Jesus Christ’s letter to Thyatira
Revelation 2:18-29, “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and they patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him I will give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
J. Vernon McGee in his commentary gives us the approximate dates for this era itself as going from 590AD to around 1000AD, which as we’ll see is a little off. I earnestly believe, when we weigh the evidence that it went from around 900AD to around 1200 or 1300AD. He says this about the actual city of Thyatira, “This city became prosperous under Vespacian, the Roman Emperor. It was the headquarters for many ancient guilds: the potters’, tanners’, weavers’, robe makers’, and dyers’ guilds. It was the center of the dyeing industry…Lydia, the seller of purple, who in Philippi became Paul’s first convert in Europe, came from here (cf. Acts 16:14).” From here on J. Vernon McGee and I part company, as he believes the Thyatira era represents the Romish Church. From this point on, up to 1585AD I will be giving you the Baptist and Sabbatarian Churches of God version of who Thyatira really was, what religious groups of Christians composed the Thyatira era of the Church, body of Christ. But remember, each letter to each of the seven churches in Asia Minor gives us an important identifying clue as to the identity of that era, and sometimes several clues. Pergamos was to be found within the borders of the Roman, and then the Holy Roman Empire, now ruled over by the pope and Catholic Church. The major clue Jesus gives us for the Thyatira era is to be found in the previous paragraph I just quoted from J. Vernon McGee, a city of ancient guilds…tanners, weavers, robe makers and dyers’ guilds. Thyatira was a commercial center for tanners, weavers of cloth and robe manufacturers, as well as the dyeing of cloth. It was a textile manufacturing city. That is our clue as to where to look for the era of Thyatira itself. Again, the church at the actual city of Thyatira died out long before the actual era it represents came on the scene. Now for the Successionist Baptist and Sabbatarian Churches of God histories for the Thyatira era. J. Vernon McGee is still lumping Thyatira in with the Romish Church, which due to the literal history of that church, I feel is in total error. The Romish Church, as we’ll see in this short history, had a history of torture and killing, not a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit, nor of a real Christian church. So next we’ll look at the history of Thyatira from the perspective of the Baptist/Sabbatarian Churches of God histories, an alternate version from what J. Vernon McGee promotes.
“We’ll start tonight with verse 18 of Revelation 2. I think what we’ll do is just read down through the message to the Thyatira Church and then we’ll look at what history has to tell us. “Unto the angel of the church of Thyatira write…” Again the word Thyatira means “sweet savour of contrition” or “sweet savour of real repentance, real change.” “Unto the angel of the church of Thyatira write, these things saith the Son of God, who has eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass. I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith and your patience, and your works…” Works is mentioned twice, interestingly enough. “And the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against you because you suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am he that searches the reigns and the hearts. And I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say and unto the rest of Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak: I will put upon you none other burden, but that which you have. Hold fast till I come…” So we find some rather severe warnings here, but we also find some other very interesting things.
First major clue to Thyatira’s identity
The terms of Thyatira is referred to in the Book of Acts with the account of Lydia. This woman was a seller of Purple [cloth], who was from the city of Thyatira. You look up in various Bible dictionaries, Thyatira, in ancient Turkey, was an area that had some special springs. The water was apparently very instrumental in being able to dye cloth in a very beautiful purple. Thyatira was a commercial center, but it was tied into the production of cloth. This is going to be very interesting when we see where God raises up the Thyatira era.
Second identifying clue
Talking about Jesus Christ, his appearance is a little different. “These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.” What we are going to find out is that death by burning, burning at the stake, first came into widespread use about this particular time towards the end of the 10th century, in Italy and also in Spain, where death was used as a means of punishment, especially for what were called ‘heretics’. You have Dante writing his “Divine Comedy” in which the wicked were thrown into hell and just burned and burned and burned. This became an accepted punishment. And it is interesting that the appearance of Jesus Christ this particular time talks about a flame of fire.
A church era exemplified by good works
“I know your works, your charity, your service, your faith, your patience, and your works.” We’re going to find groups of people here exemplified by works. In fact, the early works were not as great as the latter works, in this period. Charity of giving away of money that a person may have had in order to be able to serve more effectively God’s people. Faith and patience are going to be tried severely through this period of time.
That woman Jezebel, first condemnation
“Not withstanding I have a few things against you because you suffer that woman…” Again, in Bible prophecy a woman is symbolic of a church. In this particular case, Jezebel is anything but the true Church. It is talking about a false church, ‘that calls herself a prophetess, but teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication,’ to get involved in various worldly practices. We’re going to see that. Another name for this Church of Thyatira, then, is going to be that of a compromising church, a church that makes various compromises over a period of time, and we’ll see that comes as a result of having to go through a lot of persecution. “I gave her space to repent of her fornication but she repented not. Behold I will cast her” [i.e. the false church, this is probably talking about her ultimate demise, in the tribulation] “in a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches will know that I am the one that tries the reigns.” And basically ends here by God saying that he will not put other burdens on that Church, the Thyatira era of the Church. Basically toward the end of this era, the Church is literally burnt out. Let us go to history to find out how history fits with the description that we find here in Revelation 2:18-29.
THE HISTORIC FACTS
Up to the Thyatira era the last contact that we had with God’s Church were the Cathars, from eastern Turkey, called ‘the Puritans’. We find groups of these Cathars or Paulicians being shipped out of that area over into Bulgaria where they pick up the name Bogomils. The word means “Friends of God”. But they appear in Bulgaria about around 900, 950AD. You find other groups of these Cathars then. Again, you’ve got to picture that Bulgaria, Albania and in those areas in the Balkans were not isolated. There were Roman roads that ran through, east to west, connecting those areas with cities in Greece and also the northern parts of Italy. You had Roman roads reaching up into Germany. Roman roads running throughout France. So what we find are groups referred to as Bogomils and Cathars showing up in the area of Cologne Germany, in central France, as well as Bulgaria. But you find groups referred to variously as Cathars and Bogomils, as Bulgarians, associated with ‘heresy’, in and around cities in Germany, central France, northern Italy, etc., by 1000AD. Where the Church really springs forth is in southern France, towards the end of the 10th century. You find or have an individual by the name of Peter de Bruys started preaching about 1104AD around a little town in the southern part of France, called Albi. Again, in the southern part of France. But we are going to find a number of different names throughout this era, and basically they are names given to groups of people who are following specific individuals. We are also going to find quotes saying that they are all one and the same. As one individual [obviously a Catholic source] says, “It’s a monster with several heads but their tails are all intertwined into the same knot.” These people around the area of Albi are referred to as Albigensians or Albegences, referring to people who come from this area. In southern France, interestingly enough, the way it fits with the Bible description, this area in southern France at this particular time in history was the center of texts of the textile industry in Europe at that time, in and around this area in southern France. It was literally the center of the textile industry in Europe at that time. Thyatira (the literal city) was what? It was an area where they produced a very beautiful cloth, in ancient Turkey. And it is interesting where God raises up the next era of his Church, is also in the middle of a textile oriented industry or geographical area. Many of the Cathars, referred to in various documents, are referred to as weavers. In fact, I think that is extremely interesting that there are parallels here, that the French word for weaver is, begins with a “t” and there are several variants here. “Texerants”, “Textors” and “Tisserants”, all of these words being French for weavers. These people that traveled [their preachers], in many cases, were textile merchants. And that was the guise under which they operated. But they were also carrying several pages of Scripture while they were walking around. Where, apparently, we get our word for the Bible, referring to it as a “text”, apparently traces back to the French word for these weavers, “Texerants”, Textors” and “Tisserants.” [i.e., “the text for today is going to be Revelation 2:18”] It is interesting, more than interesting, that God talks about Thyatira as being, the Bible says, in an area where this very beautiful cloth was manufactured. And you find an era of God’s Church literally blossoming out in a area that was literally the center of the textile industry in Europe at that particular time. Just running through several of these people and several of their names: Peter de Bruys, dates approximately from 1104AD to 1124AD, approximately twenty years, that he began preaching in and around the area of southern France, northern part of Italy, the extreme north and western part of Spain, along the Mediterranean, and also near the mountains. And we’ll find there were reasons. Peter de Bruys’ ministry lasted from nineteen to twenty years, he was burned at the stake for his beliefs. His followers were also called Petrobrucians, in other words, “followers of Peter”. These people were also called, as I mentioned, Albigensians, because they were from the area of Albi. But they had a very effective ministry, because, apparently, the whole part of southern France started going along with what they were preaching. We’ll find out what they were preaching in just a little bit. He had a disciple, a follower, that he trained apparently, to carry on once he left the scene. An individual by the name of Henri, who preached essentially from 1124AD to 1149AD. He died in prison. His followers were referred to as Henricians, or “followers of Henry.” Then you have somewhat of a gap, for the next ten or twelve to fifteen years. However the next person that appears on the scene is an individual by the name of Peter de Waldo. Peter de Waldo was a rich merchant from Leone, an area in southern France, who literally came across a book from the Bible, and started reading it and perceived that the religion that was extant through that area, basically Catholicism, was not in any way, shape or form, near what was described in the Bible. Peter de Waldo apparently started preaching around 1161AD and he preached up until approximately 1217AD. So we’re looking here at approximately 60 years. His followers were called Waldensians, or they were also referred to as the “poor men of Leone”, because following Peter de Waldo’s example, they also gave up much of their wealth, used it for serving God’s people…Peter de Waldo apparently trained some other individuals. An individual by the name of Arnold Hott who preached approximately from 1184AD to 1224AD. His followers were called Arnoldists, “followers of Arnold”.
Peter de Waldo translated the Bible into the language of the people
Things really begin happening about the first part of the 1100s. And about 1220 or so things are really happening. Apparently hundreds and even thousands of people were following and embracing the truth, and history suggests, that some of them really were sincere and others agreed with part of these (their) teachings, but didn’t go along with everything. What happened was, the impact of these preachers was so great through southern France, that you have Peter de Waldo in 1178 actually summoned to Rome, by the pope, to account for what he is doing and what he is preaching. And apparently he took a Bible he had translated into the Provincial language the people spoke through southern France, northern Italy and northwestern Spain. He translated the Bible into the Provincial language so that the average person could read it. This was his approach in Rome. He apparently did not talk about doctrine, he just mentioned that he had translated the Bible into the Provincial language. And apparently the pope went along with that, but a year later the Lateran Council voted to forbid the Waldensians from preaching at all, because they could not stand the thrust of the preaching. Basically, what they were teaching was that just very innocuous things like that the Roman Catholic Church was the whore of Revelation [i.e. Revelation 17], and that none of the Catholic Church festivals should be observed, and that the priesthood wasn’t worth following because it was corrupt and also there was no Biblical example of people being called by these names. Just very small things like that. You understand why the Lateran Council would vote to forbid these people from preaching. In 1184AD you have the pope actually excommunicating all heretics, into which categories these people, the Waldensians, fell. But this didn’t seem to stem the tide. By the time you get to the early 1200s, 1209AD, pope Innocent actually decrees that a crusade will be launched against these people. In other words, ‘by force of arms we are going to exterminate these people.’ That was a decree by a person named by the name of pope Innocent. And his crusade lasted approximately twenty years. And by the time they were done with that crusade the Albigensians were basically removed [murdered] from the scene. In other words, you don’t find any references to the Albigensians much after 1300, because they were persecuted not only by the crusade but by the Inquisition that began about this time and lasted for the next two or three hundred years, where basically Dominican and Franciscan Friars were given the task of going around and interrogating people. ‘Do you have any neighbors that follow this particular creed? If you do you are required to tell us who they are.’ And when they found out who they were they tried the individual, and then turned them over to the civil authority. In other words, to say, ‘You’re guilty, your blood won’t be on our hands, we’ll turn you over to the civil authorities.’ And they were burned, or tortured to death. And some of these authors made the statement, “It is amazing how many people recanted once they saw the Rack, and to be stretched out and literally pulled apart.” But at the very height of the Thyatira era you have this pope Innocent III coming on the scene, dates 1198 to 1216AD, right at the height of everything. It is almost as if when God has the Church of this particular era really going strong, Satan brings his big guns on the scene, almost. The description of Innocent III (from Hailey’s Bible Handbook), “The most powerful of all the popes. Claimed to be the vicar of Christ, or vicar of God, the supreme sovereign over the Church and the world. He claimed the right to depose kings and princes. And that all things on earth and in heaven and in hell are subject to the vicar of Christ.” A very humble person. It says, “He brought the Church into supreme control of the state. The kings of Germany, France, England, practically all monarchs of Europe obeyed his will. He even brought the Byzantine Empire (the eastern Roman Empire) under his control. Never in history has any one man exerted more power.” Now this was the condition in the so-called ‘Christian Church’ at that time, and yet it is also the very same time that Peter de Bruys, Peter de Waldo and these people are literally preaching up a storm, about the corruption in the Catholic Church, about the false doctrines and so on. “He [Innocent III] ordered two crusades, decreed transubstantiation, confirmed confessing audibly to a priest.” These were all brought into being under his papacy. “[He] declared that Peter’s successor can never in any way depart from the Catholic Faith.” In other words, papal infallibility began about this time. “He condemned the Magna Carta in England, he FORBID THE READING OF THE BIBLE IN THE VERNACULAR.” In other words, anything but Latin, you can’t read it. So what Peter de Waldo had done he didn’t like. It is interesting that visiting those that are coming out of the Catholic Church, a number of them have made mention of the fact, “Well, we have been told by the priest not to read the Bible.” At first I thought, ‘Wow! How horrible.’ Yet when you read history, it’s all there. This has happened before. “He instituted the Inquisition, ordered the massacre of the Abligences [Albigensians], more blood was shed under his direction and that of his immediate successor or than in any other period of church history.” (Except maybe for the papacies in efforts to crush the Reformation during the 16th and 17th centuries.] “One would think Nero, the Beast, had come to life in the name of this individual.” And that from Hailey’s Bible Handbook. By 1315AD you have an individual by the name of Walter Lollard spreading the Gospel in England. [Comment: Vestiges of surviving Waldensians and Albigensians had migrated into Holland in the early 1300s, and Walter Lollard came from this group] By 1435AD you have Sabbath-keepers on record in Norway. And by 1588 you have Sabbath-keepers not only in England, but in Transylvania, and literally throughout western Europe. [i.e. they had fled in all directions away from France and their tormentors.] Just looking at what the Catholic Church had done, we mentioned the Lateran Council in 1179AD forbade the preaching of the Waldenses, and in 1184 pope Lucias excommunicates all heretics, in 1209AD pope Innocent III instigates the Albigensian crusade, in 1215AD the 4th Lateran Council forbids the reading of the Bible, period. [i.e. ‘We don’t want you reading it at all, even in Latin!’] And also, what is interesting, is that pope Innocent actually started a rival movement to counter the impact of the Waldensians. Waldensians are basically characterized by their ministers giving up their worldly wealth, preaching a whole set of different doctrines, tirading against the corruption within the Catholic Church, such as the selling of indulgences and things like that, things that Martin Luther got upset about several hundred years later.
MORE QUOTES ABOUT THESE BELIEVERS
“But the Cathar heretics of southern France of the 12th and 13th centuries, the name Bulgarians was often applied to the Albigenses AND THEY ALWAYS KEPT UP INTERCOURSE WITH THE BOGOMIL SECTARIES OF THRACE.” In other words, here you have your link with the Bogomils, the “friends of God”, over in the eastern geographical areas. “Their…doctrines, as described by the controversial has presented numerous resemblances TO THOSE OF THE BOGOMILS AND STILL MORE TO THE PAULICIANS WITH WHOM THEY ARE SOMETIMES CONNECTED.” So here is the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica linking these people, the Albigences with the Paulicians and with the Bogomils, whom we’ve already talked about. “Our knowledge of them is derived from their opponents and the very rare texts emanating from the Albigences which have come down to us. They formed basically an anti-priestly party in permanent opposition to the Roman Church and raised a continual protest against the corruption of the clergy in their time. It says, “People were attracted to the preaching and to the ministers, whose estheticism impressed the masses, and their anti-papal teachings [they] were teaching [by] Peter de Bruys, and [by] Henry of Luzzaine in the southern part of France…It says, “Innocent III, whenever he ascended to the papal throne, resolved to suppress the Albigenses.” It mentions wholesale massacres here. In 1245AD the royal officers assisting the Inquisition seized the heretical citadel of one of these cities in southern France, and two hundred were burned in one day. Moreover the church decreed severe chastisement against all laymen suspected of sympathy with these heretics…Hunted down by the Inquisition and quickly abandoned by the nobles of the district, the Albigences became more and more scattered, hiding in forests and the mountains, and only meeting secretly. After 1330AD records of the Inquisition contain but a few proceedings against the Cathars or these Albigensians.” From the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition again, we get “This area of the Waldensians is basically in the southwestern part of France in the area of Turin, one of the major towns. Just to its southwest there opens the chief Waldensian valley, the Vella or Valle Pellice…The name ‘Waldenses’ was given to the numbers of a heretical Christian sect which arose in southern France about 1170AD. The history of the sect in the middle ages is obscure because the earliest accounts of them come from those who were concerned with their suppression. Peter de Waldo came from this area of southern France.” Some accounts trace them back to a group of people who fled up into these valleys from Rome, when Constantine and Sylvester got together and decreed, or issued the Nicene Council decision in 325AD. So apparently, and also the Bogomils are linked with these areas. [cf. Romans 14 was a chapter in Romans Paul wrote because of secondary doctrinal differences that were springing up between Jewish and Gentile believers in the early church of God in Rome. Obviously, Constantine and Sylvester chased the Judeo-Christians out of Rome in 325AD, and they went up into the mountainous regions of northern Italy, and ended up in southern France.]
Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, “They believed in obeying all of the Scriptures, before the continued persecution that was brought against these people. The Waldenses slowly disappeared from the chief centers of population and took refuge in the valleys of the Alps…Their elders were called Barbs, which translates meaning ‘Uncles’. But their elders were called Barbs. Apparently when a person reached the age of 25 they could be considered to become a Barb or an elder. Those chosen on a basis of their character, were schooled. They usually spend the winters going to school, three to four years going to school.” Almost the equivalent of a college education today. “They served two years as an apprentice, before they were ordained. They were ordained by the laying on of hands, and they also usually traveled in two’s, an older person with the younger person…Their children were apparently very astute in understanding the Bible…They felt that the Roman Church was not the Church of Christ, that the Roman Church was the Scarlet woman of the Apocalypse. THEY BASICALLY DID NOT BELIEVE IN THE MASS, THEY DID NOT OBSERVE CHRISTMAS, THEY DID NOT OBSERVE EASTER, THEY OBSERVED THE HOLYDAYS, THE OBSERVED THE SABBATH [i.e. Saturday, and the Old Testament Holy Days of Leviticus 23].” [emphasis mine] From a book titled “Israel of the Alps” written in 1875 by a person who spent quite bit of time with them, he mentions that “They broke their tithe up into three parts. They gave one third to the ministry, one third to the poor, and one third to what they called the wayfarers,” which in all probability were people who were going to the Feast of Tabernacles. He goes on, “No people of modern times exhibit so much analogy with the ancient Jewish people as the Vaudois of the Alps of the Piedmont. No history has more abounded in marvels than theirs, and no churches has abounded in martyrs than theirs.” Because about a million of these people were put to death during the persecutions that came upon them about 1200 to 1500AD. It mentions the persecutions that came on them about infant baptism (i.e. they were against it), about how they urged the monks to marry. They didn’t believe in celibacy. One account says, “They really didn’t have a new church, they could not resist, they couldn’t conceive a new name, but because they inhabited the valleys they were called Vaudois.” i.e. They couldn’t receive a new name other than the name the Bible calls the true Church by---the Church of God. “Besides this, the Barbs received instruction in some trade or profession by which they might be enabled to provide for their own ones.” Now another book on history of the Christian Church by Waddington, mentions the origins of these people. It says, “There are some who believe the Vaudois have enjoyed the uninterrupted integrity of the faith even from the Apostolic Ages. Others suppose that they originated from an individual around Turin about the 9th century.” A Dominican, and this is a person involved with the Inquisition, named Ranor Sachow, who was first a member and afterwards a persecutor of their group, described them in a work that he writes against them. He said, “There is no group so dangerous as the Leonists (i.e., followers of Peter de Waldo) for three reasons. First, it is the most ancient, some say as old as Sylvester (this was the pope that was involved with Constantine in 325AD).” Again, this person was writing about 1250AD during the height of this groups’ ministry. “…Others say as old as the Apostles themselves. Secondly, it is very generally disseminated.” In other words it is a very widespread group. These people have got followers all over the place. “…There is no country where it has not gained some footing. In fact, these people (the Waldensians) became so prominent that they were able to hold some of their own religious conventions in southern France, where their representatives got together.” As another source will tell us, they kept the Sabbath [Saturday Sabbath] and they also had a fall meeting every year, in October (probably the Feast of Tabernacles). It says, Thirdly, while other sects are profane and blasphemous, this one retains the utmost show of piety. They lived justly before men and believed nothing respecting God which is not good. Only they blasphemed about the Roman Church and the clergy, and thus gained many followers. Again, Saint Bernard admits in substance that there is a sect which calls itself after no man’s name.” In other words, they did not call themselves Waldensians, or Paulicians, or Arnaldists and so on. “Which pretends to be in the direct line of Apostolic succession, and which rustic and unlearned though it is, contends that the Church is wrong.” That is, the Roman Church, the Roman Catholic Church is wrong and that itself is right.
THEIR DOCTRINES, SPECIFIC:
The other thing I wanted to look at briefly here was a book written in 1851 by Tamar Davis. The title of the book is, “The Sabbatarian Churches, Armenian, East Indian, Abyssinian, in Asia and Africa, the Waldenses, semi-Judaizers, and Sabbatarians, Anabaptist of Europe, with the Culmination in the United States.” [wow, that’s a mouthful]…But then she mentions “Thus in Dauphiny, (this is where Peter de Waldo came from) they were called Josephists because they followed this individual by the name of Joseph. In other places they were called Petrobrucians, from Peter de Bruys. They were called Cathars, which mean ‘Puritans’, or in some cases Bonhomie, which means ‘Good men.’ Others were called In-Sabbathists, which means Sabbath keepers. Or they were called Sabbatarians. Some were designated ‘Bulgarians’, others ‘Paulicians.’ In other areas they were called ‘Lombardists’, ‘Teloussians’, ‘Albigences’. NEVERTHELESS ALL THESE BRANCHES WERE DISTINGUISHED AS KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST. One account of these Albigenses was, ‘THEY PRACTICED CIRCUMCISION, AND OBSERVED THE JEWISH SABBATH. ‘They savored of Judaism.’ The Passaginians or Passigenes were another branch of the same sect who derived their name from the country of Passeau, or also passages or areas that were hard to get to. Their enemies confirm their identity as well as their great antiquity. One Jesuit priest who had examined the subject fully and with every opportunity of knowing, admits the great antiquity of the heretics and moreover expresses his firm belief that these people, the Albigences, Passaginians, Arnoldists, Josephists, were none other than WALDENSES,” It says, ‘MOREOVER, ALL OF THE HERETICS DESPISED THE FASTS AND FEASTS OF THE CHURCH, SUCH AS CANDLE MASS OR CHRISTMAS, EASTER AND THE DOMINICAN DAY” (which means Sunday). “In short, all approved ecclesiastical customs for which they do not find warrant in the Scriptures, they don’t believe in.’ THEY ALSO SAY THAT GOD ENJOINED REST AND HOLY MEDITATION ON THE SEVENTH DAY, AND THAT THEY CAN NOT FEEL JUSTIFIED OBSERVING ANY OTHER DAY.” Another individual puts it this way, “The old Waldenses were not successors of the Church of Rome for neither themselves nor their ancestors had ever embraced this [Roman Catholic] faith. One person, a popish archbishop declares that the Waldensian heresy originated from one named Leo, who in the days of Constantine the Great led a party of heretics from Rome into the valleys.” [Could these actually be Jewish-Christians, remnants of the Roman Church of God from apostolic times? Probably were, let’s read on.] POPE GREGORY VII OBSERVES THAT IT WAS WELL KNOWN IN THE DAYS OF CONSTANTINE THE GREAT, THAT SOME ASSEMBLIES OF JEWISH CHRISTIANS, BEING PERSECUTED IN ROME BECAUSE THEY PERSISTED IN OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW OF MOSES, WANDERED OFF INTO THE VALLEYS WHERE THEIR DESCENDANTS REMAIN TODAY.”…”They condemn all ecclesiastical customs they do not read of in the Gospel, such as the observance of Candle Mass [Christmas]., Palm Sunday, Adoration of the Cross, and Good Friday, and the Reconciliation of Penance. These despise the feast of Easter and the Festivals of Christ and the Saints and they say one day is as good as another, working on [Catholic] Holydays when they can do so without being taken notice of.” It says, “Infant Baptism they would not observe because they did not read about it in Scripture. THE KEPT THE JEWISH SABBATH.” She [Tamar Davis] has some footnotes here. There is one I wanted to read. It says, “That Catholic writers regard the Dominical Day as a festival Day,” talking about Sunday, “can be easily proved. That they regard as such to this day in Catholic countries is an undeniable fact. When they speak of the festivals of the Church, [the Catholics], include Sunday as much as Christmas, Palm Sunday or Easter. They smile [that is, talking about the Catholic authorities, “they smile”] when they hear learned Protestant sages attempt to prove from Scriptures either the abrogation or the change of the Sabbath.” In other words, they know who changed the Sabbath. “We have also a host of Protestants in the earlier part of the Reformation who acknowledged that the observance of the first day [Sunday] had no other foundation than the authority of the Church.” [i.e., the Catholic Church.] “These were early Protestant reformers, among whom is the celebrate John Calvin, who says, ‘The Old Fathers put in the place of the Sabbath the day which we call Sunday.’” That was John Calvin being quoted by Tamar Davis’ book.
A monk interrogates one of their ministers
One of the last things here, a comment, some comments recorded by one of the monks who was interrogating, apparently, one of their ministers. The monk, named Gregory, he says, “By Anthony, you must be a liar and a deceiver for I have been credibly informed that yourself and all your friends were of the accursed race of Israel.” Answer: “That is false, we are all honest Frenchmen and Christians, followers of Jesus.” “No, but you’re Jews, for instead of Baptizing your infant children you have all your males circumcised.” Answer: You do very wrong to accuse us of that practice for it is something of which we are entirely innocent.” “Do you Baptize your children then?” “We do not, neither do we circumcise them.” “Never the less you must be Jews since you say the Law of Moses is still binding.” (Well what they were really saying is that the 10 Commandments were still binding, and these people included the 4th or Sabbath command with that.) “So instead of observing festivals of the Holy Church and honoring the Holy Day of the Lord [i.e. Sunday], on which day he arose from the dead, you are accustomed to meet for worship on the old Sabbath or Saturday.” “WE DO INDEED REST AND ATTEND DIVINE WORSHIP ON THE SEVENTH DAY AS GOD COMMANDED.”
The Waldensians are still around, but they were persecuted back then, in fact upwards of a million of these people died. Again, whether or not they were all true Waldensians, remains to be seen. This is what we read about them in the latter half of Revelation 2:20-23, talking about a woman that was going to seduce them. Apparently there were people within the Church, the Waldensian Church…there were some of these people recorded that they kept the Sabbath, but then would show up every Sunday, in the Catholic Church in the region, and sit in the church, pretending to go along, compromising.” That wraps up the quotes from the Sabbatarian source (which by the way the Sunday observing Baptists say they follow the same Waldensian/Albigensian lineage, so what gives?). Well, this is the first place Anabaptists are mentioned, and mentioned as having come from this Waldensian/Albigensian stock. But Anabaptists were strictly Sunday observing. I put together a paper where I attempt to answer that, but I think you may already have an idea where Anabaptists, and thus Baptists first came from. Here is what I wrote:
The following links go to the content sections of some pretty comprehensive short histories of the Baptists written by Baptists. This history goes from apostolic times to the present. (This content section has hyptertext links going to the various chapters.) From a study of these and of the content of a similar Sabbatarian Churches of God history going back to the same apostolic times (which we just read excerpts from), it is apparent that the Baptists claim the same origins. I have known this for awhile, and it bothered me, since I had no apparent answers to this riddle. Was one group lying, or the other? I couldn’t believe that. But the riddle persisted until I started reading into the part of this Short Baptist History that dealt with their history in the 1100s period in France. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. One clue to the fact that the Baptists were claiming Peter de Waldo, the Henricians, the Albigensians and the Cathari of France and southern France in their church history lineage, which may have indeed been also of Sabbatarian Churches of God extraction is found in one of their quotes (in this Baptist history) of a Catholic history writer being quoted from those same times, saying that those above mentioned groups had synagogues, not churches. Now anyone at that time who worshipped on Saturday, the Sabbath, would have been labeled as Jewish by their Catholic detractors and persecutors, so the “synagogue” remark alluded to their Sabbath, and perhaps Holy Day observing customs, placing these groups also right within the Sabbatarian domain. But what would account for these same groups coming under the historic heading of Sunday observers? Due to the massive first and second Inquisition-persecution of these groups in France, what may have started out as Sabbatarian divided into two groups, one changing over to Sunday observance to try to avoid this ongoing Inquisition and slaughter at the pope’s behest, and the other basically getting wiped out, but with some fleeing to Holland, and then England. So here is the way it looks. The Sabbatarian Churches of God migrated from Asia Minor through Yugoslavia, where they were called the Bogomils. They in turn migrated into southeast Europe. Elements of them and also Sabbatarian Jewish Christians recently expelled from Rome all migrated into southern France. The Church line was one Sabbatarian line at this point. These Sabbath observers strongly believed in baptism by full immersion of adults only. But in France, as the intense and deadly persecution started to wipe them out, this one single line divided into two lines, two groups, one Sunday observing, calling themselves Baptists and Anabaptists, the other Sabbatarian Churches of God. That’s my “theory” as to what happened. It totally explains this “riddle”, or discrepancy in both the church histories of the Sabbatarian Churches of God and that of the Baptists. So it would appear, by comparing the history at these Baptist links and that of the Sabbatarian Churches of God history, that the Baptists and Sabbatarian Churches of God have traveled down a single time-line of Church history, which divided into two time-lines in the France of the 1200s AD. Then after the split survivors from the Sabbatarian line in France escaped first to Holland, and then migrated to England as the Lollards in the 1300s. Later, in England, the Sabbatarian Churches of God would often evangelize their Sunday observing Baptist “friends”, helping to maintain and grow their numbers in England. This practice continued into America in the 1600s through 1700s.
The links to the Baptist history are at:
I find this fascinating that the Sunday observing Baptists, and Sabbatarian Churches of God both trace their historic lineage back to Asia Minor of the 300s AD, and basically claim the same history. But I have come to believe the reason for that goes back to France of the 1100 and 1200s AD, under the extreme persecutions of the Catholic church’s Inquisitions, which originally started in France at that time. Also see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm for a study on the early apostolic church, showing how it may have appeared in Asia Minor, as a Judeo-Christian church. What is also interesting, is that the recent Worldwide Church of God under Joe Tkach Jr. has claimed that we (the Sabbatarian Churches of God) came from the Baptists. What appears to have been the case is that Joe Jr. got it 180 degrees backwards from the real plain truth of history. The Baptists came from Sabbatarian groups in France, from the ones called by their detractors the Waldensians, Henricians, Cathari and Albigensians. One outstanding example: The Cottrell family has a long family line, going all the way back to the Albigensians in France. They ended up within the Sabbatarian Churches of God in England, and then in the Church of God in Newport Rhode Island in the 1600s. This family never observed Sunday. Much of this early French history was expunged by those who took part in the French Inquisitions, but little bits of embarrassing evidence keep surfacing (embarrassing to some that is). Just to give you an idea of what these humble Sabbath keeping folks faced, and what might have inspired whole groups of them to switch to Sunday observance, here are a couple quotes from Ralph Woodrow’s book “Babylon Mystery Religion”. “One of the documents that ordered such persecutions was the inhuman “Ad exstirpanda” issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1252. This document stated that heretics were to be “crushed like venomous snakes.” It formally approved the use of torture. Civil authorities were ordered to burn heretics. “The aforesaid Bull, ‘Ad exstirpanda’ remained thenceforth a fundamental document of the Inquisition, renewed or reinforced by several popes, Alexander IV (1254-61), Clement IV (1265-68), Nicholas IV (1288-92), Boniface VIII (1294-1304), and others. The civil authorities, therefore, were enjoined by the popes, under pain of excommunication [which would put their lives under the same danger] to execute the legal sentences that condemned impenitent heretics to the stake…At Lavaur in 1211 the governor was hanged on a gibbet and his wife thrown into a well and crushed with stones. Four hundred people in this town were burned alive. The crusaders attended high mass in the morning, then proceeded to take other towns of the area. In this siege, it is estimated that 100,000 Albigeneses fell in one day. Their bodies where heaped together and burned.” (pp. 105, 108.) So the Church becomes very prominent about the early 1100s, emerging out of a textile area in southern France. Thyatira, in Turkey, is identified as being linked with fabrics and textile manufacture. Their works, very small at the beginning. Peter de Bruys, Henri, were forerunners, but Peter de Waldo and his disciples, you have them establishing a college, actually up in these valleys, that trained ministers. They actually established over two hundred schools in southern Europe!
That the Anabaptists (and from them the Baptists) came out of the Waldensian and Albigencian Sabbatarians can also be seen by taking a close look at their beliefs and Christian way of life. David Bercot, in his book “Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up” gives us that close look. “The word radical means “of or from the roots.” The Anabaptists wanted to return to the primitive roots of Christianity, even if it meant going against the tide of sixteenth century European society. Like the early church, the Anabaptists took Jesus’ teaching quite literally and quite seriously. They maintained that Christians must live by the Sermon on the Mount.
For example, they generously shared their material goods with one another, providing for any needy persons among them. Although today most churches care for the needy, that wasn’t the case at the time of the Reformation. Rather, at the time of the Reformation, the brotherly care extended by Anabaptists stood in stark contrast to the Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman churches around them. One Anabaptist declared to these other churches:
We teach and practice this mercy, love, and community, and we have taught and practiced it for seventeen years. God be thanked forever that although our property has to a great extent been taken away from us and is still daily taken, and many a righteous father and mother are put to the sword or fire, and although we are not allowed the free enjoyment of our homes as is manifest…Yet none of those who have joined us nor any of their orphaned children have been forced to beg. If this is not Christian practice, then we might as well abandon the whole Gospel of our Lord.
Is it not sad and intolerable hypocrisy that these poor people [the Lutherans] boast of having the Word of God, of being the true Christian church, never remembering that they have entirely lost their sign of true Christianity? Although many of them have plenty of everything, go about in silk and velvet, gold and silver, and in all manner of pomp and splendor,…they allow many of their own poor and afflicted members to ask for alms. [They force] the poor, the hungry, the suffering, the elderly, the lame, the blind, and the sick to beg for bread at their doors.
Oh preachers, dear preachers, where is the power of the Gospel you preach?...Where are the fruits of the Spirit you have received?
Like the early Christians, the Anabaptists also preached the message of the cross. “If the Head has to suffer such torture, anguish, misery, and pain, how shall His servants, children, and members expect peace and freedom as to their flesh?” they asked. At the same time, although they were cruelly hunted down, tortured and executed, they refused to fight back or retaliate against their persecutors.
One of the most touching examples of their unselfish love for others is that of Dirck Willems. Fleeing from the Catholic authorities who had come to arrest him, Willems dashed across a frozen lake and made it safely to the other side. Glancing back as he ran up the banks of the shore, Willems noticed that the deputy pursuing him had fallen through the ice and was about to drown. Although he could have escaped with ease, Willems turned back and pulled the drowning deputy to safety. Unmoved by this unselfish act of love, the officer in charge ordered the deputy to arrest Willems. As a result, Willems was apprehended, imprisoned, and eventually burned alive.
Again, like the early Christians [and I would say like the Waldensians and Albigencians they more than likely came from during the 1200s to 1300s AD], the Anabaptists refused to use the sword against their enemies. Rather than preaching a gospel of health and wealth, they stressed simplicity of living. In fact, because of persecution, most of them lived in dire poverty.
In some respects, their theology was closer to that of the early Christians than Luther’s. For example, although “salvation by grace alone” was the slogan of the Reformation, the Anabaptists taught that obedience was also essential for salvation. However, they didn’t teach that salvation is earned by accumulating good works, and they rejected all of the ritual works of self-justification taught by Catholics. They stressed the fact that salvation is a gift from God.
Essentially, their doctrine of salvation was identical to that of the early church. Yet because they taught obedience is necessary for salvation, the Lutherans and Reformed Christians called them “heaven-stormers.” At a time when both Luther and Calvin were stressing Augustine’s teachings, the Anabaptists completely rejected the doctrine of predestination. They taught instead that salvation was open to everyone, and that everyone can choose for himself either to accept or to reject God’s gracious provisions for salvation.
…Also in their quest for holiness and separation from the world, they left no room for any unclean fish in the kingdom dragnet. They desired a dragnet with only clean fish in it. The tragic result is that they not only separated themselves from the rest of the church, but have since separated from each other. Today, the Anabaptists are fragmented into a hundred or more separate groups, most of which do not hold communion with one anther.
Yet, despite their shortcomings in some areas, the Anabaptist reformation was one of the most significant movements in the history of western Christianity. Through their lives, the Anabaptists demonstrated that holiness is not something just for celibate monks and nuns. Rather, it should be the normal way of life of all Christians. They showed that, with God’s help, whole families can live by the Sermon on the Mount. Although the Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic churches alike cruelly persecuted the Anabaptists, God has preserved them down to this day. They [and I’d also have to say, the Sabbatarian Churches of God they came from, which have also survived] stand as a powerful witness that the Sermon on the Mount is not simply some idealistic teaching that we can’t take seriously. It’s not something for a future dispensation, nor is it something that was only for the early church. No, it still is the way of life prescribed by Jesus for those who want to build their house on the rock.” [pp. 140-143, “Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up” by David Bercot.]
Sources used for this study (which I did not write, I’m just passing it on from a Sabbatarian Church of God source):
Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition):
“A Critical History of the Sabbath and Sunday” by Lewis
“Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses” by Faber
“History of Baptists” by Armitage
“Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia” article: “Bohemian Brethren”
1. 1096, Bogomils & Paulicians in Dauphiny
2. 1104-1124, Peter de Bruys
3. 1124-1149, Henry
4. 1161-1217, Peter de Waldo
5. 1179, Lateran Council forbids preaching by Waldenses
6. 1184, Pope Lucius excommunicates all heretics
7. 1215, Lateran IV Council forbids reading of the Bible (period).
8. 1315, Walter the Lollard preaches the gospel in England and Europe
9. 1401, Statute passed against the Lollards.
10. 1435, Sabbath keepers in Norway.
11. 1585, End of the 1260 years (of Revelation 12)
So at this point the single line of succession goes from the Paulicians (in Asia Minor) to the Bogomils (in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria) to the Cathars, and then to the Waldensians and Albigensians in France. During the massive persecutions brought on by not one, but two major and ongoing Inquisitions in France, this single line of succession going back to the Apostolic Church divided and became two lines, one, the tiny surviving remnant of Sabbath keeping Waldensians and Albigensians moving north into Holland (and becoming Lollards under Walter Lollard), and on into England as the Lollards (and these Lollards were Sabbath-keeping). The other line of succession, which was one and the same with the Sabbatarian Church of God era’s coming from early Asia Minor, now continues on as the Sunday observing Baptists, who doctrinally remained quite similar to their Sabbath keeping brothers, except that they no longer observed the Sabbath or the Holy Days of Leviticus 23. These people became known as the Anabaptists, and spread all over Europe and into England, as their histories attest to. This ends this history of the two era’s, Pergamos and Thyatira, that would remain in ‘the wilderness’ for 1260 years. Remember, all the candlesticks in Revelation 1 were separate. Now the Church era’s are going to follow two lines of succession, one a Gentile Christian line (coming from France), the other a Sabbatarian Church of God line of succession (also coming from France). This fact has confused many who have attempted to write a Church history based on the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2 & 3. Historians all know, that when historic facts are few, or when they have been destroyed [the winner of a conflict always writes the history], history is “best guess with the facts you have.” Whether I am correct in my “best guess” or not will be seen when Jesus Christ returns to earth and tells us the real truth. I can only hope I have followed this historic trail somewhat accurately. But maybe J. Vernon McGee is correct, and the Pergamos and Thyatira era’s represented the Romish Church. Who knows. I assure you, we’ll all find out when Jesus returns. I have just made one of many scenario’s available, the choice is still up the individual readers and believers to make as to which one they chose to believe in. Such information is secondary to the Gospel of Salvation and one’s own salvation, so believe what you will. I will provide a chart containing the succession of era’s at the end of this whole section on Revelation 2 & 3 so you can see all the pieces of the puzzle come together. Oh, almost forgot, the Gentile side of the Body of Christ, by all appearances, had a Thyatira era all on it’s own, a Sunday observing Thyatira era which came a little bit later, in the late 1500s. We will cover that next.
The Period of Bible Scholar-translators
Coming out of the 1260 year “wilderness”
The Protestant Reformation which brought about the beginning of the Gentile Christian era’s or revivals within the Body of Christ first had its origins in the accurate translation of the Bible into both the German and English languages, particularly the English language. As you saw, Gentile Sunday worshippers (Anabaptist, leading to the Baptists) actually first began to appear in the midst of the slaughter being brought down on the Thyatira era Sabbatarians, the Waldenses and Albigensians. Numbers of them switched to observing Sunday, retaining much of their strong beliefs in the Word of God, and aversion to infant baptism. These people became the Anabaptists, and that is essentially where the Baptist denominations first came from, during the French Inquisitions instigated by popes Innocent III and IV, as well as others. In 1517 Martin Luther comes on the scene, and it is here that J. Vernon McGee likes to lump all Protestants in the Protestant Reformation as being the Sardis era of the Church, going from 1517 (Luther) through the 1800s. Martin Luther and John Calvin are very important people, because they sort of really got the ball rolling, restoring important doctrinal understanding from the Word of God, preparing the harvest fields for God to plant specific revivals, Gentile Christian, Sunday observing Christian revivals, that would truly be Holy Spirit indwelt and spiritually alive. But judging from the actions of the Calvanist churches and the Lutheran churches that came from John Calvin and Martin Luther, I cannot in good conscience call them real Holy Spirit indwelt parts of the Body of Christ. Many in those two denominations ended up fighting against each other in the bloody Thirty Years War in Europe. There were of course some born-again believers in their midst. But Martin Luther was one in the midst of a very special group of people who would lay the foundation for the genuine Christian revivals that God would raise up after 1585AD. He was part of a group of highly skilled Bible scholar-translators who would bring about the accurate translation of the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew languages into both the German and English language, especially English. The first person in this distinguished group was John Wycliffe, an Oxford scholar and professor, whose followers, oddly enough were the Lollards (Walter Lollard was a Sabbatarian leader of the remnants of the Thyatira era Waldensians and Albigensians that escaped to Holland, and then came to England). This was in 1380s AD. Following in this illustrious list was John Hus (1415AD), building on the work of Wycliffe’s translation; Johann Gutenberg starts printing the Bible in German with the west’s first printing press (1450sAD); Thomas Linacre (1490sAD); John Colet (1496AD); Erasmus (1516); Martin Luther working with (1517AD) William Tyndale onward through 1536, when Tyndale was martyred; Myles Coverdale (1535AD); John Rogers 1549AD onward to the 1550s AD. It is essential to understand the foundation God had to lay in order for him to raise up the genuine revivals that would follow. Access to the written Word of God, the Bible, had been denied to the average individual by the Catholic Church, going all the way back to 325AD, but especially during the Middle Ages, or Dark Ages as some call them. Most ordinary people couldn’t read Latin, the only language the Bible was allowed to be written in. And each Bible at that, had to be hand copied. It wasn’t like you could go out and buy your own copy. Peter de Waldo, in the midst of the Thyatira era had been making hand-written translations of the Bible into the Provincial French language, and we see where that got them. So, literally, he was the first to have the Bible translated, but the few copies they had never left France, and probably ended up being destroyed. But this group of courageous Bible scholar-translators appeared on the scene in England (and Germany) starting in the 1380s and going on through to the 1560sAD. By the 1500s the ball was rolling with such force that the Catholic Church couldn’t stop it. For an excellent short history of how these courageous men, Bible scholar-translators laid this essential foundation for Sunday observing Christian revivals to come, be sure to log onto and read “English Bible History” at: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/ .
Gentile Christian Thyatira Era
Now we’re going to step back to the letter to the church at Thyatira. But this time we are going to focus on the very first actual revival of the Body of Christ to occur right after the period of time that the church was supposed to spend “in the wilderness”, which ends in 1585AD (325D + 1260 years = 1585AD). Mary Queen of Scots, Bloody Mary, the English queen who tried to restore Catholicism to England, has been executed and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII is now queen. In a stunning victory at sea by her British sea-dogs, and a great storm, the Spanish Armada is sunk, and England’s last threat of being overwhelmed by a powerful Catholic nation, Spain, is gone. Remember the major clue as to the identity of where to look for the Thyatira era of the Church? “The city was the headquarters for many ancient guilds: the potters’, tanners’, weavers’, robe-makers’, and dyers’ guilds. It was the center of the dyeing industry…” i.e., Thyatira is to be found in a textile manufacturing region. Do you remember where the Waldensians and Albigensians were located? In the middle of the textile manufacturing region of France (during the 1100s through 1200s AD). Now in England from 1585 onwards a group of believers, genuine Christians, is forming up in the Midlands of England. They’re well grounded in the knowledge of the Bible (the Geneva Bible was their primary source. If you haven’t logged onto that English Bible History link, I suggest you do so and read it. It is foundational.) These people would be labeled as Brownists and also as Separatists (because they believed ‘one had to separate out from the Church of England in order to be saved’). They would suffer great persecution, first under Queen Elizabeth, and then under king James 1st, so much so that they would flee to Holland in 1607 and live there in exile for 13 years. Guess where they settled down and lived in Holland? They settled down in Leyden, a textile manufacturing district! And they laboured in textile manufacturing for 13 long, hard years. They were the very ones that came to Plymouth Harbour on the Mayflower. And then they suffered a 50 percent loss of life during their first hard winter there in Plymouth. So, martyrdom in England had dogged them, and then a martyrdom from the harsh winter elements their first year here. They became the founders of the Congregational Church in America and the denomination by that name. So, based on that key identifying clue in Jesus’ letter to Thyatira, I am going to list the Separatists in England and then in America, becoming the Congregationalist revival/denomination as the Gentile Christian Church’s Thyatira era. For a complete history of this era (short enough to be readable in a reasonable amount of time), log onto and read: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm .
[copyright 2010 © UNITYINCHRIST.COM]