Update 591


Not Just For Women

On June 1st, 2013, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Not Just For Women.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

Back to top

Be Vigilant!

by Michael Link

Since September 11, 2001, this nation has been faced with changes when it comes to security and safety measures.  In an article from the Chicago Tribune News dated November 9, 2001, former President Bush said, as he was trying to reassure the nation that the government will win the war on terrorism, “the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. had created an era that requires new responsibilities, both for the government and our people. We are a different country than we were on Sept. 10: sadder and less innocent, stronger and more united, and, in the face of ongoing threats, determined and courageous.”  However, the war on terrorism is still ongoing to this day, and wars in general will continue until Christ returns.

Subsequent to the events of 9/11, there have been countless incidents when the safety of innocent people was in jeopardy, as their “trust” had been compromised by those responsible for shootings, in places no one would ever imagine these disasters to occur.  Echoed once again, this time by our current president, this country has been urged to be more vigilant of our surroundings since “anybody” could be a suspect.  This rings true for the latest Boston marathon bombings where two individuals who blended in well with society, had the public wondering whom they can trust.  Friends of the younger suspect, responsible for the bombings, were dumbfounded that he would carry out such a crime.  This begs the question, “You think you know somebody, right?”  All public areas are now susceptible targets for tragedies to occur as we have already seen shootings at movie theatres, salons, shopping malls, restaurants, schools, churches, etc., which unfortunately have many wondering where the next incident will occur.  Many “solutions” are tossed around as how to prevent this from happening again, for example; tighter restrictions on gun ownership, doing away with assault weapons, certain measures to get guns off the street, but as we all know, there is only ONE solution (compare Isaiah 2:4).

While the world is becoming more and more vigilant with their surroundings and the word “trust” has now brought forth a different meaning, we are also faced with the same expectations, and then some.  Members and associates of the true Church of God are admonished to “Be sober, be vigilant,” or, in other words, self-controlled and watchful, “because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  We are aware that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:31), and he is responsible for such disasters to occur, keeping in mind that God allows it to happen.  Insofar as the Church is concerned, we may not necessarily fall victim to those who have lost their lives in such extreme and horrific ways, but Satan uses his cunning craftiness to attack us, to strike us where we are weak and where we may struggle, tempting us to sin, trying to make sure that we will not succeed, but only to FAIL. 

We CAN succeed! By remaining vigilant, we can protect ourselves by “putting on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:11-18).

Back to top

We begin reporting on the escalating volatile situation in Syria and Iran’s and China’s cyber-attacks on America. We continue with Germany’s worldwide small arms sales and Europe’s fascination with the homosexual movement, and we speak of Africa’s future.

We report on America’s natural disasters and its preoccupation with the legalization of pot; address the discovery of a new SARS virus which could be a threat for the entire world; and conclude with an article showing that God’s Word does in fact stand forever.

Back to top

Escalations Over Syria

Al Jazeera reported on May 29:

“Israel has said it will act if Russia delivers promised anti-aircraft missiles to its ally Syria, in an apparent allusion to another air raid on the neighbouring country. Moshe Yaalon, Israeli defence minister, issued his warning on Tuesday shortly after a senior official in Moscow said the Russian government reserved the right to provide Syria with state-of-the-art S-300 air defence missiles… Yaalon’s comments were made before Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, ordered his cabinet to stay silent on the issue, according to public radio.

“Earlier this month, Israel launched air raids inside Syria targeting what sources said were arms destined for the Lebanese Shia armed group Hezbollah, whose fighters have entered the conflict alongside the Syrian army. Tensions were further stirred after the EU decided in a meeting in Brussels on Monday to lift an embargo on supplying weapons to Syria’s rebels. Syria’s government joined its ally Russia in condemning the EU decision as an ‘obstruction’ to peace efforts, while accusing the bloc of supporting and encouraging ‘terrorists’. The US, however, said it supported the EU move as a show of ‘full support’ for the rebels, despite its own refusal to provide arms it fears will end up in what it believes to be extremist hands in Syria…

“Both Russia and Iran remain Syria’s main weapon suppliers… In a related diplomatic development, Russia said on Tuesday it was imperative for Iran to join the so-called Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria. France has already rejected the idea of Iran taking part, while the US has responded to Russia’s proposal with skepticism… Opposition leaders have said they will only participate in talks if Assad’s departure from power tops the agenda, a demand Assad and his Russian backers have rejected.”

Russia, Syria and Iran vs. Israel, USA and Europe. This volatile situation is bound to explode. And when it does, the consequences will be disastrous.

Iran’s Cyber Attacks Against U.S. Corporations

Newsmax wrote on May 24:

“Iran has stepped up a campaign of cyberattacks against U.S. companies and has successfully hacked the computer networks of several American energy firms. In the latest cyberassault, Iranian hackers accessed control-system software that could permit them to damage or destroy oil and gas pipelines in the future, reports The Wall Street Journal, quoting a former U.S. official who said the attacks had proceeded ‘far enough to worry people.’

“The fear in Washington is that the Iranian action is potentially more dangerous than cyberattacks by Chinese hackers, who have reportedly accessed the intellectual property of several U.S. corporations.”

But Chinese hackers did not only target intellectual property of US corporations, as the next article shows.

“Chinese Hackers ‘Access Sensitive US Weapons Systems’”

The Telegraph wrote on May 28:

“Designs for some of the United States’ most important and sensitive weapons systems have been ‘compromised’ by Chinese hackers according to a confidential report. The document, which was provided to the Pentagon by the Defence Science Board, an influential advisory body, said that more than two-dozen key weapons systems had been affected, including missile defense systems, fighter jets, helicopters and navy vessels.

“… senior military sources pointed the finger directly at Beijing, telling the [Washington] Post the security breaches were part of a ‘widening Chinese campaign of espionage against US defence contractors and government agencies.’ Such information could help China speed up the development of its own weapons system while also giving the Asian giant an advantage in any military conflict with the US, the Post reported.

“Mark Stokes, the executive director of the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank that focuses on Asia security issues, described the list of affected systems as ‘staggering’. ‘These are all very critical weapons systems, critical to our national security. When I hear this in totality, it’s breathtaking,’ he told the newspaper. A senior military official who declined to be named added: ‘This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China. They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development…’”

The Bible does not speak of a war between China and the USA, but a war will break out between China and other Far Eastern nations, including Russia, and a unified Europe, during which Europe will be greatly crippled and major European cities, such as Rome, will be destroyed. China’s military advantages over the West are therefore of great biblical importance. So is Europe’s and Germany’s weapons’ industry, as the next article shows.

Small Arms—“Passed from War to War”

Der Spiegel wrote on May 27:

“German weapons manufacturers are making more money than perhaps ever before when it comes to exporting small arms, raking in the highest sales since government record-keeping began in the late 1990s… Among the small arms contracts approved in the record year of 2012, Berlin approved some €6.5 million in exports to Saudi Arabia — a sum that amounted to more than half of such weapons sent to the Middle East and North Africa…

“‘The export of small arms is particularly controversial internationally because, compared to heavy weaponry, they kill far more victims worldwide,’ the [Süddeutsche Zeitung] wrote. This is of special concern in developing countries, where such weapons are easy to come by and often subsequently end up in war zones as a result of illegal trade.”

Homosexuality Increasingly Popular in Europe

The Associated Press reported on May 29:

“In a historic ceremony broadcast live on French television, the first gay couple to marry in France said, ‘Oui’ and then sealed the deal with a lengthy and very public kiss. Hundreds of invited guests, including a government minister, gathered for the moving ceremony Wednesday inside City Hall in this southern French city. Hundreds more flocked to the square outside the building… The politically charged ceremony was held under tight police surveillance — a stark reminder of the months of bruising opposition to the new gay-marriage law that French lawmakers passed earlier this month…

“News of the marriage will not be welcomed in every corner of France. Just last Sunday, tens of thousands of people protested fiercely in Paris against the new gay-marriage law, demonstrations that ended with riot police shooting tear gas. A plan to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt was a liberal cornerstone of Socialist Francois Hollande’s election manifesto last year… The law became a political hot potato that exposed bitter divisions between urban France, where homosexuality is widely accepted, and the Catholic heartland, where conservative attitudes hold sway…

“Paris police estimated that 150,000 people took part in the demonstration, but march organizers claimed on their Twitter account that more than a million people did. At the same time Sunday, on the shores of the Mediterranean, the prestigious 66th Cannes Film Festival gave the Palme d’Or, its top honor, to ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color: The Life of Adele,’ a graphic French film about a tender, sensual lesbian romance. France is the 14th country so far — and the biggest in political and economic weight — to recognize gay marriage.”

The homosexual movement is getting more and more momentum, recognition and support in Europe. Bild Online reported this week about a new American movie, “Behind the Candelabra,” with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, depicting the life of homosexual entertainer Liberace (Douglas) and his “love affair” with his “partner” (Damon). The movie was shown in Cannes, but while critics “praised” Michael Douglas for his “performance,” he could not be given an Oscar for it, as the film was not produced by a movie company, but by HBO, an American TV cable station, which will also show the movie on American TV. This disqualifies the movie as being included at the Academy Awards, according to Bild.

The tabloid wrote that no big American movie company was willing to produce the movie, because it was “too sexually explicit,” and so HBO decided to do so. Bild wrote that Europe was “further ahead” than “prudish” Hollywood, as it was not only willing to show the production in Cannes, but numerous movie theaters will show it across Europe. This development is rather surprising in respect to the USA, but it is most certainly in line with biblical prophecy, as it applies to Europe, since there are strong biblical implications that the final charismatic and highly popular European leader of the European power bloc—the “beast”—will be homosexual (compare our ongoing series on the revivals of the ancient Roman Empire in our Q&A’s.)

In this context, Mail On Line wrote on May 30, 2013, that “The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, suggested it was time to ‘rethink’ attitudes towards allowing same-sex couples to marry, as Christians did with slavery and apartheid. He argued that attitudes towards homosexuality have changed ‘considerably’ over the last fifty years and that the development of gay marriage would be a ‘very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage’.” Even though the Church of England is officially opposed to “gay marriages,” the opinion by Nicholas Holtam is in line with an opposite trend even within that church. As the article states, “A Church of England spokesman said Bishop Holtam’s letter was a ‘helpful contribution to the debate’.”

Ethiopia and Africa’s Future

On May 25, xinhuanet.com wrote the following:

“The celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Africa Union (AU)… have kicked off in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa Saturday, amid rising optimism over Africa’s future.

“Zambian President Michael Sata said in the last 50 years, most African countries managed to achieve valuable progress in their national development, including achieving higher economic growth rates. ‘Addis Ababa was not what it is today 50 years ago,’ President Sata told journalists a day before world leaders joined the leadership of the AU to hold the commemoration of the continental Jubilee… African leaders, who gathered here to usher in yearlong celebrations, are insisting on propelling the voice of Africa to a more prominent role in the international scene…

“The celebrations being marked here have been styled to honor veterans for Africa’s struggle against colonial rule.”

Sadly, European attempts to establish “colonial rule” will reoccur. Please read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy.” 

No Reprieve from Natural Disasters

CNN wrote on May 29:

“Increasingly, it feels like there is no reprieve from the assault of natural disasters. Month after month, we go from winter storms to spring floods, to tornado and hail storms, to hurricanes, to wildfires, with an earthquake thrown in every so often just to remind us that the seasons don’t always dictate the disasters. As a hazard scientist, I am in tune daily with the looming threats of nature and the places that are most susceptible. Many people, however, don’t realize the full extent of the risk they face in their own hometowns and neighborhoods. All it really takes is one catastrophe, like Hurricane Sandy, or the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, to turn everyone’s attention to the true reality of hazard risk.

“No place in the United States is risk-free. Some regions of the country are more prone to certain events than others, so in those cases it is never a question of ‘if,’ but rather a question of ‘when’ and ‘how severe will it be?’ We hear about earthquakes and wildfires in California, hurricanes in Florida or Louisiana, floods along the Mississippi, and probably most well-known, tornadoes in the Midwestern states that make up ‘Tornado Alley.’ But it would be shortsighted to think these regions have cornered the market on natural hazards. A deeper investigation reveals just how widespread these natural disasters can be.

“Wildfires burned more than 9 million acres in the U.S. last year. Although California certainly felt the heat with nearly 900,000 acres burned, three other states each lost more than 1 million acres to wildfires in 2012 as well. Idaho had 1.6 million acres scorched and in both Montana and Oregon, 1.2 million acres burned. Yet we don’t hear as much about the fires in those states as we do about the blazes near San Diego or Los Angeles. In fact, 49 states are listed on the National Interagency Fire Center website as having lost acreage to wildfires in 2012. Even Hawaii lost 3 square miles of land in 2012, though few people would likely consider the islands to have any wildfire risk.

“Hurricane-driven storm surge was the lead story when Hurricane Sandy pushed ashore in New York and New Jersey in 2012. But Manhattan had braced for the threat of Hurricane Irene just the year before, a reminder that nature does not space these events to fit our expectations of how often surprising weather events happen. Aside from our heightened awareness of risk in the Northeast, 19 coastal states along the Gulf and Atlantic shorelines all have some degree of flooding risk from hurricane-driven storm surge, stretching from Texas to Maine. Not a single one of these states has less than $2 billion worth of residential property located in a storm-surge zone. The potential of a devastating hurricane is not limited to the states we think of as traditional targets…

“And of course, there are tornadoes. They hit with less warning than wildfires or hurricanes and are capable of producing tremendous, almost instantaneous damage. It would be comforting for us who live outside Tornado Alley to think that won’t happen to us. But the numbers tell a different story. From 2000 to 2011, about 6,700 tornadoes hit in the eight states typically identified as Tornado Alley: Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota and North Dakota. But 8,800 tornadoes touched down in at least 16 other states during the same time period, in Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky. The Tornado Alley states lost $2.5 billion in residential property damage from 2000 to 2011 — but consider that the 16 states outside the Alley suffered nearly $15.5 billion in damage during that same time…

“Are there more severe weather events now than in the past? There’s no clear answer. Media coverage has made us more aware…  Because disasters are reported more extensively now than ever, it might skew our perception of their frequency. But whether the number of tornadoes, fires, hurricanes and the like is on the rise, it’s a sure thing that the population has risen, and continues to rise each year by about 2.5 million a year, according to the Census Bureau. This means that more people will be living in areas at risk, and the number of homes, buildings and infrastructure will be greater. The value of the properties has increased over the years, so any disaster will cause more damage in dollars and cents…”

Jesus warned that we will HEAR more and more about wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters, including earthquakes. Our media is indeed eager to report about these events, so these days, more and more people can “hear” about them, even IF they had not increased in frequency. But it seems that they indeed increased in frequency, and also in magnitude.

WHY is America under such continuing curses with disaster after disaster from “Mother Nature”? The answer is that this country has brought upon itself the punishment God warned would come if its people rejected Him and His immutable laws! Our booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” reveals the ominous future of the English speaking nations—even including national destruction and captivity!  There is hope, there is good news, but that will only occur following tumultuous events that will lead the English-speaking nations of the United States and the former British Commonwealth to repentance and a turning to the God of the Bible—it is time to WAKE UP and to individually turn to God, to seek His will, and to begin to walk in His perfect way of life! Note also the next article.

America’s Changing Views on Pot

Business Insider wrote on May 28:

“It has been six months since Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana, and the momentum for changing the way states handle pot has never been stronger.  May was a huge month for marijuana reform supporters…  Coloradans can buy an ounce of [“recreational”] pot from specially licensed stores.

“There’s also been significant movement in other states in pursuing a similar system… On the whole, the political success for marijuana in May is really just the implementation of American’s changing views on pot.”

Woe unto those who “pervert justice” and “call evil good”… Since the entire world does, the entire world is under God’s curse.

New SARS Virus Threat for Entire World

CNN wrote on May 28:

“A new SARS-like virus recently found in humans is ‘a threat to the entire world,’ according to the director-general of the United Nations’ World Health Organization. The so-called novel coronavirus ‘is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself,’ Margaret Chan said Monday… ‘We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat,’ she said…’We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond,’ she said… The virus had infected 44 people worldwide as of last week, most of them in the Middle East… Half of them have died…

“Novel coronavirus acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system… But symptoms, which include fever and a cough, are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea have also been seen… Cases have been identified in eight countries including France and Saudi Arabia… Other European countries include Germany and the United Kingdom. No cases have been reported in the United States, but infectious disease experts have said it would not be surprising.”

Worldwide disease epidemics are prophesied, and God’s Word is sure. It is also available, so that “they have no excuse.” Note the next article.

Oldest Complete Scroll of Torah Found

The BBC wrote on May 28:

“The University of Bologna in Italy has found what it says may be the oldest complete scroll of Judaism’s most important text, the Torah… after carbon dating tests, the university has said the text may have been written more than 850 years ago.

“The university says that in 1889 one of its librarians… had examined the scroll and dated it to the 17th Century… when Prof Perani recently re-examined the scroll, he realised the script used was that of the oriental Babylonian tradition, meaning that the scroll must be extremely old. Another reason for the dating is that the text has many features forbidden in later copies under rules laid down by the scholar Maimonides in the 12th Century, the university says.”

God has promised that His Word—including those words recorded in the Old and the New Testament—would never disappear, but they would be preserved for all time. They can serve as a guiding light for those willing to obey Him, or as a witness against evildoers.

Back to top

Would you please elaborate on the ten European revivals of the ancient Roman Empire? (Part 11)

In the previous installment, we discussed the biblical revelations about the religious organization that the “false prophet” will represent. We have seen that the last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire constituted a collaboration between religion (the Roman Catholic Church) and state (the political empires under military leaders), while the first three revivals of the ancient Roman Empire were not supported by the Catholic faith.

In this installment, we will address historical forerunners of the end-time “false prophet”—including Simon Magus.

The Greek word for false prophet is pseudoprophetes. According to Strong #5578, this word means, “a spurious prophet, i.e. pretended foreteller or religious impostor (cp. #5571 – pseudes = deceitful, false, liar and #4396 – prophetes = a foreteller, by analogy an inspired speaker).”

The Bible reports of false prophets in the past, and it warns of the appearance of many false prophets in the future. However, as we will explain in the next installment, there will also arise THE false prophet in the end-time, prior to Christ’s return, epitomizing the false prophets of the past, present and future.

Matthew 24:11 tells us that many false prophets will arise who will show great signs and wonders to deceive (Matthew 24:24). Luke 6:26 says that false prophets existed already in Old Testament times (compare 2 Peter 2:1). Acts 13:6-12 reports of a false prophet at the time of Paul, who was a Jewish sorcerer. 1 John 4:1 speaks of false prophets at the time of John; and Revelation 2:20 gives a warning to God’s church in Thyatira because they allowed the (false) prophetess Jezebel to seduce them.

When focusing on the Egyptian false prophets or magicians at the time of Moses, in Exodus 7, we may get an idea as to the extent of the Satanic powers which the end-time false prophet will possess.

Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible explains that the two Egyptian sorcerers did not resort to “trickery,” but that they somehow exchanged their rods for real serpents:

“There can be no doubt that real serpents were produced by the magicians… If the magicians threw down their rods, and they became serpents after they were thrown down, as the text expressly says, Exodus 7:12, juggling or sleight of hand had nothing farther to do in the business, as the rods were then out of their hands. If Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods, their sleight of hand was no longer concerned. A man, by dexterity of hand, may so far impose on his spectators as to appear to eat a rod; but for rods lying on the ground to become serpents, and one of these to devour all the rest so that it alone remained, required something more than juggling. How much more rational at once to allow that these magicians had familiar spirits who could… convey one thing away and substitute another in its place!…”

The Bible states that the rod of Aaron BECAME a serpent, and that the magicians did in like manner. Unless one wants to say that Aaron operated with a trick or performed an illusion (which would be ridiculous), the magicians did not operate in that way, either. Later, God changed water into blood, and the magicians “did so” as well. Also, God brought frogs over Egypt, and the magicians did so as well.

It is obvious that these magicians acted with the power of Satan the devil and his demons. One should not try to diminish or underestimate Satan’s powers, nor try to explain them as man-made illusions or trickery. The Bible shows that in the near future, powerful men will arise on the world scene—including “the” false prophet—who will be influenced and empowered by Satan to perform real miracles—not just illusions—but they will do so with the demonic purpose of deceiving mankind.

A forerunner of the end-time false prophet was Simon Magus, a Samaritan sorcerer. We state the following about him in our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord” :

“Historical records establish the fact that Simon Magus, who had been baptized but had never truly repented (Acts 8:13–24), became a leader in the early Babylonian system. He had been a sorcerer, regarded as ‘the great power of God’ (Acts 8:9–10). Quoting from Millennium Prophecies, p. 59, let’s learn more about Simon Magus and the Satanic powers which he allegedly possessed. This should make us a bit more prepared for what is going to happen in the future and why the false prophet will be able to deceive so many people with his sorcery:

“‘The Samarian-born Simon Magus (15 BC–AD 53), son of a Jewish sorcerer, was educated in the cradle of Gnosticism, Alexandria. He was a disciple of Dositheus, who had been a follower of John the Baptist and contended with Jesus Christ for the title of Messiah. Simon traveled widely in Persia, Arabia [and] Egypt to learn all he could about magical lore. He was accompanied by a sorceress called Helena, whom Simon claimed was a reincarnation of Helen of Troy. In Samaria, even Christians spoke of Simon as ‘the great power of God’… Simon Magus performed many miracles, including healing the sick, raising the dead, walking through fire, flying through the air, turning stones into bread, creating phantom banquets, making himself invisible, animating stone statues, changing his own shape and, of course, reputedly commanding elemental spirits or possibly demons to do his bidding.’”

We are of course not claiming that Simon Magus did in fact accomplish all these things, quite literally, which are being described above. The above-stated description is an allusion to tradition and legend according to which Simon Magus accomplished these actions. We feel confident to say that through his magical powers, it appeared to people that he actually performed these “miracles,” including going through walls and making himself invisible. Today’s magicians or illusionists even appear to do some of these things, even though in most cases, they are just operating with tricks; how much more can a person accomplish some of it if he is used by Satan? We know of cases where Indian gurus levitate or where they walk on burning coals without their feet  being burnt—obviously Satan is behind this. In regard to Simon’s “ability” to “raise the dead,” people might not have really died, but were perhaps in a coma, and Simon woke them up out of that coma, through Satan’s help.

As mentioned, Simon Magus became a leader in the early Babylonian system. Some mistakenly claim that Simon Peter was the first bishop of Rome, and that Christ founded the Roman Catholic Church through the Apostle Peter. But this is not correct, and as so often, truth is stranger than fiction.

First, Scripture fails to confirm that Peter went to Rome to minister in that area–which is in contradiction, of course, to the human tradition which places him in Rome as its first Bishop.

We read in Galatians 2:7-9 that Paul had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles, including those living in Rome, who were physically uncircumcised), just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (Jews who were physically circumcised). Rome was essentially Gentile–even though some Jews resided there–and it was Paul, then, who went to Rome. It is true, however, that Peter was led to OPEN the way to salvation to be offered to Gentiles, by baptizing Cornelius, following a miraculous vision (compare Acts 11).

Paul confirms in Romans 15:16-20 that he was a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, and that he made it “his aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ WAS named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation” (verse 20). Paul is telling us here that he would not want to establish or lead a church which was already being led by another apostle, including Peter. He emphasizes the same principle in 2 Corinthians 10:13-16. When Paul was in Rome, he preached to the Gentiles there. He tells us in 2 Timothy 4:11, while imprisoned in Rome, that ONLY Luke was with him. Peter is not mentioned, which would be strange, if Peter was in Rome at that time. The same can be said regarding Paul’s additional “prison epistles” which were written during his first imprisonment in Rome (about 60-62 A.D.)–Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. No mention of Peter can be found in these letters.

In Romans 1:7, Paul addressed his letter to all of God’s beloved in Rome, without mentioning Peter. In Romans 16, he again addressed greetings to twenty-nine specific persons–in some cases their collective households–but again, he failed to mention Peter. Paul wrote the letter to the Romans about 57 A.D.–probably from Corinth. And even though tradition tells us that Peter had established the church at Rome in the 40’s A.D., we find no mention of Peter in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

It is also noteworthy what is stated Acts 28:22. Jewish leaders residing in Rome asked Paul about the gospel, when he had been brought as a prisoner to that city: “‘But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.’ So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the LAW of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.”

When the Jews disagreed amongst themselves, after having heard this message, Paul announced to them that he would now preach the gospel to the Gentiles in Rome, which he apparently did for two years (verses 24-31). This passage tells us that, even though they had heard about the “sect” of the Christians, they had not been taught the gospel when Paul arrived in Rome. This shows that Peter could not have been there for 12 years, prior to Paul’s arrival, to preach the gospel in Rome.

It is for these reasons that Henry Chadwick concluded in his book, “The Early Church,” Volume 1, 1967, page 18, that the idea that Peter was in Rome for twenty-five years is merely a third-century legend.

If Peter, then, was not in Rome, where was he? In Acts 12 we see that Peter was cast into prison by King Herod in Judea around 50 A.D. After his miraculous release, we are told that he met Paul in Antioch (Syria) around 50-56 A.D. (compare Galatians 2:11). Still later, around 64 A.D., he resided in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). Many Jews lived there at that time. Tradition, however, puts Peter in Rome during all this time, and some commentaries equate “Babylon” in 1 Peter 5:13 with the city of Rome. This, however, is in error. While John refers to Babylon, meaning the city of Rome, in the prophetic book of Revelation (compare Revelation, chapters 17 and 18), Peter actually resided in the literal city of Babylon at the time of his writing.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible points out:

“Some, by ‘Babylon’, understand Rome, which is so called, in a figurative sense, in the book of the Revelations… but that Peter was at Rome, when he wrote this epistle, cannot be proved, nor any reason be given why the proper name of the place should be concealed, and a figurative one expressed. It is best therefore to understand it literally, of Babylon in Assyria, the metropolis of the dispersion of the Jews, and the centre of it… there were great numbers [of Jews] which continued here, from the time of the captivity, who returned not with Ezra; and these are said by the Jews… to be of the purest blood: many of the Jewish doctors lived here; they had three famous universities in this country, and here their Talmud was written, called from hence… Babylonian.”

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agrees and adds:

“Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter addresses was derived. Philo [The Embassy to Gaius, 36] and Josephus [Antiquities, 15.2.2; 23.12] inform us that Babylon contained a great many Jews in the apostolic age (whereas those at Rome were comparatively few, about eight thousand [Josephus, Antiquities, 17.11]); so it would naturally be visited by the apostle of the circumcision… Clement of Rome… mentions Paul and Peter together, but makes it as a distinguishing circumstance of Paul, that he preached both in the East and West, implying that Peter never was in the West. In 2 Peter 1:14, [Peter] says, ‘I must shortly put off this tabernacle,’ implying his martyrdom was near, yet he makes no allusion to Rome, or any intention of his visiting it.”

We have also been told that Peter died in Rome and is buried there. But as the BBC reported on March 23, 2008, this is highly questionable:

“St Peter’s journey to Rome led to the spread of Christianity in the West and the foundation of Roman Catholicism, so the Church has always taught. But a new documentary will challenge the link as nothing more than a ‘conspiracy of faith’. In it, prominent academics accuse the Vatican of misleading the world over the fate of the man regarded as Jesus Christ’s closest disciple… they accuse the Church of fabricating a connection with the apostle to validate giving ultimate power to the papacy.

“Catholicism has taught for centuries that Peter was martyred and buried in Rome and that all popes succeed him, but the documentary will challenge this by asserting that he never reached the Italian city. Instead, it will accuse the Church of ignoring the discovery of a tomb in Jerusalem that archaeologists believe contains the bones of Peter… Dr Robert Beckford, a theology lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, who presents the documentary, [said:] ‘We found that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that Peter was buried in Rome, but yet the rival theory has not got out because it challenges the Church…

“It is traditionally believed that he was crucified in Rome and buried where the Basilica of St Peter was later built, beneath the high altar. In 1939, the Vatican announced that the bones of Peter had been found in Rome during an archaeological dig. But the documentary casts doubt on this, questioning why the dig was carried out ‘in total secrecy’, and led by a ‘personal friend’ of the Pope… The documentary… suggests that it is much more likely that St Peter was buried in an ossuary found in Jerusalem with the inscription Shimon Bar Jonah – Simon son of Jonah – the Hebrew name for Peter.”

Since Simon Peter was not in Rome, who was there and who occupied the position of “first bishop of Rome”?

This brings us back to Simon Magus, the Samaritan sorcerer who believed and was baptized, but who never received the Holy Spirit, because the apostles refused to lay hands on him, given the fact that he had not repented and had an evil and wicked heart. It was Simon Magus who went to Rome. He was given the surname “Peter” as a religious title, meaning “father” or “interpreter.” Many pagan religions referred to their priests as “peter” or a variation of that expression.

In his book, “Mystery of the Ages,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote on pages 51-53:

“It seems incredible that a being like Satan not only could have deceived the whole world, but also ‘Christianity’–the very religion bearing Christ’s name and supposed to be his true religion. Yet, paradoxically, Satan did! He did it through his great false church, started A.D. 33 by Simon the Sorcerer, described in the 8th chapter of the book of Acts as the leader of the Babylonian mystery religion in Samaria… Simon had bewitched the people of that country, and they followed him as their leader in the Babylonian mystery religion ‘from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God’ (Acts 8:10)…

“Simon came to the apostles Peter and John, offering money as a bribe, asking them to give him the power to lay hands on people and have them receive the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him strongly. But Simon proclaimed himself a Christian apostle, nevertheless, and called the pagan Babylonian mystery religion ‘Christianity.’ He accepted the doctrine of ‘grace’ for the forgiveness of sin (which the pagan religions had never had), but turned grace into license to disobey God (Jude 4). He aspired to turn his pagan religion, under the name ‘Christianity,’ into a universal religion, to gain thereby the political rule of the world.  Simon, the ‘Pater’ (Peter) of his counterfeit religion, did not accomplish this in his lifetime. But succeeding leaders, with the headquarters moved to Rome, did, later, gain political control over the Roman Empire and its medieval successor, called ‘The Holy Roman Empire.’ This empire is in process of again being resurrected in Europe now!”

Simon went to Rome where he impressed Nero and others with his magical powers. The Dictionary of Christian Biography, Vol. 4, p. 682, states:  “When Justin Martyr wrote [in 152 A.D.] his Apology, the sect of the Simonians appears to have been formidable, for he speaks four times of their founder, Simon; and we need not doubt that he identified him with the Simon of the Acts. He states that he was a Samaritan, adding that his birthplace was a village called Gitta; he describes him as a formidable magician, and tells that he came to Rome in the days of Claudius Caesar (45 A.D.), and made such an impression by his magical powers, that he was honored as a god, a statue being erected to him on the Tiber, between the two bridges, bearing the inscription ‘Simoni deo Sancto’ (i.e., the holy god Simon).”

Even though some have later questioned whether that statute was erected to Simon Magus or to another Simon, it was most certainly not erected in honor of Simon Peter. And there can be no doubt that Simon Magus was in Rome and left a lasting impression on the people there. Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, volume 2, page 496, explains that there is “very slight evidence on which to reject so precise a statement as Justin makes; a statement he would scarcely have hazarded in an apology addressed to Rome, where every person had the means of ascertaining its accuracy. If he made a mistake, it must have been at once exposed, and other writers would not have frequently repeated the story as they have done.”

The Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, volume 11, page 522 tells us that Simon “prophesie[d] that Rome will be[come] the scene of his crowning glory, when he will be adored as a god.”

Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, volume 2, page 496, also states this: “But it need not be supposed that when Simon broke with the Christians he renounced all he had learned. It is more probable that he carried some of the Christian ideas with him, and that he wove these into a system of his own. This system is a mixture of pagan ideas wrapped with Christian names and identities.”

The Dictionary of Religion and Ethics says that Simon was “a false Messiah, who practiced magical arts and subsequently attempted, by the aid and with the sanction of Christianity, to set up a rival universal religion” (Apostolic Christianity, volume 11, page 514).

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says that Simon Magus “offered [Peter] money; to purchase such a power of conferring the like gifts, on whomsoever he should lay his hands: hence buying and selling spiritual things, or what relate thereunto, are commonly called ‘simony’: a vice which has greatly prevailed in the church of Rome, and among its popes; and who therefore may be more properly called the successors of Simon Magus, than of Simon Peter.”

Continuing with our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord” :

“Simon Magus was not the only leader within the Babylonian system who practiced sorcery. Millennium Prophecies tells of another famous sorcerer, Pope Silvester II, who lived at the end of the first century. Quoting from pp. 68 and 69: ‘Tradition has it that he was an advanced student of the black arts… It was said that he regularly conversed with the Devil… he was credited with possessing a ‘brazen head’ that spoke to him and could prophecy future events… [He] learned… to summon ghostly figures from the lower world… [The] demons obeyed him in all that he required of them day and night, because of the great sacrifices which he offered, and his prayers and fastings and magic books and great diversity of rings and candles.’”

In the book, “The Dark History: The Pope,” by Brenda Ralph Lewis, additional revelations are presented regarding prior popes.

When addressing Pope John XII, who became Pope in 955 A.D. and who in 962 A.D crowned Otto I as the “Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation,” we read this:

“There seemed to be no sin that John XII did not – or would not —commit. He ran a brothel at the church of St John Lateran where he put one of his own lovers, Marcia, in charge.  He slept with his father’s mistress and his own mother. He took golden chalices from St Peter’s church to reward his lovers after nights of passion. He blinded one cardinal and castrated another, causing his death. Pilgrims who came to Rome risked losing the offering they made to the Church when the Pope purloined them to use in gambling sessions. At these sessions, John XII used to call on pagan gods or goddesses to grant him luck with throws of dice…”

Another pope, Benedict IX, who was born in 1012 A.D., “was described as ‘feasting on immorality’ and a ‘demon from Hell in the disguise of a priest.’” He was later charged with rape, murder, homosexuality and bestiality.

Pope “Alexander’s coronation, which took place on 26 August 1492,” is summarized in this way:

“… the procession passed under specially erected carrying slogans, some of which were frankly blasphemous. ‘Alexander the invincible’, ‘Alexander the most magnificent’, and ‘The Coronation of the great god Alexander’ were among them. But all were outdone by the message inscribed in gold on another of the arches: ‘Rome was great under Caesar, greater far under Alexander. The first was a mortal, the latter is a god.’”

One of Alexander’s “successors,” Pope Pius IX declared during the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), that the statements of a pope were “infallible,” when announced “ex cathedra.” As Brenda Ralph Lewis explains in the before-mentioned book, the reaction was one of outrage:

“Ferdinand Gregorovius, the German historian and theologian wrote: ‘Many seriously believe that the pope is out of his mind. He has entered with fanaticism into these things and has acquired votes for his deification.’ Authoritarian Catholic rulers in Europe were horrified by the concept of papal infallibility… Here was a pope who could override them by going one step further and claiming that he was the voice of God.”

The false prophet will even claim that he will BE God, as we will see in the next and final installment in this series.

(To Be Continued)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

Back to top

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Our cut-off date for hotel reservations at our 2013 Feast of Tabernacles site in Vail, Colorado, is fast approaching. If you are planning to attend and have not already made reservations, you should do so immediately. For further information, please go to www.eternalgod.org/feasts.

“The False Prophet and the Prince of Tyre'” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary: The Bible shows that in the not-too-distant future, a religious personage will appear under the influence of Satan the devil. He will be able to perform lying signs and wonders and deceive most people. He is also described as the man of sin in the letter of 2 Thessalonians, and as the prince of Tyre in the book of Ezekiel. God warns us not to fall for the evil devices of this demon-possessed individual.

“Der falsche Prophet und Simon der Zauberer,” is the German version of the above program. Also presented by Mr. Link, this is available at http://www.aufpostenstehen.de/.

“Neu! Der Brief an die Hebräer, Teil 6,” is the title of the new German sermon. This continuing series on the letter to the Hebrews is Part 6. It covers the second half of chapter 11. Title in English: “New! The Letter to the Hebrews, Part 6.”
This past Sunday morning (May 26, 2013), a ministerial conference was conducted via SKYPE. This was the first of what is planned to be a monthly event. In addition, a Tech Team meeting was also held utilizing SKYPE on Sunday evening. Plans are underway to redesign our webpages, and several preliminary steps have begun in this process. Eric Rank is leading this project.

We have now added an introduction and sign-off to the StandingWatch video prorams–the same ones now used in our radio broadcasts. Michael Link is the voice behind this, and we are currently developing a similar component for the German language programs.

Back to top

How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God