The Last

 

 

Volume 14, Number 2, November-December 2010
(Actually published October 2011)

Why Stand We in Jeopardy
Every Hour?
Considering the Background of Paul’s Lament

Amazing Conclusions have been made regarding this Enigmatic Question.

Does the Apostle Paul advocate one person being Baptized on behalf of Another?

Or, Was his REAL point something more practical and entirely different?


© Rich Traver 81520-1411 8–19-11 [ 196 ] www.goldensheaves.org

Few of us in this modern age fully appreciate the consequences of embracing the Faith of Christ and becoming converted to Christianity under conditions that existed in the first century. As a result, passages such as a particular one found in the 15th chapter of First Corinthians can pass right by our notice without registering as to their fullest meaning.

Despite an aberrant practice invented by a well-known religious establishment in the nineteenth century, based on the literal idea of “being baptized for the dead”, (in other words, attempting to effect the salvation of ‘other’ people, distant deceased, unconverted relatives, and the like), this practice had no place in the belief system of the early New Testament Church. The modern idea had no such application with them, nor would it have. This idea, in fact, misses the entire point of what Paul was explaining to them in their time and to us.

Being set within a chapter devoted to explaining a fundamental doctrine of the Church (as identified in Hebrews 6), the resurrection from the dead, we should focus on that context as being more the point than simply the commitment of baptism itself, in spite of who we assume it might be for. The passage in question is 1st Corinthians 15:29-31. The chapter itself deals directly with the subject of the resurrection: Christ’s first and foremost, and also ours’! “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” Paul continues by illustrating examples of his personal experiences, even having been put in a situation where he had to fight with wild beasts in the arena for his faith! That should direct our thinking in what we are to take him to be saying.

Questions we should be asking ourselves are: How does one person being baptized effect or guarantee the resurrection of another person? If that even was Paul’s point. What does Paul mean by, “I die daily”? and how is that claim relevant?

In order to adequately comprehend the point of this passage, we have to acquaint ourselves with the political climate of their day. That climate provides us with a major set of considerations.

Threat and Counter -Threat

That Way, later called ‘Christianity’, was at first accommodated by the local culture, but as it spread, gaining in popularity, and as it was demonstrated to be at odds with certain prevailing Jewish beliefs and practices, persecutions began to emerge against it. At first from the Jewish quarter, but later from the Roman political establishment: The latter being the more lethal. Rome imposed its own religion. It required the worship of the Emperor as a deity, to say nothing of the Mithraic Cult, popular among Rome’s military. 1 As Christianity began to gain in popularity, the Roman authorities became increasingly alarmed and reactive! These ‘fanatics’ would not worship the Emperor! This adversarial posture prevailed in the Imperial Roman world for at least the first 250 years of the Church.

So, to better comprehend Paul’s real point, we should acquaint ourselves with the religious climate of his day. First Corinthians was likely written in 57 AD. Important things were happening in that era having begun some two decades before.

While we’re familiar with the Jewish historian, Josephus, known for his meticulously detailed accounts of late first century Jewish history, he had his counterparts, in the Roman world as well, who preserved accounts of historical events significant to Christian history. They would include Tacitus, Irenaeus and Tertullian. 2 We will be considering historical facts preserved by these and other early and reputable historians.

While the following is lengthy, a great deal more could be drawn from the pages of history. I will attempt to limit it to a coherent condensation, while retaining sufficient detail to create for the reader a vivid picture of the severe trials the early Christian community had to endure.

Christianity Takes Root in Britain

Not long after the crucifixion, in the mid 30’s AD, a small entourage, including Joseph of Arimathea, great uncle of Christ, were exiled from Judea. Joseph of Arimathea was a former member of the Sanhedrin, one in particular who did not consent to their illegal trial and death sentence of Jesus. 3 With intent to rid the Judea of their potent witness, they were set adrift in the Mediterranean in a boat, without oars or sails. 4 Being a very resourceful individual, Joseph nevertheless sailed the group to Marseilles, France. Then using contacts from his former trade (he being a wealthy tin merchant) the group made their way ultimately to Avalon (today known as Glastonbury) in southern Britain, where he had many former acquaintances.

It was from this nucleus that Christianity began a rapid spread in Britain. Being outside the Roman Empire, not subject to its incessant persecutions, there was a free and open political environment for the spread of God’s wondrous Truth. Within a decade, Christianity had spread to the extent in Britain to where it became a matter of real concern to the Emperor in Rome, seen as posing a threat to the Empire’s pagan policies and Imperial security. Little did they know!

The Claudian Edict

In 42 AD, Emperor Claudius, issued an edict to… destroy Christian Britain, man, woman and child, and its great institutions, and to burn its libraries. (From this, we can see that it was their learned and free culture that posed the great threat to the Empire.) In this edict, Claudius also proclaimed to the Roman Senate that… “to accept the Christian faith was a capital offense.” Of special note, the edict also included instructions to kill “any person descended from David”, which will have special importance as this story progresses. 5

(We should be reminded that this was more than two and a half to three centuries before the founding of the Roman Catholic Church!)

To enforce his edict, Claudius then amassed the largest Roman invasion force ever, including some of Rome’s top generals, to invade the British Isles. One leading general was Aulus Plautius. Thus began the slaughter and forced subjugation of the British, lasting from 42 AD to the close of the horrible Diocletian savagery of 320 AD, nearly 300-years! These campaigns involved a great and ongoing slaughter on both sides.

It should be noted that the invasion of Britain was the only campaign motivated entirely by the desire to eradicate a religion: that of Christianity, at its greatest external source. (It’s stronghold in Judea was negated after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but Judea was within Rome’s territory.) The intent of the Judean campaign was directed against Jewish political rebellions, not Christianity itself. One can see by the edict being directed against British women, children and their culture, that there was a particular focus to Rome’s campaign. It wasn’t so much a militarily threat, it was largely religious.

Claudius’ invasion force began a nine-year war in which Claudius’ Legions faced frequent defeats, at times suffering massive losses. The British proved to be no easy conquest. After two years of brutal battles, Claudius then sought a temporary armistice, in which the leaders of the British resistance were invited to Rome with intent to seek a peaceful settlement. Those leaders were King Caradoc and his first cousin Arviragus, both formidable leaders in battle against the invading forces of Rome.

During this armistice, hoping to secure a peace, Claudius offered his daughter, Venus Julia, to Arviragus. Here, we see the strange situation, where a Christian king became son-in-law of the pagan Roman Emperor, Claudius! One who earlier had sworn to exterminate Christianity and Britain!

If not strange enough, in Britain, while maintaining the truce, the Roman general, Aulus Plautius, was married to the sister of the British war lord, Caradoc. Her name was Graecina (or Gladys which means ‘princess’). So, a member of the British royal Silurian family, a Christian, became married to the pagan Roman Commander-in-Chief while still in Britain. 6

One can see God’s hand in these highly unusual unions. Events that, as we will see, had profound effect on the situation with the soon-to-be-establish-ed Church of God implanted in the Empire’s very Capitol! The Church in Rome was not founded by apostles from Judea, but rather by Christians, under house arrest, from Britain! As we will see!

Barbarians They Were Not!

The very situation of the armistice and the invitation of the adversary to come to Rome for negotiation, suggests a profound respect for the military genius and determination of these British. Though it was Rome’s usual practice to represent cultures against whom they fought as ‘barbarian’, particularly those on the outer fringes of the Empire, these Covenant peoples were in no way culturally crude or militarily backward. Historical accounts show Britain as having many institutions of higher learning, even prior to the first century. Claudius’ edict directed at the destruction of Britain’s institutions and libraries is tacit evidence of their importance and reputation.

Caradoc’s Betrayal and Capture

With the armistice ended, hostilities once again resumed but under a new general, Ostorius Scapula. The war continued for another seven years, until disaster occurred in 52 involving the capture of the feared Pendragon, Caradoc.

It wasn’t on the field of battle that Caradoc was outmaneuvered. Caradoc’s forces were, at his final battle at Clune, arrayed against four top generals, including Vespasian, a future Emperor, his brother and his son Titus, who gained fame 18-years later in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Even Claudius himself had rushed to Britain with two more legions to reinforce his lagging Roman army.

Having escaped the field of battle, Caradoc’s location was betrayed, and he was later captured. He and his entire family: his father, brother, wife, sons, daughter (Gladys – a different Gladys than his sister mentioned earlier), the entirety of three generations! Tacitus writes 7 that 3-millions crowded the streets of Rome to witness Claudius’ triumphal procession parading these royal British captives.

Escaping Execution

While the usual Roman practice was to incarcerate captive enemies in the horrible fetid dungeon called, among other things, the Tarpeian, this indignity was not inflicted on this royal British Silurian family. Nor was the usual practice carried out of later publicly strangling the victims and dragging their bodies through the streets of Rome. Neither he nor any member of the British royal family was subject in the least to any physical indignities! 8 Rather, these were afforded highly unusual considerations. We need to understand why, as this is germane to the story.

We can detect a major consideration in Caradoc’s defense before the Roman Senate. (Caradoc was called Caracticus by the Romans).

It is recorded in Roman and British annals that there were 39 pitched battles in the nine years prior to Caradoc’s capture, with no clear overall victory on either side. In consideration of that, we then can appreciate the great interest the whole world had in the reputation of this great warrior, who was, with his loyal subjects, able to withstand the finest Legions that the Empire could field. 9 One thing one can say, after 38 bloody battles, Caradoc and his forces stood, unconquered.

A Most Revealing Self-Defense

Such is the nature of modern education, but a narrative well known among British schoolchildren in generations past, is largely extinct among our ‘enlightened’ societies today. Entering the Senate Chamber, Caradoc (Caracticus), stood before the Emperor, defiant and unconquered in spirit, and in Latin, addressed the Senate with this defense, as recorded by Tacitus. 10 “Had my government in Britain been directed solely with the view to the preservation of my hereditary domains, or the aggrandizement of my own family, I might long since have entered this city an ally, not a prisoner: nor would you have disdained for a friend a king descended from illustrious ancestors, and the dictator of many nations. My present condition, stript of its former majesty, is as averse to myself as it is a cause of triumph to you. What then? I was lord of men, horses, arms, wealth; what wonder if at your dictation I refused to resign them? Does it follow, that because the Roman’s aspire to universal domination, every nation is to accept the vassalage they would impose? I am now in your power – betrayed, not conquered. Had I, like others, yielded without resistance, where would have been the name of Caradoc? Where your glory? Oblivion would have buried both in the same tomb. Bid me live, I shall survive forever in history one example at least of Roman clemency.”

For reasons not fully explained by later historians, Claudius granted not only the requested clemency, but also provided the family a degree of accommodation, highly unusual in Roman history. We can understand when we know what they understood. There is a history that has become largely unknown in our generations that would explain it. That is no inadvertent oversight.

The British Palace

Few tourists who explore the ruins of Imperial Rome’s greatness are aware of, or care to visit, what was known as the Palace of the British. On the Mons Sacer, called Scarus, is a large residence, which Romans knew as “Palatium Britannicum”. The curious aspects of this magnanimous grant on the part of the Roman government is a truth as strange as fiction. Even more significant with the emerging Christian community is who lived on these grounds, and what its existence meant to those who dared defy the Empire, embracing the Faith!

First, to the reasons: Caradoc’s cousin, Arviragus, was son-in-law to the Emperor Claudius, he being married to Claudius’ daughter. Second, Claudius’ highly regarded general, Aulus Plautius, was married to Caradoc’s sister. Third, among the captive Silurian family was a young maiden who captured the heart of the Emperor. Gladys, teenage daughter of Caradoc, known for her exceptional beauty, was adopted by the Emperor Claudius, and was given a Roman name, that of Claudia, a name which Romans were prohibited from using. (The different last letter only indicating gender in Latin). It was unlawful to name a child (irrespective of gender) with the name of the ruling Emperor, without official approval. (Claudia (nee-Gladys) was a fervent baptized Christian!) Perhaps this adoption is partly explained by the Emperor having given his natural born daughter in marriage to the now current foe, Arviragus, who a few years later returned to Britain, which carried on in its fight against Rome.

Emperor Claudius was well aware of Claudia’s Christian faith and devotion, and contemporaries were amazed that the terms of her adoption did not require she abandon her faith.

More Legitimate than any Roman

But, more significant than that: evidence of which we see in both the Claudian edict of 42 AD and the defense of Caradoc, made personally and passionately before the Roman Senate in 51. In Cladius’ malediction against the descendants of David” and reflected again a decade later in Caradoc’s address, he being world known as “a king descended from illustrious ancestors, and the dictator of many nations”, we see a tacit acknowledgement on the part of the Romans of his legitimate rule, with a legitimacy that pre-dated Julius, the Empire’s first Caesar, by no less than a thousand years! You see, these ancient peoples very well knew where the Throne of David had been transplanted (‘overturned’) to. Facts ‘conveniently lost’ in the modern age! A surviving daughter of King David’s dynasty was conveyed into Britain after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah!

Caradoc’s self-defense strongly reminded the power-obsessed Romans of his royal legitimacy that transcended theirs. Any respect for the God of Israel would have, with this ‘in-your-face’ reminder, imposed a great precaution on their part. Read Caradoc’s appeal once again, with that awareness!

One More Fortuitous Union

In the year 53, young Gladys (Claudia) married a prominent Roman Senator, Rufus Pudens, son of Pudentius, also a Senator. Pudens, as he was called, was also an Aide-de-Camp to the Roman general Aulus Plautius from 42 AD, at the start of the Claudian campaign in Britain, and for at least five years.

What could be a more strange circumstance than for the king of Britain to see his sister and favorite daughter married to the principal adversaries, to say nothing of the younger being adopted into the very household of the Emperor. Truly, God works in mysterious, and in this case fortuitous, ways!

The marriage to Rufus Pudens was not in any palace of the Romans, but was conducted in the palace of her family, the Palatium Britannicum: the British Palace. It was a Christian wedding, performed by the Christian Pastor, Hermas. Both Hermas (a kinsman of Pudens) and Pudens himself, by this time had become converted Christians. Was the Emperor Claudius present at this Christian ceremony?

Pudens thereafter lived among the other Christians at the British Palace. This was extraordinary, as he was an extremely wealthy man, with vast holdings in Umbria. There their four children were born. Upon marriage, Caradoc bestowed the British Palace upon them. As illustration of the opulence and vastness of this Estate, it is recorded that Pudens brought 400 servants to live there at the Palace. It and its vast grounds will be shown to have an important function in the true Church at Rome.

The Early Church in Rome

While all of the British hostages were effectively pardoned, conditions were imposed. Caradoc was sworn to never again take up arms against Rome. He was interned under a ‘house arrest’ under a parole that lasted for seven years, ending in the year 59. Thereafter, he returned to Britain.

But among the remaining occupants of the British Palace after 59 AD, history records the following:

Linus; son of Caradoc and brother of Claudia

Claudia; youngest daughter of Caradoc, adopted daughter of Emperor Claudius and wife of Pudens,

Pudens; Roman Senator and son of a Senator, a man of great wealth and influence,

Priscilla; mother of Pudens, a Jewess,

Hermas; kinsman to Pudens and first pastor of the Roman congregation at the British Palace.

The four children of Claudia and Pudens: sons; Timotheus and Novatus, eldest and youngest, and daughters; Pudentiana and Praxedes.

Of the above, only Claudia died a natural death! The others were all eventually martyred!

Graecina; sister of Caradoc, and her husband, the Roman general; Aulus Plautius lived nearby.

The Apostle Paul first came to Rome in 56, three years before Caradoc’s parole was to end. It was there that history records that he confirmed Caradoc and Bran, his father. Linus was consecrated as well by the Apostle as the first Bishop of the Christian Church at Rome. (Not to be confused with the apostate church, which was to be established yet another three centuries into the future!)

What is most interesting is the clear fact that the British brought Christianity to Rome in the mid-first century, while the Roman Catholic Church poses as having brought ‘christianity’ to Britain, though that organization didn’t even exist for another three centuries! And, by then, it represented distinctly different beliefs than did the earliest Churches of God.

What Christian Church existed in Rome, prior to the year 51, was small and largely of Jewish background, (functioning under the ‘shadow sanction’ of their “Jewish” identity) but by circumstance was compelled to meet in secret 11 on account of he Claudian Edict, and before it, the Tiberian ban, which imposed the death sentence on all who professed Christianity. As the British congregation in Rome grew, the earlier congregation merged into it. It is more than interesting that Peter’s first visit to Rome was in the year 44, the same year that Caradoc and Arviragus were invited to Rome under the terms of the armistice. Was this coincidence?

Glory and the Grave!

It is when we have this background that we can better understand the profound anxiety expressed by the Apostle Paul in the above ‘Title Passage’: 1st Corinthians 15:29-30. Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” In other words, why do we place ourselves into a life-threatening situation continually? These named above, but for one, all dear friends, and even kinsmen of his, were, one by one, over the years, martyred for their steadfastness in the Faith of Christ. In such circumstances, it would be natural to question the advisability or the desirability of becoming baptized. A commitment which itself locks the believer into a double-binding and irreversible decision, with the risk of death at the hands of the authorities, OR death with exclusion from the Household of God in everlasting Judgment, should the believer ever recant!

This situation is the matter Paul is addressing to any who would question why anyone would make such commitment. His justification for putting ones’ self into such continuing danger is the assurance of the resurrection from the dead, the major subject of chapter 15. It wasn’t in regard to one person being baptized on behalf of another, but to replace another, to stand-in-place of another on the front lines of spiritual battle, to replace those who had fallen in martyrdom. Why would a person take on such risk, except under assurance that this life isn’t what it’s all about? We do so striving for Eternal Life, assured of a better Estate. That was Paul’s point.

Fresh on his mind, at the point in time that he wrote what he did, was the heartrending losses of these many close and personal friends. One by one, taken and slaughtered under the brutal persecutions of their day. Behind Paul’s lament was profound personal loss, describing a maw into which he himself would eventually be drawn!

Unnamed thousands of Saints also were martyred in the arena. While no Roman soldier would dare arrest any of these of the Pudens household or their guests, the same was not the case with other Christians elsewhere. These of the British Palace, with their contacts in high places, also were instrumental in securing the bloody bodies of many hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of martyred Saints and burying them on the spacious grounds of the Palace. That graveyard remains to this day!

In addition, the grounds of the British Palace provided a plot on which to build the first Roman Church in plain sight. It too remains today, called the ‘Basilica de St. Pudentiana’, named in honor of the martyred daughter of Claudia Pudens, foster granddaughter of the Emperor and granddaughter of King Caradoc!

In his final salutation to the Church at Rome, Paul acknowledges several of these major players. In chapter 16, he salutes several survivors: Hermas in verse 16 is pastor Hermas. Rufus, in verse 13, is Rufus Pudens, the former Senator and husband of Claudia. Puden’s mother 12 is Priscilla.

2nd Timothy 4 also makes mention of these in Rome, where Paul was writing from at the time: Verse 21 lists Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brethren!

History Reflected in Prophecy

While history may not be the major interest of many of us, this is nevertheless important to us personally. I want to shift now to a most important prophecy, one especially addressed to each of us in this generation. A prophecy that we can not fully understand without an awareness of the historical situation, such as what has been presented here, and many circumstances like it throughout history. It would seem that in our ignorance of the extreme trials of our predecessors, we are lulled into thinking that our unmolested situation is more the norm than was the other. No, in fact, our day is the exception, and, we are told, will not always remain such!

Killed AS They Were!

Speaking of the end times, the Book of Revelation alerts us to what we should anticipate in our day. Chapter 6, verses 9-11 has this: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Here we are made aware that there will be an end-time repetition of the trying situations that the early Christians, and Christians through history, had to endure. We have read the names of many of them! Though kept in Heaven, under the Altar, the ‘souls’ (spirits) of these martyred Saints are brought back into a state of consciousness, briefly, for the purpose of asking, “How much longer must we wait?” This is what is referred to as ‘the end-time martyrdom of Saints’.

Now, in some organizations, it has been posed that these end-time Martyrs are killed for their spiritual lethargy or inferiority. That is to great degree refuted by the exemplary status of those of the early Church, and certainly those who throughout the ages, faced the extremes of ‘dungeon, fire and sword’ as the old hymn, ‘Faith of our Fathers’ reminds us of. No, as the prophet Daniel also explains, these martyred in this late era are equally exemplary, and are afforded the same high esteem as we see in Revelation 6. Daniel 11 has this to add, starting in verse 32: “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” (KJV) These are NOT the slackards! They are the people who do understand, and who DO major exploits using the opportunities and Talents God gives them! Their experiences refine them even further for high positions in God’s Kingdom! Chapter 12, verse 10 explains: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”

Raised in Glory!

Illustrating their Glorified resurrected state, we see in Daniel 12:3 two different categories of Saints: Those who exhibit a general glow, comparable to the glow of the evening sky, and those who stand out as bright luminaries, as stars in the twilight, outshining the general glow of their overall celestial setting. These are the wise, the diligent, those who turn many to righteousness!

We have an exciting, though trying, future. Stay diligent, my friends!! &

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In acknowledgement, a major source of these abridged historical accounts is the book, The Drama of the Lost Disciples”, by George F. Jowett, Covenant Publishing Co., Ltd, London, England, 1996. The book, within its 241 pages, presents considerable additional detail with historical references too numerous to mention. Copies may be obtained from the publisher, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London, SW15 2U. A worthwhile read! (Used copies may be found on eBay and Amazon Books. Covenant Publishing also maintains an extensive website. )

End Notes

1 The Mithraic Cult was to large degree an ‘underground’ religion. It was this cult that gathered and worshipped largely in catacombs, a practice mistakenly assigned largely to True Christians. Though Christian gatherings were of increasing necessity held in secret, due to severe persecutions, this was not as common a practice as it had been for generations among Mithras worshippers.

2 Tacitus: 56-117 AD, Roman senator and historian; Irenaeus: 125-189 AD; Tertullian: 122-166 AD; Josephus: 37-100 AD, a Pharisee and official historian under Roman rule.

3 Luke 23:50-53 A man known to have influence with the Roman authorities, referred to historically as a ‘Noblis Decurio’ (a man of wealth and notability) who was con-verted, and later an influential witness of the gospel in exile. Joseph was a former tin merchant, traveling often between the tin mines of southern Britain and Judea. Stories abound that suggest the young Jesus accompanied his great uncle on some of these voyages, accounting for some of the ‘missing 18-years’ between age 12 and the beginning of His ministry.

4 Cardinal Baronius, provides names of at least a dozen individuals in this entourage, Christians all!

5 Modern commenters assume this refers to Jews. The British Royalty is known to have descended from the Davidic line. This since the exile of surviving descendants of the Davidic line who were brought there in the time of the Prophet Isaiah. Claudius evidently KNEW something that people today are generally ignorant of. His aim was to exterminate that legitimate royal line.

6 This Roman general, though pagan at the time, was later converted to Christianity. This union was not one with political motivation as could be said of the other in Rome. This marriage was motivated by love of the very beautiful ‘Gladys’. Tacitus writes of this union in his Annals, book 13, chapter 32. Gladys was also known for her cultured intellect, also being an extraordinary scholar of the Greek language, writing books in Greek, Latin and her native tongue, Cymric!

7 Tacitus, Annals, book 12, chapter 36.

8 Tacitus, Annals, book 12, chapter 37.

9 Only the nations of Sythia and Parthia were unconquered by Rome, suffering defeats at their hands. Ironically, distant kinsmen of these in Britain.

10 Annals, book 12, chapter 37.

11 This group met in the house of Acquila and Priscilla, referenced in Romans 16:5

12 Paul’s comment that Rufus’ mother was also his mother suggests Rufus Pudens was Paul’s half-brother, that she had re-married Pudentius, the Roman Senator. Paul and Rufus had the same mother but different fathers. Priscilla had been Jewish prior to her conversion. Now, this being the case, would that not make Paul the half-brother-in-law of Claudia?

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Learning from a diversity of sources

These are just three of the over 200 booklets and articles available from Golden Sheaves—much of which has been written by Richard Traver, but also be other authors. Servants’ News staff has not reviewed all the articles there—not even all of the three booklets here. But from the preceding article and what we have read of Richard Traver’s other literature, they appear to be a genuine effort to understand and convey the meaning of the scriptures.

Most people have collections of their favorite music, videos and books, as well as sources of where to get them—and are willing to share them with others of similar taste. Similarly, each believer should have collections of biblical literature that they have studied and found helpful--and know where to get more and be willing to share it with others.

Reading the Bible, praying for understanding and being willing to share how the Eternal has worked with us is the most important means of being “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1Pet 3:15). But since our Bible has been misinterpreted for over 1900 years, it is frequently necessary to have written research to find out and expound the truth of it. Golden Sheaves can be one tool in your tool box in learning and sharing Bible truth.             — NSE

The Resurrections from the Dead and Eternal Judgment

After decades of study, the author presents many under-considered aspects the Biblical Doctrine of the Resurrections from the Dead and Eternal Judgment as identified in Hebrews chapter 6. This 96-page 8-1/2 by 11 booklet considers the personal resurrections of the Saints and the Rest of the Dead, referred to in Revelation 20, who are to be brought back to life after the Millennial Age. Its primary focus is the under-considered personal resurrections as they apply to all humanity, of all ages, not that of Jesus Christ, which is adequately covered by traditional Christianity. It explains why there needs to be more than one resurrection and why they are separated by a thousand years. Many less used passages of Scripture are taken under closer consideration, including the very words of Christ where He relates a period of time in which ancient peoples will rise together and 'condemn' other resurrected societies for their non-responsiveness to Salvation's availability. More importantly, it then addresses the questions regarding those who died, never having been afforded a legitimate opportunity for Salvation and what happens to them as it regards their Eternal Destiny.

God's Holy Spirit: the Divine Nature

A 56-page, 11-chapter booklet that takes a fresh look into the limitless Power that gives existence to all things.  While the material Universe is our most tangible reality, there is also a Spirit World, created of and by the omnipresent Spirit of God! While the modern theologian considers the Nature of God under conceptualizations developed sixteen centuries ago, we find what was intended to be a unifying consensus, to be a powerfully divisive factor. While some take an 'anti-Trinitarian' position, it is the intent here to present a 'non-Trinitarian' view, equipping the reader with answers to give to the traditionalists. This booklet steps away from conventional explanations and acquaints the reader with a broader set of considerations. Gods' Spirit functions as the means of existence of all things, material and non-material, animate and inanimate. It accounts for the existence of the vast universe and all that is in it, not only its existence, but its continuing sustenance.

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his Eternal Power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" (Rom. 1:16-20)

Understanding the Millennial KINGDOM of God

If it weren't for our religions, we might be better able to understand the Bible! Countless passages are rendered confusing or unfathomable due to ideas of men injected into the Theological thought-stream, borrowing from pre-existing religious beliefs, particularly Gnostic and Mithraic Cults, as well as other Theological errors that are 'home grown' within the bounds of what is considered "Orthodox Religion".  This 76-page booklet takes a long hard (and perhaps unsettling) look into one of the most deeply rooted fundamental beliefs in all of Christianity. This due to it being one of the major obstacles to understanding the very Core Doctrines brought to mankind with and by the Ministry of Christ. He came preaching "the Gospel of the Kingdom of God", yet our religions have wonderfully misconstrued exactly what that kingdom really entails. It was not to be this evil generation, though its future populace would be living among them, despised and rejected as was He. But perhaps the greater message set forth within the account of Christ's Millennial Kingdom is that it will provide the opportunity denied to the masses of humanity that died, never having had an opportunity for salvation, AND then what happens after that! It's a story no serious, thoughtful disciple of our LORD should neglect.

 

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