Is Jesus the Most High God? – List of articles on this website

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Gabriel said to Mary that Jesus “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:26-32). In the Trinity theory, Jesus and the Father are two co-equal Persons of the same Being. This would mean that the Son is also “Most High.”

Recently, I organized my articles and found that I have written about 40 articles on the nature of Christ.  In the current article, I provide a list of those articles with brief descriptions. I also wrote another nearly 20 articles on the historical development of the Trinity doctrine.

While the current article is simply a list of the articles, the article – Jesus is not the God, but He is God – is a summary of these articles and provides more detailed arguments

VIEWS OF CHRIST

There are many views of the nature of Christ. They vary from Jesus as merely a human being, to the view that the Son is fully equal to and one with the Father, as in the Trinity doctrine. Between these two extremes, there are many other views, including the one proposed by this website, namely that Jesus always existed but only the Father is the Almighty uncaused Cause of all things.

I think that one of the reasons so many people adopt the Trinity formula without much thinking is that they find it difficult to understand how the Son can be both infinite and subordinate to God. For that reason, I attempt below to show how this is possible. In doing so, I am at risk, because I will be using terminology that is not found in the Bible. May God not hold that against me:

EXPLANATION

The Most High does not exist in time. He is not subject to time. Rather, the time, space, and matter of the universe exist somewhere inside Him.

Beyond this universe, there is an infinity. The intelligence and power through which this universe was created came from outside the time and space boundaries of the universe. That infinity is the Most High. Things exist because He exists (Rev 4:11).

Christ “is the Beginning (Col 1:18) of this universe. In other words, in order to bring forth this universe, the Most High has “begotten” the Son. This is why we read that God created all things THROUGH the Son. The Most High not only created all things through the Son; through the Son, He also upholds all things (Heb 1:3).

Jesus is the connection between God and the universe. Through Jesus, all creative and sustaining power flows from the Most High to the universe, and through Jesus, all thanksgiving and praise flow from the intelligent beings back to God.  “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

CONSEQUENTLY

The Son is not the uncaused Cause of all things. He is not “Most High.”

The Son always existed for God also created time by begetting His Son.

Jesus is the God of the Old Testament.  Every visible and personal appearance of God in the Old Testament is an appearance of Jesus, in the form of God.  See Jesus in the Old Testament.

This is my personal understanding of the nature of Christ. It cannot be confirmed from the Bible because the Bible does not explain Him in such terms.  But the Bible does confirm that Jesus always existed but is subordinate to the Most High, and the proposal above allows for that.

TRUTH TAKEN TOO FAR

I have come to the conclusion that an error is a truth that has been taken too far. For example:

NATURE OF CHRIST

Even after Pentecost, the disciples viewed Christ as merely a man (Acts 2:22). Decades later, the New Testament writers (particularly Paul and John) developed an extremely high view of Christ but still presented Him as subordinate to the Father. But, after the church became the State Church of the Roman Empire, the emperors became the real heads of the formal church and forced the church to take the high view of Christ too far. Consequently, the formal church adopted the doctrine that the Son is equally the Almighty; the uncaused Cause of all things.

PREDESTINATION

Early in the existence of the church, when Jews still dominated the church, the dominant view was that “it is necessary to circumcise them (the Gentiles) and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).

Paul wrote fervently against the view that man is justified “by the works of the Law” (e.g. Rom 3:19). These “works of the law” refer to the rituals and ceremonies of the law, of which circumcision was the main example (e.g. Gal 6:12). These “works of the Law” are not the same as good deeds.

At the time of the Reformation, Luther and Calvin were confronted with something similar, namely that the Catholic Church demanded that people conform to the rituals of the Church to be saved.  The reformers used Paul’s writings powerfully in their arguments.

But in their struggles against mother church, they took this truth too far and taught that nothing one does has an influence on salvation.  Consequently, they taught that God decides who will live and who will go to hell, irrespective of what man is or does. They choose to ignore the statements in the Bible that man will be judged by your deeds (E.g. Rom 2:6; Rev 2-:12).

LIST OF ARTICLES ON
THE NATURE OF CHRIST

SUMMARIES

Summary of these articles
Jesus is not God but He is God. Jesus is distinct from God, but always existed. Jesus prayed to God, but we worship Jesus. The Son can do nothing of Himself, but He is equal with God. The Son has life in Himself but received it all from the Father. God created all things, but through Jesus. So, Who is Jesus?

List of articles with brief descriptions
This is the current article. It also proposes how it is possible for the Son to be both eternal and subordinate to the Father.

JESUS IN SPECIFIC BIBLE BOOKS

As part of my investigation, I made detailed studies of three books, namely John’s gospel, Colossians, and the book of Revelation.

The book of Revelation
The article on the book of Revelation argues that t
he ancient Greek word theos is equivalent to the modern word “god.” In contrast, the modern word “God” refers exclusively to the Almighty. That article shows that Revelation uses the titles “God” and “the Almighty” only for the Father. The Father alone is the Creator, the Supreme Ruler of all creation, and the One we must worship. Revelation presents Jesus as subordinate to the Father but infinitely above the created universe.

Colossians Part I
What view does Colossians have of Christ Jesus? Is He called God?  Are we saved by Christ Jesus, or by God?  Who created all things and who reconciled all things; God or Christ Jesus?

Colossians Part II
Is Jesus God? The Most High created all things through Him. Christ still holds all creation together. He is distinct from God, but Jesus rules over all.

JESUS IN SPECIFIC BIBLE PASSAGES

Philippians 2
On the topic of the nature of Christ, this is one of the most important Bible passages. It describes Jesus before, during, and after His life on earth. It says that, before He became a human being, He had equality with God. For some, this means that He is God. For others, it means that He is not God.

1 Corinthians 8:6
Interestingly, the Bible has fairly few explicit statements about the nature of Christ. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke), except for a few verses that possibly say a bit more, Christ is merely a human being. We find the high Christology statements mostly in the writings of Paul and John. One of the few explicit statements of the nature of Christ is 1 Corinthians 8:6. It makes a clear distinction between the Most High God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Trinitarian defense against this verse is that it divides the words of the Shema between the Father and the Son.

You make yourself out to be God.
To this accusation (John 10:33), Jesus responded, “I said, ‘I am the Son of God’” Some interpret this as a claim by Jesus that He is God. This article analyzes what the Jews said and what Jesus claimed to be.

I and the Father are one.
This is one of Jesus’ famous statements (John 10:30). Does that mean to be perfected in unity or literally that they are one Being?

ORIGINS

Only Begotten Son
This title does not mean that Jesus is the Most High. However, since Jesus is the “only” begotten from the Father, He is God’s only true family. Because He was “begotten,” He was not created.

Firstborn of all creation
This is how Paul described Jesus in Colossians 1:15. This sounds as if He is part of creation; literally the first creation and/or the most important creation, but still part of creation.

Jesus did exist before He was born.
To become a human being, Jesus emptied Himself of the form of God and of equality with God. This article refutes the idea that Jesus was merely a human being, as proclaimed by Dale Tuggy in his high-quality website and podcast.

God created all things through His Son.
People who believe that Jesus is equal to the Most High need to show that Jesus created all things independent of the Father, but there are several verses that state that God created all things through His Son. In other words, the Most High is the Creator and His Son was the Medium through which He created all things.

JESUS IS SUBORDINATE TO THE FATHER.

Jesus is distinct from God.
This article highlights the differences between God and Jesus. For example, while God is invisible and the Source of all things, Jesus is visible. God refers to Jesus as “My Son” but Jesus refers to God as “My God.” Jesus also prayed to God and is currently at the right hand of God. 

The Almighty
Trinitarians think of Jesus as the Almighty, but they may not be aware that they directly contradict the Bible when they do that (e.g. Rev 19:15; 21:22).

Jesus is subordinate to God.
The Bible teaches explicitly Jesus is subordinate to God. For example:

      • God is the head of Christ” (I Cor 11:3).
      • He was subordinate to God both prior to His birth and after His ascension.
      • Everything that His Son has, He received from His Father.
      • Only the One “whom no man has seen or can see” is essentially “immortal” (1 Tim 6:16).

Jesus is subordinate to God in John’s gospel.
This is the gospel with the highest Christology but still shows that Jesus was subordinate to the Father before He became a human being and still is after He returned to the Father. For example:

      • God gave all judgment to the Son.
      • God gave the Son to have life in Himself.
      • The Father is the only true God.
      • Jesus called the Father “My God” and prayed to Him.

JESUS IS EQUAL WITH GOD.

This section contains articles on the examples of high Christology in the Bible:

Jesus has equality with God.
They work together, create together, own all things together and together they receive equal honor.  Only the Son knows the Father and only the Son sees all things that the Father does. Both are “
I Am,” the King of kings, the Lord of the Sabbath, Creator, and Savior

Jesus has equality with God in John’s gospel.
Evidence from John’s gospel. 
To say that Jesus is both subordinate to equal with the Most High may seem like a contradiction, but it is true. I understand this as follows: When the Father and the Son are compared, the Son is subordinate, but both are infinitely above created beings, and in that sense they are equal.

We must worship Jesus.
The Bible commands us to worship only God, but we must also worship Jesus. Does that mean that He is God? The English word “worship” means “a strong feeling of respect and admiration for God or a god” (Cambridge dictionary). The Greek word is proskuneó. It means that respect is shown towards a god or a fellow human being. 
I also made a list of the worship verses in the New Testament.

DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT
REFER TO JESUS AS GOD?

Several articles discuss specific instances where theos refers to Jesus:

THEOS
The Greek word theos appears about 1300 times in the New Testamenet. In 99.5% of these instances, it refers to the Father. But in about seven instances, it refers to Jesus. This article explains what theos means. There is no word in the ancient Greek that is an exact equivalent to the modern word “God.”

John 1:1 – Introduction
This is the best-known example of Jesus being called God. Jesus not only was in the beginning; He WAS the beginning, and therefore always existed.

John 1:1 – The Word
Does “the Word” refer to Jesus, or is it a personification of the Wisdom of God in creation?

John 1:1 – The Word was a god.
This article argues against this translation, as proposed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In
support of their translation, Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that theos is a count noun.  Does this mean that John 1:1c must be translated, “the Word was a god?”

John 1:1 – The Word was God.
This translates theos as definite, but this article shows that theos in John 1:1c has a qualitative force and, therefore, should be translated, “the Word was like God.”

John 1:18
The original text of John 1:18 is disputed. Many ancient manuscripts refer to Jesus as huios (son) and not as theos (god). According to the textual critics, both are possible.

John 20:28
Thomas could not have called Jesus “my God” in John 20:28
because Jesus never taught that He is God and because the disciples afterward did not teach that Jesus is God.

Is Jesus called God in John’s gospel?
The title “God” appears more than 100 times in John, and in only 3 instances it could possibly refer to Jesus, and these three instances are debatable.  In other instances, John consistently makes a distinction between God and Jesus

Romans 9:5
Romans everywhere makes a distinction between God and Jesus. 14 translations of Romans 9:5 indicate that Jesus is God and 14 oppose it.  It is all a matter of punctuation, and all punctuation in the Bible is interpretation.

Hebrews 1:8
This verse refers to Jesus as theos but the next verse (Heb 1:9) says that God is His theos. Furthermore, the first verses of Hebrews 1 make an explicit distinction between Jesus and God and represent Jesus as subordinate to God.

Overview
This is an overview of the articles on the instances where the Bible refers to Jesus as theos.

JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Jesus has always existed. In fact, God created all things through Him.  Therefore, the question arises: Where do we find Jesus in the Old Testament? God is invisible but was seen in the Old Testament. To solve this riddle, this article finds evidence in the Old Testament of two distinct divine beings.

I am fond of listening to Dale Tuggy on this subject. He holds the mere man view of Christ, which I reject, but, generally, his podcasts are of a very good quality.

Justinian and the Byzantine Papacy eliminated Anianism.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

JUSTINIAN THE GREAT

This article series has a dual purpose:

Firstly, it discusses the Historical Development of the Trinity Doctrine.  The purpose is to show that the decisions to adopt the Trinity doctrine were not taken by Church Councils, but by the Roman Emperors; particularly Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian. 

The second purpose is to identify the eleventh horn of Daniel 7. It grows out of the fourth beast; after that beast has already fragmented into many kingdoms (Dan 7:7, 24). That horn becomes God’s all-time great adversary (Dan 7:25) and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 7:9-14). A comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identified the fourth beast as the Roman Empire. Since these articles also explain the history of the fall of the Roman Empire, they also identify that 11th horn.

PREVIOUS ARTICLES

In summary, the previous articles in this series cover the following ground:

FIRST THREE CENTURIES

The series starts with articles that show that Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and other church fathers of the first three centuries were not Trinitarians.  They had a very high view of Christ, but always subordinate to the Father, who they identified as the only true and almighty ‘god’.

FOURTH CENTURY

These were followed by articles that trace the development through the fourth century.  Firstly, Emperor Constantine exerted a huge influence on the Council of Nicaea in the formulation of the Nicene Creed.

However, during the fifty years following Nicaea, more or less from 330 to 380, the church rejected the Nicene Creed.  Constantine’s successors, Emperors Constantius and Valens were Arians and actively encouraged the church to reverse the Nicene Creed.  They also exiled bishops adhering to the Nicene Creed and crushed the Nicene party.

But when Theodosius – an ardent supported of the Nicene Creed – became emperor in 380, he immediately outlawed Arianism and exiled all Arian bishops. He did this even before the 381 Council and manipulated that council to accept the Nicene Creed.

FIFTH CENTURY

After Theodosius died, the Western Roman Empire weakened. Germanic tribes, who previously migrated into the Empire, reached such large numbers and high positions in the Roman army that they, in practice, controlled the Western Roman Empire. Over the course of the fifth century, they divided the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms.  Since these Germanic peoples were Arians, the Western Empire was Arian once again!

In the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire), with Constantinople as its capital, Nicene Christianity remained dominant.

SIXTH CENTURY – BYZANTINE PAPACY

The Arian nations dominated the Roman Church in the west. However, as discussed in the present article, Emperor Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the sixth century, significantly weakened Arianism by sending troops to combat the Arian nations in the west. They dispersed the Vandals to the fringes of the empire, forced the Ostrogoths back north to South Austria, and barricaded the Visigoths with the new province of Spania.

Some Arian nations remained, but after liberating the Roman Church from Arian domination, the Byzantine Empire continued to protect, strengthen and rule over the Roman Church. Through two centuries of Byzantine rule over the Papacy (known as the Byzantine papacy) , the Byzantine Empire, through the Roman Church, converted the remaining Arian kingdoms, one after the other, to Nicene Christology.

CONCLUSION

Given the facts of this brief overview, it is not possible to deny the decisive influence which emperors such as Constantine, Constantius, Valens, Theodosius, and Justinian had on the church’s acceptance of the Trinity doctrine. As shown in the articles mentioned above, Constantine and Theodosius respectively clearly manipulated the key creeds of 325 and 381. These emperors did not develop this doctrine, but they did decide what the church should believe concerning the nature of Christ (Christology).  

The huge political manipulation through which the Trinity doctrine came to be accepted does not mean that the Trinity doctrine is unbiblical, but it does mean that we cannot rely on the church councils or traditions as representing the truth.  

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

FALL OF THE WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE

In the fifth century, the Germanic people, who have migrated into the Western Roman Empire over the previous century or more, became a dominant force within the Western Roman Empire due to their large numbers and military supremacy. They revolted against the severe conditions under which they were allowed to remain in the Empire, sacked Rome twice, and deposed the last Roman Emperor. Through wars, they divided up the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. However, these nations at least pretended to function as part of the Roman Empire—under the governance of the Emperor in Constantinople.

Although they were Arian Christians, they allowed the Roman peoples and the Roman Church to remain in their territories. This is one indication of the desire of these immigrants to remain part of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Church had to depend on the Arian nations for physical protection. But still, the Roman Church managed to grow in strength, partly due to its central and superior organization and administration and expertise in statecraft from years of being part of the Roman Government in the fourth century.

UNITY OF CHURCH AND STATE

Justinian I was the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire) from 527 to 565. 

It is important to understand that separation of Church and State did not exist at that time. In the view of the time, the Christian Roman Emperor was regarded as God’s agent on earth. The supreme bishops of the Empire – the spiritual heads of the Christian world – acting in harmony with him. Church and State were therefore one.  Justinian believed that “he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline.”

His authority was not limited to the church in the east. In Justinian’s view, the Church included the Church in Rome and he, as emperor, had the right and duty to also protect and regulate the Church in Rome. 

The Imperial conviction always was that the unity of the Empire presupposes the unity of faith. Emperor Justinian protected the ‘purity’ of the faith by persecuting and killing ‘heretics’.

DELIVERED THE PAPACY FROM ARIAN DOMINATION.

After the Germanic peoples, in the fifth century, divided the territory of the Western Empire between them, the Church in Rome was subject to their laws and customs. The Roman Church was unable to dominate or to compel the population in Europe to comply with its doctrines.

As a keen supporter of the Nicene church in Rome, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries and to liberate the church in Rome from Arian domination. He sent troops to combat the Arian nations in the west:

      • They dispersed the Vandals of North Africa to the fringes of the empire.
      • Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in South Austria.
      • Justinian’s troops recovered a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast which formed a barrier between the Visigoths and Rome.

It is remarkable that Justinian attacked the Christian nations in the west, but was willing to negotiate a truce with the pagan nations to his east. As it turned out, in later years, these pagan nations later became Muslim countries and conquered most of the previous territory of the Eastern Empire.

BYZANTINE PAPACY

Justinian’s wars conquered the Italian peninsula and delivered the church in Rome from Arian domination. This commenced the period of about two centuries which is known today as the Byzantine Papacy because the Byzantine monarch claimed for himself the right to approve the appointment of the bishop of Rome.

On the one hand, the Roman Church was now once again subject to the authority of the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor. On the other hand, the Nicene Church (the Byzantine Papacy), with the protection and status it received from the Byzantine Empire, became a powerful social and political institution in Europe. 

This relationship also allowed the Byzantine Empire, through the Byzantine Papacy, a certain level of control over the Germanic nations in the West. To some extent, the Roman Empire was reunited.

The Germanic tribes, consequently, during the Byzantine Papacy, abandoned Arianism in favor of Catholicism. By the 8th century, Arianism had ceased to be the mainstream belief of the Germanic people as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy.   

CONCLUSIONS

Firstly, this article shows how the Trinity Doctrine was advanced by the military might of the Roman Empire. If Justinian, followed by the Byzantine Papacy, did not wipe out Arianism in the territory of the Western Empire, Arianism might still have dominated the church today. It is not possible to deny the decisive influence which emperors such as Constantine, Constantius, Valens, Theodosius, and Justinian had on the church’s acceptance of the Trinity doctrine.

Secondly, this article helps us to identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as the Nicene Church. As predicted in Daniel 7:

    • The Roman Empire divided into MANY FRAGMENTS (symbolically, the 10 horns),
    • The 11th horn comes into existence AFTER the Roman Empire has already been fragmented into many kingdoms (horns), and
    • It UPROOTED THREE of the other horns as it came up; the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Vandals.  

– END OF SUMMARY –

FALL OF THE WESTERN ROMAN EMPIRE

BARBARIANS DIVIDED THE TERRITORY OF WESTERN ROME

Arian and Chalcedonian kingdoms in 495
Arian and Chalcedonian kingdoms in 495

In the fifth century, the Germanic people, who have migrated into the Western Roman Empire over a century or more, became a dominant force within the Western Roman Empire due to their large numbers and military supremacy.  They revolted against the severe conditions under which they were allowed to remain in the Empire, sacked Rome twice, and deposed the last Roman Emperor.  Through wars, they divided up the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. However, these nations continued to function as part of the Roman Empire—under the governance of the Emperor in Constantinople.

TOLERATED THE ROMAN CHURCH.

There are at least two reasons why the Germanic peoples might have made an end of the Roman Church (the Church in Rome):

Firstly, the Roman Church was part of the Roman government.  In the Roman Empire, there was no separation of church and state.  The church was a department of government.  In practice, the bishop of the Church in Rome was accountable to the Roman Emperor.

Secondly, the Germanic peoples were Arian Christians because they became Christians during the 50 years in the fourth century when the Roman Church was Arian (Fourth Century Arian Period).  These Germanic peoples included the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths of Spain, and the Vandals in North Africa.

Despite these facts, the Arian nations allowed the Roman peoples and the Roman Church to remain in their territories.  This is one indication of the desire of these immigrants to remain part of the Roman Empire.

THE ROMAN CHURCH GREW IN STRENGTH.

After the Western Roman Empire was divided up into these kingdoms, the Roman Church had to depend on the Arian nations for physical protection. But the Roman Church managed to grow in strength. The reasons include the following:

1. Previously, the Emperor appointed the bishop of Rome and the bishop was subordinate to the Roman Emperor.  Now, the church had more independence.

2. The church’s central and superior organization and administration and expertise in statecraft from years of being part of the Roman Government allowed it to stand out among the various Germanic nations that had no central political control.

3. The Germanic nations desired to remain part of the Empire. As the official religion of the Empire, the church had a certain status.

UNITY OF CHURCH AND STATE

Justinian I is traditionally known as Justinian the Great. He was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565.  He ruled from Constantinople; the capital of the empire.  Due to his religious preferences and actions, he is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church and by some other churches.

WHAT WAS THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE?

This article often refers to the “Byzantine Empire.”  Byzantium was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople; the capital of the Roman Empire.

The Byzantine Empire is simply another name for the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.  The Byzantine Empire, therefore, was the continuation of the Roman Empire.

Byzantine Empire is a term created after the end of that empire.  Its citizens referred to their empire simply as the Roman Empire and to themselves as Romans.

CHURCH AND STATE WERE ONE.

It is important to understand the context of the time. A Cambridge article explains the relationship between church and state in the Byzantine Empire:

The idea of papal sovereignty was foreign to the Byzantines. … unintelligible, unreasonable, and unhistorical. …  (in) their concept of the order of the Christian world … The Christian Roman Emperor was the elect of God and God’s vice-gerent (God’s agent on earth) on earth … His patriarchs or supreme bishops of the Christian Empire … were the spiritual heads of the Christian world, acting in harmony with him. Church and State were therefore one, indissoluble and interdependent.

Modern readers may find this lack of separation of Church and State may be difficult to grasp but unless we understand this concept, we will not understand the history of the church or of the process through which the Trinity doctrine became accepted.

Similar to his predecessors, Justinian believed that “he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline, and also of dictating the theological opinions to be held in the Church”. (Ayer, John Cullen, ed. (1913). A Source Book for Ancient Church History. Mundus Publishing (2008 reprint). p. 553)  The Emperor regulated everything:

At the very beginning of his reign, he promulgated by law the Church’s belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation and threatened all heretics with the appropriate penalties.[See Wikipedia page on Justinian 1]

He made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church: “We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.” (Codex Justinianus)

Justinian felt entitled to settle disputes in papal elections, as he did when he favored Vigilius and had his rival Silverius deported.

As a result, the church within the Eastern Roman Empire had become firmly tied with the imperial government.  Church and State were one.

ALSO THE CHURCH IN THE WEST

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 affirmed that the bishop of a provincial capital had a certain authority over the other bishops of the province. It also recognized the authority of the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch and granted special recognition to Jerusalem. The First Council of Constantinople in 381 added the see of Constantinople.

Emperor Justinian assigned to those five sees (including Rome) a superior ecclesial authority that covered the whole of his empire. In other words, in Justinian’s view, the Church included the Church in Rome and he, as emperor, had the right and duty also to protect and regulate the Church in Rome

A GENUINE INTEREST IN THE CHURCH

Justinian had a genuine interest in the church.  Over the course of his reign, he authored a small number of theological treatises.  He was indeed a “nursing father” of the Church. Both the Codex and the Novellae contain many enactments to benefit the church.  Just in Constantinople, he built 25 churches (see traditioninaction).  Justinian also rebuilt the Church of Hagia Sophia, with its numerous chapels and shrines, gilded octagonal dome, and mosaics.

SUPPRESSED HERETICS

Even before Christianity was legalized in 313, the Imperial conviction always was that the unity of the Empire presupposes the unity of faith. Emperor Justinian protected the ‘purity’ of the church by suppressing heretics. For example:

The Codex contained two statutes [WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 76] that decreed the destruction of paganism.  These provisions were zealously enforced.

At Constantinople, on one occasion, not a few Manicheans, after strict inquisition, were executed in the emperor’s very presence: some by burning, others by drowning. [WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 93]  Manichaeism was a major religion that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani.  It taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. (See the Wikipedia page on Manichaeism.)

MONOPHYSITISM

In the east, in Justinian’s time, the main threat to the orthodoxy was not Arianism but Monophysitism.  This sect had many adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. While the Council of Chalcedon in 451 concluded that Jesus has two natures; a divine and a human nature, Monophysitism maintained that Jesus Christ only had one nature; a divine nature or a synthesis of a divine and human nature.

Previous emperors and the Patriarch of Constantinople tolerated Monophysitism and allowed the appointment of Monophysites to church offices but this had been a source of tension in the relationship with the bishop of Rome.

Justin I—Justinian’s predecessor—reversed this policy, confirmed the Chalcedonian doctrine, openly condemned the Monophysites. This allowed him to reestablish the union between Constantinople and Rome.[WIKIPEDIA – JUSTINIAN – NOTE 75]

Justinian’s policies alternated between ATTEMPTS TO FORCE Monophysites to accept the Chalcedonian creed by persecuting their bishops and monks – thereby embittering their sympathizers in Egypt and other provinces – and ATTEMPTS AT A COMPROMISE that would win over the Monophysites without surrendering the Chalcedonian faith.

Justinian’s wife Theodora favored the Monophysites unreservedly. While Theodosius’ wife is venerated in the Catholic Church because she was a fervent supporter of the Nicene Creed, Empress Theodora, for Catholics, was “one of the most … deplorable figures of ancient history,” for “she became an enemy of the Faith and a supporter of the heresies, and she strove to make Justinian enter into conflict with the Holy See at the end of his life” (traditioninaction).  “Near the end of his life, Justinian became ever more inclined towards the Monophysite doctrine” (Wikipedia).

WARS AGAINST THE ARIAN NATIONS IN THE WEST

After the Germanic peoples divided the territory of the Western Empire between them in the fifth century, the Church in Rome was subject to their laws and customs. 

From a catholic perspective, the website Traditioninaction states that the Catholics at the time were groaning under the yoke of the barbarians.  But from a Jewish perspective, “in contrast with the domination of the orthodox church, the Arian was distinguished by a wise tolerance and a mild treatment of the population of other faiths” (Kohler et al, ARIANISM”. Jewish Encyclopedia). 

What we can conclude, at least, is that the Roman Church was unable to dominate or to compel the population in Europe to comply with its doctrines.

As an ardent supporter of the Nicene church in Rome, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries and to liberate the church in Rome from Arian domination. Justinian never personally took part in military campaigns, but one of the most spectacular features of Justinian’s reign was the recovery of large stretches of land around the Western Mediterranean basin that had slipped out of Imperial control in the 5th century.

Through these wars, Justinian neutralized the three main Arian nations that prevented the supremacy of the Papacy:

VANDAL KINGDOM OF NORTH AFRICA

The first Arian Christian kingdom which Justinian’s armies attacked was the Vandals in North Africa. Again, from a catholic perspective, “that whole area had been taken over by the worst barbarians, the Vandals” (traditioninaction).  Although the Arians generally tolerated other faiths, the Vandals tried for several decades to force their Arian beliefs on their North African Nicene subjects, exiling Nicene clergy, dissolving monasteries, and exercising heavy pressure on non-conforming Nicene Christians.  This might have been why Justinian attacked them first.

In the Vandalic War of 533–534, general Belisarius defeated the Vandals. [WIKIPEDIA ARIANISM NOTE 40]  The Vandals were dispersed to the fringes of the empire and became lost to history.

OSTROGOTHS IN ITALY

Justinian next attacked the Ostrogoths; another Arian Christian nation.  This war may be divided into three phases:

In 535, Belisarius invaded Sicily and advanced into Italy, sacking Naples and capturing Rome in 536. In 540 he reached the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna and reclaimed it for the Empire.[WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 52]

But Belisarius was recalled in the face of renewed hostilities by the Persians to the East.  While military efforts were focused on the east, the Ostrogoths made quick gains in Italy. They reconquered the major cities of Southern Italy and soon held almost the entire Italian peninsula.

The third phase of the war in Italy (from 541 to 554) followed after a truce was agreed upon with the Persians.  Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in south Austria.  Through the Gothic War, Justinian restored Dalmatia, Sicily, Italy, and Rome to the empire after more than half a century of Ostrogoth rule.

VISIGOTHS IN SPAIN

In 552, Justinian dispatched a force of 2,000 men to invade Visigothic Hispania: still another Arian Christian Germanic nation.  This short-lived reconquest recovered only a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, known as the new province of Spania (Hispania) before being checked by the Visigoths. This campaign marked the apogee (apex) of Byzantine expansion.  Spania kept the Visigoths as a threat to Hispania alone and not to the western Mediterranean nor to Africa.

Perhaps it is worth commenting that Justinian was willing to negotiate a truce with the pagan nations to the east of his empire but attacked Christian nations in the west.  One obvious reason was that his purpose was to reunite the old empire, but it also reveals his intolerance for Arianism.

BYZANTINE PAPACY

After Justinian conquered the Italian peninsula and delivered the church in Rome from Arian domination, he replaced the pope and also appointed the next three popes.  In this way, Justinian put the church in the west firmly under the control of the Byzantine monarch.  This practice was continued by his successors for the next two centuries. The papacy in the years 537 to 752 is known as the Byzantine Papacy because the Byzantine monarch claimed for himself the right to approve the appointment of the bishop of Rome.  This allowed the emperor to also dominate the Papacy in other ways during this period.

DOMINANCE OF THE GREEK LANGUAGE

One indication of the dominance of the Byzantine Empire, over the church in Rome, during these years, was the Greek dominance of the Roman Church:

The two halves of the Empire always had cultural differences, exemplified particularly by the widespread use of the Greek language in the Eastern Empire and its more limited use in the West.  The spoken vernacular in the West was Latin.

During the Byzantine Papacy, countless Easterners rose through the ranks of the clergy in the church in Rome. At the end of the sixth century, Easterners constituted less than one percent of the papal hierarchy.  In contrast, according to Ekonomou, over a century later, between 701 and 750, “Greeks outnumbered Latins by nearly three and a half to one”.

This confirms that the church in the west was now once again firmly subject to the authority of the (Eastern) Roman Emperor. 

THE EMPIRE REIGNED OVER THE WEST.

After Justinian defeated the Goths, the Roman Church was no longer dependent on the Arian Germanic nations for protection. The church and its Nicene Christology, with the protection and status it received from the Byzantine Empire, became a powerful social and political institution in Europe. 

This relationship also allowed the Byzantine Empire, through the Church, a certain level of control over the Germanic nations in the West.  To some extent, the Roman Empire was reunited.

ARIAN CONVERSIONS TO THE PAPACY

The Franks entered the Western Roman Empire as Pagans.  In 496, before the time of Justinian, Clovis I, the pagan king of the Franks, was the first important barbarian ruler to convert to Catholicism rather than to Arianism.  He forcibly converted the Franks to Chalcedonian Christianity.

After Justinian established protection for the Papacy, the Germanic tribes, consequently, abandoned Arianism in favor of Catholicism.

The first Germanic ruler to convert from Arianism to Chalcedonian Christianity was Reccared I of the Arian Visigoths in Spain. He converted in 587.  Visigothic Spain converted to Catholicism at the Third Council of Toledo in 589

Pope Gregory I reigned from 590 to 604; a few decades after Justinian.  He was perhaps the best-known pope of the Byzantine Papacy.  Britannica describes him as the first of the medieval popes.  With the support of the Byzantine Empire, He reformed the ecclesiastical structures and administration, which then launched renewed missionary efforts to convert the peoples of northern Europe as far north as Ireland. These efforts were able to convert the Arian peoples to Catholic (Nicene) Christianity:

The Anglo-Saxons of Southern Britain were the predecessors of the English. They have never been part of the Empire and were entirely pagan, but were forcibly converted by their kings Æthelberht of Kent, following the work of missionaries sent by Pope Gregory the Great.

The Anglo-Saxons in turn sent missionaries to northwestern Europe – to what is now the Netherlands. 

The Visigoths also converted to Catholicism during the Byzantine Empire.

Aripert I of the Lombards converted to Catholic Church in 653. Grimwald, King of the Lombards (662–671) and his young son and successor Garibald (671) were the last Arian kings in Europe. By 700, the Lombards in northern Italy have moved away from Arianism to Catholicism.

By the 8th century, Arianism had ceased to be the mainstream belief of the Germanic people as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy.   

CONCLUSIONS

Firstly, this article shows how the Trinity Doctrine was advanced by the military might of the Roman Empire. What would the Christian world have looked like if Justinian did not effectively wipe out Arianism in the territory of the Western Empire?  If Europe was allowed to remain Arian, Arianism might have dominated the church today.

Secondly, this article helps us to identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as the formal Christian Church:

In Daniel 7, the Roman Empire (the fourth empire) divides into MANY FRAGMENTS (symbolically, the 10 horns). – This article mentions some of these kingdoms, such as the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, and the Anglo-Saxons.

The little horn comes into existence AFTER the fourth (Roman) empire has already been fragmented into many kingdoms (horns). – The Papacy was not able to dominate until after Justinian conquered the Arian nations.

The little horn UPROOTED THREE of the other horns as it came up. – The Roman Empire uprooted the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Vandals to establish the Papacy.  

Daniel 7 also explains that the eleventh horn will become larger than the others, persecute the saints, and attempt to change the law. The next articles will explain this.

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

Christology of the persecuted church (First 300 years)
 – Introduction
 – Polycarp
 – Justin Martyr
 – Ignatius of Antioch
 – Irenaeus
 – Tertullian – work in progress

 – Origen – work in progress
 – These ancients referred to Jesus as our god.
Fourth Century (State Church)
 – Council of Nicaea – A.D. 325 
 – The Nicene Creed Interpreted 
 – Fourth Century Arian Period 

 – What did Arianism believe in the fourth century?
 – Long Lines Creed – one of the creeds during the Arian period
 – Death of Arianism – Emperor Theodosius
Fifth Century
 – Fall of the Western Roman Empire;
 – Why the Roman Empire fell;

 – Roman Church grew in strength despite Arian domination 
 – The Fall of Rome proves Daniel as a true prophecy.

 Justinian and the Byzantine Papacy wiped Anianism out. Current
Middle Ages

 – The massacres of the Waldensians