When Abgar had returned from the East, he learnt that the Romans suspected him of having gone there to raise troops. He therefore made the Roman commissioners acquainted with the reasons of his journey to Persia, as well as the treaty concluded between Ardaches and his brothers; but no credence was given to his statement: for he was accused by his enemies Pilate, Herod the tetrarch, Lysanias and Philip. Abgar having returned to his city Edessa leagued himself with Aretas, king of Petra, and gave him some auxiliary troops under the command of Khosran Ardzrouni, to make war upon Herod. Herod had in the first instance married the daughter of Aretas, then had repudiated her, and thereupon taken Herodias, even in her husband’s lifetime, a circumstance in connection with which he had had John the Baptist put to death. Consequently there was war between Herod and Aretas on account of the wrong done the daughter of Aretas, Being sharply attacked, Herod’s troops were defeated, thanks to the help of the brave Armenians; as if, by divine providence, vengeance was taken for the death of John the Baptist.
Abgar sends princes to Marinus; These deputies see our Saviour Christ; Beginning of the conversion of Abgar.
At this period Marinus, son of Storoge, was raised by the emperor to the government of Phoenicia, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia. Abgar sent to him two of his principal officers, Mar-Ihap prince of Aghtznik, and Chamchacram chief of the house of the Abahouni, as well as Anan his confidant. The envoys proceed to the town of Petkoupine to make known to Marinus the reasons of Abgar’s journey to the East, showing him the treaty concluded between Ardaches and his brothers, and at the same time to call upon Marinus for his support. The deputies found the Roman governor at Eleutheropolis; he received them with friendship and distinction, and gave this answer to Abgar: “Fear nothing from the emperor on that account, provided you take good care to pay the tribute regularly.”
On their return, the Armenian deputies went to Jerusalem to see our Saviour the Christ, being attracted by the report of His miracles. Having themselves become eye-witnesses of these wonders, they related them to Abgar. This prince, seized with admiration, believed truly that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and said: “These wonders are not those of a man, but of a God. No, there is no one amongst men who can raise the dead: God alone has this power.” Abgar felt in his whole body certain acute pains which he had got in Persia, more than seven years before; from men he had received no remedy for his sufferings; Abgar sent a letter of entreaty to Jesus: he prayed Him to come and cure him of his pains. Here is this letter:—
Abgar’s letter to the Saviour Jesus Christ.
“Abgar, son of Archam, prince of the land, to Jesus, Saviour and Benefactor of men, who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting:—
“I have heard of Thee, and of the cures wrought by Thy hands, without remedies, without herbs: for, as it is said, Thou makest the blind to see, the lame to walk, the lepers to be healed; Thou drivest out unclean spirits, Thou curest unhappy beings afflicted with prolonged and inveterate diseases; Thou dost even raise the dead. As I have heard of all these wonders wrought by Thee, I have concluded from them either that Thou art God, come down from heaven to do such great things, or that Thou art the Son of God, working as Thou dost these miracles. Therefore have I written to Thee, praying Thee to condescend to come to me and cure me of the complaints with which I am afflicted. I have heard also that the Jews murmur against Thee and wish to deliver Thee up to torments: I have a city small but pleasant, it would be sufficient for us both.”
The messengers, the bearers of this letter, met Jesus at Jerusalem, a fact confirmed by these words of the Gospel: “Some from amongst the heathen came to find Jesus, but those who heard them, not daring to tell Jesus what they had heard, told it to Philip and Andrew, who repeated it all to their Master.”
The Saviour did not then accept the invitation given to Him, but He thought fit to honour Abgar with an answer in these words:—