Due to various electronic necessities, insignificant formatting, punctuation, capitalization, etc. and other minor editing has taken place. Spelling has been addressed especially where scanning has caused errors.

Links to the various sections can be found at the bottom of the page.


"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!



Chapter 20

Coming to Mount Zion, Heavenly Jerusalem

ON THE day of Pentecost of the year 33 (A.D.) the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ began to build his church or congregation. That was the day of the "festival of harvest of the first ripe fruits of your labors, of what you sow in the field," "the festival of weeks." (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16: 9-12) On that marked day Jesus, at God's right hand in heaven, began to pour out the holy spirit upon the faithful remnant of his disciples in Jerusalem. These were gathered together, not in the temple, but in the "upper chamber where they were staying." Under the inspiration of that spirit the apostle Peter said: "This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. Therefore because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out this which you see and hear." — Acts 1:13,14; 2:1-33.

Thus Jesus began building upon himself a "spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ," as 1 Peter 2:5 says.

On that day of Pentecost Peter was first to speak publicly by spirit. In this way he used the first of the "keys of the kingdom of the heavens" that Jesus had said that he would give Peter. (Matthew 16:19) Peter used this first key in behalf of the Jews, as the crowd that gathered to witness the miraculous effects of the outpouring of holy spirit was made up of natural Jews

431

and circumcised proselytes. By his use of this "key of knowledge" concerning God's kingdom and the Messiah or Christ, Peter opened the door to "all the house of Israel," to believe and enter into the opportunity for gaining a place in the heavenly kingdom with the Messiah or Christ. There were three thousand Jews (Israelites) and circumcised proselytes that then believed, got baptized and entered into the Kingdom opportunities and privileges. Later their number grew to five thousand. — Luke 11:52; Acts 2:5-42; 4:1-4.

Peter explained to those Jews that the outpouring of the holy spirit in those last days of earthly Jerusalem and its temple was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. which he then quoted. It reads: "After that it must occur that I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy. As for your old men, dreams they will dream. As for your young men, visions they will see. And even on the menservants and on the maidservants in those days I shall pour out my spirit. And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun itself will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. And it must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will prove to be the escaped ones, just as Jehovah has said, and in among the survivors, whom Jehovah is calling." — See Acts 2:14-21.

Quite appropriately, when the holy spirit was poured out upon the remnant of Christ's faithful disciples on that day of Pentecost, they were in an earthly city by the name of Zion or Jerusalem. Jesus had told them to stay there till the spirit was poured out. (Acts 1:6-8. 12-15) But by reason of being baptized with holy spirit and becoming spiritual sons of God they had really come to a spiritual Zion, a heavenly Jerusalem. Was

432

not Jesus Christ himself then in the spiritual heavens as the tried, precious cornerstone laid in Zion? Hence the congregation of his followers has a heavenly foundation, not an earthly one, not some man on earth.

This fact that the congregation is approaching a heavenly Zion is called to our attention in Hebrews 12: 22-24. These words were first addressed to Christians who were Hebrews by birth like those at Pentecost. The words say: "But [unlike your earthly forefathers] you have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaks in a better way than Abel's blood." Since Christian believers who are anointed with God's spirit have approached a heavenly Mount Zion, a heavenly Jerusalem, no city on earth amounts to anything as the real center of religious life for them, not even ancient Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria, Athens, Istanbul, Moscow, or any other earthly city. Hebrews 13:12-14 drives home that fact, saying:

"Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate [of earthly Jerusalem]. Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, for we do not have here a city that continues, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come."

In his day the apostle Paul pointed out the difference between the earthly and the heavenly, saying: "Now this Hagar [slave girl of the patriarch Abraham's household] means Sinai, a mountain in Arabia [where the Ten Commandments were given], and she corresponds with the Jerusalem today, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. Wherefore, brothers, we are chil-

433

dren, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman. For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 4:25, 26, 31; 5:1) Hence, no need to crusade for a Jerusalem on earth.

Thus when earthly Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman legions in the year 70, it did not matter to the Hebrew Christians. They obeyed Jesus' instructions and fled in time from the doomed city. But they still remained children of their heavenly mother, "the Jerusalem above," and they had approached the real "city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem." They did not afterward become the children of some other earthly city, say Rome, so that they deserved to be called Roman Christians. The "Jerusalem above" was the "mother" that they acknowledged. Luke 21:20-24) They were no longer mere natural Israelites; they were spiritual Israelites.

USE OF THE SECOND KEY

For almost three and a half years after Pentecost of 33 (A.D.) the congregation of Christ's followers continued to be exclusively of natural Israelites and circumcised Jewish proselytes. During this period of God's exclusive favor to natural Israel, the man who became the apostle Paul was converted from Judaism to the discipleship of Jesus Christ by a miracle. He was on his way to extend his persecution of Christians to Damascus in Syria, when the glorious resurrected Jesus made a miraculous appearance to this man, Saul of Tarsus. On the third day afterward Saul's sight was restored to him and he got baptized in water and at once "began to preach Jesus, that this One is the Son of God." — Acts 9: 1-20.

Jesus then appointed Saul to be one of his apostles, and, as such, he came to be called Paul. Accordingly he referred to himself as an apostle, saying, for instance, in Romans 1:1: "Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ

434

and called to be an apostle, separated to God's good news." He came to be known as "an apostle to the nations," or as an "apostle ... a teacher of nations," that is, uncircumcised Gentiles. (Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7) However, Paul was not the apostle who unlocked to the Gentiles or uncircumcised nations the door to the Kingdom opportunities. It was the apostle Peter who did so, because he had been given the key to do so.

Since Jesus Christ was cut off in sacrificial death "at the half of the week," the seventieth week of years as foretold in Daniel 9:24-27 came to an end three and a half years after the Messiah was cut off in death A.D. 33. The beginning of this seventieth week had been marked by the water baptism of Jesus followed by his being anointed with holy spirit so that he thus became Messiah the Leader. It was only fitting that the close of the seventieth week should be marked. It was! How? By an outpouring of holy spirit.

The middle of this final week of years was marked by the sacrificial death of Messiah the Leader, in the year 33. Shortly afterward there was an outpouring of holy spirit upon the remnant of Jesus' faithful disciples on the day of Pentecost. The final half of this seventieth week continued with further favor and mercy upon the prophet Daniel's people, "upon your people and upon your holy city," as Daniel 9:24 says, and so the outpouring of holy spirit from God was confined to the natural Israelites and the circumcised proselytes to the very end of this seventieth week in the year 36. This would be up till the seventh anniversary of the baptism and anointing of Jesus, till early autumn of that year. Then the time of exclusive favor to natural Israel would end.

From that time onward the outpouring of holy spirit with its gifts would not be confined to the natural Israelites but would be extended also to the uncircumcised people of the non-Israelite nations, the Gentiles. But to receive the anointing of the holy spirit, these

435

Gentiles would have to become spiritual Israelites. How? By believing and following Messiah the Leader. So the beginning of the anointing of Gentile believers would mean that the seventieth week, the final week of special favor exclusively to natural Israel, had ended. This produced a sensation.

The anointing with holy spirit signified that the believers anointed were appointed to a place in the heavenly kingdom with Jesus Christ, Messiah the Leader. Since Jesus said that he would give to Peter the "keys of the kingdom of the heavens," Peter was the one marked to be first in extending to Gentiles the opportunity to enter the heavenly kingdom. He would use the "key of knowledge" and bring them the message of God's Messianic kingdom.

Up till this time the Jewish believers who went here and there "declaring the good news of the word" were selective about those to whom they preached God's kingdom. They held themselves down to "speaking the word to no one except to Jews only." (Acts 8:1-4; 11:19) It was just as the apostle Peter himself explained: "You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to join himself to or approach a man of another race." (Acts 10:28) It was not until the seventieth week ended that Jehovah God for the first time turned his attention to the Gentile nations to take out of them a people for His name. Then he had Peter use the second key. — Acts 15:7-14.

By the end of the seventieth week the natural Jews had given no evidence that their nation would produce enough believers to make up the full Bride class for Messiah the Bridegroom, that is to say, the full number of anointed believers to be associated with the Messiah in the heavenly kingdom. The congregation of Jewish candidates who were in line naturally for the heavenly kingdom was likened to an olive tree that had a definite number of branches attached to the tree trunk, which pictures the Messiah. Because of a lack of faith in Jesus

436

as Messiah, the majority of the natural Jews were broken off. Their vacant places had to be filled to make up the complete Kingdom membership. By God's mercy those places were filled up by believing Gentiles who by faith were grafted on this symbolic olive tree. Thus these became spiritual Israelites.

Hence the apostle Paul, who used this olive-tree illustration, could climax his explanation by saying: "A dulling of sensibilities has happened in part to Israel until the full number of people of the nations [the Gentiles] has come in, and in this manner all Israel will be saved. Just as it is written [in Isaiah 59:20]: 'The deliverer will come out of Zion [heavenly Zion] and turn away ungodly practices from Jacob.' " (Romans 11:13-26) The specific, limited number of spiritual Israelites in this symbolic olive tree is Scripturally revealed as being only 144,000. — Revelation 7:4-8.

The inviting and bringing in of the first Gentile believers was not the apostle Peter's idea. He did not bind up the opportunity exclusively for the natural Israelites till the end of the seventieth week. He did not loose the Gentiles from their restrictions to enter into the race for the heavenly kingdom. He did not originate this arrangement. It was all arranged in heaven first, by God, not by Peter on earth. It was God who by his angel told the Italian Gentile, Cornelius, to send for Simon Peter.

By a vision and by his spirit God instructed the doubting Peter to accept the invitation of the non-Jewish Cornelius and go to his house in Caesarea. After Peter entered this Gentile house and saw people of the nations gathered there to hear his Kingdom message, Peter said: "For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial [now to the Jews], but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him." Thus at heaven's time Peter had to be instructed to use the second of the "keys of the kingdom of the heavens," and this for Gentiles. — Matthew 16:19.

437

Peter then proceeded to preach to those Gentiles about the Anointed One, Messiah the Leader, and how he died. "God raised this One up on the third day and granted him to become manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand by God [Jehovah], to us, who ate and drank with him after his rising from the dead. Also, he [Jehovah God] ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness that this [Jesus] is the One decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone [Gentile or Jew] putting faith in him gets forgiveness of sins through his name."

Those Gentile listeners now saw the door open before them through Peter's use of the "key of knowledge," and by exercising faith they at once stepped into the Kingdom opportunity. God at once indicated that he had taken them out of the Gentile nations to share with Jewish believers in being a "people for his name."

How do we know this? Well, "while Peter was yet speaking about these matters the holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word. And the faithful ones that had come with Peter who were of those circumcised were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations. For they heard them speaking with tongues and glorifying God [like on the day of Pentecost]." Peter acted on this indication from God by informing these Gentiles what now to do, saying: "Can anyone [Jewish] forbid water so that these might not be baptized who have received the holy spirit even as we [natural Jews] have?" No circumcised Jew present forbidding, Peter "commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." — Acts 10:1-48: 15:7-9.

Down till that time Jehovah God had divided up mankind into two classes, the natural Israelites or Jews and the Gentiles or non-Jewish nations. So just two "keys of the kingdom of the heavens" were needed

438

to meet the needs of the classified situation. When Peter had used the two keys for their specified purpose, no further need for the "keys" existed. There is no Bible record that Peter used further keys, and neither did he hand them down to any so-called apostolic successor. Certainly Peter was not authorized to use either key to close the door of Kingdom opportunity. On one occasion it appeared as if he were doing so. When was this? It was when Peter (or Cephas as he is called in Aramaic) paid a visit to Antioch after the close of the seventieth week and the conversion of the first Gentile believer, Cornelius. The apostle Paul was then there. At Antioch in Syria there were many Gentile converts to Christ, and it was here first, in Antioch, that "the disciples were by divine providence called Christians."  — Acts 11:20-28.

The presence of these uncircumcised Gentile converts in the Antioch congregation did not disturb Peter or Cephas, but he went into their homes and ate meals with them, just as he had done years previously in the home of Italian Cornelius. God had taught Peter to "stop calling defiled the things God has cleansed." So Peter did not insist on their being circumcised like Jews before he would eat with them, but acted just like the apostle Paul and his fellow worker Barnabas. Shortly afterward certain Jewish Christians came down from Jerusalem, where the disciple James, the half brother of Jesus, was overseer. These circumcised members of the Jerusalem congregation let it be understood that James held that Gentile believers who were not circumcised were not to be associated with by circumcised Jewish believers. This raised a question of faith and morals. What did Peter, who had used the keys, decide? Paul says:

"When Cephas [Aramaic for Peter] came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but

439

when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class. The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barnabas was led along with them in their pretense. But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: 'If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?' " — Galatians 2:11-14.

That was a public rebuke of the apostle Peter by Paul, for Peter was not walking straight according to Christian faith and morals. Fear of men was again influencing Peter, as it had done when he denied Jesus three times on the night of his betrayal by Judas Iscariot. (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; Mark 14:27-31, 66-72; Proverbs 29:25) It was as if Peter was taking the second one of the "keys of the kingdom of the heavens" and shutting and relocking the door in the faces of the uncircumcised Gentiles. But the apostle Peter did not have the power to close that door on the uncircumcised Gentiles, for the resurrected Jesus Christ said later: "These are the things he says who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens so that no one will shut, and shuts so that no one opens, 'I know your deeds — look! I have set before you an opened door, which no one can shut.' " (Revelation 3:7, 8) Heaven did not agree with Peter in his hypocritical course at Antioch. So it is to be understood that Peter quickly corrected his conduct at Antioch in harmony with the straight doctrine of the apostle Paul.

Paul followed up the report on his public correction of Peter or Cephas by writing to the Christian Jews: "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners from the nations, knowing as we do that a man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus, even we have put our faith

440

in Christ Jesus, that we may be declared righteous due to faith toward Christ, and not due to works of law, because due to works of law no flesh will be declared righteous." (Galatians 2: 15, 16) With this doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ and by the undeserved kindness of God through Christ, and not by circumcision under the Mosaic law, Peter himself had agreed when he spoke during the debate over circumcision at Jerusalem. (Acts 15:6-11) Later, Peter admitted that Paul had spoken and written correctly, for Peter wrote, in his second letter to Christian believers:

"Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote you, speaking about these things as he does also in all his letters [including the letter to the Galatians]. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." — 2 Peter 3:15, 16.

PETER GOES TO BABYLON

Peter was assigned to use the "key of knowledge" and open the door to the uncircumcised Gentiles. However, his apostleship was meant mainly for preaching the Kingdom good news among the circumcised Jews to whom he had opened the door by using the first "key" on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 33. On the contrary, though Paul preached regularly in the Jewish synagogues until he was forced out, he was peculiarly an apostle to the Gentiles, just as the resurrected Jesus Christ had said concerning him: "This man is a chosen vessel to me to bear my name to the nations as well as to kings and the sons of Israel." (Acts 9:15; 22:17-21) This called for a division among the apostles as regards the territory in which to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to establish new Christian congregations. This dividing up of the people of the world among whom to preach and make disciples was in harmony

441

with what the resurrected Jesus said before ascending to heaven: "All authority has been given me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them." (Matthew 28: 18. 1.9) On this matter of territory assignments the apostles reached agreement, and of it Paul tells us the following:

"Then after fourteen years [after a previous visit] I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking also Titus along with me. But I went up as a result of a revelation. And I laid before them the good news which I am preaching among the nations, . . . But, on the contrary, when they saw that I had entrusted to me the good news for those who are uncircumcised, just as Peter had it for those who are circumcised — for He who gave Peter powers necessary for an apostleship to those who are circumcised gave powers also to me for those who are of the nations; yes, when they came to know the undeserved kindness that was given me, James and Cephas [Peter] and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of sharing together, that we should go to the nations, but they [James, Peter and John] to those who are circumcised." — Galatians 2:1-9.

For Peter, this meant his concentrating on the East (including Babylon), where most of the natural Jews were located in the first century. For Paul, this meant his going west. In fact, he was called west when he was in Troas at the western tip of Asia Minor. Here, "during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain Macedonian man was standing and entreating him and saying: 'Step over into Macedonia and help us.' Now as soon as he had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Macedonia, drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them." First in order, the starting of a Christian congregation including uncircumcised Gentiles in the Macedonian city of Philippi followed. (Acts 16:8-40) After that came

442

the starting of Christian congregations in other European cities, including Athens and Corinth.

A few years later Paul had to write to the Corinthians to stop forming religious sects among themselves. Some were saying: I am of Paul. Others: I am of Apollos. Others: I am of Peter (Cephas). Others: I am of Christ. In protest against religious sects, such as divide modern Christendom, Paul wrote to the congregation:

"The disclosure was made to me about you, my brothers, by those of the house of Chlo'e, that dissensions exist among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you says: 'I belong to Paul,' 'But I to Apollos,' 'But I to Cephas,' 'But I to Christ.' Does the Christ exist divided? Paul was not impaled for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? . . . you are yet fleshly. For whereas there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking as men do? For when one says: 'I belong to Paul,' but another says: 'I to Apollos,' are you not simply men? What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow. For we are God's fellow workers. You people are God's field under cultivation, God's building.

"Hence let no one be boasting in men; for all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas [Peter] or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to you; in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God."  — 1 Corinthians 1:11-13; 3:3-7, 9, 21-23.

By such protest against religious sects among persons claiming to be Christians the apostle Paul was not arguing that Peter (Cephas) was the Rock (pétra) on which Jesus Christ was building his congregation.

443

(Matthew 16:18) To the contrary, Paul, who had to rebuke Peter, wrote in this same connection: "No man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11) Because of Paul's faithfulness, not to a man like himself, but to Jesus Christ, it is not surprising that thirteen letters (epistles) in the Christian Greek Scriptures bear the name of Paul as the inspired writer. The epistle or letter to the Hebrews, that is, to Hebrew Christians, is also ascribed to Paul, to make fourteen epistles from him. Only two epistles of Peter are to be found in the Holy Scriptures.

These letters of Paul, as well as the account of his words and movements in the Acts of the Apostles, are a testimony to his widespread missionary activities and his founding of many Christian congregations, particularly in the West among the Gentile nations. While Paul was staying in Ephesus, Asia Minor, and was planning a final visit to Jerusalem, he said: "After I get there I must also see Rome." (Acts 19:21) In pursuit of that plan he shortly afterward wrote his powerful letter to the Romans, not in Latin, but in Greek. In this letter he told the Christians in Rome: "I was many times hindered from getting to you. But now that I no longer have untouched territory in these regions, and for some years having had a longing to get to you whenever I am on my way to Spain, I hope, above all, when I am on the journey there, to get a look at you and to be escorted part way there by you after I have first in some measure been satisfied with your company." —  Romans 15: 22-24.

Paul got to Jerusalem again and was mobbed by the fanatical Jews in the temple and was arrested. After an appearance before the Jewish Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, when he was almost "pulled to pieces" by the disagreeing Court judges, Paul had a vision the following night in the Roman soldiers' quarters. "The Lord stood by him and said: 'Be of good courage! For as you

444

have been giving a thorough witness on the things about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.' " — Acts 23:1-11.

True to the Lord's promise, and despite suffering a shipwreck on the way there, Paul landed at Puteoli about 125 miles southeast of Rome, but as a prisoner in Roman hands. Acts 28:14-16 goes on to say: "Here we found brothers and were entreated to remain with them seven days; and in this way we came toward Rome. And from there the brothers, when they heard the news about us, came to meet us as far as the Market Place of Appius and Three Taverns and, upon catching sight of them, Paul thanked God and took courage. When, finally, we entered into Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier guarding him." There is no mention that Peter came down from Rome to meet Paul; and the later record does not report that Peter visited Paul during Paul's being held in custody here before he appeared before Emperor Nero, the Pontifex Maximus. Peter is not mentioned either in Paul's long letter to the Romans with all its many greetings. (Romans 16:3-23) Where was Peter?

We should expect that Peter would be in territory where he could carry out his "apostleship to those who are circumcised." (Galatians 2:8) He would therefore be concentrating his efforts on the Diaspora ("Dispersion"),* which would include the Eastern Dispersion of Jews, concerning whom we read:


In the time of Christ, Josephus could speak of the Jews in Babylonia by "innumerable myriads" (Antiquities, XI, v, 2). He also tells us of the 2,000 Jewish families whom Antiochus transferred from Babylon and Mesopotamia to Phrygia and Syria. . . . Babylonia remained a focus of eastern Judaism for centuries, and from the discussions in rabbinical schools there were elaborated the Talmud of Jerusalem in the 5th century of our era,


* "Referring to Jews in voluntary or forced 'exile' from the Holy Land, particularly in the era of Jewish expulsion from their homeland after the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Titus (70 C.E.)."  — Concise Dictionary of Judaism, by Dagobert D. Runes, 1959.
445

and the Talmud of Babylon a century later. The two chief centers of Mesopotamian Judaism were Nehardea, a town on the Euphrates, and Nisibis on the Mygdonius, an affluent of the Chaboras, which were also centers of Syrian Christianity. — ISBE, Volume 2, page 856a.


We remember the agreement that was reached between the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, and the congregation "pillars" James, Peter and John, concerning which Paul writes, in Galatians 2:9: "James and Cephas and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of sharing together, that we should go to the nations, but they to those who are circumcised."

In agreement with this, the letter written by this James is introduced with these words: "James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes that are scattered about: Greetings!" Also, the last book of the Bible, written by the above apostle John, is addressed to eastern congregations with these words: "John to the seven congregations that are in the district of Asia." This was in obedience to the command given John by the resurrected Christ: "What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven congregations, in Ephesus and in Smyrna and in Pergamum and in Thyatira and in Sardis and in Philadelphia and in Laodicea." (Revelation 1:4, 11) Now, what about the first letter by Peter?

Peter's first letter is introduced by him with these words: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the temporary residents scattered about in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, to the ones chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, with sanctification by the spirit, for the purpose of their being obedient and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:1, 2) None of those places mentioned are in Europe; they are all in Asia Minor. Ah, but someone will argue, when Peter wrote to the Christian "temporary residents" in those places he was in

446

Rome, Italy! To this we reply that Peter does not once mention Rome.

Those who try to locate Peter in Rome at that time argue that Peter mentioned Rome symbolically, that he disguised it under the name Babylon, saying, in 1 Peter 5:13: "The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth my son Mark." (Douay Version) For example, the superscription to Peter's first epistle, as printed by the publishers, John Murphy Company, with approbation by James Cardinal Gibbons, reads, in part:


He wrote it at Rome, which figuratively he calls Babylon, about fifteen years after our Lord's Ascension.


And the footnote on Babylon, in 1 Peter 5:13, reads: "Figuratively, Rome." The footnote in the translation of the New Testament by Monsignor R. A. Knox (1944) reads: "There can be little doubt that Babylon means Rome, compare Apocalypse xvii, 5."

If Peter wrote his first letter about fifteen years after Jesus' ascension to heaven, the very latest dating for Peter's letter by Catholic reckoning would be A.D. 48. Says The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 11 (edition of 1911), on page 753b:


The most probable opinion is that which places it about the end of the year 63 or the beginning of 64; and St. Peter having suffered martyrdom at Rome in 64 (67?) the Epistle could not be subsequent to that date; besides, it assumes that the persecution of Nero, which began about the end of 64, had not yet broken out . . . the Epistle could not be prior to 63.


Thus it is agreed that Peter wrote his epistle before Rome entered upon her career of persecuting the Christian congregation. Why, then, would Peter, if writing his letter before the Roman persecution, want to disguise the name of Rome or have to use Babylon as the metaphorical name for Rome? Regarding this, M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia, Volume 8, page 18, says:

447

But why discover a mystical sense in a name set down as the place of writing an epistle? There is no more reason for doing this than for assigning a like significance to the geographical names of [chapter] 1, [verse] 1. How could his readers discover the Church at Rome to be meant by η συνεχλεχτη [he syneklekté: the church elected with] in Babylon? And if Babylon do signify a hostile spiritual power, as in the Apocalypse (xviii, 21), then it is strange that Catholic critics as a body should adopt such a meaning here, and admit by implication the ascription of this character to their spiritual metropolis. Dr. Brown, of Edinburgh, puts a somewhat parallel case — "Our own city is sometimes called Athens from its situation, and from its being a seat of learning; but it would not do to argue that a letter came from Edinburgh because it is dated from Athens" (Expository Discourses on 1st Peter, i, 548).

. . . The natural interpretation is to take Babylon as the name of the well-known city. We have indeed no record of any missionary journey of Peter into Chaldaea, for but little of Peter's later life is given us in the New Testament. But we know that many Jews inhabited Babylon — ου γαρ ολιγοι μυριαδες [ou gar oligoi myriádes: for not a few myriads], according to Josephus — and was not such a spot, to a great extent, a Jewish colony or settlement, likely to attract the apostle of the circumcision? . . . Granting that the Parthian empire [in which Babylon then lay] had its own government, he is writing to persons in other provinces under Roman jurisdiction, and he enjoins them to obey the emperor as supreme, and the various governors sent by him for purposes of local administration. Moreover, as has often been observed, the countries of the persons addressed in the epistle (i,l) are enumerated in the order in which a person writing from Babylon would naturally arrange them, beginning with those lying nearest to him, and passing in circuit to those in the west and the south, at the greatest distance from him. The natural meaning of the designation Babylon is held by Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Lightfoot, Wieseler, Mayerhoff, Bengel, De Wette, Bleek, and perhaps the majority of modern critics.


In support of the above we have the volume entitled "A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments," by Drs. R. Jamieson, A. R. Faus-

448

set and D. Brown of Great Britain, edition of 1873, Part Two of which says on page 514b on Babylon:


The Chaldean Babylon on the Euphrates. See Introduction, ON THE PLACE OF WRITING this Epistle, in proof that Rome is not meant as Papists assert; compare LIGHTFOOT sermon. How unlikely that in a friendly salutation the enigmatical title given in prophecy (John, Revelation 17.5), should be used! Babylon was the centre from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter addresses was derived. PHILO, Legatio ad Caium, section 36, and JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 15, 2.2; 23:12 inform us that Babylon contained a great many Jews in the apostolic age (whereas those at Rome were comparatively few, about 8000, JOSEPHUS 17.11); so it would naturally be visited by the apostle of the circumcision. It was the headquarters of those whom he had so successfully addressed on Pentecost, Acts 2:9, Jewish "Parthians . . . dwellers in Mesopotamia"" (the Parthians were then masters of Mesopotamian Babylon); these he ministered to in person. His other hearers, the Jewish "dwellers in Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia," he now ministers to by letter. The earliest distinct authority for Peter's martyrdom at Rome is DIONYSIUS, bishop of Corinth, in the latter half of the second century. The desirableness of representing Peter and Paul, the two leading apostles, as together founding the Church of the metropolis, seems to have originated the tradition. CLEMENT OF ROME (1 Epistola ad Corinthios, section 4, 5), OFTEN QUOTED FOR, IS REALLY AGAINST IT. He mentions Paul and Peter together, but makes it as a distinguishing circumstance of Paul, that he preached both in the East and West, implying that Peter never was in the West.*


* The First Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, section 5, reads: "... Let us place before our eyes the good Apostles. Peter, by unjust envy, underwent not one or two but many labours; and thus having borne testimony unto death he went unto the place of glory which was due to him. Through envy, Paul obtained the reward of patience. Seven times was he in bonds; he was scourged; was stoned. He preached both in the east and in the west, leaving behind him the glorious report of his faith. And thus, having taught the whole world righteousness, and reached the furthest extremity of the west, he suffered martyrdom, by the command of the governors, and departed out of this world, and went to the holy place, having become a most exemplary pattern of patience." — Page 6 of A Translation of the Epistles of Clement of Rome, Polycarp and Ignatius, by Temple Chevallier, B.D., edition of 1833, London, England. See also pages 51, 52 of The Apostolic Fathers — An American Translation, by Edgar J. Goodspeed, edition of 1950.
449

In 2 Peter 1:14, he says, "I must shortly put off this tabernacle," implying his martyrdom was near, yet he makes no allusion to Rome, or any intention of his visiting it.*


As for those early religious writers of literature not belonging to the Bible, what if they do say that Babylon means Rome, that Babylon is the apocryphal name for Rome? Their sayings are not inspired and hence not infallible truth. We must remember that, like the Bible writers of pre-Christian times, the apostle Peter wrote his two letters under inspiration of God's holy spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21) Hence he wrote 1 Peter 5:13 under inspiration, for which reason it must be the truth. If, however, Peter was led to write and say that Babylon meant Rome, then not only Peter himself was wrong but God's spirit that inspired Peter was wrong, and God's spirit made a mistake; it erred. Why so? Because the Babylon the Great of Revelation 17:5 was not and is not Rome, as we shall later show. But it could never be true that God's holy spirit inspired Peter to write an untruth. For this last reason, above all other good reasons, Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13 does not mean Rome but means literal Babylon from ancient time.

If we consult The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible, Revised Edition of 1956, by Wright and Filson, and examine, on its page 89, its map entitled "The Roman World at the Birth of Jesus," we note that it shows Babylon as a then-existing city, on the Euphrates River. If now, in 1 Peter 5:13, the expression "She who is in Babylon" means a congregation there,


* Regarding the above-named Dionysius, M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia, Volume 8, page 14, says: "Eusebius (iii, 25, in a quotation from Dionysius, bishop of Corinth) adds that they [Peter and Paul] suffered martyrdom together . . . Yet the whole story rests ultimately on the testimony of Dionysius alone, who must have died about A.D. 176. (The passages in Clemens Romanus, 1 to Corinthians v, and Ignatius, to the Romans, v, settle nothing.) . . . Epiphanius (xxvii, 7) even calls Paul the bishop (επισχοπος) of Christians in Rome."
450

then "she" did not save Babylon from becoming a complete desolation, to fulfill prophecy.

SPIRITUAL, ZION REMAINS

Before ancient Babylon became an uninhabited ruin to remain such to this day, Jerusalem underwent its second destruction. The "coming wrath" and the baptism with the fire of destruction that burnt up the Jewish "chaff" came upon the once holy city. (Matthew 3:7-12) After the Jews revolted against Roman domination and the Roman troops attacked Jerusalem and then temporarily withdrew in the year 66, the Christians in Jerusalem fled mainly across the Jordan River to the mountainous region of Gilead, Pella being one noted place where they located. They did this in obedience to Jesus' prophecy: "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her, . .. For there will be great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled." — Luke 21:20-24.

Under General Titus the Roman legions returned and, in the year 70, they leveled Jerusalem to the ground. Jerusalem underwent a terrible trampling by the Roman nation then. This did not mean, however, that the seven times of the Gentiles, "the appointed times of the nations," began in that year. They had already begun in the year 607 B.C., when the Babylonians trampled Jerusalem in her first destruction. These Gentile Times were to continue for 2,520 years, or until the early autumn of the year 1914 (A.D.). So in the year 70 the trampling of Jerusalem by the Gentile nations was not ended, nor was it just beginning. Jesus' words indicated that it had to continue being

451

trampled by Gentile nations until the end of the "appointed times," which means, until in 1914.


A.D. 130 the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the Pontifex Maximus, visited the ruins of Jerusalem and he ordered the city to be rebuilt. Fearing the establishment of pagan worship there, the Jews revolted under Bar-Cochba. By 134 the revolt was crushed with great losses to both the Romans and the Jews. Afterward Jews were slaughtered en masse. The Roman colony on the site of Jerusalem was called Aelia Capitolina. A sanctuary to the pagan god Jupiter was built on the Temple site, and statues of Jupiter and Emperor Hadrian were set up in the Temple area. Jews were forbidden to enter the city on pain of death. This continued down till 312 (A.D.). When Constantine became emperor and Pontifex Maximus and then professed to become a Christian, the city took on a new aspect. It was cherished as a site of sacred Christian history, and Constantine the Great built in it the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

This did not mean that the Jerusalem of Constantine's day became the Zion of true followers of Jesus

452

Christ. Their Zion is no earthly city. Earthly Zion, which had rejected Jesus Christ at his triumphal entry A.D. 33, was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70. But the true Zion of the still-living apostle John and his fellow disciples continued standing, for it is spiritual, heavenly. To the apostle John and other Hebrew Christians the words of Hebrews 12:22. 23 applied: "You have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all."

It is in this heavenly Zion that Jesus Christ, the "high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek," was to be enthroned as King at the close of the Gentile Times in the year 1914. (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:10; 6:20)* Then Jerusalem would no longer be trodden


* In Hebrews 5: 10; 6: 20 occurs the Greek word arkhiereús (αρχιερευς) meaning "high" priest." In the Latin Vulgate the translator Jerome rendered this Greek word by "pontifex." In Hebrews 5:6 occurs the Greek word hiereús (ιερευς), meaning "priest"; but there Jerome renders this word as "sacerdos." Properly, he should have translated the Greek word arkhiereús as "princeps sacerdotum" as in Matthew 2: 4; 16: 21; 20:18; 21: 15, 23, 45; Acts 4:6; 26: 10, 12. Also, in Psalm 110: 4 (Vulgate, 109:4) Jerome uses the word "sacerdos" for "priest" the same as in Genesis 14: 18 regarding Melchizedek. In Leviticus 21:10, for "high priest" he uses "sacerdos maximus," but he inserts "Pontifex" into the text, saying "Pontifex, id est sacerdos maximus inter fratres suos" ("The Pontifex, that is, the Greatest Priest among his brothers."). In this way Jerome wrongfully introduces the word "pontifex" into the Latin Version of the Holy Scriptures, evidently in order to justify the Roman Catholic pope who had made him his secretary, namely, Pope Damasus, who was the first pope to take over the title Pontifex Maximus after Emperor Gratian had rejected it. — See Latin New Testament, by Wordsworth and White, edition of 1911.
453

down by the Gentile nations; that is to say, what Jerusalem stood for would no longer be trampled down. How so? Well, when Jerusalem began to be trampled by the Babylonians in 607 B.C., it stood for the seat of God's typical earthly kingdom. His throne on which the kings of the royal line of David sat had been in that city and was overturned in 607, not to be reoccupied even though the literal city was rebuilt. Hence the beginning of the Gentile Times meant the overturning of the kingdom of God in the line of David.

The ending of the Gentile Times in the year 1914 would mean the re-establishment of the kingdom of God in the line of David. King David's Heir and Lord has been in heaven at God's right hand since A.D. 33. The Zion to which he comes and which accepts him is in heaven; and so the place where God's kingdom is established in 1914 is the heavenly Zion, and not the divided Moslem-Jewish city of Jerusalem over in the Middle East. For this reason God's kingdom, which was once represented in ancient earthly Jerusalem, is no longer trodden down by the Gentiles. God's kingdom is now represented in the "heavenly Jerusalem" and is no longer trampled down by Gentile nations, not since A.D. 1914, when the Gentile Times ended, for then God's Messianic kingdom was born and the "heavenly Jerusalem" became a royal organization with a ruling king.



Valid CSS! Valid XHTML 1.0!