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Revelation, Chapter 2: The Ephesian Church Age

William Branham

William Branham

William Branham Evangelistic Association

46 min read

The Ephesian Church Age

1Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou 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: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember 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. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. 7ButHe 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. Revelation 2:1-7

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

26Now, what are we studying? The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And what did we find that God showed the revelation and who He was? The first thing we find, of all revelations, that God made known who He was. That, Jesus was no third person of a trinity, He was the trinity in full. He was both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And that was the revelation. Four times spoke in the same chapter, that He was the Almighty God; He that was, which is, and shall come; the Root and Offspring of David.

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

35And now, tonight, we are approaching Seven Church Ages which were seven churches that was in Asia Minor at the time of the writing of the Book. These churches at that time must have had the characteristics of the church ages that was to come, because that…There were more churches than that, the Colossian church and many others at that time, but God picked these churches because of their characteristics.

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

46Then after the Ephesian Church Age, from a.d. 53 until a.d. 170, then started in the Smyrna Church Age which lasted from a.d. 170 until a.d. 312. Then come in the Pergamos Church Age, and the Pergamos Church Age begin at 312 and lasted till a.d. 606. Then come in the Thyatira Church Age, and the church age of Thyatira begin at 606 and went to 1520, the Dark Ages. And then the Sardis Church Age begin at 1520 and lasted till 1750, the Lutheran age. Then from 1750, the next age come in was the Philadelphian, Wesley age; that begin at 1750 and lasted till 1906. And at 1906 the Laodicean Church Age set in, and I don’t know when it’ll end. . . .

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

61Now, notice now, and we’ll get now to the Scriptures, back to the first church age. Now I would like…I got some little things wrote down here that I wish you would listen closely.

62The first church, the Ephesian church, the works of the church, what God condemned them for, was works without love. Their reward was the Tree of Life.

63The church of Smyrna was a persecuted church, went through tribulations. Reward was crown of Life.

64The third church, Pergamos, the age of false doctrine, Satan’s lying, and the foundation of the papacy rule, marriage to church and state. The reward was hidden manna and a white stone.

65The church of Thyatira was the church of the papal seducing, the Dark Ages. Reward was power and rule of nations, and the Morning Star. That’s the little minority that went through.

66The church of Sardis was the reformation age, the great missionary…or not missionary, but the hidden names, they had their own names. And the reward was white raiment, and name on the Book of Life (which has to come in the judgment). We had that the other day, the Book of Life; you’re to be judged from the Book of Life. The Saints are translated and taken without that, they don’t go to that.

67The Philadelphian Church Age was the age of brotherly love, the great commission age and the great missionary age, the open door. And the reward was a—a pillar. Reveal the names of God was to be in during—during this age, when it went out around 1906. All right.

68The Laodicean age was the lukewarm church, rich, increased in goods, having need of nothing; but was wretched, poor, blind, and miserable, and naked. And the reward was to set on the Throne with the Lord, those who overcome that age.

Introduction

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

In order for you to fully understand the message of the Church Ages I would like to explain the various principles that allowed me to arrive at the names of the messengers, the length of the ages, and other factors involved therein.

Since this study was to be the most serious one I had ever undertaken up to this time, I sought God for many days for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Then only did I read the Scriptures on the Church Ages and delve into the many church histories written by the most unbiased historians that I could find. God did not fail to answer my prayer, for while I read the Word and the histories, I was enabled by the Holy Spirit to see unfolded a pattern that runs through the centuries and right into this present, last day.

The key given me of the Lord whereby I was able to determine the messenger for each age is a most Scriptural one. In fact it might be called the Keystone of the Bible. It is the revelation that God never changes, and that His ways are as unchangeable as He is. In Hebrews 13:8 it says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Ecclesiastes 3:14-15, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” Here it is: an unchanging God with unchanging ways. What He did at the FIRST He will have to keep on doing until it is done for the LAST time. There will never be a change. Apply that to the Church Ages. The kind of man that God chose for the first age, and how God manifested in that man’s ministry, would be the example for all other ages. What God did in the first church age is what He wants to do in all other ages.

Now we know exactly from the Word which was recorded by the Holy Spirit how the first, or original church, was founded and how God manifested Himself in her. The Word can’t change or be changed because the Word is God. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” To change one word of it, as did Eve, brings sin and death, even as it says in Revelation 22:18-19, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Thus, what the church was at Pentecost is the standard. That is the pattern. There is no other pattern. No matter what the scholars say, God has NOT changed that pattern. What God did at Pentecost He has to keep on doing until the church ages close.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Paul founded the church at Ephesus about the middle of the first century. This enables us to set the date of the beginning of the Ephesian Church Age; about 53 A.D.

His manner of ministering set the pattern that all future messengers were to aspire to, and actually sets the pattern for every true minister of God, though he would not attain to such heights in the prophetic realm as did Paul. Paul’s ministry had a threefold quality and was as follows:

First of all, Paul was absolutely true to the Word. He never deviated from it no matter what the cost.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Notice that Paul was unorganized, but Spirit-led, as when God moved upon Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. Jerusalem’s council never sent Paul out, nor did it have any power or jurisdiction over him. God, and God alone, did the sending and the leading. Paul was not of men, but of God. Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead).” Galatians 2:3-5, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you.”

Secondly, his ministry was in the power of the Spirit, thereby demonstrating the spoken and written Word. I Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Thirdly, he had the evident fruit of his God-given ministry. II Corinthians 12:11, “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.” I Corinthians 9:2, “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” II Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul had been the means of bringing in multitudes of the Gentile sheep; he fed them, and cared for them, until they brought forth righteous fruit and were prepared to meet the Lord as a part of the Gentile bride.

At the time of the giving of the Revelation, according to tradition, Paul had already died a martyr, but John was carrying on in his stead exactly as Paul had done in the days of his ministry. The death of Paul, before the Revelation was given, does not at all annul the fact that he was the messenger to the Ephesian Church Age, for the messenger to every age, regardless of when he appears or goes, is the one who influences that age for God by means of a Word-manifested ministry. Paul was that man.

The City of Ephesus

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

The city of Ephesus was one of the three greatest cities of Asia. It was often called the third city of Christian faith, with Jerusalem first, and Antioch second. It was a very rich city. The government was Roman but the language was Greek. Historians believe that John, Mary, Peter, Andrew and Philip were all buried in this beautiful city. Paul, who founded the true faith in this city, pastored here only about three years; but when he was absent from the flock he was continually, prayerfully, mindful of them. Timothy was its first bishop. I Timothy 1:1-3, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, Which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.”

The very name, Ephesus, has a strange compound meaning, “Aimed at,” and “Relaxed.” The high aspirations of this age that had begun with the fullness of the Spirit, “the depth of God,” whereby they were aiming at the high calling of God, began to give way to a less watchful attitude. A less ardent following of Jesus Christ began to manifest itself as an omen that in the future ages the physical vehicle called the church would sink to the awfulness of the “depth of Satan.” It had become relaxed and was drifting. Already the age was backsliding. It had left its first love. The tiny seed planted in that Ephesian Age would one day grow in the spirit of error until all foul birds of the air would roost in its branches. So inoffensive to human reasoning would that little plant appear to that New Eve (the New Church) that again she would be deceived by Satan. The Ephesian Age had presented to her the opportunity for God’s best, and for awhile she prevailed, and then relaxed, and in that unguarded moment Satan planted the seed of complete ruination.

The very religion of Ephesus types out perfectly this first church age and sets the tenor of the ages to come. In the first place, the magnificent temple of Diana, that was so many years in building, housed in its sacred courts the most lusterless and unobtrusive, image of Diana that one could imagine. She was absolutely unlike any other of her images seated in the other temples dedicated to her. She was simply an almost shapeless female figure that finally sunk into the block of wood from which she was carved. And her two arms were formed of two simple bars of iron. How perfectly this depicts the spirit of antichrist loosed in the first age. There he was loosed in the midst of the people, and yet took no shape as to alarm the people. Yet the two arms of iron bars showed that it was his intent to crush the work of God as he made his inroads. And no one seemed to notice him or what he was doing. But one day they would notice, when with those arms of iron his “deeds” became “doctrine,” and his doctrine became the law of an empire.

The order of temple service is also very revealing. There were, first of all, priests who were eunuchs. This sterile priesthood presaged the sterility of a people who would drift from the Word, for a people who claim to know God apart from the Word are as barren of life as is a sterile eunuch. Secondly, the temple had within its confines the virgin priestesses who performed the religious acts of the temple. This showed forth the day that ceremony and form, ritual and works, would take the place of the Holy Spirit and no longer would charismatic manifestation fill the temple of God. Over them all was the high priest, a man of political power and public influence, portraying what was already in progress, though not too manifested, that is, the church would soon be given over to the leadership of man with man’s plans and man’s ambitions and “thus saith the Holy Ghost” would no longer be a living reality. And underneath them all were the temple slaves who had no choice but obedience to the religious hierarchy. What can this mean but the day would come when the vested clergy, by political maneuvering, state help, and the substitution of Word and Spirit for creeds, dogmas, and human leadership, would enslave the laity while the leaders luxuriated in ill-gotten wealth and enjoyed their filthy pleasures, and the poor people who were to be served according to God, now became the servants.

Jesus, His Messenger & Churches

Revelation 2:1, “These things saith He That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks."

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

What He was in the first age He is in all ages.

This is He of Whom it is said, “This Same Jesus is BOTH Lord and Christ.” There He is, the One and Only Lord God Almighty, and beside Him there is no other. There He is, the Saviour (“salvation is of the Lord,” Jonah 2:9) walking in the midst of the churches throughout the seven ages. What He was in the first age He is in all ages. To every believer, He is Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. What He did once He is still doing, and will keep on doing.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

There He is with the seven stars in His right hand. The right hand or arm signifies the power and authority of God. Psalm 44:3, “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them.” In that right hand of power are seven stars, who, according to Revelation 1:20, are the seven church messengers. This signifies that the very power and authority of God are behind His messengers to every age. They go forth in the fire and power of the Holy Ghost with the Word. They are stars because they reflect light. The light they reflect is His light. They have no light of their own. They kindle not their own fires, that men may walk in the light of their sparks. Isaiah 50:11. It is night, for that is when the stars come out. It is the night of the blackness of sin, for all (even the whole world), have sinned and are constantly falling short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” How meaningful are those words when viewed in the light of the Scripture, which describes Him as “Christ Who is our Life.” For Christ, indeed, is the life of the church. She has no other life. Without Him she is simply a religious society, a club, a meaningless gathering of the people. As a corpse bejeweled and dressed is still a corpse, so the church, no matter what her programs and her gracious efforts might achieve, without Christ she is a corpse also. But with Him in her midst, with Him motivating her, she becomes to the wonderment of all “His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” And this very hour He is walking in the midst of the last age’s golden candlestick. What He was as He walked in the first age He is even now in this last age. Jesus Christ the SAME, YESTERDAY, and TODAY, and FOREVER.

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

75Now we’re begin the 1st chapter of Ephesus…or the 1st verse of the 2nd chapter, the Ephesian church:

Unto the angel of the church at Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

76John is the—the messenger at that time. Walking in the midst of these seven golden candlesticks was Jesus Christ, the Almighty God. What is He doing? He didn’t say He was walking in one candlestick, He was walking in the midst of all of them. What does that denote? That He is the same God, yesterday, today, and forever, and in every church age to every believer. He comes to…with the Holy Ghost to every age and to every person; same yesterday, today, and forever.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“Seven golden candlesticks.” In Exodus 25:31, it says, “And thou shalt make a candlestick of PURE gold: of BEATEN work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.” The true church of Jesus Christ, the bride, is likened to PURE gold. Her righteousness is HIS righteousness. Her attributes are HIS own glorious attributes. Her identity is found in Him. What He is, she is to reflect. What He has, she is to manifest. There is no fault in her. She is all glorious within and without. From beginning to ending she is the work of her Lord, and all His works are perfect. In fact in her is summed up and manifested the eternal wisdom and purpose of God. How can one fathom it? How can one understand it? Though we cannot do that, we can accept it by faith, for God hath spoken it.

But not only is the candlestick of gold, it is of BEATEN gold. Hand-crafted of beaten gold, according to her blue prints which were Spirit-given. Outside of her Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, was ever a people so beaten and purged as the bride of Jesus Christ? Surely she is filling up the sufferings that Christ has left behind. Her goods are despoiled. Her life is in jeopardy. She is accounted as sheep for the slaughter. She is killed all the day long. She suffers much, but in it all retaliates not, neither does she cause others to suffer. Worthy of the Gospel is this lovely bride of Christ. And as gold is malleable, whereas brass will break with the beating, this gold of God will bear her suffering for the Lord, not bowed, not broken, not destroyed, but formed as a thing of beauty and a joy forever by the trials and testings of this life.

Christ Praises His Own

Revelation 2:2-3, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou 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: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

How beautifully the Saviour praises and commends His children. He takes full account of their fine spiritual attitudes and behavior. He knows that there is weakness amongst them, but as yet He does not cry out against it. Isn’t that just like the Lord? He knows how to encourage us in the right matters and discourage us in the wrong matters. We could all learn a good lesson right here in running the church and our families. And better still, we could all learn a good lesson in that God deals with each one of us in exactly this way. Don’t ever be discouraged, Saint of God, for God is not ungracious to forget your labors of love. Whatever we do, even giving a cup of cold water to some one, has a reward and blessing from the Lord.

“I know thy works, thy labour, and thy patience.” As He walks in the midst of His church, He is aware of the suffering of His people, and He cares. As it was in the days of the captivity in Egypt when He heard their cries, He Who never changes still hears the cries of the oppressed as He walks amongst them. The very word, labour, signifies a weariness through oppression. God’s people do not only work for Him in a labour of love, but they suffer for Him with joy. They are patient in bearing the yoke. This first age suffered great persecution. It had to work hard to preach the Gospel and shed forth truth. Their high calling in life was to serve God, and when their hopes in life were blighted they were patient and committed all to Him Who had promised a lasting recompence in heaven for what they had given up for Him on earth.

I think we ought to stop here and deal with the thought that God’s people have always been and always will be persecuted.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

No matter how just and upright a Christian is before the public, and how gracious he is to his fellow man, doing naught but good, let him confess Christ as his Saviour and acknowledge the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in tongues, prophecy, healing and miracles, and he will be condemned. The spirit of this world hates the Spirit of God, and because it can’t overcome the Spirit of the Lord it tries to destroy the vessel in whom the Spirit of Truth dwells.

Persecution and trials are a natural, normal part of the Christian life. There is only one thing you can do about them. Commit them all to God, judge not, and leave their outworking and final judgment to Him.

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

85 See, that apostasy had already begin to set in, in this first age. Already started right there; because the elect and true Church who wanted to keep the precepts of the Bible, and keep the Words that Jesus said in His testimony, they had already begin to pull away. Something begin to happen, and there had been false teachers rise up, people who were teaching wrong, contrary to the Scripture, trying to bring in something or add something.

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

87 Now, if you notice, turning from the evils and finding the false prophets, after that they were proven false, having a form of godliness. See how the church begin to get formal during that time? They begin to kind of break down the people under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, begin to cause people to kind of make fun of them.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“Thou hast tried them that say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” My, that is a blunt statement. “Thou hast tried them who call themselves apostles.” Isn’t that presumptuous? What right has a people to try those who call themselves apostles? And how do they try them? Oh, I love this. Here it is in Galatians 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have (already) preached unto you, let him be accursed.” It was the apostles who brought the original Word to the people. That original Word could not change, not even a dot or dash of it. Paul knew it was God Who had spoken to him, so he said, “Even if I come and try to give a second revelation, try to make one little change in what I gave originally, let me be accursed.” You see, Paul knew that first revelation was correct. God can’t give a first revelation, then a second revelation. If He did, He would be changing His mind. He can give a revelation and then add to it, as He did in the Garden of Eden when He promised the Seed to the woman, and then later designated that Seed had to come through Abraham, and then later said it would come by the same blood lines in David. But it was the same revelation. It only gave the people more information to help them receive and understand it. But God’s Word can’t change. The Seed came exactly as revealed. Hallelujah. And see what those false apostles were doing. They came with their own word. Those Ephesians knew that Word as Paul had taught it. They were full of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of Paul’s hands. They looked those false apostles in the eye and said, “You are not saying what Paul said. You are, therefore, false.” Oh, that sets my heart on fire. Get back to the Word! It is not you that really tries the apostle, and prophet and teacher, IT IS THE WORD THAT TRIES THEM. One of these days there is going to come a prophet to the Laodicean Church Age and you will know if he is the real one sent from God or not. Yes you will, for if he is of God HE WILL BE IN THAT WORD EXACTLY AS GOD GAVE IT TO PAUL. HE WON’T DEVIATE FROM THAT WORD FOR A MOMENT, NOT BY ONE IOTA. In that last age, when there will be many false prophets appearing, watch and see how they keep telling you that if you don’t believe them and what they say, you will be lost; but when that LAST DAY PROPHET comes on the scene, if he is truly that prophet, he will be crying out, “Get back to the Word or you are lost.” He won’t build on a private revelation or interpretation, but on the Word. Amen, and Amen!

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“And hast borne, and had patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted .” This is just about the same as was said in verse 2. But in verse 2 the work, labor, and patience were from guarding the sacred Word which was committed unto them. How they kept away the adversaries. What a credit they were to Paul. But in this verse their persecutions and trials and patience are over the blessed Name of Jesus.

You know that is not at all strange, for it is the Word and the Name that brings the enemy pouring after us like a flood . The Ephesian Church Age CHURCH AGE BOOK CHAPTER 3

Now here is something else that started in that age and will continue right down through the ages, getting deeper and darker. That is, people were repudiating that Name. It was not the true Ephesian Church that was doing it. No sir. It was the false apostles. It was the outsider trying to get in and defile the believers. The Ephesians knew that Name and loved it.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“And for My Name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” These believers weren’t laboring for Paul, or for an organization. They weren’t committed to programs and institutions whereby they built up holdings of value. They worked for the Lord. They were His servants, not the pawns of organization. They didn’t go to church on Sunday and talk about that Name and then forget it the rest of the week. They didn’t give lip service to that Name. No sir. It was their lives that were given.

All they did, they did in that Name. In that Name they acted, but if they could not act in that Name, then they refrained from acting. These were heavenly placed Christians whose behavior was in the Lord.

But that false vine group that wanted to defile that Name hung like skulking wolves in the dark, waiting to get in and tear down. But the saints stood the test and kept the Word and the Name.

The Complaint of God

Revelation 2:4, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

To understand this you must realize that the Spirit is not speaking to the original saints of Ephesus alone. This message is to the entire age which lasted about 120 years. Its message, then, is to all the generations in that span. Now history keeps repeating itself. In the generations of Israel we see revival in one generation, only to see the fires fading in the next. In the third generation, embers may be glowing slightly, but in the fourth there may be no vestige whatsoever of that original flame. Then God lights the fire again, and the same process is repeated. It is simply the manifestation of the truth that God has no grandchildren. Salvation is not passed on by natural birth any more than is there any truth to apostolic succession. It isn’t in the Word. You start out with truly born-again believers, and when the next generation comes along they are no longer just plain Christians, but they have taken a denominational name and are now Baptists, Methodists, etcetera. That is exactly what they are, too. They are not Christians. You have to be born of the will of God, not the will of man, to be saved. But these folks are all coming together now by the will of man. I don’t say that some of them aren’t right with God. Not for a minute do I say that, but the original fire has died down. They are not the same any more.

The fervent desire to please God, the passion to know His Word, the cry for reaching out in the Spirit, all begins to fade and instead of that church being on fire with the fire of God it has cooled off and become a bit formal. That is what was happening back there to the Ephesians. They were getting a bit formal. The abandonment to God was dying out and the people weren’t too careful about what God thought of them as they began to be careful about what the world thought of them. That second generation coming on was just like Israel. They demanded a king to be like the other nations. When they did that, they rejected God. But they did it anyway. That is the history of the church. When it thinks more of conforming to the world instead of conforming to God, it isn’t long until you see them stop doing things they used to do, and start doing things they wouldn’t do initially. They change their manner of dress, their attitudes and their behavior. They get lax. That is what “Ephesus” means: relaxed — drifting. (See Joshua 24:31, Judges 2:7-14)

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

124But there’s something I got against you, and that is that you’ve left your first love. You left that love that you once had for them good, old-fashioned, Holy Ghost meetings, and you’re begin to kind of slide backwards into that formal, come in with ‘Our Father…'” Nonsense! See?

The Ephesian Church Age

December 5, 1960

135The 4th verse, 5th verse now. A warning, the 5th verse, a warning: “Remember and repent!” See?

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,…(Where did you come from? From Pentecost you fell down to where you are now, backsliding)…and repent, and do thy first works; (go back to Pentecost again)…or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove the candlestick out of h-i-s…(See who it is, don’t you?)…his place, except thou repent.

136Other words, if you got a God-filled pastor, filled with the Holy Ghost, and you try to hold him under your finger, say, “Well, if he says anything about us having a robed choir, if he says anything about us wearing makeup, we’ll just excommunicate him.” Don’t you worry, God will do it before you get a chance to. He’ll go out and preach to stones on the street before he’d compromise with that kind of stuff. You got a pastor that really tells you the Truth, you ought to honor God and stay in the Spirit, and worship God, realizing that you’re going to be lost if you don’t. See?

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Revelation 2:5, “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.”

God tells them to REMEMBER. Evidently something had left their minds. They had forgotten something. He told them to turn back in their minds to their point of origin. The origin of the first age was Pentecost. They had fallen from it. They had forgotten the glory and wonder of it. It was time to go back in mind and then in reality. Back to when they could say, “For me to live is Christ.” Back to purity when Ananias and Sapphira were dealt with. Back to the Gate Beautiful. Oh, what a reproach it is to drift from God and countenance those acts that defile His Name. Let those who name His Name depart from sin and keep their vessels pure for God. Look at what you once were in your heart, and mind, and in your life. Then go back to it.

And what is the way back? The way is the way of repentance. If a sinner has to come to God by way of repentance then the lukewarm or backslider will have to repent that much more. Repent! Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Prove it by your life. “If you do not repent,” said God, “I will remove your lampstand.” Certainly. A church in that condition can’t give light to the world. Its light has turned to darkness. God will then take away its faithful messenger and its faithful shepherds and leave them to themselves, and they will go on talking about Christianity but be bereft of it.

Repent quickly! Don’t hesitate! Evidently Ephesus did hesitate, for her life span was not very long. The glory of God decreased ever so rapidly. It was not long until the city was in ruins. Its glorious temple became a shapeless mass. The land became a marsh inhabited by water fowl; the population was gone except for a few unbelievers in a squalid village. There was not even ONE Christian left. The lamp was rent from its place.

The Seed of Nicolaitanism

Revelation 2:6, “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate."

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

[For] whatever starts in the early church must continue in every age until it is finally blessed and exalted by God or destroyed as an unclean thing in the lake of fire.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

What are these Nicolaitanes? The word comes from two Greek words. Nikao, which means to conquer, and Laos, which means the laity. In plain fact, somebody was doing something in that early church which was conquering the laity. If the laity were being conquered, then it must have been some “authority” there doing it.

What was it that God hated that was happening in that church? What was going on then, and is now going on today, is exactly what the word Nicolaitane means. The people were being subjected somehow in a way that was absolutely contrary to the Word of God.

Now to get the real meaning of what we are about to go into, I must caution you to ever keep in mind that religion (spiritual matters if you like), is composed of two parts that intertwine but are as opposite as black and white. Religion and the spiritual world are made of those two trees which had their roots in Eden. Both the Tree Of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil stood in the midst of the garden and no doubt their very branches intertwined each other. Thus in the Ephesian Church is that same paradox. The church is made up of good and bad. Two vines make the church. They are like the wheat and tares, growing up side by side. But one is the TRUE. The other is the FALSE. Now God will speak TO each one and He will talk ABOUT each one. He will call them the church. And only the elect will really know which is the true Spirit. Only the elect will not be deceived. Matthew 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

See how it started out in the early church. It was called deeds. Then it became a doctrine. It became the standard. It became the unbending way. It finally took over and God was pushed aside. Oh, it started so small, so quietly, so inoffensively. It looked so good. It seemed so sound. Then it caught a hold, and like a python, it squeezed out the very breath and killed all the spirituality there was in the church. Oh, that false vine is subtle. It is like an angel of light until it gets a hold on you. Now I want to say that I believe in leadership. But it is not the leadership of men I believe in. I believe in the leadership of the Holy Ghost coming through the Word. I believe also, that God has set men in the church, men who are gifted by the Spirit; and they will keep the church in order. I believe that. I believe also that the church is ruled over by men that God sends to take charge. But that rule is BY THE WORD, so that it is not men really ruling but the SPIRIT OF GOD, for the Word and Spirit are ONE. Hebrews 13:7, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

But see what was happening back there. That false vine was getting a hold and it was teaching that rulership by man was right. It taught that the church had to be governed. It taught a control over the people, but instead of doing it God’s way, they simply took authority and vested all the spiritual power in their own hands and came out with a holy priesthood standing between God and the people. They went right back to the old Aaronic system. They became antichrist for they disposed of His mediatorship and imposed their own. God hated that. The Ephesians hated that and any true believer will hate it too. We would have to be stone blind not to see that same thing at work all through the ages and right now it is the worst of all. What it was, was organization. That separated the people. God’s people are supposed to be one. By ONE Spirit are they ALL baptized into one body and EVERYONE is to be moved upon by the Holy Ghost and EVERYONE is to participate in the worship of God. But men wanted the preeminence, so they took over control, and bishops became archbishops, and with imposing titles they by-passed the Word of God and taught their own doctrines. They got the people to obey them until the time came that their way of worship did not in any way at all resemble the early days after Pentecost. These deeds were the beginning of apostolic succession. From apostolic succession it was one easy and quick step to “church membership” as the means of saving grace. The Word was reduced to a creed. Antichrist by his spirit was predominating the church.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Now Paul was a prophet, taught by the Holy Ghost. If Paul baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and said anyone that did different from his preaching was accursed, then it is time to wake up and see that the church is no longer controlled by the Holy Ghost but it is controlled by the Nicolaitanes. Acts 20:27-30, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Paul saw it coming. But he warned them about this subtle priesthood that would come and take over with its false doctrines. He knew they would implement a way of worship that excluded the people from any part in a Holy Spirit ministry. And even right today among those who claim to be free and full of the Spirit there is not too much freedom in the laity, and the best we can see is a few preachers with inspired preaching while the flock just sits there and tries to absorb it. This is a far cry from Paul who said that when all came together, all had the leading of the Spirit, and all participated in Spiritual worship.

The Second Seal

March 19, 1963

122But it’s the same devil all the time, in three stages. Notice his stages. In the first stage, he come in…

123The Holy Ghost fell, and people had everything in common. And the Spirit of God was upon them. And the apostles went from house to house, breaking bread with the people. And there was great signs and wonders wrought.

124And—and then, the first thing you know, Satan began to cause a murmur to come up.

125Then, after a while, these slaves and the poor of the land, what received the Holy Ghost, they went out into different places, testifying. They testified to their masters.

The Second Seal

March 19, 1963

126And after a while, there began to come, oh, like army captains and—and the different people. The celebrity began to see the gallantry, and the miracles and signs that these men done, so they accepted Christianity.

127Well, then, you see, when he embraced Christianity, and go down there to a place where they’re meeting, in a little old dark, dungy hall; and clapping their hands, and shout, and speaking in tongues, and getting messages. Why, he could never take that to his—his competitor, or whatever it is, in his business. “He would never believe It, like that.” Certainly not. So, he has got to dress It up.

The Second Seal

March 19, 1963

So they begin to get together, and begin to think, “Now we’ll form something a little different.”

128And Jesus, right immediately, at the first church age, He told them. In the 2nd chapter of Revelation here, “I have somewhat against you, because these deeds of the Nicolaitanes.”

129Nikao, “conquer” the laity. In other words, they want to make, instead of everybody be one, they want to make some holy fellow. They wanted to make some kind of a…They wanted to pattern it in paganism, from where they come out, and they finally done it.

130Now watch. First, “Nicolaitane.” The Nicolaitane was called, in the Bible, “antichrist,” because it was against the original Doctrine of Christ and the apostles.

The Second Seal

March 19, 1963

147First, as Nic-…Nicolaitane, and what did the Nicolaitane age ask for? It asked to get away from them bunch of people that’s shouts and claps their hands, and looks like disgracefully; like they did on Pentecost, act like drunk men, staggering in the Spirit, and things. They didn’t want none of that stuff. They said they were drunk. And when the celebrity…Listen! Don’t miss this. It may sound crazy to you, but it’s the Truth. When the—the dignitaries begin to come in, they couldn’t stoop to that.

148What makes God big, is because He is big enough to stoop down. That’s what makes Him big. There is nothing bigger. And He stooped the lowest that anybody could stoop, any human being ever stooped. He was the King of Heaven, and He come to the—to the lowest city on the earth, Jericho. And He got so low till even the shortest man in the town had to look down on Him, to see Him. Is that right? Zacchaeus. That’s right. He was called the worst name that any human being can be called, “a sorcerer, a devil, Beelzebub.” That’s what the world thought of Him.

The Voice of the Spirit

Revelation 2:7, “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."

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” It may be that millions will hear these words or read them. But how many will pay heed to them? That we do not know. But he who will lend his ear and want to know the words of truth will find the Spirit of God enlightening him. If your ear is open to the Word, the Spirit of God will make the Word real to you. Now that is a work of the Spirit. I can teach you the truth, but if you don’t open your ear to hear it and your heart to receive it, you won’t get the revelation.

Now notice, it says that the Spirit is speaking to the churches. That is plural, not singular. The Spirit did not have John write this down for a local Ephesian church, nor for the first age only. It is for all church ages. But this is the church of beginnings. And thus it is like the Book of Genesis. What started in Genesis holds true throughout the entire Word and finally closes out in Revelation. Thus, this church beginning in Acts is God’s blueprint for all ages until she closes out in the Laodicean Age. Watch it carefully. Let every age take heed, for what is going on here is only the start. That little tree that was planted is going to grow. It is going to grow through the ages. This, then, is a message for every Christian through every age until Jesus comes. Yes, it is, for it is the Spirit speaking. Amen.

The Reward Promised

Revelation 2:7, “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 the future reward to all overcomers of all ages. When the last call to battle has been sounded, when our armour has been laid down, then we will rest in the paradise of God and our portion shall be the Tree of Life, forever.)

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“The Tree Of Life.” Isn’t that a beautiful figure of speech? It is mentioned three times in the Book of Genesis and three times in the Book of Revelation. In all six places it is the same tree and symbolizes exactly the same thing.

But what is the Tree Of Life? Well, first of all, we would have to know what the tree itself stands for. In Numbers 24:6, as Balaam described Israel, he said they were “trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted.” Trees throughout the Scriptures refer to persons, as in Psalm 1. Thus the Tree Of Life must be the Person of Life, and that is Jesus.

Now in the Garden of Eden there were two trees standing in the midst of it. One was the Tree Of Life, the other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man was to live by the Tree Of Life; but he was not to touch the other tree or he would die. But man did partake of the other tree, and when he did, death entered into him by his sin, and he became separated from God.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

Some have an idea that the two trees in the garden were just two more trees like unto the rest of those that God had placed there. But careful students know that this is not so. When John the Baptist cried that the axe was laid to the root of all trees, he was not talking of simply natural trees, but of spiritual principles. Now in I John 5:11 it says, “And this is the RECORD, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” Jesus said in John 5:40, “And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” Thus the record, God’s Word, states plainly and clearly that LIFE, ETERNAL LIFE, is in the Son. It is no other place. I John 5:12, “He that hath the Son hath LIFE; and he that hath not the Son of God hath NOT Life.” Now since the record cannot change, be taken from or added thereunto, then the record stands that THE LIFE IS IN THE SON. Since this is so, THE TREE IN THE GARDEN HAS TO BE JESUS.

Alright. If the Tree Of Life is a person, then the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a person ALSO. It can’t be otherwise. Thus the Righteous One and the Wicked One stood side by side there in the midst of the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel 28:13a, “Thou (Satan) hast been in Eden, the garden of God.”

Here is where we receive the true revelation of the “Serpent’s seed.” Here is what really happened in the Garden of Eden. The Word says that Eve was beguiled by the serpent. She was actually seduced by the serpent. It says in Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” This beast was so close to a human being (and yet was pure animal) that he could reason and talk. He was an upright creature and was somewhat in between a chimpanzee and a man, but closer to a man. He was so close to being human that his seed could, and did mingle with that of the woman and cause her to conceive. When this happened, God cursed the serpent. He changed every bone in the serpent’s body so that he had to crawl like a snake. Science can try all it wants to, and it won’t find the missing link. God saw to that. Man is smart and he can see an association of man with animal and he tries to prove it out of evolution. There isn’t any evolution. But man and animal did mingle. That’s one of the mysteries of God that has remained hidden, but here it is revealed. It happened right back there in the midst of Eden when Eve turned away from Life to accept Death.

Conclusion

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree Of Life, Which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” What a thrilling thought is this. That Tree Of Life in the Garden of Eden Which could not be approached unto because of the fall of Adam is now given to the overcomer. The flaming sword of the guarding cherubim has been sheathed. But it was not sheathed ere its blade was bloody with the blood of the Lamb.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 3, The Ephesian Church Age

And now to these Sons of God, who by Him overcome, are given the privilege of the paradise of God, and the constant fellowship of Jesus Christ. There will never more be any separation from Him. Whither He goes, His bride will go. What is His, He shares with His beloved on a joint-heir relationship. The secret things will be revealed. The dark things will be made plain. We shall know as we are known. And we shall be like Him. This is the heritage of the overcomer who has overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of testimony to Jesus Christ.