The Pagan Unbiblical Decrees Of The Council Of Nicea II (787 A.D.)

At the Second Council of Nicea held in 787 A.D., the 350 bishops attending declared in Canon VII: “And if any bishop from this time forward is found consecrating a temple without holy relics, he shall be deposed, as a transgressor of the ecclesiastical traditions.” [1] Here we see how far the Church had backslidden by 787 A.D. that the Orthodox bishops and representatives of the Pope could agree to such a man-made rule as the above. As a result of this rule, no person in the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Churches could become and remain a bishop unless they would be willing to consecrate each church with religious relics.

The same Church Council declared: “We salute the venerable images. We place under anathema those who do not do this…Anathema to those who do not salute the holy and venerable images.” [2] The bishops at this so-called General Council of the whole Christian Church cursed anyone who would not salute the images of Mary, the “Saints”, the martyrs and Christ.

In the “Extract from the Acts” (Session 1) of the Second Council of Nicea, a bishop read the following: “…Likewise also I venerate and honour and salute the relics of the Saints as of those who fought for Christ and who have received grace from Christ for the healing of diseases and the curing of sicknesses and the casting out of devils…” [3]

In other words, the Council of Nicea II approved of the idea that God performs miracles through the hair, bones and parts of the previous possessions of so-called Saints who have died.

Reflecting the earlier influence of the Council of Nicea II, “The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic Eastern Church” says the martyrs “to whom also great honors and triumphs are with just reason awarded: by whom devils are expelled and diseases healed: who appears in visions and prophecy…” [4] The same Catechism quotes the early church leader John Damascene (died 780 A.D.) as saying “The relics of the saints have been given us by our Lord Jesus Christ as salutary springs, from which manifold blessings flow.” [5]


The evil influence of “Saint” Irene


The Roman Empress Irene was the person who summoned the Council of Nicea II to make the above proclamations. Her son Constantine VI was too young at the time to rule as Emperor alone. Later in her ambition for power, she had her son’s eyes plucked out while he was asleep. This happened with such violence, he died as a result in 797 A.D. Irene is canonized as a “Saint” by the Orthodox Churches. Her memory is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Church on the 15th August.


Nicea II cursed more Bible-based believers


In 787 A.D. the Council of Nicea II declared, “Anathema to those who spurn the teachings of the holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church, taking as a pretext and making their own arguments of Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches and Dioscorus, that unless we were evidently taught by the Old and New Testaments, we should not follow the teachings of the holy Fathers and of the holy Ecumenical Synods, and the tradition of the Catholic Church.” [6] In the above, the “holy Fathers” were Christian teachers living after the time of the Apostles. “Holy ecumenical synods” were general councils of the whole Church. “The tradition of the Catholic Church” refers to supposedly Holy Spirit-inspired teachings not found in the Scriptures and to interpretation of the Scriptures which were handed on by word of mouth. In order to justify their decrees about reverencing and venerating holy relics and images, the Council of Nicea II said that those who stated such practices are not clearly taught in the Old and New Testaments, were heretics like Arius and others listed above.

Here we see the dreadful danger of saying that certain ideas and practices, which are not specifically taught in the written Word of God, are inspired by Him through His Holy Spirit. As soon as we accept such an approach to the Scriptures, the floodgates are opened so that many wrong ideas and practices begin to be accepted in the Church.


Nicea II distorted and adulterated the written Word


The Council of Nicea II in 787 A.D. misquoted Hebrews 11:21 to supposedly prove we should reverence or venerate religious relics. When referring to Jacob, this Council of 350 bishops said “he reverenced the top of his staff (Hebrews 11:21)”. [7]

But note the literal translation of the original Greek of Hebrews 11:21 says Jacob “worshipped on the tip of the rod of him.” [8] In Greek, the word “epi” meaning “on” is used immediately after the word “worshipped”. Hebrews 11:21 teaches that Jacob worshipped God while leaning on his staff. He was very old and sick at the time of the events spoken of in Hebrews 11:21 (see Genesis 48:1-22). So in context, it makes sense that he had to lean on his staff when in an upright position while worshipping God.

Genesis 19:1 says Lot bowed down to the two angels. Unwise churchgoers could try to use this as an excuse to worship angels. This is even though Colossians 2:18, Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9 clearly show humans should not worship or reverence angels. Revelation 19:10 records: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”







Here God’s angel told John not to worship him. In Greek, the word “worship” here is a form of the word “proskuneo” which means “(fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to” [9] or “to prostrate oneself before someone as an act of reverence, fear, or supplication”. [10] Vine [11] and Perschbacher [12] also say “proskuneo” includes reverence.

Revelation 22:8 also uses a form of “proskuneo” when it says John fell down to worship the angel. But once again the angel told him not to do this (see verse 9). At this stage, even the godly Apostle John did not realise it was wrong to bow down to or reverence angels. This shows why when we read Genesis 19:1 we cannot interpret it as meaning God approves of us prostrating ourselves before and reverencing angels. This verse merely records what Lot did without commenting on its rightness or wrongness.

“The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church” says “When the prophet David cries out in prayer ‘O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel our fathers’, he makes mention of saints in aid of his prayer, exactly how the Orthodox Church calls upon Christ our true God, by the prayers of his most pure Mother and all his saints.” [13] But David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:18 is not to God, Abraham, Isaac and Israel, but is to God alone. David refers to God as the “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.” David is merely saying he was addressing the God whom Abraham, Isaac and Israel worshipped.


Similar abuse of the Scriptures to justify pagan practices


The Orthodox Confession of the Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Church of the East (P. III, Quaestio LV) says, “The Cherubim which overshadowed the mercy-seat, representing the true Cherubim which stand before God in heaven, the Israelites revered and honoured without any violation of the commandment of God, and likewise the children of Israel revered the tabernacle of witness with a suitable honour (2 Samuel 6:13) and yet in no respect sinned…but rather the more glorified God. From these considerations it is evident that when we honour the holy images, we do not transgress the commandment of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), but we most especially praise God, who is to be admired in his Saints’ (Psalm 68:35)”

The above is an expression of some of the teachings of Orthodox churches. But note it contains a number of poor usages of the Scriptures. First, it says the Israelites revered and honoured the Cherubim in the Holy of Holies as representative of the true angelic Cherubim in heaven. But there is no evidence in the Old Testament that Israelites revered or honoured the Cherubim. Instead they worshipped and honoured God Who manifested His glory in the Holy of Holies (see Exodus 29:43, 40:34-35, Numbers 14:10, 20:6, 1 Kings 8:11 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Also note in Colossians 2:18, Paul commanded us not to worship angels.

2 Samuel 6:13 does not teach that godly Israelites revered the Tabernacle. This verse instead shows they gave offerings to God. In the Law of Moses, God never commanded His people to make offerings to the Ark. Instead He commanded that offerings be always given to Him. The Ark was made holy because it resided normally in the Holy of Holies where God promised to manifest His Presence and because it contained the Covenant tablets which God has given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Also note Psalm 68:35 does not say anything about God being admired in His Saints. The only verse which speaks like this is 2 Thessalonians 1:10 which refers to Jesus Christ “being glorified in His Saints” when He returns again. But in context, “saint” here refers to every born-again Christian and not some special minority of believers. In John 17:1-26, Jesus prayed to God the Father. In verse 2, Jesus spoke of Him being glorified in all believers. Christ was not here referring to some very small group of canonized so-called “Saints”.




[1] Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Editors), “A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church”, Volume XIV, page 560.

[2] Ibid, page 551.

[3] Ibid, page 534.

[4] Ibid, page 487.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, page 534.

[7] Ibid, page 573.

[8] Alfred Marshall, “The Interlinear NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English”, page 649.

[9] Bauer, page 716.

[10] Louw and Nida, page 218.

[11] Vine, page 686.

[12] Perschbacher, page 354.

[13] Schaff, pages 485-486.



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