Continuing Church of God, Elijah, and Restoring All Things

By COGwriter

In Matthew 17:11, Jesus spoke of all things being restored.

Various church leaders, mainly in some of the smaller Church of God (COG) groups, have asserted that the late Herbert W. Armstrong "restored all things" and that there is nothing else to be restored.

Is that true?

Is that even scripturally possible?

Has anything of doctrinal importance been restored since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong on January 16, 1986?

Is there supposed to be a 21st century 'Elijah'?

Has the Continuing Church of God restored anything?

Will more be restored?

This article will cite scriptures, writings from Herbert W. Armstrong, writings published under leadership, CCOG writings, and more to attempt to provide answers to those questions.

Here are links to related sermons: 21st Century Elijah and CCOG: Restoring All Things.

Why Be Concerned About Restoration?

This subject is important because the Jesus prophesied the restoration of all things when He stated:

11 ... Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. (Matthew 17:11, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted)

In Matthew 17:11, the term translated “will restore” is the Greek term apokathistemi which means “to reconstitute” or “restore (again)” (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.) and is preceded by the Greek term men which means “truly” in the asseverative sense.

In Matthew 11:14, where 'Elijah' is mentioned in respect to John the Baptist, the Greek term mello is used which means “was.” This mello term is not used in 17:11--and it is that verse which is prophetic.

Matthew 11:14 is better translated than the NKJV by the Berean Study Bible, as:

14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:14, Berean Study Bible)

John WAS an Elijah. But is not one that is still to come, as that is what the Greek means.

It needs to be understood that Matthew 17:11 itself COULD NOT refer to John the Baptist. Notice the following that happened at Herod's birthday party:

6 But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter."

9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. 10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. (Matthew 14:6-11)

Consider that because he was beheaded (Matthew 14:10) earlier than Jesus spoke this and taught that Elijah still needed to restore in Matthew 17. Also, John the Baptist did not restore all things. Thus, the Elijah prophecies must have a fulfillment beyond John the Baptist.

Consider again the order:

1) Jesus said John the Baptist is the Elijah who WAS to come (Matthew 11:14, BSB).
2) John the Baptist was later beheaded (Matthew 14: 10).
3) Jesus said Elijah would still come to restore all things (Matthew 17:11).

While it is also true that Jesus said that John the Baptist was a type of Elijah (Matthew 11:14; 17:12) and John came in the "spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17), John could not in the future restore all things unless he was resurrected in the future to do so--and that does not appear to be God's plan. 

A parallel account of Matthew 17 is in Mark 9:12-13 which states:

12 Then He answered and told them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?  13 But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him."

The Greek term translated in Mark 9:13 as “also” is kai and means “and, also, even, so then, too, etc.” 

Thus, Jesus is saying that 1) Elijah will come to restore all things and 2) That John the Baptist also was an Elijah type, but he was not recognized by the majority.

So, whatever Jesus considered to be "all things" will be restored by the final Elijah.

Because Jesus said it, and had it recorded in scripture, we know it is important. It also will be important because the final Elijah would also seemingly have to be a Philadelphian Christian.

John the Baptist was not physically Elijah (John 1:21)--but his father was told by an angel:

17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

So, John the Baptist was a type of Elijah.

Before going further, let me add that a Sabbatarian Church of God group in the 19th century taught, in the Hope of Israel, that John the Baptist was a type of Elijah and that there would be a future Elijah (Reed J. Who is Elijah the Prophet? Hope of Israel, August 10, 1863).

A future Elijah was also taught in the December 10, 1863 edtion as well:

But before that day shall come, He will Elijah send; His spirit in his Church be known, And all these signs attend ... Behold, thy servants waiting, Lord, To hear ELIJAH'S voice! (p. 2).

Furthermore, the idea that Elijah would NOT be the actual Old Testament person named Elijah was clearly taught by Sabbatarians in 1864, as well as other issues with the church:

God has a waiting, watching people, who are proclaiming to this unbelieving generation, the coming of our King.

I see no evidence that the church is going to be in that state of happy union and prosperity which some imagined. They will be found, I think, in a scattered, afflicted condition; yet watching, praying and individually ready.

I do not yet see the scriptural evidence of Elijah's coming in person. ... John the Baptist ... As he came in the 'spirit and power of Elijah' 'to prepare for the way of the Lord' at his first advent, so the proclamation of the second advent as 'the gospel of the everlasting kingdom,' has been around the world, to prepare a people for the Lord. (Everett S. The Hope of Israel, April 10, 1864, p. 1).

Therefore, the idea that there was a coming Elijah was not a 20th or 21st century Church of God invention. As far as being scattered goes, the Book of Revelation has a messages to the Laodiceans--plural (Revelation 3:14)--and that is something we see now--many scattered non-Philadelphian COG groups.

In 2015, LCG basically indicated that Jesus would do the work of Elijah:

Jesus Christ is coming back to turn the hearts of parents to their children, instead of being focused solely on themselves (Malachi 4:6), and no one will be afraid (Ezekiel 34:23-28). (British Girls Suffer Emotional Trauma. TW News & Prophecy - Friday, September 04, 2015)

While Jesus will also do that, Malachi 4:5-6 mentions Elijah, not Jesus, doing that. There will be a man doing the work of Elijah as Malachi 4:5-6 shows. LCG is seemingly referring to 'he' in Malachi 4:6 as Jesus, whereas the context of Malachi 4:5-6 shows this is clearly a reference to Elijah, not Jesus, turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.

Furthermore, LCG has also indicated that there may not be a specific individual being the Elijah  (Winnail D. The Mission of the Church. Living Church News, March-April 2006, p. 7).

But there will be a man who will be the Elijah.

Both the Bible and the writings of HWA’s WCG provide specific support for the idea that there will be a future fulfillment of the Elijah prophesies, which actually point to one man.

When will that Elijah be around?

In the 21st century.

In the Book of Malachi we see the following:

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5-6, NKJV)

6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with utter destruction. (Malachi 4:6 AFV)

Putting Jesus' words together with the statements in Malachi ties the restoration of all things in with the final 'Elijah' who is to come at the time of the end.

Because of the historical teaching of a 6,000 year plan (see Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?), the end, as well as the time for the prophesied Elijah to come up would have to be in the 21st century.

Did The Words of Elijah Predict Six Thousand Years of Human Rule?

There is an old tradition that the prophet Elijah taught that there would be six thousand years for humans to rule under Satan's kingdom, followed by one thousand years of abundance in the kingdom of God.

Edward Gibbon from the 1776 work "THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE," where he documented the facts regarding the first century Christians...

"The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labor and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection". - Vol I, p.403

Jewish tradition seemingly attributes statements to the 'school of Elijah' or someone else with association to him. Here are two translations from the Talmud:

'It was taught in the school of Elijah: The world will endure 6000 years -- 2,000 years in chaos, 2,000 years with Torah, and 2,000 years will be the days of the Messiah' ('Talmud,' Sanh.97a).

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation;  two thousand years the Torah flourished;  and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin Folio 97a).

While traditions should never supersede scripture, the above is certainly an interesting and ancient tradition is it shows that the idea of a 6,000 year plan followed by Christ establishing His kingdom on the earth was a common teaching among the early ones who professed Christ. 

Furthermore, from the above, it should be clear that the Messiah was to come about 2000 years ago, which Jesus did. We in the Continuing Church of God call the time from Acts 2 to present the 'church era,' which is consistent with the Talmud.

As far as the Torah goes, that time was closer to 1400 years than 2000 as it (meaning the first five books of the Bible) was not written until after the Exodus--see also Timelines and Early Church History and When was the Exodus? Did it Happen?). However, some Jews say it began with Abraham--and from his birth to that of Jesus' resurrection was close to 2,000 years.

Now see some specific traditions related to the millennium from the Jewish Babylonian Talmud:

R. Kattina said: Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day {Isaiah 2:11}.

Abaye said: it will be desolate two [thousand], as it is said, After two days will he revive us: in the third day, he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight {Hosea 6:2}.

It has been taught in accordance with R. Kattina: Just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,' and it is further said, A Psalm and song for the Sabbath day {Psalm 92:1},  meaning the day that is altogether Sabbath — and it is also said, For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past {Psalm 90:4}.

And while there are some errors in the above, it appears that there is a six thousand year plan, that the current two thousand years essentially represents the Church/Messianic era, and that a one thousand year period remains.

Note: I inserted the scriptures quoted or alluded to above within {} as they are in the footnotes associated with the above.

Consistent with the views of early Christians and some associated with them, some believe that since God made/recreated the world in six days and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3), that humans will have 6000 years to live on the earth under Satan's influence. Remaining humans will have a 1000 year period to be under Christ's reign (the original creation of the universe may have been billions of years earlier c.f. Genesis 1:2; Isaiah 45:18; How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation?). The 6000 plus 1000 years equals God's seven thousand year plan.

The Bible teaches that a thousand years seems to be as one day to God. This is a concept from both the Old and New Testaments:

4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past (Psalm 90:4).

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8).

Notice also the following:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)

How long was Adam's day before he died?

5 So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. (Genesis 5:5)

So, Adam died "in the day"--a day that was not too much less than 1000 years long.

A day is to God as 1000 years as that is part of His plan.

Last Days Fit When 1000 Year Days are Understood: A 21st Century Elijah?

Based upon certain calculations that I am currently aware of, it seems that Adam and Eve were created and/or apparently left the garden of Eden between roughly 3959-3972 B.C. (it is most likely that the 6000 years began once Adam sinned as Adam had not rebelled before then).

This would mean that when Jesus began to preach (roughly 27 A.D., over four thousand years later) He started preaching late in day four and then into day five. Day four is the middle of seven prophetic thousand year days, hence is not one of the "last days."

Thus, days five and six would have been considered as part of the "last days" by the early disciples.

That being so, this helps explain why some New Testament figures indicated that they were in the last days:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:14-17).

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things (Hebrews 1:1-2).

If there is no 6,000 year plan of human rule followed by a 1,000 year millennial reign, then the New Testament statement above about then being in the last days make little sense. But, since God does seems to have a 7,000 year plan, these statements do make sense. And that also explains how come the end has not come yet--there is still a little more time in "the last days."

Since Jesus was preaching into “the last days,” it would seem that He must have been doing some of that in day five of the seven one thousand year days--presuming that understand of days is correct.

Now, since Acts 2 appears to have been in 31 A.D or 30 A.D., this would suggest that the 6000 years should be up by 2031--if not earlier.

Jesus was, of course, alive before 31 A.D., and perhaps the last days began as early as 28 to 30 A.D.

Now there could be other interpretations and maybe the date end will be several years later--but I still remain convinced that this will be in the 21st century.

Consider, further, that there are two types of last days referred to in the New Testament. When some were stating that they were in the last days, this indicates the latter days of the 7,000 year week. However in other places, New Testament writers sometimes are referring to the time of the final generation before Jesus returns as being the last days, as they indicate that this was not for the same time as they were writing (cf. 2 Peter 3:3).

The 6,000 year plan ties in with there being a 21st century Elijah.

Herbert W. Armstrong Restored At Least 18 Truths

What about Herbert W. Armstrong?

Did Herbert W. Armstrong restore anything?

Yes.

In 1985, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

1933 ... At least 18 basic and essential truths have been restored to the True Church since that year. (Mystery of the Ages, Dodd & Mead, 1985, p. 251)

In  a sermon titled Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era by Herbert W. Armstrong given on December 17, 1983, he listed those 18 truths he felt Jesus used him to restore to the Philadelphia era that the Sardis era had lost. He also tied that in with the Elijah to come, basically stated that restoration of all things was what the Philadelphian leader would under the Elijah to come.

Most COG groups, if they teach them, use the Tkach list, which is not the correct one (see The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?).

His restoration list, and some items related to it, are shown as follows in the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God:

The following are some truths restored to the Philadelphia era of the COG that Sardis at least partially lost:

1. True Gospel (A booklet of related interest is: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.)

2. Purpose of God (Two articles of related interest may include Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? and The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you?)

3. God’s Plan through the Holy Days (A booklet of related interest is: Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?)

4. Proper Church Government (Two articles of possibly related interest may include The Bible, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government and Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians.)

5. Who and What is God? (An article of related interest may include One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning.)

6. What and Why is Man? (A booklet of related interest is: The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you? Two articles of possibly related interest may include What is the Meaning of Life? and Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?)

7. Spirit in Man (An article of possibly related interest may include Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?)

8. Firstfruits In this Age (An article of related interest may include Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2?)

9. Knowledge of What the Millennium Truly Is (An article of related interest may include Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?)

10. Truth About the Holy Spirit (An article of related interest may include Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?)

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?)

13. Identity of Physical Israel (An article of related interest may include Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel.)

14. How the Identity of Israel Opens Up Understanding of Bible Prophecy (An article of related interest may include Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel.)

15. Second and Third Tithes (An article of related interest may include Is Third Tithe Still Valid Today?)

16. Identity of Babylon and Her Daughters (Three articles of possibly related interest may include Europa, the Beast, and RevelationWhich Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?, and Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism.)

17. Satan has Deceived the Whole World (A related book would be: The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you? An article possibly related interest may be The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance.)

18. We Are to Be Separate (A related booklet would be: Where is the True Christian Church Today?; see also Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism). Two articles of related interest may include Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? and Overview: How Does the Church of God Agree and Disagree with Other Faiths Professing Christ?)

To the best of our knowledge, the CCOG is the only COG to clearly include Herbert W. Armstrong's stated list of 18 restored truths in an official statement of beliefs--it is also in our printed booklet: Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God. Restoring Herbert W. Armstrong's list was one of the first things I tried to restore to LCG. And while that group made major changes per my request to its statement, it would not clearly teach them all, apparently because they did not want to offend Protestant television station owners.

Anyway, I was able to restore to the complete list in the CCOG. Furthermore, we also did research to show that the early Christian church did teach these with a variety of scriptural and historical references; see 18 Truths Restored to the Churches of God: Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. That information is needed as part of The Final Phase of the Work, because it is not wise for us to assert something was restored if we cannot demonstrate that at least versions of what was restored were somehow understood and/or taught by early Christians.

But is that list of 18 the restoration off "all things'?

Some claimed COG leaders say that nothing else could be restored.

Yet, that is not true.

Consider the following prophecy for the last days:

4 ... Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase. (Daniel 12:4)

Knowledge was to increase in the last days.

The last days did NOT end in the 20th century, but will in the 21st century.

The restoration of lost truths has been happening.

While in the 20th century, the old Worldwide Church of God tied Daniel 12:4 to restored doctrines (This is the Worldwide Church of God. Worldwide Church of God, booklet, 1972), we are further in the last days and more was to be restored in the 21st century.

Information on restored items is later in this article.

Herbert W. Armstrong Said He Was Not the Elijah

Though Herbert Armstrong often believed he was fulfilling the Elijah role, he said and wrote some items that demonstrate that he was not.

Herbert W. Armstrong admitted to Aaron Dean, his long-time personal aide (and Aaron Dean told me this personally on several occasions) that he might not have understood the biblical passages on the Elijah correctly before he died, and that God could raise someone else up to fulfill the Elijah role. Furthermore, HWA specifically expressed doubt to the late Evangelist Dibar Apartian (and who also told me). Dibar Apartian did not believe that HWA was the Elijah when we discussed this several times and he agreed with me about this.

The Bible, in Malachi 4:5, states that "Elijah the prophet" is to be sent--yet, HWA said he was not a prophet (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).

Actually, this is what HWA wrote:

Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new or special instruction from God--separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be (Armstrong HW. Tomorrow's World, June 1972).

The Bible shows that Elijah (I Kings 18:36; II Chronicles 21:12), John the Baptist (Matthew 11:9; Luke 7:26) and the two witnesses are (Revelation 11:10) all specifically referred to as prophets. Since Herbert Armstrong was not a prophet, Elijah was a prophet (1 Kings 18:36), the final Elijah is a prophet (Malachi 4:5), and the two witnesses will be prophets, that eliminates Herbert W. Armstrong.

Notice how Jesus referred to John the Baptist:

9 A prophet? Yes, I say to you and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it was written: Behold I send my Messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before you (Matthew 11:9-10).

Clearly since John the Baptist and the two witnesses are prophets whose roles were prophesied in advance, all could be considered 'a prophet and more than a prophet.' Since Herbert Armstrong taught that he was not a prophet, this supports the idea that he was not the final Elijah to restore all things.

Notice what HWA published in 1981 about him being the Elijah:

I have been asked "Are you the Elijah?"  And I say "No." (Armstrong, Herbert W.  Congress of Leading Ministers Hears Defined and Reemphasized Spiritual Organization of Church. Worldwide News, March 6, 1981, p. 10)

Now, according to a different writing from Herbert W. Armstrong the final Elijah could not be him.

Why?

First, understand that Herbert W. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986.

Second, notice something he wrote:

Those called into the Church were called not merely for salvation and eternal life, but to learn the way of God’s government and develop the divine character during this mortal life in the Church age ... Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, pp. 201, 349).  

When did he write that the Church age was over? Notice:

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of Lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium. (Armstrong HW. What If Adam Had Taken of the Tree of Life? Plain Truth, March 1983)

The "very end" of the Church age was not decades ago in the 20th century! The 6000 years has NOT yet been fulfilled (see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?). Since the "very end of the Church age" has not happened, and HWA died last century, his writings support that there must be another Elijah.

So, since Herbert W. Armstrong was not the final Elijah (see also The Elijah Heresies), then another must come to restore all things.

Which also means that Herbert W. Armstrong could NOT have restored all things.

Some of what Herbert W. Armstrong did was to restore more fundamental truths as a foundation for more to be restored.

There have been truths restored since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong.

He Also Pointed to the Philadelphia Work

Here is the first historical quote I found in WCG’s literature about an Elijah to come:

The Work of Elijah 1.  Did Christ affirm that ‘Elijah’ must come before His own return?  Matt. 17:11…John the Baptist did a one-man work.  But today God works through the Body of Christ -- the Church composed of many members (Eph. 4:12, 16)  After Christ’s ministry on this earth, it was no more a single individual that did God’s Work (through the power of His Spirit), but the BODY of Christ…Today the ‘body’ of Christ -- the entire CHURCH OF GOD through its voice, its prayers, its tithes and offerings and its various other functions -- is heralding Christ’s eminent return (Matt. 25:6)…And the hearts of both parents and children are being turned back to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This is what the ‘Philadelphia’ Era of God’s Church is doing today!...And it is this Church which will be taken to a temporary place of safety just as Elijah was taken to a place prepared by God (Armstrong HW, editor. Lesson 53. Ambassador College Correspondence Course. 1969). 

Hence, it was originally HWA’s position in WCG that the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God would be involved in the Elijah role. Later, instead of just  the Philadelphia era, he felt that it would be just one person, with the assistance of others in the church. Of course, the verses in the Bible clearly are referring to one man; but also one who would have support from the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God.

In a coworker letter dated, August 24, 1982, HWA wrote:

John had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, but they did not recognize who he was. "Now why, then was Elijah YET, in the future, to come-just before the 'day of the Lord?' Verse 11, Jesus said to 'restore all things.' John the Baptist DID NOT do that!...Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST".

So, yes a group can assist in restoration.

After listing the 18 truths (as opposed to claiming he restored "all things," cf. Mark 9:12) that Herbert Armstrong said God used him to restore to the Philadelphia portion of the COG, he concluded with:

Well, brethren, all those things have been restored and there is a mission for this Church that never applied, and has never been done by any other Church (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, December 17, 1983). 

Here is something from HWA's Mystery of the Ages, pp. 290-291:

It is revealed in Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 that God would raise up one in the power and spirit of Elijah, shortly prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In Matthew 17:11 Jesus said, even after John the Baptist had completed his mission, that this prophesied Elijah "truly shall first come, and restore all things." Although it is plainly revealed that John the Baptist had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, he did not restore anything. The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ's Second Coming was to prepare the way--prepare the Church--for Christ's coming, and restore the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the Church. Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." It was to be at a time when, for the first time in the history of mankind, the weapons of mass destruction were produced that could erase all humanity from the earth (Matt. 24:21-22). This also was to occur just before the Second Coming of Christ (verses 29-30).These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled. The true gospel has been restored and has now gone in power into every nation on the face of the earth.

I have eight comments on that section of the Mystery of the Ages:

1) HWA seems to be acknowledging here that he was a type of Elijah,

2) HWA states that he and/or someone part of the Philadelphia Church were to fulfill Matthew 24:14,

3) HWA believed that the prophecies related to weapons of mass destruction being available and the gospel being restored and proclaimed were being fulfilled,

4) HWA never explicitly stated that ALL THINGS to be restored were restored, even if he implied it, that conclusion would not be consistent with the word of God,

5) HWA has been dead for decades,

6) Christ has not yet come,

7) The tribulation and weapons scenario of Matthew 24:21-22 has not happened yet, and

8) Since HWA never stopped proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness and appointed others to continue to do that in the event of his death, he was in NOT teaching that there was no future fulfillment of any of these prophecies as others have falsely concluded! (For more details on that, please review the article Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?)

It should be clear that since Herbert Armstrong died in 1986, and the end has not come, that he could not have been the final Elijah.

Which means that more things were to be restored after his death.

Roman Catholic Heresy:  Elijah does not come until after the Ark of the Covenant is found.

Now going to the third century, here is something from the Roman Bishop Hippolytus:

His first advent had John the Baptist as its forerunner; and His second, in which He is to come in glory, will exhibit Enoch, and Elias, and John the Divine (Hippolytus. On the End of the World, Chapter 21).

A 21st century Roman Catholic theologian, W. Kurz, seems to support the COG position that the two witnesses are like Moses and Elijah (see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?):

John then prophesies about two witnesses...They have much in common with the Old Testament prophets Moses and Elijah ( Kurz W. What Does the Bible Say About the End Times? A Catholic View. Servant Books, Cincinnati. Nihil Obstat: Kistner H., Schehr T.P. Imprimi Potest: Link F., Paul J.M. Imprimatur: Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxillary Bishop, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 19, 2004. Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2004, p. 157).

But when?

Many Roman Catholics believe that Elijah (along with, in their view, Enoch) will not appear until after the discovery of the ark of the covenant. This is supposedly related to 2 Machabees (sometimes spelled Maccabees). 2 Machabees is one of the so-called "deuterocanoconical" books, which is really part of what could be better called the Old Testament Apocrypha. It is not part of the actual Bible.

The specific passage in 2 Machabees is:

4 And it was in the same writing, how the prophet commanded by the Divine answer made to him, that the tabernacle, & the ark should follow in company with him, till he came forth into the mount in which Moyses ascended, and saw the inheritance of God. 5 And Jeremie coming thither found a place of a caue: & he brought the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense in thither, and stopped the door. 6 And there came certain withal, that followed, to Mark the place for themselves: and they could not find it. 7 And as Jeremie understood it, blaming them he said: that the place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and become propitious: 8 and then our Lord will show these things, and the Majesty of our Lord shall appear, & there shall be a cloud as it was also made manifest to Moyses, and as when Salomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God, he did manifest these things (2 Machabees 2:4-8. The Original And True Douay Old Testament Of Anno Domini 1610 Volume 2 Prepared and Edited by Dr. William von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2005 copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

There is a rabbinic interpretation of the above passage that claims that this ark has to do with the coming of the Messiah. But it needs to be understood that this passage of Machabees does not mention Elijah (nor Enoch).

Yet, notice the following, which is claimed to be based upon an interpretation of that passage in 2 Machabees:

Bl. Dionysius of Luetzenburg

He prophesies that which is the traditional interpretation of...2 Machabees:

"After the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant, Enoch and Elias will restore the Holy Sacrament of the Altar; Because of the fact that the Ark of the Covenant will be in the possession of the two holy prophets and not in Antichrist's hands, the Jews will recognize that Jesus is the true Messias ..."

(Luetzenberg, Leben Antichristus, Chapter 29, circa late 17th century: as cited in Birch D.A. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph. Queenship Publishing, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. 509)

Since neither the Bible nor the passage is 2 Machabees states that Enoch and Elijah will come "After the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant," those who believe that ark must first be found simply will not be able to discern the true final Elijah from God.

So, while the general Greco-Roman position that an Elijah will again return is correct, the idea that he must come after the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant is not something that should be relied upon and should be considered a heretical requirement (even though it could be possible that the Ark of the Covenant may be found).

There will be a 21st century Elijah and most of the Greco-Romans will not recognize him.

The confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18

While some think that all things restored are related to doctrine, many feel that doctrine is either opinion, semantics, or not conclusive about who best represents the true church and/or perhaps their church has a couple peculiar/unique doctrines, hence that they have restored all things.

As far as doctrine goes, even the most faithful and truest churches from Acts 2 to present have never had perfect doctrine not subject to correction.

That being said, is there some Divine way to determine the most faithful church in the end times?

Yes.

While some will point to healings, expulsion of demons, and/or various answers to prayer, those have occurred in both faithful and unfaithful churches throughout history (cf. Matthew 7:22-23).

As far as signs to look for, notice some of what the Apostle Peter taught:

14 … “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.  (Acts 2:14b-18)

This is a prophecy, according to the Bible, for the last days. It is a prophecy that GOD WILL make happen and restore.

 Herbert W. Armstrong, himself, basically said so in a 1981 sermon (scripture is from the KJV):

All right, now there’s another prophecy for the people …

Joel 2:28-29 And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (29) And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

So there is a time coming when God will start pouring out His spirit on human beings. … Day of Pentecost, 3000 were baptized. Peter preached a sermon. They were pricked in their hearts. God began to draw them. God was now… Remember He said, “I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh.” All right, there’s a duality of that. (Armstrong HW. Building The Temple. Sermon, February 14, 1981)

Herbert W. Armstrong was correct about the time coming when God would pour out His Spirit as well as the duality. There was a duality to what Peter preached in Acts 2–and the restoration of that duality is for our current time!

We are in the last days (see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?).

Therefore, dreams and prophesy were expected for our day!

Remember that there were dreams (Matthew 1:20, 2:13-22; 27:9; Acts 16:9) AND prophets (e.g. Acts 15:32, 21:10; 1 Corinthians 13:9) in the New Testament (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God). God has restored both in this 21st century (see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?).

While Herbert W. Armstrong was alive, the Personal Correspondence Department in the old WCG sent out a letter on dreams and stated the Bible showed that future dreams from God to His people were expected.

It then had a date change added to it and here is a quote from that one:

Thank you for your question concerning visions or dreams. The Bible reveals that in times past servants of God were given visions and dreams for specific reasons and/or to convey special messages. …God has used this means of communication in the past and will do so again (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28) (L052 Worldwide Church of God, 1989)

As the WCG did not publicly acknowledge any such dreams after that letter was sent, the interpretation must be that God would later use dreams (it should be mentioned that the original date of L052 was prior to 1986–hence it was not a change by the Tkach Administration).

Only one or two dreams were accepted by HWA as being from God--and they occurred in or prior to the start of the old Radio Church of God and prior to 1968 and the Worldwide Church of God (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God).

Even though the Bible and HWA said God would use dreams again in the last days, most Church of God groups (and scattered ‘independents’) do not seemingly accept that there are any prophets today, nor do they seem to accept that God actually sometimes speaks in dreams in the 21st century.

While my prior COG did not really teach about them, this is a truth restored in CCOG.

Furthermore, several in CCOG have had dreams related to myself and/or the CCOG that have had confirmation.

Also, various predictions have also been confirmed.

THESE ARE DIVINE SUPERNATURAL SIGNS!

Yet, this is something that non-Philadelphians do not accept. But before YOU discount dreams, notice the following prophecy:

5 "Look among the nations and watch —
Be utterly astounded!
For I will work a work in your days
Which you would not believe, though it were told you. (Habakkuk 1:5)

Notice, now the following prophetic warnings:

20 Do not despise prophecies. (1 Thessalonians 5:20)

41 'Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.'" (Acts 13:41)

Can you believe?

Or do you despise prophecies and God's last days' use of dreams?

We believe the confirmed dreams, etc. show Divine approval of the CCOG in the last days--this is something that God directly restored--and He did so within the CCOG. Details are in the article: Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?

Peter also mentioned prophesying and I have had prophetic involvement beyond just dreams. For details, check out: Church of God Leaders on Prophets.

Is Bob Thiel Elijah or One of the Two Witnesses?

Many forget that Elijah was simply a human like the rest of us.

The Apostle James reminded us that when he wrote:

16 ... The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:16b-18)

So, do not think that the final Elijah will not be a lot like a normal Philadelphian Christian in the end times.

Could I be Elijah or one of the two witnesses?

The topic has come up from time to time.

Several have told me that they think I am. Some have tried to insist.

For one example, during the Feast of Tabernacles in 2021, someone who I did not know and did not attend, pushed hard at me, many days in a row, to try to get me to declare myself one of the two witnesses. I refused to do so.

I said that although that is possible, the Bible teaches that God would give certain power to the two witnesses per Revelation 11:3, that I had not been granted that power, and thus could not make that declaration. He got upset with me as he seemed to think I was hiding my identity, but I would not go beyond the word of God. If I am, it will be clear in a future year. More on the two witnesses can be found in the article: Who Are The Two Witnesses?

A few weeks after the Feast of Tabernacles in 2021, CCOG deacon Richard Close (who has since died) sent the following email:

In a message dated 10/22/2021 12:37:20 PM Pacific Standard Time, closesr@comcast.net writes:

  A question has been floating in my head for 2-3 days.
        Are you the Elijah to come??     Your servant in Christ     Richard

My response was:

10/22/2021 1:58:04 PM Pacific Standard Time
cogwriter@aol.com

I do not know. I have not turned the hearts of the fathers to their children and children to their fathers in a way that is supposed to happen with that Elijah. While I believe God has used me to restore more in the 21st century than anyone else, we will have to see what God does or if He will use another.

He responded with:

10/22/2021 2:56:07 PM Pacific Standard Time
closesr@comcast.net

Thanks    I had not thought about that aspect but you do fit in several areas and the question did pop into my mind.  I am with you.  I will wait on GOD for an answer.     Have a blessed  and happy Sabbath  Day     Richard

That being said, in order to help turn the hearts of the fathers and children to each other, we in the CCOG have worked on many ways to assist with this.

We have put out Youth Bible Lessons as a tool that parents can use to help teach their children about the ways and love of God.

We have put in items of more specific youth and/or teen interest in our BibleNewsProphecy magazine.

We have put together several animations, available at our CCOG Animations Channel, to help reach teens and young adults.

We have sponsored youth/teen camps in Africa. We have thousands of young people in Africa who attend our services with their parents.

We have put out written and video materials to encourage parents to spend more time with their children.

We are also working on other ideas now as well.

But notice that I wrote "we," which means it does not have to be me. Though it might, and I personally do have some of the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18 (see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?), plus have accepted the double-portion anointing of God's Spirit as confirmation of my prophetic role (see also How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God).

But unless God tells me something more directly, like I have been granted the type of supernatural signs of the two witnesses, who do miracles like Elijah or something else quite compelling, I am not making the claim to be Elijah or one of the two witnesses.

But, what I will say is that God has used me to restore more doctrinal, historical, and prophetic truths to the Church of God than any others have in the 21st century.

Why Did God Create Anything?

As far as restoration goes, Herbert W. Armstrong taught that God was reproducing Himself through humanity and that Christians would become deified, become God after the first resurrection.

That is true.

Deification itself was taught by early Christians and is still taught by the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox (see What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?

HWA also taught the way of love and the give way of life (see The Two Trees: Only Two Ways of Life).

But HWA did not clearly teach why God made anything or why God made each individual.

But the WCG under him taught parts of it.

At a Bible Study in Pasadena I attended c. 1978, then WCG minister Art Mokarow expressed the position that the purpose for each individual was to be able to give in a unique way.

While in my last COG, in c. 2009 I asked its then leader why God made each individual and he did not know. So, I told him about the Bible Study and expanded that to "The purpose for each individual is to be able to give love in a unique way." He concurred with that statement, but never seemed to have taught it publicly.

After leaving that COG, in the CCOG, that purpose statement was expanded to:

God’s plan for all who will respond to Him is to be able to give love in a unique way to make eternity better for them personally and everyone else (The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You?).

Now why did God create anything?

God created what He did so eternity would be better (cf. Hebrews 6:9, 11:16; Philippians 1:23) (The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You? )

Those are two BASIC TRUTHS which were not restored by HWA, but were restored via the CCOG.

These are important truths, not just some ancillary knowledge.

Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus said:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

While His early faithful disciples intentionally did that, it is not something that, for example, the old WCG or any group I was part of since its apostasy, did.

But it has been restored in the CCOG.

How?

Dr. Thiel covered each verse of the four gospels, plus every word the rest of the New Testament records that Jesus spoke in a series of sermons that can be found at www.cogwriter.com

Furthermore, he instructed CCOG leaders from 7 nations to do so in a visit to Kenya in 2017, plus has written this in one of more Letters to the Brethren.

As Christians, yes, this is something that needed to be done and it has been done in CCOG. This has been restored.

History and The Original Catholic Church

We have restored many details about COG history that few have been aware of.

For one example, early Church of God leaders taught that they were part of the original catholic church.

COG Bishop/Pastor Ignatius of Antioch, in the early 2nd century:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and of the beloved Jesus Christ at Smyrna in Asia ... Wherever the bishop appears, there let the congregation be; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church. (Ignatius. Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 0.0., 8.2. In Holmes, pp. 185-191)

That is the first known reference using the term "catholic church" and it was sent to the Church of God in Smyrna--the Church of Rome did not even have bishops at this stage (see also What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History?). Hence, it most certainly was not a reference to the Roman Catholic church.

The Smyrnaeans, who HWA acknowledged were COG, wrote a document known as The Martyrdom of Polycarp which seems to have been the second document we still possess that contains the expression translated as “catholic church”:

The church of God which sojourns at Smyrna to the Church of God which sojourns in Philomelium and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place … the elect, of whom this most admirable Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna. For every word that went out of his mouth either has been or shall yet be accomplished. (The Smyrnaeans. The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp, 0:1, 16.2. In Roberts A, Donaldson J, eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume 4, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 42)

The above are the oldest documents using the term “catholic church.” (Note: this article has used lower case for the term “catholic church” in many discussions here because the term, according to most scholars, was used originally as more of as a description than a title; when capitalized it normally refers to the Church of Rome.)

Polycrates of Ephesus  was a late 2nd century COG leader. The old WCG reported:

Polycrates had been … part of “the catholic church of God.” (Lesson 50 - What Became of the Church Jesus Built? 58 Lesson: Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968)

In the middle of the 3rd century, COG leader Pionius of Smyrna also used the term 'catholic church' and said he was part of it.

Some of called Paulicians were COG. The old WCG reported:

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).

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)

Yet, the idea that the COG was also the original catholic church was not clearly taught by HWA and few once part of the old WCG realize that it was essentially taught.

When I discussed this with LCG evangelists in the early 2000s, they all agreed, but never formally taught it. But perhaps it should be added that in 2008 at the Feast of Tabernacles in Evian, France, Dibar Apartian confirmed with my family that we were all part of the "original catholic church."

We in the CCOG publicly teach that we are the group that best represents the original catholic church and put together many historical references to demonstrate that, as well as to demonstrate that we best represent the "faith once for all delivered for the saints" (Jude 3). For details, check out our free book: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church.

Apostolic Succession List

Early Church of God Christians taught they had apostolic succession per Tertullian (who at the time he wrote this in the late 2nd century supported Rome):

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; Chapter 32. 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. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Apostolic succession was something that was taught and believed by COG leaders

Many once part of the old Worldwide Church of God do not realize that it taught laying on of hands apostolic succession.

Other COG leaders also taught it.

One who claimed to be an early 20th century Church of God "successor" was A.N. Dugger. Notice some of what he wrote:

Apostolic Succession…

“The view that a wise and perfect form of church government and organization was set in order by the New Testament founders of the church, which has right to continue, and that that order has been handed down by the apostolic succession, was maintained by many.”… -- Britannica Encyclopaedia, volume 5, page 759, article, “Church.”…

That succession of the apostolic power has come down unbroken… Gladstone attacks this in a friendly criticism, by expressing doubt as to why a church would remain silent for some thirteen centuries and then be able to speak. This mystery, however, is made clear with a correct understanding of the prophecy of Revelation, where it was clearly shown beforehand that it would be so. The church was to go into the wilderness and be nourished there for 1260 years, from the face of her persecutor, the beast. Then as the earth helped the woman, she was to come forth again. This actually took place, and while remaining in silence, as far as the world was concerned, yet she is not only able to speak, but divinely empowered with the right to do so.

Britannica Encyclopaedia, volume 2, page 194 says, “Very early, however, the notion that the apostleship is essentially an hierarchical office, found entrance into the church…”

The Scriptures teach us most emphatically that the apostolic virtue and power was handed down from apostle to apostle by the divine ordinance of laying on of hands and prayer. -- Numbers 8:10, 27:28; Acts 6:6; 13:3; I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:5.

That the Sabbath-keeping "Church of God," has a most definite link of connection back through holy men to the days of the apostles is certain. The very same faith, and practice in divine worship, have been definitely handed down to the present time by strong men of God, filled with His blessed Holy Spirit, zealous for the precious commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus, fervent in zeal, and faithful unto death. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 308)

The old Radio Church of God did teach that the true church always had laying on of hands succession.

Herbert Armstrong essentially taught succession of Polycarp:

It is significant that after his release John trained Polycarp elder of Smyrna, a city near Ephesus in the province of Asia. ... At neighboring Smyrna, Polycarp presided over the Church of God for half a century after John's death. Polycarp stood up boldly for the truth while many fell away ... (Armstrong HW. The Church They Couldn't Destroy. Good News, December 1981)

Notice further that the WCG under HWA taught:

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. ...

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." ...

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. ...

"PAULICIAN" CHURCH LEADERS

- Earliest surviving mention of Paulicians by that name 555 A.D. ...

- CONSTANTINE of Mananali (Silvanus) 654-681 ... stoned to death

- SIMEON (Titus) 684-687 ... martyred by Byzantine Emperor Justinian II

- PAUL "the Armenian" 702- ... - GEGNESIUS, his son (Timothy) 717-746 ... convinced Emperor Leo III that the Paulician doctrine was not heresy; at his death his son Zachariah claimed the office but was rejected by most Paulicians

- JOSEPH (Epaphroditus) 746-782 ... evangelized Phrygia - SERGIUS (Tychicus) 801-835 ... resisted militant teaching

(Lesson 50 - What Became of the Church Jesus Built? 58 Lesson: Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968)

The Waldenses declared they had lawful bishops and a lawful, uninterrupted succession from the apostles ... (Lesson 52 - The Book And The Church They Couldn't Destroy. 58 Lesson: Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968)

Regarding prophets, those in the Church of God believe that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10). And that one would have to have to be anointed one to become a prophet in the Christian era. Here is something the Radio Church of God published in 1965:

God gives special gifts-special powers of His Spirit-to those who are set apart by the laying on of hands. Remember that it was by the laying on of hands that Timothy received the added ability, called “prophecy” by the King James translators...(I Tim. 4:14 and II Tim. 1:6) ... This spiritual gift of inspired preaching was conferred to Timothy by the laying on of hands. (Ellis, William H. Why We Have the Laying on of Hands Ceremony. Good News. April-May 1965)

Regarding succession, an evangelist in the old WCG published the following as part of his Ambassador College dissertation:

Church of God

Jones then quotes from Peter Allix, History of the Churches of Piedmont:
In his church history of the churches of Piedmont, Allix mentions the church as the Church of God. It will be observed that the people called them Waldenses.
They called themselves the Church of God. ...

Unbroken Chain

They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolic authority. Even their ministers have been ordained in an unbroken chain since the apostles.

That is some claim, but it is true. They claimed "...the key of binding and loosing." ...

Their religious views are further stated by Allix, 'they declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolical authority.' (Blackwell DC. A Handbook of Church History. Chapter V - Series: 1: Waldenses and Anabaptists. Ambassador College Thesis, 1973)

The late WCG evangelist Dean Blackwell also wrote:

We can know the minister of God's church from the time of John and James right on down to today and probably even a lot more than those. (Blackwell DC. A Handbook of Church History, Ambassador College Thesis, 1973)

But Dean Blackwell's extant writings do not contain a list. Nor did HWA ever publish a full one. Though he did publish a few pieces from time to time (Lesson 50 - What Became of the Church Jesus Built? Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968; Lesson 51 - The Light In The Dark Ages. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968).

Dibar Apartian told me that some WCG men had tried, but had not succeeded in putting a fuller list together. He encouraged me to do so in 2006, but to proceed cautiously--which I did.

I put together a list from the Apostles Peter and John through the early 3rd century for my prior COG around 2006. One of the evangelists used that and some of my other writings to help train new ministers. But that COG did not go further with it.

So, after leaving that group, I expanded the list--and did not put one out through modern times until 2021. Furthermore, I am still interested in updating/adjusting/correcting it.

While it is not complete and likely will need corrections, the following is the first such list I have seen restored by any COG:

Peter through death circa 64-68 (mainly oversaw churches from Asia Minor, Antioch, and Jerusalem)
John through death circa 98-102
(oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor)
Polycarp through death circa 155-157
(oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor) 1
Thraseas through death circa 160
(oversaw the churches from Eumenia, but died in Smyrna)
Sagaris through death circa 166-167
(died in Laodicea of Asia Minor)
Papirius through death circa 170
(oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor)
Melito through death circa 170-180
(oversaw churches from Sardis of Asia Minor)
Polycrates through death circa 200
(oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor)
Apollonius of Ephesus through death circa 210 (oversaw churches from Ephesus of Asia Minor). 1
Camerius of Smyrna through death circa 220 (possibly oversaw churches from Smyrna of Asia Minor). 1
c. 220 - c. 254 Nepos of Arsinoe
c. 254 - c. 275 Unnamed Antiochian(s) or possibly Dorotheus 2
c. 275 - 312 Lucian of Antioch 2
c. 313 - 380 Unnamed Antiochian (s) 2
c. 380 - c. 470 Unnamed Nazarenes 3
c. 470 - c. 500 Constantine of Antioch and Aushin 3
c. 500 - c. 645 Unnamed ‘Paulicians’3
c. 645 - c. 650 Leader with New Testament from Syria 4
c. 650 - c. 684 Constantine of Mananali (Silvanus) 4
c. 684 - c. 696 Simeon 4
c. 697 - c. 702 Sergius 4
c. 702 - c. 717 Paul the Armenian 4
c. 717 - c. 746 Gegnesius 4
c. 746 - c. 782 Joseph (Epaphroditus) 4
c. 783 - c. 800 Unnamed Paulician(s)
c. 801 - c. 835 Sergius (Tychicus) 4
c. 836 - c. 919 Unnamed Paulicians
c. 920 - c. 950 Basil 5
c. 951 - c. 980 Jeremiah 5
1000s Sergius (27 years) 6
c. 1110 - 1140 Peter DeBruy (Pierre De Bruy)
1140 - 1155 Arnold of Brescia
1156 - 1181 Nicetas 6
1181 - 1205 Peter Waldo 6
1205 - 1224 Arnold Hot 7
1224 - 1300 Unnamed Sabbatarian Waldensians
c. 1310 - 1322 Walter the Lollard 8
1322 - c. 1335 Raymond the Lollard
c. 1335 - c. 1460 Unnamed Sabbatarian Waldensians 3
c. 1460 - 1492 Anthony Ferrar 9
1492 - 1525 Stefano Carlino 8  or Unnamed Sabbatarian Waldenesians 3
1526 - 1528 Moravian Sabbatarian Anabaptist ‘traveling minister’10
1529 - 1540 Andreas Fischer 11
c. 1540 - 1563 Michiel Rovillart of Arras 12
1560 - 1579 Francis David 13
1580 - 1587 Unnamed Sabbatarian 14
1588 - 1600 Andreas Eossi
1600 - 1616 Simon Péchi
1617 - 1619 John Traske 15
1620 - 1652 John Pecke 15
1652 - 1654 Peter Chamberlen 15
1654 - 1661 John James 15
1661 - 1678 William Saller/Seller 15
1678 - 1711 Henry Soursby 15
1712 or 1716 - 1743 Thomas Lucas 16
1712 - 1716 John Maxson 16
1716 - 1718 John Maxson, Jr.
1718 - 1737 Joseph Crandall 16
1737 - 1748 Joseph Maxson
1748 - 1778 John Maxson
1779 - 1797 Nathan Rogers 16
1797 - 1820 James Dunn 17
1820 - 1850 John Cottrell 18 or 1823-1850 Peter Davis
1839 or 1850 - 1871 Asa Bee or unnamed Sabbatarian
1871 - 1900 A.C. Long
1900 - 1905 William C. Long
1905 - 1921 S.W. Mentzer
1921 - 1933 Andrew N. Dugger or 1922 - 1933 John S. Stanford 19
1933 - 1986 Herbert W. Armstrong
1986 - 2011 Aaron Dean 1986 -2011 or Roderick C. Meredith 20 or 1986 - 2010 Dibar Apartian 21
2011 - present Bob Thiel

1 Note: Though he had laying on of hands succession, Polycarp may not have had the succession leadership mantle until 135 as someone else in Asia Minor or Jerusalm could have held it from the death of the Apostle John until then. History concerning Apollonius is not totally clear, but strong indications are that he was most likely in the true church (the 210 date came from The Catholic Encyclopedia). There is basically no information about Camerius of Smyrna, other than he is listed as bishop of Smyrna prior to the third century in sources like The Catholic Encyclopedia and the questionable book The Life of Polycarp. After Polycrates and Apollonius, the official history (with Eusebius the main writer) says almost nothing about the true church in Ephesus, though a compromised church from there develops importance in the fourth century. It may also be of interest to note that the succession that Polycrates provided was NOT limited to a single city, but to the predominant leader/bishop at the time. Although historian F. Arundell has listed 70 so-called "bishops of Ephesus" (Arundell Francis V.  Discoveries in Asia minor: including a description of the ruins of several ancient cities and especially Antioch of Pisidia: in two volumes, Volume 2. Bentley, 1834. Original from the Bavarian State Library. Digitized Feb 9, 2010, pp. 272-273), he failed to name most of the early ones (though he did list Timothy, the Apostle John, Polycrates, and Apollonius) and has a gap of over 100 years after Apollonius (and it need to be understood that during this gap, there was so much apostacy, that those he listed after Apollonius were not faithful Christians). Many have listed Timothy in lists of Ephesus succession along with Polycrates and Apollonius, yet although Timothy was in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:1-3), he would not have been above the Apostle John (though historians like F. Arundell place the Apostle John after Timothy in a list of "the bishops of Ephesus"). Also, if Timothy is included in the list, and Polycrates was referring to people like him as John as "his relatives", in that sense then Polycrates was the "eighth" in the above succession list. F. Arundell lists Timothy as 1, John as 2, Polycrates as 8, Apollonius as 9 in his list (while erroneously listing Onesimus as 3 and no one as numbers 4-7). Perhaps it should be added that Pionius of Smyrna was faithful when killed c. 250 A.D., but the claimed bishop there at that time (Eudaemon/Euctemon) was not. Although Eudaemon/Euctemon looked to many to have the 'mantle' of succession (and may have held it for some years), spiritually Pionus appears to have had it at that time in Smyrna, though the top mantle seems to have been held by Nepos of Arsinoe at that time.

2 The reason we have “unnamed Antiochian(s)” is that it is that there is evidence there were those in Antioch who were not part of the Greco-Roman churches who kept the seventh-day Sabbath and the biblical holy days (and were not allegorists) before (like Dorotheus who, according to Eusebius, knew Hebrew, and he may have initially founded the ‘school’ that Lucian taught at; see also Downey G. History of Antioch. Princeton University Press, 2015, pp. 327-328) and after Lucian being the leader. The existence of these COG practices in Antioch are supported by homilies by John Chrysostom against them into the late 4th century (Harkins PW. Discourses Against Judaizing Christians (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 68). Catholic University of America Press, pp. xxxvii-xliv). Scholars of various sorts have concluded that his homilies against the Jews were really against “Judaizing Christians” in Antioch (Hadjioannou T. PAUL AND THE LAW IN JOHN CHRYSOSTOM AND MODERN SCHOLARSHIP. Submitted to the Faculty of Divinity University of Glasgow for the Ph. D Degree. June 2005, pp. iv, 258-308). Presuming Lucian was truly COG, then one of his followers/former students seemingly would have followed him; we suspect that some succession would have taken place in Antioch until about 380 A.D. when Emperor Theodosius made his decree against “heretics” which would have driven people out into the wilderness.

3 c. 380 – c. 1640 or c. 331 - c. 1591. This time represents a possible time for the 1260 years in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6). Faithful leaders would be in some minority of groups called Nazarenes, Paulicians, Cathari, Waldenses, Anabaptists and/or sometimes other names. Jerome and Epiphanius taught that the Nazarenes were Sabbatarians. We later have limited leaders’ names, though we hear of some early missionaries from Antioch into Aushin of Armenia named Constantine, Petrus, and Theodore (Key of Truth, cix). Symeon and Sergius were Greek (Garsoïan, p. 92). The Waldenses claimed to have had a complete and unbroken list of bishop succession from the original apostles until the 16th century, but such document(s) were either lost, hidden, or destroyed. A Moravian portion claimed to have originally descended from “a branch of the Greek church” from the 9th century and a branch of the Episcopal Church seemed to accept that in the 18th century (Martin JH, pp. 8,51). The tie to the “Greek church” seemingly would have been Asia Minor or Antioch. Some indicate that the branch came from the 4th century Greek church (Atwood, p. 23); In the 1740s, a Waldensian Bishop named Stephen pointed to descent from in the 4th century (Acta Fratrum Unitatis in Anglia, Appendix, pp. 112-113), seemingly from the Greek church through the Apostle John and Polycarp, but later some apostates (Ibid, p. 113). Another source seems to point to the Waldensians being a branch of the 3rd or 4th century Antioch church (Edwardson C. FACTS of FAITH. Christian Edwardson, 1943, pp. 18, 153). “The claim of apostolic succession through the Waldensians did help the Moravian Church to be recognized by the Parliament of England in 1749” (Atwood CD. Community of the Cross Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem. Penn State Press, 2004, p. 23) and called it “the Moravian Apoftolical See” (Acta Fratrum Unitatis in Anglia, p. 4). While the current Moravian Church is not COG, note that it was because some of them claimed to have succession from the Waldenesians (and because some Moravians were Sabbatarians in the 16th century), we include this information about them. Many specific leaders named during this ‘wilderness period’ have been considered to have had COG doctrines, but information is sparse.

4 Most of these names and dates came from COG literature, with the most detailed being: Lesson 50 - What Became of the Church Jesus Built? Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968. ‘Paulicians’ became later known as Bogomils per Blackwell, p. 66.

5 From Kahzdan A, editor-in-chief. Bogomil. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Volume 1. Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 301. Some say Basil preceded Bogomil. Some say Jeremiah was Bogomil, where others assert Jeremiah was a successor. We have sketchy information on these these men, but one or more may have had succession. For Bogomil himself, we only have a report of an enemy and do not believe that source accurately reported all beliefs—his (as well as Basil’s and Jeremiah’s) personal status as COG is not certain, though some of his claimed doctrinal positions were COG—as were some who were derisively called Bogomils or Bogomiles.

6 Mainly from: Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd edition, 1972. Johnson Graphics 1995 reprint.  pp. 133-134. There was also a leader named Berengarius who taught from about 1035 to 1079. The reason he is not in the list is that he reportedly recanted on three different ocassions before the Roman Catholic authorities. Jesus mentioned that those who deny Him before men would also be denied (Matthew 10:33; Luke 12:9), hence he is not in the above list. But his existence does show that there were people in the Vaudois area with ‘Waldensian’ beliefs prior to Peter Waldo--we also do not consider Waldo possessed succession until a period of time after he rejected the Church of Rome, plus we are of the view he later would have had hands laid upon him when he had more understanding, cf. Acts 18:24-27 (this is also consistent with what happened with various ‘Anabaptist’ leaders). Nicetas (not to be confused with NiketasStethatos of the 11th century) was in France (Wilkinson, p. 260). There was also a Frederick Reiser in the 15th century who taught at least some COG doctrines, but he too recanted under pressure and is also not shown in the list above. However, there were others who remained faithful that we simply do not have the names of.

7 From: Lesson 51 - The Light In The Dark Ages. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968.

8 From: Armstrong HW. The Church They Couldn’t Destroy, Good News, December 1981. “Be careful, because two separate groups were termed Lollards. One group, the followers of John Wycliffe, were called Lollards. Also the followers of Walter Lollard were called Lollards … The monk of Canterbury derives the origin of the word Lollard from Lollium, a tare, as if the Lollards were the tares sown in Christ’s vineyard. Abell says that the word signifies ‘praising God’ from the German word “lobin” to praise and hear, Lord, because the Lollards employed themselves in travelling about from place to place singing Psalms and hymns.” (Blackwell, pp. 161-162)

9 Anthony Ferrar from: Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 87-88. Stefano Carlino was “tortured tlil his guts gushed out” (Dugger, pp. 128-129).

10 Oswald Glaidt later had contact with the Moravian Sabbatarians (Clasen, pp. 256-279). As Andreas Fischer “supported the idea of a traveling ministry and perhaps considered himself something of an itinerant apostle” (Liechy D. Andreas Fischer and the Sabbatarian Anabaptists. Herald Press, 1988, p. 63), it seems likely a traveling minister preceded him.

11 Goertz HJ. The Anabaptists. Taylor & Francis, 2013, p. 18. Oswald Glaidt and Andreas Fischer worked together, but since Oswald Glaidt seemingly apostatized and Andreas Fischer did not (Goertz, p. 18), we did not include Oswald Glaidt on the above list.

12 From: Pastor Jan Voerman to Bacchiocchi S. End Times Newsletter 87 A REPLY TO CRITICISM, Did the Waldenses Observe the Sabbath? August 2002. Michiel Rovillart was killed in 1563, but prior to that used the Old and New Testaments, plus writings from the early “Church Fathers” to confront the Jesuits and others who did not hold to original doctrines (Adrianus Haemstedius, Historie der Martelaren, Utrecht, Herdruk 1980, p. 804).

13 From: Lesson 52 - The Book And The Church They Couldn’t Destroy. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, 1968. But doctrinal information on Francis Davis is sparse. That being said, it should be pointed out that many binitarians were called unitarians or otherwise grouped with them—and though the true COG was never strictly unitarian, the Arian label has sometimes been applied to groups and individuals in the true COG.

14 Christiern Francken and Jacob Paleologus were both martyred and were public Sabbatarian teachers during this time (Davis, p. 99). But it is unlikely that Christiern Francken or Jacob Paleologus were truly COG as several reports indicate that they were not. It is possible, though, they may have had COG exposure.

15 Most of this comes from: Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: a series of historical papers written in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, celebrated at Ashaway, Rhode Island, August 20-25, 1902, Volume 1. Printed for the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference by the American Sabbath Tract Society, 1910, pp. 39-40. But let me add here that we do not consider that Robert Cornthwaite, who is listed in the early 1700s in the SDB reference for the British Isles was COG. John Maulden, who is also listed by the SDBs, had lost some truth (Revelation 3:1-6). One source that helped distinguish COG from SDB was: Ball B. Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition.  James Clark & Co., 2009.

16 Sometime in the 1660s, John Maxson and John Crandall embraced the Sabbath. Though the Seventh Day Baptists who reported about them are not sure from where (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, p. 611). But it may have had to do with a ‘Mr. Cotton’ who Dr. Chamberlen had contact with who had came over from England (Clarke H. A History of the Sabbatarians Or Seventh Day Baptists, in America; Containing Their Rise and Progress to the Year 1811, with Their Leaders’ Names, and Their Distinguishing Tenets, etc. Utica, 1811, pp. 12-13). John Crandall was an elder no later than 1671 (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, p. 612). We have limited information on Nathan Rogers (ibid, p. 132) who became a pastor (Davis, p. 168) but suspect he was COG and not SDB: cf. Randolph CF. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), p.79 and Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, p. 132. At this basic time, Thomas Lucas was in the British Isles and seemed to hold the leadership succession there (there is a document that only exists at the Bristol Baptist Library, per Ball p. xxxiii, which could assist with that determination which I have not seen), with the essentially overlapping of dates here shown as there was a transition from the Isles to the Americans then.

17 James Dunn was a Sabbatarian who seemingly objected to the SDB confederation but his ordination status is not certain. There were other non-SDB Sabbatarian ministers at the time.

18 John Cottrel did not have association with the organization known as Seventh Day Baptist for apparently decades because of differences of doctrine (Nickels R. Six Paper on the History of the Church of God. Giving & Sharing, 1977 pp. 41, 161-162). However, when he was elderly and influenced by his son Roswell, he fell to become a Seventh Day Adventist, so lost whatever succession he may have had by 1851 when he and Roswell (who advocated for the name “Church of God”) both became SDAs.

19 A.N. Dugger claimed to have apostolic succession, yet lost what he may have had shortly after he knowingly refused to teach truth. John S. Stanford taught doctrines like the Holy Days that A.N. Dugger refused to teach, but lost whatever succession he had when he basically ‘faded out’ of leading the work (probably at least partially because of some of his prophetic misunderstandings).

20 Three leaders, out of many possible, are listed here in the transitional phase from Philadelphia to the Philadelphian remnant to lead the final phase of the work. All three had laying on of hands succession (as do all true Christians and ministers) as well as reasons why they could have had the Philadelphian succession mantle as well as reasons why that would not remain. Aaron Dean though maintaining many Philadelphian traits, has remained supportive of a non-Philadelphia-era governance structure. In Dr. Meredith’s case, he followed in the error of A.N. Dugger by refusing to teach what he agreed was true. Dibar Apartian, himself, died December 2010, and had tried to get Dr. Meredith to change.

21 We accept that scores of others from the time of Herbert W. Armstrong have laying on of hands succession related to Laodicea (and perhaps other eras), but since Philadelphia was to continue (cf. Hebrews 13:1) it is through Dibar Apartian to Bob Thiel that we tend to assert the Philadelphian leadership succession occurred.

This list was not something that HWA restored, yet to support the final phase of the work, some type of list would seem to be needed and restored. And because there were numerous apostles, there could be other lists, but we have not seen another other comparable one put together.

But yes, in the CCOG, a list was restored.

Violent Sports

The Bible indicates that it is fine to watch track and field events as the Apostle Paul wrote:

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

But there were other sports activities that the public watched in Paul's day.

Were they viewed by those that professed Christ?

Well, the violent ones were not.

Here is something from Theophilus of Antioch (who probably was part of the Church of God) perhaps written about 180 A.D.:

Consider, therefore, whether those who teach such things can possibly live indifferently, and be commingled in unlawful intercourse, or, most impious of all, eat human flesh, especially when we are forbidden so much as to witness shows of gladiators, lest we become partakers and abettors of murdersBut neither may we see the other spectacles, lest our eyes and ears be defiled, participating in the utterances there sung. (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book III, 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)

So, true Christians did not believe that they were to watch the violent sports so popular in the second century.

Early Christians opposed violent sports and did not participate in military warfare..

Because many who profess Christianity have not to that standard, many who do not claim Christianity see problems for those that do. The late WCG evangelist Lester Leroy Neff wrote:

Modern Christianity is a puzzle to many people. It does not really make sense.

Why?

Here is one outstanding reason.

A person reading the teachings of Jesus cannot reconcile His teachings regarding love and kindness to neighbor with the violent and bloody wars which many millions of "Christians" have participated in. No wonder there is confusion and uncertainty regarding Christianity today!

The pagans and heathens have looked at "Christianity" and have evaluated it as an hypocritical religion. It teaches love and kindness, justice and mercy, but completely fails to practice these virtues in such areas as war, big business, and brutal sports such as boxing and wrestling.

Because of the conflicts between the teaching and the actual practice of Christians, even many of the educated of our day have questioned Christianity and have accused it of failing. (Neff LL. SHOULD A CHRISTIAN FIGHT? A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, 1982)

Christianity is not to be violent nor promote/encourage violence in sports.

Herbert W. Armstrong realized this as he wrote:

All Sports Not Wrong

Competition and not cooperation, is the attitude which Satan inculcates human minds. But that does not mean that all sports are wrong or to be banned. The law of God is based on the way of righteousness...The basic law is love, out flowing toward God above all else, and secondarily, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

To harm the other fellow and to gain by doing so for self is a kind of competition that is wrong. Hostility toward the other is sin...

At golf the one who wins is not the one gets the most by taking it away from the other...So golf is not a wrong competition--nor is any race at a distance, or hurdle race, or long jump, high jump, pole vault or other field competition in a track and field meet...

Boxing at Ambassador College is definitely banned. God did not create the human brain and head to be pummeled and knocked senseless by an antagonist.

Wherever a game in sports involves antagonists--in hostile attitude to harm the other and/or to "get" from the other--to get the best of the other then a harmful, satanic and evil attitude enters in, and the sport is evil, not good...

Football (American football) is a violent body-contact sport. It is often played with an attitude of hostility and is dangerous and is fraught with with physical injury. Therefore it is not played, but we do play American flag football, at Ambassador College. (Armstrong HW. An Overview from Higher Up. Plain Truth, July-August 1984, pp. 3-4)

That being said, he did not publicly restore that teaching that Philadelphian Christians should not try to watch such violent sports as American football.

We in the CCOG, however, do teach against watching violent sports such as boxing, tackle football, combat sports (like Mixed Martial Arts), and violent variations thereof.

Philadelphia means love of the brethren--love of your neighbor. It is NOT love of others to encourage them to be harmed, even if they are willing to be.

For details on our view, check out the article: Is American Football Evil? 

Historical and Prophetic Ramifications of Being Non-Trinitarian

In the CCOG, we have pointed out more historical references to support the position that the original Christian church was binitarian (see Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning) and not trinitarian (see Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?).

We have also pointed out that it was Emperor Theodosius who forced the trinitarian teaching and even deposed the Demophilus, who had been patriarch of Constantinople, in order to do so.

We have also pointed out that the Greco-Roman saint Gregory of Nyssa taught it was right to HATE and FIGHT those who did not accept Theodosius' trinitarian position (Gregory of Nyssa. Letter 17 to Eustathia, Ambrosia, and Basilissa. Translated by William Moore. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893).

Furthermore, notice:

Jane Le Royer, Sister of the Nativity, (died 1798): "When the time of the reign of Antichrist is near, a false religion will appear which be opposed to the unity of God and His Church. This will cause the greatest schism the world has ever known. (Culligan E. The Last World War and the End of Time. The book was blessed by Pope Paul VI, 1966. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp.127,128)

It should be understood that although we in the CCOG accept “the unity of God” (deification) that early writers like Ignatius referred to (Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, Chapter 9), The Catholic Encyclopedia asserts the trinity is the “unity of God” (Lebreton J. The Logos; Joyce G. The Blessed Trinity).

One of the reasons, the original catholics who were called Paulicians by the Romans were persectuted was because they denied the “unity of God” (Gibbon E. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 4. BF French, 1830, pp. 5,28,29). This looks to be a reason some may cite for future persecution.

Despite our long history traced to the original apostles, some assert that we are new and not a continuation of the original faith—hence a religion that supposedly has just appeared. Certain Greco-Roman Catholic sources have long claimed those with original biblical beliefs were “secret Jews … such as those of the Iconoclasts, the Cathars, the Patarines, the Albigensians, the Hussites, the Alumbrados and others” who opposed their church and should be punished (e.g. Pinay M. The Plot Against the Church, Part Four Chapter One. Translated from the German and Spanish editions of the same work. 1962).

We have also pointed out that in the 21st century, tthe World Council of Churches still does not allow non-trinitarian churches to be members and that the Vatican's 2020 document, The Bishop and Christian Unity: An Ecumenical Vademecum, is also aimed at trinitarian churches.

Hence, it looks to be safely concluded that the ecumenical movement wants non-trinitarians out of the way. Non-trinitarians are expected to be targeted (cf. Revelation 13).

For more on history and warnings against ecumenical compromise, see also the free online book: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church.

Habakkuk 2

Several restored truths were shared with the Living Church of God, which agreed to basically all of them when I was affiliated with them, but has been hesitant to publicly teach all of them. However, it did teach restored aspects of church history to some of its ministry as well as some prophetic restorations for a time.

But after my (Bob Thiel) departure, it turned against some truths that its leaders said were true.

One prophetic item that was publicly taught for a time was that the prophecy in Habakkuk 2:6-8 is an end time prophecy.

After my bringing it up to LCG and before I left that church, here is some what the Living Church of God has taught on Habakkuk 2:

Dire times are ahead and our government will not be able to bail out the market forever. Foreign governments will also become increasingly unable…and unwilling… to help.

And why are these financial calamities happening? Because of systems founded on excessive gain, oppression and extortion (Habakkuk 2:6), and because of our unwillingness to obey God’s commandments, to keep His Sabbath and Holy Days, and to truly walk according to His Law (Deuteronomy 28:43-45). Sadly, the days are coming when, “Suddenly, your debtors will rise up in anger. They will turn on you and take all you have, while you stand trembling and helpless” (Habakkuk 2:7, NLT).

Let us earnestly seek God and fervently pray for our nation. (Ciesielka W. Category 5 hits Wall Street. LCG Commentary c. 2008)

The U.S. and the British-descended peoples have enjoyed living off the resources of the world, but the prophet Habakkuk warns: “… Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you” (Habakkuk 2:7–8).In a prophetic book that catalogues the sins of the Israelite people (Hosea 4:1), the prophet Hosea delivers this solemn warning: “I have written for him [Israel] the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing… Israel has forgotten his Maker… I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces… Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness. In a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off” (Hosea 8:12–14; 10:15, KJV).

Bible prophecies clearly predict that God’s chosen people will experience sudden calamities that will effectively break the pride of their power and put them at the mercy of foreign nations, because they have forgotten their God and rejected His laws. America’s burgeoning foreign debt, the Western world’s precarious dependence on foreign oil that could be cut off at any moment, and the banking sector’s fears that the world’s economy is facing “total meltdown,” appear to be setting the stage for these ancient prophecies to come alive at any moment. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we need to be alert to these prophetic warnings! (Winnail D. Tomorrow’s World. Sudden Calamities Ahead! Sep-Oct 2008)

God’s Church has long understood that Scripture reveals the prophesied decline of the U.S. and British-speaking nations…The days are coming when, “Suddenly, your debtors will rise up in anger. They will turn on you and take all you have, while you stand trembling and helpless” (Habakkuk 2:7, NLT). (Ciesielka W.  A New World Order Is Coming.  Tomorrow’s World. Jan-Feb 2009)

Scripture warns that America and the British-descended nations (modern Jacob) will be consumed by our creditors, that this will lead to economic and literal slavery, and that this tragic collapse will happen suddenly and when many do not expect it (Isaiah 1:7, Habakkuk 2:7, I Thessalonians 5:3). (Ciesielka W. From recession, to depression, to slavery.  LCG Commentary c. 2009)

Other Hebrew prophets also warned repeatedly that the future demise of God’s chosen Israelite peoples would come “suddenly” and unexpectedly (Isaiah 9:14–15; 29:5; 30:13; Jeremiah 6:26; 15:8). Modern financial analysts realize this could happen if the nations lending to America decide to dump the dollar and call their loans. The prophet Habakkuk’s warning to the ancient Babylonians, “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?” (Habakkuk 2:7)—may also ring true for debt-plagued nations like America and its Israelite cousins. Prophetic scripture contains a sobering message: debt and disobedience lead to the demise of nations!

Jeremiah 17:1-4 explains that national punishment is the eventual result of national sins and false religion.  Ultimately, this punishment will lead to our wealth, and even our people being given “as plunder” to foreign nations (vv. 3-4). Furthermore, this tragic collapse will happen suddenly and when many do not expect it (Isaiah 1:7, Habakkuk 2:7, I Thessalonians 5:3). (Winnail D.  Tomorrow’s World.  Debt, Disobedience and Demise of Nations. Mar-Apr 2010)

America has mostly ignored the recent collapses of economies such as Zimbabwe, Iceland and now Greece, but economic laws are constant…and unforgiving…and these countries hold clues relevant to America’s future. Currently, Greece is being forced to accept very “austere” measures as a condition for its economic bailout. Interestingly, it is Germany who is at the forefront of making these demands (Reuters, “New Austerity a precondition for Greek aid: Germany,” April 25, 2010). Indeed “the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Millennia ago, God warned of the consequences of debt and greed: “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you…” (Habakkuk 2:6-8). (Ciesielka W. Economic collapse! America’s debt crisis. LCG Commentary c. 2010)

Will not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his – how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty (Habakkuk 2:6-7).

Indeed, all debtors are at the mercy of their creditors! Why doesn’t America understand this?

And though Habakkuk’s comments were directed against ancient Babylon (and may have something yet to say to the future Babylon forming before our eyes in Europe), there are other Biblical prophecies that are directed at the United States! (Smith W.  Will the mighty U.S. dollar fall? LCG Commentary, c. 2010)

This punishment will come suddenly, when many do not expect it (Isaiah 1:7; Habakkuk 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:3). (Ciesielka W.  Modern Warnings from an Ancient Prophet. Tomorrow’s World. Jan-Feb 2011)

Notice also:

Handwriting on the Wall! On July 4, the United States, currently the most powerful nation in the world, celebrated 234 years of independence. The following day, on Monday, July 5, British-born Harvard professor and economic historian Niall Ferguson opened the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival with a stark warning that the American “empire” could suddenly collapse—possibly within the next two years—due to the country’s rising debt! (Winnail W. LCG World Ahead Weekly Update, July 8, 2010)

Currently, it is my understanding that LCG has ministers and at least one evangelist who reportedly believe Habakkuk 2 was fulfilled in its entirety and does not have end time applications, even though it clearly does.

Notice what the Bible says:

2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets,That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. 4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

Notice that the prophecy that is being discussed is for the appointed time of the end. It is a prophecy for our time–and will affect the proud.

5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell {sheol}, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples. 6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say,’Woe to him who increases What is not his -- how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? 7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it. (Habakkuk 2:5-8)

Actually, with an admitted $30+ trillion dollar debt and plans to increase that much further, the USA has increased pledges more than any nation in the history of the planet. And on a per capita basis, the United Kingdom is one of the most indebted nations on the earth itself.

Since the above prophecy in Habakkuk will be fulfilled at the time of the end (cf. “The message was true, but the appointed time was long…in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come”, Daniel 10:1,14). Daniel 8:19, 11:27,29,35 use same the Hebrew term for “appointed time” as Habakkuk 2:3, while Daniel 10, using a different term, ties the latter days to the time in Daniel 8:19. Habakkuk 2 was not fulfilled in its entirety anciently Also, it makes little sense that Habakkuk would be directed towards the modern nation of Israel as it does not have enemy creditors. It must be a nation or group of nations with some prominence at the appointed time of the end. As far as “violence of the land” as a contributing factor, this would seem to include crime, military missions, and perhaps riots/civil unrest, but might it also include promotion of violent sports?

Since much of his message is for the appointed time of the end, his writing (that God inspired) is applicable today.

Why did not the old WCG clearly teach the debt aspect of this?

Probably two reasons.

The first is that the old KJV obscures the meaning.

The second was that the USA only had a fraction of its debt (less than $2 trillion) and, thus, probably, it was not as much of a concern to Herbert Armstrong.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the old Radio Church of God did teach that Habakkuk 1 had future fulfillment and tied it in with Isaiah 10 (Hoeh H. The Race Question. Plain Truth,July 1957 p. 22).

Furthermore, the old WCG did clearly teach that Habakkuk 2 had future application:

Habakkuk ... God also said that this vision was to be written for our benefit today. ... (Habakkuk 2:3). God showed Habakkuk that He will punish all the unrighteous at the end-time. ... (Habukkuk 2:8, 10, 16-17) (Armstrong HW, editor in chief. THE MINOR PROPHETS SPEAK TO US! Youth Bible Lessons, Level 7, Lesson 9, 1986, p. 4)

So, yes, the old WCG understand that Habakkuk 2 was prophetic for the end time--not that it was full fulfilled thousands of years ago.

On the other hand, some will discount Habakkuk because it is prophetic.

Yet, the reality is that God's word says it is important--remember God said:

2 Write the vision And make it plain on tablets,That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.Though it tarries, wait for it; (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

At the END it will speak. But only to those who believe it is for the end time.

The CCOG has taught more about this than any other COG.

Interestingly, the Dead Sea Scrolls have the following in a Commentary on Habakkuk from roughly 2000 years old. The following was translated in the 1950s by F.F. Bruce:

God commanded Habakkuk to write the things that were coming upon the last generation, but the fulfilment of the epoch he did not make known to him. (1Q p Hab. vii 1-5)

While ancient commentaries like this are NOT scripture, this particular one shows that those who understood the Hebrew language around 2000 years ago believed that Habakkuk’s words had NOT then been fulfilled and were for the time of the end. Early Christians who understood ancient Hebrew seemingly would have held a similar view.

This information related to Habakkuk 2:1-8 has been restored in the CCOG.

Identity of the Man of Sin

Furthermore, we in the CCOG have restored the correct identity of the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2.

Before stating that identity, let's look at what the Apostle Paul actually wrote about the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2:

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

This end time 'man of sin' will be a major player exalts HIMSELF above all that is called God. And ALL without sufficient love of the truth will be deceived. Who will the world end up worshipping per Revelation 13:4,8? Why the first beast of Revelation 13, who is called the King of the North in Daniel 11.

Although leaders in the Living Church of God and United Church of God have agreed that the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God did not properly teach the identity of the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians, officially their churches have held to, and taught, the wrong old position that it is the second beast of Revelation 13.

After I left LCG, its then top leader actually wrote:

For those of you who understand prophecy, it becomes obvious that this great “man of sin,” or “man of lawlessness,” ties in directly with the “second beast” of Revelation 13. For obviously describing the coming military/political leader of the final revival of the Roman Empire in Revelation 13:1-10, the Apostle John goes on to describe another “beast” who comes out of the earth and “he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon” (v. 11). So this man looks like the “lamb,” Jesus Christ. Yet His message is that of the “dragon” identified in Revelation 12:9 as Satan the Devil! This coming powerful religious leader “exercises” all of the authority of the first “beast” and causes the revived Roman Empire to persecute the true saints ... the great false religious leader—the “ false prophet” (Meredith RC. LCG co-worker letter, April 17, 2013)

On multiple occasions from 2008-2012, I sent Dr. Meredith detailed biblical information explaining why the man of sin was not the second beast of Revelation 13, and until I saw the above, I never really received a negative response from him (though he had previously published older information with a similar position). Instead two leading LCG ministers (including at least one LCG evangelist) told me I was right about this.

It is LCG, and the other Laodicean groups, which misunderstand prophecy. Related to LCG, check out the article:LCG: What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God?s Regarding the Laodiceans in general, a video of related interest is available titled: 50+ Laodicean Prophetic Errors.

Now, while the identity of the man of sin is not quite in the same category of Herbert Armstrong's restored truths, the above writing clearly shows that LCG is not to be trusted on prophecy as it flat out does NOT teach who that man of sin is--which is the first beast of Revelation 13, not the second one.

In general, the COGs (including LCG) teach that the first beast is also the King of the North of Daniel 11, see: Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? 

Why did Herbert Armstrong not understand this?

My research pointed to him simply carrying forth the position that CG7 had published as opposed to him specifically looking into it.

According to his long-time aide Aaron Dean (who told me on more than one occasion), partially because of his busy schedule, Herbert Armstrong never got around to looking into this matter in any detail. Essentially, Aaron felt that Herbert Armstrong wrote something once (probably based on something he heard from Sardis) without examining it, and copied that writing in the future. Aaron Dean also told me that he, Aaron Dean, agreed with me position here.

That being said, notice, however, something that Herbert Armstrong wrote about the man of sin:

II Thessalonians 2:3-4. The day of Christ -- and the coming of Christ -- shall not come, until there be a falling away, and a "man of sin" be revealed. He exalts himself above all that is called God. As God, he sits in a temple claimed to be the temple of God, showing himself to deceive people into accepting him as God. (Armstrong HW. Who or What is the Prophetic Beast? Part One: 1960; Part Two: 1952)

The above is very important as Herbert Armstrong realized that the man of sin wants to be worshiped as God in his book about the first Beast.

The Bible shows that this is the first Beast and that the second Beast (called "another beast below") causes the world to worship the first Beast:

1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea ...3 ... And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"... 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world ... 11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. (Revelation 13:1,3,4,8,11-12)

Since the man of sin exalts himself above all that is called God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) and the second beast causes the world to worship, not himself but instead, the first beast (Revelation 13:11-12), the man of sin must be the first Beast.

Notice that the description of the King of the North in Daniel closely fits the description of that man of perdition:

36 "Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. 38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things (Daniel 11:36-38).

What Daniel 11:36-38 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 say about this man is essentially the same.

Notice also that the King of the North exalts himself above all the gods. This includes the god of fortresses, which (as I have long suggested) is apparently the Roman (Catholic) god. And this would also have to include being exalted above the two-horned beast of Revelation 13.

For more on this topic, check out the article: Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? 

The USA in Daniel 11:39

While Herbert W. Armstrong did teach about the USA in prophecy, there are one or two points that he either did not understand and/or clearly teach.

One is that Daniel 11:39 is a reference to the destruction of the USA. Notice what it says:

39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:39, NKJV)

The late evangelist John Ogwyn told me that my understanding of the prophetic sequence in Daniel 11 was correct and consistent with what he was taught at Ambassador College while HWA was alive.

Furthermore ALL the evangelists who were at Charlotte in LCG agreed with me on this being a reference to the USA as well as the verse in Daniel 11 that started the Great Tribulation.

Furthermore, Dr. Meredith agreed to have LCG's official statement of beliefs changed to properly reflect the prophetic sequence of Daniel 11. And in December 2011, he said it would be by the end of January 2012.

But this never happened.

Instead, LCG's statement of beliefs still (last checked 06/28/22) states that the Great Tribulation begins with verse 40 of Daniel 11.

Unless LCG (and other COGs with similar teachings) changes, those in it will not know when the Great Tribulation will start until it is basically too late. This is something that we in the CCOG have restored that the old LCG leadership accepted, but then did not teach.

Now, why was HWA not clear about Daniel 11:39?

Well, mainly because he tended to rely on the old KJV which translated the verse as follows:

39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:39, KJV)

So, that verse was not as clear to him (or most others) as it could have been.

Yet, it should be pointed up the NKJV is not the only translation that made this passage clearer.

Notice the following:

39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall load with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price. (ESV)

39 And he shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god: whosoever acknowledgeth him he will increase with glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for a price. (ASV)

39 So he shall deal against the fortresses of the strongest with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge; and shall increase with glory. He shall cause them to rule over many and shall divide the land for a price. (AFV)

39 With the help of this foreign god, he will capture the strongest fortresses. Everyone who worships this god will be put in a position of power and rewarded with wealth and land. (CEV)

39 He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price.. (NASB)

39 He will deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. He will greatly honor those who acknowledge him, making them rulers over many and distributing land as a reward. (HCSB)

39 Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward. (NLT)

39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price. (NIV)

39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god; those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price. (RSV)

39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god; those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price. (RSV, Catholic Edition)

39 He’ll take action against the strongest fortresses. With the help of a foreign god, he’ll recognize those who honor him, making them rule over many, and he’ll parcel out the land for a profit. (ISB of 2012)

39 And he shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god; whom he shall acknowledge, shall increase glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for a price. (Jewish Publication Society of 1917)

The "strongest fortresses" at this time belong to the USA.

Radio Church of God writings, such as in 1967 showed an end time fulfilment for Daniel 11 beginning no later than verse 21 (Armstrong HW. Personal, Plain Truth magazine, June 1967) and that scriptures such as Daniel 11:30-31 were just a little prior to the start of the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24:21-22 (Armstrong HW. Times and Seasons. Sermon: March 15, 1980). But a comment that verse 39 referred to Palestine was an error.

In 1968, the Radio Church of God was renamed the Worldwide Church of God.

In 1979, its then leader, the late Herbert W. Armstrong, recognized that the church had misunderstood various aspects of Daniel and the start of the Great Tribulation:

Never before have we understood these periods of 1260, 1290, and 1335 days. But it seems evident, now, a blessing is pronounced on us--GOD"S CHURCH--who wait and endure until the 1335 days--approximately 1335 days prior to Christ's coming ... We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. Pastor General's Report-Vol 1, No. 15, November 20, 1979, Page 2).

And while the above did not mention Daniel 11:39, it showed that changes in understanding about how to look at Daniel and the Great Tribulation was going on in the old Worldwide Church of God.

Sadly, at least two large groups whose leaders were once part of the old Radio and/or Worldwide Church of God (PCG and LCG) have seemingly failed to grasp these changes and other matters as they both teach that the Great Tribulation begins with Daniel 11:40, not Daniel 11:39.

The old WCG did realize, no later than 1980 (this was NOT in the 1954 edition of the booklet with the same titled I checked with) that the most powerful people, mainly meaning the USA, but also including the then remaining members of the British Commonwealth, would suddenly get destroyed:

God identifies the GREAT peoples of the earth who are the most wealthy and beneficent, the most POWERFUL - yet at the very time their power reaches its zenith, He suddenly "breaks" the pride of their power (see Leviticus 26:19), cuts off their implements of war and destroys their cities! Why?

Because, as the prophet continues to explain, we have too much "witchcraft" and too many "soothsayers" - false ministers - in our lands who refuse to preach with authority the commandments and ways of the living God!

Therefore, God will punish and destroy us - unless we repent - just before and leading up to the utter destruction to come "upon the heathen" (verse 15), which will take place at the very END of this age and at the second return of Jesus Christ as King of kings!

There is no other people that even remotely fulfills this great prophecy! But the American and British Commonwealth peoples fulfill it precisely! (Armstrong HW. THE UNITED STATES AND BRITISH COMMONWEALTH IN PROPHECY. 1967, 1972, 1975, 1980 Worldwide Church of God. Also in Armstrong HW. THE UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN IN PROPHECY. Plain Truth, August 1979, p. 8)

So, the most powerful--meaning the United States and its British Commonwealth allies--would lose their military according to the old Worldwide Church of God in 1979 & 1980. In the 21st century, that would also have to be the USA along with its British-descended allies. And that is consistent with the CCOG teachings about Daniel 11:39.

For more information, see also the article: USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses.

Manasseh = Prophetic Samaria = USA?

The two sons of Joseph were Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:1). Ephraim was prophesied to be a company of nations (Genesis 48:19)--like the British Commonwealth and Manasseh a great nation (Genesis 48:19)--which points to the USA.

Notice the following which is consistent with the the fulfillment of those prophecies:

In 1913, 412 million people lived under the control of the British Empire, 23 percent of the world's population at that time. It remains the largest empire in human history and at the peak of its power in 1920, it covered an astonishing 13.71 million square miles - that's close to a quarter of the world's land area. (McCarthy N. The Biggest Empires In Human History. Statista, December 19, 2019).

The United States is the world’s greatest economic power, measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). …  The United States is relatively young by world standards, being less than 250 years old; it achieved its current size only in the mid-20th century. … Probably no other country has a wider range of racial, ethnic, and cultural types than does the United States.  … Annually, the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven highest-ranking countries in military spending combined. (Harris, JT, et al. United States. Encyclopædia Britannica. Last updated December 22, 2019)

The old WCG taught that the descendant of Manasseh became the USA (Armstrong HW. THE UNITED STATES AND BRITISH COMMONWEALTH IN PROPHECY). It also taught that the USA was part of Israel and that "the House of Israel often is called "Samaria" in prophecy" (Armstrong HW. The United States in Prophecy - Part Two. Plain Truth, November-December 1940).

It also taught that the following scriptures pertained to the British and North American peoples:

5 "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.
6 I will send him against an ungodly nation,
And against the people of My wrath
I will give him charge,
To seize the spoil, to take the prey,
And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
7 Yet he does not mean so,
Nor does his heart think so;
But it is in his heart to destroy,
And cut off not a few nations.
8 For he says,
'Are not my princes altogether kings?
9 Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
10 As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols,
Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
11 As I have done to Samaria and her idols,
Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?'" (Isaiah 10:5-11)

But while  HWA's Radio/Worldwide Church of God did teach the above applied to the USA (e.g. Hoeh H. GERMANY in Prophecy! - Part 2. Plain Truth, January 1963; Hill DJ. What Is GERMANY'S DESTINY? Plain Truth, March 1962), it had some issues understanding the prophetic identity of Samaria.

For example, HWA wrote:

It is important to remember that the name "Samaria," in prophecy, always refers to the TEN tribes, Israel, never to the Jews. (Armstrong HW. Bible Study Quarterly - The Truth About Israel. Radio Church of God)

Now, while it is true that Samaria does not reference those of Judah, the Jews, it does NOT ALWAYS refer to all the ten tribes as HWA wrote.

Various scriptures point to Manasseh also being referred to as Samaria. The old WCG even published:

The peoples of the United States and Britain are actually descended from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, which were part of the kingdom of Israel. The United States and Britain are often referred to in biblical prophecy as the "house of Israel," "all Israel," "Jacob," "Ephraim," "Samaria" and "Isaac."(Armstrong HW, editor in chief. THE MINOR PROPHETS SPEAK TO US! Youth Bible Lessons, Level 7, Lesson 9, 1986, p. 2)

So, there was a change in understanding, but it was not widely taught or understood in the WCG.

Notice, though, the following scripture:

19 They shall possess the fields of Ephraim And the fields of Samaria. (Obadiah 19)

So, the contrast is between the son of Joseph called Ephraim, and the other Manasseh, yet referred to as Samaria. Since the fields of Ephraim and Samaria are not the same, then Samaria is obviously not a prophetic reference to all 10 tribes (which include Ephraim), but something else.

The following from Jeremiah sends a similar message:

5 You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria;
The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.
6 For there shall be a day
When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, (Jeremiah 31:5-6)

Portions of Bible prophecy seem to tie the descendants of Manasseh as being prophetic Samaria. Notice, for example, the following:

8 The Lord sent a word against Jacob,
And it has fallen on Israel.
9 All the people will know —
Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria —
Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
10 'The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars."
11 Therefore the Lord shall set up
The adversaries of Rezin against him,
And spur his enemies on,
12 The Syrians before and the Philistines behind;
And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.

For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still...

21 Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh;
Together they shall be against Judah.

For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 9:8-12,21)

1"When I would have healed Israel,
Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered,
And the wickedness of Samaria.
For they have committed fraud;
A thief comes in;
A band of robbers takes spoil outside.
2 They do not consider in their hearts
That I remember all their wickedness;
Now their own deeds have surrounded them;
They are before My face.
3 They make a king glad with their wickedness,
And princes with their lies. (Hosea 7:1-3)

So, we see that Ephraim and Samaria are separate and at the end Ephraim and Manasseh (who was referred to as Samaria) are separate. Hence, while Ephraim is not Samaria, sometimes the Bible indicates that Manasseh is (cf. Hosea 7:1-7). Isaiah 9 seems to suggest that some of peoples who are alluded to in Psalm 83 (discussed later) will also harass Ephraim and Manasseh after they have suffered. Isaiah 9 ties the identity of Manasseh in with prophetic Samaria; Obadiah 17-18 seems to as well.

From the above we can see that Samaria is sometimes used as a substitute for Manasseh.

The minister in charge of answering doctrinal questions at my previous COG (Gary Ehman, who is now deceased) agreed with this, but his church does not appear to teach it.

Anyway, understanding the identity of prophetic Samaria helps with the understanding of several end time prophecies (for some of them see Spiritual Samaritans: Old and New).

The Fulness of the Gentiles

Did Jesus indicate that were Gentiles going to be called?

Yes.

Notice the following from Jesus:

27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:27-30)

Gentiles will be among the rulers in the Kingdom of God. Yes, massive amounts of Gentiles will later be called in the age to come (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

Are more Gentiles going to be called in this age?

Yes.

In Romans 11, verse 25, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

14 … Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)

Many today, instead of forbidding it like the Jews, downplay and/or ridicule reaching Gentiles in places like Africa. But, they do not seem to understand that the Bible teaches that WE MUST INSTRUCT MANY (cf. Daniel 11:33) INCLUDING GENTILES!

In the second century A.D., Irenaeus of Lyon, who claimed to have received some of his doctrines from Polycarp of Smyrna wrote:

God has made the Gentiles, whose salvation was despaired of, fellow-heirs (Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter X)

It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter XXXII)

God did purpose to take from among the Gentiles a people for His name (Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter XII)

God has justly rejected them, and given to the Gentiles outside the vineyard the fruits of its cultivation. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVI)

God shall enlarge unto Japheth, and he shall dwell in the house of Shem, and Ham shall be his servant. That is to say: In the end of the ages he blossomed forth, at the appearing of the Lord, through the calling of the Gentiles, when God enlarged unto them the calling; and their sound went out into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. The enlarging, then, is the calling from among the Gentiles, that is to say, the Church. (A Discourse on the Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching. Chapter 21)

So, the idea of reaching Gentiles did not die out after the writing of the New Testament.

Getting back to the Apostle Paul, he wrote:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26-27)

So, in the sequence of Romans 11, we see the full number of the Gentiles will come into the faith (Romans 11:25), prior to Jesus’ return (Romans 11:26).

The late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, taught the following about Romans 11:25:

Now I want you to study carefully one of the most wonderful, important chapters in all the Bible — the 11th of Romans. … Verse 23 says those who abide not still in unbelief shall YET receive salvation. … Now study carefully beginning verse 25: “Blindness in part is happened to Israel [HOW LONG? Forever? No — note it], UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” — the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15:14). And so, says Romans 11:26, “all Israel SHALL BE SAVED [how?]: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” The Deliverer, Jesus Christ, is coming again!

When He comes, the gentile times will be over — the BLINDNESS will be removed from the Israelites — and their opportunity — their FIRST chance — of salvation will then come to those whom God had blinded! This is at the time when He comes to REIGN on HIS THRONE — the throne of David, with the saints made immortal reigning and ruling with Him — and the time is DURING THE THOUSAND YEARS!

Notice verse 31. These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that through the mercy of the gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful Work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Tomorrow’s Word magazine, September 1971, p. 5)

25: “Blindness in part is happened until Israel”-HOW LONG? Forever? No-note it-“UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” -the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the Gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15: 14). … These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that thru the mercy of the Gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved Gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Plain Truth, February-March 1954 , pp. 4-5)

(25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel [or that part of Israel, meaning the great part, the big part — all but a few, have been blinded. It’s the big part actually] until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [Or the number of Gentiles to be converted becomes complete — as other translations have it] (Armstrong HW. Romans 11-13. Bible Study, June 27, 1980)

Clearly, we are much closer to the time when all the Gentiles are to come in to later be kings and priests than when those articles were published (see also: Christians are to Rule).

Yet, my previous COG did not seem to teach this nor consider that a priority. That teaching is something we in the CCOG have restored that WCG and those groups who sprung from it seemed to have dismissed.

The Bible showed that more Gentiles had to be called and converted– and that is happening now in the CCOG!

The CCOG has over 7,500 Gentiles as of mid-2022, which compares to about nearly 300 in early 2014. CCOG has been the fastest growing x-WCG COG in the 21st century.

Sadly, many people are affected by prejudices and other factors which stop them from acting on the truth and supporting the reaching of the Gentiles.

Jesus taught that the end does NOT come until the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom of God‘ reaches enough nations (Matthew 24:14) and, based on Paul’s writings, we also see that  “the full number” (as the NIV, NLT, BSB, CEV, GNT, HCSV, ISV, and NET Bible, put Romans 11:25) of Gentiles God wants in this age come in.

One way the CCOG has done this is to put out its The Gospel of the Kingdom of God into over 160 languages--and we are not satisfied and intend to restore more. While God sometimes used miracles of hearing to do that (e.g. Acts 2), various ones translated in the early church. We in CCOG have seemed to do the most of that than any group. Yes, putting materials in languages Gentile and Israelite peoples understand helps more be called in this age.

Let me add that the Book of Revelation points to the use of multiple languages to reach people would be restored before the end, because people with multiple languages will respond:

9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9-10)

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, ... These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, (Revelation 7:9,14)

Yes, people of all tongues are supposed to be reached!

Notice also the following which points to Gentiles, and then those of Israel:

25 As He says also in Hosea:

“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘ You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
The remnant will be saved. (Romans 9:25-27)

In CCOG we are reaching Gentiles and non-Gentiles (cf. Romans 9:27, 11:23-24; see also What is the Ezekiel Warning?).

And that is why we have been the fastest growing xWCG church in the 21st century.

Here are some comments related to the fullness of the Gentiles by the old Radio Church of God:

” For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). God has a TIME SCHEDULE He is working out. (Armstrong GT. When You Die–Then What Happens? Plain Truth, June 1967, p. 22)

Isaiah 11 … The Gentiles are going to seek God (verse 10) and Israel and Judah are going to be gathered THE SECOND TIME from the heathen nations (verse 11). This could not be speaking of any “spiritual Israel.” The last verses in this chapter speak of men crossing rivers and highways as they leave the Gentile nations and return the second time to the land of promise. This is the time spoken of by Paul. “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27). Here is GOOD NEWS! Here is part of the gospel message. Blindness is happened to Israel, not forever, but until the full number of Gentiles who are to be converted in this age comes into the Kingdom. Then Israel shall be forgiven and the vast majority of Gentiles shall seek God. (Hoeh H. The Coming UTOPIA… Wonderful World of Tomorrow. Plain Truth, March 1957, p. 6; see also Hoeh H. The Coming UTOPIA… Wonderful World of Tomorrow. Tomorrows World, May-June 1970, p. 22)

Since the end of the age with Jesus returning does not come until the full number of Gentiles comes in, shouldn’t reaching more Gentiles be part of the final phase of the work?

More on Romans 11:25 can be found in the article: What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles? 

Mark of the Beast

Herbert Armstrong had a couple of positions on the "mark of the beast."

Here is the most commonly taught one by him and ministers in the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God:

Those who refuse this "mark" are prohibited from "buying or selling, "engaging in commerce, trade, or holding a job. ... SUNDAY observance — Christmas, New Year's, Easter, etc. — this is the MARK of the BEAST! (Armstrong HW. The Mark of the Beast. 1952, booklet)

He also taught

Three such angel messages are foretold in Revelation 14. Notice the final warning of the third angel:

"If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his MARK in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" — the seven last plagues, full force, unmixed with mercy! (Rev. 14:9-10). ...

So, one class of people accepts the MARK of the beast.

The other class keeps the Commandments of God. ... martyrs, over a thousand years ago, were killed BECAUSE they would not worship the Church, conform to its idolatry and pagan beliefs and customs, or worship the so-called “Holy Roman Empire,”—and BECAUSE they refused to receive the MARK of the beast!...

Those who receive the plagues are breakers of God’s Commandments, and also at the same time receivers of the  MARK! It becomes more and more plain that the mark of the beast represents COMMANDMENT-BREAKING ... idolatry ... Some worship idols carved out of stone, or wood, or marble...The Sabbath was made FOR MAN. So said Jesus (Mark 2:27). It was made WHEN man was made (Genesis 2:1-3). It was MADE—and it was Christ, the Eternal, who made it! Therefore HE is Lord of the Sabbath! It was made to keep man in the true knowledge of the IDENTITY of the true God, to keep him from idolatry! (Armstrong HW. The Mark of the Beast. 1952, booklet)

So, he allowed for idolatry to be associated with the mark, though he did not teach it was the mark. As far as the Beast breaking commandments, we have a free online book: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

As far as the three angels' messages, we in the CCOG have taught about them (watch The Three Angels' Messages) and restored more about them than any other group we are aware of (see Church of God on the Three Angels' Messages and 'Babylon').

Haven't Roman Catholic taught that Sunday is their mark?

Yes:

Sunday is our mark of authority. .  . .The church is above the Bible, and this transference is proof of that fact. (The Catholic Record. London, Ontario, September 1, 1923)

Now notice something that the Roman Catholics also commonly teach:

The sign of the cross is the mark of Christians. (Signs And Symbolism Of Baptism. Roman Catholic Mission of Turks and Caycos Islands.  http://www.catholic.tc/sacrament_baptism_provo.html viewed 05/16/10)

The 17th century Anglican Bishop Ezekiel Hopkins claimed "the cross is our mark" (Hopkins E. The works of the Right Reverend Father in God, Ezekiel Hopkins...now first collected, Volume 3. L. B. Seeley, 1809.  Original from Harvard University.  Digitized, Aug 25, 2008, p. 356).

Thus, Greco-Roman Catholics, and even Protestants, may have been set up to accept crosses in the end time.

The old Radio/Worldwide Church of God taught that crucifixes were a form of idolatry (Meredith RC. Ten Commandments. Ambassador College Press, 1972) and was pagan (Meredith CP. Today's Greatest Religious Hoax! - Installment 9. Plain Truth, ).

But it did not directly tie any type of cross with the mark of the Beast.

It may be 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 ...

... the Cathari also renounced priestly vestments, altars, and crosses as idolatrous. They called the cross the mark of the beast, and declared it had no more virtue than a ribbon for binding the hair. (Fortescue, Adrian. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911

Here is part of a Roman Catholic explanation of Revelation 14:2-3 and 13:16:

The purpose of delaying the onrush of the four winds is to give time to sign the foreheads of God’s servants. The scene calls to mind Ezechiel (IX. 4) to mark a “Thau” on the foreheads of the faithful; and this Thau in ancient Hebrew had the form of a cross … In Chapter XIII. 16, the followers of the Beast have are signed in the forehead or in the right hand. They have the seal of the Beast in contrast with these who have the seal of the Spirit on their foreheads and on their hearts. (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny.  Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus.  Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 175-176)

So, this seems to be an indication that Roman Catholics believe that they will have the mark of the cross on their foreheads as a sign at the time of the end.

There will be something physical that is the "mark of the Beast." Some type of cross/crucifix may be involved or even be the mark--see also Mark of the Beast.

The mark will be more than forcing Sunday as it is certainly possible to buy and sell on days other than Saturday or Sunday.

Digitally technology will be used to enforce aspects of the mark of the beast. Such technology was unheard of when John penned the Revelation over 1900 years ago--but is available now.

Preparing for the Final Phase of the Work

In the CCOG, we have been leading and preparing for the final phase of the work.

Dale Schurter, a former WCG minister, reported that Herbert W. Armstrong discussed a later stage of the work to follow back in 1984/1985 (shortly before he died in January 1986):

“A few months before Mr. Armstrong’s death, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend several hours with Mr. Armstrong in his home in Pasadena. He spoke freely of the mighty work God had commissioned him to accomplish, and related certain heartfelt comments: ‘I can say that I have finished the work God has given me to do, and am at peace about it. I have preached and taken the Gospel of the Kingdom of God into all the world as a witness to all nations.’

“Mr. Armstrong went on to say, ‘I have come to realize there will be an even greater work to follow—to go again, to “prophesy again” to all nations tongues and peoples (Rev. 10:11) before the work of the two witnesses—but with more power and with a stronger warning message. But that will be for others to do.’ He continued, ‘It will be a short work (Rom. 9:27-29), compared with the longer time to complete the work I was given, and it will be cut short. That’s when the Great Tribulation will begin, as will the work of the two witnesses. These will last for three and one-half years, at the end of which Christ will return in glory.’” (“The Greatest Work Lies JUST Ahead…” as stated in RCG letter of May 31, 2013)

So, Herbert Armstrong felt that there would be prophecy BEFORE the two witnesses were given power, hence the need for one or more prophets--that was something that God would need to restore--and He has began doing so.

A month after Herbert W. Armstrong died, his successor wrote about "the final phase of His {God's} work" (Tkach J. Pastor General's Report, February 21, 1986)--but did not properly pursue it--even though he seemed to realize that Herbert Armstrong wanted him to.

The late evangelist John Ogwyn taught:

The Final Phase of Church History...

The Church of Philadelphia is characterized by a zeal to do the Work... Satan has sown confusion and discouragement... the Gospel will be preached to the world in this end-time (Matthew 24:14), and there is a growing assembly of believers that is both zealous for the full Truth and zealous to finish God's Work. Just as God’s people have had to do from the first century onward, so His people today must "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). God states clearly: "He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness" (Romans 9:28). Who will He use to do it? According to Daniel 11:32 it is "the people who know their God [that] shall be strong, and carry out great exploits." (Ogwyn, God's Church through the Ages, pp. 55,57-58)

The faithful of the Philadelphia remnant who are truly leading the final phase of the work are the ones that John Ogwyn was referring to in the end.  And of course to contend for the faith once for all delivered, having more knowledge about what that original faith was makes such contending more effective. This is part of why knowledge of early church history will help finish the final phase of the work. 

In the CCOG, we have been preparing for the short work and the final phase of the work.

In my prior organization, its then presiding evangelist agreed with me on aspects of the final phase of the work that we discussed, but sadly, he did not take any steps I was aware of to actually prepare for the short work and other aspects of the final phase of the work-nor have I seen any steps clearly related to this since my departure there. They seem to believe that certain statistics proves they are leading the work, but they do not put the proper emphasis on truth and preparing for the final phase of it.

Various ones in other COGs seem to despise what it is going on to prepare for the final phase of the work.

The Bible teaches:

40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 41 'Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.'" (Acts 13:40-41)

And most in the Church of God will not believe it, even though they were told and could see the truth if they were willing.

The final phase of the work involves:

The final phase of the work includes proclaiming that it is the good news of the coming kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14) and not supporting the Great Monarch/Beast kingdom of man, as God's kingdom is what humanity needs and what God wants His people to proclaim. That is what we in the Continuing Church of God are trying to do--and we have reached millions of people in over 220 countries and territories through the internet, radio, personal contact, and the written word.

Third Resurrection

The old WCG taught about the three resurrections. That was something early Christians also taught.

Here is what the Roman Catholic scholar Bagatti wrote related to a late fourth century Greco-Roman bishop:

St. Gregory of Nyssa … he himself was not considered a true Christian by some who held the three resurrections, the millenarianism, the restoration of the Temple with bloody sacrifices; these are all doctrines of the Judaeo-Christians (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p.11).

Here is some of what the Greek Orthodox Gregory actually wrote about those who disagreed with:

Do we romance about three Resurrections? Do we promise the gluttony of the Millennium? (Gregory of Nyssa. Letter 17 to Eustathia, Ambrosia, and Basilissa. Translated by William Moore. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second SeriesVol. 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893)

So, near the end of the 4th century there were people that did not consider that the Constantinian Greco-Romans were Christians and they held to the doctrine of three resurrections. Like the Judea-Christians mentioned above, we in the Continuing Church of God do believe in the three resurrections and millenarianism.

Those in the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God, however, and still many of its offshoots, have not been properly taught about the third resurrection.

In general, the teaching has been that those who come up in the third resurrection will face the second death in the lake of fire. And while some will, MOST will not!

Here is something from the old Radio Church of God written by the late Dennis Luker:

The third and last resurrection is for all who have known God's Way but who would not repent and obey! It is also for these who did repent, were baptized and started on the road of obedience to God but then gave up, quit, or just turned from God's Way and began to sin willfully after they had come to the knowledge of the truth. These people "sear their consciences" or "harden their hearts" and live in willful sin! This is the unpardonable sin (Heb. 10:26-27)!

The third resurrection would include those in this category and those who will not repent and obey during the millennium. All will be resurrected and/or cast into the lake of fire to die the second death which is eternal death (Rev. 20:14-15)! This is what will happen to those brought up in the second resurrection who are still sinners at the end of the one-hundred-year period called the Great White Throne Judgment. They "shall be accursed" — burned up in the lake of fire (Isa. 65:20)! ... Verse 20 indicates that everyone who is resurrected, those who died young and those who died old, will be resurrected and live a full 100 years more. No new babies will be born during this period. After the 100-year period all who have qualified will be born into God's Family as spirit beings and live forever!(Luker DG. The First Resurrection Is a Better Resurrection! Good News, July 1967)

Well, when "will be born into God's Family as spirit beings and live forever" that would be the third resurrection, but Dennis Luker did not make the connection nor include them--that is in scriptural error.

In the old Worldwide Church of God, Raymond McNair wrote:

Those who will come up in this third resurrection are the incorrigibly wicked. They are the last human beings to be resurrected from their graves — from "the sea" (where they may have perished in their first life), from death (without burial in their first life), or from "hell" (a hole or grave in the ground).
  
These miserable beings will be sentenced by God — and executed: "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (verses 14, 15). Lamentably, none who will be resurrected in this resurrection will have their names in the Lamb's book of life. Therefore they will all perish!" (McNair R. The Third Resurrection: Part V. Good News, May 1974)

This final punishment comes after the third resurrection for those who truly reject the ways of God (Revelation 20:13-14). By the time of that resurrection, all will have had a chance for salvation (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation). Dennis Luker tied this in with Isaiah 65:20, but did not tie it to the third resurrection. Nor did Raymond McNair--who basically cut off that possibility.

So, let's see part of Isaiah 65:

20 "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord,
And their offspring with them. (Isaiah 65:20-23)

Notice that the children and the labor during this 100 years is NOT in vain--hence these who die in Isaiah 65:20 must be resurrected/changed in order to be the descendants of the blessed Lord.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the late Herbert W. Armstrong taught at Ambassador College that the righteous after 100 years are to be changed into immortality--which is consistent with some of what Dennie Luker wrote. Anyway, what happens sounds a lot like what happens in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, which is also a resurrection (the first one).

In the late 20th century, after the death of HWA, the late evangelist Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote:

How, then, does one understand the expression that “the child shall die”? Because the righteous will not continue to live in the flesh. They shall be given immortality by becoming spirit beings, the eternal sons of God, just as the righteous who are alive when Christ returns at His Second Coming: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:51-52). … The change from mortal to immortal is a  death of the cells of the natural body, but it will happen “in a moment,” as Paul said, so one will not even be aware of a  loss of consciousness! Isaiah 65:20 is describing this kind of momentary death, when one is changed to immortality; not the lake of fire, which is the second death, which the sinner who is accursed suffers. So the great purpose of the second resurrection will be finished in 100 years! (Hoeh H. The Resurrection at the LAST DAY. Sept-Oct 1988, p. 22)

For believers, the change at the “third resurrection” will be like what happens to living Christians at the time of the first resurrection. Hence the third resurrection is not limited to the incorrigible!

Yet, most groups whose leaders had once been part of the old WCG do not teach properly teach that most in the third resurrection will NOT be the incorrigible facing the second death.

The biblical reality is that those who accepted God during the Great White Throne Judgment 100 year period will be changed to immortality at the third resurrection!

But at the time of this 'third resurrection' change, the wicked who will not repent and support God’s Kingdom will raised up be burnt up (Revelation 20:14), annihilated, totally destroyed.

Anyway, the reality that the third resurrection will include bringing many masses into God's kingdom is something that has been restored by the CCOG.

That, and other aspects of God's plan of salvation are also in the free online book: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation.

The Passover and Atonement Sacrifice

Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:28, and Hebrews 10:10 teach that Jesus died ONCE for the sins of humanity.

Notice the following:

7 ... For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

But what about the sacrifice of a goat on the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament that symbolically took away the sins of the people? Doesn't that also represent Jesus?

Yes, as the Book of Hebrews teaches:

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-15)

24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another — 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:24-28)

So, Jesus was the atonement sacrifice as well.

Why two sacrifices since Jesus was only sacrificed once?

Because of how the biblical holy days picture God's plan of salvation.

The biblical festivals begin with the sacrifice of Jesus (Passover), putting out sin (Days of Unleavened Bread), and the calling of the firstfruits in this age (Pentecost)--which is the beginning of the Church age (cf. Acts 2). The Church age ends when Jesus returns after the last trumpet is blown (Feast of Trumpets sets off a sequence of seven trumpets). The Day of Atonement comes after the Feast of Trumpets and, in sequence, happens AFTER the church age ends.

Jesus' Passover sacrifice pictured His sacrifice for those called during the Church age, whereas the Atonement sacrifice pictures that Jesus did NOT JUST DIE FOR THE ELECT but for all. That is also related to Him returning the second time for salvation!

This is a truth that has been restored in the Continuing Church of God.

Speaking of God's Holy days, the CCOG is the largest COG that reads the entire ‘book of the law’ every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles as instructed in Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (see also The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law).

One trait of Philadelphians is that they “have kept my word” according to Jesus (Revelation 3:7-8), and what we have done is more than any other current COG that we are aware of.

Summary

John the Baptist was a type of Elijah.

The Bible prophesies that there would be another 'Elijah' at the very end of the age. Jesus declared that Elijah would restore all things.

Various Sabbath-keepers taught that in the 19th century.

In the 20th century, Herbert Armstrong wrote that there would be a final human being as type of Elijah as well.

Since Herbert Armstrong died in 1986, he did could not be the final Elijah, according to his own writings. And he also tied the final Elijah in with the Philadelphians who would be around until the end of the church age.

We have been restoring much in the Continuing Church of God--and in more details than others.

In addition to insuring that ALL the 18 restored truths HWA pointed to was in th official Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God, here is a summary of other matters restored in the CCOG:

Dreams & Signs of Acts 2:17-18
Why God Created Anything
Why God Created Human Beings
Teaching all things Jesus taught (Matthew 28:19-20; see also The Final Phase of the Work)
Church History--and how it supports the COG contending for the original faith.
Laying on of Hands Succession and List
Violent Sports (see also
Is American Football Evil?)
Details and Ramifications of Being Non-Trinitarian (see also Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?)
The Final Phase of the Work and Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God translated into over 160 languages--while working on more--and while distinguishing between the millennial and post-millennial phases of the Kingdom of God.
Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles
Prophecy (watch also 50+ Laodicean Prophetic Errors)
Habakkuk 2 and Debt (e.g., see Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel)
Identity of the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2
Daniel 11:39 and the Start of the Great Tribulation
USA-Samaria Identification
Mark of the Beast
Information on the Third Resurrection (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation
The reason there was a Passover and Atonement sacrifice (see Should You Keep God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

There will be a 21st century Elijah, and that individual would be expected to be part of the Continuing Church of God.

We have put out information to help, "turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6 AFV)--and are working on other ways to better do this.

God has restored last days' sign to people now in the CCOG.

Because of Acts 2:17-18 and Daniel 12:4, we can know that the final restoration of "all things" in the last days did not happen in the 20th century, and must therefore happen in the 21st century.

The CCOG has restored more in the 21st century than all other COG groups we are aware of--we are setting the stage for the Elijah fulfilling Jesus' words in Matthew 17:11.

We in the Continuing Church of God are continuing to support the work of restoring all things--and many truths have been restored in our church.

Here are links to related sermons: 21st Century Elijah and CCOG: Restoring All Things.

Thiel B. Continuing Church of God, Elijah, and Restoring All Things. https://www.cogwriter.com/restore-all-things-ccog.htm 2022 0818

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