Created Sun. June 12, 2005

Eusebius on
False Gifts
of the Spirit 


Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History: Book V:

Chapter 16: The Circumstances related of Montanus and his False Prophets
Chapter 17: Miltiades and his Works
Chapter 18: The Manner in which Apollonius refuted the Phrygians, and the Persons whom he mentions
Chapter 19: Serapion on the Heresy of the Phrygians

This is a most fascinating account in view of modern beliefs and practices in regards to the "gifts of the spirit" that so many subscribe to. Gifts of the spirit today can involve being in trances, rolling on the floor from where some have given them the name holy rollers. Speaking in gibberish, which they call tongues, being all whipped up in a frenzy. Well, this was not a practice or manifestation of the spirit in the earliest time on record. And when such things began to come into being, they were condemned by all the churches together as we shall see here in Eusebius' Church History: Book 5, beginning in chapter 16 and ending in 19.

Of course, I know that none who believe in the gifts of the spirit, especially the rolling on the floor and other frenzied or ecstatic behaviors will like this. It directly contradicts and condemns what they are feeling and practicing and believing. But had they given the scriptures more thought and examination, I doubt they ever would have fallen for this childish religious behavior in the first place. But having now believed and practiced as they have, imagine how humiliating some might feel, having such evidence as this late 3rd, early 4th century account exposing their error.

But Christians really need not feel so bad. It is understandable that believers would be zealous and enthusiastic about their worship of God and this is proper. In the intensity of feeling, it would not be hard to a reasonable person to understand why they might think they were overcome with the spirit. Indeed, it is a spirit, a feeling deep in the heart. But it is not a special gift of the spirit. It is emotions over taking us. As long as they do not lead us to improper behaviors, we can enjoy an emotional experience. Worship should be accompanied by heart felt emotion. It just needs to be kept in check as all out behaviors need to be.

But some will not give these emotions their proper place and will insist such feelings are special gifts from God. They are wrong, not just according to the interpretation of present day Christians like myself, but also according to these early writers like Eusebius and many of the churches who all stood in support of his writings, although it would have to be admitted that by his time, they were already considerably off the mark in beliefs, worship and practice.

But they had still never encountered or practiced these frenzied or ecstatic types of behaviors before. It was new and it was wrong in their eyes. That is why this account is here now, some 1700 years later. Let's now read what Eusebius has to say. My comments about his work will [{be placed in brackets like this from here on in and in color, too}].

Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History: Book V:

Chapter 16: The Circumstances related of Montanus and his False Prophets
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Against the so-called Phrygian heresy, the power which always contends for the truth raised up a strong and invincible weapon, Apolinarius of Hierapolis, whom we have mentioned before, and with him many other men of ability, by whom abundant material for our history has been left. A certain one of these, in the beginning of his work against them, first intimates that he had contended with them in oral controversies.

He commences his work in this manner: "Having for a very long and sufficient time, O beloved Avircius Marcellus, been urged by you to write a treatise against the heresy of those who are called after Miltiades, I have hesitated till the present time, not through lack of ability, to refute the falsehood or bear testimony for the truth, but from fear and apprehension that I might seem to some to be making additions to the doctrines or precepts of the Gospel of the New Testament, which it is impossible for one who has chosen to live according to the Gospel, either to increase or to diminish.

[{ Notice the attitude here about adding to the gospel of the New Testament, that is to say, the Bible? It is impossible for one who lives according to the Bible or add or take away from it. So for those who have added or subtracted since the death of the last Apostle, they are liars and are from the devil. It was the belief then and should be now as well. Goodbye to the book of Mormon and any other scrolls or writings that came after the Apostles were gone. }]

But being recently in Ancyra in Galatia, I found the church there greatly agitated by this novelty, not prophecy, as they call it, but rather false prophecy, as will be shown.

[{ Here we have the names, dates, places, the crime, all the details of the heresy present. It did not always exist and was rejected by the churches when it came into being. This should settle this matter along with my articles refuting such things based only on the Bible but it will not. Humans want what they want and to hell with God and His truth. Pitty, isn't it? }]

Therefore, to the best of our ability, with the Lord's help, we disputed in the church many days concerning these and other matters separately brought forward by them, so that the church rejoiced and was strengthened in the truth, and those of the opposite side were for the time confounded, and the adversaries were grieved.

[{ They even succeeded in convincing the majority, the faithful, that this new development was wrong and should be rejected. The heretics were confounded and grieved, but not repentant. }]

The presbyters in the place, our fellow-presbyter Zoticus of Otrous also being present, requested us to leave a record of what had been said against the opposers of the truth. We did not do this, but we promised to write it out as soon as the Lord permitted us, and to send it to them speedily."

[{ Here are the details of how it began, by a newcomer, no less. }]

Having said this with other things, in the beginning of his work, he proceeds to state the cause of the above-mentioned heresy as follows: "Their opposition and their recent heresy which has separated them from the Church arose on the following account. There is said to be a certain village called Ardabau in that part of Mysia, which borders upon Phrygia. There first, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning.

[{ Notice how Montanus was looking for leadership and glory. Not having anything in skill and ability that merited such recognition, he decided to make something up. What is described is much the same as is in common practice today, the babbling they call speaking in tongues today, the frenzied ecstasy we see in some churches of a Pentecostal nature, who act much like those of the African voodoo religion. And what was being done by Montanus was contrary to what had been done in the past. Isn't this enough to cease doing these things? }]

Some of those who heard his spurious utterances at that time were indignant, and they rebuked him as one that was possessed, and that was under the control of a demon, and was led by a deceitful spirit, and was distracting the multitude; and they forbade him to talk, remembering the distinction drawn by the Lord and his warning to guard watchfully against the coming of false prophets?

[{ Need I say more?!!! }]

But others imagining themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of a prophetic gift, were elated and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the distinction of the Lord, they challenged the mad and insidious and seducing spirit, and were cheated and deceived by him. In consequence of this, he could no longer be held in check, so as to keep silence.

[{ Some, seduced not by the truth but by selfish desires, desiring to have their ears tickled and their flesh pleased, wanting to be special and distinct from the rest, pretended to have these so called gifts and went along with Montanus and the devil. We always have to keep a watch on our hearts to make sure they are not deceiving us into believing what pleases the heart, rather than God. }]

Thus by artifice, or rather by such a system of wicked craft, the devil, devising destruction for the disobedient, and being unworthily honored by them, secretly excited and inflamed their understandings which had already become estranged from the true faith. And he stirred up besides two women, and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely, like the person already mentioned. And the spirit pronounced them blessed as they rejoiced and gloried in him, and puffed them up by the magnitude of his promises. But sometimes he rebuked them openly in a wise and faithful manner, that he might seem to be a reprover. But those of the Phrygians that were deceived were few in number.

[{ They were few in number then, but it is very popular and wide spread now. It as you can see, then as now, it involved talking "wildly and unreasonably and strangely." }]

"And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the entire universal Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received neither honor from it nor entrance into it. For the faithful in Asia met often in many places throughout Asia to consider this matter, and examined the novel utterances and pronounced them profane, and rejected the heresy, and thus these persons were expelled from the Church and debarred from communion."

Having related these things at the outset, and continued the refutation of their delusion through his entire work, in the second book he speaks as follows of their end: "Since, therefore, they called us slayers of the prophets because we did not receive their loquacious prophets, who, they say, are those that the Lord promised to send to the people, let them answer as in God's presence: Who is there, O friends, of these who began to talk, from Montanus and the women down, that was persecuted by the Jews, or slain by lawless men ? None. Or has any of them been seized and crucified for the Name? Truly not. Or has one of these women ever been scourged in the synagogues of the Jews, or stoned? No; never anywhere.

[{ I see 2 interesting things here. First, there was evidently a lot of persecution through out the Roman Empire by the Jews. 2nd, none of these so called prophets ever suffered any wrath or persecution for their beliefs. They claimed to be persecuted by the brothers & sisters in the faith, but never suffered anything outside. They were liars and false martyrs as well. Watch what happens next! }]

But by another kind of death Montanus and Maximilla are said to have died. For the report is that, incited by the spirit of frenzy, they both hung themselves; not at the same time, but at the time which common report gives for the death of each. And thus they died, and ended their lives like the traitor Judas. So also, as general report says, that remarkable person, the first steward, as it were, of their so-called prophecy, one Theodotus -- who, as if at sometime taken up and received into heaven, fell into trances, and entrusted himself to the deceitful spirit -- was pitched like a quoit, and died miserably? They say that these things happened in this manner. But as we did not see them, O friend, we do not pretend to know. Perhaps in such a manner, perhaps not, Montanus and Theodotus and the above-mentioned woman died."

[{ OK, they were persecuted . . . by God!!! What kind of spirit was it that kills people? Sounds like the spirit of Satan to me. }]

He says again in the same book that the holy bishops of that time attempted to refute the spirit in Maximilla, but were prevented by others who plainly co-operated with the spirit. He writes as follows: "And let not the spirit, in the same work of Asterius Urbanus, say through Maximilla, ' I am driven away from the sheep like a wolf. I am not a wolf. I am word and spirit and power.' But let him show clearly and prove the power in the spirit. And by the spirit let him compel those to confess him who were then present for the purpose of proving and reasoning with the talkative spirit, those eminent men and bishops, Zoticus, from the village Comana and Julian, from Apamea, whose mouths the followers of Themiso muzzled, refusing to per-knit the false and seductive spirit to be refuted by them."

[{ We have been introduced to several people up to this point who tried to refute the heretics, two just mentioned here alone. }]

Again in the same work, after saying other things in refutation of the false prophecies of Maximilla, he indicates the time when he wrote these accounts, and mentions her predictions in which she prophesied wars and anarchy. Their falsehood he censures in the following manner: "And has not this been shown clearly to be false? For it is to-day more than thirteen years since the woman died, and there has been neither a partial nor general war in the world; but rather, through the mercy of God, continued peace even to the Christians." These things are taken from the second book.

[{ So not only was the talkative spirit false but so was the prophecy that came through a woman. Clearly what came out of her was not from God. }]

I will add also short extracts from the third book, in which he speaks thus against their boasts that many of them had suffered, martyrdom: "When therefore they are at a loss, being refuted in all that they say, they try to take refuge in their martyrs, alleging that they have many martyrs, and that this is sure evidence of the, power of the so-called prophetic spirit that is with them. But this, as it appears, is entirely fallacious. For some of the heresies have a great many martyrs; but surely we shall not on that account agree with them or confess that they hold the truth. And first, indeed, those called Marcionites, from the heresy of Marcion, say that they have a multitude of martyrs for Christ; yet they do not confess Christ himself in truth."

[{ It is disputed that there were any real martyrs among the Phrygian heresy but even if there had been as there had been among Marcionites, these did not confess Christ, even though they might have suffered some deaths from persecution of one sort or another. So even this would not sanctify the Phrygian heretics, even if they could prove martyrs among them, which there were not. So they are liars as well. }]

A little farther on he continues: "When those called to martyrdom from the Church for the truth of the faith have met with any of the so-called martyrs of the Phrygian heresy, they have separated from them, and died without any fellowship with them, because they did not wish to give their assent to the spirit of Montanus and the women. And that this is true and took place in our own time in Apamea on the Maeander, among those who suffered martyrdom with Gaius and Alexander of Eumenia, is well known."

Chapter 17: Miltiades and his Works
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In this work he mentions a writer, Miltiades, stating that he also wrote a certain book against the above-mentioned heresy. After quoting some of their words, he adds:

"Having found these things in a certain work of theirs in opposition to the work of the brother Alcibiades, in which he shows that a prophet ought not to speak in ecstasy, I made an abridgment."

A little further on in the same work he gives a list of those who prophesied under the new covenant, among whom he enumerates a certain Ammia and Quadratus, saying "But the false prophet falls into an ecstasy, in which he is without shame or fear. Beginning with purposed ignorance, he passes on, as has been stated, involuntary madness of soul. They cannot show that one of the old or one of the new prophets was thus carried away in spirit. Neither can they boast of Agabus, or Judas, or Silas, or the daughters of Philip, or Ammia in Philadelphia, or Quadratus, or any others not belonging to them."

[{None of the early prophets of the church were even known to act as these wackos did. The daughters of Philip are well testified to among a number of writers in early Christianity as being prophetesses. They did not act as these heretics did.}]

And again after a little he says: "For if after Quadratus and Ammia in Philadelphia, as they assert, the women with Montanus received the prophetic gift, let them show who among them received it from Montanus and the women. For the apostle thought it necessary that the prophetic gift should continue in all the Church until the final coming. But they cannot show it, though this is the fourteenth year since the death of Maximilla."

[{ Interesting that it was said the prophetic gift should continue in all the Church until the final coming. This does not appear in the Bible but that does not mean the Apostles did not say it. But it could still be questioned or perhaps was misunderstood as the Apostles and Jesus often were. But the record through the centuries does not contain any proof that the prophetic gift has continued. Besides, if the church was to become corrupt and mad as the devil sowed bad seed into it, it seems doubtful that there were be any church left to have prophecy continue in. But anyone who delivers the gospel message, delivers prophecy so perhaps it meant that the gospel, being a prophetic message beyond any doubt, would always continue and it always has, even as we witness it to this very day. Besides, we know that the bible can not be added to or taken from anymore so that would seem to rule out more prophecies in my thinking. }]

He writes thus. But the Miltiades to whom he refers has left other monuments of his own zeal for the Divine Scriptures, in the discourses which he composed against the Greeks and against the Jews, answering each of them separately in two books. And in addition he addresses an apology to the earthly rulers, in behalf of the philosophy which he embraced.

Chapter 18: The Manner in which Apollonius refuted the Phrygians, and the Persons whom he mentions
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As the so-called Phrygian heresy was still flourishing in Phrygia in his time, Apollonius also, an ecclesiastical writer, undertook its refutation, and wrote a special work against it, correcting in detail the false prophecies current among them and reproving the life of the founders of the heresy. But hear his own words respecting Montanus:

"His actions and his teaching show who this new teacher is. This is he who taught the dissolution of marriage; who made laws for fasting; who named Pepuza and Tymion, small towns in Phrygia, Jerusalem, wishing to gather people to them from all directions; who appointed collectors of money; who contrived the receiving of gifts under the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his doctrine, that its teaching might prevail through gluttony."

[{ I find this passage fascinating! 1st, Montanus taught divorce, which the Bible prohibits. So he teaches against the bible, interesting all by itself. He called 2 towns Jerusalem where he would gather the flock. And he collects a whole lot of money under a number of pretenses. Sounds like a lot of TV preachers I know today. Isn't that interesting!!! And those who preached this heresy were paid to do so. So greed and not the spirit of God, promoted this doctrine. It says something about taking money in the name of God which will be given more attention shortly. }]

He writes thus concerning Montanus; and a little farther on he writes as follows concerning his prophetesses: "We show that these first prophetesses themselves, as soon as they were filled with the Spirit, abandoned their husbands. How falsely therefore they speak who call Prisca a virgin."

[{ Wow! What a slap in the face that was, huh?! By their fruits you will know them. They leave their husbands when filled with the spirit. God's spirit does not work this way. And I gather that Prisca did not remain chaste when she left her husband. Either that or her claim to being a virgin was false due to her having once been married. Interesting either way. }]

Afterwards he says: "Does not all Scripture seem to you to forbid a prophet to receive gifts and money? When therefore I see the prophetess receiving gold and silver and costly garments, how can I avoid reproving her?"

[{ Oh my, what a great comment! I wonder what TV evangelists would say about this? Those who preach out not to be collecting a salary or donations as I see it. In fact, they have no business charging more than the printing and mailing cost of any book or pamphlet they might publish about God's word. I make all my works available to anyone with an internet connection for free. But many write all sorts of stuff and charge lots of money for it. By their fruits you ought to know them, folks!!! }]

And again a little farther on he speaks thus concerning one of their confessors:

"So also Themiso, who was clothed with plausible covetousness, could not endure the sign of confession, but threw aside bonds for an abundance of possessions. Yet, though he should have been humble on this account, he dared to boast as a martyr, and in imitation of the apostle, he wrote a certain catholic epistle, to instruct those whose faith was better than his own, contending for words of empty sound, and blaspheming against the Lord and the apostles and the holy Church." And again concerning others of those honored among them as martyrs, he writes as follows:

"Not to speak of many, let the prophetess herself tell us of Alexander, who called himself a martyr, with whom she is in the habit of banqueting, and who is worshipped by many. We need not mention his robberies and other daring deeds for which he was punished, but the archives contain them. Which of these forgives the sins of the other? Does the prophet the robberies of the martyr, or the martyr the covetousness of the prophet? For although the Lord said,' Provide neither gold, nor silver, neither two coats,' these men, in complete opposition, transgress in respect to the possession of the forbidden things. For we will show that those whom they call prophets and martyrs gather their gain not only from rich men, but also from the poor, and orphans, and widows.

[{ I really related to this one. This heretic was a well known thief, to mention one of his fruits. And he collected lots of money, not just from the rich , but even from those of little means who had hardly anything to give. I know of many TV evangelists who live quite well, with ranches, mansions, etc. Some might build very fancy churches or cathedrals. And they do it with money often gathered from poor people, old people living on meager pensions, and others who live much less off than those they give to. Monks of the dark and middle ages took a vow of poverty as seem to be the custom of real Christians throughout time up to that point. But TV evangelists and heretics love to suck the poor dry. There shall surely be judgement from God against them and we should already know them by their rotten fruits. The next paragraph give more detail about these things. }]

But if they are confident, let them stand up and discuss these matters, that if convicted they may hereafter cease transgressing. For the fruits of the prophet must be tried; ' for the tree is known by its fruit.' But that those who wish may know concerning Alexander, he was tried by Aemilius Frontinus, proconsul at Ephesus; not on account of the Name, but for the robberies which he had committed, being already an apostate. Afterwards, having falsely declared for the name of the Lord, he was released, having deceived the faithful that were there. And his own parish, from which he came, did not receive him, because he was a robber. Those who wish to learn about him have the public records of Asia. And yet the prophet with whom he spent many years knows nothing about him! Exposing him, through him we expose also the pretense of the prophet. We could show the same thing of many others. But if they are confident, let them endure the test."

Again, in another part of his work he speaks as follows of the prophets of whom they boast: "If they deny that their prophets have received gifts, let them acknowledge this: that if they are convicted of receiving them, they are not' prophets. And we will bring a multitude of proofs of this. But it is necessary that all the fruits of a prophet should be examined. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet stain his eyelids? Does a prophet delight in adornment? Does a prophet play with tables and dice? Does a prophet lend on usury? Let them confess whether these things are lawful or not; but I will show that they have been done by them." This same Apollonius states in the same work that, at the time of his writing, it was the fortieth year since Montanus had begun his pretended prophecy. And he says also that Zoticus, who was mentioned by the former writer, when Maximilla was pretending to prophesy in Pepuza, resisted her and endeavored to refute the spirit that was working in her; but was prevented by those who agreed with her. He mentions also a certain Thraseas among the martyrs of that time.

[{ This passage gives us a great insight into what Christians of this time believed and practiced. They were against having your hair dyed or stain your eyelids, sort of condemning makeup I gather, as well as loving to dress up. Gambling is out and so is lending money with interest, known as usury. }]

He speaks, moreover, of a tradition that the Saviour commanded his apostles not to depart from Jerusalem for twelve years. He uses testimonies also from the Revelation of John, and he relates that a dead man had, through the Divine power, been raised by John himself in Ephesus. He also adds other things by which he fully and abundantly exposes the error of the heresy of which we have been speaking. These are the matters recorded by Apollonius.

[{ This was also interesting. Apollonius says that Jesus kept the Apostles in Jerusalem for 12 years. We do know that some time passed before the preaching was opened up to the nations, known by many as the Gentiles. He quotes Revelation and relates a miracle resurrection performed by John in Ephesus. Cool! }]

Chapter 19: Serapion on the Heresy of the Phrygians
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Serapion, who, as report says, succeeded Maximinus at that time as bishop of the church of Antioch, mentions the works of Apolinarius against the above-mentioned heresy. And he alludes to him in a private letter to Caricus and Pontius, in which he himself exposes the same heresy, and adds the following words:

"That you may see that the doings of this lying band of the new prophecy, so called, are an abomination to all the brotherhood throughout the world, I have sent you writings of the most blessed Claudius Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia." In the same letter of Serapion the signatures of several bishops are found, one of whom subscribes himself as follows: "I, Aurelius Cyrenius, a witness, pray for your health." And another in this manner: "Aelius Publius Julius, bishop of Debeltum, a colony of Thrace. As God liveth in the heavens, the blessed Sotas in Anchialus desired to cast the demon out of Priscilla, but the hypocrites did not permit him." And the autograph signatures of many other bishops who agreed with them are contained in the same letter. So much for these persons.

End of Eusebius book V

I am back to regular text without brackets or color. As you can see, the heresy present in this account clearly was not received by the mainstream churches of the day. Plenty of writers wrote against it with reasonable arguments. We also saw the prevailing beliefs of early Christians that differ somewhat from today. I do not know quite what to think about the hair dye and makeup. I know that Tertullian also condemned their use. I am not sure what the crime was or if it was simply something that was quite unapproved of their sensibilities but not really forbidden by scripture. I do not know of any scripture or principle of scripture that would clearly forbid such things. The gambling is a little more clear as to being off limits to Christians.

But money not being allowed to prophets, we have plenty of precedent for that. Elisha refused money and his servant Gehazi was punished for asking money in Elisha's name. Jesus never collected money for his miracles nor the Apostles, either. Gifts of the spirit were shared freely. We received free and we give free, says Paul, I believe. We see the fruits of this heresy were nothing but sin and lies. Their fruits were absolutely rotten. Really, the gifts of the spirit were in place to help the church/religion/gospel in its early infancy. Once it got beyond needing milk and started to eat meat, so to speak, it did not require the "milk" of the spirit but could feed on the "meat" of the word handed down in written form, having once been authorized and blessed by the authority of the Apostles. Let the word be enough for us today. The gifts are not necessary to those with faith. As Jesus once spoke to Thomas, "Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe." Amen!!!

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