Below is a basic timeline of events leading up to the forming of The Nicene Church (both Catholicism and Protestantism). This timeline is merely meant as a study-help, to spur on the individual to a more in-depth examination of these events for themselves. The materials for such a study are readily available in many sources, online and in books; recorded and preserved for all to see, if they merely care enough to take time to look.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1 (KJV)
(ca. AD 28-69) The Church of Jesus Christ Founded in Jerusalem (1st Congregation)
After the death of Jesus Christ (His Hebrew name being Joshua Messiah), Christ’s Church (Congregational Gathering) is created by God, by way of the giving of The Spirit to the Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem [Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-47]. The Apostles of The Lord begin to fulfill their commission from their master [Lk.24:46-48], by preaching Repentance from sin, and turning to God under the submission of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior [Acts 2:38-40, 20:21], and The Good News (Gospel) of Grace (remission of sins and finding acceptability in God’s eyes), through Faith in The Messiah that The LORD God of Abraham has provided [Acts 4:26-27, 17:31].
It is this generation in which God begins to make known to all flesh the new and living Way [Acts 2:24-25] to be in His Kingdom- for “all flesh” to become “The Israel of God”, “The true Circumcision”- [Gal. 6:16, 3:7, 3:29; Rom. 9:6; Philip. 3:3…
(ca. AD 30-40) FIRST Persecution of The First Church of Jesus (in Jerusalem)
With the Jewish Sanhedrin stoning of Stephen, the first great persecution of The Church of God begins… Saul (later, saint Paul), who consented to the stoning of Stephen, stands up as a great leader in this persecution… See: Acts 7-9
(ca. AD 30-50) SECOND attempt to Destroy The Church of Jesus
King Herod of Jerusalem (Herod Agrippa I, in historical accounts) puts The Apostle James (brother of John; son of Zebedee) to death by the sword, and also thinks to kill The Apostle Peter as well, having arrested him during the time of Passover and The Days of Unleavened Bread…This marks a second attempt to destroy The Church that has been founded in Jesus Christ; this time by the removal of The Church elders. (see: Acts 12)
(AD 69) THIRD Attempt to Destroy The Church– Destruction of Jerusalem & Temple
Titus (military general to Roman Emperor Nero) besieges Jerusalem and destroys The Temple (Nehemiah/Herodian temple is burned at this point, and all the city is destroyed). This marks the beginning of another great persecution against The Jews and Christ-followers alike.
Paganism’s persecution against The God of Israel [Gal. 6:16] reaches its peak at this point. Success in destroying The Way appears to have been gained in Jerusalem’s destruction, as The Apostles and Congregations of Christ (Churches) are scattered abroad at this point, and many go into hiding.
The original Apostolic Congregations (those adhering strictly to the Commandments of God and Jesus), appear to sink into oblivion once the Apostles themselves were removed from the equation.
Many of the Apostles were (according to historical accounts) taken prisoners of the empire during this period of time. Paul, as a prisoner of the State, has possibly already been executed in Rome. John is removed to the prison island of Patmos. Peter identifies his location as that of “at Babylon” in his first epistle to The Church (cp. 5:13). It is at this time that many followers of The Way are being sentenced to banishment, imprisonment, and even execution.
* Catholic tradition dictates that it is at this period in time that The Apostle Paul (prisoner in Rome) is executed by Emperor Nero. Catholic tradition also claims Peter journeyed to Rome and created a bishopric there before ultimately being executed by inverse crucifixion. All of this is by Catholic folk-lore, for which there is no historical evidence.
An interesting theory and side-point that one may apply to this point in the timeline of events, is the viewpoint that many of these congregations held toward The Church structure and authorities. The 245 year period of a great falling away (apostasy) from the teachings of The Apostles (the teaching of Obedience to The Commandments of God and of Faith in Jesus) appears to have been the result of a viewpoint that was held by those who were to ascend to the leadership after The Apostles of our Lord. These men, as it appears many followers in the congregations, held to an assumption that it was The Apostles themselves who were the ones that were making up the rules to be followed for The Church. It stands to reason then that after The Apostles were removed from “the helm”, men who had this viewpoint assumed the many leadership roles over the various congregations (those of Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, etc.). Perhaps it is this attitude and viewpoint that attributed to the following 150 years of MEN placing their own ideas as rules (doctrines of men) for the church to follow; a movement that would ultimately culminate with a “Nicene Creed“, and a establishment of The Holy Roman Catholic Church (AD 325).
(ca. AD 69-80) The Apostle John writes the book of The Revelation from the isle of Patmos
This appears to be the only Apostolic letter written after the destruction of The Temple and Jerusalem by Titus. It is a final epistle to The Churches that are in Jesus Christ, containing seven messages to “The Churches that are in Asia” (Asia-minor; current day Turkey), depicting sin in the midst of many of the churches, and the need for the churches to “repent, or else” [see cp. 2-3]. It then delves into prophecy: the war of Satan (“The Dragon”) against The Woman and Her Seed (The Church of Christ) [cp.12-13], and the final attempt to destroy The Way from off the Earth. The message culminates with the judgments of the end-time on The Beast kingdom, and the return of Messiah (Jesus) to setup His Kingdom on earth. The book ends in a promise of A New Heavens and New Earth, in which righteousness dwells (The Great day of God’s Judgment having burned the elements with fire; the earth and the works in it are burned up): and God as all in all. Thus, the final message to The Congregations that are in Christ gives THE COMPLETE PLAN OF GOD for all physical time that is left to mankind’s rule on earth, and even details the coming of God Himself to dwell with His cleansed creation.
Post Apostolic Era –
(ca. AD 69-313) Destruction of Jerusalem & Temple, by Titus
The Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (of Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, & Herod) ushers in a 245 year period of persecution against the Churches of Jesus Christ by the Pagan Roman Empire. The emperors and the empire viewed this new Jewish sect as a threat to their polytheistic (mult-god worship) society. As can be seen from the Gospel accounts, the view of their being another King, Jesus, caused a great tension to arise between the Christian and the empire.
“Ten years after Herod’s death (4 BCE), Judea came under direct Roman administration. Growing anger against increased Roman suppression of Jewish life resulted in sporadic violence, which escalated into a full-scale revolt in 66 CE. Superior Roman forces led by Titus were finally victorious, razing Jerusalem to the ground (70 CE) and defeating the last Jewish outpost at Masada (73 CE).
The total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was catastrophic for the Jewish people. According to the contemporary historian Josephus Flavius, hundreds of thousands of Jews perished in the siege of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country, and many thousands more were sold into slavery.
A last brief period of Jewish sovereignty in ancient times followed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained. However, given the overwhelming power of the Romans, the outcome was inevitable. Three years later, in conformity with Roman custom, Jerusalem was “plowed up with a yoke of oxen,” Judea was renamed Palaestinia and Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina.”
(ca. AD 70-101) First Bishops over Churches AFTER the Apostles
According to Roman Catholic historical accounts, the first bishops to lead the post-apostolic congregation were Linus, Cletus, and Clement (many centuries later to be labeled as “Popes” by The Roman Catholic Church).
It was Clement I (about 92-101) who first asserted the Roman See’s PRIMACY (superior authority) over other churches.
“Matthew 20:25-28 (KJV)
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
(ca. AD 112-311) Roman Persecutions against Jews and followers of The Faith of Jesus Christ & Apostles
Beginning with the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple, there followed approximately 245 years of pagan Roman Empire persecution against the One-God faith of Abram and its descendants, the Jews and Christians. Both the Jew and Christian of the early church were basically indistinguishable from each other, as both practiced “the Jewish” Sabbath and Holy-Day worship. A practice that, as will be seen later, was shunned and outlawed by The Catholic Church. In fact, the manner of worship of The First Church was so similar to that of The Jewish faith, that a typical pagan thought of The Church of Christ as nothing more than another “sect” of Judaism.
“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy…”
(translated elsewhere as “sect”),
“…so worship I the God of my fathers, BELIEVING ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN The Law AND in The Prophets:  And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” – Acts 24:14-16 (KJV)
These congregations of Jew-like Sabbath-keepers (who worshipped Jesus as the Messiah[Christ] Prince[Lord]) were first labeled “Christians” by the pagans of Antioch (in what today is located in southern Turkey, near the Syrian border) -[see: Acts 11:26]. This label was quite acceptable to Peter and the Apostles, even though it was probably meant in a derogatory manner:
“Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”
– Acts 26:28 (KJV)
“…Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” – 1 Peter 4:16 (KJV)
The Faith of Abraham would be specifically targeted as a threat to the system of the empire (some of which tension may be seen in the Apostles writings: Acts 19, 2 Tim. 4, etc.), as well as a threat to the very realm itself, in the position of Caesar as God and King:
“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king SPEAKETH AGAINST CAESAR.” – John 19:12 (KJV)
“…Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.  And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.” – Acts 17:7-8 (KJV)
As a result of the profession of Jesus as King and Lord, Christians would suffer at the hands of the empire in some of the most heinous brutalities for nearly two and a half centuries. Due to this persecution, along with the everyday social pressures of the empire, MANY would fall away from the true Faith- to the point where, by the time of the founding of The Catholic Church (in AD. 325), the majority of churches (congregations) had long since adapted their religious observances and services to be more socially acceptable to the pagan realm. While it is true that many Christians were persecuted, tortured, and killed for the Faith of Abraham, a great many more would “adapt” to their environment (“When in Rome, do as the Romans” would almost become the motto for these congregations), taking on or “adopting”, as it was termed, many aspects of the various pagan superstitions and cult rituals into their “Christian” services.
The following is a short summary timeline discussing major moments of this adoption of Pagan rites and rituals taking place. Events that would ultimately lead to a complete REFORMING (Reformation) of The Churches of Christ Jesus INTO a “Universal” and much more socially acceptable “church”:
(AD 125) Varying Ideas/Opinions of Men Openly Given as Church Doctrine
The Churches (Congregational Gatherings) of Christ have now been fully without Apostolic presence for approximately 35 years. Many churches were at this point beginning to receive into their midst various doctrines preached by men who had gone aside from the original teachings of The Lord and Apostles:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, to draw away disciples after them.” – Acts 20:29-30 (KJV)
“Platonic Philosophy”(philosophy of being free from physical desire), and the “Eastern mystery religions” (Babylonian, Syrian, Egyptian, and Roman three-god manners of religion), and the combination of such ideas were soon well infiltrating the many churches.
“Gnosticism” (dictionary: “a religious orientation advocating gnosis [knowledge] as the way to release a person’s spiritual element”) quickly becomes a rather popular movement within many of the congregations.
“Mysticism” too gained strong foothold in the churches (dictionary: “a religion based on mystical communion with an ultimate reality; Obscure or irrational thought”; Mystic- “Someone who believes in the existence of realities beyond human comprehension”; “Adj.- Having an import not apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence; beyond ordinary understanding”).
(AD 135) “Christmas”- a “Birthday” for Jesus- As a Feast Day IN ROME
Birthday celebrations were a BIG pagan custom. Standing as evidence that The Churches were adapting to accept the pagan customs into the church, the concept of celebrating a birthday for Christ gained popularity. Though not yet designated to the modern-day December 25th date, the physical “birth day” of Jesus became a major point of celebration among the varying congregations throughout the Roman Empire. Ideas for everything from a spring to winter birth gave rise to various speculations (and strife) about WHEN Jesus would have been born.
Though this vehement movement to commemorate the Lord’s birth had NO SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT for such an holy day to be commemorated, it would work itself into the very fabric of the yearly rituals of the many churches, until finally culminating in the Roman church instituting the birth of The Messiah as a Feast Day in Rome in ca. 135. Much later, December 25th would become the date set for the annual observance of this “holy commemoration”. The final date agreed upon was again the result of adaptation and adoption of Pagan rituals; December 25th falling during the annual pagan winter festival to the Roman sun god Sol (see, The Tertullian Doctrines section immediately below).
One may clearly note that by this point in time a flood of man-made doctrines had completely infiltrated the congregations (causing sectarian strife, and dividing churches one from another). By this point (i.e. 125-230) many different ideas, from that of Platonic Philosophy, to Gnosticism, to that of idolatrous rituals being tied to the service in Christ [again, see Tertullian immediately below] appear to have been received with open arms by many of the churches in Asia Minor (Turkey), and the Middle-east (Syria down to Egypt)- but, especially in the church of Rome.
Thus Rome begins, by the year 200, to take a leading role over the other congregations in the adoption of pagan forms of worship, AND in the forsaking (outright annulling, in many instances) of The Commandments of God found in The Bible.
It was the so-called “great ecclesiastical writer”, Tertullian, who would become particularly responsible for ushering in this mind-changing form of church worship.
(AD 160-230) The Tertullian Doctrines
Tertullian has been labeled by church historians as, “the father of Latin Christianity” and, “the founder of Western theology” and the, “first great ecclesiastical writer”. This highly respected Carthaginian (from a Roman province on the coast of north Africa, near modern Tunis) is credited as being one of the first Latin theologians, whose extensive writings greatly influenced early Christian thinking about the manner of service in worship…
Tertullian is the first to introduce the term “TRINITY” in his teachings, yet he himself was not a believer of a three-in-one concept (which was a later adaptation of his ideas), but rather in his words, “I and my Father are one’ in respect not of the singularity of number but the unity of the substance.”. The idea of a Triune-god would slowly begin to take shape over the next 70 years, based on this form of Tertullian thought, and would become rooted as a foundational belief in form of The Nicene Creed, some 100 years later.
Tertullian is responsible for the introduction of Pagan ideas into the worship service. He taught many doctrines that, when examined by The Bible, would be against The Way of God and Christ Jesus.
A few for example:
– He is responsible for intruducing the concept of offering Oblations for the dead
– He is identified (by Jo Ann McNamara) as the person who originally invested the consecrated virgin as the “bride of Christ”, which helped to bring the independent virgin under patriarchal rule
– He made the sign of the cross on the forehead of worshipers.
– He would Dip people THREE TIMES to baptize them.
Tertullian FREELY ADMITTED that he had adopted these ideas from PAGAN practices, AND could not support them from Scripture– but, HE THOUGHT that IF CHRISTIANS ADOPTED SOME HEATHEN RITUALS OF THE PAGANS, it would serve to make it easier for the pagan to join the Christian Congregation. Thus, it was Tertullian who begot a way of thinking that would spread like wildfire through the congregations. The floodgates were to be thrown wide open from this point forward for the adoption (and adaptation) of innumerable pagan ideas and rituals for applications in congregational service. From this moment in history forward congregational service would begin to take on its more recognizable attributes to that of their modern-day counterparts.
Again, Tertullian himself confessed that he had adopted pagan methods of worship INTO his Church teachings, AND that he could not support them from Scripture. He professed to believe, and is responsible for instilling into congregational thinking the concept that by the act of “adopting” a pagan ritual INTO The Church, the ritual itself through this process BECAME HOLY- or Christianized.
It may be of interest here to compare Tertullian, as a teacher adopting into The Churches the many Roman/pagan customs, with some of the things that Christ had to say (in warning) to His “Seven Churches that are in Asia”:
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; OR ELSE I will come unto thee quickly, AND WILL REMOVE THY CANDLESTICK* out of his place, except thou repent.” – Rev. 2:4-5 (KJV)
* Their Candlestick represented their standing as His church in his presence (see cp. 1:20)
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else…” – Rev. 2:14-16 (KJV)
“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” – Rev. 2:20-21 (KJV)
“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; AND KNOWEST NOT THAT THOU ART wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” – Rev. 3:17-19 (KJV)
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” – Rev. 3:20-22 (KJV)
(ca. AD 100-380) Appropriation of The Seventh Day Sabbath With a Man-made Holiday: “Sunday”
Modern-day historians recognize that the early Church of Jesus under the Apostles was a Sabbath-keeping (not “Sunday”), Passover-observing (not “Easter”), and Ten-Commandment-Law-abiding (not “essence of The Law” – abiding) congregation:
“BY THE END OF THE 1ST CENTURY, Christianity began to be recognized internally and externally as a separate religion from Judaism”
-[Source: Wikipedia, “Early Christianity”, emphasis mine]
Notice, it wasn’t until around “the end of” the first century, some sixty years after the death of Christ Jesus, that The Church was beginning to be viewed by outsiders as something distinctly different from Judaism, in their service of worship toward God. History records the frequent confusion of the pagans between this ‘branch of Judaism’ and the Jews themselves, considering them merely another sect of Judaism (the “Christian” sect). Afterall, both were followers of the same “Law of God” (with a Seventh Day “Sabbath” and “Holy Days” practice). Indeed, outwardly, to the unknowing pagan, the practicing Church looked identical to the practicing Synagogue (though it did lack in the animal sacrifice and the Temple services).
“Numerous quotations in the New Testament and other Christian writings of the first centuries, indicate that early Christians generally USED AND REVERED the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) as religious text” – [source: ibid.]
The Tanakh (The Law and Prophets), referred to in the Bible as The Old Testament, were the religious texts used by the early Church; these writings were “revered” by the Church as “The Word of God”. Interestingly, the Seventh Day as The Sabbath Day (as the Day of Rest and worship) was a very strong pillar for the early Apostolic Church, because of the reverence for The Ten Commandment Law of God (see, Gen.2, Ex.20, Matt. 12:8 “the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath Day”, Acts 13:42 “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath”, etc.).
Indeed, although corruption of doctrine was without restraint AFTER the Apostles’ deaths, it still took some 300-350 years to completely eradicate Seventh Day Sabbath observance from the Church observances (or rather to separate the institutionalized church from the observance of a Seventh Day Sabbath). By the year 380, through the process of institutionalizing the very “church” itself in Catholicism at Nicaea, the OUT-LAWING of The Seventh Day as The Sabbath was accomplished. Anyone henceforth who would dare attempt to adhere to such an observance would be labeled, “Legalistic” and/or even worse, “Judaizers”, and would be declared to be “anathema” to the congregational body (the institutionalized body: The Nicene/Catholic Church).
Constantine & The Rise of The Catholic (Universal) Church
It was into the midst of this manmade idealogical religious environment that in circa AD. 272 a man named Flavius Valerius Constantinus was born. While his father was pagan, it was his mother who would influence his views on “Christianity”, as it was she who held to this Tertullian form of “Christian” faith. Flavius Valerius, born during the height of the Roman Empire’s rule, destined to rise to position of emperor, later to be titled by The Holy Roman Catholic Church as, “Constantine The Great”, would become perhaps the single most important power behind the rise of a new age church. The coming of Constantine would mark the beginning of a Church-State authority that would thrive for many centuries throughout Europe and England.
(AD. 313) The Edict of Milan by Constantine
THIS moment in history marks a major shift in world thinking. With one edict, Constantine The Great (co-emperor of The Roman Empire) legalized the worship of the Christian Lord, Jesus Christ, in The Empire. Up to this point the Roman state had been purely pagan (not founded upon The Law of God or the faith of Christianity), and had followed after polytheism (worshiping of many-gods) for centuries as its religious basis. But, as seen from the 200 years of prior events, “Christianity” was already being thoroughly reshaped- corrupted from within- by its own teachers and leaders, in the idea of the service of worship toward God through The Christ. It is to THIS FORM of corrupted (‘paganized’) “Christianity” that The Roman Empire would attach itself for the next several centuries. And it is this form of “Christianity” that would be spread throughout the entire world through the power of that empire.
Constantine’s empire would now begin to grow ever more “Christianized” in this form of Christ worship. The Roman powers would take full advantage of this faith that had paganized itself from within, over a period of some 245 years; a faith that had long sense fallen away from the true teachings and obedience, in order to adapt to and adopt the modern Roman culture. From this point forward, through his own professed “conversion” to this fallen church, Constantine would convert not just his empire, but would press to convert ALL the churches of Jesus Christ, whether it be by power persuasion or by the force of his authority as Emperor of the then known world.
Thus began, with his Edict of Milan, the effort to bring about a peaceful co-existence between the Pagan and Christian factions of his empire. Of course, only one form of Christianity could do in order to accomplish such a scheme: the adaptable church faith that was built upon the Tertullian ideology- only now it was to be given a rightful name, doctrine, and leadership.
There are many historians that have expressed the point that Constantine himself (not receiving any form of baptism until on his death-bed) was merely interested in using religion ‘as a tool’ to bring about a peaceful cohesion to his empire. A marriage of Church and State would prove itself a very powerful tool for the next 1,470 years- until a power would arise which was founded upon a new concept: the separation of Church and State. But, in order to accomplish such a marriage between the Pagan-State with the “Christian” Church, a marriage must first take place between the Churches of Jesus themselves- thus establishing a single, organized, and united Church; such a church must needs be adaptable, versatile, “Universal” (the literal definition of “Catholic”).
As it turned out, this momentous event for the congregations came a mere twelve years from this Edict of Milan, in a small town called, “Nicaea”.
(AD. 321, March 7th) Constantine Decrees SUN-Day as a Day of Rest for Empire
“On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost. (Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time [A.D. 321].)”
– (Source: Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff)
“This decree was far-reaching, stating that numerous activities should be avoided on Sunday. Merchants were forbidden to trade, and administrative establishments were closed, apart from those that dealt with the freeing of slaves. Farmers alone were permitted to continue working on the Sabbath, in recognition that some farm activity was impossible to defer.
Constantine chose Sunday to be the day for Christian worship as it already enjoyed special status in the Roman week. Named after the Pagan Sun God Invictus, Sunday had become the day when wages were traditionally paid to workers, leading it to be seen as a day of celebration and thanks. In corresponding the Christian Sabbath WITH AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED DAY OF REST, Constantine ensured that his decree would be accepted swiftly and harmoniously.
In all major Christian denominations*, Sunday continues to be observed as a holy day, remaining the day of choice for church attendance.”
– (Source: History Channel.com, emphasis mine)
* The statement, “In all major Christian denominations” is in actuality referring to ‘all major NICENE denominations’- meaning, congregations that have their descent from The Nicene Creed. The modern western theological view is that this religion, that had by this point in history been fully paganized (i.e. changed from that of that original Faith and Way in Christ), is synonymous with the word “Christianity”. However, the fact is that this religion arose from creed of man some 300 years AFTER Christianity, and is not in any way similar to that of The Way that the disciples of our Lord followed (Sabbath, Passover and Holy Days of Lev.23, Repentance from Sin: sin being the transgression of The Commandments of God in Exod. 20, etc. See, 1 John 3:4, “For sin is the transgression of The Law”).
Emperor Constantine’s decrees would grow evermore favorable toward the “Christian” (false Christian) congregations, and culminated with his decree of AD 325 that all the bishops and deacons of the many varying congregations should convene a council. The meeting was to take place in Nicaea, a town located just sixty miles southeast of Constantine’s newly established capitol city of Constantinople. It was at this council that the various and differing bishoprics would settle upon an agreed and unified form of worship and service which would be for ALL congregations of Jesus to follow.
This single historical event would set in motion a great corruption in both HOW the church leaders would view Scriptures, and HOW the church would establish Doctrine. A single unified and great “Church” would arise as a result of this council. Dissenters would face the wrath, not merely of this newly founded church by way of expulsion, but also face the wrath of the emperor himself, by way of banishment, imprisonment, or even execution.
Constantine would make it abundantly clear that UNITY was his goal FOR ALL:
“Constantine’s promotion of Sunday observance was part of his definite strategy to combine paganism with Christianity: “The retention of the old pagan name of dies Solis, or ‘Sunday,’ for the weekly Christian festival, is in great measure owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment with which the first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects, pagan and Christian alike, as the ‘venerable day of the Sun.'” – (source: Stanley’s History of the Eastern Church, p. 184, emphasis mine)
(AD 325) First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (Nicaea I)- Birth of the “Universal Church”
Perhaps the single most conspicuous moment in church history, the Council at Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine, and brought together all the elders, bishops, and deacons of the regional churches throughout his empire (inclusive of the seven churches in Asia Minor- see Rev. 2 & 3).
The Goals were clearly spelled out by the emperor himself:
* To create A UNIVERSAL consensus on doctrine (church teaching and methodology), in order to form a UNIVERSAL faith, for the furtherance of his overall goal of unity and peace in his empire between the pagans and this Christ faith.
What the Council of Nicaea Achieved:
* One of its main purpose was to condemn Arianism, an early heresy [sect] which denied the divinity of Christ.
* The council formulated the Nicene Creed, which was the establishment of Triune-God worship (“God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Ghost”- with “The Son” pre-existing the coming of Messiah on earth). A common creed to which ALL professing “Christians” would need adhere to, else be banished.
* The Council established once and for all the celebration for ALL “Christianity” of Easter, as a Holy Feast Day. It fixed the exact date for the observance of the day, which was as yet to this date still being commemorated and referred to as “The Passover” by many in the eastern empire Churches- (see, 1 Cor. 5:7-8; cp. 11).
* The Council established specific regulations [ordinances] concerning clerical discipline
* Adopted the civil divisions of the Empire AS THE MODEL FOR the jurisdictional organization of The Church.
The Council of Nicaea is an integral moment for historical reference in church history. It marks the point at which The Catholic Church was born. Indeed, The Catholic Church itself proudly professes Nicaea as being the “First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church”.
It was to be this new ideologue church that would, from this point forward, openly usurp the seat of authority from “The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” -[2 Tim. 3:15-16].
Through means of establishing the creed of man (and doctrines of men) over the masses, rather than the following of rigid obedience to Scriptural Commandments of God and Jesus Christ (Exod. 20:8-11, Mtt. 5:19), the mainstream view (indeed worldview) of “Christianity” was to be successfully and fully redefined over the course of the next 1,700 years.
“But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God BY your tradition?
 For GOD COMMANDED, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.  BUT YE SAY, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;  And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made The Commandment of God OF NONE EFFECT by your tradition.
 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
 But in vain they do worship me, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.” – Matthew 15:3-9 (KJV)
With the rise of the Nicene Faith (Catholicism, and much later Protestantism) under Constantine, the previous 245-year persecution against the Christian faith officially came to an end; at least, according to modern-day historians. Yet, as is evident upon a much closer examination of facts, with an eyesight not skewed from bias of creed, it is seen that the great persecution against Christ Jesus’ Body (The true Church) has in fact continued unabated up until the modern time. In fact, it was at this Council of Nicaea that the persecutor would take on a more sinister title: that of Christian”, and “Holy”, and the persecutors’ targets would be narrowed to that of the few, a remnant of individuals who would neither condone nor follow the creed of men; the few who dared to defy the newly heralded Nicene Creed.
THESE same Sabbath-keeping, Holy Day-observant people, who all along had been in the midst, AND who, during the time of The Apostles, WERE what was considered The Church, were now to be labeled with many infamous epithets: “Legalistic”, “Deniers”, “Anathema”. Alongside these Sabbath-keeping, Trinity-deniers (true Christians), the Jewish faith too would become an object yet again of a vicious hatred, this time dealt out by this new Nicene-State power.
In truth, it might be said that the great persecution never actually came to an end for Christ’s true followers, but rather, through a great REDEFINING of the title “Christianity” the Nicene realm simply canceled out the true disciples of Christ (who were to suffer tremendously) as “Anathema” (- accursed, cut-off: no longer to be referred to as a”Christian”).
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which KEEP The Commandments of God, AND have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” – Rev. 12:17 (KJV)
Below are a series of selected quotes from Catholic & Protestant church leaders, given in explanation of the Catholic/Protestant process of “adoption” of Pagan rituals into the worship service of God through Christ Jesus. These quotes stand as excellent examples of the mind-set discussed in the above historical summary:
“The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison are all of pagan origin, and SANCTIFIED BY their adoption into the Church.” – (An Essay on The Development of the Christian Doctrine John Henry “Cardinal Newman” p.373)
“It has often been charged… that Catholicism is overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that accusation and even to make it her boast…” – (The Story of Catholicism, p. 37)
“It is interesting to note how often our Church has availed herself of practices which were in common use among pagans … Thus it is true, in a certain sense, that some Catholic rites and ceremonies are a reproduction of those of pagan creeds…” – (The Externals of the Catholic Church, Her Government, Ceremonies, Festivals, Sacramentals and Devotions, by John F. Sullivan, p. 156, published by P.J. Kennedy, NY, 1942)
“The way of salvation is open to none otherwise than through Mary”……”Many things are asked from God, and are not granted: they are asked of Mary, and are obtained”……”At the command of Mary all obey-even God”- (Catholic devotional guide, “The Glories of Mary” (1750);
* Note: This exuberance in devotions to Mary [as queen of heaven] by The Catholic Church is presented as one of many such examples of pagan methods adapted by Nicene churches. The worship of a queen of heaven was also adopted by The Children of Israel in their worship of Jehovah: see, Jer. 7:8; 44:17, 25, for which Israel was cast away from God as defiled).
(ca. AD 1525) “It is indeed true that the name ‘Trinity’ is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man.” – (reproduced in The Sermons of Martin Luther, John Lenker, editor, Vol. 3, 1988, p. 406)
(ca. AD 107) “They introduce God as a Being unknown; they suppose Christ to be unbegotten… Some of them say that the Son is a mere man, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are but the same person, and that the creation is the work of God, not by Christ, but by some other strange power. Be on your guard, therefore, against such persons.” – (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter VI – Abstain from the Poison of Heretics;
* Note: An example to show how far back triune-God theories were infiltrating the churches, after the apostles had died… not even 40 years after Apostles of The Lord are gone)
In conclusion, it would be remiss not to draw a Scriptural and historical comparison to the rise of this false religion that usurped the authority of Christ Jesus to that of another age when a “great” man did the exact same thing. King Jeroboam I of Israel took it upon him to reshape the The Covenant of Israel that was delivered by God during the Old Testament Age:
“And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:  If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.  Whereupon the king TOOK COUNSEL, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.  And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.  And THIS THING BECAME A SIN: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.  AND JEROBOAM ORDAINED A FEAST IN THE EIGHTH MONTH, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, EVEN IN THE MONTH WHICH HE HAD DEVISED OF HIS OWN HEART; AND ORDAINED A FEAST unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.” – 1 Kings 12:26-33 (KJV)