In Search of the Thyatira Church

By COGwriter

This is a rather lengthy article, and differs from my other ones on Church eras primarily because of some differing understandings of history, as well as my attempt to determine who make up the remnant of the Thyatira Church today. It also include a section on comments from one of the Roman Catholic inquisitors.

Jesus said,

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, 'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-- 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-- as I also have received from My Father; And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches' (Revelation 2:18-29).

Because the bolded portion above, some have felt that some of the Thyatira remnant would be around until Jesus Christ returns.

It is also of note that it was only to Thyatira (2:25) and to Philadelphia (3:11) that Jesus said to "hold fast what you have." So this got me to consider that perhaps both groups were possibly being told to "hold fast" to many of the same things.

While many in the Church of God (COG) are somewhat familiar with the Sardis era of the Church of God, the history of the preceding era is less known. The purpose of this article is to attempt to provide some insight into what some in the COGs have concluded about this Thyatira era and who their spiritual descendants may be.

Transitioning into Thyatira

There have been a couple of differences of opinion about when the Thyatira era began and ended.

Herman Hoeh (Hoeh, H. A True History of the True Church, 1959 ed.) and Ivor Fletcher (Fletcher, Ivor C. The Incredible History of God's True Church, 1984 ed.) both wrote that it began about 1000 A.D. However, the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) later changed to the belief that it began a little later, closer to the beginning of the twelfth century, with the Pergamos era transitioning out in the eleventh century. WCG also changed its view that the "last work" of Thyatira was around 1238 AD to around 1600. In Dr. Hoeh's book, he has Thyatira ending in the mid-thirteenth century, and remaining in hiding, until the Church re-emerges as Sardis beginning in the mid-seventeenth century. WCG's later correspondence course suggests that the work of the Thyatira era ended in the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century; which is the same position that the late John Ogwyn took in his booklet.

The 1968 WCG wrote,

High in the Cottian Alps Jesus Christ appointed a place of safety for the headquarters of His Church during the most fruitful part of the Thyatira Era -- a "wilderness" refuge far above the busy plains and cities of Italy and France...{Known as}the Angrogna Valley today. Beyond the high western ridge in the background lies France, where the Thyatira Work began. In the center is the Pra del Tor -- plain of the tower -- site of the ancient Waldensian College..Paulicians and Bogomils came into western Europe before the year 1000. There they found a fertile field, prepared by the living Jesus Christ, just waiting for the sowing of His Word. It was to be the scene a little later of a new expansion of Jesus' Work -- during the Thyatira Era of His Church. North Italy and south France had already known organized objections to the authority and teaching of the bishop of Rome in every century from the fourth onward...The Paulicians and Bogomils in Italy -- among whom were individuals who believed Christ -- came to be called Cathars, meaning PURITANS. In France, as Cathars, Publicani, Bulgars and finally Albigenses, and in Germany, particularly around Cologne, they became what the Encyclopaedia Britannica calls "the abiding background of medieval heresy." It rightly identifies these people as "the debris of an earlier Christianity," that is, of the Pergamos Era (11th ed., art. "Cathars")" (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

I should probably add, that WCG did not actually consider the Cathars as "debris" , but simply the remnants of the Pergamos Church.

WCG also wrote:

Thyatira ... there were many false teachers and false brethren among God's people who taught that it was all right to have Catholics baptize their children or to attend idolatrous mass once in a while. Others committed spiritual fornication by meddling in politics in the hope of avoiding persecution.

Thyatira Era Begins The pope in 1096 described the Valley Louise in Dauphiny, France, as infested with "heresy." It was a result of Paulician and Bogomil evangelization of the Alpine regions. About 1104, a man from this valley, called Peter of Bruys, began at Embrun to preach REPENTANCE throughout Languedoc and Provence...One of the definitions of the Greek word Thyatira is "sweet savor of contrition," in other words, "real repentance." Peter of Bruys taught that infant baptism was useless. He only baptized persons old enough to know and mean what they were doing -- that is, only AFTER REAL REPENTANCE. He further rejected the Catholic MYSTERY teaching that the priest in the Mass produced the literal flesh of Christ. He opposed reverence for crosses, emphasis on huge church edifices, the fable of purgatory, prayers for the dead with their inevitable heavy bribes paid to the greedy religious leaders who falsely claimed to represent God. Converted followers gathered around Peter of Bruys. God's Church was beginning again to do a Work. Freed from the errors of Cathars and Catholics, a spiritual gospel was once again being widely preached. The numbers of truly converted -- those led by the Holy Spirit -- multiplied. They kept God's Sabbath. For "nearly twenty years" Peter preached. Then the false church would no longer stand for this open rejection of its authority. He was taken and burned alive at the stake...

The Waldenses recognized that they were the true successors of the apostolic church. They kept the SABBATH, also the yearly PASSOVER. And each September or October (in God's seventh month -- see Lev. 23), they held at the headquarters church a great "conference." As many as 700 persons attended from afar. New students were chosen, ministerial assignments were made, AND CROWDS GATHERED DAILY TO LISTEN TO SERMONS. What could this gathering have been but the Feast of Tabernacles! Under the name of Passagini, we have the clearest sort of statement that these people, about 1200, observed the whole Old Testament law, including the Sabbath and FESTIVALS! People called Cathars at Cologne, Germany, kept a fall festival, called "Malilosa", even before Waldo began to preach. Compare this unexplained name with Hebrew "melilah" (a harvested ear of grain -- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) and the Biblical title "Feast of Ingathering" (Ex. 23:16). How much more we might have known about these Middle Ages' Feasts of Tabernacles had not the Inquisitors so zealously burned the records! The three-part division of tithes paid the Waldensian Church is significant. Even in the 1500's the same division continued. "The money given us by the people is carried to the aforesaid general council, and is delivered in the presence of all, and there it is received by the most ancients (the elders), and part thereof is given to those that are wayfaring men, according to their necessities, and part unto the poor" (George Morel, Waldensian elder, quoted by Lennard, "History of the Waldenses"). 1. Compare this practice with Num. 18:21 and Deut. 14:22-25, 28-29. Isn't it exactly what the Bible commands?... Most authors have ASSUMED the "wayfaring men" were the traveling "barbel." But THEIR expenses would have been paid from the money given the elders, at EVERY time of year, for the direct conduct of the Work -- "first" tithe and offerings. Notice that in Numbers 18:21. What Morel then mentions is a "second" tithe, for those traveling to and from the festivals -- wayfaring men; and following it, the "third" to the poor. See the explanation in Deut. 14. Feast goers who had more "second tithe" than they needed shared their excess with those who had need, even as they do today! (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

Notice that there was a three-fold division of tithes. In modern times, we tend to refer to those as first tithe, second tithe (or festival tithe), and third tithe (or tithe for the poor). (A related article of interest may be Is Third Tithe Valid Today?) he Walenses.

The Waldenses claimed that they had apostolic succession:

The Waldenses had at one time bishops but that was when the sect was more widely spread than it now is. [Much has been said of the origin of the Waldenses. Their own historians assert that the community has remained from apostolic times independent of the church of Rome and they boast they can show a regular apostolic succession of bishops from the earliest period of Christianity, till that of the reformation.] (Blackwell DC. A Handbook of Church History. Chapter V - Series: 1: Waldenses and Anabaptists. Ambassador College Thesis, 1973)

The ... Waldenses ... Their own historians assert that the community has remained from apostolic times independent of the church of Rome and they boast they can show a regular apostolic succession of bishops from the earliest period of Christianity, till that of the reformation. (Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association: ... Annual Meeting with Constitution and By-laws and List of Members, Volume 17; Volume 19. The Association, 1919. Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Oct 28, 2005, pp. 190-191)

Here is an old report from old English (where the letter 'f' was often used instead of the letter 's,' so it is changed below) from a Baptist historian in the 18th century:

Some of the inhabitants of the Pyrenees, and of the adjacent states, and not those of the vallies of Piedmont, were the true original Waldenses, for to them and to them only do the descriptions in the books of the inquisitors agree. True it is, at the reformation a people appeared in the vallies of Piedmont, who gave good proof of their antiquity, and produced some writings, which indicated their connection with the Catalonians; as will be observed in its due place: but there is one demonstrative proof mentioned by Leger, that they were not the ancient Waldenses of ecclesiastical history. The Piedmontese were trinitarians, uniform in religious: But the old Waldenses had no notion of uniformity, and many of them were Manicheans and Arians. The Piedmontese did not understand liberty: the Pyreneans did. The Piedmontese were a handful: the Pyreneans were thousands and tens of thousands. The Piedmontese were a tame dejected people: the Pyreneans high spirited and ardent for universal freedom, as their ancestors had been. Here lay the snare; the reformers, as fond of the doctrine of succession as the catholicks, laboured with all their might to find out a succession of christians of the same faith and order as themselves. Such a people they found in the vallies of Savoy, and by dextrously applying to them whatever had been said of the inhabitants of other vallies they surmounted all obstacles except one. The catholicks objected that the old Waldenses held all forts of errours, and were as different from the reformers as from the church of Rome. The resformers extricated themselves from this difficulty by replying: that inquisitors, monks and historians were flanderers; and that all the Waldenses believed as they and the Piedmontese believed. The worst of this reply is, it is not true. Robinson R. Ecclesiastical Researches. Francis Hodson, publisher. 1792. Original from University of Chicago, Digitized Nov 19, 2015, pp. 299-300)

Some of these christians were called Sabbati, Sabbatati, and Insabbatati, and more frequently Inzabbatati. Led astray by found without attending to facts, one says, they were so named from the hebrew word sabbath, because they kept the saturday for the Lord's day. Another says, they were so called because they rejected all the festivals, or sabbaths, in the low latin sense of the word, which the catholick church religiously observed. (Ibid, pp. 303-304)

So, there were multiple types of Waldenses, those with apostolic succession were not like the Protestants, most were not trinitarian, and many kept the seventh-day Sabbath.

Here is a report from the Lutheran historian Johann Moshein concerning a group in the 12th century and two of their tenets:

the denomination of the Pasaginians ... The first was a notion, that the observance of the law of Moses, in everything except the offering of sacrifices, was obligatory upon Christians; in consequence of which they circumcised their followers, abstained from those meats, the use of which was prohibited under the Mosaic economy, and celebrated the Jewish sabbath.  The second tenet that distinguished this sect was advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature. (Mosheim JL, Coote C, Gleig G. An Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern: In which the Rise, Progress, and Variations of Church Power, are Considered in Their Connexion with the State of Learning and Philosophy, and the Political History of Europe During that Period, Volume 1. Translated by Archibald Maclaine. Plaskitt & Cugle, 1840 Original from Ohio State University, Digitized Aug 8, 2013, p. 333)

So, they kept the Sabbath, abstained from unclean meats, and were opposed to the trinitarian view. While not all the views that Mosheim had about the Pasaginians were Church of God views, apparently some called by that name were Church of God Christians. It should also be noted that Mosheim believed that there were two types of Waldnesians. One considered that the Church of Rome was a real Christian church, whereas the other considered the Church of Rome to be the harlot of Revelation 17 (Moshiem, p. 333).

The old Radio Church of God noted:

Thyatira ... there were many false teachers and false brethren among God's people who taught that it was all right to have Catholics baptize their children or to attend idolatrous mass once in a while. Others committed spiritual fornication by meddling in politics in the hope of avoiding persecution. (Hoeh H. Amazing 2000-Year History of the Church of God. Good News, July 1953)

It perhaps should be noted that prior to the time of the Reformation, the Bohemian Waldensians referred to themselves as part of the "Church of God" (Melia P. The origin, persecutions and doctrines of the Waldenses, from documents. Toovey, 1870, pp. 124-126). And while NOT all Waldnesians were true Church of God, some were.

Notice also what some of the Waldneses said about themselves in 1404 according to Comba's History:

"We do not find anywhere in the writings of the Old Testament that the light of truth and of holiness was at any time completely extinguished. There have always been men who walked faithfully in the paths of righteousness. Their number has been at times reduced to a few; but has never been altogether lost. We believe that the same has been the case from the time of Jesus Christ until now; and that it will be so unto the end. For if the Church of God was founded, it was in order that she might remain until the end of time... We do not believe that the Church of God, absolutely departed from the way of truth; but one portion yielded, and, as is commonly seen, the majority was led away to evil." (Quoted in Comba's History of the Waldenses, c. 19th century, pp. 10-11.) (As cited in Hoeh H. Amazing 2000-Year History of the Church of God. Good News, July 1953)

So they used the term Church of God and believed that they were a contiuation of the original Christian Church of God.

Furthermore, Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s and probably later kept the Fall Holy Days such as the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Trumpets (called Day of Rembrance below):

The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles..The Day of Atonement was a day of fasting, although they emphasized that pentinence is more easily acheived by a peaceful and quiet meditation on the law and one's life than by fasting. The Day of Remembrance (New Year, which they celebrated in the Fall of the year) was the day on which they thanked God especially for the creation of the universe. There is no mention of circumcision, so it is unlikely that they practiced circumcision (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).

And the Fall Holidays are still observed into the 21sth century by Sabbath-keeping groups such as most with origins in the old Worldwide Church of God.

Some have been critical of the position that some of the Waldenes kept the Sabbath. However, notice the following about a Catholic Priest name Gretzer:

Gretzer, a Jesuit, had examined the subject fully, and who had every opportunity of knowing, admits the great antiquity of the heretics, and moreover, expresses his firm belief that the Toulousians, Albigenses, Pasaginians, Arnoldists, Josephists, and the other heretical factions, who, at that time, were engaging the attention of the popes, were no other than Waldenses. This opinion he collaborates by showing wherein they resembled each other. Among other points he mentions is the following:

"Moreover, all these heretics despise the feasts and fasts of the church, such as Candlemas, Easter, and the Dominical day; in short, all approved ecclesiastical customs for which they did not find a warrant in scripture. They say, also, that God enjoined rest and holy meditation upon the seventh day, and that they cannot feel justified in the observance of any other" (Quoted from Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 65).

Some Waldenses also observed feetwashing:

The Waldenses who are acknowledged to have come the closest to the purity of the faith and practice of the doctrines of Christ, held feet washing as an ordinance of the church. (St John HA. Our Banquet to Nourish Pure Thought Life. Published by Kessinger Publishing, 2003, p. 97)

So, certain doctrines consistent with those of the Church of God were held by some of the Waldensains.

The Catholics and Lutherans Did Not Like Them

Some labels have been applied to the Paulicians and others of the Thyatiran era. Notice the following:

Historians maintain that although the Paulicians have been the most wantonly libeled of all gospel sects, it has been clearly proved that they represent the survival of a more primitive type of Christianity. Nevertheless, men who should have known better have endeavored to brand them as Manichaeans. W. F. Adeney writes of them:

Mariolatry and the intercession of saints are rejected; image worship, the use of crosses, relics, incense, candles, and resorting to sacred springs are all repudiated as idolatrous practices. The idea of purgatory is rejected. The holy year begins with the feast of John the Baptist. January sixth is observed as the festival of baptism and spiritual rebirth of Jesus. Zatic, or Easter, is kept on the fourteenth Nisan. We meet with no special Sunday observances, and possibly the Saturday Sabbath was maintained. There is no feast of Christmas or of the Annunciation. When we come to consider the question of doctrine, we note that the word“Trinity” never appears on the book (cited in Wilkinson BG. Truth Triumphant. Hartland Publications, Rapidan, VA, 1997).

The following is from the Catholic Priest Basil Sarkisean's work Manichaean Paulician Heresy and is from a 987 A.D. letter written by Gregory of Narek against the Paulicians in Armenia (note I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

Then among the observances which we know to have been repudiated by them as neither apostolic or divine the mysterious prayers of genuflexion...

The Font is denied by them...

the communion of immortality...is denied...

We know that they deny the adored sign, which God, made man, raised and carried on his shoulders (Conybeare F.C. Addend ix I in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 127).

It was also noted:

During these convulsions several companies of the Paulicians passed into Bulgaria, Thrace, and the neighbouring provinces, where their opinions became the source of new dissentions. After the Council of Basil had completed its deliberations, these sectaries removed into Italy where they became amalgamated with the Albigenses and the Waldenses (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 23).

Manicheans -- adherents of a religious sect...adopted elements of Judeo-Christian views (Fanning S. Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routeldge, New York. 2001, reprinted 2006, pp. 255)

The Lutherans decided to collectively condemn them:

Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting...They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles... (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

"Article XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment. Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils. They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish
opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly
being everywhere suppressed." (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church . St. Louis : Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

The historian Philip Schaff noted:

The Passagii, or Passageni, a sect whose name is first mentioned in the acts of the synod of Verona, seem to have been unique in that they required the literal observance of the Mosaic law, including the Jewish Sabbath...As late as 1267 and 1274 papal bulls call for the punishment of heretics who had gone back to Jewish rites, and the Passagii may be referred to (Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, Chapter X (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. The material has been carefully compared and corrected according to the Eerdmans reproduction of the 1907 edition by Charles Scribner's sons, with emendations by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998).

Perhaps it should be mentioned that

"Albigenses...The Passinians, or Passignes, were another branch of this same sect, who derived their appellation from the country of Passau (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 64-65).

The Albigneses were condemned by various councils. And one, the Catholic Council of Albi (sometimes spelled Alby) in 1254 apparently stated:

They savour of Judaism...they observe the Jewish sabbath, but say that the holy Dominical day is no better than any other day; let them be accursed (Quoted in Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 64).

The same source also noted that sometimes, those who kept the Sabbath in those days were called "Semi-Judaizers" (ibid, pp. 95-102).

Incredibly, later Catholics have considered that some of the ancestors of the Church of God in this era were only pretending to be Christians, but were really Jews. Notice the following from a book written in the 19th century by an anonymous Catholic clergyman writing under the name Maurice Pinay:

In the Middle Ages, the Popes and the Councils were successful in destroying the Jewish revolutionary movements which appeared within Christianity in the form of false teaching and which were introduced by those who were Christians in appearance but Jews in secret. The latter then recruited upright and good Christians for the arising heretical movement by persuading the latter in a crafty way.

The secret Jews organised and controlled in secret manner the movements, which were the creative and driving force of wicked false teachings, such as those of the Iconoclasts, the Cathars, the Patarines, the Albigensians, the Hussites, the Alumbrados and others (Pinay, Maurice. The Plot Against the Church, Part Four Chapter One. Translated from the German and Spanish editions of the same work. 1962).

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes the following about some within Thyatira:

Actually, those of Thyatira simply looked at the Bible and facts of history, and concluded what earlier ones understood about the great beast of Revelation representing a Roman empire, and that it was ridden by a woman representing a false church (Revelation 17).

If there were faithful true Christians among the Albigenses and the Waldenses (which is what I am claiming), then certainly they would be able to provide some true prophetic interpretation. (It should be noted that the Apostle John, and then his disciple Polycarp, were those that first identified the antichrist with Rome--thus it occurred prior to the 11th century--though it may have been a more direct public theory by then, especially because of the persecution authorized by papal authority).

Persecution

Thyatira had to endure various persecutions. But for a short while, killing them was discarded, in favor of other methods.

Another Pope Leo actually decided that killing those associated with the Church of God was not appropriate. This was confirmed by the Third Lateran Council in 1179, which apparently decided that economic blackmail was better:

As St. Leo says, though the discipline of the church should be satisfied with the judgment of the priest and should not cause the shedding of blood, yet it is helped by the laws of catholic princes so that people often seek a salutary remedy when they fear that a corporal punishment will overtake them. For this reason, since in Gascony and the regions of Albi and Toulouse and in other places the loathsome heresy of those whom some call the Cathars, others the Patarenes, others the Publicani, and others by different names, has grown so strong that they no longer practise their wickedness in secret, as others do, but proclaim their error publicly and draw the simple and weak to join them, we declare that they and their defenders and those who receive them are under anathema, and we forbid under pain of anathema that anyone should keep or support them in their houses or lands or should trade with them. If anyone dies in this sin, then neither under cover of our privileges granted to anyone, nor for any other reason, is mass to be offered for them or are they to receive burial among Christians. With regard to the Brabanters, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, Coterelli and Triaverdini {17 }, who practise such cruelty upon Christians that they respect neither churches nor monasteries, and spare neither widows, orphans, old or young nor any age or sex, but like pagans destroy and lay everything waste, we likewise decree that those who hire, keep or support them, in the districts where they rage around, should be denounced publicly on Sundays and other solemn days in the churches, that they should be subject in every way to the same sentence and penalty as the above-mentioned heretics and that they should not be received into the communion of the church, unless they abjure their pernicious society and heresy (Third Lateran Council, Canon 27. 1179 A.D. Translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner).

The Third Lateran Council took place under Pope Alexander III, Frederick I being emperor. There were 302 bishops present. It condemned the Albigenses and Waldenses (The 21 Ecumenical Councils. Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/library/almanac_14388a.htm 02/12/06).

But economic boycotting and shunning was not enough, as the 1968 WCG also wrote:

The infamous INQUISITION was then set up to complete the job by eliminating religious objections. Papal bull decreed severe punishment against any person suspected of even sympathizing with "heretics." Confiscations, imprisonments, burnings and every imaginable form of persecution continued for more than a hundred years. Thousands died. In the city of Montsegur alone, 200 persons were burned in one day...

As early as 1206, Innocent had begun to send out his own proven men by two's, poorly clad and living austerely, to counteract the Waldensian "barbes" by their own methods. He also gave official standing to the "Humiliated" who had remained within the Catholic Church. In 1209 he authorized a rival "Waldensian" movement into which he hoped to entice many of the members of God's Church. It was an official organ of the Catholic Church, headed by Durand of Huesca, a Spanish ex-Waldense who had submitted to the pope in 1206 at one of the meetings in Languedoc. A similar arm called "Poor Catholics" was founded in Lombardy by Bernard Primo, another ex-Waldensian. Outwardly, the pope's measures had but little success against God's Church. But within the body, they fostered an increasing sickness...While the whole world was drunk on her false doctrine and "Jezebel" herself drunk on the blood of God's servants (Rev. 17:2, 6), the persecuted, suffering true Church IN THE "WILDERNESS" saw her clearly revealed in all her filthiness. In the Middle Ages, this church sank to its lowest DEPTHS (Rev. 2:24). Careful, reputable, scholarly historians bear unanimous witness of her scandal and sin which BLASPHEMED GOD'S NAME. Her "celibate" priests begat numerous offspring. Popes filled their palaces with harlots and thieves. (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

Perhaps it should be mentioned that on June 22, 2015, Pope Francis apologised for the murderous persecution by his church against the Waldensians (see As an ecumenical step, Pope Francis asks forgiveness of Roman Catholic persecution of the Waldensians).

In 1959, the old Radio Church of God published the following:

We do not find anywhere in the writings of the Old Testament that the light of truth and of holiness was at any time completely extinguished. There have always been men who walked faithfully in the paths of righteousness. Their number has been at times reduced to a few; but has never been altogether lost. We believe that the same has been the case from the time of Jesus Christ until now; and that it will be so unto the end. FOR IF THE CHURCH OF GOD WAS FOUNDED, IT WAS IN ORDER THAT IT MIGHT REMAIN UNTIL THE END OF TIME ... We do not believe that the Church of God absolutely departed from the way of truth; but one portion yielded, and, as is commonly seen, the majority was led away to evil. (Quoted in Comba's History, pp. 10-11.)

Their enemies admitted that these people proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God, that they baptized repentant believers and obeyed the WHOLE law of God.

But just as there was a false teacher, Jezebel, in the local church at Thyatira so now there were many FALSE teachers and FALSE brethren among these people. Some rose up among the Waldenses teaching that it was right to have Catholics, and later, Protestants, baptize their children and to attend IDOLATROUS mass once in a while. Others committed spiritual fornication by meddling in politics in the hope of avoiding persecution. (Hoeh HL. A True History of the True Church. 1959 edition)

Related to the idea of church eras, the old WCG wrote:

On the Waldensian emblem or seal were seven stars (Rev. 1:20). Directly below and POINTING AT THE FOURTH STAR was a lighted lamp representing the then active Thyatira Church. Around the rim was the Latin motto LUX LUCET IN TENEBRIS -- "a light shines in darkness" (see Mat. 5:14-16). God's people KNEW they were the Thyatira Church! They must also have known who "Jezebel" was. One of their oldest surviving books, the "Book of Antichrist", equates the Roman papacy and priests with Babylon (Isa. 47), the little horn of the fourth beast (Dan. 7), the WHORE (Rev. 17-18), the man of sin, the son of perdition (II Thes. 2), false prophets, lying teachers (II Pet. 2), spirit of error (I John 4), clouds without water, trees without leaves (Jude), ministers of DARKNESS, Egyptians, BALAAMITES, etc.! Half of Jesus' message to Thyatira, the longest of the seven, is devoted to warning against "Jezebel." Yet in spite of the warning, many did fall into her trap!...

Gregory IX issued another bull against the Waldenses in 1231. From 1231 to 1233 a general persecution raged in Germany, cutting short the Work in Holland. By 1235, persecution on a large scale began at Milan, original seat of the Lombard Waldenses. The archbishop "razed their school" -- apparently the College -- but LEFT THE PEOPLE FREE! On the French side of the Alps, killing and burning reached the Valley Louise in 1238. The Thyatira WORK was through! (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

It has long been believed early Christians used the seven-lamped lampstand as a symbol (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p. 202). Thus, it is possible that some of those during the time of Thyatira realized that they were the fourth era and hence pointed to the fourth lamp.

One Protestant scholar noted:

In 1184 Pope Lucius III (reigned 1181-85) and the Emperor Frederick I Barbossa took another step in the organization of the Inquisition, establishing episcopal commissions to control heresy in Northern Italy...The custom of execution by fire appears to date from a slightly later decree issued in Aragon by King Peter II in 1197.

The next major step in the establishment of the Inquisition was taken by Innocent III...In the West, the same pope launched a "Crusade" against the Cathars, or Albigenses, of Southern France in 1208...In the second century of the Christian Era, most Christians refused to take up arms at all.. One millenium later, Christians were not only fighting for the church against "infidels" who had conquered ancient biblical lands, but against other Christians, heretical ones, who only asked to be able to live in peace on their ancestral soil...No matter how dreadful the use of violence against the dualistic Albigenses was, it must be acknowledged that their heresy is incompatible with Christianity, indeed with biblical religion as such...Perhaps for medieval popes the crucial factor that caused them to condemn dissidents was really the dissidents' rejection of papal authority (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 260-261).

Notice that the Protestant scholar seems to feel that murdering Cathars and Albigenses who simply wanted to live in peace (but were not trinitarian) is more compatible with Catholic/Protestant "Christianity" than being faithful to the teachings of Christ and the early Christians who were against warfare. Are the real heretics those who were faithful to New Testament teachings against warfare or those who changed those teachings and killed?

The Church of Rome became highly disturbed that lay people were reading and quoting the Bible, as it differed from what the Church of Rome wanted to be taught.

Pope Innocent III stated in 1199:

... to be reproved are those who translate into French the Gospels, the letters of Paul, the psalter, etc. They are moved by a certain love of Scripture in order to explain them clandestinely and to preach them to one another. The mysteries of the faith are not to explained rashly to anyone. Usually in fact, they cannot be understood by everyone but only by those who are qualified to understand them with informed intelligence. The depth of the divine Scriptures is such that not only the illiterate and uninitiated have difficulty understanding them, but also the educated and the gifted (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum 770-771) (Cited in Reyes EC. In His Name. AuthorHouse, 2010, p. 442)

Even having the Bible became prohibited by various decrees during the time of Thyatira. Here is a report from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

After the death of Innocent III, the Synod of Toulouse directed in 1229 its fourteenth canon against the misuse of Sacred Scripture on the part of the Cathari: "prohibemus, ne libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti laicis permittatur habere" (Hefele, "Concilgesch", Freiburg, 1863, V, 875). In 1233 the Synod of Tarragona issued a similar prohibition in its second canon ... The Third Synod of Oxford, in 1408, owing to the disorders of the Lollards ... issued a law in virtue of which only the versions approved by the local ordinary or the provincial council were allowed to be read by the laity (Hefele, op. cit., VI, 817). (Maas, Anthony. "Scripture." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 16 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13635b.htm>)

Here is canon 14 of the Consilum Tolosanum (Council of Toulouse/Synod of Toulouse) held in 1229:

We forbid also that the laity be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless some one might peradventure wish, from a feeling of devotion, to have the psalter, or the breviary, or the hours of the blessed Mary. But we do most strictly forbid them from having the aforementioned books translated into a vulgar tongue. (Berg JF. Lectures on Romanism. Publisher D. Weidner, 1840. Original from Princeton University, Digitized Mar 21, 2008, p. 280)

A 'vulgar tongue' meant that the Council forbade translation of scriptures into the common (vulgar) language lay people would understand.

The famous inquisition, in southern France, began in earnest in 1233 when Pope Gregory IX charged the Dominican order with wiping out Cathari (their name mean Puritan, and that is where the Puritan developed from) and others they considered to be heretics. There is a long history of European church leaders attempting to eliminate those part of, or sympathetic to, the Church of God (some of this is discussed in the article Europa, the Beast, and Revelation).

But it is important to note that while some Cathari were apparently part of the true church, many Cathari were not.

Note that there were many groups considered to be Cathari and some of the doctrines they held are Church of God doctrines:

Agreed as the Cathari were in opposing many customs and doctrines of the established Church, they were divided among themselves and broken up into sects,—seventy-two, according to one document...

There are two Churches, they held,—one of the wicked and one of the righteous. They themselves constituted the Church of the righteous, outside of which there is no salvation, having received the imposition of hands and done penance according to the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. Its fruits proved that the established Church was not the true Church. The true Church endures persecution, does not prescribe it...

The Roman Church is the woman of the Apocalypse, a harlot, and the pope anti-Christ. The depositions at their trials indicate that the Cathari made much use of the Scriptures...

The Cathari quoted Christ's words, " Ye have heard how it hath been said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."l

One of the charges made against the established Church was that it countenanced war and marshalled armies.

The interdiction of oaths was in obedience to the words of Christ, and was in the interest of strict integrity of speech.

The Cathari also renounced priestly vestments, altars, and crosses as idolatrous. They called the cross the mark of the beast, and declared it had no more virtue than a ribbon for binding the hair. It was the instrument of Christ's shame and death, and therefore not to be used.8 Thorns or a spear would be as appropriate for religious symbols as the cross.

They also rejected, as might have been expected, the doctrines of purgatory and indulgences

(History of the Christian Church By Philip Schaff, David Schley Schaff Published by C. Scribner's sons, 1907 Item notes: v.5:pt.1 Original from Harvard University Digitized Feb 5, 2008, pp. 474, 475, 489-490).

It may be of interest to note that the modern genuine Church of God does not countenance war (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?), swearing oaths, priestly vestments (see Were the Early Duties of Elders/Pastors Mainly Sacramental? What was there Dress?), the use of crosses as a proper Christian symbol (see What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?), purgatory (see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?) or of course, indulgences. The Phildelphia remnant of the Church of God also believes in the laying on of hands, that the final Antichrist is likely to be a pope/antipope (see Some Doctrines of Antichrist), and throughout our entire history, those of our faith have been the persecuted, not the persecuters (Persecutions by Church and State).

It should be mentioned that The Catholic Encyclopedia recognizes that the Waldensians practiced “the laying-on of hands” for ordinations to ecclesiastical positions (Weber, Nicholas. Waldenses. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 Mar. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15527b.htm>), thus providing further evidence that this practice was continous throughout Church of God history.

As mentioned previously, the Albigneses were condemned by various councils, such as the Council of Albi in 1254.

Jesus taught that true Christians would be the persecuted, not the persecutors (e.g. Matthew 10:23). More on persecutions can be found in the article Persecutions from Church and State.

Some in Russia also participated in persecuting "Judaizers" during this time:

...1503...the leader of the Possessors was Abbot Joseph of Volokolamsk...a rather severe ascetic who imposed...the burning at the stake...the sect of the Judaizers...

Judaizers...in Russia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries...denied the Trinity (Fanning S. Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routeldge, New York. 2001, reprinted 2006, pp. 49, 255).

Hence, persecution of the faithful occurred in many lands.

Comments from An Inquisitor

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about one of its inquisitors:

Bernard Guidonis
Inquisitor of Toulouse against the Albigenses and Bishop of Lodève, b. at Royères (Limousin) in 1261, d. at Lauroux (Hérault), 30 December, 1331. He was one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages (De Moreira M. Transcribed by Albert Judy, O.P.  Bernard Guidonis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Here are some of the beliefs he found that those he persecuted held:

Nevertheless, attention should be called to the fact that among the Beguins are found some who know, accept and believe many or all of the errors listed below. These are more steeped and hardened in them. Others can say less about these errors yet are sometimes found to be worse in holding and believing them than are others. Still others have heard or remember less and yield to valid reason and saner counsel. Others obstinately persist and refuse to recant, choosing to die rather than abjure their errors, saying that in this matter they defend the gospel truth, the life of Christ, and evangelical and apostolic poverty...

Again, they say that the prelates and inquisitors who judged and condemned them as heretics - and indeed all those who consented or now consent knowingly to their condemnations - have by this action become heretics (if they persevere in it), and by this action have lost the ecclesiastical power to bind, loose and administer the ecclesiastical sacraments...

Again, they say that prelates and members of religious orders whose clothing is too abundant or too costly violate gospel perfection and Christ's precept, according instead with the precept of Antichrist. Such clerics who go around in pompous fashion are of the family of Antichrist...

Again, they say they are not required to take oaths, nor should they be made to reveal under oath the names of their fellow believers, accomplices and associates, because, as they say, this would violate the command to love one's neighbor and would on the contrary injure one's neighbor...

they say the carnal church (by which they mean the Roman church as it exists, not only in the city of Rome, but throughout the whole area under Roman jurisdiction) is Babylon, the great whore of whom John spoke in the Apocalypse. Thus they apply these passages to the Roman Church and attribute to the church all the evil things written there, such as that it is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus Christ...

Again, they distinguish between two churches, the carnal church which they say is the Roman church which contains the multitude of rebrobate, and the spiritual church which contains those people they describe as spiritual and evangelical, who emulate the life of Christ and the apostles. They say the latter is their church...

Again, some of them claim that on those elect spiritual and evangelical individuals through whom a spiritual and benign church will be founded in the seventh and last period, the Holy Spirit will be poured out in greater or at least in equal abundance as on the apostles, the disciples of Jesus Christ, on the day of Pentecost during the time of the primitive church. And they say the Holy Spirit will descend on them like a fiery flame in a furnace, and they take this to mean that, not only will their souls be filled with the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit will live in their bodies as well.

Again, they claim that there is a double Antichrist, one spiritual or mystical and the other the real, greater Antichrist...

Again, they say that both in the time of persecution by Antichrist and in that of the aforesaid war carnal Christians will be so afflicted that, despairing, they will say, "If Christ were God, he would not permit Christians to suffer so much and such intense evil." Thus despairing, they will apostacize from the faith and die. But God will hide the elect spiritual individuals so that they cannot be found by Antichrist and his ministers. Then the church will be reduced to the same size as the primitive church when it was first founded...

Again, they say that after Antichrist's death these spiritual individuals will convert the entire world to the faith of Christ; and the whole world will be so good and benign that there will be no malice or sin in people of that period, except perhaps for venial sins in a few of them; and all things will be common as far as use is concerned; and there will be no one who offends anyone else or encourages another to sin. For there will be the greatest love among them, and there will be one flock and one pastor. According to some of them this period and condition will last for one hundred years. Then, as love fails, malice will creep back in and slowly increase until Christ is, as it were, compelled to come in universal judgment because of it.

Again, these insane heretics seriously and ignominiously rail against the Lord Pope, the vicar of Jesus Christ, calling him the mystical Antichrist, precursor of the greater Antichrist, preparing the way for his life (Bernard Gui: Inquisitor's Manual, Chapter 5. Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. http://phi.kenyon.edu/Projects/Margin/inquisit.htm 04/09/07).

It should be noted that Albigneses and Waldenses were sometimes arrested with the Beguins. Now while most that were killed in the Inquisition were not in the Church of God, nor were the Franciscan Beguins, it is obvious that Church of God doctrines such as that ministers should not dress like the Roman clerics, Christians are not to swear oaths, and that God will offer salvation to all, were clearly condemned by the Roman Catholics during the time of Thyatira.

As far as a spiritual or mystic antichrist and a later one, that is consistent with what the Apostle John taught in 1 John 2:18 (more on this can be found in the article Some Doctrines of Antichrist).

Furthermore, the same inquisitor claimed the following about the Albigenses:

In the first place, they usually say of themselves that they are good Christians, who do not swear, or lie, or speak evil of others; that they do not kill any man or animal, nor anything having the breath of life, and that they hold the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel as the apostles taught. They assert that they occupy the place of the apostles, and that, on account of the above-mentioned things, they of the Roman Church, namely the prelates, clerks, and monks, and especially the inquisitors of heresy persecute them and call them heretics, although they are good men and good Christians, and that they are persecuted just as Christ and his apostles were by the Pharisees.

Moreover they talk to the laity of the evil lives of the clerks and prelates of the Roman Church, pointing out and setting forth their pride, cupidity, avarice, and uncleanness of life, and such other evils as they know. They invoke with their own interpretation and according to their abilities the authority of the Gospels and the Epistles against the condition of the prelates, churchmen, and monks, whom they call Pharisees and false prophets, who say, but do no.

Then they attack and vituperate, in turn, all the sacraments of the Church, especially the sacrament of the eucharist, saying that it cannot contain the body of Christ, for had this been as great as the largest mountain Christians would have entirely consumed it before this. They assert that the host comes from straw, that it passes through the tails of horses, to wit, when the flour is cleaned by a sieve (of horse hair); that, moreover, it passes through the body and comes to a vile end, which, they say, could not happen if God were in it.

Of baptism, they assert that the water is material and corruptible and is therefore the creation of the evil power, and cannot sanctify the soul, but that the churchmen sell this water out of avarice, just as they sell earth for the burial of the dead, and oil to the sick when they anoint them, and as: they sell the confession of sins as made to the priests.

Hence they claim that confession made to the priests of, the Roman Church is useless, and that, since the priests may be sinners, they cannot loose nor bind, and, being unclean in themselves, cannot make others clean. They assert, moreover, that the cross of Christ should not be adored or venerated, because, as they urge, no one would venerate or adore the gallows upon which a father, relative, or friend had been hung. They urge, further, that they who adore the cross ought, for similar reasons, to worship all thorns and lances, because as Christ's body was on the cross during the passion, so was the crown of thorns on his head and the soldier's lance in his side, They proclaim many other scandalous things in regard to the sacraments.

Moreover they read from the Gospels and the Epistles in the vulgar tongue, applying and expounding them in their favor and against the condition of the Roman Church in a manner which it would take too long to describe in detail; but all that relates to this subject may be read more fully in the books they have written and infected, and may be learned from the confessions of such of their followers as have been converted. (From the Inquisitor's Manual of Bernard Gui [d.1331], early 14th century, translated in J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905), pp. 381-383, http://essenes.crosswinds.net/albe.html 05/27/07).

I will simply state that we in the Continuing Church of God consider ourselves to be true Christians, do not swear, do not kill any man, do consider inquisitors as non-Christians, do not consider that the "Eucharist" is the actual flesh of Christ, oppose the selling of sacraments, do not believe priests can forgive sin, do not revere instruments of death like the cross, do normally read the Bible in the Vulgar tongue (which is English in my case), and that we hold the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel as the apostles taught (this latter point is shown fairly clearly in the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?).

And as the inquisitor's accounts show, our positions were also held in the Middle Ages (for documentation that our views have been held since the beginning of the Church age, please go to the History of Early Christianity page).

The In-Between Portion of Thyatira

WCG also reported in 1968:

Most of the French Waldenses had already joined the Italians in the valleys of the Cottian Alps. More than a century of persecution by the Inquisition destroyed or dispersed the remainder. The valleys, overpopulated, sent colonists to Calabria and Apulia, where about 1380 the chief Waldensian leader dwelt. In the mid-13th century they had already adopted the name of Vallenses ("Vaudois" in French) meaning "people of the valleys," because, as they said, they "dwelt in a vale of tears." Later they regarded it as equivalent to Waldenses. Forgotten was the connection with Waldo of this name given them by the world. All but forgotten, too, the name "Church of God"!...

Elsewhere, too, Waldenses were greatly persecuted about 1310-1330, and again about 1375. In the earlier period, one, Echard, martyred many in town after town in Germany. Then, overcome by the truth and himself converted, he began to preach the very gospel he once hated. He too in the end was hunted down and burned. About this time others were martyred, driven into hiding or scattered as far as Hungary and Transylvania by a Bohemian Inquisition. Many disciples of Bohemian teachers were discovered in Saxony and Pomerania about 1390. Waldenses from Picardy fled into Poland. During the century, the SCATTERED groups lost contact with the valleys. Many carnal-minded individuals attended Mass, pretending in every way to be good Catholics while continuing to teach their children what remained of their own doctrine. Cathars in Germany disappeared in this century also. But their tell-tale doctrines reappeared among the late Waldenses, who ceased proper ordination, began to require long periods of probation before baptism, etc. After the Reformation, in every area where such Waldenses had been known previously to exist, numbers of "baptists" suddenly appear. Remember, the original Waldenses before they became corrupted were in no way Protestant. The doctrine of salvation by "faith alone" cannot be found among the original Waldenses. The spirit of Protestantism was utterly foreign to them, as to God's Church in all ages." "(LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

Similarly, John Ogwyn wrote,

In the beginning of the twelfth century, there was a revitalization of the Truth with the raising up of the next phase of the Church under the leadership of Peter de Bruys in southeastern France. This stage in church history is characterized by the Church at Thyatira in Revelation 2. The Piedmont valleys of southeastern France were described by Pope Urban II, in 1096, as being "infested with heresy." It was from one of these valleys, the Valley Louise, that Peter de Bruys arose in 1104 and began to preach repentance. He gained many followers among the Cathars, initially, and later among the general public.

The Cathars (meaning "puritans"), among whom de Bruys originally preached, were remnants of earlier Bogomil settlements. However, by this time, most had accepted a variety of new and strange doctrines and were quite divided among themselves. His preaching, and that of his successors, brought about a revitalized Church during the first half of the twelfth century in the valleys of southeastern France. De Bruys professed to restore Christianity to its original purity. At the end of a ministry of about 20 years, he was burned at the stake. In rapid succession after him, there arose two other strong ministers, Arnold and Henri.

After the death of Henri in 1149, the Church languished and seemed to go into eclipse. A few years later a wealthy merchant in Lyons, Peter Waldo, was struck down by an unusual circumstance and began preaching the Gospel in 1161. After being shocked into contemplating the real meaning of life as a result of the sudden death of a close friend, Waldo obtained a copy of the Scriptures and began studying God’s Word. He was soon amazed to find that the Scriptures taught the very opposite of much of what he had learned during his Catholic upbringing.

Historian Peter Allix, quoting from an old Waldensian document, The Noble Lesson, tells us: "The author upon supposal that the world was drawing to an end, exhorts his brethren to prayer, to watchfulness.… He repeats the several articles of the law, not forgetting that which respects idols" (Ecclesiastical History of Ancient Churches of Piedmont, pp. 231, 236–237).

Elsewhere, Dr. Allix writes that the Waldensian leaders "declare themselves to be the apostles’ successors, to have apostolic authority, and the keys of binding and loosing. They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon" (Ecclesiastical History, p. 175).

Peter Waldo made Lyons, France, the center of his preaching from 1161 until 1180. Then, because of persecution, he relocated to northern Italy. From about 1210 until his death seven years later, Waldo spent his time preaching in Bohemia and Germany. "Like St. Francis [of Assisi], Waldo adopted a life of poverty that he might be free to preach, but with this difference that the Waldenses preached the doctrine of Christ while the Franciscans preached the person of Christ" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.).

What were some of the other doctrines taught by the Waldenses? Is there evidence that the early Waldenses were Sabbath-keepers? One of the names by which they were most anciently known was that of Sabbatati! In his 1873 work, History of the Sabbath, historian J. N. Andrews quotes from an earlier work by Swiss-Calvinist historian Goldastus written about 1600. Speaking of the Waldenses, Goldastus wrote: "Insabbatati [they were called] not because they were circumcised, but because they kept the Jewish Sabbath" (Andrews, p. 410). Dr. Andrews further refers to the testimony of Archbishop Ussher (1581–1656) who acknowledged "that many understood that they [the names Sabbatati or Insabbatati] were given to them [Waldenses] because they worshipped on the Jewish Sabbath" (p. 410). Clearly even noted Protestant scholars at the end of the Middle Ages were willing to acknowledge that many Waldenses had observed the seventh-day Sabbath.

In his 1845 work, The History of the Christian Church, William Jones wrote:

"Investigators made a report to Louis XII [reigned 1498–1516], king of France, that they had visited all the parishes where the Waldenses dwelt. They had inspected all their places of worship… but they found no images, no sign of the ordinances belonging to the mass, nor any of the sacraments of the Roman church.… They kept the Sabbath day, they observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God.…

The Waldenses could say a great part of the Old and New Testaments by heart. They despise the sayings and expositions of holy men [Roman Catholic Church fathers], and they only plead for the test of Scripture.… The traditions of the [Roman] church are no better than the traditions of the Pharisees, and that greater stress is laid [by Rome] on the observance of human tradition than on the keeping of the law of God. They despise the Feast of Easter, and all other Roman festivals of Christ and the saints" (A Handbook of Church History, pp. 234, 236–237).

Compromising Once More

There was, however, a serious problem that affected most of the Waldensian groups through the latter Middle Ages just as it had troubled the Paulicians. This was the tendency of many to allow Catholic priests to christen their children, as well as their willingness to participate in Catholic worship ceremonies. Knowing that such ceremonies were useless in gaining salvation, many felt that outward conformity with Rome would avoid persecution and allow them to privately practice the Truth. This tendency was prophesied of the Church in Thyatira in Revelation 2:20–24. From God’s standpoint, what they were doing amounted to spiritual fornication and partaking of Catholic communion was "eating things sacrificed to idols."

What happened to the Waldenses? "Waldenses slowly disappeared from the chief centers of population and took refuge in the retired valleys of the Alps. There, in the recesses of Piedmont… a settlement of the Waldensians was made who gave their name to these valleys of Vaudois.… At times attempts were made to suppress the sect of the Vaudois, but the nature of the country which they inhabited, their obscurity and their isolation made the difficulties of their suppression greater than the advantages to be gained from it" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., "Waldenses").

In 1487, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull calling for their extermination and a serious attack was made on their stronghold. A fog settling over and encircling the Catholic armies saved the Waldenses from total destruction. However, most were simply worn out and had lapsed into a spirit of compromise. When the Reformation began a few years later, the Waldensian leadership sent emissaries to the Lutheran church. "Thus," as the Encyclopaedia Britannica writes, "the Vaudois ceased to be relics of the past, and became absorbed in the general movement of Protestantism."

As total apostasy swallowed up most remnants of the Waldenses by the end of 1500s, God preserved a faithful remnant. Individuals who were the fruit of the last seven years of Waldo’s ministry had been converted in Bohemia and Germany in the thirteenth century. In remote areas of the Carpathian Mountain area of central and eastern Europe, individuals and small groups survived—in fact a faithful remnant has survived in isolation in those areas down to modern times (cf. Revelation 2:24–25).

As the seventeenth century approached, the next era of God’s Church was ready to emerge on the stage. Remnants of German Waldensians, sometimes labeled Lollards by outsiders, had penetrated into Holland and England as early as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Ogwyn, J. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet. 2003).

An apparent Lollard, named John Seygno, faced heresy charges in the British Courts  in 1402.  He held to the seventh day Sabbath and would not eat swine’s flesh (Ball B.  Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition.  James Clark & Co., 2009, p. 33).

A group was keeping the seventh-day Sabbath in the mid-1300s in Lincolnshire, England.  It caused enough of a problem that in 1360, Bishop Gynwell tried to formally forbid the practice (Ball, p. 288), and presumably many compromised (at least publicly) then. In 1584 a treatise by Englishman John Stockwood, titled A Verie Profitable and Necessarie Discourse Concerning the observation and keeping of the Sabboth Day, extracted from an earlier work by the German theologian Urisinus, was produced (Ball, p. 35). P. Beuzart’s Les Heresies shows that there were people martryed in in Arras, France in 1420 who observed the “Saturday instead of Sunday” (Ball, p. 36). These documents show that there were Sabbath-keepers in those areas prior to the 1600s.

In another correspondence course lesson, WCG wrote,

Shortly after the middle of the 16th century, new ideas of religious freedom from Switzerland, Germany and Bohemia came into Transylvania (Western Romania today, then part of Hungary). Here an ex-Catholic priest named Francis David joined successively the Lutherans (1540), Calvinists (1559) and Unitarians (Polish Anabaptists). He founded in 1566 the first Unitarian congregation in Transylvania. (They were "anti-Trinitarians," unlike Unitarians of today.)" (LESSON 52 (1969) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE Why Was Printing Invented?).

In German-speaking Europe, there were separate groups among those called Anabaptists that were Sabbath-keepers in the 16th and 17th centuries:

During the years 1526 to 1535, then, eight Anabaptist groups may be identified as existing in Moravia...Sabbatarians...

A recent investigation has shown that a few congregations made up of the followers of Marbeck, the Sabbatarians and of Cornelians also continued to exist after 1550...

Even as late as the early seventeenth century Austerlitz was known for its religious confusion. According to one report, there were twelve sects in the town, four of which seemed to have been Anabaptist: Sabbatarians, fratest flebiles (ejulantes), Cornelians and Anabaptists (Clasen CP. Anabaptist Sects in the Sixteenth Century: A Research Report. Mennonite Quarterly Review, VOl. XLVI, July 1972, pp. 256-279).

Beliefs and Unitarianism

Perhaps this would be a good place to interject that some incorrectly feel that the Thyatira Church was completely unitarian (denying the deity and worship of Jesus), but this was not the case. What did happen was that there was a split between the unitarians and those who did accept the deity of Jesus (and who were not trinitarians). The unitarians became the dominant group, but apparently a small non-unitarian group did continue (Marx, Gerhard O. The Beliefs and Practices of the Church of God in Transylvania During the Middle Ages, 1588-1623).

The 1968 WCG also reported,

After David's death, a few of his flock refused to give up what light they had received. Meanwhile, Christ had struck down and called to His service a rich Hungarian (Szekler) noble. Andreas E”ssi turned to the study of the Bible as a result of a long sickness, and the deaths of his wife and all his sons. Though he had no knowledge of Hebrew, he found the truth clearly revealed in the Bible. Well versed in church history, he dismissed as folly the idea that one could learn religion only at one of the recognized theological institutions. In the year 1588, he began to lead a group of the people who formerly listened to Francis David. Under his direction they began to live by every word of God and put into practice the whole Bible, the Old Testament as well as the New. (LESSON 52 (1969) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE Why Was Printing Invented?).

Gerhard O. Marx reported:

Born at Szent-Erzebet (Sankt Elizabeth) in the province of Udvarhely, Eossi accepted the Unitarian faith in 1567. Not satisfied that the Unitarians were teaching all the Biblical truths, he set out to study the Bible thoroughly. Having lost his wife and three sons, he spent his time studying the Holy Scriptures till he had formulated a set of Biblical Doctrines for his followers, already keeping the Sabbath. During the twelve years he was leader over God’s Church, he enjoined the following doctrines upon his followers:
1) The Passover — Days of Unleavened Bread — Pentecost — Day of Atonement — Feast of Tabernacles — The Last Great Day. During the Passover season, no leavened bread was eaten. Obviously, Easter, New Year, Christmas and Sunday were rejected as days invented by Rome. They also adhered to the Sacred Calendar.
2) The Ten Commandments.
3) The Health Laws (no eating of blood, pig, strangled animals etc.)
4) The Millennium, to last 1000 years, at the beginning of which Christ will return and regather both Judah and Israel.
5) The use of God’s Sacred Calendar. (Taught against Gregorian, Roman calendar.)
6) Two different Resurrections; one to eternal life at Christ’s coming; the other to judgment at the end of 1000 years.
7) Saved by Grace, but laws still need to be kept.
8) It is God who calls people into His Truth. The world in general is blinded. The truth is not generally revealed to the mighty, but to the small, insignificant.
9) Christ was the greatest of the prophets, the most holy of all the people, the ‘Crucified Lord,’ ‘the Supreme Head and King of the real believers, the dearly beloved and Holy Son of God.’ (Note! After Eossi’s death, some Sabbath-keepers began to look upon Christ as a holy man, but not as the divine God or even the divine Son of God in the strictest sense.)
10) Christ upon His return, will take over David’s throne.
11) Pictures of Christ and God were considered idolatrous.
12) The New Covenant is only partly fulfilled now — in those now called.
13) Disbelief in the Original Sin idea.
14) Disbelief in predestination as taught by Calvin. Instead, every person is a free moral agent.
15) Luther, Calvin and the Pope were considered "abominations."
16) As far as can be ascertained, they kept, (perhaps to put more emphasis upon God’s Sacred Calendar) the New Moon. There were other beliefs, but the above constitute their main doctrines" (The Beliefs and Practices of the Church of God in Transylvania During the Middle Ages, 1588-1623," by, Gerhard O. Marx).

Others reported,

And finally, the tragic “Accord of Deés” or Complanatio Deesiana in July 1638 definitely disjoined Sabbatarians from Unitarians. Unitarians were ordered to worship Jesus, baptize in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and to allow their publications censured--a coerced “complanatio.” The “Judaizers” and those who rejected and cursed Jesus, however, were excluded even from the new amnesty. Sabbatarians were easy target of the new discriminatory law: they observed the Sabbath, therefore they farmed on Sundays, abstained from eating pork and blood, celebrated the Passover with unleavened bread, and refused baptism of their children--the very sign of their expected conversion" (Gellérd, Judit. Spiritual Jews of Szekler Jerusalem A Four-Centuries History of Transylvanian Szekler (Székely) Sabbatarianism. In Literature of Memory VI: Hope and Despair STH TS 870, Fall 2000 Professor Elie Wiesel. http://w3.enternet.hu/sandor64/cffr/papers/sabbat.htm--04/13/06).

That "trial" opened in Dés, as before determined, punctually on 1 July 1638...All offences and excessed connected with the past party quarrel within Unitarianism should remain unpunished: "but the Judaizers and the slanderers of the divinity and glory of Christ should be perpetually excluded now and later from this amnesty" (Kohn S. Translated by Thomas McElwain and Bonne Rock. The Sabbatarians in Transylvania. Christian Churches of God, Australia. 1998 translation. p. 185)

Note that the "Judaizers" are separate from "the slanderers" also called "those who rejected and cursed Jesus". In this region, there were both true Christians (the "Judaizers") and those who rejected Christ as Messiah.

(For more information about why the true COG was not unitarian, please read the article, Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.)

More Persecution

In 1969, WCG reported the following about people in Transylvania in the Middle Ages,

New Efforts to Wear Out the Saints The number of co-workers in Transylvania increased rapidly. Most, however, continued to assemble with one of the four established denominations of the country. They held their own meetings in secret, usually keeping the Sabbaths in the privacy of their own homes. And no wonder! For new persecutions were continually being devised against their property, their liberty and their lives. A law was passed for the suppression of Sabbatarians in 1595. A new, usurping prince in 1600 ordered them punished and their property confiscated. At that time many of their books and writings were seized and burned. A similar regulation was propounded in 1607. (Notice an amazing pattern of 7 (1588-1595) and 12 (1588-1600) in the years beginning with E”ssi's leadership!) When E”ssi died, about 1600, his adopted son, a highly educated Hungarian named Simon P‚chi, became leader of the Sabbath keepers. P‚chi, like many others, passed as a Unitarian and a "Christian," even holding several important public offices. But in 1618, a Unitarian synod formally excommunicated all Sabbath keepers, while the prince proposed a new law against them. In the same year the Thirty Years' War began. Being at that time Chancellor of Transylvania, P‚chi was forced to accompany the prince and his army in 1619 to war in Austria. This was the turning point -- and the end of another 19-year cycle -- in the history of these people. One cannot be both a part of this world and a true Christian at the same time! P‚chi was suddenly seized and imprisoned for 3 1/2 years and afterward placed in retirement! Meanwhile there was a great influx of Sephardic Jews into Transylvania (where there had been NO Jews before). Sabbath keepers and Jews began to draw closer together, P‚chi himself taking a lead in this association after 1629. During the last part of this 19-year cycle, Sabbatarians in Transylvania stood at the height of their secular influence. P‚chi was again highly honored and again stood high in government circles. But the SPIRITUAL condition of the Church did not recover. A new, severe law issued against it in 1635 remained inoperative for three years. Then suddenly in 1638 a commission representing the four recognized religions summoned many of the Sabbath keepers before it and sentenced them to loss of life and goods. P‚chi himself was condemned, imprisoned, but later freed, having taken an oath to renounce the Sabbath! From this time on, Sabbath keepers in Transylvania survived only in secret. Some of their descendants were again persecuted nearly a hundred years later. The last record of them brings us to the beginning of the twentieth century. It is repeatedly true that nominal but spiritually dead professors of religion continue to exist long after every spark of spiritual life has been quenched. In the course of time, most of them emigrated, and some became outright Jews. One story is that P‚chi himself fled with a number of his followers to Moldavia and Constantinople. Is it significant that many "Unitarians" fleeing from adjoining Poland in the same period made their way to HOLLAND? It was just across the channel from Holland that God's Sabbath-keeping Church in England was already reviving ( LESSON 52 (1969) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE Why Was Printing Invented?).

The Major Work of Thyatira, Two Theories

Pope Pius IV had a list of the forbidden books compiled and officially prohibited them in the Index of Trent (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) of 1559. Here are some excerpts:

Rule III

Translations of older works, including the church fathers, made by condemned authors, are permitted if they contain nothing against sound doctrine. However, translations of books of the Old Testament may be allowed by the judgment of bishops for the use of learned and pious men only. These translations are to elucidate the Vulgate so that Sacred Scripture can be understood, but they are not to be considered as a sacred text. Translations of the New Testament made by authors of the first sections in this Index are not to be used at all, since too little usefulness and too much danger attends such reading.

Rule IV

Since experience teaches that, if the reading of the Holy Bible in the vernacular is permitted generally without discrimination, more damage than advantage will result because of the boldness of men, the judgment of bishops and inquisitors is to serve as guide in this regard. Bishops and inquisitors may, in accord with the counsel of the local priest and confessor, allow Catholic translations of the Bible to be read by those of whom they realize that such reading will not lead to the detriment but to the increase of faith and piety. The permission is to be given in writing. Whoever reads or has such a translation in his possession without this permission cannot be absolved from his sins until he has turned in these Bibles ...

Rule VI

Books in the vernacular dealing with the controversies between Catholics and the heretics of our time are not to be generally permitted, but are to be handled in the same way as Bible translations. Die Indices Librorum Prohibitorum des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts (Tübingen, 1886), page 246f. (As accessed 05/16/15 from Scheifler M. Bible Possession Once Banned by the Catholic Church! http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/banned.htm)

So, the Church of Rome declared that it was an unpardonable sin (who that supposedly cannot be 'absolved') to possess Bibles without written permission as well as writings from those who disagreed with the Church of Rome.

Could this affected the work of Thyatira?

Since Jesus said to Thyatira, "as for your works, the last are more than the first" (Revelation 2), Dr. Hoeh originally wrote that this referred to the work of Peter Waldo (Hoeh, H. A True History of the True Church, 1959 ed.).

However, WCG changed this position, presumably because it acquired more information on the matter:

The major labor of God's Church in the Thyatira Era was to translate, copy and make the Scriptures known. Yet for all the effort, the truth remained virtually unknown to the broad masses. All Scripture manuscripts the authorities could lay their hands on were confiscated or kept out of circulation. It is a little known fact that even most manuscripts which came to be stored away in Catholic monasteries and cathedrals are ultimately traceable to the work of God's Church! You see, few scholars in the Middle Ages had ability to read or translate from the original Hebrew or Greek. So they used the Waldensian version, originally translated into the Proven‡al language from an early form of the Vulgate, as their main source!...About 1600, they compiled -- and printed -- a hymn book of 110 paraphrases of Psalms and other poetical passages of the Bible. Forty-four relate to the Sabbath, 5 to the new moon, 11 to Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, 6 to Pentecost, 3 to the Festival of Trumpets, 1 to the Day of Atonement, and 6 to the Festival of Tabernacles (Deanesly, "The Lollard Bible", chapters 2, 3 and 4.) " ( LESSON 52 (1969) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE Why Was Printing Invented?).

WCG's position seems to have been that printing was being invented while the Thyatirans hand-copied portions of the Bible, so that the Bible could be more widely distributed. History does indicate that the first actually printed book was in fact a Bible.

It was also been reported:

Waldensians...translated the Scriptures into the vernacular, ciriticized clerical wealth and corruption, and...formed their own churches; despite persecution... (Fanning S. Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routeldge, New York. 2001, reprinted 2006, pp. 256).

Judit Gellérd has this account about translations:

Eössi passionately dedicated his life to translate Glirius’ Mattanjah and other Latin and Hebrew theological ideas not only into the “peasant language” (Hungarian) but also into practice, teaching Sabbatarianism to simple people of Transylvania’s villages. Interestingly, this neither purely Jewish, nor purely Christian belief system caused quite a stir in larger Protestant circles of Europe. And nowhere else did it become an organized movement...In his village library, Péchi furiously translated the Hebrew Bible, Talmudic and rabbinical literature into Hungarian, wrote biblical commentaries, with Sebastian Münster’s Biblia Hebraica in his hands. He also wrote Sabbatarian hymns and prayers, founded a school in Szenterzsébet where he himself taught the new religion" (Gellérd, Judit. Spiritual Jews of Szekler Jerusalem A Four-Centuries History of Transylvanian Szekler (Székely) Sabbatarianism. In Literature of Memory VI: Hope and Despair STH TS 870, Fall 2000 Professor Elie Wiesel. http://www.unitarius.hu/cffr/papers/sabbat.htm--12/14/02).

Thyatira and Weavers

In 1868, WCG provided this information,

Ancient Thyatira was a city of MERCHANTS and WEAVERS. It was especially famous for fine woolen cloth, usually dyed the famous Thyatiran purple. We will find these things again significant for the later Thyatira ERA...In the Middle Ages, the geographical area of southern France, where the Thyatira Era was to begin, was the very center of the textile industry of Europe. Furthermore, the itinerant CLOTH MERCHANTS who carried the woven silks of Byzantium and the east to the eager markets of the west were the missionaries who secretly propagated the religion of the Paulicians and Bogomils. The Cathars were noted as WEAVERS. Contemporaries frequently designated them "Texerant", "Textors", "Tisserants" -- all of which meant simply WEAVERS. The parallel with the PAGAN CITY of Thyatira is complete. But note that the message to the Thyatira CHURCH does not mention merchants nor weavers. These are therefore not signs of the Church itself, but of the economic setting in which that Church was to exist (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).

This area of the world is still known for its weavers.

Actually, on the internet, I found a tour going to North-East Hungary as well as others suggesting Transylvania Romania and the Carpathian Mountain region in the Ukraine just for this purpose ("Textile Arts and Other Handicrafts of Hungary with Village Masters. Experience embroidery, beading, weaving, lace-making and tole painting September 14-29, 2003" and "Women use to wear linen-made shirts with no embroideries, contrary to the habits of the people of other regions of Romania. They're skilful carpet weavers, whose patterns and colours are remarkable, as those peasants do really know the art of preparing vegetal colours which are incredibly resistant to the weather and to the sun rays" and Ukraine. ... "go to Yaremche, the heart of the Carpathian Mountains ... Visit the Kopczuk family weavers").

Furthermore, textiles are currently Romania's leading export to the European Union (and other areas) and textiles are a major export from the Ukraine.

Where now?

Because of its history of persecutions, Thyatira followers (according to all that I have read) normally kept a low profile--lower than typical COG members do--this makes them hard to find.

Based on my own research, as well as with personal communications with Bonne Rook (a unitarian sabbath-keeper who lives in the Netherlands and has visited the Romanian and Hungarian sabbatarians), it appears to me that the portion of the Thyatira era that went to Holland either became part of the Sardis era (this appears to have been WCG's position in the correspondence course) or left the fellowship I collectively refer to as "the Church of God". Hence, I have basically ruled out the Netherlands (though it is remotely possible that some survived there) as a likely location for any Thyatiran remnant.

Although I personally am not certain, it appears that historians of this group primarily track them into the Transylvanian Alps and Carpathian Mountain regions of Hungary, Romania, and the Ukraine. Here is what Bonne Rook reported:

I have come into contact with Sabbatarians from Eastern European countries including Romania and the Subbotniki from Ukraine, Russia, Tajikistan and Siberia...The Sabbatarians still exist, both in Transylvania and Hungary. However, they are becoming fewer and fewer in number as the lure of material wealth sucks them away from the simple and straightforward faith, as we have seen happen so often here in the West (Rook, Bonne. Researcher visits descendants of Transylvanian Sabbatarians. The Journal, Issue 48, January 31, 2001).

While Gerhard O. Marx reported,

As much as can be ascertained, there are in Transylvania three different groups of Sabbath-keepers. At the turn of the century there lived in the town of Bozod-Ujfalu a very few families which constituted the followers of Simon Pechis. They kept the Sabbath, Holy Days, food laws etc. with a heavy Jewish flavor. What happened to this tiny group since the early part of this century is not known (The Beliefs and Practices of the Church of God in Transylvania During the Middle Ages, 1588-1623," by, Gerhard O. Marx).

A Jewish website reported,

The Jews of Tirgu - Mures were ordered into a ghetto on May 3, 1944. Established in a dilapidated brickyard on the outskirts of the city, it contained 7,380 Jews, including those brought in from the neighboring communities. Among the latter were the Sabbatarians of Bezidul Nuo (Bozodujfalu), adjacent to Tirgu - Mures, the descendants of the Szekelys (members of the Transylvania branch of the Magyars) who had converted to Judaism in the early days of the Transylvanian principality" (Museum of Tolerance Multimedia Center, http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/text/x32/xr3245.html-1/7/03).

In 2011, a Jewish news article reported:

...the Szekely Sabbatarians honored the Sabbath and kept many Jewish rituals, with their activities centered around the village of Bozodujfalu in Transylvania...

The Sabbatarian movement in Transylvania was founded at the end of the 16th century amid the jolt delivered to Christendom by the Reformation. According to most historians, Transylvania's location as an independent buffer zone, a no-man's-land straddling the Ottoman, Polish and Austrian empires, gave rise to religious diversity and tolerance unknown anywhere else in Europe at the time. This was fertile ground for the emergence of a broad variety of ideas, movements and religious sects. Some of them died out or were assimilated, their memory existing only in history books. Others are, to this day, considered dominant in the region.

This was probably the only environment in which the unique accident of history that engendered the Sabbatarian movement could have occurred...

Although Jews faced discrimination in employment, taxation and places of residence, the practice of Judaism was not considered a crime and its adherents were never forced to convert. Judaism in Transylvania was considered a tolerated religion: inferior and abhorrent, but not prohibited. The Sabbatarians, in contrast, were perceived as heretics, Christians who had committed the unpardonable sin of taking on themselves the precepts of the Jews. To the local residents, that was far worse than abandoning Christianity...

Most studies place the total number of believers at between a few hundred and a few thousand. The largest community emerged in Bozodujfalu, a village that lay in an isolated green valley in the heart of a region known as Szekely Land. In 1867, about a quarter of the village's 700 inhabitants declared that they belonged to the Sabbatarian sect...

"Confusion in Hungary," the Tel Aviv-based Davar reported in a front-page story in August 1941. "The Hungarian government is having difficulty in finding a solution to the legal status of the 1,200 non-Jewish Shabbat-keepers who live in Transylvania," the report said. "The members of this sect are of Aryan origin but observe Shabbat and the Jewish dietary laws. As a result, the prohibition on kosher slaughter affects them, too..."...

Finally, on October 3, 1941, the Hungarian justice minister signed an order exempting the descendants of the Sabbatarians in Hungary, including the community of converts in Bozodujfalu, from the anti-Jewish decrees. To benefit from the exemption, the community's members had to prove a certain percentage of Szekely roots in the family lineage. The order drew a distinction between Jews according to religion and Jews according to birth. The date of the conversion was also of importance in this connection.

In Bozodujfalu, 94 members of the convert community were granted exemptions from the "Jew laws." Another 40 villagers who termed themselves Shabbat-keepers but were not circumcised were also exempted. But the Szekely Sabbatarians did more than save themselves: they could not remain indifferent to the persecution of the Jews. Many survivor testimonies from Romania and Hungary mention them as offering food and shelter to Jews on the run. http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/discovering-europe-s-non-jews-who-kept-the-faith-1.387208

While Judit Gellérd reported,

By the middle of the 18th century only one single congregation remained in the remote Szekler village of Bözödújfalu...The world turned upside down in the twentieth century: World War I, Trianon, and the “creation” of the largest and most oppressed minority of Europe, the Transylvanian Hungarians. Overnight, the official language in the school of Bözödújfalu became Romanian, people’s names translated, their identity threatened, mass exodus to Hungary and to Western Europe began. Then World War II, anti-Jewish laws, deportation, Holocaust, more exodus to Israel and America, village destruction--but Jews and Christians of Bözödújfalu steadfastly stood against the storm, praying Péchi’s supplication--still in their mother tongue, Hungarian....Continuous persecution forced the Sabbatarians underground. By the end of the nineteenth century, when they finally gained official recognition, only two villages of Sabbatarians were left. By 1936 when the Hungarian writer György Bözödi published the first study on this fascinating religious movement, only Bözödújfalu, called the “Szekler Jerusalem” remained. “Bözödújfalu is the Jerusalem of the Szekler Jews with the difference that this one hasn’t been destroyed,” wrote Bözödi in 1936. Half a century later, in 1989, I witnessed the diabolic destruction of this village by Ceausescu, drowning it into an artificial lake--“the lake of tears,” as exiled people of Bözödújfalu call it. ...Today Transylvania, like Tibet, is a mere spiritual reality: it is no longer on the map as a country. Bözödújfalu’s fate is even more tragic. It is no longer on the face of the earth. It has been drowned into an artificial lake. Why was this village sentenced to death? The artificial lake serves no economic or any purpose whatsoever...Poverty-stricken during the Ceausescu years, men of Bözödújfalu rejoiced for the new job opportunity and were enthusiastically digging, until the sudden realization of their betrayal. They were tricked into digging their own grave--a grave big enough to engulf the entire village--a familiar and haunting image from the history of genocide. They were laughed at when they protested against the broken contract for a small size project. Realizing the diabolic plan to drown Bözödújfalu, the men sabotaged the work and personally took their petition of protest to President Ceausescu--to no avail...He had just published the infamous list of 8,000 villages to be erased, bulldozed away. The last vestige of Sabbatarianism, the much persecuted Bözödújfalu, became the first victim of Ceausescu’s “systematization” [systematic strangulation of the villages] madness. This village was living proof how Hungarians and Romanians and Jews had been living together in harmony until nationalist instigation and manipulation crippled the country. It had to be sacrificed. The project was urgent. Because the villagers sabotaged the...construction, Romanian soldiers were brought in to finish the job--fast. The people of had barely enough time to even gather their personal belongings before the sudden inundation. There was no place to take their animals or their furniture. A tragically ridiculous amount of money--not more than a couple of hundred dollars worth--was offered as their “reimbursement.” The ultimate irony was that the village was sunken just months before the overthrow of Ceausescu’s regime. The lake that drowned this historical place is the mixture of their beloved creek, the Küsmöd, and the tears of the exiles. In 1990 when this village was drowned, the Romanian government made a solemn promise of rebuilding the churches of this village in the neighboring settlements, Erdöszentgyörgy and Szováta, where the exiles found refuge. None of the churches has been rebuilt and there is no realistic hope for it. These people have lost more that their livelihood and community. They are deprived of the most basic spiritual need, that of the house of worship. They lost everything--they lost their very human dignity" (Gellérd, Judit. Spiritual Jews of Szekler Jerusalem A Four-Centuries History of Transylvanian Szekler (Székely) Sabbatarianism. In Literature of Memory VI: Hope and Despair STH TS 870, Fall 2000 Professor Elie Wiesel. http://www.unitarius.hu/cffr/papers/sabbat.htm--12/14/02).

About 5% of the town moved to Sovata:.

Most of the village inhabitants moved to Erdoszentgyorgy (around 75%) , 20% moved to the nearest villages (Bozod, Csokfalva, Havad)...The site is now known as 'the drowned village' " (Scenes from Transylvania. http://www.mindspring.com/~uucm/beliefs/partnerphoto1.html-12/18/02).

For those that wish to look for this area on a map, Szováta (Hungarian) is spelled Sovata (which I believe is the Romanian spelling) (N 46.35, E 25.04) and is in Romania in the Carpathian mountain area. It is about 20 miles east of the small city of Tirgu Mures. I have not yet been able to find Erdöszentgyörgy or the lake that is where Bözödújfalu was (though I did view a photograph of the flooded area). The only reference to the location of Bözödújfalu I found was when I looked under its Romanian spelling Bezidu Nou, and that was N46 E24).

One document I did see said that there were, as of 1975, five, non-Jewish, Sabbatarian families in Bozod-Ujfalu. They would have been relocated prior to the flood, but precisely where they went and how many would still be alive at this time is unknown. Also, whether or not they were actually part of the true Church of God is not clear--if they were, it is possible that the total destruction of Bozod-Ujfalu was at least some part of the fulfillment of Revelation 2:23, "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works".

I did run across an older Jewish Hungarian who told me that they knew of some former Romanians in the US who appeared to have some similar beliefs to the old WCG--if this report is true then, it is likely that some of the physical Thyatira remnant is still in Romania/Hungary and even in the US.

The Ukraine?

The main other country that this group may still exist appears to be in the Ukraine. In spite of being under communist rule for decades, there were, and still are, Sabbatarian groups within the Ukraine. A small portion of them have become part of the United Church of God (UCG). It is possible that this some related to this small Ukrainian group were part of the remnant of the Thyatira era (though by being in UCG I would not consider them to be part of Thyatira) or that there were some other Thyatiran remnants.

Before his death, I spoke to John Ogywn about his statement: "In remote areas of the Carpathian Mountain area of central and eastern Europe, individuals and small groups survived--in fact a faithful remnant has survived in isolation in those areas down to modern times (cf. Rev. 2:24-25)" (Ogwyn, J. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet). But he had no specifics.

I then spoke to Aaron Dean about Thyatira in the summer of 2002 (as well as later) when working on this article. He believed that there must be a remnant of Thyatira left based on Revelation 2. He, like then UCG's Clyde Killough (who so informed me in the summer of 2004), thought that the Ukraine might be possible, but that I should discuss it with Victor Kubik. Victor Kubik provided me some limited information, indicating those with UCG came from a 20th century development. Yet the way I understand this suggests that there still could have been some Thyatira remnant in the Ukraine, but this is still not certain to me.

Now What?

After searching, buying and reading books, making as many direct contacts as practical, I still was not sure who the Thyatirans actually were. In mid-2003, I sent a version of this paper (close to everything that precedes this part) to John Ogwyn who at that time was updating the God's Church Through the Ages booklet. But my conclusions were basically, Here is what I have found, it is inconclusive, and I really am not certain who the Thyatiran remnant is in the early 21st century, nor if the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) was right to suggest that those in the area of Bozod-Ujfalu were actually in the COG.

I left the matter dormant and did not post anything about it as there was nothing that seemed to put the pieces together. However, in late 2004, I read something about Thyatira in Alan Knight's book Primitive Christianity in Crisis. Alan Knight is a member of the Church of God, Seventh Day (CG7). CG7 is a group that those of us in the Philadelphia remnant of the COG believe is part of the remnant of the Sardis era of the Church of God. Sardis was also the Church era that became predominant after the predominance of the Thyatira era.

Anyway, although I did not agree with everything he wrote about Thyatira (the book contains an entire chapter about it), I found the following to be of interest:

Consider next the church at Thyatira (rev. 2:18-29). Here is the church that fell headlong into the apostate mystical antinomianism of Gnostic Christianity. It was so bad Jesus instructs the few who remain faithful to keep their distance from the apostate leadership of their own church (vs. 22). What is happening here so disturbs Jesus he says he will bring about some unspecified catastrophe to physically destroy much of the church. He will even engineer their destruction as a warning to the rest of the churches (vs. 23). It seems you couldn't get much lower than that (Knight, Alan. Primitive Christianity in Crisis, p.290).

After reading that, it occurred to me, that perhaps, Jesus' statements could also be referring to remnant that recently (as opposed to just throughout the Middle Ages) were in a COG that was taken over by apostates. And, that instead of leaving, they failed to heed Paul's warning in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4,

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it!

Is there a group in modern times that has put up with an apostate leadership, a group that puts up with those who teach a different gospel from what they had earlier accepted? Is there a group that believes it needs to "hold fast" to the teachings of the COG that God used Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) to restore, but does not believe that they need to support the major work of the Philadelphia era to proclaim the gospel over radio, the internet, and other media?

Yes.

Normally these people say, however, that they are not a group. They do, however, often say they are part of a remnant of God's Church. Though they do not realize it, they may actually be a part of the spiritual remnant of the Thyatira Church.

And Who Might They Be?

They might be those that are still in (or supportive of) the WCG (or some other COG group that accepted apostasy) who claim that since they personally hold fast to keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days, avoid unclean meats, and the other doctrines as listed earlier of the Thyatira COG. Instead of placing their top priority on proclaiming the gospel, they also seem to believe that their major work is to be faithful to doctrines personally while at the same time supporting those who know the depth of Satan. We know these people truly cannot be the faithful remnant of the Philadelphia portion of the COG as they fail to respond to at least one of the truths that Herbert Armstrong claimed God used him to restore to that era, "And how in Revelation 18:4 that God has called us out from among them, to be separate" (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, December 17, 1983); because instead of leaving spiritual Babylon and becoming separate, they publicly insist that they must remain faithful to the WCG corporation until it puts them out (and even then, they still claim that WCG is 'God's True Church').

It may be of interest to note that this remnant may have been spiritually born about the same time that a possible last physical location of Thyatira (Bozod-Ujfalu) was destroyed. They are spiritually like weavers as they weave together (and apart) spiritual truth and error. Interestingly the WCG group is still led (as of 2006) by a man whose last name, Tkach, according to an online English-Ukraine dictionary, means weaver.

Thus the physical destruction of a one-time Thyatiran town may have occurred about the time this remnant was starting to come together (though most did not consider themselves part of any remnant until about a decade later). They may have not had the zeal to carry on the Philadelphia work of proclaiming the gospel, and do not now seem to mind terribly that they are supporting a church that proclaims a different, a false, gospel.

Therefore, while I am not completely certain of the entire history of Thyatira, nor am sure where all their physical descendants may be, it does appear that there now is a group of their spiritual descendants. A remnant of the COG that has no real outside work of proclaiming the gospel (Revelation 2:19) and put up with apostasy (vs. 20). They in a sense knowingly commit spiritual adultery and eat spiritual things sacrificed to idols (vs. 20) when they attend the lawless (i.e. advocating that one does not need to keep the ten commandments), non-COG, services that WCG normally sponsors (with many who wear idols like crosses). They knowingly allow a false church (Jezebel) to teach and to attempt to seduce those that are in its midst (vs. 20), and have failed to repent in this amount of time they have been given (vs. 21). In a sense, by supporting this Jezebel through their attendance, tithes, and compromises they are committing spiritual adultery with Jezebel and will be thrown into the great tribulation with her (vs. 22). It is a church whose children God says He will kill (vs. 23). And even those that who have not known the depths of Satan in this church (vs. 24) are not promised protection from the tribulation as those in Philadelphia are (3:10), though maybe some will be.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches' " (Revelation 2:29)

Jezebel, Idols, & Paul

In the Old Testament, Jezebel, herself, is never charged with committing physical adultery. She was, however, involved with several abhorrent practices that have modern parallels.

First, it appears that she persuaded her husband, a physical Israelite, to worship the idol Baal and engage in other wicked practices (I Kings 16:32; 1 Kings 21:25). WCG induced many apparently spiritual Israelites to adopt pagan worship practices (e.g. Christmas, Easter).

Second, "Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD" (1 Kings 18:4) physically. After 1990 WCG fired, disfellowshipped, etc. many ministers (and members) of the true Church of God.

Third, for the want of material gain, Jezebel pretended to have a fast dedicated to God (I Kings 21:5), while WCG went along with the holy days for as much as was necessary to receive enough tithes from the 'faithful' to make it through until property sales were complete enough for its retirement wants.

It is of note that God promised to destroy the physical descendants of the original Jezebel (I Kings 21:21-24), as well as the children of the New Testament Jezebel (Revelation 2:23).

The Apostle Paul also appeared to have hade some type of Thyatiran problem to deal with or he probably would not have needed to write,

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty"" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Paul similarly, in Ephesians 5:8-11 wrote,

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Paul furthermore wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22,

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

Paul appears to be saying that although idols are not really anything, and unless you want to provoke the Lord, do not participate in the worship services of pagans as they are not serving the true God!

True History of the True Church

Although he seemed to not take his own advice, here is what Herman Hoeh wrote in the booklet The True History of the True Church,

The true Church is not some POLITICALLY ORGANIZED DENOMINATION which one joins or becomes a member of in order to be "saved." Jesus did not die for some one religious ORGANIZATION called a church...The true Christians, who alone comprised the true Church, WERE BEING PUT OUT OF THE VISIBLE, ORGANIZED CONGREGATION. They were the SCATTERED ones of whom John said: "Therefore the world knoweth us not" (I John 3:1)...But just as there was a false teacher, Jezebel, in the local church at Thyatira so now there were many FALSE teachers and FALSE brethren among these people. Some rose up among the Waldenses teaching that it was right to have Catholics, and later, Protestants, baptize their children and to attend IDOLATROUS mass once in a while. Others committed spiritual fornication by meddling in politics in the hope of avoiding persecution...Just as the remnants of the Sardis era of the Church exist side by side with the Philadelphia era, SO WE WILL CONTINUE OUR WORK to the very "end time" when another group will appear -- a group not accounted worthy to escape the coming tribulation. Another separate work is yet to arise -- made up of begotten individuals who are spiritually lukewarm! WOE BE TO ANY OF US IF WE TAKE PART IN SUCH A WORK! Here is a work, yet to arise because of our preaching.

Hence it was WCG's position that you were not to fellowship with a group that got taken over by non-COG teachers, nor even attend false services even once in a while. And that Thyatira was, to some degree, such a group.

Ancient Thyatira

As far as anicient Thyatira goes, closer to the time that Revelation was written, notice the following:

IV. THYATIRA

   Thyatira was located about twenty-five miles southeast of Pergamos, and according to Strabo was a little to the left of the main road. It was a garrison city built on the plains, with no natural fortifications, and was captured, destroyed, and rebuilt many times. The name is said to signify "sweet savor of labor," or "sacrifice of contrition." Sir William Ramsay says that the name indicates "weakness made strong," and other writers give the meaning as "never weary of sacrifice."

   Thyatira at the time of this epistle was an important manufacturing city, its citizens being mostly poor and humble laborers, just the opposite of those in Pergamos. They were made contrite by sacrifices, and their lives were made fragrant by the blessings of labor. The workmen of Thyatira were organized into labor unions, or "guilds. "The two leading industries were the manufacture of instruments of brass, bronze, and other metals, and the manufacture and dyeing of cloth, especially of the royal purple. Homer speaks of the dyeing of red and purple cloth as being characteristic of the city. It is significant that purple and scarlet are the chief colors worn by the popes and cardinals of the ruling church of the Middle Ages.

   Christ introduced Himself to the church in Thyatira as the "Son God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass." "Eyes like flaming fire" and "whose eyes flash like fire and whose feet glow like bronze," are other translations. This language was very familiar to a people who labored in foundries with their flaming furnaces, where fine brass, bronze, and other metals were manufactured into all sorts of articles for the market. (Bunch, Taylor G. The Seven Epistles of Christ. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1947 as cited in The Seven Cities of Asia Minor, Ambassador College Study Guide, pre-1987, p. 7).

My wife and I have visited this area. Here is a link to: Joyce's Photos of Thyatira.

Conclusion

The Old Testament specifically warned the physical Israelites to not make deals with the pagans, be involved with the foods sacrificed to them, nor engage in spiritual adultery,

Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods (Exodus 34:12-16).

The New Testament specifically warned the Thyatirans to not go along with pagans, affiliate with their idolatry, be involved with the foods sacrificed to them, nor engage in spiritual adultery (Revelation 2:18-20). The so-called faithful in WCG (or other apostate COGs) allow themselves to attend non-COG church services, hear non-COG messages, fellowship with unbelievers, and be surrounded by the promotion of non-biblical (pagan) beliefs and practices.

Of the seven churches of Revelation, it was only to Thyatira (2:25) and to Philadelphia (3:11) that Jesus said to "hold fast what you have" before He was to return. Sardis (CG7) was not told that (which is one of the reasons why the Seventh Day Adventists, who forced CG7 away from them are not part of Thyatira), nor was Laodicea (the lukewarm 'people decide' church). It is possible that both groups were warned to hold fast to the same teachings--teachings that Sardis lost and Laodicea does not consider to be that important.

Since only the Philadelphians are holding fast to the major doctrines and practices of the old WCG, is it not possible that many of the Thyatirans had the same doctrines? Could they, have attended originally with the Philadelphia portion of the COG, but in reality, were with us but not a part of us? Why? "for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us" (1 John 2:19), not continued in the sense of the same corporate organization (i.e. 2 Corinthians 11:2-4), but continued with us to proclaim the truth of God to the world as a witness.

There may be several remnants of Thyatira, but in my search, I do feel that I may have found one that is still acting like Thyatira.

The actual Thyatira era ended in the late sixteenth century and was replaced by the Sardis era. More information can be found in the article The Sardis Church. Here is a link to: Joyce's Photos of Thyatira.

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B. Thiel, Ph.D. In Search of the Thyatira Church. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2004/2006/2007/2008/2009/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2016/2017 0318

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present
The Ephesus Church Era predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D.
The Smyrna Church Era predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D.
The Pergamos Church Era predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.
The Thyatira Church Era predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D.
The Sardis Church Era predominant circa 1600A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.
The Philadelphia Church Era predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
The Laodicean Church Era predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present

Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from 31 A.D. to the 21st century.