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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Hey... Welcome Back!
Today we are reviewing part 2 of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History of the Church.
Part 1 is a must-listen, so if you haven’t heard that one stop this one now, stop it now, stop it, stop. And check it out, okay?
Okay, for the rest of you, I would imagine anyone who listened to part 1 is aching to hear more news of the early church.
Part 1, which was my first podcast, covered Book 1 Chapter 1. It was primarily an introduction explaining his mission statement. Today we are deep diving into chapters 2 and 3. And after reviewing just these first three chapters it's going to be incredibly obvious why summarizing this book is totally inadequate. (this statement might confuse the listener -- reword so that is' clear the deep dive is adequate)
This is a fantastic book and it’s worthy of a deep dive.
I have good news and bad news. The good news is I am able to fill in the gaps in this study. Meaning if you read this book yourself without my help, you might not get the full significance of many of his statements. Because as I've stated repeatedly, I’ve studied many ancient documents.
However, The bad news is: I wish I knew more. His book is a little over my head from time to time. There are things where I think, "Wow, I'm gonna have to come back and read this again. After probably a ton of study.
Okay, so lets jump into it.
In the first half of Chapter 2, Eusebius goes to great lengths to establish that Jesus is God. Interestingly, nowhere in the Bible does it use that expression exactly, but it is implied everywhere and Eusebius clearly believed it was important to make that clear.
He focuses in on every Scripture in the old testament where Christ appeared to men like Abraham and Jacob who responded by bowing and worshipping. And since this behavior is reserved for God and him only, and they used it on Christ, Eusebius argues the Scriptures are clear: Christ is God. Now, I have heard these pre-sightings referred to as Christophenes. That’s when Jesus appeared as a man in advance of being born of a virgin. Eusebius also quotes from the New Testament; to prove that Jesus is God. He uses for example, the gospel of John he says, "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us."
So, who became flesh? Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the word, the word was God. All those three things now intersect and kind of prove effectively that Jesus is God.
After driving that message home, there is a subheading in chapter 2 where he explains why the gospel wasn't proclaimed before Christ came.
But he goes all the way back to the beginning. He points out that man started out divine, but disobeyed God and consequently fell exchanging his glory for our present condition. Thank you Adam and Eve!
And then Eusebius confirmed some of my suspicions; for example:
Adam and Eve sinned and sin entered the world. Man started out perfect and sin introduced imperfection. And so while evolution would claim that things get better and better, both the Bible and casual observation state emphatically that the truth is exactly the opposite. Sin makes everything worse and worse. Though Eusebius didn’t present DNA. Since he was after all living in 300 AD, he describes a very clear social decay.
Drawing upon my knowledge of other ancient documents I can tell you that one of the most common expressions I have ever seen is the comment that “in those days, men did what was right in their own eyes.” I see that a lot. And when I talk about in those days, I'm talking about the days before Moses. Over and over and over in ancient documents: in those days, men did what was right in their own eyes.
Translation: there was no law; no ten commandments. Though Cain was judged for killing Able, he did not break a commandment when he did so, because a commandment of that nature wasn't given yet. Those weren't introduced until Moses who was many many years later. And that is an important detail that Eusebius confirms in his writings. Prior to Moses there were only five commandments that I know of:
- Have dominion over the earth;
- Name all the animals;
- Multiply and replenish the earth;
- And do not partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
- And have yourself and the children of your household circumcised.
Those are the only five that I know of, there might be a couple stragglers out there that I missed. But for the most part before Moses that was it! And most of those were easy particularly the one involving sex.
Now if your pastor tells you that ten commandments really did exist prior to Moses, challenge him. Show me where. Make him produce a single document to substantiate his claim. Because I have heard pastors say that and I no longer believe them. I have read many ancient documents that state otherwise. And I have never ever ever ran across one that would suggest the Israel or anyone else for that matter was held to the standard of the ten commandments prior to Moses and Mt. Sinai.
And this is made obvious by the institution of the priesthood and the yearly sacrifices that God required of Israel immediately after introducing said 10 Commandments. And that makes sense, right? The commandments are given at the same time that the tribe of Levi was then set apart as priests for the purpose of making sacrifices to cleanse Israel from the sins that would come as a direct result of breaking said 10 Commandments. Yes, we read of sacrifices prior to this, but nothing on this scale. At a minimum there was a yearly sacrifice and constant ones throughout the year as well.
So don’t be so trusting! Just because your pastor says it's so, that doesn’t make it so. Trust but verify, because I have had pastors misinform me on a range of subjects over the course of a decade. I prefer to think it’s because they're ignorant, but I’m beginning to wonder how stupid they could possibly be. Require them to produce proof and in so doing, you may open their eyes to the fact, that maybe they don’t know as much as they think do. Require them to produce proof. And check stuff yourself, too!
Getting back to what Eusebius was saying:
As a result of having no law, men behaved like cavemen. Therefore ironically, ironically after partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and becoming very smart. Man acted like cavemen because there was no law requiring them to treat each other well. Meaning they had knowledge, but they lacked sense because by seizing the apple they shortcut the learning process. You know, the one that produces experience. That process didn't happen.
So it was the law that ended caveman society, not man’s intellect. And in fact, it was the law that facilitated man's intellect, not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because history confirms that society produced a species of men who believed in the survival of the fittest. And this attitude is the behavior of savages.
Because of the law man stopped competing through strength and became wise. The introduction of the law triggered the creation of a study that we call philosophy. Now I’m not suggesting philosophy is good, only that prior to the law no one even knew the word. After the law, Men stopped beating their chests and became productive.
The law was so popular in fact that every culture in the known world adopted it. It lead to peace, productivity, wisdom and prosperity. But let me read you a direct quote from the text. This is an assessment of the conditions before the law. So before the law:
“Laws and justice, virtue and philosophy they knew not, not even in name. They wandered lawless through the desert like savage and fierce animals, destroying the intellectual faculty of man and exterminating the seeds of reason and culture of the human mind by the excesses of determined wickedness and by a total surrender of themselves to every species of iniquity.”
That was before the law. And it kind of sounds like the conditions in America, in our study. Meaning the American Indians. That was their conditions.
Isn't that interesting? This implies Eusebius is right. Since America was not part of the known world. And since the law was given to the known world through Moses. And they adopted the law. We need only to compare the two civilizations. The one with the law, and the one without. The one with the law had technology, justice, philosophy, the arts, architecture, buildings and commerce.
While the American continent peopled by Indians were described as savages. Who wiped their asses with leaves. Honey? Please pass the poison ivy...
They decided all matters based on the strength of the individual and the strength of the tribe. So that was before the law. This is what Eusebius says came after, and again in his words:
The law obtained celebrity and like a fragrant odor was spread among all men. By means of this law, the dispositions of men, even among the gentiles, were improved by legislators and philosophers everywhere, who softened their wild and savage ferocity so as to enjoy settled peace, friendship, and mutual intercourse.
After the world was prepared in this way. It was after that that Christ came at the commencement of the Roman empire.
Consider the implications of that. The law not only raised our awareness of sinful behavior so that we would discover it was wrong to kill, to steal, and commit adultery and the like. But this also increased the debt. Had the ten commandments never been given, Christ would have had a much lower debt to repay. And he would have had an easier standard to meet, but the world would be full of barbarian thugs that one might argue is unworthy of being saved. However, Jesus came almost 1400 years after the law was given and then he did something even crazier: he multiplied the law when he delivered the beatitudes. He raised the bar even higher before he paid our debt. He said, hating our brother is equal to murdering our brother, lusting after a woman is equal to sleeping with her. And so he threw our sin debt into the stratosphere by multiplying our obligation exponentially. That is an act of unparalleled confidence! He raised the stakes! Suggesting, he was proclaiming to the world I not only can meet the standard that you guys are complaining about, but I’ll see your standard of goodness and I’ll raise it 5,000 percent. And I'll still live up to it not only for me, but for all of you!
Think about the implications of that. He knew he was going to be sacrificed for our sins. And that sin is disobedience to God’s commandments. And instead of doing what the rest of us would, and coming earlier and repaying a much smaller debt. He came later and he made the debt much bigger and he still repaid it in on behalf of everyone! He held us responsible not just for actions, but also our thought life. Imagine how much that increased the debt! Our thought life! Wow!
Now I have elaborated on what Eusebius said because being a student of ancient writings I can clearly see that he implied a bunch of things that would go way over most people’s heads. So if you read his book and notice I’m covering things he say, that he didn’t mention, understand that it’s because he assumes everyone knows all this stuff. He didn't think he'd have to explain it.
So I added a ton of detail to what he said, in order to make sure that you understand the significance of what he meant. That covers chapter 2.
In chapter 3 he explains the significance of the name Jesus Christ. He explains that Christ is not only a name, but a title.
When I was a boy I would watch reruns of old westerns that were typically in black and white and you would see one rider on horseback being chased by another who would shout: “Stop in the name of the law!”
That was necessary since horses all looked the same and lawmen would often work in plain clothes. The only indication that they were lawmen was a tiny shiny star that said, “sheriff.”
However, we’ve come up with new ways to accomplish this same thing now.
Now police officers have cars that are clearly marked and unique from all the other cars. Those cars have lights and those lights demand our attention. The police officers wear uniforms and they look like pigs and smell like donuts.
They have titles some are sergeant, others are chief, and still others are Barney Fife.
And so what I’m explaining is that sometimes titles are shared. Meaning many people might go by the name chief or seargeant.
In chapter 3 Eusebius explains that the word Christ is a title. Meaning these men could yell things like stop in the name of the law. But they used the name of Christ. Each of these men obtained these titles at the hands of other men. There was a process and it was important that process be followed. But then Jesus came along and he started acting in the authority because for him it was his name. Meaning his power and authority wasn’t given to him by men, it was given to him by God. He owned the name. They were acting in his name. Not the other way around. What they didn’t understand is that since God is outside of time. He established a name, and they used it before it made sense. They didn't understand the significance of the name because Christ hadn't come yet. They were acting in his name before his arrival.
This is an important concept because it’s establishing a precedent that Jesus, like God, is outside of time. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he died for everyone that came before him, he died for those who were currently here, and he died for those who were yet to come.
And when it comes to my sins he died for the ones in my past, the ones in my present, and the ones I will commit in my future. Because for him, all of my sins were in the future.
And so while my future sins may come as a shock to me and my friends. He saw them coming. 2,000 years ago when he paid for all of them in advance.
It’s worth mentioning that the man named Joshua who led the Jews into the promised land after Moses died, received the name Joshua, it was conferred on him. The title Joshua went to the man who represented the government. While the name Christ goes to the high priest. And so in Jesus Christ we have our government and we have our priest.
This is the one of the things I find fascinating: I know my Scriptures extremely well. Eusebius began quoting Scriptures that differ from what we have in our Bibles. So I looked them. First I’ll give you the quotes the way he stated them:
<I need to tell people where I'm going with this quotation because otherwise it's confusing. You try to remember the whole Scripture and make sense of it and this floods the mind with confusion>
He quoted Lamentations 4:20 this way: The breath before our face, Christ the Lord, was taken away in their destructions; of whom we said, under his shadow will we live among the nations.
Psalms 1:1-2 he quoted this way:
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ.
I looked up the Scriptures he quoted and noticed that in our Bibles we have the word anointed where, Eusebius is using the word Christ. This of course made me look up the definition of the word Christ to see if it means anointed. I found no evidence through that search that the word Christ means anointed. So I did the opposite: I searched to see if the word anointed means Christ. And again I got nothing. But then I thought, let me just be absolutely clear with this search and I typed does the word Christ mean anointed? And it turns out it does! And the thing that fascinates me most is that I recall being confused, while reading Scripture, about who God’s anointed are. I assumed it meant Christians, but these Scriptures make far more sense when I substitute the word Christ for the word anointed.
Now I’ll read you what I found in my search:
The word "Christ" means anointed. It comes from the Greek Χριστός, cristos, and is a translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah, ַמָשִׁיח, meshiyach, which means anointed or chosen one. Okay, now that same definition then qualified itself by citing a Scripture that links the words together. I’ll read it to you in John 1:41 which literally says this:
"He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which translated means Christ),”
And so this is another example of the Bible implying that Jesus is God, but avoiding stating it outright. And I believe this is done either nefariously or for plausible deniability. One or the other. In the same way that in the book of John it says, in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we have this three noun structure and these three nouns are all one in the same. Which means:
God = word
word = Jesus, therefore
Jesus = God.
In that same way we have a similar thing going on here where:
Fix that to:
Christ = Messiah
Messiah = Anointed and therefore
Anointed = Christ
Unless it's being done for nefarious reasons. That's the only other possible option. And that option bothers me because it implies two things: It implies the Scriptures have been altered nefariously and we've been told they weren't. And ya know that's really just kind of unthinkable so I won't even go there.
So what this means is that going forward though, is when I read the word anointed in Scripture, I'm going to substitute the word Christ, and see if those Scriptures, don’t suddenly make far more sense. Because I notice the ones Eusebius quoted did make far more sense.
To be clear I’m making you aware of something that I view as a theory in progress. One that will potentially unlock mysteries. Because I know that sometimes the word anointed is used in other contexts, like to be anointed with oil or to be anointed as king. In that case the word is being used as a verb instead of a noun. In the same way we use the word Google as both a verb and a noun. Meaning Google is sometimes a place we go and other times it’s a thing we do. And so the word has different meanings in different contexts. A king would be anointed as a Joshua who handles the government, but never as a Christ who offers sacrifices and forgives sins. Who is effectively a priest. Therefore only whenever we see anointed used as a noun. Only then would the proper interpretation be to substitute the word Christ.
Now ironically, we see the seeds of the separation of powers in this design.
Meaning kings were always Joshua’s. And priests were always Christs, but apart from Jesus Christ, no man was meant to be the king and the priest. That’s simply too much power for any man to have.
And we see that history confirms this arrangement. Because when in a nations history has the political ruler also been the religious leader? We seem to inherently understand that's a conflict of interests and far too much power for any man to have.
As the expression goes: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I would imagine the only time we will ever see that apart from the second coming, is when the Anti-Christ rises to power. And so I recommend you be very weary of the first man who holds both offices.
Because Christ made it clear, his return will be obvious and unmistakable. And someone else is coming first.
That covers both chapter 2 and 3 of Eusebius' history of the church. And I would think that that causes you to think somewhat: this book is incredibly valuable. And the more I read, the more I wonder, why, why don't our churches tell us about this book. Because everything you just learned is of extreme importance and value. Anyway, that's all the time that we have for today.
Thank you for listening! And I hope you enjoyed this podcast enough to recommend it to one of your friends. It would seem that the world of book readers has shrunk and the only ones still reading are modern day geniuses. So have a brilliant week! And y’all come back now, ya here?