of the opinion that there were many with the same name as the apostle John. And from the ideas, and from the words and their arrangement, it may be reasonably conjectured that this one is different from that one. … [Eusebius voices his own opinion in agreement with Dionysius] But I think that he was some other one of those in Asia; as they say that there are two monuments in Ephesus, each bearing the name of John.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 7.24-25)
e. “Thus, by these words is proved the truth of the story of those who have said that two persons in Asia bore the same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus and each of these even today is said to be John’s. We must give attention to this, for it is probable that the second (unless you would prefer the first) saw the Revelation which passes under the name of John.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.39)
F. Conclusion: Internal evidence always trumps external evidence
1. The point in all this is to show that reliance on “fluff” literary references over the clear internal evidence that Revelation was written AD 66 as a warning to flee Jerusalem is a grave error.
a. It is troubling that commentators place so much weight on a few literary sources that might indicate Revelation was written after AD 70 (Irenaeus, Jerome, Eusebius, Sulpicius Severus, Victorious) while ignoring inspired statements in the book of Revelation.
b. It is also noteworthy that while late-daters use Eusebius as proof that Revelation was written in the time of Domitian around AD 96, that Eusebius formally rejects that John the apostle even wrote Revelation.
c. It has been shown that there are and equal number of “fluff” ancient literary references that Revelation was written before AD 70 during the time of Nero. (Muratorian Canon, Arethas, Epiphanius of Salamis, Syriac Revelation Title page)
2. Regardless of when these ancient literary sources indicate Revelation was written, none of them directly calculate Nero’s name to equal 666. But given a wide range of ancient literary sources directly call Nero the beast who was to die then be resurrected at the end of the world and work cooperatively with Satan, the dragon, perhaps we miss the forest for the trees. For some it was so obvious that Nero equaled 666 that doing an actual long form calculation was not needed. Instead, they called him The Beast, clearly associating him with 666 and the Redivivus myth. This is vividly described by Sulpicius Severus in Dialogue 2.14 (AD 400). While it is true that some early Christians like Irenaeus concluded Titan was the sum of 666 (Irenaeus Adv. Haer. 5.30.3)
3. Christians who operate under the notion of using the Bible only (Sola Scriptura) will a times look to literary sources for confirmation.
a. Take for example the universal record of the early church down to AD 600 (and beyond) that Christians stopped keeping the Saturday Sabbath and began worshipping on the Lord’s day, the first day of the week, Sunday. But this is founded on clear revelation in Col 2:14-17; Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor 16:1-2.
b. What is unfortunate, is that late-daters, place far too much weight on “fluff” literary sources that contradict direct, clear, inspired revelation.
The Myth of Emperor Worship
A. The Late-Date view where Revelation was written in AD 96 collapses without Emperor worship:
1. Without emperor worship as the Beast from the Earth in Revelation 13, the “late-date” view where Revelation was written AD 96 and describes the destruction of the city of Rome, is dead. Ironically, both emperor worship and the historic destruction of Rome are mythical. Not only are “late-daters” unable to supply a single valid literary source to support emperor worship, they are unable to supply a date for the destruction of Rome.
2. TYPICAL LATE-DATER’S FALSE, UNDOCUMENTED, STATEMENTS: “Domitian issued a decree that, made it a capital offense of treason to refuse to offer the yearly sacrifice to the statue of the emperor Domitian which resulted in many Christians being executed for treason.”
a. Statements like the above are very common in Revelation commentaries, but they all have two things in common: 1. They rarely site any ancient literary sources. 2. The statement is 100% false in every little detail.
b. When these authors attempt to site a source, it is usually Suetonius (Domitian 13) that merely says that he wanted to be addressed as “lord and god”. This is true! But other emperors before him had done the same! Suetonius certainly says nothing about issuing imperial decrees targeting Christians to worship the emperor or die!
3. Late-dater’s promote the imperial cult as the key source of Christian persecution:
a. Homer Hailey’s spiritualization of the entire book of Revelation into a fuzzy story about the “victory of Christians”, led him to fabricate, without referencing a single ancient literary source, the idea of the “emperor worship cult” where Christians supposedly died unless they confessed Caesar as God. It is noteworthy, that Hailey never references Josephus once in his entire HISTORICAL introduction.
b. Robert Harkrider, blindly adopts Hailey’s fiction, but then embellishes it by stating Christians who would not worship Caesar were considered “guilty of treason” (p. liii), again without a single ancient literary source.
c. While Dan King actually supplied a single source from Pliny’s correspondence to Trajan (Letters 10.96, 112 AD) it actually refutes the idea of emperor worship as defined by Hailey, Harkrider and King.
4. Fact vs. Fiction:
a. Christians were persecuted for being Christians not because they refused to worship pagan god or Caesar.
b. Refusing to worship pagan gods or Caesar was not the crime itself, but a method to determine if a man was a Christian.
c. Refusing to worship pagan gods or Caesar was the “breathalyzer test” to determine the crime of being a Christian.
d. Yes, the Roman Caesars were deified and worshipped as gods in the first century.
e. No, you did not get executed if you refused to confess them as gods in the first century.
f. No, you were not charged with treason and executed if you refused to worship the emperor.
g. There is no historical record of Christians, Jews or Greeks, being hunted down and forced, on the threat of death, to confess Caesar as a god in the first century.
5. Christians were persecuted because their refusal to worship the Roman pagan gods because of the harm the gods brought against society in general as a retaliation.
a. Tertullian notes that all evil is because Christians have insulted the gods.
b. The Christians were held responsible for all crop failures, floods, earthquakes, famines, plagues or personal misfortunes because they had spurned the pagan gods.
c. But he then outlines this as a myth by listing all the calamities that had occurred before the coming of Christ!
d. This has nothing specifically to do with Emperor worship specifically but a general refusal to worship ANY god except Jesus Christ who was Lord of all!
e. “On the other hand, those men deserve the name of a secret society who band together in hatred of good and virtuous men, who cry out for the blood of the innocent, at the same time offering as a justification of their hatred the idle plea that they consider that the Christians are the cause of every public calamity and every misfortune of the people. (2) If the Tiber rises as high as the city walls, if the Nile does not rise to the fields, if the weather will not change, if there is an earthquake, a famine, a plague—straightway the cry is heard: ‘Toss the Christians to the lion!’ So many of them for just one beast? (3) I ask you, before the reign of Tiberius, that is, before the coming of Christ, what great misfortunes befell the world and its cities? We read that the islands of Hiera, Anaphe, Delos, Rhodes, and Cos were swallowed up with many thousands of men. (4) Plato, too, relates that a land larger than Asia or Africa was washed away by the Atlantic Ocean. An earthquake emptied the Corinthian Sea, and the might of the waves wrested Lucania away [from Italy] and left it separate under the name of Sicily. Naturally, these happenings could not fail to be attended by injury to the inhabitants. (5) In those days, when the great flood poured its waters over the whole world, or, as Plato thought, merely over the plains, where then were—I shall not say the Christians who scorn your gods—but your gods themselves? (6) For, that your gods belong to a later date than that calamity of the deluge is attested by the very cities in which they were born and died, as well as by those which they founded. Otherwise, they would not exist until the present day unless they themselves had come into existence after that disaster.” (Tertullian, Apology 40.1-6, 155-220 AD)
6. The irony: Christ, Creator God become man vs. Emperor worship.
a. To Romans, it may have appeared to be inconsistent for Christians to condemn Emperor worship “because Caesar was just a man”, then teach that Jesus is God incarnate in a human body.
b. Christian incarnation theology on the other hand, may have been easy for Roman’s to accept, since they were already familiar with the idea that man can be regarded as divine.
B. The Edict of Emperor Decius and Certificates of Libellus: AD 249-251
1. After being appointed Caesar, Decius took on a throne name as Trajan (Traianus), perhaps to associate himself with Trajan as a persecutor of Christians.
2. The Edict was issued in year one of his reign.
a. The words of the Edict of Decius has not been found but it is clear, that it was an order to certify that you worship idols. Christians may have been specifically targeted in the decree because in the Martyrdom of Pionius (AD 250), he was charged with “being a Christian” for refusing to sacrifice to the goddess Nemesis.
b. If the edict did not specifically target Christians, they became the primary targets of persecution.
c. The edict required a “Libelli” (Latin word meaning “little book”) be written by a certified representative of the state as proof you had sacrificed to idols.
3. Not a decree for Emperor worship:
a. The Edict was not directly Emperor worship but a requirement to worship any god, which of course, could include the Emperor.
b. If you refused to worship the Emperor and chose instead to offer a sacrifice to some other god, a certificate of Libellus was issued, fulfilling the requirement of the Decree.
c. From the Martyrdom of Pionius a Christian named Euctemon denounced Christ and offered a sacrifice to the twin pagan goddesses of Nemesis but NOT to the Emperor and was accepted. (Martyrdom of Pionius 18, 250 AD)
d. Late-daters do not find in the Decian Decree, the kind of mandatory “worship the emperor or die” concept they require for their interpretation of Revelation 13.
4. Examples of the 46 Certificates of Libelli that have been excavated:
a. Libellus #1 Translation: “For those who partook of the sacrifices from the city of Oxyrhynchus These are Aurelius Gaionus Ammonius [and the] mother of Taeutus. Indeed always making sacrifice and libation and worship to the gods being accustomed according to those justly urged by the aunt and now in front of you all making sacrifice and libation and having tasted the holy meat portions at the same time for a woman and for Ammonius and Ammoeanus son and Thekla daughter by me and I think are worthy to be recorded by me. During the first year of Autonomous Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Eusebius Eutychus Sebastian, Epeiph 3. Aurelius Gaionus I have vouched for. Aurelius Sarapion, he and Chairemon, I wrote above him, my letters being known. Besas, Psenamounis” (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1464, P. Oxy. XII 1464, 27 June 250 AD)
b. Libellus #2: The Certificate, signed by two official witnesses, proved that Aurelia Bellias had participated to a sacrifice to the traditional gods, as ordered by an edict of the emperor Decius. This was considered as a proof of loyalty to the government, and the Christians who refused to do this were persecuted. Translation: “To those in charge of the sacrifices of the village Theadelphia, from Aurelia Bellias, daughter of Peteres, and her daughter, Kapinis. We have always been constant in sacrificing to the gods, and now too, in your presence, in accordance with the regulations, I have poured libations and sacrificed and tasted the offerings, and I ask you to certify this for us below. May you continue to prosper. (2nd hand) We, Aurelius Serenus and Aurelius Hermas, saw you sacrificing. (3rd hand) I, Hermas, certify. (1st hand) The 1st year if the Emperor Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Pius Felix Augustus, Pauni 27.” (P.Mich.inv. 263, June 21, 250 AD)
c. Libellus #3 Translation: “Aurelius Heraclides I saw you sacrificing and tasting. Markus Aurelius Sesongosis also likewise I certify I saw you sacrificing and also tasting the holy meat portions.” (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2990, P. Oxy. XLI 2990, date missing)
d. Libellus #4 Translation: “From the governor to village rulers and officers of peace of the village of Mermerthon. At once send up Petosarapin of Horus a Christian, or you yourselves come up. During the third year of Valerian and Gallienus the August Phamenoth 3.” (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 3035, P. Oxy. XLII 3035, 28 February 256 AD)
a. “This papyrus is an example of a “Decian Libellus,” a certification of sacrifice according to the empire-wide decree of the Roman emperor Decius (ruled 249-251 CE). About 45 of such libelli are known today and most of them, including this example, were issued to residents of the village of Theadelphia. This concentration has prompted speculation that the Theadelphia examples come from a single large discovery in this village, which was thereafter dispersed on the antiquities market. This libellus was submitted by a man named Aurelius Sarapammon, who says that he has “sacrificed, poured the libations, and tasted the offerings,” in accordance with the decree. His claim is certified by two local officials who were in charge of administering these official sacrifices. Aurelius Sarapammon was the servant of Aurelius Appianus, a well-known aristocrat from the provincial capital of Alexandria. Appianus had many estates in the Fayum and we know from other texts that Sarapammon was a donkey driver who worked on his estate in Theadelphia.” (Luther College Archives, Description and translation courtesy of W. Graham Claytor, University of Michigan)
b. Translation: “To those who have been selected to take charge of the sacrifices, from Aurelius Sarapammon, servant of Appianus, former exegetes of the most-illustrious city of the Alexandrians, and however he is styled, residing in the village of Theadelphia. Always sacrificing to the gods, now too, in your presence, in accordance with the orders, I sacrificed, poured the libations, and tasted the offerings, and I ask that you sign below. Farewell. (2nd hand) We, Aurelius Serenus and Hermas saw you sacrificing …” (Decian Libellus, Papyrus Luther 4, 12 June – 14 July, 250 AD)
C. “Genius of the Emperor” is an “indwelling of a deity spirit” in the Emperor for prosperity and protection
1. Christians were compelled to say an oath to the “genius of the emperor” in distinction to worshipping the emperor himself.
a. A Genius/Jinn/Jeannie is an invisible demon spirit being that indwells the Emperor for the good of the Empire. Jinn might be free roaming or reside inside objects or living things.
b. Swearing by the “Genius of the Emperor” was to agree that the pagan gods were directly endorsing, guiding and protecting the emperor.
c. This oath was devised under Julius Caesar, and continued under his successors down to AD 303, until Constantine.
d. The Christians regarded the ‘genius’ of the emperor as a false god and so repudiated the oath as a form of idolatry.
2. The “oath to the Genius of the Emperor” was not emperor worship:
a. Roman Caesars were generally deified only after their death.
b. While living the Emperors were believed to be guided and protected by the pagan gods.
c. The indwelling was like a “guardian angel/demon” who brought prosperity and blessing to the general population through the government, administration and decisions made by the Emperor.
d. This explains why Christians were misunderstood as “enemies of the state” when they refused to take the oath.
3. In AD 185, in the Martyrdom of Apollonius, he argues that Christians do not swear oaths, but as Jesus said, “let you yes be yes and your no be no” and therefore cannot take the oath.
4. In AD 200, Tertullian explains this pagan indwelling of the Roman Caesars:
a. Christians did not pray to the “genii” that indwells the emperor, they cast them out as demons! Tertullian clarifies that Christians do in fact pray for the success and protection of Roman Caesars and Roman material interests.
b. “There is also another, even greater, obligation for us to pray for the emperors; yes, even for the continuance of the empire in general and for Roman interests. We realize that the tremendous force which is hanging over the whole world, and the very end of the world with its threat of dreadful afflictions, is arrested for a time by the continued existence of the Roman Empire. This event we have no desire to experience, and, in praying that it may be deferred, we favor the continuance of Rome. Then, too, we take an oath not by the ‘genii of the emperors,’ but by their prosperity—which is more impressive than any genius [ginn/jeannie] at all. Are you not aware that genii are evil spirits and, thence, to use a diminutive term, are called daemonia? We respect in the emperors the decision of God, since He has placed them over the people. (3) We know that in them is that which God has willed, and so we wish that what God has willed be safe and sound, and we consider this an important oath. As for evil spirits, that is, genii, we are in the habit of exorcising them in order to drive them out of men, but not to swear by them in a manner that would confer upon them the honor of divinity.” (Tertullian Apology 32.1, 200 AD)
5. This “indwelling in the Emperor” is an ancient idea found in most of the stele inscriptions from the Assyrian and Babylonian kings from 900-500 BC.
a. A good example is the famous Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III where “Jehu of the house of Omni” is pictured bowing in submission.
b. The introduction text begins with Shalmaneser III praising 16 different Assyrian gods, after which he claims they are responsible for his successes as king.
c. On the Stele, Shalmaneser claims these pagan gods “love my kingship”, “made great my rule, power, and sway”, “established for me an honored, an exalted name, far above other kings”, “made him a priest to the gods” and “conquering all his foes”.
Praise text of Shamaneser III
“Assur, the great lord, king of all the great gods; Anu, king of the Igigi and Anunnaki, the lord of lands; Enlil, the exalted, father of the gods, the creator; Ea, king of the Deep, who determines destiny; Sin, king of the tiara, exalted in splendor; Adad, mighty, pre-eminent, lord of abundance; Shamash, judge of heaven and earth, director of all; Marduk, master of the gods, lord of law; Urta, valiant one of the Igigi and the Anunnaki, the almighty god; Nergal, the ready, king of battle; Nusku, bearer of the shining scepter, the god who renders decisions; Ninlil, spouse of Bêl, mother of the great gods; Ishtar, lady of conflict and battle, whose delight is warfare, great gods, who love my kingship, who have made great my rule, power, and sway, who have established for me an honored, an exalted name, far above that of all other lords! Shalmaneser, king of all peoples, lord, priest of Assur, mighty king, king of all the four regions, Sun of all peoples, despot of all lands; son of Assur-nâsir-pal, the High Priest, whose priesthood was acceptable to the gods and who brought in submission at his feet the totality of the countries; glorious offspring of Tukulti-Urta, who slew all of his foes and overwhelmed them like a deluge. (Black Obelisk of Shamaneser III, Lines 1-21, 827 BC)
6. Ginn in pre-Islamic, Arab culture:
a. The concept of Ginn as spirit beings long predates Islam but they had a distinct Arabic pagan polytheistic theology at the time of Muhammed in the 7th century.
b. Jinn play a central role in Islam:
i. Jinn in Islam are somewhat equivalent to demons of the New Testament. Both Christians and Muslims view demons/Jinn as a special class of freewill spirit beings distinct from angels that were created by God and will be thrown into the lake of fire, hell.
ii. Demons are never mentioned in the Koran but Jinn are mentioned in the Koran 33 times throughout many chapters.
iii. One entire chapter in the Koran (72:1-28) is dedicated to the Ginn and is entitled “The Ginn”.
c. The difference is that demons are always viewed as evil by Christians but in Islam, Jinn are individually both good and bad, helping and hurting mankind. Jinn are freewill moral creatures like men who will be judged by Allah to either go to heaven or hell.
i. “I, Allah, created the jinn and the men so they should both serve Me.” (Koran 51:56)
ii. Jinn can be obedient to the Koran, but the Jinn must reject the Christian Trinity that God has a Son [Jesus] or a consort [Mary, mother of God]. Because of the false doctrine of Mariolatry, Muhammed misunderstood the trinity as Father, Mary and Jesus: “Some jinn listened and said: Surely we have heard a wonderful Quran, Guiding to the right way, so we believe in it, and we will not set up any one with our Lord [Trinity]: And that He-- exalted be the majesty of our Lord-- has not taken a consort [Mary], nor a son [Jesus].” (Koran 72:1-3)
iii. “I will fill hell with the jinn and the men.” (Koran 11:119)
7. Indwelling of Jinn in Islam:
a. In Islamic culture, the Koran and Hadith teach that Jinn might dwell in a dog, snake or a human as either a good/helpful or evil/destructive spirit. Dogs are highly suspect in Islam today as being indwelt by harmful dirty demons (Jinn).
b. Muslim taxi drivers are notorious for refusing all fares with dogs including a blind person if accompanied by a seeing-eyed service dog. It has everything to do with the Islamic belief that dogs may actually be Jinn-demons which are generally viewed as impure (especially a dog’s saliva) and forbidden for the Muhammad-compliant Muslim.
c. Today in Muslim countries with Shariah law like Iran, dogs are forbidden in public or allowed to ride in a car. This explains why Muslims sometimes display a neurotic fear of dogs and will use this fear to call for banning them in public places like banks, stores and parks while westerners are oblivious to the real source of the fear. “Please remove your dog, sir, this lady with the burka told me she is afraid of it.” Say goodbye to dogs and pigs in western culture!
8. Jinn in a bottle and the modern discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices in 1945:
a. “They [Muslims] stumbled on an old sealed pottery jug. Muhammad initially feared that a jinn, or evil spirit, resided inside. He later thought the vessel might contain some great treasure. What he found, however, were leather-bound volumes, which he finally decided were worthless. The books then passed through many hands—a Coptic priest’s, an itinerant history teacher’s, a Cypriot antiquities dealer’s, a one-eyed bandit’s—until the scholarly world gradually heard of what an Egyptian farmer had stumbled upon that December day in 1945.” (Nag Hammadi Codices Shed New Light on Early Christian History, James Brashler, BAR 10:01, 1984 AD)
9. “I dream of Jeannie”: A Jeannie/Genius/Jinn dwelling in a bottle.
a. In ancient Islamic and Arabic culture, a Ginn can reside or even be trapped inside a physical object.
b. In modern popular culture a jinn or spirit, especially one imprisoned within a bottle or oil lamp is capable of granting wishes when summoned.
The popular TV show “I dream of Jeannie” draws directly upon the Arabic idea that demons can be trapped inside a bottle and that breaking it releases the Jinn. In the pilot episode “Jeannie” speaks Arabic and is dressed in classic Arabic costume.
So, the Beautiful girl in the bottle that granted her man, the object of her love, any wish after obediently saying to him, “Yes Master” was really a demon spirit.
10. The Christian “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” is like the “Jinni indwelling the Emperor”:
Father, Son & Holy Spirit all Dwell in the Christian!
Holy Spirit indwells the Christian:
1 Cor 6:19 your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you
2 Cor 1:22 Spirit in our hearts
1 Cor 3:16 the Spirit of God dwells in you
Jn 14:17 Spirit of truth, abides with you, and will be in you.
John 14:16 Helper may be with you forever
Jesus Christ indwells the Christian:
2 Cor 13:5 Jesus Christ is in you
Eph 3:17 Christ dwells in your hearts
Matt 28:20 I am with you to the end of the age
Father indwells the Christian:
2 Cor 6:16 I will dwell in them
1 Jn 4:15 God abides in him
a. The New Testament concept of God dwelling in Christians traces its origin to God dwelling in the pillar of fire during the exodus and the temple of Solomon: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” (2 Chronicles 6:1–2)
b. Both David and Solomon understood that God did not literally dwell in either the cloud or the temple: “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27)
c. Both David and Solomon understood God dwelt representatively in the Temple: "Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time." (2 Chronicles 7:15-16)
d. God’s dwells representatively in the Christian body, which replaced the Temple of Solomon:
i. Indwelling of God’s eyes = providence and protection
ii. Indwelling of God’s ears = answered prayers
iii. Indwelling of God’s heart = Christians are loved
iv. Indwelling of God’s name = Christians wear the name of Christ as His possession, since He bought us with His blood.
e. Christians today are “led by the Spirit” through scripture. Notice that if God “dwelt in you”, he was also “with you” to bless you.
f. The “Genius of the Emperor” is essentially identical to the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the Christian as an active positive force for providential protection, blessing, prosperity, adoration and defeat of enemies. Neither the Roman emperor or the Christian are worshipped or viewed as divine.
11. Romans 13:1 and the Genius God of the Emperor as “God ordained leaders”:
a. "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." (Romans 13:1)
b. Christians are told by the Holy Spirit that God has ordained every king, including Caesars.
c. The Roman idea that a god indwells the Emperor is close to the Christians idea that God has providentially put the Emperor in power.
d. “The emperors were commonly regarded as being set apart from ordinary mortals and standing in a special relationship with the gods of the community. Emperors and subjects believed the ruler to be a manifestation of divine Providentia.” (God, emperor worship and society: Contemporary experiences and the book of Revelation, P J J Botha, Neotestamentica, Vol. 22, No. 1, p90, 1988 AD)
12. Conclusion: Genius of the Emperor: “Jeannie in the Caesar body”.
a. The idea that pagan gods indwelt the Roman Emperors for the common good of the empire was widely understood from the time of Christ down to the time of Constantine the Great.
b. Taking an “Oath to the Genius of the Emperor” was viewed as a political and social patriotic duty like a modern Citizenship pledge of the USA: “I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
c. Just as we today would view with suspicion those who refused to take such an oath, so too were Christians in the second century.
d. Roman citizens blamed Christians for the wrath of the gods through natural disasters and financial losses etc., because Christians had insulted the gods for refusal to worship them.
e. The “Oath to the Genius of the Caesar” and sacrificing to pagan gods, was used against Christians as a rouse to execute them for financial reasons.
f. The “Oath to the Genius of the Caesar” was not emperor worship but a cardinal doctrine of the Imperial cult from the time of Julius Caesar to Diocletian.
g. Both Polycarp (AD 156) and the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs (AD 180) refused to “Swear by the genius of Caesar” by “Taking the oath” and were executed.
h. As Tertullian said, Christians do not swear oaths to demon possessed Caesars, instead they cast the demons out!
D. Julius Caesar as a case example of emperor worship in Jerusalem: AD 41
1. Julius Caesar was worshipped as a god while alive:
a. Nobody was executed for not worshipping Julius.
b. “Having ended the civil wars Cæsar hastened to Rome, honored and feared as no one had ever been before. All kinds of honors were devised for his gratification without stint, even such as were superhuman—sacrifices, games, statues in all the temples and public places, by every tribe, by all the provinces, and by the kings in alliance with Rome. His likeness was painted in various forms, in some cases crowned with oak as the savior of his country, by which crown the citizens were accustomed formerly to reward those to whom they owed their safety. He was proclaimed the Father of his Country and chosen dictator for life and consul for ten years, and his person was declared sacred and inviolable. It was decreed that he should transact business on a throne of ivory and gold; that he should perform his sacerdotal functions always in triumphal costume; that each year the city should celebrate the days on which he had won his victories; that every five years the priests and Vestal virgins should offer up public prayers for his safety; and that the magistrates immediately upon their inauguration should take an oath not to oppose any of Cæsar’s decrees. In honor of his gens the name of the month Quintilis was changed to July. Many temples were decreed to him as to a god, and one was dedicated in common to him and the goddess Clemency, who were represented as clasping hands.” (Appian, Bell. Civ. 2.106)
c. “Yet after all, his other actions and words so turn the scale, that it is thought that he abused his power and was justly slain. For not only did he accept excessive honours, such as an uninterrupted consulship, the dictatorship for life, and the censorship of public morals, as well as the forename Imperator, the surname of Father of his Country, a statue among those of the kings, and a raised couch in the orchestra; but he also allowed honours to be bestowed on him which were too great for mortal man: a golden throne in the House and on the judgment seat; a chariot and litter in the procession at the circus; temples, altars, and statues beside those of the gods; a special priest, an additional college of the Luperci, and the calling of one of the months by his name. In fact, there were no honours which he did not receive or confer at pleasure.” (Suetonius, Julius 76.1)
2. Julius had written specific laws that exempted the Jews from worshipping the pagan gods:
a. DECREE: Jewish freedom to self-determination of Jewish worship:
i. “Caius Norbanus Flaccus, proconsul, to the governors of the Ephesians, greeting. “’[Julius] Caesar has written word to me, that the Jews, wherever they are, are accustomed to assemble [greek: synago] together, in compliance with a peculiar ancient custom of their nation, to contribute money which they send to Jerusalem; and he does not choose that they should have any hindrance offered to them, to prevent them from doing this; therefore I have written to you, that you may know that I command that they shall be allowed to do these things.’” (Philo, Embassy 315)
ii. Antiquities 14.235 Sardis 49 BC
iii. Antiquities 14.260 Sardis 48BC
b. DECREE: Jewish right of assembly in distinct synagogue building of their own design:
i. Antiquities 14.244–246 Miletus 46 BC
ii. Antiquities 14.235 Sardis 49 BC
iii. Antiquities 14.259-261 Sardis 48BC
c. DECREE: Jewish right to keep operate a civic court in the synagogue:
i. Antiquities 14.235 Sardis 49 BC
d. DECREE: Jewish right to keep the Sabbath and refrain from work:
i. Antiquities 14.244–246 Miletus 46 BC
e. DECREE: Jewish right to keep kosher food laws “ancestral food”:
i. Antiquities 14.244–246 Miletus 46 BC
ii. Antiquities 14.261 Sardis 48 BC
3. “Following his assassination on March 15, 44 b.c., Julius Caesar was declared a god by the Roman Senate. Afterwards it became customary to honor dead emperors in this way. On his deathbed Vespasian announced sarcastically, “I am already becoming a god! (Dio Cassius 66.17.2-3)” (Revelation, Christopher A. Davis, p64, 2000 AD)
E. Augustus as a case of emperor worship: 31 BC - AD 14
1. Augustus had a Temple at Pergamum where he was worshipped, but nobody ever died if they refused to venerate him.
2. In AD 25, during the reign of Tiberias, a man at a trial gives examples of historians before him that criticized the Caesar Augustus to no personal harm to themselves:
a. “The letters of Antony, the speeches of Brutus, contain invectives against Augustus, false undoubtedly yet bitter in the extreme; the poems—still read—of Bibaculus and Catullus are packed with scurrilities upon the Caesars: yet even the deified Julius, the divine Augustus himself, tolerated them and left them in peace; and I [Cornelius Cossus] hesitate whether to ascribe their action to forbearance or to wisdom.” (Tacitus, Annales 4.34. Defense of Cornelius Cossus before the senate for publishing history of Augustus, ἥν αὐτὸς ἐκεῖνος ἀνεγνώκει, Trial dated to a.v.c. 778 = a.d. 25)
3. Augustus was the pattern for all the first century Caesars who either willingly or begrudgingly accepted being worshipped but never harmed anyone if they refused.
4. The entire Jewish nation had been granted specific exception to worshipping any Roman pagan god by law under Julius and even the Ptolemies before him. (see below)
F. Tiberias renounced and mocked emperor worship: AD 14-37
1. The Senate had built a Temple to Tiberias at Pergamum for the population to worship Tiberias as a god.
2. Tacitus records that Caesar Tiberias delivered a speech where he renounces those built the “Temple of Tiberias” to worship him as a god at Pergamum.
a. Tiberias says that it was the senate, not himself, who order the building of his temple at Pergamum.
b. Caesar Tiberias mocked and renounced those who worshipped him in his temple others had built for him at Pergamum.
c. Tacitus then notes that after delivering this speech, “from now onward, even in his private conversations, he persisted in a contemptuous rejection of these divine honours to himself”.
d. Speech of Caesar Tiberias: “About the same time, Further Spain sent a deputation to the senate, asking leave to follow the example of Asia by erecting a shrine to Tiberius and his mother. On this occasion, the Caesar, sturdily disdainful of compliments at any time, and now convinced that an answer was due to the gossip charging him with a declension into vanity, began his speech in the following vein:—“I [Caesar Tiberias] know, Conscript Fathers, that many deplored my [Tiberias’] want of consistency because, when a little while ago the cities of Asia made this identical request, I offered no opposition. I shall therefore state both the case for my previous silence and the rule I have settled upon for the future. Since the deified Augustus had not forbidden the construction of a temple at Pergamum to himself and the City of Rome, observing as I do his every action and word as law, I [Tiberias] followed the precedent already sealed by his [Augustus] approval, with all the more readiness that with worship of myself [Tiberias] was associated veneration of the senate. But, though once to have accepted may be pardonable, yet to be consecrated in the image of deity through all the provinces would be vanity and arrogance, and the honour paid to Augustus will soon be a mockery, if it is vulgarized by promiscuous experiments in flattery.” “As for myself, Conscript Fathers, that I [Tiberias] am mortal, that my functions are the functions of men, and that I hold it enough if I fill the foremost place among them—this I call upon you to witness, and I desire those who shall follow us to bear it in mind. For they will do justice, and more, to my memory, if they pronounce me worthy of my ancestry, provident of your interests, firm in dangers, not fearful of offences in the cause of the national welfare. These are my temples in your breasts, these my fairest and abiding effigies: for those that are reared of stone, should the judgement of the future turn to hatred, are scorned as sepulchres! And so my prayer to allies and citizens and to Heaven itself is this: to Heaven, that to the end of my life it may endow me with a quiet mind, gifted with understanding of law human and divine; and to my fellow-men, that, whenever I shall depart, their praise and kindly thoughts may still attend my deeds and the memories attached to my name.” And, in fact, from now onward, even in his private conversations, he persisted in a contemptuous rejection of these divine honours to himself: an attitude by some interpreted as modesty, by many as self-distrust, by a few as degeneracy of soul:—“The best of men,” they argued, “desired the greatest heights: so Hercules and Liber among the Greeks, and among ourselves Quirinus, had been added to the number of the gods. The better way had been that of Augustus—who hoped! To princes all other gratifications came instantly: for one they must toil and never know satiety—the favourable opinion of the future. For in the scorn of fame was implied the scorn of virtue!” (Tacitus, Annales 4.37-38)
G. Caligula as a case example of emperor worship in Jerusalem: AD 37-41
1. Caligula: The menacing sounding name in English literally means “little boot”, a nick name given him as a boy when he wore his tiny arm uniform.
2. In AD 41 Caligula wanted to erect a statue of himself in the Jerusalem temple as a deity but Agrippa intervened and actually rescinded the imperial order. (Philo Embassy 333) Yet, this direct defiance against Caligula’s “godhood” went unpunished.
a. “But the emperor, having taken the letter and read it, and having considered every suggestion which was contained in it, was very angry, because his intentions had not been executed: and yet, at the same time, he was moved by the appeals to his justice and by the supplications which were thus addressed to him, and in some respects he was pleased with Agrippa, and in some he blamed him. (332) He blamed him for his excessive desire to please his fellow countrymen (Jews and Christians of Judea), who were the only men who had resisted his orders and shown any unwillingness to submit to his deification; but he praised him for concealing and disguising none of his feelings, which conduct he said was a proof of a liberal and noble disposition. (333) Therefore being somewhat appeased, at least as far as appearance went, he condescended to return a somewhat favourable answer, granting to Agrippa that highest and greatest of all favours, the consent that this erection of his statue should not take place; and he commanded letters to be written to Publius Petronius the governor of Syria, enjoining him not to allow any alterations or innovations to be made with respect to the temple of the Jews.” (Philo Embassy 331–333)
b. Agrippa defied the order of Caesar Caligula to set up a statue of himself in the Jewish temple in the Holy of Holies, so the Jews would worship him.
i. Caligula knew the Christians and Jews refused to “worship the Emperor” and no death penalty or punishment was enacted upon them.
ii. Caligula took no action against Agrippa for directly opposing Caligula’s effort to set up an image of himself in the Jewish temple in order to be worshipped.
c. Notice that Caligula who strongly promoted his deification was also widely portrayed as being insane. The “Caesar-god” was murdered in year four of his reign at the age of 28 on January 24, AD 41 by his own army with the knowledge of both courts and the senate in his own palace. So much for emperor worship! The point is, that even the general Roman public rolled their eyes at the idea that the Emperors where gods, the same way we would today.
3. In AD 40, Flaccus, prefect of Egypt, removed long held Jewish legal rights of worship and asylum in Alexandria in their synagogues wherein he put statues of Caligula. He proclaimed Jews aliens which led to confiscation of their homes, businesses and synagogues like Nazi Germany.
4. Plundering Jewish houses and putting statues in Alexandrian Synagogues AD 40-41
a. Philo records the looting/burning of houses and Synagogues in Alexandria:
b. “But as the governor of the country, who by himself could, if he had chosen to do so, have put down the violence of the multitude in a single hour, pretended not to see what he did see, and not to hear what he did hear, but allowed the mob to carry on the war against our people without any restraint, and threw our former state of tranquility into confusion, the populace being excited still more, proceeded onwards to still more shameless and more audacious designs and treachery, and, arraying very numerous companies, cut down some of the synagogues (and there are a great many in every section of the city), and some they razed to the very foundations, and into some they threw fire and burnt them, in their insane madness and frenzy, without caring for the neighbouring houses; for there is nothing more rapid than fire, when it lays hold of fuel.” (Philo Embassy 132, AD 40)
5. The pagans in Alexandria began to persecute the Jews plundering their homes and setting up statues of Caligula in their synagogues.
a. Their reasoning is recorded by Josephus and notice it was not treason to refuse to put the statue in the synagogue but disobeying an order.
b. “Seeing thou esteemest the presents made thee by the Jews to be of greater value than my commands, and art grown insolent enough to be subservient to their pleasure, I charge thee to become thy own judge, and to consider what thou art to do, now thou art under my displeasure; for I will make thee an example to the present and to all future ages, that they may not dare to contradict the commands of their emperor.” (Josephus Antiquities 18.303)
6. The Alexandrian Jews sent a delegation to Rome to seek justice and the Alexandrian pagans sent their own delegation to counter their effort. Among the pagan Alexandrian delegation was the famous Jew hater Apion whom Josephus battled. Philo records the details of the Jewish plea:
a. This is an exact synchronism with the origin and beginning of the very first synagogues in Alexandria Egypt in 280 BC (specifically 260 BC) , shortly after the Septuagint was translated in 282 BC.
“For, in the first place, one may derive them from about ten kings or more who reigned in order, one after another,
for three hundred years, and who never once had any images or statues of
themselves erected in our synagogues, though there were many of their
relations and kinsmen whom they considered, and registered as, and spoke of as
gods.” (Philo Embassy 136, AD 40)
H. Herod Agrippa I as a case example of emperor worship in Acts 12:22: AD 44
1. The case of Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12:22 sheds light because Herod did not claim to be god, he was merely reading an edict. It was the people who cried out “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Herod never claimed to be god, here merely failed to correct the people and God struck him dead. Most instructive in this case is that Herod was not a Caesar but a local king.
2. Strangely, although the Romans were pagans who worshipped many gods, they practiced a kind of “Caesar is the only living man-god” monotheism. Caesar was the only man on earth allowed to claim he was god and others were not permitted. The same thing is true among the Assyrian kings of the 9th century BC who all claimed to be god. This deification was a special gift from the god to the father/son dynasties of Assyrian kings. While Assyrian king lists numerate a long series of deified rulers, only one living man on earth was allowed to make the claim at one time. The Assyrian kings openly claimed direct and special illumination and deification which qualified them to be king. No other living man had been blessed by the gods the way the Assyrian king had been blessed.
3. This leads us to discuss the case of Herod in Acts 12. If failing to worship the Emperor was the cause of being charged with treason, then Herod himself would have been charged with treason for also claiming to be equal to the Emperor as a god. Additionally, the people were obviously unaware of any such “Emperor Worship” notion because they saw nothing wrong in proclaiming Herod Agrippa I as an equal and competing god to Caesar.
4. Just as the Assyrian kings would not tolerate other living men claiming to be god, so too the Roman Caesars.
5. So, while it is clear the people praised Herod as king, he was careful himself, not to make such a claim of deity for himself. God struck him with worms, not for claiming to be god, but for not refusing such claims by the common people.
I. Nero as a case example of emperor worship in AD 54-68
1. Nero worshipped by king of Armenia:
a. This was a voluntary worship which was exceptional, which Nero took note of because he was not often addressed as a god.
b. This show that Nero was not demanding to be called a god but did welcome the praise when given.
c. “These were his words: "Master, I am the descendant of Arsaces, brother of the kings Vologaesus and Pacorus, and thy slave. And I have come to thee, my god, to worship thee as I do Mithras. The destiny thou spinnest for me shall be mine; for thou art my Fortune and my Fate." 3 Nero replied to him as follows: "Well hast thou done to come hither in person, that meeting me face to face thou mightest enjoy my grace. For what neither thy father left thee nor thy brothers gave and preserved for thee, this do I grant thee. King of Armenia I now declare thee, that both thou and they may understand that I have power to take away kingdoms and to bestow them." 4 At the close of these words he bade him ascend by the approach which had been built in front of the rostra expressly for this occasion, and when Tiridates had been made to sit beneath his feet, he placed the diadem upon his head. At this, too, there were many shouts of all sorts. 6 By special decree there was also a celebration in the theatre. Not merely the stage but the whole interior of the theatre round about had been gilded, and all the properties that were brought in had been adorned with gold, so that people gave to the day itself the epithet of "golden." 2 The curtains stretched overhead to keep off the sun were of purple and in the centre of them was an embroidered figure of Nero driving a chariot [ie the sun god], with golden stars gleaming all about him.” (Dio Cassius, Roman History, 62.5.2-6.2)
4. Nero did persecute Christians as the 6th head and 666 of Revelation 13 & 17 but it had nothing to do with their refusal to worship him as a god.
a. Nero burned down Rome and blamed it on the Christians as a scapegoat.
b. Nero never issued decrees, under the penalty of death, to worship him.
J. Vespasian as a case example of emperor worship in AD 69-79
1. There are no records of Vespasian persecuting Christians, demanding to be worshipped or killing anyone who refused.
2. On his deathbed, it is clear Vespasian did not think he was a god while alive.
a. It is clear that Vespasian was aware of the Imperial cult theology that he really was not considered a god until he died.
b. Note that this understanding that you are become a god only after you die, is only two years before Domitian became Caesar in AD 81.
c. “When his physicians chided him for continuing his usual course of living during his illness and attending to all the duties that belonged to his office, he answered: "The emperor ought to die on his feet." 3 To those who said anything to him about the comet he said: "This is an omen, not for me, but for the Parthian king; for he has long hair, whereas I am bald. When at last he was convinced that he was going to die, he said: "I am already becoming a god." He had lived sixty-nine years and eight months, and had reigned ten years lacking six days.” (Dio Cassius 66.17.2-3)
3. Vespasian was God’s agent as the 7th head of Revelation 13 & 17 who destroyed Jerusalem through the agency of his son Titus, the 8th head of Revelation 17:10-11 in AD 70.
K. Domitian as a case example of emperor worship in AD 81-96
1. “Worship the emperor or die” was unknown during the reign of Domitian:
a. There are no literary sources that clearly reference the emperor worship of Domitian.
b. There are no literary sources that say Domitian killed Christians because they refused to worship him.
2. Irenaeus and Pliny provide no knowledge of persecution under Domitian:
a. Irenaeus failed to mention that Domitian persecuted Christians even though he believed Revelation was written during his reign. (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 5.30.3)
b. Pliny had never been in a trial of Christians during the time he served as a lawyer under Domitian. “It is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them.” (Pliny, Ep. 10.96.1)
3. The only literary evidence that Domitian wanted to be worshipped was Suetonius:
a. “With no less arrogance he began as follows in issuing a circular letter in the name of his procurators, “Our Master and our God bids that this be done.” And so, the custom arose of henceforth addressing him in no other way even in writing or in conversation. He suffered no statues to be set up in his honour in the Capitol, except of gold and silver and of a fixed weight.” (Suetonius, Dom. 13.1-3)
b. Suetonius never says that Domitian persecuted Christians, even though he did about Nero: “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” (Suetonius, Nero 16.2)
4. Domitian is portrayed as sensible and human:
a. “He [Domitian] administered justice scrupulously and conscientiously, frequently holding special sittings on the tribunal in the Forum. He rescinded such decisions of the Hundred Judges as were made from interested motives. He often warned the arbiters not to grant claims for freedom made under false pretenses. He degraded jurors who accepted bribes, together with all their associates.” (Suetonius, Dom. 8.1)
b. “In the earlier part of his [Domitian] reign he so shrank from any form of bloodshed, that while his father was still absent from the city, he planned to issue an edict that no oxen should be offered up” (Suetonius, Dom. 9.1)
5. Tertullian describes Domitian in relation to Nero as: “Consult your histories: you will find in them that Nero was the first to rage with the imperial sword against this religion [Christianity] … Domitian, too, somewhat of a Nero in cruelty, made some attempts. But—being also, to a certain degree, human—he soon put a halt to what he had initiated and even recalled those whom he had exiled.” (Tertullian Apol. 5.2-4, 200 AD)
a. Domitian was lesser in cruelty than Nero.
b. Domitian made “some attempts” to persecute Christians compared to Nero.
c. Domitian was “to a certain degree human” compared to Nero.
d. Domitian was ceased to persecute Christians shortly after starting in the early part of his reign.
e. Domitian released prisoners he had jailed in the early part of his reign. (This would certainly include Apostle John being released from Patmos, if such ever happed under Domitian.)
a. “Nero and Domitian, alone, persuaded by certain calumniators, have wished to slander our doctrine, and from them it has come to pass that the falsehood has been handed down, in consequence of an unreasonable practice which prevails of bringing slanderous accusations against the Christians.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.26.9)
b. Notice ONLY Nero and Domitian persecuted Christians in the first century.
c. Slanderous accusations were not used in courts of law, but as false gossip in the general public.
7. Many scholars reject that Domitian persecuted Christians at all based upon the earliest literary sources:
a. “While some have argued that Domitian did not persecute Christians, or that he ended it shortly after he had begun to do so, there is ample evidence that Christians did in fact fall victim to Domitian’s lethal wrath. This included many of the nobility, even some within Domitian’s own household, who at this time were apparently turning in increasing numbers to Christianity. Part of the problem, for Christians as well as others, lay in Domitian’s desire to be addressed as a divinity (a favorite title was deus et dominus noster [“our god and lord”]), an excess which Christians would clearly resist but for which he was condemned by non-Christians as well. That is not to say, however, that the persecution of Christians became official policy throughout the empire. Rather, it appears that such persecution remained spasmodic, and lacked the kind of organization that would allow it to be labeled “official persecution.” Rather, the persecution of Christians by Domitian, however extensive it may have been, appears to have been the result of his larger policy of suppressing all opposition, real or imagined, to his rule and his self-imputed divinity. … Domitian clearly put a number of Christians to death, some of whom were members of his household, but the reason was more a suspicion of disloyalty (they would not participate in official functions) than persecution of a “religion.” His general cruelty to other members of the ruling classes who were not Christians shows his “persecutions” reflected more his general attitude than a specific singling out of Christians.” (Hermeneia, Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p31,33 1996 AD)
b. “Externally, in certain circles there has been a radical reassessment of the portrait of Domitian as a megalomaniac demanding worship from his subjects, and doubts have been expressed as to the extent of any persecution of Christians during his reign (e.g. Thompson 1990; though see e.g. Janzen 1994). The standard Roman portrait of Domitian is largely dependent upon historians writing in the reign of Trajan (98–117),—Pliny the Younger, Dio Chrysostom, Suetonius and Tacitus—who had a vested interest in denigrating the Flavians in favour of the Antonines. The evidence for a Domitianic persecution of Christians is slight and ambiguous (e.g. it requires the identification of the executed Flavius Clemens and his exiled wife Domitilla as Christians: see Bell 1978/79; Boxall 2002: 98–100). Indeed, the early-second-century Ascension of Isaiah seems to know nothing of a persecution under Domitian, despite its allusion to what occurred under Nero (Asc. Isa. 4:3).” (The Revelation of Saint John, Ian Boxall, p13, 2006 AD)
c. “A number of scholars have questioned the evidence for official persecution under Domitian (Yarbro Collins 1984: 69–73; L. Thompson 1990: 105–9), and the general feeling is that very little had yet occurred.” (Revelation, Grant R. Osborne, p7, 2002 AD)
d. “Evidence that Domitian persecuted Christians is sketchy at best. Irenaeus dated Revelation to the end of Domitian’s reign but said nothing about persecution (Haer. 5.30.3). Some argue that the “repeated misfortunes and setbacks” in 1 Clem. 1:1 refer to Domitian’s action against the church at Rome, but the context actually says nothing about persecution (Lona, Der erste, 115–16). Melito said that Nero and Domitian slandered Christian teaching, leading to “the unreasonable custom of falsely accusing Christians” among the populace, yet he does not say that Domitian himself undertook a persecution (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.26.9). Hegesippus told the legendary story that Domitian personally interrogated descendants of Jesus’ brother but also said that the emperor released them and ended the persecution (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.20.1–7; cf. Tertullian, Apol. 5.3–4). Eusebius said that Domitian executed Flavius Clemens and banished his wife because they were Christians (Hist. eccl. 3.18.4), but Dio Cassius said it was because of their attraction to Judaism, which Domitian considered atheism (Rom. Hist. 67.14.1–3). In either case the incident does not seem to have been part of a sustained campaign against the church. The image of widespread persecution (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.17.1; 3.18.4) is not supported by the earlier evidence (Thompson, Book, 133–37; Cook, Roman, 117–37). Threats against Christians came from local conflicts that arose periodically during the late first century. Finally, Domitian’s policies toward the provinces were generally fair (Suetonius, Dom. 8.1).
e. “Few students of the Apocalypse today accept Eusebius of Caesarea’s comments about widespread persecution under Domitian (Hist. Eccl. 3.17–20, 39; 4.18; 5.8, 18; 6.25; 7.25). After reviewing the evidence of both Christian and non-Christian sources, Leon Hardy Canfield concludes that no great persecution occurred under Domitian and if the Apocalypse “does refer to conditions in Asia Minor under Domitian it is the only source for such a persecution” (74–76, 162). Recent commentators on the Apocalypse support Canfield’s conclusions (Sweet: 26; Yarbro Collins, 1981:33). (A Sociological Analysis of Tribulation in the Apocalypse of John, Leonard Thompson, Semeia 36, p153, 1986 AD)
f. “The lack of evidence for a particular persecution of Christians as Christians under Domitian leads other scholars to consider an earlier date for the document, a time of known social upheaval and religious persecution, namely, the period following Nero’s reign.” (The Social Setting of the Revelation to John: Conflicts Within, Fears Without, David A. deSilva, Westminster Theological Journal 54, p274, 1992 AD)
g. “There is very little firm evidence for the persecution of Christians under Domitian, despite his notorious reputation. Dio Cassius and Suetonius both record the death of Flavius Clemens, among others in 96 ce. Dio says that Clemens and his wife Domitilla were accused of ‘atheism’ and ‘Jewish customs’—which could mean Christianity, but is hardly conclusive.” (Revelation, John M.Court, p99, 1999 AD)
h. “Scholarship, however, has challenged the traditional view that the situation behind the book of Revelation boiled out of the cauldron of an empire wide persecution instituted by the emperor Domitian. The traditional view has fallen into disfavor due to the paucity of evidence supporting an official imperial persecution against Christians during his reign.” (Persecution and the Purpose of Revelation with Reference to Roman Jurisprudence, Alan S. Bandy, Bulletin for Biblical Research Vol. 23, p377, 2013 AD)
i. “Pliny’s queries show that he was unaware of any general policy with respect to Christians, and Trajan’s answer makes clear his unwillingness to establish one, or to authorize a search for Christians, a procedure normally followed in the case of recognized enemies of the state. One cannot therefore use such a supposed official, empirewide persecution in any attempt to determine the authorship of 1 Peter, based on the possible date of this letter.” (Hermeneia, Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, p33 1996 AD)
8. Shocking statement in Holman Study Bible that is totally false: “When Domitian issued an edict declaring emperor worship mandatory for all inhabitants of the Roman Empire, he exempted the Jews from this requirement. The Jews did not want this religious freedom extended to Christians.” (NASB Holman Study Bible Notes, CSB Study Bible, A. Boyd Luter, Revelation 2:8, 2017 AD)
a. Domitian never issued an edict to worship him or die!
b. “Persecution was not instigated by the authorities but by concerned neighbors. Such was probably the case during the reign of Domitian. There was no imperial edict against Christians, but the violence of Domitian’s reign created a volatile context for social deviations.” (I & II Peter and Jude: A Commentary, Lewis R. Donelson, p12, 2010 AD)
c. “Misperceptions about Domitian’s reign color one’s interpretation of Revelation. John places on a cosmic level the social conflicts his community in Asia Minor has experienced by rejecting Rome’s power, and this has been [wrongly] interpreted by some as an empire-wide persecution of Christians decreed by the emperor. The impression we are sometimes left with is that Domitian reigned as a wild-eyed, merciless tyrant who ordered his soldiers to hunt down Christians systematically throughout his empire and feed them to hungry lions if they failed to worship him as god. … First-century Roman persecution of Christians, in any case, does not seem to arise from a direct command by Nero or Domitian to be worshipped as “lord and god.” (Churches under Siege of Persecution and Assimilation: The General Epistles and Revelation, B. J. Oropeza, p178, 2012 AD)
d. Orosius AD 418:
i. Orotsius is the only literary source that says Domitian issued decrees of persecution against Christians, but his account must be rejected.
ii. There are some serious problems in that he is obviously drawing upon others before him like Eusebius and embellishing the story to include an edict.
iii. Most notably is the fact that these edicts were issued in the 15th year of his 15 year reign. That such edicts were issued to persecute Christians in the last year of his reign directly contradicts Tertullian who says Domitian persecuted Christians at the beginning of his reign and then quickly stopped, even releasing all the captives. (Tertullian Apol. 5.2-4, 200 AD)
iv. Orotsius first claims Christians were persecuted but then goes on to cite how Domitian executed his fellow Romans in the Senate. This would have been a great time to name some ancient Christian martyrs.
v. If the NASB study Bible note (see above) was based upon Orosius, their statement, “Domitian exempted the Jews from this requirement” contradicts Orosius who said “an order was given that the race of David be searched out and killed by cruel tortures and bloody inquisitions”.
vi. So Orosius states that Domitian issued at least two different edicts of persecution against Jews and Christians.
vii. We have no idea what the edict said. If true, the “cruel persecution” may have been unconditional as a hatred towards Christians or the general public at large. The lack of details, at this late date is a red flag and show it to be an editorial fabrication and embellishment based upon Eusebius.
viii. Finally, if Domitian it really did issue a decree in his final year, it was a short lived persecution for Christians. The entire story therefore must be rejected.
ix. “For fifteen years this emperor [Domitian] passed, little by little, through all kinds of crimes until he dared, by issuing edicts of most cruel persecution everywhere, to uproot the Church of Christ most firmly established in the whole world. He fell into such a condition of pride that he ordered himself to be called Lord and God, and to be so described and worshiped. Because both of envy and greed, he killed the most noble men of the Senate; some publicly, others he drove into exile and there ordered them to be butchered. … This same emperor, crazed by his pride because of which he wished to be worshiped as a god, was the first emperor after Nero to order a persecution against the Christians to be carried on. Also at this time, the most blessed Apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos. Also among the Jews, an order was given that the race of David be searched out and killed by cruel tortures and bloody inquisitions, since the holy prophets were both hated and believed, as if some day there would be One from the seed of David who could acquire the throne. Yet directly, Domitian was cruelly killed in the Palace by those in his own home, and his body was carried out on a common bier by corpse bearers and buried most ignominiously.” (Paulus Orosius of Braga, History Against the Pagans 7.10.5, 418 AD)
L. Trajan and Lawyer Pliny as a case example of emperor worship in AD 98-117
1. Late-daters misuse Pliny to say that Christians were charged with treason for failing to worship Caesar and then executed.
a. In fact, Pliny is the only source cited by King while Hailey and Harkrider cited zero sources to prove their version of emperor worship where Christians were executed treason for refusing to bow to Caesar in worship.
b. As we will see, the correspondence letters between lawyer Pliny and Emperor Trajan, were a new, localized, “bottom up” persecution that came to the attention of Trajan, not long standing continuation of a state sponsored “top-down” demand of worship.
c. Most important is that the crime was being a Christian and the test was worshipping all the pagan gods, one of whom was the emperor.
d. Finally, Christians were never charged and executed with treason by Pliny for failing to worship the emperor.
2. Pliny was a lawyer who served under both Trajan and Domitian and had never witnessed a trial of Christians under Domitian:
a. Pliny had never been in a trial of Christians during the time he served as a lawyer under Domitian: “It is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them.” (Pliny, Ep. 10.96.1)
b. This is an incredible statement missed by late-daters.
c. That Pliny, a famous lawyer in Asia, had never been in a trial persecuting Christians under Domitian, lays an axe at the root of the notion of the “great Domitian persecution of Christians.
d. But it gets worse. Not only had Pliny never witnessed a Christian persecution trial before the time of Trajan, there was no “case law”, precedents or any examples he was even familiar with!
e. This proves that Pliny’s persecution of Christians was unique, new and local.
f. Pliny’s persecutions plowed previously pristine prosecution property.
3. Christians were never charged with treason for refusing to worship the Emperor:
a. Jesus and Paul were accused of treason to Caesar, not because they would not worship the emperor, but because they refused to follow his laws as a form of civil Zealot-like insurrection.
b. The Jews had from the time of the Maccabees been exempt from all participation of Greek or Roman paganism through a collection of formal treaties or “edicts of toleration”. Sure, “Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:1) but he didn’t kill them. The fallacy of the “confess Caesar or die” fiction, is that if the Romans always tolerated the Jews’ formal denunciations of Caesar as God, they would not suddenly be offended by the new cult of the Nazarene either. Historically, Christians were never put to death on the charge of “treason” for refusing to worship the Roman Caesar.
c. Pliny persecuted Christians by demanding they worship both pagan gods and Caesar Trajan in Bithynia in a special “monkey trial” court process that specifically excluded treason: “In c. 112, Pliny was sent by the emperor Trajan (98–117) to Bithynia to restore the province from ravages caused by maladministration and corruption. He toured the province and when he reached the far east end, near Amastris, he encountered Christians. Pliny, though a lawyer by profession, had never been at a trial of Christians. The procedure he used was the same as for the vast majority of criminal cases in the province: cognitio extra ordinem, an arbitrary system of trial before a magistrate for offenses that fell outside the range of “statutory crimes” such as treason, forgery, or adultery.” (Persecution in the Early Church, William H. C. Frend, Christian History Magazine, Issue 27, 1990 AD)
d. It is clear that refusing to worship Caesar Trajan was not considered legal grounds to charge Christians with treason.
4. Pliny reports to Trajan that he was unable to find real legal grounds to punish Christians, noting that their guilt was a typical church service. Trajan even tortured two female Christians to confess the inner secret crimes that Christians were thought to be committing but came up with no information to report. Again, the idea of “treason for not worshipping Trajan” is absent:
a. If it was simply a refusal to worship Caesar, this entire process would not have been needed.
b. Notice they were determined to be Christians through torture, but he does not say he executed them.
c. “They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. [Early Christians were suspected of cannibalism or infant sacrifice which included drinking their blood.] … I judged it so much the more necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses: but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition.” (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD)
5. Pliny reports to Trajan that the pagan temples were abandoned due to high conversion rates among Christians. The resulting lost trade and commerce in AD 112 echoes what Paul experienced at Ephesus years earlier in AD 50.
a. “For this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only but has spread through the villages and rural districts; it seems possible, however, to check and cure it. It is certain at least that the temples, which had been almost deserted, begin now to be frequented; and the sacred festivals, after a long intermission, are again revived; while there is a general demand for sacrificial animals, which for some time past have met with but few purchasers. From hence it is easy to imagine what multitudes may be reclaimed from this error, if a door be left open to repentance.” (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD)
b. “Pliny, as governor of Bithynia, is typical of the caution with which the magistrate would proceed in this imprecise legal area. The Christians must be checked-this was assumed -but how to proceed without a specific charge was the problem. Trajan's acceptance of the suspicio attached to the nomen Christianum remained the legal precedent, and Pliny's sacrifice test (which he had blundered into) remained the ultimate obstacle which plagued the unfortunate Christians down to the times of the Decian persecution. Different magistrates throughout the world would be faced with different charges and different circumstances, but these two precedents remained the same … One final point should be stressed. Pliny's letter to Trajan (x. 96) also supplies us with a third element which remained valid down to the end of the period of persecution: the motive of government authorities. Pliny's mention of his efforts to fill the temples in his area, and to encourage the celebration of sacra sollemnia diu intermissa, gives us the necessary clue, and one which could well have served as a precedent for the ages to come.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p lxii, 1972 AD)
c. "For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. “You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. “Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” (Acts 19:24–27)
6. Pliny used pagan idol worship as a method to determine the crime of being a Christian: AD 110
a. “However, it was ***not*** especially the refusal to venerate the emperor that led to the persecutions of Christians, as appears from Pliny’s famous letter to Trajan and the Rescript (Ep. 10.96–97) and Christian martyr texts. Until the reign of Decius [AD 248] the emperor did not take steps against the Christians on his own initiative, and only responded to questions from the provinces. Usually the refusal by arrested Christians to worship the gods in general (including the emperor) led to their execution” (Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Ruler Cult, p715, 1995 AD)
7. The crime was being a Christian, the test was worshiping pagan idols:
a. If a man confessed to being a Christian, he was executed without being asked to worship idols and Caesar.
b. If a man denied he was a Christian, he was ordered to worship Roman Idols and Caesar.
c. There was no Imperial decree from Caesar, it was the locals who wanted to kill the Christians because the pagan temples were empty and the craftsman were losing money.
d. “I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed.” (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD)
e. Pliny knew Christians would not worship idols, pagan deities or the Emperor as god. So, Pliny created a test to determine if a man was a Christian by gathering together a collection of several pagan idols including a statue of the Emperor himself. He would then command the Christian to worship the collection of idol gods that included the image of Trajan. What is important here, is that worshipping the statue of the Roman Caesar was not used to determine if “treason” charges could be laid against the Christian. Instead, it was a simple test to determine if the man was pagan or Christian. The man would not be charged with “treason”, he was charged with being a “Christian”. If the charge was treason, there would have been no need to have the collection of idols in addition to the statue of Trajan. The crime was being a Christian, not treason!
f. “Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the [pagan] gods, and offered worship, with wine and frankincense, to your [Trajan’s] image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the [pagan] gods… They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, and cursed Christ.” (Pliny, Letters 10.96)
8. Most important is Caesar Trajan’s reply to Pliny which utterly refutes the late-dater’s fiction of “emperor worship”. Notice Trajan replies that the Christians must merely worship pagan gods, not himself as a Caesar god. If Christians were being executed for not worshipping the emperor, Trajan, the emperor would have surely said so right here.
a. “The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. … however, when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not -that is, by adoring our gods- he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance” (Pliny, Letters 10.97, Trajan replies to Pliny)
b. Late-laters needed Trajan to reply this way: “The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny wrong. I don’t care if they worship other gods. My edict requires them to worship me, the emperor as god. If a man worships Roman gods but not me, he is to be executed according to my Edict posted throughout the entire Roman empire. But if he bows to my image, sacrifices to me or burns incense to me he shall be pardoned and not be execute.” (Pliny, Late-date “sure wish he had said that” version, 2018 AD)
9. Things lacking in Pliny’s letter that late-daters need:
a. No Empire wide decree that all must worship Caesar or die. In fact, no decree of any kind had been issued by Trajan.
b. Pliny or Trajan made no reference to any decree or order that had been issued. If an order or decree had been issued Pliny would have said, “according to your order/decree” and Trajan would have replied, “my decree must be enforced to worship me as a god”.
c. No “order from the top” that locals must hunt down Christians and execute them if they didn’t worship the emperor. In fact, it was the locals who brought the demand to execute Christians “up to Caesar” in exactly the same way Paul had to appeal to Caesar because of local persecution in Jerusalem.
d. No requirement to worship the emperor to the exclusion of the other Roman pagan idol gods. In fact, Trajan himself, the “god to be worshipped”, replied to Pliny that the requirement was only to worship Roman gods specifically excluding the need to worship him as emperor. If Emperor worship was as late-daters wrongly portray it, Trajan would have replied that the requirement was to worship him, since that is what the legal decree said. Of course, there was no decree.
10. The persecution of Christians under Trajan were:
a. New, as indicated by Pliny’s never witnessed a trial of Christians.
b. Local, as indicated that this was in the province of Bithynia not empire wide.
c. Brief, as indicated by Hadrian outlawing Pliny’s monkey trials against Christians after Trajan died with formal imperial edicts.
11. As we will see next, the trials and persecutions of Christians by Pliny under Trajan were quickly outlawed under Hadrian who passes specific laws to protect Christians.
M. Hadrian as a case example of emperor worship in AD 117-138
1. In AD 165, Justin Martyr recorded the edict of Caesar Hadrian (AD 117-138) that protected Christians from the kind of monkey trials under his predecessor Trajan. In other words, at the time of Hadrian, Christians were afforded full legal rights to defend themselves AS CHRISTIANS. Notice the idea of treason for refusing to worship the Emperor is absent:
a. “Accordingly, if the inhabitants of your province will so far sustain this petition of theirs as to accuse the Christians in some court of law, I do not prohibit them from doing so. But I will not suffer them to make use of mere entreaties and outcries. For it is far more just, if any one desires to make an accusation, that you give judgment upon it. If, therefore, any one makes the accusation, and furnishes proof that the said men do anything contrary to the laws, you shall adjudge punishments in proportion to the offences.” (Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 68, Edict of Hadrian, 165 AD)
b. The edict of Caesar Hadrian specifically targeted and outlawed the very kinds of “Christian witch hunts” and “monkey trials” conducted by Pliny under Caesar Trajan.
2. During the reign of Hadrian we are certain that the idea of “worship Caesar or die” did not exist.
a. It is noteworthy that Hadrian issued decrees protecting Christians while conducting a major holocaust against Jews during his reign in AD 135 by killing Jews, renaming Judea “Palestine” (ie. Land of the Philistines) and renaming Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” and building a Temple of Jupiter on the Temple mount.
b. So thoroughly did Hadrian remove anything Jewish from the city of Jerusalem, not one of the 480 synagogues in use at the time of Jesus the Nazarene have never been discovered or excavated.
“‘The house of the Lord’ refers to the Temple. ‘And the king’s house’ refers to the palace of Zedekiah. ‘And all the houses of Jerusalem’ refers to the 480 synagogues that were in Jerusalem. For R. Phineas in the name of R. Hoshaiah: “There were 480 synagogues in Jerusalem and every one of them had a schoolhouse and a house for learning, a schoolhouse for Scripture and a house of learning for Mishnah.” (Jerusalem Talmud, y. Meg. 3:1, II.2.D–E)
3. Hadrian was the 15th Caesar from Julian, including the three usurpers and acted as an agent of God to finish his wrath against the Jewish nation for persecuting Christians and crucifying His son, Jesus of Nazareth, the risen Son of God.
a. Hadrian issued decrees protecting Christians while carrying out a ruthless campaign of extinction to anything Jewish in the land of Judea.
4. Up to AD 139 when Hadrian died, was a time of peace for Christians in regards to state persecution from the Romans.
a. Christians were persecuted by Jews not the Romans during the time of Hadrian as Justin Martyr describes was rampant in AD 165.
b. Christians who were persecuted during the second century AD (like Polycarp) resulted from local citizen-initiated attacks not state sponsored campaigns of persecution.
N. Martyrdom of Polycarp as a case example of emperor worship under Pius in AD 156
1. The Martyrdom of Polycarp on 22 February 22 AD 156
a. Under Caesar Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161) “The captain of police, Herod, and his father Nicetas met him, and took him into their own carriage and seated at his side, tried to persuade him, saying: ‘But what harm is there in saying, “Caesar is Lord,” and in offering incense, and so forth, to be saved? At first he did not answer, but, when they persisted, he said: ‘I am not going to do what you advise me.’ 3 On failing to convince him, they spoke threateningly to him and made him descend so quickly that he bruised his shin as he got down from the carriage. Without even turning around, as though he had suffered nothing, he continued on his way eagerly and speedily, and was led into the stadium. The uproar in the stadium was such that nobody could be heard at all. … 1 Upon Polycarp’s entrance into the arena there came a voice from heaven, ‘Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man.’ No one saw the speaker, but our people who were present heard the voice. 2 Finally, when he was brought forward, the Proconsul asked him if he were Polycarp; when he admitted it, he tried to persuade him to a denial of the faith, saying: ‘Have regard for your age,’ and other suggestions such as they usually make: ‘Swear by the genius of Caesar; change your mind and say, “Away with the atheists!” ’ Then Polycarp, with solemn countenance, gazed on the whole crowd of lawless pagans in the stadium, waved his hand at them, groaned, looked up to heaven, and said: ‘Away with the atheists!’ 3 As the Proconsul urged him and said: ‘Take the oath and I release you; revile Christ,’ Polycarp said: ‘Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?’ … As he further insisted and said: ‘Swear by the genius of Caesar [Ginn spirit that indwells for protection and prosperity of the Roman Empire],’ Polycarp replied: ‘If you vainly imagine that I will swear by the genius [Ginn spirit that indwells] of Caesar, as you say, and pretend not to know who I am, let me tell you plainly: I am a Christian. … Then they decided to shout out unanimously to have Polycarp burned alive. For the vision revealed to him on the pillow had to be fulfilled (when he saw it burning as he prayed, and he turned and spoke prophetically to the faithful with him, ‘I must be burned alive’). This happened with indescribable speed. The crowds gathered and collected wood and bundles of brush from the shops and baths, the Jews in particular, as is usual with them, lending zealous assistance in this.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 8–13.1, 156 AD)
2. Martyrdom of Polycarp is likely a 3rd century pseudepigrapha rewrite of a much simpler original account: While it seems quite likely that some form of this story of how Polycarp was killed was sent, the story smells suspiciously of being an embellished rewrite of the original version from the fourth century.
a. Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History 4.15 records most of the details of the letter, so the pseudepigrapha probably dates to the period of the final persecutions of Christians by Diocletian up to AD 303.
b. While the Bible teaches that Jesus is Creator God and the Holy Spirit is a person, the developed trinitarian formula seems over-emphasized and a bit early.
c. Polycarp being called “THE Bishop” rather than “A presbyter” marks the story after AD 200. The evolution from a plurality of elders (a presbytery) to the full-blown papal system is well documented. At the time of Polycarp’s death, in AD 150 church organization had only begun to view one of the many elders as the “head elder” or “exalted bishop” During this period of "The rise of the exalted elder" nobody was ever called THE BISHOP or THE ELDER. He was still seen as having equal authority as the rest of his fellow bishops/elders but was viewed as the “first among equals” or the presider of the body of his fellow bishops. It is interesting that today, the Orthodox church practices an autocephalous style organization and still describes their “pope” (I.e. the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople) as the “first among equals” in relation to the other regional/national popes around the globe. It was not until after AD 200-250 that one man became the sole authority for a local church known as “THE BISHOP”. Today most denominations pattern their organizations after this corrupt 3rd century organization, by calling their preacher THE PASTOR who is the top authority in a local church with veto power over his body of elders/presbyters, if they have one.
i. In scripture, the first century top office in a local church was described interchangeably with all the three following terms: “elder/presbyter, shepherd/pastor, overseer/bishop (Acts 20:17,28; Tit 1:5,7; 1 Pe 5:1-2). This New Testament pattern is reflected perfectly in Polycarp to the Philippians which dates to c. AD 110 and is very different from the language of THE BISHOP found throughout the Martyrdom of Polycarp.
ii. The two distinct titles of presbyter vs. Bishop used to describe Polycarp between his own letter to the Philippians and another’s later account of his martyrdom, are a huge red flag that the Martyrdom of Polycarp was composed centuries after his death.
iii. The word presbytery is never used in the “Martyrdom of Polycarp” and the word bishop is never used in “Polycarp to the Philippians”.
iv. In Polycarp to the Philippians, Polycarp is describes himself as one of several presbyters and is never calls himself a Bishop even once: "Polycarp, and the presbyters with him … be subject to the presbyters and deacons as to God and Christ” (Polycarp to the Philippians, intro, 5:3, 110 AD).
v. Such language as “obey your presbyters” was extinct by AD 250 where obedience to the ONE Diocesan Bishop was required. The repeated calling Polycarp “THE Bishop of Smyrna” betrays the composition as pseudepigrapha.
vi. Philip Schaff correctly notes: “We proceed to the officers of local congregations who were charged with carrying forward in particular places the work begun by the apostles and their delegates. These were of two kinds, Presbyters or Bishops, and Deacons or Helpers. They multiplied in proportion as Christianity extended, while the number of the apostles diminished by death, and could, in the nature of the case, not be filled up by witnesses of the life and resurrection of Christ. The extraordinary officers were necessary for the founding and being of the church, the ordinary officers for its preservation and well-being. The terms Presbyter (or Elder) and Bishop (or Overseer, Superintendent) denote in the New Testament one and the same office, with this difference only, that the first is borrowed from the Synagogue, the second from the Greek communities; and that the one signifies the dignity, the other the duty. 1. The identity of these officers is very evident from the following facts: a. They appear always as a plurality or as a college in one and the same congregation, even in smaller cities) as Philippi. b. The same officers of the church of Ephesus are alternately called presbyters and bishops. c. Paul sends greetings to the "bishops" and "deacons" of Philippi, but omits the presbyters because they were included in the first term; as also the plural indicates. d. In the Pastoral Epistles, where Paul intends to give the qualifications for all church officers, he again mentions only two, bishops and deacons, but uses the term presbyter afterwards for bishop. Peter urges the "presbyters" to "tend the flock of God," and to "fulfil the office of bishops" with disinterested devotion and without "lording it over the charge allotted to them." e. The interchange of terms continued in use to the close of the first century, as is evident from the Epistle of Clement of Rome (about 95), and the Didache, and still lingered towards the close of the second [century]. (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 1, chapter 10)
d. The use of the word “bishop” combined with the letter being addressed to ‘all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place’, belies a later date after AD 250.
i. “The word ‘catholic,’ i.e., universal, occurs in the Greek classics, as in Aristotle and Polybius, and was freely used by the earlier Christian writers in what may be called its primitive and non-ecclesiastical sense. The combination, ‘the Catholic Church,’ appears for the first time in the letter of St. Ignatius to the Smynaeans (purported: AD 110 but actually AD 250). From this time on, the technical and ecclesiastical meaning of the word appears with increasing frequency both in the East and the West. By the beginning of the fourth century it has essentially supplanted the primitive and more general meaning. (Eusebius of Caesarea, R. J. Deferrari, p233, 1953 AD)
ii. Within the both the Martyrdom of Polycarp and the letter of St. Ignatius to the Smynaeans are the two same powerful clues that both are clearly a forgery from a later time. In Ignatius to the Smynaeans is the “supposed” very first historical reference to the "Catholic Church" is nestled warmly between very strong commands to obey the bishop as you would Jesus Christ and the only valid baptism or communion service is one by the bishop's authority.
iii. “Let all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father, and the priests, as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Apart from the bishop, let no one perform any of the functions that pertain to the Church. Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the bishop or by one to whom the bishop has committed this charge. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God.” (Ignatius to Smyrna 8, AD 250)
iv. "He is also the first who uses the term “catholic church,” as if episcopacy and catholicity sprung up simultaneously. The whole story of Ignatius is more legendary than real, and his writings are subject to grave suspicion of fraudulent interpolation." (History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff, Vol 2, p145)
v. All this brings the Martyrdom of Polycarp into suspect as a genuine document written in AD 156.
e. The story of Polycarp’s death reads like a highly edited and polished sermon rather than a simple letter written by one man as he sat down at a desk and scribbled out his thoughts with carbon ink on papyrus. The highly developed imagery and allusions and metaphors are too perfect for a first-generation version of the story. Many well known biblical motifs are masterfully echoed, including:
i. Being purified by fire like silver and gold in 1 Peter 1:7
ii. Body saved from fire like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Dan 3.
iii. A Roman speared the dead body and blood gushed out.
f. The miraculous events are too perfect:
i. Polycarp’s dream of a burning pillow as an announcement he would be burned was something only he would know.
ii. Miracle flames, incense, body not burnt but turned appearance of gold, the spear and blood coming out that extinguished the entire flames.
iii. God’s voice announced to Irenaeus in Rome that Polycarp was dead.
g. The letter asks for wide distribution, a concept absent from most genuine New Testament epistles: “So when you have this information, send the letter to the brethren further on.” (MPoly 20.1)
3. Polycarp’s crime was being a Christian and the test was to worship idols which included Caesar.
a. To determine if someone was a Christian, they would ask them to renounce Christ, worship pagan gods.
b. There was no decree from Caesar to worship him or die. There is no evidence that any laws were broken.
c. It was the mob, not Caesar who required Polycarp to confess “Caesar is Lord” or “Swear by the genius of Caesar” [pagan Ginn spirit/demon that indwells].
d. In the final condemnation, there was no reference to Emperor worship, just the general Roman gods: “the whole mob of pagans and Jews living in Smyrna shouted out with uncontrollable anger and in a loud voice: ‘This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our gods, who has taught many not to sacrifice and not to adore.’”
e. “the Proconsul … sent his own herald into the middle of the arena to announce three times: ‘Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian.’” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 12.1, 156 AD)
f. Polycarp was to offer incense to Caesar, not throw a pinch of salt as commonly misreported.
4. Polycarp’s persecution was not the result of an imperial decree from the top-down, but a local persecution of Romans and Jews.
a. “So, after this, the whole crowd, amazed at the nobility of the God-loving and God-fearing race of Christians, shouted out: ‘Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 3:2, 156 AD)
b. It was an initiative of the local population not Caesar exactly like Demetrius the silversmith stirred up the entire city of Ephesus. (Acts 19:21)
c. There was no mention of an imperial decree or any Roman law: “Martyrs and their apologists exploited this tentativeness, ambiguity, and imprecision. Germanicus, a bit player in the martyrdom of Polycarp, pulled a beast onto himself so he could “be released sooner from unjust and lawless life.” The apologists saw Roman officials as arbitrary, pliable, and manipulable by angry crowds who did not condemn Christians on the basis of law, for Christians were peaceable and law-abiding citizens of the empire. They condemned Christians on the basis of a name. … Martyrdom exposed the impotence of state violence. Torture did not change most Christians. As Salisbury writes, the Romans misconstrued the psychology of torture. Torture does not “reassociate” but “disassociates” its victims. Roman torturers tried to force Christians back into conformity with Romanitas, but the more they tortured, the more Christians detached themselves from Rome. Roman power met its limits because the Christian Church had already opened doors to a new world within the Roman world, a social and heavenly world to which Christians were more attached than they were to Rome. No amount of pain could force them back in, and the more Rome tried, the more Rome showed its impotence. Before the martyrs, Roman law was unmasked as brute power and arbitrary will and, what was worse, ineffective power and will.” (Witness unto Death, Peter Leithart, First Things #229, p47, 2013 AD).
d. As seen throughout the period, the local townspeople blamed the Christians (who insulted the pagan gods) for any misfortune. The pagan priests hated the Christians for bankrupting their business fortunes exactly like Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19.
e. The mob determined the punishment in an almost exact mirror of the trials of Jesus when mob cried, “crucify Him”.
f. Polycarp is the only person executed and the only one arrested, indicating that Christians in general were not put through the same process.
5. Only 13 died at this period of time and the persecutions targeted the leaders, not the Christians in general:
a. “These are the details concerning the Blessed Polycarp, who suffered martyrdom in Smyrna, together with eleven others from Philadelphia.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 19.1)
b. Only two leaders, and Polycarp were martyred. Except for Germanicus, Polycarp and 11 others in Philadelphia, there was no door to door hunt for all who confessed to be a Christian.
c. At the arrest of Polycarp, the Christian who had harbored him were not arrested: “so he went out secretly to a farm not a great distance from the city and, remaining with a few [Christian] friends” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 5.1)
d. The pagan and Jewish mob witnessed a group of Christians, desirous to physically touch and allowed them to carry away the burnt body Polycarp without harm: “And so, afterwards, we took up his bones, more valuable than precious stones and finer than gold, and put them in a proper place.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 18.1)
6. Polycarp was a special divine approved example of be “faithful to death”
a. Polycarp is put forward as a one-up example sacrificed by the will of God: “And, as he prayed, he fell into an ecstasy three days before his arrest, and he saw the pillow under him burning with fire, and, turning to those who were with him he said: ‘I must be burned alive.’” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 5.2)
b. Polycarp was a leader with a special destiny to die and not part of a state wide hunt for Christians in general: “Then the police captain called Herod—that is the very name he had—hastened to bring him to the stadium so that, becoming a partaker of Christ, he might fulfill his special destiny.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 6.2)
c. “he might have escaped into another place; but he refused, saying, “The will of God be done.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 7.1)
d. At first, the flames arched around Polycarp with him in the middle. Instead of his flesh burning, it turned to the colour of silver and gold and gave off the smell of sweet costly incense: “When he had uttered the Amen and finished his prayer, the men in charge of the fire lighted it. As a great flame flashed out, we saw a miracle, that is, those of us to whom it was granted to see. Yes! And we were preserved to report to others what happened. 2 For the fire took the shape of an arch, like a ship’s sail filled with wind, and stood around the body of the martyr; and he was there in the midst, not like flesh burning, but like bread being baked, or gold and silver being purified in a furnace. And we also perceived a fragrant odor such as the scent of incense or the scent of some other costly spices.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 15)
e. Miraculously, Polycarp’s body could not burnt in the fire and when the Romans pierced his body with a dagger so much blood came out that the fire was completely extinguished. “Finally, the lawless men, seeing that his body could not be consumed by fire, ordered an executioner to approach and stab him with a dagger. When he had done this, there came out much blood, so that the fire was extinguished, and the whole crowd marveled that there was such a difference between the unbelievers and the elect. 2 For the most glorious Polycarp certainly was one of the elect, an apostolic and prophetic teacher among our contemporaries and bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna; and every word which proceeded from his lips has been fulfilled and will be fulfilled.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 16)
f. This proves that the persecutions were targeted to the leaders at the time of Polycarp, not the general Christian population.
g. This also proves that Polycarp was a special and exceptional case of martyrdom.
7. Notice that the local Jews were part of the active arena mob and central in persecuting Christians at this time.
a. The Jews, like some Christians must have decided it was better to take the oath and sacrifice rather than die. How else can you account for the Jews sitting in the crowds and calling for the Christians to be executed for not sacrificing to the Roman gods.
b. Ironically, no good Torah compliant Jew would ever offer sacrifices to Idols to escape death any more than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Dan 3.
c. “The crowds gathered and collected wood and bundles of brush from the shops and baths, the Jews in particular, as is usual with them, lending zealous assistance in this” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 13.1, 156 AD)
d. “‘Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian.’ After this proclamation by the herald, the whole mob of pagans and Jews living in Smyrna shouted out with uncontrollable anger and in a loud voice.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 12.1-2, 156 AD)
e. The Jews did not want the Christians to carry away the burnt body of Polycarp: “So he [the Devil] took measures that his poor body should not be taken away by us, although many desired to do this and to touch his holy flesh. 2 So he put up Nicetas the father of Herod, and the brother of Alce, to request the Governor not to surrender his body, ‘Lest,’ it was said, ‘they might abandon the crucified one and begin to worship this man.’ They said this at the suggestion and instigation of the Jews who also watched as we were going to take the body from the fire. … On seeing the quarrel stirred up by the Jews, the centurion put the body in the middle, as was their custom, and burned it.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 17.1; 18.1, 156 AD)
8. The martyrdom of Polycarp does not provide most of the essential details that late-daters require.
a. There is no edict that failure to worship the Imperial Cult was a death sentence.
b. Only the leaders were targeted rather than massive local or state-wide persecution against large numbers of Christians.
c. There was no charge of treason.
d. The crime was being a Christian or failure to worship idols.
e. The final judgement was based upon failure to worship Roman idols, not the emperor.
f. The entire story as we have it today is very likely a 3rd century rewrite of a much simpler version and therefore a pseudepigrapha that is worthless to use as any evidence of emperor worship.
1. Letter to Caesar Antoninus Pius: AD 138-161: “[Dear Pius] There was a woman married to a man of evil life, in which she too had formerly participated. But once she had come to know the teachings of Christ she became reformed and tried in turn to persuade her husband to reform his own life, calling to his mind the doctrines of Christ and warning him of the eternal fire prepared for those who live not according to discipline and right reason. But the man persisted in his licentiousness and alienated his wife by his actions. His wife then thought it would be wrong to continue to live with a man who sought his pleasures from any source whatsoever, no matter whether it was against justice or the natural law; and so she wished to have a divorce. … he [husband] filed a complaint against her on the ground that she had left him without his consent, adding that she was a Christian. She then submitted a petition to you, Emperor [Pius] … Her former husband, no longer being able to sustain the same complaint, turned his attention in the following way to a certain Ptolemaeus, the man who had been her instructor in Christian doctrine, and who had been punished as a criminal by Urbicus. Now since the centurion who arrested Ptolemaeus was a friend of his, the husband persuaded him to lay hands on Ptolemaeus and ask him merely whether he was a Christian. Ptolemaeus, who was a lover of truth, and not deceitful or a liar by disposition, admitted that he was a Christian, and so the centurion had him put in chains and had him punished for a long time in jail. At length, when he was brought before Urbicus he was again merely asked whether he was a Christian. And once again, fully aware of the benefits he enjoyed because of Christ's doctrine, he confessed to the instruction in divine virtue. Now when Urbicus ordered him to be executed, a man named Lucius, who was also a Christian, seeing how unreasonable the sentence was, said to Urbicus: 'What is the charge? He has not been convicted of adultery, fornication, murder, clothes-stealing, robbery, or of any crime whatsoever; yet you have punished this man because he confesses the name of Christian? Your sentence, Urbicus, does not befit the Emperor Pius [AD 138-161], his philosopher son [Caesar Marcus Aurelius: 161-180], or the holy senate!' Urbicus made no further reply, but said to Lucius: 'I think you too are one of them. And when Lucius said, 'Indeed, I am', he ordered him to be executed as well.” (Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus and Lucius, 160 AD)
a. Most important is to note that the letter is addressed to Caesar Antoninus Pius as a complaint to report a miscarriage of justice. It references Pius, his son Aurelius and the Roman senate. All throughout the letter Pius is addressed in the first person as “you”. The letter stops abruptly without making a request for justice, but it is obvious that is the intent of the letter. This is the second time Emperor Pius has been involved in this divorce. The first time, the woman wrote the Emperor who rendered judgement on behalf of the wife.
b. Echoing the story of Abagail and worthless Nabal at the time of David, this woman was married to a rich, powerful, sinful fool whom she detested being married to.
c. While he is away on a trip, she seeks the advice of a church leader named Ptolemaeus who counseled her to divorce her husband. Although the cause of adultery is not named, the storyline paints him as a womanizer. “a man who sought his pleasures from any source whatsoever, no matter whether it was against justice or the natural law”. (Mt 19:9; 1 Cor 7:12-15)
d. The husband filed a counter lawsuit to the court specifically stating she was a Christian.
e. This triggers the wife to “appeal to Caesar” like Apostle Paul did. Clearly, she understood that the Emperor would know she was a Christian.
f. When Caesar Pius dismisses the case against the husband, he turns his anger against the Christian [Ptolemaeus] who counseled his wife to leave him. He got one of his Centurion buddies to arrest Ptolemaeus upon confession of being a Christian.
g. A second Christian, Lucius, intervenes on behalf of the injustice done to Ptolemaeus and is also arrested for being a Christian.
h. Both men are executed.
i. This entire story was then reported to Caesar as a case of injustice and wrongful punishment and execution of two Christians.
2. This story, which dates to AD 138-161, totally disproves every and all notions of Emperor worship. This story also proves persecutions during the reigns of Hadrian, Pius and Aurelius [AD 117-180] were from the local townsman not a an Empire wide decree from the top to hunt and kill Christians who refused to worship the Emperor.
a. Clearly the husband knew the local authority could act upon the charge of being a Christian because he states such about his wife in the first legal pleading then gets Ptolemaeus thrown in jail solely on the confession of Christ.
b. The woman appeals to Caesar AS A CHRSTIAN and Pius passes judgement in her favour.
c. The fact a second letter was sent to Emperor Pius outlining the execution of two Christians proves the legal disconnect between the locals who viewed being a Christian as a crime and the Emperor, who did not.
d. The most important detail in the letter are the words of Lucius to his executioner: “Your sentence, Urbicus, does not befit the Emperor Pius, his philosopher son [Aurelius], or the holy senate!”. It is clear that it was widely understood at the time, that both Caesar and the Roman senate would punish those who persecuted Christians.
3. No Emperor worship enforced on the penalty of death between AD 117-180 (Hadrian to Aurelius):
a. After the monkey trials of Trajan, Hadrian passed specific laws protecting Christians from this exact type of persecution.
b. We know from the letter that both Emperor Pius and Aurelius would seek swift justice against the local officiate Urbicus who murdered two Christians without cause.
c. Unlike other Martyrdom stories, this one has a higher probability of being close to the original and dating to the time of Caesar Pius.
P. The Martyrdom of Justin Martyr as a case example of emperor worship under Aurelius in AD 165
1. Under Caesar Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180), the story of the execution of Justin Martyr and 6 of his friends is likely a true story that dates to AD 165 but the details are likely wrong. The problem is that there are three very different manuscripts, the earliest of which is c. AD 750. It is likely that all three versions are actually latter embellishments from the original story. Further, we do not know if there was an original account in the second century or if it was transmitted by word of mouth then written down a century later with questionable accuracy. The story directly contradicts the Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus and Lucius just five years earlier in AD 160 were the emperor is seen as a savior of Christians being persecuted as opposed to the primary source of their persecutions in the story of Justin.
2. There are three manuscript traditions of the story of the martyrdom of Justin Martyr:
a. Short 8th century manuscript: A shorter version, long known to exist in a Paris manuscript has more recently been given prominence by the studies of G. Lazzati, who believes it to be the original form of the text.
b. Middle 9th century manuscript (AD 890): The vulgate, or long/middle version, as it has been called, is the one best known and most used; it has for its witness the oldest manuscript.
c. Long 12th century manuscript: The later, literary revision: longer, more literary, and obviously reworked version in a Jerusalem manuscript.
3. No emperor worship in any of the three accounts. Notice the progression in detail in the opening of the story. The short is a single sentence compared to the long as an entire paragraph.
a. “In the days of the wicked decrees of idolatry, the aforementioned saints were arrested and brought before the urban prefect at Rome, a man named Rusticus.” (Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, short 8th century manuscript)
b. “In the days of the wicked defenders of idolatry, impious decrees were posted against the pious Christians in town and country alike. This was intended to force them to offer libations to empty images. And so the aforementioned saints were arraigned before the urban prefect at Rome, a man named Rusticus. After they had been brought before his tribunal, the prefect Rusticus said to Justin: 'First of all you must obey the gods and submit to the orders of the emperors.' Justin said: 'There is no blame or condemnation in obeying the commands of our Saviour Jesus Christ.'” (Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, middle 9th century manuscript)
c. “While the wicked Antoninus [Caesar Marcus Aurelius: 161-180] wielded the sceptre of the Roman empire, Rusticus happened to be the despicable prefect at Rome, a terrible man, a plague, and filled with all impiety. Once while he was sitting at the tribunal, a group of the saints was brought before him as prisoners, seven in number. For this was eagerly sought after by the ministers of Satan, to arrest them, afflict them with cruel torments, and thus to deliver them to death by the sword. Now the saints did not have the same native city, for they came from different countries. But the favour of the Spirit bound them together, and taught them to have fraternal thoughts and to have but one head, Christ. At any rate, dragged before the tribunal of the wicked magistrate, as has been said, they were interrogated by him as to their names, their origin, and their religious beliefs. They confessed that they were Christians and made clear to him what their calling was, and said that their only city was God's, the free city, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose craftsman and creator was God. They said to him: 'What advantage is it for you, O tyrant, to know the names of our earthly cities?' Then the prefect in anger said: 'Justin, sacrifice to the immortal gods and fulfil the imperial edicts; and persuade these too who have been deceived by you to do the same with alacrity—unless you wish to lay down your life with them miserably.'” (Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, long 12th century manuscript)
a. “The prefect Rusticus passed judgement: 'Those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods are to be scourged and executed in accordance with the laws.” (Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, short 8th century manuscript)
b. “'Well then,' said the prefect Rusticus, 'let us come to the point at issue, a necessary and pressing business. Agree together to offer sacrifice to the gods. 'No one of sound mind', said Justin, 'turns from piety to impiety.' The prefect Rusticus said: `If you do not obey, you will be punished without mercy.' … Similarly the other martyrs said, 'Do what you will. We are Christians and we do not offer sacrifice to idols.' The prefect Rusticus passed judgement, saying: 'Those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to yield to the emperor's edict are to be led away to be scourged and beheaded in accordance with the laws.'” (Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, middle 9th century manuscript)
c. “Then the magistrate, speaking generally, said: 'Since this then is your statement, impious ones, let us proceed to the issue that is before us: agree together to sacrifice to the gods, lest you be miserably destroyed. For what person with intelligence would choose to relinquish this sweetest light and prefer death to it?' 'And what person of sound mind', answered Justin, 'would choose to turn from piety to impiety, from light to darkness, and from the living God to soul-destroying demons?' 'Unless you sacrifice,' said the magistrate, 'I shall begin the tortures.' And the saints replied: 'We are confident of this, prefect, this we long for, this we desire, and this will grant us great freedom at the terrible tribunal of Christ, when each one of us shall receive according to his deeds. And so, do what you will. We are Christians, as we have repeatedly said, and we do not sacrifice to idols.' Then the accursed magistrate ordered them to be chastised with whips. And they were scourged until their flesh was torn to shreds, and their blood reddened the ground. When he saw that the martyrs would in no wise yield, he gave sentence against them as follows: 'I decree that those who have defied the imperial edicts and have refused to sacrifice to the gods are to be beheaded with the sword.' (Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, long 12th century manuscript)
5. There is a progression in the source of law over time:
a. Short: local laws likely of the wicked prefect Rusticus.
b. Middle: orders of the Emperors
c. Long: imperial edicts of Marcus Aurelius
6. Contradiction between the Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus/Lucius in AD 160 and Justin Martyr in AD 165:
a. In the Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus/Lucius, Hadrian, Pius and Aurelius are not only portrayed as opposed to any persecution of Christians, they were appealed to the Emperor for justice of wrongful death. Also there were no imperial edicts were issued from any Caesar.
b. In the Martyrdom of Justin Martyr, Caesar Marcus Aurelius he is portrayed as an enemy of Christians issuing decrees to worship idols or be executed.
7. Even with imperial decree to worship idols or die as recorded in the late revision, there is no worship of the Emperor or any hint of an imperial cult. The actual story was likely a group of locals who bribed a local magistrate to convict them against the wishes of Marcus Aurelius who would have executed those who executed the Christians as restorative justice.
Q. Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne as a case example of emperor worship under Aurelius in AD 177
1. Under Caesar Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180), this is very long and gruesome account of many Christians being persecuted in the towns of Lyons and Vienne with the full consent of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. This portrayal of Aurelius as a persecutor of Christians directly contradicts the Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus and Lucius just 17 years earlier in AD 160.
a. “The intervening period [waiting for the Emperor’s decision] was neither idle nor fruitless for them for through their perseverance the infinite mercy of Christ was revealed. The dead were restored to life through the living; the martyrs brought favour to those who bore no witness, and the virgin Mother experienced much joy in recovering alive those whom she had cast forth stillborn. For through the martyrs those who had denied the faith for the most part went through the same process and were conceived and quickened again in the womb and learned to confess Christ. Alive now and strengthened they came before the tribunal that they might again be questioned by the governor: for God, who does not desire the death of the sinner but shows him the favour of repentance, made it sweet for them. Now it was the emperor's order that these should be beheaded, but that those who had denied their faith should be released. Thus at the outset of the festival here (and it was one that was crowded with people who had come to it from all countries) the governor brought the blessed martyrs before the tribunal to make a show and a spectacle of them before the crowds. This was the reason why he had them questioned once again, and all those who were thought to possess Roman citizenship he had beheaded; the rest he condemned to the animals.” (Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne, 1.45 AD 177)
2. Discussion about the date and revisions:
a. “Eusebius is our sole source for the text of this document which purports to be an encyclical letter written by the communities of Lyons and Vienne, in Gaul, to the churches of Asia and Phrygia. Written in affective and very moving style, the letter offers a brutal portrait of an anti-Christian uprising in Gaul (perhaps in the summer) of the year 177 under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Though some (e.g. P. Meinhold) have doubted the date, which depends essentially on Eusebius, practically all modern scholars would accept it. The actual sequence of events is not easy to establish, and the legal authority for the propraetor's procedure seems obscure. (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xx, 1972 AD)
b. However authentic the letter substantially is, this does not exclude the possibility of an editor who may have reworked a primitive document sometime in the third century, lending the earlier account a vividness and excitement of his own. The treatment of the Christian dead (1. 59-60) seems gratuitously cruel and may well have been invented; and the entire persecution is conceived as the work of the Beast (1. 5, 42, 57, and 2. 6). The virgin Mother mentioned in 1. 45 (cf. 2. 7) is, of course, the Church, and parallels the expression used by Methodius of Olympus in his Symposium (iii. 8)," which dates from the years 260 to 290. Thus, the final edition of the letter as used by Eusebius may well have circulated during the years after the edict of Decius to inspire in the Christians a zeal to resist the coercive efforts of the Roman government. (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxi, 1972 AD)
2. Most important, the idea of emperor worship is completely foreign to the story.
a. No imperial edicts were issued by the Caesar to worship him as a god or die.
b. Instead, the Christians were ordered to worship idols in general: “Every day they had been brought in to watch the torture of the others, while attempts were made to force them to swear by the pagan idols.” (Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne, 1.45 AD 177)
3. There really is no clear reason exactly why the Christians were tortured and killed.
a. The crime was being a Christian and the test was a simple denial of Christ, confessing idols or swearing by idols.
b. There are only two brief, vague references to the Christians being told to swear by idols.
c. The basis of conviction was a simple confession of believing in Christ which removed the need for further enquiries before the tortures began.
d. The crime was not treason for failing to worship the emperor under penalty of death as late-daters have imagined.
R. Martyrs of Scillitan as a case example of emperor worship under Aurelius in AD 180
1. Under Caesar Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180), the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs records the beheading of 12 Christians, 7 men and 5 women on 17 July AD 180 in a town called Scillitan (Scilli, Sila, Silli) somewhere in North Africa.
a. “In the consulship of Praesens (for the second time) and Claudian, on the seventeenth day of July there were arraigned at Carthage in the governor's chambers Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Secunda and Vestia. The proconsul Saturninusz said: 'If you return to your senses, you can obtain the pardon of our lord the emperor.' Speratus said: 'We have never done wrong; we have never lent ourselves to wickedness. Never have we uttered a curse; but when abused, we have given thanks, for we hold our own emperor in honour.' Saturninus the proconsul said: 'We too are a religious people, and our religion is a simple one: we swear by the genius of our lord the emperor and we offer prayers for his health—as you also ought to do.' Speratus said: 'If you will give me a calm hearing, I shall tell you the mystery of simplicity.' 'If you begin to malign our sacred rites,' said Saturninus, 'I shall not listen to you. But swear rather by the Genius of our lord the emperor. Speratus said: 'I do not recognize the empire of this world. Rather, I serve that God whom no man has seen, nor can see, with these eyes. I have not stolen and on any purchase I pay the tax, for I acknowledge my lord Who [Jesus] is the emperor of kings and of all nations.' … Saturninus the proconsul read his decision from a tablet: 'Whereas Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda, and the others [Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Laetantius, Januaria, Generosa] have confessed that they have been living in accordance with the rites of the Christians, and whereas though given the opportunity to return to the usage of the Romans they have persevered in their obstinacy, they are hereby condemned to be executed by the sword.' Speratus said: 'We thank God!' … They all said: 'Thanks be to God!' And straightway they were beheaded for the name of Christ.” (Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, 180 AD)
b. “The Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs is our earliest dated document [Codex Vindobonensis Latinus AD 377] from the Latin church and the first to make mention of a Latin Bible [line 12]. … Most scholars have felt that this document, like the court protocol in the Acta Cypriani, is the closest of all our extant Acts to the primitive court records. Still, certain problems remain. In [lines] 11 and 13, we are to presume that the proconsul's suggestion of a postponement for thirty days is directly refused by Speratus, who appears to be the spokesman for the entire group [of twelve]; and so judgement is delivered on the same day as the hearing, 17 July 180. Certain inconsistencies arise from the various lists of the martyrs. … Despite the serious problems that still remain, the Passio Sanctorum Scillitano rum seems to reflect one of the earliest and most authentic stages in the textual transmission of the acta martyrum.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxii, 1972 AD)
a. The Christians state that they pray for the Emperor health, hold him in honour, pay taxes but will not say an oath to the “Genius of the Emperor”.
b. The Genius of the Emperor was a pagan spirit that indwelt the Emperor like a guardian angel to bring success and prosperity to the general Roman Population. It was not Emperor worship, as the Genius/Jinn/Jeannie/spirit/demon resided in the Emperor who was only deified after his death.
3. Local or State persecution:
a. Just 20 years earlier, in the Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus/Lucius (AD 160), Christians, they were appealed to the Emperor for justice against local authorities who persecuted them.
b. The offer of “pardon of our lord the emperor”, likely meant, “I will pardon you as a representative of the Emperor”
c. “It is clear from the Acta that considerable hatred of the Christians was still possible in the early years of the reign of the third Antonine emperor, although the rigor of Marcus Aurelius had been much mitigated, as shown by the fact that Saturninus did not resort to torture, but repeatedly offered the Christians time to reconsider. It is also noteworthy that it would appear that the martyr Speratus made a distinction between the Pauline writings and the other books of the New Testament.” (New Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia, vol 10, p298, 1914 AD)
d. There was no imperial edict to worship the emperor or die.
e. There is a good chance that these local prosecutions were contrary to the wishes of the Marcus Aurelius.
4. There is no emperor worship in this story.
S. Martyrdom of Apollonius as a case example of emperor worship under Commodus in AD 185
1. Under Emperor Commodus (180-192), the actual story of the Martyrdom of Apollonius during is lost except for this unreliable account from a late manuscript.
a. “‘Yes, I am a Christian,’ said Apollonius … `Change your mind', said the proconsul Perennis; 'take my advice, Apollonius, and swear by the Genius of our lord the emperor Commodus.' … I [Apollonius] beg you to believe, Perennis, that the clear and holy precepts that we have we learned from the Word of God, who knows all the thoughts of men. Further, we have been ordered by him never to swear and in all things to tell the truth. It is already considered a great oath when truth is affirmed by a 'yes'; hence it is wicked for a Christian to swear. … Perennis the proconsul said: 'Change your mind, Apollonius, and do what I tell you: offer sacrifice to the gods and to the image of the emperor Commodus.' … In view of the senatorial decree', said the proconsul Perennis, `I urge you to change your mind, and to worship and venerate the gods that all of us worship and venerate, and so to continue to live in our midst.' … `I am aware of the senatorial decree,' said Apollonius, 'but I am a pious man, Perennis, and I may not worship artificial idols’. … The proconsul Perennis said: `Apollonius, I had thought that you had now changed from this decision of yours and were going to venerate the gods with us.'. … Apollonius called Sakkeas fulfilled his martyrdom.” (Martyrdom of Apollonius, 185 AD)
b. “The extant acta reflect a poor, obviously late tradition and one widely at variance with the version known to Eusebius. Eusebius (HE v. 21), in referring to a document which was undoubtedly included in his own collection of the acta, asserts that a wealthy and learned Roman by the name of Apollonius was delated at Rome to the magistrate Perennis. This would be Tigidius Perennis, praetorian prefect at Rome from 180 until his murder at the command of Commodus in 185. After a futile speech of defense, delivered, according to Eusebius, before the Roman senate, Apollonius was condemned under 'an old statute still valid'; but his informer's legs were ordered broken by Perennis (a penalty which the extant acta shifts to Apollonius himself). The Acts, preserved in a unique eleventh-century Greek manuscript from Paris and in a divergent Armenian version, are typical of the degree of distortion these martyrdoms [scripts of the martyr stories] underwent at an early date. … it is a document to be used with caution, as representing a late, possibly fifth- or sixth-century redaction of a text which, even as known to Eusebius, may not have been free from apologetic distortion and modification.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxiii, 1972 AD)
c. Apollonius was ordered to swear and oath to the “Genius of the Emperor”, worship idol Roman gods and the image of the emperor Commodus.
d. Apollonius argues that Christians do not swear oaths, but as Jesus said, “let you yes be yes, and your no be no” and therefore cannot take the oath.
2. Eusebius’ version contradicts the longer version:
a. “At the same time, in the reign of Commodus, our lot changed to a milder one, as peace by the grace of God came upon the churches throughout the whole world; when, too, the word of salvation was guiding every soul of every race of mankind to the pious worship of the God of the universe, so that now many of those highly noted for riches and family, with all their household and with all their relatives, turned toward their own salvation. Now this, of course, was unendurable to the demon who hates God and who is envious by nature, and so he again stripped for battle, devising various schemes against us. In the city of Rome he brought Apollonius, a man celebrated at that time among the faithful for his education and philosophy, to the judgment seat, stirring up one of his servants, suited for this purpose, to accuse the man. But the martyr, most beloved by God, when the judge very earnestly besought and begged him to make a defense of himself before the Senate, presented before all a most eloquent defense of the faith for which he was being a martyr, and he was put to death by being beheaded, as if by decree of the Senate, since an ancient law among them prevailed that those who once appeared before the judgment seat and did not change their statement should on no condition be released. The words of this Apollonius in the presence of the judge, and the answers which he gave to the questions of Perennius, and his entire defense before the Senate, anyone who pleases to read all this will find it in the collection of the ancient martyrs we compiled.” (Eusebius Eccl. History 5:21, 325 AD)
b. Eusebius says nothing about swearing an oath to the Genius of the Emperor, the requirement to worship idols or refusing to bow to a statue of the Emperor because that is not why he was executed.
c. We are told he was executed based upon an ancient law that if he offered no defense of the accusations.
d. We are not even told what false charge was made against him. It may have been a simple corruption charge that nothing to do with being forced to worship idols.
a. It is clear from the story, that Emperor worship was not the isolated requirement but one of a list of things the Christian needed to do in order to show they were good Roman citizens.
b. The story records no state-wide, witch hunt and in the end, only one person was executed.
c. Like most of the martyr stories, it is the leaders who are targeted while the general Christian population are left alone.
d. Even this late, unreliable rewrite of a true historic story doesn’t provide the level of persecution required that late-daters need for the beast from the Earth to be Emperor worship.
e. The story varies greatly from Eusebius’ version and it seems even the version Eusebius copied from had itself been modified and updated. This means it really doesn’t paint the correct details of Christian persecution in the 2nd century AD.
f. Eusebius says that Christians experienced peace under Emperor Commodus but the later revision fabricates a fiction of Emperor worship.
T. Martyrdom of Potamiaena and Basilides as a case example of emperor worship under Severus in AD 210
1. Under Caesar Septimius Severus (AD 193-211) “The story goes that her judge, a man named Aquila,' subjected her entire body to cruel torments, and then threatened to hand her over to his gladiators to assault her physically. For a moment the girl reflected, and then when asked what her decision was, she gave some answer which impressed them as being contrary to their religion. No sooner had she uttered the word and received the sentence of condemnation, when a man named Basilides, who was one of those in the armed services, seized the condemned girl and led her off to execution. The crowd then tried to annoy her and to insult her with vulgar remarks; but Basilides, showing her the utmost pity and kindness, prevented them and drove them off. … Not long afterwards Basilides for one reason or another was asked by his fellow soldiers to take an oath; but he insisted that he was not at all allowed to do so, since he was a Christian and made no secret of it. For a while they thought at first that he was joking; but then when he persistently assured them it was so, he was brought before the magistrate, and when he admitted the situation he was put into prison.” (Martyrdom of Potamiaena and Basilides, 210 AD)
2. There is no emperor worship in the story.
a. The oath that Basilides is not specified and may not have been the Oath to the Genius of the Emperor.
b. In both cases it was the fact that they were Christians that they were executed based upon confession of Christ.
U. Martyrdom of Pionius the Presbyter as a case example of emperor worship under Decius in AD 250
6. Selected text of the story:
a. “This took place when Julius Proculus Quintillians was proconsul of Asia, under the consulship of the Emperor Gaius Messius Quintus Trajan Decius Augustus for the second time and Vettius Gratus, on the fourth day before the Ides of March according to the Roman calendar [12 March AD 250]” (Martyrdom of Pionius 23, 250 AD)
b. “On the second day of the sixth month, on the occasion of a great Sabbath, and on the anniversary of the blessed martyr Polycarp, while the persecution of Decius [249 to 251 AD] was still on, there were arrested the presbyter Pionius, the holy woman Sabina, Asclepiades, Macedonia, and Limnos, a presbyter of the Catholic Church. … Polemon the [pagan] temple verger [priest] came in on them with his men in order to seek out the Christians and drag them off to offer sacrifice and to taste forbidden meats. 'Surely you are aware', said the verger, 'of the emperor's edict commanding us to sacrifice to the gods.'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 2, 250 AD)
c. “all the forum and the upper stories of the porches were crowded with Greeks, Jews, and women. They were on holiday because it was a great Sabbath … ‘At whom then do the Jews laugh without sympathy? For even if, as they claim, we are their enemies, we are at any rate men, and men who have been treated unjustly. They claim we have our chance to speak out. Yes, but whom have we offended? Did we murder anyone? Did we prosecute anyone? Did we force anyone to worship false gods? Or perhaps they think that their crimes are similar to those now committed by men out of fear. Rather, their sins differ as much as voluntary sins are different from indeliberate ones. Who forced the Jews to sacrifice to Beelphegor? Or partake of the sacrifices offered to the dead? Or to fornicate with the daughters of foreigners? Or to sacrifice their sons and daughters to idols? To murmur against God? To slander Moses? … 'Do they [Jews] ask why was it that some, without any pressure, came to sacrifice of their own accord? But would you condemn all Christians because of these?” (Martyrdom of Pionius 3-4, 250 AD)
d. “'Once on a journey I travelled all through Palestine, and crossing the Jordan river I saw a land that bears witness even to this day of the divine anger that has afflicted it by reason of the sins committed by its inhabitants. … 'Hence we bear witness to you of the judgement by fire that is to come, accomplished by God through his Word, Jesus Christ. And so for this reason we do not worship your so-called gods, nor will we adore the golden idol [I.e. Dan 3].'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 4, 250 AD)
e. “'Pionius, even though you do not wish to sacrifice, at least go into the temple of Nemesis [twin goddesses of Smyna].' … Pionius said: 'Would that I were able to persuade you to become Christians.' The men laughed aloud at him. 'You have not such power that we should be burnt alive', they said. 'It is far worse', said Pionius, 'to burn after death.' Sabina smiled at this, and the verger and his men said: 'You laugh?' 'If God so wills,' she said, 'I do. You see, we are Christians. Those who believe in Christ will laugh unhesitatingly in everlasting joy.' They told her: 'You are going to suffer something you do not like. Women who refuse to sacrifice are put into a brothel.' 'The God who is all holy', she said, 'will take care of this.'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 7, 250 AD)
f. “'Make a sacrifice at least to the emperor,' said Polemon. 'I am a Christian,' said Pionius. 'I do not offer sacrifice to men.'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 8, 250 AD)
g. “'I understand also that the Jews have been inviting some of you to their synagogues. Beware lest you fall into a greater, more deliberate sin, lest anyone commit the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Do not become with them rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah, whose hands are tainted with blood. We did not slay our prophets nor did we betray Christ and crucify him. But why need I say much to you? Recall what you have heard; and now put into practice what you have learned. For you have also heard that the Jews say: Christ was a man, and he died a criminal. But let them tell us, what other criminal has filled the entire world with his disciples? What other criminal had his disciples and others with them to die for the name of their master? … 'For my part, this lie that is repeated now as though it were recent, I have heard uttered by Jewish people since I was a child.” (Martyrdom of Pionius 13-14, 250 AD)
h. “'Look, Euctemon [turncoat Christian], one of your leaders, offered sacrifice. So should you too be persuaded. Lepidus and Euctemon are asking for you in the temple of Nemesis [twin goddesses of Smyrna].'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 15, 250 AD)
i. “you were ordered to punish us, not force us against our wills [to sacrifice to idols].'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 16, 250 AD)
j. “'After your condemnation I shall ask for you to compete in single combat with my son.'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 18, 250 AD)
k. “Later it was said that Euctemon [a Christian leader who renounced Christ] had decided to force our hand . He had brought a little lamb to the temple of Nemesis, and after it was roasted and he had eaten of it, he intended to bring all the rest back home. He had indeed become ridiculous because of his false oath, wearing his crown and swearing by the emperor's genius and the goddesses of Fate that he was not a Christian.” (Martyrdom of Pionius 18, 250 AD)
l. “The sentence was then read in Latin from a tablet: ' 'Whereas Pionius has admitted that he is a Christian, we hereby sentence him to be burnt alive.' 21. Hastily he went to the amphitheatre because of the zeal of his faith, and he gladly removed his clothes as the prison-keeper stood by. Then realizing the holiness and dignity of his own body, he was filled with great joy; and looking up to heaven he gave thanks to God who had preserved him so; then he stretched himself out on the gibbet and allowed the soldier to hammer in the nails. When Pionius had been nailed down the public executioner said to him once again: 'Change your mind and the nails will be taken out.' … And so they raised him up on the gibbet, and then afterwards a man named Metrodorus from the Marcionitesect.s1 It happened that Pionius was on the right and Metrodorus was on the left, though both faced the east. After they brought the firewood and piled up the logs in a circle, Pionius shut his eyes so that the crowd thought that he was dead. But he was praying in secret, and when he came to the end of his prayer he opened his eyes. The flames were just beginning to rise as he pronounced his last Amen with a joyful countenance and said: 'Lord, receive my soul.'” (Martyrdom of Pionius 20-21, 250 AD)
7. Two different dates for the Martyrdom:
a. While the story, as we have it today, gives a precise date of 12 March AD 250, some of the details date the story to Diocletian after AD 300.
b. Eusebius contracts the date of AD 250 by placing it at the time of Polycarp c 156: “Moreover, a famous martyr of those at that time [Polycarp c AD 156] was Pionius.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.15)
c. “A date in the last decades of the third century. Given the vagueness of the legal background, it seems impossible to determine whether Pionius and his companions were taken during the Decian persecutions. The prominence of Polemon the temple verger, the emperor's edict (3.2), and finally the explicit dating to the second consulship of Decius under the proconsul Iulius Proculus Quintilianus this would seem to make us all but certain of the date. And yet the questionings, the imprisonment, and the rest are not what we should expect as a result of the Decian edict, which merely commanded a certificate of sacrifice to be obtained under pain of capital punishment. Thus it is not impossible that our pious author, writing shortly before or after 300, has confused details from various periods, both before and after the reign of Decius.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxix, 1972 AD)
8. No requirement to worship the emperor or die!
a. The charge was being a Christian which was tested by sacrificing to idols.
b. A decree had been issued that each man must provide evidence he had sacrificed to ANY pagan idol god. Worshipping the emperor was acceptable evidence but not mandatory.
c. Notice that when Pionius refused to sacrifice to Nemesis, the twin goddesses of Smyrna, he was offered a second option: “Make a sacrifice at least to the emperor” (Martyrdom of Pionius 8, 250 AD). The language of “at least” speaks volumes and proves that this was not an edict from the top down, where the emperor demanded HE be worshipped or else die!
9. The words of Decius’ Edict are unknown but and 46 Certificates of Libelli that have been excavated.
10. Jewish persecution of Christians
a. The Jews were exempted from the Edict because of ancient laws exempting them from the time of Julius Caesar.
b. The Jews hypocritically rejoiced in the theatres along with the pagans when Christians were condemned to death.
c. In a survey of the entire Old Testament, Pionius points out how the Jews themselves had a long history of worshipping idols.
V. Martyrdom of Conon as a case example of emperor worship under in Decius AD 250
“The details of the story seem most unconvincing: the prefect's arrival in Magydos only to find an empty city; the search in the surrounding areas, and the seizure of the elderly labourer to 'answer for all the Christians'. The Roman Martyrology makes Conon a martyr under Decius, and this may be close to the truth; but with the undoubted fictional elements in the martyrdom, it would seem useless to attempt any closer approximation. The prominence in the story of the unnamed temple verger, and the insistence on the imperial edict to sacrifice (without any further specification) would incline one to assign the date, if any, to Decius rather than Valerian and Gallienus. But the account, on the whole, however moving, does not commend itself from the historical point of view, and it would seem very likely to be a composition of the post-Constantinian period.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxxiii, 1972 AD)
W. Martyrdom of Cyprian as a case example of emperor worship under Valerian in AD 258
1. Outline of the story:
a. Cyprian's hearing before the proconsul Aspasius Paternus at Carthage on 30 Aug. 257 (1:1-2:1)
b. Cyprian's return, arrest on I Sept. 258 and trial before Galerius Maximus on 14 Sept. 258 (2:2-5:1)
c. Cyprian is executed on 14 Sept. 258 (5:2-6).
2. The story of the Martyrdom of Cyprian under Caesar Valerian (253-260 AD)
a. “'The most revered emperors Valerian and Gallienus have graciously sent me a document in which they order all those who do not practise Roman beliefs to acknowledge the Roman rites. I made some inquiries, then, in your connection. What have you to say to me?' Bishop Cyprian said: 'I am a Christian, and a bishop. I recognize no other gods but the one true God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them. This is the God to whom we Christians pay homage; night and day we supplicate him for you and for all mankind, as well as for the health of the emperors.' … Paternus said, 'The emperors have also given orders that no meetings are to be held anywhere, nor shall they enter the burial areas [where Christians were assembling for church]. Hence if anyone does not observe this very sound order, he will receive the capital penalty.'” (Martyrdom of Cyprian 1, 258 AD)
b. The entire congregation of his [Cyprian’s] fellow Christians forgathered there; and, when the saintly Cyprian learned this, he gave orders that the young girls should be carefully guarded, for everyone had been staying out in the street before the door of the official's residence. (Martyrdom of Cyprian 2, 258 AD)
c. The proconsul Galerius Maximus said: 'The most reverend emperors [note the plural] have ordered [previous edicts of Decius] you to perform the religious rites.' (Martyrdom of Cyprian 3, 258 AD)
d. Galerius Maximus consulted with his advisory staff, and then with difficulty and reluctance [knowing the charges of criminality were false] spoke as follows: 'You have long persisted in your sacrilegious views [Christianity], and you have joined to yourself many other vicious men in a conspiracy. You have set yourself up as an enemy of the gods of Rome and of our religious practices; and the pious and venerable emperors Valerian and Gallienus Augusti and Valerian the most noble of Caesars have not been able to bring you back to the observance of their sacred rites. 'Thus since you have been caught as the instigator and leader of a most atrocious crime, you will be an example for all those whom in your wickedness you have gathered to yourself. Discipline shall have its sanction in your blood.' Then he read his decision from a tablet: 'Thascius Cyprian is sentenced to die by the sword.'” (Martyrdom of Cyprian 4, 258 AD)
e. After the sentence, the crowd of his fellow Christians said, 'Let us also be beheaded with him!' The result was an uproar among the Christians,? and he was followed along by a great throng. Then Cyprian was led out on to the grounds of Sextus' estate behind the proconsular residence. … His brethren began spreading cloths and napkins in front of him. … So the blessed Cyprian went to his death, and his body was laid out near by to satisfy the curiosity of the pagans. At nightfall, however, it was removed from there, and, accompanied by a cortege holding tapers and torches, was conducted with prayers in great triumph to the cemetery [normal assembly place of the church] of Macrobius Candidianus the procurator, which lies on the Mappalian Way near the fishponds, and was there buried. A few days later the proconsul Galerius Maximus died. (Martyrdom of Cyprian 5, 258 AD)
3. No Emperor worship:
a. Caesar Valerian (253-260 AD) issued decrees like Decius before him but as we can see, it had nothing to do with Emperor worship.
b. The Edicts forbad Christian assemblies which apparently were taking place in graveyards.
c. “Cyprian had avoided the confrontation with the authorities under the Decian decree. But Valerian's edict of August 257 ordered that Christians 'should not hold assemblies in any place' (Acta procons. 1. 3), including the entrance into cemeteries for the purpose of burial; and his rescript of July 258 ordered that 'bishops, presbyters, and deacons should be straightway punished' (Cyprian, Epist. 80. 1): senators and knights were to receive capital punishment; Christian matrons were to be sent into exile with confiscation of their property. Thus Valerian's legislation particularly attacked the fabric of the Christian community. … The account was composed within a short time after the execution, possibly by Cyprian's friend Pontius, as Jerome confidently asserts.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxxi, 1972 AD)
4. Leaders specifically targeted not the general Christian population:
a. “you [Cyprian as a leader] will be an example for all those whom in your wickedness you have gathered to yourself.” (Martyrdom of Cyprian 4, 258 AD)
b. Large numbers of Christians openly stood outside the courthouse, then made a large, loud and obvious procession to bury Cyprian in a cemetery.
c. The Edict indicates that the authorities knew that the cemetery was the normal meeting place of the Christians.
d. Once they arrived at the cemetery, the Christians engaged in their normal worship “conducted with prayers in great triumph”.
e. All this shows that only leaders were targeted.
5. Problems for late-daters who interpret Rev 13 as “worship the emperor or die”:
a. We are now up to AD 258 in time and there have been no edicts to “worship the emperor or die”
b. Only leaders were targeted and Cyprian was “an example” to others.
c. The general Christian population were left alone.
d. Late-daters interpret Rev 13 as a state-wide persecution of all Christians being hunted down mercilessly like dogs and executed, but as we have seen this is a fiction. There were legal trials, in an orderly fashion for one or two church leaders.
X. Martyrdom of Fructuosus, Augurius, Eulogiusin under Valerian in AD 259
1. The story:
a. “It was on the Lord's day, 16 January, in the year that Aemilianus and Bassus were consuls, 1 that Bishop Fructuosus and his deacons Augurius and Eulogius were arrested.” (Martyrdom of Fructuosus 1, 259 AD)
b. “'Were you aware of the emperors' orders?' Fructuosus said: 'I do not know their orders. I am a Christian.' The governor Aemilianus said: 'They have ordered you to worship the gods.' … if the gods are not worshipped, then the images of the emperors are not adored. … And he sentenced them to be burnt alive.” (Martyrdom of Fructuosus 2, 259 AD)
2. No Emperor worship:
a. The edict was to worship the gods. The reason was because if the gods are not worshipped, then people would disrespect the Emperor.
b. Only church leaders were executed.
c. Only 3 were executed not the general Christian population.
Y. Martyrdom of Marinus as a case example of emperor worship under Gallienus in AD 261
1. The story: “In the time of these persons, when there was peace among the churches everywhere, Marinus, one of those honored by high rank in the army and a man famous for his family and wealth, because of his testimony to Christ was beheaded in Caesarea of Palestine for the following reason. The vine-switch is a kind of mark of honor among Romans, and those who obtain this, it is said, become centurions. When a post became vacant, the order of succession called Marinus to this advancement, and, when now he was on the point of receiving the honor, another came before the tribunal and charged that according to the ancient laws it was not possible for Marinus to share in a rank that belonged to Romans, since he was a Christian and not accustomed to sacrifice to emperors, but that the office fell to himself. The judge (his name was Achaeus), it is said, was disturbed at this, and at first asked of what opinion Marinus was; when he saw that the man steadfastly confessed himself to be a Christian, he gave him an interval of three hours for consideration. When now he came out of the courthouse, Theotecnus, the bishop of that place, took him aside, engaging him in conversation, and taking him by the hand led him forward to the church, and when within he made him stand near the altar itself, and drawing his cloak aside a little he pointed to the sword which girded him, and at the same time he brought and placed before him the Scripture of the divine Gospels, and he ordered him to make his deliberate choice of the two. And when without hesitation he stretched forth his right hand and took the divine Scripture Theotecnus said to him, ‘Hold fast, then, hold fast to God, and made strong by Him may you obtain what you have chosen, and go in peace.’ Immediately when he returned thence the herald shouted, calling him before the court of justice, for the conditions of the appointed time had already been fulfilled. And now, standing near the judge, he displayed even greater zeal for the faith, and immediately, just as he was, was led away to death and so was perfected.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 7.15, Martyrdom of Marinus, 261 AD)
a. Caesar Gallienus: AD 260-268
b. Most important, notice how it was “a time of general peace for Christians EVERWHERE”.
c. This story illustrates how the “worship the emperor or die” edicts were selective, arbitrary and generally ignored.
d. Worshipping the Emperor was always included in the broader worship of all the Roman pagan gods. In this situation the worship of the Emperor is focused on because of the high rank Marinus was to have in the Emperor’s army.
e. There is obvious corruption and collusion between the solder who wanted Marinus’ promotion, and the judge who ordered Marinus executed.
f. Marinus went to a church building where Christians met and returned, proving that there was no general hunt for Christians who refused to worship the Emperor.
Z. The Four Edicts of Diocletian were not Emperor Worship:
Note: Before AD 303, many Christians were in fact serving in Diocletian’s army: Martyrdom of Maximilian, 295 AD.
1. 1st Edict of Diocletian: 23 February 303: Prohibited Christian assemblies, destruction church buildings, scriptures, religious books
a. Diocletian set 23 Feb 303 as the “Day of Termination” for Christianity when persecution began: “A favorable and propitious day was sought for carrying out the affair and the Terminalia feast days, which occur seven days before the Kalends of March, were selected especially, so that a terminus, as it were, should be placed on this religion.”
b. “This was the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, the month Dystrus, which would be called March among the Romans, in which, as the festival of the Saviour’s Passion was approaching, an imperial letter was promulgated everywhere, ordering the churches to be razed to their foundations, and the Scriptures to be put out of existence by fire, and proclaiming that those who held positions of honor be disenfranchized, and that household servants, if they clung to the profession of Christianity, be deprived of their freedom. The first written pronouncement against us was of such a nature. But not long afterwards, as other letters continued to circulate, he ordered that all the bishops of the churches in every place be first committed to prison, then, later, be forced by every device to offer sacrifice. Then, truly, then very many of those in control of the churches eagerly contended with terrible torments, and exhibited examples of mighty conflicts; but countless others, growing numb of soul beforehand because of cowardice, thus readily proved weak at the first attack, and of the rest each endured various forms of torture, one having his body scourged with rods, another being punished by the rack and by unbearable scrapings, because of which some presently obtained an inauspicious end to life. But others again passed through the struggle in other ways: one, as others pushed against him with force and brought him to the abominable and impure sacrifices, was dismissed as if he had sacrificed, even though he had not; another, although he had by no means approached or touched any accursed thing, when others stated that he had sacrificed, departed enduring the calumny in silence; another, being taken up half-dead, was cast aside as if already a corpse; and again, a certain person who was lying on the ground was dragged a long way by the feet, reckoned among those who had sacrificed of their own accord. And one cried out and testified with a loud voice to his refusal to sacrifice, and another that he was a Christian, glorying in the confession of the saving name; another maintained firmly that he had never sacrificed and never would sacrifice. However, they were struck on the mouth and silenced by the many hands of a detachment of soldiers drawn up for this purpose, and being beaten on the face and cheeks they were driven away by force. So important did the enemies of religion regard it to seem by all means to have accomplished their purpose.” (Eusebius, History ecclesiastical 8.2–3)
2. 2nd Edict of Diocletian: Summer 303: Imprisonment of all church leaders: Bishops, Deacons etc. but not the average Christian.
a. “In the course of the second year, the persecution against us increased greatly. And at that time Urbanus being governor of the province, imperial edicts were first issued to him, commanding by a general decree that all the people should sacrifice at once in the different cities, and offer libations to the idols. In Gaza, a city of Palestine, Timotheus endured countless tortures, and afterwards was subjected to a slow and moderate fire. Having given, by his patience in all his sufferings, most genuine evidence of sincerest piety toward the Deity, he bore away the crown of the victorious athletes of religion. At the same time Agapius and our contemporary, Thecla, having exhibited most noble constancy, were condemned as food for the wild beasts.” (Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine 3.1)
b. “In this year imperial orders (by Diocletian) were given that the Christian churches were to be destroyed, the sacred books be burnt [1st Edict], and the clergy and all Christians be handed over for torture and be compelled to sacrifice to idols [2nd Edict]. This was the most terrifying persecution of all, producing countless martyrs.” (Aramaic Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, Diocletian 19th year, AM 5795, AD 302/303)
c. “an imperial command went forth that those in charge of the churches everywhere be confined to prison and bonds. And the spectacle of what took place thereafter surpasses all description, when a countless throng was imprisoned in every place, and the prisons everywhere, long ago prepared for murderers and robbers of graves, were then filled by bishops and presbyters and deacons and readers and exorcists, so that there was no longer any place left here for those condemned for wrongdoing.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 8.6.9, 325 AD)
3. 3rd Edict of Diocletian: 20 November 303: Amnesty for jailed church leaders who sacrifice to Roman gods. No specific mention of Emperor Worship.
a. “And when in turn the first edict was followed by others, in which it had been ordered to permit the imprisoned to walk to freedom if they sacrificed, but to tear them to pieces with countless tortures if they refused, how, then, could anyone here number the multitude of the martyrs in each province, and especially of those in Africa and Mauritania and Thebais and Egypt? From this last country, also, going forth now into other cities and provinces they became distinguished by their martyrdoms.” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 8.6.10, 325 AD)
4. 4th Edict of Diocletian: 23 February 304: All Roman citizens must sacrifice to the gods or be executed. No specific mention of Emperor Worship.
a. “For in the second attack upon us under Maximinus, in the third year of the persecution, edicts of the tyrant were issued for the first time, commanding that the rulers of the cities should diligently and speedily see to it that all the people offered sacrifices. Throughout the city of Cæsarea, by command of the governor, the heralds were summoning men, women, and children to the temples of the idols, and besides this, the chiliarchs were calling out each one by name from a roll, and an immense crowd of the wicked were rushing together from all quarters. Then this youth fearlessly, while no one was aware of his intentions, eluded both us who lived in the house with him and the whole band of soldiers that surrounded the governor, and rushed up to Urbanus as he was offering libations, and fearlessly seizing him by the right hand, straightway put a stop to his sacrificing, and skillfully and persuasively, with a certain divine inspiration, exhorted him to abandon his delusion, because it was not well to forsake the one and only true God, and sacrifice to idols and demons.” (Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine 4.8)
b. “But by some new impulse, I know not what, he who held the power to persecute was again aroused against the Christians. Immediately letters from Maximinus against us were published everywhere in every province. The governors and the military prefect3 urged by edicts and letters and public ordinances the magistrates and generals and notaries in all the cities to carry out the imperial decree, which ordered that the altars of the idols should with all speed be rebuilt; and that all men, women, and children, even infants at the breast, should sacrifice and offer oblations; and that with diligence and care they should cause them to taste of the execrable offerings; and that the things for sale in the market should be polluted with libations from the sacrifices; and that guards should be stationed before the baths in order to defile with the abominable sacrifices those who went to wash in them. When these orders were being carried out, our people, as was natural, were at the beginning greatly distressed in mind; and even the unbelieving heathen blamed the severity and the exceeding absurdity of what was done. For these things appeared to them extreme and burdensome. As the heaviest storm impended over all in every quarter, the divine power of our Saviour again infused such boldness into his athletes, that without being drawn on or dragged forward by any one, they spurned the threats. Three of the faithful joining together, rushed on the governor as he was sacrificing to the idols, and cried out to him to cease from his delusion, there being no other God than the Maker and Creator of the universe. When he asked who they were, they confessed boldly that they were Christians.” (Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine 9:2-4)
5. Why did Diocletian want to persecute Christians through the four Edicts:
a. Romula, the mother of Galerius was hated that the Christians doubled their prayer and fasting when she was sacrificing to idol gods, so she motivated her son Galerius to initiate a persecution against Christians through a decree of Caesar Diocletian. The emperor took council with his advisors, some of whom were in favor and others opposed. Finally he sent priests to get an answer from the god Apollo. “The response came that the God of the Christians was an enemy of the divine religion. Thus he was led away from his own decision; and, although he was not able to resist his friends, his Caesar, and Apollo, he did attempt to hold this moderation, that he ordered the affair to be conducted without bloodshed, although the Caesar wanted those who refused to sacrifice to be burned alive.” Lactantius, De Mort. Pers. 11, 320 AD)
b. The two cases of Christian martyrs Maximilian (AD 295) and Marcellus (AD 298) who refused as conscientious objectors to serve in Diocletian’s army, in spite of the fact that many Christians were active soldiers, may have been the reason why Diocletian issued his final and 4th edict that Christians must sacrifice to the gods (not to him, the Emperor) or die. Had Christians not quit Diocletian’s army as conscientious objectors, there would have been no Christians martyrs during this last period. Christians brought the persecutions upon themselves unnecessarily because today most Christians have no problem serving in the military or being a police officer. Late-daters paint a distorted view of Diocletian because they do not look at original literary sources.
6. The myth of Emperor worship: The lack of any hint of Emperor worship in the four edicts of Diocletian are huge problems for late-daters in their insistence that the beast of Revelation 13 and/or the 8th healed head is most certainly the requirement to worship Diocletian or be executed.
7. Only the leaders were targeted and executed:
a. Bishops, Deacons were selected and the average church member was left alone.
b. Even in the final 4th Edict that required woman and children to sacrifice or die, only leaders were selected.
8. The decrees were not uniformly enforced:
a. Some countries totally ignored all the decrees.
b. Some countries moderately and selectively enforced the decrees.
AA. Martyrdom of Maximilian as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 295
1. The story:
a. “On the twelfth day of March at Tebessa [12 March 295], in the consulship of Tuscus and Anullinus, Fabius Victor was summoned to the forum together with Maximilian; Pompeianus was permitted to act as their advocate. The advocate spoke: 'Fabius Victor, agent in charge of the recruiting tax, is present for his hearing along with Valerian Quintianus, imperial representative, and Victor's son Maximilian, an excellent recruit. Seeing that Maximilian [age 21] has good recommendations, I request that he be measured.' The proconsul Dion said: 'What is your name?' Maximilian replied: 'But why do you wish to know my name? I cannot serve because I am a Christian.' The proconsul Dion said: 'Get him ready.' While he was being made ready, Maximilian replied: 'I cannot serve. I cannot commit a sin. I am a Christian.' 'Let him be measured', said the proconsul Dion. After he was measured, one of the staff said: 'He is five foot ten.' Dion said to his staff: 'Let him be given the military seal.' Still resisting, Maximilian replied: 'I will not do it! I cannot serve!' 'Serve, or you will die', said Dion.” (Martyrdom of Maximilian, 295 AD)
b. “The proconsul Dion said: 'In the sacred bodyguard of our lords Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Maximus, there are soldiers who are Christian, and they serve.'” (Martyrdom of Maximilian, 295 AD)
2. No “worship the Emperor or die” under Diocletian:
a. Caesar Diocletian reigned AD 284-305.
b. The 21-year-old man declared 7 times he was a Christian and would not join the army.
c. Dion, knowing Maximilian was a Christian, rejected it as an excuse 7 times and demanded he serve as a Christian under Diocletian.
3. Conscientious objector:
a. Maximilian was a “conscientious objector” to serving in the military, in spite of the fact that Dion told him that he knew many Christians who were in fact serving the military at that time.
b. See the Martyrdom of Marcellus three years later in AD 298, where Marcellus was acceptable as a Christian in the army but was executed because he was a “conscientious objector”.
4. Late-daters have a huge problem in the story of the martyrdom of Maximilian because Diocletian is supposed to be “beast” who hunted down Christians to worship him or die yet here we see many Christians were known to serve in the army.
BB. Martyrdom of Marcellus as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 298
1. The story:
a. “In the city of Tingis, while Fortunatus was governor, it was the celebration of the emperor's birthday. At length, when everyone was dining at the banquet table, a centurion named Marcellus rejected these pagan festivities, and after throwing down his soldier's belt in front of the legionary standards which were there at the time, he bore witness in a loud voice: 'I am a soldier of Jesus Christ, the eternal king. From now I cease to serve your emperors and I despise the worship of your gods of wood and stone, for they are deaf and dumb images.’ … Agricolanus said: 'You threw down your weapons?' Marcellus replied: 'Yes, I did. For it is not fitting that a Christian, who fights for Christ his Lord, should fight for the armies of this world.'” (Martyrdom of Marcellus, AD 298 AD)
b. “'I cannot conceal your rash act. And so I must report this to the emperors and to Caesar.” (Martyrdom of Marcellus, AD 298 AD)
2. Conscientious objector during the time of Diocletian:
a. There was no objection to Marcellus being a Christian in the army but was executed because he was a “conscientious objector”.
b. Maximilian was also “conscientious objector” three years earlier in AD 295.
c. Many Christians were in fact serving in Diocletian’s army at that time.
3. No Emperor worship:
a. Diocletian knew that many Christians were soldiers in his army because these cases were reported to him.
b. Maximilian was not executed because he was a Christian, or that he refused to worship the pagan gods, but because he refused to serve in the army.
4. These two cases of Christians refusing to serve in the army as conscientious objectors, may have been the reason why Diocletian issued his final and 4th edict that Christians must sacrifice to the gods (not to him, the Emperor) or die.
CC. Martyrdom of Carpus, Papylus, Agathonice as an example of emperor worship under Diocletian in c. AD 300
4. Two different versions of the same story:
a. Longer Latin version: “In the days of the Emperor Decius, Bishop Carpus of Gordos, the deacon Pamfilus of Thyatira, and the devout woman Agathonice were arrested and brought before the proconsul Optimus.” (Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice, longer Latin version)
b. Shorter Greek version: “While the proconsul was in residence in Pergamum there were brought before him the blessed Carpus and Papylus, witnesses of Christ. The proconsul took his seat and said: 'What is your name?' The saint answered: 'My first and most distinctive name is that of Christian; but if you want my name in the world, it is Carpus.' The proconsul said: 'You surely are aware of the emperors' decrees regarding the obligation of venerating the gods who govern all things. And so I suggest that you come forward and offer sacrifice.' `I am a Christian,' said Carpus,' 'and I venerate Christ the Son of God who has come in these latter times for our redemption, and has delivered us from the deceits of the Devil. I will not sacrifice to such idols as these. Do what you like! It is impossible for me to sacrifice to these demons with their deceptive appearances. For those who sacrifice to them are like them. … `You must offer sacrifice', said the proconsul. 'These are the emperor's orders.' Carpus said: The living do not offer sacrifice to the dead.' The proconsul said: 'Do you think that the gods are dead?' Carpus said: 'Would you learn the truth? Why, these gods never lived born of men so that they could die. … Immediately then the proconsul ordered him to be hung up and scraped [Latin version adds: “with claws”] … First of all Papylus was nailed to a stake and lifted up, and after the fire was brought near he prayed in peace and gave up his soul. After him Carpus smiled as he was nailed down. And the bystanders were amazed and said to him: `What are you laughing at?' And the blessed one said: 'I saw the glory of the Lord and I was happy. Besides I am now rid of you and have no share in your sins.' A soldier piled up wood and lit it, and the saintly Carpus said to him as he was hanging: 'We too were born of the same mother, Eve, and we have the same flesh. (Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice, shorter Greek version)
5. Discussion of scholars on dating:
a. “Eusebius (HE iv. 15. 48) refers to these three martyrs of Pergamum immediately after Polycarp and Pionius, who are both dated to the period of Marcus Aurelius.? Though Har-nack, Lietzmann, and others espoused the view that Carpus and his companions were indeed martyred under Aurelius, some modern scholars, relying chiefly on the command to sacrifice in the Acts (A 11), prefer to place the incident in the reign of Decius. … The Greek and Latin recensions differ widely” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xv, 1972 AD)
b. “A detailed account of the martyrdoms of Carpus, Papylus, and Agathonice is extant in numerous MSS., and has been published more than once. It has, however, long been recognized as spurious and entirely untrustworthy. But in 1881 Aubè published in the Revue Archæologique (Dec., p. 348 sq.) a shorter form of the Acts of these martyrs, which he had discovered in a Greek MS. in the Paris Library. There is no reason to doubt that these Acts are genuine and, in the main, quite trustworthy. The longer Acts assign the death of these martyrs to the reign of Decius, and they have always been regarded as suffering during that persecution. … In the spurious account Carpus is called a bishop, and Papylus a deacon. But in the shorter account they are simply Christians, and Papylus informs the judge that he is a citizen of Thyatira.” (NPNF2.1, Phillip Schaff, Eusebius of Caesaria, p193, 1890 AD)
6. Many differences between the two versions:
a. The Latin version states the Martyrdom took place at the time of Diocletian (AD 284-305) in spite of the fact that Eusebius assigns the date contemporary to Polycarp under Marcus Aurelius (161-180) While we know of several decrees Diocletian issued to persecute Christians, there is no evidence that Marcus Aurelius ever did.
b. In the Greek version the proceedings take place in Pergamum but this is omitted in the longer Latin version.
c. In the Latin version Carpus is called a Bishop and Papylus a deacon but in the Greek version Carpus and Papylus are called Christians.
d. Carpus and Papylus were killed by being scraped then nailed to a stake and burned. The Latin version adds “scraped by claws”.
e. A beautiful woman named Agathonice voluntarily took off her clothes after seeing a vision of glory as Carpus, Papylus had seen. In the Greek version she voluntarily throws herself into the fire but in the Latin version she is arrested at the same time as Carpus, Papylus and men nail her to the stake and then lit a fire under her.
7. Emperor worship totally absent from the account.
a. Both Greek and Latin versions of the story directly state that Caesar had issued a decree that Christians must worship and sacrifice to idols or die.
b. While there is a imperial decree which commanded Christians to offer sacrifices to plural Roman pagan gods, the imperial cult is missing.
c. As we have seen from other accounts, Diocletian never ordered Christians to worship him, only the Roman gods.
8. Leaders only were targeted not the general Christian population:
a. There are two indications that Christians were present at the entire trial to the knowledge of everyone.
b. First: The man from the crowd who defended Papylus as having many spiritual children is not a comment that would be voiced by a pagan.
i. Papylus’ comment that he had many spiritual children of Christian faith everywhere in every city proves he was a leader in the shorter Greek edition that does not call him a bishop as the longer Latin version does.
ii. Everyone would immediately recognize this man as a Christian in the audience, yet no action was taken against him.
c. Second: Although done in secred, everybody knew the Christians had collected the bones.
i. “And the Christians secretly collected their remains and protected them for the glory of Christ and the praise of His martyrs.” (Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice, shorter Greek version)
9. Developed trinitarian doxology formula at the end of the story indicates its origin is after AD 250.
a. “For to Him belong glory and power, to the father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever and for all ages to come, Amen.” (Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice, shorter Greek version)
10. Celibacy theology is a red flag that the story was composed around AD 300:
a. “`Of what city?' asked the proconsul. Papylus said: `Of Thyatira.' The proconsul said: 'Do you have any children?' Papylus said: Yes, many, by God's grace.' But one of the crowd shouted out: 'He means he has children in virtue of the faith which the Christians repose in him.' The proconsul said: 'Why do you lie saying that you have children?' Papylus said: 'Would you like to understand that I do not lie but that I am telling the truth? I have children in the Lord in every province and city.'” (Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice, shorter Greek version)
b. The story emphasizes the fact that fact Papylus was not married, by implication he had no children. That this was brought up at all, is suspicious that leaders were celibate without a wife like Paul. Celibacy of church leaders was openly discussed and formally proposed at the Nicene council in AD 325 but rejected. This trend finally crystallized with a full ban on bishops and priests being married by the 10th century, in spite of the fact the Bible specifically requires bishops to be married in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1.
c. Socrates Scholasticus and Hermias Sozomen were both died around AD 450 and note that some at the Nicene council of AD 325 intended to make a canon enforcing celibacy of the clergy, but it failed to do so when Paphnutius, a bishop from upper Egypt intervened. It was noted that Constantine himself removed the “unmarried tax” which Roman law place upon it citizens in order to boost the population:
i. Constantine’s Law: “There was an ancient Roman law, by which those who were unmarried at the age of twenty-five were not admitted to the same privileges as the married; amongst other clauses in this law, it was specified that those who were not the very nearest kinsmen could gain nothing from a will; and also, that those who were childless were to be deprived of half of any property that might be bequeathed to them. The object of this ancient Roman law was to increase the population of Rome and the subject people, which had been much reduced in numbers by the civil wars, not a long while before this law. The emperor, perceiving that this enactment militated against the interests of those who continued in a state of celibacy and remained childless for the sake of God, and deeming it absurd to attempt the multiplication of the human species by the care and zeal of man (since nature always receiving increase or decrease according to the fiat from on high), made a law enjoining that the unmarried and childless should have the same advantages as the married. He even bestowed peculiar privileges on those who embraced a life of continence and virginity, and permitted them, contrary to the usage which prevailed throughout the Roman empire, to make a will before they attained the age of puberty; for he believed that those who devoted themselves to the service of God and the cultivation of philosophy would, in all cases, judge aright. For a similar reason the ancient Romans permitted the vestal virgins to make a will as soon as they attained the age of six years. That was the greatest proof of the superior reverence for religion. Constantine exempted the clergy everywhere from taxation, and permitted litigants to appeal to the decision of the bishops if they preferred them to the state rulers. He enacted that their decree should be valid, and as far superior to that of other judges as if pronounced by the emperor himself; that the governors and subordinate military officers should see to the execution of these decrees: and that the definitions made by synods should be irreversible. (Hermias Sozomen 1.9, 450 AD)
ii. Socrates’ account of Nicene council: “Paphnutius then was bishop of one of the cities in Upper Thebes [Egypt]: he was a man so favored divinely that extraordinary miracles were done by him. In the time of the persecution he had been deprived of one of his eyes. The emperor honored this man exceedingly, and often sent for him to the palace, and kissed the part where the eye had been torn out. So great devoutness characterized the emperor Constantine. Let this single fact respecting Paphnutius suffice: I shall now explain another thing which came to pass in consequence of his advice, both for the good of the Church and the honor of the clergy. It seemed fit to the bishops to introduce a new law into the Church, that those who were in holy orders, I speak of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, should have no conjugal intercourse with the wives whom they had married while still laymen. Now when discussion on this matter was impending, Paphnutius having arisen in the midst of the assembly of bishops, earnestly entreated them not to impose so heavy a yoke on the ministers of religion: asserting that ‘marriage itself is honorable, and the bed undefiled’;3 urging before God that they ought not to injure the Church by too stringent restrictions.” (Socrates Scholasticus, 11, AD 450)
iii. Hermias’ account of Nicene council: “Zealous of reforming the life of those who were engaged about the churches, the Synod enacted laws which were called canons. While they were deliberating about this, some thought that a law ought to be passed enacting that bishops and presbyters, deacons and sub-deacons, should hold no intercourse with the wife they had espoused before they entered the priesthood; but Paphnutius, the confessor, stood up and testified against this proposition; he said that marriage was honorable and chaste, and that cohabitation with their own wives was chastity, and advised the Synod not to frame such a law, for it would be difficult to bear, and might serve as an occasion of incontinence to them and their wives; and he reminded them, that according to the ancient tradition of the church, those who were unmarried when they took part in the communion of sacred orders, were required to remain so, but that those who were married, were not to put away their wives. Such was the advice of Paphnutius, although he was himself unmarried, and in accordance with it, the Synod concurred in his counsel, enacted no law about it, but left the matter to the decision of individual judgment, and not to compulsion.” (Hermias Sozomen 1.23, 450 AD)
d. The Apostolic Cannons date to c. AD 350 and condemn a man divorcing his wife because of his office. However, marrying the wrong woman as a first wife or remarriage disqualified a man from office in the church:
i. “Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretense of religion; but if he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persists, let him be deposed.” (Apostolical Canons, 5, 350 AD)
ii. “He who has been twice married after baptism, or who has had a concubine, cannot become a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the sacerdotal list.” (Apostolical Canons, 17, 350 AD)
iii. “He who married a widow, or a divorced woman, or an harlot, or a servant-maid, or an actress, cannot be a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the sacerdotal list.” (Apostolical Canons, 18, 350 AD)
e. The requirement that church leaders be celibate was condemned in Quinisext Council also known as that Council in Trullo in AD 692.
f. The modern Roman Catholic church traces its full ban on marriage of priests back to the First and Second Lateran Council (AD 1123 & 1139) but was formalized in the Council of Trent AD 1545. The Orthodox church has never forbidden their leaders to marry down to the present time.
g. That Papylus was and childless, unmarried church leader in the story, provides a hidden cryptic endorsement of banning the marriage of church leaders. This idea simply did not exist before the AD 200 and proves the story surely dates to c. AD 300 during the reign of Diocletian.
11. Finally, late-daters cannot use the Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice as an example of Emperor worship because that idea is totally absent. It is clear that the Martrydom of Carpus, Papylus and Agathonice was composed during the time of Diocletian around AD 300. Historically, the three may have suffered execution centuries earlier, but the details of the story written much later are not reliable.
DD. Martyrdom of Julius as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 305
1. The story: “In the time of persecution, when the glorious ordeals which the Christians faced looked to merit the eternal promises, Julius was arrested by the prefect's staff soldiers and he was brought before the prefect Maximus. 'Who is this?' asked Maxim us. One of the staff replied: 'This is a Christian who will not obey the laws.' … The prefect Maximus said: 'What is so serious about offering some incense and going away?' Julius replied: 'I cannot despise the divine commandments or appear unfaithful to my God. In all the twenty-seven years in which I made the mistake, so it appears, to serve foolishly in the army, I was never brought before a magistrate either as a criminal or a trouble-maker. I went on seven military campaigns, and never hid behind anyone nor was I the inferior of any man in battle. My chief never found me at fault. And now do you suppose that I, who was always found to be faithful in the past, should now be unfaithful to higher orders?' 'What military service did you have?' asked Maximus the prefect. 'I was in the army,' answered Julius, 'and when I had served my term I re-enlisted as a veteran. All of this time I worshipped in fear the God who made heaven and earth, and even to this day I show him my service.' · 'Julius,' said Maximus the prefect, 'I see that you are a wise and serious person. You shall receive a generous bonus if you will take my advice and sacrifice to the gods.' 'I will not do what you wish,' answered Julius, 'lest I incur an eternal penalty.' 'If you think it a sin,' answered the prefect Maximus, 'let me take the blame. I am the one who is forcing you, so that you may not give the impression of having consented voluntarily. Afterwards you can go home in peace, you will pick up your ten-year bonus, and no one will ever trouble you again.' … Julius replied: 'I surely suffer for the law-but it is the divine law.' Maximus said: 'You mean the law given you by a man who was crucified and died? Look how foolish you are to fear a dead man more than living emperors!' … Then he took the blindfold and bound his eyes, bent his neck, and said: 'Lord Jesus Christ, I suffer this for your name. I beg you, deign to receive my spirit together with your holy martyrs.' And so the Devil's servant struck the blessed martyr with a sword and brought his life to an end, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom is honour and glory for ever. Amen.” (Martyrdom of Julius, 305 AD)
a. The story takes place after the 4th edict of Diocletian which said nothing about worshipping the Emperor.
b. “The martyrdom of Julius, a veteran soldier at Durostorum in Moesia Inferior, had been traditionally commemorated on 27 May in the Martyrologium romanum. … Diocletian's famous fourth edict against the Christians, commanding sacrifice to the gods under penalty of death, was probably issued in January or February of the year 304, though it may not have reached Moesia before the spring of the year. (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p xxxix, 1972 AD)
c. Julius says he openly worshipped Jesus as his God all the 27 years he was in the military and nobody cared.
3. No Emperor worship:
a. The 4th edict of Diocletian only required sacrifice to any pagan god.
b. Notice that the judge had no problem with Christians serving in the army.
c. Julius was required to sacrifice to pagan god’s not the emperor.
EE. Martyrdom of Felix as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 303
1. The Story: “It was the year of the eighth consulship of Diocletian and the seventh of Maximian, Augusti, when there went forth an edict [I.e. the first edict: 23 Feb. 303] of the emperors Caesars over the entire face of the earth. The order was given to the rulers and magistrates throughout the cities and colonies that each in his locality should take the divine books from the hands of the bishops and presbyters. The decree was consequently promulgated on 5 June in the city of Tibiuca. Magnilianus, the city magistrate, ordered the elders of the Christian community to be brought before him. … The magistrate Magnilianus said to him: 'Are you Felix the bishop?' 'I am', answered Bishop Felix. 'Hand over whatever books or parchments you possess,' said the magistrate Magnilianus. 'I have them,' answered Bishop Felix, 'but I will not give them up.' The magistrate Magnilianus said: 'Hand the books over to be burned.' 'It would be better for me to be burned,' answered Bishop Felix, 'rather than the divine Scriptures. For it is better to obey God rather than men.' The magistrate Magnilianus said: 'The emperors' orders come before anything you say.' … the proconsul Anullinus ordered him to be beheaded. It was 15 July [AD 303]. Bishop Felix raised his eyes to heaven and said in a loud voice: 'God, I thank you. I have passed fifty-six years in this world.” (Martyrdom of Felix, 303 AD)
2. No emperor worship:
a. Diocleatin’s first edict was issued on 23 February 303.
b. Only scripture was to be burned.
c. Only the leaders were targeted and only the top man, the bishop was executed.
d. The general population of Christians were not even targeted.
FF. Martyrdom of Agape, Chione, Irene as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 304
1. Storyline: When Caesar Maximian was co-regent with Caesar Diocletian [AD 286 to 305], three women from Thessalonica fled to live on a mountaintop as a result of the first Edict of Diocletian in AD 303 to destroy scripture. A year later (AD 304) after Diocletian had issued his 4th Edict, the three were captured, brought to trial and executed. The first two girls, Agape and Chione, were executed for failing to sacrifice to the pagan gods under Diocletian’s 4th edict. The third, Irene, was executed for failing to surrender scripture found hidden in her storage trunks under Diocletian’s 1st Edict and refusing to sacrifice and eat sacrificial meat under the 4th edict.
2. Text of the story:
a. Such were the three saintly women who came from the city of Thessalonica … When the persecution was raging under the Emperor Maximian [Co-regent with Diocletian AD 286 to 305] these women, who had adorned themselves with virtue, following the precepts of the Gospel, abandoned their native city, their family, property, and possessions because of their love of God and their expectation of heavenly things, performing deeds worthy of their father Abraham. They fled the persecutors, according to the commandment, and took refuge on a high mountain. There they gave themselves to prayer: though their bodies resided on a mountain top, their souls lived in heaven. At any rate, they were here captured [a year later in AD 304] and brought to the official who was conducting the persecution.” (Martyrdom of Agape, Chione, Irene 1, 304 AD)
b. 'What is this insanity,' said the prefect Dulcitius, 'that you refuse to obey the order of our most religious emperors and Caesars [Maximian and Diocletian]?' And turning to Agatho, he said: 'When you came to the sacrifices, why did you not perform the cult practices like other religious people?' … The prefect said: 'Are you willing to partake of the sacrificial meat?' (Martyrdom of Agape, Chione, Irene 3, 304 AD)
c. After the most holy women [Agape and Chione] were consumed in the flames, the saintly girl Irene was once again brought before the court on the following day. Dulcitius said to her: 'It is clear from what we have seen that you are determined in your folly, for you have deliberately kept even till now so many tablets, books, parchments, codices, and pages of the writings of the former Christians of unholy name; even now, though you denied each time that you possessed such writings, you did show a sign of recognition when they were mentioned. You are not satisfied with the punishment of your sisters, nor do you keep before your eyes the terror of death. Therefore you must be punished. … Will you do the bidding of our emperors and Caesars? Are you prepared to eat the sacrificial meats and to sacrifice to the gods?' … The prefect Dulcitius said: 'Who was it that advised you to retain those parchments and writings up to the present time?' 'It was almighty God,' said Irene’ (Martyrdom of Agape, Chione, Irene 5, 304 AD)
d. 'It was abundantly clear from your earlier testimony', said the prefect Dulcitius, 'that you did not wish to submit religiously to the bidding of the emperors; and now I perceive that you are persisting in the same foolishness. Therefore, you shall pay the appropriate penalty.' He then asked for a sheet of papyrus and wrote the sentence against her as follows: 'Whereas Irene has refused to obey the command of the emperors and to offer sacrifice, and still adheres to a sect called the Christians, I therefore sentence her to be burned alive, as did her two sisters before her.' [April 304] (Martyrdom of Agape, Chione, Irene 6, 304 AD)
3. No Emperor Worship: The women were executed for refusing to surrender scripture and refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods and eat the sacrificial meat. The idea of worshipping Diocletian is totally absent.
GG. Martyrdom of Irenaeus as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 304
a. Text of the story:
a. “During the persecution under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, when the Christians fought together in many different conflicts, with hearts dedicated to God they endured the punishments inflicted by the tyrants and achieved· a share in the eternal rewards. This was what happened to the servant of God Irenaeus, bishop of Sirmium [now in ruins near the modern town of Sremska Mitrovica, in Jugoslavia].” (Martyrdom of lrenaeus 1, 304 AD)
b. “At any rate he was arrested and brought before Probus, prefect of Pannonia. The prefect Probus said to him: 'Obey the divine decrees and off er sacrifice to the gods.' ' Who sacrifices to the gods', answered Bishop Irenaeus, 'and not to God, shall be utterly destroyed. The prefect Probus said: 'The most merciful emperors have ordered you either to sacrifice or to die by torture.'” (Martyrdom of lrenaeus 2, 304 AD)
c. “Irenaeus replied: 'I have a God whom I learned to worship when I was a mere child. Him I adore who comforts me in all things, and to him I offer sacrifice. But I cannot worship gods made by human hands.'” (Martyrdom of lrenaeus 3, 304 AD)
d. Probus then delivered sentence, saying: 'Because of Irenaeus' disobedience to the imperial commands, I hereby order him to be thrown into the river.'” (Martyrdom of lrenaeus 4, 304 AD)
e. “Then did the executioners behead him, and they threw his body into the river Save.” (Martyrdom of lrenaeus 5, 304 AD)
f. “The holy servant of God, Bishop Irenaeus of Sirmium, was martyred on the sixth day of April [6 April 304] under the Emperor Diocletian, when Probus was governor, under the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is glory for ever. Amen.” (Martyrdom of lrenaeus 6, 304 AD)
2. There is not a trace of Emperor worship in the martyrdom of Irenaeus.
a. Diocletian’s 4th edict required the leaders to sacrifice to idols (not the Emperor) or be executed.
b. Irenaeus was beheaded and thrown into the river on 6 April 304. He was young and good looking with a wife and children.
c. The general Christian population were not targeted for execution as evidenced that Irenaeus’ wife and children were excepted. While Irenaeus denied he had a wife, fearing they too would be executed, his fears were misplaced because the judge knew he had a wife and children but did not even question them.
HH. Martyrdom of Crispina as a case example of emperor worship under Diocletian in AD 304
1. Text of the story:
a. “It was the fifth day of December [5 Dec. 304] in the ninth consulate of Diocletian Augustus and the eighth of Maximian Augustus in the colony of Tebessa. The proconsul Anullinus sat in judgement on the tribunal in his council-chamber, and the court clerk spoke: 'Crispina, a lady of Toura, is to be tried at your good pleasure: she has spurned the law of our lords the emperors.' 'Bring her in,' said the proconsul Anullinus. When Crispina had come in, the proconsul Anullinus said: 'Are you aware of what is commanded by the sacred decree [Diocetian’s 4th Edict]?' 'No,' said Crispina, 'I do not know what has been commanded.' Anullinus said: 'That you should offer sacrifice to all our gods for the welfare of the emperors, in accordance with the law issued by our lords the reverend Augusti Diocletian and Maximian and the most noble Caesars Constantius and Maximus. '” (Martyrdom of Crispina 1, 304 AD)
b. “Anullinus said: 'I put before you the sacred edict. You must obey it.' 'I will obey the edict,' replied Crispina, 'but the one given by my Lord Jesus Christ.' 'I will have you beheaded', said the proconsul Anullinus, 'if you do not obey the edicts of our lords the emperors. You will be forced to yield and obey them: all the province of Africa has offered sacrifice, as you are well aware,' … Anullinus said: 'But all we ask of your religion is that you bow your head in the sacred temples and offer incense to the gods of Rome.'” (Martyrdom of Crispina 2, 304 AD)
c. “Anullinus said: 'If you despise the worship of our venerable gods, I shall order your head to be cut off.' 'I should thank my God,' replied Crispina, 'if I obtained this. I should be very happy to lose my head for the sake of my God. For I refuse to sacrifice to these ridiculous deaf and dumb statues.' Anullinus the proconsul said: 'And so you absolutely persist in this foolish frame of mind?' Crispina replied: 'My God who is and who abides for ever ordered me to be born; it was he who gave me salvation through the saving waters of baptism: he is at my side, helping me, strengthening his handmaid in all things so that she will not commit sacrilege.'” (Martyrdom of Crispina 3, 304 AD)
d. “The proconsul Anullinus read the sentence from a tablet: 'Seeing that Crispina has persisted in infamous superstition and refuses to offer sacrifice to our gods in accordance with the heavenly decrees of the Augustan law, I have ordered her to be executed with the sword.' … And making the sign of the cross on her forehead and putting out her neck, she was beheaded for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honour for ever. Amen.” (Martyrdom of Crispina 4, 304 AD)
2. There was no Emperor worship under Diocletian’s 4th edict as witnessed in this story.
a. Her calling idols “ridiculous deaf and dumb statues” echoes Jeremiah.
b. Water baptism was essential to salvation down to the protestant reformation in AD 1500. The Nicene creed also contains a statement that water baptism is for remission of sins.
JJ. AD 311: Persecution officially ends: The Edict of Toleration by Galerius at Serdica:
1. Ancient record of the Edict issued at Serdica (Sofia, Bulgaria)
a. “The most vicious persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire began in 303 under Emperor Diocletian (245–313). When Diocletian abdicated his rule in the East, he was replaced by his son-in-law Galerius, who then intensified the effort to eradicate Christianity. On April 30, 311, while on his deathbed, Galerius—perhaps convinced that his fatal illness was God’s judgment on him—issued the Edict of Toleration, which pardoned Christians and allowed them to resume practicing their faith. Soon the prisons were opened and thousands of Christians were released, bearing the scars of their torture. Galerius died five days after issuing his edict.” (The Complete Book of When and Where, Sharon Rusten, p113, 2005 AD)
b. “Such were the happenings that were extended throughout the entire persecution, when in the tenth year (AD 313) by the grace of God it ceased completely, although it began to abate and to be certain after the eighth year (AD 311). … Wrestling with so many evils, he felt conscious-stricken for the deed which he had brazenly committed against the pious, and so reflecting within himself, he first openly confessed to the God of the universe; then, summoning those about him, he commanded them without delay to put an end to the persecution against the Christians, and by an imperial law and decree to urge them to build their churches and to perform their customary rites, offering prayers in behalf of the emperor. Action straightway followed upon his word; royal decrees were promulgated in the cities, one by one, containing the recantation of the edicts issued against us in the following manner: “Among the other measures which we conceive for the good and profit of the people, we wished formerly to set all aright in accord with the ancient laws and public discipline of the Romans, and to make provision for the following: that the Christians, also, whoever had left the religion of their ancestors, should return to a good attitude of mind, since by some reasoning such arrogance had laid hold on them and such folly seized them as to cause them not to follow what had been introduced of old by their ancestors, which perhaps their own forefathers had formerly established, but, according to their own attitude of mind and as each one wished, thus made laws for themselves and observed these and assembled various multitudes in various places. Therefore, when an order by us soon followed to the intent that they transfer themselves to the institutions established by the ancients, a great many gave in to danger, but a great many were harassed and suffered all kinds of death; and since, when the majority persisted in the same attitude of mind we say that they were not carrying on the worship due to the gods of heaven nor attending to Him of the Christians, having regard for our humanity and our invariable custom by which we regularly extended pardon to all men, we thought that in this case, also, we should most eagerly accord our indulgence, that they may be Christians again and build the houses in which they used to gather, provided that they do nothing contrary to the discipline. In another letter we shall show the judges what they shall have to observe. Therefore, according to this indulgence of ours they should beseech their own God for our safety and that of the people and that of themselves, in order that in every way both the welfare of the people may be secured and they may be able to live free from care at their own homes.’ Such was the way this edict went in the Latin language, translated as well as possible into the Greek tongue.” (Eusebius Hist. eccl. 8.17)
c. “This edict was set forth at Nicomedia on the last day of April, himself and Maximin being consuls again for the eighth time. Then, when the prisons were opened, you were freed from custody, dearest Donatus, with the other confessors, the prison having been as a home to you for six years! However, even after the passing of this edict, he did not receive pardon for his crime from God; but after a few days, when he had commended his wife and son to Licinius and turned them over to his keeping, and since all the parts of his whole body were now disintegrating, he was consumed with the dread decay. And this was learned at Nicomedia in the middle of the same month, where the Twentieth Anniversary celebration was to be held the following first of March.” (Lactantius, De Mort. Pers. 34-35, 320 AD)
KK. Constantine’s Edict of Milan: 313 AD
1. Text of the Edict: “When we, Constantine and Licinius, emperors, had an interview at Milan, and conferred together with respect to the good and security of the commonweal, it seemed to us that, amongst those things that are profitable to mankind in general, the reverence paid to the Divinity merited our first and chief attention, and that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best; so that that God, who is seated in heaven, might be benign and propitious to us, and to every one under our government. And therefore we judged it a salutary measure, and one highly consonant to right reason, that no man should be denied leave of attaching himself to the rites of the Christians, or to whatever other religion his mind directed him, that thus the supreme Divinity, to whose worship we freely devote ourselves, might continue to vouchsafe His favour and beneficence to us. And accordingly we give you to know that, without regard to any provisos in our former orders to you concerning the Christians, all who choose that religion are to be permitted, freely and absolutely, to remain in it, and not to be disturbed any ways, or molested. And we thought fit to be thus special in the things committed to your charge, that you might understand that the indulgence which we have granted in matters of religion to the Christians is ample and unconditional; and perceive at the same time that the open and free exercise of their respective religions is granted to all others, as well as to the Christians. For it befits the well-ordered state and the tranquillity of our times that each individual be allowed, according to his own choice, to worship the Divinity; and we mean not to derogate aught from the honour due to any religion or its votaries. Moreover, with respect to the Christians, we formerly gave certain orders concerning the places appropriated for their religious assemblies; but now we will that all persons who have purchased such places, either from our exchequer or from any one else, do restore them to the Christians, without money demanded or price claimed, and that this be performed peremptorily and unambiguously; and we will also, that they who have obtained any right to such places by form of gift do forthwith restore them to the Christians: reserving always to such persons, who have either purchased for a price, or gratuitously acquired them, to make application to the judge of the district, if they look on themselves as entitled to any equivalent from our beneficence. “All those places are, by your intervention, to be immediately restored to the Christians. And because it appears that, besides the places appropriated to religious worship, the Christians did possess other places, which belonged not to individuals, but to their society in general, that is, to their churches, we comprehend all such within the regulation aforesaid, and we will that you cause them all to be restored to the society or churches, and that without hesitation or controversy: Provided always, that the persons making restitution without a price paid shall be at liberty to seek indemnification from our bounty. In furthering all which things for the behoof of the Christians, you are to use your utmost diligence, to the end that our orders be speedily obeyed, and our gracious purpose in securing the public tranquillity promoted. So shall that divine favour which, in affairs of the mightiest importance, we have already experienced, continue to give success to us, and in our successes make the commonweal happy. And that the tenor of this our gracious ordinance may be made known unto all, we will that you cause it by your authority to be published everywhere.” Licinius having issued this ordinance, made an harangue, in which he exhorted the Christians to rebuild their religious edifices. And thus, from the overthrow of the Church until its restoration, there was a space of ten years and about four months.” (Lactantius, De Mort. Pers. 48, 320 AD)
LL. Constantine Converts to Christianity:
1. Diocletian divided the Roman empire into two parts, east and west, at the end of the reign.
a. In AD 305, Diocletian split the empire into two halves wherein Constantine’s father, Constantius Chlorus, was appointed to the rank of “Augustus” as the senior western co-emperor of the Roman empire. Diocletian appointed Galerius to the rank of “Augustus” as Senior Eastern co-emperor of the Roman Empire. Roman law requires an “Augustus” (Senior Emperor) and “Caesar” (Junior emperor) like the USA has a president and vice-president. Two Junior Emperors (Caesars) were appointed by Galerius named Maximinus Daia and Severus.
b. In AD 306 Constantius Chlorus died and his son, Constantine the Great was acclaimed by the army to the rank of “Augustus” as the Senior co-emperor of the Western Roman empire with Flavius Severus as his Junior “Caesar” of the west. However, at the same time, Galerius promoted Flavius Severus 306–307 to the rank of Augustus of the west to replace Constantine’s father.
c. Because of illness, Galerius elevated Licinius to the rank of Augustus in the West on November 11, 308.
d. In AD 311, shortly before his death, Galerius issued the Edict of Toleration which ended persecutions of Christians.
e. On 28 October 312, Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian bridge. The night before the sign of the Cross ☧ appeared to him in the sky:
i. “Constantine was directed in a dream to cause the heavenly sign ☧ to be delineated on the shields of his soldiers, and so to proceed to battle. He did as he had been commanded, and he marked on their shields the letter X, with a perpendicular line drawn through it and turned round thus at the top, being the cipher of CHRIST. Having this sign, his troops stood to arms.” (Lactanius, De Mort. Pers. 44, 320 AD)
ii. “After defeating Maxentius, Constantine refused to make customary ritual pagan sacrifices at the Temple of Jupiter at Capitoline Hill, indicating Constantine was not going to violate the blessings of the Christian God and bring himself under a curse.
iii. “When Constantine arrived in Rome on 29 October 312, he did so as the victor over Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge the previous day. His adventus had about it the air of a triumph: it was commemorated, after all, by the erection of a triumphal arch, and Maxentius' head was paraded around the city as a gruesome trophy. But whereas triumphant generals and emperors in the past routinely ascended the Capitoline hill and offered sacrifice at the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, it seems that Constantine did not do this. Although this must be assumed on the basis of an argumentum ex silentio, the total absence of references in all the extant sources to any such sacrifice would appear to be persuasive. The omission of sacrifices to Jupiter from Constantine's triumphal adventus articulated a significant shift in the character of the emperors rule. Constantine had defeated Maxentius with the aid of the Christian God, and his troops had carried a Christian standard into battle: when previous pagan emperors sacrificed to Jupiter, they attributed their victories to the gods; when Constantine did not, he showed his allegiance to a wholly different divinity.” (Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900, Kate Cooper, Julia Hillner, From Emperor to Pope, Mark Humphries, p31, 2007 AD)
f. In AD 313, Constantine and Licinius (both claiming the same title of “Augustus” (Senior Emperor of the west) jointly issued the Edict of Milan ended the persecutions of Christians until the Islamic age.
g. The Roman Empire was plunged into civil war until Constantine defeated all his rivals became sole Emperor of the entire Roman empire in AD 318-324.
i. Theophanes records: “In this year (AD 318) Constantine the Great, having become sole ruler of all the Roman lands,' gave his mind entirely to holy matters by building churches and enriching them lavishly from public funds. First he legislated that the temples used for idols were to be handed over to persons consecrated to Christ. (his son Crispus was co-signatory of this legislation); second, that only Christians were to serve in the army and to command foreign races and armies, while those who persisted in idolatry were to suffer capital punishment; third, that public business was to cease for the two weeks of Easter (i.e. the week before the Resurrection and the following week). Under these circumstances a deep and calm peace prevailed throughout the inhabited world and there was rejoicing among the faithful as whole nations came over daily to faith in Christ, accepted baptism, and broke up their ancestral idols. Constantine also legislated that in Egypt a cubit of the rise of the river Nile was to be offered to the Church and not in the Sarapion as was the pagan custom. Licinius, before he finally went mad, went to Antioch and there killed the magician Theoteknos and his associates after subjecting them to many tortures.” (Aramaic Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, Constantine 12th year, AM 5810, AD 317/318)
3. While still governing at Rome as the capital city, Constantine was baptized in AD 322 in Rome
a. Theophanes records the full immersion baptism of Constantine.
b. “In this year (AD 322); as some say, Constantine the Great together with his son Crispus was baptized in Rome by Silvester.' The inhabitants of Old Rome preserve even today the baptismal font as evidence that he was baptized in Rome by Silvester after the removal of the tyrants. [Constantine built a baptistery c.315 which still survives next to the Lateran basilica. This was the only baptistery in Rome until the 5th century.] The easterners, on the other hand, claim that he was baptized on his death-bed in Nicomedia by the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia, at which place he happened to die. They claim that he had deferred baptism in the hope of being baptized in the river Jordan. In my view it is more likely to be true that he was baptized by Silvester in Rome and the decrees addressed to Miltiades that are ascribed to him are Arian forgeries, since they were eager to win some glory from this or else wanted to denigrate this completely pious emperor by revealing in this fashion that he was not baptized, which is absurd and false. For if he had not been baptized at the Council of Nicaea, he could not have taken the holy sacraments nor joined in the prayers of the holy Fathers, something that is most absurd both to say and to hold. The Arians and pagans accuse Constantine the Great of being illegitimate, but they too are lying. For his imperial line goes back even earlier than Diocletian. Indeed, his father Constantius was a grandson of the emperor Claudius" and he fathered Constantine the Great by his first wife Helena. He had other sons by Theodora, Maximianus Herculius' daughter, the sister of that Maxentius who was usurper at Rome and who was destroyed by Constantine [28 October 312] at the Milvian bridge (when the sign of the Cross appeared to him in the sky) and a sister also of Fausta, the wife of Constantine the Great. And let no one be amazed if, being pagans before their baptism, father and son married two sisters.” (Aramaic Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, Constantine 18th year, AM 5813, AD 321/322)
4. In AD 324 Constantine, now a faithful, God-fearing, full immersion water baptized Christian, moved the capital of the Roman empire from Rome to Byzantium which he renamed Constantinople, after himself.
5. In AD 325, Constantine and hosted the first general Council of the 5 city patriarchs of the church at the city of Nicaea.
a. The 5 Patriarchs divided the world church into 5 geographic sections with governance at Rome, Constantinople, Antioch of Paul, Jerusalem and Alexandria. This pentapolis of churches was first formalized under Constantine.
b. Constantine hosted the great Nicene council but was a passive observer in the proceedings. He provided money for travel, food and lodging for the participants and any other supports needed from the background. It is noteworthy that Gnosticism, the first Christian heresy regarding the nature of Christ, questioned the humanity of Christ, not if he was God and fully divine. However by the 4th century Arius had greatly influenced many to deny the eternal preexistence of Creator God Jesus Christ and made the suffering savour into a creature. Arianism therefore, like modern Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christadelphians, moved Jesus from the creator side over to the creature side of theology. The council concluded that Jesus was fully God and that Arius was a heretic. They issued the famous Nicene Creed, which also commanded “baptism for the remission of sins” to the horror of modern Baptists and those who teach salvation by faith only apart from water baptism in spite of James 2:24; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16 and 1 Peter 3:21.
a. “For himself [Constantine the Great], he sometimes passed sleepless nights in furnishing his mind with Divine knowledge: and much of his time was spent in composing sermons, many of which he delivered in public; for he conceived it to be incumbent on him to govern his subjects by appealing to their reason, and to secure in all respects a rational obedience to his authority. Hence he would sometimes himself call an assembly, on which occasions vast multitudes attended, in the hope of hearing an emperor sustain the part of a philosopher. And if in the course of his speech any occasion offered of touching on sacred topics, he immediately stood erect, and with a grave aspect and subdued tone of voice seemed reverently to be initiating his auditors in the mysteries of the Divine doctrine: and when they greeted him with shouts of acclamation, he would direct them by his gestures to raise their eyes to heaven, and reserve their admiration for the Supreme King alone, and honor him with adoration and praise. He usually divided the subjects of his address, first thoroughly exposing the error of polytheism, and proving the superstition of the Gentiles to be mere fraud, and a cloak for impiety. He then would assert the sole sovereignty of God: passing thence to his Providence, both general and particular. Proceeding next to the topic of salvation, he would demonstrate its necessity, and adaptation to the nature of the case; entering next in order on the doctrine of the Divine judgment. And here especially he appealed most powerfully to the consciences of his hearers, while he denounced the rapacious and violent, and those who were slaves to an inordinate thirst of gain. Nay, he caused some of his own acquaintance who were present to feel the severe lash of his words, and to stand with downcast eyes in the consciousness of guilt, while he testified against them in the clearest and most impressive terms that they would have an account to render of their deeds to God. He reminded them that God himself had given him the empire of the world, portions of which he himself, acting on the same Divine principle, had entrusted to their government; but that all would in due time be alike summoned to give account of their actions to the Supreme Sovereign of all. Such was his constant testimony; such his admonition and instruction. And he himself both felt and uttered these sentiments in the genuine confidence of faith: but his hearers were little disposed to learn, and deaf to sound advice; receiving his words indeed with loud applause, but induced by insatiable cupidity practically to disregard them.” (Eusebius, Vit. Const. 4.29.1)
7. From AD 325 to 588, there was no pope or any one man who ruled the church world-wide as the “Universal Bishop”. The first man to claim to be pope was John IV the Faster, patriarch of Constantinople in AD 588 of the Orthodox church. The first pope of the Roman Catholic church was Boniface III in AD 606. Here is the history of the first popes to ever claim to be the head of the entire church on earth:
a. AD 588: Constantinopolitan synod: John IV the Faster, patriarch of Constantinople, is granted the title of "oecumenical" or "universal bishop," but doesn't start using it till AD 595.
b. AD 590: Gregory I, the great, becomes Patriarch of Rome, AD 590-604.
c. AD 595: John IV the Faster, starts using the title of "universal bishop" and Gregory I, denies the title even for himself. Biship of Rome, Gregory I protests John IV the Faster's use of the title "universal bishop" saying such a claim is a sign "the antichrist is near" and calls it a "proud and profane title" and equates John IV's to the devil himself.
d. AD 595: John IV the Faster dies on September 2, shortly after claiming to be pope of the world.
e. AD 602: Roman Emperor Maurice is murdered in a coup by Phocas, who then becomes emperor.
f. AD 604: Gregory, the bishop of Rome dies and is replaced by Sabinian, who reigns for two years.
g. AD 606: Sabinian, the bishop of Rome dies and is replaced by Boniface III. Phocas writes to the new bishop of Rome, Boniface III and through imperial decree of the Roman government, proclaims Boniface III, as the "Head of all the Churches" and "Universal Bishop". Phocas transfers the title from Constantinople to Rome. Boniface III, Bishop of Rome takes title: "universal Bishop": Catholicism is formally born in its final evolved form but the east never accepts Rome's claims and finally split fellowship with Rome in AD 1054.
h. AD 607: Boniface III dies on 19 February, shortly after claiming to be pope of the world. It is interesting that the first eastern leader (John IV) to proclaim himself as "universal bishop" and the first western (Boniface III) leader, to do the same, died within 12 months of claiming to be the "universal bishop". Was God sending a message here?
i. In summary, when John IV, Patriarch of Constantinople, started calling himself the "Universal Bishop" Gregory I, Patriarch of Rome, did not say, "Hey that's my title, you have right to wear it." Instead Gregory said that no man should consider himself the "Universal Bishop" calling it the sign the "antichrist" was near referencing 2 Thess 2:3-4. The bishop of Constantinople, John IV. was saying, "I am over you", Gregory was saying, "we are equal", even though Gregory would readily make the false claim that he, not John, was a successor of Apostle Peter.
j. So, the first Pope was John IV the Faster from the Orthodox church in AD 588 and the Bishop of Rome condemned the idea of one man ruling the universal church at that time… until Boniface III, bishop of Rome came along in AD 606 and was the first Roman Catholic to take the title of pope in world history.
k. The church of the first century was organized congregationally with no ties between local churches. Each local church was self-governed by a plurality of qualified men (1 Tim 3; Tit 1) called Elders/Shepherd/Overseers.
8. In AD 330 The capital of the Roman Empire was transferred from the city of Rome to Constantinople at its official inauguration.
a. A peaceful transfer of the capital was made from Rome to Constantinople in AD 330. This is 5 years after the Nicene council! Neither Rome or the Roman empire suffered destruction of any kind during this period of transition when the capital was moved.
b. Notice that “Old Rome” did not get destroyed to the utter dismay of late-daters who say the entire theme of Revelation is the destruction of Rome or the Roman empire.
c. In fact, the Roman empire continues down to the present time having suffered various invasions but nothing like the catastrophic meltdown of the city described in Revelation.
d. Jerusalem, on the other hand, was destroyed in a one two punch first, by Titus in AD 70 then by Hadrian in AD 135.
MM. Conclusion: The myth of emperor worship validates Revelation written in AD 66:
1. That Christians were executed for refusing to sacrifice to pagan Roman Gods is a clear historical fact.
a. No edict was ever issued to worship the Emperor or die, including under Diocletian.
b. Nobody was ever charged with treason for refusing to worship Caesar.
c. Domitian persecutions of Christians were mild compared to Nero because they were discontinued early in his reign, shortly after they began at which time he released all Christian prisoners from jail. This is a serious blow to Late-dater s who rely on erroneous literary sources that say John remained in prison until Domitian died in AD 96.
d. Trajan permitted Christians to be executed if they failed to worship Roman gods but he never required Christians to worship him, to the exclusion of Roman gods or die. Pliny threw the requirement of Caesar worship into the larger circle of Roman gods as his own private initiate. Correspondence letters from Trajan to Pliny prove that he never required Emperor worship alone as a sole test to determine if someone was a Christian.
e. The first state-wide persecutions that required Christians to worship idols (but not the Emperor) occurred under Decius (AD 249-251) which lasted only three years.
f. Certificates of Libellus under Decius (AD 249-251) mandated the requirement to sacrifice to pagan Roman gods, not Caesar.
g. The four Edicts of Diocletian (AD 284-305) never required Christians to worship him.
h. The Diocletian persecution was very short, lasting only one year with high intensity (AD 303-304) until he died, then gradually ending entirely in year 8 with the Edict of Toleration AD 311 and year 10 with the Edict of Milan AD 313.
i. During this ten year period of persecution many places did not enforce it to the point of death except in a few places like Egypt and North Africa.
j. Only Diocletian’s very last Edict #4, ordered Christian executed for not worshipping idols.
k. During the time of these four decrees, Diocletian was stricken with illness that triggered his resignation in AD 305 and death on 3 December 312.
l. In AD 311, shortly before his death, Galerius issued the Edict of Toleration which ended persecutions of Christians. In AD 313, Constantine and Licinius (both claiming the same title of “Augustus” (Senior Emperor of the west) jointly issued the Edict of Milan ended the persecutions of Christians until the Islamic age.
m. In the 7th century, in a single generation, the Muslims executed or force-converted 80% of Christians in the world by first killing the leaders, most of the men and old women. Then each Muslim male, under the direct commandments of Islamic leaders, took on up to 4 Christian wives, each of whom bore up to 15 children, all of whom learned Arabic. These same principles will soon repeat themselves today in modern Europe, once Muslims reach “critical rebellion population percentage”.
2. No legal basis for arresting Christians before the decrees of Valerian (257), Decius and Diocletian (303):
a. “Before the edict of Decius, then, we may imagine the process to have been somewhat as follows. Libelli would be laid before the local magistrate accusing the Christians of any number of vague crimes, homicidium, vis, incestus, sacrilegium, and the governor would be forced to investigate. Where specific names were mentioned (as seems to have happened in the case of the martyrs of Lyons and Vienne) these would be called before the tribunal. So far as we can see, Trajan's directive, conquirendi non sint, was generally respected. When it became clear to the magistrate that the accused were actually Christiani, he would follow the terms of his mandala in exercising his coercitio; this would be particularly hard on the humiliores and the non-citizen classes (to which most Christians belonged before the Constitutio Antoniniana of A.D. 212), and if the crowd collaborated in the discomfiture of the martyrs, the prefect would not interfere to make their lot easier.’” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p lxi, 1972 AD)
b. “A survey of the best-authenticated acta martyrum should naturally conclude with an assessment of the light they throw upon the age-old question of the legal basis of the persecutions. … reveals remarkable clarity from the time of Valerian's two edicts in 257/8 [down to the 4th edict of Diocletian]. … But on the question of the basis for the persecutions before Decius and Valerian, I cannot feel that the actual texts of the acta offer any solution.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p lvii, 1972 AD)
c. “A study of the authentic texts does not help to clear up the problem. The legal basis of the persecutions remains vague; and this precisely corresponds with the actual state of things. Even the Romans themselves would have been hard put to explain the legal foundations of what they did. For the constant assumption was that the nomen Christianum meant trouble -sedition, treason, riot, no one knew clearly what-and hence there was no question in the Roman mind but that the sect must be repressed. There was no general law, and yet from at least the time of Nero the constant suspicion of jlagitia cohaerentia. Hence once again we are forced back to the theory of coercitio, used to curb the possibility of different alleged crimes, none definite or clearly evidenced.” (Acts of the Christian Martyrs, Herbert Musurillo, p lxi, 1972 AD)
3. While emperors were historically deified after death down to the time of Constantine, the Jews had from the time of the Maccabees been exempt from all participation of Greek or Roman paganism through a collection of formal treaties or “edicts of toleration”.
a. Every Roman knew that Jews would never confess any man to be God, especially the Emperor!
b. “Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:1) but he didn’t kill them.
c. The “confess Caesar or die” fiction, is shown to be false because if the Romans always tolerated Jews formal denunciations of Caesar as God, they would not suddenly be offended by the new cult of the Nazarene either.
d. In fact, during the first century, Christians were viewed as sect of the Jews by the pagan Romans which meant that the Christians would be grandfathered into the Hellenistic decrees and Edicts of protection of Julius Caesar.
e. The “denial” of the “Imperial cult” was widespread among the population, including the Emperor’s themselves and nobody ever died for failure to worship the Caesar or else the entire Roman empire would have been wiped out.
f. Obviously then, the notion that Christians were put to death for denying the emperor’s deity is absurd. Christians were executed under Diocletian’s 4th edict if they refused to worship idols, which would have included worshipping the Emperor as a subset of the larger group.
4. Contrary to the depictions of Hollywood and pop culture that the Caesars were insane, the Roman Caesars were generally, highly respected and rational army commanders.
a. Vespasian was a highly successful army general sent by Nero to destroy Jerusalem in December AD 66. In the spring of AD 68 the Jerusalemites beg Vespasian to save the city from destruction at the hands of the Jewish Rebel leaders. (Josephus Wars 4:410)
b. Titus his son, came to Jerusalem in the spring of AD 70 and showed more reason, morality, justice and righteousness, than the Jews inside the city walls. Many times, Titus pleaded with the Jewish Rebel leaders to stop the war but they refused. Titus even twice sent Josephus to beg the Jewish Rebels to surrender in order to save Jerusalem from destruction. (Josephus Wars 5:105,391)
c. The idea that these two key players, in the destruction of Jerusalem were mad or executed those who would not worship them as gods, is pure fiction, unsubstantiated by any source.
5. The persecution of Christians was sporadic in time and often isolated to small geographic areas as seen in Pliny’s persecution in Bithynia.
6. According to “Late-dater s” Domitian was the great persecutor of Christians who forced, upon the threat of death, renouncing Christ and confession of Caesar as God.
a. Yes, Domitian persecuted Christians but that persecution had nothing to do with refusing to worship him a god.
b. Christians being killed for refuting to worship Domitian never happened and there are no historical references to validate it.
c. What history does record, is that after Domitian died, the entire Roman Senate removed statues, inscriptions and written references to him. (Suetonius, Domitian 23)
d. Proving once again, that even the Roman’s “rolled their eyes” at the emperor’s claims of deity and played along while he lived.
7. Ancient sources identify reasons why Christians were persecuted and “treason for failing to worship the emperor” was not one of them: Listed reasons include:
a. “arson [Rome-Nero] … hatred of the human race [ie. Jewish/Christian conflicts]” (Tacitus, Annales 15.44, 100 AD).
b. During the reign of Marcus Aurelius (AD 160) Christians were blamed for causing natural disasters because they refused to worship the patron deities.
c. “stubborn and inflexible obstinacy in holding to their creed” (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD).
d. “mere profession of Christianity, without crimes” (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD)
8. A man who refused to bow to the image of Caesar was not charged with treason, he was charged with being a Christian. Without the “Emperor Cult” where Christians were hunted and executed merely for refusing to bow to Caesar, Hailey’s, Harkrider’s and King’s interpretation of the beast from the Earth must be rejected. Even though Pliny the Younger punished Christians who refused to bow to the image of Trajan, a careful reading proves the opposite of what late-daters say was happening in their interpretation of Rev 13.
9. Above all, until validated though ancient literary sources, the “Emperor Cult” as wrongly defined by “Late-dater s” for the core of their interpretation of Revelation 13:11 as the beast of the Earth, will remain a fiction.
10. Persecution of Christians in Revelation 13:
a. The beast from the Sea represented the specific persecution by Nero but showed the Christians expect this persecution from Roman culture for many years to come. It is the Beast from the Sea wherein any possible notion of “Emperor worship” might be found.
b. The beast from the Earth represented persecution from the Jews.
11. Even if some new ancient literary source is discovered of an Imperial Decree to worship the Emperor or be executed as a treason were to be found, it still has nothing to do with the Book of Revelation whose event terminate with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in AD 70.
12. The persecution under Nero for 3.5 years was an incidental side-show to the central theme of God avenging Christians persecuted by Jews and crucifixion of the true Temple of God on 3 April AD 33.
13. Jewish persecution of Christians
a. The Jews were exempted from worshipping the Roman gods under Diocletian’s 4th Edict in AD 304 because of ancient laws exempting them from the time of Julius Caesar.
b. The Jews hypocritically rejoiced in the theatres along with the pagans when Christians refused to worship any God but the same one the Jews worshipped: YHWH.
c. The Jews zealously gathered the firewood, when Christians were condemned to be nailed to a stake and be burned alive.
d. Old Testament passages command Jews not to rejoice when your enemy falls. Edom was banished into extinction for lighting the fires of Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC then rejoicing over the misfortunes of the Jews under the wrath of God because of Jewish idol worship. The blind hatred the Jews had for the Christians is, well, very unchristian-like.
i. "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;" (Proverbs 24:17)
ii. "So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, You will be covered with shame, And you will be cut off forever. “On the day [587 BC] that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem— You too were as one of them. Do not gloat over your brother’s day, The day of his misfortune [587 BC]. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah In the day of their destruction; Yes, do not boast In the day of their distress. “Do not enter the gate [Jerusalem-burned temple-587 BC] of My people in the day of their disaster. Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity in the day of their disaster. And do not loot their wealth [in Jerusalem] in the day of their disaster. “Do not stand at the fork of the road [near Arad] to cut down their fugitives; And do not imprison their survivors In the day of their distress." (Obadiah 9–14)
iii. "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you." (Proverbs 25:21–22)
iv. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either…. you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." (Luke 6:27–35)
v. "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord." (Romans 12:19)
14. Wrath of God upon Executed church leaders for their apostacy: 1 Tim 4:1-4; 2 Tim 4:1-5
a. The apostacy of the first century church was reaching a peak at the first council of Nicaea.
i. Mary was being adorned.
ii. Images were becoming sanctified in churches.
iii. Diocesan bishops are totally foreign to the New Testament organization of the church which was congregational under a plurality of qualified men according to 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1.
iv. Only bishops could baptize or conduct communion.
v. Preachers were forbidden unless they had been authorized by a bishop.
b. Just as the Christians didn’t understand why they were being persecuted by a pagan polytheist named Domitian, so too they didn’t understand why 80% of the church was wiped out by a pagan monotheist named Muhammed in the 7th century.
c. The level of theological departure by the time of Muhammad was extreme:
i. The first pope in AD 606 was four years before Muhammed got his first “Vision”.
ii. The veneration of dead Christian’s bones as physical objects that bring blessings like a Rabbit’s Foot
iii. icon, image and idol worship
iv. prayer to and worship of Mary
v. Infant baptism
d. Just as God wiped out thousands of Jews at a time countless times in the Old Testament for their disobedience, so too God wiped out hundreds of Christian leaders under Diocletian and millions of Christians under Muhammed for their apostacy.
NN. Master summary of Emperor worship:
1. Tiberias renounced and mocked emperor worship: AD 14-37: (Tacitus, Annales 4.37-38)
2. Caligula wanted to erect a statue of himself in the Jerusalem temple as a deity. Herod Agrippa intervened and rescinded the imperial order to worship the emperor in AD 41, yet, this direct defiance against Caligula’s “godhood” went unpunished, neither was he charged with treason. (Philo Embassy 331)
3. Nero persecuted Christians but not because they refused to worship him or idols.
4. Vespasian never persecuted Christians and mocked Emperor worship on his deathbed saying "I am already becoming a god." (Dio Cassius 66.17.2-3)
5. Domitian lightly persecuted Christians for a short time at the beginning of his reign then stopped; at which time he released all the Christians from prisons. He never issued any edicts to worship himself as god or die. There are no records of anyone being executed for failing to worship him as god. Many scholars reject that Domitian persecuted Christians at all based upon the earliest literary sources. Tertullian says Domitian was lesser in cruelty than Nero, that he only made “some attempts” and was “to a certain degree human”, and he stopped the persecutions shortly after they began, at which time he released all jailed Christians. If apostle John was in jail on Patmos at this time, it would certainly include him but this destroys the late-date theory. (Tertullian Apol. 5.2-4, 200 AD) Eusebius says that ONLY Nero and Domitian persecuted Christians in the first century through slanderous accusations that were not used in courts of law, but as gossip in the general public. (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.26.9) Pliny was a lawyer under both Domitian and Trajan and was unaware of any Christian trials that took place under Domitian (Pliny, Ep. 10.96.1)
6. Trajan’ lawyer, Pliny initiated a small persecution against Christian leaders through “monkey trials” that was limited to the geographic area of Bithynia. It is clear that local pagan priests were upset with the large number of conversions to Christianity that were bankrupting their fortunes and leaving their pagan temples “almost deserted”. (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD) It was not a top town persecution from the Caesar, but a local regional citizen’s complaint brought up through the courts to Caesar. The events under Caesar Trajan echo the persecution of Christians in AD 52 at Ephesus lead by Demetrius, a silversmith as a “citizen’s complaint”. (Acts 19:24–27) Pliny executed Christians outside the normal boundaries of law if they confessed to be Christians. (Pliny, Letters 10.96, 112 AD). While Pliny’s letter to Trajan zealously included worshipping both the Roman gods and the Emperor, Trajan’s reply letter to Pliny noticeably excluded the requirement to worship the emperor. (Pliny, Letters 10.97, Trajan replies to Pliny). The crime was not refusing to worship pagan gods or Caesar. The crime was being a Christian and the test was worshipping pagan gods.
7. Hadrian did not persecute Christians, instead he issued decrees that outlawed the monkey trials by Pliny under Trajan and passed specific laws that protected Christians from such persecutions. (Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 68, Edict of Hadrian, 165 AD) At the time of Hadrian, Christians were afforded full legal rights to defend themselves AS CHRISTIANS who refused to worship any pagan gods. AD 117-138, until Hadrian died, was a time of peace for Christians regarding state persecution from the Romans.
8. The martyrdom of Polycarp under Pius in AD 156 does not provide most of the essential details that late-daters require. There is no edict that failure to worship the Imperial Cult was a death sentence. Only the local leaders were targeted rather than a state-wide persecution against large numbers of Christians. There was no charge of treason. The crime was being a Christian or failure to worship idols. The final judgement was based upon failure to worship Roman idols, not the emperor. The entire story as we have it today is very likely a late 3rd century rewrite of a much simpler version and therefore a pseudepigrapha that is worthless to use as any evidence of emperor worship.
9. The Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus and Lucius AD 160 proves that Caesar Pius, his son Aurelius and the entire senate were opposed to persecuting Christians for any reason. So from Hadrian down to the Beginning of the reign of Aurelius was a time of peace for Christians AD 117-161 (Hadrian, Pius). Perhaps Aurelius initiated persecutions after his father died but not before. A woman named Ptolemaeus appeals her divorce case to Caesar Pius whose adulterous husband accused her of being a Christian. Pius, knowing she is a Christian passes judgement in favor of the wife. Enraged, her husband brings local charges “of being a Christian” to both her and the Christian man Lucius who told her to leave her husband and both were executed. Just before being executed Lucius said: “Your sentence, Urbicus, does not befit the Emperor Pius [AD 138-161], his philosopher son [Caesar Marcus Aurelius: 161-180], or the holy senate!”(Martyrdom of Ptolemaeus and Lucius, 160 AD) This story, which dates to AD 138-161, totally disproves every and all notions of Emperor worship and proves Christian persecution of the late second century were driven from local complains to the courts.
10. The Martyrdom of Justin Martyr under Aurelius in AD 165 contains no emperor worship. The three extant recension manuscript stories show a progression over time regarding the legal basis of the executions. Earliest/Shortest: local laws likely of the wicked prefect Rusticus. Middle: orders of the Emperors. Youngest/Longest: imperial edicts of Marcus Aurelius. These recensions demonstrate why ancient literary sources are unreliable, confusing and sometimes contradictory. In the actual story, Justin is executed by a wicked and corrupt local activist ruler/judge. In the second recension suddenly Justin is executed by order of the Emperors. (plural). In the final recension, Aurelius has issued an edict to worship idols or die. Of course we know this to be utterly false because the first of these edicts did not happen until the time of Decius in AD 250.
11. The Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne under Aurelius in AD 177 contain no emperor worship.
12. The Martyrs of Scillitan under Aurelius in AD 180 contain no emperor worship. However they refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods and the “Genius of the Emperor, which is a demon god that indwells the mortal emperor. The emperor himself was not the object of worship.
13. The Martyrdom of Apollonius under Commodus in AD 185 contains the requirement to sacrifice to the gods and the “Genius of the Emperor” but the full story is lost except for one unreliable late manuscript.
14. Martyrdom of Potamiaena and Basilides under Severus in AD 210 contains no emperor worship in the story.
15. Martyrdom of Pionius under Decius in AD 250 contains an Edict that required Christians to sacrifice to the gods under a state approved supervisor who would then issue a Certificate of Libellus proving compliance. When Pionius refused to worship the gods, he was told, 'Make a sacrifice at least to the emperor,' as a secondary, lesser requirement. Like Paul at Ephesus and the monkey trials under Trajan, these persecutions were initiated by the local pagan priests Martyrdom of Pionius 2, 250 AD) The words of Decius’ Edict are unknown but and 46 Certificates of Libelli that have been excavated. The Edict of Decius did not mention Emperor Worship, only the requirement was to sacrifice to one of any the Roman gods. Only leaders were targeted.
16. Martyrdom of Cyprian under Valerian in AD 258 references an Edict: 'The emperors have also given orders that no meetings are to be held anywhere, nor shall they enter the burial areas [where Christians were assembling for church]. Hence if anyone does not observe this very sound order, he will receive the capital penalty.'” (Martyrdom of Cyprian 1, 258 AD) There is no Emperor worship and leaders specifically targeted not the general Christian population.
17. Martyrdom of Fructuosus, Augurius, Eulogiusin under Valerian in AD 259 says, “'They have ordered you to worship the gods.' … if the gods are not worshipped, then the images of the emperors are not adored. … And he sentenced them to be burnt alive.” (Martyrdom of Fructuosus 2, 259 AD) No Emperor worship and only 3 church leaders were executed not the general Christian population.
18. Martyrdom of Marinus under Gallienus in AD 261. Eusebius beings the story with, “when there was peace among the churches everywhere, Marinus, one of those honored by high rank in the army was … beheaded in Caesarea”… since he was a Christian and not accustomed to sacrifice to emperors … because … another came before the tribunal and charged that according to the ancient laws it was not possible for Marinus to share in a rank that belonged to Romans in order to secure the office for himself” (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 7.15, Martyrdom of Marinus, 261 AD) Notice how it was “a time of general peace for Christians EVERWHERE” during the reign of Caesar Gallienus [AD 260-268]. Worshipping the Emperor was always included in the broader worship of all the Roman pagan gods. In this situation the worship of the Emperor is focused on because of the high rank Marinus was to have in the Emperor’s army. There is obvious corruption and collusion between the solder who wanted Marinus’ promotion, and the judge who ordered Marinus executed. Finally, in the story Marinus went to a formal church building before his execution with the knowledge of the judge, where many Christians had met to pray together with him, then he returned to court and was beheaded. This proves that there was no general hunt for Christians who refused to worship the Emperor. This story illustrates how the “worship the emperor or die” persecutions were selective, arbitrary and generally ignored.
19. The Four Edicts of Diocletian were not Emperor Worship: The 1st Edict of Diocletian on 23 February 303, prohibited Christian assemblies, destruction church buildings, scriptures, religious books. The 2nd Edict of Diocletian in the Summer of AD 303 ordered Imprisonment of all church leaders including Bishops, Deacons etc. but not the average Christian. The 3rd Edict of Diocletian on 20 November 303 ordered amnesty for jailed church leaders if they changed their minds and sacrificed to Roman gods. No specific mention of Emperor Worship. The 4th Edict of Diocletian on 23 February 304 ordered that all Roman citizens must sacrifice to the gods or be executed. No specific mention of Emperor Worship. Only the leaders were targeted and executed: Bishops, Deacons were selected and the average church member was left alone. Even in the final 4th Edict that required woman and children to sacrifice or die, only leaders were finally selected. The decrees were not uniformly enforced: Some countries totally ignored all the decrees. Some countries moderately and selectively enforced the decrees. The myth of Emperor worship: The lack of any hint of Emperor worship in the four edicts of Diocletian is a huge problem for late-daters in their insistence that the beast of Revelation 13 and/or the 8th healed head is most certainly the requirement to worship Diocletian or be executed.
20. Martyrdom of Two “conscientious objectors” under Diocletian. The First in AD 295 was Maximilian, a 21-year-old man who declared 7 times, as a “conscientious objector” that he was a Christian and would not join the army. Proconsul Dion, knowing Maximilian was a Christian, rejected it as an excuse 7 times and demanded he serve as a Christian under Diocletian. “The proconsul Dion said: 'In the sacred bodyguard of our lords Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Maximus, there are soldiers who are Christian, and they serve.'” (Martyrdom of Maximilian, 295 AD)
21. The second was Marcellus in AD 298 was was asked to serve in the army as a Christian but refused. There was no objection to Marcellus being a Christian in the army but was executed because he was a “conscientious objector”. No Emperor worship in either stories. These two cases of Christians refusing to serve in the army as conscientious objectors, may have been the reason why Diocletian issued his final and 4th edict that Christians must sacrifice to the gods (not to him, the Emperor) or die. Many Christians served in Diocletian’s army at the beginning of his reign.
22. Martyrdom of Carpus, Papylus, Agathonice Diocletian in c. AD 300. Emperor worship totally absent from the account and only leaders were targeted not the general Christian population:
23. Martyrdom of Felix under Diocletian’s 1st edict in AD 303. Felix the bishop refused to turn over scriptures to be burned and was executed. Only the leaders were targeted and there is no emperor worship.
24. Martyrdom of Agape, Chione, Irene under Diocletian in AD 304. The first two girls, Agape and Chione, were executed for failing to sacrifice to the pagan gods under Diocletian’s 4th edict. The third, Irene, was executed for failing to surrender scripture found hidden in her storage trunks under Diocletian’s 1st Edict and refusing to sacrifice and eat sacrificial meat under the 4th edict. No Emperor Worship in the story.
25. Martyrdom of Irenaeus under Diocletian’s 4th Edict in AD 304. The famous young Bishop Irenaeus was beheaded under Diocletian’s 4th edict which required the leaders to sacrifice to idols (not the Emperor) or be executed. The general Christian population were not targeted for execution as evidenced that Irenaeus’ wife and children were excepted.
26. Martyrdom of Crispina under Diocletian in AD 304 tells the story of her being arrested and ordered to “offer sacrifice to all our gods for the welfare of the emperors”. (Martyrdom of Crispina 1, 304 AD). She states that water baptism saved her. There was no Emperor worship and she probably was a leader among the women.
27. Martyrdom of Julius under Diocletian in AD 305 tells the story of a veteran solder named Julius who served in the army for 27 years. He was executed under the 4th edict of Diocletian which required him to sacrifice to any pagan god. There is no Emperor worship and the judge had no problem with Christians serving in the army.
28. Persecution officially ends: The Edict of Toleration by Galerius at Serdica in AD 311 and Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 AD.
Why was Revelation written to the 7 churches?
Why was Revelation written to 7 churches in Asia and not Jerusalem?
1. “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 1:11
2. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” 1:20
3. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
Why was Revelation written to 7 churches in Asia if it is a warning for the Jerusalem Christians to flee?
I call this the “What about the thief on the cross” argument in response to the passages in Mk 16:16, Acts 2:38; 22:16, 1 Pe 3:21 which clearly teach the essentiality of full immersion for salvation and contacting the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. If you think asking “What about the thief on the cross” refutes the Bible doctrine that water baptism is essential to salvation, click here. It is puzzling that the first objection most often raised to reject the early date of AD 66 for Revelation is “Why was it was written to 7 churches in Asia?”. A better question is “Since Revelation was written to warn the Jerusalem Christians to flee the city, why did John send it to 7 churches in Asia?” God in his gracious providence, did not want the Jerusalem Christians to become homeless vagrants wandering aimlessly outside the city with no place to live.
Ever wonder why God wrote the book of Revelation for the Jerusalem Christians but sent it to the 7 churches of Asia? The same reason Ezekiel performed many theatrical “Sign Acts” in 593 BC for the local Jews living in Al-Yahuda Babylon to warn the Jews living in Jerusalem 1000 km (5400 Stadia) away. (The author discovered using Google Earth, that both John and Ezekiel were prisoners in a foreign land the exact same distance, 1000 km, from Jerusalem.)
A better question to ask, since Revelation was written for the Jerusalem Jews 1000 km away, is “why deliver it to the 7 nearby churches of Asia”? In 593 BC, Ezekiel’s message of “come out from among them” was carried 1000 km to Jerusalem by messengers and those who obeyed would voluntarily follow the Jewish messengers 1000 km back to Al-Yahuda. This is what happened in AD 66. John wrote seven autograph/duplicate copies of Revelation and sent it to the seven nearby churches of Asia, who in turn, each sent their copy via a designated messenger to 1000 km Jerusalem. The 7 messengers who carried their local church’s copy of Revelation 1000 km to Jerusalem, may have been the same congregational messengers who had accompanied Paul 12 years earlier in 54 AD, with their cash gifts to the needy Christians in Jerusalem. (1 Cor 16:3). The Jerusalem refugee Christians followed the 7 messengers back to their home churches in Asia and started a new life. In direct contrast to the dark lampstand in Jerusalem, the seven churches were bright guiding lights to follow. The Jerusalem Christians could chose one of seven cities to make their home, complete with mature churches that could take them in, give employment and re-establish them into a brand-new life of peace and prosperity as their previous home of Jerusalem burned to the ground.
The 7 Angels of the 7 churches may refer to the 7 messenger men who carried the letter:
“It has been proposed that the angels are messengers from the seven churches sent to John and/or the messengers from John entrusted to deliver the letters. Although virtually always being a reference to a heavenly messenger, aggelos is used occasionally in both the OT (Mal 2:7; 3:1) and the NT (Matt 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Jas 2:25) to refer to a human messenger. The leaders of the church, perhaps their bishops, is also a possible identification.” (ABD, Angels of the Seven Churches, Volume 1, Page 255)
The Synagogue was the exact prototype of the church and Philo (Good man 81) and the Jerusalem Talmud, record that synagogue seating was grouped by working trade: “They did not sit in a jumble, but the goldsmiths sat by themselves, the silversmiths by themselves, the weavers by themselves, the bronze-workers by themselves, and the blacksmiths by themselves. “All this why? So that when a traveller came along, he could find his fellow craftsmen, and on that basis he could gain a living”. (y. Sukk. 5:1, I.5.A–H) So the love of God for his children, is illustrated in providing the first successful mass refugee relocation program of Christians living in Jerusalem who moved to Asia and were able to quickly find work!
The Christians who moved to these seven cities knew in advance each local church’s strengths and failures and were likely used by God as outside instruments to aid these 7 churches in spiritual restoration. Indeed, the 7 local churches would greatly desire to have these original Jewish Hebrew Christians begin worshipping with them every Lord’s Day. It would be like 50 members of the “Douglas Hills church in Louisville KY” permanently moving to live and worship with some small struggling foreign church with 15 members.
B. Ancient Literary sources on the Flight from Jerusalem to Pella during the 1st Jewish War:
1. Pella is one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis located 10 km east of Beth Shean on the east side of the Jordan river.
2. Ancient Literary sources on Christians fleeing Jerusalem to Pella:
a. Eusebius: AD 325
i. “But the people of the Church at Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given out by revelation before the war to esteemed men there to depart from the city and to inhabit a city of Peraea which they called Pella. Those who believed in Christ migrated to this city from Jerusalem, that, when holy men had entirely abandoned the royal capital [Jerusalem] of the Jews and the entire land of Judaea, the judgment of God might soon overtake them for their many crimes against Christ and His Apostles and utterly destroy that generation of the wicked from among men. Whoever wishes can gather accurately from the history written by Josephus.” (Eus., Hist. eccl. 3.5, 325 AD)
b. Pseudo-Clementines: AD 375
i. “And all this he [Moses] contrived for them, that . . . those who believed in him (Jesus), in the Wisdom of God, would be led to a secure place of the land that they might survive and be preserved from the war, which afterward came upon those who did not believe, because of their division for their destruction.” (Pseudo-Clementines Recognitions 1.37.2, Syriac Version, 375 AD)
ii. “So that when they pleased God in his ineffable wisdom, they [Christians] would be saved from the war which was about to come for the destruction of those who were not persuaded [Jews].” (Pseudo-Clementines Recognitions 1.39.3, Syriac Version, 375 AD)
iii. “Subsequently also an evident proof of this great mystery is supplied in the fact, that everyone who, believing [Christians] in this Prophet who had been foretold by Moses, is baptized in His name, shall be kept unhurt from the destruction of war which impends over the unbelieving nation [Jews], and the place itself; but that those who do not believe shall be made exiles from their place and kingdom, that even against their will they may understand and obey the will of God.” (Pseudo-Clementines Recognitions 1.39.3, Latin Version, 406 AD)
c. Epiphanius of Salamis: AD 400
i. “This sect of Nazoraeans [heretics] is to be found in Beroea near Coelesyria, in the Decapolis near Pella, and in Bashanitis at the place called Cocabe—Khokhabe in Hebrew. For that was its place of origin, since all the disciples had settled in Pella after their remove from Jerusalem—Christ having told them to abandon Jerusalem and withdraw from it because of the siege it was about to undergo. And they settled in Peraea for this reason and, as I said, lived their lives there. It was from this that the Nazoraean sect had its origin.” (Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion, Against Nazoraeans 29.7.7, 400 AD)
ii. “Their [Ebionites] origin came after the fall of Jerusalem. For since practically all who had come to faith in Christ had settled in Peraea then, in Pella, a town in the “Decapolis” the Gospel mentions, which is near Batanaea and Bashanitis—as they had moved there then and were living there, this provided an opportunity for Ebion.” (Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion, Against Ebionites 30.2.7, 400 AD)
iii. “So Aquila, while he was in Jerusalem, also saw the disciples of the disciples of the apostles flourishing in the faith and working great signs, healings, and other miracles. For they were such as had come back from the city of Pella to Jerusalem and were living there and teaching. For when the city was about to be taken and destroyed by the Romans, it was revealed in advance to all the disciples by an angel of God that they should remove from the city, as it was going to be completely destroyed. They sojourned as emigrants in Pella, the city above mentioned in Transjordania. And this city is said to be of the Decapolis. But after the destruction of Jerusalem, when they had returned to Jerusalem, as I have said, they wrought great signs, as I have already said.” (Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, De Mensuris et Ponderibus, On Weights and Measures 15, 400 AD)
iv. “Koester convincingly demonstrates the superiority of the Syriac version of the Recognitions over their Latin translation: in his view the Syriac rendering best conveys the genuine Jewish-Christian character of these writings. He agrees therefore with Strecker that these passages once circulated among the Christian communities east of the Jordan.” (The Jewish Christians Move From Jerusalem as a Pragmatic Choice, Jonathan Bourgel, p114, 2010 AD)
d. Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria: AD 940
i. There are serious chronological problems with the Arabic story by Eutychius. We know three things: 1. We know James was stoned around Dec AD 62. 2. We know that Nero began persecuting Christians in Dec AD 64. 3. We know that Nero sent Vespasian to destroy Jerusalem in Dec AD 66. Yet, Eutychius says the death of James (Dec AD 62) triggered the Christians to flee Transjordan (Dec AD 62) and when Nero found out, he sent Vespasian to attack the Jews in (Dec AD 66) to avenge the Christians who had been expelled by the Jews to Pella. If this story is true, then Nero began his own persecution of Christians Dec AD 64 by falsely blaming them for the burning of Rome, 2 years after the Jews began persecuting Christians in Jerusalem Dec AD 62. Then in AD 66, two years after Nero began his own persecution of Christians in AD 64, Nero suddenly learns (in AD 66) that Jews had banished Christians to Pella 4 years earlier (in AD 62) and in righteous indignation, sends Vespasian in December AD 66 to destroy the Jews because they persecuted Christians who fled to Pella. If anything, Nero would send Vespasian to kill the Christians in Pella! The chronology is hopelessly contradictory, and the account must be dismissed entirely as a wild fabrication.
ii. “Qistus, governor of Jerusalem, died and the city was without any authority or sovereign to govern it. The Jews then arose and rioted and killed James, son of Joseph, known as the “brother of the Lord”, stoning him to death (October AD 62). Then they harassed a group of disciples and expelled them from the city. The Christians abandoned Jerusalem, crossed the Jordan and settled in those places (Perea, Pella?). Informed of this fact, Nero Caesar sent word to the commander stationed in the East, named Vespasian, to rally his troops and go to Judea with orders to kill all the inhabitants, sparing none, and to destroy the houses.” (Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria 9:7, 940 AD)
iii. AD 73: “When the Christians, who fled away from the Jews and had crossed the Jordan and settled in those places, learned that Titus had destroyed the city and killed the Jews, they returned to Jerusalem, which was in ruins, and lived there and built a church and put at its head a second bishop named Simon, son of Cleophas. This Cleophas was the brother of Joseph who had brought up Christ our Lord. This happened in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian.” (Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria 9:10, 940 AD)
iv. “Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned” (Josephus Antiquities 20.200, October 62 AD)
3. One of the historical problems with Eusebius’s account of the Christians fleeing to Pella BEFORE the war started in AD 66, is that Josephus says that the Jews destroyed and set on fire Pella in September AD 66.
a. When the Romans killed 20,000 Jews living in Caesarea, so that none remained, the Jews retaliated by destroying many cities with fire including Pella in the September of AD 66: “Now the people of Caesarea had slain the Jews that were among them on the very same day and hour [when the soldiers were slain], which one would think must have come to pass by the direction of Providence; insomuch that in one hour’s time above twenty thousand Jews were killed, and all Cesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them in bonds to the galleys. (458) Upon which attack that the Jews received at Caesarea, the whole nation was greatly enraged; so they divided themselves into several parties, and laid waste the villages of the Syrians, and their neighboring cities, Philadelphia, and Sebonitis, and Gerasa, and Pella, and Scythopolis [Beth Shean], (459) and after them Gadara, and Hippos; and falling upon Gaulonitis, some cities they destroyed there, and some they set on fire, and then they went to Kedasa, belonging to the Tyrians, and to Ptolemais, and to Gaba, and to Cesarea; (460) nor was either Sabaste (Samaria) or Askelon, able to oppose the violence with which they were attacked; and when they had burned these to the ground, they entirely demolished Anthedon and Gaza; many also of the villages that were about every one of those cities were plundered, and an immense slaughter was made of the men who were caught in them.” (Josephus Wars 2.457–460, Sept AD 66)
b. The Christians were given prophecy to leave the city for Pella in AD 65, only to have their new homes burnt down at Pella by vengeance seeking Jews against the Romans who would certainly not show any mercy to the resident Christians given their persistent persecutions.
c. “The destruction of Pella by the Jewish rebels in the late summer of 66 and the stubborn hostility of the pagan inhabitants towards the Jews make it unlikely that the Jewish Christians settled in this city before 68 C.E.” (The Jewish Christians Move from Jerusalem as a Pragmatic Choice, Jonathan Bourgel, p122, 2010 AD)
4. In c. 100 BC, Pella was destroyed by the Jews because they would not permit convert to Judaism or tolerate Jewish practices under Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC).
a. “Now at this time the Jews were in possession of the following cities that had belonged to the Syrians, and Idumeans, and Phoenicians: At the seaside, Strato’s Tower, Apollonia, Joppa, Jamnia, Ashdod, Gaza, Anthedon, Raphia, and Rhinocolura; in the middle of the country, near to Idumea, Adora, and Marissa; near the country of Samaria, Mount Carmel, and Mount Tabor, Scythopolis, and Gadara; of the country of the Gaulonites, Seleucia, and Gabala; in the country of Moab, Heshbon, and Medaba, Lemba, and Oronas, Gelithon, Zara, the valley of the Cilices, and Pella; which last they utterly destroyed, because its inhabitants would not bear to change their religious rites for those peculiar to the Jews. The Jews also possessed others of the principal cities of Syria, which had been destroyed.” (Josephus Antiquities 13.395–397, 103-76 BC)
b. The Romans made Pella into one of the 10 Decapolis cities, likely driving out the Jews, which is why the Jews rose up and burnt it in Sept AD 66 for the second time!
5. Both Eusebius and Epiphanius indicate that the Christians freely moved between Jerusalem and Pella and back both before and after the war.
a. Perhaps the records from the 4th century that Christians from Jerusalem fled to Pella, was in fact a result of them surrendering to Titus in AD 69-70 and he settled them there, as was his custom to resettle captives in cities that had already been subdued. Since Pella had been destroyed and burnt by the Jews in the fall of AD 66, sending the Christians there would help rebuild the important Decapolis city.
b. “Thus the difficulty in question could be overcome by considering that the Jewish-Christians did not choose to take refuge at Pella but were settled there by the Roman authorities.” (The Jewish Christians Move From Jerusalem as a Pragmatic Choice, Jonathan Bourgel, p121, 2010 AD)
C. Christians had to flee Jerusalem before Oct AD 66, outside Judea, to the 7 churches of Asia (Rev 2-3)
1. AD 65-66: It seems unlikely that the Jerusalem Christians would flee in AD 65-66 and then chose to live anywhere in Judea.
a. Christians would not flee to Pella: Josephus says that the Jews destroyed and set on fire Pella in September AD 66. (Josephus Wars 2.457–460)
b. The first Jewish war was not put down by the Romans until AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed and the rebel leaders were captured and paraded in Rome. The Titus Arch likely features the Jewish Rebel leaders.
c. It wasn’t until Monday 12th April AD 73 when Masada finally fell when 960 Jews committed suicide.
d. “Nor was there now any part of Judea that was not in a miserable condition, as well as its most eminent city also.” (Josephus Wars 4.409, March AD 68)
2. Passover 28 April AD 66: Book of Revelation arrives in Jerusalem and a mass wave of Christians flee city:
a. Most of the Christians fled the city when the 7 emissaries from the 7 churches of Asia (Rev 2-3) arrived with 7 autograph copies of the book of Revelation around Passover AD 66.
b. They would follow the emissaries back to each of their respective 7 churches of Asia and start a new secure life with the help of local Christians.
c. Remaining Christians flee Jerusalem 15th September AD 66:
d. The city was controlled by Jews starting in Sept AD 66. LIBERATION OF JERUSALEM: 15th September AD 66: [6th Elul AD 66, Wars 2.433-440]: Synchronism between the Two Witnesses preaching 42 months starting when Jerusalem fully liberated till the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar/Titus. Jewish Manahem surrounds Jerusalem with his armies fulfilling Lk 21:20 and then the High Priest executed.
e. After September, Christians would likely be permitted to “leave it all behind” by the Jews without being killed, if they just left the city.
f. Any Christians who did not leave the city by October AD 66 were likely persecuted and executed by the Jews by the Rebel leaders.
3. Dec AD 66: Nero sends Vespasian to destroy Jerusalem and end the First Jewish War.
4. July AD 67: Vespasian captures Josephus at Jotapata and destroys Magdala, Gischala and Gamla. The entire nation is under attack by the Romans, no cities are safe.
5. Feb AD 68: Christians could not escape Jerusalem after and would have been killed by the Jews:
a. The Jews would kill fellow Jews who tried to escape as traitors to the Romans. Christians would be doubly suspect and have even greater difficulty escaping the city. Only the richest were able to escape.
b. “the Jews are vexed to pieces every day by their civil wars and dissensions, and are under greater misfortunes than, if they were once taken, could be inflicted on them by us. (376) Whether, therefore, anyone hath regard to what is for our safety, he ought to suffer these Jews to destroy one another; or whether he hath regard to the greater glory of the action, we ought by no means to meddle with these men, now they are afflicted with a distemper at home; for should we now conquer them, it would be said the conquest was not owing to our bravery, but to their sedition. And now the commanders joined in their approbation of what Vespasian had said, and it was soon discovered how wise an opinion he had given; and indeed many there were of the Jews that deserted every day, and fled away from the zealots, (378) although their flight was very difficult, since they had guarded every passage out of the city, and slew every one that was caught at them, as taking it for granted they were going over to the Romans; (379) yet did he who gave them money get clear off, while he only that gave them none was voted a traitor. So the upshot was this, that the rich purchased their flight by money, while all the poor were slain. (380) Along all the roads also vast numbers of dead bodies lay in heaps, and even many of those that were so zealous in deserting, at length chose rather to perish within the city; for the hopes of burial made death in their own city appear of the two less terrible to them. (381) But these zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity, as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads” (Josephus Wars 4.375–381, Feb AD 68)
c. “But because the city had to struggle with three of the greatest misfortunes, war, and tyranny, and sedition, it appeared, upon the comparison, that the war was the least troublesome to the populace of them all. Accordingly they ran away from their own houses to foreigners, and obtained that preservation from the Romans, which they despaired to obtain among their own people.” (Josephus Wars 4.397, Feb AD 68)
6. 9 June AD 68: Nero commits suicide while Vespasian is conquering Judean cities on route to start sieging Jerusalem.
7. June AD 68 – April AD 69: Two Rebel unofficial Caesars: Galba and Otho
8. 17th April AD 69: Third Rebel unofficial Caesar Vitellius succeeds Otho. (Josephus Wars 4.545-549)
9. June AD 69: After Vespasian arrives in Jerusalem nobody could get out of the city easily if at all. The Rebel leaders killed any Jews who tried to escape the city while the Roman armies surrounded the city with a siege preventing anyone also from getting out.
a. “Nor was there now any part of Judea that was not in a miserable condition, as well as its most eminent city also. These things were told Vespasian by deserters; for although the seditious watched all the passages out of the city, and destroyed all, whosoever they were, that came hither, yet were there some that had concealed themselves, and, when they had fled to the Romans, persuaded their general to come to their city’s assistance, and save the remainder of the people; (411) informing him withal, that it was upon account of the people’s good will to the Romans [I.e siding with the Romans] that many of them were already slain [as traitors], and the survivors in danger of the same treatment. (412) Vespasian did, indeed, already pity the calamities these men were in, and arose, in appearance, as though he was going to besiege Jerusalem,—but in reality to deliver them from a [worse] siege they were already under.” (Josephus Wars 4.409-412, Feb AD 69)
b. “And now the war having gone through all the mountainous country, and all the plain country also, those that were at Jerusalem were deprived of the liberty of going out of the city; for as to such as had a mind to desert, they were watched by the zealots; and as to such as were not yet on the side of the Romans, their army kept them in, by encompassing the city round about on all sides.” (Josephus Wars of the Jews 4.490, June AD 69)
10. 22 December AD 69: Vitellius is beheaded the same month Titus is sent to destroy Jerusalem.
a. The Roman troops stationed at Caesarea and Alexandria both formally proclaim Vespasian as Caesar. (Josephus Wars 4:601-621)
b. Vespasian travels to Alexandria and goes to Rome. Vespasian sends Titus to Jerusalem to destroy the city. Titus gathers army at Alexandria and leaves for Jerusalem. (Josephus Wars 4:656-568)
11. Monday 7th March AD 70: Titus arrives in Jerusalem and 5-month siege begins.
a. Titus and his forces began the siege of Jerusalem just a little before Passover AD 70. (Wars 5.67-108).
b. Jesus son of Ananus, one of the witnesses of Rev 11 is killed by the Jews at the time the final siege begins. Notice one of the Witness of Revelation named JESUS son of Ananus (same name as High Priest who killed Jesus, possibly his son) was killed by a ballista stone while the three waring Jewish rebel leaders were fighting but the Romans were not. “Woe, woe, to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last,—“Woe, woe, to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines [Jewish-from inside the city], and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages, he gave up the ghost” (Wars 6:309)
12. June AD 70: The Jews were swallowing gold, then using the gold to buy their freedom from the Romans. Many of them were killed and their bellies were cut open in search of gold. The Jewish Rebel leaders began watching anybody leaving the city more than worrying about Romans entering the city. It was very difficult to escape the city because if you escaped execution by the Jews inside, you would be killed by those outside. The initial group Titus allowed to go free, but then these were killed by gold hunters.
a. Titus let these initial deserters go free: “accordingly, some of them sold what they had, and even the most precious things that had been laid up as treasures by them, for a very small matter, and swallowed down pieces of gold, that they might not be found out by the robbers; and when they had escaped to the Romans, went to stool, and had wherewithal to provide plentifully for themselves; (422) for Titus let a great number of them go away into the country, whither they pleased” (Josephus Wars 5:421-422, Thursday 24th May AD 70)
b. However the two remaining revel leaders kill their fellow Jews who try to escape, “John and Simon, with their factions, did more carefully watch these men’s going out than they did the coming in of the Romans; and, if any one did but afford the least shadow of suspicion of such an intention, his throat was cut immediately.” (Josephus Wars 5.423, Thursday 24th May AD 70)
c. 5th June AD 70, Tuesday: 2000 Jews who swallowed gold had bellies cut open by the Syrians and Arabs but Titus forbad his troops to do the same and executed the offending Syrians and Arabs. Once again the honour, moral uprightness and justice of the Romans exceeded both the Jews and the nations around them. “Yet did another plague seize upon those that were thus preserved; for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of the Jews’ bellies; for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold, as we told you before, when they came out; and for these did the seditious search them all; for there was a great quantity of gold in the city, insomuch that as much was now sold [in the Roman camp] for twelve Attic [drams], as was sold before for twenty-five; (551) but when this contrivance was discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps, that the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. (552) Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected. When Titus came to the knowledge of this wicked practice, he had like to have surrounded those that had been guilty of it with his horse, and have shot them dead; and he had done it, had not their number been so very great, and those that were liable to this punishment would have been manifold, more than those whom they had slain.” (Josephus Wars 5.550-553, Tuesday 5th June AD 70)
13. Sabbath 14th July AD 70: [17 Tammuz/Panemus]: John stops temple sacrifices.
a. Synchronism with Daniel 9:27 Abomination of Desolation= John stops temple sacrifices: Dan 12:1 = Mt 24 = Josephus Wars 6.93-129
b. The 70 weeks of Daniel 9 end at the resurrection, but it goes on to say that after, will be a complete destruction of the temple in AD 70. Dan 12:1 jumps from the Greek kingdom (Dan 11) to the end in AD 70.
14. Monday 6th August AD 70 [10 Av AD 70]: Temple destroyed with fire.
a. Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70 happened on same day of the year as the Babylonian in 587 BC.
b. Temple destroyed by burning after Jews attack Romans. Fire was cast into the inner Temple, essentially completing the destruction of the city (Josephus Wars 6:244-264).
c. “So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house; but, as for that house, God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous [Ab], upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon” (Josephus Wars 6.249-250)
15. Sunday 2nd September AD 70, [Gorpiaeus/Elul 8]: 1.1 million Jews died including the now famous Jews hiding drainage tunnel under the ascent stairs of the Pool of Siloam.
a. “Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be 97,000; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege 1,100,000 [eleven hundred thousand], (421) the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation [with the citizens of Jerusalem], but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army, which, at the very first, occasioned so great a straightness among them that there came a pestilential destruction upon them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more suddenly.” (Josephus Wars 6.420-428)
b. “Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in a prison … they made search for underground, and when they found where they were, they broke up the ground and slew all they met with. There were also found slain there above two thousand persons, partly by their own hands, and partly by one another, but chiefly destroyed by the famine; (431) but then, the ill savor of the dead bodies was most offensive to those that lighted upon them” (Josephus Wars 6.428-433)
D. Conclusion: Christians fled Jerusalem to Asia before December AD 66
1. Christians needed to have fled Jerusalem before Dec AD 66 to the 7 churches of Asia (Rev 2-3).
a. Most of the Christians fled the city when the 7 emissaries from the 7 churches of Asia (Rev 2-3) arrived with 7 autograph copies of the book of Revelation a month or so before Passover AD 66. They would follow the emissaries back to each of their respective 7 churches of Asia and start a new secure life with the help of local Christians.
b. Remaining Christians flee Jerusalem 15th September AD 66: The city was controlled by Jews after 15th September AD 66 (Wars 2.433-440) when they saw the Jewish armies of Manahem surrounded Jerusalem fulfilling Lk 21:20.
c. After December AD 66, any Christians who tried to leave the Jerusalem would die of famine or be killed by the Jews for trying to escape.
d. By May AD 70 conditions were catastrophic for anyone left in the city: “Hereupon some of the deserters, having no other way, leaped down from the wall immediately, while others of them went out of the city with stones, as if they would fight them; but thereupon, they fled away to the Romans:—but here a worse fate accompanied these than what they had found within the city; and they met with a quicker dispatch from the too great abundance they had among the Romans, than they could have done from the famine among the Jews; (549) for when they came first to the Romans, they were puffed up by the famine, and swelled like men in a dropsy; after which they all on the sudden over-filled those bodies that were before empty, and so burst asunder, excepting such only as were skillful enough to restrain their appetites, and, by degrees, took in their food into bodies unaccustomed thereto.” (Wars 5.548–549, 24th May AD 70)
e. The Jerusalem Christians would flee the entire promised land as defined by the original territory of the 12 tribes assigned under Joshua. If they moved from Jerusalem to any city located inside Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Perea or any Transjordan location from Damascus down to Macherus in Moab, they would experience 4 years of wars between the Romans and Jews. The Romans would relocate them a second time and the Jewish persecutions upon the Christians would be intense.
f. They would flee to Asia because there was no Roman persecution at this time, only in Rome by Nero. They would still experience persecution from the Jews in their new homes in the cities of the seven churches of Asia of Rev 2-3, but they could establish their lives with no threat of being relocated a second time. In Asia, they were outside the battle zone of the First Jewish War AD 66-70.
2. Christians would not flee to any place inside Judea: Jewish War: AD 66-70
a. Eusebius says that all the Christians fled OUT of Judea before the war started: “Those who believed in Christ migrated to this city from Jerusalem, that, when holy men had entirely abandoned the royal capital [Jerusalem] of the Jews and the entire land of Judaea, the judgment of God might soon overtake them for their many crimes against Christ and His Apostles.” (Eus., Hist. eccl. 3.5, 325 AD)
b. Sept AD 66: The Jews destroyed and burned Kedasa, belonging to the Tyrians, Ptolemais, Gaba, Cesarea, Sabaste (Samaria) or Askelon, Anthedon and Gaza. (Josephus Wars 2.457–460, Sept AD 66)
c. July AD 67 After Vespasian captures Josephus at Jotapata he completely destroyed the all the cites of the Galilee including Jotapata, (Wars 3.240) Magdala (Life 155), Gischala (Wars 4.83).
d. Oct AD 67: “There were besides disorders and civil wars in every city; and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another.” (Josephus, Wars 4:129-131, Fall AD 67)
e. Oct AD 67: “Titus went from Gischala to Cesarea; Vespasian from Cesarea to Jamnia and Azotus, and took them both; and when he had put garrisons into them he came back with a great number of the people, who were come over to him, upon his giving them his right hand for their preservation.” (Josephus, Wars 4:129-131, Fall AD 67)
f. March AD 68: All the cities of Judea were in a state of war: “Nor was there now any part of Judea that was not in a miserable condition, as well as its most eminent city also.” (Josephus Wars 4.409, March AD 68)
g. May AD 68: “laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages [of Antipatris]. And when he had laid waste all the places about the toparchy of Thamnas, he passed on to Lydda and Jamnia” (Josephus, Wars 4:444)
h. June AD 69: “Vespasian … marched against those places of Judea which were not yet overthrown. So he went up to the mountainous country, and took those two toparchies that were called the Gophnitick and Acrabattene toparchies. After which he took Bethel and Ephraim [Kh. El-Maqatir], two small cities; and when he had put garrisons into them, he rode as far as Jerusalem, in which march he took many prisoners, and many captives.” (Josephus Wars 4:551, June AD 69)
i. The first Jewish war was not put down by the Romans until AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed and the rebel leaders were captured and paraded in Rome. The Titus Arch likely features the Jewish Rebel leaders etched in the stone.
j. The turmoil in Judea continued until Monday 12th April AD 73, when Masada finally fell.
k. There is no point of leaving Jerusalem for another Judean city only to be captured by the Romans and be relocated a second time if you survived.
3. Christians would not flee to any Transjordan city in the entire Perea region:
a. “If anyone will suppose that Galilee is inferior to Perea in magnitude, he will be obliged to prefer it before it in its strength: for this is all capable of cultivation, and is everywhere fruitful; but for Perea, which is indeed much larger in extent … Now the length of Perea is from Macherus to Pella, and its breadth from Philadelphia to Jordan; (47) its northern parts are bounded by Pella, as we have already said, as well as its western with Jordan; the land of Moab is it southern border, and its eastern limits reach to Arabia, and Silbonitis, and besides to Philadelphene and Gerasa.” (Josephus Wars 3.44-47)
b. In sept AD 66: The Jews destroyed and burned the villages of the Syrians, Philadelphia [modern Ammon], and Sebonitis, and Gerasa, and Pella, and Scythopolis [Beth Shean], Gadara, Hippos, Gaulonitis” (Josephus Wars 2.457–460)
c. July AD 67 After Vespasian completely destroyed Gamla. (Wars 4:1,78).
d. March AD 68: However, he was obliged at first to overthrow what remained elsewhere, and to leave nothing out of Jerusalem behind him that might interrupt him in that siege. Accordingly, he marched against Gadara, the metropolis of Perea, which was a place of strength, and entered that city on the fourth day of the month Dystrus [Adar]” (Josephus 4:414, 21 March AD 68)
e. May AD 68: “Placidus [commander under Vespasian] … fell violently upon the neighboring smaller cities and villages; when he took Abila, and Julias, and Bezemoth, and all those that lay as far as the lake Asphaltitis … insomuch that all Perea [Transjordan] had either surrendered themselves, or were taken by the Romans, as far as Macherus.” (Josephus Wars 4:438-439, May AD 68)
f. Although no precise dating is given, it seems that the conquest of Peraea, which started with the capture of Gadara on March 21, 68 C.E. (BJ IV, 414) was completed shortly before the taking of Jericho on June 21, 68 (BJ IV, 450).
g. 21 June AD 68: “he pitched his camp, on the second day of the month Daesius [Sivan]; and on the day following he came to Jericho; on which day Trajan, one of his commanders, joined him with the forces he brought out of Perea, all the places beyond Jordan being subdued already. Hereupon a great multitude prevented their approach, and came out of Jericho, and fled to those mountainous parts that lay over against Jerusalem, while that part which was left behind was in a great measure destroyed; they also found the city desolate. It is situated in a plain; but a naked and barren mountain, of a great length, hangs over it which extends itself to the land about Scythopolis northward.” (Josephus Wars 4.449–453)
4. Christians would not flee to Pella:
a. Eusebius said all of Judea fled to Pella: “holy men had entirely abandoned the royal capital of the Jews and the entire land of Judaea” (Eus., Hist. eccl. 3.5, 325 AD)
i. The Pella story of Eusebius says that every Christian in the entire land of Judea fled to Pella before the war started (AD 66), not just those living in Jerusalem.
ii. It seems very unlikely that Pella could accommodate such a large population of Christians.
iii. Luke records 3000 were saved by baptism on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-41), 5000 men (Acts 4:4), numbers greatly increased daily in Jerusalem including many priests (Acts 5:14 Acts 6:7) and the disciples multiplied rapidly.
iv. By AD 36 the population of Christians was large in the land: "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase." (Acts 9:31)
b. Sept AD 66: Josephus says that the Jews destroyed and set on fire Pella in September AD 66. (Josephus Wars 2.457–460)