The New Testament: Optimist’s Version

Anti-apostasy verses in the New Testament

All too often, LDS make reference to the “many” prophecies and reports of an impending Great Apostasy in the New Testament. I’ve always maintained that in order to make such a case, one has to ignore quite a few of the more optimistic reports. I often wish for a handy list of NT verses that say the Church would do just fine, so I’ve decided to make one. I’ll skip the Gospels for now, since the Church in her present form didn’t exist yet, and thus Christ’s references to it can be dismissed as referring exclusively to the Apostles. Also, I won’t use any of John’s vision in Revelation, since it can be interpreted in so many different ways.

I realize that I’m selectively quoting only those NT passages that support my case. While usually that’s a bad practice, this article is not meant to present both sides of the argument. It’s meant to be biased. The other side is presented plenty by LDS or others who need the NT Church to have failed. They already have their “apostasy” scripture list; I’m making an anti-apostasy list. And now that I’ve done it, I find it almost surprising how scripturally incorrect is the view that the apostles expected a great apostasy, or that they didn’t make sure the Church would go on, etc. As these passages clearly show, the apostles were apt founders, and the Church indeed succeeded.

I’ll go book-by-book, and try to make it as clear and concise as possible. I’m using the Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition); all bracketed words are mine. Some verses, by themselves, aren’t great proof-texts, but taken together, they do help establish a context and show how widespread and successful the preaching of the word of the Lord was.


Acts

Acts 1:8 [Jesus, to the Apostles] – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.

Acts 2:39 [Peter, to the crowd on Pentecost] – For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.

Acts 2:41-42 – So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:46-47 – And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 4:4 – But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of men came to about five thousand.

Acts 5:14 – And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, […]

Acts 5:35-39 – And he [Gamaliel] said to them [the Council], “Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days, Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!

Acts 5:42 – And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 6:1 – Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, […]

Acts 6:7 – And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Acts 8:4 – Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did.

Acts 8:10-12 – They [the people of Samaria] all gave heed to him [Simon the magician], from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is that power of God which is called Great.” And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:25 – Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Acts 8:40 – But Philip was found at Azotus, and passing on he preached the gospel to all the towns till he came to Caesarea.

Acts 9:31 – So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.

Acts 11:19-26 – Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.

Acts 12:24 – But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Acts 13:49 – And the word of the Lord spread throughout all the region [Antioch of Pisidia].

Acts 14:21-23 – When they [Paul and Barnabas] had preached the gospel to that city [Derbe] and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.

Acts 15:41 – And he [Paul] went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Acts 17:4 – And some of them [the Jews at Thessalonica] were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas; as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.

Acts 17:11-12 – Now these Jews [at Beroea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Acts 18:9-11 – And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Acts 19:10 – This [Paul’s preaching and arguing in Ephesus] continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Acts 19:17-20 – And this [the events of Acts 19:13-16] became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.

Acts 19:26 – [Demetrius, to his colleagues] And you see and hear that not only at Ephesus but almost throughout all Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable company of people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.

Acts 28:30-31 – And he [Paul] lived there [Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.


Romans

Romans 1:5 – through whom [Jesus] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

Romans 1:8 – First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.

Romans 16:19 – For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil;

Romans 16:25-27 – Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.


1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 1:2 – To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

1 Corinthians 1:4-8 – I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:2 – I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 – Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast – unless you believed in vain.


2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:24 – Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 – You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 – Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as it was, will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 – We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:13-15 – Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 7:2-4 – Open your hearts to us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. With all our affliction, I am overjoyed.

2 Corinthians 7:6-7 – But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 – As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved [by Paul’s earlier letter], but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what long, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the matter.

2 Corinthians 7:13-16 – Therefore we are comforted.

And besides our own comfort we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set at rest by you all. For if I have expressed to him some pride in you, I was not put to shame; but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, and the fear and trembling with which you received him. I rejoice, because I have prefect confidence in you.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2 – We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which ahs been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for I a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part.

2 Corinthians 8:7-8 – Now as you excel in everything – in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us – see that you excel in this gracious work [giving relief to the Church] also.

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love is genuine.

2 Corinthians 9:1-2 – Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the offering for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.


Galatians

Galatians 5:10 – I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.


Ephesians

Ephesians 1:15-23 – For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:20-21 – Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 4:15-16 – Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

Ephesians 5:24-27 – As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church t o himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:29-30 – For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.


Philippians

Philippians 1:3-8 – I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Philippians 2:12-13 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 4:1 – Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.


Colossians

Colossians 1:3-8 – We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing – so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth, as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Colossians 2:5 – For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Colossians 2:18-19 – Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.


1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 1:2-8 – We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

1 Thessalonians 2:1 – For you yourselves know, brethren, that our visit to you was not in vain; […]

1 Thessalonians 2:13-14a – And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judea; […]

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 – For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before the Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 3:5-8 – For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent that I might know your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor would be in vain.

But now Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you – for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith; for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 – Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more. For you know what instruction we gave you through the Lord Jesus.


2 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 – We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-4 – Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things which we command.


1 Timothy

1 Timothy 3:14-15 – I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.


2 Timothy

2 Timothy 1:11-12 – For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

2 Timothy 2:1-2 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:8-9 – Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered.

2 Timothy 2:18-19 – […] They [Hymenaeus and Philetus] are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”


Hebrews

Hebrews 6:9-10 – Though we speak thus [admonishingly], yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.

Hebrews 10:39 – But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls.

Hebrews 13:7 – Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. […]


James

James 1:2-3 – Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.


1 Peter

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.


2 Peter

2 Peter 1:1 – Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 Peter 1:3-4 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:12 – Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

2 Peter 1:15 – And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

2 Peter 2:1-10 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.


1 John

1 John 2:13-14 – I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:18-21 – Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and know that no lie is of the truth.

1 John 2:26-27 – I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1 John 4:1-6 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 John 5:4 – For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.


3 John

3 John 3-4 – For I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth. No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.


Jude

Jude 3 – Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to content for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that he who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed.

Jude 24-25 – Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.


Revelation

Revelation 2:1-3 – [Jesus speaking] “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

Revelation 2:6 – [Jesus, to the angel of the church in Ephesus] Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:13 – [Jesus, to the angel of the church in Pergamum] “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; you hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

Revelation 2:19 – [Jesus, to the angel of the church in Thyatira] “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.

Revelation 3:8-10 – [Jesus, to the angel of the church in Philadelphia] “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.


Conclusion

This has been a most enlightening project. As I said, it was almost surprising to see so much contrast between what the New Testament actually says, and the picture LDS apologists paint of the early Church. Rather than a Church about to fail, we see a vibrant, strong, and growing Church, one of which the apostles were proud and for which they were thankful. We see the apostles planning for it after their departure (as in 2 Peter 1:15). How would they do that, if not by appointing elders and granting them their apostolic authority? And indeed, we see the apostles exhorting the people to follow the leaders they handpicked, because the apostles knew these leaders were capable, trustworthy, upright, and not about to forget or pervert the faith as soon as the apostles were gone.

I’ve also seen that the people about whom the apostles warned the faithful, the false teachers and such, were all described as wicked men, prone to licentiousness and such. LDS apologists sometimes suggest that the faith was perverted by well-meaning overseers who had to compromise the faith to save themselves or their flock, or so on. The apostles’ words give the lie to this idea. The false teachers, as history bears out, were indeed wicked, and bore fruit of every kind of sin they desired to justify by undermining the authority of the Church and changing the faith.

Of course, as history also bears out, they didn’t succeed. Just as the quite-optimistic New Testament suggests, the Church, a work of God, the body of Christ, grew and succeeded. Even if someone holds that corruptions came into it in the following centuries, he must admit that the Church immediately following the apostles, by all accounts (except modern LDS apologists’), was doing just fine. And that church was not at all the LDS church; she was the apostolic, unified, holy, and universal Church of Jesus Christ.

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