The great danger to the churches in Asia Minor was the Eastern philosophy, part of which was the thought that Jesus was like a phantom—that he did not really die but only appeared to do so. Our redemption is not merely because Jesus was a way-shower (one who showed the way), but because he was the Redeemer in a much more realistic sense. Blood was involved. The false philosophy claimed Jesus was all spirit, not human, and that he only appeared to suffer but did not actually do so.
The philosophy gained strength that those Christians who repented for sins and suffered disease, violence, and death through persecution were not living up to their privileges. They were regarded as lesser Christians, not God’s elite. Feeling that the elite class lived above the sufferings, followers of this philosophy did not see the need for suffering and humility. They wanted all the honors, emoluments, and prestige—the future honors of the reign—without any of the suffering. Over and over Paul tried to show that his role as an apostle was made valid by his sufferings. What he suffered was a mark of his apostleship, not the reverse. Those with the wrong thinking argued that if he were an apostle, he would not suffer. By extension, then, they reasoned that Jesus could not have really suffered or died. This erroneous philosophy made tremendous inroads into the Church as time went on.