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"Early Church Fathers" were Catholic

October, 2001

In the several volume set entitled The Ante Nicene Fathers edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (WM B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan), we have a record of the writings of "early church fathers" who are revered by many as godly men. If this record is accurate, in other words, if what is found in these writings is truly what these men believed, then they were deceivers, ungodly men, who in no way should be honored. In the first volume of this set, in the preface of the 1885 edition this boast is found:

This volume, containing the equivalent of three volumes of the Edinburgh series of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, will be found a library somewhat complete in itself. The Apostolic Fathers and those associated with them in the third generation, are here placed together in a handbook, which, with the inestimable Scriptures, supplies a succinct autobiography of the Spouse of Christ for the first two centuries. No Christian scholar has ever before possessed, in faithful versions of such compact form, a supplement so essential to the right understanding of the New Testament itself. It is a volume indispensable to all scholars, and to every library, private or public, in this country. (p. v, first paragraph quoted in its entirety, bold added)

"Ante-Nicene" means "before Nicene" and refers to those "Fathers" that lived before the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). This preface claims the writings of these early church fathers are "essential to the right understanding of the New Testament." Such language Paul warned against in Colossians 2:8 ("tradition of men"), and such thinking denies the words of 1 John 2:27.

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

What is "essential to the right understanding of the New Testament" is "the anointing" (i.e. the Holy Spirit, John 16:13), not any man or men or "Church Father."

From this first volume, it is clear from their own writings that Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus were Catholic false teachers (see below, IV. Ignatius, VI. Justin Martyr, VII. Irenaeus). The Martyrdom of Polycarp reveals Polycarp to likewise be a Catholic (see below, III. Polycarp). For the rest, you can note the false doctrine propagated. The context of this volume is indeed Catholic. The following records some of the false teaching found in this first volume of those "early church fathers."

I. Clement

The first writing in this first volume of The Ante Nicene Fathers is entitled, "First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians." In the introductory note, it claims that Clement lived about 30-100 AD and he is believed to be the Clement found in Philippians 4:3. The problem with this is, the Clement who purportedly wrote this epistle did not know God. In this epistle, this Clement writes,

. . . let us look stedfastly to the Father and Creator of the universe, and cleave to His mighty and surpassing great gifts and benefactions of peace. Let us contemplate Him with our understanding, and look with the eyes of our soul to His long-suffering will. Let us reflect how free from wrath He is towards all His creation. (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 10, chap. XIX)

God is not "free from wrath" towards all His creation. "God is angry every day." (Psalm 7:11). "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Romans 1:18).

For we have been consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. (Psalm 90:7-11)

To know God, is to know and understand His wrath. "For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath" (Psalm 90:11). God is not free from wrath towards all His creation. He is very much occupied with wrath and anger on a daily basis (Psalm 7:11; John 3:36; Romans 13:4).

Clement continues in this lie as he speaks of the natural world:

The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; (ibid., p. 11, chap. XX)

Not only did Clement not know God, but he was also blind to the reality around him. Indeed, there are many moments of peace and harmony in the natural world, but there is also much turmoil and disharmony. Death reigns over plants and animals (Ecclesiastes 3:19). They even fight, kill, and eat each other, which is all a result of the wrath and curse of God. Paul wrote,

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:20-22)

The earth has been cursed (Genesis 3:17; 5:29). It is not free from wrath, and the Lord has not appointed the very smallest of living beings to exist in peace and harmony. The Lord does not appoint such peace and harmony until He returns (Isaiah 11:1-9; 65:25).

Besides the above folly, Clement promotes a fable (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).


Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed. (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p12)

This is a fable. Here we have a story of a bird that lives 500 years, dies, has a worm out of its carcass which turns into the same kind of bird, and then this bird flies off to an idolatrous altar carrying with it the nest and bones of its parent, places the nest and bones of the parent on the altar of the Sun; and then the priests (no doubt, of the Sun) inspect the dates and say, "Yep, it's been 500 years." Paul said to Timothy,

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia - remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables . . . (1 Timothy 1:3-4)

II. Mathetes, or a "disciple of the apostles"

In the work entitled, "The Epistle to Diognetus," dated 130 AD, we have one who claims to be a "disciple of the apostles." If he was, he fell away. In this epistle he writes,

Let your heart be your wisdom; and let your life be true knowledge inwardly received. Bearing this tree and displaying its fruit, thou shalt always gather in those things which are desired by God, which the Serpent cannot reach, and to which deception does not approach; nor is Eve then corrupted, but is trusted as a virgin; and salvation is manifested, . . . (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 30, chap. XII)

This is filled with lies. Deception has approached and salvation is not manifested, and Eve has indeed been corrupted (via this quote). Eve has not been a virgin for thousands of years (Genesis 4:1), and she is not to be trusted. Besides the fact that she was deceived, she has been dead thousands of years and dead people are not to be trusted (Isaiah 8:19-20).

Moreover, if anyone lets their own heart be their wisdom ("Let your heart be your wisdom"), they will never "gather in those things which are desired by God" (Ephesians 5:10) and the "Serpent" has "reached" them (1 Peter 5:8); because, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26; 3:35). And, "cursed is the man who trusts in man" (Jeremiah 17:5).

III. Polycarp

Polycarp is reported to have lived from 65-155 AD and to have been the bishop of the Catholic Church in Smryna.

Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna. (ibid., p. 42, in the "Martyrdom of Polycarp", chap. XVI).

Do not let anyone deceive you with empty words (2 Peter 2:18). The "Catholic Church," in the context of this volume, means exactly that, the unholy Roman Catholic Church (e.g., see below, VII Iranaeus).

In Polycarp's epistle to the Philippians, Polycarp writes,

When you can do good, defer it not, because "alms delivers from death". (ibid., p. 35, chap. X)

Paul said,

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Faith working through love delivers from death (Proverbs 10:2; 11:4-6, 18-19; 12:28; Psalm 16:2; Galatians 2:20), not simply the giving of alms. God's alms, His gift, is what delivers from death (Romans 6:23).

This same "alms delivers from death" can be found in the Apocrypha in the book of Tobit.

It is better to give alms than to lay up gold: for alms delivers from death, and shall purge away all sin. (Tobit 12:8-9; see also Tobit 4:8-10)

Jesus Christ is the one who purges away all sin (Acts 4:12; 1 John 1:7).

IV. Ignatius

Ignatius reportedly lived somewhere between 30 - 107 AD, and it is said that he was a bishop in Antioch, that is, a Catholic bishop. In his epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius writes,

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 90, chap. VIII, entitled "LET NOTHING BE DONE WITHOUT THE BISHOP")

Let no one deceive you with empty words (2 Peter 2:18), when Ignatius writes "Catholic Church" he means just that, the unholy Roman Catholic Church (e.g., see below, under VII. Irenaeus). Ignatius taught the false gospel and false Christ of the Eucharist (see our report Roman Catholicism Leads To Hell, III. A False Christ). In his epistle to the Ephesians, Ignatius writes,

. . . so that ye obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ. (ibid., p. 58, chap. XX)

In his epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius likewise writes,

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. (ibid., p. 89, chap. VII)

The above is classic Roman Catholic Eucharistic false doctrine. In the two quotes above, Ignatius makes the Eucharist out to be the Savior and that which will save a soul and grant eternal life. The only bread and blood that can save the soul and grant eternal life is the spiritual bread and blood of the real Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:35, 53, 63). Despite the false claim of the hocus-pocus of Catholic mystical incantations (transubstantiation), fleshly bread (flour and water) and literal wine will save no one ("the flesh profits nothing," John 6:63).

Furthermore, Ignatius promoted a serious submission to the Catholic bishop. In his epistle to the Trallians (shorter version), Ignatius writes,

He that is within the altar is pure, but he that is without is not pure; that is, he who does anything apart from the bishop, and presbytery, and deacons, such a man is not pure in his conscience. (ibid., p. 69, chap. VII)

In his epistle to the Philadelphians he writes,

Do nothing without the bishop; . . . (ibid., p. 84, chap. VII)

In his epistle to the Magnesians he writes,

As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters. (ibid., p. 62, chap. VII, entitled, "DO NOTHING WITHOUT THE BISHOP AND PRESBYTERS")

In his epistle to the Smyrnaeans he writes,

It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. (ibid., p. 90, chap. VIII)

Scripture nowhere dictates who may baptize or who may celebrate a love-feast (Proverbs 4:20-27; 30:5-6). Plus, Ignatius exalts the bishop here to Pope-like status claiming "whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God."

Ignatius further writes,

It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. (ibid., chap. IX)

Scripture indeed teaches that believers are to give honor to and be subject to those who rule over them (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a; ;1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7, 17). But, Ignatius takes this way beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6) and adds to the Word of God (Proverbs 30:5-6).

Earlier in the epistle to the Magnesians, Ignatius writes,

. . . your bishop presides in the place of God . . . (p. 61, chap. VI)

In his epistle to the Ephesians he writes,

Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him. For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself. (ibid., p. 51, chap. VI)

This is idolatry! Believers look to the Lord in worship (Isaiah 45:22; John 20:28; Hebrews 12:2). To look to any man as "we would upon the Lord Himself" is idolatry. Therefore, in this alone, Ignatius promotes a damning lie (Revelation 21:8).

Finally, in his epistle to the Smyrnaeans (shorter version), Ignatius confuses faith in the blood of Christ with the angels.

Let no man deceive himself. Both the things which are in heaven, and the glorious angels, and rulers, both visible and invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation. (ibid., p.88, chap. VI)

Scripture nowhere says the above, and the blood of Christ is not for the angels. Hebrews 2:14-16 declares,

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

V. The Epistle of Barnabas

This is a letter written by someone who claimed to know what Christ did not even know.

Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, "He finished in six days." This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And he Himself testifieth, saying, "Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years." Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousands years, all things will be finished. (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I., p. 146, chap. XV)

Jesus said,

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)

VI. Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr is recorded in the introductory note to have probably lived from 110-165 AD. Because he was a Catholic, he also promoted the false gospel and false Christ of the Eucharist. In his "Dialogue With Trypho," Justin writes,

He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e. the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, . . . (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 215, chap. XLI, entitled "THE OBLATION OF FINE FLOUR WAS A FIGURE OF THE EUCHARIST")

This is classic Roman Catholic Eucharistic false doctrine. As the Catholic Catechism today says,

The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, . . . (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], Libreria Editrice Vaticana, copyright 1994, p. 344, #1366)

The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: "The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different." "In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the alter of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner." (CCC, p. 344, #1367)

This is completely contrary to Hebrews 7:26-27; 9:25-28; and 10:11-14.

In "The First Apology Of Justin," Justin writes,

And this food is called among us Euvcaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. (The Ante Nicene Fathers, p. 185, chap. LXVI, entitled, " - OF THE EUCHARIST," the prior chapter is entitled, "ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS")

This is more Roman Catholic Eucharistic false teaching. Roman Catholicism teaches the Eucharist (i.e. "bread and drink") is the flesh and blood of Jesus.

At the heart of the Eucharist celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. (CCC, p. 336, #1333; see further our report on Catholicism)

These words are directly against Christ's words. For He said,

For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. (John 6:55)

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

Nowhere does Scripture say that bread and drink become the body and blood of Christ. In Matthew 26:26 Christ broke real bread and said, "Take, eat; this is My body" while His body was yet physically before them, as they ate the bread that He handed them. It never says the bread changed into His flesh. Moreover, in Matthew 26:27-28 Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and said,

Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Now notice the next verse.

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)

Jesus still called the drink "this fruit of the vine." It was still wine (or grape juice), after He gave it to the disciples.

Now, besides Justin's false doctrine of the Eucharist, Justin also writes against the words of Paul. In Justin's "Dialogue With Trypho," he writes,

"But if, Trypho," I continued, "some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them. But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved." (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, p. 218, chap. XLVII)

These words go directly against Galatians 5:1-4.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

VII. Irenaeus

It is reported in the introductory note that Irenaeus lived from 120-202 AD and was a bishop at Lyons. It can be seen that he was a Roman Catholic bishop in book three of "Irenaeus Against Heresies". On page 415 he writes,

Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, . . . (The Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I, book III, chap. III)

Soon after this quote, Irenaeus lists off the bishops (Popes) of the Church of Rome, and the first sentence in the title of his next chapter is,


Being Catholic, Irenaeus promotes the Eucharist.

When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? (ibid., p. 528, book V, chap. II, 3.)

The footnote for this passage, for "body of Christ is made," reads,

The Greek text, of which a considerable portion remains here, would give, "and the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ."

Besides emphasis on the one true church in Rome, a listing of the bishops (Popes), and Eucharistic theology, Maryology can also be found in the writing of Irenaeus. Speaking in the context of Eve and Mary, he writes,

And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. (ibid., p. 547, book V, chap. XIX, 1.)

This is garbage. Mary is no "advocata" (advocate) of Eve. The only advocate is Christ, the Lord (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1). Scripture nowhere says Eve was still a virgin when she was deceived (Proverbs 30:5-6), and the human race did not fall via Eve, but rather through Adam (Romans 5:12-19). Moreover, the human race is not rescued by a virgin, that is, Mary (she is not a virgin anymore, Matthew 1:25; Matthew 12:46; 13:55; John 7:3-5; 1 Corinthians 9:5). The human race is rescued by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Revelation 5:1-9).

Finally, Irenaeus adds to the Word of God (Proverbs 30:5-6) by saying that Adam's sin was on the sixth day (ibid., p. 551, book V, chap. XXIII, in the title), and that Adam was saved.

All therefore speak falsely who disallow his (Adam's) salvation, shutting themselves out from life for ever, in that they do not believe that the sheep which had perished has been found. For if it has not been found, the whole human race is still held in a state of perdition. False, therefore, is that man who first started this idea, or rather, this ignorance and blindness - Tatian. (ibid., p. 457, book III, chap. XXIII, 8.)

So, according to Irenaeus, you're damned if you don't believe something Scripture never says! This is foolishness.

VIII. Conclusion

Don't be fooled by men who claim the "early church fathers" were godly men. They were not. According to what is written, they were Catholic liars.

a true church, P. O. Box 130, Moodys, OK 74444