The Third Century, Polycrates, and the Passover

   Near the end of the second century, Victor, Bishop of Rome, attempted to settle the still raging dispute between the western and Asian churches over when the "Paschal Festival" (Passover), should be observed.  So more than 40 years after Polycarp had debated the topic  with Anicetus at Rome, Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus and disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of  John, the apostle of Jesus, still (as his mentors before him), adamantly opposed any deviation from the teaching which in essence had come from Christ Himself.  The following is an excerpt from a letter sent by Polycrates to Victor: 
     
    "As for us, then, [the Asian churches] we keep the day without tampering with it,  neither adding or subtracting. For indeed in Asia great luminaries have fallen asleep,  such as shall rise again on the day of the Lord's appearing, when he comes with glory from heaven to seek out all his saints: Philip one of the 12 apostles, who has fallen asleep ... John too, he who 'leant back' on the Lord's 'breast' [John 13:25] ... He has fallen asleep at Ephesus. ... moreover Polycarp too at Smyrna, both Bishop and martyr; ...  These all  observed the fourteenth day for the Pascha according to the Gospel, in no  way deviating there-from, but following the rule of faith.  And moreover I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, [do] according to the tradition..."   Second Century Christianity, pg 82 
           Victor threatened to excommunicate (as heretics), all those of the eastern churches that did not conform to his ruling, though he was persuaded not to take such harsh action by several other western Bishops.    
           Polycrates and his followers continued to observe the 14th day of the first month of the sacred calendar as the beginning of the Passover festival, still dubbed "Quartodecimens" by their detractors. 
           Before the turn of the third century, Polycrates, like Polycarp before him was martyred a "True Christian".    
           For as he said to Victor - 
    "Better people than I have said: We must obey God rather than men."   Eusebius: Hist. of The Church, pg 172
 
 
 
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The Great Falling Away by Joseph Santora --- ©1998-2002 True Christian Ministries
 
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