Title: Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History
Plot: Most Christians have heard Peter was crucified upside down, but do you know how you know? Because of Eusebius! The man who in 300 AD collected all the writings from the time of Christ to his day, organizing them, assessing their authenticity, and making a history. His work earned him the title, the father of church history!
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Listen to "Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Part 4 [20 Mins]" on Spreaker.
Hey, welcome back! I’m going to assume part 4 needs no introduction, however, if you feel you need one, then listen to parts 1 - 3.
Okay so In Chapter 9 it would seem that Eusebius’s sole purpose was to establish the idea that Jesus’ enemies were liars. This should be obvious since the devil is the father of lies. Christ's crucifixion was ordered on the basis of lies, and then other lies were engineered after his death and resurrection attempting to immediately disprove what everyone knew to be true. But Satan plays the long game, and like Herod who burned the sacred genealogies and later slaughtered the distinguished men of Judea in an attempt to get people crying on the anniversary of his own death, and later posterity to remember him as an equal with all of his predecessors. Like that, the devil engages his smear campaign early and often. Even though those in the early stages laugh and dismiss it. No one takes it seriously at the time, but the devil gambles that future generations won’t know the difference.
Chapter 10 indicates that Jesus was baptized by John when he was 30, that he began spreading his gospel immediately after that. And a couple things you’ll find interesting: Jesus’ ministry lasted less than 4 years. Therefore, those of you who receive Jesus in their 70’s or 80’s take heart, because just consider the impact Jesus had on the world in four years. And if you think about that that's true of Moses and other great men like him and David. David dwelling in caves for 20 years. Moses tending sheep for 40 years. A lot of time going by seeming like you're not accomplishing anything. Could actually be used to mold you inot the person God needs you to be before he uses you. It's not about quantity it's about quality. And it's not about you, it’s about God. Those are my words not Eusebius'.
Eusebius points out that Jesus was crucified when Caiaphas was high priest. And he began his ministry when Annas was high priest. And since we know that Annas was only high priest for one year as were each of the high priests up to and including Caiaphas, we can be certain that Jesus’ entire ministry was less than four years. Meaning he makes a statement and then supplies supporting evidence to prove its truth.
The only other noteworthy comment in chapter 10 was that he, Jesus, appointed the 12 and also the 70. And that it was the job of the 70 to precede him into each new area and spread the word that he was coming.
This is very consistent by the way with Scripture. First before Jesus is even born prophets are declaring that he's coming. Then Jesus comes and appoints disciples to go into each area and announce that he's coming. As I've said repeatedly God knows how to make an entrance.
In Chapter 11 we discover that shortly after Jesus was baptized by John, John was beheaded by Herod the younger. You probably know the story. Herod called his wife Herodias in to dance and in exchange for this dance he offered her anything she wanted and at the advice of her mother she demanded the head of John the baptist.
I'm sure this scene was inspired by the devil. Because in addition to baptizing, John was also preaching a compelling message and the people loved him; so much that Herod feared they would do anything he asked and even some things he didn’t... like revolting against the king for his death for example. So first Herod imprisoned John that was so that his influence would diminish over time. And then later he beheaded him after the influence waned.
A theme is developing in this series and the theme is this: Vengeance is God’s and he does repay. Eusebius makes the compelling case that whenever the kingdom of the devil attacks the kingdom of God, God throws them a proper beating. And I just don't hear that message proclaimed in our churches today. They fail to recognize that when the kingdom of the devil strikes, the kingdom of God strikes back.
The consistent message I hear implied by our churches today is that the devil or his servants strike, and God’s people rollover and take the beating. The emphasis implied then is that there are no consequences for lashing out against the kingdom of God. And no safety for those who are in it.
While some people struggle with selective hearing, it would seem that others struggle with selective history. I hear about the offenses against God, but I hear nothing about the consequences of those same offenses. Until of course I read this book.
The Bible says that the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s church. But what I don't hear in our churches today is offense followed by consequence. What that tells me is that the churches delivering this half-truth must not be God's church. To tell about the offense and leave out the consequence is an extremely subtle lie.
The message needs to be clear: if you're a Jew and you crucify Jesus, you get enslaved by Pharaoh in Egypt, that's what happens. And it's what happened. If you slaughter babies, God brings hell to you, like he did with Herod. If you behead John the Baptist you don’t get to be king anymore, your army is wiped out, and you live a miserable life in exile. By the way, the army that defeated Herod the younger was commanded by Herod’s father-in-law. That’s right, Herodias’ dad was so upset at Herod, that he attacked him because he brought shame to his daughter. That's pretty bad.
Chapter 12 lists all the names of the 70 that Eusebius could find. It was just a handful of names, but it was better than nothing.
Chapter 13 was unique because we discover in this chapter that a king sent a letter to Jesus asking to be healed. King Agbarus of Edessa (that's Edessa) revealed that he kept a watchful eye on Jesus and actually commented in his letter that he was concerned for Jesus' safety, and that Jesus was welcome to find peace in his kingdom. And that makes sense. Surely Jesus would have accumulated a few friends who feared for his life; influential people who would offer him safe haven. But Jesus replied, that he was called to do a work by the father, that he must complete. And that after he ascended into heaven, he would send a disciple to heal Agbarus and the people of his household. He wasn’t specific in the letter, about timing, and he didn't say he would be crucified. And it wasn't clear that he would resurrect himself before ascending into heaven. It was a short letter focused on replying to Agbarus thanking him and informing of the timing when he would be healed. It’s rather neat to read both letters and it's like a cold drink of water in a desert to read something written by the hand of Jesus.
The chapter remains with King Agbarus ultimately learning about the death and resurrection of Jesus and then later hearing about a man named Thaddeus who was one of the 70, who was in his provinces staying with one of his subjects named Tobias. And so he connected the dots and realized this man, the one working miracles was probably the disciple Jesus mentioned. And so he called him in. I get the impression that Thaddeus wasn’t so different from you and me in the sense that after he was called into King Agbarus, he went and when he heard the story he didn't say, “Yeah, I know because Jesus told me about this." But rather he said, "Oh, okay, well based on your letter and the fact that I’m here, I think you're right. So let’s do it." And he did, he healed Agbarus and his household just as Jesus had promised and after receiving this healing King Agbarus wanted to know more. He stated specifically what he wanted to know more, but Thaddeus said, “I won't answer your questions now, but I will answer them tomorrow after you assemble the whole town.” And then committed to answering not only everything Agbarus requested but more. And as I read the list, I thought, man would I love to hear the message that came straight from the mouth of Thaddeus. Because he was specific about certain things, I thought, I wonder what new things he might mention. Apparently he was a great speaker because we learn in a future chapter that Edessa was devoted to the name of Christ for over 300 years later. All the way up until Eusebius' day they were devoted followers. And that concludes all of book one of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical history of the church. It's a very large book. When I say a very large book a very large collection of books. And so we are only about a tenth of the way into the whole study.
The only way to cover everything would be to simply read you the text, but I don't think that would be interesting. I don't particularly love having things read to me. So there’s stuff I'm skipping that is interesting. Like the letter from Agbarus to Jesus and his reply back. But I'm not ruining so you can't read it for yourself and find treasures of your own.
However, if all you do is listen to these podcasts, you will be head and shoulders above most Christians. Knowing things that even people who have spent a lifetime in church, don't know
Okay, so it’s time for Book 2, this book focuses on the period of time after the ascension of Jesus Christ.
Since Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus that created a job opening one that was filled by Matthias who was chosen by lot. If memory serves I think Thadues was in the running for that job. But he ended remaining one of the 70. And you can find a list of the names of candidates in the book of Acts, by the way.
In this chapter we see the apostles taking the initiative to create the office of deacon and ordain men into it. Steven was a deacon and he was the first man to be martyred for the faith after Jesus Christ.
Eusebius commented that Steven was stoned to death by the murders of the Lord. This implies the decision makers were involved in his stoning.
James the son of Joseph and the brother of our Lord was unanimously made Bishop of Jerusalem. God imparted the gift of knowledge to James the Just and he shared it with the other apostles.
The gave him a surname, he was called James the Just and that's useful because there was another James. Both men were martyred. James the Just was thrown from a wing of the temple and then clubbed to death. Literally having had his brains beaten out with a club. While the other man was beheaded.
I’ll read you the quote he made about Saul of Tarsus who later became the apostle Paul. He said, “During this time, Paul also was yet laying waste the church, entering the houses of the believers, dragging away men and women and delivering them over to prison."
He makes an interesting statement about the man named Simon who wanted the power of God. He pretended to receive Jesus and was even baptized in order to gain this power and Eusebius commented that people continued to do this sort of thing for 300 years into his present day, and he views them as a special kind of wicked.
You may recall that Peter rebuked this man named Simon for his wickedness. And it turned out that he started a cult. So he truly was as wicked or more wicked than Peter suggested.
When referring to these people who pursue the power of God, I like the way he puts it, he says, “insinuating themselves into the church like a pestilential and leprous disease. Many of these indeed have already been expelled when they were caught in their wickedness.”
I'm curious why we don't see that today. We see people excommunicated for things like adultery and the casual everyday 10 commandment type sin violation, but why is there a noticeable absence of people being excommunicated for using the power of God in exchange for gain? Oh, I know! It's because them we call them, pastor. Instead of throwing them out, we put them in charge. God was very clear: freely you have been given so freely give. The gifts of God, the healings aren't meant to be purchased for a price. They were meant to be free.
Chapter 1 closes with the comment that Paul was chosen by God, handpicked by Jesus himself to be an apostle, not of men, like Matthias and everyone ordained after the 12.
Chapter 2 says that Pontius Pilate wrote a letter to Tiberius in which he commented that "since the death and resurrection of Jesus, the people are worshipping him like a God."
The reply from Tiberius was that no one should be ranked among the gods unless by a vote and decree of the Senate.
Tertullian wrote that unless a god pleases men, he is not made a god. I wasn’t sure if that was meant to be sarcastic, but I found it funny.
Chapter 3 mentions that the doctrine of the savior spread so quickly it was comparable to the way the sunlight fills the world.
Churches were rapidly abounding, the one in Antioch was churning out teachers faster than all the others. People once enslaved by superstition were now set free through the teaching and miracles of the disciples of Jesus Christ.
And it closes with a comment that seems (in)significant at the time, how a man named Agabus, was a prophet who warned of an impending famine. However, Paul and Barnabas took him seriously and prepared the people, which is obscurely noted in the Bible, and we find out later, this famine was a big deal.
We also discover that after the crucifixion of Christ, the people had a 40 year grace period before judgement. And after that is when this famine takes center stage, but we learn about that later.
However, I will remind you of some earlier comments I’ve made in this series. One comment I made was that the Bible having 66 books written by 40 different authors disturbs me. Partly because it should have 80 books and also because 40 historically is a terrible bad omen. Forty years wandering in the wilderness; 40 days and nights of rain flooding the earth. This 40 year grace period after Christ’s death on the cross followed by an extinction level famine event.
Now what do I mean by that? I’ll explain:
I find the poetry of what happened fascinating. Let’s step back and drink all of this in, shall we?
Eusebius tells us that the Christians preceded the Jews. He offers as proof the fact that people worshipped Christ before God made his covenant with Abraham.
This begs the question, what then is the difference? If that’s true, why were the Jews singled out? Why? Right?
The answer to that question should be obvious based on this study. Jews were singled out because the Christ was coming through their line. And that’s why they had all these signs and symbols built into their traditions. God wanted to make it abundantly clear that all of this was part of his plan. And so he used prophecy to declare, “I know the future. I planned this.” And so the Gentiles didn’t receive the same commands because God wasn’t making an entrance through their line. He was coming through the line of Abraham and David.
Thus if you become a Christian, it is unnecessary and even wrong to adopt Jewish traditions because the Christ has already come and it wasn’t through your line. Some of these promises just don’t apply to me and you. And adoption of Jewish traditions only creates confusion because Christ’s first coming didn’t happen through us. It never did and it never will.
And having clarified that, let’s go deeper:
Israel was delivered from Pharaoh, as you know, by Moses. And they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Why? Well because upon seeing the promised land they feared the inhabitants more than they feared God. So God consigned them to wandering in the desert until the entire generation of cowards died of natural causes.
Then they demanded a king and later they’re conquered by Greece and Rome. Then the Christ comes and they reject him. They shout “we have no king but Caesar! Crucify him!” And when warned by pilate that his blood will be on their hands, they agreed and call a curse down on themselves accepting that charge and applying it to their descendants also.
Christ is then crucified and he resurrects and suddenly Christianity is born overnight and it’s extremely popular. And then God then gives Israel a 40 year grace period to see the error of their ways and repent, and when they don’t what does he do next? Before re-enslaving them back in Egypt, the entire generation of people who crucified Jesus were wiped out through a series of disasters unlike any the earth has ever seen punctuated with a famine that should have shocked them out of their complacency and driven them to their knees. But in their stubbornness they died like dogs. Actually they died worse than dogs, revealing just how ignorant and stubborn people can be — but we’ll get to all of that soon enough.
There are two other things I submit for your consideration: I mentioned that Jesus Christ was an anointing, Kings anointed as Jesus; priests anointed as Christs. It should then not surprise you that when Jesus was tried he was brought before the kings and the priests: he was sent first to Annas and Caiaphas the high priests the Sanhedrin on the charge of blasphemy, which is a threat to the church. And he was sent to the kings: Pilate and Herod because he claimed to be the son of God, which is a threat to the government. Remember Israel and Judah were separate kingdoms, they each had a king. They were divided under Solomon’s son Rehoboam. So Pilate was the procurator of Judah and Herod was King of Israel.
You may also recall that when Jesus ascended he told the apostles he would send the Holy Spirit in his place. And that’s the first time the Holy Spirit played a big role in the lives of everyone. They Holy Spirit had always existed he was part of the trinity, and he came upon people individually prior to the ascention of Jesus, but after the ascention of Jesus suddenly the Holy Spirit was poured out. He was heavily involved. And guess what happened: The kingdom which was once divided two ways, suddenly was divided three.
You’ve heard of a monarchy, well thereafter Israel had a tetrarchy. After Herod died, he divided the kingdom among his three sons. And I’m sure that’s all just a coincidence which means nothing...
In chapter 4, Eusebius introduces Philo and commends him for his work as a historian.
You’ve probably heard of Caligula he was aka Caius. I think Caius would be the Greek and Caligula would be the Italian. He called himself a god and the people viewed him as mad. And he persecuted the Jews harshly making them miserable. At first he let them build temples, but then he forced them to build those temples to him.
Apion uttered many charges against the Jews and then Philo was prepared to defend them. He stood up for them.
The mistake Caligula made was he made the battle between himself and God.
But it’s at this point that Eusebius records the beginning of the persecutions of the Jews that came upon them because of their offenses against Jesus Christ. And Philo was a historian, one that's well respected. I just mentioned him a moment ago in preparing to be defending the Jews. And so his works are worth of our consideration.
Sejanus made every effort to destroy the entire nation of the Jews. So while the Jews hated Christ there were those who loved him and hated what the Jews had done. It makes sense that some would take it upon themselves to avenge his death. I'm not sure Sejanus falls into that category. But there certainly others were who were mentioned earlier in this study that I failed to note.
Caligula was described as excessively hostile to the Jews. And in his case it was because that’s the kind of guy he was. He wasn’t running to the aid of Christ. He was harsh with everyone, but he had a particular hatred for Jews.
He ultimately transformed all of the temples in the Jewish nation dedicating them to himself.
This is where it gets interesting. Remember the Jews cried out we have no king but Caesar? Well, Pilate was given orders by Tiberius and he erected statues of Caesar in their temples. This made them angry even though they brought it upon themselves. And claimed that's exactly what they wanted. And so be careful what you wish for you might get it.
Next the entire public treasury was used to build an aqueduct, instantly impoverishing the nation. The people were therefore sorely grieved by the decision. Pilate knew they wouldn’t receive the news well and so he sent soldiers among them in plain clothes with clubs and when the Jews began to object his soldiers threw them a beating. This caused a mass exodus that trampled many.
All of this was followed by the siege of Vespasian which overwhelmed them. In Eusebius' words.
Chapter 7 informs us that though Pilate washed his hands of the blood of Jesus he did not escape divine justice. Eusebius commented that he was forced to become his own murderer and the avenger of his own wickedness. And then he refers the reader to the Olympiads for more details. That's all he said on the matter.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen that concludes part 4 of the Eusebius church history.
I hope you are finding this interesting and useful and I also hope that it's creating an interest on your part. Not to just read the Bible. Certainly definitely do read the Bible! Make sure you read that and understand it extremely well before you wander off into these other document. But these other documents are worth our consideration. And they impact our perception of the world dramatically. So do not neglect to do your homework.
All right, that's all folks!
Have a brilliant week!
And y'all come back now, ya here?