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EPHESUS, SMYRNA, PERGAMOS

Revelation 1:1-2. The whole book of Revelation is prophetic, including chapters two and three. Chapters two and three are an outline, a skeletal outline of Church history. Revelation is prophecy and a warning together. Chapter two, verses 19-20. There is a mystery involved with these seven Churches, the Churches are prophetic. Ephesus and Smyrna both served physically and prophetically. Verse 4. The Ephesians, the Era, lost their first love. This is talking about a whole era of time which lasted from the establishment of the Church (of God) up until and through the fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), and even going on up until the fall at Pela or the division at Pela (Petra?) In 135 A.D. when this Church that had left Jerusalem, moved to Petra and finally divided in half, that is when God stopped using that Lampstand.

Dr. Hoegh made a statement during one of the ministerial refresher programs, "that when you look at any period of time in history, whenever the Church has split or divided, God either uses one or none, He never uses both."

In the case where the Church split at Pela or Petra those that returned to Jerusalem and accepted the teachings then of another church obviously were not used by God. God used this small fragment that remained at Pela to go out and begin the Smyrna Era, which came out of that fragment in 135 A.D. and then suffered immensely throughout time.

It is interesting that God was using one Lampstand at a time, and when one Lampstand burned down, they lost their first love. There are some scriptures in the book of John in which Christ said, "My meat is to do the Work of God," and you could translate that rather loosely as, "My love is to do the Work of God," or "My great desire in life is to do the Work of God." That is the same attitude and feeling the Apostles had. In other words, their first love was to do the Work of God. But this Era of the Church lost that first love. After 69 A.D. you see all kinds of problems. All of the Apostles are dead, with the exception of John. And John simply couldn't stir them up, to keep them going. He tried, you read First, Second, and Third John, you read Jude and what it was like then, and there are accounts of John being carried around. He was too old to walk, and of being almost propped up in front of the Church members, trying to inspire them. And it is recorded in one of the books that the people would mutter about John, saying, "He's too old, and he tells us the same old thing every time he comes." John was trying to stir them up. Why? Well you read some of John's writings. All John talked about was doing the Work. All he talked about was the job of preaching the Gospel. And people got tired of hearing about that. It fits perfectly, with this particular period of time, that they lost their first love, preaching the Gospel, doing the Work. Mr. Armstrong explained in one of the recent tapes, that about 53 A.D. another gospel came in. And this gospel finally overshadowed the true Gospel. You see, this new gospel was very EASY, though, wasn't it? You stop and think for a moment, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is a little more difficult to preach and explain than a gospel about the person of Jesus Christ. And that is why it is so easy and simple today when people go out and they go to these evangelistic campaigns, and all they hear about is Christ, and they leave accepting Christ, and that's it. A very simple process. But if you come preaching the Kingdom of God, then you teach repentance, and belief, and baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit, and growing over a period of time, enduring hardship, following the straight path, AND BEING GRANTED ADMITTANCE INTO GOD'S KINGDOM [AS A SPIRIT BEING] WHEN CHRIST RETURNS. A little more difficult you see. So this easier gospel appealed to a lot of people, especially the gentiles at the time. And so it gained acceptance, and it overshadowed the true Gospel. They lost their first love. It was choked out by another gospel, and Christ warned them, in verse 5. He says, "Remember from whence you are fallen, and repent and do the first works, or else I will come unto you quickly." Mr. Armstrong made some statements a few years ago that are still as valid today as then. "You generally can judge a person's conversion by how deeply their heart is in the Work of God." It is a good judge of conversion, simply because, when you read about the Ephesian Era, God obviously judged their conversion by the extent they were willing to sacrifice to do the Work of God. If your heart isn't in doing the Work of God then maybe you'd better take a look at the conversion, you see, because that is a big part of what the Church is here for. And it was true of the Ephesian Era. And when they lost their first desire to do the Work of God, then they lost everything. And it talks about them drifting away and Christ says, "I will come unto you quickly and remove your candle stick (Lampstand) out of his place, except you repent."

But it says, "But you still have one thing that I really appreciate. You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." This would be the beginnings, the germ of the false church. And during this period of time, the false church and the true Church were intertwined. Again, a lot of people don't fully understand that. They were really intertwined. It was hard to separate them because anyone who professed Christianity was a brother with each other. Even though their brand of Christianity may have been different, they at least embraced on that one issue, at this time. And so, but Christ said, "You do have one thing, you hate those who are practicing this other brand of Christianity," which was filled with paganism. And again he warns in verse 7, "If you have an ear let him hear, to him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." It compares the Tree in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, with receiving Eternal Life in the Kingdom of God, which is an analogy we covered recently in a Bible Study, and one which Mr. Armstrong has been using over and over again, and a very, very important analogy that Christ himself used in talking to the Ephesian Era. Again, this Era can be characterized by having lost their first love. That is really characteristic of this first Era. They began strong, they were very powerful, they moved the world. But they lost their first love, and then they lost everything. And they became a divided Church, they became a fragmented Church. You go through people like... well, you come now, to the Smyrna Era, you went through all of the Apostles, you went through Simeon, Cleopas, who was evidently a physical relative of Christ's family, who was the one who took them [the Church at Jerusalem] to Petra. And [Cleopas] was the one who died there. After that things began to disintegrate. But, [at] 135 A.D. when the Church split at Pela or Petra there were two distinct categories within the Church. One, that wanted to go back to Jerusalem and compromise with a false church that is now there, and be willing to compromise with paganism. Willing to compromise with being led by a Latin bishop, Marcus, who took charge and was voted in to lead the church and led about half the Church (at Pela) back. The other half of the Church remained in Pela for awhile, and then they sort of drifted away. Out of this drifted-away Church came another man by the name of Polycarp, who was taught by John the Apostle who lived in Smyrna. Again, remember I said, the first two Era's of the Church (of God), Ephesus and Smyrna, are going to be physically and prophetically tied to those Era's (or names of those cities). But once you get beyond Smyrna you can't physically tie them to that city [or the physical city that represents the prophetic Era being spoken about.] It's all prophetic after that.

THE SMYRNA ERA OF THE CHURCH OF GOD

But Polycarp lived in Smyrna. Now Smyrna is characterized, and the very name Smyrna means bitter, and the Era of Smyrna is characterized, in verse 9 of Revelation 2, by works, tribulation and poverty. They were called EBEONITES, or [translated] 'poor men', by their enemies. They suffered greatly. They were persecuted severely. There were many, many of them martyred, and it was just an extremely horrible period of time. And again the two Churches are still intertwined. [I.e., the false church and the True Church.] And so many false Christians are murdered, just simply because they profess Christianity. It didn't matter that they had a lot of pagan customs or that they worshipped on Sunday. That didn't save their lives. By accepting Christ [or the name of Christ] they were killed. And there was no distinction made by whether you kept the Sabbath or whether you kept Sunday, it was whether you believed in Christ or not. You could have believed in the Gospel of [about the person of ] Christ and been put to death or you could have believed in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (which Christ taught) and been put to death. And they were. And again, that is where much of the confusion comes in. But this Church Era is marked by persecution and death. And you can read about it. Especially when you get to the time of Constantine. In 325 A.D. a very important event occurs. It is called the Council of Nicea. The Council of Nicea established once and for all that the Christian religion is to be the accepted religion of the Roman Empire, under Constantine. But it is his brand of "Christianity." And he designates Sunday as the day of worship. He designates Easter as a day of worship. AND HE PUTS OUT OF THE CHURCH BY NOT ONLY ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY, BUT BY CIVIL AUTHORITY, ALL WHO OPPOSE THAT. NOW WE COME, IN 325 A.D., FOR THE FIRST TIME, TO THE CLEAR DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN THE TRUE CHURCH [OF GOD] AND TRUE CHRISTIANS AND THE FALSE CHURCH. BECAUSE NOW THE FALSE CHURCH IS SUPPORTED BY THE EMPIRE AND THE TRUE CHRISTIANS ARE NOW LABELED "HERETICS." From 325 A.D. on, you have to look for the history of the true Church among the heretics [i.e., among the writings of the false church about whom they considered to be "heretics"]. Because you won't find it now among the group that calls itself the Church of God. It is now the Roman Catholic Church which is the official church of the Roman Empire. And now you have both civil and ecclesiastical power putting out those who are true Christians. That began in 325 A.D. At this particular period of time the [true] Church goes into the wilderness.

Let's hold our place here in Revelation 2 and go to Revelation 12. Revelation 12 is an inset chapter in the book of Revelation. It also deals with Church history. It deals with it in a different perspective, though. Revelation 2 and 3 covers Church history in a consecutive or in the role of Church Era's. It gives you a framework for history. Revelation 12 contrasts the true Church to the false church which is going to be described later on, in Revelation 17. So in both cases it [the church being described] is a woman. In one case it is the woman who rides the Beast in Revelation 17. In Revelation 12 it is going to be the Woman who bears Christ, as being the Church of God. Both Revelation 12 and Revelation 2 and 3 provide Church history, from two different perspectives. We must put the two together, compare the history, and get all the keys that make it possible to understand. Revelation 12, beginning in verse 1, now again, remember this is an inset chapter. Let's go back to Revelation 10:11. In fact, Mr. Armstrong has used verse 11 [of chapter 10] to point to the time in prophecy that we no doubt are in today, to the extent of his job of preaching the Gospel just prior to a lot of very important events (of Matthew 24). Verse 11: "He said unto me, you must prophecy again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." In other words, it's been done once, it now must be done again, prior to a lot of very important events. [C.f. Matthew 24:14 and on through the rest of the chapter]. Such as Revelation 11. This occurs before the "two witnesses" begin their job. This occurs before the tribulation. Mr. Armstrong feels, again going back and almost repeating his steps in reaching some of these world leaders again, then you have Revelation 11, the two witnesses, the 1260 days [literal] of the tribulation, and the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, and then chapter 12, an inset chapter. In other words, it breaks in the chain of events. Chapter 11 takes us all the way up to the blowing of the seventh trumpet, and now we digress, and cover history of the Church, in a little different perspective.

Revelation 12:1. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried travailing in birth and pain to be delivered." A lot of people don't fully comprehend that the Church actually begins in the Old Testament. Israel is called the Congregation in the Wilderness, the Church of God. And out of that Congregation Christ is going to be born. The history in chapter 12 picks up with Israel, and with Israel giving birth to Christ. Verse 5. "And she, that is the woman, brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up unto God and His throne." Now in verse 6 we come to the same time that I left off at in Revelation 2. In Revelation 2, I have brought you through the Smyrna Era, to the end of the Smyrna Era in 325 A.D. When the Church has to flee for its life. And this is it described from a different perspective in Revelation 12. Same event though. "And the woman fled into the wilderness." The Church has endured intense persecution during the time in Smyrna. The Church is almost snuffed out, but is still there in the Middle East. It is still there in the same area of the world.

But now, Constantine is on the throne. Now the official religion of the Roman Empire is the other church. Now they are no longer safe in that area [of western Turkey, i.e., Ephesus, Smyrna, etc.] In fact, they are no longer safe anywhere in the Roman Empire. But they have to live somewhere. They've got to survive by being hidden in a miraculous way. And it won't be easy for them. (It's one of the mysteries of history of how the true Church was hidden among the pagans and false church). And it says, "the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." We mark the 1260 years, and that is what these 1260 days stand for is 1260 years. This is a type of a later event which we will read about when we come to the Philadelphian Era which is also described in Revelation 12, "the 1260 days of the place of safety and protection" during the tribulation that another Era of the Church will be involved in. This is a period of time [going back to 325 A.D.] when the woman flees. She has to flee for her life. And she fled. Interesting enough in verse 6 it says, "The woman fled for her life." In verse 14 it says that "the woman will fly" into a place of safety. In one place it gives the impression of running away for your life, in the other it indicates a little different means of being taken. That not necessarily your life is threatened at that particular moment. Now exactly how that will tie in ( our time) we will have to see. And we will cover more of that when we come to that part in the Philadelphian Era. But now we are dealing with the end of the Smyrna Era [in] 325 A.D., we mark the beginning of the time "in the wilderness." The Church, in order to survive, must hide out. And it is going to have to do that for 1260 years. In fact exactly 1260 years later, in 1585, there is a nation, in Europe, that is FREE from Catholicism. And guess where the Church [of God] pops up again in 1585? Great Britain! For the first time in 1260 years, that any nation in Europe has been freed from the Catholic yoke. Exactly 1260 years later. Now 1260 years is going to encompass two Eras of the Church [of God]. Two Era's of the Church are going to hide out. They are going to be run from caves. They are going to run all through Europe. They're going to be chased. They're going to be killed, sometimes by the thousands. And in order to survive, they're going to have to hide in people's homes. They can't publicize Church meetings. They have to hide. It's called "in the wilderness." The word wilderness there in the Greek simply means "a place of solitaire, a place of solitude." "A deserted place." They did not go into a literal desert or wilderness. (This is the mystery, what comprised this "wilderness" they hid in.) But in the sense that they were as Mr. Armstrong has described today, ' A Voice Crying Out In The Wilderness' of (religious) confusion. The true Church of God was overwhelmed by the pagan church, and they are actually hidden among the pagans, and they survive that way. And yet when it is found out that they are obeying God, many of them are killed. There is a book entitled "Jones' Church History" and on page 208 of this book, this is what Jones says about this particular period of time. It says, "Multitudes, however, fled like innocent defenseless sheep from these devouring wolves. They crossed the Alps and traveled in every direction as Providence and the prospect of safety conducted them, into Germany, England, France, Italy and other countries. There, they trimmed their lamps and shone with new luster. Their worth everywhere drew attention, and their doctrine formed increasing circles around them. The storm which threatened their destruction only scattered them as the precious seeds of the glorious reformation of the Christian Church." And he is speaking of that period of time from about 500 to 1000 A.D., which is going to be the period of the Pergamos Era, where they are scattered, they have to flee, they have to hide out. We also know that during this period of time, the Dark Ages, when the Truth is being suppressed, let's notice Romans 1, before we go back to Revelation, chapter 2. Romans, chapter 1 describes a period of time when Paul lived, which describes very well the period of time that occurred during the Middle Ages when the [Catholic] Church had gained the upper hand. Romans 1:18. "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who hold back the truth in unrighteousness." There isn't a better description of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. Holding back the truth in unrighteousness, suppressing the truth. And the Church of God is hiding among that, or within all of that, and surviving. It's a wilderness, it's chaos, it's confusion. You read about the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages and you see why Protestant Reformation happened. Everything was controlled by the [Catholic] Church, it was an oppressive blanket that settled over the whole world, for that 1260 years. And it is amazing that the Bible prophesied it accurately. And you read about the church riding over the [scarlet colored] Beast and controlling which way the Beast goes. And in history class you read about some of the things that went on, you read about some lives of the popes during that time, you read about some of the priests, you read of the government officials that gave heed to these men. You read about one of the kings of England standing barefoot in the snow and on his knees trying to gain the pope's acceptance, repenting before him. And it was just a horrible period of human history, and the Bible called it accurately. And God's Church is hidden among all that.

THE PERGAMOS ERA OF THE CHURCH OF GOD

So now we come back to Revelation chapter 2. Now we are entering, in verse 12, the Pergamos Era. I have the Pergamos Era dated as 500 to 1000 A.D. Actually you could go back to 325 A.D. These dates are very arbitrary in some cases. Actually for all practical purposes the Smyrna Era came to an end about 325 A.D., although they were scattered and a few segments of them survived all the way until 500 A.D. But by 500 A.D. it was obvious that their Lampstand had gone out, and that God has now gone on to a different group of people (which had) come to the forefront. The city Pergamos was an ancient city to Thrania, a district in northwestern Asia Minor. The name simply means "heights." It was a city on a hill. It was a very important city at one particular period of time. It reached its' zenith under the reign of Eumenes II, 197-157 B.C., and he allied himself with Rome. And Pergamos now comes under the control of Rome, and becomes the capital city of Asia Minor under the Roman Empire. It becomes the seat of the Roman government in Asia. And again, that is going to be very interesting when we read what God prophesied about Pergamos and how he compared it to, or prophetically (how) it's going to apply to the third Era of the Church. Also, to celebrate his great military victories Eumenes II built an altar to Zeus. The city was rife with paganism. The citizens were also so attached to the Romans that they built a temple to Augustus, and under the Roman Empire one of the chief seats of the worship of Asklepios, who was called the savior. This was the god of medicine of ancient times. He was the god of medicine who could heal all things. Invalids from all over the country came there to be healed, and to hear from this pagan god and its' priests. Pergamos was also at the center of the Imperial Cult, that is, those who worshipped Caesar as a god. Pergamos was the center of that cult worship in Asia. So you had a lot of things going on in this city. But the [actual, physical] Church in Pergamos was nothing. A very small Church [congregation] that had no significance, no importance, and no influence, as far as the Churches went. Much less than Ephesus, much less than Smyrna. It didn't have a famous minister that lived there, such as Polycarp or such as John. It had nothing and it died out very shortly after the time of the New Testament. They scattered, they were thrown out of Pergamos. And really, history doesn't record what happened to them.

Now there were several names given to the 'heretics' of this period of time [i.e., the Pergamos Era, not the physical Church of God at the physical city of Pergamos.] And now, after 325 A.D., they are all labeled heretics, anyone who doesn't agree with the Catholic Church is now a heretic. And this includes a lot of people, the Montanas, the Donatis, the Adoptionists, the Manicheans. There were a lot of other groups during this period of time. They were labeled heretics, and among these groups were also those whom, we believe, were the true Christians. And some of the names applied were PAULICIANS, BOGOMILS, and CATHARS. These are the three main names used and that we feel do apply to the true Church [of God] during this period. So in order to find the history [of the true Church of God] of this period of time we have to look up the history of these three groups. It says, "the name CATHAR, a later variation that came to mean 'puritan'". This is the chronological order: First they were called Paulicians, out of the Paulicians came the Bogomils, and out of the Bogomils came the Cathars. That is a general statement. It is not exactly that definitive. It's not that cut and dry, but that is a general overview of this period of time. The name Cathar was applied to the remnants of the Paulicians and Bogomils as well as to many other divergent groups. These names were used to apply to a lot of other groups also. This is where the controversy and confusion comes in. The only history, though, that we have of these people comes from the enemies. There are two forms of information on the Paulicians. One is the Catholic Church, which lists them under 'heretics'. The other is a book called 'The Key To Understanding', that was written by a Paulician about 1000 A.D. The problem about that particular writing is that by 1000 A.D. God is now ready to move on to another Lampstand, and they were very watered down in their beliefs. So, we believe that, that particular writing, although a good document in some ways, is also very much different from the way the Paulicians started out in 325 A.D. [This book's title may have been "The Key of Truth," as it is listed in Dr. Hoegh's work, "A True History of the True Church."] To prove that would be very very difficult, but when you read a little about their history I think you would come to that same conclusion. But everything else comes from the enemies. The Catholic Church destroyed any writings by these people. They were all burned during the Middle Ages. The term Paulician was used in a derogatory manner and in Armenian, and this is another, that we are going to have to go to Armenia now, to begin to track the Church, from the Middle East, to Asia Minor, (and Armenia actually being a portion of Asia Minor) and then on into eastern Europe, is going to be the track that it will follow. The term Paulicians was used in a derogatory manner in Armenian, and meant 'follower of wretched little Paul' or 'follower of little Paul' depending on the ending of the word. Sometimes they add the letters -ik-, which instead of Paulician would be Pauliik that means 'follower of the wretched little Paul'. The term Bogomils comes from the Slavic language [i.e., Serbia, which is today a part of Yugoslavia] and means 'friends of God'. Some of the important dates of this Era are listed here: The Council of Nicea and going all the way up to the watering down of the truth by the Paulicians in 970 A.D. We pretty much trace this Era of the Church from 500 to about 1000 A.D. They actually went over into the Armenian area, getting away from the western areas of Asia Minor [i.e., away from the seat of authority of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor so they could worship and live without persecution from the Roman government], and then they are going to go on up into eastern Europe. And that is going to be the track of the Church that we are going to follow this story along. Now let's go to Revelation 2 and let's read what God says about the Pergamos Era, and how this does compare with the physical aspects of the city of Pergamos in the prophetic way.

Revelation 2:12. "And to the angel of the Church in Pergamos write, these things say he that has the sharp sword with two edges." And you might tie in here, in your Bible, Hebrews 4:12. In Hebrews 4:12 we're told that it's "the Word of God that is a sharp two-edged sword." By a two-edged sword, it means that it cuts both ways. A lot of people like to use the Bible as long as it effects someone else, but when it effects them they don't want to use it. But the Word of God can't be used that way. It applies to you, it applies to me, as well as it applies to everyone. It's a two-edged sword, it doesn't just have one side or one edge. The very first thing that Christ says to the Pergamos Era is a warning about the Word of God. Now why would he warn them about God's Word? They are now entering the Middle Ages in the "wilderness." Guess what's going to happen to them? They are going to begin to lose the truth. And one of the biggest truths they're going to lose is the one of compromise, becoming a part of society around them. Now they are hidden in the wilderness, but what is the wilderness? The wilderness is a confused society, a society built on paganism. And many of them are going to join that society, just as Israel joined in the society around them when they were in the wilderness. It is going to happen to this group, and God warns them to use the Word of God and that will keep them, so to speak, on the straight and narrow. Next we read, verse 13, "I know your works, and where you dwell, even where Satan's seat is." Now the city of Pergamos was the seat of government of the Roman Empire in Asia. That's a physical fact. Also, this Era of the Church is going to be under, or within the confines of the Roman Empire. In other words, if you read this description and you're going to look for the Church at this period of time, where would you look? You'd look in the Roman Empire. It's going to be where Satan's seat is, it's going to be where Satan's government is controlling. You wouldn't look in Russia, you wouldn't look in South America, you wouldn't look somewhere else, you are going to look under the control of the Roman Empire, which the strongest (part) was in Asia Minor with Pergamos as the capitol. And that is where you are going to find the Church now. It is where Satan's seat is. It is under the control of the Roman government. Although they were living under the control of that government, it says, "and you held fast my name and you have not denied my faith." They still held onto the name of Christ, they still held onto the faith, they still held onto a lot of the truth. But the fact that Christ says, "You're holding fast" also indicates that they're going to lose something, later on.

"Even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful Martyr, who was slain among you where Satan dwells." Again, the symbolism being hidden in the paganism, and now the death of Antipas. Now you can search all you want in history and you will not find anyone by the name of Antipas. Who is this? There was no one in this particular period of time, there was no one later on. Well, the word Antipas, in the Greek, is the same as 'Antipater' or 'Antipope', is what the word means. So this is actually a title of one of God's servants whose greatest claim to fame is his Anti-Catholicism, or his anti-Satan's government, and he is going to be killed for it. So when we now look into history, and we look to see if we can find anyone who did that, we come across a man named Constantine of Maninali. Constantine of Maninali was a Paulician. He was strongly against the pope, he was chased and persecuted. The Roman Emperor, sent a man by the name of Simeon to hunt down and stone him to death. And he did. In 681 A.D. Constantine of Maninali was hunted down and captured by Simeon, who had been sent by the Roman Emperor, and he was stoned to death. Antipas, or Antipater, antipope is what it meant, and he was slain. Verse 14 now. Now those are the good things about this Church Era. "But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam,..." In their midst they had some who were not totally committed, "who taught Balac..." and this is referring to Balaam, and you can go back to Numbers and read about Balaam, "to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." What was Balaam's problem? Balaam tried to get Israel to compromise with paganism. So now, in the Church of Pergamos or in this Era of the Church, they will be involved, or there will be a lot of paganism around them, and they're going to begin to compromise with that paganism because, remember they're in the wilderness. They can't meet publicly, they have to meet quietly and privately, and it's a very difficult lifestyle. And they begin to compromise with the doctrine of Balaam. Now Balaam was the most famous false prophet in the Old Testament. He was the leader of a religious group that descended from Nimrod. And it was all pagan. This paganism was rampant in Asia Minor. So God warns them about Balaam's brand of paganism. But now in verse 15 he warns them about another brand of paganism. Balaam's brand of paganism was out and out paganism, there was nothing to mask it, it was strictly paganism. Verse 15, "So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." Now the Nicolaitans were descendants or followers of Nicholas that is identified as being in Samaria during the time of the New Testament Church, who also believed in the Babylonian religion and accepted Christianity. Well the only one who fits that description is a man described in Acts 8 as Simon Magus. So this Nicholas who created the Nicolaitans was either Simon Magus himself under a different name or else he was a follower of Simon Magus. And history simply isn't clear on this point.

So we have two problems for this Era of the Church. One is the out and out paganism that surrounds them in the Roman Empire. The other one is this disguised paganism that professes Christianity. And they are compromising with both and actually have within the Church during this period of time, people who are not converted but are pagan in their practices. And God condemns them for it. They shouldn't be there, a part of the Church. The Church is hiding in the wilderness. In verse 17, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; to him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I give him a white stone, and a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receives it." These people will be given Salvation, if they repent.

THE HISTORICAL FACTS: THE PAULICIANS

Now let me read and let's go into history now about these people. First I would like to read to you about the Paulicians and show you what history has to say about them. And please remember that all of the sources and all of this history [except for one book] come from the Catholic fathers or writers. And they simply are not the best source of authority for what we want to find out. But you can still see some of the reasons that we conclude that these people were the true Church of God. [and what I believe is the descendants of the old covenant practicing Jewish Church of God.]

First of all, most historians say that the Paulicians got their name from a man named Paul of Samasad. Now we don't believe that is true, but most historians say that. But Paul of Samasad is recorded as being the first Paulician, and we don't disagree with that, but we think the name Paulician goes back to the Apostle Paul, who, remember, traveled extensively in Asia Minor. I want to read to you of this Paul of Samasad because he is an important link. He is the first one called Paulician. And he patterned his religion after guess who? The Ebeonites and the group later called Paulicians. The term Paulician was never officially used until 553 A.D. But Paul of Samasad lived in the 200's, and he was from Antioch. But he was called a Paulician in retrospect. But let me say what the Encyclopedia Britannica, the 11th edition, has to say about Paul of Samasad. "The real problem against Paul seems to have been that he clung to a Christology, which was become archaic and had in Rome and Alexandria already fallen into the background." Now Paul of Samasad was a Bishop of the Catholic Church who was put out of the church because he began to come up with some strange ideas. It says, "Paul's' heresy lay principally in his insistence on the genuine humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, in contrast to the rising Orthodoxy which merged his human consciousness in the divine Logos." In other words, he said that Christ really was a human being, the Son of God in human flesh. And that could not be accepted in the Catholic Church. They could not accept that he was ever human. Again, Catholic doctrine has changed down through the years, as well. But again, continuing on, "Paul's Christology therefore was of the Adoptionist type, which we find among the primitive Ebeonite Christians of Judea." And now we find a link. Paul of Samasad patterned his religion and his beliefs after the Ebeonites, and he said that. The Ebeonites, we have established, as the link of God's Church. He continues to say, "Lucian the great Exogee of Antioch and his school derived their inspiration from Paul, and he was through Lucian a forefather of Arionism." Now when in history you read about Arionism, that simply means generally somebody who does not believe in the sacred Trinity. In other words, he does not accept the Holy Spirit as God. Now notice what the Encyclopedia Britannica says, "Paul of Samasad was a forerunner of Arionism. He preceded Arius..." Of course they throw him in the same barrel with Arius as all the heretics, but he came before Arius, and he did not believe the Holy Spirit was a person. Now you begin to see a few ear-marks of the Church of God in this particular man. And again it goes on to say, "Probably the Paulicians of Armenia continued his tradition in rejecting the Trinity, and hence they're named Paulicians." "At the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. the Pauli-ani..." they were not called Paulicians, "were put out of the church and condemned to be rebaptized." That name Pauli-ani is thought to be associated with Paul, and of course, later on the Paulicians, although the name Paulician was never used until 553 A.D. And this is under the article entitled "Paulicians." It says, "Paulician was an evangelical Christian Church spread over Asia Minor and Armenia from the fifth century onwards. The patriarch John IV states, "That Nerces, his predecessor, had chastised the Sect..." [John IV would be one of the popes of the Catholic Church, I believe], "...but ineffectually, and that after his death in 534, they had continued to lurk in Armenia, where re-enforced by iconoclasts..." or those who wanted to do away with idols, "...driven out of Albani of the Caucasus, they had settled in the region of Derca, probably near lake Van" [75 miles S.S.W. of Mount Ararat.] And then the first mention in writing though, is actually in 553 A.D. Then he mentions Constantine in the article. It says, "One Constantine, however, of Maninali, a Canton on the western Euphrates, sixty to seventy miles west of Erzurum, was regarded by the Paulicians as their real founder. He based his teachings on the Gospels and Epistles of Paul, repudiating other scriptures." Now there are other sources saying that is not true. They try to say that the Paulicians rejected all scripture except the writing of Paul and the Gospels. But others show that wasn't true. "...And taking the Paulian name of Sylvanius..." Now in other words Constantine adopted the name of Sylvanius. Now Sylvanius was a helper of Paul. If you notice on the map I gave you, they renamed those Churches after Churches that had been founded by the Apostle Paul. That is why we believe the Paulicians came from the Apostle Paul and not from the other Paul. Because they adopted names relevant to Paul. They called themselves 'Titus' and 'Timothy' and 'Epaphroditis'. They changed their names to that, the ministers of this Church. They also named the cities after those that Paul had established Churches at. So it does go back to the Apostle Paul, no question. It says "The Paulian name of Sylvanius organized Churches in Castrum Colonius and Sebosa, which he called Macedonia, after Paul's congregation of that name." Again, it has a few other things to say about these people and about their history. And I gave you the development of the ministers of this Church in the little chart that you see at the bottom of the map. But here it is in the Encyclopedia Britannica [11th edition]. "Phodeus and Pedrus Seculeus supply a few dates and events. Constantine of Maninali was martyred 684 A.D., by Simeon, whom Constantine Popodnadus had sent to repress the movement. His victim's death so impressed him that he was converted and became head of the sect, (that is, Simeon) and was also martyred in 690 A.D. by Justinian II. About 702 A.D. Paul the Armenian, who had fled to Pisaperus became head of the Church, his son Gagnacius in 722 A.D. was taken to Constantinople and he became head of the Church after him." In other words, you have a succession of ministers. You have Constantine of Maninali, Simeon, Paul, then you have Joseph, then Sergius. There was a constant thread of Church leaders, one after another, leading all the way from the 600's A.D. through the 800's A.D. They had a constant thread in the wilderness. We continue on, "The sect continued, however, and spread to Bulgaria where they became known later on as Bogomils." Now what about their beliefs? According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica [11th edition] these are the beliefs of the Paulicians: "#1, They anathematized Mani," in other words they rejected Mannicheaism. Mannicheaism was a simple religious belief that was declared heretical by the Catholic Church. The Mannicheans believe this, they believed the god that created this world was Satan. I.e., they believe Satan was the creator of the world, and that Satan was the one that made man. And instead of Christ, you have Satan. In other words, they eliminated Christ altogether and they had Satan as God. And Satan, despite God, the Father, created the earth. And [they believe] he has been thwarting God ever since on the earth. and that humanity is actually just worshipping Satan. Now if you understand the real truth, it is just simply a perversion of the truth, isn't it? [I.e., Satan didn't create the earth or man or anything else, but he is the god of this world, which deceived mankind and the one his church worships, all the while believing that they are worshipping Christ. II Corinthians 4:3-4, II Corinthians 11:4, 13-15. This is part of the strong belief these revivals had of believing they were the "One True Church of God.] Now you can see why the Paulicians were sometimes called Mannicheans, because they believed that the Catholic Church was worshipping Satan, as the god of the world. And so they rejected Manni, who was the father of Mannicheaism, they didn't believe that at all. But they did believe, it says, "yet they were duelists, and they affirmed two principals, one the Heavenly Father..." i.e. they only believed in two parts to the God family. But it wasn't God [the Father] and Satan, it was God and Christ, which means they rejected the Holy Spirit as (being) God. Now you see why they were declared heretical. #2. "They blasphemed the Virgin." They didn't worship Mary. And so according to the Catholic fathers, they blasphemed the Virgin. In fact they didn't even believe she remained a virgin. [I.e., that Christ had literal physical half-brothers and half-sisters.] And boy, I'll tell you, that really set on fire the Catholic Church. Someone who claimed that Mary didn't continue on as a virgin, that she actually had other children. So that's why you read in history that the Paulicians 'blasphemed the Virgin.' #3. They allegorized the Eucharist." In other words they did not believe the Bread and Wine actually became the body and blood of Christ. They said, 'It's a symbol, it's not the real thing.' the doctrine of transubstantiation that the Catholic Church believed in. So far so good, obviously you can see they had the truth. These are truths that you don't find anywhere else except in God's Church, virtually, [i.e., for this present day and age, the Worldwide Church of God]. It says, later on "Some writers say that the Paulicians rejected the Eucharistic rites and doctrine of the Greeks." Well they did reject what was practiced by the Catholic Church, but they did not reject the practice of taking the Bread and the Wine [done once a year on the 14th of Nisan of the Hebrew calendar]. Some writers say they did, but they didn't, they simply rejected doing it the way they [the Catholic Church] did it. #4. "They assailed the cross, saying that Christ is the cross and that we ought not to worship the tree because it is a cursed instrument." In other words, they didn't worship crosses. They didn't have crosses. #5. "They repudiated Peter, calling him a denier of Christ, and would not accept his repentance in tears." Well, what they actually did, they repudiated the office of Peter as was in the Catholic Church. [I.e., the office of the PATER or POPE.] And yet writers say they repudiated Peter. Well there is no proof of that, in any writings. They were condemned of rejecting Peter because if you rejected the pope, you rejected Peter [in the eyes of these Catholic historical writers.] And again you can see who is writing this and what they are saying about them. They [the Paulicians] did not accept the authority of the pope. #7. "They called their meetings the Catholic Church." Again, the word Catholic simply meant "Universal". In other words they called themselves the Universal Church or the Church of God. [Look up "Church of God" in Strong's Concordance to see what the New Testament Church was called in the letters of the Apostle Paul.] That is what they called themselves. That really rankled the Catholic Church. "And the places they met in, places of prayer. They also denied the name of the Church to buildings." They didn't name a building a Church. "...And called themselves the Church." That's another belief of the Paulicians. "Also, they rejected the orders of the Catholic Church. They rejected the Bishops, they rejected the pope and all of the titles, and they adopted three titles that they called themselves. They either became known as Senectomy or a Poimaynais or Notari." Three classes of ministers within the Church. A Senectomy was an Evangelist. Now they called the first four leaders of the Church Apostles. After that you have the Senectomy, which were Evangelists. And after that you had the Poimays, which were the Pastors, after that you had the teachers, which were the Notari. That was the ranks within the Church. Or, Apostle, Evangelist, Pastor and teacher. That's what they called their ministers. Instead of priests and monks, or nuns. They had none of those titles. They rejected all of them. "The scheme of Salvation among the Paulicians was also prevalent among another group called the Cathars." Now I'm going to show you the link between the Paulicians, Bogomils and Cathars. It goes on to say, "they called themselves the Apostolic Catholic Church, but hearing themselves nicknamed Paulicians by their enemies probably interpreted in the sense of followers of Saint Paul. One of these is the Christhood of the fully initiated who as such ceased to be mere hearers themselves became vehicles of the Holy Spirit." In other words, once you came into the Church you actually received the Holy Spirit, which was not a person. They believed that. You became a vehicle of the Holy Spirit. "...As Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit became Christ, so they became Christ's." In other words, they believed that within the Church you became like a Christ. Now that was used against them. They were called heretics because they said they were Christ's. Now again, reading a little bit between the lines, they probably believed that one day they would become God, which we know to be Salvation [a doctrine of the Worldwide Church of God before the 1990's.] And that obviously got them into a lot of trouble with the Catholic Church as well. Now here then, I told you there were two sources to the beliefs of the Paulicians. I gave you one source, the Catholic source. Now here is the other source. I will briefly run through this. This is from the book "The Key of Truth" that was written by a Paulician himself about 1000 A.D. He says this, "The beliefs of the Paulicians: They believed that since Christ was thirty years old when he was baptized, no one should be baptized under the age of thirty." Now that was their interpretation. Now probably what that meant, because there is no other evidence of that anywhere else, is that you had to be an adult. In other words, they were against infant baptism. And they used Christ's example of being thirty as an example of it, not necessarily that that is exactly what they believed [i.e., you had to be thirty]. Just as people write about our beliefs and had them very confused you can imagine how this happened here as well. "Also that since Christ was not baptized in a font but in a river, Baptism should be by immersion in a river and not in a font. Since Christ, when he was about to be baptized did not recite the Creed [of the] 318 fathers of Nice therefore shall they not make profession of it." In other words, there was a creed that you had to announce or repeat when you were baptized [in the Catholic Church of that day], and since Christ didn't do it they didn't do it. "Also, that when Christ was baptized, he was not made to turn to the east and make a pact with God, for he was himself the true God. So let them not impose those things on those to be baptized." They understood that Christ was God in the flesh. In other words, they are rejecting the ritualism of the [Catholic] Church. Also it says, "Christ, although he was crucified for us, yet He did not command us to adore the Cross. Christ wore neither humeril or anise nor manipal nor stole nor clausible..." A part of the garments of the Catholic priests. "... Therefore let them not wear these garments." And it says that their ministers wore regular dress. They didn't wear any of the robes that the priesthood wore in the Catholic Church. "Christ also did not institute the prayers of the liturgy and all the other holy prayers that are repeated over and over again, therefore let us not repeat them. Also Christ did not enjoin the building of Churches and furnishing of Holy Tables, therefore let us not do that. And Christ did not bid us pry towards the east, therefore we shall not pray toward the east." That's the Paulicians.

THE BOGOMILS

Now let me read quickly a little bit about the Bogomils and tie a few of these things together, quickly at the conclusion. The Bogomils came out of the Paulicians, as I think we can easily establish. Bogomils is the name of an ancient religious community which had its origin in Bulgaria. They are also known as Paulikini or Paulicians. It is a complicated task to determine the character and the true tenants of any ancient sect, considering that almost all the information that has reached us has come from their enemies. The same holds true with the Bogomils. It says, "The Bogomils were without a doubt the connecting link between the so called heretical sects of the east (i.e., the Paulicians of eastern Turkey) and of the west [i.e., Bulgaria to western Europe]." We now move into Europe. The Paulicians were basically in Armenia, which is at the edge of Asia Minor [eastern Turkey]. Now they have spread into Bulgaria, above the Black Sea, and now for the first time the Bogomils are the link between the "heretical" sects of the east and those of the west. And now we have the link from Bogomils to Paulicians to Ebeonites to Nazarenes, the link of Church History. We find that the Cathars, the Patterines, the Waldenses, the Anabaptists, all came out of this same group.

Now this is their doctrine. It says, "They denied the Divine birth of Christ,". Again, according to this writer. "...the personal coexistence of the Son with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and the validity of sacraments and ceremonies." (Written, of course, from a Catholic viewpoint.) Which probably means the same thing again, that they just denied the fact that this Virgin Mary, after the immaculate conception, remained a virgin. In other words, they condemned that. The above quote is not necessarily what they believed. [I.e., they believed that Mary didn't remain a virgin. She had other children, which the scriptures plainly state. The Catholics probably falsely construe that to mean they didn't believe in the Divine birth.] "Baptism was only to be practiced on grown men and women. The Bogomils repudiated infant baptism and considered the baptismal rite to be a character." "Prayers were to be said in private houses, not in separate buildings, such as churches. The Bogomils refused to fast on Mondays and Fridays. They rejected Mannicheaism, they declared Christ to be the Son of God only through grace like other prophets." Again, instead of this immaculate conception theory. "Paulician doctrines have survived in the great Russian sects and can be traced back to the teachings and practices of the Bogomils."
This is the direction in which the Bogomils spread. "The Bogomils propaganda..." according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica "...follows the mountain chains of central Europe, starting from the Balkans and continuing along the Carpatheon Mountains, the Alps and Pyrrenees, with the ramifications north and south. In the middle of the 8th century the Emperor Constantine Coproneus settled a number of Armenian Paulicians in Thracia (modern day Bulgaria!) and these were noted heretics and were persecuted by the Greek Church with fire and sword." Remember, the sword was used about the Pergamos Church. "They were very much persecuted and actually they began to change their beliefs and actually join the military and became part of the system." And it is recorded that on one occasion 100,000 of them were killed in battle, which was contrary to Church teachings. [I.e., it was contrary to fight in battle.] In fact, the last minister that I have listed on that chart, Sergius, and I'll read to you a brief statement on him. Sergius tried to stop that, he tried to stop the Paulicians and Bogomils from joining the military, by teaching that it wasn't right. And yet they went ahead anyway. It says, "The Bogomils spread westward and settled first in Servia (Serbia?, a part of Yugoslavia.)" And these are in the Slavic countries. "But at the end of the 12th century Steven Nemonia, king of Servia persecuted them and expelled them from their country. Large numbers took refuge in Bosnia where they were known of the name of Patterines or Patterini." And now that will get you into the Thyatira Era [of the Church of God].

THE CATHARS

But one more quick statement on the Cathars, who are the 3rd group of the Pergamos Era. It says, "The Cathars were a widespread heretical sect of the middle ages. They were the debris of an earlier Christianity, scattered to the 10th to 14th centuries over east and west having their analogs in the Mohammedan world as well. 11 In the east, they were called Bognelia or Bogomils and Paulicians. In the west, Patterines, Albiancians, Albigios, and Cathars and Mannicheans. All were Universalists in so far as they believed in the ultimate Salvation of man." Let's read something else here. "all adherents of the sect seemed to have kept three Lents in the year." And I found this an interesting statement. It says here that the Cathars "kept three Lents in the year." And I really wonder how that would compare with the three Festival Seasons [i.e., God's three Holy Day seasons listed in Leviticus chapter 23], and if this is not some indication of the observance of the three Festival Seasons. It doesn't expound upon it. And I really haven't found anything else to prove that. But it does say that "the adherents of the Cathars kept three Lents in the year." Just an interesting statement, there. It goes on to say that, "They were a part of the primitive Church by their own claim and held to the truth from the Apostolic Age." "The Spirit received was the periclete derived from God and sent by Christ, who said, 'the Father is greater than I.' They did not accept the Trinity. The Cathars, naturally had never heard of Jehovah, and as such expressly rejected the concept of the Trinity." And this is all in the concluding paragraph about the Cathars. So you have a thread now that we follow. And hopefully with these two sheets of paper I've given you and the information I've also read to you, [you] can begin to see the pattern.

We've followed now, up through the Nazarenes, which are mentioned in the Book of Acts, then we come to the Ebeonites, then we come to the Paulicians, then we come to the Bogomils, in other words we are moving as well, we're moving out of Jerusalem to Pela, we're moving out of Pela over into Armenia., we're moving out of Armenia up into Bulgaria, we're going to go into western Europe. And it's going to follow the Nazarenes, the Ebeonites, the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars and then the next Bible study we're going to come into the Thyatira Era and we're going to talk about the Passaginians, the Patterinis, the Waldenses, the Anabaptists, who all seem to suddenly pop up in western Europe along about 1000 A.D. Now we have arrived at the year 1000. The Church is still hunted by Church and State, and next it's going to appear in western Europe, and we're now ready to go on to the Thyatira Era, the Lamp going out on the Pergamos Era, there sort of in the area of Bulgaria, and then springing up again in the area of southern France.

[To read a very interesting article which shows where the Baptist and Anabaptist churches in France during the 1200s AD and going on  into the 1600’s AD England probably came from, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/BaptistHistory.htm.  It shows that the Baptist churches may have actually come from the Sabbatarian Churches of God which came from Asia Minor, into southern Europe through the Bogomils, to southern France.]

 

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