Hello everyone, thanks for coming back. Let’s take off right where we left last post, with William Bradford speaking of the persecutions.
So as in the ancient times, the persecutions by the heathen and their emperors was not greater than of the Christians one against the other:- the Arians and other their complies against the orthodox and true Christians. As witnesseth Socrates in his second book. The violence truly ( saith he) was no less than that of old practiced towards Christians when they were compelled and drawn to sacrifice to idols; for many endured sundry kinds of torment often rankings and dismembering of their joints, confiscating of their goods; some bereaved of their native soil, others departed this life under the hands of the tormentor, and some died in banishment and never saw their country again.
The like method Satan hath seemed to hold in these later times, since the truth began to spring and spread after the great defection made by Antichrist, that man of sin.
So let’s go back now and examine this closely. The paragraph I’m going to be looking at first was actually in my last post, but I will rewrite the highlights. William Starts out by saying that satan had to change his strategy in his war against the Gospel. “He then began to take him to his ancient stratagems used of old against the first Christians.” Let’s go back and look at the early persecutions by the emperors that William was talking about. To do this we will go right to the book William mentions; Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs.
The book is actually mentioned later in his writings, it is a very fascinating but sad book to read however, our brothers and sisters from our past, had to endure some very horrific things. It’s violent, brutal and torturous, just like Satan is. He hates Jesus, and he hates those who hold the truth, and are His, because he knows he has already been defeated by the New Blood Covenant, and he has but a short time. I’m going to be looking at the two emperors that persecuted the early Congregation, when it began, and was not hidden yet. When it was true to the teaching of the Apostles, and not fallen away yet to the apostasy and heresies, of the man made “church,” that satan has used, and is using, and will use again in his war against Jesus, and the one true Gospel. The following is from Chapter II, of Foxe’s book. You can go to (bibleprobe.com) to read the entire chapter.
The First Persecution, under Nero, A.D. 67: The first Persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that ‘he wished the ruin of all things before his death.’ Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other places and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, smothered in the smoke, and buried beneath the ruins.
Let’s examine this, and go more into detail here. Let’s take a look at the man satan used first, to attack and kill some of Jesus’s Congregation, that William speaks of.
Nero born in 37 AD and reigning for more than 13 years, from 54 AD till his death in 68 AD. Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. He was the only son of Gnaeus Domitrius Ahenobarbus, consul of Rome, and his wife Agrippina.
Agrippina was the younger sister of another infamous emperor Caligula. After a failed murder plot of her brother, she was exiled out of Rome. This proves insanity does sometimes run in the blood. Friends it gets worse. Domitrius, Nero’s father died in 40 AD. Caligula was eventually murdered in January 41 AD making Claudius, Agrippina’s uncle, the Roman emperor. Claudius allowed Agrippina to return from exile. Big mistake on his part, but this guy was a real piece of work also.
After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina married her uncle, Emperor Claudius, in 49 AD. It was the fourth marriage of Claudius and he had his previous wife Messalina executed in 48 AD. Doesn’t this sound a lot like Henry VIII, Satan not only uses the same tactics, he also uses the same type of people, because they are like him, evil. At age 13, Nero was adopted by Emperor Claudius and took the name by which he is famous, Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus. Being older than his stepbrother Britannicus, Nero became heir to the throne. In 53 AD, Nero married his stepsister Claudia Octavia, daughter of Claudius and Messalina. Claudius died in 54 AD, and many historians believe he was fed poisoned mushrooms by Agrippina. Imagine that. Claudius’s death made Nero Emperor in 54 AD, before he had turned 17. He was the youngest ever Roman Emperor till that time.
Nero was unsatisfied with his marriage to Octavia and began an affair with Poppaea Sabina, wife of his friend and future emperor Otho. Agrippina opposed this affair and responded by promoting her stepson Britannicus as the true heir to the throne. Britannicus died in February 55 AD under mysterious circumstances. He was probably poisoned by Nero. In AD 59, Nero ordered the execution of his mother.
Nero divorced his wife Octavia on grounds of infertility and adultery. He later had her executed in June 62 AD. Sounds again just like Henry VIII, evil just repeats itself over and over. Nero then married Sabina in 62 AD. The couple had a daughter who died in infancy. Sabina died in 65 AD reportedly due to Nero kicking her in her belly during her second pregnancy. In early 66 AD, Nero married Statilia Messalina after forcing her husband to commit suicide. In 67 AD , Nero ordered the castration of Sporus, a former slave. He then married him, which historian Cassius Dio claims was, because Sporus bore an uncanny resemblance to Nero’s dead former wife Sabina.
Now before I go back to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, I want to look at one more thing. During the burning of Rome, did you notice what was called the noble pile called the Circus. What was that? Well I will explain. It was Circus Maximus, Circus Maximus was a chariot racetrack in Rome first constructed in the 6th century BC. The Circus was also used for other public events such as the Roman Games and Gladiator fights. It was also used as a place to entertain the public, witnessing the brutal murders of Christians, as probably the Colosseum was used also. We will be getting back to that later, but let’s look at the word Circus.
Circus: Webster’s Dictionary- drop down to the third definition and you see a obsolete: circle, ring
Circle: Webster’s Dictionary- Origin: Middle English cercle, from Latin circulus, diminutive of circus, circle, from or akin to Greek krikos, kirkos ring
Church: Webster’s Dictionary- Origin Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the Lord, master; akin to Sanskrit sura hero, warrior.
Now when you look at the above three words you see three separate, distinct words, with three separate meanings, don’t you. One would never think to somehow join these three words together, except for some churches today might as well be a circus. Well let’s dig into this, leaving no stone unturned. As we saw above the word Church, would mean house of the Lord, or the Lords house. This in itself is a very poor derivative since it refers to a place (house) and not a assembly or congregation of people, the way the Lord intended.
Ebenezer Cobham, Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable written in 1898, reads this regarding the word “church.”
“The etymology of this word is generally assumed to be from the Greek, Kuriou oikos (house of God); but this is most improbable, as the word existed in all the Celtic dialects long before the introduction of Greek. No doubt the word means “a circle.” The places of worship among the German and Celtic nations were always circular. ( Welsh, cyrch, French, cirque; Scotch, Kirk; Greek, kirk-os, etc.) Compare Anglo- Saxon circe, a Church, with circol, a circle.” (beinaberean.org)
If “church” is derived from the word “circle” how then did the original Greek word ekklesia become “church” or “circle?”
Throughout England, pagan religious gatherings were always held at a circle. The druids with their Stonehenge, the Celts, and Saxons also met at stone circles, to worship their gods. Many of these stone circles still exist today throughout England and about twenty eight are found in Wycliffe’s Yorkshire area. Many of the the first English Christian buildings for worship were located on these circle sites, or were built using stones from these circles. Through this association the people of Wycliffe’s day continued to call these buildings a “Kirk” (Scottish), a cirice (Old English) , or chirche ( Wycliffe’s version), each variation meaning “circle” and describing a place-occult-and not the people. (beinaberean.org)
The pagans were using the word “church” long before Christians ever began using it. If you go back to the Greek again and the meaning is “the Lords house” or “house of the lord” what lord are they referring to. It cannot be Jesus, this was before Jesus. It referred to the “sun god” and this god goes way back and is part of the mystery religions, and this sun-god has many names that go all the way back to ancient Egypt. I will be going over that later in this study. It’s referred in the Bible as Mystery Babylon, but that will come later. It was Constantine that worshiped the sun god Mithra. This god was famous among the pagans, and this god was worshiped in a building or temple. When Constantine was supposedly converted to Christianity, he converted his Mithra god into the Christian house, or church. Supposedly He was the one that transformed the called out assembly, (Congregation) into a church recognized as a building. Therefore just like King James I, Constantine had control over the Church and state, full power over everything if you will.
Where am I going with all this? The word church has it’s pagan origins, therefore I won’t even use it now, when I talk of the Lord’s Congregation. The word has absolutely no business being in the Bible, and it relates to the Circus where are brothers and sisters were martyred. Circus, Circle, Church, this is how they all relate, and today Christians use this word for Christ’s body, a pagan word with very evil origins. Does this sound right? This was a very cunning act on satan’s part. By doing this he now was able to gain control, whereas he could never have control over the Congregation, it belongs to God, nobody or nothing can touch it and make it false, a lie. So satan had to form this lie of a man made institution called the “church” to be able to call away believers from the faith into the lie, to be able to manipulate it and use it for his various purposes. But those whom fell away were not true believers, they did not stay the course by faith, but were able to believe a lie. I will be doing a post soon on this very subject, and using scripture to show what battle is raging between Jesus and satan constantly. Back to Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs.
This dreadful conflagration continued for nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred. (bibleprobe.com)
So we see this demon possessed madman in a fit of total insanity, lit Rome on fire. Then when the Romans suspected it was him, he turns around like the total coward he was and blamed the Christians. During that time, the early Congregation of Believers was pure, there wasn’t the man made pagan “church” yet, therefore satan had to use the pagan Emperor of Rome to attack and kill the believers. The Romans already didn’t like the Congregation so it was easy for Nero to pull this off. It even became entertainment for the Romans, to watch the Christians being slaughtered. It’s easy to see what a nation without God, with rulers and leaders that do not know God, can become. Our nation is not far away from this. Brutality can sweep a nation overnight, when that nations Godly morals has been purposely stripped away from it; that is our nation now. Wherever you remove the one true God, satan will always fill the void that’s left, and then what you have left is a ungodly society just like Rome, that is capable of doing some very horrific things, things unthinkable really. Satan crept in and took advantage of this insane Emperor, and was able to kill Paul and Peter, and many other devout men and women. Paul and Peter were truly a thorn in satans side, and by their work, the Congregation was growing, and even after these murders, we are told it did not cause believers to shrink back in cowardice, instead through the strength of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel moved forward even more. Satan uses death, and destruction; Jesus uses grace, mercy and love to further His advancements in the war to further His Kingdom. People don’t want much to do with Jesus anymore, they love instead the pleasures of sin and what this world offers, unfortunately what they really have chosen is satan, even when more than likely they don’t even realize it, because they don’t care much anymore to think about it. That’s a very sad place to be. Today’s world is; if it feels good do it. In the end however it won’t feel good, it will be eternal torment, Jesus “says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” that’s the choice they are making.
Nero’s death was caused due to a revolt led by Servius Sulpicius Galba. The Roman economy suffered due to Nero’s grand reconstruction of Rome. The instability of the empire was furthered by revolts in Britain and Judea and conflicts with Parthia. In 65 AD, there was a plot to assassinate Nero but it was discovered and the conspirators executed. In March 68 AD Gaius Julius Vindex, governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled against Nero’s tax policies, He recruited another governor Servius Sulpicius Galba, and told him to declare himself emperor. As the rebellion spread, support for Galba increased. On a false report of the Senate planning to beat him to death, Nero asked his private secretary, Epaphroditos, to end his life. He therefore died on June 9, 68 AD after reigning over the empire for more than 13 years. Good riddance!
Well that’s it for this post. Next post we will be looking at Domitian, he was the first antichrist figure to persecute the Congregation of Believers. He was the emperor that put Jesus’s beloved disciple John in prison, where he saw the Revelation of Jesus. Until next time, may the Lord bless your search for truth, leaving no stone unturned.