Many people have been misled into believing that Conatantine was
responsible for the corruption and Gentilization of Christianity.
While Constantine certainly added to the apostasy of early
Christianity, he was not the first. It was in fact Ignatius of
Antioch who rebelled against the Jerusalem Council, usurped their
authority, seceded from Judaism, declared the Torah to have been
abolished, replaced the Seventh Day Sabbath with Sunday worship and
founded a new, non-Jewish religion which he named “Christianity”.
PAUL’S WARNING ABOUT THE BISHOPS
Paul said to the Ephesians on his last visit to them:
Watch, therefore, over your nefeshot
and over the flock which the Ruach HaKodesh
has appointed you overseers [bishops]
that you feed the assembly of Messiah,
which he purchased by his blood.
I know that after I am gone
fierce wolves will enter in among you
without mercy upon the flock.
And also from among you there will rise up men speaking
perverse things, so that they might turn away the talmidim
to follow after them.
Paul seems to indicate that after his death leaders would begin to
rise up from the overseers [Bishops] in his stead that would draw
people to follow themselves and draw them away from Torah. In fact
Paul died in 66 C.E. and the first overseer (Bishop) of Antioch to
take office after his death was Ignatius in 98 C.E.. Ignatius
fulfilled Paul’s words precisely. After taking the office of Bishop
over Antioch Ignatius sent out a series of epistles to other
assemblies. His letters to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallianns,
Romans, Philadelphians and Smyrnaeans as well as a personal letter
to Polycarp overseer of Smyrnaea have survived to us.
HEGESIPPUS RECOUNTS THE APOSTASY
The Ancient Nazarene Historian and commentator Hegesippus (c. 180
CE) writes of the time immediately following the death of Shim’on,
who succeeded Ya’akov HaTzadik as Nasi of the Nazarene Sanhedrin and
who died in 98 CE:
Up to that period (98 CE) the Assembly had remained like a virgin
pure and uncorrupted: for, if there were any persons who were
disposed to tamper with the wholesome rule of the proclaiming of
salvation, they still lurked in some dark place of concealment or
other. But, when the sacred band of Emissaries had in various ways
closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been
vouchsafed to listen to the inspired Wisdom with their own ears had
passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise
through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of
the emissaries any longer survived, at length
attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the proclaiming of
the truth by proclaiming “knowledge falsely so called.”
(Hegesippus the Nazarene; c. 185 CE; quoted by Eusebius in Eccl.
Hegisippus indicates the apostasy began the very same year that
Ignatious became bishop of Antioch!
IGNATIUS SECEDES FROM THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL
Up until the time of Ignatius, matters of dispute that arose at
Antioch were ultimately referred to the Jerusalem Council (as in
Acts 14:26-15:2). Ignatius usurped the authority of the Jerusalem
council, declaring himself as the local bishop as the ultimate
authority over the assembly of which he was bishop, and likewise
declaring the same as true of all other bishops and their local
assemblies. Ignatius writes:
…being subject to your bishop…
…run together according to the will of God.
Jesus… is sent by the will of the Father;
As the bishops… are by the will of Jesus Christ.
(Eph. 1:9, 11)
…your bishop…I think you happy who are so joined to him,
as the church is to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is to the Father…
Let us take heed therefore, that we not set ourselves
against the bishop, that we may be subject to God….
We ought to look upon the bishop, even as we would
upon the Lord himself.
…obey your bishop…
Your bishop presiding in the place of God…
…be you united to your bishop…
(Mag. 2:5, 7)
…he… that does anything without the bishop…
is not pure in his conscience…
…Do nothing without the bishop.
See that you all follow your bishop,
As Jesus Christ, the Father…
By exalting the power of the office of bishop (overseer) and
demanding the absolute authority of the bishop over the assembly,
Ignatius was actually making a power grab by thus taking absolute
authority over the assembly at Antioch and encouraging other Gentile
overseers to follow suite.
IGNATIOUS DECLARES THE TORAH ABOLISHED
Moreover Ignatius drew men away from Torah and declared the Torah to
have been abolished, not only at Antioch but at other Gentile
assemblies to which he wrote:
Be not deceived with strange doctrines;
nor with old fables which are unprofitable.
For if we still continue to live according to the Jewish Law,
we do confess ourselves not to have received grace…
But if any one shall preach the Jewish law unto you,
hearken not unto him…
IGNATIOUS REPLACES THE SABBATH WITH SUNDAY WORSHIP
It is also Ignatius who first replaces the Seventh Day Sabbath with
Sunday worship, writing:
“…no longer observing sabbaths, but keeping the Lord’s day
in which also our life is sprung up by him, and through
IGNATIOUS NAMES HIS NEW RELIGION
Having seceded from the authority of Jerusalem, declared the Torah
abolished and replacing the Sabbath with Sunday, Ignatius had created
a new religion. Ignatius coins a new term, never before used, for
new religion which he calls “Christianity” and which he makes clear
is new and district religion from Judaism. He writes:
let us learn to live according to the rules of Christianity,
for whosoever is called by any other name
besides this, he is not of God….
It is absurd to name Jesus Christ, and to Judaize.
For the Christian religion did not embrace the Jewish.
But the Jewish the Christian…
(Mag. 3:8, 11)
By the end of the first century Ignatius of Antioch had fulfilled
Paul’s warning. He seceded from Judaism and founded a new religion
which he called “Christianity”. A religion which rejected the
Torah, and replaced the Seventh Day Sabbath with Sunday Worship.