Historical Church Series: Early Church Heretics – Docetism and Ebionism

Hello, beloved, I hope this post finds you all doing well! Today we’re actually going to deal with two specific heresies, double trouble, Docetism and Ebionism. On Tuesday we talked about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how it’s an essential doctrine of the faith. If you missed that post, you can find it here. Alongside these two heresies I’d like to introduce you to another early church leader, Irenaeus.

Let’s start with Irenaeus, who was born around 130 ad in Smyrna, and directly discipled by Polycarp of Smyrna. He would eventually become the Bishop of Lyon, and would spend his days fighting heresy and evangelical work south of France. He would eventually be martyred by Severus, in Lyons, after nearly 80 years of serving the Lord. This man, trained by one who sat under the teaching of the Apostle John, lived and died for the glory of God. Let’s discuss the heresies he fought against so uncompromisingly.

Ebionism was the fruit of the Judaizers we talked about here. They came along in the second and third century, teaching that salvation came through keeping the Law. They also denied the virgin birth, the eternal divinity of Christ, and the Trinity. While they would eventually split into two groups, one with a gnostic bent, and the other with the original Jewish works righteousness, they were all considered heretics. It’s believed that Irenaeus was the first to address this cult, in his work Against Heresies. They do not deny the resurrection of Christ, but do not believe that it saves. You can see a modern day version of Ebionism in the Seventh Day Adventist’s.

Docitism, a heretical group which would eventually morph into Gnosticism, believed that Christ was not a real, flesh and blood, man. As such, they deny the resurrection of Christ in bodily form. The duality of docitism fit in much more comfortably with the Platonism of the age. It was appears early on by Apostles and Apostolic Fathers, leading to a more clear explanation of the humanity of Christ. That clarification is still needed today, as the modern docitism found in New Agism still declares that Jesus Christ was spirit and you can achieve Christ “consciousness”.

I hope this series continues to edify and encourage you, dear friends, to stand firm in your faith. The truth of God’s Word has always remained, never has He left His church without a defender. The gates of Hell will not prevail. If, and when, we face persecution, we will not stand alone but with the brothers and sisters in Christ that have come before us. From the end of Acts until this present day, Christ is building His church. There are many voices crying for an end to Christianity, this is nothing new. Be bold, and courageous, filled with love and deep concern for the lost. Until tomorrow, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.


Author: lnhereford

I am a Christian, wife, mother, podcaster and homeschooler currently traveling the United States with my loving husband and darling daughter!

5 thoughts on “Historical Church Series: Early Church Heretics – Docetism and Ebionism”

    1. Thank you, brother! Please pray for me, this series began when I noticed the Mormon temple right next door to us. I’m thankful God turned my mind to the cults as Mormon missionaries came knocking yesterday and I’ve set up a time for them to come back. I’m hoping to start a dialogue, and share the Gospel with them. Please pray that God would soften their hearts, brother. I couldn’t sleep last night, considering all the lost working so hard to earn salvation as if it were a wage, rather than a gift.

      Liked by 1 person

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