Know Your History?

In 67 AD the Apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome. He endured a lengthy imprisonment which allowed him to write his many epistles to the Churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. Like Paul, Simon Peter also died 33-34 years after the execution and resurrection of Yahushua Messiah. The time and manner of the Peter’s martyrdom are less certain. According to the early writers, he died at or about the same time as Paul, during Nero’s persecution of Christians.  All agree that he was crucified. Origen says that Peter felt himself to be unworthy to be put to death in the same manner as his Master, and was therefore, at his own request, crucified with his head downward. 

Between 89-120 AD is when historians think the Apostle John died. This date is uncertain because no date of death is given by the early writers. They do know he was thrown into a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison-island of Patmos where he wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation. The Apostle was later freed and returned to serve as a bishop in modern Turkey. As the last Apostle alive, he died an old man, the only Apostle to die peacefully.

In 189 AD The Church of Rome’s assertion of its primacy beyond Rome is indicated in Irenaeus of Lyons's proclamation “Against Heresies” (3:3:2): "With [the Church of Rome], because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree... and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition."

In 195 ADPope Victor I, in what is also seen as an exercise of Roman authority over other churches, excommunicated the Quartodecimans for observing Yahushua's resurrection on the 14th of Nisan, the date of the Jewish Passover, and a tradition handed down by St. John the Evangelist. However, the celebration of Easter on a Sunday, as insisted on by the pope, is the custom that has prevailed to this day.

In 274 AD the Roman Emperor Aurelian made “Sol Invictus” (Invincible Sun) the official sun-god alongside the traditional Roman cult gods. This sun-god was favored by emperors after Emperor Aurelian's reign and appeared on Roman coins until the reign of Constantine.  The last inscription referring to “Sol Invictus” dates to 387 AD; however, there were enough devotees in the 5th century that St. Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. In that same year Emperor Aurelian  also declared December 25th to be the "birthday of the invincible sun." In time the Son of YAHUAH, Yahushua Messiah, became indistinguishable from the pagan sun god in the minds of hundreds of thousands of converts throughout the Roman Empire.

 In the spring of 303 AD General, Constantine returned to Nicomedia from the eastern front in time to witness the beginnings of Diocletian's "Great Persecution", which is considered by many to be the most severe persecution of Christians in Roman history.

In 306 AD Constantine the Great became Roman Emperor  and reigned until 337 AD. Constantine is perhaps best known for being the first Christian Roman emperor.  

In February 313 AD, Constantine met with Licinius in Milan, where they developed the Edict of Milan. The edict stated that Christians should be allowed to follow their faith without oppression. The edict removed penalties for professing Christianity (under which many had been martyred) and returned to them confiscated Church property. The edict protected from religious persecution not only Christians, but all religions, allowing anyone to worship whichever deity they chose. Scholars debate whether Constantine adopted his mother St. Helena's Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life.  In any event, Constantine would retain the title of “pontifex maximus” until his death (a title emperors bore as heads of the pagan priesthood). Constantine’s Christian successors continued to retain this pagan title up  until 383 AD. According to Christian writers, Constantine was over 40 when he finally declared himself a Christian by writing to Christians that he believed he owed his successes to the protection of the Christian High God alone.

On March 7, 321 AD Constantine instructed that Christians and non-Christians should be united in observing the “dies Solis” (day of the sun) "Sunday"—as the Roman day of rest.

 [CJ3.12.2]: “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”

The Christians of Rome and Alexandria began calling the first day of the week the “Lord’s Day”. This was not difficult for the pagans of the Roman Empire who were steeped in sun worship to accept, because they referred to their sun-god as their “Lord”. 

In 364 AD At the Council of Laodicea, the Roman Catholic Church fathers supported Sunday worship services and opposed to Christians Judaizing the Sabbath (see 29th Canon).  Judaizing is what they labeled “Christians resting on the Sabbath day”.  At the Council of Laodicea, they published as doctrine that the practice of staying at home and resting on the Sabbath was sinful and anathema to Christ.

CANON XXIX:  “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ”.

In 380 AD With the Edict of Thessalonica Emperor Constantine declared Catholicism the sole state religion of the Roman Empire, made the Bishop of Rome (later called Pope) the senior religious authority in the Western Empire, and striped most of the political power from the Senate who were also religious leaders of Paganism. At this point, the successors to the position of Pope began to come from Rome’s aristocratic senatorial families. The Church took the pagan Roman Pantheon (the temple to all their gods) and made it sacred to all the Christian martyrs; so it stands today known as the Vatican.  The Roman Empire began to diminish some 80 years later due to the Gothic wars. The Catholic Church was the only bureaucratic organization left in the city which maintained its influence throughout the empire.

In 431 AD at the Council of Ephesus, the Church established the practice of the  Exaltation of Mary as “Mother of God” 

Around 439 AD Socraties Scholasticus was quoted in Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chapter 22 as saying, “Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this”

In 538 AD a decree established by Roman Emperor Justinian granted the Pope official recognition as the “head of all the holy churches” throughout the empire.

In 563 AD Christian missionaries established a missionary school on the island of Iona, Scotland. It was persecutions that lead these Christians on their journey which began before 300 AD when Christian missionaries first came to Britain with pure Bible truths. Upon being persecuted by the expanding Roman Catholic Church, they fled northward to Ireland.  From Ireland they went to Scotland and founded a missionary school on the remote island of Iona.  From this school, trained missionaries were sent to many other European countries including Italy.

About 590 AD Pope Gregory I, in a letter to the Roman people, denounced as the “Prophets of Antichrist” those who maintained that work ought not to be done on the seventh-day Sabbath.

In 593 AD  Pope Gregory I established the Church Doctrine of purgatory.

In 600 AD  The Church began to require all worship to be conducted in Latin. The Church also began to offer and require prayers to Mary, the dead saints, and to angels.

In 614 AD the Christian missionaries that had established themselves in the Alps of Italy became known as the Waldenses. The Waldenses were the first of all peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures in their native tongue. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon. The Waldenses were persecuted by the Roman Church for more than a millennium as were the rest of the Christian nonconformist of Europe.

In 789 AD  the worship of the cross, images, and relics became required and enforced by the Roman Catholic Church.

In 995 AD  Pope John XV started  the Canonization of dead saints.

In 1079 AD  Pope Gregory II instituted the requirement that all priests must remain Celibate.

In 1184 AD  at the Council of Verona, the Catholic Church finally made the Inquisition official, even though it had already been an ongoing campaign of the Church for centuries. 

In 1229 AD at the Council of Valencia, the Bible was listed as a forbidden book for the layman to possess or even read.

Around 1384 the Reformation began when John Wycliffe, the pastor at the Lutterworth Church of England, completed his Bible translation into English.

In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII ordered the Waldenses and other reformers to be “crushed as venomous serpents”.

In 1415 John Huss, a Bohemian priest who sought to reform the Catholic Church, was executed for heresy.  His heresy included rejecting the practice of withholding the chalice from the laity during Holy Communion, reserving it only for the priest. Huss argued this practice was contrary to Scripture and to the ancient tradition of the early Church. Huss also embraced the worship of the mass in the Czech language, rather than in Latin, and on some occasions energetically defended the practice. He emphasized that Christ was the true head of the Church, rather than the Pope, and argued for the priesthood of all believers as opposed to the traditional distinctions made between the clergy and the laity. Huss also argued that Church officials ought to exercise spiritual authority only, and not be earthly governors.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic Church of heresy upon heresy and called to the Church to return to the teachings of the Bible. Martin Luther was the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people.  He used the 1516 critical Greek edition of Erasmus, a text which was later called textus receptus. The Luther German New Testament translation was first published in September of 1522. The translation of the Old Testament followed, yielding an entire German language Bible in 1534. Martin Luther escaped martyrdom, and died of natural causes.

In 1536 William Tyndale, a theologian and scholar who translated the Bible into an early form of Modern English, was burned at the stake by agents of King Henry VIII and the Anglican Church.  Tyndale was the first person to use Gutenberg’s movable-type printing press to print the scriptures in the English language. Besides the heresy of translating the Bible, Tyndale held and published views which were also considered heretical, first by the Catholic Church, and later by the Church of England which was brought under the supremacy of English rule by King Henry VIII.

In 1545 AD  the Counsel of Trent decreed that the proclamations of Popes are equal to the Bible Scriptures.

Beginning in 1553 Protestant exiles flooded Europe, hoping to escape Queen Mary's sword by gathering in safe havens like Geneva, Switzerland and Frankfurt, Germany. The Church at Geneva was led by Myles Coverdale and John Foxe who published the famous Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which is to this day the only exhaustive reference work on the persecution and martyrdom of Early Christians and Protestants from the first century up to the mid-16th century.

In 1560 The Geneva Bible was published and was the first Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would be easier. Every chapter was accompanied by extensive marginal notes and references. These notes were so thorough and complete that the Geneva Bible is now considered the first English "Study Bible". The Geneva Bible is textually 95% the same as the King James Version, but 50 years older and was not influenced by the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament that the King James translators admittedly took into consideration.

 In 1582, the Church of Rome surrendered their fight for "Latin only Bibles" and decided that if the Bible was to be available in English, they would at least have an official Roman-Catholic English translation. The Church used their corrupt and inaccurate Latin Vulgate as the only source text and published an English Bible with all the distortions and corruptions that Erasmus had revealed and warned of 75 years earlier.

In 1611 the first King James Version (KJV) came off the printing press. A typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun "He" instead of "She" in some of the printings. This caused some of the first editions to be known by collectors as "He Bibles”, and others as "She Bibles”. One little-known fact today is that for the past 200 years, all King James Bibles published in America are actually the 1769 Baskerville spelling and wording revision of the 1611 KJV. The original 1611 preface is deceivingly included by the publishers in the 1769 versions without informing its readers.

In 1620 a group of "Separatist" who had fled England for the Netherlands in 1608, immigrated to the New World and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts.  This group consisted of Puritans and Pilgrims. The Puritans intended to remain within the English church working for reform. They saw the main purpose of their new colony as being a biblical witness, a "city on a hill" which would set an example of biblical righteousness in church and state for Old England as well as the entire world. The Pilgrims wanted to achieve reformation without delay, even if it meant separating from their church and their nation. Their emphasis was on their new political identity and spiritual identity.

In 1776 Our American Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence which includes these timeless words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness".

In 1788 American Patriots won our independence on the battlefield.

In 1789 The Constitution of the United States of America was ratified. Our Constitution begins with: "We the people of the United States, in order to from a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In 1798 Rome was captured by the Napoleon's French Army led by General Berthier who then proclaimed Rome a republic of France and demanded  the Pope renounce of his temporal authority. Upon his refusal Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner, and was escorted from the Vatican to Siena France where he was imprisoned and died in August of 1799. So ended the 1,260 years of the Papacy's reign which many say officially began with the decree issued by the Roman Emperor Justinian in 538 AD.

In 1901 The Americans published the American Standard Version of the Bible. In 1971 it was revised and called New American Standard Version Bible (NASB). This New American Standard Bible is considered by nearly all evangelical Christian scholars and translators today, to be the most accurate, word-for-word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the modern English language that has ever been produced.

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