2 Corinthians 13 – Farewell and Benediction & Top Worst Roman Emperors

This is the last chapter of 2 Corinthians so tomorrow we’ll start with…

2 Corinthians 13
Farewell and Benediction

1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

“Two or three witnesses” – It might have been like that here in the United States at some time, maybe in the 70s, but it isn’t anymore. 

The laws are no longer made to protect the innocent, but to control the environment.  Prosecutors and the police alike do whatever they can to convict someone of a crime, whether they are guilty or not because if the police arrested them then they must be guilt.

2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:

“I will not spare” – Paul will not hesitate to take stern disciplinary action against offenders when he comes to Corinth for the third time, as he is about to do.

P aul is not talking about becoming violent, but exposing any false apostles or anyone that sins.  This is what the pastors, preachers and evangelists of today should do, but the majority of them don’t.

3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.

  “Ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me” – they will be given ample proof when he comes, unless they show a change of heart.

“Which to you-ward is not weak” – rebellion against Paul is rebellion against Christ, who appointed him as His apostle.  The authority of the apostle is the authority of his Master. 

Any who imagine that Paul is weak will find that Christ, the Lord who speaks through His apostle, is not weak but powerful.

4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

“We shall live with him by the power of God” – Paul is referring to his present apostolic authority, and to the fact that divine power will be displayed by the punishment of any who resist that authority.

5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

“Examine yourselves…prove your own selves” – instead of demanding proof that Christ was speaking through him, as the false apostles were inciting them to do, they should look into their own hearts.

6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

13:11-14 – these concluding exhortations and salutations exhibit a note of confidence.

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

13 All the saints salute you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

The second epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.

Top Worst Roman Emperors

The Roman Empire was vast at its peak and its influence is still felt today in our forms of military, government, and society in general.

Ruled over for a time by emperors, the Empire had periods of greatness and periods of decline. This list looks at ten of the emperors who have left their mark on history for being so dreadful.

Domitian

The Apocalypse of Saint John is believed to have been written during Domitian’s reign at the end of the First Century.

Domitian was a staunch advocate for the Roman gods and goddesses, the worship of whom had fallen out of practice by the time of his rise to power.

Eusebius of Caesarea, writing 300 years later, recounts that the first large-scale Christian and Jewish persecution began during Domitian’s reign.

There is no non-Christian history of such activities, but Domitian is known to have been tyrannically opposed to all other religions other than Roman.

Like so many other emperors, Domitian dealt with dissent among his close advisors and friends by means of death. He executed a few too many prominent politicians and wealthy citizens, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was his murder of his secretary, Epaproditus.

A man named Stephanus, and several others, conspired to kill him, with Stephanus pretending to be wounded for several days, so he could conceal a dagger under his bandages.

He approached Domitian in his bedroom, and stabbed him in the groin, whereupon the emperor was beset by several men, one of which was a fearsome gladiator, who all stabbed him to death.

Septimius Severus

There is no doubt that Christians and Jews were persecuted severely during Severus’s reign. He believed in a draconian interpretation of Roman law, which did not tolerate any religion but the Roman one.

He did not seek out any particular religious culture, but simply persecuted all of the foreign ones. Christians and Jews were the most common, and up to 1,000 to 3,000 were executed, after being given the option of cursing Jesus or Yahweh, or being beheaded or crucified.

He had absolutely no respect of care for anyone except his army, since they were the ones who could rise up and depose him. He managed to stabilize the Empire through draconian fear, but this stability did not last long, once his son, #4, took the throne.

 

 

Maximinus Thrax

He was, by all accounts, a huge man, well over 6 feet tall, perhaps seven feet or more. He has been blamed as causing the Crisis of the 3rd Century, largely due to his murders of several dozen of his closest friends, advisors, and benefactors.

He did not trust anyone, and intended to make the people love him by conquest and expansion. His first campaign was against the Alamanni people of Germania.

They were absolutely no threat to Rome at this time, but Maximinus invaded them and conquered them, albeit at a terrible cost to his army.

The people did not love him for this, but hated him. But he went right on invading Sarmatia and Dacia, modern-day Ukraine and Romania, respectively. These people had not instigated anything against Rome.

Meanwhile, a revolt began in North Africa, setting up two men as claimants to the Roman throne, Gordianus Sempronianus and his son.

The Roman Senate supported them, and in response, Maximinus marched his army on Rome, but his troops had been fighting for so long that they were exhausted and sick. They were unable to enter the closed city gates, and many deserted.

His Praetorian Guard had finally had enough and stabbed Maximinus in the back, then his son and advisors, beheaded them and put their heads on poles around the city walls, whereupon they were let in.

Diocletian

Diocletian reigned at the end of the Crisis of the Third Century, and though he significantly stabilized and improved the Empire’s military and economy, he will forever be remembered as the worst persecutor of Christians in history.

He issued several edicts in 303 removing all rights from Christians until they converted to the Roman religion. Of course, the Christians refused, and from 303 to 311, at least 3,000 were martyred.

At first, those who refused were simply imprisoned, but it was not long before they were executed by both crucifixion and beheading.

Christian churches were sought all over the Empire and burned to the ground, looted, and even Christian senators were stripped of their jobs, imprisoned and executed.

When the persecution did not seem to be working, as the Christians simply went into hiding and continued to spread their religion, Diocletian advocated their torturous and entertaining executions in the Circus Maximus and Colosseum, and this was the time when most Christians were thrown to the lions, much to the delight of the Roman citizens who worshiped Roman gods.

The murders did not truly stop until Constantine’s rise to absolute power in 324 A.D.

Tiberius

Tiberius was Emperor after Augustus, from 14 to 37, and did not care for the job. All he wanted was the luxury, and left the Senate to do all the ruling.

The Senate despised him for this, and told the criticized him to the Roman populace, until he no longer trusted his safety in Rome and left for the island of Capri.

He erected statues of his captain of the Guard, Lucius Sejanus, all over the city, and gave all the tasks of ruling to him. Tiberius more or less retired to Capri for the rest of his long life, only returning to Rome a few times.

While he lived on Capri, he had a huge villa built for him, Villa Jovis, the Villa of Jove (Jupiter), in which he indulged his pedophilia. He swam naked with and raped infants, toddlers and young boys.

He did not otherwise physically harm them in any way, but even in his late seventies, sex with young children was one of his favorite pastimes.

Nero

Nero used the office of emperor to suit his desire for an opulent lifestyle, and had absolutely no care for the welfare of the people.

He never trusted his mother, Agrippina, rightly so, and tried to kill her by having her ship sunk. This didn’t work, and he simply ordered her executed.

He routinely executed anyone close to him, whom he did not trust, always under mysterious circumstances, because he feared the Praetorian Guard.

He managed to reign for 15 years in this way, killing anyone who dissented. He was accused of treason beginning in 62, and simply executed the accusers, several dozen of them.

He loved to go to bars and whorehouses, not even disguising himself. The Great Fire of Rome, in 64, has given rise to the legend that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

This is not true. He was away in Antium (Anzio), and returned to Rome to try to have the fire put out. He even paid for this out of his own pocket.

He did help out the survivors tremendously, letting them stay in the palace until homes were rebuilt, feeding them, etc. But the fire largely destroyed the city center, and Nero had a large part of this destruction rebuilt as his Domus Aurea.

Nero and Agrippina. Agrippina crowns her young son Nero with a laurel wreath.
She carries a cornucopia, symbol of fortune and plenty, and he wears the armor and cloak of a Roman commander, with a helmet on the ground at his feet.

The scene refers to Nero’s accession as emperor in 54 A.D. and is dated before 59 A.D. when Nero had Agrippina murdered.

This was his gift to himself, a gigantic palatial garden complex of 100 to 300 acres, for which he heavily taxed the citizens throughout the Empire.

The city wanted a scapegoat, so Nero blamed the fire on the Christians, and they were terribly persecuted. He had many arrested, impaled, and burned to death as torches to light his gardens in the Domus Aurea.

He is said to have breathed in the stench and laughed heartily, then turned to his lyre and sung his own songs. The taxes irritated the populace sufficiently to begin revolts in various provinces, until by 68, Nero was no longer loved, but hated by all.

His Guards deserted him in the palace, and he fled to a nearby villa, where a messenger appeared to tell him that the Senate had declared him a public enemy, whom they would beat to death.

He had a grave dug, while he repeated, “What an artist dies within me!” Then he stabbed a dagger into his throat and bled to death.

It is believed by most scholars that Nero is the Great Beast whose number is six hundred and sixty six referred to in the last Biblical book The Apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

 

Caracalla

Caracalla was not insane. He was malicious and sadistic. From 211 to 217 he presided over an awe-inspiring spectacle of fearsome acts. He had his brother and co-emperor, Geta, and Geta’s wife, assassinated.

The citizens of Alexandria, Egypt ridiculed this crime with a public play, and when Caracalla got wind of it, he traveled with an army to Alexandria, invited the citizens into their city square, and slaughtered them, looting and burning the whole city. 20,000 died.

This was the sort of emperor he showed himself to be in almost every Roman province at that time, putting down all hints of rebellions, even where rebellions were not imminent.

At the slightest whiff of discord, he ordered death. Wherever he went, his army killed, raped, and destroyed. He was murdered by one of his Guardsmen, on April 8, 217, while urinating on the side of the road outside Carrhae. Caracalla had had the Guard’s brother executed on a false accusation.

Commodus

Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius, one of Rome’s greatest rulers, and this only enhanced Commodus’s crimes in the public mind.

He adored the gladiatorial games, so much so that he personally entered many of them and fought alongside the gladiators, who were all criminals and slaves, etc.

This severely offended the entire Empire, especially the Senate. Commodus once ordered all the cripples, hunchbacks, and generally undesirables in the city to be rounded up, thrown into the arena, and forced to hack one another to death with meat cleavers.

He especially adored killing animals, and killed 100 lions in one day, to the spectators’ disgust. He killed three elephants singlehanded in the arena, beheaded an ostrich and laughed at the senators attending, brandishing the head and motioning that they were next.

He speared a giraffe to death, an animal which the spectators did not see as fearsome at all. The senators conspired to have him killed, and poisoned him, but he threw it up.

They then sent in his favorite wrestler, a gladiator named Narcissus, who strangled him in his bath. His reign lasted 12 years, from 180 to 192.

Elagabalus

It can be argued that Elagabalus’s assassination reign, from 218 to 222, began the Crisis of the 3rd Century, during which 50 years or so, Rome was ripped to pieces from the inside out by civil war after civil war, rampant anarchy, uprisings, economic hysteria and assaults from Germania and elsewhere.

Elagabalus took the throne at the ripe old age of 14, and immediately indulged his most sordid, depraved fantasies and desires.

He was a man, yes, but wanted dearly to be a woman, and offered gargantuan sums of money to the physician who could turn him into one for real.

Until then, he enjoyed cross-dressing, and whored himself out to common men in whorehouses throughout Rome, wearing female disguises and facial makeup.

He even solicited men in the Imperial Palace, standing completely naked in the doorway of his favorite bedroom and purring at every passerby, even his Praetorian Guards.

He confided to the head of the Guard that he would like to castrate himself, and asked what the most painful method would be, cutting, crushing, or cooking on open coals.

Roman denarius depicting Aquilia Severa, the second wife of Elagabalus.
The marriage caused a public outrage because Aquilia was a Vestal Virgin, sworn by Roman law to celibacy for 30 years.

He had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of affairs with men and women while he was married to a Vestal virgin, which was a serious outrage among Romans.

He installed El-Gabal, the Syrian sun god, as the chief god of Rome, surpassing Jupiter, and it is this sun god from which we derive the emperor’s nickname.

He transferred all Roman sacred relics from their respective temples to a new temple he had built for El-Gabal, the Elagabalium, and named himself the high priest.

After 4 years of this, Rome erupted into riots as the praetorian citizens demanded his death or deposition. Elagabalus responded by walking right into the praetorian encampment and demanding the arrest and execution of everyone.

Instead, everyone descended on him and his mother. He tried to hide in a large clothes chest, but they opened it and stabbed him to death.

He and his mother were beheaded, and dragged throughout Rome. He was then flung into the Tiber and spat upon. He was 18 years old.

Caligula

“Little Boots” took the throne on the death of his second cousin Tiberias, something of a great Uncle to him. Some say Caligula ordered the head of the Praetorian Guard to smother him with a pillow.

Upon his ascension, everyone in the Empire rejoiced. For the first seven months or so, he was loved by all. He paid handsome bonuses to the military, to get them on his side, and recalled many whom Augustus and Tiberias exiled.

But he became very sick in October of 37, and the disease has never been pinned down. Philo blames it on his extravagant lifestyle of too much food, wine, and sex.

After the disease passed and Caligula made a full recovery, he had turned into one of the most evil men in human history. Some Jewish, Christian and Muslim historians of centuries afterward even considered that Caligula might have been possessed by a demon.

He has been accused of the most awesomely disgusting, insane, luridly depraved crimes against humanity and morality, and this lister is sorry to say that the accusations are all absolutely true.

He began ordering the murders of anyone who had ever crossed him, or even disagreed with him on mundane matters. He had a very good memory. He exiled his own wife, and proclaimed himself a god, dressing up as Apollo, Venus (a goddess), Mercury and Hercules.

He demanded that everyone, from senators to Guards to guests and public crowds, refer to him as divine in his presence. When he was a boy, a seer told him that he would never be emperor until he walked on water.

The Vatican Obelisk was first brought from Egypt to Rome by Caligula. It was the centerpiece of a large racetrack he built.

So he built a pontoon bridge across the Bay of Naples, put on the breastplate of Alexander the Great, and paraded night and day across the Bay, throwing lavish sex orgies in the light of bonfires.

He attempted to instate his favorite horse, Incitatus (“Galloper”), as a priest and consul, and ordered a beautiful marble stable built for him, complete with chairs and couches on which Incitatus never sat.

Once, at the Circus Maximus, the games ran out of criminals, and the next event was the lions, his favorite. He ordered his Guards to drag the first five rows of spectators into the arena, which they did.

These hundreds of people were all devoured for his amusement. A citizen once insulted him to his face in a fit of rage, and Caligula responded by having him tied down, and beaten with heavy chains.

He made this last for 3 months, having the man brought out from a dungeon and beaten, until Caligula and the whole crowds that gathered were too offended by the smell of the man’s gangrenous brain, whereupon he was beheaded.

Caligula’s favorite torture was sawing, which topped another list on this site. The saw blade filleted the spine and spinal cord from crotch down to chest, and the victim was unable to pass out due to excess blood to the brain.

He also relished chewing up the testicles of victims, without biting them off, while they were restrained upside down before him. He had another insulter, and his entire family, publicly executed one after another in front of a crowd.

The man and wife were first, followed by the oldest child and so on. The crowd became outraged and began to disperse, but many stayed in morbid fascination.

The last of the family was a 12 year old girl, who was sobbing hysterically at what she had been forced to watch. A member of the crowd shouted that she was exempt from execution as a virgin.

Caligula smiled and ordered the executioner to rape her, then strangle her, which he did. He publicly had sex with his three sisters at banquets and games, sometimes on the table amid the food.

Julia Drusilla, sister of Caligula

He was finally murdered by the Praetorian Guard and some senators, leaving the Circus Maximus after the games. His body was left in the street to rot, and dogs finally ate it. He had ruled for 4 years.

…the Book of Galatians and starting with Chapter one we’ll continue our study on evil, but we’ll look at it in the present time in Washington D.C.

2 Corinthians 12 – Paul’s Visions of the Lord & Evils of Rome

The Pope is a Heretic and sounds like a Politician and contradicts himself when he has said:
“There is no such thing as low-cost Christianity. Following Jesus mean swimming against the tide, renouncing evilness and selfishness.”

Being gay is not a sin, but acting on it is.

He’s basically saying that it’s okay to be a practicing homosexual as long as you love Jesus.

You can’t love Jesus and also do evil things (1 Cor 10:21).

I had Googled (yeah, they’re evil, but the best for research) “The Evil’s of Rome” and the first three pictures that showed up were statues/busts of the ancient emperors.  The third picture was the Roman Catholic Church.

I find that ironic, but so true.  And the next three pictures were also statues/busts of the ancient emperors and the next picture was Pope Francis.  They say pictures don’t lie.

Since we are looking at evil Rome, tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at the…

2 Corinthians 12
Paul’s Visions of the Lord

1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

“Visions and revelations” – if his adversaries falsely claimed to have received their teaching directly from God through  visions and revelations, Paul could claim that this was truly so in his case.

But he mentions this here to show that the supreme height to which he was raised through these ecstatic experiences was counterbalanced by the humbling depth of a particular affliction he was given to bear, so that he should continue to glory not in self but only in the “God of the grace: (1 Pet 5:10).

The Romans transformed the athleticism and ritual of Greek sport into a spectacle.
The Romans loved sports, some of which were quite brutal and bloody.

Chariot racing and gladiator battles were fixtures of religious festivals.

The huge crowds that gathered in stadiums and forums to watch sporting events screamed ” panem at Colosseum !” (“bread and circuses”).

Events were often sponsored by wealthy citizens as displays of their wealth. Horses and athletes were given-performance-enhancing drugs.

Some racetracks were larger than NFL stadiums.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven.

2:2-4 – “Caught up in the third heaven…caught up into paradise” – Paul is sure of this remarkable experience, but he is unsure whether this rapture was one that include the body or one that took place in separation from the body.

The third heaven designates a place beyond the immediate heaven of the earth’s atmosphere and beyond the further heaven of outer pace and its constellations into the presence of God himself.

Thus the risen and glorified Lord is said to have passed “into the heavens” (Heb 4:14), and now, having “ascended up far above all heavens” (Eph 4:10), to be “made higher than the heavens” (Heb 7:26).

The term “paradise” is synonymous with the third heaven, where those believers who have died are even now “present with the Lord’ (5:8; cf. “with Christ” Phil 1:23).

The nature of the inexpressible things that Paul heard remains unknown to us because this is something Paul was not permitted to tell.

It was an experience that must have given incalculable strength to his apostleship, which involved him in such constant and extreme suffering.  Moreover, as this experience was not self-induced, it afforded him no room for self-glorification.

3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5 Of such a one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

Nero

“Of such a one will I glory” – some believer that the man “caught up to the third heaven” was not Paul and that Paul here insists that he will not boast about such a glorious experience, but only about his weakness.

6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

“Thorn in the flesh” – the precise nature of this severe affliction remains unknown.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Caligula

“My grace is sufficient for thee” – a better solution than to remove Paul’s thorn.  Human weakness provides the ideal opportunity for the display of divine power.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

“Truly the signs of an apostle” – extraordinary gifts and powers had been displayed in their midst.  By implication, the false teachers had come to them without these apostolic signs (cf. Heb 2:3-4).

13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong.

Septimius Severus

14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?

18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? Walked we not in the same spirit? Walked we not in the same steps?

19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? We speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

“Speak before God in Christ” – Paul’s concern in speaking of himself is not for his own personal prestige and reputation before people.  It is before God that he stands, and his standing before God is in Christ.

Far from being self-centered, his concern is for the Corinthians, his dear friends – for their strengthening as they too stand before God in Christ.  His entire ministry, with its sufferings, is directed to this end.

Sulla

20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

Evils of Rome

Rome has a glittering history. Its empire lasted for a thousand years, its great emperors are famous still today.

But Rome had a bad side to it. If we could time-travel back to Rome today we would not like everything we would see.

Slavery

The Romans kept slaves. All the hard work all over the empire was mostly done by slaves. They worked the farms, they cleaned the sewers, and they were the servants in the wealthy houses.

Slaves tend the hair of their mistress.
Slaves were very important to the Romans. Without slaves, the wealthy of Rome would not have been able to lead the lifestyles that they wanted to.

Who were slaves? They were people who were frequently captured in battle and sent back to Rome to be sold.

However, abandoned children could also be brought up as slaves.

The law also stated that fathers could sell their older children if they were in need of money.

A wealthy Roman would buy a slave in a market place. Young males with a trade could fetch quite a sum of money simply because they had a trade and their age meant that they could last for quite a number of years and, as such, represented value for money.

Someone who was a cook by trade could be very expensive.

Once bought, a slave was a slave for life. A slave could only get their freedom if they were given it by their owner or if they bought their freedom.

To buy your freedom, you had to raise the same sum of money that your master had paid for you – a virtually impossible task.

If a slave married and had children, the children would automatically become slaves. Young children were sometimes killed by their parents rather than let them become slaves.

No-one is sure how many slaves existed in the Roman Empire. Even after Rome has passed it days of greatness, it is thought that 25% of all people in Rome were slaves. A rich man might own as many as 500 slaves and an emperor usually had more than 20,000 at his disposal.

They belonged to their owners as though they were animals. Just like animals they could be bought and sold, punished and whipped by their masters.

Bloody Games in the Circuses

When the Romans went to the circus to watch the games, it was to view a brutal spectacle.

Chariot racing was perhaps the least murderous event – although many drivers were hurt in spectacular crashes.

But for more gruesome entertainment the Romans watched wild beasts tear each other apart, or gladiators fighting exotic beasts from far away countries, or gladiators fighting each other to the death.

Insane Emperors, Cruel Emperors

Also, some of their emperors were maniacs. The most famous was Nero, who killed his mother and his wife, but there were many others.

Sometimes even the good emperors needed first to be utterly brutal in order to take power. Brutality was often the order of the day.

More so of course, when mad or just particularly cruel emperors came to power.

Mad emperor Caligula ordered his legions to collect shells on the beach in order to prove that he had “conquered the sea”.

And the cruel emperor Septimius Severus had the body of his dead opponent Clodius Albinus laid out before him, so that he could ride over it with his horse.

These are just some examples of Roman madness and Roman cruelty by its own emperors.

Ordered Suicides and “Proscription

If an emperor wanted rid of a particular senator, he would simply write him a letter, ordering him to kill himself (or else he would send someone to kill him). Emperor Nero ordered a great many such suicides.

The dictator Sulla during the time of the Roman republic invented the “proscription”, by which he would just announce whom he wanted dead. This would be read out in public places and he then would reward anyone who would kill that particular person.

A great fire broke out in the capital city of Rome at midnight of July 18 or 19 in 64 B.C.
The fire raged on for many days and nights. About 40,000 blocks of apartments and 132 villas were consumed by the fire.

All these properties belonged to the Nobles of the Roman Emperor. Emperors palace as well as some shrines and temples were also destroyed by the fire.

It has been recorded that when the fire broke out Nero was not in town but on his return he took many emergency measures such as building temporary shelters for the homeless people, supplying food and supply of wheat, etc.

The Romans were frightened by this catastrophic fire and arranged for various ceremonies to appease their Gods.

It is almost certain that Nero started the fire, but he blamed it on the Christians.

Religious Persecution

Rome was brutal in its enforcement of its religious views. Several wars were fought with the Jews in order to try and get them to accept the worship of the deceased Roman emperors as gods.

The fighting was so fierce, the great city of Jerusalem was destroyed, and with it the ancient temple of Solomon was razed.

Most famously, the Christians were thrown to the lions by emperor Nero who blamed them for the Great Fire of Rome.

Later, after the empire had been Christianized, the believers in the old Roman gods were equally persecuted by the Christian emperors.

And so too the various heresies were persecuted violently by Roman rulers.

So what we always must keep in mind when we read about the Romans is that they were brutal.

…top worst Roman Emperors.

2 Corinthians 11 – Paul’s Fear of False Teachers & Aretas IV of Nabatea and Petra

They loved Paul when he was Saul and was imprisoning the Christians.  The high priest even wrote a letter giving him authority to do so (Acts 9:1-2).

But as soon as he changed and started telling the truth about Jesus they beat him and tried to kill him.  I’m sure that was no surprise to Paul because Jesus said it could happen to anyone that preaches His name:

“And ye shall be hated for all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt 10:22).

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’S sake” (Matt 24:9). 

Paul never stopped and we shouldn’t either.

Rome was an evil place, so tomorrow we’ll look at…

2 Corinthians 11
Paul’s Fear of False Teachers

1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

“Folly” – in order to compare his ministry with that of the false apostles who have invaded the Corinthian  church, Paul had to speak about himself, which inevitably seems like foolish boasting.

2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

“Godly jealously” – Paul cannot bear the thought that there might be any rival to Christ and His gospel.

“I have espoused you to one husband” – as their spiritual father, Paul; has promised the Corinthian believers to Christ, who is frequently depicted in the New Testament as the bridegroom, with the church portrayed as His bride (Mat 9:15l Jn 3:29; Rom 7:4; 1 Cor 6:15; Eph 5:23-32; Rev 19:7-9, 21:2).

3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

“Another Jesus, whom we have not preached” – they presented a Jesus cast in the mold of Judaistic teachings (Paul’s opponents were Jews).

Pastors that are really wolves in sheep’s clothing.
You knew this day was going to come, when the LIBERAL “love gospel” preachers who, desiring to fill their seats and bank accounts, would find a way to merge apostate Christianity with the Devil’s religion of Islam. That day is here.

Rick Warren & Cat Stevens aka now Yusuf Islam is a a DEVOUT evil Muslim.

In 2009, Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Orange County California, addressed the convention of the Islamic Society of North America.

Warren stated that Muslims and Christians must work together to combat stereotypes, promote peace and freedom, and solve global problems.

Christians and Muslims – faith mates, soul mates and now work mates! Chrislam!

5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

“The very chiefest apostles” – Paul’s sarcastic way of referring to the false apostles who had infiltrated the Corinthian church and were in reality not apostles at all, except in their own arrogantly inflated opinion of themselves.

An example of the same type today is Rick Warren.

6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.

7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

“Freely” – another slanderous criticism made by Paul’s adversaries was that his refusal to accept payment of his instruction proved that it was worth nothing.

This accusation at the same time helped to cloak their own grasping character, since their method of operation, like that of 1st century traveling philosophers and religious teachers, was to demand payment for their “professional” services.

8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

“robbed other churches” – accepted freely given support from established congregations.

9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

11 Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth.

Prosperity Gospel, Word of Faith heretic Benny Hinn of the Trinity Broadcast Network, who has made hundreds of millions of dollars over the years spreading his false gospel, is now pleading with his followers to send him $2.5 million over a 90-day period in order to rescue his ministry from debt.

In return for giving him money, Hinn promises his followers a “double return on investment” for every dollar they spend.

This is yet another example of the shameless scams and manipulation by false teachers in the Christian church who use the love of money to lure unwitting believers into trying to use money to “buy favor and blessings” from God.

12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

“I will do” – Paul will not be deterred from presenting the gospel without charge.  Actually, this practice made his adversaries look bad.  They were greedy for gain, and it would have suited them better if Paul had been willing to accept money for his teaching, for this would have put him on a level with their practice.

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

“Transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” – Now Paul exposes these would-be “chiefest apostles” as false apostles and servants of Satan who are covering up their true identity.

14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

“An angel of light” – even though in reality he is the prince of darkness.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.

17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

Prosperity Gospel preacher and false prophet I.V.
Hilliard of New Light Christian Center Church in Houston, Texas, has come under fire for sending a letter requesting a special “favor seed” of $52 million from church members in order to upgrade the church’s helicopter.

Claiming he received a direct message from God regarding the situation, Hilliard’s letter, which promises all who “sow a seed” that they will automatically receive a “transportation blessing” in their own lives, is a stark example of the many heresies and false doctrines in the Prosperity Gospel movement that has corrupted much of the Christian church today.

“Ye suffer fools gladly” – resumes the implied rebuke of v. 4 and has the same ironic tone.  There it was their matter of their readiness to tolerate false teaching; here it is a matter of their willingness to put up with disgraceful treatment by these false teachers, who are described as fools because of their self-centered boasting.

20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.

“Bring you into bondage” – by the imposition of tyrannical man-made rules and prohibitions.

“Devour you” – see Mk 12:40.

“Take of you” – or “take advantage of you” made possible by the Corinthians’ lack of discernment and their readiness to be impressed by outward show and clever talk.

“Smite you on the face” – using physical violence to cow them into submission.

21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

“As though we had been weak” – compared with the crude self-seeking roughness of the impostors, Paul’s conduct may well be considered weak, but he is probably speaking ironically here.

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.

“Hebrews…Israelites…seed of Abraham” – the claims implied here on the part of the false apostles indicate that they were Jews who felt superior to Gentile Christians. 

From this there follows the possibility that they were Judaizers, i.e., they wished to impose distinctive Jewish practices and observances as required for Gentile converts.

23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

“Ministers of Christ’ – Paul is not granting their claim to be servants of Christ.  Indeed, the consideration of the nature of his ministry and its cost to him in suffering will show that he is more Christ’s servant than any or all of them.

24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron are going around the world, telling people that they cannot be saved unless they try really hard to stop sinning.

They are partially correct, but there’s a lot more to it than that and that is what makes them Heretics.

Yet, Kirk Cameron admits that he is still a part of Hollywood (a proven cesspool of iniquity and heathendom). Kirk Cameron is a poster boy for the cesspool of Hollywood, trying to make it look like Hollywood has a good side to it; but there’s nothing good about Hollywood.

If either of these impostors truly preached against the wickedness of Hollywood, they wouldn’t be welcomed there anymore.

Hollywood is a spiritually rat infested, whore-mongering, dung heap of smut and homosexuals.
Hollywood is the Sodom and Gomorrah of the earth.

Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort have a false conception of what it means to “repent.” Here is what the Bible really teaches about repentance.

“Stripes…rods” – Eight floggings are mentioned here, five at the hands of the Jews and three at the hands of Roman authorities, who used rods on these occasions.

The three beatings with rods took place despite the fact that Paul, being a Roman citizen, was legally protected from such punishment (cf. Acts 16:37-39, 22:25-29).

25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

“Stoned” – a traditional manner of Jewish execution.

“Shipwreck” – only one shipwreck is recorded in Acts, but it took place after the writing of this letter.

26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

“In perils” – apart from the specific incidents referred to in the preceding verses, Paul constantly faced situations of danger as well as labors and hardships (see Acts 14:24).

27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?

So closely did Paul identify himself with them that he felt the weakness of any member who was weak. 

If anyone was led into sin, he not only burned with indignation against the person responsible but also experienced the shame of the offense and longed for the one who had stumbled.

Why or how come Paul was so close to the Corinthians that he was hurt and angered when one of them was fooled or ta

ken advantage of is because of his closeness to Jesus Christ.  And that is exactly what happens to God every day – go here.

On the heels of the blasphemous reality show “The Sisterhood”, in which a group of pastor’s wives disrespected themselves and the Christian faith weekly, Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Network is now cashing in on the Christian reality phenomenon.

It’s new show, “Preachers Of LA”, will feature six Los Angeles-based pastors who teach the heretical Prosperity Gospel doctrine – a false gospel focused on Christians attaining material wealth, health and earthly success, while ignoring the true message of the Bible: forgiveness of sin and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

The pastors, all false prophets by biblical definition, shamelessly parade their riches before the camera and serve as a clear sign of the growing apostasy in the church – the prophesied falling away of Christian pastors and churches from biblical Christianity into false doctrine and man-made heresy.

Here is the trailer for the show:

30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

“I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” – Paul’s weakness opens the way for him to experience the superabundant strength of God’s grace.  Therefore his boasting in its entirety, unlike that of the false apostles, is not in what he has done but in what God has done.

False teacher Billy Graham has damning heresies of which he is guilty as you will see in this Video.

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

“Aretas the king” – Aretas IV, father-in-law of Herod Antipas, ruled over the Nabatean Arabs c. 9 B.C.-40 A.D.  The Roman emperor Caligula may have given Damascus to Aretas since it was once part of his territory.

33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

Aretas IV of Nabatea and Petra

Aretas IV ruled the desert kingdom of Nabatea from 9 B.C. to 40 A.D. With its capital at Petra, this nation included southern Syria, Jordan, the Negev of Israel, the Sinai Peninsula, portions of the eastern deserts of Egypt and the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia.

Aretas came to power after the assassination of Obodas III, who was apparently poisoned.
Josephus says that he was originally named Aeneas, but took “Aretas” as his throne name.

An inscription from Petra suggests that he may have been a member of the royal family, as a desendent of Malichus I.

His full title, as given in the inscriptions, was “Aretas, King of the Nabataeans, Friend of his People.”

Being the most powerful neighbor of Judea, he frequently took part in the state affairs of that country, and was influential in shaping the destiny of its rulers.

While on not particularly good terms with Rome and though it was only after great hesitation that Augustus recognized him as king, nevertheless he took part in the expedition of Varus against the Jews in the year 4 B.C., and placed a considerable army at the disposal of the Roman general.

Aretas had two wives. The first was Huldu to whom he was already married when he became king. Her profile was featured on Nabataean coins until 16 a.D.

After a gap of a few years the face of his second wife, Shaqilath, began appearing on the coins.

Beginning during the 4th century B.C. Nabatea began to amass great wealth through caravan trade in luxury goods from the East.

Aretas IV, although a usurper with only a marginal claim to the throne, became the most powerful ruler of Nabatea, eventually winning official recognition from Caesar Augustus. 

During his reign the kingdom reached its zenith commercially, culturally and artistically.

Numerous coins minted by Aretas IV have survived, many of them bearing his image.

One of Aretas IV’s daughters married Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and the ruler of Galilee and Perea in Transjordan from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D.

Herod Antipas later divorced Aretas’s daughter in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his half brother Herod Philip I.

John the Baptist spoke out against this, warning Herod Antipas, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mk 6:18).

John was imprisoned and eventually executed at the request of Herodias (Mt 14:1-12; Mk 6:14-29).

As there was also a dispute between Aretas IV and Antipas regarding rule over a territory called Gamalitis, Aretas used Antipas’s rejection of his Nabatean wife as an occasion to wage war. 

The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that when Aretas IV destroyed much of Antipas’s army a few years afterward, many Jews viewed this as divine retribution of John’s execution (Antiquities, 18.5.2). 

The most famous Nabatean site is Petra, located in modern Jordan in what was once Edomite territory.  it lay near the King’s Highway, one of the important trade routes on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

The site occupies an area approximately 1 mile(1.6 km) long and slightly less distance in width.

The Kazneh
Of the 800 carved tombs in Petra, the Kazneh is the most famous.

Its name Kazneh means “treasure” and comes from the Bedouin belief that the Pharaoh chasing the Israelites hid his treasure in the urn at the top of the Kazneh.

Tomb facades were built from the top down. Scaffolding was built and then grooves were carved into the rock.

Into these grooves were inserted pieces of wood, which when made wet, expanded and cracked the rock.

Magnificent tombs and funerary banquet halls had been carved into the sandstone mountains surrounding the area, the most famous of which are the Treasury of the Pharaoh and the Royal Tombs.

An ancient cultic site sitting atop one of the surrounding peaks features one of the best preserved altars from antiquity.

Petra may possibly be identified as the Old Testament site of Sela, captured by Amaziah of Judah (2 Kgs 14:7).  By 312 B.C., when the Greeks took control of the Near East, Petra was the capital of the Nabateans, who may have migrated from the Persian Gulf.

After Paul began preaching in the synagogues of Damascus, the local Jews with the support of the Roman ethnarch under Aretas IV, attempted to kill him, but he was able to escape.

This incident indicates that both Rome and Aretas IV had political power in Damascus.

…evils of Rome.

2 Corinthians 10 – Paul Defends His Ministry & Early Christian Heresies

T he heresies in this article are still believed today, they may have been added to another or altered. For example, “The Secret says the same thing that Pelagianism did, just calls it something else.

When I was a non-believer a guy in jail tried to explain Jesus to me, and I told him that Jesus was about as real as love (I had thought people used the term “love” as an excuse for doing something stupid) or a three dollar bill.

He then told me that if I accepted Jesus into my heart and He isn’t real I’ve lost nothing.  But if I don’t accept Him and He is real then in the end I’m in a heap of trouble.

 That didn’t work, I was positive that Jesus was nothing but a con game.  Years later I found out the guy was not wrong, that Jesus Christ is as true as the sun rising.

In the below chapter Paul continues to speak against the false prophets/teachers/apostles and he also tells of all the punishments and hardships he went through for Jesus.

He also tells of a time when he escaped from jail or managed to get away before he was apprehended in Damascus (about 3 days and 3 hours from Corinth).  So tomorrow we’re going to look at the king that was behind this, which was…

2 Corinthians 10
Paul Defends His Ministry

1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

“In presence am base…being absent am bold” – Paul had been meek and lowly among them, but if opposition to him and refection of his apostolic message continues, he will act boldly when he comes.

2 But I beseech you that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

Manichaeism was a major Gnostic religion and taught that the world is caught in a conflict between the forces of good and evil, led by two gods, a conflict which has existed since the beginning of time.

HERETICAL BECAUSE:
(1) It postulates more than one god.

(2) In the beginning there was only God. Evil therefore could have entered the world only afterward.

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

“Weapons of our warfare” – Paul is prepared for warfare; his weapons, however, are not the weapons prized by this fallen world and fashioned by human pride and arrogance.

“Strong holds” – of “imaginations” and “every high things” defiantly raised “against the knowledge of God” among which are the faulty reasonings by which the false apostles have been trying to shake the faith of the Christians in Corinth.

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

“Every thought to the obedience of Christ’ – the center of man’s being thus becomes fully subject to the lordship of Christ.

6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

“Authority…for edification” – the primary purpose of Paul’s apostolic authority is constructive for building up, not destructive, for pulling down. 

Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius (ca. 250–336 A.D.), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of God the Father to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

It taught that Jesus was different from God and secondary to him.

HERETICAL BECAUSE:
Christ was wholly divine, as well as wholly human, and, being wholly divine, could in no way be secondary to God the Father.

The demands he makes in his letters are written so that they may put right what is amiss and so that things may be in order for his arrival, thus removing the need for severe action (pulling down) and preparing the way for edification (building up).

9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

“His speech contemptible” – Paul’s adversaries used a professional type of oratory as their stock in trade, designed to extract money from their gullible audiences. 

But Paul’s manner of speaking was quite different; it was plain, straightforward and free from artificiality – and it was also free of charge, which meant, if his slanderous opponents were to be believed, that what he said was worthless.

But in coming to Corinth Paul had purposely disdained academic eloquence and wisdom and was determined to proclaim the message of Christ crucified and the transformed lives of the Corinthian believers testified to the divine power with which he spoke.

11 Let such a one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Pelagius rejected the doctrines of original sin, substitutionary atonement, and justification through faith.
He, just like Oprah, taught that people were capable of holiness and therefore didn’t need Jesus.

HERETICAL BECAUSE:

(1) People are saved ONLY by God’s grace through their faith in Christ, not by the works they perform, which may have many motivations, including bad ones.

(2) It is illogical so speak of complete free will, since even free will is a gift of God, and therefore contingent upon God’s agency.

(3) It denies the contamination of all humans by original sin and allows for the possibility of sinless humans without the need of salvation through Christ, or of sinful humans able to gain merit on their own without reference to Christ.

“They measuring themselves by themselves” – the false teachers in Corinth behave as though there is no standard or comparison higher than themselves, but Paul boasts only in the Lord.

13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:

15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labors; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.

17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Early Christian Heresies

In his New Testament epistles, Paul frequently warned his readers to be on guard against false teaching (e.g., 2 Cor 11:3-4).

Marcion of Sinope was a bishop in early Christianity.
He taught:

The wrathful and war-like God of the Old Testament is a different god from the just and forgiving God of the New Testament, who, on discovering human suffering, appeared as Jesus Christ to bring salvation; the Old Testament is irrelevant; in the New Testament only parts of Luke and parts of the Pauline letters are authentic.

HERETICAL BECAUSE:
(1) It denies the unity of God.

(2) It misunderstands the humanity of Christ.

(3) It rejects accepted scriptures.

These cautions reveal that from an early point Christianity was open to distortions and heresies that took many forms through overemphasis on some and denial of other central Christian teachings.

The “super-apostles” who opposed Paul in 11:5 appear to have erred by overemphasizing their own righteousness and boasting about revelations they had purportedly received (12:1).

Perhaps they were similar to the Judaizing opponents Paul faced in Galatia, whose teaching required the continuation of Jewish customs and led to an imposition of circumcision and dietary laws upon Gentiles.

Paul condemned those who distorted the gospel through the addition of Jewish requirements (Gal 1:8) and preached salvation on the basis of faith rather than works.

Montanism was a later heresy that placed strict emphasis on law observance. It arose during the second century and encouraged excessive prophetic utterances in the hope of speeding Christ’s return.

Other early Christian heresies that denied central Christian beliefs included Gnosticism, Docetism, Ebionism and Arianism.

❖ Gnostics were a diverse group, but the main tenet of their philosophy was that the material world was by nature evil and that by knowledge one could ascend to the pure spirituality of the heavenly realm.

❖ Docetists, a subgroup of the Gnostics, affirmed the deity of Jesus but denied his humanity, believing that a divine being was incapable of suffering and concluding that Jesus merely appeared to be human and to experience pain.

Gnosticism describes a collection of ancient religions that taught that people should shun the material world created by the demiurge and embrace the spiritual world.

HERETICAL BECAUSE:
(1) God created everything, including people. There was no “demiurge.”

(2) Jesus did not transmit any secret knowledge. The means for full salvation are freely available from the public teachings and openly performed sacraments of the Church.

❖ At the opposite extreme, beginning at the end of the 1st century A.D., a Jewish Christian sect known as the Ebionites denied the deity of Jesus, preferring to uphold him as a human being who perfectly obeyed the law and was rewarded by being made Messiah.

❖  Similarly, in the 4th century Arians denied the divinity of Jesus, demoting him to the status of a demigod (a being with more power than a mortal but less than a god, or a person so outstanding as to seem to approach the divine). They argued that upholding the divinity of Jesus would contradict a belief in the oneness and immutability of God.

The creeds composed by the early church were an attempt to combat heresy and identify orthodox teaching. They emphasize the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, who is simultaneously fully God and fully man.

…Aretas IV of Nabatea and Petra.

2 Corinthians 9 – God Loveth a Cheerful Giver & God Loves a Cheerful Giver

Sometimes we can be extremely selfish, thinking that we don’t have enough to give. Or our ego, especially men, gets the best of us and we think only of our own needs.

You never think of Yourself first, You always think of us and that is what Jesus did when He was here.  He set an example for us to follow.  

It’s a shame that the rich are unable to see that, instead they think that they have given enough or they need more.

For example, Bill Gates has given  billions away, but he has given it to his own Foundation which appears to help a lot of people to education, but not everyone is accepted. 

He says he’s going to donate his 58 billion to charity when he dies, rather than his children – why can’t he do it now?

You’ve got to care for yourself.

Oprah Winfrey gives away approximately $200 million a year.  With most people that is a lot of money, but she’s worth 2.9 billion and $200 million isn’t but a hiccup. 

Oprah says that we don’t need Jesus to get to heaven,  is it her wealth that makes her say that?  Is it because she doesn’t want to give her money away?  Like the story in Matthews:

“And, behold, one came and said unto him [Jesus], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

…There is none good but one that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He saith unto him, Which?  Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness,

Honor thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou has, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

But when the young man heard that saying he went away sorrowful: for he had great possession

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:16-24).

Oprah and many others is that young man.  It isn’t the giving that matters, but the heart’s desire to give.  The last commandment Jesus quoted is the one the young man failed at.

I am happy that I am not wealthy, or at least not at this time.  If I would have been I may be an Oprah, but since I found Jesus first if I had the wealth now I would do fine because I would spend to help the poor.

We have talked about greedy, selfishness, false teachers/prophets, so staying in there arena tomorrow we’ll look at…

2 Corinthians 9
God Loveth a Cheerful Giver

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

See Lk 6:38.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

“Always having all sufficiency in all things” – through His abounding grace, God can enable each Christian to abound in generous need – see Deut 8:18.

9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever.

10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

11 Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

“The exceeding grace of God in you” – displayed in this unselfish demonstration of their loving concern for fellow believers who are in desperate need.

15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

“Unspeakable gift” – God’s own Son (Jn 3:16).  God is the first and the greatest giver; He first selflessly gives Himself to us in the person of Jesus, and all true Christian giving is our response of gratitude for this gift that is beyond description (cf. 8:9; 1 Jn 4:9-11).

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

This verse single-handedly sums up the reason Christians are to give. We are to give because…God loves a cheerful giver. When Christians freely give, with a gracious heart, we please God.

God is a cheerful giver and He loves when His children follow in his footsteps. Think about the many blessings God has so richly bestowed on you. He doesn’t bless us because he has to or because he feels obligated to. He gives to us, because He loves us.

In Romans it says,

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”(8:32).

From each breath you take, to the house you live in. From your job, to your children, to your ability to read and write, God has graciously given you all that you have, and the ability to do all that you can do.

There is nothing given to you that does not flow from the hand of God.

Meditate on his many blessings. Think about the cross, and the suffering that was endured for your sake. Know this of God, he is a gracious God, and he calls us to be gracious as well.

He calls us to be cheerful givers, and to freely give to others, as he has done so with us.

When we begin to catch a glimpse of the graciousness bestowed on us as sinners, how can we not desire to please God?

How can we not desire to be cheerful givers, and share some of what has so graciously been given to us?

If you love the Lord, strive to be a cheerful giver. Don’t hold back when it comes to giving.

Whatever we give to the Lord, He wants us to give it out of a willing heart, as a child does.
God does not want us to give grudgingly.

In Psalms we read:

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11).

…early Christian heresies.