Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611



Preservation of God's Word was taught by Dr. James Modlish 


The Persecutions And Doctrinal Errors

I. The Persecutions: 

(Mt. 20:22-23; Jn. 16:1-3; Rev. 2:10; Matt. 10:17-20)

Shortly after Pentecost, member of the Sanhedrin became greatly disturbed over the success of the apostolic preaching and threw Peter and John into Prison (Acts 4). Soon they imprisoned the whole Apostolic band (Acts 5). Opposition heightened, resulting in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7).

A few years later (44 A.D.), Herod Agrippa the 1st beheaded James and imprisoned Peter who escaped. The Romans conducted the great organized persecutions of the early church.

Jewish reasons for persecuting the Church were different from those of the Romans. Later, the Roman Catholic Church combined both standpoints in her persecutions. Many Jewish leaders feared the loss of their positions on Judaism if considerable numbers were won to Christ the Messiah. Others, who did not care to investigate sufficiently, felt that Christianity was a dangerous perversion of their true faith and must be stamped out with the sword.

Reasons for Roman persecution were more complex:

[1]. Christians were politically suspect because they spoke of a kingdom with Christ as its ruler. The Romans being materialistically minded (Japheth) thought this was a plan to overthrow the Empire.

[2]. There was a union of religion (church) and state in Rome; so refusal to worship the Roman goddess Roma (Semaramis of Babylon) and her child or the Emperor, thought to be divine, constituted treason.

[3]. Born-again Christians were socially ostracized because they came, even as today, mostly from the lower classes of society. Additionally, they could not engage in sporting or theatrical events because they involved one in a certain amount of homage to the gods.

[4]. The economic reasons for persecution were the same as those found in Ephesus in Acts 19. Priests, idol-makers and other vested religious interests (Society of Semaramis, Holy Hot-Cross Bun Society, Sisters of St. Tammuz, Queen of Heaven Society, Brother of Nimrod) could hardly look on disinterestedly while their incomes dwindled. Since leaders of the old religions held important positions in society, they could easily stir up mob opposition.

[5]. Born-again Christians sought to win to Christ the adherents of the pagan religions. Since neither the Bible nor Christ tolerated such devil worship as a means of salvation, these Christians preached it straight. (Rom. 10:13) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

During the first three centuries Rome persecuted the church unmercifully. This period of time is recognized by historians as the period of the "Ten Official Roman Persecutions."

These Ten Official Roman Persecutions killed out the saints by the thousands, but the more they killed the more the saints multiplied; they multiplied like rabbits. You will find a detailed list of the kind of things that took place in this period in Foxes' Book of Martyrs. From 67 A.D. to 325 A.D. Pagan Rome carries on a desperate warfare to wipe out every Christian on the face of the earth, but they only multiplied. When Constantine takes over Rome around 313 A.D., he takes over a situation where he has to get the Christians to join up with the world in order to shut their mouths. This period is found typified in Revelation 2:8-11.

The following is quoted from Foxes’ Book of Martyrs:

"A remarkable affair occurred in A D. 286. (Under Diocletian) A legion of soldiers consisting of 6,666 men, contained none but Christians. This was called the Theban Legion, because the men had been raised in Thebais. About this time Maximian (associated with Diocletian) ordered a general sacrifice, at which the whole army was to assist; and he commanded that they should take oaths of allegiance, and swear at the same time to assist him in the extirpation of Christianity in Gaul. Terrified at these orders, each individual of the Theban Legion absolutely refused either to sacrifice or take the oaths prescribed. This so enraged Maximian, that he ordered every tenth man to be selected from the rest, and put to the sword. This cruel order having been put into execution, those who remained alive were still inflexible, when a second decimation took place, and every tenth man of those living were again put to the sword.

This second severity made no more impression than the first: the soldiers preserved their fortitude and their principles; but by the advice of their officer drew up a remonstrance to the emperor, in which they told him that they were his subjects and his soldiers, but could not, at the same time, forget the Almighty; that they received their pay from him, and their existence from God.

Such a declaration, it might be presumed, would have prevailed with the emperor, but it had a contrary effect; for, enraged at their perseverance and unanimity, he commanded that the whole legion should be put to death, which was accordingly executed by the other troops, who cut them to pieces with their swords. This barbarous transaction occurred on the 22nd of September, A.D. 286."

II. Corruption from “Early Church Fathers”:

When Satan strikes it is almost always from two fronts. In the case of the early church it was from without (Ten Official Roman Persecution) and from within (see the book of Neh.) This sabotage came from those who wrote in early Christianity.

It is not to be thought that all of these early writers were unsaved. A few had simply been led astray into a heresy of false teaching after their salvation. The same possibility exists today for those who set store in scholarship and philosophy over against the Bible (Col. 2:8).

A. “Apostolic Fathers”

[1]. Clement of Rome (30-100 A.D.) (Western) - Taught Christ was not the image but the reflection of God, exalted the position of bishops or elders, (Said Simon Peter was at Rome) Later called the first Bishop of Rome Phil. 4:3?

[2]. Ignatius (50-115 A.D.) (Eastern) - Supposedly a disciple of John the Apostle. Bishop of Antioch of Syria. Believed in the deity of Christ. First to use the word "Catholic" (world-wide) which was borrowed from Greek philosophy (Plato). Instrumental in organization of the hierarchy. "I would rather die for Christ than live and rule the whole world." Martyred in 115 (Lions).

[3]. Polycarp (69-155 A.D.) (Eastern) - Another disciple of John? Friend of Ignatius. Bishop of Smyrna, Asia Minor. Called the church the "mother of us all" rather than the heavenly city of New Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26; Rev. 21: 1-3) Burnt at the stake 155. "Eighty-six years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I speak evil of my King who saved me?" We have one letter he wrote to the Philippians.

[4]. Papias (60-130 A.D.) - Bishop of Hieropolis in Phrygia. Taught Christ was born in a cave. Taught John the Elder rather than John the Apostle. Wrote Revelation (John 21:21-24) thus making the book pre 70 A.D. (Jerusalem conquered by Rome) and destroying its dates and prophetic significance.

B. “The Apologists” (Defenders)

The Apologists sought to win legal recognition for Christianity and to defend it against certain charges leveled by the pagan populace rather than just preaching the Word. They wrote in a philosophical vein, in an effort to win recognition from the State for their religion.

Their teachings about Jesus Christ appear in the Logos (word) form of doctrine. To the philosophers, the Logos was an impersonal, controlling, and developing principle of the universe (Deism).

[1]. Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) - Heavily educated in Greek philosophy. Dedicated to Asceticism (Col. 2:18). Believed in baptismal regeneration. Believed in baby sprinkling. Taught Christ is inferior to the Father. Beheaded in 165. Heavily influenced Irenaeus.

[2]. Tatian (120-180 A.D.) - Disciple of Justin Martyr. Greek educator born in Syria. Wrote Diateassaron - first Harmony of the Gospels. Leaned
toward Gnosticism (Education the final answer).

[3]. Tertullian (160-220 A.D.) - Wrote Apologeticus to Roman governor of Carthage. Stressed tradition. Greatly strengthened the hand of Bishops and other church rulers. Bishop's authority absolute for temporal matters as well as spiritual.

C. “Polemicists”

(Theological disputers) The work of the polemicists gave rise to the concept of an orthodox catholic church opposed to heresy as it defined it. Most of these men lived in the Western part of the Roman Empire.

[1]. Irenaeus (circa 185 A.D.) - Bishop of Lyons, France. Instituted mystical belief of transubstantiation (See John 6). Wrote against heresies in 185 A.D. Believed in baptismal regeneration and baby sprinkling.

[2]. Cyprian (circa 258 A.D.) - Insisted that the "Church" had the right to grant absolution (remission of sin and its guilt and penalties as pronounced by a priest) See Mk. 2:7; I Jn. 1:9-10; Mk. 11:25-26; Mk. 11:2-4 etc. Required excommunication for failure to comply. Bishop of Carthage. Those who wouldn't submit to Bishops were regarded as heretics.

D. “Scientific Theologians”

[1].Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) Western - Greek philosophy prominent in his writings. Sought to synthesize Christianity and Greek philosophy so as to appeal to the "literate" crowd. Heavily influenced by Plato.

[2]. Origen (184-254 A.D.) (Western) - Succeeded Clement as the leader of the school at Alexandria, Egypt (202-232) Heavily influenced by Philo the Jew (who believed in the allegorical interpretation of the Scripture). Developed the allegorical method of private interpretation of Scripture. This approach holds that the literal meaning of Scripture holds a deeper meaning available only to the mature believer. (See Isa.29:10-14, 28:9; Luke 10:21; Dan.2:30) This hidden meaning which Origen found bore little or no relationship to the literal sense. Assembled the Hexapla, a collection of six versions of the Old Testament arranged in vertical columns. While well thought of by Roman Catholic theologians and some of the Reformers, Origen taught:

(a).The souls of men existed as fallen spirits before the birth of the individual this accounted for man's sinful nature.

(b). In His atonement, Christ paid a ransom to Satan.

(c).The rejected, who go to Hell at death, would experience there a purifying fire which ultimately would cleanse even I the wicked; all would ultimately reach the state of bliss (purgatory) See (Matt.25:41,46).

(d). Pastors should be called priests (I Peter 2:5).

(e). Sprinkling took away "inherited sin" (II Chron. 25:4).

(f). The apocryphal books ought to be accepted as part of the canon of Scripture. (Uninspired books written by Jews between 400 B.C. and the time of Christ) See Matt. 25:34-35.

III. Major Doctrinal Errors:

[1]. Another vital change which seems from history to have had its beginning before the close of the second century was on the great doctrine of SALVATION itself. The Jews as well as the Pagans, had for many generations, been trained to lay great stress on CEREMONIALS. They had come to look upon types as anti-types, shadows as real substances, and ceremonials as real saving agencies. How easy to come thus to look upon baptism. They reasoned thus: The Bible has much to say concerning baptism. Much stress is laid upon the ordinance and one's duty concerning it. Surely it must have something to do with one's salvation. So that it was in this period that the idea of "baptismal regeneration" began to get a fixed hold in some of the churches.

[2]. The next serious error to begin creeping in, and which seems from some historians (not all) to have begun in this same century and which may be said to have been an inevitable consequence of the "baptismal regeneration" idea, was a change in the SUBJECTS OF BAPTISM. Since baptism has been declared to be an agency or means to salvation by some erring churches, then the sooner baptism takes place the better. Hence arose "infant baptism." Prior to this "believers" and "believers" only, were regarded as proper subjects for baptism. "Sprinkling" and "pouring" are not referred to. These came in much later. For several centuries, infants, like others, were IMMERSED. The Greek Catholics (a very large branch of the Catholic Church) up to this day, have never changed the original form of baptism. They practice infant baptism but have never done otherwise than immerse the children. (Note - some of the church historians put the beginning of infant baptism within this century, but I shall quote a short paragraph I from "Robinson's Ecclesiastical Researches.")

"During the first three centuries, congregations all over the East subsisted in separate independent bodies, unsupported by government and consequently without any secular power over one another. All this time they were baptized churches, and though all the fathers of the first four ages, down to Jerome (A.D. 370), were of Greece, Syria and Africa, and though they give great numbers of histories of baptism of adults, yet there is not one of the baptism of a child till the year 370."

[3]. Let it be remembered that changes like these here mentioned were not made in a day, nor even within a year. They came about slowly and never within all the churches. Some of the churches vigorously repudiated them. So much so that in A.D. 251, the loyal churches declared non-fellowship for those churches which accepted and practiced these errors. And thus came about the first real official separation among the churches.

[4]. Thus it will be noted that during the first three centuries three important and vital changes from the teachings of Christ and His Apostles had their beginnings, and one significant event took place. Note this summary and recapitulation:

(a).The change from the New Testament idea of bishop and church government. This change grew rapidly, more pronounced, and complete and hurtful.

(b). The change from the New Testament teachings as to Regeneration to "baptismal regeneration."

(c). The change from "believers' baptism" to "infant baptism." (This last, however, did not become general nor even very frequent for more than another century.)

[5]. "Baptismal regeneration" and "infant baptism" - These two errors have according to the testimony of well established history, caused the shedding of more Christian blood, as the centuries have gone by, than all other error combined, or than possibly have all wars, not connected with persecution, if you will leave but the recent "World War." Over 50,000,000 Christians died martyr deaths, mainly because of their rejection of these two errors during the period of the "dark ages" alone about twelve or thirteen centuries.

[6]. Eschatology - The main trouble with the first church in the first period was that some of its leaders claimed "Apostolic succession " Now these Nicholaitanes "the conquerors of the common people" are claiming something even wilder. They are claiming that because the Christian is a spiritual Jew (Rom. 2), that he is also a physical Jew, and therefore gets all the promises given to the Jew, and therefore God is all through with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is the beginning of A-Millennial and Post-Millennial theology. And these two pagan speculations are taught by the "Ante-Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers," in this period and later. They are Cyprian, 200 A.D.; Jerome, 345 A.D.; Origen, 182 A.D.; Clement 200 A.D.; Didymus, 313 A.D.; Athanasius, 297 A.D.; and Cyril of Jerusalem, 380 A.D.

Of course, this is blasphemous and foolishness of the worst kind. The Holy Spirit says that these people "say they are Jews" and they are not and He calls this B-L-A-S-P-H-E-M-Y (Rev. 2:9). The most blasphemous religious outfit on the face of the earth - according to the Author of the Bible - is an outfit that professes to replace, or supplant, or supersede Israel, the Jew. God is not through with the Jew (I Thess. 2, Rom. 9,11), and you are told not to be "wise in your own conceits" and think that you have replaced him, because you have not. You may be a spiritual Jew, but the literal, physical, earthly, visible twelve tribes of Israel have yet to come into their own; they will at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

IV. Marriage of Church and State (325-500 A.D.): 

A. Roman Empire:

The fourth century opened with Roman persecutions and ended with Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. There was a massive influx of unconverted pagans into the irregular churches. Doctrines were watered down. "Christian" celebrations "Christmas and Easter or Ishtar) were created to replace pagan feasts and "holy" days. The date of Christmas was set on the day of Mithras (the unconquered sun). Throughout this time, the Roman emperors asserted a practical control over all of the irregular churches which were happy to submit. Their buildings consisted mainly of the Roman Basilicas (pagan temples) given to them by Constantine.

B. Constantine:

[1]. By the year 312, there were four rival emperors at the same time just as there would be four rival popes at a later time. Constantine defeated his rival in the West (Maxentius) in 312, at the Battle of Milvian Bridge and became sole ruler.

[2]. Constantine claimed to have seen a vision in the sky just previous to this battle which showed him that he was to be conquering hero of Christianity and that he was to do it through the sword. The vision - a flaming cross with the inscription "In hoc signo, Vinces" (In this Sign, Conquer).

[3]. Constantine became emperor of Rome in 312 A.D. aid promulgated the "Edict of Toleration" in 313. As this so-called first Christian emperor took the reins of the civil and spiritual world to bring about the amalgamation of paganism and christianity, he found two -basic types of manuscripts or Bibles vying for supremacy: the Textus Receptus or Constantinopolitan and the Eusebio-Origen. The defenders of the Textus Receptus were of the humbler class who earnestly sought to follow the early church. The Eusebio-Origen text was the product of the intermingling of the pure Word of God and Greek philosophy in the mind of Origen. It might be called the adaptation of the Word of God to Gnosticism.

(Eusebius (260-340 A.D.) The Bishop of Caesarea was a great admirer of Origen and a good friend of Constantine. He was called the greatest Christian who ever lived. Said he reigned "after he was dead" and that he was buried in a gold coffin in the midst of the twelve Apostles.

He delivered 50 copies of corrupt Bible manuscript from Origen's Hexapla (fifth column-Vatincanus) to Constantine. These were placed in Latin churches. Later, Jerome translated one of these into the Latin Vulgate edition.)

As the Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity, it became necessary for him to choose which of these Bibles he would sanction. Quite naturally he preferred the one edited by Eusebius and written by Origen, even as Constantine himself was the political genius that was seeking to unite Christianity with pagan Rome. Constantine regarded himself as the direct and guardian of this abnormal world church, and as such he was responsible for selecting the Bible for the great Christian centers. His preference and bias was for the type of Bible whose readings would give him a basis for his imperialistic ideas of the great state church, with ritualistic ostentation and unlimited central power. The philosophy of Origen was well suited to serve Constantine's religio-political theocracy.

It was from this type of manuscript that Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate which became the authorized Roman Catholic Bible for all time. This Bible was different from the Bible of the Waldenses, Ana-Baptists, and others, and as a result of this difference, these latter churches were the object of hatred and cruel persecution.

V. Early Bible Believers:

A. Euchites:

A group of Bible-believing people in the eastern end of the Roman Empire in the area where the original New Testament manuscripts were written. The term "euchites" among Greeks, was a general name ("a praying people") for dissenters such as the English word "nonconformists." The Euchites would re-baptize a man on his confession of salvation if he said that he had been baptized before he was really saved. These people were extreme separatists who would not tolerate worldliness. These early Greek "puritans" were also called Poblicans, Poplicans, and Phibpopolitans; sometimes they were simply called the name of the country where migrated (Phrygians, Bulgarians, Armenians, etc.). In history they are connected inseparably with a Bishop of Antioch (not Rome or Alexandria) named Paul of Samosata.

B. Paulicians:

These people found their roots in the Euchites. They came to be called Paulicans because of the emphasis they laid on the Pauline Epistles instead of the "Hebrew Christian" Epistles After 325 A.D., they viewed the Roman Catholic church as Satanic, and they to refused tolerate images of any kind in connection with their services.

C. Cathari:

These were evangelical "puritans" within the Catholic church, but they agreed with the Bogomiles that the Roman church was the fornicating Whore of Revelation 17 and that the pope was the Antichrist.

D. Montanists:

A group named after their leader. They were active mainly in Southern France and North Africa. They were decided Premillennialists, and being contemporaneous with Origen (184-254), who hated Premillennialism, they were immediately branded as heretics by every follower of the Alexandrian School.

E. Novatians:

This group arose in 281 A.D. They insisted upon adult immersion of believers only and a pure discipline in the local church. They rejected anyone's baptism who had defected under persecution by denying the Lord Jesus Christ.

-Page Navigation-

Lessons: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5