Category Archives: Church History

Come Hell or High Water, part 7

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)

We continue now with our series on Revelation 12, a chapter that is an Exodus narrative in which the Woman is shown fleeing from the error of that proceeds from the mouth of the devil and seeking her place of safety in the wilderness. As we have noted in this series, the Woman of Revelation 12 must have taken her leave sometime between the end of the Diocletianic persecution (313 A.D.) and the rise of Roman Catholicism to the seat of civil power among the fragments of the Roman Empire in the last decade of the 4th century. Continue reading Come Hell or High Water, part 7

Come Hell or High Water, part 6

Eagle in Flight
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)

As we noted in our previous installment, Revelation 12 is an Exodus narrative in which the Woman is depicted as fleeing from the error of the devil and seeking her place in the wilderness. In a word, she leaves. The Church simply departs, and takes up refuge in the Wilderness, and is nourished there by Her Savior. In that installment, we provided evidence of the objections of Ærius, Jovinianus, Vigilantius, Sarmatio and Barbatianus to the novelties being introduced in the latter part of the 4th century. These men, according to the historical record, were all taking their leave of the company of error and striking out on a separate path (except Jovinianus, who was apparently imprisoned for his objections). Continue reading Come Hell or High Water, part 6

Come Hell or High Water, part 3

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)

In our previous installments of this series, we addressed the structure of Revelation 12 in which John provides a time frame for the events described, as well as the identity of the Woman and her Man Child as well as the duration of her time in the wilderness (Revelation 12:1-6).  As we noted in part 1, the time frame of the chapter covers the period of the persecution by the Little Horn of Daniel 8 for “time, times, and an half” (Daniel 12:7) through the persecution by the Little Horn of Daniel 7 for “time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25). The chapter thus straddles not only the transition of the Woman from National Israel to Ecclesial Israel, but also the transition of world empires from Bronze to Iron to Iron & Clay in the statue of Daniel 2, from Legs to Feet to Toes. In part 2, we showed that the flight of the Woman must therefore occur in the period of the Toes of Daniel 2—after the  5th Seal of Revelation 6 but before the rise of the Little Horn of Daniel 7. Continue reading Come Hell or High Water, part 3

Come Hell or High Water, part 2

"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness..." (Revelation 12:14) “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)

In our previous installment, by mapping key events in Revelation 12:4,7 to the book of Daniel, we sought to identify the bounds of the time frame of the events depicted in Revelation 12 as well as the identities of the Woman and the Man Child. As we noted there, the time frame in chapter 12 encompasses everything from the persecution of the Jews by the Little Horn of Daniel 8 “for a time, times, and an half” (Daniel 12:7), to the persecution of the Church by the Little Horn of Daniel 7 for “a time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25). The Woman of Revelation 12 begins as National Israel suffering under Greek persecution as the stars of heaven are cast down (Daniel 8:10, Revelation 12:4), and then under Roman imperial oppression as the serpent attempts to devour the Man Child when He is born (Daniel 12:1, Revelation 12:4). The Man Child is Christ who lived, died, rose and “was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5) during the Roman Empire, by which time the Woman has become Ecclesial Israel who would flee to the wilderness after being persecuted by the devil, only to endure even more persecution by the ungodly empire that would succeed Rome. It is in the context of that transition from National to Ecclesial Israel that Michael “standeth for the children of thy people” (Daniel 12:1) and “fought against” the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:7-10). In this installment we now turn our attention to the timing of the Flight of the Woman and the Flood let loose by the Serpent by evaluating the effects of Michael’s extradition of Satan in the context of Daniel’s prophecies. Continue reading Come Hell or High Water, part 2

Come Hell or High Water, part 1

"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness..." (Revelation 12:14)
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)

As we noted in our previous post, Revelation 12 depicts an abiding hostility between the Dragon and the Woman who flees to the Wilderness for safety. The conflict that unfolds in this chapter is similar to that which occurred in the Garden of Eden, as well as that which came upon Jesus when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted. In Eden, God said one thing to Eve: “…thou shalt not eat…” (Genesis 2:17), and the Serpent said another: “Yea, hath God said …?” (Genesis 3:1). In the “wilderness of Judæa” God said one thing to Jesus: “This is my beloved Son…” (Matthew 3:1,17), and then in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus to question God’s Word, saying “If thou be the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3). Eve’s decision came down to a choice between obedience stemming from belief, or the disobedience of unbelief. Would she believe the Word of God or the word of the serpent? The options presented to Jesus in Matthew 4 were essentially the same: would He trust His Father’s words, and reject the Devil, or would He trust the Devil’s words, and question His Father’s? In Revelation 12, the same choice is again laid before the Woman: will she trust the Word from the mouth of her Lord or succumb to the error that comes from the mouth of the Serpent?

Continue reading Come Hell or High Water, part 1

The Mingled Cup, part 5

The liturgical mixing of water with wine is a Roman novelty born of ignorance and misunderstanding.
The liturgical mixing of water with wine is a Roman novelty born of ignorance, misunderstanding and myth.

As we noted in our first installment in this series, Roman Catholicism has added to the Eucharistic liturgy a step that is unscriptural and therefore generally unfamiliar to most Protestants. As part of the liturgy, the priest pours a little water into the wine that is used to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Unable to justify the rite from the Scriptures, Roman Catholicism makes its typical appeal to antiquity, claiming that the rite certainly must be of apostolic origins because it is found in the earliest traditions of the Church. But in this series we have analyzed the data from the Early Church and found that our early forebears knew of no such “apostolic” ritual. Continue reading The Mingled Cup, part 5

The Mingled Cup, part 4

The East and the West eventually lost track of both the meaning and the mode of the Lord's Supper.
The East and the West eventually lost track of both the meaning and the mode of the Lord’s Supper.

Thus far in our series on the Mingled Cup we have analyzed the ancient history of winemaking from the Greek, Roman, Jewish and early Christian perspectives. In those times it was typical to add water to “pure wine,” or merum,  prior to consumption. Merum alone was too intoxicating and unpalatable to be served without the beneficial tempering effect of water. The resulting mixture was called “wine and water,” “wine with water,” “mingled wine,” or just “wine.” So commonly understood was the mixture of wine and water that early writers simply assumed that Jesus had turned water into “mixed wine” in the miracle at Cana (John 2:1-11), because it was common knowledge that nobody would have served straight merum at a wedding feast.

Continue reading The Mingled Cup, part 4

The Mingled Cup, part 3

In the Early Church, "mixed wine" was so common, they believed Jesus had made "mixed wine" out of water at Cana (John 2:1-11)
In the Early Church, “mixed wine” was such a common wedding drink, they simply assumed that Jesus had made already “mixed wine” out of water at Cana (John 2:1-11)

In the first installment in this series, we provided a survey of the manufacture and consumption of wine in the ancient Greek, Jewish, Roman and Christian cultures. In all these cultures, merum—“pure wine,” or “undiluted wine”—was mixed with water prior to drinking because the consumption of straight merum was both unpalatable and uncivilized. Because merum was unfit for consumption except by barbarians, the whole civilized world added water to merum to make wine. Wine for drinking, therefore, was simply “pure wine” mingled with water. Or, more succinctly, wine was called “wine with water” or “wine and water,” in reference to its two ingredients: “pure wine” (merum) and water. Continue reading The Mingled Cup, part 3

The Mingled Cup, part 2

In the math of ancient wine production, wine + water = wine.
In the math of ancient wine production, “wine and water” was wine.

In our previous installment, we discussed the ancient practice of mixing “pure wine,” or merum, with water to make “wine,” as well as the ancient Greek, Jewish, Roman and Christian aversion to drinking merum straight. That ancient practice and that ancient aversion were widely known, and it should come as no surprise that the Early Church Fathers were aware of them, too.  Roman Catholicism claims that the liturgical rite of mixing wine with water as part of the Eucharistic liturgy can be traced all the way back to Jesus’ own administration of the Last Supper. But their evidence for the early origination of the “liturgical rite” is based not on any actual liturgical tradition of the Early Church, but solely on the early Church’s expressions of the ingredients and production of wine. To the early Church, “wine and water” was, in fact, wine, and that is what they used for the Lord’s Supper. There was nothing liturgically significant about mixing it. It was not until the latter part of the 4th century that the early Church’s use of “wine and water” began to be interpreted as a liturgical, apostolic rite. Over the next two installments, we will assess the ante-Nicene, Nicene and the early post-Nicene references to mixed wine—Justin Martyr, Irenæus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, Aphrahat of Persia, Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan—to show how the early references to a commonly known manufacturing process began to be interpreted as a liturgical rite that was eventually codified into Roman Catholic canon law. Continue reading The Mingled Cup, part 2

The Mingled Cup, part 1

Unsurprisingly, Jesus used prepared wine at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:8)
Unsurprisingly, Jesus used prepared wine and baked bread at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:8)

Although Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics both recognize the institution of the Lord’s Supper and celebrate it regularly, one of the several differences between the two is that Roman Catholics have added a liturgical step that is generally unfamiliar to most Protestants. As part of the Eucharistic rite of Roman Catholicism, the priest mixes a little water with the wine prior to consecration. So indispensable to the sacrament is the mixing of water with wine that the 22nd session of the Council of Trent (1562-1563) anathematized anyone who denied that step in the liturgy (Council of Trent, Session 22, Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Canon IX). It may therefore come as a surprise that, as indispensable as the mixing of the water is to their liturgy, Roman Catholics do not actually know why they do it, do not know how much water to add, are not sure how to administer it correctly, and are not even sure what it is alleged to signify. And that is a pretty thin foundation for a liturgical rite, the denial of which is considered to be an excommunicable offense. Continue reading The Mingled Cup, part 1

Nicæa and the Roman Precedent

The Council of Nicæa recognized that the Bishop of Rome was a small fish in a big pond.
At the Council of Nicæa in 325 A.D., Alexandria and Antioch were both located within the civil diocese of Oriens.

Last year we posted two separate entries, False Teeth and “Unless I am Deceived…,” both dealing with the anachronistic projection of late 4th century civil boundaries of the Roman Empire retroactively onto the early 4th century text of Canon 6 of the Council of Nicæa. The anachronism has obscured the meaning of the canon since the days of Jerome (398 A.D.), Rufinus (403 A.D.) and Innocent I (411 A.D.). Continue reading Nicæa and the Roman Precedent

Legs of Iron, part 6

The Scriptures identify the transition from Legs to Feet.
The Scriptures identify the transition from Legs to Feet.

Historically, the church has had very little trouble identifying the time periods of the Gold, Silver, and Brass of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2. The time periods of the Lion, the Bear, and the Leopard are as easily identifiable in Daniel 7, as are those of the Ram and the He-goat in Daniel 8. Those figures represent a series of world empires, each dominating the world in succession—Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. Continue reading Legs of Iron, part 6

Legs of Iron, part 5

The Scriptures identify the transition from Legs to Feet.
The Scriptures identify the transition from Legs to Feet.

In this series, we have been discussing the dating of John’s vision on Patmos based on the scriptural evidence. Although Irenæaus seems to place the vision at the end of the first century, other early writers of his era place it before Paul’s epistles and even as early as emperor Claudius, as we discussed in Part 1. While the external testimony is inconsistent and contradictory, we believe the date of the vision can be found based on the internal testimony, especially in light of the Danielic nature of the angelic narrator’s language in Revelation 17:10. Continue reading Legs of Iron, part 5

Legs of Iron, part 4

The Scriptures Identify the transition from Legs to Feet.
The Scriptures Identify the transition from Legs to Feet.

One thing that can be said of Jesus’ and John’s eschatology is that it is certainly Danielic. Jesus refers to Daniel both directly (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14) and indirectly (Matthew 21:44, 24:30, 26:64; Mark 13:26, 14:62) when speaking of the immediate and distant future. John’s descriptions of the dragon of Revelation 12, the sea beast of Revelation 13 and the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 are all derivative of the four beasts of Daniel 7. The scene of the throne room of Revelation 4-5 with “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (5:11) surrounding the Lord is clearly resonant of the same scene depicted in Daniel 7:10 where “thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” Our eschatology, like Jesus’ and John’s, must be Danielic as well. Continue reading Legs of Iron, part 4

Legs of Iron, part 3

The Scriptures Identify the Transition from Legs to Feet
The Scriptures Identify the Transition from Legs to Feet

In the previous two weeks we have discussed the dating of the book of Revelation based on the internal evidence. As we noted last week, the angelic narrator provides textual cues as to the dating of the book, and three of those cues are found in Revelation 17: the placement of the “scarlet coloured beast” of Revelation 17 chronologically between the red dragon of Revelation 12 and the sea beast of Revelation 13; the description of the beast which “was, and is not; and shall ascend,” and the placement of the vision between the fifth and seventh king of the empire (Revelation 17:10). John’s narrator was clearly providing cues to the dating of the book, and was using Danielic imagery to do it. When understanding Revelation 17 through the lens of Daniel 2, there are only three possible periods during which Revelation could have been written—during the Legs, during the Feet, or during the Toes of the Statue. Last week we ruled out the period of the Toes because the vision takes place when the ten Toes or ten Kings are yet future, and “have received no kingdom as yet” (Revelation 17:12). This week, we will rule out the period of the Feet altogether. Continue reading Legs of Iron, part 3

Legs of Iron, part 2

The Scriptures Identify the Transition from Legs to Feet
The Scriptures identify the transition from Legs to Feet

Last week, we began a discussion on the date of authorship of the book of Revelation, highlighting the angel’s discussion with John regarding the “scarlet coloured beast … having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3). That seven-headed, ten-horned beast is a figure used repeatedly in Revelation (Revelation 12:3, 13:1, 17:3), and shows the significant symbolic unity the book shares with Daniel’s prophecies in Daniel 7. The Four Beasts of Daniel 7 together have seven heads and ten horns (1 Lion Head, 1 Bear Head, 4 Leopard Heads, 1 Beast Head with 10 horns upon it). Whatever the differences that exist between the “red dragon” (Revelation 12:3), sea beast (Revelation 13:1) and the “scarlet coloured beast” (Revelation 17:3), they are unified in their symbolic relationship to Daniel 7. Because the beasts of Daniel 7 share a strong chronological unity with Gold, Silver, Brass and Iron kingdoms of Daniel 2, we can also draw on that chronological unity to understand the date of John’s vision.  Continue reading Legs of Iron, part 2

Legs of Iron, part 1

The Scriptures Identify the Transition from Legs to the Feet.
The date of John’s vision is contained in the Scriptures.

The dating of the Book of Revelation has been a matter of no small controversy throughout the history of the church, some writers placing its authorship during the reign of Claudius (41 – 54 A.D.), others placing it during the reign of Nero (54 – 68 A.D.), and others placing it in the reign of Domitian (81 – 96 A.D.). In the realm of eschatology, Preterists choose an early date, while Dispensationalists and Historicists choose the later. It is not a matter that can be resolved by external testimony, because the external testimony itself is contradictory. But the internal evidence is quite compelling. Continue reading Legs of Iron, part 1

“The Kingdom of Earth is at Hand”

Jesus warned us about those who would say, 'The kingdom of earth is at hand!'
Jesus warned us about those who would say, ‘The kingdom of earth is at hand!’

When John the Baptist was sent forth preaching, he went about saying “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). When Jesus received the news that John had been imprisoned, He took up John’s message and went forth preaching, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). When His disciples tried “to make him a king,” Jesus fled from them (John 6:15). When Pilate questioned Him about His kingship, Jesus insisted, “My kingdom is not of this world … my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).  When the Pharisees asked him “when the kingdom of God should come” he said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there!” (Luke 17:20-21). When His disciples asked him if He would “at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), Jesus responded that the time for establishing an Earthly Kingdom was not theirs to know, and instead of seeking to establish an Earthly Kingdom, they should focus rather on the preaching of a Heavenly one: Continue reading “The Kingdom of Earth is at Hand”

The Massacre at Matanzas

The French arrive in Florida, from Theodor de Bry, Grand Voyages (1591).
Ribault’s arrival in Florida, by Theodor de Bry, Grand Voyages (1591).

We mentioned last year in our article, “French Colonial Florida (1564-1565 A.D.)” that we were pleased to hear of the release of a trailer from Aperio Productions for their new film, The Massacre at Matanzas. The story is related in our article, and the excellent documentary is now completed and was released on the web last month. Continue reading The Massacre at Matanzas

The Object of Her Irrepressible Scorn

Roman Catholicism scorns the religion of Protestants because for the same reason that she scorns the Early Church.
Measure Rome first by the Word of God. And then by what she hates.

In our article last week, Longing for Nicæa, we mentioned that Rome’s relationship with the Early Church manifests in a love-hate dichotomy. She loves to identify with the era in order to allege antiquity, but she hates what she finds there, for it betrays her later origins. Last week we showed how frequently Rome appeals to the Nicæan and ante-Nicæan era to prove the antiquity of her novelties, and how frequently she is rebuffed by the Early Church. This week we show how frequently Rome has to distance herself from the Nicæan and ante-Nicæan church because the Early Church was in fact a different religion from Roman Catholicism.
Continue reading The Object of Her Irrepressible Scorn