Nov 112019
The apostasy of Christendom began in the departure from the teaching committed to the apostel Paul

DEPARTURE from the teaching of the Pauline Epistles was the beginning of apostasy in the Church — the commencement of the dark ages. The Reformation was an awakening to sense of this disobedience, but it was only “in part”; and the condition of the Protestant Evangelical Churches to-day exhibits as sad a condition, from another point of view, as the Church before the Reformation, and needs another Reformation, as great, though of another kind and in a different direction.

To see the root causes of this confusion we shall have to go back to the beginning, and see what Paul’s ministry really was, and was intended to be. It is recorded in Acts xiii. – xxviii. It is not taken up until after the record of Peter’s ministry is closed.

Paul (Acts xiii. – xxviii.) proclaims to Jews and Gentiles alike, perfection, apart from all ordinances, in union with Christ (Messias), in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. He preaches Christ as the Head of His Body, the Church [ecclesia]. He declares “all the council of God” (Acts xx. 27). He “fully preaches the word of God” (Col. 1. 25, margin). Paul’s ministry completes the testimony which thus, in connection with the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke xiv. 15-24], ends in grace; while the ministry of Peter and the Twelve, in connection with the Parable of the Dinner, ends in judgment, see Matt. xxii. 7 {[his armies. The Roman armies. burned up their city. Gr. empretho, Occ. only here. This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place shortly after the close of the Acts Dispensation – Companion Bible /]} where we have the significant words: “He sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers and burnt up their city.”

This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while the Third ministry (begun by Paul) to the Gentiles is carried on after that destruction, during the National rejection, and while Jerusalem lies desolate. No words could more distinctly express the present dispensation of Grace [Gr. oikonomia – Eph. iii. 2] to the Gentiles given to the apostle Paul.

After speaking the Parable of the Great Supper, the Lord first lays down the great truth that those who receive Him must be prepared to give up all connected with Judaism (Luke xiv. 26,27), as exemplified by Paul in Phil. iii. 4-14, where all that he once counted as “gain,” he counted as dross and loss for Christ’s sake.

This is followed by three solemn illustrations as to this coming change in the dispensation, ending with the words (v. 35), “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” They are the “Tower,” the “King,” and the “Salt.” These are given after the rejection of Israel had been spoken of in verse 24. Three solemn warnings are conveyed by these as to the folly of claiming the apostolic commission and authority when not possessing apostolic power: the warning which Christendom did not heed, and the error into which it has fallen.

THE BUILDING OF THE TOWER (Luke xiv. 28-30).

The Lord gave authority and power to His apostles to gather a people to His great supper (Luke ix. 1; Mark xvi. 15-18; Luke xxiv. 47-49; Acts ii. 38, and xv. 14). This was connected first of all with Jerusalem (Acts i. 4), and with Himself as the King of Israel and Lord of all.This authority and power ceased with the apostles to whom they were given, and they never were and never could be transmitted by them to others.

The apostles exercised this authority and power. They baptized; and, by the laying on of hands, they conferred miraculous gifts; but they could not transmit to those recipients the authority and power to give those gifts and signs to others. And when the ministry of the kingdom ended, Paul’s ministry of “the gospel of the grace of God” was to be continued and carried on among Jews and Gentiles alike, calling out the members of Christ’s Spiritual Body until that Body should be complete.

By this illustration of the “Tower” the Lord warns us not to claim this apostolic authority, unless we have the power to complete the work by the laying-on-of-hands, and the bestowal of miraculous gifts, which were the inseparable signs of that power and that authority.

In other words we are not to begin to “build,” unless we are able to “finish.”

Instead of this, men soon began to build the Church upon the foundations of the Kingdom; they began to build this Tower, and they went to war with the great enemy. They assumed to act in “apostolic succession,” but were destitute of its authority and power. The result of this attempt to build the Tower is another Babel (Gen. xi.), and it will now soon end in another Babylon (Rev. xvii.). That which claims to be the continuation of the ministry committed to the twelve apostles becomes “Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” /

[HET BLOED SCHREEUWT UIT DE AARDE – De hartverscheurende geschiedenis van een eeuwenlange Jodenvervolging in Christelijk Europa en Gods antwoord hierop – Wim Verwoerd / boek is voorradig]

The Lord Jesus sent forth His apostles to proclaim the Kingdom of God, with power and authority over all devils (Luke ix. 1). This was the proof that the Kingdom of God was come to Israel (Luke xi. 20). The Lord warns men not to proclaim the King or the Kingdom unless they had power to cast out Satan, the great king who is opposed to them. If they have not this power, their true course is to act as ambassadors, seeking the peace of those who are afar off.

The parable teaches plainly the change in the character of the gospel as sent to the Gentiles by Paul from its character as addressed by Peter and the Twelve to Israel. To Israel it proclaimed the Lord Jesus as the King, by His apostles as the heralds of His authority and power; but now to the Gentiles, afar off, the ministers of the Gospel are ambassadors of Christ, desiring His enemies to be reconciled to God.

Those, therefore, who in any sense lay claim to the figment of “Apostolic Succession,” and those also who, while they reject it, yet ignorantly assume the continuation of the apostolic ministry (after the authority, and power, and sign-gifts have alike ceased), are trying to build this Tower, but are unable to finish it. Nay, worse, far worse than this, this building results in another tower of Babel–for confusion is the meaning of its name, and confusion is what we see everywhere around us. They are unable to cope with the great king with whom they contend: they “forsake” not those things that hey have (v. 33), and they cannot be, the Lord Jesus says, “My disciples.” They may pretend to be the Apostles’ successors, but are not Christ’s disciples.

The great lesson for us lies in the fact that the apostasy of Christendom began in the departure from the teaching committed to Paul concerning “The Mystery,” or the great Secret concerning the Church of God [ecclesia] as the Body of Christ, “the pillar and ground” of all Church truth.


Paul’s “teaching” declares that Christ is made of God the Head of the Church [ecclesia], which is His Body, and that true believers are the “members of Christ,” in dwelt by the “one Spirit,” wherewith, by the “one baptism,” they have been baptized by the “one Lord,” into the “one Body” (Eph. iv.); that these members of Christ are sanctified in Christ; and are called by God into fellowship with His Son; that they are one Spirit with Him, and are “the temple of the living God.”

For these, “Christ hath abolished in his flesh, the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” Colossians ii gives us their true standing. They are “complete in Him” (v. 10). Hence, their circumcision is that which is “made without hands,” being “the circumcision of Christ” (v. 11); and if their circumcision is effected without hands, then, of necessity their baptism must be of the same character. Their baptism is Christ’s burial (v. 12): for them, ordinances are “blotted out” and “taken out of the way” (v. 14), and they are asked Why, if they died with Christ from the rudiments (i.e. religious ordinances) of the world, Why are they “subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men?” (v. 20, 22). Thank God, there are those who thus know their completeness and perfection in Christ.

But there are thousands who have not this wondrous knowledge. The eyes of their understanding are not enlightened (Eph. i. 18). They are led by those who claim to be successors of the Apostles, and who claim to continue–not Paul’s ministry, but that of the Twelve! And what was …


In 1883 there was published, under this title, a MS., then recently discovered in the library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, at Constantinople. The date of the MS. was June 13th, 1056: but all scholars are agreed that is a copy of a work which was originally written in the last quarter of the first century. Its existence had long been known, for it had been quoted by the Sub-Apostolic Fathers, Barnabas (A.D. 71), and Hermas (A.D. 100), and by Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 192). Eusebius (H.E. iii 2), A.D. 330-340, mentions it as well-known in his day, and classes it among the “controverted books” of the Canon (Two or three reproductions of it have been published in English, with notes, &c.)

The work consist entirely of moral precepts, and rules as to prayer, fasting, baptism, and the Eucharist, and ends with a solemn reference to the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead.

We cannot, of course, believe that this was the actual teaching of the Twelve. But this is what it had degenerated into before the close of the first century. We can well understand why all Sacramentarians should hail the appearance of this ancient writing: and, instead of seeing in it the corruption of Christianity, and the commencement of the Apostasy, should welcome it, and make it the ground of their own “teaching.” But it shows a lack of discernment indeed for others to speak of this Didache, or “Teaching of the Twelve,” with approbation, and to see in it a model for the present day, instead of a departure from Primitive Christianity.

Alas! the teaching of Paul was soon apostatised from! and even the teaching of the Twelve “was corrupted”! That corrupted teaching may be summed up in two words, MORALITY AND ORDINANCES.

Is not this exactly what we see around us on every hand to-day? Holding fast to these two, the other two have been abandoned and practically lost, viz., (1) the coming of the Lord, and (2) resurrection as the hope of the Church (ecclesia)!

This was the cause, the beginning, of the apostasy of Christendom: this it was that led up to and brought on “the dark ages”: and this is the secret cause of “the present distress” in the churches.

The ministry of the apostle Paul is rejected, and the ministry of the Twelve is still carried on by those who, though destitute of the Apostles’ authority and power, impose on their hearers “the commandments and doctrines of men,” and put them in subjection to “ordinances”: and, worse than that, they add “commandments” . . . “touch not, taste not, handle not”!

Christianity, to-day, has woefully degenerate. Ordinances have become more and more positive in their character; preaching is everywhere being set aside, while even morality itself becomes more and more negative. For the most part it consist in abstinence from this or that; and in vows and pledges and badges. It is “touch NOT, taste NOT, handle NOT”: but “all are to perish with the using”; and all are characteristic of the ministry which is now being every where exercised. THE END!

By Dr. E.W. Bullinger /


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