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Revelation, Chapter 2: The Pergamean Church Age

William Branham

William Branham

William Branham Evangelistic Association

44 min read

The Pergamean Church Age

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He Which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:12-17

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Pergamum (ancient name) was situated in Mysia, in a district watered by three rivers, by one of which it communicated to the sea. It was described as the most illustrious city in Asia. It was a city of culture with a library second only to that in Alexandria. Yet it was a city of great sin, given over to licentious rites of the worship of Aesculapius, whom they worshipped in the form of a living serpent which was housed and fed in the temple. In this beautiful city of irrigated groves, public walks and parks lived a small group of dedicated believers who were not fooled by the veneer of beauty, and abhorred the Satanic worship that filled the place.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

The Pergamean Age lasted about three hundred years, from 312 to 606 A.D.

The Messenger

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Using our God-given rule for choosing the messenger to each age, that is, we choose the one whose ministry most closely approximates that of the first messenger, Paul, we unhesitatingly declare the Pergamean messenger to be Martin. Martin was born in 315 in Hungary. However, his life work was in France where he labored in and around Tours as a bishop. He died in 399. This great saint was the uncle of another wonderful Christian, Saint Patrick of Ireland.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

After having left the army and having become a leader in the church, he took a very militant stand against idolatry. He cut down the groves, broke up the images and pulled down the altars. When confronted by the pagans for his deeds he challenged them in much the same manner that Elijah did the prophets of Baal. He offered to be tied to a tree on its underside so that when it was cut down it would crush him unless God intervened and turned the tree around while it fell. The wiley heathen tied him to a tree that was growing on the side of a hill, assured that the natural pull of gravity would cause the tree to so fall as to crush him. Just as the tree began to fall, God swung it around and uphill, contrary to all natural laws. The fleeing heathen were crushed as the tree fell on several of them.

Historians acknowledged that on at least three occasions he raised the dead by faith in Jesus' Name.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Such was his ardour in serving the Lord that the devil was mightily aroused. The enemies of truth hired assassins to kill Martin. They came by stealth to his home and as they were about to kill him, he stood erect and bared his throat to the sword. As they leaped forward, the power of God suddenly hurled them back across the room. So overcome were they in that holy and fearful atmosphere that they crawled upon their hands and knees and begged forgiveness for the attempt upon his life.

Too often when men are signally used of the Lord they become lifted up with pride. But not so with Martin. He ever remained the humble servant of God. One night as he was preparing himself to enter the pulpit, a beggar came to his study and asked for some clothing. Martin referred the beggar to his head deacon. The haughty deacon commanded him to leave. Thereupon he went back to see Martin. Martin arose and gave the beggar his own fine robe, and bade the deacon bring him another robe which was of lesser quality. That night as Martin preached the Word, the flock of God saw a soft white glow of light around his person.

Surely this was a great man, a true messenger to that age. Never desirous of aught but to please God he lived a most consecrated life. Never could he be induced to preach until he had first prayed and was in such spiritual frame as to know and deliver the full counsel of God by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Often he would keep the people waiting while he prayed for full assurance.

Salutation

Revelation 2:12b, “These things saith He Which hath the sharp sword with the two edges."

The message to the third church age is about to come forth. The third scene of this unfolding drama of “Christ in the midst of His church” is about to be revealed. With trumpet-like voice, the Spirit presents the Matchless One, “He Which hath the sharp sword with the two edges!”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

In these words, “He Which hath the sharp sword with two edges” lies another revelation of Godhead. In the Ephesian Age, you will recall, He was set forth as the Unchanging God. In the Smyrnaean Age we saw Him as the ONE TRUE God and beside Him there was no other. Now in this Pergamean Age there is a further revelation of His Godhead, set forth by His association with the sharp two edged sword, which is the Word of God.

Christ Eulogizes the Church

Revelation 2:13, “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth."

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

“I know thy works.” These are the identical words uttered to each of the seven messengers relative to the people of God in each age. As they are spoken to the two vines (true and false) they will bring joy and gladness to the hearts of one group, but they ought to strike terror in the hearts of the other. For though we are saved by grace, apart from works, true salvation will bring forth works, or deeds that will please God. I John 3:7, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH (worketh) righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

“I know thy works.” If a man fears that he might not please God, then let him fulfill the Word. If a man wonders if he will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” let him fulfill the Word of God in his life, and assuredly he will hear those words of praise.

Thou Holdest Fast My Name

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

They were holding fast in His strength, in the assurance of the Spirit that they were one in Him. Theirs was the sure knowledge of sins forgiven and they bore the name of “Christian” in testimony to it. They knew and loved that Name that was above every name. Their knees had bowed to that Name. Their tongues had confessed to it. Whatsoever they did, they did it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus. They had named that Name and departed from evil, and having taken their stand they were now prepared to die for that Name, being assured of a better resurrection.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Already in the second century those words “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” had spelled out “Trinity” to many, and the polytheistic idea of three Gods had become a doctrine in the false church. It would not be long until the Name was taken away, as indeed it was in this age, and in its stead the titles of the ONE GREAT GOD would be substituted for the NAME, Lord Jesus Christ. While the many apostatized and embraced a trinity and baptized using the titles of Godhead, the Little Flock still baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and so held to the truth.

Thou Hast Not Denied My Faith

In Acts 3:16 when Peter was asked how the mighty miracle had taken place upon the crippled one at the Gate Beautiful, he explained it on this wise, “And His (Jesus) Name through faith in His (Jesus) Name hath made this man (former cripple) strong, yea the faith which is by (from) Him (Jesus) hath given him (the man) this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” See, there it is. Jesus' Name, and Jesus' Faith brought about the miracle. Peter did not claim it was his own human faith any more than he claimed that it was his own name. He said that Jesus' Name used in the faith which is from Jesus performed that great work. This faith is what the Lord was speaking about in Revelation 2:13. It was HIS faith. It was not faith IN Him. But it was HIS OWN faith that He had given to the believers. Romans 12:3, “According as God hath dealt to every man” (according to verse 1 the men are BRETHREN) “the measure of faith.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Human faith wasn’t enough then and it is not enough now. It takes the very faith of the Son of God to drop into a man’s heart so that he can receive the Lord of glory into the temple not made with hands.

This was a living faith. “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Paul did not say that he lived by faith IN the Son of God. It was the faith of the Son of God that had given him life and kept him living in Christian victory.

Antipas, My Faithful Martyr

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

There is no other record in the Word or in any profane history concerning this brother. But surely there need not be. It is more than enough that he was foreknown and known of the Lord. It is more than enough to see his faithfulness unto the Lord recorded in the living Word. He was a Christian. He had the Name of Jesus. He had the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and he was amongst those who lived by it. He had responded to the words of James, “Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons.” Full of the Holy Ghost and faith as was Stephen, he respected no one, he feared no one; and when death was pronounced upon all who would take that Name and walk in the faith of Jesus Christ he took his stand with those who would not turn back. Yes, he died, but like Abel, he obtained a witness from God (his name is written in the Word), and though dead, his voice still speaks in the pages of God’s Divine Record.

Where Satan’s Seat is

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Pergamos was not originally the place where Satan (as concerning human affairs) dwelt. Babylon has always been literally and figuratively his headquarters. It was in the city of Babylon that Satanic worship had its origin. Genesis 10:8-10, “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Babel is the original name for Babylon. It means confusion. It was literally started by Cush, the son of Ham, but was brought to a kingdom of power and grandeur under his son, Nimrod, the mighty hunter. Nimrod, according to the Genesis eleven account and also according to profane history, set out to accomplish three things. He wanted to build a strong nation, which he did. He wanted to propagate his own religion, which he did. He wanted to make a name for himself, which he also accomplished. His accomplishments were so monumental that the kingdom of Babylon was called the head of gold amongst all world governments. That his religion gained prominence is proven by the fact that Scripture identifies it with Satan completely in Isaiah chapter 14 and in Revelation chapters 17-18. And by history we can prove that it invaded the whole world and is the basis for every system of idolatry, and the theme of mythology, though the names of the gods differ in various sections of the land according to the language of the people. That he made a name for himself and his followers goes without saying, for as long as this present age goes on (until Jesus reveals Himself to His brethren) he will be worshipped and honored, though under a different name from Nimrod, and in a temple slightly different from the one in which he was originally adored.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Monotheism turned to polytheism in Babylon. The devil’s lie and the devil’s mysteries rose up against the truth of God and the mysteries of God in that city. Satan truly became the god of this world and exacted worship from those that he had duped, causing them to believe that he was truly the Lord.

The polytheistic religion of the enemy began with the trinitarian doctrine. It was way back there in antiquity that the “one God in three persons” idea came into existence.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

According to history it did not take long for a change to be made in this concept of a Father and a Son and the Holy Ghost. Satan took them a step at a time away from the truth. The evolved concept of Deity was now: 1. The eternal father. 2. The Spirit of God incarnate in a HUMAN mother. (Does that make you think?) 3. A Divine Son, the fruit of that incarnation, (Woman’s seed).

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Not only was ancestor worship originated in Babylon but so also was the worship of nature. It was in Babylon the gods were identified with the sun and moon, etcetera. The chief object in nature was the sun which has light giving and heat giving properties and appears to man as a ball of fire in the heavens. Thus the chief god would be the sun god whom they called Baal. Often the sun was depicted as a circle of flame and soon around that flame there appeared a serpent. It wasn’t long until the serpent became a symbol of the sun and consequently worshipped. Thus the desire of Satan’s heart became full-fledged. He was worshipped as God. His throne was established. His slaves bowed to him. There in Pergamos in the form of a living serpent he was worshipped. The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, now symbolized in the form of a living serpent had not only seduced Eve but the majority of mankind.

But how did Pergamos become the seat of Satan if Babylon was the seat? The answer again is in history. When Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, the priest-king, Attalus fled the city and went to Pergamos with his priests and sacred mysteries. There he set up his kingdom outside the Roman empire, and thrived under the care of the devil.

The Denunciation

Revelation 2:14-15, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate."

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

In this Pergamean Age the Lord denounces two doctrines which He hates: 1. The doctrine of Balaam which brought idolatry and sinful excesses to Israel at Baal-Peor, and 2. The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which had been but deeds in the Ephesian Age. Combine this denouncement with the fact that He has been emphasizing Pergamos as the seat of Satan, and it is very easy and proper to conclude that somehow the religion of Babylon has become intermingled with Christianity.

Now this is not merely an assumption but an historical fact which we will prove by going back into history to about 36 A.D. and coming up to the Nicene Council of 325. When the Christians (mainly Jews by birth) were scattered abroad from Jerusalem they went everywhere preaching the Gospel, particularly in the synagogues. Thus within three years, or about in 36 A.D. the Gospel had been taken to Rome by Junius and Andronicus, who according to Romans 16:7 were apostles. The work flourished there for several years until the constant altercations of the Jews amongst themselves caused Emperor Claudius to expel them from Rome. With the Jews banished from that city the backbone of that little church was practically broken. Perhaps even the elders had been Jewish and so would be gone. The flock would be unattended and since the Word had not been written as a guide it would be very easy for this little flock to drift or be inundated by the philosophers and pagans of that day. With grievous wolves on the prowl, and the spirit of antichrist released, we find from history that this little church in Rome became hopelessly backslidden, and began to introduce pagan ceremonies under Christian titles.

As the period of banishment lasted for 13 years, the founders, Junius and Andronicus, did not come back until 54 A.D. Imagine their horror to find a church with a Christian title that was woefully pagan. There were altars in the church upon which they placed incense and celebrated pagan rites. The established leaders of that church could not be approached, so with the few who had tried to remain faithful they started a new church, or the Second Church of Rome. God graciously worked amongst them by signs and wonders so that a third church was started. And though the First Church was reproached for being pagan and NOT Christian in its worship it would not give up its title but remained and STILL REMAINS the First Church of Rome — The Roman Catholic Church.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

One such bishop of the First Church of Rome was Anicetus who lived in the second century and was contemporary with Polycarp. When the venerable Polycarp heard that the First Christian Church of Rome was involved in pagan ceremonies and had corrupted the truth of the Gospel, he went there to implore them to change. He saw them prostrate themselves before images named after apostles and saints. He saw them light candles and burn incense on the altar. He saw them celebrate the Passover under the name Easter, where they elevated the disc shaped bread that honored the sun god, and then they poured the wine out as a libation to the gods. But this aged saint who had traveled 1500 miles could not arrest their downward plunge. God spoke through him just as he was leaving, “Ephraim is married to his idols, let him alone,” Hosea 4:15. Polycarp never more returned.

Following Anicetus was the wicked bishop of Rome called Victor. He introduced even more pagan festivals and ceremonies into the First Church, and also went about trying his utmost to persuade the true Christian churches to incorporate the same ideas. They would not do as he requested so he prevailed upon government officials to persecute the believers, hailing them into court, casting them into prison and even meting out death to many. Such an example of his vile deeds is found in history where Emperor Septimus Severus was prevailed upon by Callistus (the friend of Victor) to kill 7000 at Thessalonica because these true believers celebrated the Passover according to the Lord Jesus and not according to the worship of Astarte.

Already the false vine was turning loose its anger against the living God by killing the elect, even as did its forebear, Cain, kill Abel.

The true church kept trying to get the First Church to repent. It would not do so. It increased in size and influence. It embarked upon a constant campaign to discredit the true seed. They claimed that they and they alone were the true representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, and vaunted the fact that they were the original church in Rome, and they alone were the First Church. Indeed they were The First Church, and INDEED THEY ARE.

Thus by the time of this third church age we have two churches bearing the same name but with a bitter difference between them. One has departed from the truth, married idols and has no life in her. She has hybridized herself and the signs of death, (not life), follow in her wake. She is powerful with many members. She is favored by the world. The other is a little persecuted group. But she follows the Word, and the signs follow her. The sick are healed and the dead are raised. She is alive with the Life and Word of God. She loves not her life, but holds to His Name and His faith even unto death.

And so the terrible persecution of official Rome fell upon the true believers until Constantine arose and granted freedom of religious worship.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

But that the church and state would come together was truly foreknown of the Lord. The very name Pergamos means “thoroughly married.” And indeed state and church were married; politics and religion were united. The offspring of that union have been consistently the most horrible hybrids the world has ever seen. The truth is not in them, but all the evil ways of Cain (the first hybrid) is.

Not only was state and church wedded in this age, but the Babylonian religion was officially joined to the First Church. Satan now had access to the Name of Christ and he was enthroned as God in worship. With the help of federal aid the churches fell heir to beautiful buildings which were lined with altars of white marble and images of the departed saints. And right in this age is when the “beast” of Revelation 13:3 that was wounded to death: (the pagan Roman Empire) came back to life and power as the “Holy Roman Empire.” Rome as a material nation had suffered much depletion and soon would suffer it completely; but it mattered not now, for her religious empire would keep her on top of the world governing from the inside where she would not appear to do so from the outside.

Let me show the exact Scriptural truth of this matter, for I do not want anyone to think that I am giving a revelation of my own — one not found in Scripture.

Daniel 2:31-45, “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.”

Herein is revealed an exact account of future, unfilled history that was prophesied to come upon the earth from the time of Daniel until Jesus would come and reign as the Son of David. It is known as “The Times of the Gentiles.” It had within it four historical divisions which were known by the dominating empire in each division: Babylonian, Medo- Persian, Grecian, Roman. The greatest and most absolute monarchy was the Babylonian which was typified as the head of gold. The next in glory was the Medo-Persian which as history bore out was truly less glorious and was typified as the breast and arms of silver. Then there followed the Grecian age whose king was the most brilliant of all military leaders the world has ever known so it was fittingly typified as the belly and thighs of brass. It was less glorious than the other two preceeding it. Finally came the last kingdom which was the Roman Empire typified as the legs and feet. But wherein the former kingdoms were typified as pure minerals (pure gold, silver and brass) this last empire was pure iron only in the legs, for when it came to the feet it was a mixture of iron and clay, and mineral and soil just don’t mix and produce constancy and strength. But not only is this so, but most amazing, this last empire (Roman) would endure in its peculiar “mixed state” right up until Jesus returns.

This Roman Empire of iron (iron signifying power and great destructive force against opposition) was to be made of two main divisions. And it certainly was for the empire literally split into two — East and West. Both were very powerful, crushing all before them.

But as the glory and power of all empires fail, so this empire began to fall also. Thus Rome fell. Pagan Imperial Rome was no longer iron. She crumbled. She was wounded to death. Rome could not now rule. It was all over. So thought the world. But how wrong the world was, for that head (Rome) though wounded was not wounded unto death. (Wuest, translation of Revelation 13:3, “And one of his heads appeared to have been mortally wounded, the throat having been slashed. And his death stroke was healed. And the whole earth followed after the Wild Beast in amazement.")

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Now up to this time I have not brought out that point in history that I promised to cover, that is, the intermingling of the religion of Nimrod and the Christian religion. You will recall that Attalus fled from Babylon to Pergamos and set up his kingdom outside the reaches of the Roman Empire. It flourished over the years, nurtured by the god of this world. A succession of priest kings followed Attalus until the reign of Attalus III when for reasons known only in the sovereignty of God he willed the kingdom to Rome. Julius Caesar then took both the kingdom physical and spiritual for he became Pontiff Maximus of the Babylonish religion and was therefore priest-king. This title passed on to the following emperors until the time of Maximus III who refused it. According to Stevens' History it was then that the pope took the headship the emperor rejected and today there is still a pontiff in the world, and he is truly Pontiff Maximus. He wears a triple crown and resides in Rome. And in Revelation 17 God does not any longer refer to Pergamos as Satan’s seat nor does he say that is where Satan dwells. No, the throne room is no longer in Pergamos, but it is MYSTERY Babylon. It is not in Babylon but in MYSTERY Babylon. It is in a city on seven hills. Its head is antichrist for he has usurped the position of Christ Who alone is mediator and Who alone can forgive sins. Yes, Pontiff Maximus is with us today.

The Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes

Revelation 2:15, “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate."

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

You will recall that I brought out in the Ephesian Age that the word, Nicolaitane, comes from two Greek words: Nikao which means to conquer, and Lao which means the laity. Nicolaitane means, “to conquer the laity.” Now why is this such a terrible thing? It is terrible because God has never placed His church in the hands of an elected leadership which moves with political mindedness. He has placed His church in the care of God-ordained, Spirit-filled, Word-living men who lead the people through feeding them the Word. He has not separated the people into classes so that the masses are led by a holy priesthood.

It is true that the leadership must be holy, but then so must be the whole congregation. Further, there is no place in the Word where priests or ministers or such mediate between God and the people, nor is there a place where they are separated in their worship of the Lord. God wants all to love and serve Him together. Nicolaitanism destroys those precepts and instead separates the ministers from the people and makes the leaders overlords instead of servants.

Now this doctrine actually started as a deed in the first age. It appears that the problem lay in two words: “elders” (presbyters) and “overseers” (bishops). Though Scripture shows that there are several elders in each church, some began (Ignatius among them) to teach that the idea of a bishop was one of preeminence or authority and control over the elders. Now the truth of the matter is the word “elder” signifies who the person is, while the word “bishop” signifies the office of the same man. The elder is the man. Bishop is the office of the man. “Elder” always has and always will refer simply to a man’s chronological age in the Lord. He is an elder, not because he is elected or ordained, etcetera, but because he IS OLDER. He is more seasoned, trained, not a novice, reliable because of experience and long standing proof of his Christian experience. But no, the bishops did not stick to the epistles of Paul, but rather they went to Paul’s account of the time he called the elders from Ephesus to Miletus in Acts 20.

In verse 17 the record states, “elders” were called and then in verse 28 they are called overseers (bishops). And these bishops, (no doubt political minded and anxious for power) insisted that Paul had given the meaning that “overseers” were more than the local elder with official capacity only in his own church. To them a bishop was now one with extended authority over many local leaders. Such a concept was neither Scriptural nor historical, yet even a man of the stature of Polycarp leaned toward such organization. Thus, that which started as a deed in the first age was made a literal doctrine and so it is today. Bishops still claim power to control men and deal with them as they desire, placing them where they so will in the ministry. This denies the leadership of the Holy Ghost Who said, “Separate Me Paul and Barnabus for the work whereunto I have called them.” This is anti-Word and anti-Christ.

Matthew 20:25-28, “But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Matthew 23:8-9, “But be not ye called Rabbi: for One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for One is your Father, Which is in heaven."

In order to clarify this even more, let me explain Nicolaitanism in this way. You recall that in Revelation 13:3 it says, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Now we know that the wounded head was the pagan Roman Empire, that great political world power. This head rose again as the “Roman Catholic spiritual empire.” Now watch this carefully. What did political pagan Rome do that was the basis of her success? She, “divided and conquered.” That was the seed of Rome — divide and conquer. Her iron teeth tore and devoured. Whom she tore and devoured could not rise again as when she destroyed Carthage and sowed her to salt. The same iron seed remained in her when she arose as the false church, and her policy has remained the same — divide and conquer. That is Nicolaitanism and God hates it.

Now it is a well known historical fact that when this error crept into the church, men began to vie for the office of bishop with the result that this position was being given to the more educated and materially-progressive and politically-minded men. Human knowledge and program began to take over Divine wisdom’s place and the Holy Spirit no longer controlled. This was indeed a tragic evil, for the bishops began to maintain that it no longer required a transparent Christian character to minister either the Word or the rites in the church for it was the elements and the ceremony that counted. This allowed evil men (seducers) to rend the flock.

With the man-made doctrine of the elevation of bishops to a place not accorded them in Scripture, the next step was the handing out of graded titles that built up into a religious hierarchy; for soon there were archbishops over bishops and cardinals over the archbishops and by the time of Boniface the third there was a pope over all, a Pontiff.

What with the Nicolaitane doctrine and the amalgamation of Christianity with Babylonianism the net results had to be what Ezekiel saw in chapter 8:10, “So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall around.” Revelation 18:2, “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornications.”

Now this Nicolaitane doctrine, this rule that was established in the church did not hit it off too well with a lot of the people for they could read the odd epistle or essay on the Word written by some godly person. So what did the church do? It excommunicated the righteous teachers and burned the scrolls. They said, “It takes a special education to read and understand the Word. Why, even Peter said that many things Paul wrote were hard to understand.” Having taken away the Word from the people, it soon came to the people listening only to what the priest had to say, and doing what he told them. They called that God and His holy Word. They took over the minds and lives of the people and made them the servants of a despotic priesthood.

Now if you want proof that the Catholic Church demands the lives and minds of men, just listen to the edict of Theodosius I.

Theodosius' First Edict

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

This edict was issued immediately after he was baptized by the First Church of Rome. “We three emperors will that our subjects steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by Saint Peter to the Romans, which has been faithfully preserved by tradition and which is now professed by the pontiff, Damasus of Rome, and Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of Apostolic holiness according to the institution of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the Gospel; let us believe in one Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of equal majesty in the Holy Trinity. We order that the adherents of this faith be called Catholic Christians; we brand all the senseless followers of the other religions with the infamous name of heretics, and forbid their conventicles assuming the name of churches. Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect the heavy penalty which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom shall think proper to inflict…”

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

The Roman Catholic Church calls herself the Mother church. She calls herself the first or original church. That is absolutely correct. She was the original First Church of Rome that backslid and went into sin. She was the first that organized. In her was found the deeds and then the doctrine of Nicolaitanism. No one will deny that she is a mother. She is a mother and has produced daughters. Now a daughter comes out of a woman. A woman robed in scarlet is sitting on the seven hills of Rome. She is a harlot and has borne daughters. Those daughters are the Protestant churches that came out of her and then went right back into organization and Nicolaitanism. This Mother of the daughter-churches is called a whore. That is a woman who was untrue to her marriage vows. She was married to God and then went off fornicating with the devil and in her fornications she has brought forth daughters that are just like her. This mother and daughter combination is anti-Word, anti-Spirit and consequently anti- Christ. Yes, ANTICHRIST.

The Doctrine of Balaam

Revelation 2:14, “Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Now you just can’t have a Nicolaitane set-up in the church and not have this other doctrine come in, too. You see, if you take away the Word of God and the moving of the Spirit as a means of worship (“they that worship Me must worship Me in Spirit and in truth”) then you will have to give the people another form of worship as a substitute, and substitution spells Balaamism.

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

The story is found in Numbers chapters 22 through 25. Now we know that Israel was the chosen people of God. They were the Pentecostals of their day.

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Now in spite of the fact that Balaam knew the proper approach to God and could bring forth a revelation from the Lord by means of a special enduement of power, he was still, for all of that, a bishop in the false group. For what did he do now in order to win favor with Balak? He formulated a plan wherein God would be forced to deal with Israel in death. Just as Satan knew that he could beguile Eve (cause her to fall in fleshly sin) thus causing God to pass His pronounced sentence of death against sin, so Balaam knew that if he could get Israel to sin, God would have to deal with them in death. So he planned a way to get them to come over and join in sin. He sent out invitations to come to the feast of Baal-peor (come over and worship with us).

Now Israel, no doubt, had seen the feasts of the Egyptians so they did not feel it was too wrong to go and just look on and perhaps eat with the people. (What is wrong with fellowship any way? We are supposed to love them, aren’t we, or how can we win them?) Being friendly never hurt anyone — or so they thought. But when those sexy Moabitish women began to dance and undress while they whirled around, doing their rock and roll and twist, the lust rose up in the Israelites and they were drawn into adultery, and God in wrath slew forty-two thousand of them.

And that is what Constantine and his successors did at Nicaea and after Nicaea. They invited the people of God to the convention. And when the church sat down to eat, and rose up to play (partaking of church form, ceremonies, and pagan feasts named after Christian rites), she was trapped; she had committed fornication. And God walked out.

When any man turns from the Word of God and joins a church instead of receiving the Holy Spirit, that man dies. Dead! That is what he is. Don’t join a church. Don’t get into organization and get taken up with creeds and tradition or anything that takes the place of the Word and the Spirit, or you’re dead. It’s all over. You’re dead. Eternally separated from God!

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

So Balaam got Israel to commit fornication. Do you know that physical fornication is the very same spirit that lies in organized religion? I said that the spirit of fornication is the spirit of organization. And all fornicators will have their place in the lake of fire. That is what God thinks of organization. Yes sir, the whore and her daughters will be in the lake of fire.

“Denominations are not of God. They never have been and never will be.”

Denominations are not of God. They never have been and never will be. It’s a wrong spirit that separates the people of God into hierarchy and laity; and it’s, therefore, a wrong spirit that separates the people from the people. That’s what organization and denominations do. In organizing they separate themselves from the Word of God, and bring themselves into spiritual adultery.

Now notice that Constantine gave special feasts unto the people. They were the old pagan feasts with new names taken from the church, or in some cases Christian rites were taken and abused with pagan ceremonies. He took the worship of the sun god and changed it to the Son of God. Instead of celebrating on December 21, which is when they used to celebrate the feast to the sun god, they put it up to December 25th and called it the Son of God’s birthday. But we know that He was born in April when life comes forth, not in December. And they took the feast to Astarte and called it the Easter celebration wherein the Christian is supposed to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord. Actually it was a pagan feast to Astarte.

They Ate Things Sacrificed to Idols

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

I see this in the same light I see the words of the Lord, “Except ye eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life in you.” “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” You can see that eating is actually partaking in a spiritual sense. So when these people were bowing to the images, lighting candles, using pagan holidays, confessing their sins to men (all of which belongs to the devil’s religion,) they were partakers with the devil and not of the Lord. They were in idolatry whether they admitted it or not.

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

So the church and the state were married. The church joined up with idols. With the power of the state behind them they felt that now, “The kingdom had come and God’s will had been enforced upon the earth.” No wonder the Roman Catholic Church is not looking for the return of the Lord Jesus. They are not millennialists. They have their millennium right here. “The pope is reigning right now and God is reigning in him.” So when He comes according to them, it has to be when the new heavens and the earth are prepared. But they are wrong. That pope is the head of the false church, and there is going to be a millennium, but while that is going on he won’t be in it. He will be somewhere else.

The Warning

Revelation 2:16, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

What else can He say? Can God overlook the sin of those who have borne His Name in vain? There is only one way to receive grace in the hour of sin, REPENT. Confess you are wrong. Come to God for forgiveness and for the Spirit of God. This is a command from God. To disobey is death, for He says, “I will make war with you, with the sword in My mouth.” The beast made war with the saints, but God will make war with the beast. Those who fought the Word will one day find the Word fighting them.

The Reward

Revelation 2:17, “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Each message to each age holds out an incentive to the believer, encouraging him to be an overcomer and thereby be rewarded of the Lord. In this age the Spirit is promising the hidden manna and a new name written in a white stone.

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

Now in every age the messenger of the Lord to that age was given the revelation of God for that specific period. Once the messenger was enlightened by truth, he would bring that truth to the people. And they whose ears had been opened by the Spirit would hear that truth, believe it, and live it.

Now then, there is also the thought of the future partaking of the hidden manna. I think it will be the eternal partaking of the revelation of Jesus Christ in the eternal ages to come. How else could we begin to know the unsearchable riches of His own Being? All that we have longed to know, all our unanswered questions, all that will be revealed.

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Chapter 5, The Pergamean Church Age

It also says here that He is going to give the overcomer a white stone and in (not on) the stone a new name, which the owner alone knows. Now the idea of a new name is a familiar one. Abram was changed to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul. These names either brought about a change, or were given because of a change. It was only after Abram and Sarai had their names changed by the Lord that they were made ready to receive the coming son. In Jacob’s case, he had to overcome and then he was called a prince. In the case of Simon and Saul, when they had received the Lord, their change came. And today each one of us true believers has had a change in name. We are Christians. It is a name common to all of us. But one day we will have another change; we will of a certainty receive a new name. It could well be that name was our true and original name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world. He knows the name, but we do not. One day at His good pleasure, we will know also.

A white stone. How beautiful. Here is another picture of the saint receiving recompense from the hand of God for his trials upon earth. You know, after Constantine, the false church was able to dip its hand in the state treasury and thereby erect beautiful buildings full of lovely statuary. These statues, made of white marble, were actually Roman idols renamed as saints. The churches and their furnishings were exceptionally beautiful, even as one sees today. But God was not with them. Where was God? He was with His saints in some little home, or in a cave, or some wild mountain area where they hid from the false church members. They did not have beautiful buildings, gowned choirs, fine clothes, and other worldly attractions. But now in this special promise to the true believers of all ages, God has declared He will give them rewards of great beauty and eternal duration.

A Hidden Life

October 6, 1955

38 Now remember, only believers, only the elect comes into that, that God has chosen you. I believe that in Revelations 2 said, “He that overcometh.” So it’s promised to overcomers.

You said, “I overcome smoking.” That ain’t what He’s talking about. There’s a whole lot more goes to Christianity besides not smoking cigarettes or drinking whiskey. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and he will be My son; I will be his God, and (listen) I will give him of the hidden manna. (Amen.) I will hide him away, and I will give him the hidden things the world on the outside of the curtain don’t know nothing about it.” Hallelujah! Though they eat manna, but they don’t know about this. “I will give to him the hidden manna. I will give him a stone with his name in it.” You get what I mean: entering into the adoption or the hidden place with God.

The Mighty God Unveiled Before Us

June 29, 1964

Paul said here, “Changing from Glory to Glory.” You see, finally, It comes till It’s back to Its original Glory.

157 It’s just like a seed of a morning glory. The seed of a flower, it falls into the ground. The seed of corn falls in the ground. What’s the first thing? It comes up, and it’s a little sprout. Then it goes to a tassel. Then, from a tassel, back to its original grain.

158 Well, that’s exactly what the Church has done. It come from Luther, Wesley, and now back to the original Grain, back to Its original Glory, back to the Glory It was at the beginning. The Son that rose in the East, it’s the same Son that’s manifesting the same thing in the West, changing from Glory to Glory. It changed from the pagan, down into Luther; and from Luther, down into Wesley; from Wesley, out into Pentecost; and on and on, changing from Glory to Glory, producing the hidden Manna.

159 And now It’s ripe, to bring Him back exactly like He was at the beginning, His same ministry; the same Jesus, the same power, the same Holy Ghost. The same One that come down on the Day of Pentecost, is the same Holy Ghost that’s manifested today, from Glory unto Glory, to Glory. And is back to Its original Seed, with the baptism of the Holy Ghost; with the same signs, same wonders, same baptism; same kind of people, acting the same way, with the same power, the same sensation. It’s from Glory unto Glory. And the next will be, “Changed from this Glory, into a body like His Own glorious body, where we shall see Him.” Abraham saw the same.