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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)




Chapter 2


2. "The Synagogue of the Satan".




SYNAGOGUE is a Greek word, from the verb (!greek!) meaning "to bring together, collect, gather; passive, to convene, come together, meet." The noun sunagoge, signifies "a collecting, gathering; hence a congregation," and sometimes the building where the congregation meets. The blasphemers in Smyrna, who said they were apocalyptic Jews, or, by interpretation, Christians, but lied, are not styled "the Ecclesia of the Satan," because that would imply that they were a calling out by a special invitation to something. The Satan has nothing to invite men to that they are not already entitled to by nature. Being sinners, they are "children of wrath," and therefore adversaries to all contained in "the One Hope of the invitation," which is to the kingdom and glory

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of the Deity. They are not, therefore, an ecclesia, but simply a gathering together, a congregation of blasphemers.

Synagogue in Jas. 2:2, is put for an "assembly" of Hebrew Christians. Addressing them, the apostle says, "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus, anointed of the glory, with respect of persons. For if there come into your Synagogue a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel; and there comes in also a poor man, in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here honorably; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here at my footstool; do ye not then confer superiority among yourselves, and are become judges (possessed) of evil imaginations?" This that James reproves, came to be characteristic of many in the Christian assemblies. It was the old Pharisaic love of preeminence budding forth in the congregations of the faithful. "Do not ye," said Jesus, "after the works of the Scribes and Pharisees; for all their works they do to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the Synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi (or My Great One), for one is your Guide, the Anointed One, and all ye are brethren. And call no one your father upon the earth, for one is your Father, who is in the heavens. Neither be ye called guides, for one is your Guide, the Anointed. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matt. 23:5-11).

"When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the Synagogues and in the streets. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the Synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men... And when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the Gentiles, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matt. 6:2,7).

Such were the practices characteristic of the religious meetings of the Jews in their synagogues. The elders, who constituted the Presbytery of the Synagogue, called also "the rulers," assumed to be the special favorites of heaven, and the "spiritual guides" of the "cursed people," -- the am-ha-aretz, "who knew not the law." They styled themselves "the Great Ones," and were looked up to as the great lights, or stars, of the ecclesiastical aerial, who guided the blind to the curing and saving of their souls. They honored one another, delighted in the honor bestowed by the wondering multitude, and consorted mainly with the rich, influential, and powerful. To the honor that came from God they were indifferent, for all they did was for public applause, and the profits

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accruing from the approbation of their dupes. They made long prayers, and many prayers, and vain prayers, loud, contradictory, and absurd; prayers, like the prayers of the "spiritual guides" and "soul-curers" of our day, full of blasphemy and noise, and which, if answered, would compel the Deity to falsify His promises, and thereby make Himself a liar. As to their teaching, they taught for doctrine the commandments of men, and so made void the word of God by their traditions. Isaiah styles them, "Blind, ignorant, and all dumb dogs, that cannot bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, greedy dogs, who can never have enough; shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his own quarter," or sect (56:10). They prided themselves upon their "learning," or as they term it now, their "scholarship." They studied at the feet of "Masters in Israel," and in due time became Rabbis themselves. But, though filled with learned lumber, Isaiah says, "they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink: for Yahweh hath poured out upon them the spirit of a deep sleep, and hath closed their eyes: the prophets and the rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto Israel as the words of a book that is sealed, which they deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is scaled. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore Yahweh saith, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a wonderful work among this people (29:9-14).

Such was the Synagogue-System, at the epoch of the institution of the Ecclesia of the Deity, based upon Jesus as the Christ. The description is applicable to the rulers and the ruled of Israel to this day; only that, if they were then besotted with tradition, and vainly worshipping with their lips,they are now, as Ezekiel saith, "Dry bones, very dry." There was then some sap in the topmost twig of the cedar; but now, alas, none!

Such a synagogue, then, came to be a fit and proper emblem of those Christians," falsely so-called, who in Smyrna "said they were Jews, but were not." John, referring to these spurious Christians in divers places, says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would doubtless have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19). This emigration from the apostolic

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fellowship became "the synagogue of the Satan," and was afterwards distinguished by the assumed title of "the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church." The leaders of this schism transferred all the customs of the old Jewish Synagogue-System into their pseudo-Christian "church;" and as they were not slow in getting the majority-for "they were of the world, and therefore they spoke of the world, and the world heard them;" for it hears and loves its own -- they turned upon those who continued faithful to the apostolic teaching, and denounced and oppressed them as "heretics." The leaders of this schism erected themselves into a distinct order from the laioi, or people, now styled "the laity" and "laymen" -- men of the people. They usurped to themselves the title of ho kleros, "the clergy," or the lot, portion, or heritage; on the assumption that, while the people belonged to their spiritual guides, said guides are the special lot, or inheritance, of God! Thus, "clergy" is defined the body of men set apart by due ordination for the service of God; and a "clergyman," as "one in holy orders; not a laick."

But, though this distinction of clergy and laity is universal in "the synagogue of the Satan," there is no such distinction in the Ecclesia, or Body of Christ. The elders, overseers, and deacons, were no holier than the saints at large. There were no "holy orders" as distinct from orders not holy; for elders and people were "all one in Christ Jesus;" and, as a whole, constituted the kleros, or clergy of the Deity. Each particular congregation, with its overseers and deacons, was a kleros, or clergy; that is, a heritage: and all the heritages, or congregations, in the aggregate, made up "the flock of the Deity." Hence, in writing to the saints in general, Peter says, "The presbyters (or elders) among you I exhort, who am a co-elder and witness of the sufferings of the Anointed One, and a partaker of the glory which shall be revealed, feed the flock of the Deity with you, not overseeing it unwillingly, but spontaneously (1 Tim. 3:1); not for the sake of sordid gain, but with alacrity: not as domineering over THE HERITAGES (hoi kleroi, the clergies), but becoming patterns of the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive the unfading wreath of glory" (1 Pet. 5:1). But "the Synagogue of the Satan" reversed all this; instead of "feeding the flock," they turned upon it as "grievous wolves" and "raging dogs;" and sought to episcopize for filthy lucre's sake, as spiritual lords ignoring all "heritages" but their own ranks, orders, and degrees; and accounting the people only as a beast of burden to be worked for the honor and profit of "Reverend Divines," as at this day. "The Synagogue of the Satan," of whose flock they are the patterns, has grown to enormous dimensions, while the Ecclesia of Christ has been prevailed against almost to extinction, as

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foretold by Daniel and John (Dan. 7:21; Apoc. 11:2; 13:7). Satan's Church is coextensive with what they call "Christendom" -- a huge and mighty synagogue, comprehending all the names and denominations of "the Great City" from Rome to Bethany and Utah. "The world rulers of the darkness of this Aion," or Course of things; "the spirituals of the wickedness in high places" are all members or supporters, in some form or shape, of this Synagogue. Like the blasphemers in Smyrna, "they all say they are Christians, and are not, but do lie;" and they are all either ignorant of the gospel of the Kingdom, or, if they have any knowledge of it, know it only to oppose it, or to neutralize the obedience it implicitly and explicitly requires.




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