The Gospel of Early Christianity

(Part 1)

Compiled and Presented by Don R. Hender


   Of the many 'Early Fathers' of the Christian Faith many could be referenced but then one would have to attempt to consolidate down just what was the general belief of them all. For the very very early Church one could but refer directly to the writings of the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ as contained in the New Testament, but then all the various interpretations of such and such would have to sifted through and decided upon. And we would be no nearer the truth of just what the 'Early Christian Church' taught as its Gospel. Then again one could postpone the matter entirely to a much later date of when the 'Catholic Church' declares just what that Gospel is and is not, but that would be much after the fact and include much of that one skewed opinion of the Gospel. Call me lazy but there is another ready source which is both 'timely' and about as accurate as I believe is possible, for the intent of its presentation was to sum in one 'first' historical history the teachings of Christianity which had gone before from the New Testament, Old Testament and most all the renoun prior Gospel scholars, thus that laborious task would already be done for me. And all I would have to do is to consult that one historically recognized Ecclesiastical History of the Church and other such writings as this one particular scholar had written upon the subject to so determine just what was generally the accepted Christian Gospel of his time and era.

Historically many have touted this historical figure as the 'Father of the Nicene Creed', though in doing so they have not closely studied just what was his particular stance was upon that matter, but rather they reference him as such by using what the Nicene Creed did later become rather than what this particular Bishop of the faith in truth intented it to be. Of course by now you may have guessed and concluded upon just who this person, who is my esteemed source is, and that is Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, the author of the Ecclesiastical History of the Church and numerous other such related texts and writiings.

This Bishop Eusebius live round and about that historical date of 325 A.D. so associated with the first Council of Nicaea. He had most likely completed his Chruch History and was much studied in the scriptures and such early writings of the earlier Christian Fathers as was had in the Great Library of Caesarea in his day and time. It is hard to find any such Bishop of the faith who was more studied, learned and had written more and was recognized more generally than was Bishop Eusebius. If fact he was called upon by the Emporer Constantine to play a central role in the Nicaean meeting of the Bishops of Christianity in an attemp to help solidify and unify the faith. Since the death and withdrawal of the leading Apostles of the Lord, the Christian faith had began to stray in various paths of speculation and personal prideful innovation upon the part of various sectors of the faith over the span of distance and according to their own regional schools of passed on and taught theology which was also very much beginning to be influenced by such localized skewed trends of belief from east to west and from the north to the south. In this respect, Caesarea also seemed to be a nicely positioned central location of Gospel Study and learning supported by its great and grand library of such related religious texts.

One may contend and prefer another route to this central theme of presenting the Early Christian Gospel, but for a one point in time central source, I can find no other so greatly qualified to stand apart as I have found in the person and writings of Bishop Eusibeus of Caesarea. And I will present from Bishop Eusebius' History and other writings just what I consider to be the central and creditical points of just what was the Early Christian Gospel in that day and time of Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. I will do this by a two columar presentation which presents from the sources of Bishop Eusebius' History and various writings just what he said of those Gospel Standards. And in the second column I will present commentary and comparison as to what the Gospel of Jesus Christ so teaches today according to my knowledge and understanding.

Ecclesiastical History
Book I - Chapter 1

[Perhaps the most significant quotable statement by Eusebius as to the status quo of his day and time in relationship to the theology and Gospel of Jesus Christ may be summed up as such:]

" . . . the history of the Church; and to mention those who have governed and presided over the Chruch in the most prominent parishes, and those who in each generation have proclaimed the divine word either orally or in writing.
" . . . those who through love of innovation have run into the greatest errors, and, proclaiming themselves discoverers of knowledge falsely so-called have like fierce wolves [grievous wolves (Acts 20:29 & 2 Thes. 2:3)] unmercifully devastated the flock of Christ."
(Ecclesiastical History, Book I, Chapter I, Paragraph/verse 1 & 2)

Commentary and Added Facts & Scripture

One of the driving concerns of Constantine was that there was a need for a unified structured 'faith', yet having adopted Christianity, Constantine found it in a state of factions, each teaching and believing as they might, well separate and apart from each other. To this end, to unify the Church and also thereby unify his Empire, Constantine would strive to unify the Church. Such as one of the central objectives of the called Council of Nicaea, that the Bishops might meet and come to some general bases of commonality of Christian faith and believe; for indeed they were not in a state of agreement, but rather in a state of divided chaos for the very reasons and causes as stated by Bishop Eusebius in his History text so stated at the left.

[Now Eusebius goes on to state just what his intent and purpose to write is.]

"I propose to write of all these things I shall commence my work with the beginning of the dispensation (oikonomia) of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. " . . . the dispensation (oikonomia) of the Savior Christ—which is loftier and greater than human conception—and with a discussion of his divinity (theologia) . . . [it is needful] for one who proposes to write a history of the Church to begin with the very origin of Christ's dispensation, a dispensation more divine than many think." (EH Book I, Chapter I, paragraph/verses 3 & 5)


"Who Shall Declare His Generation?"
~ Isaiah 53:8, Acts 8:33, Mosiah 14:8, Mosiah 15:10 ~


"I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,
saith the Lord,
who is, and who was, and who is to come,
the Almighty."
~ Revelation 1:8 ~

Now Eusebius understands and knows that Jesus Christ's 'dispensation' did not merely begin with his birth of Mary. He understands that it had its beginning before the foundation of the earth in the Pre-existence at that time when the 'fulness' of the covenant of God the Father was placed upon him by the process of selection, bening anointed/empowered and raised to that position of divinity wherein the 'fulness of the Godhead would reside in him by divineinvestiture. Whatever Jesus/Jehovah was before this 'event', the 'oikonomia' of being ordained the Redeemer and Ministering God to act in the stead of the Father in all things mark a 'Beginning'. In this Beginning is Christ named Alpha, the Beginning, he being then become the First. The full extent of the 'economy' of placing but in one being the fulness of the power and redemption of God unto the Salvation of man is not typically well understood by man. This is the point which Eusebius is making, that Christ's dispensation or generation is more divine than many tend to think. It spans the generations of time from all eternity to all eternity. And there is no other way given under heaven but by, in and through him that man may be saved. This is the Eternal and Everlasting Covenant of God that in the Son is all mankind, the very work and glory of God to be fulfilled and accomplished. That is, 'All things in him are.' Even these words of commentary and explanation does not give it justice of understanding.

Ecclesiastical History
Book I - Chapter 2

Summary View of the Pre-existence and Divinity of Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ

"Since in Christ there is a twofold nature . . . he is thought of as God . . . for the sake of our salvation, put on human nature with the same passions as our own—the following work will be complete only if we begin with the chief and lordliest events of all his history. In this way will the antiquity and divinity of Christianity be shown to those who suppose it of recent and foreign origin, and imagine that it appeared only yesterday. . . . 'Who shall declare his generation?' . . . can any one know the Son adequately except the Father alone who hath begotten him." (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 1)

As all men are within the veil of forgetfulness, it is only Father and the Son who are all knowing and who can knoweth the whole of the matter from its pre-existent beginning to its eventual end, its Alpha and Omega as it were.

"Knowest thou the condescenssion of God?" . . . "Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God" (1 Nephi 11:16) That Jesus/Jehovah who had been annointed and empowered in the pre-existent beginning was to come to earth and be born of women was indeed a very part of the 'oikonomia' dispensation of our Savior and Lord, as only by this could and would he be enabled to become the Redeemer of mankind. Christianity did not begin with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it began before the foundation of the world in the pre-existence of God when God the Father selected and anointed his Firstborn Son in the spirit to be the Mediator, Intercessor and Advocate of man to come and be the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.

[In addition to the common understanding of the birth of Jesus to Mary, Eusebius now turns back to the pre-existence before the foundation of the world to further disclose more concerning that 'oikonomia' - dispensation - and/or gneration of the Lord Jesus Christ, the same who is Jehovah, relative to his role and part in the temporal creation of heaven and earth.]

" . . . who beside the Father could clearly understand the Light which was before the world, the intellectual and essential Wisdom which existed before the ages, the living Word [Christ the Son/Jehovah] which was in the beginning with the Father and which was God, the first [born] and only begotten of God which was before every creature and creation visible [temporal] and invisible [spiritual], the commander-in-chief of the rational and immortal host of heaven, the messenger of the great counsel, the executor of the Father's unspoken will, the creator, with the Father, of all things, the second cause [Second Estate] of the universe after the Father, the true and only-begotten Son of God, the Lord and God and King of all created things, the one who has received dominion and power, with divinity itself, and with might and honor from the Father [Divine Investiture]; as it is said in regard to him in the mystical passage of Scripture which speak of his divinity: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'" (John 1:1) (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 2)

"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him." (Colossians 1:15-16) That Jesus/Jehovah was so fully empowered that the fulness of the power and authority of the very Father rested in him in order that he might fulfill the mind and the will of the Father concerning the work of bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man; the whole of it the entire 'economy' or 'oikonomia' or dispensation of it all is so immenwe that it is not easily comprehended by human mind. It is not easily grasphed, fathomed or understood that God the Father needfully so empowered his Firstborn spirit son the the fulness of the power and authority of the Godhead in order that one from among us might enact all that which must be done to bring to past the immortality and eternal life of man. But this he did and perhaps understanding the 'why' might help. God the Eternal Father in Heaven is and was of that higer Celestial order and would not according to the Laws of Eternal Progression, return to a state of temporal mortality to administer to demands and needs of those of a Second lower Estate of which he did not pertain to. Simple stated " . . . there no angels [beings] who minister to this earth [estate] but those who do belong or have belonged to it." (D&C 130:5) Jesus/Jehovah still being a spirit being did qualify to come and be a part of 'this earth', that is its fallen state of temporal mortality, were as God the Father, Our Father in Heaven was advanced beyond it and did not pertain unto it. And thus all things were to be entrusted and they rested in the Son.

[Having reconfirmed that Jesus/Jehovah the Son was from that beginning of that endowment of power upon the Son, in and with the presence of God the Father, he now the Son also endowed with that same Power of God, Eusebius next turns to the order of the events of the actual temporal creation of the heavens and the earth as performed by the Son in concert and under the direction of the Father.]

"'All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made.' (John 1:3) This, too, the great Moses teaches . . . he describes under the influence of the divine Spirit the creation and arrangement of the universe. He declares that the maker of the world and creator of all things yielded to Christ himself, and to none other his own clearly divine and first-born [Son in the spirit] Word, the making of inferior things [of the Second temporal Estate], and communed with him respecting the creation of man." (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 3)

Though an understanding of this relationship of Jesus/Jehovah being the builder and God the Father the directing architech may be arrived at in a study of the Scriptures under the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost, a very straight forward and simple presentation of these events is contained in the LDS Temple Endowment presentation. That presentation is a Holy Convocation of enlightenment and instruction concerning the relationship of the world and heaven as it really is. Since the sacred, not secret, nature of the temple endowment prohibits any detailed discussion from the endowment presentation itself, let it be said that it does confirm this very relationship between The Father and Son in the temporal creative process. That is the Father directed and the Son performed the mammoth undertaking of the creation of the universe. And it proceeds as on going and as revealed in scripture, "worlds without number . . . as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come, and there is no end to my works, neither to my words." (Moses 1:31-39 and Abraham 3 to read and understand more.)

[So clearly does Eusebius in his Eccesiastical History set forth the events of the pre-existence and of the happenings of the creation as it was truely done, as well as those times of understanding from Abraham down and into the New Testament times, that it is hard to understand just where Traditional Christianity has gone astray. And one must consider that the record of Moses which and the Bible scriptures Eusebius had access to at that great and grand library of Caesarea may not be that which is that of our Bible text today.]

"'For,' says he, 'God [the Father] said, Let us [The Father and the Son] make man in our image and in our likeness.' (Genesis 1:26) And another of the prophets confirms this, speaking of God in his hymns as follows: 'He spake and they were made; he commanded and they were created.' (Psalms 33:9 & Psalms 148:5) He here introduces the Father and Maker as Ruler of all, commanding with a kindly nod (Psalms 33:9), and second (Psalms 148:5) to him the divine Word, none other than the one who is proclaimed by us, as carrying out the Father's commands. All . . . the great servant Moses and before him . . . Abraham and his children, . . . as many righteous men and prophets as afterward appeared, have contemplated him [Christ/Jehovah] with the pure eyes of the mind, and have recognized him and offered to him the worship which is due him as Son of God." (EH Book 1 Chapter 2 paragarph/verse 4)

" . . . many part which are plain and most precious, and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away." . . . "there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book" . . . "And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles." (1 Nephi 13:26 & 28-29) Perhaps no where is it more clear that even down to the time of Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea were the scriptures and writings still possessed of many of these plain and precious things and covenants of the Lord, as Eusebius does have extrodinary depths of Gospel understanding which have alluded Christians of later times even down to today.

How simple is it to see and understand that the 'Gods' meaning Father and Son were jointly envolved in the creation as director and performer especially when even today in Genesis is speaks in the plural 'Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.' Why must we still be of the deaf ears, blind eyes, and hardened heart of the Jews who refused to see in Jesus the Son of God, that even as Stephen saw them the Son standing upon the right hand of God in vision, which hearing the vision the Jews did stop up their ears and raged upon Stephen to take him out and stone him to death for so declaring that which they would not hear, that Jesus was indeed the very Son of God. (Acts 7) As Eusebius does report according to his understanding all, Moses, Abraham and his children and many righteous men and prophets have understood with pure eyes of the mind and have recognized hime and offered to him the worship which was and is due him Jesus/Jehovah as being the Son of God.

[Eusebius understood the positioning of the Father of Heaven and Jesus/Jehovah as Ministering God of this temporal creation.]

"But he [Jesus/Jehovah], by no means neglected of the reverence due to the Father, was appointed to teach the knowledge of the Father to them all. For instance, the Lord God, it is said, appeared as a common man to Abraham while he was sitting at the oak of Mambre [Mamre] (Genesis 18-1). And he immediately fallin down, although he saw a man with his eyes, nevertheless worshipped him as God (Genesis 18:2), and acrified to him as Lord, and confessed that he was not ignorant of his identity when he uttered the words, 'Lord, the judge of all the earth, wilt thou not execute righteous judgment?'" (Genesis 18:25) (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 5)

Jesus plainly taught, though it was not generally accepted by the Jewish leadership, that he the Son of God was the same as that very God of Abraham. This was a part of his 'dispensation' as the annointed and Ministering God of this temporal creation of God's Plan of Salvation.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it, and was glad.
"Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM."

Eusebius knew and understood well the separation of the Father of Heaven and the Son Jehovah/Jesus as he has taught it in his Ecclesiastical History of the Church. Eusebius knew this and had written it well before any Nicene Counsel and before any eventuated Nicene Creed. As we progrees through this understanding fo Early Christianity and the Gospel, it will be 'exposed' just were Christianity and the trues which Eusebius of Caesarea still espoused parted their ways.

[Whether Eusebius knew himself or not that the Spirit of Jehovah as the 'Word' was in the form and image of man, that is 'eyes, ears, mouth and nose - head, shoulders, knees, and toes', he has already referenced that man was created in the image of Father and Son (Genesis 1:26). Yet he now justifies in his paragraph 6 that the God and Lord, the pre-existent Word did appear to Abraham in that common form of a man.]

" . . . the God and Lord who judgeth all the earth and executeth judgment is seen in the form of a man, who else can be called, if it be not lawful to call him the first cause [First Estate] of all things, than his only pre-existent Word? Concerning whom it is said in the Psalms, 'He sent his Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.'" (Psalms 107:20) (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 6)

"Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit, and man have I created after the body of my spirit, and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh." (Ether 3:16, see all of Ether chapter 3)

That the temporal tabernacle which was created to house the spirit of man is in the same form as that spirit which it houses is not new revelation to the common man as even Hollywood does depict it so. But to Traditional Christianity it is often treated as a heresey. The Bible may teach that man is in the image of God but many a Christian theologist will not believe that his God, after the image of Greek Philosophy, is in the image of man.

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

[Eusebius now proceeds to give scriptural evidence that man has seen God, that is Jesus/Jehovah.]

" . . . Jacob . . . saying, 'For I have seen God fact to face, and my life is preserved.' (Genesis 32:24-30)
"Joshua . . . Loose thy shoe from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy. (Joshua 5:13-15)
"Moses . . . he said unto him, I am the God of thy Fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
[Etc.]
"That the divine Word [Jesus Christ/Jehovah], therefore, pre-existed and appeared to some, if not all, has thus been briefly shown by us."
(EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraphs/verses 7-14)

Though the scriptures are full of occasions where God appears to and speaks unto man, many a Traditional Christian will deny that man can come to be in such a presence of God without experiencing destruction. Much of this misunderstanding come from the lack of understanding that man cannot experience the 'Glory of God' without being over shadowed and protected by the Holy Spirit, that is the Holy Ghost. Certainly men have seen and beheld God, and even in His Glory when protected by the power of God, that is the protective power of the Holy Spirit. As Eusebius well gives a summary of, men have seen God, commune directly with Him and lived.

Certainly since his death and resurrection countless numbers have see Jesus, and even the Glory of God the Father and lived. The New Testament scriptures is full of those ocassions.

[Eusebius now wanders into that which is basically unknown to him, considering why the 'Gospel' was not taught unto man from Adam down to the time of Christ as it was from the time of Christ on.]

(EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraphs/verses 15-20)

We today know and under stand what the Gospel of Jesus was taught to those who would receive it during the times of Adam, Enoch, Noah and so forth. The people of the Book of Mormon knew of Christ and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ among themselves. That various people have been 'lost' to that Gospel understanding is for sure. As to such as the Children of Israel under Moses, just what 'lesser understanding' they held is of debate as much of the tabernacle and temple performances of the Law of Moses was of a Type and Shadow of Jesus the Christ, the God of Israel.

[Eusebius goes on to discuss the life of Christ, that it had been fortold and known to be at hand at the very time when Jesus came to earth. So though the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus may not have been held and practiced as during and after Jesus-The Law of Moses was a lesser law-the coming and life of Jesus was foretold and much was understood about it by the people.]

" . . . The marvelous nature of his birth, and his new teaching, and his wonderful works had also been foretold; so likewise the manner of his death, his resurrection from the dead, and finally, his divine ascension into heaven." (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 21)

This point of Eusebius concerning Christ Gospel is well supported in the scriptures of the Old Testament. A complete study of that might will begin with something as simple as a review of the scriptural music of Handel's Messiah.

It ought to be noted that to this point concerning the 'dispensation of Jehovah/Jesus' Eusebius has covered from the appearent selection and ordination of the Lord by the Father in the pre-existence before the foundation of the world, the manner of the creation of the universe by the hand of the Lord Jesus/Jehovah, the workings with man of Jesus/Jehovah with man during the Old Testament times, and down to and now including the very birth of Jesus, his ministry, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. He has also referenced the Lord as to being judge and his judgements. One ought to agree that Bishop Eusebius have a very good and firm handle upon the 'enonomy' of the 'dispensation' of Jesus Christ, his role and of his being separate and distinct from that spearate being God the Father, Our Father in Heaven.

[Eusebius now jumps from the time of Christ life and earthly mission to that portion and part of the over all dispensation of Jesus/Jehovah at the time of his kingdom at the end of time using the Prophet Daniel as his source.]

" . . . Daniel the prophet, under the influence of the divine Spirit, seeing his kingdom at the end of time, was inspired thus to describe the divine vision . . . 'For I beheld,' he says, 'until thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was a flame of fire and his wheels burning fire. A river of fire flowed before him. Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousands times ten thousand stood before him.

He appointed judgement, and the books were opened.' And again, 'I saw,' says he, 'and behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he hastened unto the Ancient of Days and was brought into his presence, and there was given him the dominion and the glory and the kingdom; and all peoples, tribes, and toungues serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14) (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 22-23)

Bishop Eusebius, knowing of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as LORD and KING, has gone directly to Daniel's visionary account of the grand meeting with Adam, the Anient of Days siting as the head of the earthly family and then the Son of Man, meaning Jesus Christ/Jehovah as that Firstborn son in the spirit and the Only Begotten Son of God of the flesh coming with the clouds of heaven to join the gathering to accept his position of dominion and glory and kingdom. As to the workings of this earth, this is the seeming culminating end of the 'dispensation' and 'generation' of the 'oikonomia' of the everlasting covenant and saving mission of Jesus Christ - Jehovah. From Pre-existence to Creation to God of the Old Testament - to Ministering Redeemer - to Judge an King of the Kingdom of God, Eusebius has presented what many do not have a very good grasp of concerning just who Jesus Christ ~ Jehovah is and what his dispensation or generation consists of. Yet, I suppose of some necessity, after the Pre-existence and Creation, Eusebius has more concentrated as pertaining to this world and earth. And so I suppose must we for this is that which concerns us.

[To this Eusebius set his own summary of thought.]

"It is clear that these words can refer to no one else than to our Saviour, the God Word [Jesus/Jehovah] who was in the beginning with God [God Our Father in Heaven], and who was called the Son of man because of his final appearance in the flesh. But since we have collected in separate books as the selections from the prophets which relate to our Saviour Jesus Christ, and having arranged in a more logical form those things which have been revealed concerning him, what has been said will surrice for the present. (EH Book I Chapter 2 paragraph/verse 24)

It would have been well and nice to have at hand all that which the great library of Caesarea had for Bishop Eusebius to call upon. Yet in many ways we have most of that and more as we have the Bible in hand in one book and not only that we have the added scripture of the peoples of the Book of Mormon, a more complete form of the text of Moses, some of the text of Abraham, and many more revelations of scripture in the records of Ephraim and his companions to be found in the Doctrine and Covenants and Histories of the Restoration. And this is not to mention the grand resourec of living Prophets and Apostles, though I suppose I just mentioned it.

End Part 1
Part 2