I have often watched with dismay the nauseating lies of this church masquerading itself as the One True Church or the first church that ever existed, which Jesus built (Matthew 16:18).

So today, I want us to set the records straight! Let us embark on this journey of untraveled corridors of history. Just relax, enjoy and watch as the true history unfold…


*Here, we will called this church ‘THE COUNTERFEIT MOVEMENT’

In view of the miraculous signs and wonders performed during the apostolic era of the Church, we could ask, why would anyone want to infiltrate, subvert and deceive such believers? The Jewish religious establishment, who feared and resisted the emerging young Church, used threats and brute force to achieve their end. So did the Romans, although they were initially more tolerant, but later more brutal. Only the instruments of Satan would use such insidious tactics to infiltrate and undermine. Perhaps most of these initial agents understood who and what the Church was. Others, however, were more likely unwitting tools of Satan, following the impulses of the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).

Now, lets chart the development of that subtle counterfeit movement.

Simon Magus

The first and perhaps most influential—and ultimately the most destructive—false teacher that we will study in relation to this false movement is Simon Magus. The word magus means sorcerer or magician. Simon the “Sorcerer” is considered by all who are familiar with this aspect of history to be the founder of the first-century heretical movement away from the truth of God. Ironically, many who branded him for his heretical practices were actually writers and historians who unwittingly followed his movement. Among them were Justin Martyr, Jerome, and various other writers of the second and following centuries, whom we will cite in discussing this subject.

To say that this Simon was the true founder of the Roman Catholic Church would be correct, but not complete. He died in AD 68. It took nearly three centuries for the system he introduced to amass the power and to evolve through all the stages of modifying and counterfeiting doctrine to come to be known as the Roman Catholic Church. The architect of the movement is not any man or men, but rather the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4)—Satan.

The account of Simon is picked up in Acts 8:9-10. Here is Luke’s description of this man: “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.”

Simon was baptized with other Samaritans, being captivated by the miracles and signs Philip performed (vs. 13). Then, after the apostles arrived from Jerusalem, Simon offered Peter and John money for the power to lay hands on people and transmit to them the Holy Spirit (vs. 18-19). To this offer, Peter replied, “Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. You have neither part nor lot in this matter: for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (vs. 20-23).

Remember that the Samaritans had been placed in the land from which the northern Kingdom of Israel had been taken captive by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:24-40). These Samaritans had been brought from Babylon and continued to practice their ancient Babylonian religion, mixed with other religions. In particular, they picked up many of the terms from Judaism and Greek philosophy.

Josephus, throughout book II of his Wars of the Jews, illustrated how the Samaritans schemed to undermine the Jews at every opportunity—during both periods of Greek and Roman domination. From the time Judah returned to the area of Jerusalem after captivity, the Samaritans plotted to halt the rebuilding of the temple as well as the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem (Ezra 4-5; Neh. 4, 6). They were well established as Satan’s instruments in opposing any phase of God’s Work.

Gnosticism Appears

Simon, the high priest of the Babylonian Samaritan religion, was especially attracted to the philosophy of Gnosticism. As with many schools of philosophy, Gnosticism held that reality could never be understood by those uninitiated in philosophical reasoning. That approach was readily transferred to the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that the Jews and original Christians embraced. To the Gnostics, all the recorded events of the Bible were supposedly metaphors and allegories never to be taken literally. They required interpretation by qualified scholars well versed in the Gnostic school of thought.

Gnosticism proved to be the best weapon in Simon’s arsenal of tricks, more convincing than the demoniac sorcery and magic that worked so well on his fellow Samaritans. (We will come to appreciate that those who followed the use of metaphors and allegories in the 1990s were going back to a false “faith once delivered”—by the Gnostics.)

Thus, we have such accounts as these by Edward Gibbon concerning the Gnostics:

“The Mosaic account of the creation and fall of man was treated with profane derision by the Gnostics…The God of Israel was impiously represented by the Gnostics as a being liable to passion and to error…” As to the techniques employed by the Gnostics, Gibbon explains: “Acknowledging that the literal sense is repugnant to every principle of faith as well as reason, they deem themselves secure and invulnerable behind the ample veil of allegory, which they carefully spread over every tender part of the Mosaic dispensation.” Gibbon continued: “The Gnostics were distinguished as the most polite, the most learned, and the most wealthy of the Christian name; and that general appellation, which expressed a superiority of knowledge…assumed by their own pride…The Gnostics blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets, which they derived from oriental philosophy…” (Decline and Fall, ch. 15, pp. 150-151).

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol. 25, states, in its article titled “Simon Magus,” that he identified with the “Hellenized Gnosticism of Samaria.” The article referred to him as the “Samaritan Messiah” and the “father of all heresy.” As the apostolic Church was beginning to expand into new territories, so was Simon’s work also set to expand after AD 33, when he was “baptized” and pretended to be a Christian. As Satan’s agent in inaugurating the counterfeit religion, Simon carried his message from city to city, just as Christ’s apostles spread the true gospel. He translated the doctrine of grace as license to disobey God’s law.

So in the formative decades of the true Church, we have, growing alongside it, this counterfeit movement. By the AD 50s and beyond, the writers of the New Testament would have to occasionally address this issue. Remember that Revelation 2:2 gave this message to the Ephesus Era to their credit: “I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you can not bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars.”

There were many claiming to be apostles (as did Simon) who were impostors and liars. The brethren of the Ephesus Era were able to discern as much. Some of the warnings about these false apostles are apparent in the following scriptures:

II Thessalonians 2:7: “For the mystery of iniquity does already work…”

II Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

I John 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

Jude 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful…to write…and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Before Simon Magus went to Rome, around AD 42, Peter was sent to Antioch to counteract his false preaching. Paul indicates that Peter was in Antioch at that time (Gal. 2:11). From Antioch, Simon Magus soon went to Rome. Eusebius writes, “…the enemy of salvation [Satan] devising some scheme of seizing upon the imperial city (Rome) for himself brought thither Simon, whom we mentioned before. Coming to the aid of his insidious artifices, he attached many of the inhabitants of Rome to himself in order to deceive them” (The Ecclesiastical History, bk. 2, ch. 13, sec. 1).

Simon’s constant companion, while delivering his message, was his mistress, Helen. Justin Martyr writes of her: “A certain Helen, also, is of this class, who had before been a public prostitute in Tyre of Phoenicia, and at that time attached herself to Simon, and was called, the first idea that proceeded from him.” Eusebius also references the second century writer Irenaeus about this relationship: “they [those deceived by Simon]…falling down before the pictures and statues of this selfsame Simon and the aforesaid Helen with him, venturing to offer them worship by incense, sacrifices, and libations…they [Simon and Helen] happen in truth to be so full of amazement, folly, and madness…on account of their excessive baseness and obscenity” (ibid., sec. 6, 7).

Starting with a large population of his fellow Samaritans already in Rome, Simon managed to attract a significant following. Here, many people honored him as a god and erected a statue of him on the Tiber River. In Rome, much of Simon’s success could be attributed to his magic demonstrations, such as demon-powered levitation (ibid., sec. 3). It was these demonstrations that later earned him several audiences with Nero, in the AD 60s.

Recall that Peter’s commission was to the lost tribes of Israel. In neither his nor Paul’s letters is there any indication that Peter was ever in Rome. The Catholics have always claimed that not only was Peter the first Roman bishop, but that he was also martyred in Rome. Even if he was brought there for execution, the fact remains that Peter never served there. The false claim that the apostle Peter was the first pope was appropriately labeled “Fiction pure and simple” by the author of the well-known Halley’s Bible Handbook, page 768. The person of great “distinction” who bore the title of Peter at Rome was, in fact, Simon Magus. The title of “Peter” or “Pater” or “Patre” was a title of religious primacy that Simon Magus donned. Thus, he carried the title Simon “Peter.” The word “Pater” is of the same derivation as the word “Papa” or “Father” or “Pope.”

Now notice Christ’s direct command pertaining to such titles in Matthew 23:9: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for One is your Father, which is in heaven.” This verse forbids the use of “Father” as a religious title, as was done by the Babylonian Mystery Religion. Of course, this command does not relate to one’s father in the sense of being a parent.

The individual responsible for designating Peter as the first Pope was Hegesippus, an apostate from the true Church. He must have known that Peter, a married man (Matt. 8:14; I Cor. 9:5), was not a celibate priest and was the antithesis of what the pope represented. Hegesippus “…originally drew up the list of Roman bishops, on which Anicetus and his successors—down to the Pope today—based their claim to be the successors of a Peter” (the title claimed by Simon Magus) (ACBCC, lesson 49, p. 15).

Jude 4 summarizes the work of Simon and his followers, and is to the point: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”