Everlasting Kingdom: Unraveling the Bible’s Secrets

The Seven “Churches” of Revelation

Who is Pergamos?

Ancient Theater at Pergamos

Back Next Chapter 20, Part 3 Preview: Many opinions exist concerning what the “seven churches of Revelation 2-3 represent. Some claim that they represent seven “attitudes” present during the entire “Church Age”. Others claim that they are seven consecutive historic periods or “eras” of “God’s Church”. Does the internal evidence in the Book of Revelation concerning these “seven churches” support these interpretations? Could they actually be seven Assemblies of people comprising the entire Congregation of Yehovah’s [God’s] people alive today? Was the Book of Revelation meant to be understood? Understanding the nature of the “seven churches” may become a life and death matter during the coming years.

New Jerusalem
INDEX

There is considerable information about the ancient inhabitants of Pergamos, but what do they have in common with their end time counterparts? What is missing from other sources is the identification of who Pergamos represents prophetically. For the letter to Pergamos to be of any value, it must reach Pergamos very soon! There are several clues to decode in order to identify the modern day Pergamos Assembly. However one is an immediate giveaway:

Revelation 2:13-15 I know your works, and where you live—where Satan’s throne is, and that you hold firmly to My name. You didn’t deny My faith in the days when My faithful witness who was martyred among you was made a spectacle of, where Satan lives. 14 But I have something against you, because some of you there cling to the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block in front of the descendants of Israel, so that they would eat the ze’bakim [sacrifices] of idols and commit sexual immorality. 15 You also have some who cling to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. —The Gabriel Bible

I’d like to start with the “teaching of the Nicolaitans”.

The tail certainly has been pinned on this donkey! I was amazed as I looked into this, at the consensus concerning the Nicolaitans. I could not find an opposing view! Opponents apparently would rather sweep the issue under a carpet than to face the overwhelming facts.

There are two schools of thought about what this doctrine is and they both point to the same source. The first explanation uses the inspired words of the Bible itself as the sole key to identifying the problem with Pergamos, while the second, tho intriguing, relies on the earliest witnesses within the Assembly as proof of the exact direction that the false teaching was taking. The second school of thought points to the eventual Trinitarian nature of the Nicolaitans, among other teachings. However, if the doctrine of the Trinity were the sole criteria for identifying the end time Pergamos Assembly, then we would have to look at Thyatira, which is cranking out Trinitarians at light speed!

I began fellowshipping with what I recently came to believe is the Pergamos Assembly, in large part, because they boldly denied the Trinity doctrine. However, by 1993, someone very dear to me was explaining to his friends that their new found buzz word “hypostasis” (a sneaky synonym for Trinity) actually doubled for “urine sediment” according to Webster’s dictionary, and that he preferred that aspect of the definition. By early 1994, the poor fellow was “dismembered” from that group and my wife, of nearly thirty years now, was disfellowshipped simply for being married to him!

Of course that corporate group ceased to retain any of the most basic teachings of a true Assembly and now it is only the splinter groups that still cling to the Sabbath, and reject Trinitarianism, but most still choose hierarchical form of government responsible for toppling the original corporation.

Linguistic Clues

An excellent article on the linguistic derivation of the word “Nicolaitans” is found on the above web site: The first view focuses upon the derivation of the word Nicolaitans itself, in the Greek. And even “Balaam” in the Hebrew. Below is a sample paragraph from the article:

“The root of the word Nicolaitans comes from Greek nikao, to conquer or overcome, and laos, which means people and which the word laity comes from. The two words together especially means the destruction of the people and refers to the earliest form of what we call a priestly order or clergy which later on in church history divided people and allowed for leadership other than those led by the spirit of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. A good translation of Nicolaitan would be ‘those who prevail over the people.’ This clerical system later developed into the papal hierarchy of priests and clergy lording over the flock. The Council of Trent stated, ‘If anyone shall say that there is not in the Catholic Church a hierarchy established by the divine ordination, consisting of bishops, presbyters and ministers, let him be anathema.’ It is not the question of the ministries but rather in the separation of them into a hierarchy over the people. This very idea was taken over by the Protestants with their own corruption of leadership roles and coverings. The Church of Ephesus was commended for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The wrong separation of the clergy from the laity is a great evil in God’s sight and He hates the lust for religious power. There is an ungodly spiritual authority in the Church today, which is nothing more than the prideful spirit of control, manipulation, domination and intimidation and a rebellion of the rightful authority of God.”

A commonality appears to exist between the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2:15 and Balaam of Revelation 2:14. The two names have very similar meanings: “Balaam” appears to be derived from two Hebrew words, “Bala”, (Strong’s 11040) meaning “he swallows” and “am”, (Strong’s 5971) meaning “people”. An alternative derivation could be Strong’s 1077 and 5971, meaning “not of the people”, but that seems to be improbable given Easton’s Revised Bible Dictionary’s definition:

“Lord OF the people; foreigner or glutton, as interpreted by others, the son of Beor, was a man of some rank among the Midianites #Nu 31:8 comp. #Nu 31:16 He resided at Pethor #De 23:4 in Mesopotamia #Nu 23:7 It is evident that though dwelling among idolaters he had some knowledge of the true God; and was held in such reputation that it was supposed that he whom he blessed was blessed, and he whom he cursed was cursed. When the Israelites were encamped on the plains of Moab, on the east of Jordan, by Jericho, Balak sent for Balaam “from Aram, out of the mountains of the east,” to curse them; but by the remarkable interposition of God he was utterly unable to fulfill Balak’s wish, however desirous he was to do so. The apostle Peter refers #2 Pe 2:15,16 to this as an historical event. In #Mic 6:5 reference also is made to the relations between Balaam and Balak. Though Balaam could not curse Israel, yet he suggested a mode by which the divine displeasure might be caused to descend upon them #Nu 25:1ff. In a battle between Israel and the Midianites (q.v.) Balaam was slain while fighting on the side of Balak #Nu 31:8 The “doctrine of Balaam” is spoken of in #Re 2:14 in allusion to the fact that it was through the teaching of Balaam that Balak learned the way by which the Israelites might be led into sin. See Easton on NICOLAITANES [an alternate spelling] 2725 Balaam was constrained to utter prophecies regarding the future of Israel of wonderful magnificence and beauty of expression #Nu 24:5-9,17].”

The meaning of the descriptive terms applied to the men undermining the Pergamos Assembly are “swallowers of the people”—“those who hold the teaching of Balaam” and “conquerors of the people”—“those who cling to the doctrine of the of the Nicolaitans”. I believe that the similarity in meaning between the names “Balaam” and “Nicolaitans” in association with the Pergamos Assembly is intended to underscore the idea that the “Groupthink” (brainwashing) of the church hierarchy doctrine is tantamount to the “teaching of Balaam” because its veritable “leader worship” infringes on the worship of the true Elohim (God), which is the moral equivalent of putting “a stumbling block before the children of Israel”. Moses was prevented from entering the Promised Land for exhibiting only a tiny degree of this offense—claiming a share of Yehovah’s power on a single occasion. (Numbers 20:7-12)

I tried to find a good generic article on the fallacy of hierarchical church government and of course I had to sift past dozens of web sites commenting on Catholicism (mostly favorably). The first article that I happened on that challenged the doctrine (now found here) was entitled: The Rise of Ministerial Hierarchy in the [Worldwide] Church of God. It is replete with quotations about the flip flop of teachings that arose in about 1956 within that church. I hadn’t intended to be so blunt as to name Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God as the beginning of the modern Pergamos Assembly, but I felt inspired to do so after reading this article. I remember Herbert saying, and I paraphrase: “it is ironic that the only thing that the Catholic Church has right is their hierarchical form of government”. The real irony is that that form of “government” is the primary sin of Pergamos. Church hierarchy is “the teaching of the Nicolaitans”!

Here are some 1953 quotes from the WCG—before the change, taken from the link above.

“The TRUE church which (Jesus) built is NOT an organized denomination which you join. The TRUE church is composed of those individuals who submit themselves to the authority of God, who repent and believe in Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom which He preached. The TRUE church is that body of individuals filled and led by the Holy Spirit—it is the body of Christ, a scattered church which keeps all the commandments and believes the gospel of the kingdom (Rev. 12:17)” (Hoeh, “Which Is the True Church?” The Good News, May 1953, emphasis added).

“His church is a commandment keeping church, NOT A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION [all corporations are political organizations]. It faithfully retains the testimony of Jesus Christ recorded in inspired Scripture (Rev. 12:17). This church recognizes CHRIST as its HEAD and it is subject to His government.

“It is the Holy Spirit that puts us into the one body or true Church. You do not join some denomination after being ‘saved’ (I Cor. 12:13). Jesus even told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit, which the Father promised to send, would come (Acts 1:4)” (Hoeh, “Was the New Testament Church Founded on SUNDAY?” The Good News, 1953, emphasis added).

I tried again to find a non specific web article, to recommend, condemning hierarchical church government, in general, and the supreme irony is that the first one I found (using the search words “church, government, hierarchy, pagan”) made several telling references to a booklet (now found here) entitled Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? that was still being printed by the WCG at the end of Herbert Armstrong’s life! The article that exposed this superb irony was entitled: Hierarchical Church Government Is the Image of the Beast. The Worldwide Church of God had previously taught that hierarchical Church government (i.e. the Catholic Church) was the “image of the Beast” yet it eventually moved to using that same exact form of church government!? I believe that many of the Herbert Armstrong “wannabees” are a part of the Pergamos Assembly as well.

Historical Clues

The second school of thought about who “the Nicolaitans” are (or more accurately, became) is based on the writings of the contemporaries of John, the last surviving envoy (apostle) of the twelve. An article about the history of the Nicolaitans” is found here. This school generally tends to minimize the problems associated with the doctrine of hierarchy. There is quite an indicting trail of historical evidence to show that Nicolaitans were the people whose teachings eventually evolved into Trinitarianism and Antinomianism (meaning that Yehovah’s entire Torah {“Law”} is obsolete). This unorthodox teaching was not something that her sister Assemblies—Ephesus in particular—participated in. As in the first century, one menorah of Yehovah’s Congregation was infected with the teaching while another menorah is noted for its intense hated of the teaching.

Revelation 2:6 But you have this in your favor, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans that I also hate.

Revelation 2:13 ... where Satan’s throne is.

Augustus Caesar

Ominously, it appears that the reference to Satan’s throne in Pergamos represents the infiltration of Satan’s form of Government into this worldwide “church” of the end time! There are “a trinity” of particularly good reasons that Pergamos was called “the Throne of Satan” (Zeus, Athena and Augustus). However the Pergamos Assembly would not be guilty of serpent worship or goddess worship. Yet Augustus Caesar, the Roman “father” of Emperor worship, would feel right at home being worshiped as the “end time leader” or “God’s Apostle”! It’s not quite the same as being treated like a god, but it would suffice.

The following four paragraphs are [now] quoted from 666, the Pope, Anti-Christ & Vatican – For Dummies!) that traces the history of Satan’s throne back to Nimrod, grandson of Noah.

“After the death of Belshazzar in 539 B.C., the Persian Emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon and forced the Babylonian princes to flee to Pergamum. They continued their reign there as priest-kings of Babylonian paganism. In 133 B.C., Attalus III, [son of the founder of the city of Philadelphia] the last Babylonian King to rule in Pergamum, willed his dominions to the Roman Caesar, and the kingdom of Pergamum merged with the Roman Empire along with Satan-Nimrod’s throne and the title “Pontifex Maximus.”

“For centuries, Pergamum remained the site of Nimrod’s throne. With the appearance of Christianity, Babylonian paganism threatened the early Christian church of Pergamum as related in the Revelation given by Jesus to His Apostle John, who referred to Pergamum as the seat of Satan’s throne which is Nimrod’s throne:

“In 376 A.D., Gratian became the first Roman emperor to refuse the idolatrous title of Pontifex Maximus. He presented the Babylonian Throne, or Satan-Nimrod’s Throne to the bishop of Rome.

“By this time, the Roman bishops had advanced in political power, and in 378 A.D., Bishop Damasus was elected Pontifex Maximus, becoming the official pagan Babylonian priest seated on Satan’s throne in Rome. As such, the bishop converted the pagan Babylonian temples of Rome into Trinitarian Christian churches and introduced the worship of Nimrod, Semiramis and the god-incarnate son under the respective titles of “god the father,” “god the son” and “god the holy spirit.” All the pomp and ceremony that existed in ancient Babylon was now practiced as Roman Trinitarian Christianity.”

Here is some interesting commentary from bible-history.com on the throne.

“Of all the provinces of the Roman Empire, there was none in which emperor-worship was more thoroughly organized than in Asia. In the Asian city of Pergamum [Pergamos] the cult of Rome and Augustus was established as early as 29 BC. Some think that John had this cult in mind when he described Pergamum as the place ‘where Satan’s throne is’ (Rev. 2:13)–although others think of the cult of Asklepios [Zeus], the healing-god with his serpent-image, which was also located there. At any rate, in addition to the other forms of paganism with which Christians in the province of Asia had to live, there was this specially seductive form. Coolness towards the imperial cult might be put down to lack of patriotism.”

“We remember how Paul had friends among the Asiarchs of Ephesus, who warned him not to enter the theater when the riotous demonstration was being held in defense of the great goddess Artemis against her traducers. But it was from the Asiarchs—the leading men in the cities of the province of Asia—that the high priesthood of the imperial cult was recruited, and the Asian aristocracy thought it an honour to serve in this way. The temptation must at times have been strong for Christians to compromise just a little, to avoid giving their pagan neighbors the impression that they did not appreciate the blessings of peace and prosperity which the institution of the empire had brought to that part of the world. But the majority would not compromise, and to them the imperial cult proved a deadly enemy.”

The Daily Bible Study says:

“In 29 BC a temple for the worship of Caesar Augustus (the Roman emperor who later called that famous census that resulted in Jesus Christ being born in Bethlehem i.e. Luke 2:1) was erected in Pergamum, however worship of him and subsequent emperors was long rivaled there by the cult of the pagan god Zeus, the symbol of which was a serpent. Pergamum’s throne-like altar of Zeus, that some have speculated was the symbolic ‘Satan’s throne’ reference in Revelation 2:13, is now in the Berlin Museum”.

There is a picture of a model of the altar of Zeus in Berlin at this link.

Statue of Zeus

[Olympia Phidias created the 40 foot tall statue of Zeus at Olympia about 435 BC. The statue was perhaps the most famous sculpture in Ancient Greece. Said to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Imagined here in a 16th century engraving.]

“The ‘SEAT OF SATAN’, his actual throne, was not found when the ‘Altar of Zeus’ was discovered and removed to Berlin. It was not there! The ‘temple of Athena’ [daughter of Zeus] was a temple erected to the honor of the Queen of Heaven, she is ‘the goddess of one thousand names’. She is now called by the title ‘The Virgin Mary’ and is worshiped in the Roman religion this very hour. ‘The Virgin Mary’ is entitled thusly: ‘The Queen of Heaven, The Queen of Hell, Sovereign Mistress of Devils’ according to the book THE GLORIES OF MARY, by St. Alphonsos de Ligouri. This book contains an ‘imprimatur from the Vatican.’ (deceased link)

The altar to Zeus was erected between 180 and 160 BC on the acropolis at Pergamum to commemorate the victory of Attalus I over the Gauls. It is no longer being used to worship Satan via his alter egos, the Babylonian gods—at least not that we are aware of. It is likely that the Antimessiah will move this Altar of Zeus to Jerusalem when he desecrates the coming third temple.

Athena

“A German archaeologist, Carl Humann, began excavating the altar on September 9, 1878. The altar was moved back to Germany and reconstructed. Kaiser Wilhelm II celebrated its erection in Berlin in 1902. German archeologists also excavated ancient Babylon in Iraq from 1899 to 1917. They brought the Ishtar [pronounced Easter] Gate back to Berlin. Germany started World War I in 1914. After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, a granite mausoleum based upon the design of the Pergamon Altar of Zeus was built for him and opened in 1929. Note that 1924 stands for Satan’s strategic attack on Israel.

“The Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way from the excavations of ancient Babylon were reconstructed in Germany and temporarily accommodated in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum until 1929, when they were moved to the Pergamon Museum in east Berlin. They were first presented to the public in 1930 when the Pergamon Museum opened. In 1933 Adolph Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. In 1934 he became dictator and ordered construction of the Tribune at Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg for his Nazi rallies. The architect, Albert Speer, used the Pergamon Altar as the model for the tribune. The Führer’s pulpit was in the center of the tribune, which was built from 1934 to 1937. Adolph Hitler, the Evil King of Germany started World War II in 1939. After the end of World War II, the Soviets took the Pergamon Altar to Leningrad in 1948 as spoils. The Alter was later returned in 1958.” —Mystery Babylon the Great

“WHERE SATAN LIVES”

SEAT OF SATAN

There is a brief article about “where Satan dwells” on the above link. However, for a more thorough understanding of what Satan is about to do prophetically, you could visit Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro! This article explains end time prophecy virtually exactly as did Herbert Armstrong (and the unmentioned sources that he got the understanding from).

This is purely a speculation on my part, but perhaps the double emphasis concerning “where Satan dwells” and “where Satan’s throne is” is an indication of where the “cabal of Satan” will originate—from people who once fellowshipped with Pergamos, but who became apostates.

The term Nicolaitans simply means the followers of Nicholas. Following Nicholas’ hierarchical form of leader worship is quite apparently abhorrent to Yehovah. So is there an end time Nicholas? Yes and no; consider the message to Thyatira. Jezebel was thrown into a sickbed and died unrepentantly. However, those who commit spiritual idolatry with her will go into the Great Tribulation! So “her Children”, that is those descended from her teachings, will die in the Tribulation and “all the [other six] churches will know” about it!

Revelation 2:20-23 But I have a complaint against you. You tolerate that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she deceives My servants into sexual immorality and into eating things offered to idols. 21 I gave her time to change her ways, but she didn’t want to turn away from her sexual immorality. 22 I’ll throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer GREAT TRIBULATION unless they turn from her evil ways! 23 I’ll strike her children dead and ALL THE ASSEMBLIES WILL KNOW [5] that I’m the One who searches the innermost thoughts and motives. I’ll compensate each of you commensurate with your works.

[5] There goes the eras theory.

So Jezebel is dead but her “children” are very present. So it is with Pergamos. Nicholas, the modern day “patron saint” of the Pergamos Assembly, is no longer alive but he is still virtually worshiped by many of his, as he called them, “spiritual children”. I did not use the term “patron saint” loosely. “Patron” is derived from the Latin “pater” meaning “a father”, as every Catholic knows. “Worship” is not too strong of a term when people accept what he said over what the Bible says! Webster’s dictionary includes in the definition of patron: “one who through money or influence, supports or protects a person, institution, or cause”. The latter day Nicholas was indeed the pater of his church.

Which of the seven assemblies of Revelation has a pontifical government? Most of the seven latter day Assemblies have some serious flaws, but Yehovah is still working with them.

Most (or all?) of the WCG splinters teach the “Saint Nicholas” form of Government. Hopefully some of the splinters will eventually reject hierarchical (dictatorial) government, but then, would they still be Pergamos?

Revelation 2:15 You also have some who cling to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

The Pergamos Assembly has one huge commonality with the the “Sovereign Pontiff of Rome”. HWA taught that the primary thing that the Catholic Church had right was its form of government—hierarchy—from the top down.

Again, this belief is summarized in the following quote:

“If anyone shall say that there is not in the Catholic Church a hierarchy established by the divine ordination, consisting of bishops, presbyters and ministers, let him be anathema, Council of Trent (trans) XXIII 6.” —Century Dictionary.

“In other words, let anyone who will have the temerity to say there is not a hierarchy, not a collection of human beings, who have been given the power, by other men of dominion, as ecclesiastical rulers over churchmen, who are declaredly God’s heritage, let that man be accursed; i.e., let death and hell and the devil get him. ...”

Excerpts from The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop:

“Still the Sovereign Pontiff of Rome, even after the Etruscan idolatry was absorbed into the Roman system, was only an offshoot from the grand original Babylonian system. He was a devoted worshiper of the Babylonian god; but he was not the legitimate representative of that God. The true legitimate Babylonian Pontiff had his seat beyond the bounds of the Roman empire. That seat, after the death of Belshazzar, and the expulsion of the Chaldean priesthood from Babylon by the Medo-Persian kings, was at PERGAMOS, where afterwards was one of the seven churches of Asia. * There, in consequence, for many centuries was "Satan's seat" (Rev 2:13). There, under favour of the deified ** kings of Pergamos, was his favourite abode, there was the worship of Aesculapius, under the form of the serpent, celebrated with frantic orgies and excesses, that elsewhere were kept under some measure of restraint. ...

“At first, the Roman Pontiff had no immediate connection with Pergamos and the hierarchy there; yet, in course of time, the Pontificate of Rome and the Pontificate of Pergamos came to be identified. Pergamos itself became part and parcel of the Roman empire, when Attalus III, the last of its kings, at his death, left by will all his dominions to the Roman people, BC 133. For some time after the kingdom of Pergamos was merged in the Roman dominions, there was no one who could set himself openly and advisedly to lay claim to all the dignity inherent in the old title of the kings of Pergamos. The original powers even of the Roman Pontiffs seem to have been by that time abridged, but when Julius Caesar, who had previously been elected Pontifex Maximus, became also, as Emperor, the supreme civil ruler of the Romans, then, as head of the Roman state, and head of the Roman religion, all the powers and functions of the true legitimate Babylonian Pontiff were supremely vested in him, and he found himself in a position to assert these powers...”

Who is EPHESUS?

I believe that a very likely candidate for fulfilling the Ephesus prophecy has been around for a very long time. Certainly the oldest existing Assembly—the one that all of the others sprang from, might be considered to be one of the seven Assemblies of Revelation.

But before I comment on Ephesus I would like to make a couple of comments about the Seven Assemblies in general. While you might expect that these groups would have arisen totally independent of each other, they are apparently all related. None of the Sabbatarian Assemblies today originated from the efforts of totally independent Bible students. All originated from first hand exposure to existing Sabbatarians. This being the case, there are no Assemblies of any size that sprang from Sunday keeping groups—tho the opposite does unfortunately occur. Yet, certainly an occasional a local Sunday pastor will be exposed to Sabbath keepers (or perhaps Sabbatarian literature) and see the light and influence others to open their eyes as well. They then usually affiliate themselves to whichever group they were exposed to.

Despite a common origin, you would think that impenetrable towering walls had always separated these seven basic Assemblies of the kadishea (saints) as there is seldom any fellowship between those of the differing Assemblies. Fellowship is almost never even considered because most Assemblies view themselves as the entire “remnant Church”—sort of as most Jews think that they are all there is of Israel! In fact, in the U.S. most Sabbatarians are seemingly oblivious to the fact that other Assemblies exist, aside from the well known Seventh Day Adventists.

I have kept the Sabbath for 33 years and do not even know an Adventist. My only association with the Church of God Seventh Day is due to an encounter with a few at my in-laws house on a couple of occasions, years ago. As for the other groups of kadishea I have become aware of in recent years, I have had no personal contact with any, other than once meeting a “Messianic” visitor at a Feast. [2014: I have now been meeting with Messianics for 5 years] I wish that this were not the case but the welcome mat at the door of most Assemblies is accompanied with a sigh that says “empty your brain before entering—we’ll fill it.”

The WCG was extremely present in the media teaching about the Sabbath and the Feast Days for decades. They claimed that they were the “the Philadelphian era of true church” and that the previous “era”—the Church of God-Seventh Day, that they called Sardis had all but died out. As “proof” they cited: “I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1). Yet the all time high number of members of the WCG is surpassed by CG7 nearly by Mexico alone today.

There is one Assembly however that hates the mind control tactics of corporate leadership. It is essentially the oldest Sabbatarian Assembly to be found. They are known as Seventh Day Baptists. Their first “Church” in America was founded in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1671. They came into being from exposure to the Waldensians (outside link)—a group that had faithfully kept the Sabbath, under severe persecution from the Catholic Church for many centuries. Except for a scattered few individuals the Waldensians have died out or converted to Protestantism. (Waldensian link)

Ephesus is the first Assembly mentioned in Revelation. Perhaps that is the reason why they were the first Assembly of the final seven to come into existence. Sadly, they may perish as a group on the final lap of the race, as we will see!

The admonition to Ephesus strongly concerns “Church Government”! The Ephesians have never been prone to tolerating liars calling themselves “apostles” who are really imposters. They also hate “Nicolaitans”, the “hierarchical government” political “ministers” who were mentioned earlier. With so few clues concerning each Assembly, the emphasis here on “who’s the boss” in regard to Ephesus really stands out. Let’s look for identity clues by reading the letter to the Ephesians:

Revelation 2:1-7 Write this to the messenger of the assembly in Ephesus: “This is the message of the One who holds everything, including the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven gold menorahs, says: 2 I know your works, your toil and your endurance. I know that you can’t tolerate the wicked, and that you have tested those who claim to be ‘apostles’ and arent, and you’ve found them to be liars. 3 You’ve persevered and endured burdens because of My name, and haven’t grown weary. 4 Yet I have some things against you. You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 So remember the ‘height’ you have fallen from and make amends. Do the former works, because unless you make amends for your sins, I WILL COME TO YOU QUICKLY and I’ll remove your menorah from its place! 6 But you have this in your favor, you hate the works of the Nicolaitans that I also hate. 7 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies. To anyone who is victorious, I’ll give fruit to eat from the Tree of Life that’s in the paradise of Aloha.’”

Clue #1 “persevered”

The SDB’s have endured centuries of existence.

Clue #2 “can’t tolerate the wicked ... [false] apostles”

The SDB’s have local government. They do not have their consciences governed from a far off headquarters.

Clue #3 “haven’t grown weary”

They maintain zeal.

Clue #4 “You have forsaken the love you had at first ... you have fallen”

The SDB’s have deviated from important truths instead of growing in truth.

Clue #5 “make amends for your sins”

Yehovah is urging the SDB’s to seek out the many truths that they have forsaken and repent of the errors.

Clue #6 “I’ll remove your menorah from its place” “unless you make amends”

The SDB’s are in jeopardy of being ripped out by the roots. Again “make amends” is used.

Clue #7 “you hate the works of the Nicolaitans”

They have a noteworthy hatred toward what spiritual dictators are doing!

“Early in the 19th century, Sabbath keepers in the New World organized as a body and adopted the name: Seventh Day Baptist. By 1843, membership was 6,000 in 60 churches. Concerted, deliberate steps were taken to spread the Sabbath truth through organizing mission societies and publishing magazines. One member, Rachel Oakes, shared the Sabbath with Frederick Wheeler, a Millerite Adventist pastor at Washington, New Hampshire. He, along with the Farnsworth family, began keeping the Sabbath in 1844.”—(link)

Many Millerites eventually associated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Their magazine, The Sabbath Recorder, was started in 1844 and is still being published. They are now very similar to other Baptists doctrinally, but they keep the Sabbath. There are independent SDB groups as well.

“Due to an emphasis on freedom of thought and conscience, Seventh Day Baptists have represented a wide diversity of theological thought. Their common bond of the Sabbath enabled them to avoid a split during the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s. For most of its history, the denomination has been rural-oriented but has found in more recent years its greatest growth in developing urban ministries.”—Seventh Day Baptist Website

How can Ephesus “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works”? It is a simple matter of researching some of the earliest history of the Ephesian Assembly. The historical accounts were translated by men using terminology that sounds a bit Catholic, that is to be expected. But the issues facing Ephesus—the predecessor of today’s end-time namesake are all familiar issues. Included in the brief information preserved about the Ephesian “prototype assembly” are some of the exact teachings that modern Ephesus has fallen away from! These happenings occurred just as the first apostasy or “falling away” from truth was beginning.

Who was the Messenger (angel) of Ephesus? The “prototype” of the end time messenger to Ephesus was apparently named Polycrates.

Every Sabbatarian should be familiar with Polycrates of Ephesus. Here is an account of some of the “first works” that John mentioned!

Here is what Eusebius records that Polycrates wrote,

“We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the Saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man’.... I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 25).” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. I

Here is a sample of the commentary from a very good historical article entitled Polycrate[s] of Ephesus:

“Note that Polycrates:
1) Claimed to be a follower of the teachings passed on from the Apostle John
2) Claimed that he was being faithful to the teachings of the Gospel
3) Relied on the position that teachings from the Bible were above those of Roman-accepted tradition
4) Claimed that he was being faithful to the teachings passed down to him
5) Was then the spokesperson for many in Asia Minor
6) Claimed he and his predecessors observed the time of unleavened bread
7) Refused to accept the authority of Roman tradition over the Bible
8) Refused to accept the authority of the Bishop of Rome
9) Claimed that his life was to be governed by Jesus and not opinions of men”

The Catholic historian Eusebius wrote:

A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover.... But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world.... But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him.” —Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapter 23, Chapter 24

If Paul’s final admonition to the original Ephesians is heeded by the Ephesus of Revelation then Ephesus will survive the “evil day”.

Ephestians 6:10-20 Finally, Friends, increase your strength in YHVH, relying on the great power of His ability: 11 Put on the full armor of YHVH, so that you’ll be able to withstand the stratagems of the Accuser. 12 Our conflict isn’t against flesh and blood, but against sovereigns and powers, with the master of this dark world and with the evil spirits who are under the Heavenly realm. 13 So put on the full armor of YHVH so that you’ll be fully prepared to meet the Wicked one and remain unharmed. 14 Take a stand! Fasten the truth around you like a belt and put on the breastplate of righteousness 15 and shield your feet with the Good News of peace. 16 In addition, take the shield of faith so that you’ll be able to quench all of the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 Also take eternal Life as your helmet, and take the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of Aloha [the Tanak]. 18 Pray with unceasing prayer and requests in the spirit, and in your prayers be continually alert and pray for all the kadishea, 19 and ask on my behalf that the right words will be given to me when I ‘speak’, so that I can boldly reveal the mystery of the Good News 20 that I’m an ambassador of in chains, and declare it as boldly as it should be.

Once you see that the seven variations of commandment observant believers in Yeshua (Jesus) are all contemporaries, then it becomes clear that the strengths and weaknesses of the Assemblies differentiated by John are all end time issues!

Lon Martin, lonwmartin@yahoo.com
7/11/04; Ephesus comments 4/3/06
 

Who is Thyatira?

Ancient Thyatira

I decided to do a web search for the words “Jezebel” and “Seventh Day Adventist” to see if anyone else had reached the same conclusion that I had. I found an excellent article called The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Prophecy and fortunately I was given permission to use it. As is always the case, I also apply my standard Disclaimer. This article greatly affirms my own thoughts on the identity of the Adventist Church. (Interestingly, the name Yehovah, featured prominently on heir site, could not be found on any search engine until I put it there.)

Now for The Seven “Churches” of Revelation—Thyatira, Part 4

 
 

Part 4 Chapters Articles

Intro Feast Days

Everlasting Kingdom
only search Everlasting Kingdom
 
Minor update January 11, 2014
 
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