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 very 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are being presented in the sequence in which their historical content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
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
Study 8: THE PASSOVER
"One issue that stands out in the reversal of the teaching
of the apostolos/
ambassadors whom Yeshua appointed is the Passover controversy."
One issue that
stands out in the reversal of the teaching of the apostolos/ambassadors
whom Yeshua appointed is the Passover
controversy. It was settled at the Council of Nicea. To this day,
almost all the Church follows the clearly erroneous decree which
came forth from that council.
There were two main issues for the Council of Nicea. The first
concerned the heretical writings of Arius and his followers.
"But there was another subject which occasioned considerable
uneasiness in the Church, viz. the difference which arose
among the orientals [those of the East, i.e. those who were
not part of the western Roman Empire] with respect to the
proper day of keeping Easter, some celebrating that festival
in the manner of the Jews, and others following the custom
of Christians throughout the rest of the world. . . . The
emperor, therefore, finding that the quiet of the Church was
not a little disturbed by these two evils [the Passover
controversy and the Arian heresy], assembled (by the advice
of some of the prelates, according to Rufinus,) a general
council, inviting, by letter, all the bishops to meet at
Nice, in Bithynia, and furnishing them with a means of
conveyance. In consequence, a great number of them, not less
than three hundred and eighteen, arrived from various cities
and territories, attended by a vast concourse of the
inferior clergy. Daily and ample provision was made by
Constantine for the support and accommodation of this
numerous body." (1)
When they assembled, Constantine greeted them with an admonition
"It was, my dear friends, my most cherished wish, that I
might one day enjoy the sight of this convention. Having
been indulged in this desire, I return thanks to God, the
ruler of all, who, in addition to innumerable other favors,
has granted me this greatest of all blessings, to see you
assembled together, and united in your minds. May no
malignant foe disturb in future our public happiness. After
the complete subversion, by the help of God our preserver,
of the tyranny of those, who warred against the Most High,
let no malevolent demon again expose the divine law, in any
other manner, to slander and detraction. An internal
sedition in the Church is, in my apprehension, more
dangerous and formidable than any war, in which I can be
engaged; nor do foreign concerns, however unfortunate,
affect my mind with so sensible a grief as this unhappy
affair . . . and hoping that by my interference, a remedy
might be applied to the evil, I sent for you all, without
Constantine had united the Empire. Now he intended to deliver
“the Church” as well from "internal sedition." Unity was the order
of the day.
How did the Passover controversy arise? Yeshua had observed Passover
on the fourteenth of Nisan because that is its Biblical date. He
observed all the Levitical holy days on the days which God had
decreed and for which He designed them to be observed. The
ambassadors of the Lord and his first-century followers did much the
"At first the Christian Passover was celebrated at the same
time as the Jewish, this simultaneous observance was
preserving the Jewish ritual in the Christian festival, and
strengthening the bonds between Christianity and Judaism.
The date must be changed. In some quarters the Church
attempted to restrict the celebration to a single day, 14
Nisan; elsewhere - and this became the prevailing custom -
she made Holy Week the week in which fell 14 Nisan (the day
when the Jewish feast began), and removed the festival,
which had already changed its character, to the Sunday
following Holy Week. In all these cases there was dependance
[sic] on the Jewish calendar, a 'humiliating subjection' to
the Synagogue which irked the Church.
"Besides changing their dates, the Church also gave to the
Jewish festivals, which she adopted, a purpose different
from that which they had for the Jews. [Thus] Sunday
commemorates the resurrection of the Lord, the victory over
the Jews." (3)
Sometime in the second century, some of the congregations in the
west, among the Gentiles, began to celebrate Passover/Easter so that
their commemoration of the Lord's resurrection would always take
place on a Sunday regardless of the Biblical calendar. Towards the
end of the second century, these western congregations, led by the
bishops of Rome, Caesarea, and Jerusalem (where there were no longer
Jewish “bishops”), began to agitate for all the congregations to
keep the Passover on their fixed Sunday, rather than on the
fourteenth of Nisan. They also were accustomed to using the Roman
calendar, rather than the Biblical calendar.
"There was a considerable discussion raised about this time,
in consequence of a difference of opinion respecting the
observance of the paschal season. The churches of all Asia,
guided by a remoter tradition, supposed that they ought to
keep the fourteenth day of the moon for the festival of the
Savior's passover, in which day the Jews were commanded to
kill the paschal lamb . . . . But as it was not the custom
to celebrate it in this manner in the churches throughout
the rest of the world . . . there were synods and
convocations of the bishops on this question . . . . There
is an epistle extant even now, of those who were assembled
at the time; among whom presided Theophilus, bishop of the
church in Cesarea, and Narcissus, bishop of Jerusalem. There
is another epistle extant on the same question, bearing the
name of Victor [the bishop of Rome] . . . . " (4)
"The bishops, however, of Asia, persevering in observing the
custom handed down to them from their fathers, were headed
by Polycrates. He, indeed, had also set forth the tradition
handed down to them, in a letter which he addressed to
Victor and the church of Rome.
" 'We,' said he, 'therefore, observe the genuine day;
neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom. For in Asia
great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again in
the day of the Lord's appearing, in which he will come with
glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints; Philip,
one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis, and
his two aged virgin daughters. His other daughter, also, who
having lived under the influence of the Holy Ghost, now
likewise rests in Ephesus. Moreover, John, who rested upon
the bosom of our Lord; who also was a priest, and bore the
sacerdotal plate, both a martyr and teacher. He is buried in
Ephesus; also Polycarp of Smyrna, both bishop and martyr.
Thraseas, also, bishop and martyr of Eumenia, who is buried
at Smyrna. Why should I mention . . . .
" 'All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover
according to the gospel, deviating in no respect, but
following the rule of faith. Moreover, I, Polycrates, who am
the least of all of you, according to the tradition of my
relatives, some of whom I have followed. For there were
seven, my relatives bishops, and I am the eighth; and my
relatives always observed the day when the people (i.e. the
Jews) threw away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, am now
sixty-five years in the Lord, who having conferred with the
brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole
of the sacred Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those
things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For
they who are greater than I, have said,
We ought to obey God rather than
". . . . Upon this, Victor, the bishop of the church of
Rome, forthwith endeavoured to cut off the churches of all
Asia, together with the neighboring churches, as heterodox,
from the common unity. And he publishes abroad by letters,
and proclaims, that all the brethren there are wholly
There were others, like Irenaeus, who "with much severity"
exhorted Victor to withdraw his decree. About 180 C. E., Irenaeus
wrote a book Against Heresies, to safeguard the faith
delivered by the ambassadors. It became a standard for judging
Irenaeus reminded Victor of what had happened about fifty years
earlier. Anicetus, the bishop of Rome at that time, had tried to
persuade Polycarp. "For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not
to observe it, because he had always observed it with John the
disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he
associated . . . . " (6) In another section, Eusebius says this
about Polycarp: "He always taught what he had learned from the
apostles, what the church had handed down, and what is the only true
Apparently Victor withdrew his decree, but the controversy was not
resolved. It was merely muted for a time. The church at Rome
continued to press for its own supremacy. Jerusalem had already been
physically destroyed, but it still had to be destroyed as a
spiritual competitor. The issue, in a slightly altered form, was
settled by the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E.
There it was decided that all the “churches” should celebrate the
Passover, or actually Easter, on the ecclesiastically chosen Sunday
rather than the Biblical date. All the “churches” were thus
informed. The Emperor Constantine sent his personal exhortation to
all the “churches” concerning the decision of the Council.
What the Emperor said had great weight. After all, Constantine was
the one who had ended the persecution. He was the founder of the
holy Roman Empire. He openly, personally professed the “Christian”
faith. He had convened the council. The “churches,” therefore, were
more than willing to hear whatever he had to say to them.
What he had to say to them is a clear presentation of the sentiment
and theology that ruled in the Council of Nicea. It expresses what
then became the nearly universal sentiment and theology of the
Church. So, though the letter is long, it is well worthwhile to look
at the complete text of the Emperor's personal exhortation to all
the congregations. It was a major force in establishing the nature
of the Church, which had a great impact on subsequent Western and
world history. There are some very significant elements in it.
"Constantine, august, to the Churches.
"Having experienced, in the flourishing state of public
affairs, the greatness of the divine goodness I thought it
especially incumbent on me to endeavor that the happy
multitudes of the Catholic [i.e. universal] Church should
preserve one faith, be united in unfeigned love, and
harmoniously join in their devotions to Almighty God. But
this could not otherwise be effected in a firm and solid
manner, than by an examination, for this purpose, of
whatever pertains to our most holy religion, by all the
bishops, or the greater part of them at least, assembled
together. Having therefore convened as many as possible, I
myself being present, and, as it were, one of you, (nor do I
deny that I exceedingly rejoice in being your
fellow-servant,) every thing was examined, until a unanimous
sentiment, pleasing to God, who sees all things, was brought
to light; so that no pretence was left for dissension or
controversy respecting the faith.
"When the question arose concerning the most holy day of
Easter, it was decreed by common consent to be expedient,
that this festival should be celebrated on the same day by
all, in every place. For what can be more beautiful, what
more venerable and becoming, than that this festival, from
which we receive the hope of immortality, should be suitably
observed by all in one and the same order, and by a certain
rule. And truly, in the first place, it seemed to every one
a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of
the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity,
who, polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a
nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds.
"It is fit, therefore, that, rejecting the practice of this
people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the
celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order, which
we have kept from the first day of our Lord's passion even
to the present times. Let us then have nothing in common
with the most hostile rabble of the Jews. We have received
another method from the Saviour. A more lawful and proper
course is open to our most holy religion. In pursuing this
course with a unanimous consent, let us withdraw ourselves,
my much honored brethren, from that most odious fellowship.
"It is indeed in the highest degree preposterous, that they
should superciliously vaunt themselves, that truly without their
instruction, we cannot properly observe this rite. For what can they
rightly understand, who, after the tragical death of our Lord, being
deluded and darkened in their minds, are carried away by an
unrestrained impulse wherever their inborn madness may impel them.
Hence therefore it is, that, even in this particular, they do not
perceive the truth, so that continually wandering in the grossest
error, instead of duly reforming their calculation, they commemorate
the passover twice in the same [Roman] year. Why then should we
follow those who are acknowledged to labor under a grievous error?
for we will never tolerate the keeping of a double passover in one
"But if what I have said should not be thought sufficient, it
belongs to your ready discernment, both by diligence and prayer, to
use every means, that the purity of your minds may not be affected
by a conformity in any thing with the customs of the vilest of
mankind. Besides, it should be considered that any dissension in a
business of such importance, and in a religious institution of so
great solemnity, would be highly criminal. For the Saviour has
bequeathed us one festal day of our liberation, that is, the day of
his most holy passion; and it was his pleasure that his Church
should be one; the members of which, although dispersed in many and
various places, are yet nourished by the same spirit, that is by the
will of God.
"Let the sagacity of your holiness only consider, how
painful and indecorous it must be, for some to be experiencing the
rigors of abstinence, and others to be unbending their minds in
convivial enjoyment on the same day; and after Easter, for some to
be indulging in feasting and relaxation, while others are occupied
in the observance of the prescribed fasts. Wherefore, that a
suitable reformation should take place in this respect, and that one
rule should be followed, is the will of divine providence, as all, I
think, must perceive.
"As it is necessary that this fault should be so amended that we
may have nothing in common with the usage of these parricides and
murderers of our Lord; and as that order is most convenient which is
observed by all the churches of the West, as well as those of the
southern and northern parts of the world, and also by some in the
East, it was judged therefore to be most equitable and proper, and I
pledged myself that this arrangement should meet your approbation,
viz. that the custom which prevails with one consent in the city of
Rome, and throughout all Italy, Africa and Egypt, in Spain, Gaul,
Britain, Lybia, the whole of Greece, the diocese of Asia, Pontus and
Cilicia, would be gladly embraced by your prudence, considering that
not only the greatest number of churches exist in the places which
have been already mentioned, but also that it is most religious and
equitable that all should wish what the strictest reason seems to
require, and to have no fellowship with the perjury of the Jews.
"And, to sum up the whole in a few words, it was agreeable to the
common judgment of all, that the most holy feast of Easter should be
celebrated on one and the same day. Nor is it becoming, that in so
sacred an observance there should be any diversity; and it is better
to follow that decision, in which all participation in the sin and
error of others is avoided.
"This being the case, receive with cheerfulness the heavenly and
truly divine command. For whatever is transacted in the holy
councils of the bishops, is to be referred to the divine will.
Wherefore, having announced to our beloved brethren what has been
already written, it is your duty to receive and establish the
arguments already stated, and the observance of the most holy day;
that when I shall come into your beloved presence, so long desired
by me, I may be able to celebrate, with you, on one and the same
day, the holy festival, and that in all things I may rejoice with
you; seeing that the cruelty of the devil is taken away by divine
power, through my instrumentality, and that your faith, your peace
and concord is everywhere flourishing.
"May God preserve you, my beloved brethren." (8)
In this letter, Constantine officially
established an anti-Judaic foundation for the doctrine and practice
of the Church, and declared that contempt for the Jews, and
separation from them, is the only proper Christian attitude.
|". . . it seemed to every one a most
unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews
in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who,
polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a
nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds. It is
fit, therefore, that, rejecting the practice of this people,
we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of
this rite, in a more legitimate order. . . . Let us then
have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the
Jews . . . .
"In pursuing this course with a unanimous consent, let us
withdraw ourselves . . . from that most odious fellowship.
"Why then should we follow those who are acknowledged to
labor under a grievous error? . . . . But if what I have
said should not be thought sufficient, it belongs to your
ready discernment, both by diligence and prayer, that the
purity of your minds may not be affected by a conformity in
any thing with the customs of the vilest of mankind . . . .
"As it is necessary that this fault should be so amended
that we may have nothing in common with the usage of these
parricides and murderers of our Lord . . . .
"it is most religious and equitable that all should wish
what the strictest reason seems to require, and to have no
fellowship with the perjury of the Jews . . . . "
Constantine attributed this anti-Judaic
foundation to Jesus — "We have received another method from the
Saviour. A more lawful and proper course is open to our most holy
religion." — and commands, with all the authority of the Emperor,
that all those who follow the Savior accept and promote such
attitudes, doctrine, and practice, since whatever the bishops decide
in council is the will of God. He threatens that any dissent from
these views must be considered highly criminal.
|". . . every thing was examined,
until a unanimous sentiment, pleasing to God, who sees all
things, was brought to light; so that no pretence was left
for dissension or controversy respecting the faith . . . .
". . . . Besides, it should be considered that any
dissension in a business of such importance, and in a
religious institution of so great solemnity, would be highly
". . . and as that order is most convenient which is
observed by all the churches of the West . . . receive
with cheerfulness the heavenly and truly divine command. For
whatever is transacted in the holy councils of the bishops,
is to be referred to the divine will.
"Wherefore, having announced to our beloved brethren what
has been already written, it is your duty to receive and
establish the arguments already stated, and the observance
of the most holy day; that when I shall come into your
beloved presence, so long desired by me, I may be able to
celebrate, with you, on one and the same day, the holy
festival, and that in all things I may rejoice with you;
seeing that the cruelty of the devil is taken away by divine
power, through my instrumentality . . . . "
All of this was written so that no Christian
would celebrate Passover on the Biblically ordained day of the 14th
of Nisan. (Eusebius apparently provided the new calendar for
determining the day to be celebrated.) This is not an insignificant
The most revealing question to ask is, "When did God give
Constantine such authority to define the Church?" It is a question
that was not really articulated at that time nor in most of the
seventeen centuries since. The relationship of Church and State
which began under Constantine was seen by many as a great blessing
of God. There was an end to what had seemed like endless
persecution. But with that end of persecution and the beginning of a
new alliance came great compromises which removed “the Church” from
its foundation and have distorted its nature to this day.
At the conclusion of the Council of Nicea, Constantine held a
banquet which vividly demonstrated what had happened to the Church
of the One despised and rejected of men. At the banquet, Eusebius
greatly praised the Emperor before the assembled leaders of the
Eusebius himself describes the proceedings:
|". . . . No one of the bishops
was absent from the imperial banquet, which was more
admirably conducted than can possibly be described. The
guards and soldiers, disposed in a circle, were stationed at
the entrance of the palace with drawn swords. The men of God
passed through the midst of them without fear, and went into
the most private apartments of the royal edifice. Some of
them were then admitted to the table of the emperor, and
others took the places assigned to them on either side. It
was a lively image of the kingdom of Christ, and appeared
more like a dream than a reality." (9)
Eusebius is somewhat misleading. It is true that
some of the Church leaders were brought into close relationship to
the emperor, his private apartments, and his table — in time, such
privileges became a measure of religious success — but it is highly
doubtful that all the men of God walked through the circle of guards
and soldiers without fear. The emperor intended the drawn swords to
teach a lesson.
In fact, Eusebius was more than misleading on issues related to the
emperor or to the Jews.
|“As scholarship became more critical,
however, historians began to look at the VC [De Vita
Constantini, Eusebius’ Life of Constantine] more
and more warily, until ultimately the great
nineteenth-century rationalist Jakob Burckhardt angrily
dismissed its author as ‘the first thoroughly dishonest
historian of antiquity,’ ‘the most disgusting of all
On the Passover controversy, the Council of Nicea
had chosen an anti-Biblical course and demanded conformity to it.
The swords were a way of indicating the necessity of conforming to
the official decree.
|"St. Athanasius remarks a difference
of language, in pronouncing on this subject [the Passover],
from that which was used in reference to the faith [the
Arian controversy]. With respect to the latter it is said,
'this is the catholic faith, we believe,' &c., in order to
show that it was no new
determination, but an apostolic tradition. Accordingly, no
date is given to this decision, neither the day nor the year
being mentioned. But with regard to Easter, it is said, 'we
have resolved as follows,' in order to show that all were
expected to obey . . . . But not withstanding the decision
of the council there were some quartodecimans [from the
Latin for 14th], as they were termed, who remained
pertinaciously attached to the celebration of Easter on the
fourteenth of the moon, and among others the Audeans,
schismatics of Mesopotamia. They found fault with the
council, reproachfully remarking, that this was the first
time that the ancient tradition, through complaisance for
Constantine, had been departed from." (11)
In convening the council, Constantine had already
declared that whoever would disturb the unity of the Church was a
"malignant foe" motivated by a "malevolent demon," exposing God's
law to "slander and detraction." He had already declared that, "an
internal sedition in the Church is, in my apprehension, more
dangerous and formidable than any war, in which I can be engaged . .
. and hoping that by my interference, a remedy might be applied to
the evil, I sent for you all, without delay."
Constantine had achieved political victory, professing it to be in
the name of the Lord, by the sword. He was not about to trade in his
weapons. He intended to use what had brought him victory in the
Empire to achieve victory in the Church.
|"He [Constantine] published also
another letter, or more properly an edict, directed to the
bishops and people, condemning Arius and his writings . . .
that if any book written by Arius shall be found, it shall
be committed to the flames, that no monument of his corrupt
doctrine may descend to future ages. He declares that
whoever shall be convicted of having concealed any book
composed by Arius, instead of burning it, shall suffer death
immediately after his apprehension . . . . At the same
time, Arius and the two prelates who adhered the most
obstinately to his party, Secundus and Theonas, were
banished by the emperor." (12)
From that point on, Church doctrine was to be
enforced by the sword of the State. Those who would not conform were
to be exiled or put to death. The books of heretics — those who
taught what was contrary to the accepted teaching — were to be
burned and exterminated from the earth. After all, as Constantine
had written, "no pretence was left for dissension or controversy
respecting the faith."
The “Church” ceased to be the community of Yeshua, and became the
consort of Constantine. It was no longer the bride of Messiah. It
had become the bride of Caesar.
The light within turned to darkness. Instead of being a means of
salvation, the Church became a means of destruction. It poisoned the
waters of eternal life, turning them into an everflowing fountain of
death. Through the centuries, the Constantinian Church has sought
and brought the death of millions and millions of people throughout
the world. Many of them have been Jewish.
Yeshua had warned His followers, The kings
of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over
them are called 'Benefactors.' But not so with you, but let him who
is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as
the servant (Lk. 22:25-26). Constantine presented
himself as the Benefactor of the Church, having ended the
persecution, and therefore expected the Church to conform to his
will. The prophetic voice of the Lord vis-a-vis the State was
silenced, and, instead, a hierarchical structure was imposed upon
That Constantine should reign over the earth for God was seen as a
high spiritual truth. That Yeshua, the King of kings, should reign
over all the earth from Jerusalem was derided as carnal and
unspiritual. Under Constantine, Eusebius wrote a history of the
Church that pointedly eliminated any positive reference to the
restoration of Israel and the earthly reign of Jesus. The only place
that remained for the Jews in the plan and purpose of God was to
serve as the earthly, temporal representation of the eternal misery
and condemnation that awaited all who were outside the Church.
The Church was now officially Contra Judaeos and Adversus Judaeos
- set against and set in opposition to the Jews. Thus was
established the anti-Judaic foundation on which both doctrine and
practice were then built. The historical and theological eradication
of the Jews prepared the way for the "lawful" attempts to physically
The "holy councils" to which Constantine referred produced a new
"divine will." The Church itself replaced the power of God with the
might of the Roman Empire. The Church became its own kingdom. The
Church, which had been persecuted for so long by "the cruelty of the
devil," was soon to become the persecutor.
At that time, it seems that there was no one to contest such a
decision in the Holy Roman Empire. Gone were the days of the
prophets and apostles. Gone were men like Polycarp and Polycrates,
who were willing to tell the religious authorities in the Church, as
Peter and John had told the religious authorities in the Sanhedrin,
We must obey God, rather than men.
The Church was then officially built on a significantly different
doctrine and way in which doctrine was to be established. As
Constantine wrote "to the Catholic Church of Alexandria," "For what
was approved by 300 bishops can only be considered as the pleasure
of God, especially as the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the minds of so
many and such worthy men, has clearly shown the divine will." (13)
God's Truth was to be determined by Church councils, and not by the
Word of God. Consequently, the teaching which was a blasphemous
heresy to Justin Martyr became the new, unchallengeable orthodoxy.
It is remarkable that this change was made over such a clear, but
seemingly insignificant issue as when Passover should be celebrated.
The Bible sets the date for Passover as the fourteenth of Nisan.
That is when Yeshua celebrated the Passover. His ambassadors and
followers did the same.
Paul, who was Yeshua’s ambassador to the Gentiles, observed the
Biblical dates. The book of Acts records, simply in passing, that
Passover (Acts 20:7), Shavuos/Pentecost (Acts 20:16), and Yom
Kippur/the Day of Atonement (Acts 27:9) were fixed, significant
dates for Paul. The community built by the ambassadors knew when
Passover was. From the Council of Nicea on, the Church over which
Constantine presided would no longer observe the Biblical date,
because it was too Jewish.
The Bible itself was too Jewish. The doctrines of men, on the other
hand, could be whatever men wanted them to be.
As a final note on the Council of Nicea, Canon VII speaks of the
Bishop of Aelia. "Aelia" is the name that the Roman Emperor Hadrian
had given to Jerusalem after the end of the Bar Kokhba rebellion.
"Canon VII: Since custom and ancient tradition require that the
bishop of Aelia be held in veneration, let him have the next degree
of honor to the metropolitan [the bishop of Caesarea], without
prejudice to the appropriate authority of the latter." (15)
Jerusalem had her name taken away, and she was placed in subjection
to the church that had embraced Origen.
Constantine and Eusebius institutionalized many serious errors. They
made changes that were to plunge the Church and the world into a
literal thousand years of darkness. They laid a different foundation
than Yeshua and His ambassadors had laid. A new era in the history
of his followers had begun. In actuality, a new Church had begun.
|"Eusebius tells the story in The
Last Days of Constantine. 'All these edifices the
emperor consecrated with the desire of perpetuating the
memory of the Apostles of our Saviour before all men. He
had, however, another object in erecting this building
(i.e., the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople): an
object at first unknown, but which afterwards became evident
to all. He had, in fact, made a choice of this spot in the
prospect of his own death, anticipating with extraordinary
fervour of faith that his body would share their title with
the Apostles themselves, and that he should thus even after
death become the subject, with them, of the devotions which
should be performed to their honour in this place, and for
this reason he bade men assemble for worship there at the
altar which he placed in the midst. He accordingly caused
twelve coffins to be set up in this church, like sacred
pillars in honour and memory of the apostolic band, in the
centre of which his own was placed, having six of theirs on
either side of it. Thus, as I said, he had provided with
prudent foresight an honourable resting-place for his body
after death, and, having long before secretly formed this
resolution, he now consecrated this church to the Apostles,
believing that this tribute to their memory would be of no
small advantage to his own soul. Nor did God disappoint him
of that which he so ardently expected and desired.'" (16)
"Planning the Church of the Apostles, Constantine had
dreamed of resting there forever in the midst of the Twelve,
not merely one of them, but a symbol of, if not a substitute
for, their Leader. During the months of the church's
construction, his agents had been busy in Palestine
collecting alleged relics [i.e. bones] of the apostles and
their companions, to be laid up in the church with his body,
awaiting the general resurrection." (17)
"The project was started but not completed. However, an
official search was made for the locations of the bodies of
the Apostles, and this official search was possibly the
precipitating cause for the inventory which was made for the
Apostolic remains or relics. After this time there arose the
practice of the veneration of relics." (18)
Constantine sought bones and buildings as the
focus of worship. Worship that focused on a building naturally
neglected the weightier provisions of the
law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. Those are
indispensable parts of the worship that God seeks. In the new order,
worship gained a form, an appearance, without life, light, or
Yeshua had said, those who worship God must
worship in spirit and truth. It was not the building, but
the people. It was not the city, but the Spirit. Constantine built
buildings which were called churches, and people who did not know
the Lord began to fill them. They "went to church," but they did not
seek to be disciples of Messiah.
Rome was to become the new "holy city," geographically defining and
confining worship. In many ways, Constantine laid the new foundation
for the new Church. To this day, the Church bears his image. That is
what he intended.
Paul had warned the Gentile believers in Rome, "Don't be arrogant
towards the natural branches. Don't be ignorant of God's
faithfulness to the Jewish people." There were three things that
especially characterize the theology and practice of the
Constantinian church, the church built on an anti-Judaic foundation:
1. Arrogance towards the Jews;
2. Ignorance of God's plan for Israel and the transformation of the
3. A leadership that has acted as lord and not as servant.
1. "A Historical View of the Council of Nice," Isaac Boyle,
The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, translated by
Christian Frederick Cruse, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1989,
Pp.9-10 of section following the ecclesiastical history.
2. ibid., P.16, quoting Theodoret, I.7.
3. Les Juifs dan l'empire romain I, Paris 1914, P.308ff,
quoted in "A Note on the Quartodecimans," C.W. Dugmore, Studia
Patristica, Vol. IV, Berlin, 1961, P.412.
4. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, op.
cit., Bk. 5, Ch. 23, P.207.
5. ibid., Bk.5, Ch.24, Pp.208-209.
6. ibid., Bk. 5, Ch. 24, Pp.210-211.
7. ibid., Bk.4 , Ch.14, P.141.
8. ibid., Pp.51-54, following the ecclesiastical history.
9. ibid., "A Historical View of the Council of Nice," Isaac Boyle,
10. H.A. Drake, In Praise of Constantine, A Historical Study and
New Translation of Eusebius’ Tricennial Orations, op. cit., P.
11. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, op.
cit., "A Historical View of the Council of Nice," Isaac Boyle,
12. ibid., P.26.
13. ibid., P.51, following the ecclesiastical history.
14. “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 orthodox 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.’” Justin
Martyr, The Dialogue with Trypho, translated by A. Lukyn
Williams, S.P.C.K., London, 1930, P.169, Sec. 80.1-5.
15. Ecclesiastical History, P. 56, following the
16. J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius, P.395, quoted in The
Search for the Twelve Apostles, William Steuart McBirnie,
Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL., 1977, P.19.
17. John Holland Smith, Constantine the Great, Pp.301-302,
quoted in The Search for the Twelve Apostles, William Steuart
18. The Search for the Twelve Apostles, P. 20.
© Daniel Gruber
Daniel's complete Anti-Semitism series may
be read in
its original form at
http://elijahnet.net. However, those studies that appear in The
Shofar are the most updated as Daniel updated them after many
years specifically for The Shofar. Links to all of Daniel's
articles that appear in Shofar editions may be found in our
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
https://www.createspace.com/4837310, where a much fuller
description will also be found.
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