ANALYSIS OF THE HISTORICAL PROOFS FROM THE EARLY CHRISTIANS CONCERNING SABBATH AND THE LORD’S DAY

WRITINGS OF THE CHURCH FATHERS DOCUMENTING THAT THE EARLY CHRISTIANS UNANIMOUSLY OBSERVED SUNDAY AS THE LORD’S DAY AND THEIR DAY OF WORSHIP
By Dr. Rey V. Entila, Ph.D

In the book entitled “The Almost Forgotten Day”(Finley, 1994:.55-56), SDA television evangelist Mark Finley, stated, “A careful study of the existent historical sources from the First to the Fifth centuries reveals the amazing fact that the transference of the sacredness of the true Bible Sabbath to Sunday was a long and gradual process” . He quoted Dr. Kenneth Strand, Professor of Church History at Andrews University, Michigan who wrote:
Until the Second century there is no concrete evidence of a  weekly Sunday celebration anywhere. The first specific reference during that century come from Alexandria and Rome, places that also rejected the observance of seventh-day Sabbath.”(The Sabbath in Scripture and History, p. 330, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1982).
     There is no evidence of Christian weekly Sunday worship before the second century, but the evidence indicates that by the middle of that century some Christians were voluntarily observing Sunday as a day of worship, not a day of rest. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p. 259).
     This researcher has to answer to Finley that to say “There is no evidence of Christian weekly Sunday worship before the second century” is to ignore ALL the New Testament passages that clearly show the Apostles and first century Christians worshipped Christ on Sunday. The first public worship of the Apostles to Christ happened on Sunday (Mt.28:1-9); Jesus appeared and strengthened the Apostles gathered on Sunday (Jn.20:19-23); Jesus appeared once to the assembled Apostles and was worshipped as Lord and God by Thomas (Jn.20:24-29); the Apostles and Christian disciples gathered in prayer and worship when the Holy Spirit came down to them on Pentecost which was Sunday (Acts 2:1-12); the first Christian kerygma or proclamation of the Gospel after Christ’s resurrection happened on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:14-36); and the first baptism of 3000 Christian converts happened on that Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:37-41); the holy assembly of the Apostles and first Christians  were done on Sundays (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor.16:1-2);Finally, St. John was in the Spirit during the Lord’s Day or Sunday (Rev.1:10).
     Mark Finley then quoted as other proofs the following church historians of the early church.
First Century Christians. “Then the spiritual seed of Abraham fled to Pella, on the other side of Jordan, where they found a safe place of refuge, and could serve their Master and keep his Sabbath.” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical history, b.3, chapter 5).
     The quotation above, however, is highly questionable when it added the words “and could serve their Master and keep his Sabbath”. The actual words of church historian Eusebius in Book 3, Chapter 5 verses 6-8 are:
The death of the rest of the Apostles was plotted in numerous ways and they were driven from the land of Judea, and they went their way to teach the Gospel among all nations, supported by the power of Christ, who said to them: “Going teach ye all nations in my name.But the people of the Church at Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given out by revelation before the war to esteemed men there to depart from the city and to inhabit a city of Peraea which they called Pella. Those who believed in Christ migrated to this city from Jerusalem, that, when holy men had entirely abandoned the royal capital of the Jews and the entire land of Judaea, the judgment of God might soon overtake them for their many crimes against Christ and His Apostles and utterly destroy that generation of the wicked from among men. (The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 19: Eusebius on Ecclesiastical History Bk.3, Ch.5:6-8).
     This researcher also searched from the internet on-line writings (38 volumes) of the Church Fathers found in www.newadvent.org/fathers and in Christian classics Ethereal library www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf. It is surprising to see that all three sources are similar, but the additional words by Finely are nowhere to be found. Did Pastor mark Finley consult the voluminous books or did he copy only from a wrong quotation from an old, recycled SDA publication? Good scholarship and intellectual honesty requires any religious writer to truly check the sources. Else, well-intentioned readers will be swayed by a dishonest work.
     Furthermore, to use Eusebius to advance the Sabbatarian cause is futile since Eusebius himself testified that Sunday was the day of worship for the Christian assembly. Here are the  quotations below. Bold words are emphasized as anti-Sabbatarian points of these Church Fathers.
Eusebius of Caesarea – “They [the early saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things” (Church History 1:4:8 [A.D. 312]).

“[T]he day of his [Christ’s] light . . . was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord’s day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic law for feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, which the apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality” (Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186 [A.D. 319]).

     The early Church Fathers can be quoted out of context and interpreted erroneously by anybody who would like to support his or her own theological view. To avoid misquotation and misinterpretation, this researcher himself consulted the voluminous books of the early Church Fathers from the university library. The same material can be read on-line in www.newadvent.org and in www.ccel.org on the writings of these Church Fathers. This is just and fair for any Christian who would like to investigate objectively the history of early Christians through the ancient documents. Therefore this researcher endeavored to show the larger contexts of those quotations used by SDA’s particularly by Mark Finley.
     Below is Finley’s short quotation which he interpreted in favor of Sabbatarianism.
For almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries (Lord’s Supper) on the Sabbath of every week. Yet the Christians at Alexandria and Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria and inhabitants of Thebais hold their religious assemblies on the Sabbath. (Italics supplied.) (Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 5.22(NPNF)/22:132).

     But here is the larger quotation of the writing of Church historian Socrates Bk 5 ch 22 as found in the book and in the internet.

CHAPTER 22. THE AUTHOR’S VIEWS RESPECTING THE CELEBRATION OF EASTER, BAPTISM, FASTING, MARRIAGE, THE EUCHARIST, AND OTHER ECCLESIASTICAL RITES.

As we have touched the subject I deem it not unreasonable to say a few words concerning Easter. It appears to me that neither theancients nor moderns who have affected to follow the Jews, have had any rational foundation for contending so obstinately about it. For they have not taken into consideration the fact that when Judaism was changed into Christianity, the obligation to observe the Mosaic law and the ceremonial types ceased. And the proof of the matter is plain; for no law of Christ permitsChristians to imitate the Jews. On the contrary the apostle expressly forbids it; not only rejecting circumcision, but also deprecating contention about festival days. In his epistle to the Galatians Galatians 4:21 he writes, ‘Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law.’ And continuing his train of argument, he demonstrates that the Jews were in bondage as servants, but that those who have come to Christ are ‘called into the liberty of sons.’ Galatians 5:13 Moreover he exhorts them in no way to regard ‘days, and months, and years.’ Galatians 4:10Again in his epistle to the Colossians Colossians 2:16-17 he distinctly declares, that such observances are merely shadows: wherefore he says, ‘Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of any holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath-days; which are a shadow of things to come.’ The same truths are also confirmed by him in the epistle to the HebrewsHebrews 7:12 in these words: ‘For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.’ Neither theapostles, therefore, nor the Gospels, have anywhere imposed the ‘yoke of servitude’ Galatians 5:1 on those who have embraced thetruthbut have left Easter and every other feast to be honoredby the gratitude of the recipients of grace….
Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts. Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies. For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet theChristians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and the inhabitants of Thebaïs, hold their religious assemblies on the sabbath, but do not participate of the mysteries in the manner usual amongChristians in general: for after having eaten and satisfied themselves with food of all kinds, in the evening making their offerings they partake of the mysteries. At Alexandria again, on the Wednesday in Passion week and on Good Friday, the scriptures are read, and the doctors expound them; and all the usual services are performed in their assemblies, except the celebration of the mysteries.
     The Sabbatarians quoted the passage above out of context to imply that early Christians churches were Saturday-keepers. Yet, as this researcher has included the preceding parts of the quotation used, it is clear through the bold and italicized words that Christians were prohibited to follow the Jews in observing Jewish festivals and Sabbaths. This includes the yearly, monthly and weekly Sabbath observances. Therefore, it is clear that early Christians were not Sabbatarians.
     The paragraph quoted by Sabbatarians cannot support the Sabbatarian cause. While almost (not all) other Churches outside of Rome and Alexandria  celebrated the sacred mysteries (or the Eucharist as ancient historians write), that refers only to their assembly, but it does not prove that they observed the Sabbath the way Jews and Sabbatarians observed the whole Sabbath duration. In fact, as was seen above, Christians were forbidden to follow the Jewish laws and observances since Judaism was replaced by Christianity.
     The Sabbatarians are not correct in pitting  other Churches in Europe or Asia against Rome and Alexandria (Egypt) as equals. While Christian churches spread throughout the world, the three  ancient centers of Christianity in ancient times were Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, while Constantinople became another center during the 4th century reign of Emperor Constantine. Jerusalem was not any more its center since the Jews (Christians and non-Christians) were killed by the thousands in 70 AD and the temple ruined to the ground. Christians themselves spread throughout the world. Biblically speaking, Christ prophesied against Jerusalem, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from youand given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (Mt.21:43).  Jerusalem was even named by the Apostle John as Sodom and Egypt  “Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names ‘Sodom, and ‘Egypt,’ where indeed their Lord was crucified (Rev.11:8, NAB).
     Concerning the Roman Church, St. Paul himself who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, recognized the leading role of Roman Christians who were martyred for their faith by the thousands by the pagan Romans “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (Rom.1:7-8, RSV). It is the very Church which ALL the Churches of Christ salute to   “All the churches of Christ salute you.” (Rom.16:16, Am. Standard Bible). The historian Socrates writes that Rome and Alexandria have ceased to observe Eucharistic gathering on Sabbath because of some ancient tradition, tradition which, according to this researcher’s previous chapter on the analysis of Sabbath in the New Testament letters, the Apostles observed Sunday instead of Sabbath day.
     The paragraph quoted by Sabbatarians do not help their cause because it says that Roman and Alexandrian Christians, leading Churches in early Christianityceased to observe Sabbath gathering. Furthermore, Rome is clearly the leading church  followed by all Christians throughout the world. Church historian August Franzen wrote of the primacy of Rome over all Christian churches, “From the beginning, the Roman community assumed eminent position in the church as a whole. In the West it was always the recognized leader, if for no other reason than that it was he oldest, the largest, and the only western apostolic community” (Franzen, 1968: 100).  The famous Protestant historian J.N.D. Kelly writes concerning the Primacy of the Roman See:
     Everywhere, in the East no less than the West, Rome enjoyed a special prestige, as it is indicated by the precedence accorded without question to it. The only possible rival was the new, rapidly expanding see of Constantinople, but the highest claim that the second Ecumenical Council (381) could put on for it (even that claim was ignored by Alexandria, and was to be rejected by the papal legates at Chalcedon and declared null by Pope Leo I) was to the effect that the bishop of Constantinople shall hold the first rank after ‘the bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is the new Rome’. Thus Rome’s preeminence remained undisputed in the Patristic period. (Kelly, 1978: 406).

     HERE IS ANOTHER QUOTATION USED BY MARK FINLEY WHICH HE SUPPOSED TO FAVOR OF SABBATARIAN BELIEF:

     “The people of Constantinople and almost everywhere assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or Alexandria.” (Italics supplied.) (Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 7.19 (NPNF)2/2:390).
     But here is the fuller context of the writing of Church Historian Sozomen Bk VII ch 19:

CHAPTER 19. A LIST WORTHY OF STUDY, GIVEN BY THE HISTORIAN, OF CUSTOMS AMONG DIFFERENT NATIONS AND CHURCHES.

At Alexandria the bishop of the city alone teaches the people, and it is said that this custom has prevailed there ever since the days ofArius, who, though but a presbyter, broached a new doctrine. Another strange custom also prevails at Alexandria which I have never witnessed nor heard of elsewhere, and this is, that the archdeacon alone reads the Gospel in this city, whereas in some places it is read by the deacons, and in many churches only by thepriests; while on noted days it is read by the bishops, as, for instance, at Constantinople, on the first day of the festival of the resurrection. In some churches the interval called Quadragesima, which occurs before this festival, and is devoted by the people tofasting, is made to consist of six weeks; and this is the case in Illyria and the Western regions, in Libya, throughout Egypt, and in Palestine; whereas it is made to comprise seven weeks at Constantinople, and in the neighboring provinces as far asPhœnicia. In some churches the people fast three alternate weeks, during the space of six or seven weeks, whereas in others they fast continuously during the three weeks immediately preceding the festival. Some people, as the Montanists, only fast two weeks. Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed atRome or at Alexandria. There are several cities and villages inEgypt where, contrary to the usage established elsewhere, the people meet together on Sabbath evenings, and, although they have dined previously, partake of the mysteries.
     Concerning church historian Sozomen whom Sabbatarian quote to buttress Sabbath agenda, former SDA defender, writer and champion, Pastor DM Canright,  renounced Seventh Day Adventism. He wrote: “5th century. Passing back to about A.D. 450, we come to the history of the church written by Sozomen. In book 2, Chapter VIII, page 22, of Constantine, he says: “He honored the Lord’s Day, because on it he arose from the dead.” This shows what was meant by Lord’s Day in those early times” (Adventism Renounced, 1914, ch.10, p.125).
     If Sabbatarians truly read and quote contextually Book 7 chapter 19 of Sozomen and believe in him as a faithful church historian, one shall discover that the early Christian church is hierarchical in its structure, the bishops, priests and deacons as leaders, not different from the present Catholic Church structure, but not same with SDA church structure. Secondly, the same chapter proves contrary to Sabbatarian belief that Resurrection day was not commanded to be observed by Christians. The fact is Christians recognized the supreme importance of theresurrection of Christ and observed it as a festival. This further proves that Sunday observance  in honor of the Resurrection of Christ is a correct Christian practice as is proven by the post-resurrection Church, onwards to the Apostolic Fathers in the 2nd century, to the apologists and subsequent centuries of Christian history.
     If one reads carefully the quotation from Sozomen, the Christians had holy assembly in both Sabbath (Saturday) and Lord’s Day (Sunday). This is fatal to the Sabbatarian cause because they do not assemble on Sunday, but only on Saturday.
     Since the quotation above bears similarity with the quotation from church historian Socrates, so the same argument above can be used with the quotation from Sozomen that Rome and Alexandria were leading Churches in early Christianity and that practice was correct.
     Lastly, gathering on Sabbath for Eucharistic assembly or the breaking of the Bread (popularly known as the Holy Mass for Catholics), is done everyday (Acts 2:42,46) by the Apostles and the early Christians. Surprisingly, among more than 33,000 Christian sects, denominations and cults today, it is the Catholic Church that stands out to be faithful to this ancient Biblical practice. Therefore, gathering on Saturday for Mass in no way opposes the fact that for early Christians as well as for Catholics today, that Sunday is the greatest DAY of the week for worshipping the Father, son and the Holy Spirit. Yet, to say, as the Sabbatarians do, that Sabbath is THE Day for Christians to gather and worship is contrary to all known and established facts found in the Bible and the history of Christianity.
     Sabbatarians only pick and choose some ancient quotations from the early Church Fathers, whose works are truly unavailable to millions of Church goers. But thanks to Christian theological libraries and the internet especially, the truths contained in their writings are now available to everyone on-line. Anybody who uses ancient documents can truly investigate concerning the truthfulness or falsity of his or her claims and interpretations. This researcher believes that the Lord uses human technological advancement to light the truth shine in the world. Below are the authentic testimonies of the early Church Fathers who unanimously, without exception, proclaim that the Lord’s Day as the day of worship for all Christians. Sabbatarians who proclaim other wise go against the clear, infallible truth.
     On page 152 of SDA official book, Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, it is written:
     The seventh-day Sabbath continued to be kept by Christ’s followers for several centuries. But along with the Sabbath there was a growing observance of what was known as the festival of the resurrection, celebrated on the first day. This was observed at least from the middle of the second century (See Socrates, Ecclesiastical History Vol.V.22).And the first recorded observance was at Rome (Justin Martyr, First Apology, ch.67).
     The quotation above should not be accepted immediately by any person reading the Adventist material without examining the veracity of its claim. First of all, the authentic Christian documents of the early Church flatly deny such contention.  Documents such as the Didache (80-100 A.D), Letter of Barnabas (circa 70-79 A.D), and Ignatius of Antioch (110 A.D), tell us that true Christians who were the disciples of the Apostles themselves observed the Lord’s Day, instead of the Sabbath Day. Secondly, it is not true that the first recordedobservance is that of St. Justin Martyr in Rome. The quotations below prove the official declaration of Seventh-Day Adventist Church is wrong and misleading. True Christians observed Sunday as the Lord’s Day from the first century onwards. It was later in the Council of Laodicea in 360 A.D  that heretical Christians who were Sabbathizing and did not follow the true Christian practice were condemned by the Christian Church herself.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
The Didache – “But every Lord’s day . . . gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned” (Didache 14 [A.D. 80-100]). (Belmonte, 1996).

The Letter of Barnabas – “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (Letter of Barnabas15:6–8 [A.D. 74]).
Ignatius of Antioch – “[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death” (Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110]).
Justin Martyr – “[W]e too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . . [H]ow is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us—I speak of fleshly circumcision and Sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you to keep the Sabbath, and imposed on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers . . .” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21 [A.D. 155]).

“But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead” (First Apology 67 [A.D. 155]).

Tertullian – “[L]et him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ For if circumcision purges a man, since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? . . . Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, was by him [God] commended [Gen. 4:1–7, Heb. 11:4]. . . . Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and unobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge. For Enoch too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, he translated from this world, who did not first taste death in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God” (An Answer to the Jews 2 [A.D. 203]).
The Didascalia – “The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the holy scriptures, and the oblation [sacrifice of the Mass], because on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven” (Didascalia 2 [A.D. 225]).
Origen – “Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection” (Commentary on John 2:28 [A.D. 229]).

Cyril of Jerusalem – “Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean” (Catechetical Lectures 4:37 [A.D. 350]).

Note: Sabbatarians assert that Churches in the East, most especially Jerusalem was ever observant of the Sabbath Day as Christians. This flatly contradicts the clear authentic testimony of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
The Apostolic Constitutions – “And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection,which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent him to us, and condescended to let him suffer, and raised him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day . . . in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food” (Apostolic Constitutions 2:7:60 [A.D. 400]).

Augustine – “Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these ten commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian. . . . Which of these commandments would anyone say that the Christian ought not to keep? It is possible to contend that it is not the law which was written on those two tables that the apostle [Paul] describes as ‘the letter that kills’ [2 Cor. 3:6], but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished” (The Spirit and the Letter 24 [A.D. 412]).

Council of Laodicea – “Christians should not Judaize and should not be idle on the Sabbath, but should work on that day; they should, however, particularly reverence the Lord’s day and, if possible, not work on it, because they were Christians” (Canon 29 [A.D. 360]).
    Mark Finley on page 61 of his book (The Almost Forgotten Day) comments:
Council of Laodicea – A.D. 365 “Canon 16 – On Saturday the Gospels and other portions of the Scripture shall be read aloud.” “Canon 29 – Chistians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day.” (Hefele’s Councils, Vol.2, b.6).
     He further comments, “The Council of Laodicea was an eastern gathering which represented Greek Orthodox churches. An eastern church was revising the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on the Sabbath at about the time this Council was held. The Council of Laodicea attests to the re-establishment of Sabbath observance of the east. This was one factor which led to the split in eastern and western branches of Christianity”.
     Finley’s comments which are italicized here for emphasis flatly flies on the face of what was written in Canon 29 of what the Catholic bishops have condemned in their local Council of Laodicea (360 AD). One should read it again if one misses its crystal clear command. It commands Christians not toJudaize, meaning, not to follow the Jewish Sabbatarian laws and other Old Testament practices which have been abolished in the new Testament (see Col.2:16). Christians instead should observe the Lord’s Day. This again refutes the Sabbatarian belief that the Lord’s Day is the Sabbath day, because clearly, this Council differentiates Sabbath day or Saturday from the Lord’s day which is Sunday. If one asks what is the power of the Church council of Bishops, the answer is, the bishops have the power of binding and loosing (Matt.18:18), the power to forbid and to permit in the name of Christ. Since heresies arise from time to time as self-proclaimed prophets and teachers, not legitimately ordained by the Church, so this is the same Church that was established by Christ has the power to condemn false teachings and uphold the Christian truth. Sabbatarians should learn from this important Council of Laodicea.

Finley further wrote,
For 200 years (110-300 A.D.) Sunday observance existed side by side with the true Sabbath observance. But the trend set by Constantine eventually led to the change of Sabbath to Sunday” (Finley, 1994, p.57).
     Finley finely ruins his own Sabbatarian argument that Sabbath was the day that early Christians observe, not Sunday. If he means that Sunday was also observed by Christians this also ruins his argument that Sunday is pagan practice. Furthermore, to say that it was Constantine who eventually set the trend for Sunday observance, this runs counter also to what he has written that Sunday observance existed side by side with  Sabbath observance, which means that it was already a trend before Constantine arrived in the 4th century.
     SDA’s most authoritative book today “Seventh-Day Adventists Believe” advanced the following quotations to show that it was the Catholic church which changed the Sabbath law to Sunday obligation.
     Catholic Cardinal Gibbons once wrote, “You may read the bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday”. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p.258, quoting James Gibbons The Faith of Our Fathers, 47th rev.enl.ed., Baltimore, 1895).
     To answer the above-mentioned quotation, Cardinal Gibbons was right because the context was that he was discussing the relationship between the Church and the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible say that it is the ONLY authority in teaching the truths about our Christian faith. In fact the Church ALSO is given that infallible authority of which every Christian should follow (Lk10:16; Mt.16:19; Mt.18:17-18; Mt.28:19-20; Mk.16:15-16; 1 Tim.3:15). The truth is, the Bible does not have the Table of Contents for the number of inspired books in the New Testament. But Christians throughout the world, including non-Catholics and Seventh-day Adventists, followed the authority of the Catholic Church in proclaiming in the Councils of Rome (382 A.D), Council of Hippo (393) and Council of Carthage (397) ( Beginning Apologetics 1, 2004, p.11) that there are 27 books in the New Testament. The same Catholic Church which is the “pillar and the ground of truth” (1 Tim.3:15) and was given full authority to “teach everything” what Christ taught (Mt.28:19-20) proclaimed that the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is to be observed instead of Saturday Sabbath.
     This argument collapses all the myriads of oft-repeated quotations coming from Catholic publications which the SDA’s hopelessly try to buttress in order to uphold Sabbatarianism. These same answer above destroys ALL  his quotations and arguments made by Seventh-Day Adventist Steve Wohlberg in his website www.whitehorse.org.
     Finley inscribed,
“Yet faithful men and women of God resisted the trend. Existing historical documents reveal a deep interest in Sabbath worship. God had His faithful and obedient followers who championed His truth. Although the candle of Sabbath truth flickered, loyal stalwarts of truth obediently guarded the flame”. Then he quoted from the following sources:
Pope Gregory I, A.D. 590 to 604. “Gregory, bishop by the grace of God to his well-beloved sons, the Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disseminated among you things depraved and opposed to the holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath. What shall I call them except preachers of anti-Christ?” (Epistles, b.13:1).
     Thanks to Mark Finley for quoting Pope Gregory the Great. That further proves that sabbatarianism was a heresy condemned long time ago by holy and exemplary leaders of Christ’s Church, but men and women who do not study past errors and learn from them are prone to commit the same condemned errors. What is at stake is the eternal destiny of man who obstinately teaches and repeats long-past false doctrines .
THE TESTIMONY OF A FORMER SABBATARIAN
           A former Seventh-Day Adventist Pastor Canright, who became a Baptist pastor, wrote in his  classic book “Seventh-day Adventism Renounced” (1914):
     “Almost universally Christians regard Sunday as a sacred day. Do they offer for this any adequate reasons? Yes, indeed, and those which have been satisfactory to all the best and ablest Christians the church has ever had. After keeping the seventh day and extensively advocating it for over a quarter of a century, I became satisfied that it was an error, and that the blessing of God did not go with the keeping of it. Like thousands of others, when I embraced the Seventh-day Sabbath I thought the argument was all on one side, so plain that one hour’s reading ought to settle it, so clear that no man could reject the Sabbath and be honest. The only marvel to me was that everybody did not see and embrace it.”
     Some religious organizations (Seventh-Day Adventists, Seventh-Day Baptists, and certain others) claim that Christians must not worship on Sunday but on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. They claim that, at some unnamed time after the apostolic age, the Church “changed” the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.

However, passages of Scripture such as Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Colossians 2:16-17, and Revelation 1:10 indicate that, even during New Testament times, the Sabbath is no longer binding and that Christians are to worship on the Lord’s day, Sunday, instead.

The early Church Fathers compared the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of the rite of circumcision, and from that they demonstrated that if the apostles abolished circumcision (Gal. 5:1-6), so also the observance of the Sabbath must have been abolished. The following are few quotations taken from the early Church documents and the writings of the Church Fathers up to St. Augustine in the 5th century A.D. They undoubtedly the show that the first Christians understood this principle and gathered for worship on Sunday.

IV.  HISTORICAL BASES FOR THE OBSERVANCE OF THE LORD’S DAY INSTEAD OF THE SABBATH DAY BY CHRISTIANS FROM THE  EARLY CHURCH FATHERS UP TO THE PRESENT TIME
 THE TESTIMONY OF CHURCH HISTORY FROM THE RECENT PAST
TO THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
     This researcher  met one elderly SDA Pastor during their 2005 Negros Annual Convention held at Negros Mission Academy at Taculing, Bacolod City. He was friendly and the conversation pro9ceeded to the truth about Sabbath-keeping of the Adventists and why they differ from all other Protestant Sunday-keepers. The conversation led to historical discussions on whether or not Christians before the coming of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church were Sabbath-keepers or Sunday-keepers. He said that even the Protestant Reformers, anti-Catholic as they were, were not really freed from the fetters of Roman Catholicism which invented Sunday-keeping. This researcher asked him how sure was he that millions and even billions of Christians are wrong throughout history and all of a sudden only a handful Sabbath-keeping Adventists were right? Did the Holy Spirit totally abandon the people of God and therefore, the Church of Christ was defeated by Satan? Is it not arrogant to claim that they alone are right and all Christians throughout the history of the world were wrong? The interesting discussion began.
     In line with the unfailing guidance of the Holy Spirit to the Church of Christ which was meant to be universal ( Gk. “katholikos” = Engl. “catholic”), this researcher would point to one outstanding example in SDA history. Pastor DM Canright, who, after 28 years of championing the Seventh-Day Adventist cause, renounced Sabbatarianism. Below are excerpts from his scholarly book “Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced”, which as of this writing and as far as this researcher knows, no SDA book has ever demolished, or tried to demolish, and will never demolish.
     But after keeping it (Sabbath) twenty-eight years; after having persuaded more than a thousand others to keep it; after having read my Bible through, verse by verse, more than twenty times; after having scrutinized, to the very best of my ability, every text, line and word in the Bible having the remotest bearing upon the Sabbath question; after having looked up all these, both in the original and in many translations; after having searched in lexicons, concordances, commentaries and dictionaries; after having read armfuls of books on both sides of the question; after having read every line in all the early church fathers upon this point; and having written several works in favor of the Seventh-day, which were satisfactory to my brethren; after having debated the question for more than a dozen times; after seeing the fruits of keeping it, and weighing all the evidence in the fear of God, I am fully settled in my own mind and conscience that the evidence is against the keeping of the Seventh-day.
     Those who observe Sunday say that they do it in honor of the resurrection of Christ upon that day, and that this practice was derived from the apostles and has been continued in the church ever since. Let us see. “The Lord’s Day” is a term now commonly applied to the first day of the week in honor of the Lord’s resurrection on that day. Thus: “We believe the Scriptures teach that the first day of the week is the Lord’s day.” Baptist Church Directory, page 171. Excepting a few Sabbatarians of late date, all Christendom, numbering four hundred and sixteen million people, of all sects and all nations, regard Sunday as a sacred day and agree in applying the term “Lord’s Day” to Sunday. So every dictionary, lexicon and cyclopedia applies that term to the first day. Here is a grand, undeniable fact of today. When did this stream begin? Let us trace it up to its head through all the centuries.
18th century, A.D. 1760. Rev A.H. Lewis, D.D., Seventh-day Baptist, is the author of “Critical History of Sunday Legislation.” From page 181 I quote: “The profanation of the Lord’s Day is highly offensive to Almighty God.” Laws of Massachusetts, A.D. 1760.
17th century, A.D. 1676. The Laws of Charles II of England say: “For the better observation and keeping holy the Lord’s Day, commonly called Sunday, be it enacted,” etc. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 108.
16th century, A.D. 1536. Going back over 300 years ago to the reformers, we find all Christians calling Sunday the “Lord’s Day.” Calvin, voicing the universal sentiment of his time, says: “The ancients have, not without sufficient reason, substituted what we call the Lord’s Day in the room of the Sabbath.” Calvin’s Institute, Book 2, chapter VIII, section 34. Luther, Zwingle, Beza, Bucer, Cranmer, Tyndale, etc., likewise speak of the Lord’s Day as the first day of the week. Here is another great fact as to the Lord’s Day. It was in existence and universally observed 300 years ago.
15th century, A.D. 1409. “He that playeth at unlawful games on Sundays…shall be six days imprisoned.” Statute of Henry IV of England. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 90.
14th century, A.D. 1359. “It is provided by sanctions of law and canon that all Lord’s Days be venerably observed.” Archbishop of Canterbury. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 82.
13th century, A.D. 1281. “The obligation to observe the legal Sabbath according to the form of the Old Testament is at an end…to which in the New Testament hath succeeded the custom of spending the Lord’s Day…in the worship of God.” Archbishop of Canterbury. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 81.
12th century, A.D. 1174. “We do ordain that these days following be exempt from labor:…All Sundays in the year,” etc. Emperor of Constantinople. History of Sabbath and Sunday, page 191.
11th century, A.D. 1025. “Sunday marketing we also strictly forbid.” Laws of Denmark. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 77.
10th century, A.D. 975. “Sunday is very solemnly to be reverenced.” Saxon Laws. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 75.
9th century, A.D. 813. “All Lord’s Days shall be observed with all due veneration and all servile work shall be abstained from.” Council of Mayence.
8th century. In the year 747, an English council said: “It is ordered that the Lord’s Day be celebrated with due veneration, and wholly devoted to the worship of God.” Andrew’s History of the Sabbath, page 377.
7th century, A.D. 695. “If a slave work on Sunday by his lord’s command, let him be free.” Saxon Laws. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 71.
6th century, A.D. 578. “On the Lord’s Day it is not permitted to yoke oxen or to perform any other work except for appointed reasons.” Council of Auxerre.
5th century. Passing back to about A.D. 450, we come to the history of the church written by Sozomen. In book 2, Chapter VIII, page 22, of Constantine, he says: “He honored the Lord’s Day, because on it he arose from the dead.” This shows what was meant by Lord’s Day in those early times.
Stepping back once more to about A.D. 400, we reach the great theologian of the early church, St. Augustine. He says: “The day now known as the Lord’s Day, the eighth, namely, which is also the first day of the week.” Letters of St. Augustine, letter 55, Chapter XIII. He says the first day of the week was known as the Lord’s Day in his times.
4th century. In A.D. 386, the Emperor of Rome decreed as follows: “On the day of the sun, properly called the Lord’s Day, by our ancestors, let there be a cessation of lawsuits, business, and indictments.” Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 36. Even the civil law at that early date recognized Sunday as the Lord’s Day.
Going back again to the era of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, we reach Eusebius, the “Father of Church History,” A.D. 324. He constantly and familiarly uses the term “Lord’s Day” for the first day of the week. One passage: “They (the Jewish Christians) also observe the Sabbath, and other discipline of the Jews, just like them; but, on the other hand, they also celebrate the Lord’s Days very much like us in commemoration of his resurrection.” Eccl. History, book 3, Chapter XXVII. Here Lord’s Day is distinguished from the Jewish Sabbath, and is said to be kept on account of the resurrection.
This brings us to the era of the Early Christian Fathers. I quote them as translated in the “Ante-Nicene Christian Library.”
A.D. 306. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt: “But the Lord’s Day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it, he rose again.” Canon 15.
3rd century, A.D. 270. Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, in Asia Minor: “Our regard for the Lord’s resurrection which took place on the Lord’s Day will lead us to celebrate it.” Chapter X.
About A.D. 250. The Apostolic Constitution: “On the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s Day, meet more diligently.” Book 2, sec. 7.
A.D. 250, Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in Africa: “The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.” Epistle 58, section 4.
A.D. 200. Tertullian in Africa: “We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI. “We however, just as we have received, only on the day of the Lord’s resurrection, ought to guard not only against kneeling, but even posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business.” On Prayer, Chapter XXIII.
2nd century, A.D. 194. Clement of Alexandria, Egypt: “He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the gospel, keeps the Lord’s Day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.” Book 7, Chapter XII.
A.D. 180. Bardesanes, Edessa, Asia: “On one day the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” Book of the Laws of Countries.
A.D. 140. Justin Martyr: “But Sunday is the day which we all hold our common assembly, because Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day rose from the dead.” Apology, Chapter LXVII.
A.D. 120. Barnabas. “We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead.” Chapter XVII.
A.D. 96. St. John on Patmos: “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10.
A.D. 60. Luke, Asia Minor: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” Acts 20:7.
Thus we have traced the Lord’s Day or Sunday as a sacred day among Christians from our time back through all the centuries up to the New Testament itself.

Who can fail to see that the “Lord’s Day” and the “first day of the week” are spoken of in the same manner both by the apostles down through all the fathers and reformers to our day? To every unbiased mind the evidence must be conclusive that the Lord’s Day of Rev. 1:10, written A.D. 96, is the resurrection day the same as it is in every instance where it is used by all the Christian fathers immediately following John. Mark this fact: IN NOT ONE SINGLE INSTANCE EITHER IN THE BIBLE OR IN ALL HISTORY can a passage be found where the term the LORD’S DAY IS APPLIED TO the seventh day, the JEWISH SABBATH. This fact should be and is decisive as to the meaning in Rev. 1:10. Even Sabbatarians themselves do not call the seventh day the Lord’s Day, but always say “Sabbath day.

 

Retrieve from: http://cfdbacolod.blogspot.com/2013/10/analysis-of-historical-proofs-from_261.html

38th CFD National Convention Part 2

Bro. G-one Paisones and Dr. Rey Entila

 

 

Atty Mike Abas of Dipolog City, Bro Wendell Talibong of Ozamiz city, me and Atty Marwil Llasos of Manila — with Marwil Nacor Llasos.

 

Bro Soc w bro G-one d administrator of CFD official website.

 

With our Cfd legend bro Socrates Fernandez and bro Jub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38th CFD National Convention Part 1

 CFD National Board of Governors.
Atty. Marwil Nacor Llasos and Bro. G-one Paisones
Bro. Wendell Talibong; Fr. Abe Arganiosa and Atty. Marwil Nacor Llasos
Atty. Mike Abas and Bro Wendell
Bro. Wendell together with Bro Paul Alima ex-pastor of Jehovah’s Witness….

Welcome and Mabuhay to 38th Annual Convention of Catholic Faith Defenders National

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Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Written by: Bro. Rey V. Entila
CFD – diocese of Bacolod (written: June 2005)


Perpetual Virginity. Perpetual, from the Latin “perpetuus”, meaning continuous, and Virginity, from the Latin “virgo” which means maiden, virgin. The Blessed Virgin Mary was a perpetual virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. Her virginity is both physical and moral.

The virginity of Mary includes “mental virginity”, which is a constant virginal disposition, “sensual virginity”, which is freedom from sexual desires, and lastly, “physical virginity”, which is physical integrity. The doctrine of the Church refers primarily to her bodily integrity.

1. Virginity before the birth
Mary conceived by the Holy Ghost without the cooperation of man.

2. Virginity During the Birth of Jesus
Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity.

3. Virginity After the Birth of Jesus
Also after the birth of Jesus Mary remained ever a virgin.

I. The Teaching of the Church

Mary’s Virginity

“From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”. The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own” (CCC 496).

Mary – “ever-virgin”

“The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin” (CCC 499).

“Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, ‘brothers of Jesus’, are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls ‘the other Mary’. They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression” (CCC 500).

“Mary ‘remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin’ (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is ‘the handmaid of the Lord’” (Lk 1:38 (CCC510).

Council of Constantinople II

“If anyone will not confess that the Word of God … came down from the heavens and was made flesh of holy and glorious Mary, mother of God and ever-virgin, and was born from her, let him be anathema” (Anathemas Against the “Three Chapters” 2 [A.D. 553]).

II. Old Testament Prophecies

Seven hundred years before the birth of the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah prophesied to the distressed people of Israel, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isa.7:14) Although the Jews interpreted this verse for the birth of their ideal king in the person of King Hezekiah, and the young unmarried woman (Heb. almah), the New Testament Church applied this prophecy perfectly to Jesus Christ who is perfect king and Messiah who was miraculously born of a pure virgin without the seed of a man. The virgin shall give birth to “a son” and not “sons”.

Since the time of the early Church Fathers, the words of the Prophet Ezekiel were applied to Mary giving birth to only one child. – “And he said to me, ‘This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut”(Ezek. 44:2).

Jesus is predicted as both only child and firstborn. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born” (Zec 12:10).

III. New Testament Fulfillment

a. Synoptics

The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) explicitly tell us that the conception and birth of Jesus happened through the supernatural intervention of God in human affairs. Mary was a virgin engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together as husband and wife, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she will conceive a child, not in the human and natural way, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why, “Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” (Lk 1:34).

In the incident of the finding of Jesus in the temple, there was no mention that there were other younger brothers and sisters of Jesus by Mary and Joseph. Jesus could have been reprimanded for not going home in order to care for his brothers and sisters, being a responsible eldest son. But nowhere does the Bible mention this (Lk.2:41-51).

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him” (Mk.6:3) This is the verse most often used by the Fundamentalists to “prove” that Mary is not a perpetual virgin. First, Jesus is called “the son”, not a son or one of the sons of Mary, meaning he is the only son of Mary. Second, the word “brother” in the Jewish context refers not only to being siblings under same father and mother, but also to cousins, relatives, tribesmen and fellow Israelites; therefore, one cannot make a definite conclusion that the “brothers” here means Jesus’ brothers born of Mary. Third, if the Jews would mean without a doubt that they are his real blood brothers, then the expression should be “sons of Mary” which is not used for them. Fourth, James and Joses/Joseph have another Mary as their own mother, “among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Mt.27:56); “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid” (Mark 15:47); she is oftentimes called in the Gospels as “the other Mary”: “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre… Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre” (Matt. 27:61; 28:1).

“Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus.” Matt. 10:3. The three James related to Jesus are the following: James the Greater, whose brother is John, is the son of Zebedee and his mother is Mary Salome. James the Less, whose brothers are Joses and Jude, has Cleophas/Alpheus as his father and “other Mary”, the relative of Virgin Mary. The last James is mentioned in Acts 15 and Gal.2 and the writer of the Epistle of James. He is the relative of Jesus. All these three James were never mentioned as sons of Jesus’ mother Mary.

The Genealogy of the Brethren

Parents Siblings Biblical Texts
Zebedee and Salome or Mary Salome James the Greater and John the Beloved (Boanerges = Sons of thunder) Mt 10:2; Mk 1:19; Mk 3:17;
Mt.27:56; Mk.15:40;

Cleophas (Gk.)/Alpheus or Halpai (Heb.) and Mary (or the other Mary) the sister (cousin/relative) of Virgin Mary James, Joses and Jude Mt.10:3; Mt. 27:56,61; Mt 28:1; Jn.19:25; Lk 6;16; Acts 1:13 Holy Spirit (overshadowed Virgin Mary) and Virgin Mary the mother of Jesus Jesus Christ Isa 7:14; Zech 12:10;

“And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself” (Mark 3:21). Jesus’ extended family wanted to seize Jesus out of public dismay. If Jesus were the firstborn son in their family, they could not have acted in that disrespectful manner.

b. John

“So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (Jn.19:25-27)

“For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his brothers did not believe in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil.” (Jn.7:3-4)

IV. Protestant Reformers on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Martin Luther: “It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin. Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.” (Works of Luther, v. II, pp. 319-320; v. 6, p. 510.)

John Calvin: “Helvidius has shown himself too ignorant, in saying that Mary had several sons, because mention is made in some passages of the brothers of Christ” (Calvin, Opera).

“There have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage [Matt 1:25] that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company…. And besides this Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or not there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562.)

Huldrich Zwingli: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin” (Zwingli Opera, v. 1, p. 424.).

Mary’s perpetual virginity was defended by Zwingli by referring to Exodus 4:22.

V. Modern-day Fundamentalist Objections Against the Doctrine of Perpetual Virginity

“…Mary had other children after Jesus. For one thing, “brothers’ and “sisters” are mentioned in the context of the family with the “carpenter’s son” and “mother,” which clearly indicates they are immediate blood bothers. For another, the Greek term for “brother” (adelphos) here is the normal word for “blood brother.” In fact, there is no single example where adelphos is used for “cousin” in the New Testament. There is a word for “cousin” (anepsios), as in Colosians 4:10, where Mark is described as “the cousin (anepsios) of Barnabas.” (Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, P.303.)

The objection above can be answered that to prove that adelphos in the New Testament is also used for persons not related by blood is quite easy. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren (adelphos).” Here, St. Paul refers to Christ as the prominent one among the brothers, not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.

The paragraphs below will further clarify the Biblical words that have been the cause of much confusion in the Fundamentalists’ groups today.

a. “Brothers” of Jesus

The word “brother” in Hebrew is ‘AH. Unlike the Greeks who utilize a variety of words for cousins and relatives, the Jews who are ever mindful of their common ancestry, call their close and distant relatives (Gk. “sungenis”) as ‘AH (brother). To read therefore from the New Testament that Jesus had brothers and sisters and conclude that they were his siblings in the same mother and father, is a hasty generalization. The earliest disciples who were Jews merely translated the Hebrew ‘AH to a general Greek term for brother.

Even in the Old Testament, Abraham called Lot ‘AH although Lot was Abraham’s nephew (Gk. “anepsios”) / Gen. 13:8; 14:14,16. (see also other references for the word brother which did not really mean strictly sons coming from the same mother. Gen. 29:15; Deut. 23:7; 1 Chron. 15:5-18; Jer. 34:9; Neh. 5:7 -“brethren” means kinsmen). Hebrew and Aramaic have no word for “cousin.” (2 Sam. 1:26; 1 Kings 9:13, 20:32 – 2 Kings 10:13-14 – King Ahaziah’s 42 “brethren” were really his kinsmen).
The real question is, if Jesus had brothers and sisters from Mary and Joseph, why did the Gospels not mention as close to the persecuted and dying Jesus on the way to Calvary? Or, if they were there, why did they not assert their legal right to claim Mary for their care when Jesus gave His mother Mary to his beloved disciple? The fact is, Jesus who cared for the Virgin Mary after the death of St. Joseph, hang suspended and dying on the Cross. With no sibling to care for His widowed mother, He entrusted her to John. This is the Catholic exegesis that perfectly fits the Gospel accounts, as opposed to modern-day Fundamentalists’ weak assumptions.

b. Lk.2:7 “Firstborn” (She gave birth to her firstborn son)

The next word that stirs the minds of many “Bible Christians” today is the word “firstborn”. Immediately it is erroneously concluded that there must be second born or third born or a dozen after the firstborn. But this is not correct biblical interpretation. The word “firstborn” is applied to the first male child who opens the womb of the mother, regardless whether there are other siblings afterwards or not. “Firstborn” is a technical term since one who has that title is given the privilege to receive the material and spiritual blessings of the family. The female child, although may be first in the order of siblings is never considered the firstborn.

“Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine” (Ex.13:2).

“Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every first-born that opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine” (Nb.3:12).

”The firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the first-born of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty” (Ex 34:20).

c. Matthew 1:25 (Joseph did not know her “until”)

Another word that has confused the minds of the Fundamentalists for a century now, is the word “until” in Matthew 1:25. This is a theological novelty which even the original Protestant fathers never ventured to deny the Blessed Mary’s perpetual virginity. This is again another case of theological bias in order to discredit the Catholic Church’s belief.

The American Heritage Dictionary (1982) gives the meaning of the word “until” – prep. 1. up to the time of 2. before a specified time; conj. 1. Up to the time that 2. before 3. To the point or extent that.

To conclude that the phrase “Joseph did not know her until” means Joseph had sexual relations with Mary after she gave birth to Jesus, is to do violence to the meaning of that word. In that case, the word “until” can also mean that immediately or few days after her giving birth, Joseph had relations with her, to which one may object that it is too much violence to that word. Well, that absurdity happens when one reads the Bible and interprets it by his own little learning and not according to the proper biblical context.

The following verses show the many occurrences of “until” wherein nothing happened to the contrary after it, as oppositionists assert.

”And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt.28:20, NAB); “Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching” (1Tim.4:13).

“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1Cor.15:25); “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Lk 1:80). “And as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day”(Luke 2:37).

“The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’ (Luke 20:42-43); “and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth” (Gen. 8:7).

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you” (Gen. 28:15); “And he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day” (Deut. 34:6).

“And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death” (2 Sam. 6:23); “So they went up to Mount Zion with gladness and joy, and offered burnt offerings, because not one of them had fallen before they returned in safety” (1 Macc. 5:54).

Given the more than a dozen examples above, one can shatter one’s deeply-held bias and replace it with a scholarly viewpoint which considers the totality of the biblical data. That data shows and proves again and again for 2000 years already the Holy Spirit’s constant and infallible guidance of the Church’s faith in the perpetual virginity of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
VI. The Testimony of the Early Church Fathers

Protoevangelion of James (120 AD). “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by [St. Anne], saying, ‘Anne! Anne! The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive and shall bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.’ And Anne said, ‘As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall minister to him in the holy things all the days of its life.’ . . . And [from the time she was three] Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there” (Protoevangelium of James 4, 7).

“And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of priests, saying, ‘Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?’ And they said to the high priest, ‘You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in and pray concerning her, and whatever the Lord shall manifest to you, that also will we do.’ . . . [A]nd he prayed concerning her, and behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him saying, ‘Zechariah! Zechariah! Go out and assemble the widowers of the people and let them bring each his rod, and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. . . . And Joseph [was chosen]. . . . And the priest said to Joseph, ‘You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord.’ But Joseph refused, saying, ‘I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl’”.

“And Annas the scribe came to him [Joseph] . . . and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest and said to him, ‘Joseph, whom you did vouch for, has committed a grievous crime.’ And the priest said, ‘How so?’ And he said, ‘He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord and has married her by stealth’”.

“And the priest said, ‘Mary, why have you done this? And why have you brought your soul low and forgotten the Lord your God?’ . . . And she wept bitterly saying, ‘As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before him, and know not man’”.

Origen. “The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the firstfruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the firstfruit of virginity” (Commentary on Matthew 2:17 [A.D. 248]).

Hilary of Poitiers. “If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary’s sons and not those taken from Joseph’s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and to John, ‘Behold your mother’ [John 19:26–27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate” (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 [A.D. 354]).

Athanasius. “Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary” (Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 [A.D. 360]).

Jerome. “[Helvidius] produces Tertullian as a witness [to his view] and quotes Victorinus, bishop of Petavium. Of Tertullian, I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church. But as regards Victorinus, I assert what has already been proven from the gospel—that he [Victorinus] spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary but brethren in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship, not by nature. [By discussing such things we] are . . . following the tiny streams of opinion. Might I not array against you the whole series of ancient writers? Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and many other apostolic and eloquent men, who against [the heretics] Ebion, Theodotus of Byzantium, and Valentinus, held these same views and wrote volumes replete with wisdom. If you had ever read what they wrote, you would be a wiser man” (Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary 19 [A.D. 383]).

“We believe that God was born of a virgin, because we read it. We do not believe that Mary was married after she brought forth her Son, because we do not read it. . . . You [Helvidius] say that Mary did not remain a virgin. As for myself, I claim that Joseph himself was a virgin, through Mary, so that a virgin Son might be born of a virginal wedlock” (ibid., ).

Ambrose of Milan. “Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of material virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son” (Letters 63:111 [A.D. 388]).

Pope Siricius I. “You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if he had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord’s body, that court of the eternal king” (Letter to Bishop Anysius [A.D. 392]).

Augustine. “In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave” (Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).

“It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man?” (Sermons 186:1 [A.D. 411]).

“Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband” (Heresies 56 [A.D. 428]).

Cyril of Alexandria. “[T]he Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing” (Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God 4 [A.D. 430]).

Pope Leo I. “His [Christ’s] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained” (Sermons 22:2 [A.D. 450]).

Mary the Mother of God

Mary the Mother of God

Written by: Bro. Rey V. Entila
CFD – Diocese of Bacolod (Written: June 2005)

The Blessed Virgin Mary, by giving birth to Jesus Christ who is God the second Person of the Holy Trinity, is truly called the Mother of God.

I. The Teaching of the Church

“Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”. In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).” (CCC 495)

Council of Ephesus (431 AD)

“We confess, then, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his Godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the Virgin according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her” (Formula of Union [A.D. 431]).

“Mary is truly “Mother of God” since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself”(CCC 509).

“The Virgin Mary “cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation” (Lumen Gentium 56). She uttered her yes “in the name of all human nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living” (CCC 511).

II. Old Testament Prophecies

Right after the Fall of our First Parents, Adam and Eve, God delivered the first good news (protoevangelion) saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen.3:15). There shall be enmity between Satan (the serpent) and the woman.

Since Eve has succumbed to the temptations of the devil, she is not the woman that will have enmity (war, deep opposition) with the serpent. That would be another woman (Mary) whose seed (Greek “spermatos”) will be against Satan’s seed. This is the one and only time in the whole of the Bible that the woman will have a seed, which is naturally applied to men. This even predicts the virginal conception of Jesus by the Virgin Mary. Finally, the woman’s seed shall crush the serpent’s (Satan’s) head. It will be the Promised Messiah and His mother, the woman, is Mary.

Another prophecy made some 700 years before the birth of Jesus, says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa.7:14) The young woman (Greek, parthenos; Hebrew, almah) who will give birth to the Immanuel (literally, “God with us”), is Mary. Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God. Although this verse may have been used by the Jews to refer to King Hezekiah of Judah, the New Testament writers who were inspired by the same Holy Spirit that inspired Old Testament writers, apply this to Jesus. This is the sensus plenior (full sense). The sign there became a miraculous sign because the woman was not just any young woman who was married to conceive a child, but a virgin mother. The son was not just an ordinary son, but the Son of God, whose virgin mother is Mary the Mother of God.

The third of the Old Testament prophecies that concerns about the mother and son relation is in Isaiah 9:5-6. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” That child is born of the Virgin Mary. Since that child is called the Mighty God and Mary is His mother, Mary is therefore the Mother of God.

III. New Testament Fulfillment

a. Synoptics

“And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). St. Elizabeth who was in verse 41, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Mary the “mother of my Lord”. The Lord (Gk. “Kyrios”) in the Septuagint or Greek version of the Old Testament refers to the “Lord your God” (Deut.6:4). Both Elizabeth and Luke the writer of the Gospel, were guided by the infallible Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus as Lord or God. Therefore, Mary is the mother of God.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit… ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Mt.1:18,23). The Old Testament prophecy is now accomplished through the virgin Mary who will bear a son called Emmanuel = “God is with us”. The suffix “el” in Emmanuel in Hebrew means “God”. Its plural form, Elohim, found in Gen.1:1 signifies that God is not just one person (cf. Gen.1:26 – “let us”) but later revealed in the new Testament as a Trinity of Persons. It is the Second Person of the three Divine Persons that Mary was chosen to be the mother. Hence, she is called a divine mother, not that she is divine but that her son is Divine.

“And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. (Luke 1:35). The child born will be called holy, “the Son of God” . The definite article “the” signifies exclusiveness and uniqueness, whereas the “Son of God” proclaims that he has same nature (Gk. Homoousious) with God, but not the same person. Jesus is Son of God by eternal generation having been begotten, not made, not made by the Father from all eternity. Since Mary is declared to be the bearer of this eternal Son of God, then she is the Mother of God.

There are still several passages in the New Testament which prove the point under discussion, worthy of mentioning but need not be given further explanations. “…and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh… Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Mt.2:11,13,20).

“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood outside, asking to speak to him.” (Mt.12:46) Again, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?” (Mt.13:55) Lastly, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31).

b. John the Evangelist

John who is both an apostle and evangelist describes the mother of Jesus as the “woman”.

“On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” (Jn.2:1).

“When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2: 3-4).

“When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn. 19: 26).

c. St. Paul the Apostle

“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal.4:4) Here St. Paul uses the word “woman” found in the protoevangelion or the first good news in Gen.3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This word takes a mysterious meaning since the woman in this passage will have a son who will crush the serpent’s (satan’s) head. Since that Son is Jesus, Mary is the woman. St. John who was privileged to take care of the Blessed Mother after the death of Jesus on the Cross used this hallowed word “woman” in the beginning (ch.2) and end (ch.19) of his Gospel. “Woman” is found in the beginning (Gen.3:15) and end (Rev.12) of the whole Bible.

IV. Protestant Reformers on Mary as Mother of God

In this research on the Marian doctrines, the researcher also hopes to show from the writings of the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century the truth and facts that even these vehemently anti-Catholic writers did not consider Catholic Marian doctrines as unbiblical. This is contrary to the positions held by modern Protestants today, who in their theological chaos, even rejected what their forebears held dearly. This might be surprising to the eyes and ears of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists today, but it may just indicate that due to the lack of historical scholarship in favor of the “Bible alone” theory, they may have forgotten their doctrinal heritage of the 16th century.

First and foremost among the Protestant Reformers is their unwavering faith that Mary is the Mother of God. Below are the citations of their words and works.

a. Martin Luther

“In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such good things were given her that no one can grasp them…. Not only was Mary the mother of Him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of Him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God.” (Weimer, p. 572.)

b. John Calvin

“It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of His Son, granted her the highest honor… Elizabeth calls Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God” (Calvini Opera, p. 348, 35.)

c. Ulrich Zwingli

“It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the Son of God” (Zwingli, v. 6, 1, p. 639.).

IV. Modern day Fundamentalist Objections Against the title “Mother of God”

“As God, He (Jesus) had no beginning, and He was Mary’s Creator. As God, He cannot possibly have a mother. Mary cannot be the mother of God the Father, nor the mother of God the Holy Spirit. In the same way, she is not the mother of God the Son.” (Pezzotta, p. 137.)

However, the ex-Salesian priest-turned Baptist, Mr. Anthony Pezzotta, has committed grave heresy when he denied the Blessed Mother’s title Mother of God. First, he denied the clear Biblical teaching that the Word (Jesus) who is God became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn.1:1,14) with Mary as his mother (Jn.2:1-4). Since Jesus is God, and Mary was His chosen mother, therefore, Mary is the Mother of God. To deny that Jesus is God is to fall into the condemned Arian heresy of the fourth century. In the same way, to deny that Mary is the Mother of God is to commit the condemned heresy of Nestorius in the fifth century and leads to the heresy of Arius once again. Even Protestant Reformers proclaimed the Catholic belief concerning Mary as Mother of God. Therefore, while biblical, historical, logical and philosophical evidence points to the Catholic faith of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, nothing supports the heresy of Pezzotta.

V. The Testimony of the Early Church Fathers

The Church Fathers are the well-known Christian teachers of the early centuries of Christianity who upheld and defended the teachings of Christ which were passed down from generation to generation. Four characteristics are necessary for a person to be qualified as a Church Father: 1) Antiquity, 2) Orthodoxy, 3) Holiness, and 4) Approval of the Church. The last of the Church Fathers of the West is St. Isidore of Seville (560-636). In the East, it is St. John Damascene (675-749). These Church Fathers were the witnesses of the true Apostolic Tradition that closely guarded the pure deposit of the Christian faith. To deny their authority and orthodoxy is tantamount to the denial of the constant guidance of Christ and the Holy Spirit to His established Church which was tasked to continue the saving mission of Christ. The following are the quotations from the early Church Fathers on Mary as the Mother of God.

a. Irenaeus. “The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” (Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]).

b. Athanasius. “The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God” (The Incarnation of the Word of God 8 [A.D. 365]).

c. Jerome. “As to how a virgin became the Mother of God, he [Rufinus] has full knowledge; as to how he himself was born, he knows nothing” (Against Rufinus 2:10 [A.D. 401]).

“Do not marvel at the novelty of the thing, if a Virgin gives birth to God” (Commentaries on Isaiah 3:7:15 [A.D. 409]).

d. Cyril of Alexandria. “I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?” (Letter to the Monks of Egypt 1 [A.D. 427]).

“If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the holy Virgin is the Mother of God, inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [John 1:14]: let him be anathema” (ibid.).

e. Vincent of Lerins. “Nestorius, whose disease is of an opposite kind, while pretending that he holds two distinct substances in Christ, brings in of a sudden two persons, and with unheard-of wickedness would have two sons of God, two Christs,—one, God, the other, man; one, begotten of his Father, the other, born of his mother. For which reason he maintains that Saint Mary ought to be called, not the Mother of God, but the Mother of Christ” (The Notebooks 12[35] [A.D. 434]).

The following excerpts are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative and magisterial document that proclaims the unchanging truth about the Blessed Mother, her relationship to Jesus as well as to the Church which is His body (Col.1:18).

“Since the Virgin Mary’s role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. “The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer. . . . She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head.” “Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church” (CCC 963).

“Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:
Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold your son” (CCC 964).

“After her Son’s Ascension, Mary “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.” In her association with the apostles and several women, “we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation”(CCC 965).