Paul Of Samosata, a heresiarch of the 3d century. He became patriarch of Antioch in 260, and by extortion and bribery acquired great wealth. He affected extraordinary pomp, caused the hymns of the church to be abolished and others sung in praise of himself, and surrounded himself with young and beautiful women who attended him wherever he went. In defiance of the ecclesiastical canons he held the office of ducenarius, a sort of procurator-ship under the emperor. He was an especial favorite of Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra, who called him to her court, admired his eloquence, and disputed with him on religion. He taught that there is only one God, who is denominated the Father; that the "Word or "Wisdom of God is not a substance or person, but is in the divine mind as reason in men; that Christ was a mere man who acquired this "Word or Wisdom of God, becoming by it both God and the Son of God, though both in an improper sense, and gradually acquiring his knowledge and virtues; and that the divine "Word withdrew from him when he suffered. His opinions were condemned in a council held about 264, but he was allowed to retain his see on promise of retracting them.
Failing to keep his word, he was again condemned and deposed at the council of Antioch in 269. The favor of Zenobia enabled him to defy this sentence until 273, when she was conquered by the emperor Aurelian. The whole matter was now referred to the see of Rome, and Paul, expelled from his church, passed the rest of his life in obscurity. He had a few followers, who called themselves Paulianists. They disappear from history about the 5th century.