Little did I know that I would be doing something different for Easter this year, such as defending Bishop Polycarp, the early church father of Smyrna.
Even defending the early churches of Asia Minor, against the ways of our modern church. Little did I know.
As a matter of fact, I discover “little have I known” for all these years now. It’s rather disturbing when I think about it. Sixty years of going to church, and Easter Sundays in which we put on our Sunday best and celebrated the resurrection of Christ, along with taking the Communion.
Over these years I have witnessed the slow evolution of Easter Sundays changing from a “dress-up day”, to a more casual day which included an Easter bunny and egg hunt at the end. Such progress we have made, and yet if Polycarp were here, or the Apostle John, they would likely say we have made no progress at all since we digressed, (un-progressed), way back around 300 A.D.!
So this year, much to my surprise, I find myself preparing to do a “Christian Version Passover Meal and Communion” with a handful of people. Have I ever done this before? NO. Do I know what I’m doing? I’ve learned enough to be able to do better than most churches will be doing this Easter. Does that sound conceited? Well… if you studied the historical records as I have the last couple months, you might realize I’m simply doing the best I can, in my own humble effort, to resurrect something the church let die many years ago. Something Polycarp, devoted disciple of Apostle John thought was extremely important. I’m resurrecting the “Welcoming Table” of our Lord. (In my own simple way.)
But I have written a considerable amount about all this in our blog-journey leading to this point, so today’s goal is to simply type in some pieces of early writings, historical records, as evidence I’m not losing my mind or making this stuff up.
And since I’m not the best typer: I only do this because of my great concern. I would not be attempting this unless I felt it so important. I want this blog site to be a source of important information for what God might be doing in the earth today. I don’t expect anyone to take my word for anything. Simply consider the evidence, and search for yourself.
If you want to research these for yourself, it might be possible to google. I bought books. 5000 pages worth of books! (LOL) So I have not tried the google thing. But I’m about to type excerpts of early church father “Irenaeus”, born around 130 A.D., and said he had actually sat under teachings by Polycarp. Another source is “Eusebius”, who put to record much early church history and lived during the time of Constantine.
I hope this will be helpful for your own consideration, but it will only be so if you are serious about what Christ first started as the church. If you think there is no danger in the changes we have made, or it’s too difficult to do anything now, then this won’t be much help to you. So for those who take such things very seriously, I make this effort.
Irenaeus: Fragment 3 (some excerpts) > “And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points, they were at once well inclined towards each other (with regard to the matter at hand), not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance (Passover) (in his own way), in as much as these things had been always so observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant…”
(However, as I wrote in earlier articles, this Passover/Easter controversy would grow more heated as the years went by, and around 300 A.D., after Polycarp is long gone, Rome forces its way on the matter.)
Now here is some excerpts from Eusebius.
Eusebius: History Book 5 – Chapter 23 > “A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the 14th day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover.”
“But it was not the custom of the churches of the rest of the world to end it at this time…”
“Synods and assemblies were held on this count…” (The synods voted in disagreement with the Asia churches.)
Chapter 24 > “But the Bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them…”
“We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen to sleep…” “Among these are Phillip, one of the twelve apostles…” “And moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord,…” “And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr…” (a few others are also mentioned.)
“All these observed the 14th day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith.”
“And I also, Polycrates,…” “For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven.”
“I, therefore, brethern, who have lived 65 years in the Lord, and have met with the brethern throughout the world, and have gone through every holy scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’
Chapter 25 > “Those in Palestine whom we have recently mentioned, Narcissus and Theophilus, and with them Cassius, bishop of the church of Tyre, and Clarus of the church of Ptolemais, and those who met with them, having stated many things respecting the tradition concerning the passover which had come to them in succession from the apostles,…”
Okay, wow…I hope that’s enough to show evidence of the importance of this observance that was changed by Rome in the day. It’s not only about the day it is observed on, but how it is observed too. If you read in your own Bible, in I Corinthians 11: 17-33, you will note this was a meal! Like Jesus had a meal with his disciples that night. It was a meal, and it was like family. The emphasis was on his death, not his resurrection. We have lost the proper emphasis along with the proper method and the proper “a lot of things” when it comes to all this. Yes… the machinery of our modern church scares me. When we came out of Catholicism, it seems we did not come all the way out, but carried baggage with us.
So at the age of 62, this year, there is going to be red on the doorpost of my house, and we’re going to talk about many things as we share a meal, and unleavened bread. It will start at sundown and end at midnight; and it will not be hard to fill the time. We have a great many things that need to be said…perhaps even resurrected.
One last thing: As I was reading I Corinthians 11, something occurred to me I had not realized before. Paul says in verse 23 that he is passing on what he received of the Lord! Now realize that Jesus was already gone by the time Paul was called to be an Apostle! So… as detailed in II Cor. 12, and Galatians 1: 11-24, Paul “somehow” had personal time with Jesus! And in this time, “evidently”, Jesus thought it important enough to also instruct Paul concerning the Lord’s Supper! And Paul is herein sharing some of those details!
If it is that important, that Jesus made it part of his personal instructions to Apostle Paul, then maybe we should pay this a little more attention, and ask our full-time, paid-staff experts, what’s going on here? Why are we ignorant concerning these things? Are we being sold a blue light special relationship to Christ?
It seems like a photocopy machine. I hate to say it. The church should be better than this. By the power of God we’re not subject to fading. But the more copies that have been made from copy to copy, the more our current copy seems to be a far cry from the original. But we still have God’s Word in which to ferret out the truth if we care enough.
I know this is a lot to think about, but for your own sake, and the sake of the Lord’s church, please do.
“Fellowship of the White Path” / Grandpa White Feather.