Apostle Paul

To the Christians at Rome, City-State, Italy

62 AD

ROMANS 1:1-7 ~ Greetings from Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. God called me to be an apostle [& prophet]  I was chosen to tell God’s Good News to all people. God promised long ago to give this Good News to his people. God used his prophets to promise this. That promise is written in the Holy Scriptures. ….And I do this work for Christ. And you people in Rome were also called to belong to Jesus Christ. This letter is to all of you in Rome that God has called to be his holy people. You are people that God loves.

The patron goddess of the city of Rome and eventually the Roman empire was Roma.  Romans were anxious to please everyone’s god and had a pantheon of over 500 (see the section before this on ACTS OF JESUS’ APOSTLES).  However, they insisted that Roma be worshiped.  Each of the Caesars beginning with Julius either allowed or insisted on temples to be built in their honor and to be considered gods to be worshipped.

Goddess ROMA at the Temple of 
Venus and Roma in ROME.

ROMANS 13:1-3 ~ All of you must obey the government rulers. Every person who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all the people that rule now were given that power by God. So the person that is against the government is really against something God has commanded. People that are against the government cause themselves to be punished. People that do right don’t have to fear the rulers. But those people that do wrong must fear the rulers. Do you want to be free from fearing the rulers? Then
you should do right. If you do right, then the 
rulers will praise you.

 The Apostle/Prophet Paul wrote to the church at Rome about 62 AD.  Nero was Caesar (54 – 68 AD).  He became the emperor of the Roman Empire at age 17 after his mother allegedly poisoned the food of Claudius Caesar (so stated by Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, and numerous other Roman historians). He began as a good ruler, giving alms, arresting corrupt magistrates, reducing the taxes of the poor, etc.

But power often corrupts.  As time went by, he murdered his threatening older brother, and his domineering mother. In 62 AD, the year Paul wrote to the church in Rome, Nero murdered his wife (calling it suicide).  He also executed numerous people believed to be in a plot against him.  

According to Suetonius, Nero “showed neither discrimination nor moderation in putting to death whomsoever he pleased” during this period. (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars:  Nero).
Coin of NERO with his mother

 

Nero had great building projects.  Two years after writing this letter, much of Rome burned.  Roman historians Suetonius and Cassius Dio wrote that Nero did this so he could build grand structures in the burned-out areas, but blamed the Christians.  Although he paid for rescue efforts of victims and built new homes, he used much of the burned-out area to build a palace complex with lush gardens.  A few years later, Nero built the famous Colosseum where many Christians were killed.  But persecution of Christians became rampant in 64 AD, so was apparently tolerated decades before the Colosseum was built.

 

Bust of NERO

 

Roman historian Tacitus wrote this about Nero and the Christians who refused to fight and retaliate:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [or Chrestians] by the populace.

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus….

But even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their
information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they
were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.expired. (Tacitus Annals XIV 15)

To the Christians at Corinth, City State, Province of Achaea, Greece

AD 57

 

I CORINTHIANS 1:1-2; II CORINTHIANS 1:1 ~ Greetings from Paul. I was called (chosen) to be an apostle [& prophet] of Christ Jesus. I was called because that is what God wanted….To the church of God in Corinth, to those people that have been made holy in Christ Jesus. You were called to be God’s holy people. You were called with all the people everywhere that trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours….Paul, an apostle [& prophet] of Christ Jesus by the will of God…to the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia [southern Greece].

Corinth was a seaport and “navy town”.  Historically, during the day it swarmed with peddlers, foreign traders, sailors, soldiers, athletes in training, idlers and parasites of every kind.  It was known as a wild city at night, full of brawls, lewd songs and drunken revelry. Corinth was the major seaport city of southern Greece with three harbors.  A little later a ship CANAL was built here to allow ships a shortcut from the Aegean Sea to the other side of Greece on the Adriatic Sea. It was second in importance only to Athens.  Home of one of the Seven Wisemen of Greece.

 

I CORINTHIANS 8:1, 4-7, 10-13 ~ Now {I will write} about meat that is sacrificed to idols….We know that an idol is really nothing in the world. And we know that there is only one God. It’s really not important if there are things called gods, in heaven or on earth. (And there are many {things that people call} “gods” and “lords.”) But for us there is only one God. He is our Father. All things came from him and we live for him. And there is only one Lord. He is Jesus Christ. All things were made through Jesus, and we also
have life through him. But not all people know this. Some people have [formerly] had the habit of worshiping 
idols until now [having converted to Christianity]. So now when those people eat meat, they still feel like it belongs to an idol. They are not sure that it is right to eat this meat. So when they eat it, they feel guilty….

 

You understand that it’s all right to eat anything, so you can eat in an idol’s temple.  But a person who has doubts might see you eating there, and this might encourage them to eat meat sacrificed to idols too. But they really think it is wrong. So this weak brother or sister is ruined because of your better understanding. And Christ died for this person.  So if the food I eat makes another believer fall into sin, then I will never eat meat again. I will stop eating meat, so that I will not make my brother or sister sin.

The main god of Corinth was Poseidon who provided calm seas.  Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice. The Isthmean Olympic Games were first organized by the founder of Corinth and its first king in honor of Poseidon.  Participants were naked.  Married women were not allowed to attend.  Sacrifices to Poseidon were made either at sea or as part of the Olympic Games.  Poseidon was also associated with Dionysus, the god if wine and vegetation, parties and pleasure.  Rams were sacrificed to Dionysus (Virg. Georg. ii. 380, 395; Ov. Fast. i. 357.) Aphrodite was claimed to be the wife of Dionysus.

 

Temple to Aphrodite at CORINTH

 

 “Among the honors paid her [Aphrodite] by the Hermionians is this custom: maidens, and widows about to remarry, all sacrifice to her before wedding.”  (Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 34. 11)

“Kypris [Aphrodite], the goddess of desire, had done her sweet work in their hearts [and mated the visiting Argonauts with the widowed women ]. . . . The whole city was alive with dance and banquet. The scent of burnt-offerings filled the air; and of all the immortals, it was … Kypris [Aphrodite] herself whom their songs and sacrifices were designed to please.”  (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 850 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.)

“Apollonios [pagan prophet C1st A.D.] asked: ‘Do you sacrifice to Aphrodite, my boy?’ And Timasion answered: ‘yes, by Zeus, every day; for I consider that this goddess has great influence in human and divine affairs.’”  (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 6. 3 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.)

To the Christians in the Province of Galatia, Anatolia

47 AD

GALATIANS 1:1-2; 3:1 ~ Greetings from Paul, an apostle. I was chosen to be an apostle, but not by any group of people. My authority did not come from other people. No! It was Jesus Christ and God the Father who made me an apostle….To the churches (groups of believers) in Galatia….You people in Galatia were told very clearly about the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Galatia was a large province in central Anatolia (today’s Turkey) extending at one time from the Black Sea on the north to the Mediterranean Sea on the south.  It was made up of a mixture of natives of the area and celtic Gauls who invaded the area from the north three centuries before this letter was written.  It was usually ruled by the aristocratic warriors with the native farmers in their control. It’s capital city was always Ancyra, called Ankara today.  Another important city was Pessinos (Balhisor today).  The cities of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe were visited by Paul as noted in our previous section on

ACTS OF JESUS’ APOSTLES.  Ancyra was famous for its temple to Augustus Caesar and Roma.  At the time this inspired letter was written to the Christians in Galatia, its capital city had about 200,000 people.

 

Temple of Augustus and Roma at 
Ankara, Anatolia, with Augustus 
Caesar’s feats in relief on its wall

 

GALATIANS 1:8 ~ We told you the true Good News message. So if anyone tells you a different message, they should be condemned—even if it’s one of us or even an angel from heaven!

The city of Tavium/Tavia in the province of Galatia had a great temple to Jupiter.  The city of Lystra that the Apostle Paul had preached in earlier also had a temple to Jupiter/Zeus.  (See ACTS OF JESUS’ APOSTLES.)  Sachiel was the ruling angel of Jupiter, the planet named after the king of gods, Jupiter, whose name means “covering of God.” Zachariel  was the angel governor of the planet Jupiter.

 

Head of JUPITER

 

GALATIANS 4:8-10 ~ In the past you did not know God. You were slaves to gods that were not real. But now you know the true God. Really, it is God who knows you. So why do you turn back to those weak and useless rules you followed before? Do you want to be slaves to those things again? It worries me that you follow teachings about special days, months, seasons, and years. I fear that my work for you has been wasted.

The traditional goddess of this area tracing back many centuries was Cybele, the mother goddess of the mountains who eventually became known as the mother of all the earth, the essence of the earth. Under the Roman Empire the most important festival of Cybele was the Hilaria, taking place between March 15 and March 28. It symbolically commemorated the death of Cybele’s consort, Attis, and his resurrection by Cybele involving days of mourning followed by rejoicing.

Mother GODDESS, Cybele, dated c.  50 AD
GALATIANS 5:2-3,12; 6:13-14 ~ Listen! I am Paul. I tell you that if you {go back to law} by being circumcised,then Christ is no good for you. Again, I warn every man: If you allow yourselves to be circumcised, then you must follow all the law {of Moses}….I wish those people who are bothering you would add castration {to their circumcision}….They want you to be circumcised. Then they can boast about what they forced you to do…..It is not important if a person is circumcised or not circumcised. The important thing is being the new people God has made.

According to myth, Cybele’s consort felt rejected by her, so castrated himself, then died. Therefore, priests of Cybele castrated themselves, then wore women’s clothes and gave themselves women’s names.   They were called Galli.  Although Paul was speaking of circumcision required in the Old Law of Moses, he went on to speak of castration required by priests of the local goddess at the time of his writing ~ the Galli of Cybele.  The people of Galatia knew he was referring to many idol priests of their time.

 

       

To the Christians at Ephesus, Province of Asia, Anatolia

68 AD

 

EPHESIANS 1:1 ~ Greetings from Paul, an apostle* of Christ Jesus. I am an apostle because that is what God wanted. To God’s holy people living in Ephesus, believers in Christ Jesus.

The remains of the city of Ephesus is are near today’s Selcuk, Turkey.

At the time the Apostle Paul wrote the church here, it was an important seaport on the west coast of Anatolia in the Roman province of Asia Minor.  Today, the city is three miles from the water.  When it was part of the Grecian Empire, it was one of the twelve cities in the Ionian League.  When Ephesus was part of the Roman Empire, it was the second largest city in the empire, and actually in the world, with a population of one fourth of a million early in the 1st century AD, and half a million by the end of the 1st century AD. The city was named after Ephesos, a Lydian Amazon, the woman warrior; she was said to have been the first to honor Artemis and to have surnamed the goddess Ephesia.  The Roman writer Virgil wrote of Amazons. (Paus. ii. 7. § 4, viii. 12. § 1; Hesych. and Suid. s. v. essên.)  Ephesos, the Amazon, was also associated with worship to Cybele, Mother Earth.  She was the great virgin mother of all living creatures in the world, as was Artemis.

 

 

Agora leading from Ephesus to amphitheater and then the sea

 

 

EPHESIANS 1:9; 3:3-6, 9-12 ~ God, with full wisdom and understanding, let us know his secret plan. This was what God wanted. And he planned to do it through Christ….God let me know his secret plan. He showed it to me. I have already written a little about this. And if you read these things I wrote, then you can see that I truly understand the secret truth about the Christ. People who lived in other times were not told that secret truth. But now, through the Spirit, God has shown that secret truth to his holy apostles and prophets. This is that secret truth: that the non-Jews will get the things God has for his people, the same as the Jews. The non-Jews are together with the Jews in the same body. And they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus….And God gave me the work of telling all people about the plan for God’s secret truth. That secret truth has been hidden in God since the beginning of time. God is the One who created everything. God’s purpose was that all the rulers and powers in the heavenly places will now know the many different ways God shows his wisdom. They will know this because of [through] the
church. This agrees with the plan God had since the beginning of time. God did what he planned. He did it through Christ Jesus our Lord. In Christ we can come before God with freedom and without fear. We can do this through faith in Christ.

Artemis and Cybele (Cybele was the older version of Artemis), the great virgin mother of every animal and person in the world, was associated with the secrets, also called the Mysteries.  These secrets/ Mysteries involved knowing great spiritual truths.  They also involved uniting with the god or goddess one was worshipping ~ becoming united with it and thinking as the god or goddess thought.  This knowledge was only made known to the initiates who had to go through various secret ceremonies.  The
average person was not allowed to know what the secrets/Mysteries were, nor were they capable of knowing.  See more about this in the section on ACTS OF THE APOSTLES under “Ephesus”.

 

 

Artemis with WINGS on the Francois vase, 4th century BC

 

Artemis’ consort, Attis, was said to die in the fall and resurrect in the spring.  Every year his festival began with lamentation and ended in celebration.  It  included ecstasy;   ecstasis in Greek means literally “standing outside (oneself).”   Participants believed they were  transported out of their body. Cybele/Artemis/Attis worshipers also became “ecstatic” by dancing and whipping themselves into a frenzy
where they felt elated or carried away.  At such times, they believed their spirits were united with the spirit of Artemis/Cybele who was the embodiment of all things on earth.

Heraclitus, Plato and Pythagoras, Alexander the Great, and Aristotle received instruction in the secrets/ Mysteries at Ephesus.  Alexander the Great believed his soul entered into an intimate union with the very Being of the Mysteries since he was born the very night the first temple to Artemis was burned down.

EPHESIANS 2:2; 4:27; 5:8, 11-12; 6:11-12 ~ 2Yes, in the past you lived doing those sins. You lived the way the world lives. You followed the ruler of the evil powers over the earth. That same spirit is now working in those people who refuse to obey God….Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you….In the past you were {full of} darkness (sin), but now you are {full of} light (goodness) in the Lord….Don’t do the things that people in darkness do. Doing those things brings nothing good. But {do the good things to} show that those things in darkness are wrong. It is really very shameful to even talk about the things those people in darkness do in secret….Wear the full armor (protection) of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.

 

 

Undeciphered disc
found in Crete in the Anatolian
(ancient Turkish) language.  
The MYSTERIES were just that ~ 
MYSTERIES to the common person, 
and this may be one of them.

 

 

 

Artemis had a dark side, revealing the female warrior part of her character ~ the Amazon.  She was vindictive and there were many who suffered from her anger. One of her mythical actions was to join Apollo in killing the children on Niobe. Victims of Artemis included Orion and Actaeon, and Meleage.  She was sometimes called the goddess in three forms ~ goddess of the moon at night, goddess of deeds of darkness, and goddess of the underworld.

 

The Acteon vase.
ARTEMIS is preparing to KILL Acteon.
Dated 470 BC

 

EPHESIANS 4:3-6 ~ You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue together in this way. Let peace hold you together. There  is one body  and one Spirit. And God called you to have one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.  There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything. He is everywhere and in everything.

 

Artemis, Mother of all living things,  ESSENCE of everything on earth, 
also called Mother Earth.

 

 

See above where Eastern worshipers desired to become one with the essence of the universe. Artemis worshipers desired to become one with her, Mother Earth who, in turn, was one with the earth.

 

    

 

To the Christians at Colony Philippi, Province of Kavalla, Greece

68 AD

PHILIPPIANS 1:1; 4:15 ~ Greetings from Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ. To all of God’s holy people in Christ Jesus that live in Philippi. And to all your elders and special helpers….You people in Philippi remember when I first told the Good News there. When I left Macedonia….

Philippi was near today’s Filippoi and was at the northern end of the Aegean Sea and 9 miles inland  high in the mountains.   It was on the border of Greece and today’s Bulgaria, Romania & Albania, then occupied by the Thracians.  Josephus called them the Thir-Asians.  This area had been invaded at some time by the Norse, so many of the people here were red-headed and blonde.  The city of Philippi was built by Grecian King Philip II to protect gold mines there, and also to keep the European barbarians out of
Greece.  It was, therefore, settled by a great many warriors and their families.  “Civilized” Grecians and Romans considered people at Philippi to be rough and illiterate.

 

PHILIPPIANS 2:25;  3:12-14, 21;  4:7, 13 ~ He works and serves with me in the army of Christ….I don’t mean that I am already exactly like God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach that goal and to make it mine.. ..Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal. But there is one thing I always do: I forget the things that are past. I try as hard as I can to reach the goal that is before me. I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize. That prize is mine because God called me through Christ to the life above….With that power Christ is able to rule all things….And God’s peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That peace which God gives is
so great that we cannot understand it….I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me
 strength.

Paul knew that referring to spiritual war in his letter was something the people in Philippi would easily understand.  Thracian warriors and their families from today’s Bulgaria, Romania and Albania dominated Philippi and were even available as mercinaries to other countries..  One Roman historian described them as follows:  

“First of all the Thracians, like beasts of prey long held behind bars, charged so vigorously
with a great shout upon the Roman right wing, the Italian cavalry, that this people, courageous by nature and through experience in war, was thrown into confusion…” 
[Livy, XLII, 59].  When they returned home after battle they displayed  the severed heads of their enemies and sang and chanted loudly.
PHILIPPIANS 3:20 ~ But our homeland [citizenship] is in heaven. We are waiting for our Savior to come from heaven. Our Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a great cultural mix in Philippi which sometimes resulted in identity confusion.  Herodotus described them as follows:  

“The Thracians joined the expedition wearing fox caps, wearing long coats
under their vivid 
colored capes. Their calf-high footwear was made of deerskin. They were equipped with spears, light shields and small daggers.”
Once settled back home, they continued to dress similar to the way they did in battle.  On the other hand, the Grecians and Romans in the city wore togas. The Grecians were famous for their philosophers, the Romans for their democratic form of government,
and the Thracians for war.  Whereas the Greek and Roman citizens of Philippi were famous for science and astrology, the Tracians were famous for ornate crafts.  Whereas the Grecians were famous for developments in medicine and the Romans for developments of connecting roads throughout the empire, the Thracians were famous for their success in farming in this mountainous region.  Their languages were different, their dress was different, and their interests were different.  So speaking of citizenship where all became one would be something that was catch the attention of the Philippians who Paul wrote.

 

GOLD craft found in Thracian 
excavations

 

PHILIPPIANS 4:15-19 ~ You people in Philippi remember when I first told the Good News there. When I  left Macedonia, you were the only church that gave me help. Several times you sent me things I needed when I was in Thessalonica. Really, it is not that I want to get gifts from you. But I want you to have the good that comes {from giving}. I have all the things I need. I have even more than I need. I have all I need because Epaphroditus brought your gift to me. Your gift is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice ….My God is
very 
rich with the glory of Christ Jesus. God will use his riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need. 

 

Philippi was originally built to protect the gold mines in the mountains surrounding the city.  The Thracians were famous for their gold-covered crafts.  Although their culture and lifestyles were usually based on warfare, they were also very talented artisans. They produced extremely well-crafted jewelry and utensils, very advanced weaponry and elaborately designed pottery and sculptures, indicating a society with people who were well off.

 

 

Colossae, County of Phrygia, Province of Asia, Anatolia

68 AD

 

COLOSSIANS 1:1-2; 2:1; 4:13-16 ~ Greetings from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am an apostle because that is what God wanted….To the holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ that live in Colossae. And I am trying to help the people in Laodicea and other people who have never seen me….I know that he has worked hard for you and the people in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. ….Say hello to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea.After this letter is read to you, be sure that it is also read to the church in Laodicea. And you read the letter that I wrote to Laodicea.

Colossae is only an unexcavated mound today, but it did exist.  It is near today’s Kona or Honaz.  Historian Pliny said that Colossae was known for its dark red wool .  Historian Strabo also mentions the city.

Unexcavated COLOSSAE

A nearby city mentioned by the Apostle Paul was Laodicea. Only recently have excavations begun in ancient Laodicea,  though its ancient amphitheatre has always been observable.  It is near today’s city of Eski Hissar, Turkey.  Earthquakes nearly destroyed both cities shortly before Paul wrote his letter to them.  

Ruins of LAODICEA

Also nearby in this apparent tri-city area was Hierapolis which has been well excavated. These tri-cities were located in the county of Phrygia within the province of Asia.  All three cities dominated the beautiful Lycus River valley at the foot of the Phrygian Mountains and all three were noted for their fine wool; Hierapolis was also known for its healing hot springs which are still enjoyed today.  

Amphitheater of HIERAPOLIS

COLOSSIANS 1:9-13, 26-28; 2:2-3~ With your knowledge you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things;  ….do all kinds of good things and grow in the knowledge of God;  that God will strengthen you. …I want them to have the full confidence that comes from understanding.  I mean I want them to know fully the secret truth [mystery] that God has made known. That truth is Christ himself. In Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept….This teaching is the secret truth [mystery] that was hidden since the beginning of time. This truth was hidden from all
people. But now that secret truth [mystery]
 is made known to God’s holy people. God decided to let his people know that rich and glorious truth. That great truth is for all people. That truth 
is Christ himself, who is in you. He is our only hope for glory. So we continue to tell people about Christ. We use all wisdom to counsel every person and teach every person.

Image result for cybele
Status of CYBELE found in the 
county of Phrygia.  She wears a 
veil of MYSTERY covering her body

As in most places of Anatolia (today’s Turkey), the most ancient and dominant deity of Colossae  was Cybele, Mother of the earth ~ people, trees, rocks ~ everything.  Anatolia, which bordered Syria, had been over run by the Assyrians and later the Persians, both of whom brought with them their eastern religions.  In the east, they believed that the holiest existence would be unity with the spirit of the universe ~ Nirvana or Brahman.  In Anatolia, they believed the holiest existence would be unit with the spirit of the earth ~ Cybele.  But only the holiest person could begin to understand the mysteries necessary to reach unity with deity.  Paul used this oft-used “mystery” term to show that the greatest mystery ~ salvation in heaven ~ had finally been made available to everyone who wanted it.  It was no longer a mystery.  Jesus had even called himself the Way, the Truth, the Life.

COLOSSIANS 1:15-19, 22-24; 2:10; 3:1 ~ No person can see God. But Jesus is exactly like God. Jesus is ruler over all the things that have been made. Through his power all things were madethings in heaven and on earth, things seen and not seen, all {spiritual} powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ. …Christ is the head of the body. (The body is the church.) Everything comes from him. And….he is the Lord who was raised from death. So in all things Jesus is most important.  God was pleased for all of himself to live in Christ. And through Christ, God was happy to bring all things back to himself againthings on earth and things in heaven. God made peace by using Christ’s blood (death) on the cross. But now Christ has made you God’s friends again. Christ did this by his death while he was in his body. Christ did this so that he could bring you before God. He brings you before God as people who are holy,  with no wrong in you, and with nothing that God can judge you guilty of. … .All of God lives in Christ fully (even in Christ’s life on earth). And in Christ you are full.
You need nothing else. Christ is ruler over all rulers and powers
.You were raised from death with Christ.

The Eastern religions and the religion of Cybele taught that man had to become holy and perfect in order to ascend to their god which was the essence of the universe or the essence of the physical earth.  Christianity taught that God descended to humans in the form of a man in order to help humans become friends with God ~ not be absorbed and lose their personhood.  

Borobodur temple has reliefs  depicting the many reincarnations of 
Buddha as he tried to be PERFECT  and reach nirvanah (unity with the 
essence of the universe)

Eastern religions taught that a person had to be reincarnated hundreds of time until he was able to reach perfection.   Pythagorus, a Greek philosopher, also believed in reincarnation until perfect, and he had many followers.  Because Jesus lived that perfect life for us ~ something impossible for us to do ~ and then paid the penalty for mankind’s sins while in his body, the died in that human body so he could come 

back to life, he is now able to make holy with no wrong in them simply by faith not trying to be perfect themselves, which is impossible for humans to be.

COLOSSIANS 2:4,8 ~ I tell you these things so that no person can fool you by telling you ideas [philosophies] that seem good, but are false….Be sure that no person leads you away with false ideas [philosophies] and words that mean nothing. Those ideas come from people, not Christ. Those ideas are the worthless ideas of people in the world.

Famous early skeptics, Antiochus and Theiodas, were from Laodicea, twin city to Colossae.  Skepticism simply means that it is impossible to know anything for sure.  Judgment is always suspended in investigations, claiming that there is no such thing as absolute truth.  Pyrrho (who d. 270 BC) traveled to the East and learned from Buddhists.  Buddhism teaches there is no absolute truth. Sextus Empiricus was the first to write about Pyrrho, having done so in the 2nd century BC.  Pyrrhonism as a school of skepticism was founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BC.

Sextus Empiricus who first wrote 
of the Pyrrho philosophy of 
skepticism ~ NO ABSOLUTE TRUTH

COLOSSIANS 2:16, 20-23 ~ So don’t let any person make rules for you about eating and drinking or about customs (festivals, New Moon celebrations, or Sabbath days)…. I mean, why do you follow rules like these: “Don’t eat this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t touch that thing”? These rules are talking about earthly things that are gone after they are used. These rules are only commands and teachings from people, {not God}. These rules seem to be wise. But these rules are only part of a man-made religion that makes people pretend to be humble and makes them punish their bodies. But these rules don’t help people to stop doing the evil things their sinful selves want to do.  

There were tens of thousands of Jews who settled in Colossae, Laodicea and Heirapolis. Among the Jews there was the sect of Pharisees who believed in the Law of Moses and counted and weighed minutely the percentage of their possessions to sacrifice to God, pay their taxes, walk the alloted percent of a kilometer on the Sabbath Day, etc.

Another sect of the Jews was the Essenes who did not believe in the Law of Moses with its 600+ laws, but had their own set of rules.  Josephus and Philo explain that there were large numbers of them in every city.  They took an oath of celibacy, refused to eat meat, etc.  Their initiates studied the rules and cleansed themselves for three years in order to be accepted as a full Essene.  They also promised to preserve the books of the Essenes and the names of the angels.

YTHAGORIAS


Pythagorians were a popular Grecian sect.  Pythagorians who reached the inner circle owned no possessions and refused to eat meat, largely because they believed in reincarnation of souls into humans, animals, etc.  True Pythagoreans who had the knowledge and understanding of the Mysteries, observed a rule of silence called echemythia, the breaking of which was punishable by death.

COLOSSIANS 2:18 ~ Some people enjoy acting like they are humble and love to worship angels. Those people always talk about the visions they have seen. Don’t let those people say, “You don’t do these things, so you are wrong.” Those people are full of foolish pride because they think only the thoughts of people, {not the thoughts of God}.

The Hittite Empire controlled Anatolia (today’s Turkey) for 350 years.  Their religion was a combination of Babylonian and Egyptian.  Angel worship was common.

Angel INANA

ANGEL GODDESS INANA (Babylonian) – Moon goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Priestesses in her temple were prostitutes.

Angel NINURTA

ANGEL GOD NINURTA (Assyrian) – A healer god and farmer god.  He was a dragon slayer,also a slayer of bird monsters, a scorpion man, and a 7-headed serpent

Guardian Kirubu SERAPH

KIRUBU SERAPHS (Babylonian) – Guardian angels, sometimes placed at the entrance to palaces and temples.  Guided humans through life and eventually to death.

Bust of Apollo

Hierapolis near Colossae was famous for its temple to Apollo.  The pythea who were mediums between Apollo and commoners sometimes daily experienced “visions” to find out what Apollo predicted or declared.  People from everywhere came to receive an oracle from Apollo through the medium’s visions.

 

 

To the Christians at Thessalonica, City State, Province of Macedon, Greece

55 AD

 

I THESSALONIANS 1:1, 7-8; II THESSALONIANS 1:1 ~ Greetings from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. To the church (group of believers) that lives in Thessalonica….You became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s teaching spread from you in Macedonia and Achaia.  And also your faith in God has become known everywhere.

Agora (market place) of Thessalonica

 

Thessalonica is today the second largest city in Greece, and is also called Salonica.  The city began as a small village of Therma, but was built up and renamed after Thessalonika, half-sister of Alexander the Great and daughter of King Philip II.  Eventually it became capital of all the Greek provinces in the Roman Empire.  It is on the Thermaic Gulf in the north part of the Aegean Sea.  Rome declared it a free city or
what we could call a city-state.  When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, it was in the northern Grecian province of Macedonia; Paul wrote to them while in the southern Grecian province of Achaia in Athens.  Much of Thessalonica has not been excavated because the modern city sits on top of the ancient city.

 

I THESSALONIANS 1:9 – People everywhere tell about the good way you accepted us when we were there with you. Those people tell about how you stopped worshiping idols and changed to serve the living and true God.

 

Some of the gods of Thessalonica that Paul seems to have been teaching against were maritime and death deities (but believed to do more than is listed here):

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CASTOR & POLLUX

1.        Castor & Pollux – Guardian gods of sailors who prayed to them for favorable winds

HERMES holding DIONYSUS

2.        Hermes – Protector of travelers (incl. sailors), escorted people to the underworld

SERAPIS, judge of the dead, resurrector

3.        Serapis/Osiris – king of the deep, gatekeeper to underworld, protector of sailors, resurrector

I THESSALONIANS 4:13-17 ~ Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about those people who have died. We don’t want you to be sad like other people—people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died. But we believe that Jesus rose again. So, because of Jesus, God will raise to be with Jesus those people who have died. What we tell you now is the Lord’s own message. We who are living now might still be living when the Lord comes again. We who are living at that time will be with the Lord, but not before those people who have already died. The Lord himself will come down from heaven. There will be a loud
command. That command will be given with the voice of the 
archangel and with  the trumpet call of God. And the people who have died and were in Christ will rise first. After that, we people who are still alive at that time will be gathered up with those people who have died. We will be taken up in the clouds and meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever.

The god Serapis had been known as Osiris to the Eyptians, but was Grecianized at the instigation of Ptolemy to encourage the Egyptians and Greeks in his kingdom to get along.  The statue selected by Ptolemy to represent Serapis looked much like Pluto and Hades of the underworld.  Among other things he was judge of the dead, king of the deep, and the resurrection.

I THESSALONIANS 5:4-8 ~ But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness (sin). And so that day will not surprise you like a thief. You are all people who belong to the light (goodness). You belong to the day. We don’t belong to the night or to darkness (evil). So we should not be like other people. We should not be sleeping. We should be awake and have self-control. People who sleep, sleep at night   People
who get drunk, get drunk at night. But we belong to the 
day (goodness), so we should control ourselves. We should wear faith and love to protect us. And the hope of salvation should be our helmet.

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Gemini twins of the night sky

The twin sons of Zeus, Castor and Pollus, were guardian gods at sea and on land.  They also represented the living and the dying.  The myth is that their father Zeus allowed Pollux to give half his immortality to his mortal brother, Castor.  Thus, one day one twin would be on Olympus and the next day in Hades. They are represented in the night sky as Gemini.  Among stories about them is their rapes.

Among other things, Hermes (another son of Zeus) was the “watcher of the night” and “protector of thieves“.  His temples and shrines are often associated with Aphrodite and Dionysus with associated orgies.

II THESSALONIANS 2:4 ~ That Man of Evil is against anything called God or anything that people worship. And that Man of Evil puts himself above anything called God or anything that people worship. And that Man of Evil even goes into God’s temple and sits there. Then he says that he is God.

Nero was caesar at the time Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica. Nero claimed that he was of a mirculous and divine birth.  He also built the Colossus of Sol (the sun god) with his own facial features.

Roman temple of Cordoba, Spain. Its construction began during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) and ended some forty years later, during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE) Stock Photo - 81033589
Temple to CLAUDIUS CAESAR

Before him was Claudius Caesar for whom a temple was built in his honor.  Before him was Gaius Caesar “Caligula” who ordered several temples and statues to be built dedicated to himself.

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Temple to GAIUS CALIGULA CAESAR

In 42 BC, the Roman senate deified Julius Caesar.  The cult of Divus Iulius (the Divine Julius & his successors) became official and spread all over the Roman empire.  Altars and temples of Divus Iulius were built in all Roman provinces.  Loyal citizens of the Empire were expected to make a periodic offering of incense to the spirit of the emperor, and upon doing so they received a certificate that they had demonstrated their loyalty by sacrificing. Christians, of course, refused to worship the Emperor, considering the cult to be idolatry. The sacrifice was used as a law enforcement tool to ferret them out.
The temple to Caesar in Rome is also a temple to a comet declared to be the spirit of Julius Caesar. Only the foundation of the temple exists today, but it is depicted on many ancient coins and in the relief seen here (on display at the Forum of Julius Caesar in Rome) of the Roman emperor addressing the senate in front of the Temple of Divus Julius.

Relief of emperor in front of 
TEMPLE to the DIVINE
JULIUS CAESAR

II THESSALONIANS 2:7-10 ~ The secret power of evil is already working in the world now. But there is one who is stopping that secret power of evil. And he will continue to stop it until he is removed (taken out of the way). ….The Man of Evil will come by the power of Satan (the devil). He will have great power, and he will do many different false miracles, signs, and wonders.  The Man of Evil will use every kind of
evil to trick those people who are lost. Those people are lost because they refused to love the truth.

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HERMES the healer god

HERMES was associated with divination, magic, witchcraft, and initiation and contact with the visible and invisible worlds.   He was often associated with Toth, the Egyptian god of magic.  Writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, known as Hermetica, provided guidance in practical magic, potions, alchemy and astrology.  The Apostle Paul knew these things and addressed them in order to give the Christians courage.