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Emperor Constantine - what we should know about him and his empire?

The general attitude that Roman emperors of the third and fourth centuries had toward religion is referenced in the book Istoria tou Ellinikou Ethnous (History of the Greek Nation) which states: “Even when those who occupied the imperial throne did not have such profoundly religious dispositions, surrendering to the mood of the era, they found it necessary to give religion precedence within the framework of their political schemes, to lend at least a religious flavor to their actions.”

What schemes could possibly help him politically? It seems that religion could possibly help solidify his position, yes, he needed “divine” patronage, which could not be provided by the fading Roman gods.

The empire, including its religion and other institutions, was in decline, and something new and invigorating was needed to reconsolidate it. The encyclopedia Hidria says: “Constantine was especially interested in Christianity because it backed up not only his victory but also the reorganization of his empire. The Christian churches that existed everywhere became his political support. . . . He surrounded himself with the great prelates of the times . . . , and he requested that they keep their unity intact.”

By the time of Constantine the Christian church had already become deeply corrupted and apostatized from the true religion. Constantine saw how this apostate church could be effectively utilized as a revitalizing and uniting force to serve his grand scheme for imperial domination.

He adopted the foundations of apostate Christianity to gain support in furthering his own political ends, he decided to unify the people under one “catholic,” or universal, religion. Pagan customs and celebrations were given “Christian” names. And “Christian” clergymen were given the status, salary, and influential clout of pagan priests.

Historian Paul Johnson states this in regard to Constantine: “One of his main reasons for tolerating Christianity may have been that it gave himself and the State the opportunity to control the Church’s policy on orthodoxy and the treatment of heterodoxy.”

Johnson also notes: “Constantine never abandoned sun-worship and kept the sun on his coins.” The Catholic Encyclopedia observes: “Constantine showed equal favour to both religions. As pontifex maximus he watched over the heathen worship and protected its rights.”

“Constantine never became a Christian,” states the encyclopedia Hidria, adding: “Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote his biography, says that he became a Christian in the last moments of his life. This doesn’t hold water, as the day before, [Constantine] had made a sacrifice to Zeus because he also had the title Pontifex Maximus.”

It seems Constantine is not what or who you thought him to be and that is but a tip of the iceberg showing above the water.
The Bible and in particular, The Christian Greek Scriptures were quite accurate in their foretelling that following the apostolic era, that the early church would suffer an institutional apostasy, which would last until the "last days", during which time a restoration of the original model, would unfold.

In my opinion, the best text related to this issue was the data provided by Jesus himself, at Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43, which starts off as follows:

"Jesus told them another parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, "Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?" "An enemy did this", he replied. The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" "No", he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." (NIV)

Not wanting to allow for a variety of future interpretations of the above parable, Jesus himself, explained it in 13:36-43 as follows: "Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field". He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world [kosmos], and the good seed stands for the sons of the Kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his Kingdom everything that causes sin, and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

Jesus explains that while he was on earth he, the "Son of Man", spread a specific message, "the seed of wheat", that resulted eventually in the formation of a body of original followers and/or co-workers, "the wheat". However, when his co-workers, the faithful apostles and their principal associates died, or "went to sleep" [death is compared to a type of sleep in over 700 places in the Hebrew and Christian Greek Scriptures], an enemy, the Devil, over-sowed the body of believers with others, "the weeds", who were not of the same ilk as the original community once was – resulting in a contamination, a negative infusion that proved to compromise that which was established by Jesus and his first followers.

As noted in the parable, it is only during "the end of the age", the time of the end, the last days, in which one would see a harvesting that would bring together once again the wheat, but now separate from the weeds – indeed, the call made at Revelation 18:4, for his people, to get out.

Interestingly, the koine Greek word translated as "weeds" is "zizanion" which is a kind of darnel, the bearded type, which significantly resembles wheat in "appearance", but only in appearance [Matthew 7:15-23] – a degenerate wheat.

Also interesting regarding zizanion, it is not until the time approaching harvest, that the zizanion becomes visible – and it does so because unlike wheat, it puts forth little black seeds at maturity, which become visible, and if eaten, can be deadly. It is the fruit, or "seeds" of this plant, which make it distinguishable from the true wheat.

The reason why Jesus chose this particular plant by word becomes obvious - the zizanion represented individuals "planted" by the oversower into the developing Christian institution. Who would claim to be genuine Christians, genuine "wheat". According to the parable, this poisoned and contaminated version of "Christianity" would be allowed to persist until the time of the end at which time a separating would transpire, i.e., the restoration.

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