Are you interested in learning about the beliefs and practices of the original early Christian church? Are you willing to consider that perhaps what is commonly taught overlooks much of what really happened?
The real Christian Church–is a group which was never intended to be large in this age–as Jesus taught, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32) and the Apostle Paul taught, “at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). Neither a little flock or remnant are particularly large. Nor is the Continuing Church of God, which strives to be its most faithful remnant.
Where Were the Early Christians?
Although there were early Christians in many places, more seemed to be in Jerusalem, Antioch, Asia Minor, Alexandria, Corinth, Rome, Armenia, and with some even into the Celtic areas, India, Africa, Arab areas, and possibly China. The main location of the early leadership seemed to be Asia Minor. An article of interest may be Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome.
Original Christianity was practiced in Jerusalem up until around 135 A.D., its second A.D. fall (which is when it ceased having Jewish bishops and changed practices to avoid imperial persecution–more details are in the article The Ephesus Church Era). By the time it first fell in 70 A.D., many Christians fled to Pella, then some returned later to Jerusalem, while others went to Asia Minor and were later called Nazarenes (please also see the article on The Smyrna Church Era). There is an Orthodox Church in Jerusalem which claims it is an original faithful Church, though it has many beliefs that differ from the original ones documented in the articles linked here.
Antioch was a major city essentially north of Jerusalem. The Bible records that some of the apostles met there. It was biblically in Syria, but the current border puts it in the nation of Turkey. True Christianity was, to some degree, practiced in Antioch apparently throughout the first and second centuries, and perhaps as the minority faith until the seventh century or so (please see Arabic Nazarenes May Have Kept Original Christian Practices). The Antiochian Orthodox Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church both claim they are the original faithful Church from Antioch, though both have many teachings that differ from the original ones documented in the articles linked here.
According to the New Testament, true Christianity was practiced throughout many areas of Asia Minor in the first century (this area is now in the country of Turkey). Most (between 15-17) of the 27 books of New Testament were written to or from church leaders in Asia Minor. (Even Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox leaders recognized that Asia Minor had early “apostolic succession”; essentially what they refer to as the early “apostolic see of Ephesus.”) What scripture clearly shows, is that although there were Christians in various areas, the focus for the New Testament writers were the churches in Asia Minor. And interestingly, the last book of the Bible is specifically addressed to the churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 1:4,11). The last of the original apostles to die, John, died in Asia Minor and his disciple Polycarp of Smyrna was a major leader there. Those there also taught the true gospel and opposed others who promoted a different gospel. There were actually two major groups that claimed Christianity in the second century that claimed succession from the apostles, and only one of them has remained faithful–for some further details, please see Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries?
According to Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Church of God, and other sources, apostolic Christianity was practiced in Asia Minor in the second century–and those there that were true Christians were sometimes referred to as Smyrnaeans (or descendants of the Church of God in Ephesus/Asia Minor). Asia Minor is north and north-west of Antioch and Jerusalem, and was in the country now called Turkey. There are at least two churches that claim descent from Asia Minor: The Orthodox Church of Constantinople (which does not consider itself to be Protestant as it precedes the Protestant Reformation; and it remains in Constantinople, now called Istanbul) and the genuine Church of God (which also does not consider itself Protestant as it precedes the Protestant Reformation). Those in the genuine Church of God consider Polycrates (the late 2nd century Christian who refused to accept the authority of Roman Bishops) to have been an important and faithful leader, but the Orthodox Church is more guarded about that. Also, although the Church of God teaches that Polycarp is a successor to the apostles that it traces its history through, the Orthodox Church of Constantinople does not include him in their successor list, nor do any of the other Eastern “Orthodox” churches, even though they acknowledge that Polycarp was a successor to the apostles.
Alexandria is in Egypt, north Africa. It is unknown how long any true Christians were there. Certain ones have made claims that conflict with the biblical record as some claim that the Gospel writer Mark led the Church from there for 20 years (while the Bible shows Mark in different parts of the world during that time). Many non-apostolic practices, such allegorizing scripture, were promoted from this area, from even the first century. The largest Alexandrian church split in the year 451 into the Coptic Church and the Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Both of those groups have many beliefs different from those documented here.
There were (and still are) true Christians in various parts of Africa and elsewhere around the world.
According to the New Testament, there was a troubled, but faithful church in Corinth in the first century. It eventually seemed to accept Roman influence.
According to the New Testament, there was a faithful church in Rome in the first century (one New Testament book was addressed to it and several were written from there), but it does not list any who later became known as “Roman bishops” as holding any office of importance there (please see the article What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About the Early Church?). There were also faithful Christians in Rome in the second century, though many heresies affected that area according to Roman Catholic, Church of God, and other sources. The Roman Catholic Church claims that it is still the faithful Church, the one that has supremacy over all Christendom, and that it has Apostolic Succession, but it has changed many beliefs that many it calls saints had (please see Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?). It is of interest to note that even many Roman Catholic scholars have long held that the Churches in Asia Minor in the second century held to the original teachings of the apostles.
Most Protestants come from groups that were affiliated with Martin Luther’s teachings and/or his departure from the Roman Church. And some groups, such as the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim that the true church essentially had to begin again as essentially the Protestant reformation did not go anywhere near far enough.
According to various legends and historical writings, there were true Christians in the Celtic areas of the British and Irish islands from perhaps the late first century until sometime after the Council of Nicea (s0me information is included in the article on The Pergamos Church Era). There is a third century report that the Apostles Thomas and Bartholomew got the gospel to India in the first century (and that perhaps Thomas went to China or Malaysia ); and there are later reports that the church in India remained opposed to the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.
Hippolytus’ third century report on where he believed the original 12 apostles, plus Paul, went to is included in the article The Ephesus Church Era. Some of the Kelts (see The Pergamos Church Era), who had certain practices closer to those of the Church of God than the Church of Rome, said that they descended from the “apostolic see of Ephesus” (which essentially was the faithful leading group in Asia Minor until about the mid-third century).
Beliefs: How Was Early Christianity Practiced?
While scholars have a variety of opinions, this page itself will simply mention the following beliefs held by true Christians in the second century, with links to highly documented articles on each subject (which are primarily based on the Bible and early historical writings).
Amazingly, a leading Protestant scholar (H. Brown) has admitted:
It is impossible to document what we now call orthodoxy in the first two centuries of Christianity (Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, p. 5).
In other words, much of what now passes for “orthodox Christianity” did not exist in the first two centuries after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. This is basically because while there was only one original church, another major group emerged in the second century who changed certain original Christian practices and became what most now seem to feel represent “orthodoxy” (for details, please see Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries?).
Also, notice what one Roman Catholic writer has written:
Protestants of many traditions are now espousing recent Protestant traditions and modern schisms; yet they all claim the early Church as their own–asserting that they are the rightful heirs to the teachings of our Lord, the apostles, and the Fathers of the apostolic Church. Are they? Do they have a legitimate claim to the theology of the early Church? Was the “early Church essentially Protestant” in her theology and polity, or was she Catholic? (Ray, Stephen K. Upon This Rock. St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1999, p. 15).
Well, what if the early Church was the Church of God with its “Nazarene practices,” which is neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic? What if that is what the Bible and early writings from original “catholic” saints demonstrate? We in the Continuing Church of God believe that salvation is only available through the name of Jesus and that true Christians will have God’s Spirit and “walk as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
To learn more about the faithful remnant and what original Christian beliefs were, please check out the Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God.
What About Today?
Almost none who profess Christianity hold to the basic original beliefs (which can be found in the article Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God).
It is the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God, represented by the Continuing Church of God (which happens to also be a “little flock” as well as “remnant”) that agrees with all the positions above, that were part of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The Continuing Church of God also specifically traces its history from the Apostles like Peter, Paul, and John through Polycarp, Polycrates, and other early leaders in Asia Minor.
Was the Headquarters of the True Church To Remain in the Same City?
While as this page mentioned above, there are several churches that claim direct descent from places such as Alexandria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Jerusalem , and Rome, an important question to answer is: Was the headquarters of the true church to remain in the same city?
The answer, from a biblical perspective, is no.
While the true church was to continue (Matthew 16:18), what about a city for Christians?
The Apostle Paul taught that it was impossible:
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come (Hebrews 13:14).
Let us look at what Jesus taught on this matter:
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.
For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes
Jesus, of course, has not yet returned. Whatever Christians there have been in the area of Palestine have been chased through all the cities in that geographic region since Jesus stated this (the Crusades helped insure this). Thus Jesus must be referring to more cities than just those in the area of Palestine (such as those Jacob was alluding to in Genesis 49:1-27). Jesus, thus, seems to be prophesying that it would not be possible that the headquarters of the true church could permanently remain in any one city for hundreds or nearly two thousand years. These statements from Jesus and Paul clearly indicate that only a church whose headquarters moved relatively often could possibly be true.
There were theological persecutions coming from cities such as Pasadena in the 20th century and other cities in the 21st century that led to the latest city (Arroyo Grande, California) to be the current home of those attempting to represent most faithful work of God, now known as theContinuing Church of God.
Remember that although the true Church was prophesied to continue (Matthew 16:17-18), it was also prophesied to move to different locations (Matthew 10:23; Hebrews 13:14).
Furthermore, since John prophesied a time that the church would flee into the wilderness for apparently 1260 years (based on each day representing one year, such as shown in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6) in Revelation 12:6, this strongly suggests that the original church would be hard to locate for a very long time–and this simply is not the case with the Roman or Orthodox Catholic Churches. In Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, Jesus has the Apostle John list various churches that while also contemporaneous, provided a prophecy in advance of what would happen to those churches (for more information, please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3).
Perhaps it should be noted that even Catholic scholars admit that there is a biblical prophesy related to Rome that is less than flattering as the commentary in the 1582 version of theRheims New Testament (the Roman Catholic standard English translation) states:
The author of the Commentaries upon the Apocalypse set forth in St. Ambrose name, writeth thus: This…sometime signifieth Rome, specially which at that time when the Apostle wrote this, did persecute the Church of God. But otherwise it signifieth the whole city of the Devil, that is, the universal corps of the reprobate. Tertullian also taketh it for Rome, thus, Babylon (saith he) in St. John is a figure of the city of Rome, being so great, so proud of the Empire, and the destroyer of the saints. Which is plainly spoken of that city, when it was heathen, the head of the terrene dominion of the world, the persecutor of the Apostles and their successors, the seat of Nero, Domitian, and the like, Christ’s special enemies, the sink of idolatry, and false worship of the Pagan gods (Annotations on Chapter 17 of the Apocalypse. The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2004, copyright assigned to VSC Corp. Page 583).
Hence Bible prophecy seems to exclude Rome and many other places as the likely leader of true Christendom. Information on some of the early leaders from these cities can be found in the article titled Apostolic Succession.
A comparison of teachings that early Roman Catholic accepted leaders held and those held by the Church of God can be found in the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Two other articles of interest to some may be Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants and Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God.
Let Brotherly Love Continue
The Apostle Paul wrote:
1 Let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1).
Hebrews 13:1 is very interesting as literally, it says “Let Philadelphia continue” as the Greek word translated as “brotherly love” is transliterated as filadelphia or Philadelphia.
We of the Continuing Church of God strive to represent the most faithful remnant of thePhiladelphia era of the Church of God.
The Mission of the Continuing Church of God
The Church’s mission is to proclaim and promote the Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14) and all that implies. Here are seven specific parts of the mission of theContinuing Church of God:
1. To preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) and salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 4:10,12; Romans 1:13).
2. To preach the end-time biblical prophetic warnings, including about the coming Great Tribulation, to the descendants of Jacob and others in this age (e.g. Ezekiel 3 and 33; Matthew 24:4-51) as we strive to lead the final phase of the work.
3. To preach Philadelphian love (Revelation 3:7-12; James 2:8; John 13:35; Hebrews 13:1), feed the flock (Matthew 28:19-20), and encourage all to build character through growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
4. To be examples (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 1:7) and witnesses (Matthew 24:14) to the world in general, as well as other Christians.
5. To learn and practice the words and commands of Jesus in all our dealings with others (John 13:35; 15:14).
6. To restore knowledge of more of the truths of original Christianity (Jude 3).
7. To teach that Christians should be led by the Holy Spirit and purse love, mercy, judgment, faith, and the other gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13:1-14:1; Galatians 5:22-25).
Teaching the truth and love of the word of God to the world in general and those called in this age in particular (Matthew 28:19-20) is the mission of theContinuing Church of God.
Note to visitors: Many of the doctrines expounded upon at this site are probably different than you have heard. It is certainly understandable that you may question what is taught here. Please understand that when the Bible teaches that Satan deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9) that means we all have been deceived (all of us have sinned too, Romans 3:23).
Could a small group actually be the remnant of the original church? Or must it be relatively large organization? Would Jesus’ true church be scorned by the world or a major player on the world scene?
Jesus clearly said His True Church would be a “little flock” and be around until He returns. The genuine Church of God is such a little flock that traces its history from the Book of Acts, throughout the ages, and into the 21st Century. Would you like to learn more about this faithful remnant??
Recall Jesus taught:
“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:22-23).
16b…”I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
“And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:6).
We are a very small church, but are trying to do the big work that Jesus wants us to do to proclaim His Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14) and make disciples for Him (Matthew 28:19-20).
Under the authority of Jesus Christ and the Bible, the Continuing Church of God is led by its overseer and pastor, the evangelistic prophet Bob Thiel.
If you are interested in supporting the church that is determined to be most faithful to that of the original apostles, please check us out.
Continuing Church of God
1248 E. Grand Avenue, Suite A
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
Official website: http://www.ccog.org
Let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1).
Two articles of possible interest for some new to this website may be What is the Meaning of Life? and Continuing Church of God: Continue what?