The Gates of Hades Shall Not Prevail Against the Church

I’m traveling … not much time to be posting blogs, but this email discussion I’m having addresses an important issue. So here’s the email …


I don’t have the confidence that you have to say, “How can the pope and ecumenical bishops deny the first 300 years of the church if brought to them accurately?”

I’ve been asking questions of Christians–Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, and Independents alike–for 28 years now. I used to believe that if they only knew what was true, they would change. It took me a long time and a lot of heartache to realize that most of them don’t want to know what is true. No matter how you present the truth, they will not understand it because they don’t want to understand it.


I’d like to also question one of your premises. You said that the promise that the gates of Hades would not prevail against the church means that the true church will always be here until Jesus returns.

Does it really mean that? I know the Roman Catholic Church says it means that, but does that interpretation really make any sense?

Think about it. Since when are gates offensive weapons?

Gates are for defense. I think that Jesus is saying that the church, wherever it exists, will have the power to overthrow death (Hades being the place of the dead in Scripture). If it happens not to exist at some time, that doesn’t mean Jesus promise isn’t true. It’s not the gates of Hades that caused the church to begin accepting carnal people during the time of Constantine.

It is simply true that the testimony of the church was at least reduced and perhaps absent during the 4th century.

It is also true that if you wanted to see a group of people with the same testimony that 2nd century churches had–unity, love, commitment to Jesus Christ, rejection of this world–then the place to find that testimony was among the Anabaptists, not among the Catholics or Protestants.

Thus, I would argue that God doesn’t recognize or care about hierarchies. The church is an organism, not an organization, and it always has been.

Let’s take my small town, for example. If the Gospel of Christ is preached, and people begin to live by his Spirit, displaying the righteousness that is always the product of the Gospel, and uniting with one another as a family in love … why should those people bother to contact a hierarchy that is neither scripturally nor historically justified?

Why shouldn’t those people simply continue in the Gospel together, opening their hearts and homes for fellowship with any other churches living the same way?

As Tertullian put it: “Those churches, who, although they derive not their founder from apostles or apostolic men (as being of much later date, for they are in fact being founded daily), yet, since they agree in the same faith, they are accounted as not less apostolic because they are akin in doctrine.”

It is teaching (and the holy living that results from teaching) that marks a church as apostolic, not its attachment to an unscriptural organization.

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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2 Responses to The Gates of Hades Shall Not Prevail Against the Church

  1. John Michael says:

    It's all according to your point of view. If pleasing your flesh is your highest good (your God), and you don't want your pleasure governed, then as a follower of the lies, those lies that excuse behavior which truth would require that you change, instead of saying ten "Hail Mary's" or, just saying your sorry over and over with no real change, or using whatever lame excuse you can to justify taking the path of least resistance (versus long, painful, death to yourself to please God) can seem, in the short run, to make your life better. And as a priest, preacher, televangelist, etc., who gets paid to tell pleasant lies and ignored for telling too much inconvenient truth, creature comforts ($$$) also rule. Acceptance of truth often requires a desire for truth above all costs. (But maybe you might do so because you care about others?) Recognition and understanding of truth, usually requires alot of practice being honest in things that are difficult and/or painful to be honest about. Unfortunately that's uncomfortable and against the gospel of self-indulgence! God… uh… me forbid!

  2. Jeremiah Briggs says:

    Unfortunately most of history teaches us that people don't pay much attention to history. Nations rise and fall, wars are fought, and economic stratigies fail all because the events of the past went unheeded. Those who don't learn from others mistakes are doomed to repeat them. "Evil struts about on every side when vanity is exaulted among the sons of men." I think that is in Proverbs.

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