Mar 26

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All the way from Ghana a question was received inquiring what I knew about a certain story. The person asking the question was Robert Lord Jackson, a preacher who works with the church of Christ in Asemasa, Ghana; he was wondering about a story he had heard about the apostle John. The story is not new, but dates back to Cerinthus who was a gnostic of the first century.
A little information about Cerinthus is helpful in our understanding, as a background to the story. He is said to have taught: 1) “that the world was not made by the supreme God, but by a certain power which was separated and distant from the supreme authority, which is over all, and which was ignorant of the God over all;” 2) “that Jesus was not born of a virgin, but was the offspring of Joseph and Mary, born like all other human beings, and that he was juster and wiser and more prudent than all;” and 3) “ that after his baptism the Christ came down into him in the form of a dove from the Lord, who is above all, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father and performed miracles, but towards the end the Christ flew away from Jesus, and that Jesus suffered and was raised up, but that the Christ remained impassible, being spiritual.” It is easy to see how such teaching would relate and attempt to contradict the inspired writings of the apostle John, who wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) and “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Verse 14). John clearly taught that God was in human flesh! Cerinthus taught that Jesus was but “the offspring of Joseph and Mary; thus, he was a gnostic!
John also wrote: “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3). Then, he wrote in Second John: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 8). Not surprising, it is in this context that he wrote these most forceful words: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (Verses 9-11). As you think on these words, remembering that Cerinthus was one who denied that Jesus was God in the flesh; we come to the story that “Sounds like something John might do!”
Here is what our brother Jackson asked me: “What about the story of John, the disciple of the Lord, when in Ephesus went to bathe, and when he saw Cerinthus inside, he leapt from the bath without bathing, crying out, “ Let us flee, lest the bath fall, for Cerinthus the enemy of the truth is within?” Well, needless to say, I had never heard of the story. I wrote back that it was more than likely a made up story. One thing for sure, it is not an inspired story! However, after reading the above; is it something you could see John doing? Does it sound like something John might do?
After a little research, here is what I found. “Irenseus (A.D. 130 – 202, FRW) relates a story which represents him as a contemporary of the apostle John (Contra Hcer. iii. 3, 4). He says that John, the disciple of the Lord, when in Ephesus went to bathe, and when he saw Cerinthus inside, he leapt from the bath without bathing, crying out, ‘Let us flee, lest the bath fall, for Cerinthus the enemy of the truth is within.’ Ireuaeus heard this story from some people who heard it from Polycarp, who may have heard it directly, or more likely at second-hand, from some of the friends of St John. The same story is told in regard to Ebion, but not on so good authority. We know nothing of the death of Cerinthus.” Truly the story is not inspired! But, does it sound like something the apostle John might do and say within his character?
Here is a little “food for thought!” What if someone reported that you had said, or done something; let us say that it was not so nice, would someone say, “Well, that sounds like him!” Or, on the other hand, if someone said something nice that they had heard about you, would others say, “Yes, that sounds just like him!”

— Frank R. Williams

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