WORSHIP WITH US

We welcome you to worship and learn with us at Bet Shalom Messianic Congregation.

We gather together weekly for Hebraic worship, Biblical teaching from the Hebrew perspective, Messianic Dance and caring fellowship.

We look forward to seeing you!
Rabbi Amnon & Lynette Shor

SATURDAY SHABBAT SERVICES

Messianic Lifestyle Class - 2 PM In the Oneg Hall
Shabbat Service - 4 PM
In the Sanctuary
Oneg after Shabbat Service
In the Oneg Hall

WE MEET AT

MT OLIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
101 W Clinton Avenue
Fresno CA 93705

between Palm and Fruit Avenues
Donate Now

CONTACT US

MAIL:
Bet Shalom Messianic Congregation
5132 N Palm Avenue PMB 101
Fresno, CA 93704

PHONE:
559-288-0330
EMAIL:
betshalom@betshalomfresno.org

CELEBRATION OF EASTER

A STATEMENT REGARDING THE NICENE COUNCIL AND CONSTANTINE

Presented by David Fleischer

The Nicene Council was convened in 325 CE by then Roman Emperor Constantine I. In attendance were an ecumenical group of church leaders from all of known Christendom. This council sought, by Constantine’s | “guidance,” to arrive at an agreeable set of doctrinal statements that would define and codify normative Christian belief and practice. One of the most important of these documents became known as the Nicene Creed.

Eusebius Pamphilius (263 – 339 CE), who became Bishop of Caesaria about 314 CE and was one of the major personalities in attendance at the Nicene Council, is known as the “Father of Church History.” His major works include “Preparations for the Gospel” and “Ecclesiastical History.” Most of the following pages are excerpted from Philip Schaff’s edition of “Ecclesiastical History” published by T&T Clark of Edinburgh in 1890.

One of the major reasons for including these documents here is to inform the reader of one of the most disastrous decisions made at the Council, that of separating the fledgling “church” from its foundations in Judaism and in the Scriptures themselves. Besides calling the Jews the “murderers of our Lord” (see Theodoret’s “Ecclesiastical History” following Eusebius below), Emperor Constantine made it clear that the feasts that God gave to Israel were no longer to be observed. While Polycarp (69-155 CE), a disciple of Yochanan haTalmid (John the apostle) and Bishop of Smyrna, continued to keep the Passover, the Roman church disagreed and institutionalized the remembrance of Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection to be observed on the first Sunday following the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox.  Constantine made Easter (formerly a fertility celebration to the Goddess Ishtar), originally known as Pascha, not only a Holy Day, but removed its connection to Passover completely. Christmas, a celebration of “Christ’s Mass” was instituted on the pagan Saturnalia. All Jewish connections were severed, and the “church” became gentile, the Tanakh became the “Old Testament,” and Jewish believers were converted to Christianity.

Later, (Saint) John Chrysostom (347–407 CE) a most brilliant orator, Archbishop of Constantinople and vehement anti-semite, carrying the Nicene Council’s decisions to the next level, laid the foundation for the allegorical interpretation of Scripture that would become the framework that most, if not all, of Christian theology would build on. That which we call “replacement” or “supercessionist theology” developed as a direct result of his works.

Philip Schaff, a theologian of the 19th century, compiled and edited the writings of the “Church Fathers” into a mulit-volume set that includes the entire Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene era history. These works, which were originally published by T & T Clark of Edinburgh, Scotland, were reprinted by Eerdman’s Publishing,  are now also available on software disk and can be found on the internet on various sites. The following pages are extracted from those volumes.


The following pages are from:

A SELECT LIBRARY
OF THE
NICENE AND
POST-NICENE FATHERS
OF
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
SECOND SERIES
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.
VOLUMES I–VII.
UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
AND
HENRY WACE, D.D.,
PRINCIPAL OF KING’S COLLEGE, LONDON.
VOLUME I
EUSEBIUS PAMPHILUS:
CHURCH HISTORY
LIFE OF CONSTANTINE
ORATION IN PRAISE OF CONSTANTINE.
T&T CLARK
EDINBURGH
__________________________________________________
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN


Chapter V.—Of the Disagreement respecting the Celebration of Easter.

But before this time another most virulent disorder had existed, and long afflicted the Church; an the difference respecting the salutary feast of Easter. For while one party asserted that the Jewish custom should be adhered to, the other affirmed that the exact recurrence of the period should be observed, without following the authority of those who were in error, and strangers to gospel grace.

Accordingly, the people being thus in every place divided in respect of this, and the sacred observances of religion confounded for a long period (insomuch that the diversity of judgment in regard to the time for celebrating one and the same feast caused the greatest disagreement between those who kept it, some afflicting themselves with fastings and austerities, while others devoted their time to festive relaxation), no one appeared who was capable of devising a remedy for the evil, because the controversy continued equally balanced between both parties. To God alone, the Almighty, was the healing of these differences an easy task; and Constantine appeared to be the only one on earth capable of being his minister for this good end. For as soon as he was made acquainted with the facts which I have described, and perceived that his letter to the Alexandrian Christians had failed to produce its due effect, he at once aroused the energies of his mind, and declared that he must prosecute to the utmost this war also against the secret adversary who was disturbing the peace of the Church.

Chapter XIV.—Unanimous Declaration of the Council concerning Faith, and the Celebration of Easter.

The result was that they were not only united as concerning the faith, but that the time for the celebration of the salutary feast of Easter was agreed on by all. Those points also which were sanctioned by the resolution of the whole body were committed to writing, and received the signature of each several member. Then the emperor, believing that he had thus obtained a second victory over the adversary of the Church, proceeded to solemnize a triumphal festival in honor of God.

Chapter XVIII.—He speaks of their Unanimity respecting the Feast of Easter, and against the Practice of the Jews.

“At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present, that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. For what can be more becoming or honorable to us than that this feast from which we date our hopes of immortality, should be observed unfailingly by all alike, according to one ascertained order and arrangement? And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages, by a truer order, which we have preserved from the very day of the passion until the present time. Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way. A course at once legitimate and honorable lies open to our most holy religion. Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness. For their boast is absurd indeed, that it is not in our power without instruction from them to observe these things. For how should they be capable of forming a sound judgment, who, since their parricidal guilt in slaying their Lord, have been subject to the direction, not of reason, but of ungoverned passion, and are swayed by every impulse of the mad spirit that is in them? Hence it is that on this point as well as others they have no perception of the truth, so that, being altogether ignorant of the true adjustment of this question, they sometimes celebrate Easter twice in the same year. Why then should we follow those who are confessedly in grievous error? Surely we shall never consent to keep this feast a second time in the same year. But supposing these reasons were not of sufficient weight, still it would be incumbent on your Sagacities to strive and pray continually that the purity of your souls may not seem in anything to be sullied by fellowship with the customs of these most wicked men. We must consider, too, that a discordant judgment in a case of such importance, and respecting such religious festival, is wrong. For our Saviour has left us one feast in commemoration of the day of our deliverance, I mean the day of his most holy passion; and he has willed that his Catholic Church should be one, the members of which, however scattered in many and diverse places, are yet cherished by one pervading spirit, that is, by the will of God. And let your Holinesses’ sagacity reflect how grievous and scandalous it is that on the self-same days some should be engaged in fasting, others in festive enjoyment; and again, that after the days of Easter some should be present at banquets and amusements, while others are fulfilling the appointed fasts. It is, then, plainly the will of Divine Providence (as I suppose you all clearly see), that this usage should receive fitting correction, and be reduced to one uniform rule.

Chapter XXII.—Of his Zeal in Prayer, and the Honor he paid to the Feast of Easter.

The emperor himself, as a sharer in the holy mysteries of our religion, would seclude himself daily at a stated hour in the innermost chambers of his palace; and there in solitary converse with his God, would kneel in humble supplication, and entreat the blessings of which he stood in need. But especially at the salutary feast of Easter, his religious diligence was redoubled; he fulfilled as it were the duties of a hierophant with every energy of his mind and body, and outvied all others in the zealous celebration of this feast. He changed, too, the holy night vigil into a brightness like that of day, by causing waxen tapers of great length to be lighted throughout the city: besides which, torches everywhere diffused their light, so as to impart to this mystic vigil a brilliant splendor beyond that of day. As soon as day itself returned, in imitation of our Saviour’s gracious acts, he opened a liberal hand to his subjects of every nation, province, and people, and lavished abundant bounties on all.

Chapter XXVII.—Among Other Enactments, he decrees that no Christian shall slave to a Jew, and affirms the Validity of the Decisions of Councils.

He also passed a law to the effect that no Christian should remain in servitude to a Jewish master, on the ground that it could not be right that those whom the Saviour had ransomed should be subjected to the yoke of slavery by a people who had slain the prophets and the Lord himself. If any were found hereafter in these circumstances, the slave was to be set at liberty, and the master punished by a fine.

He likewise added the sanction of his authority to the decisions of bishops passed at their synods, and forbade the provincial governors to annul any of their decrees: for he rated the priests of God at a higher value than any judge whatever. These and a thousand similar provisions did he enact for the benefit of his subjects; but there is not time now to give a special description of them, such as might convey an accurate idea of his imperial wisdom in these respects: nor need I now relate at length, how, as a devoted servant of the Supreme God, he employed himself from morning until night in seeking objects for his beneficence, and how equally and universally kind he was to all.

Chapter XXXIV.—That he wrote to Eusebius respecting Easter, and respecting Copies of the Holy Scriptures.

Ever careful for the welfare of the churches of God, the emperor addressed me personally in a letter on the means of providing copies of the inspired oracles, and also on the subject of the most holy feast of Easter. For I had myself dedicated to him an exposition of the mystical import of that feast; and the manner in which he honored me with a reply may be understood by any one who reads the following letter.

Chapter XXXV.—Constantine’s Letter to Eusebius, in praise of his Discourse concerning Easter.

“Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to Eusebius.

“It is indeed an arduous task, and beyond the power of language itself, worthily to treat of the mysteries of Christ, and to explain in a fitting manner the controversy respecting the feast of Easter, its origin as well as its precious and toilsome accomplishment. For it is not in the power even of those who are able to apprehend them, adequately to describe the things of God. I am, notwithstanding, filled with admiration of your learning and zeal, and have not only myself read your work with pleasure, but have given directions, according to your own desire, that it be communicated to many sincere followers of our holy religion. Seeing, then, with what pleasure we receive favors of this kind from your Sagacity, be pleased to gladden us more frequently with those compositions, to the practice of which, indeed, you confess yourself to have been trained from an early period, so that I am urging a willing man, as they say, in exhorting you to your customary pursuits. And certainly the high and confident judgment we entertain is a proof that the person who has translated your writings into the Latin tongue is in no respect incompetent to the task, impossible though it be that such version should fully equal the excellence of the works themselves. God preserve you, beloved brother.” Such was his letter on this subject: and that which related to the providing of copies of the Scriptures for reading in the churches was to the following purport.


The Oration
of
the Emperor Constantine,
which he addressed
“to the assembly of the saints.”
————————————

Chapter I.—Preliminary Remarks on the Feast of Easter: and how the Word of God, having conferred Manifold Benefits on Mankind, was betrayed by his Beneficiaries.

That light which far outshines the day and sun, first pledge of resurrection, and renovation of bodies long since dissolved, the divine token of promise, the path which leads to everlasting life—in a word, the day of the Passion—is arrived, best beloved doctors, and ye, my friends who are assembled here, ye blessed multitudes, who worship him who is the author of all worship, and praise him continually with heart and voice, according to the precepts of his holy word. But thou, Nature, parent of all things, what blessing like to this hast thou ever accomplished for mankind? Nay rather, what is in any sense thy workmanship, since he who formed the universe is himself the author of thy being? For it is he who has arrayed thee in thy beauty; and the beauty of Nature is life according to Nature’s laws. But principles quite opposed to Nature have mightily prevailed; in that men have agreed in withholding his rightful worship from the Lord of all, believing that the order of the universe depended, not on his providence, but, on the blind uncertainty of chance: and this notwithstanding the clearest announcement of the truth by his inspired prophets, whose words should have claimed belief, but were in every way resisted by that impious wickedness which hates the light of truth, and loves the obscure mazes of darkness. Nor was this error unaccompanied by violence and cruelty, especially in that the will of princes encouraged the blind impetuosity of the multitude, or rather itself led the way in the career of reckless folly. Such principles as these, confirmed by the practice of many generations, became the source of terrible evils in those early times: but no sooner had the radiance of the Saviour’s presence appeared, than justice took the place of wrong, a calm succeeded the confusion of the storm, and the predictions of the prophets were all fulfilled. For after he had enlightened the world by the glorious discretion and purity of his character, and had ascended to the mansions of his father’s house, he founded his Church on earth, as a holy temple of virtue, an immortal, imperishable temple, wherein the worship due to the Supreme Father and to himself should be piously performed. But what did the insane malice of the nations hereupon devise? Their effort was to reject the grace of Christ, and to ruin that Church which was ordained for the salvation of all, though they thus ensured the overthrow of their own superstition. Once more then unholy sedition, once more war and strife prevailed, with stiff-neckedness, luxurious riot, and that craving for wealth which now soothes its victims with specious hope, now strikes them with groundless fear; a craving which is contrary to nature, and the very characteristic of Vice herself. Let her, however, lie prostrate in the dust, and own the victorious power of Virtue; and let her rend and tear herself, as well she may, in the bitterness of repentance. But let us now proceed to speak of topics which pertain to the Divine doctrine.

Chapter II.—An Appeal to the Church and to his Hearers to pardon and correct the Errors of His Speech.

Hear then, thou master of the ship, possessor of virgin purity, and thou Church, the cherisher of tender and inexperienced age, guardian of truth and gentleness, through whose perennial fountain the stream of salvation flows! Be ye also indulgent, my hearers, who worship God sincerely, and are, therefore, the objects of his care: attending, not to the language, but to the truth of what is said; not to him who speaks, but rather to the pious zeal which hallows his discourse! For what will be the use of words when the real purpose of the speaker remains unknown? It may be, indeed, that I essay great things; the love of God which animates my soul, a love which overpowers natural reserve, is my plea for the bold attempt. On you, then, I call, who are best instructed in the mysteries of God, to aid me with your counsel, to follow me with your thoughts, and correct whatever shall savor of error in my words, expecting no display of perfect knowledge, but graciously accepting the sincerity of my endeavor. And may the Spirit of the Father and the Son accord his mighty aid, while I utter the words which he shall suggest to speech or thought. For if any one, whether in the practice of eloquence, or any other art, expects to produce a finished work without the help of God, both the author and his efforts will be found alike imperfect; while he has no cause to fear, no room for discouragement, who has once been blessed with the inspiration of Heaven. Wherefore asking your indulgence for the length of this preface, let us attempt the theme in its utmost scope.


The following is from:

A SELECT LIBRARY
OF THE

NICENE AND
POST-NICENE FATHERS
OF
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
SECOND SERIES
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.
VOLUMES I–VII.
UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
AND
HENRY WACE, D.D.,
PRINCIPAL OF KING’S COLLEGE, LONDON.
VOLUME III
THEODORET, JEROME, GENNADIUS, AND RUFINUS:
HISTORICAL WRITINGS
T&T CLARK
EDINBURGH
__________________________________________________
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN


Chapter IX.—The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, concerning the matters transacted at the Council, addressed to those Bishops who were not present.

The great emperor also wrote an account of the transactions of the council to those bishops who were unable to attend. And I consider it worth while to insert this epistle in my work, as it clearly evidences the piety of the writer.

“Constantinus Augustus to the Churches.

“Viewing the common public prosperity enjoyed at this moment, as the result of the great power of divine grace, I am desirous above all things that the blessed members of the Catholic Church should be preserved in one faith, in sincere love, and in one form of religion, towards Almighty God. But, since no firmer or more effective measure could be adopted to secure this end, than that of submitting everything relating to our most holy religion to the examination of all, or most of all, the bishops, I convened as many of them as possible, and took my seat among them as one of yourselves; for I would not deny that truth which is the source of my greatest joy, namely, that I am your fellow-servant. Every point obtained its due investigation, until the doctrine pleasing to the all-seeing God, and conducive to unity, was made clear, so that no room should remain for division or controversy concerning the faith.

“The commemoration of the most sacred paschal feast being then debated, it was unanimously decided, that it would be well that it should be everywhere celebrated upon the same day. What can be more fair, or more seemly, than that that festival by which we have received the hope of immortality should be carefully celebrated by all, on plain grounds, with the same order and exactitude? It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. By rejecting their custom, we establish and hand down to succeeding ages one which is more reasonable, and which has been observed ever since the day of our Lord’s sufferings. Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. For we have received from our Saviour another way. A better and more lawful line of conduct is inculcated by our holy religion. Let us with one accord walk therein, my much-honoured brethren, studiously avoiding all contact with that evil way. They boast that without their instructions we should be unable to commemorate the festival properly. This is the highest pitch of absurdity. For how can they entertain right views on any point who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. Hence it follows that they have so far lost sight of truth, wandering as far as possible from the correct revisal, that they celebrate a second Passover in the same year. What motive can we have for following those who are thus confessedly unsound and in dire error? For we could never tolerate celebrating the Passover twice in one year. But even if all these facts did not exist, your own sagacity would prompt you to watch with diligence and with prayer, lest your pure minds should appear to share in the customs of a people so utterly depraved. It must also be borne in mind, that upon so important a point as the celebration of a feast of such sanctity, discord is wrong. One day has our Saviour set apart for a commemoration of our deliverance, namely, of His most holy Passion. One hath He wished His Catholic Church to be, whereof the members, though dispersed throughout the most various parts of the world, are yet nourished by one spirit, that is, by the divine will. Let your pious sagacity reflect how evil and improper it is, that days devoted by some to fasting, should be spent by others in convivial feasting; and that after the paschal feast, some are rejoicing in festivals and relaxations, while others give themselves up to the appointed fasts. That this impropriety should be rectified, and that all these diversities of commemoration should be resolved into one form, is the will of divine Providence, as I am convinced you will all perceive. Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. An orderly and excellent form of commemoration is observed in all the churches of the western, of the southern, and of the northern parts of the world, and by some of the eastern; this form being universally commended, I engaged that you would be ready to adopt it likewise, and thus gladly accept the rule unanimously adopted in the city of Rome, throughout Italy, in all Africa, in Egypt, the Spains, the Gauls, the Britains, Libya, Greece, in the dioceses of Asia, and of Pontus, and in Cilicia, taking into your consideration not only that the churches of the places above-mentioned are greater in point of number, but also that it is most pious that all should unanimously agree in that course which accurate reasoning seems to demand, and which has no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.

“Briefly to summarize the whole of the preceding, the judgment of all is, that the holy Paschal feast should be held on one and the same day; for, in so holy a matter, it is not becoming that any difference of custom should exist, and it is better to follow the opinion which has not the least association with error and sin. This being the case, receive with gladness the heavenly gift and the plainly divine command; for all that is transacted in the holy councils of the bishops is to be referred to the Divine will. Therefore, when you have made known to all our beloved brethren the subject of this epistle, regard yourselves bound to accept what has gone before, and to arrange for the regular observance of this holy day, so that when, according to my long-cherished desire, I shall see you face to face, I may be able to celebrate with you this holy festival upon one and the same day; and may rejoice with you all in witnessing the cruelty of the devil destroyed by our efforts, through Divine grace, while our faith and peace and concord flourish throughout the world. May God preserve you, beloved brethren.”