St. Peter's Orthodox Church


Blood Libel Illustration


By Daniel Gruber

Christian Anti-Semitism, by Daniel Gruber, is a series of articles that examines the historical development of the anti-Semitism that has proceeded from the church. This reader, for one, has found the series quite informative, and select articles from it are being presented that the reader may gain similar benefit. The studies are being presented in the sequence in which their historical content occurred. Therefore, it is recommended that they be read in the sequence in which links to them are found in our Library.

In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul said, I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also (ASV). It is the prayer of the Shofar board that the reader may grow in understanding in this matter and pray accordingly. ~ editor


Editor's note: For clarity's sake, please note that the AMC board does not hold “The Revelation of Peter” to be
canonical, and it does not hold to the symbolism of the fig tree that Jesus is said to hold in it. Thank you.


"Eusebius was the friend of Constantine, and he wrote, in part, to affirm
the new Church-State relationship that Constantine had established."

Eusebius was the friend of Constantine, and he wrote, in part, to affirm the new Church-State relationship that Constantine had established. That new Church-State relationship was antagonistic to the expected kingdom of God that had been proclaimed by the apostles. In the new relationship, the Church would establish the kingdom of God through the State.

Once this new relationship was accepted, it became necessary to change the expectation of what the kingdom of God would be. "The overwhelming usage of 'kingdom' in the second-century Christian literature is eschatological," (1) that is, the second-century followers of Messiah expected the establishment of the kingdom of God to come with the return of Yeshua at the end of the age. They understood that there was a sense and a reality in which the kingdom of God was already present, but its fulfillment would only come with the destruction of the kingdoms of this world.

"With Origen in the early third century there arose a thinker who was able to incorporate the 'Gnostic' dimension of the kingdom, the inward rule of God in the soul, into orthodox thought. . . . Origen thus marks the turning point." (2) In this Gnostic view, the fulness of the kingdom of God was to come with the individual believer's spiritual growth, and with the spiritual growth of the Church as a whole. The return of Yeshua to judge the nations and to redeem Israel became unnecessary for the establishment of the kingdom throughout the earth.

With the introduction of Origen's allegorical method of interpretation in the third century, the faith of the Church concerning the kingdom began to change. As the anti-Judaic posture spread in the Church, what was once considered heresy was put forward as the new orthodoxy. The Millennial restoration of Israel began to be considered a carnal, Jewish doctrine which no orthodox Christian could believe.

On different issues in his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius often quotes from earlier writers who embraced views similar to his own. That is natural and acceptable for any writer who seeks to support and establish his own views. On the issue of a literal, Millennial restoration of the kingdom to Israel -- THE theological issue on which the new Church-State relationship would stand or fall -- Eusebius does not quote from any early believers who embraced his own view. He does not because he cannot. There were none who supported his view.

Eusebius shows that he had early writings on this issue. But these writings expressed a faith in a literal, Millennial restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Since Eusebius rejected that view, and because he wanted to brand it as heresy, he chose not to quote from any of the early writers at all. So it is understandable that those who accept the writings of Eusebius as an accurate representation of the theology of the early believers tend to believe as he did. Unfortunately, Eusebius is not faithful in this regard.

Eusebius happens to reveal, albeit quite reluctantly, that the "new Israel" view which he embraced was not held by the apostles or by those who were instructed by them. One such student of the apostles was Papias who was taught by the Apostle John, by Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8), and by others. He was an associate of Polycarp. In one section, Eusebius says, "At this time, also, Papias was well known as bishop of the church at Hierapolis, a man well skilled in all manner of learning, and well acquainted with the Scriptures." (3)

Throughout the Ecclesiastical History (with one exception) and in the writings of all others who spoke of him, Papias is characterized as a very godly man of exceptional learning, faithful to the teachings of the apostles. The one exception occurs when Eusebius mentions that "he [Papias] says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations. For he was very limited in his comprehension, as is evident from his discourses; yet he was the cause why most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion; as, for instance, Irenaeus, or any other that adopted such sentiments." (4)

Several things should be noted about Eusebius' comments. First, Papias presented the teaching of "a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth . . . as if they were authorized by the apostolic
narrations . . . ." That is to say that Papias affirmed that the apostles taught that this was so. Papias spent many years learning from John and others of the earliest leaders of the body of Messiah. Eusebius gives no support for his assertion that Papias, who was universally acknowledged and praised as faithful to the apostolic teaching, "imagined" such substantial departures from the teaching of the apostles.

Second, although Eusebius elsewhere praises Papias for his virtue and learning, here he demeans him as deceived and dull. The only "evidence" that Eusebius has for this derogatory characterization is that Papias believed in a millennial reign of Messiah on the earth. In contradiction to his praises elsewhere, Eusebius demeans Papias here because Eusebius wants to undermine such belief.

There is ample evidence in support of the great spiritual understanding of Papias. Among other faithful endeavors which he performed, Papias is credited with having written John's account of the good news at the dictation of the Apostle. John's account of the good news is certainly not an un-spiritual document.

Third, Eusebius admits that "most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion." Therefore, according to Eusebius, most of the ecclesiastical writers believed "that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth." Eusebius asserts, without any supporting evidence, that the only reason they believed it was "the antiquity" of Papias.

During the time of Papias, and before, there were some who held to a variety of different doctrinal errors. "Most of the ecclesiastical writers" were not led astray by the "antiquity" of these false teachers. Nor were they led astray by the antiquity of Papias. It was not in Papias' antiquity alone that these believers trusted.

Papias lived a consistent life of proven service to the Lord, His apostles, and His body of believers. That is why most of the ecclesiastical writers trusted his transmission of the apostolic teaching. Eusebius did also, except in this one instance.

Eusebius' opposition to this apostolic teaching was so great, that he certainly would have, if he could have, presented the teaching of anyone contemporary with the apostles or their disciples who believed in the "mystical," spiritual interpretation which he himself adopted. However, he is not able to present the writings of anyone -- not one -- from that earlier age who believed as he did. He had the documents. He had the full support of the Emperor Constantine. But he still could not produce any evidence in support of his position. That being the case, Eusebius chose not to present the millennial teaching of "most of the ecclesiastical writers," because it contradicted his own beliefs. In fact, he does not quote from any of them on this matter. Their writings were known and still in circulation in the early fourth century when Eusebius wrote his Ecclesiastical History.

Jerome, who wrote at about the end of the fourth century, said, "This (Papias) is said to have promulgated the Jewish tradition of a Millennium, and he is followed by Irenaeus, Apollinarius and the others who say that after the resurrection the Lord will reign in the flesh with the saints." (5)

Irenaeus and Apollinarius are also described by Eusebius as learned, virtuous, faithful witnesses of the apostolic faith. Eusebius says, "About this time also, the beloved disciple of Jesus, John the apostle and evangelist, still surviving, governed the churches in Asia, after his return from exile on the island, and the death of Domitian. But that he was still living until this time, it may suffice to prove, by the testimony of two witnesses. These, as maintaining sound doctrine in the church, may surely be regarded as worthy of all credit: and such were Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria. Of these, the former, in the second book against heresies . . . ." (6)

According to Eusebius, Irenaeus maintained sound doctrine in the church. He wrote against heresies. He was a faithful and true witness. Irenaeus believed that the Lord would reign in the flesh on earth with the saints. Jerome, since he also rejected "the Jewish tradition of a Millennium," did not quote from "the others." He rejected the writings of the "most," or all, of the early Church that believed in it. Their writings were still available when he wrote. As with Eusebius, Jerome was also unable to offer evidence to the contrary from other early Church writers.

Eusebius, Jerome, and others had these writings available to them, but they did not want to make them known. These writings of "most of the ecclesiastical writers" who promulgated "the Jewish tradition of a Millennium" are not available to us today. That is not, however, evidence that the early believers never believed in "the Jewish tradition of a Millennium." It is only evidence that some later in the Church did not care to preserve these writings.

Part of one of those early writings that has survived, "The Revelation of Peter," clearly speaks of a restoration of Israel. In a portion parallel to Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Yeshua is seated on the Mount of Olives, and the disciples come to him asking, "Make known unto us what are the signs of thy Parousia [appearing] and of the end of the world . . . ." (7) As Yeshua tells them the signs, He admonishes them, "And ye, receive ye the parable of the fig tree thereon: as soon as its shoots have gone forth and its boughs have sprouted, the end of the world will come." (8)

Peter then asks Yeshua to explain the parable of the fig tree that signals the end of the age and the coming of the Lord. (cf. Mt.24:32-36; Mk.13:28-32; Lk.21:29-33) Yeshua replies, "Do you not understand that the fig tree is the house of Israel? Truly, I tell you, when its branches have sprouted at the end of the world, false Christs shall arise. They will arouse expectation and say, 'I am the Christ who once came into the world.' But this liar is not the Christ. When they reject him, he will murder with the sword. Then shall the branches of the fig tree, which is the house of Israel, shoot forth. There shall be many martyrs by his hand...." (9)

"The Revelation of Peter," a short work which does not speak of much more than the restoration of Israel, was not considered an heretical document, far from it. The "Muratorian Canon," written about 180 A.D., lists the writings which the body of Messiah (or part of it) then acknowledged as canonical. It mentions, " . . . . We also accept a Revelation by John and one by Peter, although some of us do not want the latter to be read aloud in the Church." (10)

"The Revelation of Peter" was considered part of the canon. It was accepted as the Word of God. Yet some in the Church did not want it to be read to the people. Certainly that is unusual. (Eusebius was familiar with "The Revelation of Peter," but he did not quote from it.)

Those in the Church who did not want "The Revelation of Peter" to be publicly read were not arguing that it was not the Word of God. It simply contained material that they did not like. Even if they thought it was the Word of God, they did not want it to be read to the Church. Though today we do not consider it canonical, it still is firm documentary evidence of what the early followers of Yeshua believed.

Justin's Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, dated about 160 A.D., also offers evidence of what the early followers of Yeshua believed. It is interesting as a seemingly transitional work. The dialogue apparently took place shortly after the Bar Kokhba Rebellion of 132-135 A.D., but was not written down for at least twenty years.

Justin points to the desolation of Israel and says to Trypho, "And therefore all this has happened to you rightly and well. For ye slew the Just One and His prophets before Him, and now ye reject, and, as far as in you lies, dishonour those that set their hope on Him, and God Almighty and Maker of the universe who sent Him, cursing in your synagogues them that believe on Christ. For you have not authority to raise your own hands against us, because of them who are now supreme. But as often as you could, this also ye did." (11)

Justin believed that the whole body of believers was the true Israel, but not in the replacement sense later adopted. "For we are the true and spiritual Israelitish nation, and the race of Judah and of Jacob and Isaac and Abraham, who when he was still uncircumcised received witness from God for his faith, and was blessed, and was called father of many nations -- we, I say, are all this, who were brought nigh to God by Him who was crucified, even Christ..." (12)

"As therefore from that one Jacob, who was also surnamed Israel, your whole nation was addressed as Jacob and Israel, so also we who keep the commandments of Christ, are, by virtue of Christ who begat us unto God, both called and in fact are, Jacob and Israel and Judah and Joseph and David, and true children of God."(13)

Justin maintains that Gentiles "who keep the commandments of Christ, are, by virtue of Christ" also full members of Israel. He does not believe that the body of believers has replaced the Jews, but rather that Gentile believers have been grafted into Israel through Yeshua. "When therefore God blesses, and calls this people Israel, and cries aloud that it is His inheritance, how is it that you do not repent, both for deceiving yourselves as though you alone were Israel, and for cursing the people that is blessed of God?" (14)

"Trypho said: Do you indeed intend to say that none of us shall inherit anything in the holy mountain of God?

"And I replied: I do not mean that. But they who persecuted Christ, and still persecute Him, and do not repent, shall not inherit anything in the holy mountain. While the nations [Gentiles] that have believed on Him, and have repented for all the sins they have committed -- they shall inherit, with all the patriarchs and the prophets and the righteous men that have been born of Israel." (15)

According to Justin, it is not Jews only who are now Israel, but also Gentiles who believe in Yeshua. For Justin, because the Gentiles who believe in Yeshua are now part of Israel, they also, with the righteous Jews, will inherit what God has promised Israel.

As for the nature of that inheritance, Trypho pointedly asks, " 'do you acknowledge of a truth that this place Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and expect that your people will be gathered together and rejoice with Christ, together with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the saints of our race, or even of them who became proselytes, before your Christ came . . . .?'

"[Justin replies,] 'I have acknowledged to you earlier that I and many others do hold this opinion, even as you also know well that this is to take place. But I also informed you that even many Christians of pure and godly mind do not accept it. For I made it clear to you that those who are Christians in name, but in reality are godless and impious heretics, teach in all respects what is blasphemous and godless and foolish. . . . For it is not men, or the doctrines of men, that I choose to follow, but God and the doctrines that come from Him.

"For even if you yourselves have ever met with some so-called Christians, who yet do not acknowledge this, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob . . . . But I, and all other entirely Christians, know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and also a thousand years in a Jerusalem built up and adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah, and all the rest, acknowledge.'"(16)

"And, further, a man among us named John, one of the apostles of Christ, in a Revelation made to him that they who have believed our Christ will spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, and that afterwards the universal, and, in one word, eternal resurrection of all at once, will take place, and also the judgment." (17)

For Justin, "all entirely orthodox Christians" believed that Yeshua would reign on the earth for a thousand years in a glorified Jerusalem. Those "so-called Christians who yet do not acknowledge this . . . in reality are godless and impious heretics" who "dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."

Eusebius knew Justin's Dialogue with Trypho. He quotes from it, praising Justin as "a true lover of sound philosophy." He characterizes Justin as courageous, a man "of cool deliberation and judgment." (18)

But when it comes to Justin's declaration that those who do not acknowledge the future coming and reign of the Lord on the earth from Jerusalem are "godless and impious heretics," Eusebius ignores Justin. He neither quotes, nor mentions, nor comments. He cannot pretend that Justin was lead astray by Papias, so he simply pretends that Justin never said what he said. For Eusebius, it is not part of the history of the Church, because it is not what he wants the Church to believe.


1. E. Ferguson, "The Terminology of Kingdom in the Second Century," in Studia Patristica, Vol. XVII, P.670, edited by Elizabeth A. Livingstone, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1982.
2. ibid., P. 673.
3. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, translated by Christian Frederick Cruse, op. cit., Bk.3, Ch.36, P. 120.
4. ibid., Bk.3, Ch.39, P. 126.
5. J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, editors, The Apostolic Fathers, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, P. 532 (de vir. illust. 18).
6. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, op. cit., Bk.3, Ch.23, P.104-105.
7. Edgar Hennecke, The New Testament Apocrypha, Vol. 2, edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher, translated by R. McL. Wilson, The Westminster Press, Phila., 1965, P.668 For the full text of this section, chapter 2, in the Ethiopic text, see Pp. 668-669.
8. ibid., P. 668.
9. Eberhard Arnold, The Early Christians after the Death of the Apostles, Plough Press, Farmington, PA., 1972, P.295.
10. ibid., P. 167.
11. Justin Martyr, The Dialogue with Trypho, translated by A. Lukyn Williams, S.P.C.K., London, 1930, Pp. 33-34, Sec. 16.4.
12. ibid., P. 24, Sec. 11.5.
13. ibid., Pp. 256-257, Sec. 123.7-9.
14. ibid., P. 255, Sec. 123.6.
15. ibid., P. 52, Sec. 25.6-26.1.
16. ibid., P. 169, Sec. 80.1-5.
17. ibid., P. 172, Sec. 81.4.
18. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, op. cit., Bk.4, Ch.8, Pp.135-136.

Christian Anti-Semitism
© Daniel Gruber


Daniel Gruber's complete Anti-Semitism series may
be read in its original form at

Daniel Gruber has taught in numerous countries on five continents with a focus on the intersection of government and faith including Judaism, Christianity, and contemporary international law. His latest book is a unique annotated translation of the Jewish-Greek of the Messianic Writings (Matthias through Revelation). He has authored six books, some or all of which have been translated into Hebrew, Polish, Dutch, Spanish, German, and Russian. They are: The Messianic Writings: The First-Century Jewish Scriptures that Changed the World; The Children of Abraham; The Church and the Jews: The Biblical Relationship; The Separation of Church and Faith, Vol 1: Copernicus and the Jews; Torah and the New Covenant; Rabbi Akiba's Messiah: The Origins of Rabbinic Authority. Daniel's books are available at

One book in particular which Daniel recently published and would like to be brought to your attention is entitled, That Man! His Story. "This story presents Yeshua, 'That Man!' as the prophesied Messiah of Israel. It combines the four different accounts [Gospels] into one." That Man is available for purchase at, where a much fuller description will also be found.


All articles that appear in The Shofar have been reviewed and approved by the AMC Board. Inclusion of an author does not imply approval of all views of that author, some of which may be unknown to the Board. ~ AMC Board

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