The Pergamos Church Era

By COGwriter

In the Book of Revelation, we see Jesus in the midst of seven churches:

9 I am John, your brother and partner in the oppression, kingdom, and patience that comes because of Jesus. I was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus. 10 I came to be in the Spirit on the Day of the Lord, when I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet, 11 saying, “Write on a scroll what you see, and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see who was talking to me, and when I turned I saw seven gold lamp stands. 13 Among the lamp stands there was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash around his chest. (Revelation 1:9-13, ISV)

Jesus being in the midst of these seven churches is supportive of the view that the Christian church age began with the Ephesus Church Era and will continue until Laodicea ends and Jesus returns.

Pergamos is the third of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation and comes after the Smyrna Church Era. The Pergamos Church became predominant during the fifth century (predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.).

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

Ancient Peragmos

Ancient Pergamos

Here is what John recorded that Jesus said to the Church in Pergamos:

12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:

13 "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." ' (Revelation 2:12-17, NKJV unless otherwise noted).

An immediate question is what are Nicolaitans?

The reference to the Nicolaitans seems to refer to possible Gnostics who wrongly felt that various of their physical actions/deeds were not of spiritual consequence. The Nicolaitans were seemingly among those “who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 4, NIV) and/or were certain “semi-Gnostics” who instituted anti-biblical practices—they understood a false gospel. Irenaeus said that they claimed to be descended from the deacon Nicolas in Acts 6:5 and that they “lead lives of unrestrained indulgence” (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses.  Book 1, Chapter 26, Verse 3).

Since an "idol is nothing" (1 Corinthians 8:4), the eating of foods offered to idols may be related to being involved in pagan holidays. People such as Gregory the Wonder Worker (3rd century) and Emperor Constantine (4th century) encouraged professors of Christ to keep the trappings of pagan celebrations. Apparently some in Pergamos thought this was fine--but Jesus did not.

Notice something from the late WCG evangelist Dean Blackwell:

"You have them there that hold the doctrine of Balaam" (Rev. 2:14). These were among the true members. The great debate which dwelt in this age of church history from all sources was the great struggle with images and idols. ... At this time, the main struggle and debate was over what is designated the iconoclast movement, or whether you should allow idols, images, crosses and beads in the church worship service. Even the Bible points out that in this church age, the Paulicians were contaminated by this doctrine of Balaam, which dealt with idolatry and eating things sacrificed to idols, Christmas dinners. (Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973)

Jesus' last statement to the Church in Pergamos in Revelation 2:17, about "hidden manna to eat" and Christ giving them "a new name," is consistent with a Church of God that would be hidden (an item of related interest may be Is this Satan's Throne?) or hard to find.

Regarding the Nicolaitans, notice the view of the Greco-Roman Bishop Victorinus in the late 3rd century:

"This you have also, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes." But because you yourself hate those who hold the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes, you expect praise. Moreover, to hate the works of the Nicolaitanes, which He Himself also hated, this tends to praise. But the works of the Nicolaitanes were in that time false and troublesome men, who, as ministers under the name of Nicolaus, had made for themselves a heresy, to the effect that what had been offered to idols might be exorcised and eaten, and that whoever should have committed fornication might receive peace on the eighth day. Therefore He extols those to whom He is writing; and to these men, being such and so great, He promised the tree of life, which is in the paradise of His God. (Victorinus. Chapter 2, verses 6-8. Commentary on the Apocalypse. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)

The statement about hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans comes from Revelation 2:6 and relates to the Church of Ephesus. It was towards the end of the Ephesus era (c. 130-135) that the Greco-Romans began to adopt Sunday, which they and the Gnostics called the eighth day. By the time of Pergamos, the Greco-Roman adoption of the "eighth day" was widespread.

The Pergamos Church appears to be a part of the church portrayed by the woman in the wilderness hidden for apparently 1260 years (Revelation 12:6). Spiritually, they seemed to have a problem with compromising with parts of the truth to save their lives. This is a major way they differed from the Smyrna Church.

We seem to see a reference to them in a reference from abbot Dinooth of Wales in the late 6th or early 7th century (Wilkinson B. Reprint by Teach Services, 1994, pp. 155).

History shows that God had people in Pergamos and 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 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.

As far as Gibbon goes, he wrote:

Paulicians ... They were not ambitious of martyrdom; but in a calamitous period of one hundred and fifty years, their patience sustained whatever zeal could inflict; and power was insufficient to eradicate the obstinate vegetation of fanaticism and reason. From the blood and ashes of the first victims, a succession of teachers and congregations repeatedly arose: amidst their foreign hostilities, they found leisure for domestic quarrels: they preached, they disputed, they suffered; ...

and the rational {Greco-Roman} Christian, ... was justly offended, that the Paulicians should dare to violate the unity of God, the first article of natural and revealed religion. Their belief and their trust was in the Father, of Christ, of the human soul, and of the invisible world. But they likewiseheld the eternityof matter; a stubborn and rebellious substance, the origin of a second principle, of an active being, who has created this visible world, and exercises his temporal reign till the final consummation of death and sin. ... The new sect was loosely spread over the provinces of Asia Minor to the westward of the Euphrates: ... (Gibbon E. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 4. BF French, 1830, pp. 5,28,29)

Note: It is the Greco-Roman trinity that they call the "unity of God." These Paulicians were non-trinitarians, but it looks like they were binitarians.

Some believe that a leader of them, Constantine of Mananali, could have been in the Church of God. He was martyred in 681 A.D.

Simeon, the Roman officer in charge of killing him, returned in 684 as a convert, because of Constantine of Mananali's example and teachings.

While some claim that the Paulicians at that time used the Gospels and epistles of Paul as scripture and rejected the rest, it is more "probable that they did not possess" all of the rest of the Bible per Andrew Miller's church history (Miller A. Short papers on Church history. Oxford University, 1874, Digitized Aug 29, 2006, p. 552). However, it is likely that some had the rest, but that there were fewer copies available to many of them.

The Bogomils ... They believed their own ministers were the true spiritual successors of the apostles. (Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973)

Pergamos was told "I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is" (Revelation 2:13, literal) (an article of related interest may be Is this Satan's Throne?). Pergamos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia in Asia Minor. Just as the initial local Church at Pergamos was situated in a city where Satan swayed human politics, much of this work of God's church occurred within the bounds of the government of Satan's Eastern Roman Empire.

The old Radio Church of God published the following:

In Rev. 2:13-14, Christ, speaking to the Church of Pergamos, says, "I thy works, even where Satan's seat is... thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam." In Pergamos, which was outstandingly "Satan's seat," the SUN-DIVINITY BAAL — Balaam's doctrine was idolatrous sun worship (Num. 25:1-3; 31:16) — WAS WORSHIPPED UNDER THE FORM OF A SERPENT and under the name of Aesculapius, "the man-instructing serpent" (Macrobius Saturnalia, book I, p. 650). In Satan's seat, over 60 years after Christ's time, the main worship was sun and serpent! This sun and devil worship was TRANSFERRED to Rome when Pergamos became part of the Roman Empire. According to the fundamental doctrine of the Mysteries, as brought from Pergamos to Rome, THE SUN WAS THE ONLY GOD. In Pergamos the sun had been worshipped as a serpent! (Meredith C. Paul. Today's Religious Doctrines ... how did they begin? - Installment 4. Plain Truth, February 1960)

So, sun worship occurred in Pergamos and by the end of the 4th century, the Greco-Romans had adopted a lot of sun-god related beliefs.

A Persecuted Church and Antichrist

Notice, now, the following related to persecution:

Actually, when you begin to deal with the Bogomils, you deal with a different persecution because with the Paulicians the main persecution was by the universal church, whereas with the Bogomils, the main persecution was by the Greek Orthodox church. That was their main difficulty. In addition to this struggle, of spiritual fornication and allowing their members to eat of the table of idols, they also had among them those who had the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which God hates and is actually paganism — the Babylonian mysteries tied in with the name of Christ and the name of religion. That is what the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes really was.

God said they had to repent or he would come to the Paulicians and Bogomils and would fight against both those churches with the sword of His mouth dealing with condemnation and His judgment upon them. Then He says if any of us have ears, we should hear what the Spirit says to these churches and if any people overcome that particular stage or attitude, they will be given to eat of the hidden manna.

From Blunt's Dictionary of Sects and Heresies, the article on "Athingaini" (or as in some "Athyngani" or "Athyngany"): "A title bestowed in the eighth century upon [not the name they used for themselves] a sect of the Paulicians which rose in Asia Minor."

So, notice when this particular section of the true church came up in this area. They were called by different names. They were not called the same in every place. We saw in Turkey, or in the region of Greece, they were called "Paulicians," but down in Asia Minor in the region of Constantine Pogonatos, 668 to 685 A.D., they were given the title of "Athangani." They began to be so called in the days of the Empress Irene, who was from 797 to 802 A.D.

As you remember, that is about the date when the Paulicians began to take up arms and units in an army — began to unite with the Saracens and actually war against the Romans and ceased being the true church. (Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973)

Sadly, some in Pergamos compromised.

Despite some compromising, those of Pergamos were not popular with the Roman or Eastern Catholics because they considered them to represent forces that were anti-Christ.

Actually, a Catholic source suggested that the Paulicians 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. viewed 12/03/07).

Why would that occur then?

In 381 A.D., at the second ecumenical council at Constantinople, the trinity as now taught was officially adopted (for more details, please see Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?). The trinity actually denies that Jesus came in the flesh (that denial was what the Apostle John wrote was a doctrine of antichrist in II John 7) as it teaches that God really did not empty Himself of His divinity (in contradiction to Philippians 2:7), hence did not really die, but only His flesh died.

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 the also 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).

Christians are to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Because the Church of Rome was clearly not doing that in the fifth and later centuries, it was clear to many in Pergamos that the head of such a church would be an antichrist, and perhaps ultimately the final Antichrist.

While the Smyrna Church was subject to many persecutions, including Emperor Constantine's Edict Against Heretics and Emperor Theodoius' death penalty for properly observing Passover, persecution was not limited to the fourth century and carried into the time of Pergamos.

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.

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).

Before going further, many may be surprised to learn that the Roman Catholics were not nearly into accepting idols/icons as the Greeks. But Rome changed and conclusively did in 843, which an Orthodox bishop wrote was the "Triumph of Orthodoxy" (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp. 31-33). This also happened to present a more unified front against Islam, which condemned such icons as idolatry.

Anyway, 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" 6th century 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 leprosy ... 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.

Furthermore, the Eastern Orthodox admit they oppressed the Bogomils. Notice this odd admission:

The Orthodox, as have all religions, berated other confessions and denominations. But Orthodoxy was always benign - no "jihad", no bloodshed, no forced conversions and no mass expulsions - perhaps with the exception of the forcible treatment of the Bogomils. It was all about power and money, of course. Bishops and archbishops did not hesitate to co-opt the Ottoman administration against their adversaries (Sam Vaknin Ph.D. The Crescent and the Cross - Religion and Community in the Balkans - The Communities of God American Chronicle - March 30, 2007

Notice that the Orthodox claim to have not caused bloodshed, forced conversions, or mass expulsions of any group, except what they did to the Bogomils. I cannot comment on how they treated all others, but obviously, they felt mistreating people that were associated with the true Church of God was acceptable (which the "Orthodox" also did earlier than this--see article on Smyrna). This is sad, but consistent with what happened to true Christians in the Pergamos and Thyatira eras of the true Church.

They Kept the Sabbath

The Sabbath was kept by many during the time of Pergamos, and not just those Christians who had Jewish heritage. The historian Sozomen reported in the mid-5th Century,

The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria (Sozomen. THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF SOZOMEN. Comprising a History of the Church, from a.d. 323 to a.d. 425. Book VII, Chapter XIX. Translated from the Greek. Revised by Chester D. Hartranft, Hartford Theological Seminary UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. Principal of King's College, London. T&T CLARK, EDINBURGH, circa 1846).

The "people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere" is most likely referring to those in Asia Minor (that is where Constantinople was), and included much of Italy, northern areas of Europe, and the Middle East.

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).

Other Beliefs

The Paulicians apparently had the entire Bible and often quoted from it:

“Their canon included the whole of the New Testament except perhaps the Apocalypse, which is not mentioned or cited ... There is no rejection of the Epistles of Peter, nor is any disrespect shown to that apostle. It is merely affirmed, p. 93, that the Church does not rest on him alone, but on all the apostles, including Paul. In the Election Service, p. 107, the bishop formally confers upon the candidate the ritual name of Peter, in token of the authority to loose and bind now bestowed on him.” (Conybeare, pp. xxxvii, xxxix)

In another article that mentions them, 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).

Early Christians did not use a cross as an identifying symbol (see also What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol?). The Paulicians were being faithful to original Christianity on this point.

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 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 Paulicians were not ecumenical and also condemned the Greco-Romans:

Behold, O ye blind, how our Lord deems your procedure false and vain, and pronounces you to be deniers of him, and calls you children of Satan, as was written above. Lo, now do ye recognize right well your lying father; recognize of a truth your spirit; recognize even your false God. Nay, recognize also your teacher; yea, and furthermore do ye recognize the Pope, the Catholicos, and your president; and recognize your sham Messiah, and the rest. Of whom our mediator and intercessor, our life and refuge, doth manifestly speak, saying: ‘And that which he speaketh false, he speaketh out of his own, and his father is Satan.’ Thus our Lord Jesus and the holy universal and apostolic church saw and spoke as we wrote above. (Conybeare FC. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, pp. 85-86).

Sadly, today, most who profess Jesus fail to truly recognize important aspects of the truth. And many want to make further compromises away from the truth for the sake of an unbiblical unity.

The following is from the Catholic Priest Basil Sarkisean's work Manichaean Paulician Heresy and is from a 987 A.D. letter written by Armenian monk 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 {baptismal} 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).

Early Christians did not consider a cross something to be adored (see also What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol?).

Perhaps it should be mentioned that Gregory of Narek called a man "valiant ... who destroyed and put to death their cursed ancestors" (ibid, p.128). Hence Gregory of Narek and others did NOT hold to the true Christian views towards killing (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?) and persecution (see also Persecutions by Church and State).

The following from the late fourth century, by Orthodox saint and bishop Gregory of Nyssa shows 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 Followers of Macedonius. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1893).

Even up until the mid-4th century, most Greco-Roman bishops were binitarian. Yet, Gregory condemned the Paulicians/Manicheans for being binitarian.

Two related articles of interest may include Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? and Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.

Anyway, we see that there were people in Armenia during the time of Pergamos for centuries who were in opposition to the mainstream church there. Notice the following report:

In his tract entitled Against the Paulicians, Hovhannes Otsnetsi (ca. 650-728) gives the following details about the Paulician sect:

1. They dare to despise us and our orthodox "God-revealed" religion.

2. They consider our worship of the holy sign (the cross) to be idolatry.

3. They consider the worship of holy pictures abominable.

4. They do not accept our form of worship but pretend before others that there is no difference between them and us.

5. They lead astray the simple in faith and try to win them over.

6. They were reprimanded by Catholicos Nerses (5th century) and eventually withdrew into hiding and joined the iconoclasts of Albania.

Krikor Naregatsi (ca. 945-1003) gives us a summary of the doctrines of the Tondraketsis in his Letter to the Abbot of Kchaw Concerning the Refutation of the Accursed Tondrakians. Among other accusations he lists the following:

1. They deny our ordination, which the apostles received from Christ.

2. They deny the Holy Communion as the true body and blood of Christ.

3. They deny our Baptism as being mere bath water.

4. They consider Sunday as on a level with other days.

5. They refuse genuflection.

6. They deny the veneration of the cross. ...

In another work of Krikor Naregatsi entitled Discourse Concerning the Church Against the Manichaeans Who Are Paulicians, we find a forceful defense of the "visible church" which the Tondrankians had rejected saying that the church is merely the gathering of the faithful. Furthermore, we also have Paul of Taron's testimony that the Tondrakians had "declared cross and church to be alien to the Godhead, nor permitted the sacrifice [badarak] to be offered for those who slept in Christ."

In the late 19th century, an important manuscript was discovered at the Etchmiadzin library by F. C. Conybeare, bearing the title The Key of Truth. Many scholars, having carefully studied this text, concluded that this was a very ancient religious manual belonging to the Paulicians of the 8th century. This manual was evidently confiscated by Armenian Church authorities in 1837 from a group of Armenians who evidently were followers of the Tondrakian sect. Some of the essential points with strong Protestant leanings found in The Key of Truth are:

1. The moral law, as given to Moses in the Decalogue, should be obeyed, but no trust should be reposed in external rites and observances.

2. Making the sign of the cross and genuflection is superfluous.

3. Pilgrimage to Etchmiadzin and Jerusalem and the keeping of fasts are human inventions and unnecessary.

4. The worship of crosses and pictures of saints is idolatry.

5. The sacrifice of the mass is a lie, and the elements of the communion are not the body and blood of Christ, but ordinary bread and wine.

6. The baptism and muron or holy ointment of the orthodox churches are false and only the mark of the Beast on the forehead; ...

7. A priest should not be called "Lord, Lord," but only a clergyman (literally "a man of orders"), for God alone is Lord.

8. Confession to a priest is of no profit for the forgiveness of sins; the penitent should confess his sins to God alone; saints cannot intercede for us.

(Haleblian K. "The Origins of Armenian Protestantism." Forum, March 2002. accessed 04/21/16)

As far as their orthodox "God-revealed" religion goes, it was doctrines NOT from the Bible that we see those of Pergamos objected to. The trinity, for example, was supposedly revealed to them by an apparition of Mary communicating with Gregory the Wonder Worker (watch also Gregory Thaumaturgus, Signs, and Lying Wonders).

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).

The Bible calls Satan "the God of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV)--and the Bogomils and Cathars, at least some of them, remembered that.

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.

The laying on of hands began in the New Testament church with the apostles with continued to successive church eras (see also the article: see Laying on of Hands). The old Radio Church of God did teach that the true church always had laying on of hands succession, including the Paulicians. Notice:

Paulician Church Government

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."

They taught that the Church is not a building, not just an organization, but an organism — the body of truly converted baptized persons, which has continued unbroken with the apostolic traditions from its beginning. Jesus Christ was and is the HEAD of that Church.

Paulicians also taught that the Scripture is for the layman as much as for the minister. They continually urged the people to check the Scriptures for themselves, and accused the priests of hiding the Scriptures in order to deprive the people of the truth and of making monetary profit in addition by dispensing a SUPPOSED word of God in its place. ...

Four of their greatest leaders, the Paulicians called APOSTLES and PROPHETS. These directed the other ministers — "synecdemi" (itinerant evangelists), "poimenes" (pastors) and "notarii" (teachers who also had the responsibility, in the absence of printing, to laboriously hand-copy the Holy Scriptures). These ministers exercised the power of "binding and loosing."

Also mentioned in the Pergamos Era are "elders," "rulers," and "readers." Compare the supplementary offices of "... miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" — see I Cor. 12:28! ...

And unlike the supposed-to-be celibate priests of the false church — or the "electi" of the Manichaeans — the elders of the Paulicians not only might, but were expected to be married and the head of a family (Titus 1:6)! ...

Did Jesus Christ Himself put men directly into the highest office of this chain of authority? And did He "ordain" them by the laying on of His hands? Mark 3:14; John 15:16. ...

Only by the choice of Jesus Christ, by the Scriptural ordinance of the laying on of hands, were different ranks of ministers ordained to authority, and that by those who were ministers before them. The succession of ministers thus begun by the hands of Jesus Christ remained unbroken in the True Church through all ages.

Some of the men so ordained may prove unworthy. (Judas is an example.) They may be more interested in physical things than in service or the gospel.

Among the Paulicians were men, from time to time, whose works made it obvious Jesus Christ Himself had ranked them as apostles.

An apostle need not be an impressive looking man, or of HUMAN nobility. Fishermen, publicans, and tax-collectors have been among Christ's apostles (Mat. 4:18, 21; 9:9; Luke 5:27). Any greatness is not of the man, but of the OFFICE. No man is qualified for it but through the Holy Spirit.

Though you might not respect the MAN, YOU had BETTER respect that OFFICE!

THAT office is of God. (Lesson 50 - I Will Build My Church, Part 2. 58 Lesson: Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1965)

So, prophets were one of the titles some held then. For more on prophets, check out the article How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.

Interestingly, The Catholic Encyclopedia article also admits this about the Paulicians:

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 the faithful among the Paulicians (of course there were many called by those names that were not faithful). And has happened throughout true Church of God history, many fell away.

Such as those who followed Marcus in Jerusalem near the end of the Ephesus Church Era.

The Catholic Encyclopedia even though it has a mix of truth and error interestingly states:

Cathari (From the Greek katharos, pure), literally "puritans", a name specifically applied to, or used by, several sects at various periods ... To their geographical distribution they owed the names of "Cathari of Desenzano" or "Albanenses" (from Desenzano, between Brescia and Verona, or from Alba in Piedmont, Albano, or perhaps from the provinces of Albania); "Bajolenses" or "Bagnolenses" (from Bagnolo in Italy); "Concorrezenses" (probably from Concorrezo in Lombardy); "Tolosani" (from Toulouse); and especially "Albigenses" (from Albi). The designations "Pauliciani", of which "Publicani", "Poplicani", were probably corruptions, and "Bulgari", "Bugri", "Bougres", point to their probable Oriental origin. However attractive it may be to trace the origin of the Cathari to the first centuries of Christianity, we must be cautious not to accept as a certain historical fact what, up to the present, is only a probable conclusion (Weber N.A. Transcribed by Paul-Dominique Masiclat, O.P. Cathari. 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).

From the above, we glean that the name Puritan apparently did come from Cathari. And that even though Catholic scholars prefer to believe it is only a probable conclusion, the Cathari can be traced to the first centuries of Christianity!

More on the doctrine of the later Cathari can be found in the article The Thyatira Church Era.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that even the book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma also states that the Cathari and Waldenses were amongst the earliest who were against the Roman teaching on purgatory:

The reality of purgatory was denied by the Cathari, the Waldenses (Ott L. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 4th ed . TAN Books, Rockford (IL), Imprimatur 1954, printed 1974, p. 482).

The reality is that purgatory was NOT taught by early Christians--it developed centuries after Jesus' resurrection and gained acceptance in the 7th and later centuries by the Romans (see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?).

Comments from Other Researchers

The late evangelist 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").

Since "mass" contains idols, apparently those attending ignored the following:

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

4 I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,
Nor will I go in with hypocrites.
5 I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked. (Psalm 26:4-5)

Harvard scholar H. Brown wrote some positive statements, though, about them:

... 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 at an earlier date, called Quartodecimans, and kept Passover at 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.

Not Only In Asia Minor, but Apparently in the British Isles

In addition to the Paulicians, during the time of Pergamos, there were some faithful in areas such as Scotland and other portions of the British isles.

In its organisation, … the Celtic Church circumvented the Church of Rome and functioned as a repository for elements of Nazarean tradition transmitted from Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor. … In 664, the Synod of Whitby effectively dissolved the Celtic Church, and Ireland was brought into the Roman fold (Baigent M, et. al. The Messianic Legacy: Secret Brotherhoods. The Explosive Alternate History of Christ. Delta, 2004, p. 120).

So, it has been claimed that this church had ties to the Nazarenes.

One researcher noted in the fifth and sixth centuries:

The Celtic church of this period often termed itself "the Church of God." How many of its members were really converted Christians, however, is difficult to determine. In some respects this group was similar to "the church in the wilderness" described by Stephen in Acts 7:38. (Fletcher I.C. THE INCREDIBLE HISTORY OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH, Chapter 7. Copyright 1984, by Ivor C. Fletcher. Reprinted in 1995 by Giving & Sharing, with permission from Ivor C. Fletcher).

The Celtic/Keltic churches, around 600 A.D. claimed to have been descended from the church of the Ephesians:

The Keltic Churches of Ireland, of Galloway, and of Iona were at one with the British Church. These claimed, like Southern Gaul and Spain, to have drawn their faith from the Apostolic See of Ephesus. Their liturgies, or such fragments as have come down to us, bear marks of belonging to the Oriental family of liturgies. (Dawson W. The Keltic Church and English Christianity. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (New Series), 1884, p. 377 doi:10.2307/3677978)

Here is a report from the period 549-1049:

The term Culdee has been improperly applied to the whole Keltic church, and a superior purity has been claimed for it.

There is no doubt that the Columban or the Keltic church of Scotland, as well as the early Irish and the early British churches, differed in many points from the mediaeval and modern church of Rome, and represent a simpler and yet a very active missionary type of Christianity.

The leading peculiarities of the ancient Keltic church, as distinct from the Roman, are:

1. Independence of the Pope. Iona was its Rome, and the Abbot of Iona, and afterwards of Dunkeld, though a mere Presbyter, ruled all Scotland.

2. Monasticism ruling supreme, but mixed with secular life, and not bound by vows of celibacy; while in the Roman church the monastic system was subordinated to the hierarchy of the secular clergy.

3. Bishops without dioceses and jurisdiction and succession.

4. Celebration of the time of Easter.

5. Form of the tonsure.

It has also been asserted, that the Kelts or Culdees were opposed to auricular confession, the worship of saints, and images, purgatory, transubstantiation, the seven sacraments...(Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998).

Thus, the true church was not limited to Asia Minor, but spread throughout many lands. It should be noted that it was the time of Passover, and not Easter, that was always the issue. Also, the true church never adopted the idea of seven sacraments, nor did the early church in the British, Irish, or Scottish regions (later, however, apostasy also occurred and basically took over in this region). The tonsure was a pagan hair style and is in conflict with Leviticus 21:5 and Ezekiel 44:20, and while some may suggest that those prohibitions were done away, Jesus and His apostles did not teach that Christians should attempt to look like pagan priests.

The Catholic monk and historian Bede in the eighth century wrote about a group of churches and related leaders in Britain who did not agree with Augustine:

They do not keep Easter Sunday at the proper time, but from the fourteenth ... They did other things too which were not in keeping with the unity of the Church. After a long dispute they were unwilling, in spite of the prayers, exhortations, and rebukes of Augustine and his companions to give their assent, preferring their own traditions to those which all the churches throughout the world agree in Christ (Bede. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Judith McClure and Roger Collins, editor. Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 71-72).

In other words, from the time of Augustine (late fourth/early fifth century) it was clear that there were those in Britain who kept the Passover on the 14th and who held to practices that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox confederation of churches did not hold.

Furthermore, notice what Catholic priest and theologian R. McBrien wrote:

Pope Vitalin ... supported efforts of the king of Northumbria, following the Synod of Whitby (664), to establish in England the Roman, as opposed to the Celtic, date for Easter (that is the Sunday after the Jewish Passover, rather than the Passover itself) and other Roman practices as well. (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.109).

Notice that the above account (written by a Catholic priest and scholar) acknowledges that Rome changed Passover in Britain from the biblical date (which apparently the Celts still observed into at least the seventh century) to the Roman date.  Rome would not have felt that this was necessary if it originally installed an Easter Sunday tradition into the British/Irish regions in the first or second century. Thus they either got some of these practices from their ancestral origins or from Christians not part of the Greco-Roman confederation.

Sabbath-keeping would seem to have been going on at that time, as according to Thomas Bampfield in the late 1600s (he had been Speaker of the House of Parliament at one time, under Cromwell):

Thomas Bampfield ... contended that the seventh day had been kept in England in unbroken succession until the thirteenth century (Ball B.  Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition.  James Clark & Co., 2009, p. 21).

It should be noted that because of practices of a few of the Lollards in the British Isles, some Sabbath-keeping would have occurred from the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries (Ball, pp. 30-31 ), so it would have been unbroken for even more centuries that Thomas Bampfield contended about as the Sardis era observed the Sabbath.

So, where did this non-Roman church in the British Isles come from? Well, it logically, did not come from Rome, but from the Smyrnaeans (the prior Church era) in Asia Minor and Palestine. According to A.N. Dugger, Dr. T.V. Moore noted:

"The type of Christianity which first was favored, then raised to leadership by Constantine was that of the Roman Papacy. But this was not the type of Christianity that first penetrated Syria, northern Italy, southern France, and Great Britain. The ancient records of the first believers in Christ in those parts, disclose a Christianity which is not Roman but apostolic. These lands were first penetrated by missionaries, not from Rome, but from Palestine and Asia Minor. And the Greek New Testament, the Received Text, they brought with them, or its translation, was of the type from which the Protestant Bibles, as the King James in the English, and the Lutheran in German, were translated." -- Dr. T. V. Moore, The Culdee Church, chapters 3 and 4, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 25, 26 (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, pp. 90-91).

Thus, there were those small groups of the true church in many lands.

Footwashing, which Church of God groups observed, was also a practice among the Celts. Notice:

The history of feetwashing is tantalizingly elusive...There are passing references to this rite in the first centuries. Continued for many years in the Eastern Church, feet washing eventually fell out of favour in the West. But it was carried out long enough to be introduced among the earliest Celtic Christians (Hardinge, Leslie. The Celtic Church in Britain. Teach Services, Brushton (NY) 2000, p. 111).

Sabbath-keeping was also occurring in the Celtic regions until at least 886:

The Celtic Church which occupied Ire­land, Scotland, and Britain, had the Syriac (Byzantine) scriptures instead of the Latin vulgate of Rome. The Celtic Church, with the Waldenses and the Eastern empire, kept the seventh-day Sabbath...

“Adomnan’s use of sabbatum for Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is clear indication from ‘Columba’s mouth’ that ‘Sabbath was not Sunday.’ Sunday, the first day of the week is ‘Lord’s day.’ Adomnan’s attitude to Sunday is important, because he wrote at a time when there was controversy over the question whether the ritual of the Biblical Sabbath was to be transferred to the Christians’ Lord’s-day.’ — A.O. and M.O. Anderson (editors) Adomnan’s Life of Columba, Thomas Nelson’s Medieval Texts, 1961, pages 25-26.

“The Old Testament required seventh-day Sabbath observance and, reason Adomnan’s editors, since the New Testament nowhere repealed the fourth commandment, the seventh-day was observed by all early Christians. The evidence they adduce suggests that no actual confusion between Sunday and ‘the Sabbath’ occurred until the early sixth century, and then in the writings of the rather obscure Caesarius of Arles. (Ibid., page 26.)...

The Roman ‘movement’ to supersede the Celtic Sabbath with Sunday ‘culminated in the production of an (apocryphal) ‘Letter of Jesus’, or ‘Letter of Lord’s day’, alleged to have been found on the altar of Peter in Rome; and is said in the annals to have been brought to Ireland by a pilgrim (c. 886). Upon this basis laws were promulgated, imposing heavy penalties for those that violated on Sunday certain regulations derived from Jewish prohibitions for Sabbath. . . . There is in fact no historical evidence that Ninian, or Patrick, or Columba, or any of their con­temporaries in Ireland, kept Sunday as a Sabbath.’ (Ibid., page 28.) (Celtic Sabbath-Keeping Study No. 264, from Cherith Chronicle, April-June 1998, pp. 46-47. 6/24/06).

Ancient Pergamos

As far as anicient Pergamos goes, closer to the time that Revelation was written, notice the following (bolding within paragraphs mine):


   Pergamos, or Pergamum, was located about forty miles northeast of Smyrna in the Caicus valley and on the imperial highway running along the coast of Asia. Pergamos was fifteen miles from the Aegean Sea.

   The city was named for the lofty hill on which the ancient city was built. The name therefore means tower, height, or elevation, and carries with it the idea of exaltation. It was the exalted city. The name also indicates a union as through marriage. The lofty hill on which the ancient city was built and from which it took its name was an immense rock rising one thousand feet abruptly out of the broad and fertile valley. The walls of the elevation were almost perpendicular, except on one side, where there was a steep and narrow passageway to the top, which was easily fortified and guarded. Because of its natural defenses the city of Pergamos was considered an impregnable stronghold. The only way it was ever captured was by stratagem. In Pergames, Lysimachus deposited his treasure, valued at $10,000,000, because he considered it the safest place in his kingdom.

A Famous City

   Pliny called Pergamos the most illustrious city of Asia. It was the educational center of Western Asia. There one of the earliest poets, and Herodotus, "the father of history" studied and wrote, because of the great library, which according to Plutarch contained 200,000 volumes. It was second only to the world-famous library of Alexandria. These libraries caused a long and bitter rivalry between the two cities. Egypt, in order to curb the growth of the Pergamum library, withheld shipments of papyrus, the ancestor of paper. To meet the emergency the Pergamenians dressed the skins of animals, on which to do their writing, calling the new writing material Pergamus, and later, parchment.

   "A royal city, "exclaimed Sir William Ramsay as he viewed the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamos. He said: "Beyond all other sites in Asia Minor it gives the traveller the impression of a royal city, the home of authority: the rocky hill on which it stands is so huge, and dominates the broad plain of the Caicus so proudly and boldly. "It was indeed "a royal city" and a royal residence.

   For 250 years Pergamos was the official capital of the province. It was also the seat of the Commune of Asia. From Pergamos the decrees of the Caesars were executed throughout the province. This gives force and meaning to Christ's introduction to the church of Pergamos: "These are the words of Him who wields the sharp sword with the double edge." (Moffatt.) The broad double-bladed Roman sword was known as "the cut and thrust sword." It was the emblem of the highest official authority, carrying with it the power of life and death, and this power was vested in the proconsuls of the province, who lived at Pergarnos. The governor wielded the sword of Rome from this impregnable fortress.

   According to Pliny, Pergamos was also the seat of a Roman supreme court. To this city prisoners were brought for trial from all parts of the province, and were sentenced by the power that ministered life and death to all. Therefore the sword that proceeded out of the mouth of Christ is a symbol of His judicial authority. He too wields the power of life and death to all who hear His message. The One who has all power and authority speaks to the church located in the city where official authority and power dwells.

Throne of Satan

   Jesus said to His people in Pergamos, "I know where you dwell. Satan's throne is there" (Weymouth), or "Where Satan sits enthroned" (Moffatt). "Throne" is a better rendering than "seat, "for the same original is translated "throne" in Revelation 1:4 and 3:21. The capital of the province was also the headquarters of the pagan religion of the province for in all ancient nations church and state were united. The ruler of the state was also the head of the religion of the state.

   Pergaxnos was a city of heathen termples and a pantheon of pagan deities. Jupiter was said to have had his origin there, and to him and other Creel: and Roman gods were erected many beautiful and costly temples, giving it the name of "the city of temples. "It was the metropolis of heathen deities. Temples were built and dedicated to Jupiter, Zeus, Athena, Dionysius, and Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, and also called "the god of Pergamum. "It was also the center of emperor worship. In A.D. 29 a great temple was erected to the worship of Augustus Caesar, who was to be prayed to as "Lord Caesar." Domitian decreed that all peoples should address him as "Our Lord and our God." Pergamos contained a sacred grove called "the glory of the city." The city was known as the "temple-keeper" and "temple-warden" of the gods of paganism. It was the seat of the imperial church and the symbol of "rampant paganism."

   The Temple of Zeus was the most celebrated of all the temples of Pergamos, and was dedicated to Aesculapius, "the serpent god" or "god of healing." It was also known as the Temple of Aesculapius, who was called "the Great Physician" and "the Saviour." He was also given other titles showing that he was a counterfeit of Christ. In this temple a living serpent was kept and worshipped. Serpent worship was so universal in Pergamos that many coins have been found with a picture of a serpent entwined around a pole. In the Temple of Zeus many miracles of healing were supposed to have been performed. In connection with this temple was also a famous school of medicine.

   The Temple of Zeus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the ruins of which are still visible.

   When Cyrus captured the city of Babylon, the ancient seat of Satan's counterfeit system of religion, the supreme pontiff of the Chaldean mysteries and his retinue of priests fled from the city and ultimately made their residence in Pergarnos. Here they re-established their Babylonian worship and made the kings of Pergamum the chief pontiffs of their religion. When Attalus III, the last of their priest-kings, died in 133 B.C., he bequeathed both his royal and priestly offices to the Romans. A century later Caesar became both emperor of Rome and Pontifex Maximus of the religion of the empire. He was given divine honors, which he handed down to his successors. These were later assumed by the popes, the supreme pontiffs of ecclesiastical Rome. Thus Pergamos became the connecting link between the two Babylons, the ancient and the modern. (Bunch, Taylor G. The Seven Epistles of Christ. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1947 as cited in The Seven Cities of Asia Minor, Ambassador College Study Guide, pre-1987, pp. 2-3).

My wife and I have visited this area. The Temple of Zeus comment is interesting as it has been speculated that the most common 'picture of Jesus' was based on Zeus (see Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour).

Photos of Pergamos can be found accessed from the article Joyce's Photo's of Pergamos.


The Pergamos Church faced a variety of persecutions throughout its history. It was against idols, including crosses. It was against military service--despite the fact that some among them compromised and fell away. The Pergamos church did not teach the trinity.

There is proof that it was against Easter, but observed the biblical Passover.

Its historical fame for referring to the Pontifex Maximus as the Antichrist helps show that, despite it being persecuted, it understood that professing Christian leaders were not to deviate from scripture and the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Yet, many of them compromised.

Because of their problems, Jesus told them

16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

It should be pointed out that in the 21st century, most real Christians are Laodicean--and Jesus told them to repent as well (Revelation 3:19).

So, do not think it was only those of the past who have problems.

As we get closer to the start of the Great Tribulation and see the advancement of the modern ecumenical movement, expect some Laodicean Christians to try to imitate some of the errors of the Pergamos brethren.

In the eleventh century, the Pergamos Church began to die out and probably during the twelfth century, Thyatira became dominant.

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

Photos of Pergamos can be found and accessed from the article Joyce's Photo's of Pergamos.

Previous Church was Smyrna                                                                                                Next Church is Thyatira

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B. Thiel, Ph.D. The Pergamos Church Era. (c) 2006/2007/2008/2010/2011/2012/2014/2016/2017/2018/2019/2020 1106

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

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