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Letter of Jesus Christ to the church at Pergamos

 

Revelation 2:12-17, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is:  and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicholaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.  Pergamos was about 70 miles north of Ephesus.  It was the major religious center in the eastern half of the Roman Empire.  In it a temple was built to Caesar Augustus, which made it a royal city.  Pergamos was a major center of false religion.  It was a city that emphasized false religion. 

“Where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is.”  i.e. where Satan’s throne is, at this point in time, is what Jesus is saying here.  This reveals something about the identity of the Pergamos era, of where to look for it.  The actual church at Pergamos is long-gone as we get into the Pergamos era starting right after 325AD as we’ll see.  But this identifying passage tells us to look within the borders of the Roman Empire, and just 225  years after 325AD, within the borders of the Holy Roman Empire, an empire where the seat or throne of false religion would reside, Satan’s headquarters.  Satan is lose, and he is the prince of this evil world, controlling kingdoms, going up and down the earth as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy (see 1 Peter 5:8).  But he does have a headquarters.  Pergamos was just loaded with pagan temples, and the Roman emperors came there often, especially Caesar Augustus.  Rome was in the business of killing Christians, don’t forget, so Jesus said Satan’s seat or throne resided here in Pergamos (up until he transferred it to the city of Rome itself where Sylvester was headquartered, my guess around 325AD).  Jesus said it was in Pergamos, so that’s where it must have been at the time of the writing of the letter and Book of Revelation.  But the clue is that the Pergamos era would be located within the borders of first the Roman, and then the Holy Roman Empire.  The Pergamos era goes from 325AD to around 900 to 1000AD.  But when the actual Pergamos era began Satan’s headquarters did move, as we shall see, to Rome.  What major event takes place at the end of the Smyrna era in 325AD?  Constantine convenes a religious counsel at Nicea, and he effectively bans all forms of Christianity except for the ‘brand’ which is emerging out of Rome itself.  This ‘brand’ was far from what the original church of God in Rome had been in Paul’s day, as we shall read about a little bit later.  But consider this first, where were the first two era’s of the Christian Church located, as far as a majority of believers?  Asia Minor.  Right?  Starting out from Judea in the Middle East, the bulk of the Church moved on up into Asia Minor starting on or just before the first Roman-Jewish war in Judea, with John moving up there on or before 70AD.  What was Constantine like?  Was he really a Christian, as many in the Gentile Christian churches have been led to believe?  Here’s some hard-core historic evidence of what Constantine was like and what he was up to.  Log onto and read the evidence at http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm.  Rome under Constantine, in my estimation, based on the historic facts, became “Satan’s seat”, his headquarters.  Now some people will think I’m bashing Catholics.  No, just giving the plain unvarnished history.  There are some believers, Holy Spirit indwelt, even within that church.  But as a whole, taking their history into account, well, let the facts speak for themselves. 

 

Now I am going to provide a history that is believed to be the real history of the Pergamos era.  You wouldn’t expect a whole massive group of Christians, the Christian Church, so to speak, being located in Asia Minor, and then suddenly to be found in Rome and centered around there.  Were there any remnants of the Smyrna era left up in Asia Minor that could have grown into or become the next era?  Is there any evidence?  Well parts of the Baptist Church, those that claim a long lineage back to that region, say there is, and so do the Sabbatarian Churches of God, who interestingly enough, claim the same identical lineage. That’s one of those paradoxes in history—but one I think I have found a logical explanation for.  You’ll have to keep reading to see what I found in regards to that one.  I will add, that J. Vernon McGee thinks the Pergamos era was the Romish Church.  I had to discard that belief due to the evidence contrary to that, considering what the early Church was like, and also based on hard-core historic evidence about the brutal nature of the Romish Church, a history of carnage, killing, torture and bloodshed that makes Hitler look like a schoolboy out on a prankish lark.  One cannot ignore such historic evidence.  I can’t at least.  So here goes, let’s see what these other two sources have to offer. 

 

END OF THE SMYRNA ERA

 

“Polycarp lived in Smyrna and died a martyr around 155 to 161AD.  They were called ‘poor men’ by their enemies…This church era is marked by persecution and death.  Constantine in 325AD organized the Council of Nicea.  The Counsel of Nicea established once and for all that the Christian religion is to be the accepted religion of the Roman Empire, under Constantine.  Now on the surface, that should be considered good news, no more martyrdom, no more persecution from the government (which with the Roman army backing it up could be quite nasty and deadly).  But it is Constantine and Sylvester’s brand of “Christianity”.  And he designates Sunday as the day of worship (whereas the Christian churches in Asia Minor had been predominantly Judeo-Christian, quite a difference here—most Christians today do not understand that).  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.  That is in 325AD at the counsel of Nicea, which was stacked with prelates and priests from the Roman church, but had no one representing the churches in Asia Minor.  From 325AD onward, you have to look for the history of the true Church among the heretics.  [i.e. what is being said here, is you have to look among the writings of the Romish church about whom they considered to be “heretics”.]  It is now the Roman Catholic Church [what at this point I term the proto-Catholic Church] which is the official church of the Roman Empire.  And now you have both civil and religious power, authority, putting out of the church, those who are true Christians.  That began in 325AD.  At this particular period of time the true Church goes into the wilderness.

 

One interpretation for Revelation 12

 

Revelation 12, Revelation 12 is an inset chapter in the Book of Revelation.  It deals with Church history.  It deals with it in a different perspective, though.  Revelation 2 and 3 covers Church history in a consecutive manner 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 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 ‘Old Testament Church in the Wilderness’.  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 breaks the chain of events that has been proceeding in the Book of Revelation, from Revelation chapter 6 right through to chapter 11, where the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet takes place (cf. Revelation 11:15-19).  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.  [Now this is the way one part of the body of Christ interprets Revelation 12, others interpret the woman giving birth as strictly being the nation of Israel.  In God’s eyes, it may be both, which would allow for a certain key to a mystery to be revealed, so let’s go with it for now.]  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 to 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 325AD.  When the Church has to flee for its life.  And this is described from a different perspective in Revelation 12.  Same event though.  “And the woman fled into the wilderness.”  The Church has endured immense persecution during the time in Smyrna.  The Church is almost snuffed out, but is still there in the Middle East, in Asia Minor.  It is still there in the same area of the world.  I mean, the survivors of the Smyrna era, they live there, where are they going to go?  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 be hidden in a miraculous way.  And is says, verse 6, “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.”  [Now they use ‘a day for a year’ principle found in Numbers, for prophecy interpretation, used in such places as Daniel.]  We mark the 1260 years, and that is what these 1260 days stand for is 1260 years.  This is a period of time going back to 325AD, when the woman flees.  She has to flee for her life ie, what remains of the Smyrna era, which now has become the beginning of the Pergamos era.  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 (talking of the Philadelphia era, much later, our time right now).  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.  But now we are dealing with the end of the Smyrna era in 325AD, and we also 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, taking us right through the Dark Ages of the Romish church.  In fact, 1260 years later, to the year, in 1585, there is a nation, in Europe, that is FREE from Catholicism.  And guess where the Church pops up again in 1585?  [And I might add, it pops up again in two distinct forms in 1585, Sabbatarian Churches of God, and Sunday observing Gentile Christianity, in the Separatist movement taking place in the midlands of England.  But I’m getting ahead of myself, must stop that.]  Where?  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 that 1260 year time-span is going to encompass two whole era’s of God’s Church, Pergamos and Thyatira.  Those two era’s are going to have 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” in the Greek simply means “a place of solitaire, a place of solitude”, “a deserted place.”  In a sense, the true Church of God was overwhelmed by the pagan church, and yet actually are hidden among the pagans, and they survive that way.  There is a book titled “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 500AD to 1000AD, which is going to be the period of the Pergamos era, roughly, where they are scattered, they have to flee, they have to hide out.  We also know that during this period of time, was the time of the Dark Ages, when real Biblical truth is being very actively suppressed.

 

THE PERGAMOS ERA

 

I have the Pergamos era dated as 500AD to 1000AD.  Actually you could go back to 325AD.  These dates are very arbitrary in some cases.  Actually, for all practical purposes the Smyrna era came to an end about 325AD, although they were scattered and a few segments of them survived all the way up until 500AD.  The city of Pergamos was an ancient city to Thrania, a district of northwestern Asia Minor.  The name simply means “heights.”  It was a city on a hill.  It reached its zenith under the reign of Eumenes II in 197-157BC, 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 Roman government in Asia.  And again, that is going to be very interesting when we read what God prophecied about Pergamos and how he compared it to, prophetically how it’s going to apply to the third era of the Church, body of Christ.  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 chiefs 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 (or so they said).  Invalids from all over the country came there to be healed, and to hear from this pagan god and its’ priests.  Pergamos was also 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.  But the actual physical church in Pergamos, one of the seven churches Jesus writes to in Revelation 2 and 3, was nothing.  A very small congregation that had no significance like Ephesus being the Headquarters of John the apostle, or Smyrna being the Headquarters of Polycarp, and then Policrates, the two major leaders in the Smyrna era.  Much less that Ephesus, much less than Smyrna.  It didn’t have a famous minister that lived there, like John or Polycarp.  And it died out 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 (the Pergamos era, not the physical congregation).  After 325AD they are all labeled as heretics, and this would be anyone who doesn’t agree with the Catholic church is branded as a heretic.  This would include a lot of groups, the Montanas, the Donatis, the Adoptionists, the Manicheans.  Some are really heretic to the Christian faith, like the Gnostics were.  But some are from the genuine believers the Romish church is trying to snuff out.  Of these groups which we believe were true believers, Christians, were the PAULICIANS, the BOGOMILS, and the CATHARS.  These are the three main names used and that we feel apply to the true Church during this period of time.  So in order to find the history of the true Church during 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 that these names appear in time-sequence in church history: First they were called Paulicians, and then Bogomils, and then came the Cathars.  That is a general statement.  It’s not that cut and dry.  The only history, though, that we have of these people comes from the Catholic Church, which lists them under ‘heretics.’  The other book called either “The Key to Understanding” or “The Key of Truth”, written by a Paulician about 1000AD.  Problem with that book being written in 1000AD is that lampstand is going out, and God is ready to move on to another Lampstand, Thyatira.  He already has, in fact.  But era’s can overlap, and often do, somewhat.  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 325AD.  The Catholic Church destroyed any writings by these people that they could lay hands on.  They were burned during the Middle Ages, or what is known as The Dark Ages.  Both apply.  The term Paulician was used in a derogatory manner, and in Armenian, and this is another thing, we’re going to have to go back to Armenia now, to begin to track the real Church, which has come from the Middle East (Judea, Syria), to Asia Minor, (and Armenia actually being a portion of Asia Minor), and then on into eastern Europe.  That’s the track that we’re going to follow, the one these refugee Christians are taking into the heart of Europe.  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 would add the letters –ik, which instead of Paulician, would be Pauliik, which means ‘follower of the wretched little Paul.’  The term Bogomils comes from the Slavic language [i.e. Serbia, which is part of the old 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 Paulicians in 970AD.  We pretty much trace this era of true believers from 500AD to 1000AD.  They at first actually went over into the Armenian area, getting away from the western areas of Asia Minor, ie, 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 the proto-Catholic church taking shape in Rome.  [A little later in this piece, it mentions they actually end up in the region of Lake Van, up near the far northeastern border of Turkey and present day Russia.]

 

Jesus warns Pergamos about the Word of God

 

Revelation 2:12, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, these things says 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’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, the Dark 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 about compromise, becoming a part of the society around them.  Now they are hidden in that wilderness, but what is the wilderness?  The wilderness is a confused society, a society built on paganism [and a paganism blended with Christianity].  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. 

 

Jesus gives a major key to where Pergamos will be located

 

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 borders of the Roman Empire, and later, that would be within the borders of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled over by the pope and Catholic Church.  In other words, if you read this description and you’re going to look for the true Church at this period of time, where would you look?  You’d look within the borders of 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 anywhere else.  You are going to look in areas under the control of the Roman Empire, which in the beginning of this era would be the area where the most heat is being placed on believers to “conform” to the new religious laws and church.  You would look in the region of Asia Minor.  And then as time goes on, you’d look in the area of central and western Europe where the Roman Church reigns supreme.  [And that is why J. Vernon McGee actually looked at the Romish Church thinking it was the Pergamos era, mistaking it for the true Church of that time, right area, wrong group, that’s all.  We all make mistakes.]  And that is where we are going to find the true 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, verse 13b, “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 truth.  But the fact that Christ says, ‘You’re still holding fast” also indicates that they’re going to lose something, later on. 

 

Who is Antipas?

 

“Even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells” (verse 13c).  Again, the symbolism being hidden in the paganism, and now the death of Antipas.  [J. Vernon McGee had no idea who Antipas was, but maybe the person giving this history is onto something]  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 by that name in this particular period of time, there was no one later.  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 681AD 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. Now these were the good things about the Pergamos era.

 

Jesus has two condemnations for Pergamos

 

Verse 14 now.    “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 Nicholaitans, which thing I hate.”  Now the Nicholaitans were descendants or followers of Nicholas that is identified as being in Samaria during the time of the New Testament Church in Judea, who also believed in both the Babylonian religion as well as accepting Christianity [i.e. he syncretized the two].  Well the only one who fits that description in chapter 8 of the Book of Acts is Simon Magus.  So this Nicholas who created the Nicholaitans was either Simon Magus himself under a different name or else he was a follower of Simon Magus.  [Ah, slightly different interpretation than that of J. Vernon McGee.  May or may not be correct, we’ll find out later.]  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 Pergamos era of the Church during this period of time, people who are not converted [born-again], but are pagan in their practices.  And God condemns them for it.  They shouldn’t be there, as a part of the Church.  This Church era is in hiding in this spiritual 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 will 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.

 

MORE HISTORIC FACTS ABOUT THE PAULICIANS:

 

First of all, most historians say that the Paulicians got their name from a man name 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 to be called a Paulician.  And he patterned his religion after guess who?  The Ebionites, [which some link to those in the Smyrna era in Asia Minor.  May or may not be true.] and later the group called Paulicians.  The term Paulician was never officially used until 553AD.  But Paul of Samasad lived in the 200s AD, 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.”  [i.e. he practiced a Christianity like the early Church in the time of Paul and Peter]  “Probably the Paulicians of Armenia continued his tradition in rejecting the Trinity, and hence they’re named Paulicians.”  [Comment:  The actual doctrine of the Trinity, as true as it may be, was not developed by the early Church as a doctrine, as the Epistles of John clearly show, and thus belief in or not in it was not a  criterion for determining orthodoxy.  The real Trinity doctrine wasn’t developed until the 300s AD, and that by the proto-Catholic church.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/TheHolySpirit.htm.]  “At the Council of Nicea in 325AD the Pauli-ani…”
 they were not called Paulicians, “were put out of the church and condemned to be re-baptized.”  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 553AD.  And this is under the article titled “Paulicians.”  It says, “Paulician was an evangelical Christian Church spread over Asia Minor and Armenia from the fifth century [i.e. 400s AD] onwards.  [That’s right where we’d expect the Church to be right now in the 400s AD.]  The patriarch John IV states, “That Nerces, his predecessor, had chastised the Sect…”  [John IV would be one of the popes of the proto-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 Albi of the Caucasus, they had settled in the region of Derca, probably near lake Van.”  [Lake Van is 75 miles S.S.W. of Mount Ararat in the upper northeast quadrant of what is today Turkey, near the Russian border leading toward the Caspian Sea.]  And then the first mention in writing though, is actually 553AD.  Then he mentions Constantine of Maninali 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…and taking the Paulian name of Sylvanius…”  In other words, Constantine of Maninali adopted the name of Sylvanius. Now Sylvanius was a helper of Paul.  They renamed their churches after the churches that had been founded by the apostle Paul.  That is why we believe the Paulicians patterned themselves after the apostle Paul, and not the other Paul, because they adopted names relevant to the apostle  Paul.  They called themselves ‘Titus’ and ‘Timothy’ and ‘Epaphroditis’.  They changed their names to that, the ministers of this body of believers in upper northeast quadrant of Asia Minor (Turkey).  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 in 684AD 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 690AD by Justinian II.  About 702AD Paul the Armenian, who had fled to Pisaperus became head of the Church, his son Gagnacius in 722AD 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 600s AD through the 800s AD.  They had a constant thread in this spiritual wilderness.  We continue on, “The sect continued, however, and spread to Bulgaria where they became known later on as Bogomils.”

 

Paulician beliefs

 

Now what about their beliefs?  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica [11th edition] these are the beliefs of the Paulicians: “#1, They anathematized Mani,” in other words they rejected Manichaeism.  Manichaeism was a simple religious belief that was declared heretical by the Catholic Church.  The Manicheans believed this, they believed the god that created this world was Satan.  So they weren’t Manicheans, a real group of heretics.  “#2. They blasphemed the Virgin.”  All this meant is they didn’t worship Mary like the Catholic Church does.  In fact, they didn’t even believe she remained a virgin.  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 didn’t 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’, rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation that the Catholic Church believes in.  So far so good, obviously you can see they had the truth.  “#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.  “#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 it was in the Catholic Church, i.e. the office of the pope, they rejected popes and their religious authority.  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 the Catholic Church].  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 name of the Church was called in all the apostolic letters of Paul.]  That is what they called themselves.  That really rankled the Catholic Church.  “And 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 Bishops, they rejected the pope and all of the titles, and they adopted three titles that they called themselves.  The 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 Paulician Church.  Or, Apostle, Evangelist, Pastor and teacher.  That’s what they called their ministers.  Instead of priests and monks, or nuns, or Bishops, or pope.  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 am going to show you the link between the Paulicians, Bogomils and Cathars.

 

Key beliefs about Baptism

 

This is from the book “The Key of Truth” that was written by a Paulician himself around 1000AD.  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 here is one of the central reasons the Baptists claim a line of descent from the Paulicians and Bogomils and on into 12th and 13th century France.  More on that later, because it is a justifiable claim from them as well as another group.]  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 to be baptized.  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., what the statement really meant, that you had to be an adult before making a decision for baptism, and baptism in the early Church in the Book of Acts was their way of asking and accepting Christ into their lives, it was the early Church’s form of answering an altar call.]  “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.  Also, that when Christ was baptized, he was not made to turn to the east and make a pact with God, for he was 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 were 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 humeral 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 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 pray towards the east, therefore we shall not pray toward the east.”  That’s the Paulicians.

 

THE BOGOMILS

 

Bogomils is the name of an ancient religious community which had its origin in Bulgaria.  They are also known as Paulikini or Paulicians.  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 [northeastern 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. This is the direction in which the Bogomils spread.  “The Bogomils propaganda…” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica [11th edition] “…follows the mountain chains of central Europe, starting from the Balkans and continuing along the Carpathian Mountains, the Alps and Pyrenees, 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 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 era.  “They were very much persecuted and actually they began to change their beliefs and actually to join the military and become part of the system.”  In fact, the last minister I have listed for them, 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.  [I think the Saracens were moving across what is now Turkey, Asia Minor, driving the Paulicians west, and on into Bulgaria.]  An estimated 100,000 of them actually hired on in the army of this king of Bulgaria, to fight against the westward move of Saracens.  It says, “The Bogomils spread westward and settled first in Servia.”  (Serbia is my guess.)  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 of them took refuge in Bosnia and where known of the name Patterines or Patterini.”

 

 

That ends the successionist Baptist and Sabbatarian Churches of God version of this history of the Pergamos era of the Church.  So my guess is, if the major part of the surviving population left over from the Smyrna era in 325AD, and now becoming the Paulicians, as centuries pass,  with the Saracens starting their westward march across Asia Minor, it drove these true Christians (now the Pergamos era) west into the Balkans, and then into Europe itself.  You would not expect the real body of Christ to suddenly jump to Rome under an upstart quasi believer emperor of the Roman empire, one of questionable spiritual credentials [i.e., Constantine].  You would expect to find the real body of Christ right where, or near the area where it was before.  It has been seen, warfare is a great mover of populations, especially peace-loving populations.  So it was, active warfare moved the Paulicians west into the Yugoslavia area, through the back door of Europe.  And now we have the link from the Bogomils going back to the Paulicians, from the Paulicians to those of the Smyrna and Ephesus era’s, and going back to the sect of the  Nazarenes in Judea.  Going in the other direction in the next study, we find the Cathars, the Patterines, Albigensians, the Waldenses, and the Anabaptists, going on into western Europe, centering in France.

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