Paul the Missionary
Paul & Joseph of Arimathea
Missionaries to the Gentiles
by Sheldon Emry
Paul the Missionary
HISTORY WE HAVE NOT KNOWN
On these pages you are going to read some of the evidence that the Apostle Paul, Joseph of Arimathea, and others who knew our Lord " in the flesh," carried the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Western part of Europe and the British Isles shortly after the death and Resurrection of Jesus. They established churches there and began the preaching that Christianized Western Europe and set the stage for England and Ireland to become the early Christian and missionary centers of the World.
Much of what you will read in this small booklet is of events transpiring at the very beginning of what we know as the "Christian" religion. They are of people and teachings that literally "turned the world upside down." yet are little known in modern America.
A well known American recently made the observation we are the best informed people in the world about happenings of the last 24 hours; but know very little of the people and events of a thousand years ago, or even of a few hundred. This brief history of "our" religion in its formative years is presented with the heartfelt prayer that you will receive a blessing from knowing more about those who carried the story of Jesus to our Race.
PAUL PLANS JOURNEY TO SPAIN
Since Paul is one of the central figures in the drama of early Christianity, we will first establish some known facts and dates about him before we consider the others. HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK, published by Zondervan Publishing Co., has this to say about the Apostle Paul after he was taken to Rome in bond: "It is generally accepted that Paul was acquitted, about A.D. 63 or 64. Whether he went on to Spain as he had planned (Rom. 15: 24-28) is not known. Tradition intimates that he did. But if he did, he did not remain long. It seems fairly certain that he was back in Greece and Asia Minor about A.D. 65 to 67, in which period he wrote the Epistle to Timothy and Titus. Then, rearrested, he was taken back to Rome and beheaded about A.D. 67."
Halley mentions Romans 15: 28 in which Paul writes, "When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit. I will come by you into Spain." Paul wrote this in the winter of A.D. 57- 58 from Corinth and from his own hand it is obvious he planned a trip to Spain. Halley, and other modern sources, say only "tradition" says Paul went on to Spain, but Halley does not mention any source for the "tradition" so I will.
In the Turkish Archives in Constantinople there is a manuscript copy of "The Acts of the Apostles." It has one more chapter than the book of Acts in our English Bible and it is never mentioned by modern church "historians". Perhaps they ignore it because it not only tells of Paul going to Spain, but also on to the British Isles. I will quote a few verses here, and then you'll find the entire "missing chapter" of Chapter 29. Verse 4-6 of the English translation reads "And no man hindered Paul, for he had testified boldly of Jesus before the tribunes, and among the people, and they took shipping at Ostium, and having winds fair, were brought safely into a haven of Spain. And much people were gathered together from the towns and villages and the hill country, for they had heard of conversion of the Apostle, and the many miracles which he had wrought. And Paul preached mightily in Spain, and great multitudes believed and were converted, for they perceived he was an Apostle sent from God."
PAUL GOES TO BRITAIN
Christ had told Paul that "I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles," (Acts 22) and had told all the Apostles they were to witness "unto the uttermost part of the earth."
(Acts 1:8). That this would have included territories beyond Greece and Rome would be obvious.
Travel was not the problem at that time that it would have been a thousand years later. All of the continent was under one government, that of Rome. A system of roads protected by Roman soldiery provided safe passage over land and Roman galleons patrolled the 1,000 year old sea routes between Rome, Spain and the Britannic Isles. We 20th century people forget that travel in Europe in A.D. 50 was perhaps as fast and as comfortable as it was in the time of Luther, 1,400 years later. That Paul carried the Word to Spain, then into Gaul, and on to Britain, is testified by many early church historians. Since we cannot trace Paul's time in Britain year by year nor by location, and since it is not necessary to do so to prove his presence there, I will quote early church sources who agree that he WAS there, and the time was shortly after the Crucifixion.
EARLY CHURCH FATHERS KNEW THIS
Bishop Burgess wrote, "Of St. Paul's journey to Britain we have as satisfactory proof as any historical question can demand." This same view is repeated in the writings of Baronius, Alford (Roman Catholic historian), Archbishops Parker and Ussher, and other church authorities.
In A.D. 600, Venantius Fortunatus wrote of Britain as having been "evangelized" by St. Paul.
In A.D. 435 Theodoretus wrote, "Paul, liberated from his first captivity at Rome, preached the Gospel to Britons and others in the West. Our fishermen and publicans (the Disciples) not only persuaded the Romans and their tributaries to acknowledge the Crucified and His laws, but the Britons also and the Cimbri (Cymry).
Theodoretus, in his commentary on 2 Timothy 4:6 wrote, "When Paul was sent by Festus on his appeal to Rome, he traveled, after being acquitted, into Spain and thence extended his excursions into other countries and TO THE ISLANDS SURROUNDED BY THE SEA." (emphasis added). These could only have been the British Isles. This is no obscure cleric speaking but the Bishop of Cyropolis and a participant in the General Council at Ephesus in A.D. 431 and at Chalcedon in A.D. 451 consisting of 600 Bishops.
Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, wrote in A.D. 320, "The Apostles passed beyond the ocean to the isles called the Britannic Isles."
Clement of Rome (mentioned in Phil. 4:3) wrote a letter to the church at Corinth between A.D. 91 and A.D. 100 in which he stated that Paul "went to the end of the west."
The church of Avalon, in Britain, no other hands than those of the disciples of our Lord, themselves, built." Publius Discipulus.
"The mother church of the British Isles is the church in Insula Avallonia, called by the Saxons, Glastonbury." Bishop Ussher.
"If credit be given to ancient authors, this church of Glastonbury is the senior church of the world." Bishop Fuller.
"It is certain that Britain received the faith in the first age from the first source of the Word." Sir Henry Spillman.
"I scarcely know of one author from the time of the fathers downward, who does not maintain that Paul, after his liberation, preached in western Europe, Britain included." Capellus, in his history of the Apostles.
Joseph of Arimathea
A MOST IMPORTAN MAN
I have a book in front of me called THE DRAMA OF THE LOST DISCIPLES. The following is a quote about Joseph from the first chapter: "Why he has been indifferently by-passed, along with historic events covering that epochal period is both perplexing and surprising. The part he played in preserving The Word, and in paving the path for the proclamation of 'The Way' to the world, is as fascinating as it is inspiring. He was the protector of that valorous little band of disciples during the perilous years following the crucifixion, the indefatigeable head of the Christian underground in Judea, and the guardian of Christ's only earthly treasure, His mother. Startling as it may appear to most Christians, and particularly to the Anglo-American world, the dominant role he performed in laying the true cornerstone of our Christian way of life should thrill our hearts with undying gratitude! His story is exclusively the story of Britain and in consequence, America, and all Christian people wherever they may be. In actuality, Joseph of Arimathea was the Apostle of Britain, the true Apostle first to set up Christ's standard on that sea-girt little isle, five hundred and sixty-two years before St. Augustine set foot on English soil. He, with twelve other disciples of Christ, erected in England the first Christian church above ground in the world, to the glory of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
This book then has 24 pages of documented accounts of Joseph of Arimathea and other disciples in England, and the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the inhabitants of the English Isles within a few years after the death of Jesus. From England, not Rome came the Christian teachers and missionaries who converted Gaul, the Germanic tribes and Scandinavia.
WHO WAS THIS MAN?
From the bible account we find that Joseph of Arimathea must have been very close to Jesus and the Disciples in Jerusalem before the crucifixion. Matthew 25: 57 reads, "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, names Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: he went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb." In Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 19 we read similar accounts except that John adds that Nicodemus helped Joseph with the burial.
These are the only references in Holy Scripture to Joseph of Arimathea. Matthew and John call him a "disciple" of Jesus. Mark and Luke identify him as a believer by saying he "waited for the kingdom of God." Matthew and Mark both mention Mary and Mary Magdelene as being present at the burial. Several things are evident about Joseph from these very brief Scriptures. He was wealthy, he was a Christian. Pilate readily gave him the body of Jesus, and Mary and Mary Magdelene must have approved his taking it since they made no effort to stop him or take it from him. Mark and Luke also call him a "counsellor" and that is about all we can deduce from our King James Bible.
JOSEPH RELATED TO JESUS
Now, let's turn to some other historical sources. According to the Talmud Joseph was the younger brother of the father of the Virgin Mary. That would make him Mary's uncle and a great-uncle to Jesus. Pilate's ready release of Jesus' body to Joseph could be explained by this kinship since, under Roman law, the bodies of executed prisoners could be released only to near relatives. But the fact that he alone, of all Jesus' followers, had courage to ask for it on that dreadful day needs more explanation. In the Latin vulgate both the Gospel of Mark and Luke refer to Joseph as "decorio." St. Jerome's translation calls him "Noblis Decurio." Both are Roman titles indicating he was a "minister of mines" in the Roman government. As such he would be personally know to Pilate. It must also be remembered that the Scripture record is very clear that Pilate had no antagonism whatsoever toward Jesus and went to great lengths to free him and prevent His death. Only the nearly riotous attitude of the masses, inflamed by the Jewish High Priests, appears to have convinced Pilate that he had no choice. It was either allow His crucifixion, or face threatened insurrection.
So Joseph would have nothing to fear from Pilate, and being a high official, he would probably be known by the soldiery and not molested by them. Only the Jewish priests in the Sanhedrin, with their demoniacal hated of Christ and His followers, remained to be feared. The Disciples had all fled for "fear of the Jews." Even Peter, of the sword, had three times denied knowing Jesus, wept, and fled into the night. John, with the Virgin Mary, left before Jesus died according to JOHN 19:27. Why was not Joseph of Arimathea afraid of the Jews? Mark and Luke give the answer, and the Weymouth translation makes it clear. MARK 15:43 in the Weymouth, "Joseph of Arimathea came, a highly respected member of the Council" and LUKE 23: 50, "There was a member of the Council of the name of Joseph." In both, the word Council is capitalized, and secular history verifies what the Bible now reveals: Joseph was a member of the Council of the Sanhedrin. That explains why Luke adds (in the Weymouth), "He had not concurred in the design or action of the Council, and now went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus."
Yes, Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, and a secret convert to Christ. He was an extremely wealthy man, a high official in the Roman government, a brave man, and a near kin of Jesus. And with the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he joined the other followers when the Jews drove them from Jerusalem. He became one of the most effective and beloved teachers of "The Way," so much so that 1,400 years later, when the Bible became the first book printed on the newly invented printing press THE SECOND BOOK WAS ON JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA! Yet in our time not a Christian in a thousand knows a thing about him beyond the he buried Jesus!
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