An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages

By William Marrion Branham

Setting forth a detailed study of the Seven Church Ages and the various major doctrines contained in Revelation, Chapters One through Three.

INTRODUCTION

Though this volume will concern itself with various major doctrines (such as the Godhead, Water Baptism, etc.) found in Revelation, chapters One through Three, its main theme is the setting forth of a detailed study of the Seven Church Ages. This is necessary in order to study and understand the rest of the Revelation, for out of the Ages come the Seals, and out of the Seals come the Trumpets, and out of the Trumpets come the Vials. Like the first burst of a Roman candle, the Church Ages come forth with a mighty initial illumination, without which there could be no further light. But once the brilliance of the Seven Church Ages is given by Divine revelation, light upon light follows, until the whole of the Revelation opens wide before our wondering eyes; and we, edified and purified by its Spirit, are made ready for His glorious appearing, even our Lord and Saviour, the One True God, Jesus Christ.

This composition is set forth in the first person as it is a message from my heart to the hearts of the people.

Particular pains have been taken to capitalize all names and titles, nouns and pronouns, etc., that relate to Godhead, and also the words Bible, Scripture, and the Word, as we hold this only proper in speaking of the majesty and Person of God and His Holy Word.

I pray the blessing of God upon each reader; and may illumination by the Spirit of God be each one's special portion.

William Marrion Branham

CHAPTER ONE

THE REVELATION OF JESUS THE CHRIST

1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John:

2. Who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him Which Is, and Which Was, and Which Is To Come; and from the seven Spirits Which are before His throne;

5. And from Jesus Christ, Who is the Faithful Witness, and the First

Begotten Of The Dead, and the Prince of the Kings of the Earth. Unto Him That loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

7. Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.

8. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord Which Is, and Which Was, and Which Is To Come, the Almighty.

9. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

14. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;

15. And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.

16. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

17. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last:

18. I am He That liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the

seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER ONE

Revelation 1:1-3. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John; Who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all the things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the Words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: For the time is at hand."

The scribe (not author) of this book is St. John the divine. Historians agree that he lived the last part of his life in Ephesus, though at the time of the writing of this book he was on the Isle of Patmos. It is not the life story of John, but it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the future church ages. In verse three it is called a prophecy and that is actually what it is.

This book is usually termed the Revelation of Saint John, but that is incorrect. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John for Christians of all ages. It is the only book in the entire Bible that is written by Jesus Himself, through personally appearing to a scribe.

It is the last book of the Bible, yet it tells the beginning and the end of the dispensations of the Gospel.

Now the Greek word for revelation is "apocalypse" which means "unveiling". This unveiling is perfectly described in the example of a sculptor unveiling his work of statuary, exposing it to the onlooker. It is an uncovering, revealing what was previously hidden. Now the uncovering is not only the revelation of the Person of Christ, but it is THE REVELATION OF HIS FUTURE WORKS IN THE ONCOMING SEVEN CHURCH AGES.

The importance of revelation by the Spirit to a true believer can never be over emphasized. Revelation means more to you than perhaps you realize. Now I am not talking about this Book of Revelation and you. I am talking about ALL revelation. It is tremendously important to the church. Do you remember in Matthew 16 where Jesus asked the disciples this question, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The Roman Catholics say that the church is built upon Peter. Now that is really carnal. How could God build the church upon a man so unstable that he denied the Lord Jesus and cursed while doing it? God can't build His church upon any man born in sin. And it wasn't some rock lying there as though God had hallowed the ground at that spot. And it isn't as the Protestants say, that the church is built upon Jesus. It was the REVELATION. Read it the way it is written: "Flesh and blood hath not REVEALED it, BUT MY FATHER HATH REVEALED IT, and UPON THIS ROCK (REVELATION) I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH:" The church is built on Revelation, on the "Thus Saith the Lord".

How did Abel know what to do in order to offer a proper sacrifice to God? By faith he received the revelation of the blood. Cain didn't get such a revelation (even though he had a commandment) so he couldn't offer the right sacrifice. It was a revelation from God that made the difference and gave Abel eternal life. Now you might take what the pastor says, or what the seminary teaches, and though it might be taught to you with eloquence, until God reveals to you that Jesus is the Christ, and that it is the blood that cleanses you, and that God is your Saviour, you will never have eternal life. It is the Spiritual revelation that does it.

Now I said that this Book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus and what He is doing in the churches for those seven ages. It is a revelation because the disciples, themselves, didn't know these recorded truths. It had not been previously revealed to them. You remember that they came to Jesus in the Book of Acts and asked Him, "Are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons." Those men were still thinking of Jesus having an earthly kingdom. But it was a spiritual kingdom that He was going to build. Even He could not tell them about His place in it, for the Father had not revealed it unto Him. But now after His death and resurrection, and at this particular time in His mediatorial ministry, He is able to set forth here in this revelation of Himself to John what His glory and presence in the church would mean and do.

In this revelation He tells us what the end of the devil is. He tells how He is going to deal with the devil and cast him into the lake of fire. He reveals the end of the wicked ones who follow Satan. And Satan hates that.

Have you ever noticed how Satan hates two books of the Bible more than all others? Through liberal theologians and pseudo-scientists he is always attacking the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation. In both of these books we find Satan's origin, his awful ways and his destruction. That is why he attacks them. He hates to be exposed, and in those books he is exposed for exactly what he is. Jesus said about Satan, "He has no part in Me and I have no part in him." The devil would like to prove that different; but he cannot, so he does all he can to destroy confidence in the Word. But when the church disbelieves Satan and believes the Spirit's revelation of the Word, the gates of hell cannot prevail against her.

Let me just put in a word here from my own ministry, if you don't mind. You all know that this gift in my life is supernatural. It is a gift whereby the Holy Spirit is able to discern diseases, and the thoughts of men's hearts, and other hidden things that only God could know and then reveal to me. I wish you could stand with me and see the faces of people when Satan knows he is going to be exposed. Now, it isn't the people that I am talking about. It is that Satan has got a hold in their lives through sin, indifference, and disease. But you should see their faces. Satan knows he is going to be exposed, and the most peculiar changes come over the peoples' countenances. Satan is afraid. He knows that the Spirit of God is about to let the people know of his works. That is why he hates these meetings so much. When names are called and diseases revealed, Satan hates it. Now what is this? It is not mind reading, it is not telepathy, nor is it witchcraft. It is a REVELATION by the Holy Ghost. That is the only way I can know it. Of course the carnal mind will call it anything but the Holy Ghost.

Let me show you another reason why Satan hates this Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the church. He knows that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever, and He changes not. He knows that a whole lot more than do ninety percent of the theologians. He knows that since God is immutable in His nature, then He is just as immutable in His ways. Thus Satan knows assuredly that the original church at Pentecost with the power of God (Mark 16 in action) is the True Church that Jesus claims as His own. All else is false. It has to be.

Now remember this. Christ in the True Church is a continuation of the Book of Acts. But the Book of Revelation shows how that the antichrist spirit would come into the church and defile it, making it lukewarm, formal and powerless. It exposes Satan, revealing his works (attempted destruction of God's people and the discrediting of God's word) right down to the time he is cast into the lake of fire. He fights that. He cannot stand it. He knows that if the people get the TRUE REVELATION of the TRUE CHURCH and what she is, what she stands for and that SHE CAN DO THE GREATER WORKS, she will be an invincible army. If they get a true revelation of the two spirits within the framework of the Christian church, and by God's Spirit discern and withstand the antichrist spirit, Satan will be powerless before her. He will be as definitely thwarted today as when Christ withstood his every effort to gain power over Him in the desert. Yes, Satan hates revelation. But we love it. With true revelation in our lives, the gates of hell cannot prevail against us, but we will prevail over them.

You will recall that I mentioned at the beginning of this message that this Book we are studying is the actual revelation of Jesus, Himself, in the church and His work in the future ages. Then I mentioned that it takes the Holy Spirit to give us revelation or we will fail to get it. Bringing these two thoughts together you will see that it won't take just ordinary study and thinking to make this Book real. It is going to take the operation of the Holy Ghost. That means this Book can't be revealed to anyone but a special class of people. It will take one with prophetic insight. It will require the ability to hear from God. It will require supernatural instruction, not just a student comparing verse with verse, though that is good. But a mystery requires the teaching of the Spirit or it never becomes clear. How we need to hear from God and lay ourselves open and become yielded to the Spirit to hear and know.

As I have already said, this Book (Revelation) is the consummation of the Scriptures. It is even placed exactly right in the canon of Scripture; at the end. Now you can know why it says that anyone who reads or even hears it is blessed. It is the revelation of God that will give you authority over the devil. And you can see why they who would add or take from it would be cursed. It would have to be so, for who can add or take away from the perfect revelation of God and overcome the enemy? It is that simple. There is nothing of such prevailing power as the revelation of the Word. See, in verse three a blessing is pronounced on those who give special attention to this Book. I think this refers to the Old Testament custom of the priests reading the Word to the congregation in the morning. You see, many could not read so the priest had to read to them. As long as it was the Word, the blessing was there. It didn't matter if it was read or heard.

"The time is at hand." The time was not at hand previously. In the wisdom and economy of God this mighty revelation (though fully known to God) could not come forth hitherto. Thus we immediately learn a principle - the revelation of God for each age can come in that age only, and at a specific time. Look at the history of Israel. The revelation of God to Moses came only at a specific time of history, and even more specifically it came as the people cried unto God. Jesus, Himself, came at the fulness of time, He being the complete Revelation of the Godhead. And in this age (Laodicean) the revelation of God will come in its due time. It will not falter, neither will it be premature. Think on this and heed it well, for we are in the end-time today. 7ch001.htm

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