Update 371


The Forgotten God

On Saturday, December 6, 2008, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “The Forgotten God.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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A Fine Line

by Norbert Link

What does it really mean to “come out of this world” and to “be different”?

We know what it does NOT mean: We are not to leave this world physically–by hiding in a monastery somewhere and having no contact with other people of different mindsets. We know that Christ taught us just the opposite. He told us to go INTO the world with His message about the kingdom of God–to be a light to the world–to show by example HOW to live a righteous life even within an unrighteous environment.

This is why attitudes such as–“Depart from me, I’m holier than you”–or–“Unless you join my organization, you are ostracized”–are so terribly wrong. To think that someone must belong to “us” in order to be saved from harm–and unless they do, we must have no contact with them–only displays a total lack of spiritual understanding. To even go so far as to include our own relatives in the category of “excommunicated” or “disfellowshipped” persons –only because they don’t (want to) belong to us–shows an unchristian and ungodly mindset, void of the workings of the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, we must be careful that the world does not negatively affect us. We are to spiritually “come out of Babylon,” so that we don’t partake of her sins. We must “flee” fornication, adultery and wrong worship. We are not to participate in religious services where false ideas are preached. God is the author of truth. If wrong doctrines are disseminated, you can rest assured that they don’t come from God. That is why we are to TEST the spirits to see whether they indeed reflect pure and sound teachings.

As you can see, this requires of us to walk a fine line. Even though we are to live IN this world, we are not to be part OF it. We are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers who practice unrighteousness. We are not to participate in the customs of this world. In refusing to do so, we will encounter difficulties and outright hostilities from others. Even though we are told to strive to live in peace with everyone, we will be persecuted if we uphold the righteousness of God. But really, we have no choice in the matter.

We must obey God rather than man. This includes for us, not to participate in Sunday worship and Christmas celebrations. It includes not to join the military and police force, and to refrain from fighting in the wars of this world. It includes our refusal to serve on a jury and to vote in governmental elections. Instead, we keep the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, tithe faithfully and only eat clean food. As can be easily seen, this kind of conduct WILL prompt consternation, bewilderment and sometimes persecution and hate in some of our relatives and friends. But this is part of God’s command to come out of this world and to be separate. Not that we force the issue and provoke unnecessary discussions with those who don’t understand–but many times, the issue will be forced upon us merely by the fact that they observe us striving to do what is right.

Nowadays, the refusal to keep Christmas is equated by some as unpatriotic conduct. So is, of course, the refusal to support and fight the wars of our country, and to participate in its political campaigns. This wrong mindset can affect us in the Church, if we are not careful.

A minister recently wrote: “If indeed this is a government of the people, then we are responsible for what the government does, at least to the extent of our vote or lack thereof… Called for jury duty, I simply have to be honest and truthful with the facts. It would be my responsibility to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. One’s responsibility as a part of the government, however temporary, is not the same as one’s responsibility as a private Christian. I think that is the main flaw in the old… argument against voting, jury duty, serving in law enforcement or military service.”

This reasoning reflects a total lack of understanding of how the government and jury duty work–showing an extremely naive and uneducated mindset regarding those issues. As ambassadors for Christ, we are to show the world a better way. We are not to try to make this a better place–knowing that only God can and will do this. We are to announce to this world God’s soon-coming solutions to our problems–and voting in governmental elections, condemning someone as a juror or killing our fellow man in times of peace or war, are most certainly not part of our responsibilities today.

As individual Christians, we must show love and mercy to everyone–and we must do good to all, as much as it depends on us. To separate ourselves from our fellow man with a self-righteous and pharisaical mind-set is contrary to God’s explicit commands. But so is a desire to be a part of this world and to live like all the others do. It’s often a fine line, and only the wisdom of God will show us where to draw that line.

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Will USA Invade Pakistan?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 29:

“Mumbai a terror zone, and India bitterly points its finger at Pakistan… Pakistan is nearly a failed state — and a US invasion under President Obama can’t be ruled out…

“The murderers expressly went after Britons, Americans and Jews… The crimes bear the clear and bloody fingerprints of militant, political Islamism… It’s obvious the terrorists follow the ideology of al-Qaida, though it’s unclear whether the head of that organization gave orders for this mission…

“For years a kind of death industry has been taking hold in Pakistan’s tribal areas. There are hundreds of Koranic schools which could better be described as cadet schools for Islamists… The idea is to condition or brainwash them. The goal is jihad…

“The Pakistani government has long ago given up control of this region… The state is as good as bankrupt. Its political leadership is either corrupt or — when it comes to the military-intelligence service complex — almost without influence. And somewhere in Pakistan, nuclear weapons are stored…

“Barack… Obama was open about bringing military intervention in the tribal areas into the discussion. Strengthening the US presence there seems, in any case, a firm part of Obama’s agenda. The planned American withdrawal from Iraq could — in a worst-case scenario — be followed by an invasion of Pakistan…”

Iran–Barack Obama’s Hornet’s Nest

The Times wrote on December 3:

“Iran poses the greatest foreign policy challenge to Barack Obama… with Tehran on course to produce a nuclear bomb in the first year of an Obama administration, a coalition of top think-tanks gave warning yesterday…

“Gary Samore, one of the authors, said that [a] ‘hornet’s nest’ [is] facing the President-elect in the Middle East… The report paints a grim picture of the problems in the region…”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 1:

“The world may be focused on Iraq, Afghanistan, and terror in India, but experts say the biggest foreign policy challenge for the next US president will be dealing with Iran. Obama has promised a new approach — but the risk of failure is great… Iran now has access to more than 630 kilograms of slightly enriched uranium, is building more and more centrifuges for enrichment, and is barely cooperating with inspectors. A successful nuclear test from Tehran is imaginable within a year…

“Iran has proceeded with its atomic plans so effectively that their success now seems virtually unstoppable… Even a possible first strike from Israel is now out [of] the question in the White House — although, according to Haaretz, Israel’s national security council wants to present a paper in December with plans for attacking Iran.”

Israel Prepares Strike Against Iran

The Jerusalem Post reported on December 4:

“The IDF is drawing up options for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that do not include coordination with the United States… While its preference is to coordinate with the US, defense officials have said Israel is preparing a wide range of options for such an operation… Israeli officials have said it would be difficult, but not impossible, to launch a strike against Iran without receiving codes from the US Air Force, which controls Iraqi airspace. Israel also asked for the codes in 1991 during the First Gulf War, but the US refused…

“Several news reports have claimed recently that US President George W. Bush has refused to give Israel a green light for an attack on Iranian facilities. One such report, published in September in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, claimed that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert requested a green light to attack Iran in May but was refused by Bush…

“On Monday, Teheran dismissed the possibility of an Israeli strike, saying it didn’t take Israel seriously.”

USA Can Expect Terrorist Attack Before 2013

The Associated Press reported on December 1:

“The United States can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study… The commission believes biological weapons are more likely to be obtained and used before nuclear or radioactive weapons because nuclear facilities are more carefully guarded…

“Al-Qaida remains the only terrorist group judged to be actively intent on conducting a nuclear attack against the United States, the report notes. It is not yet capable of building such a weapon and has yet to obtain one. But that could change if a nuclear weapons engineer or scientist were recruited to al-Qaida’s cause, the report warns. The report says the potential nexus of terrorism, nuclear and biological weapons is especially acute in Pakistan.”

“Hillary Clinton–No Hope for Change in the Middle East”

Die Welt On Line reported on December 1:

“Obama’s choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state gladdens Israel, but does not overjoy Arabs and Iranians keen for a new start after eight years of perceived U.S. policy calamities. Clinton talked tough when running to be the Democratic presidential candidate, decrying her rival’s ‘naive’ call for direct talks with foes such as Iran and North Korea and vowing to ‘obliterate’ Iran if it attacked Israel…

“Obama and Clinton are inheriting a distinctly gloomy outlook for progress towards settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Washington’s Arab allies are not expecting a new dawn…”

President Bush’s Biggest Regret of All His Presidency

ABC News reported on December 1:

“Looking back on his eight years in the White House, President George W. Bush pinpointed incorrect intelligence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction as ‘biggest regret of all the presidency. I think I was unprepared for war,’ Bush told ABC News…  Bush, who has been a stalwart defender of the war in Iraq and maintaining U.S. troop presence there, said, in retrospect, the war exceeded his expectations…

“‘A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein,’ Bush said. ‘It wasn’t just people in my administration. A lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence…’ Bush declined to ‘speculate’ on whether he would still have gone to war if he knew Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.”

No End in Sight for Iraq War?

The New York Times wrote on December 4:

“On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to ‘end the war’ in Iraq. But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months…

“To date, there has been no significant criticism from the antiwar left of the Democratic Party of the prospect that Mr. Obama will keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for at least several years to come.”

Will Britain Adopt the Euro?–Highly Unlikely

The Daily Mail reported on December 2:

“Lord Mandelson was at the centre of a row last night over ‘secret’ plans to ditch the pound after an explosive claim that Britain is ready to join the euro. The European Commission president… Jose Manuel Barroso said he had held private conversations with ‘the people who count in Britain’ and knew that they were ready to move into the euro-zone…

“Lord Mandelson was the loudest cheerleader for the single currency during his stints in Tony Blair’s Cabinet… But now he appears at odds with his new boss Gordon Brown. Downing Street denied there had been any policy shift and said it had ‘no plans’ to ditch the pound. Sources said the suggestion that Britain was ready to enter was ‘wishful thinking’.

“Mr Barroso’s remarks led to a backlash in Westminster. Shadow foreign secretary William Hague pledged that there were ‘no circumstances’ in which a Conservative government would propose joining the euro.”

Merkel Under Attack in the Face of Financial Turmoil

Even though Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have the best approach and insight into the current financial crises, she is being criticized by commentators and governmental leaders alike, as she avoids to becoming infected by the worldwide “financial bailout” disease.

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 2:

“Media commentators are criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s steadfast refusal to take more drastic action to avert recession in Germany…

“Left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes, ‘Angela Merkel is really lucky. She’s lucky that no one in her party is brave enough to run against her…’ The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung [writes]… ‘Chancellor Merkel, in pointing to the fundamental causes behind the financial crisis, said “one can’t continually live beyond one’s means”… She said nothing in response to the proposals from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and nothing to the plans of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown…’

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, however, offered a note of support: ‘Merkel is behaving like a doctor who knows her patient is seriously ill but doesn’t yet know what therapy will work best. So she wants to calm the patient for the time being, to see how the first weak dose of medicine will work. That’s what the rescue package agreed in October is supposed to do. It hasn’t yet taken effect. That’s why Merkel wants to wait and see how the crisis develops…

“‘The chancellor is taking a risk. She’s in danger of being perceived afterwards as someone who recognized the crisis but didn’t do enough to fight it. The voters will punish [any] hesitation at the general election next September…'”

For more information, please watch our StandingWatch program: “Insane–Bailouts Topping $8.5 Trillion.” StandingWatch Google Video YouTube.

USA in Recession Since December 2007!!!

In spite of consistent and persistent denials of the U.S. government, it was now finally openly admitted that the U.S. has been in recession for A YEAR.

CNN reported on December 1:

“The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy… The current recession is one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The last two recessions (1990-1991 and 2001) lasted eight months each, and only two of the 10 previous post-Depression downturns lasted as long as a full year…

“In a statement, White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto said that even though the recession is now official, it is more important to focus on the steps being taken to fix the economy… Nonetheless, several economists said the real concern is that there is no end in sight for the downturn. Some suggested that the best case scenario for the economy is that it would reach bottom in the second quarter of 2009. And even if that happens, that would still make this recession the longest since the Great Depression.”

Financial Scholar Bernanke out of Touch with Reality

AFP reported on December 1 that “Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday the current economic situation bears ‘no comparison’ to the much deeper crisis of the 1930s Great Depression.” However, President Bush contradicted Bernanke with statements he himself had made earlier. The news agency continued:

“‘Well, you hear a lot of loose talk, but let me just … say, as a scholar of the Great Depression… there’s no comparison,’ Bernanke said… President George W. Bush said in an interview released Monday that Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned him weeks ago that bold action was needed to avert a new Great Depression. ‘I can remember sitting in the Roosevelt Room with Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke and others, and they said to me that if we don’t act boldly, Mr. President, we could be in a depression greater than the Great Depression,’ Bush told ABC News.”

So, no comparison, Mr. Bernanke? Get real, please!

While Home Values Decrease, Property Taxes on the Rise

USA Today reported on December 3:

“Property taxes are rising across the USA despite the steepest drop in home values since the Great Depression. Home values dropped 17% in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2007… At the same time, property tax collections across the USA rose 3.1%…  State and local governments are on track to collect more than $400 billion in property taxes this year, the most ever. One reason: Laws in most states that prevent big tax hikes when property values soar also block big tax drops when values sink…

“Most states cap how fast taxes rise in boom times. In bad times, the same laws keep taxes from falling… Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada — the four states hit hardest when overheated real estate markets crashed and triggered waves of foreclosures — all have tax laws that work this way… Most states are slow to change the assessed value of homes.”

More Governmental Attempts to Help the Housing Market?

The Financial Times wrote on December 4:

“The US Treasury is working on a new plan to help revive the ailing housing market by reducing mortgage rates on new home loans… The plan, which is at preliminary stages and could change, would involve using government-sponsored mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to push down rates on 30-year mortgages to as low as 4.5 per cent, or almost a full percentage point lower than current levels…

“But while lower mortgage rates should help to ease the rapid falls in US home prices and reduce the cost of monthly loan payments for millions of people, they may not help homeowners facing foreclosure, market participants say.”

“The Great Depression Ahead”

The Wall Street Digest wrote on December 2:

“The Next Great Depression will begin to unfold by mid-2010… Harry Dent’s latest book ‘The Great Depression Ahead’ will be released in December. Every investor should read this book for information on what to expect in the years ahead and how to survive the coming deflation. According to Dent, ‘By mid-2010 the long term baby boom trend of spending will slow down and create a greater crisis in economic growth, home values, derivatives and the banking system…’

“Any substantial recovery will be met by rising inflationary pressures, rising interest rates and mortgage rates, and rising commodity prices that will create the next bubble and crisis. Long-term interest rates–that are way below inflation rates now–will accelerate dramatically towards 7 percent plus 30-year Treasury rates and 9 percent plus 30-year fixed mortgage rates if there is a recovery… That would kill any chance of a housing recovery and put the banks and the economy back into a major crisis again…

“However, deflationary psychology is a far more difficult challenge: ‘Why purchase a home today when it will be cheaper tomorrow or next year?’ During the 2010- 2012 deflationary environment, the price of virtually everything will be declining, including stock prices, real estate, and commodities… Falling home prices continue to produce foreclosures and defaulting debt, which banks and financial institutions must write-off. Home prices peaked in June of 2005 and they are still falling. I do not see a bottom in home prices until perhaps 2013-2015… Four percent 30-year Treasuries could go to 7 percent plus by early 2010 and that means 9 percent plus 30-year mortgage rates!”

Please make sure to watch our eight-month-old StandingWatch program, “Coming–The Great Depression?”

California in DEEP Trouble

The Los Angeles Times reported on December 2:

“Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the new Legislature in to work on its first day, declaring a fiscal emergency Monday in response to the state’s deteriorating finances… But even as Schwarzenegger warned that California could run out of cash within two months, there was little indication that the Capitol’s partisan gridlock has waned enough to allow for an easy resolution to the state’s $28-billion budget gap.

“Republican lawmakers, who last week blocked a Democratic proposal to cut billions of dollars from schools, healthcare and welfare programs while tripling the vehicle license fee, quickly reiterated their opposition to any new taxes, which both Schwarzenegger and Democrats say are indispensable. Democratic legislators again dismissed some of Schwarzenegger’s proposals to ease labor rules on business in order to boost the economy…”

Germany Prevents Georgia and Ukraine from Becoming NATO Members

On December 3, 2008, Die Welt On Line reported the following:

“Foreign ministers of NATO members meeting in Brussels Dec. 2-3 have said that Georgia and Ukraine are not yet ready for beginning the process towards membership in the Atlantic Alliance…

“Before the December meeting of NATO foreign ministers… a dispute broke out within the Alliance over the enlargement question. The United States had suggested that the MAP [Membership Action Plan] was not a necessary precondition for Georgia and Ukraine to join the organization. This was interpreted by numerous NATO states as an attempt by the United States to inappropriately accelerate the entry of both countries to the Alliance.

“Several NATO countries, including Germany, have insisted on the standard procedure. Germany has said that not going through MAP would ‘set a dangerous precedent.’ A country undergoing the MAP process must fulfil requirements in areas including human rights, democratic control of the military, and free and fair elections…

“President Mikheil Saakashvili recently said in a teleconference that Georgia would not insist on going through MAP on its path to membership. The main goal of his foreign policy, then as now, he said, was simply to join NATO as soon as possible. He regretted that ‘skeptics like Germany’ were making this more difficult, he said.”

Krampus–The Demonic Alter Ego of “St. Nicholas”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 2:

“In Austria, Santa keeps track of who’s been naughty and nice — and [unleashes] a 7-foot-tall horned devil on the naughty. He’s called the Krampus… he roams rural Austria clad in chains and carrying a stick, terrifying misbehaving children on Dec. 5, the night before St. Nicholas’ Day…

“Krampus is very old indeed. Some say the tradition stems back to the pre-Christian era, and that the Krampus known and feared by Austrians today is a version of an ancient god incorporated into Christian holidays. There’s no doubt that today the frightening figure is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in some parts of Austria and Hungary…”

The online edition of the magazine published numerous pictures of Krampus “impersonations” by Austrians, and the following statements were made beneath those photographs:

“Krampus comes to Austria: On Dec. 5, men dressed in frightening goat masks roam villages terrifying children and spanking girls… Begun centuries ago, Krampus is considered St. Nicholas’s alter ego. If jolly St. Nick rewards children with presents, Krampus comes to terrify them… Austria’s Christmas devil has long horns, a goat-like face and cloven hoofs.”

In Germany, the figure of Krampus finds its counterpart in “Knecht Ruprecht”–a demonic personage accompanying “St. Nicholas”. He performs the same function as the Austrian Krampus, terrifying and punishing children. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”

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Was the Apostle Peter the first Bishop of Rome and the first Pope?

As we will see, there is no biblical evidence, which would support this conclusion. We should, first of all, notice, that Christ did NOT say that Peter would be the first Pope. A Scripture sometimes quoted for this assumption is Matthew 16:18. We discussed this passage in a previous Q&A, as follows:

“Christ said to Peter, beginning in Matthew 16:18: ‘And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it…’

“The word ‘Peter,’ i.e., ‘petros’ in Greek, means ‘a little stone.’ The ‘rock,’ on which Christ would build His church, is ‘petra’ in Greek, meaning a solid rock. Christ was not saying here that Christ would build the church on ‘Peter,’ but on THE ROCK — Christ Himself. It is CHRIST who is identified as ‘THE ROCK’ in passages such as 1 Corinthians 10:4. Peter, as well as the other apostles, in addition to the prophets, are part of the foundation, but Christ is the CHIEF cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The Church is built on Christ, who is the LIVING Head of the Church (Ephesians 4:15). That is why the ‘gates of Hades’ or ‘Death’ cannot overcome or defeat it. Christ, as the LIVING Head of the Church — as the foundation of the Church — has overcome death, having the ‘key of Hades and of Death’ (Revelation 1:18). Paul explains that no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is laid, which is Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).

“Unger’s Bible Handbook agrees, as follows: ‘”Thou art Peter [petros, a stone] and upon this rock [petra, great ledge of rock] I will build my church (cf. 1 Pet 2:4-6, where the apostle made it clear he was never to be thought of as ‘the rock’).”‘

“The Broadman Bible commentary points out:

“‘In the Greek text, two forms appear in “you are Peter” [Petros], and “on this rock” [petra]… The masculine form, Petros [and]… the feminine form, petra… If [Peter] is the rock, it is strange that the impersonal “this rock” follows the personal “you are.”… Although Peter and all the apostles (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14) were in some sense the foundation upon which the church was built, the New Testament never allows this in an absolute sense. Jesus Himself is “the rock” upon which the church is built… there could be a church without Peter, none without Christ. Peter is neither the head nor the foundation of the church. Jesus founded it; it stands or falls with [Him]; and [He] is yet its living Lord and head.'”

As mentioned by Unger, above, Peter referred to CHRIST as the “chief cornerstone” and as a “ROCK of offense” in 1 Peter 2:4-8. He did not imply that he, Peter, was the rock on which the Church was built.

But what else can be said about the idea that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome and the first Pope?

Scripture fails to confirm that Peter was even sent to Rome to minister in that area–which is in contradiction, of course, to the human tradition which places him in Rome as its first Bishop.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 9, 1967 edition, states under the subheading, “Tradition of Peter in Rome”: “The problems surrounding the residence… of Peter are the most complicated of all those encountered in the study of the New Testament and the early Church. The absence of any reference in (the books of) Acts or Romans to a residence in Rome gives pause but is not conclusive…”

However, an honest evaluation of the New Testament Scriptures leads to the conclusive conclusion that Peter was not in Rome to establish and teach the church there.

We read in Galatians 2:7-9 that Paul had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles, including those living in Rome, who were physically uncircumcised) just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (Jews who were physically circumcised). Paul writes:

“… when they [the apostles in Jerusalem, see verse 1] saw that the gospel for the uncircumcision had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised…”

Rome was essentially Gentile–even though some Jews resided there–and it was Paul, then, who went to Rome. It is true, however, that Peter was led to OPEN the way to salvation to be offered to Gentiles, by baptizing Cornelius, following a miraculous vision (compare Acts 11).

Paul confirms in Romans 15:16-20 that he was a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, and that he made it “his aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ WAS named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation” (verse 20). Paul is telling us here that he would not want to establish or lead a church which was already being led by another apostle, including Peter. He emphasizes the same principle in 2 Corinthians 10:13-16. When Paul was in Rome, he preached to the Gentiles there. He tells us in 2 Timothy 4:11, while imprisoned in Rome, that ONLY Luke was with him. Peter is not mentioned, which would be strange, if Peter was in Rome at that time. The same can be said regarding Paul’s additional “prison epistles” which were written during his first imprisonment in Rome (about 60-62 A.D.)–Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. No mention of Peter can be found in these letters.

In Romans 1:7, Paul addressed his letter to all of God’s beloved in Rome, without mentioning Peter. In Romans 16, he again addressed greetings to twenty-nine specific persons–in some cases their collective households–but again, he failed to mention Peter. Paul wrote the letter to the Romans about 57 A.D.–probably from Corinth. And even though tradition tells us that Peter had established the church at Rome in the 40’s A.D., we find no mention of Peter in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

It is also noteworthy what is stated Acts 28:22. Jewish leaders residing in Rome asked Paul about the gospel, when he had been brought as a prisoner to that city: “‘But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.’ So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the LAW of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.”

When the Jews disagreed amongst themselves, after having heard this message, Paul announced to them that he would now preach the gospel to the Gentiles in Rome, which he apparently did for two years (verses 24-31). This passage tells us that, even though they had heard about the sect of the Christians, they had not been taught the gospel when Paul arrived in Rome. This shows that Peter could not have been there for 12 years, prior to Paul’s arrival, to preach the gospel in Rome.

It is for these reasons that Henry Chadwick concluded in his book, “The Early Church,” Volume 1, 1967, page 18, that the idea that Peter was in Rome for twenty-five years is merely a third-century legend.

If Peter, then, was not in Rome, where was he? In Acts 12 we see that Peter was cast into prison by King Herod in Judea around 50 A.D. After his miraculous release, we are told that he met Paul in Antioch (Syria) around 50-56 A.D. (compare Galatians 2:11). Still later, around 64 A.D., he resided in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). Many Jews lived there at that time. Tradition, however, puts Peter in Rome during all this time, and some commentaries equate “Babylon” in 1 Peter 5:13 with the city of Rome. This, however, is in error. While John refers to Babylon, meaning the city of Rome, in the prophetic book of Revelation (compare Revelation, chapters 17 and 18), Peter actually resided in the literal city of Babylon at the time of his writing.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible points out:

“Some, by ‘Babylon’, understand Rome, which is so called, in a figurative sense, in the book of the Revelations… but that Peter was at Rome, when he wrote this epistle, cannot be proved, nor any reason be given why the proper name of the place should be concealed, and a figurative one expressed. It is best therefore to understand it literally, of Babylon in Assyria, the metropolis of the dispersion of the Jews, and the centre of it… there were great numbers [of Jews] which continued here, from the time of the captivity, who returned not with Ezra; and these are said by the Jews… to be of the purest blood: many of the Jewish doctors lived here; they had three famous universities in this country, and here their Talmud was written, called from hence… Babylonian.”

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agrees and adds:

“Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic dispersion whom Peter addresses was derived. Philo [The Embassy to Gaius, 36] and Josephus [Antiquities, 15.2.2; 23.12] inform us that Babylon contained a great many Jews in the apostolic age (whereas those at Rome were comparatively few, about eight thousand [Josephus, Antiquities, 17.11]); so it would naturally be visited by the apostle of the circumcision… Clement of Rome… mentions Paul and Peter together, but makes it as a distinguishing circumstance of Paul, that he preached both in the East and West, implying that Peter never was in the West. In 2 Peter 1:14, [Peter] says, ‘I must shortly put off this tabernacle,’ implying his martyrdom was near, yet he makes no allusion to Rome, or any intention of his visiting it.”

Based on the information provided in this Q&A, there should be no dispute concerning Peter’s position within the Church of God and the fact that Peter was not the head of the Church. Nor should there really be any dispute that Peter never even resided in Rome for many years; nor, that he occupied the position of Bishop of Rome or the title of Pope.

Lead Writers: Norbert Link and Bill Koeneke

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

We are sad to report that Terry McGuire, a long-time faithful Church member in England, died Thursday morning after a short battle with cancer. This was not the outcome we all hoped and prayed for, but we must submit to God’s Will. Thank you all for your prayers.

Terry’s last interview for the StandingWatch program (“Comfort in Terminal Sickness”), which was recorded during the Feast of Tabernacles in October, can be watched on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube.

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube. It is titled, “Insane–Bailouts Topping $8.5 Trillion.” In the program, Norbert Link asks the question: What else must happen before we realize that our leaders don’t seem to have a clue as to how to solve our financial problems–that we are facing an inevitable and unparalleled disaster, unless we change course immediately? It is as if a spirit of intoxication had swept the land. Don’t you become victim of it. There are solutions, but you won’t find them in the political arena.

The following new sermon was posted on Google Video and on our Websites:

Norbert Link, “Bible Study–When the Sons of God Saw The Daughters of Men,” November 29, 2008

We received the following comment to the above-mentioned sermon from a prospective member:

“This last Sabbath, Mr. Norbert Link tackled one of the most important issues and it is about the interpretation of Genesis 6. We were very glad to hear all angles and interpretations about the former and the book of Enoch. Yes, Mr. Link perfectly explained all about the mistranslation of Genesis 6 and the erroneous information about the book of Enoch. Most people will disagree with it, but what can we do, it is what it is. It is the truth. I had asked so many pastors regarding the subject and had [received] so many different interpretations.”

We are currently advertising, for the month of December, the following booklets over the Internet:


Human Suffering–Why…and How Much Longer?
And Lawlessness Will Abound
Don’t Keep Christmas

With the booklet on Christmas, we also offer the following additional booklets:

Angels, Demons and the Spirit World
Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery
God’s Commanded Holy Days


And Lawlessness Will Abound

With that booklet, we are also offering:

Angels, Demons and the Spirit World
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God
Jesus Christ–A Great Mystery

Great Britain and Europe:

Europe in Prophecy
Don’t Keep Christmas

With the booklet on Christmas, we are also offering:

Angels, Demons and the Spirit World
God’s Commanded Holy Days
Jesus Christ–a Great Mystery

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Just A Matter of Doing It

by Aaron Hooper

In the world of school and work that I often find myself in, it is sometimes very easy for me to lose the sense of urgency concerning the end times which are quickly approaching. Most people don’t really believe that we will see an end to the great United States of America or even that things could possibly get worse. Some, though, do have a sense that things may be coming to a head, but put their stock in the 2012 date of the Mayan calendar.

I was recently talking to a friend in my literature class, and he too felt that, for the most part, people just go on as if nothing is even happening in the world. He doesn’t believe in God or the Bible, but even though, he still realizes what is going on and that we are in for some tough times ahead.

I ask myself, what can I really do, though? In the Updates and during Sabbath services, I hear more and more about the troubled times in which we live. Does it become easier and less sensational the more I hear about it? Do I just “wait for it” and take it as it comes? The time is fast approaching when many will wish they were closer to God, as they will have absolutely no one to turn to.

I often wish that I was closer to God, and I know that I come up very short. The things that I need to do to learn about and draw near to our merciful Father are so very simple — they sometimes appear too simple. It is just a matter of doing it. As these days become shorter and the world becomes less stable, it is ever more important that I really make a conscious and daily effort to draw near to our heavenly Creator.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God