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Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, Part 5: Rome Pagan and Catholic
Discussing 1 Timothy chapter 3 we took a lengthy digression to explain that in the many places where Paul of Tarsus referred to the various mysteries of the Christian faith, none of these things should any longer be mysteries to Christians, because Paul himself had explained them wherever he had mentioned them. Once Paul explained them, it is only common sense that they should be mysteries no longer. But in its doctrines, the Roman Catholic Church still considers them to be mysteries, in spite of the fact that Paul explained them as he mentioned them in his epistles. But the very essence of Christianity informs us that certain tenets of the faith should remain mysteries to outsiders, for which reason Christ had spoken in parables. However they should not be mysteries to Christians.
To Christians there is no “mystery of the church”, since Paul taught that the church was to consist of the people of the nations of those Israelites who were scattered in antiquity, and he brought the Gospel to those same people as he was commanded to do. Furthermore, to Christians there is no mystery to the “mystery of God”, because Paul had taught that Yahshua (Jesus) Christ is Yahweh God manifest in the flesh, and there should be nothing too difficult to understand about that. Paul was not alone, as these same things are also taught in the writings of the prophets and in the Gospel itself. In the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, we learn that by our own time the mystery of God was to be finished, and it is, because as Identity Christians we announce it’s fulfillment in spite of the denials of the Roman Catholics and the other denominational churches.
Now, as we turn our attention to 1 Timothy chapter 4, we must note that it is not a coincidence, that Paul has been describing the qualifications for the appointment – or properly, the election – of pious and honorable men into positions of leadership in the Christian community, and now here in this chapter he turns to describe those who would depart into error. Therefore his words here should be interpreted in that same context, to be referring to leaders of Christian assemblies. So now we shall see a warning concerning what Paul understood would come to happen to future ecclesiastical leaders, and how they would go astray.
In a different manner, Paul issued a similar warning which is recorded in Acts chapter 20, where upon his last meeting with the leaders of the Christian assemblies at Ephesus – perhaps a year after writing this very epistle to Timothy while Timothy was still in Ephesus – Paul had said: “28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” So his words to Timothy here in the opening verses of this chapter actually foreshadow what he would later say to the Ephesians themselves.
Commencing with 1 Timothy chapter 4:
1 Now the Spirit specifically states that in the latter times some will withdraw from the faith, cleaving to wandering spirits and teachings of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, their own consciences having been branded with iron,
The word καυστηριάζομαι (Strong’s # 2743) appears only here in the New Testament and being in the form of a Perfect Participle it is translated as having been branded with iron. It may have been written simply as having been cauterized. The 6th century uncial manuscript 0241 has a variation which would cause us to render verse 2 a little differently: “speaking lies in hypocrisy and cauterizing their own consciences”; the text follows the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus (א), the 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus (D), the 6th century Codex Freerianus (I), and the Majority Text. The phrase reflects the degree of close-mindedness of the men whom Paul intends to describe, that departing from the faith they could not turn away from their error, as if their minds were so much closed that it was as if they were sealed shut by being cauterized and therefore they could not be opened again. With this we may also observe that a man’s own lies are the catalyst for developing such a closed mind.
One observation we must make in reference to this passage is to note the incredible prescience which is reflected by Paul’s words here, and in several different aspects.
First, in Paul’s own time only a relative scattering of people throughout the οἰκουμένη, or Greco-Roman world, had actually already accepted Christianity, and at the same time the few who did accept it were being persecuted both by Jews and by Roman pagans. So from a carnal perspective, Paul could hardly have known that enough of the world would ultimately accept Christ to the degree that the “some” who would withdraw from the faith would even be significant enough to mention. In a mostly pagan world, it would not make such a difference if “some” withdrew from the faith, if most are not of the Faith. But evidently Paul was confident that the Gospel of Christ would prevail throughout the οἰκουμένη, or those “some” would not be worth mentioning if pagans remained in the majority of the world which he foresaw. Paul certainly understood that Christianity would prevail, and Christ Himself had expressed the same confidence on frequent occasions in the Gospel.
Secondly, as we read the subsequent verses which describe some of the false teachings Paul is referring to, it seems as if Paul also knew exactly what errors would beset the ecclesiastical leaders that he was warning would arise in the future. Presenting these statements, we shall illustrate this in the writings of early Christians as well as in some of the charges made against the Roman Catholic Church in more recent centuries. The history of the Christian church shows that Paul’s warnings were fulfilled with precision.
But before addressing the withdrawal from the Faith, we must also note that there are several hypotheses which attempt to explain which passage of Scripture that Paul may have been referring to here where he says here that “the Spirit specifically states that in the latter times some will withdraw from the faith...” But Christ Himself had warned in the Gospel, as it is recorded in Mark chapter 13, to “4... Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” These words were recorded similarly by Luke in chapter 21 of his Gospel, and in both of these places they are found in the discourse which Christ had given in answer to the questions that we also see recorded in Matthew chapter 24, where the apostles had asked Him “when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” So Paul is most likely referring to Christ as the Spirit here, and this is verified to some degree in the epistle of Jude where that apostle wrote “17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”
Now we may receive an objection, that the Roman Catholic Church did not develop in “the last time”, as Jude has it, or even “in the latter times” according to Paul. But it certainly did, because first, the phrases are merely a figure of speech, Hebraisms referring to the future. This is evident in the use of similar Hebrew language in Genesis 49:1 where Jacob called his sons together for reason “that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days,” and the things he told them were indeed fulfilled in antiquity. Additionally, the apostles themselves believed that they were in “the last time”, which is evident in Hebrews chapter 1 where Paul wrote that Yahweh “2 Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son”, and also in 1 John chapter 2 where John had written “18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” Of course, John was referring to the Edomite Jews where he described those particular anti-Christs, but the apostles did not know just how long this “last time” was really going to last. We cannot say it is over until there are no more anti-Christs, and that day is certainly going to come.
Where Paul said that those withdrawing from the Faith would cleave “to wandering spirits and teachings of demons”, we shall see that the Roman Catholic priesthood as well as many sects known among early Christians did indeed adopt practices and doctrines from the pagan priests, and the pagan idols certainly were considered devils and demons by Yahweh God and by the apostles of Christ. For instance, referring to the sacrifices made on the altars of pagan gods in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul had exclaimed that “the things which the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God”. Paul is only invoking the same language which Moses used concerning the Nations of the children of Israel, in Deuteronomy chapter 32 where he wrote concerning them that “17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” So it is evident that Paul is informing Timothy that future ecclesiastical leaders would steer Christians into paganism, and they did. Paul now enumerates some of the errors they would teach as he says that they will be:
3 forbidding to marry, to abstain from foods, things which Yahweh has established for participation with gratitude for those with faith and knowledge of the truth.
The Greek verb κτίζω (Strong’s # 2936) is properly to found, used of things such as colonies, and then to establish, according to Liddell & Scott (κτίζω, 3.), and it may also be to create [or] invent (ibid., 4.) But Paul is hardly saying that anything (or everything) which was created by Yahweh may be eaten, a notion which would lead into all sorts of error. Rather, Paul is saying that whatever was established by Yahweh may be eaten, and for that we must look to the Old Testament law in order to determine what Yahweh had established.
Here the King James Version has translated a noun with a preposition as a verb, where it has “to be received” and instead we have “for participation”. The phrase is from the preposition εἰς, which is to, into or for, among other things, and the Accusative form of the noun μετάληψις (Strong’s # 3336), which is literally a taking with another, and for that reason Liddell & Scott define the word as participation. Now in reference to what Yahweh has established Paul says:
4 Because every establishment of Yahweh is good, and nothing to be rejected, being received with gratitude. 5 For it is sanctified though word of Yahweh and intercession.
Paul is not saying that everything created by Yahweh is good for the purposes that he outlines here. We cannot marry or eat something simply because Yahweh may have created it. There are established rules governing what we should marry and what we should eat, and that is what Paul is referring to here: things which have been sanctified for a particular purpose through the Word of Yahweh. If something is not sanctified through the Word of Yahweh, such as swine or shellfish, then neither should we eat it.
The Greek word κτίσμα (Strong’s # 2938) is a noun derived from the verb κτίζω which we have just encountered in the preceding verse. Here it is an establishment, in agreement with the sense of the verb as it is used in the preceding verse. Joseph Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, defines κτίσμα as a “thing founded, [or a] created thing”, Liddell & Scott define κτίσμα as a “colony, foundation, [and then] generally, [a] building”. Secondarily, they say that κτίσμα was used as a synonym for κτίσις – the word usually translated as creation in the King James Version – in its primary sense, which is “a founding, [or a] foundation…” In this sense we have translated the word as establishment in this passage. Yahweh established things for a particular purpose, for which reason He also gave us laws governing marriage and food.
Now we shall take another digression, to see what it is that Paul was presaging, and how quickly such evil doctrines made their way into certain Christian sects, and ultimately made their way into the Roman Catholic Church. Paul of Tarsus had explained in 1 Timothy chapter 3 that men eligible for ecclesiastical leadership were to have been married and to have raised obedient families, and it was not long before a tyrannical church organization disregarded his instructions, while it hypocritically claims to be founded on the same apostles which it denies, as Paul also warned here that such heretics would speak lies in hypocrisy.
In this endeavor we will begin with Tatian, a 2nd century Christian writer of the east who is also called Tatian the Assyrian, and we would not really consider him a Christian, but that is the way he is generally described. Whether he was authentically an Assyrian or not is immaterial, as at that time it is quite plausible that there were still Assyrians in Mesopotamia, although they had long lost their kingdom and their ability to rule over themselves.
Our source for this is The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. II: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and published in 1997. From the Address of Tatian to the Greeks, from Chapter XLII which is subtitled Concluding Statement as to the Author:
These things, O Greeks, I Tatian, a disciple of the barbarian philosophy, have composed for you. I was born in the land of the Assyrians, having been first instructed in your doctrines, and afterwards in those which I now undertake to proclaim. Henceforward, knowing who God is and what is His work, I present myself to you prepared for an examination concerning my doctrines, while I adhere immovably to that mode of life which is according to God.
Now we are only going to read from the Fragments of Tatian's writing, from the same source volume, where we shall also see many of the refutations made against him. These fragments are where Tatian was referred to and cited in the works of other ancient authors:
First, from Clement of Alexandria:
In his treatise, Concerning Perfection according to the Saviour, he writes, “Consent indeed fits for prayer, but fellowship in corruption weakens supplication. At any rate, by the permission he certainly, though delicately, forbids; for while he permits them to return to the same on account of Satan and incontinence, he exhibits a man who will attempt to serve two masters—God by the ‘consent’ (1 Corinthians 7:5), but by want of consent, incontinence, fornication, and the devil.”—Clem. Alex: Strom., iii. c. 12
A certain person inveighs against generation [speaking of Tatian in reference to the bearing of children – WRF], calling it corruptible and destructive; and some one does violence [to Scripture], applying to pro-creation the Saviour’s words, “Lay not up treasure on earth, where moth and rust corrupt;” and he is not ashamed to add to these the words of the prophet: “You all shall grow old as a garment, and the moth shall devour you.”
And, in like manner, they adduce the saying concerning the resurrection of the dead, “The sons of that world neither marry nor are given in marriage.” — Clem. Alex.: iii. c. 12,
Against Tatian, who says that the words, “Let there be light,” are to be taken as a prayer. If He who uttered it knew a superior God, how is it that He says, “I am God, and there is none beside me”?
He said that there are punishments for blasphemies, foolish talking, and licentious words, which are punished and chastised by the Logos. And he said that women were punished on account of their hair and ornaments by a power placed over those things, which also gave strength to Samson by his hair, and punishes those who by the ornament of their hair are urged on to fornication. – Clem. Alex.: Frag.
Tatian separates the old man and the new, but not, as we say, understanding the old man to be the law, and the new man to be the Gospel. We agree with him in saying the same thing, but not in the sense he wishes, abrogating the law as if it belonged to another God. – Clem. Alex.: Strom., iii. 12.
Next, from Jerome (Heironymous):
Tatian, who maintaining the imaginary flesh of Christ, pronounces all sexual connection impure, who was also the very violent heresiarch of the Encratites [a sect we shall see mentioned here by other writers – WRF], employs an argument of this sort: “If any one sows to the flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption;” but he sows to the flesh who is joined to a woman; therefore he who takes a wife and sows in the flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption. — Hieron.: Com. in Ep. ad Gal..
Tatian condemns and rejects not only marriage, but also meats which God has created for use. – Hieron.: Adv. Jovin., i. 3.
“But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.” On this, perhaps, Tatian the chief of the Encratites endeavours to build his heresy, asserting that wine is not to be drunk, since it was commanded in the law that the Nazarites were not to drink wine, and now those who give the Nazarites wine are accused by the prophet. – Hieron.: Com. in Amos.
Tatian, the patriarch of the Encratites, who himself rejected some of Paul’s Epistles, believed this especially, that is [addressed] to Tires, ought to be declared to be the apostle’s, thinking little of the assertion of Marcion and others, who agree with him on this point. – Hieron.: Proef. in Com. ad Tit.
Next from Irenaeus:
Seceding from the Church, and being elated and puffed up by a conceit of his teacher, as if he were superior to the rest, he formed his own peculiar type of doctrine. Imagining certain invisible Aeons like those of Valentinus, and denouncing marriage as defilement and fornication in the same way as Marcion and Saturninus, and denying the salvation of Adam as an opinion of his own.—Irenaeus: Adv. Hoer., i. 28.
Tatian attempting from time to time to make use of Paul’s language, that in Adam all die, but ignoring that “where sin, abounded, grace has much more abounded.” – Irenaeus: Adv. Heres., iii. 37
Now from Origen:
But Tatian, not understanding that the expression “Let there be” is not always precative but sometimes imperative, most impiously imagined concerning God, who said “Let there be light,” that He prayed rather than commanded light to be, as if, as he impiously thought, God was in darkness.—Origen: De Orat.
Lastly, from the 18th century Christian writer Martin Routh:
The translator of the work on Tatian then notes that: Archelaus (a.d. 280), Bishop of Carrha in Mesopotamia, classes his countryman Tatian with “Marcion, Sabellius, and others who have made up for themselves a peculiar science,” i.e., a theology of their own.—Routh: Reliquiæ, tom. v. p. 137. But see Edinburgh Series of this work, vol. xx. p. 267.
We shall see that in many respects, the Roman Catholic Church followed Tatian’s peculiar science.
Now we shall examine longer excerpts from early Christian writers, beginning with Irenaeus, who lived from about 130 AD to 202 AD and who wrote diatribes against many early heretics, including Tatian and the Encratites. This is from The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. I: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, from Book 1 of Irenaeus Against Heresies, Chapter XXVIII. – Doctrines of Tatian, the Encratites, and Others.
1. Many offshoots of numerous heresies have already been formed from those heretics we have described. This arises from the fact that numbers of them – indeed, we may say all – desire themselves to be teachers, and to break off from the particular heresy in which they have been involved. Forming one set of doctrines out of a totally different system of opinions, and then again others from others, they insist upon teaching something new, declaring themselves the inventors of any sort of opinion which they may have been able to call into existence. [This practice persists unto this very day, and especially in what we call “Christian Identity”.] To give an example: Springing from Saturninus and Marcion, those who are called Encratites ([from the Greek word meaning] self-controlled) preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming Him who made the male and female for the propagation of the human race. Some of those reckoned among them have also introduced abstinence from animal food [or flesh, WRF], thus proving themselves ungrateful to God, who formed all things. They deny, too, the salvation of him who was first created. It is but lately, however, that this opinion has been invented among them. A certain man named Tatian first introduced the blasphemy. He was a hearer of Justin’s [referring to Justin Martyr, who died about 165 BC], and as long as he continued with him he expressed no such views; but after his martyrdom he separated from the Church, and, excited and puffed up by the thought of being a teacher, as if he were superior to others, he composed his own peculiar type of doctrine. He invented a system of certain invisible Aeons, like the followers of Valentinus; while, like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication. But his denial of Adam’s salvation was an opinion due entirely to himself. [And many in “CI” also follow that heresy today.]
2. Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives, and are indifferent about eating meats sacrificed to idols, maintaining that God does not greatly regard such matters. But why continue? For it is an impracticable attempt to mention all those who, in one way or another, have fallen away from the truth.
Now we are going to make a citation from another and slightly later 2nd century Christian writer, which is Tertullian. But before we do we shall see that Tertullian himself may have been confused on the issue of marriage and other things, since he was a follower of Tatian in at least some respects, and also of the sect of the Montanists, a Phrygian sect of the 2nd century, in others. This is the relevant portion of the Introductory Note to the writings of Tatian the Assyrian, by the translator, J. E. Ryland:
But the awful malaria of Montanism was even now rising like a fog of the marshes, and was destined to leave its lasting impress upon Western Christianity; “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats.” Our author [Tatian], alas, laid the egg which Tertullian hatched, and invented terms which that great author [Tertullian] raised to their highest power; for he was rather the disciple of Tatian than of the Phrygians [Montanists], though they kindled his strange fire. After Tertullian, the whole subject of marriage became entangled with sophistries, which have ever since adhered to the Latin churches, and introduced the most corrosive results into the vitals of individuals and of nations.
Now to cite Tertullian from The Prescription Against Heretics, which is found in The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325:
Chapter XXXIII. – Present Heresies (Seedlings of the Tares Noted by the Sacred Writers) Already Condemned in Scripture. This Descent of Later Heresy from the Earlier Traced in Several Instances.
Besides all this, I add a review of the doctrines themselves, which, existing as they did in the days of the apostles, were both exposed and denounced by the said apostles. For by this method they will be more easily reprobated, when they are detected to have been even then in existence, or at any rate to have been seedlings of the (tares) which then were.
There is more to present of this passage, but before we continue we must note that in the summary of the chapter, which does not belong to Tertullian, we may be led to believe that the heresies themselves are seedlings of the tares. But here in the text Tertullian certainly means to refer to certain people as tares, where he clearly refers to those heresies as “seedlings of the (tares) which then were.” So we are not certain that Church writers such as J. E. Ryland fully understood Tertullian. Now to continue with our citation:
Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, sets his mark on certain who denied and doubted the resurrection. This opinion was the especial property of the Sadducees. A part of it, however, is maintained by Marcion and Apelles and Valentinus, and all other impugners of the resurrection. Writing also to the Galatians, he inveighs against such men as observed and defend circumcision and the (Mosaic) law. Thus runs Hebion’s heresy. Such also as “forbid to marry” he reproaches in his instructions to Timothy. Now, this is the teaching of Marcion and his follower Apelles. (The apostle) directs a similar blow against those who said that “the resurrection was past already.” Such an opinion did the Valentinians assert of themselves. When again he mentions “endless genealogies,” one also recognises Valentinus, in whose system a certain son, whosoever he be, of a new name, and that not one only, generates of his own grace Sense and Truth; and these in like manner produce of themselves Word and Life, while these again afterwards beget Man and the Church. From these primary eight ten other sons after them spring, and then the twelve others arise with their wonderful names, to complete the mere story of the thirty sons. The same apostle, when disapproving of those who are “in bondage to elements,” points us to some dogma of Hermogenes, who introduces matter as having no beginning, and then compares it with God, who has no beginning. By thus making the mother of the elements a goddess, he has it in his power “to be in bondage” to a being which he puts on a par with God. John, however, in the Apocalypse is charged to chastise those “who eat things sacrificed to idols,” and “who commit fornication.” There are even now another sort of Nicolaitans. Theirs is called the Gaian heresy. But in his epistle he especially designates those as “Antichrists” who “denied that Christ was come in the flesh,” and who refused to think that Jesus was the Son of God. The one dogma Marcion maintained; the other, Hebion. The doctrine, however, of Simon’s sorcery, which inculcated the worship of angels, was itself actually reckoned amongst idolatries and condemned by the Apostle Peter in Simon’s own person.
So at least Tertullian did not renounce marriage, as Tatian did, and he informs us that Marcion and others had taken up the heresy which Paul condemned here in 1 Timothy chapter 4. While Tertullian is esteemed to have lived from about 155 AD to 240 AD, a contemporary writer, Hippolytus, who is believed to have lived from about 170 AD to 235 AD, also wrote of the early heretics. This is found in The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. V: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, from Hippolytus, The Refutation of All Heresies, Book VIII, Chapter XIII. – The Doctrines of the Encratites:
Others, however, styling themselves Encratites, acknowledge some things concerning God and Christ in like manner with the Church. In respect, however, of their mode of life, they pass their days inflated with pride. They suppose, that by meats [or properly foods – WRF] they magnify themselves, while abstaining from animal food [meaning flesh – WRF], (and) being water-drinkers [so they forbade wine, which at least some Christians evidently thought was also heretical], and forbidding to marry, and devoting themselves during the remainder of life to habits of asceticism. But persons of this description are estimated Cynics rather than Christians, inasmuch as they do not attend unto the words spoken against them through the Apostle Paul. Now he, predicting the novelties that were to be hereafter introduced ineffectually by certain (heretics), made a statement thus: “The Spirit speaketh expressly, In the latter times certain will depart from sound doctrine, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, uttering falsehoods in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God has created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by the faithful, and those who know the truth; because every creature of God is good, and nothing to be rejected which is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” This voice, then, of the blessed Paul, is sufficient for the refutation of those who live in this manner, and plume themselves on being just; (and) for the purpose of proving that also, this (tenet of the Encratites) constitutes a heresy. But even though there have been denominated certain other heresies – I mean those of the Cainites, Ophites, or Noachites, and of others of this description – I have not deemed it requisite to explain the things said or done by these, lest on this account they may consider themselves somebody, or deserving of consideration. Since, however, the statements concerning these appear to be sufficient, let us pass on to the cause of evils to all, (viz.,) the heresy of the Noetians. Now, after we have laid bare the root of this (heresy), and stigmatized openly the venom, as it were, lurking within it, let us seek to deter from an error of this description those who have been impelled into it by a violent spirit, as it were by a swollen torrent.
Now for another digression. This is what Hippolytus said, in part, of this sect of the Noetians, in Book X, Chapter XXII of the same work, a chapter which is subtitled The Phrygians or Montanists Continued:
But others of them, being attached to the heresy of the Noetians, entertain similar opinions to those relating to the silly women of the Phrygians, and to Montanus. As regards, however, the truths appertaining to the Father of the entire of existing things, they are guilty of blasphemy, because they assert that He is Son and Father, visible and invisible, begotten and unbegotten, mortal and immortal. These have taken occasion from a certain Noetus to put forward their heresy.
But we would contend with Hippolytus, and agree with Noetus, that Yahweh and Yahshua Christ are One, and not three, and we can see how early the trinity heresy had also entered the early Christian churches. So far as we can determine, Hippolytus was the only of the early Christian writers to address the Noetians.
Finally we shall quote from Origen, who lived just slightly later than these other men, from about 185 AD to 254 AD. This is found in The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, from Origen Against Celsus, Book V, Chapter LXIV, where he is discussing this same verse of 1 Timothy chapter 4 as Celsus had wrongly interpreted it:
Celsus appears to me to have misunderstood the statement of the apostle, which declares that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe;” and to have misunderstood also those who employed these declarations of the apostle against such as had corrupted the doctrines of Christianity. And it is owing to this cause that Celsus has said that “certain among the Christians are called ‘cauterized in the ears;’” “and also that some are termed ‘enigmas,’” – a term which we have never met. The expression “stumbling-block” is, indeed, of frequent occurrence in these writings, – an appellation which we are accustomed to apply to those who turn away simple persons, and those who are easily deceived, from sound doctrine. But neither we, nor, I imagine, any other, whether Christian or heretic, know of any who are styled Sirens, who betray and deceive, and stop their ears, and change into swine those whom they delude. And yet this man [referring to Celsus], who affects to know everything, uses such language as the following: “You may hear,” he says, “all those who differ so widely, and who assail each other in their disputes with the most shameless language, uttering the words, ‘The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.’” [That was the passage upon which 3rd century Christian asceticism was founded, a mistake which persists into modern times.] And this is the only phrase which, it appears, Celsus could remember out of Paul’s writings; and yet why should we not also employ innumerable other quotations from the Scriptures, such as, “For though we do walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God?”
Then in the next chapter of the same work, Chapter LXV, Origen continues:
But since he [Celsus] asserts that “you may hear all those who differ so widely saying, ‘The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world’” we shall show the falsity of such a statement. For there are certain heretical sects which do not receive the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, as the two sects of Ebionites, and those who are termed Encratites. Those, then, who do not regard the apostle as a holy and wise man, will not adopt his language, and say, “The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.” And consequently in this point, too, Celsus is guilty of falsehood. He continues, moreover, to linger over the accusations which he brings against the diversity of sects which exist, but does not appear to me to be accurate in the language which he employs, nor to have carefully observed or understood how it is that those Christians who have made progress in their studies say that they are possessed of greater knowledge than the Jews; and also, whether they acknowledge the same Scriptures, but interpret them differently, or whether they do not recognise these books as divine. For we find both of these views prevailing among the sects. He then continues: “Although they have no foundation for the doctrine, let us examine the system itself; and, in the first place, let us mention the corruptions which they have made through ignorance and misunderstanding, when in the discussion of elementary principles they express their opinions in the most absurd manner on things which they do not understand, such as the following.” And then, to certain expressions which are continually in the mouths of the believers in Christianity, he opposes certain others from the writings of the philosophers, with the object of making it appear that the noble sentiments which Celsus supposes to be used by Christians have been expressed in better and clearer language by the philosophers, in order that he might drag away to the study of philosophy those who are caught by opinions which at once evidence their noble and religious character. We shall, however, here terminate the fifth book, and begin the sixth with what follows.
So we see that the introduction of the pagan philosophers was odious to Origen, but later we shall see that Roman Catholic Church apologists employed the same philosophers to argue against the marriage of priests.
So the Encratites were taking Paul’s own words and twisting them out of their original context in order to disregard other things which Paul had said, things which were indeed natural and within the law of God, while at the same time denying the validity of Paul’s writings. But where Paul said “The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world,” he was talking about the putting away of things which were in violation of the law, about the sin which the natural man is susceptible to, and not about things such as communion or marriage which are in accordance with the law and which Yahweh God Himself had established for our benefit.
But we must remember, that when Paul wrote of these things here in 1 Timothy, it was primarily in connection to ecclesiastical leadership, and not merely to the life of Christians in general, although while speaking of Christian life in general he had also said in his epistle to the Hebrews that “marriage is valuable in every way”, and later here in 1 Timothy chapter 5 we shall see Paul connect the raising of faithful children with a respect for one’s ancestors, so he clearly rejected such asceticism for the general assembly as well as for the leadership. Only in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 did Paul advise against marriage for a particular reason: because of the ongoing persecutions of Christians, he knew that those getting married would have much anxiety and grief. Yet those warnings are taken out of context and unjustly used to argue against marriage in general, something which Paul would never have done.
Now that we have seen how early the various Christian communities became divided up into a multitude of heresies, and how many of the heretics had actually followed the pagan idolatries and pagan philosophers, we shall see from another source that the Roman Catholic Church also followed such heretics for their own prohibition of clerics to marry.
But first we must make an admonition, we certainly know that the Catholic priests, bishops and popes are not, and never were, legitimate Christian ecclesiastical leaders in the manner in which the apostles of Christ had organized the original Christian communities. For the most part, they were instead a caste of professional priests who had subjugated Christianity unto themselves. The orthodoxy of Rome was an orthodoxy of imperialism and the professional Roman priesthood, which was never actually Christian in nature. The phrase “Christian priest” does not appear in the writings of Christians prior to the 4th century AD, and the word priest where it appears in the Christian sense is never associated with a professional priesthood in the New Testament. But the Roman Catholic hierarchy was nevertheless the de facto ecclesiastical leadership of the Middle Ages, in spite of the illegitimacy of their offices before Christ.
So here we shall cite a book which shall hopefully elucidate the origins and results of the Roman Catholic Church’s prohibition of its priests to marry. The following lengthy excerpt is from Pagano-Papismus: or, An Exact Parallel Between Rome-Pagan and Rome-Christian, In Their Doctrines and Ceremonies, written by Joshua Stopford, the Rector at All Saints Church in the city of York and first published in 1765. Our edition was reprinted in 1845 in London. We will cite from page 174, from chapter 15, which is subtitled The Single Life of Priests. We are going to skip or abbreviate some technical things, such as citations, since they are in a form which is difficult to read. We will also refrain from reading the Latin version of the citations, although we will provide our own translations of several of them – in spite of the fact that our Latin is not quite proficient:
Pope Syricius, speaking of the marriage of priests, saith, “Let this reproach be taken away which Gentilism doth accuse,” Epist. iv.; whence it is clear (for we must not question the Pope's unerring faculty) that marriage was prohibited pagan priests. [The writer is being sarcastic while also condemning the Church for not following this Pope Syricius. Also spelled Siricius, he was bishop of Rome from 384 AD to 399 AD. – WRF] Clemens Alexandrinus tells us, “That the ancient heretics took occasion to condemn marriage, from the precepts and practice of pagan philosophers." – Strom. lib. iii. The Athenian Hierophantas (saith St. Hierome) to this day, by supping the broth of hemlock, make themselves chaste (being forbidden marriage) before they were admitted into sacred orders, or advanced to prelatical dignity. And discoursing of the lives of the ancient priests of Egypt out of Chæremon the Stoic, he saith, “That they never mingled themselves with women, never would see their relations and neighbours, no, not their children, from the time that they were consecrated; and they abstained from flesh and wine, to suppress all lustful thoughts and desires.” – Adver. Jovinian. lib. i. in fine, et lib. 2.
And the priests of Cybele (saith Alexander ab Alexandro [a 15th and early 16th century Neapolitan nobleman, lawyer and writer]) did castrate themselves that they might be chaste. And he further adds, in the same place, “Those who performed their greatest solemnities, (or their chief priests,) that they might continue in chaste religion, and escape the contagion of women, did emasculate themselves with certain herbs, and lost their manliness. And this (saith he) was commanded by their pontifical law, which runs thus: ‘Ad divos adeunto casti, pietatem adhibento, opes amovento; qui secus faxit, Deus ipse vindex erit.’ [We would translate the Latin to say: To the gods approach chaste, to observe piety abandon riches; Improper treatment of a god is punished by the god himself. Here we have a pagan philosophy as the basis for forbidding marriage of priests in the Roman Catholic Church. – WRF]” And Euripides testifieth, That in Crete those whom they called the prophets of Jupiter [or Zeus], do not only abstain from flesh, but also from all savoury meat [food]. And the like did the Indian magi, who were advanced to the priesthood of the sun. – Alexander ab Alexandro in Genial. Dier. lib. iv. cap. 17. And among the Assyrians, the priests of Diana Ecbatana lived in perpetual virginity. – Idem. lib. v. cap. 12. To add more testimonies is unnecessary, since this is generally confessed by our Romanists [Catholic Church apologists], and urged by Medina as an unanswerable argument against the marriage of priests. – Chamier. de Cælibat. Sacerdot. lib. xvii. cap. 7. [The last reference must be to 16th century Spanish theologian Bartolomé de Medina. He was also using the practices of the pagans to justify forbidding priests to marry. – WRF]
2. Pagan priests defiled themselves with strange women. Arnobius, describing the single life of priests amongst the Gentiles, saith, “Where are whoredoms more committed by the priests, than in the temples, even by the altars? Where are bawdries more practised, and adulteries more meditated? Lastly; burning lust is more frequently discharged in chancels , than brothel-houses.” – Adver. Gent. lib. Viii. [The chancel is the part of a church by the altar. – WRF]
Thus do our Romanists forbid their priests to marry. The Council of Trent denounceth an anathema against all those who shall say, “That clerks in holy orders may contract matrimony; and that such a contract is valid, notwithstanding the laws and constitutions of the church." – Ses. xxiv. can. 9.
Costerus [Francis Coster, a Jesuit theologian of the 16th century] undertakes to prove, that marriage is repugnant to the evangelical priesthood in the very nature of it. – De Cælib. Sacerdot. Others, as Major in Sentent; Clichtovæus de Continent. Sacerdot. &c. plead for a divine law [the 16th century Protestant theologian Johann Major]. But their great [Robert] Bellarmine [the 15th & 16th century Jesuit theologian] is forced to confess, that this prohibition is not grounded upon any divine law. – De Cler. lib. i. cap. 18. So Aquinas 22, Quest. 88, Art. 11; and this is the most received opinion among them. And yet with them it is a greater crime for a priest to have one wife, than many whores, which is expressly prohibited by the law of God. It is lawful with them for priests to keep concubines, paying so much yearly to the official, and the price is set down in their Taxa Cameræ Apostolicæ [this was a list of taxes due to be paid to Pope Leo X, from the year 1517, by which payments were sold sacramental absolutions for serious sins, even for sins yet to be committed in the future, so a wealthy man could actually plan ahead for his own sin and absolution – WRF]; but for a lawful wife no dispensation will be granted. [This was the same Romans Catholic Church which Martin Luther had found it impossible to reform.] Nay, it was one of the German grievances, “That such priests as were disposed to live chastely, and abhorred this sin of uncleanness, were compelled to take dispensations to keep concubines.” They [the German theologians] are not ashamed to confess, “That no priest is to be deposed for the cause of fornication, if he confine himself to one woman.” – Decret. Dist. xxxiv. cap. 4. And can. Vii. [evidently in canon vii] we have these comfortable words: “Though there be many things which the authority of canonical sublimity may command in these cases; yet because of the defection of our times, in which not only the merits, but also the bodies of men have failed, this severity must be remitted.” And they generally affirm, That a priest sinneth more grievously in contracting matrimony, than in committing fornication."
2. Our Roman priests defile themselves with strange women. This is most clear from the testimony of their own authors. Mantuan [the 15th century Italian reformer Baptista Mantuanus], speaking of the filthiness of the Roman clergy, saith, “Nulla hic arcana revelo. Non ignota loquor, liceat vulgata referre. Sic Urbes populiq. ferunt, ea fama per omnem Jam vetus Europam mores extirpat honestos. Sanctus ager Scurris, venerabilis ara Cinædis Servit, honorandæ divum Ganymedibus ædes” – De Calamit. Temper. lib. iii. [Here there is a lengthy Latin passage which would be a long study to translate precisely, but it evidently speaks of the dark things conducted secretly by the priests, and relates them to sodomy and the worship of Ganymede, who was a Trojan youth that was lusted after by Zeus and taken to Mount Olympus be his cup-bearer, as well as the object of his own lustful sodomy. – WRF]
In the last visitation in Bavaria, such frequent whoredoms were discovered, that scarce three or four were found among one hundred priests, which did not either publicly keep concubines, or privately contract matrimony, said the orator of Albertus, Duke of Bavaria, in the Council of Trent. – Chamier de Cælibat. Sacerdot. lib. xvi. cap. 4.
Nay, their popes have not been free; witness their Platina, Onuphrius, &c. Take two epitaphs.
[These last references are to Renaissance humanist Bartolomeo Platina, and to Onofrio de Santa Croce, a cardinal and bishop from the Kingdom of Naples. Both men lived in the 15th century. – WRF]
“Sixte jaces tandem, deflent tua busta Cynædi, Scortaq. lenones, alea, vina, venus.” [We would translate this as “Sixtus has finally fallen, cry in your tomb, Sodomite, for pimps, gambling, wine and love!” Please understand that our Latin is not proficient, but this is probably very close. – WRF]
“Hoc jacet in tumulo Lucretia nomine, sed re Thais, Alexandri filia, sponsa, nurus.” [We would translate this as “Lucretia was the name of this woman who lies in the tomb, but she was actually Thais, a daughter of the bride of Alexander.” The implication seems to be that Alexander was a priest who attempted to hide the death of an illegitimate child. – WRF]
The filthiness of the Romish clergy is so notorious, that I forbear to add other testimonies out of Alvarus Pelagius [from his book] de Planctu Ecclesiæ [a 14th century work famous for its rebuke of clerical abuses], Nicolaus Clemangis [from his book] de Corrupto Ecclesiæ Statu [a 15th century denunciation of Papal and Church corruption], and many other eminent authors.
Hence it is, that not a few of their great doctors have wished, that this ecclesiastical constitution might be abrogated, and priests permitted to marry. “Far be it that this forced, should overcome that conjugal chastity, and the crime of no fault bring a greater disgrace to the order. What hath brought more evil to religion, more grief to good men, than the filthiness of priests? Let the right of public matrimony be restored to priests, that they may rather live holily, than defile themselves with sins against nature." – Polydor Virgil de Inventor. Rerum. lib. v. cap. 4. This last citation is from Polydor Virgil, an Italian humanist scholar and priest of the 16th century, and infers that the priests were satisfying their lusts with more than merely loose women.
About the time of the Council of Basil, the Emperor Sigismund drew up certain articles of reformation, in which, among many things, this is remarkable: “More evil than good hath come to the church from the decree of Calixtus; it is better and more safe for the soul, that liberty be granted unto clerks to marry, according to the custom of the Oriental church.” – Gerhardus de Minister. Ecclesiast. And Pope Pius II. hath left this saying, “With great reason marriage was taken from priests, but there is greater reason why it should be restored.” – Platina in ejus vita. Which words are left out in their later editions [of his writngs].
Saying “decree of Callixtus”, our author refers to Calixtus I, who was evidently the bishop of Rome from about 218 AD to 223 AD. Of course, there was no official pope at that time, however the Roman Catholic Church in its own corrupt version of history counts him as pope. It is to him that the original decree forbidding Christian clergy to marry is attributed, although I can find no mention of him in the writings of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Evidently, he is known only from an early 3rd century writer named Sextus Julius Africanus, whose writing is no longer extant but who was quoted at length by the 4th century Church historian Eusebius of Caesareia – a man whose motives I often question.
Here we have seen Paul of Tarsus prophesy the forbidding of marriage to Christian ecclesiastical leaders, how that prophecy was fulfilled, and have also witnessed the consequences of that fulfillment in the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. Today we see Catholic priests continually being accused of the sexual abuse of women and children, and especially male children. and now we know that this has been ongoing for many centuries. It should be no wonder, that once man abandons what Paul called “the natural use of the woman”, that sodomy would be the result, as he had explained in Romans chapter 1. These sodomites have guided the Roman Catholic Church throughout practically its entire existence. So it should also be no wonder that so many other vile sins have been perpetrated by that same church and its leaders. In truth, it was never a legitimately Christian institution, having adopted these and many other pagan practices from its very inception.