THE EARLY CHURCH AFTER THE DEATH OF THE APOSTLES
The Prophecies of Christ
And The Apostles
Even during the public ministry of Jesus, He already foretold what would come upon the church. The same holds true for the Apostles during the administration of the church. Here are their respective testimonies.
"And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. "
"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. " (Mt. 24:4,11)
Apostle Peter echoed what Jesus foretold when He attested that,
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, [and] bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed." (II Pt. 2:1-2, Ibid)
Apostle Paul in an almost identical testimony stated beforehand,
"Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Acts 20:30, Ibid)
If the disciples shall be deceived by the false prophets or drawn away by those who speak perverse things and, consequently, follow the heretical teachings, they would no longer be embracing pure Christianity. Historically what befell the Church was what Apostle Paul described as a departure from the faith:
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons," (I Tim. 4:1, Ibid.)
As to which faith will be abandoned, the Phillips translation makes more specific by rendering the same verse:
"God's spirit specifically tells us that in later days there will be men who abandoned the true faith."
Apostle Paul also referred the departure from the true faith as the "falling away" or in one word, "apostasy."
"Let no one deceive you by any means; for [that Day will not come] unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition," (II Thess. 2:3, NKJV)
"Do not let anyone fool you in any way. That day of the Lord will not come until the turning away from God happens and the Man of Evil, who is on his way to hell, appears."(II Thess. 2:3, New Century Version)
So the very founder of the Church, Jesus Christ,and the men who were entrusted to propagate it after His ascension, namely the Apostles, all made known beforehand, that the Church would fall victim to apostasy. That the Church would be apostatized does not mean that the Church as an organization would disappear or cease to exist from the face of the earth. Rather, it means that although the Church would continue as an organization, it would depart from the true Christian faith laid down by Christ, as a result of the influx of false doctrines introduced by the false teachers who will rise from within the Church.
The Start Of The Apostasy
The movement which led to the falling away of the first century Church was already brewing even while the Apostles were still alive. But because of the presence of the "restraining power," it was secretly at work and shall not be manifested until what holds it in check is removed.
"Don't let anyone deceive you by any means whatsoever that day will not come before arises a definite rejection of God and the appearance of lawless man. He is the product of all that leads to death."
"Evil is already insidiously at work, but it's activities are restricted until what i have called the 'restraining power' is removed." (II Thess. 2:3, 7, Phillips)
What did Apostle Paul refer to by what he called "the restraining power" and what did he mean by until it be "removed"? Paul himself explained as recorded in Acts 29:29-30:
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." (NKJV)
Paul made mention of His "departure" after which "men shall arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.' As to which departure he alluded to, the apostle made it clear in his second epistle to Timothy.
"From henceforth I am ready to die, and the time of my departure is at hand." II Tim. 4:6, Lamsa)
By "departure," Apostle Paul was referring to his death.
Apostle Peter also brought to his attention of the Church that there shall false teachers among the disciples who would secretly bring in destructive heresies (II Pt. 2:1, Ibid) and this he said, "knowing that shortly I must put off my tent" (II Pt. 1:14, Ibid.) referring to his "decease" or death (II Pt. 1:15, Ibid.).
The restraining power therefore which was preventing the falling away was the Apostles. But after they were "removed" or after they had died, the "work of iniquity" or the apostate movement shall already be revealed. Thus, when the Church was no longer under the administration of the Apostles of Christ but in the hands of the false teachers who took over, the Church began to slowly but surely drift farther and farther away from the true Christian faith.
However, not all the disciples were deceived. There were many disciples who denounced the error of the fake teachers and remained faithful to the true teachings of Christ. But what would the false prophet do to those who defied their control by remaining steadfast to the true faith? Apostle Paul stated that "savage wolves will come among you, not sparing the flock," (Acts 20:29) the meaning of which Jesus made plain when he said that "they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you" (Mt. 24:9). And so, the true disciples were martyred and taken out of the way. As a result, the church that continued not only was under the control of the people who were led away the genuine christian faith.
The false teachers that would rise from within the Church shall introduce "destructive heresies" according to the Apostle Peter, which apostle Paul also referred to as the "perverse things" that shall be taught. Which are these false teachings that would identify the false prophet as will as the apostate Church?
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,"
"forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." (I Tim. 4:1, 3. NKJV)
The destructive heresies are the doctrines of the devil, two of which were specifically mentioned by apostle Paul: forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats. According to the second verse of the same chapter, "they shall be taught by men who who are lying hypocrites" (The New Translation, Norlie). They will profess to be of Christ when in fact what they teach are the doctrines of the enemy of Christ and God.
The Offsprings Of The Apostate Church
Apostle John wrote down the following in revelation:
"And on her forehead a name [was] written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." (Rev. 17:5, NKJV)
The woman mentioned is identifiable by certain distinguishing marks . For one, she is called by the name Babylon. For another, this woman which is also the "greatest whore" (Rev. 17:1) sits upon many waters. The waters symbolize "peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues" (Rev. 17:15). Clearly , this woman is not literal but symbolical.
What then is being represented by great harlot? When Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, he likened the true Church of Christ to a chaste virgin or a pure woman (II Cor. 11:2). This was still at the time when the Church was under the administration of the Apostles. By contrast, the woman mentioned in Revelation 17:5 is a harlot or corrupt woman. This woman therefore is the Church, but the church which has already been corrupted by false prophets. In short, the great harlot is the apostate Church.
However, the above truth is not the only thing projected by the verse. The passage also reveals that the woman is a " mother " and as such has offsprings. But what kind of offsprings does she have? The Scripture points out that she is the "mother of harlots." As the mother stands for a corrupted church, so likewise the offsprings she will give birth to are also corrupt or false churches.
Note: For the fulfillment of those biblical pronouncements and testimonies of religion history, you can go to the nearest Iglesia Ni Cristo house of worship and approach a minister of the Gospel for assistance.__________________________________________________________________________