1 Corinthians 10 – The Idolatry in the Wilderness & The Lost Cities of South Asia and the Far East (4of 4)

The Serpent, Subtle and Brazen: Idolatry, Imagemaking, and the Hebrew Bible

Even the serpent managed to find a place on Noah’s ark.

We know because the serpent reappears in the wilderness, in the stark desert landscape that is Eden’s opposite.

This time, the serpent is not an agent of sin, but the model for a divine totem charged with the power to dispel a deadly plague among the wandering Israelites.

God’s most reviled creature, condemned to eat dust, somehow comes to occupy a salvific role.

In the New Testament, Jesus transforms this story into gospel by way of an analogy: “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (King James Version, John 3:14).

The serpent’s journey from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high is a peculiar development. Even more peculiar, though, for those familiar with the Old Testament, is the fact that it achieves this exalted status as a “serpent [made] of brass,” as a graven image that shines like an idol in the right light.

It is a truism of biblical scholarship to say that the Old Testament is a long screed against idolatry.

The commandments are explicit in this regard. So, then, what are we to make of a moment of idolatry that God does not condemn but instead actively condones?

As we consider the brazen serpent, we are faced with a situation in which all the usual restrictions and taboos—against serpents and against idols—seem to be miraculously suspended.

The next picture tells more.

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

1 Corinthians 10
The Idolatry in the Wilderness

1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

“Under the cloud” – under God’s leadership and guidance. 

2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

“That Rock was Christ” – the rock, from which the water came, and the manna were symbolic of supernatural sustenance through Christ, the bread of life and the water of life (Jn 4:14, 6:30-35).

5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

“Idolaters” – referring to the incident of the golden calf (Ex 32:1-6).  The people ate a ritual meal sacrificed to an idol.

8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

Refers to Israel’s joining herself Baal of Peor, participating in the worship of this god of the Moabites and engaging in sexual immorality with the prostitute virgins who worshipped this god.

9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

“Temptation” – temptation in itself is not sin.  Jesus was tempted (Matt 4:1-11).  Yielding to the temptation is sin.

“Bear it” – God’s enablement to resist the temptation to sin.

14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

“Flee from idolatry” – like that described in Ex 32:1-6.  Corinthian Christians had come out of a background of paganism. 

Man Even Turns Good Things to Idols, i.e., Bad Things.
The reformer John Calvin famously wrote that the human heart is an idol factory.

Humans have a proclivity to take things, even good things, and turn them into objects of worship.

As I was reading through 2 Kings last week I found a powerful example of this – one I had never caught before.

Throughout 2 Kings we are witness to a series of bad kings pushing the nation of Israel towards worshipping local gods and breaking God’s covenant with His chosen people.
But then, in 2 Kings 18:4, King Hezekiah comes along and has had enough.

“[Hezekiah] removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).” – 2Ki 18:4

The Israelites took a good thing that God used (the bronze serpent) and turned it into an idol.

It happened slowly over time, but eventually a good thing God used replaced Israel’s worship of God Himself.

Temples for the worship of Apollo, Asclepius, Demeter, Aphrodite and other pagan gods and goddesses were seen daily by the Corinthians as they engaged in the activities of everyday life.

The worship of Aphrodite, with its many sacred prostitutes, was a particularly strong temptation.

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19 What say I then? That the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything?

20 But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

You can’t expect God to honor you if you give to the poor and also commit adultery, it doesn’t work that way. 

For example, the some of the things the Catholic church does is good, things that Oprah Winfrey does is good, but they both also sin willfully which makes everything they do for Jesus moot.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Yes we do when we try and manipulate Him (Gal 6:7-8), or as v. 21 says.

23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

First Corinthians 10:12 is often quoted in the context of pride. “If you think you can stand, if you think you have it all together, if you think you’re untouchable—take heed that you do not fall.

To worship “ANYTHING” but Christ is idolatry. Even if you say you worship something in the name of Christ it is idolatry because you are not actually doing that.

Paul explains how Israel was “baptized into Moses.” They ate the same spiritual food, they drank the same spiritual drink, they experienced the same spiritual journey. But verse 5 lets us know that all was not well. “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.”

How does their journey intersect with our lives? Verse 6 says, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” Paul wrote about their journey to help us avoid the same mistakes in our journey.

In verses 7-10, Paul points to 4 evil things they did:

“Do not be idolators” (v.7)
“Nor let us act immorally” (v.8)
“Nor let us try the Lord” (v.9)
“Nor grumble” (v.10)

We’re all guilty of these types of sins. If we do not see our involvement, we will rest in our innocence.

When we rest in ourselves instead of staying dependent upon God, it’s only a matter of time before we fall.

“All things are not expedient” – personal freedom and desire for one’s rights are not the only considerations.  One must also consider the good of his neighbor.

24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

“Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat” – even if it has been sacrificed to an idol, because out in the public market it has lost its pagan religious significance.

26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.

27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

“For his sake that shewed it’ – if the meat has been identified as meat sacrificed to idols and you eat it, the man – whether a believer or an unbeliever – might think you condone, or even are willing to participate in, the worship of the idols the meat has been offered to.

29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

“My liberty” – the exercise of one’s personal freedom is to be governed by whether it will bring glory to God, whether it will build up the church of God and whether it will encourage the unsaved to receive Christ as Savior and Lord

We are supposed to do our best not to offend people.  Yet, if standing up for Jesus Christ offends someone then let them be offended.

30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

“All to the glory of God” – the all-inclusive principle that governs the discussion in chapters 8-10 is that God should be glorified in everything that is done.

32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

“Give none offence” – the particular case of stumbling Paul had in mind was that of eating meat offered to idols.  Living to glorify God will result in doing what is beneficial for others, whether Christians (“the church of God”) or non-Christians (“Jews, Gentiles”).

33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

“Please all men in all things” – Paul does not mean that he will compromise the truths of the gospel in order to please everybody, but that he will consider his fellowman and not cause anyone’s conscience to be offended by his daily life, thus keeping that person from receiving the gospel.

The Lost Cities of South Asia and
the Far East (4of 4)


Location: Asuka, Japan
Date of Construction: 682 C.E.
Abandoned: 710 C.E.
Built By: Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jito
Key Features: Street Grid; Imperial Palace; Halls of State; Imperial Audience Hall; Suzaku-Mon (Main Gate); Ceramic Roofing; Yakushiji Temple; Inscribed Wooden Tablets and Coins

Japan is renowned as a nation where history and tradition are paramount, yet in some respects it has a relatively short history. Construction at Fujiwara-Kyo, effectively Japan’s first city, was only begun around 682 C.E.

While in the same period Japan’s rulers introduced several technologies commonly associated with civilization, which seem to have been absent until this point.

Despite coming to the party late, however, the builders of Fujiwara-Kyo – the City of the Wisteria Plain – produced an impressive and well-planned city dominated by a huge imperial palace complex that included the largest building Japan had ever seen.

The construction of Fujiwara-Kyo, also Japan’s first permanent capital (although this designation is ironic given that it was occupied for just 16 years before the imperial court and the rest of the city’s population were uprooted and transplanted to a new capital), was one of the most significant elements of a profound political, social and cultural transformation.

It marked and facilitated the transition of Japan from a disparate group of competing chiefdoms to a nation state and can only be understood when interpreted in this light.

Japan in Transition

Japan emerged relatively late from its prehistoric period and its protohistoric period extends up to the founding of Fujiwara-Kyo.

Asuka is a village located in Takaichi District, Nara Prefecture, Japan.

As of February 29, 2012, the village has an estimated population of 6,035, with 2,180 households, and a population density of 250.62 persons per km. The total area is 24.08 km².

Asuka is the land where ancient Asuka palaces were located. There are strict rules governing construction in this historic town.

Asuka can be reached from Okadera or Asuka Station on the Kintetsu Yoshino Line train line.
Although it’s outside Asuka, Kashiharajingū-mae Station in neighboring Kashihara has service on the Kintetsu Kashihara, Minami-Osaka and Yoshino Lines. By car, Asuka is on Route 169.

In the 4th and 5th centuries geo-political control was divided amongst the nobility, who comprised a number of powerful and constantly competing families or clans. Among them was the imperial clan from the Yamato region.

By the 7th century, however, most of the core territory of Japan had been consolidated under control of the imperial court (which itself was often controlled by one or more non-imperial clans).

The Asuka region had emerged as the locus of this control, but the site of the imperial palace, and therefore the de facto capital of Japan, shifted within this area. This period is now known as the Asuka Era.

As Japan became more centralized, it also developed its links to the mainland, to the sophisticated and dominant cultures of China and Korea.

The Asuka Era saw large influxes of immigrants from these areas and the introduction of Buddhism as the state religion, among many other Chinese and Korean cultural influences.

At the start of the 7th century the Soga clan controlled power, but in 645 the imperial clan reasserted its own dominance.

Under Prince Naka-no-Oe, who later became Emperor Tenji, it followed a twin course of adopting Chinese political and socio-economic models domestically, while pursuing a foreign policy designed to limit Chinese influence.

The former strategy was known as the Taika Reform, while the latter involved military adventures in Korea, allying Japanese armies with the Korean kingdom of Baekje, which was engaged in a struggle with the southeastern Korean kingdom of Silla and its Tang Chinese allies.

In 663, the imperial court sent an army of 27,000 troops to Korea to assist Baekje, but their combined forces wear defeated at the Battle of Hakusonko, and the Tang-supported Silla took control of the whole peninsula. 

Many Baekje took refuge in Japan and it was feared that the Tang would retaliate and follow on their heels.

Tenji pressed on with the domestic reforms aimed at transforming Japan into a viable, strong nation state, able to defend its borders against aggression from similar entities (i.e., Chinese).

The key reform was the introduction of ritsuryo, a system of penal and administrative law copied from China, as the basic legal code of the new state.

Under ritsuryo the entire population was subject to legal control – including taxation – from the center, with the emperor at the top of the pyramid.

Administering this new system required an ever-larger bureaucracy and by the 670s it was clear that the confines of the traditional and impermanent imperial palace were insufficient. 

There are many wonderful temples located within the relatively small confines of Nara City.

At Jurin-in temple, I encountered a stone image of Jizo-Bosatsu with a very mild facial expression. Jizo-Bosatsu is popular as a guardian deity for children.

I was particularly impressed by the offerings of a box filled with sand dedicated to victims of the tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region.

Plans were put in motion for a new, permanent capital city, following Chinese models.

For the first time in Japan, a large settlement would be planned in advance and laid out accordingly.

Short-Lived Capital

Construction of the city was begun during the reign of the Emperor Tenmu. A site in the Asuka region was chosen – a plain between three hills in the present day Takadono district of Kashihara-shi, where three of Japan’s main roads converged: the Nakatsumichi, Shimotsumichi and Yoko-oji, which were to mark the east, west and north boundaries of the city, respectively.

The location had originally been known as Fujiigahara, or ‘plain of the wisteria well’, but later this was shortened to simply Fujiwara, ‘wisteria plain’ and so the city became Fujiwara-Kyo, ‘city of the wisteria plain’.

Canals were dug to allow timber and stone to be brought to the site (although these were later filled in before the city was actually occupied).

Tenmu’s death in 687 brought a temporary halt to construction, but the project was continued under his widow, the Empress Jito, and finally completed in 694, whereupon Fujiwara-Kyo served as her capital.

A poem composed by Prince Shiki records some of the emotions stirred by the move to the new city: ‘Asuka breezes that once curled back the palace maidens’ sleeves; seeing now the court so far, they blow without purpose.’

Fujiwara-Kyo was the capital of Jito’s successors, the Emperor Mommu and the Empress Gemmei, but in 710 the capital was relocated 9 miles north, to Nara.

The martial arts village of Yagyu in the northeast of Nara is known from “Yagyu Shinkage Ryu”, which was diligently practiced by famous samurai such as Yagyu Jubei with the aim of becoming strong.

Today, this is a rural area rich with nature, so I was genuinely surprised to find the Yagyu no Ittoseki stone here. Legend has it that the mysterious slash in this stone, which stands some 7 meters tall, indicates the results of samurai battles.

Fujiwara-Kyo was stripped of all recyclable materials and what remained may have been further devastated by a fire in 711. By the 9th century the site had largely returned to farmland and it was not definitively rediscovered until excavations began in 1934.

Chinese Model City

The city was laid out according to the jobo grid system, like a Go board, along the lines of Chinese cities like the Tang capital of Changan.

Although it could not compete with Chinese metropolises for size, recent excavations have revealed that it may have covered as much as 9¼ square miles, considerably bigger than traditionally believed.

The city was divided by orthogonal oji, or avenues, into twelve jo (north-south blocks) and eight bo (east-west blocks).

Whereas in later capitals the city blocks were delineated by numbers, at Fujiwara-Kyo each block had its own name – e.g. Ohari-machi and Hayashi-mach.

As many as 30,000 people may have lived here. One clue to the population comes from a document called the Shoku Nihongi, which records that in 704, 1,505 households in Fujiwara-Kyo received bolts of cloth.

Household registers (known as koseki) from the era – a device introduced as part of the ritsuryo system to help keep track of tax payers – show that each household numbered on average more than 16 people, suggesting a minimum population for the city of at least 24,000.

The focal point of the city was the Fujiwara-no-miya, the imperial palace. Like a Chinese palace this was actually a compound or complex of walls, plazas and buildings.

Genjo Sanzo is a protagonist of the famous Chinese classical novel entitled “Journey to the West”.

This is a tale of Genjo Sanzo’s journey from China to India in order obtain sacred texts, in which he battles with monsters with help from Songoku, the ghost of his monkey servant.

Some 1,300 years ago, various cultures came into Nara via the Silk Road.

Processions of masked people can be seen at the Genjosanzo-e Taisai Festival, which is held at Yakushiji Temple on May 5th every year, reminding me of ancient times in which Nara was connected via the Silk Road all the way to Europe.

Sited in the central north zone of the city, so that the monarch could symbolically look south to  survey his dominions, the palace was approximately 1/3 square mile and was surrounded by a 16½  wide outer ditch, wooden walls about 16½ feet high and then another, inner ditch.

There were three main gates; the main one, the Suzaku-mon, was in the south wall.

It led to the heart of the complex: the Dairi, the emperor’s personal residence and the Chodoin, the Halls of State, of which the most important was the Daigokuden, the Imperial Audience Hall. At 147½ feet wide, 69 feet deep and 82 feet high, this was the largest building in Japan.

The omiya dodan, or ‘earth platform of the great palace’ upon which the Daigokuden rested, still rises above the surrounding plain at the site.

Significantly the Audience Hall and other palace buildings were the first in Japan to be roofed with ceramic tiles – another innovation from China.

It is estimated that up to two million tiles were used on the palace. Also as in China, public buildings were cited in the midst of wide plazas to enhance their impact on the sovereign’s subjects.

Around the palace were the mansions of aristocrats and high-ranking officials. One such mansion near the Suzaku-mon covered 129,166 square feet. Lesser bureaucrats and commoners lived further out.

There were also several Buddhist temples in the city. One of them, Yakushiji, still exists, having been moved along with the capital to the new site at Nara, where it still stands today (although most of it has been reconstructed at one point or another).

Just as the city itself was an innovation, so its construction and habitation involved other innovations. Fujiwara-Kyo saw the first latrines yet found in Japan.

Analysis of their contents shows that the inhabitants ate raw vegetables and undercooked fish, such as carp and trout, which gave them worms. To help regulate and facilitate trade, the city also saw the first coins ever minted in Japan.

Tenji, in full Tenji Tennō, Tenji also spelled Tenchi, original name Nakano Ōe (born 625/626, Japan—died Jan. 7, 672, Ōtsu, Ōmi province), 38th emperor of Japan, from 668 to 672, and the ruler who freed the Japanese court from the domination of the Soga family.

Tenji implemented a series of reforms that strengthened the central government in accord with the Chinese model and restored power to the emperor.

In 1999, archaeologists found a cache of Fuhonsen coins, named for the two kanji characters on the front – fu and hon, meaning ‘wealth’ and ‘basis’, thought to be a reference to a legendary Chinese epigram, ‘the basis for wealth of the people is food and money’.

These coins, dating from the late 7th century and predating the previous earliest known Japanese coins of 708, are thought to represent another stage in the Taika Reform project to modernize Japan, transforming it into a nation state along Chinese lines.

It is even suggested that the coins were specifically designed to help educate the public about how to use money.

Another innovation from this period was the use of mokkan, inscribed wooden tablets or batons used to help administer the ritsuryo system.

They could be used as luggage or goods labels, as tallies to help keep track of taxes or as official documents.

Over 7,000 have been discovered at Fujiwara-Kyo, providing valuable insights into the business of government at this crucial period in Japanese history.

Moving Time

After expending so much time and effort to create a city from scratch, why abandon it after such a short time?

The relocation was probably down to political/symbolic reasons, with the new capital intended to provide an even larger and more impressive backdrop to the new system of government, one which was not associated with the traditional ruling region of Asuka (Nara was slightly further to the north).

But historian Hisashi Kano suggests that geomancy – landscape magic – may have played a part in the decision, with the hill directly to the south of Fujiwara-Kyo effectively disrupting the feng-shui of the palace.

Rather than the emperor overlooking his domain from the palace, the hill meant that his palace was itself overlooked.

…tongue-speaking in Christian and Pagan worship.

1 Corinthians 9 – Christian Rights & Christian Science

This is Gislebertus’ “Temptation of Eve”
Eve, head resting on right arm, looks forward resolutely whilst the left hand sneaks backwards to grasp an apple.

I can see how Satan tricked Mary Baker Eddy into believing the lies of Christian Science.  He did the same thing with Eve when he made You out to be the bad guy:

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.  And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Eve grasps the apple, whilst the “pincer claw” of the broken off hand of the devil can be seen on the upper right gripping / holding up the branch of the apple tree towards Eve’s hand.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat” (Gen 3:1-6).

Satan’s like a Used Car Salesman, he tells the buyer only good things about the car and leaves out the fact that it won’t last long.

Mary Baker Eddy was sick and therefore vulnerable for anything to make her feel better, so after Quimby managed to heal her I can imagine the devil whispering lies that Jesus had nothing to do with it, that they themselves did it.

A lot like that book, “The Secret,” which we’ll talk about in 2 Corinthians.  But tomorrow we’ll look at the last Lost City of South Asia and the Far East, which will be…

1 Corinthians 9
Christian Rights

1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?

“Am I not an apostle?” – some at Corinth And elsewhere questioned Paul’s genuine apostleship.  To certify his apostleship Paul gives this proof: that he has seen the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:1-9, 22:6-16, 26:12-18), as was true of the other apostles.

Furthermore, he adds that his ministry has produced true spiritual fruit for the Lord, which should confirm to them that he is indeed an apostle.

2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?

5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

“Lead about a sister, a wife” – Paul asserts his right to be married, if he wishes.  This does not mean that he was married, as some have imagined (see 7:7).  Other apostles, including Peter had wives (Mk 1:30).

6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

8 Say I these things as a man? Or saith not the law the same also?

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

“They which minister about holy things” – the Corinthian believers would understand this illustration not only from their knowledge of the Old Testament (cf. Lev 7:28-36; Num 18:8-20). but also from the practice in pagan temples in Greece and Rome.

14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 

“My glorying” – that he had preached the gospel without charge, so that they could not say that they had paid him for it.

16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

“Necessity is laid upon me” – the Lord had laid on Paul the necessity of preaching the gospel (Acts 9:1-16, 26:16-18; see also Jer 20:9).

17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

“My reward…when I preach the gospel” – Paul’s reward in preaching is not material things but the boasting that he has preached to the Corinthians without charge and has not taken advantage of the rights he deserves: food and drink, shelter and pay.

Paul’s greatest reward is that he pleases God which God Himself will give him.   Similar to churches that preach the “complete” truth of Jesus Christ and they are paid by passing the basket.  There is nothing wrong with that and actually God ordained the action.

Yet, there are others, like the Catholics, some evangelists, like Rick Warren, and many Christian pastors, that are rewarded only by man because they don’t preach for the glory of god, but for their own glory.

19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

“Have I made myself servant unto all” – not only did Paul not use his right to material support in preaching the gospel but he also deprived himself – curtailed his personal privileges and social and religious rights – in dealing with different kinds of people.

20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

“Them that are under the law” – those under the Old Testament law and religious practices (the Jews).

“Are under the law” – for the Jews’ sake Paul conformed to the Jewish law.

21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

“Them that are without law” – those who have not been raised under the Old Testament law (the Gentiles).

“As without law” – Paul accommodated himself to Gentile culture when it did not violate his allegiance to Christ, thought he still reckoned that he was under God’s law and Christ’s law.

22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

“Race run all” – the Corinthians were familiar with the foot races in their own Isthmian games, which occurred every other year and were second only to the Olympic games in importance.

“Prize” – In ancient times the prize was a perishable wreath.

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

“Crown…incorruptible” – see 2 Tim 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 2:10, 3:11, 4:10.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

“Run, not as uncertainly” – see Phil 3:14.

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 

“I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” – here Paul uses the figure of boxing to represent the Christian life.  He does not aimlessly beat the air, but he severely disciplines his own body in serving Christ.

“Lest…I myself…castaway” – Paul realizes that he must with rigor serve the Lord and battle against sin.  If he fails in this, he may be excluded from the reward (see 3:10-15).

Christian Science

Mary Baker Eddy (born Mary Morse Baker, July 16, 1821 – December 3, 1910) was the founder of Christian Science, a new religious movement that emerged in New England in the late 19th century.

Eddy is the author of the movement’s textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (first published 1875), and founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist (1879).

She also founded the Christian Science Publishing Society (1898), which continues to publish a number of periodicals, including The Christian Science Monitor (1908).

Married three times (widowed twice and divorced once), she took the name Mary Baker Glover from her first marriage.

She was also known from her third marriage as Mary Baker Glover Eddy and Mary Baker G. Eddy.

Christian Science has been regarded as the most popular among the religious groups classified as mind sciences.


The story of Christian Science is largely the story of its rounder, Mary Baker Eddy (1821 -1910). Mary Baker was raised in a Congregationalist home in Bow, New Hampshire.

In 1838, at age seventeen, she joined a Congregational church in Tilton, New Hampshire, but never seemed content with its doctrines.

Eddy was plagued by illnesses throughout her life, including during her early childhood. In 1843 she married George Glover.

The happy marriage was not to last, ending one and a half years later when Glover died in Charleston, South Carolina, leaving his wife behind pregnant with a son, who was born in September 1844.

Her condition became worse than ever, and she grew extremely interested in the study of medicine and health.

Eddy married for the second time in 1853 to a dentist named Daniel Patterson. This marriage was not as happy as her first.

Patterson appears to have been a womanizer. In 1866 they were separated, and in 1873 she secured a divorce.

Interest in medicine led her in 1862 to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-66), who resided in Portland, Maine.

She gave herself over to his care, as he treated her for “spinal inflammation.” Soon she claimed that Quimby’s treatments had healed her.

Quimby had been an early student of mesmerism and animal magnetism and espoused a theory of mental healing that he called “The Science of Man.”

Many scholars believe that Quimby’s work served as the basis for much of what Eddy later brought together in her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, published in 1875.

Some sources maintain that she in fact plagiarized considerable portions from her mentor.

A third and final marriage came in 1877, when Mary Baker met and married Asa G. Eddy, from whom she derived her present name. He died shortly afterward of coronary thrombosis.

In 1866, following Quimby’s death, Mary retired and for nearly ten years worked on her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

The Church claims to have over 50,000 testimonies of healing through Christian Science treatment alone.

While most of these testimonies represent ailments neither diagnosed nor treated by medical professionals, the Church does require three other people to vouch for any testimony published in its official organ, the Christian Science Journal.

However, some[who?] critics of the Church complain that the verification guidelines are not strict enough.

The Church also has a number of statements regarding diagnosed conditions accompanied by legal affidavits of authenticity signed by medical practitioners who witnessed a non-medical healing.

Historian and journalist Robert Peel, who was a Christian Scientist, chronicles examples of these accounts, quoting from the affidavits.

Four years later, in 1879, she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston.

In 1892, under a program of restructuring, it became known as the Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist. It has been the headquarters of Christian Science ever since.

Eddy remained the head of the church until her death on December 3, 1910.

During the last twenty years of her life, Eddy had become a virtual recluse. She was not even present during the dedication of the Mother Church in 1895.

Since her death, control of the church has been passed on to a board of trustees.

One historian notes that “Christian Science is one of at least five large and easily differentiated religious movements that bear the stamp ‘made in America.’ Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostalism are the others.”

Growth was rapid during the 1880s. Membership climbed until around 1930, when it leveled off. Since 1960, Christian Science has been steadily losing members.

Christian Science has always tended to attract those who seek an intellectual alternative to the Christian answers to the problem of suffering and pain.

In 1991 the church entered into a controversy by agreeing to publish Bliss Knapp’s The Destiny of the Mother Church, a book that had been condemned in 1947 because it deified Eddy.

Encyclopedia Britannica 1992 Yearbook reports that the Knapps had left some $90 million to the church on condition that the book be published and prominently displayed in Christian Science reading rooms.

Opponents of publication accused the church of heresy in order to fund the controversial expansion of its media enterprises.


The headquarters for Christian Science is in Boston, Massachusetts. Eddy authored The Manual of the Mother Church in 1895, which was edited regularly throughout her life.

The Church’s board of directors is comprised of five members. Local congregations, called branches, are autonomous.

In 1843 Mary Baker married George Washington Glover, a young man who had been associated with Samuel Baker, her elder brother, as a contractor and builder.

Originally from Concord, New Hampshire, Mr. Glover had established himself in business in Charleston, South Carolina. Mary Baker Glover first came into touch with slavery in the South.

Her husband owned some slaves and her sense of right revolted against the practice.

There are no ordained clergy. Readers serve for a three-year period as an aid in the study of healing and spirituality.

However, individual participants in Christian Science Reading Rooms, as they are frequently called, pray for themselves for healing. But they may also call on a practitioner who has received training in spiritual council and prayer.


According to the Christian Science Church Manual, the whole basis for the church’s existence is to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”

Basic to Eddy’s (Quimby’s) thought is the Greek dualistic concept that matter is evil. The material world is illusory. The only reality is mind.

There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal.

It had been Quimby’s conviction that sickness was the result of ill-formed beliefs. Eddy apparently held to this idea as well.

She also believed that sickness was caused by evil or malicious animal magnetism, another aspect of Quimby’s thought.

All matter is opposed to spirit and/or mind—the substance of God. All sensory perceptions are deceitful. To believe that matter has or possesses reality is evil and a lie.

This led naturally to Eddy’s convictions concerning sickness and disease.

The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health; also a fear that Mind is helpless to defend the life of man and incompetent to control it.

Once a person realizes that sickness is nonexistent, for matter itself does not exist, then one will also realize that one is not, nor ever has been, sick in the first place.

Death itself is illusory because it pertains to the physical body— which is not real.

Christian Science is a false religion which began in 1875, when Mary Baker Eddy (the religion’s founder) published her demonic work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

“Christian Scientists” elevate the writings of Mary Baker Eddy as being equal with the inspired Word of God, i.e., the Bible.

As with other Satanic religions, Christian Science follows the writings of a human being (Mary Baker Eddy) instead of the Word of God.

Mormons follow Joseph Smith. Jehovah’s Witnesses follow Charles Taze Russell. Scientologists follow Ron Hubbard.

Muslims follow Muhammad.
But in John 5:39 Jesus commanded… SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!!!

Death is but another phase of the dream that existence can be material.

What makes the unreality of sickness, disease, and death, or for that matter any sensory experiences, seem real is wrong belief.

Fundamentally, the difference between Christian Science and traditional Christianity is in the former’s insistence on a dualism between flesh and spirit.

Christianity encountered this philosophy early in its expansion into the Greek world surrounding the eastern Mediterranean.

Christianity, in its earliest form, knows of no such dualism. Paul reasoned that the spiritual warfare being conducted in his own person (Rom. 7) was warfare between the flesh and the spirit, or between the old Adam and the new Adam.

Nowhere, however, does he conclude that the Holy Spirit is battling an evil flesh. It is not the flesh that is evil, but rather, “it is sin living in me” (Rom. 7:17).

Augustine later picked up Paul’s view of himself and developed it, insisting that sin is a foreign substance that invaded the human race at the Fall. That which God created is good. Both body and soul are good.

It is sin that has corrupted humanity. Adam and Eve passed on this corruption through the human sex act (according to Augustine).

Christian Science, therefore, bears little resemblance to historic Christianity. Each is built on a different foundation—the former on the fundamentals of Greek and Cartesian dualism, the latter on a Hebraistic worldview and a biblical Monotheism.


“God” in Christian Science is synonymous with other concepts like mind, spirit, goodness, health, and well-being. Fundamental to Christian Science are the four points:

1. God is All-in-all.
2. God is good. Good is Mind.
3. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter.4. Life, God, omnipotent good, deny death, evil, sin, disease—Disease, sin, evil, death, deny good, omnipotent God, Life.

Christianity teaches that “God is a spirit” (Jn 4:24), that God is the Creator of the world and of matter (Gen. 1), and that the created world was “good.” Eddy taught that the historical doctrine of the Trinity should be ranked with polytheism.

In 1853 she married Daniel Patterson on his assurance that he would provide a home for her son. Patterson soon reneged on that agreement – the first of many broken promises. Despite their mutual affection, the marriage deteriorated.

Jesus Christ

He was a historical figure who lived nearly two thousand years ago. But as a man he was limited to a physical body and since matter is illusory, Jesus’ mission on earth was to teach humankind that any and all sickness is also illusory.

According to Christian Science, Jesus was not God incarnate in human flesh though he was born of a virgin. Eddy believed that Christ was an idea only.

Christian Science makes a sharp distinction between the “man” Jesus and the Christ, who envelops the “divine idea.”

Christ is the ideal Truth that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. Jesus is the name of the man, who, more than all other men, has presented Christ,

Traditional Christology maintains that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God, fully human and fully divine (Rom. 1:3-4; Apostles’, Nicene, and Chalcedonian Creeds).

Eddy eschewed the idea that Jesus’ human blood was necessary to atone for sin (1 Jn 1:7). Jesus’ humanity and divinity are so related that the human element (blood) is able to save because it is in complete relationship with his divine nature.

Holy Spirit

According to Christian Science, the Holy Spirit is defined as being “Divine Science” itself. It is also referred to as being eternal Life, Truth, and Love. Jesus “proved that Christ is the divine idea of God—the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth.”

In October 1862 Mary became a patient of Phineas Quimby, a magnetic healer from Maine.

She benefited temporarily by his treatment. From 1862 to 1865 Quimby and Eddy engaged in lengthy discussions about healing methods practiced by Quimby and others.

It is said by Quimby’s supporters that his beliefs influenced her later thinking and writing, although to what extent has been frequently disputed.

Originally, Eddy gave Quimby much credit for his hypnotic treatments of her nervous and physical conditions and initially thought his brand of mesmerism entirely benign.

An experience in 1866, when Eddy had a physical healing of serious injuries while reading the Bible, led her to investigate more and more into the system of healing she would eventually term “Christian Science.”

As understood in Christianity, the Holy Spirit is a person, not an idea or divine principle. The Holy Spirit is referred to as “Counselor” (Jn 14:16, 26), the “Lord and Giver of Life” (Nicene Creed), and Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit with the personal pronoun “He” (Jn 16:13).


What is man? Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness…Man is idea, the image of love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas.

According to traditional Christian teaching, man is indeed comprised of a physical body. The name “Adam” means “ground” or “dust.” Man is comprised of a body and a soul, which are separated at death.


To Christian Science, sin is part of the illusory material world. It simply does not exist. “Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death.”

But sin is not an illusion for Christians. It was a real act committed first by Adam and Eve (Gen. 3) and is understood as a transgression of God’s law (1 Jn 3:3-5), for which Jesus made atonement in his sacrificial death (1 Pet 2:24).


Hell is “mortal belief; error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; sufferings and self-destruction; self-imposed agony; effects of sin; that which worketh abomination or maketh a lie.”

Hell, therefore, is a state of mind or conscience stricken by illusion or guilt.

Christian Science once again departs from traditional Christian teaching regarding hell. Although there are varying interpretations, hell is regarded as the place of eternal torment for the unbeliever and the wicked.


Salvation is “life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as being supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed.”

When one is liberated from the illusion of believing in matter on the one hand and sinfulness on the other, one has obtained salvation.

Salvation come only from Jesus Christ

Christianity teaches that because sin is real and not illusory, salvation is also real and is a finished work that Christ earns through his sacrificial death (Rom 3:21-24). It is understood as forgiveness, not knowledge or enlightenment.


The church for Christian Science is one structure on earth where truth and love dwell. Wherever such a structure is found, there lies the church. Furthermore:

The church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from the material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.

Christianity understands the church in a rich variety of ways, including “bride of Christ” (Eph 5:23.) and “the communion of saints” (Apostles’ Creed). It is comprised of believers in Jesus Christ, those who have been buried with Christ in baptism (Rom 6:1-3).


In orthodox Christian circles, the sacraments convey grace or at least symbolize God’s saving grace through physical means. Baptism uses water, and in holy communion, wine and bread accompany the ritual.

Not so for Christian Science. There can be no physical or material means through which grace is conveyed or symbolized. Matter simply does not exist.

The sacraments, however, are celebrated twice yearly. But no visible elements such as bread, wine, or in the case of baptism, water, may be present. The spiritual significance is sought. Baptism is “submergence in Spirit.”

End Times

Because the universe is comprised of God only, or Spirit only, there is no significance or direction in human history, nor is there anticipation that a transformation will occur in the future.

The Christian Scientist Cult leads only to Hell!

Heaven is defined as being “Harmony, the reign of Spirit, government by divine Principle, spirituality, bliss, the am Soul.”

For traditional Christianity, the end is that time when Jesus returns in glory (Mk 14:62; Acts 1:11) and as, the Apostles’ Creed confesses, “He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.”

Heaven is the eternity of God’s presence, where the Christian soul will reside in perfect union with God (Jn 14:1-6: Rev. 21:2-7).

In general, it is readily apparent that the heart of Christian Science lies in the dualism described above. All of its tenets are influenced by this overarching philosophy and worldview.

This belief differs drastically from the Christian position as expressed in the second article of the Apostles’ Creed, that Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, was conceived and born, that he suffered, died, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

To traditional Christianity, herein lies the focal point of human history. For Christian Science, however, history itself is a nonentity insofar as it embodies the melodrama of a suffering humanity, which it concludes does not ultimately even exist.


Christian Science has been declining in membership in recent years. Nevertheless, it continues to exert an impact chiefly through the proliferation of its literature.

Controversy within the organization continues to revolve around the issue of healing through prayer alone, without the help of medicine or doctors.

…the Lost Cities of South Asia and the Far East: Fujiwara-Kyo.

1 Corinthians 8 – Food Offered to Idols & How Marriage Has Changed Over Centurie

Wedding bouquets were originally made of such strong herbs as thyme and garlic, which were meant to frighten away evil spirits, and to cover the stench emitting from people who had not bathed recently.

We had looked at the eight ancient (before Christ) false religions that I know of. 

Since Jesus’ crucifixion hundreds of other false beliefs were formed and in the remainder of the New Testament we will look at the most known of.

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

1 Corinthians 8
Food Offered to Idols

1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

“Offered unto idols” – offered on pagan altars.  Meat left over from a sacrifice might be eaten by the priests, eaten by the offerer and his friends at a feast in the temple or sold in the public meat market.

Some Christians felt that that if they ate such meat they participated in pagan worship and thus compromised their testimony for Christ.  Other Christians did not feel this way.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
A tradition that goes back to the Roman and Greek Empire days

This superstition of the Bride wearing something that fits each of these four categories originated in Europe to ward off evil spirits.

Something Old: This tradition symbolized the sense of continuity while making the transition from a single person to that of a married couple.

Something New: This tradition symbolized that marriage represented a transition to adulthood.

Something Borrowed: This tradition symbolized the popular belief that by borrowing something from a happily married couple, good fortune would follow the newlyweds.

Something Blue: In ancient Israel, blue was the border color of the Bride’s dress, symbolizing purity, constancy and fidelity.

“Knowledge puffeth up” – it fills one with false pride.  And we see that happening whenever we listen to a politician talk.

“Charity edifieth” – the Christian should love his brother who doubts.

2 And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

“He knoweth nothing” – the wisest and most knowledgeable Christian realizes that his knowledge is limited.  God is the only one who knows all (cf. Rom 1:33-36).

3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

“If any man love God, the same is known of him” – a person who tempers his knowledge with love towards God shows that he is really known and thus accepted by God as one of God’s own redeemed (Gal 4:8-9: 1 Jn 4:7-8).

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

“Idol is nothing in the world” – it represents no real god and possess no power but there are demons behind it and even though they are not god, they do possess power to manipulate and destroy people if that person is foolish enough to listen to man, rather than to God.

5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

Called gods” – the alleged gods of Greek and Roman mythology.

“As there be gods many, and lords many” – not that there really is any.  Paul is recognizing the obvious fact that there are many who are worshipped as gods, even though they are nothing but men, such as the Pope or President Obama.

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

“Their conscience being weak is defiled” – Christians who conceive of an idol as being real cannot rid themselves of this idea.  Consequently, they think that in eating meat sacrificed on pagan altars they have involved themselves in pagan worship and thus have sinned against Christ.

Shoes On Vehicle
Ancient Romans used to transfer to the Groom his authority over his Bride when her Father gave the Groom her shoes.

In later years, guests threw their own shoes at the newlyweds to signify this transfer of authority.

Today, this tradition is kept alive by simply tying old shoes to the back of the newlywed’s vehicle before they leave their wedding reception celebration.

This would be the same as going to a psychic for advice or possessing a Rosary.  See 1 Cor 10:21.

8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.

10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

“Sit at meat in the idol’s temple” – at the site of ancient Corinth, archaeologists have discovered temples containing rooms apparently used for pagan feasts where meat offered to idols was eaten.  To such feasts Christians may have been invited by pagan friends.

11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

“Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish” – the weak Christian is influenced by the example of the stronger Christian and though he feels it to be wrong, eats the meat that has been offered to an idol.  The spiritual destruction that follows is explained in v. 12.

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

“Wound their weak conscience” – eating meat offered to idols when they feel it is wrong tends to blunt their consciences, so that doing what is wrong becomes much easier.  The result may be moral tragedy.

Stag Parties
This is the male equivalent of the Bridal Shower. Roman empire soldiers would feast with the Groom the night before his wedding to say goodbye to his irresponsible days of bachelorhood, and to renew their vows of allegiance to their friendships.

“Ye sin against Christ” – because Christ died for your bother, even as He died for you.  It is also a sin against Christ because it breaks the unity of the members of His body (the church).

13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

“I will eat no flesh while the world standeth” – Paul will forever refrain from engaging in the harmless practice of eating meat sacrificed to idols if it will cause his weak Christian brother, who feels it is wrong, also to eat that meat.

How Marriage Has Changed Over Centuries

Since the ancient world, marriage has evolved from a preservation of power to a personal contract between two equals seeking love, stability, and happiness.

Many of today’s popular wedding ceremony and reception traditions can be traced to ancient Pagan Roman,Greek and Egyptian Empires.
The word, “Wedding” comes from the Anglo Saxon word “wedd” that meant a man would marry a woman and pay the Bride’s father.

Roman Pagan Wedding Ceremony Vows
A Tradition that goes back over 6 thousand years.
I, N., take thee N to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, for fairer or fouler, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to Goddess’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.

I N. take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to Goddess’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.

Sound Familiar?

Actually, the institution has been in a process of constant evolution.

Pair-bonding began in the Stone Age as a way of organizing and controlling sexual conduct and providing a stable structure for child-rearing and the tasks of daily life.

But that basic concept has taken many forms across different cultures and eras.

“Whenever people talk about traditional marriage or traditional families, historians throw up their hands,” said Steven Mintz, a history professor at Columbia University.

“We say, ‘When and where?'” The ancient Hebrews, for instance, engaged in polygamy —King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines — and men have taken multiple wives in cultures throughout the world, including China, Africa, and among American Mormons in the 19th century.

Polygamy is still common across much of the Muslim world. The idea of marriage as a sexually exclusive, romantic union between one man and one woman is a relatively recent development.

Until two centuries ago, said Harvard historian Nancy Cott, “monogamous households were a tiny, tiny portion” of the world population, found in “just Western Europe and little settlements in North America.”

When did people start marrying?

The first recorded evidence of marriage contracts and ceremonies dates to 4,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia.

In the ancient world, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings and other members of the ruling class marrying off daughters to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs.

Ancient Roman Wedding Ring
The first recorded marriage rings date back to the days when early man. Approximately 3,000 BC, Egyptians originated the phrase “without beginning, without end” in describing the significance of the wedding ring.

These rings were made of woven hemp which constantly wore out and needed replacement. Later Romans used metal rings Although Romans originally used iron but later gold was used now as a symbol of all that is pure.

Diamonds were first used by Italians, who believed that it was created from the flames of love.

Even in the lower classes, women had little say over whom they married. The purpose of marriage was the production of heirs, as implied by the Latin word matrimonium, which is derived from mater (mother).

When did the church get involved?

In ancient Rome, marriage was a civil affair governed by imperial law. But when the empire collapsed, in the 5th century, church courts took over and elevated marriage to a holy union.

As the church’s power grew through the Middle Ages, so did its influence over marriage.

In 1215, marriage was declared one of the church’s seven sacraments, alongside rites like baptism and penance.

But it was only in the 16th century that the church decreed that weddings be performed in public, by a priest, and before witnesses.

What role did love play?

For most of human history, almost none at all. Marriage was considered too serious a matter to be based on such a fragile emotion.

“If love could grow out of it, that was wonderful,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History. “But that was gravy.”

In fact, love and marriage were once widely regarded as incompatible with one another.

A Roman politician was expelled from the Senate in the 2nd century B.C. for kissing his wife in public — such behavior was condemned as “disgraceful” by the essayist Plutarch.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the European aristocracy viewed extramarital affairs as the highest form of romance, untainted by the gritty realities of daily life.

And as late as the 18th century, the French philosopher Montesquieu wrote that any man who was in love with his wife was probably too dull to be loved by another woman.

The History Of The Wedding Veil
The first recorded instance of woman wearing a veil is in an Assyrian legal text 13th Century BCE. The veil was restricted to noble woman, with prostitutes and common woman being forbidden to wear it.

The veil is also recorded in Roman, Greek and Persepolis texts and on statues from ancient periods.The veil was worn for protection against the desert sun as well as for modesty of the woman.

The ancient Greeks were scholarly people; they developed many different areas of study philosophy, literature and medicine to name a few.

However they were also superstitious believing in Gods and also in the power of malevolent spirits to affect the everyday lives of people.

The first recorded use of a bridal veil was in ancient Greece where brides wore veils of bright yellow for protection from evil spirits and curses.

When did romance enter the picture?

In the 17th and 18th centuries, when Enlightenment thinkers pioneered the idea that life was about the pursuit of happiness. They advocated marrying for love rather than wealth or status.

This trend was augmented by the Industrial Revolution and the growth of the middle class in the 19th century, which enabled young men to select a spouse and pay for a wedding, regardless of parental approval.

As people took more control of their love lives, they began to demand the right to end unhappy unions. Divorce became much more commonplace.

Did marriage change in the 2oth century?

Dramatically. For thousands of years, law and custom enforced the subordination of wives to husbands. But as the women’s-rights movement gained strength in the late 19th and 20th centuries, wives slowly began to insist on being regarded as their husbands’ equals, rather than their property.

“By 1970,” said Marilyn Yalom, author of A History of the Wife, “marriage law had become gender-neutral in Western democracy.”

At the same time, the rise of effective contraception fundamentally transformed marriage:

Couples could choose how many children to have, and even to have no children at all. If they were unhappy with each other, they could divorce — and nearly half of all couples did.

Marriage had become primarily a personal contract between two equals seeking love, stability, and happiness.

This new definition opened the door to gays and lesbians claiming a right to be married, too.

“We now fit under the Western philosophy of marriage,” said E.J. Graff, a lesbian and the author of What Is Marriage For?

In one very real sense, Coontz says, opponents of gay marriage are correct when they say traditional marriage has been undermined.

“But, for better and for worse, traditional marriage has already been destroyed,” she says, “and the process began long before anyone even dreamed of legalizing same-sex marriage.”

Gay “marriage” in medieval Europe

Same-sex unions aren’t a recent invention. Until the 13th century, male-bonding ceremonies were common in churches across the Mediterranean. Apart from the couples’ gender, these events were almost indistinguishable from other marriages of the era.

Gay Marriage—Nothing New Under the Sun.
Gay marriage and homosexuality were part of the moral landscape faced by the first Christians in Ancient Rome.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will expand government recognition of same-sex marriages in all federal courtrooms and prisons on Monday, and ensure they receive the same benefits as heterosexual ones.

Twelfth-century liturgies for same-sex unions — also known as “spiritual brotherhoods” — included the recital of marriage prayers, the joining of hands at the altar, and a ceremonial kiss.

Some historians believe these unions were merely a way to seal alliances and business deals. But Eric Berkowitz, author of Sex and Punishment, says it is “difficult to believe that these rituals did not contemplate erotic contact.

In fact, it was the sex between the men involved that later caused same-sex unions to be banned.”

That happened in 1306, when the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II declared such ceremonies, along with sorcery and incest, to be unchristian.

…Christian Science.

Corinthians 7 – Marriage & Marriage in Ancient Rome

A European painting of an Emperor of China inspecting his fantasy fishing fleet with his concubines.
In ancient China, successful men often supported several concubines. For example, it has been documented that Chinese Emperors accommodated thousands of concubines.

A concubine’s treatment and situation were highly variable and were influenced by the social status of the male to whom she was engaged, as well as the attitude of the wife.

The position of the concubine was generally inferior to that of the wife. Although a concubine could produce heirs, her children would be inferior in social status to “legitimate” children. Allegedly, concubines were occasionally buried alive with their masters to “keep them company in the afterlife.

You know Father, that there was a time when I didn’t believe in You.  When I finally got smart enough to realize that You are what I’ve always been told You are, I still didn’t believe in the fornication thing.

My mother would always tell me that if I have sex with a woman I’m not married to then I’ve basically dismissed You.  But then I read the Bible and got to know You Guys and now I understand it fully.  Sorry about that.

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

1 Corinthians 7

1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

“Good for a man not to touch a woman” – Paul spoke strongly in favor of the married state and in 1 Tim 4:1-3 he taught that forbidding to marry would be a sign of the end-time apostasy.

Another possible again quoting a slogan of the Corinthians suggesting it was good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.  He refutes this idea in v. 2 by standing that sexual relations have their proper expression in marriage.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

“Fornication” – example: The temple to Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth, the rocky eminence above Corinth, at one time had in service 1,000 prostitute priestesses.

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

“Render unto the wife due benevolence” – married couples should have normal sexual relations.  Permanent abstention deprives the other partner of his or her natural right and may be conducive to temptation.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

“Likewise” – both husband and wife have conjugal rights and exclusive possession of the other in this area.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

The Temple of Aphrodite is located in ancient Aphrodisias about 70 miles east of Kusadasi and comprises one of the oldest groupings of archeological ruins in all of Turkey.
Although the once magnificent Temple of Aphrodite is now in ruins, the ruins themselves are quite breathtaking, rivaling those found at Knossos on the island of Crete and Ephesus, which is not far away.

It is possible to get here from both Izmir and Kusadasi using a number of buses and taxis, but guided tours are the most practical.

“Defraud you not one the other” – of sexual fulfillment.

“Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” – the Christian deprived of normal sexual activity with his or her marriage partner may be tempted by Satan to sexual immorality.  The normal God-given sexual drive in the human being is strong.

6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

“Permission, and not of commandment” – although marriage is desirable and according to God’s plan, it was not mandatory under the difficult circumstances at Corinth.  In another situation (1 Tim 5:14) Paul urges that “the younger women marry.”

7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

“I command, yet not I, but the Lord” – Paul is citing a command from the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry that married couples must stay together (Matt 5:32; Mk 10:2-12; Lk 16-18).  Paul probably heard such commands from other disciples or from Jesus Himself by a special revelation.

Aphrodite Pudica (Roman copy of 2nd century A.D.),
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus.

As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus’s genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros).

According to Homer’s Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione.

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

“But if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled” – Paul argues that in the light of Christ’s command she or he is not to marry again.  Rather, the separated or divorced couple are to be reconciled.  Clearly the ideal is that marriage should not be permanently disrupted.

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

“Any brother hath a wife that believeth not” – the apostle is talking here about couples already married, when one of them becomes a Christian, if at all possible, they so0uld remain together, unless the unbeliever refuses to remain.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

“The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife” – the unbelieving partner is influenced by the godly life of the Christian partner; so that family is under the holy influence of the believer and in that sense is sanctified.

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

18 Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised.

“Circumcised…uncircumcised” – Jew…Gentile.  in the religious sphere, Christian Jews should not try to obliterate physically the fact that they are Jews, and Christian Gentiles should not yield to Jewish pressure for circumcision.

19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21 Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

“If thou mayest be made free, use it rather” – if a Christian slave has an opportunity to get his freedom, he should take advantage of it. 

In the Roman empire slaves were sometimes freed by Roman patricians.  There is nothing wrong with seeking to improve your condition, but be content at every stage.

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

“Bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” – Christians in all stations of life should realize that their ultimate allegiance is not to men but to Christ, who bought them with His blood.

24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

Acrocorinth, “Upper Corinth”, the acropolis of ancient Corinth, is a monolithic rock overseeing the ancient city of Corinth, Greece. “It is the most impressive of the acropoleis of mainland Greece,” in the estimation of George Forrest.

“I give my judgment, as one…faithful” – Paul is not giving a direct command from Jesus here, but his own judgment. 

Even though he put it this way, he is certainly not denying that he wrote under the influence of divine inspiration.  And since he writes under inspiration what he recommends is clearly the better occurs of action.

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, and that it is good for a man so to be.

27 Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife.

28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

“He behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin…pass the flower of her age…let them marry” – “Virgin” here means “daughter.”  In the light of hostility toward believers in Corinth, a man might refrain from giving his daughter in marriage.

But if he then realizes that his daughter is getting beyond her prime marriageable age and the situation thus seems unfair to her, it is perfectly proper for him to give her in marriage.

37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

“Hath power over his own will…doeth well” – the man who determines that there is no need for him to give his daughter in marriage under the circumstances has made a good decision too.

38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

“Bound by the law as lo9ng as her husband liveth” – marriage is a lifelong union.

40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

Marriage in Ancient Rome

Marriage in ancient Rome was a strictly monogamous institution: a Roman citizen by law could have only one spouse at a time.

Roman couple joining hands; the bride’s belt may show the knot symbolizing that the husband was “belted and bound” to her, which he was to untie in their bed (4th century sarcophagus.
Marriage in ancient Rome was a strictly monogamous institution: a Roman citizen by law could have only one spouse at a time.

The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives. Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from the egalitarianism of the democratic and republican political systems of the city-states. It is one aspect of ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in later Western culture.

The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives.

Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from the egalitarianism of the democratic and republican political systems of the city-states.

It is one aspect of ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in later Western culture.

Marriage had mythical precedents, starting with the abduction of the Sabine Women, which may reflect the archaic custom of bride abduction.

Romulus and his band of male immigrants were rejected conubium, the legal right to intermarriage, from the Sabines.

According to Livy, Romulus and his men abducted the Sabine maidens, but promised them an honorable marriage, in which they would enjoy the benefits of property, citizenship, and children.

These three benefits seem to define the purpose of marriage in ancient Rome.

The word matrimonium, the root for the English word “matrimony,” defines the institution’s main function. Involving the mater (mother), it carries with it the implication of the man taking to woman in marriage to have children.

It is the idea conventionally shared by Romans as to the purpose of marriage, which would be to produce legitimate children; citizens producing new citizens.

Consortium is a word used for the sharing of property, usually used in a technical sense for the property held by heirs, but could also be used in the context of marriage. Such usage was commonly seen in Christian writings.

However, the sharing of water and fire (aquae et ignis communiciatio) was symbolically more important.

It refers to the sharing of natural resources. Worldly possessions transferred automatically from the wife to the husband in archaic times, whereas the classical marriage kept the wife’s property separate.

 In order for the union of a man and woman to be legitimate, there needed to be consent legally and morally.

Both parties had to be willing and intend to marry, and both needed their fathers’ consent. If all other legal conditions were met, a marriage was made.


A group portrait of a mother, son and daughter on glass (c. 250 AD), once thought to be the family of Valentinian III.
The lives of elite Roman women were essentially determined by their marriages. We are best informed about families with both wealth and political standing, whose largely inherited money would follow both their sons and their daughters.

In the earliest periods of Roman history, Manus Marriage meant that a married woman would be subjugated by her husband, but that custom had died out by the 1st century B.C. in favor of Free Marriage which did not grant a husband any rights over his wife or have any changing effect on a woman’s status.

Adultery was a sexual offense committed by a man with a woman who was neither his wife nor a permissible partner such as a prostitute or slave.

A married man committed adultery mainly when his female partner was another man’s wife or unmarried daughter.

The punishment varied at different periods of Roman history and depending on the circumstances.

Although prohibitions against adultery and harsh punishments are mentioned during the Republic (509–27 B.C.) historical sources suggest that they were regarded as archaic survivals, and should not be interpreted as accurate representations of behavior.

Adultery was normally considered a private matter for families to deal with, not a serious criminal offense requiring the attention of the courts, though there were some cases when adultery and sexual transgressions by women had been brought to the aediles for judgment.

According to Cato (2nd century B.C.), a husband had an ancient right (ius) to kill his wife if he caught her in the act of adultery.

The existence of this “right” has been questioned; if it did exist, it was a matter of custom and not statute law, and probably only applied to those in the manus form of marriage, which had become vanishingly rare by the Late Republic (147–27 BC), when a married woman always remained legally a part of her own family.

No source records the justified killing of a woman for adultery by either a father or husband during the Republic.

Adultery was sufficient grounds for divorce, however, and if the wife was at fault, the wronged husband got to keep a portion of her dowry, though not much more than if he had repudiated her for less serious forms of misconduct.


One of the most important aspects of the practical and business-like arrangement of Roman marriage was the dowry. The dowry was a contribution made by the wife’s family to the husband to cover the expenses of the household. It was more customary than compulsory.

There were several ways of celebrating a marriage, of which the simplest involved the consent of both parties, without rites or ceremony.
There were three others, each giving the husband legal power over his wife:

By cohabiting for a year without the woman being absent for a total of three nights.

By a symbolic form of purchase, in the presence of a holder of a pair of scales and five witnesses.

By full ritual, in the presence of the pontifex maximus.

Ancient papyrus texts show that dowries typically included land and slaves but could also include jewelry, toilet articles (used to make women more attractive, such as mirrors), and clothing.

These items were connected with legacy and if the wife died early in the marriage, the dowry could be returned to her family and buried with her to give a more elaborate burial than was typical for the time, however that was not always the case.

The dowry was also how Roman families maintained their social status relative to each other. It was important to ensure that upon the end of a marriage, the dowry was returned to either the wife or her family.

This was done in order to improve her chances of remarriage as well as to maintain the family resources. In ancient Rome, the dowry became the husband’s full legal property.

In actuality, however, the purpose of the dowry often affected the husband’s freedom to use the dowry.

For example, if the dowry was given to help in the maintenance of the wife, or if a legal provision was made for the wife or her family to reclaim the dowry should the marriage dissolve, the husband was restricted as to how he could make use of the dowry.

The fate of the dowry at the end of a marriage depended on its original source. A dowry of dos recepticia was one in which agreements were made in advance about its disposal. The agreement made beforehand determined how this dowry would be recovered.

One of dos profecticia was a dowry given by the father of the bride. This type of dowry could be recovered by the donor or by a divorced daughter if her pater died.

A dowry of dos adventicia was given by the daughter herself, though it came from her pater.

This dowry usually came in non-traditional forms, for example, in lieu of a debt settlement, instead of being given as a direct charge on the pater’s estate. The wife usually recovered this dowry. However, if she died, the husband retained this dowry


Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce

Divorce, like marriage, changed and evolved throughout Roman history. As the centuries passed and ancient Rome became more diversified, the laws and customs of divorce also changed and became more diversified to include the customs and beliefs of all the different people.

Divorce had always been a common occurrence in Rome and from the beginning of ancient law in Rome men have always had the possibility of divorcing their wives.

Although this custom was usually reserved for serious marital faults, such as adultery, making copies of the household keys, consuming wine, or infertility, it could be employed by a husband at any time.

For many centuries only husbands had this privilege but wives were finally included in this process and given permission to divorce their husbands as Rome entered into the classical age.

Since marriage was often used as a political tool in ancient Rome, especially in the upper classes, divorces were common when new political opportunities presented themselves.

Anytime a new opportunity arose, a man or woman would divorce their current spouse and marry a new one. A man or woman could form valuable family ties through their various marriages and divorces to different families.

A motivated man or woman might marry and divorce a couple times in their lifetime if they thought it to their advantage.

One of the main reasons for divorce, besides serious marital fault, was a desire to no longer remain married to a spouse.

Since one of the defining characteristics of marriage was a will to be married and an attitude of regarding one another as husband or wife, the marriage ended when the will or attitude ended.

A husband or wife would notify their spouse that they no longer desired to be married and the marriage would end.

It is interesting to note that only one spouse’s will was required for a divorce and that a divorce was still final even if the other spouse did not receive the notice of divorce. All that mattered was that one spouse wanted it to end, and it ended.

Divorce in ancient Rome was usually a private affair and only the parties involved were notified of it. A divorce did not have to be recognized or ratified by the church or state and no public record was kept of a divorce.

The lack of divorce records often led to some confusion with the numerous marriages and divorces going on.

One of the main components of a marriage was the exchange of the dowry between the husband and the wife or the wife’s guardian.

This would sometimes lead to disputes when the marriage ended because both parties wanted to claim the dowry.

It became an established custom that if the wife were not at fault for the ending of the marriage, then she was able to reclaim her dowry. This would often happen if the husband had committed offenses during the marriage, such as adultery.

Since either a husband or a wife could initiate a divorce, it became understood that if the wife wanted the divorce and there were children involved, then a husband could have some claim on the dowry based on the children.

Divorce from
Free Marriage

Roman divorce was as simple as marriage.
Just as marriage was only a declaration of intent to live together, divorce was just a declaration of a couple’s intent not to live together. All that the law required was that they declare their wish to divorce before seven witnesses.

The Manus Marriage custom ended in the 1st century B.C. and the Free Marriage divorce emerged. With this, the reasons for any divorce became irrelevant. Either spouse could leave a marriage at any point.

Property during a marriage was kept separate under Roman Law, and this left only the dowry in common. In cases of adultery, husbands got to keep a portion of the dowry, but without the involvement of adultery women would take most if not all of their dowry with them, as well as their personal property.

However, the woman had to get permission from the government to have a divorce while the man could simply just kick the woman out of the house.

Remarriage and Widowhood

Remarriage was very common in ancient Rome society and many men and women were usually married at least twice in their lifetimes. This is due to the fact that there was a high infant mortality rate, high death rate, and low average life expectancy in ancient Rome.

Men and women did not live very long. This high mortality rate plus the high divorce rate, common in ancient Rome, led to many instances of remarriage. Since children were expected in marriage, each spouse usually brought at least one child to the new marriage.

Remarriages thus created a new blending of the family in ancient Roman society, where children were influenced by stepparents and some instances where stepmothers were younger than their stepchildren.

Most wives were encouraged to remarry after either the death of the husband or a divorce. Ancient physicians believed that a woman was liable to get very sick if she was deprived of sexual activity and it could even lead to a woman getting ‘’hysteric uterine constriction.”

There was even legislation passed during the rule of Augustus that required widows and widowers to remarry to be able to fully inherit from people outside of their immediate family.


Concubinage (Latin: contubernium; concubine=concubina, considered milder than paelex) was the institution practiced in ancient Rome that allowed men to enter into certain illegal relationships without repercussions, with the exception of involvement with prostitutes.

Statue of Yang Guifei (719-756), the favoured concubine of Emperor Tang Xuanzong of China.
Concubinage is an interpersonal relationship in which a person (usually a woman) engages in an ongoing sexual relationship with another person to whom they are not or cannot be married.

00105b The inability to marry may be due to differences in social rank (including slave status), or because the non-concubine is already married. The woman in such a relationship is referred to as a concubine.

00105b Historically, concubinage was frequently voluntary by the woman and/or her family, as it provided a measure of economic security for the woman involved.

This de facto polygamy – for Roman citizens could not legally marry or cohabit with a concubine while also having a legal wife – was “tolerated to the degree that it did not threaten the religious and legal integrity of the family”.

The title of concubine was not considered derogatory (as it may be considered today) in ancient Rome, and was often inscribed on tombstones.

Emperor Augustus’ Leges Juliae gave the first legal recognition of concubinage, defining it as cohabitation without marital status.

Concubinage came to define many relationships and marriages considered unsuitable under Roman law, such a senator’s desire to marry a freedwoman, or his cohabitation with a former prostitute.

While a man could live in concubinage with any woman of his choice rather than marrying her, he was compelled to give notice to authorities.

This type of cohabitation varied little from actual marriage, except that heirs from this union were not considered legitimate.

Often this was the reason that men of high rank would live with a woman in concubinage after the death of their first wife, so that the claims of their children from this first marriage would not be challenged by the children from this later union.

Concerning the difference between a concubine and a wife, the jurist Julius Paulus wrote in his Opinions that “a concubine differs from a wife only in the regard in which she is held,” meaning that a concubine was not considered a social equal to her patron, as his wife was.

While the official Roman law declared that a man could not have a concubine at the same time he had a wife, there are various notable occurrences of this, including the famous cases of the emperors Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and Vespasian.

Suetonius wrote that Augustus “put Scribonia [his second wife] away because she was too free in complaining about the influence of his concubine”. Often, in return for payment, concubines would relay appeals to their emperor.

Concubines did not receive much protection under the law, aside from the legal recognition of their social stature. They largely relied upon their patrons to provide for them.

Early Roman law sought to differentiate between the status of concubinage and legal marriage, as demonstrated in a law attributed to Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, circa 716-673 B.C.:

Palace of the concubines

“A concubine shall not touch the altar of Juno. If she touches it, she shall sacrifice, with her hair unbound, a ewe lamb to Juno.”

This fragment gives evidence that concubines existed early in the Roman monarchy, but also notes the banning of their involvement in the worship of Juno, the goddess of marriage.

Later the jurist Ulpian wrote on the Lex Julia et Papia,

“Only those women with whom intercourse is not unlawful can be kept in concubinage without the fear of committing a crime”.

He also said that “anyone can keep a concubine of any age unless she is less than twelve years old.”

…how marriage has changed over centuries.

1 Corinthians 6 – Lawsuits Among Brethren 7 Roman Archaeologists Find Oldest Images of Apostles in a Catacomb

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

1 Corinthians 6
Lawsuits Among Brethren

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

“A matter against another” – Paul seems to be talking about various kinds of property court cases here, not criminal cases that should be handled by the state.

“Before the saints” – the Corinthians should take their property cases before qualified Christians for settlement. 

In Paul’s day the Romans allowed the Jews to apply their own law in property mattes, and since the Romans did not yet consider Christians as a separate class from the Jews, Christians no doubt had the same rights.

2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

“Are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” – Paul views believers as fully competent to judge cases where Christians have claims against each other because they view matters from a godly vantage point.

In comparison with their future role in the judgment of the world and of angels, judgments concerning things of this life are insignificant.

3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?

4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

The Catacomb of Saint Thecla is a Christian catacomb in the city of Rome, near the Via Ostiense and the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, in the southern quarter of the ancient city. The catacomb was constructed in the fourth century of the Common Era, linked with a basilica to the saint that is alluded to in literature. Because of the enigmatic endings of the legends of Saint Thecla of Iconium, it is still unknown whether the tomb belongs to the saint or if it belongs to a different noblewoman. Regardless, the tomb is an example of early Christian funerary practice and artwork. The most recent discovery in the catacomb was the depiction of several apostles, hypothesized to be their earliest portrayals. Of particular interest to many is the portrait of the Apostle Paul.
The Catacomb of Saint Thecla is a Christian catacomb in the city of Rome, near the Via Ostiense and the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, in the southern quarter of the ancient city.
The catacomb was constructed in the fourth century of the Common Era, linked with a basilica to the saint that is alluded to in literature. Because of the enigmatic endings of the legends of Saint Thecla of Iconium, it is still unknown whether the tomb belongs to the saint or if it belongs to a different noblewoman. Regardless, the tomb is an example of early Christian funerary practice and artwork.

The most recent discovery in the catacomb was the depiction of several apostles, hypothesized to be their earliest portrayals. Of particular interest to many is the portrait of the Apostle Paul.

6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

“Utterly a fault” – most likely by greed, retaliation and hatred, instead of practicing unselfishness, forgiveness and love – even willingness to suffer loss.

8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

“Fornicators” – Paul here identifies three kinds of sexually immoral persons: adulterers, male prostitutes and males who practice homosexuality.  In Rom 1:26 he adds the category of females who practice homosexuality.

People who engage in such practices, as well as the other offenders listed in vv. 9-10, are explicitly excluded from God’s kingdom (but see next note).

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

“Such were some of you” – God, however, does save and sanctify people like those described in vv. 9-10 if they repent, i.e., ask for forgiveness and stop committing the sin.

12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats” – Paul quotes some Corinthians again who were claiming that as the physical acts of eating and digesting food have no bearing on one’s inner spiritual life, so the physical act of promiscuous sexual activity does not affect one’s spiritual life.

“The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord” – Paul here declares the dignity of the human body: It is intended for the Lord.  Although granting that food and the stomach are transitory, Paul denies that what one does with his body is unimportant. 

This is particularly true of the use of sex, which the Lord has ordained in wedlock for the good of mankind.

14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

“God…raised up the Lord…also raise up us” – as an illustration of God’s high regard for the body, Paul cites the resurrection of Christ’s body and eventually, the believer’s body.  A body destined for resurrection should not be used for immorality.

15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.

“Members of Christ” – It is not merely the spirit that is a member of Christ’s body; it is the whole person, consisting of spirit and body.  This fact gives dignity to the human  body.

16 What? Know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

“One body” – in sexual relationship the two bodies become one and a new human being may emerge from the sexual union.  Sexual relations outside the marriage bond are a gross perversion of the divinely established marriage union.

17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

President Barack Obama speaks at a fundraiser in New York City, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

“Every sin…without the body” – perhaps means that in a unique way, sexual immorality gratifies one’s physical body.  Paul may be quoting a Corinthian slogan which he refutes in the second half of the verse.

“But he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” – the body is a temple of the Holy Ghost; thus to use it in prostitution disgraces God’s temple.  Furthermore, the prostitutes of Corinth were dedicated to the service of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sex.

19 What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Roman Archaeologists Find
Oldest Images of Apostles in a Catacomb

ROME — The earliest known icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul have been discovered in a catacomb under an eight-story modern office building in a working-class neighborhood of Rome, Vatican officials said Tuesday.
The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were discovered on the ceiling of a tomb that also includes the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew.

They were uncovered using a new laser technique that allowed restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the dark colors of the original paintings underneath.

Archaeologists and art restorers using new laser technology have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ’s Apostles. 

The images in a branch of the catacombs of St Tecla near St Paul’s Basilica, just outside the walls of ancient Rome, were painted at the end of the 4th century or the start of the 5th century.

Archaeologists believe these images may have been among those that most influenced later artists’ depictions of the faces of Christ’s most important early followers. 

“These are the first images that we know of the faces of these four Apostles,” said Professor Fabrizio Bisconti, the head of archaeology for Rome’s numerous catacombs, which are owned and maintained by the Vatican.

The full-face icons include visages of St Peter, St Andrew, and St John, who were among Jesus’ original 12 Apostles, and St. Paul, who became an Apostle after Christ’s death.

The paintings have the same characteristics as later images, such as St. Paul’s rugged, wrinkled and elongated forehead and balding head and pointy beard, indicating they may have been the ones which set the standard.

The four circles, about 50 cm in diameter, are on the ceiling of the underground burial place of a noblewoman who is believed to have converted to Christianity at the end of the same century when the emperor Constantine made it legal.

The tomb, in a web of catacombs under a modern building, is not yet open to the public because of continued work, difficult access and limited space. Bisconti said the new discoveries will be made available for viewing by specialists for the time being.

…marriage in Ancient Rome.