By Matthew Ficarelli
When Jesus spoke about the churches in the beginning of Revelation, he was talking about literal churches of his day. But if you read what he states about each church and examine the history of the church, he will see that they are one in the same. Jesus gave messages to the seven periods of the describing their ups and their downs. As you could have guessed, we have been in the last church for quite some time.
- Ephesus – Apostolic church (A.D. 30-100)
- Smyrna – Persecuted church (A.D. 100 – 313)
- Pergamos – State church (A.D. 313 – 590)
- Thyatira – Papal church (A.D. 590 – 1517)
- Sardis – Reformed church (A.D. 1517 – 1790)
- Philadelphia – Missionary church (A.D. 1730 – 1900)
- Laodicea – Apostate church (A.D. 1900 - ?)
The first three ages have come and passed away. But the remaining four are still with us today and will be with us until the return of Jesus.
Church of Ephesus - Apostolic church (A.D. 30-100)
Revelation 2:2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left they first love. 5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolations, which I also hate. 7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
This is to the apostles of the “Early Church.” They were of course the first to carry on with the message of Christ. This covered the period of time from the day of Pentecost (about A.D. 30) to A.D. 100.
Church of Smyrna - Persecuted church (A.D. 100 – 313)
Revelation 2:9. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
His next message is to the persecuted church. This was the greatest time of persecution the Church has ever faced. Thousands were tortured and beaten just because of their faith. They were fed to lions, covered in oil and used as human torches and even crucified like Christ.
Church of Pergamos - State church (A.D. 313 – 590)
Revelation 2:13. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
This was the beginning of the marriage of politics and Christianity. This is the birth of the corrupt church as we know it today. When Constantine saw his empire being threatened by civil war, he had to act quick to combine the two most popular religions of the day, Christianity and Paganism.
Church of Thyatira - Papal church (A.D. 590 – Tribulation)
Revelation 2:19. I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
This is the period of when the Church of Rome was at its height of power.
“Thyatira” comes from two words meaning “sacrifice” and “continual”; this
introduces the central heresy that has produced other false doctrines. That is, the
Church of Rome denies the finished work of Christ but believes in a continuing
sacrifice that produces such things as sacraments and praying for the dead, burning
candles, and so forth. All of these were borrowed from mystery Babylon, the mother
of all pagan customs and idolatry, none of which is taught in the New Testament.
Church of Sardis - Reformed church (A.D. 1517 – Tribulation)
Revelation 3:1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
The word Sardis means “escaping ones” or those who “come out.” This is the birth of the Reformation churches. The Protestant Reformation developed as the result of the continued emphasis by the Church of Rome on pagan doctrines rather than adherence to scriptural principles.
Church of Philadelphia - Missionary church (A.D. 1730 – Rapture)
Revelation 3:7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
The name Philadelphia literally means “brotherly love.” In this church age, God poured out his spirit to produce revivals in Europe and the British Isles, spreading even to America. This is the first age to really discover the love of God.
Church of Laodicea - Apostate church (A.D. 1900 - Tribulation)
Revelation 3:15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. 17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. 19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
This is the worst of them all. This marks the apostate ecumenical church that we see today. This is the church that wants to unite all religions under one single world belief.
Revelation Unveiled. Tim Lahaye
All Scripture Taken Form King James Version