Title: Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Part 10
Plot: A history of Christianity from Christ to ~300 AD
Jump to part 1 / Jump to part 11 / See Full Series
Listen to "Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Part 10 [31 Mins]" on Spreaker.
Hey, welcome back!
Today I will be reviewing Eusebius church history part 10
In part 9 I mentioned that I disliked the writings of Justin Iranaeus', but I was unclear that Eusebius had introduced a second Justin. Because he was unclear he did that. Justin son of Priscus is a different Justin. He's also known as Justin the Martyr and was a disciple of Justin Iranaeus, which is just downright confusing. There at least three Justins that Eusebius has mentioned so far, one was a heretic, and the other two were reputable historian writers. And so using two of them back to back, calling them both by first name, is super confusing.
But, I won't do that to you. Today, we'll be talking primarily about Justin the Martyr, the disciple of Justin Iranaeus.
Preview of Today's Message
Today we begin with chapter 17 in Book 4. And in our message we will complete Book 4 and start book 5. Our session begins with the practical matter of: is a woman required to remain married to an abusive unbeliever? So if you have ever wanted to know that. If you've ever wanted to know how the early church would have handled such a situation, then today's message is for you!
Fans of my Full Transcripts will love what I've done with today's message because Eusebius identified a treasure trove of laundry lists of bishops successions, emperors, and precious historical writing and author names that you can review at length on my website. Just go to today's message and click on the Full Transcript, which is full of names and links to those resources! You are welcome!
Chapter 17 begins with a story about a woman who is married and then receives Christ. Prior to receiving Him she lived a crude promiscuous lifestyle with her husband, but afterward she became modest and her husband continued with his vile behavior. She considered it wicked to live with him because he was intent upon gratifying his lusts on her and so she contemplated a divorce.
Now I love the practicality of this chapter because Eusebius comments that she did violence to herself by acting on the advice of her busybody friends, who encouraged her to remain with her husband through it all.
It's easy to give advice to others when you aren't experiencing the problems yourself nor are you required to live with the consequences of that advice. I'm sure we've all been on the receiving end of such advice of well meaning Christians who told us what to do and expected us to just obey, but I like how this chapter continues. It says:
She feared she would have a share in his unrighteousness when she stood before God and so she sent him a bill of divorce. Meaning that to remain with him would violate her new standard of living in accordance to acting on the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, that wasn't the end of the matter. Her husband brought an accusation against her asserting that she was a Christian, which in that day was the sort of allegation that could get you killed. The man who had formally been her husband was unable to say anything against her. So he turned to Ptolemy who had become her instructor in the principles of Christianity. He had the man seized and cast him in prison and punished by the Centurion for a long time.
Eusebius said that Ptolemy professed the principles of celestial virtue when he was asked if he was a Christian. And then he offered some interesting commentary: He said he that denies he is a Christian either despises God or is conscious that he is unworthy of the religion and so he avoids the confession. I thought about that and it sounds reasonable.
A man named Lucius who was also a Christian asked Urbicius what charges were brought against these people that he should punish someone who is neither an adulterer nor murder, but whose only crime is professing The name of Christian. This of course brought the eye of scrutiny on Lucius who was promptly asked if he too was a Christian. He said "by all means!" And so he was commanded to be let forth. Meaning he was taken into custody with the others. Lucius then thanked Urbicius for liberating him from wicked Masters and sending him to the good father and King.
Chapter 18 identifies a list of nine of the works of Justin the Martyr, which you will find in the Full Transcripts.
The works of Justin the Martyr:
- Apology (mentioned in chapter 17)
- A Defense of our Faith
- A book against the Greeks
- The nature of demons
- The Refutation (a work against the Gentiles)
- The sovereignty of God
- Remarks on the Soul
- A dialog against the Jews (at Ephasus with Tryphon)
However, Eusebius added remarks for two of those works.
He said, that with regard to work called the sovereignty of God (6), Justin established it by the Holy Scriptures and by references to the works of the Greeks.
And with regard to a dialog against the Jews (9): Justin stated how insidiously they plotted against the doctrine of Christ.
Justin sent the following words to Tryphon, he said: "You not only continue impenitent for your evil deeds, but selecting chosen men, you sent them from Jerusalem to all the world, declaring that the infidel sect of Christians had made its appearance, and uttering all those falsehoods against us which those that know us not, are accustomed to repeat. Thus you are the cause of iniquity not only to yourselves but to all others also."
Justin also noted that even down to this time the gift of prophecy shown forth in the church; he mentioned the Revelation of John plainly calling it the work of the apostle and recorded also certain prophetic declarations in his discussion with Tryphon, showing that the Jews had expunged them from the Scriptures.
Now that last statement grabbed my attention. Did you catch that? He said the Jews had expunged certain prophetic declarations from the Scriptures. If you haven't listened to Part 1 of this series you should definitely check it out, because I establish that the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, which was the one the Jews used in Jesus' day; that version of the Bible was filled with the words Jesus Christ everywhere. Because the Greek rendering of the name Joshua is Jesus and Messiah or anointed in Hebrew are both rendered as Christ in Greek. Thus in Jesus' day it would have been impossible to miss that the Old Testament was about him! If that doesn't ring a bell, it's because I posted a second edition after I stumbled onto that revelation. The second edition of that podcast is far superior to the first in every way: better, faster, stronger and more interesting. So I assure you, it is worth your time. But continuing right along...
The question is, is Eusebius hurling the accusation that the Jews changed the Scriptures removing certain prophecies from it? Or is he simply saying they rejected John's Book of Revelation from their Scriptures entirely. If it's the latter, that's something we all know, but if the former, then that reinforces the importance of returning to the source and re-reading these old documents because it is because of this study that I know the words Jesus Christ appeared everywhere in the Old Testament 2,000 years ago. And that my friends, is a whopper of a Revelation! Making this study crucial for Christians everywhere to complete.
The way Eusebius made that statement was ambiguous. And so I can't be sure he was hurling revisionist accusations, or simply stating they rejected the Book of Revelation, but I will be on the lookout for more information.
I know that's contrary to what we were taught. We were taught the Jews went to great lengths including re-writing entire pages for a single mistake, but I'm beginning to question that. Particularly because Jesus called the Pharisees and the Scribes snakes and sons of the devil. What do you figure the Scribes were in charge of writing? Before Jesus Christ came, I'm sure they were diligently doing as we have been told, but after Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of Scripture and particularly after they crucified him, they engaged in a coverup that continues to this day. So if you don't have a Septuagint version of the Bible, I suggest you pick one up because there was no reason for a coverup until after the Jews crucified our Lord. It is downright suspicious that our Old Testaments use the words Joshua Messiah while our New Testaments say Jesus Christ and nowhere in the church are we educated that one version is the Hebrew rendering of his name while the other is the Greek. That detail is crucial!
If your name was Jesus Christ, and all versions of the Bible after the Septuagint suddenly had Joshua Messiah in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the new, you can't tell me that wouldn't strike you as suspicious. And it would certainly explain why you would call the Scribes snakes.
However, God did tell us to seek and we would find, and so while there are some rotten people doing some nefarious things, God has a limit to the number of shenanigans he allows before intervening. I obviously love the Bible. It's full of timeless truths that led me on a journey unpacking some of creations greatest secrets including this one: the revelation that the Old Testament doesn't just foreshadow the coming of Jesus Christ, it names him specifically repeatedly.
Eusebius closes chapter 18 with the comment:
"Well did Justin say, that before the appearance of our Lord, Satan never ventured to blaspheme God, because he did not yet know his own condemnation."
And so that's fascinating partly because it confirms a suspicion I had, which was that Satan ran tests before misbehaving. Tests like suggesting that the snake tempt Eve rather than doing it himself. But apparently after the crucifixion, God had a conversation with the devil that didn't go well. And according to Revelation 12 there will come a day, if it's not here already where Satan is cast out of heaven down to the earth and he knows his time is short. Meaning that at some point he has nothing to lose and his fate is to burn in Hell for an eternity. How could he possibly sink any lower, and so what does he really have to lose by blaspheming God?
Chapters 19 - 22 tell us about the succession of Bishops and Emperors. I've noted that in the Full Transcript on my website, so you don't have to listen to it here.
In chapter 19 we find out that in the eighth year of Verus the Emperor:
In Rome, Anicetus, was succeeded by Soter
At Alexandria, Celadion, was succeeded by Agrippinus.
In chapter 20 we find out that
In Antioch, Theophilus was the sixth in succession from the apostles
Cornelius was the fourth. Eros was the fifth
In chapter 21 we find out that
In Corinth, Dionysius was Bishop
In Crete, Pinytus was Bishop
The following are historian writers:
In chapter 22 Hegesippus in the five books of commentaries left a complete record of his own views of the Church of Corinth where he said that it continued in the true faith until Primus was Bishop there. So everything was fine in Corinth until Primus came along and messed it up.
The succession of bishops in Rome was:
The succession of bishops in Jerusalem was:
- James the Just,
- Simeon the son of Cleophas (the Lord's uncle) was appointed the second bishop in Jerusalem.
*Thebuthis made a beginning secretly to corrupt it on account of his not being made Bishop. He was one of those seven sects among the Jewish people:
The heresies are:
- From Simeon sprung the sect of Simonians
- From Cleobius, sprung the sect of Cleobians
- From Dositheus sprung the sect of Dosittheans
- From Gorthoeus sprung the sect of Gorthoeonians
- From Masbotheus sprung the sect of Masbotheeans
- From Marcionists sprung the sect of Menandrians
- Basilikans and
There were also different opinions in the circumcision against the tribe of Judah and the Messiah viz the:
- the Galilieans,
- the Samaritans,
- the Sadducees
- and Pharisees.
He also stated some particulars from the gospel of the Hebrews and from the Syriac (Syriac is a language).
With regard to the Apocrypha, Hegesippus said some were forged by heretics. Implying others or perhaps most were fine. We tend to use the word some to represent the minority. I haven't yet reviewed the Apocrypha so I have nothing to contribute in that regard.
In chapter 23 Dionysius Bishop of Corinth imparted freely the blessing of his labors he was most useful to all in the Catholic epistles that he addressed the churches particularly the:
he excited them to the faith prescribed by the gospel from which he showed they had swerved so that they had nearly fallen from the truth since the martyrdom of Publius the bishop. However, Quadratus who was Bishop afterwords revived the church by his exertions.
He inserted an epistle to the Gnossians in which he admonished Pinytus the bishop of the church not to impose a burden in regard to purity that was too great to be born but to pay regard to the infirmity of the great mass of people.
Pinytus wrote in reply that he admired and applauded Dionysius but he exhorted him to impart stronger food to feed the people under him with writings abounding in more perfect doctrine. He wanted that to be in the next message that he wrote so that they may not remain nurtured by milky doctrine and grow old under a discipline for children.
This implies to me that in an attempt to create spiritual growth Pinytus over-emphasized purity in the church, meaning that he started pounding the law. And when he was rebuked he repented and communicated his underlying concern, which was, well how then do I create spiritual growth? We want spiritual growth, how do we get it? I admire his humility and I suspect he's not the first person to struggle with this mistake. Eusebius goes on to say that:
It was the practice to read these epistles in the churches. The same author wrote respecting his own epistles that some had been corrupted. He said, “I wrote them and these the apostles of the devil have filled with tares, exchanging some things and adding others. It is no wonder then but some have attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord."
In chapter 24, we learned that there are three books containing the elements of the faith addressed to Autolycus, which were written by Theophilus the Bishop of Antioch.
Another has the title against the heresy of Hermogenis, in which he made use a testimony from the revelation of John….
The heretics were like tares destroying the pure seed of the apostolic doctrines, the pastors in the churches everywhere hastened to restrain them as wild beasts from the fold of Christ sometimes by exhortation and admonition, sometimes openly contending by oral discussions and refutations, and then again by rigid proofs in written works.
Theophilus contended against these from a work written by him against Marcion which is still preserved. Theophilus was succeeded by Maximinus, the seventh from the apostles in the church of Antioch.
In chapter 25 Philip was bishop of the church at Gortnya and he wrote an elaborate work against Marcion along with Iraneaus and Modestus.
In chapter 26 Melito Bishop of the church in Sardis and Apollinaris Bishop of Hierapolis each addressed discourses as apologies for the faith to the existing Emperor of the Romans.
Apologies for the Faith by Melito
- On the Passover,
- On the Conduct of Life
- On the Prophets
- On the Church
- On the Lord's Day
- On the Nature of Man
- On His Formation (Man)
- On the Subjection of the Senses to Faith
- On the Soul, the Body, and the Mind
- Truth and Faith
- the Generation of Christ
- On Prophecy
- On Hospitality
- the Key
- On the Devil
- The Revelation of John
- On the Incarnate God
- the Discourse to Antonine
Clement of Alexandria wrote On the Passover (because of this work by Melito)
In a letter to the emperor, Melito said:
The race of the Pius is now persecuted, driven about in Asia, by new and strange decrees. Shameless informers, and those that crave the property of others openly perpetrate robbery; Night and day plundering those who are guilty of no crime… if these things are done by your orders let them be done in a proper way… We indeed cheerfully bear the reward of such a death, but we urge upon you this request that you take notice of these plotters of mischief and judge whether they deserved death and punishment or safety and security. If the decree is not preceded from you we urge you not to overlook us in the midst of this lawless plunder.
Nero and Domition alone showed a disposition to slander our faith. This falsehood respecting Christians has been propagated by an absurd practice of waylaying and informing.
Chapters 27 and 28 both identify authors and books that you can find on my website.
In chapter 27 are the works of Apollinaris Bishop of Hierapolis he wrote An Apology, five books against the Greeks two books on truth to also against the Jews he wrote about the heresy of the Phrygians. And then began to spring up the sect of Montanus with his false prophetesses.
In chapter 28 Musanus is said to have written a very elegant work about the heresy of the Encratites. The founder was Tatianus
In Chapter 29 we learn of a heresy called that of Tatianus. He was the disciple of Justin, who was martyred. And after Justin was gone, he apostatized from the church and became a teacher, he was overcome by pride. So he started his own heresy. The Encratites proclaimed abstinence from marriage. Setting aside the original design of God. They deny the salvation of our first parents. And he invented invisible Aeons, similar to those of Valentinus. He said marriage was only corruption and fornication.
A certain man by the name of Severus strengthened the above mentioned heresy. From him sprang another sect called the Severians. They set aside the writings of the apostle Paul and he dared to alter certain expressions of the apostles. He also left a great multitude of writings the most noted was the work against the Greeks. In that book, he proved that Moses and the prophets were more ancient. And it appears to be the most elegant and profitable of his works. I find that to be an interesting comment, because it reveals that while Eusebius disagrees with most of his work, he acknowledges that some of his writings were in fact useful. And I often find that to be the case myself, because in order for a charlatan to get noticed, they first must do something of value.
In chapter 30 Bardesanes was a man of great abilities he composed dialogs against Marcion, which were translated from the Syriac into the Greek. And among them was the most able dialogue on fate addressed to Antonine. He was at first a disciple of Valentine, but he rejected the doctrine and refuted most of his fictions but he did not entirely wipe away the filth of the old heresy. About this time Soter, Bishop of Rome died.
And that's the end of book 4!
Book 5 opens with a perliminary.
Soter, Bishop of Rome was succeeded by Eleutherus who was the 12th from the apostles. It was also the 17th year of Emperor Verus when a more violent persecution broke out against the Christians. It is probable that innumerable martyrs obtained the crown of eminence in this conflict. Being worthy of a remembrance the full account of these martyrs is given in our history of the martyrs.
While many cultures would boast of wars and victory, our narrative embraces the peace of the soul who mentally contend for the truth and struggled for piety rather than their dearest friends who endured innumerable trials over the devils agents gain victory over invisible Antagonists.
The number and sufferings of those who suffered for the faith in Gaul
Gaul was the place where the arena was prepared for the conflict. The greatness indeed of the tribulation in the extent of the madness exhibited by the heathen against the Saints; in the sufferings which the martyrs endured, we are not able to fully declare nor is it indeed possible to describe them. For the adversary assailed us with his whole strength, giving us already a Prélude, how unbridled his future movements among us would be. And indeed he resorted to every means to accustom and exercise his own servants against those of God.
If I could interject an observation here. It would seem that the devil tends to settle on an approach that works until it stops working. There was a stage in history where the devil's agents masqueraded as false gods like Poseidon and Atlas Aphrodite and Aries... And then after Noah's flood they changed tactics instead of manifesting in the flesh and working openly, he turned to the subterfuge all out blitz approach that he used on Job. Meaning that in the beginning, they masqueraded openly as angels of light and then after the flood they worked in the shadows. Installing ministers in churches and creating a religious elite known as the Pharisees and Sadducees. And that was fine until Jesus came along and rocked the boat. And then he became openly aggressive still working in the shadows he worked through people to persecute the Christians making sport of them in Coloseums. I get the impression, that at some point in history, the devils became quiet. Because they wanted the sons of man to forget the art of spiritual warfare completely. Paul comments in Scripture that he doesn't beat the air aimlessly, implying he understands his enemy referring to his awareness of the devils devices, and thus he hits the target. If I'm right and there was an investment of 100 years or so of demonic silence, then the sons of man would raise up new generations of ignorant children who seriously underestimated their opponent. Enabling them to fight in the shadows going largely unfettered and unopposed implying that anyone who believes in Spiritual Warfare is a crazy extremist so they can go largely unchallenged. Now I'll be on the lookout for a confirmation of that, but I usually find a basis for my educated guesses I make.
But the grace of God contended for us and rescued the week and prepared those who like firm pillars were able through patience to sustain the whole of the enemies violence against them… and first they nobly sustained all the evils that were heaped upon them by the populace, clamors, and blows, plundering and robberies, stoning's and imprisonments, and whatsoever a savage people delight to afflict upon enemies. After this they were led to the forum and when interrogated by the Tribune and the authorities of the city in the presence of the multitude they were shut up in prison until the arrival of the governor; afterwards they were led away to be judged.
Vettius Epagathus who had walked blameless before God abounding in zeal and fervent in spirit could not bear to see judgment passed against us, but gave vent to his indignation. Those of the tribunal cried out against him for he was a man of eminent standing asking only whether he also were Christian. He confessed he was in a clear voice and he too was transferred to the number of martyrs, but he displayed by the fullness of his love following the lamb wherever he would go. The first martyrs endured their sufferings with promptness most cheerfully finishing the confession of martyrdom. They appeared so week as to be incapable of bearing the intensity of the mighty contest, and about 10 fell away causing great sorrow and damping the courage of those who had not yet been taken. Then indeed we were all struck with great fear trembling last they should apostatize.
Some domestics were also seized. The governor publicly commanded search to be made for all of us. But some at the instigation of Satan, fearing the tortures, charged us with the feasts of Thyestes and the incest of Oedipus — such crimes as are neither lawful for us to speak nor think. We do not even believe they were committed by men. All we're savaging their treatment to us. Then they carried their cruelty and rage against us and so was fulfilled the declaration of our Lord that the day would come when everyone that sleigh you will think he's doing God's service. Satan striving with all his power that some blasphemy might be uttered by them. Most violently did the collective madness of the mob rage against us. While we were all trembling Blandina who was herself one of the martyrs was apprehensive lest through the weakness of the flesh she should not be able to profess her faith. She was filled with such power that her ingenious tormentors confessed they were overcome. They had nothing more that they could inflict upon her. And were only amazed that she still continued to breathe after her whole body was torn asunder and pierced. They gave testimony that one single kind of torture itself was sufficient to destroy life without resorting to so many and such excruciating sufferings as these.
Her confession renewed her strength. To repeat I am Christian no wickedness is carried on by us, was refreshment and relief from her pain.
And so concludes chapter 1 of Book 5 of the History of the Church.
And that's all folks! Have a brilliant week! And y'all come back now, ya here?