Apollonius of Ephesus

by COGwriter

Not to be confused with Apollinaris of Hierapolis, Apollonius of Ephesus was an early Christian leader. Like his similar namesake, Apollonius of Ephesus wrote against the Montanist heresies.

The Catholic Jerome wrote the following about him:

Apollonius, an exceedingly talented man, wrote against Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla a notable and lengthy volume, in which he asserts that Montanus and his mad prophetesses died by hanging, and many other things...Apollonius flourished in the reigns of Commodus and Severus (Jerome. De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 40).

That is consistent with the dates The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions this about him:

Apollonius of Ephesus Anti-Montanist Greek ecclesiastical writer, between 180 and 210, probably from Asia Minor, for he is thoroughly acquainted with the Christian history of Ephesus and the doings of the Phrygian Montanists. If we may accept what the unknown author of "Praedestinatus" says (I, 26, 27, 28; P.L., LIII, 596), he was a Bishop of Ephesus, but the silence of other Christian writers renders this testimony doubtful. He undertook the defence of the Church against Montanus, and followed in the footsteps of Zoticus of Comanus, Julian of Apamaea, Sotas of Anchialus, and Apollinaris of Hierapolis. His work is cited by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., V, 18), and is praised by St. Jerome (De vir. ill., c. xl), but has been lost, and not even its title is known...We know from Eusebius that Apollonius spoke in his work of Zoticus, who had tried to exorcise Maximilla, but had been prevented by Themison, and of the martyr-Bishop Thraseas, another adversary of Montanism. He very probably gave the signal in it for the movement of opposition to Montanism which the reunion of the first synods developed (Grey F.W. Transcribed by Paul-Dominique Masiclat, O.P. Apollonius of Ephesus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

I would like to comment on the bolded portion. The simple fact is that the official Catholic Church historians essentially seemed to have a "news blackout" about much concerning Apollonius and other bishops in Asia Minor from after the time of the Roman Bishop Victor. This is not simply my opinion, it is documented in several places in The Catholic Encyclopedia*, plus Eusebius (whom I have read) simply stops writing about them (though he does record anti-Montantism there as that was finally the position of Rome when Eusebius wrote--and that is the main reason I believe he decided to include anything about Apollonius). I consider this, as well as the "loss" of Tertullian's treatise against Apollonius as proof of this (Tertullian probably would not have written a treatise against one of no particular significance to the church).

* The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms this when it stated, "We have no information concerning the further course of the matter under Victor I so far as it regards the bishops of Asia" and in another place "Of the lost works of Tertullian the most important was the defence of the Montanist manner of prophesying, "De ecstasi", in six books, with a seventh book against Apollonius".

It should be noted that Thraseas was both a martyr and a Quartodeciman (one who kept Passover on the 14th of Nisan who did not switch to Easter Sunday as the Romans did) according to Polycrates of Ephesus (who was as well), it is pretty much a given that that Apollonius, who apparently succeeded Polycrates, was as well (Victor opposed Polycrates and the Quartodecimans).

Eusebius records this from and by Apollonius:

As the so-called Phrygian heresy was still flourishing in Phrygia in his time, Apollonius also, an ecclesiastical writer, undertook its refutation, and wrote a special work against it, correcting in detail the false prophecies current among them and reproving the life of the founders of the heresy. But hear his own words respecting Montanus:

"His actions and his teaching show who this new teacher is. This is he who taught the dissolution of marriage; who made laws for fasting; who named Pepuza and Tymion, small towns in Phrygia, Jerusalem, wishing to gather people to them from all directions; who appointed collectors of money; who contrived the receiving of gifts under the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his doctrine, that its teaching might prevail through gluttony."

He writes thus concerning Montanus; and a little farther on he writes as follows concerning his prophetesses: "We show that these first prophetesses themselves, as soon as they were filled with the Spirit, abandoned their husbands. How falsely therefore they speak who call Prisca a virgin."

Afterwards he says: "Does not all Scripture seem to you to forbid a prophet to receive gifts and money ? When therefore I see the prophetess receiving gold and silver and costly garments, how can I avoid reproving her?"

And again a little farther on he speaks thus concerning one of their confessors:

"So also Themiso, who was clothed with plausible covetousness, could not endure the sign of confession, but threw aside bonds for an abundance of possessions. Yet, though he should have been humble on this account, he dared to boast as a martyr, and in imitation of the apostle, he wrote a certain catholic epistle, to instruct those whose faith was better than his own, contending for words of empty sound, and blaspheming against the Lord and the apostles and the holy Church." And again concerning others of those honored among them as martyrs, he writes as follows:

"Not to speak of many, let the prophetess herself tell us of Alexander, who called himself a martyr, with whom she is in the habit of banqueting, and who is worshiped by many. We need not mention his robberies and other daring deeds for which he was punished, but the archives contain them. Which of these forgives the sins of the other? Does the prophet the robberies of the martyr, or the: martyr the covetousness of the prophet? For although the Lord said,' Provide neither gold, nor silver, neither two coats,' these men, in complete opposition, transgress in respect to the possession of the forbidden things. For we will show that those whom they call prophets and martyrs gather their gain not only from rich men, but also from the poor, and orphans, and widows. But if they are confident, let them stand up and discuss these matters, that if convicted they may hereafter cease transgressing. For the fruits of the prophet must be tried; ' for the tree is known by its fruit.' But that those who wish may know concerning Alexander, he was tried by Aemilius Frontinus, proconsul at Ephesus; not on account of the Name, but for the robberies which he had committed, being already an apostate. Afterwards, having falsely declared for the name of the Lord, he was released, having deceived the faithful that were there. And his own parish, from which he came, did not receive him, because he was a robber. Those who wish to learn about him have the public records of Asia. And yet the prophet with whom he spent many years knows nothing about him ! Exposing him, through him we expose also the pretense of the prophet. We could show the same thing of many others. But if they are confident, let them endure the test." Again, in another part of his work he speaks as follows of the prophets of whom they boast: "If they deny that their prophets have received gifts, let them acknowledge this: that if the@' (sic) are convicted of receiving them, they are not' prophets. And we will bring a multitude of proofs of this. But it is necessary that all the fruits of a prophet should be examined. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet stain his eyelids ? Does a prophet delight in adornment? Does a prophet play with tables and dice ? Does a prophet lend on usury? Let them confess whether these things are lawful or not; but I will show that they have been done by them." This same Apollonius states in the same work that, at the time of his writing, it was the fortieth year since Montanus had begun his pretended prophecy. And he says also that Zoticus, who was mentioned by the former writer, when Maximilla was pretending to prophesy in Pepuza, resisted her and endeavored to refute the spirit that was working in her; but was prevented by those who agreed with her. He mentions also a certain Thraseas among the martyrs of that time.

He speaks, moreover, of a tradition that the Saviour commanded his apostles not to depart from Jerusalem for twelve years. He uses testimonies also from the Revelation of John, and he relates that a dead man had, through the Divine power, been raised by John himself in Ephesus. He also adds other things by which he fully and abundantly exposes the error of the heresy of which we have been speaking.These are the matters recorded by Apollonius (Eusebius Book V, Chapter 18).

Eusebius records (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapters 18-19) that along with Apollonius, that Serapion of Antioch, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, and Thraseas of Eumenia opposed the Montantist heresies (since Apollinaris of Hierapolis and Thraseas of Eumenia were Quartodecimans, and Apollonius was a successor to Polycrates, it is likely that Apollonius was as well).

Of the Montanists, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia:

...the date of Thraseas is therefore about 160, and the origin of Montanism must be yet earlier...We hear of no false doctrines at first...St. Jerome's account, written in 384...describes them as Sabellians in their idea of the Trinity (Chapman J. Transcribed by Robert B. Olson. Montanists. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

One of the so-called Montanist Oracles was:

"I am the Father and the Son and the Paraclete." (Didymus, De trinitate iii. 41. 1.) (Assembled in P. de Labriolle, La crise montaniste (1913), 34-105, by Bates College, Lewston (Maine) http://abacus.bates.edu/Faculty/Philosophy%20and%20Religion/rel_241/texts/montanism.html 01/31/06).

This is one of the first references to a trinitarian view of the Godhead (the other earliest one was from the heretic Valentinus). The paraclete is a term used to signify the Holy Spirit (it is from the Greek term parakletos).

Since the true Church of God is binitarian, it is logical that any affiliated with it would have opposed any trinitarian concepts. Roman leaders seemed to be tolerant of the Montanists until sometime after Apollonius and others in Asia Minor condemned them (Rome finally condemned the Montanists, but not for this doctrine).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also reported that Tertullian, who became a Montanist wrote a book against Apollonius:

We have no information concerning the further course of the matter under Victor I so far as it regards the bishops of Asia. All that is known is that in the course of the third century the Roman practice in the observance of Easter became gradually universal" and in another place "Of the lost works of Tertullian the most important was the defence of the Montanist manner of prophesying, "De ecstasi", in six books, with a seventh book against Apollonius").

I believe that is what the book by Tertullian against the Quartodeciman Apollonius was also “lost” (and not quoted from the 4th century historian Eusebius) on purpose as it may have highlighted too many differences between what the beliefs of the faithful in early 3rd century Asia Minor and the more heretical beliefs of the growing Greco-Roman confederation (beliefs that I do not believe that Eusebius wanted his emperor Constantine to know about).

Concluding Comments

Since Apollonius taught against the Montanist heretics as did Quartodecimans Apollinaris and Thraseas, was the apparent successor to Polycrates, and taught that one needed to heed scripture, it is likely that he was part of the true Church of God. I believe that it is likely that he held a variety of positions that the Greco-Roman confederation of churches no longer hold.

Of course, in retrospect, we humans cannot be certain who were or were not true Christians at that time. But it appears that Apollonius may have been one. But even if he was not, his writings suggest a theology closer to that held by the Churches of God, than the Orthodox or Catholic faiths. And that helps demonstrate that it is the COGs who hold positions most consistent with truly orthodox Christianity, than the majority who now profess Christianity do.

Information on church history and the location of the true Christian church can be found in the following free online booklets: Continuing History of the Church of God and Where is the True Christian Church Today?

Previous Primary Leader was Polycrates of Ephesus                                 Next faithful Primary Leader Apparently was Pionius of Smyrna

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Thiel B., Ph.D. Apollonius of Ephesus. www.cogwriter.com 2006/2007/2008/2015/2017 0127