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  Question:

  Could you please explain just how the 7 Churches of Asia, in Revelation chapter 2 & 3, supposedly relate to 7 periods of church history?

  Answer:

 Yes, to the best of my knowledge, Bible students began to observe the 7 distinct periods of church history during the late 1800's.

Keep in mind that the word "church" in the New Testament is always the Greek word "ekklesia", meaning God's "called out ones".

A good example of early observation of the 7 church periods is the Old Scofield Bible footnotes for Revelation Chapter 2.   C. I. Scofield (1843-1921) states:

"The messages to the seven churches have a fourfold application:

(1) Local, to the churches actually addressed;

(2) Admonitory, to all churches in all time as tests by which they may discern their true spiritual state in the sight of God;

(3) Personal, in the exhortations to him "that hath an ear," and in the promises "to him that overcometh";

(4) Prophetic, as disclosing seven phases of the spiritual history of the church from, say, AD 96 to the end.

It is incredible that in a prophecy covering the church period there should be no such foreview. These messages must contain that foreview if it is in the book at all, for the church does not appear after 3:22. Again, these messages by their very terms go beyond the local assemblies mentioned. Most conclusively of all, these messages do present an exact foreview of the spiritual history of the church, and in this precise order."

Tim Lahaye, in his book "Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain", offers the following dates for the historical periods that relate to the 7 Churches of Asia:

-- AD 30-100 "Ephesus" gives the general state of the church in 96 AD;

-- AD 100-312 "Smyrna", the period of the great Roman persecutions;

-- AD 312-606 "Pergamos", the church settled down in the world, "where Satan's throne is," after the conversion of Constantine, say, AD 316.

-- AD 606-1520 "Thyatira" is the Papacy, developed out of the Pergamos state: Baalamism (worldliness) and Nicolitanism (priestly assumption) having conquered. As Jezebel brought idolatry into Israel, so Romanism weds Christian doctrine to pagan ceremonies.

-- AD 1520-1750 "Sardis" is the Protestant Reformation, whose works were not "fulfilled".

-- AD 1750-1900 "Philadelphia" is whatever bears clear testimony to the Word and the Name of Jesus.

-- AD 1900 to present "Laodicea", the self-satisfied, affluent Church, that is "in need of nothing".

Dr. Henry Morris, in his book "The Revelation Record", and many other commentaries agree with the above dates.

Do these dates clearly relate to 7 periods of actual church history? I find the answer to be a resounding "yes"!

Period #1  AD 30-100 "EPHESUS" Rev. 2:1-7:

"Ephesus" means "desirable", a term the Greek bridegroom would apply to the maiden he had chosen to marry. The Church at Ephesus was praised for their good works and their rejection of false teachings.  The period of "Ephesus" can be studied by reading the New Testament itself, in that it was the period during which the Church Age Epistles were written.

Period #2  AD 100-312 "SMYRNA" Rev. 2:8-11:

"Smyrna" means "myrrh", which is frequently mentioned in Scripture in connection with embalming the dead. As Dr. H.A. Ironside states in his book "Lectures on the Revelation", "myrrh has to be crushed in order to give out its fragrance - and so, the true "ekklesia" was crushed beneath the iron heel of pagan Rome, yet it never gave out so sweet a fragrance to God as in those two centuries of almost constant martyrdom. The period of "Smyrna" is identifiable by the major persecutions of the church under 10 different Roman Emperors. Dr. Ironside also states that as AD 300 drew close and the 10th wave of persecution began, the early church fathers believed that this "tenth wave" would be the last, and it was.

Note that during the AD 100-312 period, it was Rome who persecuted the Church, not "led" it.

"The book "The Revelation of Jesus Christ", by John F. Walvoord, states, as many other commentaries do, that the "ten days", (or "ten time periods") in the message to "Smyrna", represent 10 major, and identifiable persecutions, under 10 Roman Emperors:

1. Nero, AD 54

2. Domitian, AD 81

3. Trajan, AD 98

4. Adrian, AD 117

5. Septimius Severus, AD 193

6. Maximin, AD 235

7. Decius, AD 249

8. Valerian, AD 254

9. Aurelian, AD 270

10. Diocletian, AD 284

Period #3  AD 312-606 "PERGAMOS" Rev. 2:12-17:

Dr. Ironside states that "Pergamos" has two meanings, "marriage" and "elevation". It speaks of the time period when the visible "church" was "elevated" to a place of secular power and "married" to the world. The "Pergamos" period relates to the time when Constantine was "converted" and decreed that "Christianity" would be the State Religion. The church began to think that Constantine's empire was "Christ's Kingdom". Under Constantine, many false teachings were introduced into the "church".

The reference to Baalamism relates to the Roman Church's adopted doctrines of monetary payment for "spiritual favors", as the prophet Baalam attempted to prophecy for personal gain (2 Pet. 2:15&16, Jude 11). The reference to "Nicolitanism" (from "Niko", to conquer, and "laos" the people) relates to the promotion of a "priesthood" having been inserted between God and the people, and thus the "people conquered".

Period #4  AD 606-1520 THYATIRA" Rev. 2:18-29:

As Dr. Ironside states, the name "Thyatira" is difficult to define. It comes from two words, one for "sacrifice" and the other "that which goes on continually", so Ironside suggests the definition "continual sacrifice". The "Thyatira" period relates to the growing power of the Roman Papacy. Ironside states that it was in the 7th century that the Bishop of Rome was finally acknowledged as Christ's "vicegerent", the visible "head of Christendom". Ironside notes that it was during the "Thyatira" period, circa 1000 AD, that the church of Rome made attendance to the "mass" obligatory, to, as the Roman Catholic Church states, "offer up the Lord Jesus from time to time a continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead." The "mass" denies the finished work of Christ on the Cross, and the priest, in effect, kills Christ again and again "for the sins of both the living and the dead". See "Catholic Answers", at http://www.catholic.com and the "Catholic Encyclopedia", at http://www.newadvent.org for information about the "mass" as a "continual sacrifice of Christ".

The reference to "Jezebel", who brought idolatry into Israel, speaks of the Roman church blending Christian doctrine with pagan ceremonies.

See "The Two Babylons", by Alexander Hislop, posted on-line at: http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect1.htm for information about how much of modern "Christianity" is now based on, and blended with, 4000 year old Babylonian paganism.

Period #5  AD 1520-1750 "SARDIS" Rev. 3:1-6:

Ironside states that the meaning of "Sardis" is "those who have escaped". The period of "Sardis" relates to the great Protestant Reformation, and the work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc., as the true Bible believing church ("ekklesia") rebelled against and broke away from the Roman Church.

Period #6  AD 1750-1900 "PHILADELPHIA" Rev. 3:7-13:

Philadelphia is from the Greek "philos" and "adelphos", meaning "brotherly love." The Philadelphian period relates to the period of history where the Pilgrims left Europe to come to America, to obtain religious freedom.  This is the time period in the United States when a man's handshake was as good as a legal document, no need to lock doors, and great men of God dedicated their whole life to develop the greatest of Bible study tools, such as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the great Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, the works of John Gill, Bullinger, and the vast majority of Bible study aids that we use today. In this period, the first "Colleges" in the USA were organized to teach Hebrew and Greek to Christian pastors and missionaries, and grammar schools used the Bible as a primary reading book, and later on, the McGuffey reader contained Bible stories and illustrations to educate our children.

As for the Lord's words in Rev. 3:9, "Those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews but are not, but lie", many false religious cults sprung up in the 1800's, who teach that they are "the true Jews", and heirs to all the promises God made to Abraham, such as the "Mormons".

Period #7 AD 1900 to the present "LAODICEA" Rev. 3:14-22:

"Seven" is God's number of "completion".

I believe we are presently in the "Laodicean" church period. Laodicea in the Greek means "human rights". The references to being "lukewarm", and "making Jesus sick at his stomach" are clearly being acted out in our modern 21st century church. The test for the 21st century Church, in general, is the "affluence test" - can we live close to the Lord, and grow in Christ, and do His will, while being "rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing"?

The history of the "visible church" directly relates to the 7 "periods"

You cannot study "church history" without studying Roman Catholicism. The Roman church declared supremacy over all the other churches circa 300 AD, and the "history of the visible church", from that point until the Protestant Reformation of the 1500's, is the history of the "Roman Catholic Church".

Here is a list of Roman Catholic "traditions", and the dates of their adoption, compiled by Dr. Jack L. Arnold, and posted at URL http://www.thirdmill.org/newfiles/jac_arnold/CH.Arnold.RMT.1.html  :

Bear in mind, that there was no Catholic Church, and no Bishop of the church at Rome had publicly claimed superiority over the other churches, until well after 300 AD. (See "The Two Babylons", by Hislop, ch IV, pages 206-208 posted on-line at: http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect1.htm).

The actual, and historical beginning of the Roman Catholic Church, circa 300 AD, began a long line of "traditions" that were adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and which are held to be equal to, or above the Holy Bible. For definitions of these "traditions" that were added to God's Word, see "Catholic Answers", at http://www.catholic.com, and the "Catholic Encyclopedia", at http://www.newadvent.org:

AD 312-606 during the "Pergamos" period, the church "elevated & married":

1. Prayers for the dead brought into the church at Rome; about 300 AD

2. Making the sign of the cross; 300 AD

3. Religious use of wax candles; about 320 AD

4. Veneration of angels and dead saints, and use of images; 375 AD

5. The Mass as a daily celebration; 394 AD

6. Beginning of the exaltation of Mary, the term "Mother of God" first applied to her by the Council of Ephesus; 431 AD

7. "Priests" began to dress differently from laymen; 500 AD

8. Extreme Unction; 526 AD

9. The doctrine of Purgatory, established by Gregory I; 593 AD

AD 606-1520 during the "Thyatira" period, paganism blended with Christianity:

10. Latin Language, used in prayer and worship, imposed by Gregory I; 600 AD

11. Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints and angels; about 600 AD

12. Title of "pope", or universal bishop, was first given to Boniface III by emperor Phocas; 610 AD

13. Kissing the popes foot, began with Pope Constantine; 709 AD

14. Temporal power of the popes, conferred by Pepin, king of France; 750 AD

15. Worship of the cross, images and relics, authorized in; 786 AD

16. Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest; 850 AD

17. Worship of St. Joseph; 890 AD

18. College of Cardinals established; 927 AD

19. Baptism of bells, instituted by Pope John XIV; 965 AD

20. Canonization of dead saints, first by Pope John XV; 995 AD

21. Fasting of Fridays and during lent; 998 AD

22. The Mass, developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance made obligatory in the 11th century AD

23. Celibacy of the priesthood, decreed by Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand); 1079 AD (A doctrine of devils, according to 1 Tim. 4:1-3)

24. The Rosary, mechanical praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit; 1090 AD

25. The Inquisition, instituted by the Council of Verona; 1184 AD

26. Sale of Indulgences; 1190 AD

27. Transubstantiation of the wafer (Host), proclaimed by Pope Innocent III; 1215 AD

28. Auricular Confession of sins to a priest instead of to God, instituted by Pope Innocent III, in the Lateran Council; 1215 AD

29. Adoration of the wafer (Host), decreed by Pope Honorius III; 1220 AD

30. Bible forbidden to laymen, placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Council of Valencia; 1229 AD

31. The Scapular, invented by Simon Stock, an English monk; 1287 AD

32. Cup forbidden to the people at communion by Council of Constance; 1414 AD

33. Purgatory proclaimed as a dogma by the Council of Florence; 1438 AD

34. The doctrine of Seven Sacraments affirmed; 1439 AD

35. The Ave Maria (part of the last half was completed 50 years later and approved by Pope Sixtus V at the end of the 16th century); 1508 AD

AD 1520-1750 during the "Sardis" period, the Protestant Reformation:

36. Jesuit order founded by Loyola; 1534 AD

37. Tradition declared of equal authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent; 1545 AD

38. Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent; 1546 AD

AD 1750-1900 during the "Philadelphia" period:

39. Creed of pope Pius IV imposed as the official creed; 1560 AD

40. Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX; 1854 AD

41. Syllabus of Errors, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX, and ratified by the Vatican Council; condemned freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press, and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by the Roman Church; asserted the Pope's temporal authority over all civil rulers; 1864 AD

42. Infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith and morals, proclaimed by the Vatican Council; 1870 AD

AD 1900 to present, during the "Laodicean" period:

43. Public Schools condemned by Pope Pius XI; 1930 AD

44. Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascension into heaven shortly after her death), proclaimed by Pope Pius XII; 1950 AD.

Again, you can verify these Roman Catholic "traditions" or read more about each of the above subjects, at "Catholic Answers" http://www.catholic.com ,  and in the "Catholic Encyclopedia", at http://www.newadvent.org.

Let's take a closer look at period #1  AD 30-100 the "EPHESUS" period:

"Ephesus" means "desirable", a term the Greek bridegroom would apply to the maiden he had chosen to marry. The Lord states in Rev. 2:6 that both He and the Church at Ephesus "hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes" (Religous leaders trying to "conquer", or "rise above" the people).

This the state of the Church that God most appreciated, and during which the New Testament was written -  from the death of Christ to the end of the first century. Let's look at what was written in God's Word DURING this period that God appreciated:

The Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter was the first "Pope", but Peter wrote 2 Epistles 30 years after the death of Christ on the Cross, and he never claimed superiority over the other Apostles.

Actually, in Acts 15:1-19, James seems to have become the first leader of the church. James presided over the Council at Jerusalem, in Acts 15:13 & 19, and the Apostle Peter was one of the men who testified at the hearing chaired by James, in verse 7!

Peter also stated that Jesus is the "Rock" (Greek "petra"), the foundation of the Church - not Peter, 1 Pet. 2:4-8!

Peter stated that EVERY believer is a "priest", 1 Pet. 2:5&9, and this is restated by the Apostle John in 96 AD, in Rev. 1:6. The Church at Ephesus "hates" (Rev. 2:6) the doctrine of the Nicolitanes, which attempts to place a "priesthood" between God and God's people.

We have no Biblical record of Peter claiming to be more than an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and an "elder" in the church, and "the Apostle to the Jews" (Note: The Roman Church was a Gentile Church!!!!!) 1 Pet 1:1 and 2 Pet 1:1.

In Gal 2:7&8, Paul states that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews, not the Gentiles, and that he, Paul, was the Apostle to the Gentiles. It was Paul who traveled to Rome and wrote the Epistle to the Romans, not Peter.

Peter, in Gal 2:9-14, some 20 years after the death of Christ, was chewed out by the Apostle Paul for religious hypocrisy! Paul chewed out the "pope"?

The Apostle Peter, in 1 Pet. 1:18 teaches against living by the "tradition of your fathers", and the vain manner of life it promotes, and repeatedly points us away from "tradition" to the Lord Jesus Christ and God's Word.

I do not know of ANY evidence in the Bible or in history that the Apostle Peter was EVER in Rome. I know that it is Catholic "TRADITION" that Peter went to Rome, and I'm open to evidence, if anyone has some.

In his book "The Two Babylons", Alexander Hislop quotes 257 historical references and works of the early church fathers, and states on page 208 "That Peter was ever the Bishop of Rome has been proved again and again to be an arrant fable. That he ever even set foot in Rome is at the best highly doubtful." "The Two Babylons", by Alexander Hislop, is posted on-line at: http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect1.htm.

The Roman Catholic Church claims 3 Popes existed between the death of the Apostle Peter and 96AD, when the Book of Revelation was written by John, closing the "canon" of Scripture:

-- Pope Linus - second Pope - from the death of Peter to AD 76 or 79?

-- Pope St. Anacletus - third Pope AD 79-91?

-- Pope St. Clement I - 4th Pope AD 91-98?

You can read how the Roman Catholic Church tries to make these 3 Bishops of Rome "Popes" at http://www.catholic.com 

I have a question of my own: The Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm#IV accepts AD 67 as the date of the Apostle Peter's death, and claims that three "popes" headed the Church of Rome between the death of Peter and 96 AD when the Book of Revelation was written. If that is true, why is there no mention of these "popes" in the New Testament, when Matthew, Mark, John, 1,2,& 3rd John, and the Book of Revelation were written, while they held the office of "Pope, the Vicar (substitute) of Christ, and the head of the Church, the pillar and ground of the truth"??

Seven books of Scripture were written while Linus, Anacletus, and St. Clement were supposedly "POPES":

Mark

Mark's Gospel, written by Mark, circa 67 AD

Matthew

Matthew's Gospel written by Matthew, circa 68 AD

70 AD

70 AD Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

73 AD Fall of Masada

John

John's Gospel, written by the Apostle John, circa 90 AD

1 John

1 John, 90 AD, written by the Apostle John

2 John

2 John, 91 AD, written by the Apostle John

3 John

3 John, 92 AD, written by the Apostle John

96 AD

 

Revelation

Revelation, 96 AD, written by the Apostle John from the Isle of Patmos, closes the Canon of Scripture

The whole New Testament was written while Peter, Linus, Anacletus, and St. Clement were supposedly "POPES":

29 AD

29 AD Death of Christ.

 

29 AD Death and resurrection of Christ.

 

29 AD Pentecost, the beginning of the Church Age

 

32 AD Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus

 

41 - 44 AD Herod Agrippa rules.

46 - 47 AD Paul's first journey, and Council at Jerusalem.

Galatians

Galatians, 49 AD, written by Paul from Antioch

50 AD

52 - 60 AD Antonius Felix rules.

50 - 53 AD Paul's 2nd missionary journey

1 Thess.

1 Thessalonians, 51 AD, written by Paul from Corinth

2 Thess

2 Thessalonians, 52 AD, written by Paul from Corinth

53 - 57 AD Paul's 3rd missionary journey

Romans

Romans, 57 AD, written by Paul from Corinth

1 Cor.

1 Corinthians, 57 AD, written by Paul from Ephesus

2 Cor.

2 Corinthians, 57 AD, written by Paul from Macedonia

Luke

Luke's Gospel, written by Doctor Luke, circa 60 AD

 

60 - 62 AD Porcius Festus rules.

 

60 AD Paul sent to Rome.

60 - 63 AD Imprisonment of Paul.

Ephesians

Ephesians, 62 AD, written by Paul from Rome

Philippians

Philippians, 62 AD, written by Paul from Rome

Colossians

Colossians, 62 AD, written by Paul from Rome

Phileman

Philemon, 62 AD, written by Paul from Rome

Acts

Acts of the Apostles, written by Doctor Luke, circa 63 AD, History covering the time period from Pentecost, in 29 AD to just before Paul's death in 67 AD

1 Timothy

1 Timothy, 63 AD, written by Paul from Macedonia

1 Peter

1 Peter, 64 AD, written by the Apostle Peter

Hebrews

Hebrews, circa 65 AD, written by Paul

Titus

Titus, 65 AD, written by Paul from Macedonia

2 Timothy

2 Timothy, 66 AD, written by Paul from Rome

2 Peter

2 Peter, 66 AD, written by the Apostle Peter

Jude

Jude, written by Jude, circa AD 67, closely parallels 2nd Peter

Mark

Mark's Gospel, written by Mark, circa 67 AD

Matthew

Matthew's Gospel written by Matthew, circa 68 AD

70 AD

70 AD Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

73 AD Fall of Masada

John

John's Gospel, written by the Apostle John, circa 90 AD

1 John

1 John, 90 AD, written by the Apostle John

2 John

2 John, 91 AD, written by the Apostle John

3 John

3 John, 92 AD, written by the Apostle John

96 AD

 

Revelation

Revelation, 96 AD, written by the Apostle John from the Isle of Patmos, closes the Canon of Scripture

Five of the New Testament Books were written FROM Rome, and one was written TO the Church at Rome, but, I do not find a single word about a "pope" in Rome, or about the "superiority" of the Roman Church, in any of the New Testament Books.

I like the bumper sticker that states: "Read your Bible - there WILL be a TEST"!

Bob Jones