Marcus of Jerusalem: Apostolic successor or apostate?

By COGwriter

Marcus, also known as Mark or Mahalia, has been claimed to have been the sixteenth bishop of Jerusalem. It has been alleged that he reigned from c. 135 until he died, perhaps as late as c. 156.

Who was this Marcus? What views did he hold? How did the real Christians in Jerusalem view him? How was his 'reign' viewed by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox writers such as Irenaeus and Eusebius (who quoted Irenaeus, Dionysius and others).

(Irenaeus, who wrote in the late second century, is considered as a saint by the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and many Protestants, but as an apostate to those in the Continuing Church of God. Eusebius was the Greco-Roman Bishop of Caesaria in the fourth century, who also functioned as a church historian.)

Bishops of Jerusalem Prior to Marcus

Eusebius states this about the succession in Jerusalem:

1. The chronology of the bishops of Jerusalem I have nowhere found preserved in writing; for tradition says that they were all short lived.

2. But I have learned this much from writings, that until the siege of the Jews, which took place under Adrian, there were fifteen bishops in succession there, all of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and were deemed worthy of the episcopate. For their whole church consisted then of believing Hebrews who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at this time; in which siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after severe battles.

3. But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchæus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas.

4. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book IV, Chapter V. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Digireads, 2005, p. 71).

Notice that these early bishops "received the knowledge of Christ in purity," hence their teachings should have continued. However, this did not last as this faithful church was eliminated from Jerusalem.

Those leaders are all considered to be saints by the Church of God as well as by the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches.

Consider then that all those “early fathers” kept the Sabbath and it was the practice of the original Christian church. Understand that since the 1st and early 2nd century Christian leaders in Jerusalem “received the knowledge of Christ in purity,” their teachings should have been continued.

Those bishops/pastors were keeping the Sabbath until after Judas of Jerusalem (who was the last one) died (c. 134-135 A.D.) and Emperor Hadrian took over Jerusalem. These Jewish Christian leaders obviously did not believe that the Sabbath was done away over a century since Jesus was resurrected.

Notice also something that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonica:

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

So imitating, not changing, the practices in Judea was commended.

Yet, because of the Jewish revolt, Emperor Hadrian outlawed many practices considered to be Jewish, including the Sabbath (as well as Passover on the 14th).

The Emergence of Marcus and Change

Eusebius reported the following:

4. And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Ælia, in honor of the emperor Ælius Adrian. And as the church there was now composed of Gentiles, the first one to assume the government of it after the bishops of the circumcision was Marcus. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book IV, Chapter VI. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Digireads, 2005, p. 72).

We have shown that from that time first the church in Jerusalem was composed of Gentiles, after those of the circumcision, and that Marcus was the first Gentile bishop that presided over them. 2. After him the succession in the episcopate was: first Cassianus; after him Publius; then Maximus; following them Julian; then Gaius; after him Symmachus and another Gaius, and again another Julian; after these Capito and Valens and Dolichianus; and after all of them Narcissus, the thirtieth... (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XII. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Digireads, 2005, p. 105).

So, we see that someone who was not of the Jewish nation 'assumed governance' in the newly renamed city of Ælia Capitolina (it stopped being officially called Jerusalem right after Hadrian's troops conquered it) and had others who followed after him.

Notice also:

During the nineteenth year of Hadrian's reign (a.d. 117-138) the first uncircumcised Greek Gentile Bishop of Ælia Capitolina was Marcus, c. a.d. 135. (Dowling TE. The orthodox Greek patriarchate of Jerusalem, 3rd ed. Society for promoting Christian knowledge, 1913. Original from Princeton University. Digitized Dec 21, 2010, p. 48)

How did this happen?

Here is a version of what occurred according to the noted historian E. Gibbon:

The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. It was natural that the primitive tradition of a church which was founded only forty days after the death of Christ, and was governed almost as many years under the immediate inspection of his apostle, should be received as the standard of orthodoxy. The distant churches very frequently appealed to the authority of their venerable Parent, and relieved her distresses by a liberal contribution of alms...

The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity. They still enjoyed the comfort of making frequent and devout visits to the Holy City, and the hope of being one day restored to those seats which both nature and religion taught them to love as well as to revere. But at length, under the reign of Hadrian, the desperate fanaticism of the Jews filled up the measure of their calamities; and the Romans, exasperated by their repeated rebellions, exercised the rights of victory with unusual rigour. The emperor founded, under the name of Alia Capitolina, a new city on Mount Sion, to which he gave the privileges of a colony; and denouncing the severest penalties against any of the Jewish people who should dare to approach its precincts, he fixed a vigilant garrison of a Roman cohort to enforce the execution of his orders. The Nazarenes had only one way left to escape the common proscription, and the force of truth was on this occasion assisted by the influence of temporal advantages.

They elected Marcus for their bishop, a prelate of the race of the Gentiles, and most probably a native either of Italy or of some of the Latin provinces. At his persuasion the most considerable part of the congregation renounced the Mosaic law, in the practice of which they had persevered above a century. By this sacrifice of their habits and prejudices they purchased a free admission into the colony of Hadrian...

When the name and honours of the church of Jerusalem had been restored to Mount Sion, the crimes of heresy and schism were imputed to the obscure remnant of the Nazarenes which refused to accompany their Latin bishop. They still preserved their former habitation of Pella, spread themselves into the villages adjacent to Damascus, and formed an inconsiderable church in the city of Bercea, or, as it is now called, of Aleppo, in Syria. The name of Nazarenes was deemed too honourable for those Christian Jews, and they soon received, from the supposed poverty of their understanding, as well as of their condition, the contemptuous epithet of Ebionites ... The unfortunate Ebionites, rejected from one religion as apostates, and from the other as heretics, found themselves compelled to assume a more decided character; and although some traces of that obsolete sect may be discovered as late as the fourth century, they insensibly melted away either into the church or the synagogue...

It has been remarked with more ingenuity than truth that the virgin purity of the church was never violated by schism or heresy before the reign of Trajan or Hadrian, about one hundred years after the death of Christ (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Chapter XV, Section I. ca. 1776-1788).

Because of the Jewish revolt, Emperor Hadrian outlawed many practices considered to be Jewish. The 20th century historian Salo W. Barron wrote:

Hadrian . . . According to rabbinic sources, he prohibited public gatherings for instruction in Jewish law, forbade the proper observance of the Sabbath and holidays and outlawed many important rituals (Barron SW. Social and Religious History of the Jews, Volume 2: Christian Era: the First Five Centuries. Columbia University Press, 1952, p. 107).

The Christians in Judea were forced to make a decision. They either could continue to keep the Sabbath and the rest of God's law and flee, or they could compromise and support a religious leader (Marcus) who would not keep the Sabbath, etc.

Sadly, many who claimed Christ made the wrong choice and followed the direction of Marcus.

They discounted or overlooked Jude's admonishment:

3 ... to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

Those who followed Markus did not do that.

The Eastern Orthodox seem to have acknowledged that a change came, but they have been a bit guarded about it. Notice this admission:

In 135 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian builds on the ruins of Jerusalem a new roman city and names it Aelia Capitolina and permits the Christians to come back. However the Jewish are not permitted to come in town (The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem. viewed 11/30/07).

The “Jewish are not permitted to come in to town”?

That’s correct in a sense. Those who kept Jewish practices like the seventh-day Sabbath were not permitted to come into Jerusalem after its 135 A.D. takeover. Thus, without admitting it, the Orthodox are acknowledging that changes did take place after 135 A.D. and those changes are proof that there was no faithful apostolic succession in Jerusalem.

How could that have happened? Well, many there lost their first love.

1 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,

'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."' (Revelation 2:1-7)

2nd century writer Hegissipus wrote that the corruption in Jerusalem began in that century a decade or two prior to Marcus. Hegissipus reported that Jerusalem started off well, but one called Thebuthis had doctrines of Simon (Magus) and Marcion, but that the Jewish Christians and their leaders would not then accept them:

Hegesippus … describes the beginnings of the heresies which arose in his time, in the following words: And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as the Lord had also on the same account, Symeon, the son of the Lord's uncle, Clopas, was appointed the next bishop. All proposed him as second bishop because he was a cousin of the Lord. Therefore, they called the Church a virgin, for it was not yet corrupted by vain discourses.

But Thebuthis, because he was not made bishop, began to corrupt it. He also was sprung from the seven sects among the people, like Simon, from whom came the Simonians, and Cleobius, from whom came the Cleobians, and Dositheus, from whom came the Dositheans, and Gorthæus, from whom came the Goratheni, and Masbotheus, from whom came the Masbothæans. From them sprang the Menandrianists, and Marcionists, and Carpocratians, and Valentinians, and Basilidians, and Saturnilians. Each introduced privately and separately his own peculiar opinion. From them came false Christs, false prophets, false apostles, who divided the unity of the Church by corrupt doctrines uttered against God and against his Christ. (Eusebius. Church History, Book IV, Chapter 22, verses 1, 4-5).

In time, the influence of Thebuthis and others made it such that many followed Marcus.

Was Marcus with the Faithful or the Compromisers?

The Greek Orthodox recognize Marcus as one they derive succession through and that he differed from the earlier bishops:

According to the testimonies of the historian Eusebios and from other information, Saint Symeon was succeeded by Justus 1 st (107-111). From then until 134 on the Episcopal throne of the Church ascended twelve more Bishops, who were: Zaccheus, Tobias, Benjamen 1 st, John 1 st, Matthias 1 st, Philip, Seneca, Justus 2 nd, Leuis, Ephraim, Joseph 1 st, and Judas, who all served as bishops at Pella and of whom there is no special information. During this period the local Church was being disturbed externally by the Judaic Christians. ...

Most probably it was during this time the last of Hellenic origin Christians who had fled to Pella prior to the destruction of the City, returned to Jerusalem. They settled in Aelia and together with the rest of the Christians they formed a cluster of Christian communities. This resulted in the Church of Jerusalem consisting of Greeks from Pella and elsewhere, and “this Church is retained in the same spot by the nations”. In fact during the disturbed period of Adrian who was rather favourably predisposed towards the Christians, the Episcopal throne was occupied by Markos (134) the first Christian Greek of Aelia. The goodwill of the emperor towards the Greek Christians of Aelia coincided with the acceptance of the justifications for Christianity by the Bishop of Athens Kodratos and of the Athenian philosopher Aristedis. (The First Church. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. accessed 02/05/19)

So, notice that a Greek (or Latin) bishop had the goodwill of the pagan Roman emperor.

There was change--and not a Christian one.

Notice what the theological historian Johann Lorenz Mosheim wrote (note: I am using modern letter spelling as in his writing the letter "s" for example is normally shown as the letter "f") related to Marcus and the situation in Hadrian's new colony:

Feeling it was the first importance to their well-being, to procure for themselves the liberty of removing their effects into the city of Ælia, and to be admitted in the rights of citizenship there, a considerable number of the Christians came to the resolution of formally renouncing all obedience to the law of Moses. The immediate author of this measure was, in all likelihood, that very Marcus whom they appointed as their bishop: a man whose name evidently speaks him to have been a Roman, and who doubtless was not unknown in his nation that had been the chief command in Palestine and might possibly have been related to some officer of eminence there. Perceiving, therefore, one of their own nation placed at the head of Christendom, the Roman prefects dismissed at once all apprehension of their exciting disturbance in the newly-established colony, and from this time ceased to regard them as Jews.

In consequence in this favourable alteration of the sentiments of the Romans towards them ... Marcus, at whose insistence, they were prevailed on to renounce the law of Moses ... (Mosheim JL. Commentaries on the affairs of the Christians before the time of Constantine the Great: or, An enlarged view of the ecclesiastical history of the first three centuries, Volume 2. Translated by Robert Studley Vidal. Publisher T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1813. Original from Princeton University. Digitized Apr 28, 2010, pp. 196-197)

Was this view towards the law new? Yes, as Johann Lorenz Mosheim also wrote:

Nothing, in fact, can be better attested than that there existed in Palestine two Christian churches, by the one of which an observance of the Mosaic law was retained, and by the other disregarded. This division amongst the Christians of Jewish origins did not take place before the time of Hadrian, for it can be ascertained, that previously to his reign the Christians of Palestine were unanimous in an adherence to the ceremonial observances of their forefathers. There can be no doubt, therefore, that this separation originated in major part of them being prevailed upon by Marcus to renounce Mosaic ritual, by way of getting rid of the numerous inconveniences to which they were exposed, and procuring for themselves a reception, as citizens, in the newly formed colony of Ælia Capitolina. (Mosheim JL. Commentaries on the affairs of the Christians before the time of Constantine the Great: or, An enlarged view of the ecclesiastical history of the first three centuries, Volume 2. Translated by Robert Studley Vidal. Publisher T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1813. Original from Princeton University. Digitized Apr 28, 2010, p. 197)

It was not the elimination of "Mosiac ritual" that Marcus insisted upon, as much of what would be so considered was gone earlier (cf. Hebrews 9:6-28).

It was Christian practices such as the Sabbath (Hebrews 4:9), Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), and religious separation (2 Corinthians 6:17; Hebrews 7:26) that Marcus renounced. Yet, those had been kept by the actual 15 Jewish bishops that the Eastern Orthodox claim that Marcus succeeded. Marcus, homself, also failed heed Jude's warning "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

There is an old Arabic Islamic manuscript that reports about those considered to be Judeao-Christians that seems to provide some additional details. It was published in English in 1966 by Shlomo Pines as The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. It was originally written by an Arabic Muslim around the tenth century named Abd al-Jabbar and called Tathbit Dala'il Nubuwwat Sayyidina Mahammad. One chapter of it is believed to be an Islamic interpretation of a lot of "Judeo-Christian" writings (some probably from true Nazarenes, others from Essenes, etc.). Shlomo Pines translated much of the one chapter of it into English, that discussed Arabic Judeao-Christians (see Arabic Nazarenes May Have Kept Original Christian Practices) who seemed to have practices like other Nazarene Christians (Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).

Here is the translation of one section of it that may have additional insight related to Marcus' supporters:

(71a) 'After him', his disciples (axhab) were with the Jews and the Children of Israel in the latter's synagogues and observed the prayers and the feasts of (the Jews) in the same place as the latter. (However) there was a disagreement between them and the Jews with regard to Christ.

The Romans (al-Rum) reigned over them. The Christians (used to) complain to the Romans about the Jews, showed them their own weakness and appealed to their pity. And the Romans did pity them. This (used) to happen frequendy. And the Romans said to the Christians: "Between us and the Jews there is a pact which (obliges us) not to change their religious laws (adyan). But if you would abandon their laws and separate yourselves from them, praying as we do (while facing) the East, eating (the things) we eat, and regarding as permissible that which we consider as such, we should help you and make you powerful, and the Jews would find no way (to harm you). On the contrary, you would be more powerful than they."

The Christians answered:"We will do this."

(And the Romans) said: "Go, fetch your companions, and bring your Book (kitab)." (The Christians) went to their companions, informed them of (what had taken place) between them and the Romans and said to them: "Bring the Gospel (al-injil), and stand up so that we should go to them."

But these (companions) said to them: "You have done ill. We are not permitted (to let) the Romans pollute the Gospel. In giving a favourable answer to the Romans, you have accordingly departed from the religion. We are (therefore) no longer permitted to associate with you; on the contrary, we are obliged to declare that there is nothing in common between us and you;" and they prevented their (taking possession of) the Gospel or gaining access to it. In consequence a violent quarrel (broke out) between (the two groups). Those (mentioned in the first place) went back to the Romans and said to them: "Help us against these companions of ours before (helping us) against the Jews, and take away from them on our behalf our Book (kitab)." Thereupon (the companions of whom they had spoken) fled the country. And the Romans wrote concerning them to their governors in the districts of Mosul and in the Jazirat al-'Arab. Accordingly, a search was made for them; some (qawm) were caught and burned, others (qawm) were killed.

(As for) those who had given a favorable answer to the Romans they came together and took counsel as to how to replace the Gospel, seeing it was lost to them. (Thus) the opinion that a Gospel should be composed (yunshi`u) was established among them…a certain number of Gospels were written. (Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 14-15).

The above would seem to have taken place in the second century (which is consistent with Shlomo Pines' beliefs). It is interesting for a number of reasons. It shows that there were two group that professed Christ then. One called "Christians" above, and the other (the faithful ones) called "companions." The fact that the companions would no longer associate with the compromisers showed that in whatever area the above occurred in, there were definitely two groups.

One had the true gospels, but another made their own up--this may be why the 'gnostic gospels' started to appear in the early second century (see also The New Testament Canon - From the Bible and History).

It should be noted that, because of this revolt, Emperor Hadrian outlawed many practices considered to be Jewish. The Christians in Judea had a decision to make. They either could continue to keep the Sabbath and the rest of God's law and flee or they could compromise and support a religious leader who would not keep the Sabbath, etc.

Notice that the Romans went after the 'governors' of the companions--in other words, they took steps to eliminate faithful bishops (see also Persecutions by Church and State). But apparently the Roman authorities did NOT go after Marcus as he was not Jewish and had compromised doctrine so much that he and his followers were acceptable.

Sadly as E. Gibbon's reported, most, but not all, made the wrong choice in 135 A.D. Marcus engaged in political compromise to get his position--but this is not a position that the God of the Bible would approve.

The 19th century scholar J.B. Lightfoot wrote:

The Church of Ælia Capitolina was very differently constituted from the Church of Pella and the Church of Jerusalem ... not a few doubtless accepted the conqueror’s terms, content to live henceforth as Gentiles ... in the new city of Hadrian.  But there were others who hung to the law of their forefathers ... (Lightfoot, Joseph Barber.  Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: A Revised Text with Introduction, Notes and Dissertations. Published by Macmillan, 1881. Original from Harvard University. Digitized Oct 16, 2006, pp. 317, 331)

So, a major change happened once Marcus and his followers were around. Scholars who study into it enough realize this, though most people do not.

Jesus, of course, taught that the true church would be a "little flock" (Luke 12:32). The actions of Marcus clearly led to a separation between the Christian faithful and those who preferred a form of Christianity more acceptable to the Roman world.

Marcus Does Not Have True Succession

Although the Eastern Orthodox (also called the Greek Orthodox) claim apostolic succession through Marcus, the Church of Rome, the Continuing Church of God, and documents from church history disagree with that claim.

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 notes:

The shortest-lived Apostolic Church is that of Jerusalem. In 130 the Holy City was destroyed by Hadrian, and a new town, Ælia Capitolina, erected on its site (Wilhelm J. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Apostolic Succession. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

And while is now believed that Ælia Capitolina was erected in 135 (as opposed to 130 since the Simon Bar Kokhba revolt was from 132-135 A.D.), as the true Christians had to flee from Jerusalem then, it is clear that Roman Catholic scholars have dismissed the idea of unbroken apostolic succession from Jerusalem. Real scholars will admit that whatever came immediately after Bishop Judas as the leader in Ælia Capitolina was not faithful.

It should also be noted that since the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem does not have the same biblical doctrines that the first bishops of Jerusalem held, he and his church cannot truly be considered as an apostolic successor.

The Orthodox saint Irenaeus specifically seems to have eliminated Jerusalem as he wrote:

Further, also, concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been "the city of the great King," it would not have been deserted. This is just as if any one should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters…The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, she (Jerusalem) was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Chapter IV, Verse 1).

So while the Orthodox also consider Irenaeus to be a saint and Jerusalem to be one of the five “Apostolic Sees,” Irenaeus basically taught that God was finished using Jerusalem as a type of headquarters in this age.  Irenaeus’ “forsaken” statement is probably referring to those that fled Jerusalem prior to its destruction in 70 A.D. or at the latest 135 A.D.

The noted Catholic historian Tertullian also denied that Jerusalem had succession. He said it was only Smyrna and Rome that could make that claim. By Tertullian's time (circa 195), he concluded that there were only two apostolic churches (presumably because the church was split into three groups. the Romans (presumably also including those in Alexandria), the Smyrnaeans (presumably also including those in Antioch and Byzantium), and the heretics:

Anyhow the heresies are at best novelties, and have no continuity with the teaching of Christ. Perhaps some heretics may claim Apostolic antiquity: we reply: Let them publish the origins of their churches and unroll the catalogue of their bishops till now from the Apostles or from some bishop appointed by the Apostles, as the Smyrnaeans count from Polycarp and John, and the Romans from Clement and Peter; let heretics invent something to match this (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum. Circa 200 A.D. as cited in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is probable that Tertullian was aware of elders in Rome prior to Clement (as Irenaeus wrote prior to him), as well as bishops of Smyrna prior to Polycarp, but that Tertullian felt that apostolic succession could only have gone through Polycarp of Smyrna (who he listed first) or Clement.

Now this poses a problem for the Eastern Orthodox Church as none of its 'apostolic sees' were apparently believed to have succession by Tertullian either.

Beliefs of the Early Faithful

While Marcus was against the Sabbath and laws of God and likely condoned the consumption of biblically unclean meats, it is unclear how else he and his followers compromised. As it appears that they did not have a complete New Testament, I suspect that they compromised quite a bit. However, they prbably did not have idols/icons like the current Greek Orthodox now promote.

Notice the following teachings of early Christianity--all of which are accepted by the true Church of God (often called Nazarenes in the first four or five centuries) and only a relatively few of which are practiced/taught/still accepted by Roman Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants (though early leaders considered as "saints" by the Catholics also held them):

Baptism was by immersion and did not include infants.
The complete Bible with the proper Old Testament and New Testament was relied on by the true Church in Asia Minor.
A Binitarian view, that acknowledged the Holy Spirit, was held by the apostolic and post-apostolic true Christian leaders.
Birthdays were not celebrated by early Christians.
Born-Again meant being born at the resurrection, not at the time of conversion.
Celibacy for Bishops/Presbyters/Elders was not a requirement.
Church Governance was hierarchical.
Christmas was not observed by any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings.
Circumcision, though not required, was long practiced by original Nazarene Christians.
Confession of sins were not made to priests and did not require penance.
Deification of Christians (which begins after the first resurrection) was taught by the early leaders of the Church.
Duties of Elders/Pastors were pastoral and theological, not predominantly sacramental--nor did they dress as many now do.
Easter per se was not observed by the apostolic church.
The Fall Holy Days were observed by true early Christians.
The Father was considered to be God by all early professing Christians.
The True Gospel included the kingdom of God and obedience to the law of God and was so understood by the faithful.
Heaven was not taught to be the reward of Christians.
Holy Spirit was not referred to as God or as a person by any early true Christians.
Hymns were mainly psalms, not praises to Christ.
Idols were taught against, including adoration of the cross.
Immortality of the soul or humans was not taught.
Jesus was considered to be God by the true Christians.
The Kingdom of God was preached.
Leavened Bread was removed from the homes of early Christians when the Jews did the same.
Lent was not observed by the primitive church.
Limbo was not taught by the original church.
Mary was the mother of Jesus, was blessed (Luke 1:28) and called blessed (Luke 1:48), but was not prayed to, etc. by true early Christians.
Military Service was not allowed for true early Christians.
Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians.
Monasticism was unheard of in the early Christian church.
Passover was kept on the 14th of Nisan by apostolic and second century Christians in Asia Minor.
Pentecost was kept on Sunday by certain Jews and was observed then by professing Christians.
Purgatory was not taught by the original apostolic church.
The Resurrection of the dead was taught by all early Christians.
The Sabbath was observed on Saturday by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church.
Salvation was believed to be offered to the chosen now by the early Church, with others being called later, though not all that taught that (or other doctrines) practiced "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
God's Six Thousand Year Plan for humankind to rule itself was believed by early professors of Christ.
Sunday was not observed by the apostolic and original post-apostolic Christians.
The Ten Commandments were observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians--and in the order that the Church of God claims they are in.
Tithes and Offerings were given to support the ministry, the churches, the needy, and evangelical travels and gospel proclamation.
Tradition had some impact on the second century Christians, but was never supposed to supercede the Bible.
The Trinity was not a word used to describe the Godhead by the apostolic or second century Christians, though a certain threeness was acknowledged.
Unclean Meats were eaten by the early allegorists, but not by true Christians.

But it took a while for those in Jerusalem to make all the changes that they did.

There are at least 17 claimed "Councils of Jerusalem." After the one in the Book of Acts, the next one was claimed to occur in the late 2nd century. In it, the apostate leaders there, under the direction of Bishop Narcissus (whom the Greeks tend to call Narcissos I), accepted a change to the date of Passover from the date that the apostles and their faithful followers observed to what is now known as Easter Sunday (Dowling TE. The orthodox Greek patriarchate of Jerusalem, 3rd ed. Society for promoting Christian knowledge, 1913. Original from Princeton University. Digitized Dec 21, 2010, p. 115).

A fourth claimed council, in 335 A.D., accepted the unitarian Arius and stated that he "had been misunderstood" (ibid, p. 116).

A thirteenth claimed council, in 726, was led by Patriarch/Bishop John V who defended religious idols "sacred images" (ibid, p. 118).

A fourteenth claimed council, in 763, was partially led by Patriarch/Bishop Theodorus who denounced a leader opposed to idols/icons (ibid, p. 118).

It perhaps should be noted that although the Eastern Orthodox embraced the trinitarian view of the Godhead that was forced through the Council of Constantinople in 381, this was not the view of the original 15 bishops of Jerusalem nor at least a couple of Greek Orthodox bishops of Jerusalem. Notice information on one:

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386… He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the Semi-Arian party was triumphant… He belonged to the Semi-Arian, or Homoean party, and is content to declare that the Son is "in all things like the Father" (Chapman, John. St. Cyril of Jerusalem. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 3 Feb. 2010 <>)

While some have questioned if Cyril was semi-Arian, it is also known that Maximus II (who preceded him as bishop of Jerusalem) had semi-Arian views. It is most likely that Marcus had a semi-arian view of the Godhead himself as the trinitarian view was not known to have been embraced that early in that region.

Thus, even being trinitarian was not a belief that was held even by important Greco-Orthodox leaders of Jerusalem. But now it is.

Is it not clear that the Orthodox in Jerusalem have changed on that and other matters?

Getting back to Marcus himself, he was one of many apostates to rise up in the second century who compromised with the law of God. Marcus got his position through political compromise. He implemented a pattern of disobedience that others have expanded and basically claimed to be 'traditions.' But these were not the position of the original apostles nor their faithful successors.

History is clear that the later successors of Marcus embraced various practices and beliefs that the original 15 bishops of Jerusalem opposed and/or did not embrace.

The following items may be of related interest:

Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?

Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

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Thiel B. Marcus of Jerusalem: Apostolic successor or apostate? (c) 2015 2019 2020 0528