Sagaris of Laodicea

by COGwriter

We have little information on Sagaris, also known as Agaris.

He was believed to have been a bishop in Laodicea of Asia Minor.

The Catholic Encyclopedia records this about him and Laodicea:

The first bishops attributed to the See of Laodicea are very uncertain: St. Archippus (Colossians 4:17); St. Nymphas (Colossians 4:15; already indicated as bishop of Laodicea by the Apostolic Constitutions, 7:46); Diotrephes (III John, 9). Next comes St. Sagaris, martyr (c. 166) (Petrides S. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Laodicea. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Melito of Sardis wrote this about him:

When Servilius Paulus was proconsul of Asia, at the time that Sagaris suffered martyrdom, there arose a great controversy at Laodicea concerning the time of the celebration of the Passover, which on that occasion had happened to fall at the proper season; and this treatise was then written (Melito of Sardis. From the work on the passover. Roberts A., Donaldson J. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. American Edition, 1885. See also Eusebius, Church History, Book IV, Chapter 26).

So, Sagaris was a martyr and took a particular position on the date of the Passover.

Sagaris Was A Quartodeciman

The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded that Polycrates of Ephesus, around 195 A.D. wrote the following to the Roman Bishop Victor who wanted all who professed Christ to change Passover from the 14th of Nisan to Easter Sunday:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man' (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Polycrates wrote that Sagaris was among those who observed the Passover on the date that was handed down from scriptures and the Apostle John, and thus, that he did not change to Sunday when some in Rome did. Despite the controversy in Laodicea that Melito mentioned.

Hence it is clear that throughout the second century, that Sagaris and the faithful churches in Asia Minor continued to observe the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, unlike the Romans and Alexandrians.

Sagaris is In the Hierarchy of the Church

Interestingly, although he is not in the list of Bishops of Rome (since he was not Roman, that is logical), Sagaris is mentioned in the article on titled Hierarchy of the Early Church in The Catholic Encyclopedia:

A. Mention of Bishops by Polycrates

In a synodal letter written by Polycrates of Ephesus about the year 190 this bishop, sixty-five years of age, speaks of seven of his relatives who had been bishops before him. Besides these he mentions Polycarp and Papirius of Smyrna, Thraseas of Eumenea, Sagaris of Laodicea and Melito of Sardes (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.", v, 24, 2 sq.) (Borkowski S. De Dunin. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Hierarchy of the Early Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

By "hierarchy of the Church", at least this Catholic source is suggesting that there was what is commonly referred to as "apostolic succession" in Asia Minor.

Furthermore, the historian/theologian of the late 2nd/early 3rd century, Tertullian notes:

Anyhow the heresies are at best novelties, and have no continuity with the teaching of Christ. Perhaps some heretics may claim Apostolic antiquity: we reply: Let them publish the origins of their churches and unroll the catalogue of their bishops till now from the Apostles or from some bishop appointed by the Apostles, as the Smyrnaeans count from Polycarp and John, and the Romans from Clement and Peter; let heretics invent something to match this (Tertullian. Liber de praescriptione haereticorum. Circa 200 A.D. as cited in Chapman J. Transcribed by Lucy Tobin. Tertullian. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

These two Catholic-accepted sources quotes, suggest, to me at least, that the Roman Catholics at least indirectly acknowledge that there was a hierarchy of succession in the church in Asia Minor, that included Sagaris. And this is not really limited to those who were based out of Laodicea (the Apostle John ended his life in Ephesus, and Polycarp was from Smyrna, both reasonably close to each other in Asia Minor).

Concluding Comments on Sagaris

Since Sagaris was apparently approved by the Christian Polycrates, it seems reasonable to conclude that Sagaris was a true Christian and that he was part of the true Church of God. Even though he did not follow the Roman practice of a Sunday passover (now called Easter), he is still considered a saint by the Roman Catholics.

The few writings about Sagaris suggest a theology closer to that held by the genunine Church of God, than the Orthodox or Catholic faiths. The fact that many people considered to be saints by the Orthodox or Catholic faiths did not accept Passover as being on Sunday, observed the day when the Jews put out the leaven, and put a higher priority on scripture than what humans like the Bishop of Rome pronounced should give those outside the Church of God pause to consider who is truly faithful.

Leaders like Sagaris help demonstrate that it is the COGs who hold positions most consistent with truly orthodox Christianity, than the majority who now profess Christianity do.

 Previous Primary Leader was Thraseas                                                                        Next Primary Leader was Papirius

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