Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Linus of Rome was not over all Christendom

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

September 23rd is the day recognized by the Catholics of Rome to honor Linus of Rome. Typically he is shown second on the list of bishops that purport to show the Roman Catholic pontiffs and is the claimed successor to the Apostle Peter. For information about him in the Spanish language, check out Linus no fue obispo de Roma.

There is an individual named Linus in the Bible. He is mentioned one time. Here is the only passage that mentions him:

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen (2 Timothy 4:19-22).

The above was probably written, in approximately 67 A.D. – 68 A.D., by the Apostle Paul while in prison in Rome to the evangelist Timothy, who was in Ephesus.

This passage shows that Paul knew someone named Linus. Linus, therefore knew Paul, and was in Rome when Paul wrote this letter. It can probably be reasonably implied that Linus probably knew Timothy, and perhaps others in Ephesus. And based on Paul’s writings, it can be concluded that Paul, at that time, considered that particular Linus to be a Christian. It is probably logical to conclude that Linus met with Paul in prison on multiple occasions and probably, like the others, assisted him to some degree.

What it does not show is that Linus was to be the leader of those in Rome or ordained by Peter or the one to hold the leadership mantle of all Christendom. Others are listed before him, hence, at least at the time Paul wrote this letter, there is no preeminence for Linus in Rome (and it should be noted that one of the proofs that Rome often cites to prove that Peter had preeminence is that Peter was quite often listed first in various New Testament passages involving multiple people). Linus simply was one of many who knew and probably assisted the Apostle Paul. The lack of emphasis/preeminence in Paul’s writings would seem to suggest that Linus could not have been the one to become the “bishop of Rome” and the successor of Peter and Paul in 67 A.D. Especially since it is believed that the Apostle Paul probably did not die until 68 A.D.

Whether or not this is the same individual named Linus that many Roman Catholics consider to be the first pope (the first “bishop of Rome”) to succeed Peter cannot be determined from the passages in 2 Timothy. This is confirmed by Catholic scholars, such as J.P. Kirsch, who wrote:

We cannot be positive whether this identification of the pope as being the Linus mentioned in II Timothy 4:21, goes back to an ancient and reliable source, or originated later on account of the similarity of the name (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Linus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

But it seems that even if the Roman Catholics are referring to the same person, that he was not the one who was going to immediately become THE bishop of Rome–if he was, it would be logical that Paul would have given Linus some special mention. Instead, he is simply grouped in with several others in Rome at that time (nor is Linus even mentioned first).

There are several demonstrably incorrect claims made about him by some in the Church of Rome. For example, here is something from a book I purchased in Vatican City:

2. LINUS, ST. (67-76)…He was the first to take up the inheritance of St. Peter…He made disposition for women to be admitted to the holy places and attend functions with their heads covered…He was buried beside St. Peter in the first Vatican burial spot. It is certain that he did exist while some have thrown doubt on his election to the pontificate. (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni as sponsored by the Pontifical Administration, Roma, 1997, p. 1)

The main historical fact is that Linus’ name showed up on a list. Not that he was Peter’s successor.

Here is some of what the Roman Catholic scholar J.P. Kirsch wrote in The Catholic Encyclopedia about Linus:

The “Liber Pontificalis” asserts that Linus’s home was in Tuscany, and that his father’s name was Herculanus; but we cannot discover the origin of this assertion. According to the same work on the popes, Linus is supposed to have issued a decree “in conformity with the ordinance of St. Peter”, that women should have their heads covered in church. Without doubt this decree is apocryphal, and copied by the author of the “Liber Pontificalis” from the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (11:5) and arbitrarily attributed to the first successor of the Apostle in Rome. The statement made in the same source, that Linus suffered martyrdom, cannot be proved and is improbable. (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Linus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York)

Much about Linus is more than improbable.

Netherlands’ Priest Roderick Vonhögen is/was the Chief Executive Officer of a pro-Catholic media group (SQPN) which correctly teaches, “Pope Saint Linus…ancient documents about his papacy have proven to be inaccurate or apocryphal” (Pope Saint Linus. saints.sqpn.com/saintl23.htm, viewed 09/18/12).

Yet, Linus is claimed to have been the first successor of Peter and head of all Christendom by the Church of Rome.

Here is what John O’Malley, a Jesuit Priest and Catholic historian, published:

The earliest lists of popes begin, not with Peter, but with a man named Linus. The reason Peter’s name was not listed was because he was an apostle, which was a super-category, much superior to pope or bishop…

The Christian community at Rome well into the second century operated as a collection of separate communities without any central structure…Rome was a constellation of house churches, independent of one another, each of which was loosely governed by an elder. The communities thus basically followed the pattern of the Jewish synagogues out of which they developed. (O’Malley JW. A History of the Popes. Sheed & Ward, 2009, p. 11)

It should be pointed out that the Apostle John outlived Linus and some of the others considered to have been early “popes.” Thus, the above admission is consistent with the Church of God view that the leadership of the Christian church in the late first century was clearly in Asia Minor, and not Rome, as that is where the Apostle John was based.

The Apostle Paul noted that there were three leaders in Jerusalem during one of his visits there:

James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars (Galatians 2:9).

He likely listed James first because James was the leader who actually lived in Jerusalem (the others were mainly visiting then). But notice that Paul then listed Cephas, who is Peter, and then John. This may suggest that Paul considered that Peter, at that time, had higher authority, sometimes called primacy, than John then did. It also shows that Peter apparently conferred with John, hence Peter helped train him as a potential successor.

Now, possibly around 64-67 A.D., Peter was killed, hence he no longer held physical primacy over the remaining apostles.

As it turned out John greatly outlived Peter and is believed to have lived as late as 98-105 A.D. (he also outlived James).

John was an apostle, while the early leaders of Rome were only presbyters.

The Bible clearly teaches that apostles were first (1 Corinthians 12:28). Notice that even Roman Catholic scholars understand:

Unlike Peter, the pope is neither an apostle nor an eyewitness of the Risen Lord (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.33).

Since that is true, it makes no sense that the Apostle John would be somehow subordinate to Linus, Anacletus, Clement, and Evaristus, all of whom have been claimed to have been “bishop of Rome” and supposedly had primacy over all Christianity after Peter died and while John was still alive. John would have held the mantle of Christian leadership.

Note that Paul wrote:

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28).

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).

And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors: (Ephesians 4:11, Rheims New Testament).

And since the Bible teaches that the true church is first led by apostles and other positions are lower ranked, there is no way that the Apostle John would have been below any bishop (essentially a pastor) in rank–Note that although the Bible uses the Greek term for pastor more than the one for bishop, it seems to show that the terms are interchangeable (see 1 Peter 2:25).

Hence, after Peter died (as well as the other apostles), it is clear that the one true successor–who had been appointed by Christ Himself–would be the Apostle John (the last of the original apostles to die) and that true apostolic successors would probably have had contact with him. John was the successor to Peter. This is consistent with the Bible.

It should also be mentioned that none of the Roman Bishops took the title Pope until the late 4th century, so there is no way that Linus was Pope Linus. It is also not clear that the early leaders in Rome were called ‘bishop’ prior to Anicetus in the mid-second century A.D.

Furthermore, presuming Linus was a faithful Christian leader, he would have held beliefs much more consistent with the Continuing Church of God than the Church of Rome. Those interested in the beliefs of the earliest Christians may wish to read the free documented book: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church.

That being said, there likely was a genuine Church of God Christian leader in Rome named Linus who may have been an elder. Since there is no contemporary biblical nor other historical evidence that Rome had a bishop over it then, etc. Linus was certainly not the “Bishop of Rome” who somehow supposedly succeeded the Apostle Peter. Catholics and others might be surprised to learn that the first known “Bishop of Rome” did not take that title until the mid-second century and that title “Pope” or Pontificus Maximus was not taken by the bishops of Rome until the late fourth century.

Some items of possibly related interest may including the following:

“Pope” Linus (67-76)…He is claimed to be the first to take up the inheritance from Peter, but he is omitted from Tertullian’s list. There is a Linus mentioned in the Bible. For some information about him in the Spanish language, check out Linus no fue obispo de Roma.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs.
Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood?
The Apostle Peter He was an original apostle and early Christian leader. Where was Peter buried? Where did Peter die?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Laying on of Hands Succession and List Does the Church of God have laying on of hands succession? Does the Continuing Church of God have a list of leaders from the time of the apostles? Here is a link to a related sermon: Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession.
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a link to a sermon: Claims of Apostolic Succession. Here is a related articlein the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Herbert W. Armstrong, the Philadelphia Church, & the Mantle Herbert Armstrong claims God had him raise the Philadelphia up. Are there reasons to believe that the Philadelphia mantle in now within the CCOG? Here is a link to a related sermon: Herbert W. Armstrong and the Philadelphia Mantle.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups that Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups? A related sermon is also available Christianity: Two groups.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

NM: As Pope, Cardinal Try to End Latin Mass, Angry Catholics March; COGwriter: Latin Mass was NOT a Belief of the Original Catholic Church

Sunday, September 18th, 2022


Pope Francis (Pixabay)

COGwriter

NewsMax reported the following:

As Pope, Cardinal Try to End Latin Mass, Angry Catholics March

September 17, 2022 7:25 pm

Pope Francis is trying to restrict the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional Latin Mass worldwide, and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., has ordered that its celebration be banned except in three locations.

But this didn’t stop several hundred Catholics from marching Saturday in support of the Mass Catholics celebrated regularly for more than 500 years until the early 1970s.

Billed as the “The National Summorum Pontificum [Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter addressing the celebration of the Latin Mass] Pilgrimage for the Restoration of the Latin Mass,” the march began at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Virginia, and concluded five miles away at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. …

Noah Peters of Fairfax, Virginia, the 36-year-old principal organizer of the pilgrimage, told Newsmax, “The Pope’s [restriction of the Latin Mass] was so outrageous, so devastating to worshippers in the traditional rite, I felt someone had to do something about it. From St. Thomas Aquinas to [St.] Padre Pio, Catholic leaders we honor have [celebrated] the Latin Mass. Now, in trying to restrict it, the Pope has crossed a line, and we cannot accept it.” …

For centuries, all Catholics worshiped in the same Mass, which was said exclusively in Latin and in which the priest was ad orientem (facing the same direction as the worshippers — east). Following the Second Vatican Council, it was gradually replaced by a Mass celebrated in the vernacular languages of individual countries, with the priest facing parishioners and the parishioners chanting responses to him. https://www.newsmax.com/john-gizzi/vatican-latin-mass-pope-francis/2022/09/17/id/1087959/

It was not ALL Catholics, but all of the changed Roman Catholic Church that went to ‘Latin Mass’ for centuries.

But, yes, Pope Francis has upset some who call themselves traditionalists with his pronouncements related to the ‘Latin Mass.’

Yet, while some Roman Catholics wrongly believe that the original Christians held “mass’ in Latin, that is simply not true.

Notice the following that is in my free online book, Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church:

Latin Mass and Liturgic Changes

Despite the view of some Roman ‘traditionalists,’ the original church liturgy was not in Latin nor did it resemble Roman Catholic mass. Notice three Roman Catholic reports:

In the third and fourth centuries A.D. … Latin began to replace Greek as the common language of the Roman world and soon became the language of the liturgy. Exactly how this change in the liturgy came about is uncertain. … Because Christians had not used Latin for worship prior to this, words had to be adapted or imported (often from Greek) to express Christian ideas, beginning the development of an ecclesiastical form of Latin. There is also evidence that the Roman Canon was influenced by prayers from the Eastern churches. (Tufano VM. When did we start celebrating Mass in Latin? US Catholic, June 18, 2010)

The word Mass (missa) first established itself as the general designation for the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the West after the time of Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604), … Mass goes back in … a custom that takes us at once into the third century (Pohle J. Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic Encyclopedia)

Roman Mass … and the established customs became “ritualized” over the centuries. … As early as the fourth century, fixed liturgical rites can be found in the Church. (The Traditional Latin Mass: A Brief History. MyCatholicSource.com, accessed 09/22/20)

Some assert Latin Mass began to be used by the Roman Bishop Victor c. 190. But even if the early use of Latin in the late 2nd century is true (and using the common language of an area for church services makes sense), Latin still was not the original language of original church services—that was Aramaic/Hebrew. However, Greek quickly became used as the New Testament epistles—which were written in Greek—help demonstrate.

Not only were original church services not in Latin, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia, they were not called Mass until the 7th century. Furthermore, as many rituals in Latin Mass came from the 3rd and 4th centuries, those practices were not really a part of the regular original services.

Roman Catholic sources clearly teach that ritualized Latin Mass was a change from the original catholic liturgy. More changes occurred in the 13th through 15th centuries (Jedin H, ed. History of the Church, Volume 2. Crossroad, New York, 1993, p. 326).

The Eastern Orthodox, also, have freely admitted that their liturgy CHANGED. Notice this from one of their writers:

The liturgical practices of the church at Antioch did not stagnate. As does every early tradition of the church, the liturgy continued to expand in content and meaning. (Lucas J. Liturgical Pattern and Experience in First Century Antioch. By the Waters: Selected Works by Students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, vol 7, Fall 2008, pp. 40-52)

The original church liturgy did not have much resemblance to Eastern Orthodox services, which begin and end with the “signing of the cross.” The teaching that the “liturgical practices of the church at Antioch did not stagnate” demonstrates that what ended up in Antioch changed—hence the Eastern Orthodox admit that what they now have is NOT the original catholic liturgy.

Some claim that they follow the “Divine Liturgy of St. James.” However, that was not original, nor did James come up with it as The Catholic Encyclopedia and the OrthodoxWiki also understand:

… the famous liturgy of St. James. That it was actually composed by St. James the Less, as first Bishop of Jerusalem, is not now believed by any one; (Fortescue A. Liturgy of Jerusalem. The Catholic Encyclopedia)

The general scholarly consensus is that this liturgy originated in Jerusalem during the late fourth or early fifth century. It quickly became the primary liturgy in Jerusalem and Antioch. Although it was later superseded in Jerusalem and Antioch by the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, it had already spread to other areas of the Church. (Liturgy of St. James. OrthodoxWiki, accessed 06/04/21)

So, what the Eastern Orthodox now do was not original.

Unlike how Eastern Orthodox church service were conducted, there were no icons, incense, signing of the cross, or leavened bread as part of the original church services. Nor “chanting” sermons nor hymns sung to Mary. None of the known current Eastern Orthodox litanies (‘petitions’ recited by the clergy and responded to in a recurring formula by the people) were originally used by early Christians either.

The CCOG {Continuing Church of God} maintains it has continued the original catholic church practices when it comes to church services, or the liturgy.

So, no, Latin mass is not an original tradition of the catholic church–but a change in liturgy.

Now, what about praying to the East?

Some may wish to read the Bible, as it objects to this. Here are quotes from the New Jerusalem Bible, which is a Roman Catholic translation of the scriptures into the English language:

15 He said, ‘Son of man, do you see that? You will see even more loathsome things than that.’

16 He then led me to the inner court of the Temple of Yahweh. And there, at the entrance to Yahweh’s sanctuary, between the portico and the altar, there were about twenty-five men, with their backs to Yahweh’s sanctuary and their faces turned towards the east, before the rising sun. (Ezekiel 8:15-16)

So, although the Bible warns against worship towards the east and associates it with sun-god worship, the Church of Rome is encouraging this.

Why might the Church of Rome be encouraging something in conflict with the Bible here?

Well, sadly, many practices associated with sun-god worship, specifically Mithraism were adopted by the Church of Rome. Mithraism had priests pray towards the sun, which in the morning meant towards the east. Notice the following report from the Catholic scholar F. Cumont (bolding mine):

The priest was the intermediary between God and man. His functions evidently included the administration of the sacraments and the celebration of the services. The inscriptions tell us that in addition he presided at the formal dedications, or at least represented the faithful one on such an occasion along with the Fathers; but this was the least portion only of the duties he had to perform; the religious service which fell to his lot appears to have been very exacting. He doubtless was compelled to see that a perpetual fire burned upon the altars. Three times a day, at dawn, at noon, and at dusk, he addressed a prayer to the Sun, turning in the morning toward the East, at noon toward the South, at evening toward the West. The daily liturgy frequently embraced special sacrifices.

the orthodox and heretical liturgies of Christianity, which gradually sprang up during the first centuries of our era, could find abundant inspiration in the Mithraic Mysteries… it appears certain that the commemoration of the Nativity was set for the 25th of December, because it was at the winter solstice that the rebirth of the invincible god,* the Natalis invicti, was celebrated. In adopting this date, which was universally distinguished by sacred festivities, the ecclesiastical authority purified in some measure the profane usages which it could not suppress. The only domain in which we can ascertain in detail the extent to which Christianity imitated Mithraism is that of art. The Mithraic sculpture, which had been first developed, furnished the ancient Christian marble-cutters with a large number of models, which they adopted or adapted…(Cumont, pp. 166, 193,196-197).

Many of the doctrines and practices mentioned above were NOT held by the original Christians. For articles related to them, please see Do You Practice Mithraism?, Sunday and Christianity, What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?, Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?, and What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?

Even Wikipedia realizes that worship towards the east does not come from Christianity:

The practice of praying towards the East is older than Christianity (East. Wikipedia, accessed 07/06/16)

Eastern worship is condemned in the Continuing Church of God booklet Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?:

Notice what Jesus Himself taught:

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)

Many think that it does not matter what or how they worship, only that they make some attempt. That is not what Jesus said that the Father wants.

Jesus also taught:

8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9)

People may pray out loud or silently, but notice that they can be worshiping God in vain if they are following the imaginations of their own mind or ‘traditions’ of human beings which are contrary to God’s ways. Intentionally praying to the east (Ezekiel 8:16) and certain holidays that many who claim Christianity observe, do not come from the Bible, but from compromises with pagan “traditions of men” (see also our booklet Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?). …

While some have said that having icons around reminds them to pray, the Apostle John wrote:

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:21).

He did not say that idols/icons should be around to encourage prayer. The pagans did that. And the Bible teaches that the true God does not want to be worshiped as other gods have been (Leviticus 18:24-30; Deuteronomy 12:29-31).

The Bible points to God’s throne being in the far north (Psalm 48:1,2; Job 37:22; Isaiah 14:13; Ezekiel 1:4) and when I pray, I tend to look towards the heavens to the north, presuming God’s throne is above that (cf. Isaiah 40:22). This helps remind me that God rules the expanses of the universe (Thiel B. Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? Nazarene Books, 2015).

To learn more about what the Bible teaches about prayer, check out our free online booklet Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?

To learn more about early Christian liturgical practices and original catholic beliefs, check out the free online book: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church.

We in the Continuing Church of God hold to the original Christian beliefs and are contending earnestly for them (Jude 3)–should you?

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? Were early church services mainly scriptural, emotional, or sacramental? Who follows the basic original liturgy today? A related video is also available: What were early Christian church services like?
Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach? This contains 28 biblically-based tips on improving the effectiveness of your prayers. This is a pdf. A related sermon is available and titled: What Does the Bible Teach About Prayer?
What Should I Pray About? An old article by Lynn Torrance on prayer. Here is a link to it in Mandarin Chinese 我应该祷告什么?
Importance of Fasting An old article by Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject. Here is a link to it in Mandarin Chinese 禁食的重要性.
What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? Were early church services mainly scriptural, emotional, or sacramental? Who follows the basic original liturgy today? A related video is also available: What were early Christian church services like?
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?

Faith for those God has Called and Chosen What is faith? Can faith be increased? Are you saved by faith? What about works? Do Christians need to keep the Ten Commandments? What is the ‘faith chapter’? How do the just live by faith? Is faith one of the weightier matters of the law? How does faith come? Here is a link to a pdf. booklet titled Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Fe para aquellos que Dios ha llamado y escogido.Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Faith for the Called and Chosen. Here is a link to shorter version of the written article in Mandarin Chinese 一篇关于信仰的小文章
Were the Early Duties of Elders/Pastors Mainly Sacramental? What was their Dress? Were the duties of the clergy primarily pastoral or sacramental? Did the clergy dress with special liturgical vestments? Can “bishops” be disqualified as ministers of Christ based on their head coverings?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

John Chrysostom, Holy Days, and Holidays

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

John Chrysostom on Ceiling in Constantinople
John Chrysostom (photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

Eastern Orthodox Bishop John Chrysostom died on September 14, 407.

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches the following about him:

St. John Chrysostom (Chrysostomos, “golden-mouthed” so called on account of his eloquence). Doctor of the Church, born at Antioch, c. 347; died at Commana in Pontus, 14 September, 407. John — whose surname “Chrysostom” occurs for the first time in the “Constitution” of Pope Vigilius (cf. P.L., LX, 217) in the year 553 — is generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in a Christian pulpit. His natural gifts, as well as exterior circumstances, helped him to become what he was … his famous and magnificent commentaries, which offer us such an inexhaustible treasure of dogmatic, moral, and historical knowledge of the transition from the fourth to the fifth century. These years, 386-98, were the period of the greatest theological productivity of Chrysostom, a period which alone would have assured him for ever a place among the first Doctors of the Church.

Chrysostom has deserved a place in ecclesiastical history, not simply as Bishop of Constantinople, but chiefly as a Doctor of the Church. Of none of the other Greek Fathers do we possess so many writings. We may divide them into three portions, the “opuscula”, the “homilies”, and the “letters”…eight “Against the Jews”… A great number of “single homilies” deal with moral subjects, with certain feasts…

As an exegete Chrysostom is of the highest importance … it would be a mistake to underrate the great theological treasures hidden in his writings. From the very first he was considered by the Greeks and Latins as a most important witness to the Faith. (Baur, Chrysostom. “St. John Chrysostom.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 11 Aug. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08452b.htm>)

Yes, he wrote more than many. His eight “Against the Jews” homilies came during the time that The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches “were the period of the greatest theological productivity” by John Chrysostom. But those were racist and antibiblical.

While some apparently thought John, the Bishop of Constantinople, was a captivating speaker, he often did not understand the Bible nor properly explain it.

According to a 9/20/07 article by Zenit, on September 19, 2007 the then Pope’s “reflection at the general audience focused on St. John Chrysostom”–he praised him so much in that homily that he wants everyone to “pray that the Lord render us docile to the lessons of this great teacher of the faith.” A great teacher of what faith?

He is considered to be so important, he is one of the four ‘doctors of the church’ who is shown supporting what is called the Cathedra Petri (Chair of Peter) in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. This is a structure that I have pointed out has been called Satan’s Throne (see Another view of ‘Satan’s Throne’?).

Here is some of what John Chrysostom publicly preached on September 5, 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now …

If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies… now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the very door, if I should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease. I am afraid that, because of their ill-suited association and deep ignorance, some Christians may partake in the Jews’ transgressions; once they have done so, I fear my homilies on these transgressions will be in vain. For if they hear no word from me today, they will then join the Jews in their fasts; once they have committed this sin it will be useless for me to apply the remedy.

Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together. …

If any of you, whether you are here present or not, shall go to the spectacle of the Trumpets, or rush off to the synagogue, or go up to the shrine of Matrona, or take part in fasting, or share in the Sabbath, or observe any other Jewish ritual great or small, I call heaven and earth as my witnesses that I am guiltless of the blood of all of you.(John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2, VIII:1. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).

THE WICKED AND UNCLEAN FAST of the Jews is now at our doors. Though it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean. What is done contrary to God’s purpose, be it sacrifice or fast, is the most abominable of all things. Their wicked fast will begin after five days. Ten days ago, or more than ten, I anticipated this and gave an exhortation with the hope it would make your brothers safe. Let no one find fault and say my discourse was untimely because I gave it so many days beforehand. When a fever threatens, or any other disease, physicians anticipate this and with many remedies make safe and secure the body of the man who will be seized by the fever; they hurry to snatch his body from the dangers which threaten it before the patient experiences their onset.

Since I, too, see that a very serious disease is going to come upon you, long beforehand I gave you solemn warning so that you might apply corrective measures before the evil attacked. …

But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews I:1; I:2, III:4. Preached at Antioch, Syria on Sunday, September 5, 387 A.D.).

AGAIN THE JEWS, the most miserable and wretched of all men, are going to fast, and again we must make secure the flock of Christ. (IV:I:1)

So also the Law fixed the feast of Tabernacles (John Chrysostom. Homily IV Against the Jews IV:3. Catholic Christians of Antioch Turning to Sabbath and The New Moon Day and Other Holy Days. 387 A.D.).

Their trumpets were a greater outrage than those heard in the theaters; their fasts were more disgraceful than any drunken revel. So, too, the tents which at this moment are pitched among them are no better than the inns where harlots and flute girls ply their trades. Let no one condemn me for the boldness of my words; it is the height of boldness and outrage not to suspect the Jews of these excesses. Since they stubbornly fight against GOD and resist the HOLY SPIRIT, how can we avoid the necessity of passing such sentence upon them?

This festival used to be a holy one when it was observed according to the Law and at God’s command. But this is no longer true. All its dignity has been destroyed because it is observed against God’s will. (VII:I:2-3)

Indeed, The fasting of the Jews, which is more disgraceful than any drunkenness, is over and gone. (VIII:I:5)

John Chrysostom preached against the Fall holy days, because some who professed Christ were observing them. Specifically he mentioned the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement (Fasts above), and the Feast of Tabernacles–which he admitted that the Law, meaning instructions in the Old Testament, enjoined them.

It is interesting to note that John Chrysostom realized that the second-century church kept Passover the same time as the Jews did (this was even true in the early second century in Rome). Notice also something related to his ‘Oratory on the Passover”:

Passover on the 14th of the first month of God’s Sacred Calendar. Chrysostom, who wrote several centuries after the apostles, admitted that “formerly it [the Passover] prevailed also at Antioch” from where Paul began many of his apostolic journeys. (Hoeh H. Four Thousand Years of Easter. Tomorrow’s World, March 1971–taken from Chrysostom’s Oratory on Passover)

Notice also the following:

One more instance will shew how Chrysostom could found a spiritual meaning upon a history which he had discussed as such. “Why,” he asks, “did the Israelites eat the Passover with loins girded? Shall I give you the figurative or the historical explanation? It is the better plan that you should hear the history first.”—So after a description of the historical type, he proceeds;—“We too eat a Passover, even the Christ. We too should eat it with shoes on our feet and loins girded, that we too may be ready for our Exodus, our departure hence. Let none of those who eat this Passover look to Egypt, but to Heaven, to the Jerusalem which is above. For this cause thou so eatest it, to teach thee, that when thou dost but begin to eat the Passover, thou oughtest to be departing and to be on thy way” (xi. 176). (Chrysostom: A Study In The History Of Biblical Interpretation CHAPTER II CHRYSOSTOM AS AN INTERPRETER OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com https://www.ecatholic2000.com/chase/untitled-04.shtmlaccessed 09/06/19)

So, John Chrysostom realized that the ‘Jewish Passover,’ which is recorded in Leviticus 23 with the biblical holy days, ended up having Christian application.

John Chrysostom also knew that the Catholic Church still kept Pentecost and apparently also realized that it had Christian application.

Thus by preaching what he did against the biblical Holy Days, John Chrysostom is preaching against his own church as the Roman and Orthodox Catholics claim to keep both Passover (though on a different date, and with a different name) and Pentecost–as both of those festivals would be part of “all of them together.”

Furthermore, early Christians did keep the Fall Holy Days, as did, for a time, certain Eastern Orthodox/Roman Catholic saints such as possibly their bishop Methodius (for details, please see Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?).

Recall that John Chrysostom, in this case, somewhat correctly stated,

If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies.

Does the Bible refer to any day as great?

Yes.

Notice that the New Testament calls one of the so-called “Jewish” holy days “great.” Notice the following from both a Protestant and a Catholic translation:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out (John 7:37, NKJV)

And in the last, the great day of the festivity JESUS stood, and cried (John 7:37, Rheims New Testament).

So who is right?

Those who follow Jesus’ and the Apostle Paul’s practices or those who condemn them?

So which days should be observed? Which have a “great day” according to the Bible? Which days are lies?

John Chrysostom supported days with pagan ties such as Christmas and Easter. His logic for Christmas on December 25th was clearly wrong and based upon lies and misinformation that he spread. So, it should be obvious that God’s days are not lies, but his (and those of churches who adopted those days that he promoted) were clearly lies.

Related to him, the Continuing Church of God put together the following sermon on its ContinuingCOG channel:

1:14:33

John Chrysostom, Holy Days, and Holidays

‘The Catholic Encylopedia’ calls him “the greatest greatest preacher ever heard in a Christian pulpit.” The Protestant ‘Christianity Today’ referred to him as the “Early church’s greatest preacher.” Did John Chrysostom teach the Bible or traditions of men? What did he teach about the biblical holy days? What did he teach about New Year’s, Christmas, and Easter? John Chrysostom was born in Antioch in 347 and died in exile in September 14, 407. Did early Christians, like the Apostle Paul, keep the biblical holy days? Did they keep Fall holy days? What did the Catholic bishop and saint Methodius of Olympus teach about the Feast of Tabernacles? Was John Chrysostom an anti-Semite? What did he teach about the Jews? Did Jesus keep the biblical holy days? Are biblical holy days the “times” warned against in Galatians 4? Should you imitate Jesus and the Apostle Paul or follow the teachings of John Chrysostom? Is the ‘Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom’ the original Christian liturgy? What days, if any, should true Christians keep today? Dr. Thiel addresses these issues and more.

Here is a link to the sermon: John Chrysostom, Holy Days, and Holidays.

John Chrysostom did not teach nor practice original Christianity.

But we in the Continuing Church of God do.

Several items of possibly related interest may include:

John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Antisemite This late fourth/early fifth century Bishop of Constantinople is considered to be a ‘saint’ and ‘doctor’ by the Church of Rome, Church of England, and the Eastern Orthodox, but he did not teach Christ’s love. Here is a link to a related sermon: John Chrysostom, Holy Days, and Holidays.
Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. Two related sermon would be Which Spring Days should Christians observe? and Fall Holy Days for Christians.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are? Here is a link to a related sermon: Eastern Orthodox 40+ Similar Beliefs to the CCOG.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God? , Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, and What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, and Early Heresies and Heretics, and Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, and Saturday or Sunday?
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Should Christians keep the Fall Biblical Holy Days?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? Related sermon videos include: The Last Trumpet and the Book of Life and The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It? What does the Bible say? What does this festival picture? A related sermon is available: Seven Trumpets: Jesus Returns.
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement.” Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Christians, the Day of Atonement, and Fasting; here is another sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación Su significado cristiano.
The Atonement Plan How does the Day of Atonement tie into God’s plan of salvation? Three sermons of related interest are available: Atonement, Jesus, and Satanand God’s Atonement and Fasting Plan and God’s Atonement Plan.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach? A related sermon video is Feast of Tabernacles from Israel.
The Last Great Day: Shemini ‘Azeret What is the ‘eighth day’ of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims? Should Christians sojourn? What does the Bible and Feast of Tabernacles teach? A related video sermon is titled Christian Pilgrims.
Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2022 This is information on the Feast of Tabernacles’ sites for the Continuing Church of God in 2022. The Feast Services for 2022 are to begin the evening of October 9th and run (including the Last Great Day) until sunset October 17th.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they? A related sermon is titled Tradition and Scripture.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups that Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups? A related sermon is also available Christianity: Two groups.
Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate? Historical and biblical answers to this question about the world’s New Year’s day. A video of related interest is also available: God’s or Satan’s New Year?
What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? Were early church services mainly scriptural, emotional, or sacramental? Who follows the basic original liturgy today? A related video is also available: What were early Christian church services like?
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god?
Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood? Here is a link to a related sermon: Peter, the Rock, and the Keys.
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur 🙂 In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian This is a scripture-filled booklet for those wishing to live as a real Christian. A related sermon is also available: Christians are Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to four related sermons:  The Fantastic Gospel of the Kingdom of God!, The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs.

Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church

Friday, August 26th, 2022


COGwriter

Our latest book, Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church, is now available in printed form and we just received copies.

Before receiving the printed copies, on Tuesday afternoon, I uploaded some information related to the book Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church to Academia.edu, whose logo is shown below:

By Wednesday morning, religious writers (all of whom seem to be scholars) from the Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches that I had cited in that book confirmed that they now saw the book and that their writings were referred to in that book. The speed of the confirmations demonstrated that some are paying a lot of attention to Academia.edu.

On Tuesday, I had made a couple of changes as to how I have uploaded there in the past, and at least one of the changes increased effectiveness. Based on this experience, I now have plans to again release something on one of two other books later this year that we had previously partially uploaded to Academia.edu.

The use of Academia.edu is an interesting open door as it helps us reach leaders that we otherwise would be less likely to reach. These religious writers are now getting exposed to organized historical information about the true Church of God that they likely have not  gotten elsewhere. Not only is this a witness (cf. Matthew 24:14), it is also an avenue that could get more doctrinal truth to others should any refer to our literature or the CCOG in any of their writings.

As many of you realize, we also put out related sermons.

Here are a list of all the sermons directly tied to the Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church book:

  1. Original Catholic Church of God?
  2. Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover
  3. What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?
  4. Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy
  5. Early Heresies and Heretics
  6. Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats
  7. Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?
  8. The Godhead
  9. Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession
  10. Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List
  11. Holy Mother Church and Heresies
  12. Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs

This book and the available sermons are intended to help us to instruct many and answer many who have a professing Christian background:

33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; (Daniel 11:33, NKJV)

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. (1 Peter 3:15-16, KJV)

So, yes, this information is important for you to know, presuming you wish to be one who understands and obeys God’s word.

If you missed any of the sermons, or wish to re-watch any, hopefully the list will make that easier for you.

Many with a Worldwide Church of God, or other Church of God, background may be surprised to learn who true Christian leaders said the original catholic church was.

If you are interested in church history and what happened with the original church, you may also wish to read the book, which is available free online at the following link: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church.

The Continuing Church of God is NOT Greco-Roman Catholic, but neither is it Protestant. For some of the reasons why we are NOT Protestant, check out the free online book, Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs.
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Will Philadelphian Christians instruct many in the end times? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work. Here is a link to another: Preparing to Instruct Many.

Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete? Are there lost gospels? What about the Apocrypha? Is the Septuagint better than the Masoretic text? What about the Textus Receptus vs. Nestle Alland? Was the New Testament written in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? Which translations are based upon the best ancient text? Did the true Church of God have the canon from the beginning? Here are links to related sermons: Let’s Talk About the Bible, The Books of the Old Testament, The Septuagint and its Apocrypha, Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, and Lost Books of the Bible, and Let’s Talk About the New Testament, The New Testament Canon From the Beginning, English Versions of the Bible and How Did We Get Them?, What was the Original Language of the New Testament?, Original Order of the Books of the Bible, and Who Gave the World the Bible? Who Had the Chain of Custody?

Proof Jesus is the Messiah This free book has over 200 Hebrew prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. Plus, His arrival was consistent with specific prophecies and even Jewish interpretations of prophecy. Here are links to seven related sermons: Proof Jesus is the Messiah, Prophecies of Jesus’ birth, timing, and death, Jesus’ prophesied divinity, 200+ OT prophecies Jesus filled; Plus prophecies He made, Why Don’t Jews Accept Jesus?, Daniel 9, Jews, and Jesus, and Facts and Atheists’ Delusions About Jesus. Plus the links to two sermonettes: Luke’s census: Any historical evidence? and Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah, but
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences.
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you? This free online book helps answers some of the biggest questions that human have, including the biblical meaning of life. Here is a link to three related sermons: Mysteries of God’s Plan, Mysteries of Truth, Sin, Rest, Suffering, and God’s Plan, and The Mystery of YOU.

Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation Will all get a fair chance at salvation? This free book is packed with scriptures showing that God does intend to offer salvation to all who ever lived–the elect in this age, and the rest in the age to come. Here is a link to a related sermon series: Universal Offer of Salvation 1: Apocatastasis, Universal Offer of Salvation 2: Jesus Desires All to be Saved, Mysteries of the Great White Throne Judgment (Universal Offer of Salvation part 3), Is God Fair, Will God Pardon the Ignorant?, Can God Save Your Relatives?, Babies, Limbo, Purgatory and God’s Plan, and ‘By the Mouth of All His Holy Prophets’.
Is God Calling You? This booklet discusses topics including calling, election, and selection. If God is calling you, how will you respond? Here is are links to related sermons: Christian Election: Is God Calling YOU? and Predestination and Your Selection. A short animation is also available: Is God Calling You?
Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian This is a scripture-filled booklet for those wishing to live as a real Christian. A related sermon is also available: Christians are Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
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Pergamos era ‘Paulicians’ and what they called themselves

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022


Ancient Pergamos (photo by Joyce Thiel}

COGwriter

Who were the people history has tended to call Paulicians? Were they part of the Church of God? Do you know much about them?

History shows that God had people during the Pergamos era of the Church of God in various hidden areas, with many of them referred to as ‘descendants of the Nazarenes’, ‘Paulicians’, ‘Bogomils’, ‘Cathars’, ‘Patarenes’, and ‘Albigensians’ (although not all peoples referred by those names were in the true Church):

We find the identification of the true church, both by the name and doctrine, scattered from Palestine to Spain, and from the Piedmont valley of Italy to Scotland, Ireland and England. As has already been shown that the people honoring the true faith, and bearing the Scriptural name, were called by the world, Waldenses, Vaudois, Henricians, Catharists, Puritans, Bougres, Paulicans, Publicans, Lombardists, Albigenses, and also other names from leading preachers among them, and from countries from which they would be expelled; but they disowned these names, calling themselves the Church of God. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, Chapter 10)

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a couple of ideas where the name Paulician may have came from:

The origin of the name Paulician is obscure. Gibbon (Decline and Fall, liv), says it means “Disciples of St. Paul” (Photius, op. cit., II, 11; III, 10; VI, 4). Their special veneration for the Apostle, and their habit of renaming their leaders after his disciples lend some colour to this view. On the other hand, the form (Paulikianoi, not Paulianoi) is curious; and the name seems to have been used only by their opponents, who held that they were followers of Paul of Samosata (Conybeare, op. cit., cv)…The latest authority, Ter-Mkrttschian (Die Paulicianer, 63), says the name is an Armenian diminutive and means “followers of little Paul” (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Richard L. George. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some of those labeled as Paulicians kept Church of God doctrines, while many with that name did not.

In the latter portion of the third century and even into the fourth century, many Smyrnaeans (especially those with a Jewish heritage) in the Asia Minor area were known as Nazarenes and some were known as Paulicians.

The Bible records that the Apostle Paul was considered to be the head of the Nazarenes (for more on the Nazarenes, please see the article Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?):

1…Paul…5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).

It may be interesting to note that according to something from a 2nd/3rd century document (that was probably altered in places in the 4th century), titled The Life of Polycarp, shows that the Apostle Paul endorsed keeping the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost to those in Smyrna:

In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians…but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

Thus, the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), taught Gentile Christians in Asia Minor (specifically in Smyrna) to keep the Holy Days. Days many now consider to be Jewish and not Christian–but apparently Paul considered them important for all Christians to keep (see also 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 where he told the Gentiles in Corinth to keep them as well).

Some consider that those who were the followers of Paul in regards to the Holy Days, were Paulicians. However, in the middle of the third century, Paul of Samosata, came to be considered a bishop in Antioch (part of the East, but normally considered to have been in Syria, hence not actually part of Asia Minor). But he was accused of immoral behavior and became considered a problem by the Alexandrians and Romans, who held several synods to investigate him and he was deposed.

Lucian Probably Was Called a Paulician

Also notice what else was happening in Antioch at the time:

Lucian of Antioch…Though he cannot be accused of having shared the theological views of Paul of Samosata, he fell under suspicion at the time of Paul’s condemnation, and was compelled to sever his communion with the Church…

The opposition to the allegorizing tendencies of the Alexandrines centred in him. He rejected this system entirely and propounded a system of literal interpretation…(Healy P.J. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. Lucian of Antioch. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some who supported Paul of Samosata were also called Paulicians. Actually, it seems to me that all who did not accept the views of the Alexandrian and Roman churches in the area of Antioch about this time were labeled Paulicians–and this likely included Lucian and people who held similar views.

There were binitarian (sometimes called Semi-Arians) “Paulicians” in the area of Antioch who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath in Lucian’s time (late third century). While I am not certain if Lucian was or was not in the Church of God, he and others in his area were Semi-Arian, rejected using allegory as the primary way of interpreting the Bible, and since they were considered practicing Judaism, they would have kept the Sabbath. Notice this condemnation by a Roman Catholic Cardinal:

Lucian, who schismatized or was excommunicated on his deposition, held heretical tenets of a diametrically opposite nature, that is, such as were afterwards called Semi-Arian…I would rather direct the reader’s attention to the particular form which the Antiochene corruptions seem to have assumed, viz., that of Judaism… (Cardinal Newman, John Henry. The Arians of the Fourth Century. Longmans, Green, & Co., New York, 1908, pp. 7,9).

So, there were people in the Antioch area that held to some form of Judeao-Christianity in the third century according to Catholic sources.

Emperor Constantine and Others Condemned Them

Towards the end of the Smyrna era, Constantine became emperor. He decreed circa March 7, 321:

“Let all judges, the people of cities, and those employed in all trades, remain quiet on the Holy Day of Sunday. Persons residing in the country, however, can freely and lawfully proceed with the cultivation of the fields; as it frequently happens that the sowing of grain or the planting of vines cannot be deferred to a more suitable day, and by making concessions to Heaven the advantage of the time may be lost.” (Code of Justinian, Book III, Title XII, III. THE JUSTINIAN CODE FROM THE CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS. Translated from the original Latin by Samuel P. Scott. Central Trust Company, Cincinnati, 1932).

The Emperor authorized persecution against those who did not share his religious beliefs (many of which came from Mithraism), such as Sunday. Around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics,

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure? (Chapter LXIV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

Some of those referred to as Paulians (Paulicians) and Cataphrygians were part of the true Church of God. And like some other persecutions, it included those truly in the Church of God and those not in the true church. Herod, when he tried to kill Jesus, persecuted an entire nation and killed many babies, but Jesus’ family fled the persecution and He survived. Constantine’s tactics seem similar. Because Emperor Constantine called for and oversaw the Council of Nicea in 325 which endorsed Sunday, it makes sense that any “Paulicians” that kept the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) would engender his wrath.

Despite what Constantine tried to do, there were still binitarian (sometimes called Semi-Arian) Paulicians in Armenia who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath in the late fourth century and they were persecuted by others:

Eustathius was succeeded by Erius, a priest, and semi-Arian…Erius also condemned fasts, stated feasts, prayers for the dead, and the celebration of Easter; he urged a purer morality and a stricter observance of the Sabbath. He had many followers, whose numbers were augmented by one of Paul of Samosota, from whom they were called Paulicians. Notwithstanding the opposition of the prelates, who invoked the secular arm to prevent the defection of their spiritual subjects, the tenets of this sect struck deep root in Armenia and many of its eastern provinces, and finally the great body of Christians in the former country, withdrew from the Episcopal communion, and publicly espoused the sentiments of the Paulicians…The bishops of Syria, Pontus, and Cappadocia, complained of the defection of their spiritual flocks…induced the Grecian emperors to commence, and continue for nearly two centuries, the most terrible persecutions against the Paulicians (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 20-23).

Anti-Christ Notions

Paulicians were not popular with the Roman Catholics because they considered them to represent forces that were anti-Christ. Actually, as a Catholic source suggested, it was the Paulicians that first came up with the papal-antichrist theory in the fourth to seventh century:

Now, one of the first questions which it is natural to ask on entering upon the subject is, whereas the Pope is said to be Antichrist, sometimes from the fourth, sometimes from the seventh century, when was he first detected and denounced, and by whom? On this point, Todd supplies us with much information, from which it appears that the belief that the Pope was Antichrist was the conclusion gradually formed and matured out of the belief that the Church of Rome was Babylon, by… the Oriental Manichees or Paulicians (Newman JH. The Protestant Idea of Antichrist. [British Critic, Oct. 1840]. Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman. Copyright © 2004 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. http://www.newmanreader.org/works/essays/volume2/antichrist1.html viewed 12/03/07).

Why would that occur then?

In the late fourth century (382 AD), after the Eastern emperor Theodosius established Greco-Roman Christianity as the official religion of the empire, the Western Emperor Gratian renounced the title of Pontifex Maximus (he was also the last of the emperors to hold that title). Almost immediately afterwards, the bishops of Rome took the term and have used it ever since.

Since “Pontifex Maximus” was a pagan title signifying the greatest (maximus) bridge-builder (pontifex) between mortals and the gods, it seems that when the Roman bishops started to refer to themselves this way that it was clear to the faithful of the true Church that this could only be done by one who could go along (cf. Revelation 13:11-15) with someone like the “man of sin” that the Apostle Paul had warned about (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-11), as well as one who had a pagan view of the Godhead (more information on the Godhead can be found in the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).

(Perhaps it should be noted that that idea of a Latin or Roman anti-Christ was apparently developed by Polycarp, and he seems to have learned this from the Apostle John. But it apparently was not until the late fourth century that the Bishops of Rome had enough influence and heresy to have such a resemblance to the final antichrist.)

Paulicians Were Persecuted for Opposing Idolatry

The Catholic Encyclopedia calls the Paulicians heretics because they were basically against idolatry and Roman Catholic ritualism:

The Paulicians, as part of their heresy held that all matter (especially the human body) is bad, that all external religious forms, sacraments, rites, especially material pictures and relics, should be abolished. To honour the Cross was especially reprehensible (Fortescue A. Iconoclasm. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler.The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Amazingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about the Paulicians:

Leo V, though an Iconoclast, tried to refute the accusation that he was a Paulician by persecuting them furiously. A great number of them at this time rebelled and fled to the Saracens. Sergius was killed in 835. Theodora, regent for her son Michael III, continued the persecution…

We hear continually of wars against the Saracens, Armenians, and Paulicians…

This eliminated the sect as a military power. Meanwhile other Paulicians, heretics but not rebels, lived in groups throughout the empire (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Richard L. George. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, since the Paulicians and Emperor Leo V were against idols, Leo decided he had to persecute them because he was accused of being a bit like them in that area. And additional persecution followed Leo’s. The above quote also shows that there were Paulicians, who even though persecuted, would not fight back. This is because those truly in the Church of God were opposed to military participation (please see article Military Service and the COGs).

And while not all who claimed to have been Paulicians were in the true church, notice how brutal the persecution was:

The empress, Theodora, instituted a new persecution, in which a hundred thousand Paulicians in Grecian Armenia are said to have lost their lives (Paulicianism. WIkipedia, viewed 06/26/08).

Thus, the “Orthodox” Empress Theodora apparently killed 100,000!

Furthermore, note this historical writing about the Paulicians in Armenia:

From the earliest ages they have devoutly hated the error and idolatry of the Greeks. Like the primitive Christians, they have ever exhibited an unconquerable repugnance to the use or abuse of images, which, in the eighth and ninth centuries spread like a leposy…and supplanted all traces of genuine piety in the visible church…They are decidedly adverse (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 24).

Thus the followers of the true church were persecuted for beliefs such as opposing idolatry.

Paulicians Did Not Keep Sunday or Greco-Roman Holidays

The historian, Fred C. Conybeare observed this about some affiliated with the Paulicians:

They are accused by their Armenian opponents of setting at naught all the feasts and fasts of the Church, especially Sunday…The Sabbath was perhaps kept…Of the modern Christmas and of the Annunciation, and of the other feasts connected with the life of Jesus prior to his thirtieth year, this phase of the church knew nothing. The general impression which the study of it leaves on us is that in it we have before us a form of Church not very remote from the primitive Jewish Christianity of Palestine (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, pp. clii, cxciii).

It would be logical that Paulicians would be opposed to Sunday and the other festivals of the Roman Church.

Noted historian K.S. Latourette wrote,

“for centuries even many Gentile Christians also observed the seventh day, or Sabbath” (Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1, Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, p.198).

And Sabbath-keeping has existed throughout history (even Roberts and Donaldson refer to it in the 1800s).

Paulicians Were Believed to Have Preserved Pure Early Christianity

Like the Romans, the Paulicians condemned Simon Magus:

But Simon himself believed and was baptized and rose up against Philip in trickery and charlanatry, in order to obtain the power of the holy spirit by deceit (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 92)

Unlike certain Romans, the true “Pergamos era” Paulicians did not have any of the heretical practices associated with Simon such as statues, revering a woman (Simon’s “wife” and later Mary), the doctrine of the immortal soul, incantations, mystic priests, claiming divine titles for leaders, accepting money for religious favors, preferring allegory and tradition over many aspects of scripture, having a leader who wanted to be thought of as God/Christ on earth, and being divorced from Christian biblical practices considered to be Jewish, (detailed information on what the Bible and mainly Roman sources wrote about Simon is found in the article Simon Magus, What Did He Teach?).

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 (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. Addendix I in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 127).

Perhaps I should add that Gregory of Narek called a man “valiant…who destroyed and put to death their cursed ancestors” (ibid, p.128).

The following from the late fourth century, by Gregory of Nyssa suggests that the Manichaean/Paulicians did accept the Father and Son as God, but not the Holy Spirit, hence they held a binitarian view:

I am aware, too, that the Manichees go about vaunting the name of Christ. Because they hold revered the Name to which we bow the knee, shall we therefore number them amongst Christians? So, too, he who both believes in the Father and receives the Son, but sets aside the Majesty of the Spirit, has “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” and belies the name of Christ which he bears (Gregory of Nyssa. On the Holy Spirit, Against the Macedonians. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1893. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

A related article of interest may be Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote:

The Bogomils…Its doctrine of God is highly dualistic…There is no True Trinity (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 251).

One of their so-called “dualistic” teachings was that this is Satan’s world. One scholar noted that an:

…important idea of Bogomils and Cathars, i.e. that this world is the kingdom of the devil (Vassilev, Georgi. DUALISTIC IDEAS IN THE WORKS OF WILLIAM TYNDALE. ACADEMIE BULGARE DES SCIENCES. INSTITUT D’ETUDES BALKANIQUES. ETUDES BALKANIQUES, n° 1, 2003: 124-142).

Notice this from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The heresy of the Bogomili was started in the tenth century…followers called themselves Christians and considered their faith the only true one. In Bosnia they were named Paterines. The Paterines, or Bogomili…forbade intercourse with those of other faiths, disbelieved in war (Klaar K. Transcribed by Joseph E. O’Connor. Bosnia and Herzegovina. 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).

The following is apparently from the work History of Armenia by Chamich and is from a 1054-1058 A.D. letter written by Gregory Magistros against the Manichaean (note I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

…they represent our worship of God as worship of idol. As if we, who honour the sign of the cross and the holy pictures, were still engaged in worshiping devils (Conybeare F.C. Addend ix III in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 149).

It is of historical interest to note the following doctrinal admissions in the article on the Paulicians in The Catholic Encyclopedia (bolding mine):

They honoured not the Cross, but only the book of the Gospel. They were Iconoclasts, rejecting all pictures…

The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy is bad, as also all Sacraments and ritual. They had a special aversion to monks…

Since Gibbon the Paulicians have often been described as a survival of early and pure Christianity, godly folk who clung to the Gospel, rejecting later superstitions, who were grossly calumniated by their opponents…

In Armenia the sect continued in the “Thonraketzi” founded by a certain Smbat in the ninth century. Conybeare attributes to this Smbat a work, “The Key of Truth”, which he has edited. It accepts the Old Testament and the Sacraments of Baptism. Penance, and the Eucharist. This work especially has persuaded many writers that the Paulicians were much maligned people. But in any case it represents a very late stage of their history, and it is disputed whether it is really Paulician at all.

Edward Gibbon was a British historian who was not in any Church of God. Yet apparently because of his historical research, even outsiders have concluded that some of the Paulicians (not all, however, held true doctrine) were a remnant of the true church.

Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia article also admits:

The emperor Alexius Comnenus is credited with having put an end to the heresy. During a residence at Philippopolis, he argued with them and converted all, or nearly all, back to the Church (so his daughter: “Alexias”, XV, 9). From this time the Paulicians practically disappear from history. But they left traces of their heresy. In Bulgaria the Bogomile sect, which lasted through the Middle Ages and spread to the West in the form of Cathari, Albigenses, and other Manichaean heresies, is a continuation of Paulicianism. In Armenia, too, similar sects, derived from them, continue till our own time.

Notice that even some Roman Catholic scholars know that it is possible that the Paulicians were the survivors of an early and pure Christianity and that they had spiritual descendants that continued into the future (such as those within the Thyatira era), as well into modern times! The Cathari were also known to be pacifists, as well as the faithful among the Paulicians (of course there were many called by those names that were not faithful).

The ‘Paulicians’ Called themselves Catholic and Asserted Apostolic Succession

Fred Conybeare reported that in the Middle Ages the Paulicians of Armenia continued to state, “They were the ‘holy, universal, and apostolic Church,’ founded by Jesus Christ and his apostles” (Conybeare, p. xxxiii). They opposed Sunday observance and the Greco-Roman festivals, while apparently observing the seventh-day Sabbath (Conybeare, pp. clii, cxciii).

Notice also the following about them:

They called themselves the Apostolic Catholic church, but …  nicknamed Paulicians by their enemies … (Paulicians. The Encyclopaedia Britannica: Mun to Pay. 1911, p. 961; Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY: A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology. April 1973, p.29)

In Kurtz’s Church History, article Nostic and Manichean Heretics:

The Catholics, this sect called Romans, gave them the name Paulicians.

See how they received that name. The Catholics, whom this sect called “Romans.” … Paulicians. They did not give themselves that name.

But they designated themselves Christians.

Yes, the Bible had said they had not denied His name. And when you read about the Paulicians, that is one thing that is mentioned quite often. They were named Paulicians by the Catholics. They considered themselves Christians and they would not call the Romans “Christians.” They called them Romans. (Blackwell, p. 48)

The Paulicians They called themselves only Χριστιανοí {Christians} (Kurtz JH, Jr., Macpherson J. Church History: Volume 1. 1891, p. 423)

The Paulicians did not call themselves Paulicians or Tonrakians, but the Universal and Apostolic Church.  To them the orthodox churches, … had   apostatized from the faith, lost their orders, and forfeited their sacraments.  As to their Mariolatry and adoration of saints and pictures and  crosses, it was all nothing but idolatry. (Arpee L. Armenian Paulicianism and the Key of Truth. The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 10, No. 2, Apr., 1906: 267-285)

The Paulicians claimed to be THE ‘holy universal and apostolic church’ founded by Jesus Christ and his apostles. Of the false churches, they would say: “We do not belong to these, for they have long ago broken connection with the church.” … 6th century.  (Lesson 50 – What Became of the Church Jesus Built? 58 Lesson: Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968, p. 13).

So, these Paulicians considered that they had maintained apostolic succession, were the true catholic church, and that the Roman churches were not.

Comments from Other Researchers

The late John Ogywn made the following comments:

According to Armenian scholar Nina Garsoian in The Paulician Heresy: “It would, then, appear that the Paulicians are to be taken as the survival of the earlier form of Christianity in Armenia” (p. 227). The author also states that the Paulicians were “accused of being worse than other sects because of adding Judaism” (p. 213).

Christ’s message to this third stage of God’s Church (Paulicians) is characterized by the Church at Pergamos (Revelation 2:12–17). The word Pergamos means “fortified,” and the Church members of this era were noted for dwelling in remote, mountainous areas…

At some point in their history, however, many Paulicians succumbed to a fatal error. They reasoned that they could outwardly conform with many of the practices of the Catholic Church in order to avoid persecution as long as in their heart they knew better. This road of compromise led many to have their children christened and others to attend mass. Christ prophesied of this, admonishing the Church at Pergamos about those who held to pagan, immoral doctrines (Revelation 2:14–15)…

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. They were placed there as a bulwark against the invading Bulgar tribes. Relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils.

What did these Bogomils teach? “Baptism was only to be practiced on grown men and women… images and crosses were idols” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., “Bogomils”).

So, while many called Paulician compromised, some did hold to Church of God doctrines.

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote:

…in Slavoni, the name “Bomomil” means “beloved of God”…The specific predecessors of the Bogomils are the Paulicians…Many Bogomils, and especially their leaders, exhibited a zeal and a purity of life that contrasted with the indifference and frivolity of all too many orthodox ecclestiastics in both East and West…Like the Paulicians, the Bogomils detested the cross, for it was the symbol of the Saviour’s apparent murder (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 247,252).

He also noted that the Bogomils were pacifists (Ibid p.260).

In the introduction to his English translation of The Key of Truth, F.C. Conybeare provides this quote on the practices of the early Paulicians:

John of Otzun’s language perhaps implies that the old believers in Armenia during the seventh century were Quartodecimans, as we should expect them to be (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. clii).

…they were probably the remnant of an old Judeo-Christian Church, which had spread up through Edessa into Siuniq and Albania” (ibid, p. clxii).

We also know from a notice preserved by Ananias of Shirak that the Pauliani, who were the same people, who, at an earlier date were called Quartodecimans, kept Passover on the Jewish date:

But the Paulini also keep the feast of the Pascha on the same day (as the Jews), whatever be the day of the full moon, they call it Kuriaki, as the Jews call it Sabbath, even though it be not a Sabbath (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. clii).

It should be mentioned that “Quartodecimans” are those who follow the biblical and apostolic example of observing the Passover on the 14th day of Nisan.

Concluding Thoughts

“Paulicians” were a label that Alexandrian and Roman supporters apparently labeled certain opponents with. Apparently those who were labeled as Paulician did not accept the authority of the Bishops of Rome, were opposed to Sunday as the designated day of worship, were opposed to idols, eschewed certain Roman rituals, seemingly had binitarian views of the Godhead, considered that those who took up the title Pontifex Maximus took a title that would be associated with Antichrist, kept Passover on the 14th, and they were persecuted.

Many, because of persecution and economic pressures apparently compromised, and some apostasized to the point of engaging in carnal warfare. While those who did that were not truly part of the Church of God, there were apparently some of the faithful amongst those labeled as Paulicians.

And that is how it is even today. While we in the Continuing Church of God, for example, are not Protestant, Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics tend to lump us in with the Protestants as we do not accept the various doctrinal compromises that the Catholics have made. (for documentation, please see Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?). While we, like the Protestants claim, do believe in sola Scriptura, do not endorse the use of statues in worship, and eschew certain ritualistic aspects of the Greco-Romans, this does not make us Protestant any more than having Church of God doctrines made people “Paulicians.”

But it could be properly stated that we in the Continuing Church of God count among our spiritual ancestors some who were called Paulicians. And we believe that we have faithfully been carrying out the original Christian faith as was practiced by the original apostles and their most faithful successors.

Here is a link to a sermon video: Pergamos Era and the Antichrist.

Some items of related interest may include:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs.
Simon Magus, What Did He Teach? Sometimes called “the father early heretics” or the “father of heresies”, do you know what early writers claimed that Simon Magus taught? Sadly, most who profess Christ still hold to versions of his teachings. Here is a link to a related sermon: Simon Magus and ‘Christianity’?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a link to a sermon: Claims of Apostolic Succession. Here is a related article in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups that Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups? A related sermon is also available Christianity: Two groups.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc. Here is a link to a related video sermon: Ephesus Church Era.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.Here is a link to a related video sermon: The Smyrna Church Era.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church. Here is a link to a related sermon video: Pergamos Era and the Antichrist.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition. It claimed succession from the apostles. Here is a link toa related sermon: Thyatira, Succession, and Jezebel.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses some early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, CG7-Salem, Jerusalem 7DCG, and COG-7th Day-Denver. Here are links to two historical sermons: Sardis Church Era: Beginnings, Doctrines, and Leaders and Sardis: SDBs, SDAs, & CG7s.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy. See also Do You Hold to Any of These Laodicean Prophetic Errors?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did the early Church use icons? What was the position of Christians about such things? A related sermon is available: The Second Commandment, Idols, and Icons.
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? Two related YouTube videos would be Beware of the ‘Ecumenical Cross’, The Chrislam Cross and the Interfaith Movement, and Origin of the Cross.
Did The Early Christian Church Practice Monasticism? Or was monsticism unheard of in the early Christian church?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Sermon: 1 Corinthians 9-10: Authority, Idols, and Love

Saturday, August 20th, 2022


Artist depiction of the Apostle Paul writing his epistles

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce this sermon from its ContinuingCOG channel:

1:1143

This is the fifth part of a multi-part sermon covering Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. In this sermon, Dr. Thiel covers each and every verse of chapters nine and ten. In addition to his own commentary, he also includes comments from the late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong. Topics covered include God granting authority, whether ministers can be married, whether ministers should get paid, criticisms of leaders, preaching the gospel, giving and use of tithing funds, the promise of a crown, the rebellion of the children of Israel, walking by faith or sight, Andy Stanley, prophecies of Jesus, the Ten Commandments, aspects of diamonds, God’s plan for peoples, Eastern Orthodox quotes about icons, foods sacrificed to idols, incorporating demonic religious holiday practices, being concerned for others, and loving one’s neighbor.

Here is a link to the sermon: 1 Corinthians 9-10: Authority, Idols, and Love.

1 CORINTHIANS Comments on the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. Here are links to  related sermons: 1 Corinthians 1-2: God’s Spirit & the Ways of the World, 1 Corinthians 3-4: Christianity Requires Repentance, and 1 Corinthians 5-6: The Church and Bad Apples, 1 Corinthians 7-8: Sex, Remarriage, and Christian Love, and 1 Corinthians 9-10: Authority, Idols, and Love.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? Two related sermons about this are also available: Real Repentance and Real Christian Repentance.

ROMANS
Comments on the Book of Romans. Here are links to six related sermons: Romans 1-2: Believe the Truth of God, Romans 3:-6: Sin, Law, Grace, Salvation, Romans 7-8: God’s Spirit and Guarantee, Romans 9-10: Grace, Mercy, Salvation, Romans 11-12: Gentiles, Jews, and the Fulness, and Romans 13-16: Obedience, Gentiles, Love, and Women.
GALATIANS Comments on Galatians Did the Apostle Paul do away with God’s law as some claim the Book of Galatians teaches? What is the false gospel? Related sermon videos related to Galatians are available: Galatians 1 and the False Gospel and Galatians 2 & 3: What Law was Added? What was Abolished? and Galatians 4 & 5: Who Does Not Inherit the Kingdom? and Galatians 5 & 6: The Gifts of the Spirit.
The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government What form of governance did the early church have? Was it hierarchical? Which form of governance would one expect to have in the Philadelphia remnant? The people decide and/or committee forms, odd dictatorships, or the same type that the Philadelphia era itself had? What are some of the scriptural limits on ecclesiastical authority? Do some commit organizational idolatry? Here is a Spanish language version La Biblia, Policarpo, Herbert W. Armstrong, y Roderick C. Meredith sobre el gobierno de la Iglesia. Here is a link to a sermon titled Church Governance.
Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18? Does any church have the confirmed dream and prophetic signs of Acts 2:17-18? Should one? Here is a link in the Spanish language: ¿Tiene la CCOG confirmadas las señales de Hechos 2: 17-18? Here is a link in the French language: Est-ce que l’Église Continue de Dieu confirme les signes d’Actes 2:17-18? A related sermon in the English language is also available: 17 Last Days’ Signs of the Holy Spirit.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
Proof Jesus is the Messiah This free book has over 200 Hebrew prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. Plus, His arrival was consistent with specific prophecies and even Jewish interpretations of prophecy. Here are links to seven related sermons: Proof Jesus is the Messiah, Prophecies of Jesus’ birth, timing, and death, Jesus’ prophesied divinity, 200+ OT prophecies Jesus filled; Plus prophecies He made, Why Don’t Jews Accept Jesus?, Daniel 9, Jews, and Jesus, and Facts and Atheists’ Delusions About Jesus. Plus the links to two sermonettes: Luke’s census: Any historical evidence? and Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah, but
Is God Calling You? This booklet discusses topics including calling, election, and selection. If God is calling you, how will you respond? Here is are links to related sermons: Christian Election: Is God Calling YOU? and Predestination and Your Selection. A short animation is also available: Is God Calling You?
Is God’s Existence Logical? Is it really logical to believe in God? Yes! Would you like Christian answers to give atheists? This is a free online booklet that deal with improper theories and musings called science related to the origin of the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and evolution. Here is a link to a related sermon: Evolution is NOT the Origin of Life. Two animated videos of related interest are also available: Big Bang: Nothing or Creator? and A Lifegiver or Spontaneous Evolution?
Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian This is a scripture-filled booklet for those wishing to live as a real Christian. A related sermon is also available: Christians are Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God? , Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, and What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, and Early Heresies and Heretics, and Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, and Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, and Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences.
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You? This free online book helps answers some of the biggest questions that human have, including the biblical meaning of life. Here is a link to three related sermons: Mysteries of God’s Plan, Mysteries of Truth, Sin, Rest, Suffering, and God’s Plan, Mystery of Race, and The Mystery of YOU. Here is a link to a video in Spanish: El Misterio del Plan de Dios.
Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation Will all get a fair chance at salvation? This free book is packed with scriptures showing that God does intend to offer salvation to all who ever lived–the elect in this age, and the rest in the age to come. Here is a link to a related sermon series: Universal Offer of Salvation 1: Apocatastasis, Universal Offer of Salvation 2: Jesus Desires All to be Saved, Mysteries of the Great White Throne Judgment (Universal Offer of Salvation part 3), Is God Fair, Will God Pardon the Ignorant?, Can God Save Your Relatives?, Babies, Limbo, Purgatory and God’s Plan, and ‘By the Mouth of All His Holy Prophets’.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to four related sermons: The Fantastic Gospel of the Kingdom of God!, The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. There are links to literature is about 100 different languages there.
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
Continuing Church of God Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
Continuing Church of God, Africa, Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
Continuing Church of God, Canada, Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
Continuing Church of God, Europe, Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGAFRICA.ORG This is a website targeted towards those in Africa.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
CG7.ORG This is a website for those interested in the Sabbath and churches that observe the seventh day Sabbath.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
CCOG Animations YouTube channel. The Continuing Church of God has some animations to teach aspects of Christian beliefs. Also available at BitChute COGAnimations https://www.bitchute.com/channel/coganimations/
Bible News Prophecy channel. Dr. Thiel has produced hundreds of videos for the BibleNewsProphecy channel. You can find them at them on YouTube at BibleNewsProphecy https://www.youtube.com/user/BibleNewsProphecy, plus also on Vimeo at Bible News Prophecy https://vimeo.com/channels/biblenewsprophecy as well as on Brighteon Bible News Prophecy https://www.brighteon.com/channel/ccogbnp and Bitchute Prophecy https://www.bitchute.com/channel/prophecy/
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo. Also available at BitChute COGAfrica https://www.bitchute.com/channel/cogafrica/
CDLIDDSermones channel. This contains messages in the Spanish language
BibleNewsProphecy Podcast. This has audio-visual podcasts of the Bible News Prophecy channgel. It plays on i-Phones, i-Pads, and Windows devices that can play i-Tunes.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos. It is also available as a mobile app.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos. Also available at BitChute COGTube https://www.bitchute.com/channel/cogtube/
Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of GodContend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3, NKJV), “Let brotherly love (Philadelphia) continue” (Hebrews 13:1) ” & continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles” (Acts 2:42 YLT). So, what does that really mean in terms of specific beliefs–the Statement gives answers? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Declaración de las Doctrinas de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. Here is a related link in Tagalog: Paglalahad ng Mga Paniniwala ng Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. Here is a related link in Mandarin Chinese ~ç~íy^v„eYOv„OáNðXðf. Here is a related link in Kiswahili: KATIKA LUGHA YA KISWAHILI. Here is a related link in Dutch: Verklaring van geloofspunten van de Continuing Church of God. Here is a related link in Deutsche (German): Glaubenserklärung der Continuing Church of God. Here is a related link in Italiano: Dichiarazione del Credo della Continuing Church of God. Here is related link in the French language: Déclaration des croyances de L’Église Continue de Dieu. Here is a related link in the Chichewa language: ZIKHULUPIRIRO ZA MPINGO WA CONTINUING CHURCH OF GOD. Here is a link in Romanian: Declarația de credințe a continuării Bisericii lui Dumnezeu. Here is a link in Portuguese: Declaração de Crenças da Continuação da Igreja de Deus. Here is a link in Russian: Утверждение верований о продолжении Церкви Божьей. Here is a link to a related English-language sermon: Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God. Here is a link to a booklet titled: Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God.

CG7-D’s claimed founder and CGG on ‘born again’

Friday, August 19th, 2022

COGwriter

Church of God (Seventh Day)-Denver (CG7-D) no longer believes in church eras or continuity.

Officially, it essentially considers Gilbert Cranmer its founder. CG7 (prior to its move to Denver) used to hold to church eras, but lost that teaching. The Denver group later decided to start its leadership history with Gilbert Cranmer–we in the CCOG do NOT include Gilbert Cranmer as one of our predecessors for reasons such as his Christology.

While Gilbert Cranmer was in a group called ‘Church of Christ’ (which later merged with other Sabbath-keepers that used and adopted the name ‘Church of God’), he wrote about being born again in the old Hope of Israel magazine.

On July 1, 2019, a reader forwarded me that article that has just been typed out in electronic form on when a Christian is ‘born again.’ So, here is his article titled “The Birth of the Spirit,” from The Hope of Israel, 14 Sept 1863, p. 3:

I wish to express a few thoughts through ‘The Hope of Israel,’ with regard to the ‘new birth,’ or the ‘Birth of the Spirit.’ I am aware that upon this subject, there exists a great diversity of opinions, at the present day.

There is no subject taught in the sacred Scriptures, fraught with greater interest than the one before us; for, said Jesus to Nicodemus, ‘Verily, verily I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’’ John 3:5.

Some take the position that the ‘new birth’ is water baptism. But the 6th verse explains the two births. ‘For that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ Hence the first birth, is the birth of the flesh. The birth of the flesh Nicodemus well understood. But the ‘birth of the Spirit,’ was a mystery to him. This subject so involved in mystery, we are about to investigate, in the light of the sacred Scriptures.

First, Christ is said to be the ‘first born of every creature.’ Col. 1:15. Now we would ask, was Christ the first one ever baptized in water? Most assuredly not, for Paul tells us that 600,000 ‘were baptized unto Moses, in the sea and in the cloud.’ And again, John had been baptizing six months before Christ came and demanded baptism at his hand.

Again, according to the theology of the day, the new birth is considered to be a change of heart, or conversion. If this idea be correct, there never was a man who was converted, or met with a change of heart, until Christ came in the flesh; for he was the ‘first born of every creature.’ But ‘to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.’ Isa. 8:20. Paul has told us in what sense Christ was the first born of every creature. Col. 1:19, ‘He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born of the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.’ Again, Paul says, 1st Cor. 15:23, ‘That Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.’ And again, Acts 26:23, ‘That Christ should [suffer, and] that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.’ Again Rev. 1:5, ‘And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten from the dead.’

Now we will see if the Old Testament will be in harmony with the New, on this subject.

Psalm 89:27, 28, ‘Also I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.’ This scripture agrees perfectly with Paul to Colossians 1:18, that the first born Son of God ‘should in all things have the pre-eminence.’ Yet E.G. White, in one of her ‘visions,’ called ‘The Great Controversy,’ says, on page 43, that Moses had a resurrection 1400 years before Christ. Enough of that fable for the present.

In the above remarks, we have seen how Christ became the firstborn Son of God. Now we will see if the rest of the family are to be born after the same manner.

First, I take the position that Christ is to take the place the first Adam might have occupied, as the ‘Everlasting Father of all the redeemed family. Go with me to Isaiah 9:6, ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Now, the question arises, How, and when does he become ‘the everlasting Father’? Go with me to Isaiah 22:21, ‘And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.’

From the above scripture we have learned who is to be our ‘everlasting Father.’ Next, we ask, Who is to be our mother? Go with me to Gal. 4:26, ‘But Jerusalem which is above is free, and the mother of us all.’

Now go with me to Rev. 10:7, and we will have our father and mother married. ‘Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.’ Rev. 21:9, 10. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.’

Now turn to Isaiah 66:6, 7, 8, and you will see when the whole family is to be born. ‘A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies. Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.’

We learn from the scripture, just quoted that before the general resurrection of the saints, ‘the woman brought forth a man child,’ that shall rule all nations with ‘a rod of iron.’ See Rev. 19:15, And at the general resurrection of the saints, the earth will be made to give up the dead, and all the family be born ‘at once;’ or as Paul has it, ‘shall be changed, in a moment in the twinkling of an eye.’

In conclusion, I would say to the scattered flock of God, may that spirit that brought Jesus forth from the grave, dwell richly in all our hearts, that ‘our vile bodies’ may be quickened like his, at the sound of the last trump.

Gilbert Cranmer

Comstock, Mich.

Notice also the following from a later edition of the Hope of Israel:

I now propose to examine the doctrine of BEING BORN AGAIN. … If this is being born, then to be born again must be to be brought forth a second time. … Heb. 13 : 20 … Christ there was born again. … Christ was born a second time, or born again, or born from the dead.

WHEN ARE CHRISTIANS BEGOTTEN AGAIN? …. 1 Peter 1 : 3 …. Christians then are begotten again when they receive the Gospel, the word of truth : when they receive the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. …

WHEN WILL CHRISTIANS BE BORN AGAIN? — John 3 : 6 … As all Christians have been born of the flesh, they will be born again when they are born of the Spirit. 1 Cor. 15 : 44, 49 … when they become children of God, by being children of the resurrection. (Anon. Being Born Again. Hope of Israel, August 25, 1865, pp. 1,2)

Apparently, while there were questions some had, the Hope of Israel taught Christians are begotten upon conversion and receiving the Holy Spirit and born again at the first resurrection at the last trump.

The old Worldwide Church of God also taught that.

Regarding the resurrection and the last trump, the Apostle Paul wrote:

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:50-54)

As it has turned out, many get confused with English translations of koine Greek–the language the New Testament was written in (see also as the New Testament Written in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic?).

The reason to mention this is that second century Christians, for example, would have a better understanding of whether or not begotten or born was intended–plus some of them knew people who knew the original apostles.

Notice in the second century (the century just after the Book of Revelation was written), there was at least one Christian that taught that we are not to be “born again” until the resurrection. Here is some of what COG leader Theophilus of Antioch wrote:

Of the Fourth Day. On the fourth day the luminaries were made; …

But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection” (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XV. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

So, Theophilus of Antioch taught Christians are born-again, not now, but at the resurrection.

An interesting thing to also observe here is that the Feast of Trumpets has traditionally been the fourth biblical Holy Day and a trumpet blast is associated with Christians being born again (1 Corinthians 15:50-54) Here is a link to a related sermon video: Trumpets and Being Born Again.

In the third century, Hippolytus (the greatest of the early theologians according to Roman Catholic scholars) understood that we are begotten by the Holy Spirit at baptism. Notice what he wrote:

This is the Spirit that was given to the apostles in the form of fiery tongues. This is the Spirit that David sought when he said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Of this Spirit Gabriel also spoke to the Virgin, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” By this Spirit Peter spake that blessed word, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” By this Spirit the rock of the Church was stablished. This is the Spirit, the Comforter, that is sent because of thee, that He may show thee to be the Son of God.

Come then, be begotten again, O man, into the adoption of God … For he who comes down in faith to the layer of regeneration, and renounces the devil, and joins himself to Christ; who denies the enemy, and makes the confession that Christ is God; who puts off the bondage, and puts on the adoption,–he comes up from the baptism brilliant as the sun, flashing forth the beams of righteousness, and, which is indeed the chief thing, he returns a son of God and joint-heir with Christ (Hippolytus. The Discourse on the Holy Theophany, Chapters 9,10. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Also, even in the fourth century, it was understood that Christians are first begotten, that Jesus was the first born of the dead, and that we become born again later. For even though he had other heretical ideas, Athanasius apparently understood this as he wrote:

For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term ‘begat’ is here as elsewhere expressive of a Son, as He says by the Prophet, ‘I begat sons and exalted them;’ and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term ‘created,’ but undoubtedly by that of ‘begat.’ And this John seems to say, ‘He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ And here too the cautious distinction is well kept up, for first he says ‘become,’ because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says ‘were begotten,’ because they too had received at any rate the name of son…He became man, that, as the Apostle has said, He who is the ‘Beginning’ and ‘First-born from the dead, in all things might have the preeminence … He said to be ‘First-born from the dead,’ not that He died before us, for we had died first; but because having undergone death for us and abolished it, He was the first to rise, as man, for our sakes raising His own Body. Henceforth He having risen, we too from Him and because of Him rise in due course from the dead … He is called ‘First-born among many brethren’ because of the relationship of the flesh, and ‘First-born from the dead,’ because the resurrection of the dead is from Him and after Him … And as He is First-born among brethren and rose from the dead ‘the first fruits of them that slept;’ so, since it became Him ‘in all things to have the preeminence (Athanasius. Discourse II Against the Arians, Chapters 59,60,61,63,64. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1892. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus the idea of being begotten when converted and being born again at the resurrection is not a relatively new one among professing Christians. But unlike the idea of being born again now, it is not a concept with pre-Christian (pagan) origins.

In addition, even today, the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches:

Frank Schaeffer … calls the standard evangelical doctrine a “false bill of goods.” “The simplistic ‘born-again’ formula for instant painless ‘salvation’ is not only a misunderstanding, I believe it is a heresy. It contradicts the teaching of Christ in regard to the narrow, hard, ascetic, difficult way of salvation.” (Clendenin D.B. ed. Eastern Orthodox Theology, 2nd ed. Baker Academic, 2003, p. 268).

Most groups whose leaders were once part of the old WCG teach that Christians are begotten by the Holy Spirit upon conversion and getting hands laid on them and born again at the resurrection.

Here, for example, are some teachings in the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God:

11. Christians are Begotten Now (An article of related interest may include Born Again: A Question of Semantics?)

12. Born-Again at the Resurrection (An article of related interest may include Born Again: A Question of Semantics?) …

Without going into more detail here, the second century writings of Theophilus of Antioch, for example, demonstrate that Christians believed that they were to be born again at the resurrection (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XV) and other early writings do demonstrate that there were those who professed Christ after the death of the original apostles that seemed to hold to those “restored truths.” …

Christians will literally be born again at the resurrection (John 3:5-7) as Christ was (Romans 1:4-5).

But some hold to other views.

For example, CGG’s John Ritenbaugh has instituted a variety of doctrinal changes within his group. CGG is teaching a concept more similar to that of certain (but not all) Protestants:

How does one explain “this or that” regarding this “born again” question? It is very helpful to know that being “born again” is an entirely spiritual operation…

It should be easy to understand why there can be confusion over the words. We can interpret it only by what they can legitimately be translated into. They can be translated as “begotten again, “born again,” “born anew,” or “born from above.” And this may seem a little bit wild, but it is true. It can even be understood as “from a beginning” or “at a beginning.”

Now on the basis of how God deals with us in the rest of the New Testament, and after John 2 and 3, it must be understood as “born again,” and not “begotten again.” God never even one time speaks of us as being in a womb as an embryo or a fetus…Nicodemus’ error was sincere, and Herbert Armstrong’s error was sincere. (Source: Ritenbaugh J. Born Again Sermon, Part 2, June 20, 2009)

So while John Ritenbaugh admits that the terms translated as “born again” can be translated as “begotten again,” he has decided against the idea of teaching that God spiritually begets His offspring in this life who are then born again at the resurrection.

CGG has made doctrinal changes, as well as inaccurate changes (in my opinion) to prophetic understandings as well. All should compare what their church teaches with the Bible.

According to Hislop’s The Two Babylons, being born again on earth is a long-standing pagan belief. Hislop quotes Asiatic Researchers (Vol. vii, p. 271, London, 1806) that the Hindu Brahmins boast that they are “twice born” men. Thus, the “born again now” idea apparently originally existed outside of Christianity.

Getting back to the born-again teaching, we have seen various ones in early and later centuries that hold to the original position.

Christians are only begotten now, but will be born again at the first resurrection. And that is the view that we in the Continuing Church of God still hold to.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Born Again: A Question of Semantics? Many Protestants use the term born-again. Do they know where the concept came from or does it matter? Are you born or begotten upon proper baptism? Here is a link to a sermon video: Trumpets and Being Born Again.
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrections? Is there more than one future resurrection? Did early Christians teach a physical resurrection? Did early Christians teach three resurrections? Here is a link to a related sermon: Understanding the Resurrections.
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You? This free online book helps answers some of the biggest questions that human have, including the biblical meaning of life. Here is a link to three related sermons: Mysteries of God’s Plan, Mysteries of Truth, Sin, Rest, Suffering, and God’s Plan, Mystery of Race, and The Mystery of YOU.
What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? What is your ultimate destiny? What does the Bible teach? Is deification only a weird or cultic idea? Are you to rule the universe? Here is a link to the video sermon What is Your Destiny?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
1. The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc. Here is a link to a related video sermon: Ephesus Church Era.
2. The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.Here is a link to a related video sermon: The Smyrna Church Era.
3. The Pergamos Church Era was predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D. An especially persecuted Church. Here is a link to a related sermon video: Pergamos Era and the Antichrist.
4. The Thyatira Church Era was predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D. The Church during the Inquisition. It claimed succession from the apostles. Here is a link toa related sermon: Thyatira, Succession, and Jezebel.
5. The Sardis Church Era was predominant circa 1600 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D. Discusses some early history of the Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, CG7-Salem, Jerusalem 7DCG, and COG-7th Day-Denver. Here are links to two historical sermons: Sardis Church Era: Beginnings, Doctrines, and Leaders and Sardis: SDBs, SDAs, & CG7s.
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy. See also Do You Hold to Any of These Laodicean Prophetic Errors?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
CG7.ORG This is a website for those interested in the Sabbath and churches that observe the seventh day Sabbath.
CG7-D: Church of God, (Seventh Day): History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace part of their history through some affiliation with this group. Loren Stacy is the president of the largest CG7 USA group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
CG7-S: Church of God 7th Day, Salem (West Virginia) This group formed by A.N. Dugger in 1933 when he split from the CG7 group he was once president of.
CGG: Church of the Great God This group, led by John Ritenbaugh, says the bride must first be made ready (it de-emphasizes the priority of public proclamation of the gospel). Might this lead to a selfish bride? This group also seriously seems to misunderstand end-time prophecy.
Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of GodContend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3, NKJV), “Let brotherly love (Philadelphia) continue” (Hebrews 13:1) ” & continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles” (Acts 2:42 YLT). So, what does that really mean in terms of specific beliefs–the Statement gives answers? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Declaración de las Doctrinas de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. Here is a related link in Tagalog: Paglalahad ng Mga Paniniwala ng Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. Here is a related link in Mandarin Chinese ~ç~íy^v„eYOv„OáNðXðf. Here is a related link in Kiswahili: KATIKA LUGHA YA KISWAHILI. Here is a related link in Dutch: Verklaring van geloofspunten van de Continuing Church of God. Here is a related link in Deutsche (German): Glaubenserklärung der Continuing Church of God. Here is a related link in Italiano: Dichiarazione del Credo della Continuing Church of God. Here is related link in the French language: Déclaration des croyances de L’Église Continue de Dieu. Here is a related link in the Chichewa language: ZIKHULUPIRIRO ZA MPINGO WA CONTINUING CHURCH OF GOD.

Do scholars realize that original Christianity appeared more ‘Jewish’ than most churches today?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2022

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

Was the Christian church originally Greco-Roman-Gentile like the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches or did it more resemble what has been called Jewish-Christianity as is practiced in the Continuing Church of God?

Was it more ‘Jewish’ than many think or was the early Christian church led by a pontiff from Rome?

If the Apostle Peter was the primary leader of the original Christian Church of God, then was his successor Linus or would it make more sense that it was the Apostle John?

Many would be surprised what certain Roman Catholic scholars admit and teach about early church history.

For example, did you know that it was the written position of late 20th century Cardinal Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou that church history has generally been mistaught and missed many aspects of what he called Jewish Christianity? He specifically wrote that this has led to a “false picture of Christian history” (Daniélou J, Cardinal. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminster Press, 1964, Philadelphia, p. 2).

And while there are issues with aspects of his research, he was correct that the vast majority have not been properly taught the truth of church history and overlooked the fact that Christianity is more “Jewish” than what is accepted by most of the mainstream churches. Sadly in the 21st century, many seem to prefer the false version of history rather than the real one.

Cardinal Daniélou’s view is also consistent with the following writing from the Greco-Roman Catholic ‘father of church history’ Eusebius:

2. But I have learned this much from writings, that until the siege of the Jews, which took place under Adrian, there were fifteen bishops in succession there, all of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and were deemed worthy of the episcopate. For their whole church consisted then of believing Hebrews who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at this time; in which siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after severe battles.

3. But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchæus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas.

4. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision. (Eusebius. Church History, Book IV, Chapter 5. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice that these early bishops “received the knowledge of Christ in purity,” hence their teachings should have continued. Jude admonished Christians:

3 … to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

However, even in Jerusalem, this did not last as this church was eliminated after a Latin took it over (see also Marcus of Jerusalem: Apostolic successor or apostate?).

What about apostolic succession in Rome?

The Church of Rome teaches:

…that Peter founded the Church of Antioch, indicates the fact that he laboured a long period there, and also perhaps that he dwelt there towards the end of his life…It is also probable that Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor for it can scarcely be supposed that the entire period between his liberation from prison and the Council of the Apostles was spent uninterruptedly in one city, whether Antioch, Rome, or elsewhere… Peter returned occasionally to the original Christian Church of Jerusalem…The date of Peter’s death is thus not yet decided; the period between July, 64 (outbreak of the Neronian persecution), and the beginning of 68 (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

It is not biblically clear that Peter founded the church in Antioch (Stephen or Barnabas seems more likely, see Acts 11:19-22), but he probably spent a lot of time there (Galatians 2:11). However, it is clear even from Catholic history that Peter spent little time in Rome and thus did not fix his residence there. Even though certain scholars like J.P. Kirsch believe that Peter went to Rome, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, even he admits this about Peter,

we possess no precise information regarding the details of his Roman sojourn (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

No precise information means that the Roman Church has essentially relied on accounts, nearly all of which were written over 100 years after Peter’s death, that say that he was in Rome and/or died in Rome. This is especially true because the biblical accounts never specify Rome and those that do specify locations of Peter point to Asia Minor and Jerusalem.

Hippolytus, considered by Roman Catholic scholars as one of their greatest early theologians wrote:

Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia (Hippolytus. On the Twelve Apostles Where Each of Them Preached, and Where He Met His End. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus even these Roman accounts suggest that Peter could not have been in Rome very long (and biblical evidence, Acts 3:1-11; 4:13; 8:14; Galatians 2:9, suggests he was often with the Apostle John). A careful reading of 2 Peter 1:14-18 and Matthew 17:1-5 indicates that Peter was with James or John right before he died. Yet, since James died in Judea (Acts 12:1) by 39 A.D. and there is no evidence that John was in Rome prior to 90 A.D., this would suggest that Peter was NOT in Rome when he wrote that “the laying away of my tabernacle is at hand” (2 Peter 1:14, RNT)–for more information on Peter’s death and burial, including information from Catholic scholars (such as the Catholic scholar Antonio Ferrua who is credited for finding Peter’s body, but later stated that he did not believe that he found Peter), see the article The Apostle Peter.

Thus the statement “Early Christian history tells us that before his death, he fixed his residence at Rome” seems biblically and historically false.

Interestingly, when personally addressing the leadership for the Christians who lived in Rome, Paul never mentioned Peter or any who were later claimed to be Roman bishops, even though he listed at least 27 others (see Romans 16).

The Catholic Encyclopedia article about the Epistle to the Romans mentions this about Paul not mentioning Peter:

The complete silence as to St. Peter is most easily explained by supposing that he was then absent from Rome. Paul may well have been aware of this fact, for the community was not entirely foreign to him. An epistle like the present would hardly have been sent while the Prince of the Apostles was in Rome and the reference to the ruler (xii, eight) would then be difficult to explain. Paul probably supposes that during the months between the composition and the arrival of the Epistle, the community would be more or less thrown on its own resources. (Merk A. Transcribed by W.G. Kofron. Epistle to the Romans. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Another explanation is that Peter simply was not in Rome long enough for Paul or any early writer to consider that Peter was actually the bishop of Rome.

Note that it takes MONTHS from when Paul could have written the epistle for it to get to Rome. How could Paul have possibly assumed that Peter was not in Rome then and would not be in it for months? Only because he knew Peter was not some type of bishop of Rome! Because if Peter was the bishop of Rome, Paul would have most likely at least referred to him or his absence in this epistle, as at some time he would have expected Peter to read it in Rome. But this never took place. Since it is believed that “Romans was likely written in the fall of A.D. 57” (The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 1876), it is most likely that Peter had not even been to Rome (as until at least 54 A.D. he had meetings in Jerusalem–see below).

Eamon Duffy, a Catholic scholar and a member of the Pontifical Historical Commission, observed:

Paul’s epistle to the Romans was written before either he or Peter ever set foot in Rome, to a Christian community already in existence (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p.8).

Some modern Roman Catholic scholars have admitted that Peter and the other Apostles were not ‘bishops,’ and could not have taken up residence in any city:

A “bishop” is a residential pastor who presides in a stable manner over the church in a city and its environs. The apostles were missionaries and founders of churches; there is no evidence, nor is it likely at all, that any one of them ever took up permanent residence in a particular church as its bishop (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 14).

The cited Roman Catholic quotes show that the Church of Rome acknowledges that Peter labored long in Asia Minor (hence, he could not truly have been the bishop of Rome then as they are quite far apart–it normally took MONTHS to travel from Rome to Asia Minor in those days, plus there were no telephones or fast ways to communicate), tended to return to Jerusalem (which is near Asia Minor), spent little time in Rome, could not have been the bishop of any city, and that there are no precise details of anything that Peter did in Rome. While it is possible that Peter visited and even died in Rome (and this has been contested by some scholars), that of itself would not seem to be a reason for the city of Rome to have to be the place of the headquarters of the true church.

There also is no known early document that states that upon his death Peter bequeathed the cathedra to anyone (recall also that Jesus Himself died in Jerusalem, and the importance of His death to the Church is more significant than that of Peter). When Jesus discussed the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16) with Peter, this was in the Jerusalem area. When the Holy Spirit was given in Acts 2, this was in Jerusalem. Later, Peter and the other apostles spent a great deal of time in Asia Minor.

Furthermore, Rome was a Gentile area, not full of circumcised Israelites.

Who does the Bible teach had that responsibility? Look at what Paul wrote:

7. But contrariwise when they had seen that to me was committed the Gospel of the prepuce, as to Peter of the circumcision 8. (for he that wrought in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles) (Galatians 2:7-8).

Thus it does not appear that Peter was considered to be the bishop of Rome during Paul’s lifetime (and they both died about the same time) as Rome was clearly a Gentile area. If Peter, and he alone, had the keys, the fact that, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia “Peter pursued his Apostolic labours in various districts of Asia Minor” shows that PETER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE TIME THAT HE “HAD THE KEYS”! IT IS AN ABSOLUTE FACT THAT PETER WAS NOT THE BISHOP OF ROME BEGINNING WITH THE START OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH that began on the Pentecost after Jesus was resurrected (Acts 1-2). NOR COULD PETER HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN BISHOP OF ROME FOR MUCH OF THE THIRTY-PLUS YEARS AFTER THAT TIME AS HE TRAVELED WITHIN ASIA MINOR AND TO JERUSALEM REPEATEDLY.

Rome is simply not close enough to Asia Minor or Jerusalem for Peter to have been based out of Rome. Thus Antioch or other regions within Asia Minor would seem to have been the main areas that Peter possibly could have had an episcopate. Actually, the book of Galatians specifically mentions that Paul visited Peter on two occasions, and both of those were in Jerusalem and not Rome. Why? Because Rome was still not the headquarters of the Church at a very late time in Peter’s life. This is clearly documented from the Bible:

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days (Galatians1:15-18).

21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ (Galatians 1:21-22).

1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me…
9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:1,9).

What does all that mean? According to The Catholic Encyclopedia,

St. Paul’s conversion was not prior to 34, nor his escape from Damascus and his first visit to Jerusalem, to 37 (St. Paul. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911).

Thus the earliest possible date for Paul to have made his second recorded visit to Jerusalem with Peter was 54 A.D. (3 years plus 17 plus 34 A.D., and it may have been later, like 57 A.D.). And from there, Peter told Paul to go to the Gentiles again. Hence Peter could not have become the Apostle to the Gentiles in Rome until much later (if at all)! Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia admits,

It is comparatively seldom that the Fathers, when speaking of the power of the keys, make any reference to the supremacy of St. Peter (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Power of the Keys. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Also notice the following from a Roman Catholic priest and scholar:

The conferral of the power of the keys of the kingdom surely suggests an imposing measure of authority, given the symbolism of the keys, but there is no explicit indication that the authority conferred was meant to be exercised over others, much less that it be absolutely monarchical in kind…In Acts, in fact, Peter is shown consulting with other apostles and even being sent by them (8:14). He and John are portrayed as acting as a team (3:1-11; 4:1-22; 8:14). And Paul confronts Peter for his inconsistency and hypocrisy…Paul “opposed him to his face because he was clearly wrong” (Galatians 2:11; see also 12-14) (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 30-31).

Notice that even traditions of early Greco-Roman Catholic writers did not teach that Peter was given sole authority as the devout Roman Catholic historian von Dollinger noticed:

Of all the Fathers who interpret these passages (Matthew 16:18; John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter’s successors. How many Fathers have busied themselves with these three texts, yet not one of them who commentaries we possess–Origen, Chrysostom, Hilary, Augustine, Cyril, Theodoret, and those whose interpretations are collected in catenas–has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter!

Not one of them has explained the rock or foundation on which Christ would build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors, but they understood by it either Christ Himself, or Peter’s confession of faith in Christ; often both together (Cited in Hunt D. A Women Rides the Beast. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene (OR) p. 146).

It was not until quite late that the Roman Catholic Church decided that Peter was the first bishop of Rome:

(254-57)…Stephen I seems to have been the first pope to have appealed to the classic “you are Peter’ text in Matthew’s Gospel (16:18) as the basis for Roman primacy…Peter was not regarded as the first Bishop of Rome until the late second or early third century (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., pp. 27,28).

Hence, it may be that the idea that Peter was the only apostle that church leadership could be traced through, and that it must be Rome, does not appear to have much early support.

It needs to be understood that as far back as the second century, both Irenaeus and Tertullian taught that some version of “apostolic succession” occurred in areas other than Rome. Furthermore, even into the 21st century, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the legitimacy of churches of the Eastern Orthodox based in cities such as Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria who were founded by someone other than the Apostle Peter (which tradition states were founded by the Apostles Andrew, James, and the gospel-writer Mark, respectively). More information can be found in the article Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom?

It is important to note that several Roman Catholic scholars recognize that there is no proof that anyone was actually considered to be a bishop in Rome until sometime in the second century. One such Roman Catholic scholar, A. Van Hove, wrote this about early bishops:

  • This local superior authority, which was of Apostolic origin, was conferred by the Apostles upon a monarchic bishop, such as is understood by the term today. This is proved first by the example of Jerusalem, where James, who was not one of the Twelve Apostles, held the first place, and afterwards by those communities in Asia Minor of which Ignatius speaks, and where, at the beginning of the second century the monarchical episcopate existed, for Ignatius does not write as though the institution were a new one.
  • In other communities, it is true, no mention is made of a monarchic episcopate until the middle of the second century (Van Hove A. Transcribed by Matthew Dean. Bishop. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, although there were bishops in Jerusalem and Asia Minor in the first and second centuries, there is no mention of a monarchic episcopate (a bishopric) in other places, like Rome, until the middle of the second century.

Furthermore, even some more recent Greco-Roman Catholic scholars understand that the New Testament provides no support for the idea that one of the apostles appointed someone to be “bishop of Rome”.

The consensus of scholars is that there was NOT an apostolic succession of bishops starting from Peter in Rome. And notice that according to Roman Catholic scholars, the first clear bishop of Rome was not until the middle or latter half of the second century:

ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop. Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142-ca. 155) did the Roman Church have a monoepiscopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). Those who Catholic tradition lists as Peter’s immediate successors (Linus, Anacletus, Clement, et al.) did not function as the one bishop of Rome (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.25).

To begin with, indeed, there was no ‘pope’, no bishop as such, for the church in Rome was slow to develop the office of chief presbyter or bishop…Clement made no claim to write as bishop…There is no sure way to settle on a date by which the office of ruling bishop had emerged in Rome…but the process was certainly complete by the time of Anicetus in the mid-150s (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, 2nd ed. Yale University Press, London, 2001, pp. 9, 10,13).

…we have good reason to conclude that by the time of Anicetus (155-66), the church of Rome was being led by a bishop whose role resembled Ignatius or Polycarp (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 143).

We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…”Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?”…the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222).

As I see the problem and its possible solution, it is not a question of apostolic succession in the sense of an historical chain of laying on of hands running back through the centuries to one of the apostles; this would be a very mechanical and individualistic vision, which by the way historically could hardly be proved and ascertained. The Catholic view is different from such an individualistic and mechanical approach. Its starting point is the collegium of the apostles as a whole; together they received the promise that Jesus Christ will be with them till the end of the world (Matt 28, 20). So after the death of the historical apostles they had to co–opt others who took over some of their apostolic functions. In this sense the whole of the episcopate stands in succession to the whole of the collegium of the apostles. To stand in the apostolic succession is not a matter of an individual historical chain but of collegial membership in a collegium, which as a whole goes back to the apostles by sharing the same apostolic faith and the same apostolic mission (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Keynote speech from the Conference of the Society for Ecumenical Studies, the St. Alban’s Christian Study Centre and the Hertfordshire Newman Association at St. Alban’s Abbey, Hertfordshire, England, on May 17, 2003).

In March, 2006…I argued unity, unanimity and koinonia (communion) are fundamental concepts in the New Testament and in the early Church. I argued: “From the beginning the episcopal office was “koinonially” or collegially embedded in the communion of all bishops; it was never perceived as an office to be understood or practised individually” (Kasper, Cardinal Walter. Cardinal Kasper to Anglican Communion “The Aim of Our Dialogue Has Receded Further”. CANTERBURY, England, JULY 31, 2008 (Zenit.org)).

These are astounding admissions. These Roman Catholic scholars are essentially admitting that there was no possible succession of bishops beginning with Peter in Rome, there was NOT one bishop who led all of Christendom from the beginning, but that the succession of a bishop from the Apostle John to Polycarp did occur (and it occurred probably 60 years earlier). Leaders like the Apostle John and Polycarp practiced what many Greco-Roman Catholic scholars considered to be Jewish Christianity (such as observing Passover on the 14th and not a Sunday).

When Ignatius wrote his various letters in the early second century, he referred to Polycarp as a bishop and mentioned bishops in nearly all of his letters. However, in his letter to the Romans he neither addresses it to any particular leader in Rome, nor does he ever refer to anyone as a bishop in Rome.

Various Greco-Roman Catholic writings state that Hegesippus came to Rome in the mid-2nd century and asked about its early leaders. F.A. Sullivan and R.P. McBrien seem to suggest that those Romans apparently mentioned names of leaders they had heard of (as most would have had no direct contact with any from the first century) as there were no early records with names. Because there was, at the time of Hegesippus’ visit, a bishop of Rome and there had long been bishops in Jerusalem and Asia Minor, F.A. Sullivan also suggests that Hegesippus and later writers presumed that the early Roman leaders were also monarchical bishops, even though that is not considered to have been likely.

While there were certainly a lot of religious leaders in Rome, since the actual Christian Church (according the Catholics and nearly all those who profess Christ) began in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Christ’s crucifixion, it is important to realize that both the Bible and Roman Catholic approved writings support the idea that there were true churches in the region the Bible refers to as Asia Minor (nearly all of which is now part of the country of Turkey).

When the Apostle John, for example, wrote the Book of Revelation, he was the last of the original 12 apostles to remain alive (and as an Apostle he ALSO would have been what was part of the foundation of the church as Ephesians 2:19-22 teaches). And he specifically addressed Revelation “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4), and later listed those seven (vs. 1:11) all of which were in Asia Minor (here is an article on The Seven Churches of Revelation). He also never positively addressed the church in Rome in that or any other of his known writings (nor, except in his gospel account, did he ever mention Peter). Furthermore, The Catholic Encyclopedia records this about John,

John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body…the Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province (Fonck L. Transcribed by Michael Little. St. John the Evangelist. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

But there is no scriptural reason to think that John only considered that the churches in Asia Minor were under his leadership. Actually, in one of his other letters, John also wrote “To the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1)–which appears to be a reference to the entire Church (see also Revelation 12:17). Hence he felt he had a leadership position related to the entire Church, not just those in Asia Minor.

This also appears to be confirmed from this quotation that Eusebius records:

Take and read the account which rims as follows: “Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit…” (Eusebius. Church History, Book III, Chapter 23. Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Referring to Irenaeus’ writings, Eusebius writes:

And in the third book of the same work he attests the same thing in the following words: “But the church in Ephesus also, which was founded by Paul, and where John remained until the time of Trajan, is a faithful witness of the apostolic tradition.” (Eusebius. Church History. Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Now John greatly outlived Peter and is believed to have lived as late as 95-100 A.D. John was an apostle, the early leaders of Rome were only presbyters. The Bible clearly teaches that apostles were first (I Corinthians 12:28). Notice that even Roman Catholic scholars understand:

Unlike Peter, the pope is neither an apostle nor an eyewitness of the Risen Lord (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.33).

Since that is true, it makes no sense that the Apostle John would be somehow subordinate to Linus, Anacletus, Clement, and Evaristus, all of whom have been claimed to have been pontiff after Peter died and while John was still alive.

What is true, and what does make sense, is that John had a disciple named Polycarp who became the bishop of Smyrna. While Ignatius may have had prominence in-between, his writings clearly endorsed Polycarp’s leadership. Polycarp was probably 25-30 years old when John died. Polycarp himself lived until he was martyred around 156 A.D. Look at what else is admitted by the Catholic historian Irenaeus about the early Church in Asia Minor, under the leadership of Polycarp:

Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).

So we have from this Roman Catholic source that Polycarp and his successors in Asia Minor (at least until the time that Irenaeus wrote this, around 180 A.D.) practiced the true teachings that they learned from the apostles (it should be noted that these churches had several doctrines that differ from those currently held by the Roman Church, some of which are documented in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome). This is also later essentially confirmed by Tertullian:

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

It is probable that Tertullian was aware of elders in Rome prior to Clement (as Irenaeus wrote prior to him), as well as bishops of Smyrna prior to Polycarp, but that Tertullian felt that the apostolic succession could only have gone through Polycarp (who he listed first) or Clement. It must be understood that Tertullian’s writing above, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia, is one of the most important writings regarding the Catholic Church. Specifically the Catholic Church teaches:

Among the writings of the Fathers, the following are the principal works which bear on the doctrine of the Church: ST. IRENÆUS, Adv. Hereses in P.G., VII; TERTULLIAN, De Prescriptionibus in P. L… (Joyce G.H. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. The Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus Catholics themselves must recognize the importance of these statements by Tertullian–there were two churches with proper apostolic claims as far as he was concerned. And not just Rome–but one in Asia Minor that had been led by the Apostle John through Polycarp and his descendants.

The one in Asia Minor was considered to practice Jewish Christianity according to various Roman Catholic scholars (e.g. Daniélou J, Cardinal. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, Philadelphia).

As it turns out many, scholars tend to believe in an unbiblical view as the following shows:

The “Parting of the Ways” is typically depicted as an inexorable development from Jesus’ revolutionary teachings … the inevitable separation of Christianity (in all its varieties) from its theological, social, and cultural ties to Judaism … the narratives told in modern research echo proto-orthodox/orthodox Christian historiography in asserting that “Jewish-Christian” forms of belief and worship should have never survived – let alone thrived – long beyond the apostolic age.” (Reed AY. ‘Jewish Christianity’ after the ‘Parting of the Ways’: Approaches to Historiography and Self-Definition in the Pseudo-Clementine Literature. In The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages , Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003, 189-231).

Yet, such “modern research” confirms that the original faith was (correctly) perceived as having many elements considered to be too “Jewish” for them. The so-called “inevitable separation” from scriptural practices considered ‘Jewish’ by many Protestants is not what the Bible calls for.

Furthermore more it is not just a “Parting of the Ways” that is a problem for the Greco-Roman-Protestants, it is as departing from what the Book of Acts often refers to as THE WAY (Acts 9:2,19:9,19:23,24:22).

The departure from THE WAY is what Protestantism has accepted

Notice also:

Contrary to traditional assumptions about the complete independence and isolation of late antique Christianity from post-Christian Judaism hardly ceased in the second century; (Reed, pp. 225-226).

The original faith was not to change, and in reality, the true one never did. Despite the views of many who wrongly think it was ‘too Jewish.’

Here is a link to a ContinuingCOG YouTube video titled: Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? Were early church services mainly scriptural, emotional, or sacramental? Who follows the basic original liturgy today? A related video is also available: What were early Christian church services like?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a link to a sermon: Claims of Apostolic Succession. Here is a related article in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?g
Laying on of Hands This is an elementary principle of Hebrews 6. Have you properly had hands laid upon you? Here is a link to a related sermon: Laying on of Hands and Succession.
Laying on of Hands Succession and List Does the Church of God have laying on of hands succession? Does the Continuing Church of God have a list of leaders from the time of the apostles? Here is a link to a related sermon: Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession.
Marcus of Jerusalem: Apostolic successor or apostate? Marcus is claimed to have been the 16th bishop of Jerusalem, but did he get his position from faithfulness or political compromise?

Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original? Here is a link to a related video: The Original Apostle’s Creed?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences. These sermons also cover materials not in the book.Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church. Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God? , Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, and What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, and Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Few scholars seem to realize which church had the true ‘chain of custody’ of the New Testament

Monday, August 8th, 2022


COGwriter

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the New Testament asserts the following:

The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. (Reid G. Canon of the New Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3., 1908)

The above is only true if one considers that the Vatican has always represented the true Christian church.

If, however, one believes the Bible and considers the fact that the Church of Rome was not dominating all of Christendom in the first and second centuries—which their own scholars recognize (Duffy E. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2002, pp.2,6; Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah, NJ, 2001, pp. 13-15,147)— then the idea that the true Christians’ Church knew the books from the beginning does have a foundation.

Yet, contemporary Protestant scholars often take the Roman Catholic view:

The canon of the NT, as commonly received at present, was ratified by the third council of Carthage (A.D. 397.) (Unger M. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Moody Press, 2009, p. 204)

But the view of early Christians, including Greco-Roman Catholic ones, was that the New Testament canon was known at the time of the apostles.

Consider this from Augustine of Hippo:

In order to leave room for such profitable discussions of difficult questions, there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles through the successions of bishops and the extension of the Church. (Augustine. Contra Faustum, Book XI, chapter 5)

Augustine is acknowledging that the canon came from the apostles, that bishops/overseers confirmed this, and thus what he considered to be the church accepted it. He did not indicate that the books were unknown and that a council was needed to determine the books.

Bishops, like Polycarp of Smyrna and Serapion of Antioch, who had succession from the apostles, confirmed that they knew the writings handed down from the apostles.

The late Dr. Ernest Martin wrote:

Some historians would have people believe that the church of the early 2nd century (or even the 3rd or 4th century) probably formulated the final New Testament. There has always been a problem with this appraisal because there is not a sliver of evidence that such a thing took place. The truth is, when the early church fathers began to talk about the canon of the New Testament near the end of the 2nd century, it is assumed that it was already in their midst. The first recorded discussion among Catholic scholars about the books of the New Testament only concerned whether certain books in the canon were of lesser rank, not which books were needed to form the official canon. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III.25) (Martin E. Restoring the Original Bible. A.S.K. 1994, p 295)

If you read Dr. Martin’s reference to Eusebius, you will see that Eusebius did not refer to the Church of Rome in that chapter, but that some people had doubts about the Book of Revelation as well as other books.

Consider that Jesus is identified as “the Word” four times in the first chapter of John’s Gospel (1:1,14). This fact alone should give us pause to consider that the word of God is something that God wanted all to highly value.

Between them, the Apostles Peter, John, and Paul wrote 21 of the 27 books of the NT (plus, between them, they personally knew all the other NT writers). The Bible also suggests that Peter, John, and Paul all had roles in the process of finalizing the NT canon. Even though many Roman Catholics believe that their church ‘gave the Bible to the world,’ the Church of Rome admits that it wrote none of the books of the NT (though as it includes all the writers as theirs, they would in that sense).

Peter wrote:

15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. …

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:15, 19-21)

Thus, the Bible teaches that God gave scripture to humans. 2 Peter 1:15 demonstrates that Peter intended for God’s teachings to be remembered — and since he was writing at the time, this (as well as common sense) suggests that properly preserving canonical writings would be the way to accomplish this.

Since the Bible, in 1 Peter 1:25, teaches, “But the word of the LORD endures forever,” it would not seem to be biblically correct to believe that portions of it were lost for centuries — which is the prevailing view that the world’s scholars hold to!

The Continuing Church of God put together the following chart, which is also in its new book Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete?:

Here is a timeline of custody from the view of the Continuing Church of God and the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches with many of the early dates approximate:

Timeline of Custody

Church of God Date Greco-Roman-Protestants
Paul writes the Mark to bring parchments (2 Timothy 4:11-13). c. 66 Paul writes the Mark to bring parchments (2 Timothy 4:11-13).
Peter has Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16). c. 66 Peter has at least some of Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16).
John gets writings from Peter. c. 66 John gets some writings from Peter.
Peter and Paul are killed. c. 67 Peter and Paul are killed.
In Patmos, John pens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11). c. 92 In Patmos, John pens the last book of the Bible (Revelation 1:9-11).
John moves back to Ephesus. c. 96 John moves back to Ephesus.
John passes the finalized canons on to Polycarp of Smyrna and others. c. 98 John passes knowledge to Polycarp of Smyrna.
Papias of Hierapolis shows accepted Revelation as scripture. c. 120
Polycarp quotes or alludes to everyone of the 27 books of the New Testament (including Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter, and James) and notes that those of Philipi are “well versed in the Sacred Scriptures.” c. 135 Polycarp refers to various NT books and notes that those of Philipi are “well versed in the Sacred Scriptures.”
c. 160 Shepherd of Hermas and Gospel of Peter are considered to be scripture.
c. 175 Muratorian Canon includes Apocalypse of Peter and Wisdom of Solomon, but excludes Book of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and one of John’s epistles.
Melito of Sardis lists the books of the Old Testament, but does not include any of the Apocrypha. Melito’s use of the term ‘Old Testament’ presupposes that he also knew the New Testament. c. 175 Melito of Sardis lists the books of the Old Testament, but does not include any of the Apocrypha. Melito’s use of the term ‘Old Testament’ presupposes that he also knew the New Testament. Apocrypha used by some Greco-Romans.
Polycrates of Ephesus said he and others in Asia Minor had “gone through every Holy scripture.” c. 192
Serapion of Antioch condemns Gospel of Peter as pseudepigrapha (ψευδεπιγραφα). c. 209 Gospel of Peter still being used.
Serapion says the books were “handed down” to those in Antioch/Asia Minor, as opposed to those he encountered in Egypt. c. 209
c. 180-250 School in Alexandria, with Origen in the 3rd century, classifies Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, and Jude as “contested writings.”
c. 230 Origen sees major problems with the Septuagint texts, but it is still used.
c. 250 Cyprian of Carthage’s “first Latin Bible” fails to include Hebrews, 2 Peter, James, and Jude.
School in Antioch, with Lucian predecessors, then Lucian himself, improves Greek Septuagint by using Hebrew Masoretic documents and also edits the ‘Traditional Text’ of the Greek New Testament. c. 250-312
c. 320 Eusebius writes that Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation are disputed.
367 Athanasius lists the 27 books of the New Testament.
c. 380 Canon 85 of the Apostolic Constitutions includes the “two Epistles of Clement” among its “sacred books.”
382 Damasan catalogue has a canon for the Roman Church with the Book of Hebrews.
Nazarene Christians use the Old and New Testaments without the Apocrypha. c. 382 -395 Jerome works on Latin Vulgate Bible, but does not want to include the Apocrypha. He notices that he is often using corrupted texts.
Nazarenes continued with the original canon. c. 382-404 Jerome consults with one or more Nazarene Christians on the canon.
393 Augustine said Hebrews was still disputed.
c. 405 Pope Innocent I left Hebrews out of his list of the New Testament canon he sent to Exsuperius.
c.405 Jerome completes his Bible, and, after succumbing to pressure, includes the Apocrypha.
419 Council of Carthage adopts catalogue of canon.
Proto-Waldenses and Waldenses preserve and translate the books. 5th-16th centur-ies
Waldensian books taken by supporters of Rome. 12th-15th centur-ies Edicts against the Waldneses issued by Roman Catholics in 1184 (Synod of Verona), 1215 (Fourth Lateran Council), and 1487 (Bull by Innocent VII).
1522 Martin Luther included Apocrypha in his translation of the Bible.
16th
century
Huldrych Zwingli did not accept Revelation as scripture.
1546 Martin Luther still doubted the inclusion of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation.
1546 Rome’s Council of Trent declares fixed canon is a dogma that cannot be changed.
1611 King James Version published with the Apocrypha as part of the appendix.
1672 Eastern Orthodox finalize their canon, at the Synod of Jerusalem, which includes the Apocrypha.
19th century Protestants drop the Apocrypha from the appendix of the edited KJV.
Church of God leaders continued to cite the same canon of scripture from prior to the Protestant Reformation to present. They continue to point to the Masoretic Hebrew and a version of the Textus Receptus as the best available scriptural texts. 16th– 21st centur-ies

There are basic two views of the canon. While the last column reflects, to a significant degree, the major scholastic view today, the first column hopefully provides enough scriptural and historical information to show the honest inquirer that, yes, the Church of God had the canon from the beginning.

The true chain of custody for the Church of God has continued to hold the same books of the canon of scripture to this day.

Because the Greco-Roman churches often included certain books they dropped and did not include others which they added, that would not be considered an unbroken chain of custody.

Although Jesus taught that His church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), most scholars ignore that and accept that the Greco-Romans (and later the Protestants) represent Christianity as a whole. So, they have tended to teach the Greco-Roman view as fact.

Most have overlooked the true chain of custody. Part of the reason is that many aspects of church history have been misunderstood (details on church history can be found in the free book, online at ccog.org, titled Continuing History of the Church of God).

For more details, here is a link to the free online book: Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete?

Some items of related interest may include:

Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete? Are there lost gospels? What about the Apocrypha? Is the Septuagint better than the Masoretic text? What about the Textus Receptus vs. Nestle Alland? Was the New Testament written in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew? Which translations are based upon the best ancient text? Did the true Church of God have the canon from the beginning? Here are links to related sermons: Let’s Talk About the Bible, The Books of the Old Testament, The Septuagint and its Apocrypha, Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, and Lost Books of the Bible, and Let’s Talk About the New Testament, The New Testament Canon From the Beginning, English Versions of the Bible and How Did We Get Them?, What was the Original Language of the New Testament?, Original Order of the Books of the Bible, and Who Gave the World the Bible? Who Had the Chain of Custody?
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading, certain ancient texts, and discusses translations. Is the King James Version completely trustworthyy? Here is a link in Mandarin Chinese: ‹ûW#~Ï Here is a link in the Spanish language: Lea la Biblia..
Bible: Superstition or Authority? Should you rely on the Bible? Is it reliable? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
How to Study the Bible David Jon Hill wrote this initially and Dr. Thiel added scriptures, tips, and suggestions to it. A 2015 sermon is available and is also titled
How to Study the Bible.
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Priscilla and Aquila

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

COGwriter

Priscilla and Aquila were early converts to Christianity that must have worked together. I have listed Priscilla (also called Prisca) first, as the Bible twice lists her first. This is not to say that she was necessarily superior to her husband Aquila, but since the Bible gives her that honor as often as it gives it to her husband, I thought I would also list her first.

Luke records that Priscilla and her husband Aquila were from Rome and shared the same occupation as the Apostle Paul:

After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3, NKJV throughout).

So when Paul met Priscilla and Aquila, they were living in Corinth as it was unsafe for them to have stayed in Rome at that time.

Priscilla and Aquila were quite well versed in early Christian doctrine as God used them to help Apollos:

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).

Apparently, after being with Paul for a while, they returned to Rome. They were also apparently quite brave and also had church services in their home in Rome:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Romans 16:3-5).

When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, they still had church services in their home, and they apparently continued to support Paul, as he wrote:

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Later, they apparently moved again. In his letter to Timothy, who was then in Ephesus, Paul wrote:

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 4:19).

So, near the end of Paul’s life, they became part of the true church in Ephesus.

Priscilla and Aquila were a married couple who were also tentmakers. They knew and supported Paul, knew and taught Apollos, and also knew Timothy.

Although originally from Rome, they traveled extensively. The fact that they had church services in their house in Rome, when Paul wrote two of his letters, seems to suggest that the early church in Rome was not particularly large. July 8th is observed in honor of Priscilla and Aquila by some associated with the Greco-Roman churches.

Some items of possibly-related interest may include:

Priscilla and Aquila An early Christian married couple from Rome who moved to Asia Minor.
Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here are links to two related sermons: Women’s Roles in the Church and New Testament Women.
True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? Is there still a place for being feminine? Here is an article from Herbert Armstrong about his thoughts relating to women and womanhood.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
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 Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups that Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups? A related sermon is also available Christianity: Two groups.