The ABC of Scattering Part 12, 

The Sin of Stopping 
The Flight to Pella and Beyond

John Plunkett 
November 12, 2016

In this series, we’ve been studying into the many scatterings and travellings of God’s people – both Old Covenant and New. 

Last time in Part 11, we looked at the scatterings during the "apostolic" era.

Today, in Part 12, I’d like to start going into a much longer era – the "post-apostolic" era which stretches all of the way back to 100 AD – approximately when the apostle John died.  But, in effect, for the most part, we can consider that it goes back even further than that – to 70 AD.

But before we go there, I’d like to go back a couple of steps.  Actually, all the way back to the time of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, which we looked at way back in Part 9 of this series.

I’d like to do this because some “new information” has come to light!  New information on something that I said in Part 9, and which needs to be corrected.

It’s actually not really brand new information.  It’s been there all along.  Well, at least 2,600 years, anyway – from the time of Ezekiel.

One of the worst things a church speaker can ever be faced with is to be told that the information he has given in his sermon or Sermonette was wrong –  or at best, incomplete.  But that was what I encountered recently.  

In my case, it wasn’t a church member – nor any other human being – who gave me the words of correction.  It was the Word of God!  And that, of course, a very positive thing!

Here are some snippets of the questionable part of what I said in Part 9.  I was referring to Israel’s time in Egypt after the seven-year famine, but prior to their slavery period.  I will read my notes from then:

The main question to ask… specifically, is this: Did the Israelites stay faithful to God during their time in Egypt? 

We can be pretty sure that, while Jacob and Joseph were still alive, the family probably would have stayed pretty-well on track – on the straight and narrow.  But what happened after Joseph’s death? 

We don’t know who took over as leader of the Israelites.  But, whoever it was, again, to what extent did the subsequent Israelite leaders after Joseph’s death keep the people on the righteous path?

Whether or not they did stay on the righteous path, another question is this: What was the reason that the LORD allowed them, or more likely, caused them to descend from the very peak of the Egyptians' respect and favour all the way down to the very depths of Egyptian disdain and hatred?”

The scriptures give us what is perhaps a partial reason.  I believe that the Israelite population explosion was likely caused by God, because He wanted them to increase.  But that miraculous increase frightened the new, unfriendly, Pharaoh very much.

But could Pharaoh’s fear perhaps have been a secondary cause?  By being fruitful and multiplying, the Israelites were – to some extent – 
obeying God, so why were they cursed with a long period of slavery? 

Perhaps this was in order that the slavery would bring down a punishment on the Israelites from God.  Could their period of slavery possibly have been partially due to the sin, if in fact it was a sin, of the Israelites’ voluntary excessive dwelling, or yashabing in Egypt for such a long time after the seven-year famine ended? 

This is a possibility.  Maybe, maybe not.  But I believe that for lack of any other evidence, it is a real possibility.”

My correction today is this: 

The Israelites’ overly-extended yashabing absolutely, certainly was a sin!  There is no “possibility” or “maybe” or “perhaps” about it! 

God tells us, through Isaiah, that, if we mature Christians want to get the full story on a subject, we must research “here a little and there a little” in the great spiritual jig-saw puzzle of His holy written Word.

Sometimes it’s easy to find most – or even all – of the scriptures that are relevant to a given topic.  But, granting myself the benefit of the doubt, sometimes, it is not so very easy.  As in this case!  I only came across the answer to this one a few weeks ago, during the Feast, when I was doing my nightly Bible-reading – this time in the book of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 23:
1:  The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2:  “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
3:  And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: …

Who were these two sisters?

4:  And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bore sons and daughters.  Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah...

These city names – Samaria and Jerusalem – refer respectively to the capital city of the northern House of Israel and the southern House of Judah.  In Ezekiel’s time they were separate, but during the time of their Egyptian slavery, they were a single nation.

What was the sin of these two national “sisters”?  The King James Version uses the term “whoredoms.”  The Hebrew word is zanah (Strong’s 2181) … which basically means highly-fed and therefore wanton.

This is interesting because, after the seven-year period of famine, Israel in Egypt did become “highly fed.”  Other King James Version verses render zanah as: Harlot, to go a whoring, whore, whorish or to commit fornication.  The extended meanings of the Hebrew word include: to play the harlot; to commit adultery or to be unfaithful especially to God.

If you have a modern Bible translation, it might use one of these similes: 
prostitutions, harlotry, fornication, promiscuity or lewdness.

So, if any of you happen to have a new daughter, it would be a very bad idea to give her the name Zanah, Aholah or Aholibah! 

But again, what was the sin of Aholah (Israel) and Aholibah (Judah) –  specifically during their combined time in Egypt?  Was their sin all these brands of immorality that we have just looked at?  Yes, it was!   It certainly was nationally; it certainly was spiritually; and possibly physically, as well. 

Yes.  Maybe there was physical immorality going on between the Israelites and their Egyptian “hosts” – perhaps both in the peaceful years as well as during the later years of slavery.  (Some of this is even implied in the often-inaccurate “Ten Commandments” movie).

We usually think of Joseph as being all but perfect.  We think that butter would not melt in his mouth, and that he could do no wrong.  But Joseph married an Egyptian girl.  Not only was she an Egyptian, she was recommended by the friendly Pharaoh, and she was the daughter of an Egyptian priest – likely the priest of a polytheistic heathen religion. 

Her father’s name was Potiphera, which means "He whom the Ra gave."  Ra was the sun god.  Joseph's wife’s name was Asenath, which means "Belonging to the goddess Neith."

Despite the LORD’s obvious love and favour for Joseph and his sons, was He totally happy with this match?  Or could that marriage possibly have been part of Israel’s immorality, for which He came down so heavily on them?

Although we may not know the LORD’s thoughts on Joseph’s marriage specifically, we do know His thoughts on Israel’s national relations with other nations – including early Israel’s national relations with their host country of Egypt.  We can be absolutely sure that the LORD is referring to Israel’s national relations and alliances, as we read on in Ezekiel 23:

5:  And Aholah {Samaria the northern house} played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours…
Verse 7:  Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols, she defiled herself...

If a woman comes to admire a brave and/or handsome man – such as were the warriors of Assyria and Chaldea – to the point that she dotes on him (verse 9), is in awe of him, lusts after him and gives herself to him body and soul – literally – she will likely also adopt any religion that he might have.  

I have heard it said that, if two people indulge in carnal relations, in God’s eyes, they are as good as married to one another – that they have given themselves to one another in an unspoken and illicit marriage contract.

This is what we’re seeing here in a national and spiritual sense.  So we can see why the LORD God would be jealous and very angry.

8: Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her … 

In their later years, these two national sisters – Aholah and Aholibah – the houses of Israel and Judah – gave themselves up to Assyria and Chaldea.  But also in their youth – in their early years as a nation – they gave themselves up, nationally and perhaps spiritually, to Egypt! 

In modern times, at the instant of her marriage, a woman usually (although there are increasing numbers of exceptions to this normal rule) gives up her “maiden-name” in order to take her new husband’s surname; and they become a married couple.  Thus, Jim Smith and Mary Jones become Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Likewise, Miss Aholah (Israel) was willing to give up her maiden name and to lose her identity in order to become, in her later years, Mrs. Assyria and, in her early years, Mrs. Egypt! 

Although the LORD did allow Miss Aholah (Israel) to lose her identity in her later years after she was taken into captivity by Mr. Assyria, back during her youthful “affair” with Mr. Egypt, the LORD prevented this from happening – perhaps to ensure that they (and others) continued to to know who they were.

The modern peoples of Israel today do not know who they are because they lost their identity following their Assyrian captivity.  Except for the House of Judah, the modern descendants of the children of Israel do not know who they are.  They do not know that they are Israelites. 

Yes, the northern house of Israel was eventually taken into captivity by Assyria, the very “lover country” that they had given themselves to by committing national and spiritual immorality:

9: Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted

And then, despite the LORD’s many warnings not to, her sister, Aholibah, the southern house of Judah, followed her example; but did even worse:

Verse 11:  And when her sister Aholibah {Judah} saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
12:  She doted upon the Assyrians, her neighbours…
Verse 14:  And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men portrayed upon the wall
{pictures, sculptures or bas-reliefs carved into the wall}, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion…

We won’t dwell on this much more because the Hebrew narrative implies that these portrayals may have been an ancient version of pornography.  Yes.  Physical, spiritual and national pornography!  And the Jewish Israelites were lured in by them.

The main thing that I’m trying to get across here is that, no matter which “lover country” Israel committed spiritual immorality with – Egypt, Assyria or Chaldea/Babylon – the LORD intervened and turned any doting, love, lust or attraction that the "lover countries" had toward Israel and Judah into disrespect, disdain, contempt, hatred and, eventually and violence.

Even today, this can sometimes happen after an immoral man has had his way with a silly, unsuspecting girl who has given away her chastity, believing that he truly loved her and would marry her.  

The stuff of many a novel?  Yes.  But in addition to disrespect, disdain, contempt and violence, silly Miss Aholah (Israel) was also punished with slavery and further undesirable scattering!

And, once again, Israel’s period of slavery in Egypt was not just a case of “time and chance” – not just a case of them being “unluckily” in the wrong place at the wrong time!  Rather, it was severe punishment on young Israel for cozying up to the Egyptians; for seeking their future in Egypt; for seeking their inheritance there, despite the LORD’s many promises that their inheritance was in "the Promised Land" of Canaan; for wanting to be like the Egyptians; and even for wanting to be Egyptians – through a kind of national marriage alliance. 

Sometimes we look at the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt and we ask, "Why did God do that to them?  Was it just time and chance?"

I believe that, No, it was not. 

The Flight to Pella

Now, as we get back to where we left off in Part 11, we go forward about fifteen hundred years, from Israel's Egyptian yashab to the “post-apostolic era”

First, we will concentrate on the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.  Although frequently unreliable, tradition tells us that most of the apostles – including Peter and Paul – were dead by the time Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 AD.  We believe that they were probably dead by 67 or 68 AD.

But that is where the next part of our story begins.  Perhaps more accurately, it began forty-odd years earlier when Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  We usually look at Matthew's account for this; but I think Luke brings it out better:

Luke 19:
41:  And when He
{Jesus} was come near, He beheld the city {Jerusalem}, and wept over it,
42:  Saying, “If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong unto your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43:  For the days shall come upon you, that your enemies shall cast a trench
{more accurately a rampart or a siege-wall} about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side,
44:  And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you
{N.B. all Jerusalem not just the temple} one stone upon another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.

That "visitation" being the first coming of their Messiah!  The people of Jerusalem that He was talking to here didn’t know that the prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah were then taking place.  

But why did they not know the time of the visitation (as the wise men from the east had done – Matthew 2:1-6)?  The answer, as we find in in II Thessalonians 2, is because their sins of idolatry, Sabbath-breaking and self-righteousness hid the truth from their minds:

II Thessalonians 2:
10:  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11: And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This is a hugely important scripture for us to remember.  If we lose the love of the truth and if we lose the love of righteousness – and we have all seen this happen in God’s church – He will bring down this strong delusion on us too!

Later on, Jesus gave them – or at least those who had ears to hear – more details, more warnings – including a way of escape:

Luke 21:
5:  And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, He said,
6:  “As for these things which you behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down…

Jesus had already, back in Chapter 19, said that there would be not one stone left upon another in the whole city of Jerusalem.  And here He says that this applies to the temple as well.

By the way, have you ever noticed that the  Western (or so-called Wailing) Wall does have a considerable number of stones that are still resting one upon another? 

I have just finished reading a quite convincing book entitled “The Temple” which presents multiple proofs that the stone temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod were not located on the hill that is commonly called “the Temple Mount” where the Moslems’ Dome of the Rock is located today; but rather on the neighbouring Hill of Ophel near the Gihon Spring, the Pool of Siloam and Hezekiah's Tunnel which are known to be in the lower City of David. 

As we continue in the book of Luke, we see more instructions for travel and relocation:

Luke 22:
20:  And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21:  Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

In other words, as CGI’s Bill Watson would say, “Get outa Dodge!  And, if you’re already out, don’t even think of coming back in!” 

Jesus warned them well in advance that, once a siege wall was built up around the city, they would not be able to get out; so, as soon as they saw the area compassed around with armies, they needed to get out then, while they still had the chance.

Although previous and subsequent verses of this prophecy prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus’ words here are primarily referring to the end times, it is believed by many Bible scholars that it also refers in a dual – though secondary – sense, to the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and its temple – and also to the exodus of those Jewish Christians who would wisely heed Jesus’ warnings to flee from Jerusalem and from Judea.

If this is 70 AD aspect is true, which I strongly believe it is, we are led to ask another question:  Where did those folks flee – travel, scatter – to? 

The last of Paul’s New Testament writings concludes in circa 68 AD – prior to the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem; and John, as far as I know, doesn’t mention the Christians’ flight in any of his later writings up to 100 AD.  This being the case, we have to rely on the words of Josephus and other non-biblical scholars, both ancient and modern.

I would like to go now into a book called “A History of the True Church” written in 1936 by Andrew Dugger and Clarence Dodd.  I will give you more details on this later; but for now, I want to urge you all to take the time to download it off the Internet and read it.  There is so much amazing information in this book.

Here’s an excerpt as we follow the fledgling Church of God out of Jerusalem and Judaea shortly before the horrors of 70 AD:

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave warning to His followers of the great destruction decreed upon Jerusalem, and the Jewish temple there.  He told those living in Judea to flee to the mountains…

We just read those scriptures.

Consequently, when they saw Jerusalem compassed with armies, the church fled to a town called Pella.”

There is no mention of Pella in the scriptures; but here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: 

Pella: Also known in Arabic as Tabaqat Fahl is found in northwestern Jordan… in the Jordan Valley… 27.4 km (17 miles) south of the Sea of Galilee…. 130 km (80 miles) north of Amman… half an hour by car from Irbid, in the north of the country…

More significant for us – and for those Jewish Christians back then – it was about 84 kilometres (52 miles) "as the crow flies" NNW from Jerusalem. Continuing in the Wikipedia quote:

Pella represents one of ten Decapolis cities that were founded during the Hellenistic period {323 BC to 31 BC} and became powerful under Roman jurisdiction.  

With a history extending back into the Bronze Age, Pella expanded to its largest state during the reign of the Roman Empire. 

Today, the city's sizable collection of ruins has been excavated by archeologists, and attract thousands of tourists annually.”

Back now to Dugger and Dodd’s Church history:

The following bit of history gives us information concerning this flight and escape…

Here, Dugger and Dodd quote some other scholars:

Hugh Smith's History:
Under the reign of Vespasian, Rome declared war against the Jews because of their repeated revolts, and General Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem 70 A.D. It is said that eleven hundred thousand
{that's 1.1 million!} Jews perished in the six-month siege, but the church there escaped the horrors of the siege by following the instruction of Christ in Matthew 24, and fleeing to the mountains beyond the Jordan.  This timely retreat was made to the small town of Pella. 

Gibbon: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
The Jewish converts, or, as they were afterwards called, the Nazarenes, who had laid the foundations of the church, soon found themselves overwhelmed by the increasing multitudes, that from all the various religions of polytheism enlisted under the banner of Christ...  The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity.

Hurlbut's Story of the Christian Church:
In the fall of Jerusalem, few if any Christians perished. From the prophetic utterances of Christ, the Christians received warning, escaped from the doomed city, and found refuge at Pella, in the Jordan valley.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition:
The Nazarenes, an obscure Jewish-Christian sect existing at the time of Epiphanius (A.D. 370) in Coele-Syria, Decapolis (Pella) and Basanitis (Cocabe).  According to that authority, they dated their settlement in Pella from the time of the flight of the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, immediately before the siege in A.D. 70.

The bottom line here is that this was another huge physical example of the separation, travel and scattering of God’s people. 

These Christians who had fled to Pella – and any surviving non-Christian Jews who were expelled from the ruins of Jerusalem and even from all Judea! – were now separated from their home country.

Here is another interesting quote, this one from the (somewhat famous) biblical archeologist Hershel Shanks, in his article: “Excavating in the Shadow of the Temple Mount” in the November 1986 issue of the “Bible Archeological Review”:

The Jews were removed from the land of Israel for very long periods of time.  Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) rebuilt the destroyed city of Jerusalem, renamed it Aelia Capitolina, and kept the Jews from entering.

So the Romans originally wiped out 1.1 million Jews, put a rampart around Jerusalem and wouldn't allow any who did escape to go back in.  The Jews were removed from their beloved capital city, which had been all but totally demolished including their temple.  Not one stone was left upon another!  Other than the stones of the Romans’ Fort Antonia, which Robert Cornuke and other scholars now believe was on the Dome of the Rock.

The Jewish Christians were also separated from their people – their fellow Jews – perhaps some of their family members who may have been non-Christian Jews.

Another question comes to mind: Why did this happen?  Why did God allow it to happen?  Or, as is more likely, why did God cause it to happen?  Not just the destruction of Jerusalem; but the invasion and captivity of their whole nation by the Romans?

Was it because Jesus’ own countrymen had Him – the Son of God – murdered?

That likely was one reason. 

Some people would like to get us to hate all Jews because they did what they did way back then.  No, that is not right.   

But again, Jesus' murder that may have been one partial reason.  A resultant reason.  A reason that was a result of the Jews' backsliding mindset.

Jerusalem and its temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.  But they first invaded the land in 63 BC – 133 years before they destroyed it.

63 BC was back in the “intertestamental period” that we looked at in a previous episode of this series.  May I repeat, just as a reminder, that the  Intertestamental period was the time when the spurious “Traditions of the Elders” were being developed by those proud, vain, post-exilic Jews. Traditions that were figments of the human imaginations of the Jewish leaders. Traditions that had become so entrenched by the time of Jesus’ human life and ministry.  Traditions that included pride, self-worship, idolatry and the twisting of God’s Sabbath laws.  

The Roman enslavement of the Jews was history repeating itself.  It was exactly what happened to them for their sin in Egypt.  It was exactly what happened due to their sins with Assyria and Chaldea.  And it happened again with Rome.  We need to remember this because it is all part of Bible history.

I love to meditate on the instant that the LORD (YHVH) transferred Himself into a human embryo in Mary’s womb.  It is an astonishing part of history to me.  When the human Jesus was still in Mary’s womb, she was inspired to say these words about Him – about what He had done, and what He would do.  Her words, just in this one verse, are perhaps prophetic words referring, at least partially, to the scattering of the Jews in 70 AD:

Luke 1:51:
He has showed strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

We cannot, of course, just limit "the proud" to the Jews.  We see a lot of proud people in other nationalities as well. 

The destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 AD was a hugely important event.  It was the end of an era – the temple era.  The LORD’s temple – whether in stone or tent form – had existed for over 1,500 years! And now it was no more!  The scriptures tell us that there will be another temple in the World Tomorrow; but for this part – this six thousand years – of human history, it is finished.  It was finished right then in 70 AD.  That was a huge event!

Another thirty years later and John, the last of the original apostles, would be dead, so ending another era – the apostolic era, and so beginning what I call “the post-apostolic” era.  Was there more scattering in the post-apostolic era?  Yes!  

As we begin this section, please allow me to repeat – and expand upon – an earlier quote from Bible archeologist Hershel Shanks’ article, “Excavating in the Shadow of the Temple Mount” in the November 1986 issue of the “Bible Archeological Review”: 

The Jews were removed from the land of Israel for very long periods of time.

Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) rebuilt the destroyed city of Jerusalem, renamed it Aelia Capitolina, and kept Jews from entering.

From the time of Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate in the middle of the fourth century
{AD} until the Arabs conquered Jerusalem in 638 AD, the Temple Mount {so-called} had remained an abandoned garbage dump.

The Crusaders later seized the Holy City in 1099 and placed a huge gilt cross on the famed Muslim Dome and called it “Templum Domini” (The Lord’s Temple)...

(Although, as I believe, the real temple was never there).

In the twelfth century, the Muslims took the Dome of the Rock back and drove out the Christians {so-called}.  They put the crescent symbol of Islam back atop the Dome where its still sits today.

The years between 1150 AD and 1875 AD became known as the separation period.  For 725 long years, there were no scholars to speak of and no religious authorities having open access to the temple area.

The message all of this sends is that there have been huge spans of centuries where the Romans kicked out the Jews and Christians
{so-called} from the land, as well as Muslims enacting quarantine on Jews and Christians {so-called}.

During those long periods of conquest, the Temple Mount, as well as the City of David, were often lonely, forsaken places that knew only the stench of decaying trash or the sound of a wind sifting through bent weeds. 

Now, as we get into this post-apostolic era, we come to a bit of a problem.  And that problem is that, with the close of the apostolic era, we also come to the close of what we can be sure is the truly inspired Word of God.  Any literature written after John’s death might be inspired.  And might not be.  I would go as far as to say that the vast majority of early literature written after John’s writings was probably un-inspired!  Sadly, what we refer to as "profane history" –  or, in other words, non-biblical history – is all we have to go on. 

The best source that I am aware of is the previously mentioned “History of the True Religion Traced from 33 AD to Date” by Andrew Dugger (1886-1975) and Clarence Dodd (1899-1955) – commonly referred to as “Dugger and Dodd.” 

If you haven't read it and are in the least interested in the history of God’s true church – as opposed to that of the many false professing Christian churches out there – I urge you to do so.  It is freely available for viewing on – or downloading from – the Internet.

There may well be better – or more accurate – sources that I am unaware of; and if any of our listeners or readers know of any, please get in touch with me and let me know.

Over the past few months, I’ve been scouring through this book, searching its many sentences and phrases that show the truth of the ongoing travels, separations and scatterings of our true Church of God brethren from the end of the apostolic era up until what I believe was the book's third and final edition in 1972. 

So, for this section of this “ABC of Scattering” sermon series I will be quoting extensively from Dugger and Dodd, as well as some of the sources that they quote.

The part of their book that is of most interest for our purposes today goes century-by-century beginning with the Second Century – i.e. From 100 AD to 200 AD.

As mentioned earlier, some of the separations that affect God’s church are physical ones, but many of them are doctrinal ones.  And that’s how Dugger and Dodd’s Chapter 5 begins:

The first century {1 AD to 100 AD} closed with the death of the last of the apostles and writers of the New Testament, the Apostle John.  No sooner had the apostles and disciples, who had been with Jesus, fallen asleep, than a new order arose and a different class of writers began to pen religious epistles. 

Hurlbut says of this change, in his Story of the Christian Church:

For fifty years after St. Paul's life, a curtain hangs over the church, through which we vainly strive to look; and when at last it rises, about 129 A.D. with the writings of the earliest “church-fathers,” we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Further on in chapter 5 of Dugger and Dodd, now they quote a document dated 1816 "Townsend’s Abridgment":

The first Christians, with the purest benevolence toward the persons of heretics, gave their errors no quarter, and discountenanced them by every reasonable method. 

The real heretics, on the contrary, endeavored to unite themselves with Christians. 

This they did, with a view, no doubt, to obtain a more extensive circulation of their errors, under the cloak of their being still in fellowship with those, whose real piety and soundness in the faith could not be doubted.

These heretics wormed their way into God’s true church and tried to circulate their errors within it.

Many of us saw this same kind of thing happening in the mid-to-late 1990’s when what we now believe to have been heretics were endeavouring to unite themselves with true Christians who had stepped out in faith.  Some of the Church of God groups were credentialing ministers who had shortly before been preaching the heresies of the Tkachs’ “new truth.” 

Continuing in chapter 5 of Dugger and Dodd:

After the death of the apostles Paul, Peter and John, history of the early church is confined to the writings of "the Church Fathers," so called, who penned their epistles perhaps in sincerity, but not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as did the apostles. 

While we may consider the epistles of these early writers from a historical viewpoint, we cannot consider them as a basis of doctrine or faith, for their opinions are varied, the one contradicting the other.

We will go into this some more next time; and we will see how the Roman Catholic Church "peeled off" from the true church.  We are not just talking about physical separation, travel and scattering.  We are talking about the doctrinal and spiritual as well.

Next time, we will continue with the overview of the divisions, separations and scatterings of the post-apostolic era of the God’s church.