THE SMYRNEAN CHURCH AGE
The Second Church Age


The Time Period - 170 A.D. to 312 A.D.

The Messenger - Irenaeus

The Bible Reference - Revelation 2: 8-11

Smyrna - The City

The Message To The Second Age



THE TIME PERIOD

With the Bible, history and vindicated Divine guidance the end-time Prophet fixed the duration of the first Age as beginning at about 170 A.D. and ending in 312 A.D. The duration of this age is 142 years - 25 years more than the first age. Each age will increase in it's span of years, climaxing with the fourth which is the longest age. The fifth age drops back to 230 years, the sixth to 156 years and the seventh, beginning in 1906 with a presently unknown span of time.
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THE MESSENGER: Irenaeus

Brother Branham has qualified his choice of each Messenger with "A God Given Rule."

Using God's Rule the character and attributes of the ministry of the Apostle Paul became for Bro. Branham a guideline in choosing all other Church Age Messengers. There are certain attributes of character and ministry which are common to all of God's major Messengers. Paul's manner of ministering set the pattern that all messengers and ministers of God were to aspire to, though not all would attain to such height in the prophetic realm as did Paul.

First: this great Apostle was absolutely true to the Word. In our study of the First Age Messenger we found that the Scriptures prove that Paul's first love was the Word, never deviating from it no matter what the cost. This was a confirmation of that the "call of God" in his life was absolutely genuine.

The Nicolaitane, Balaam and Jezebel spirits, which influence was felt in all ages, found no friend in the Apostle Paul. He was absolutely Holy Spirit-called and led, like Moses and the other true Prophet-Messengers before him. Paul was not of men, but of God. This is a definite characteristic of all God-called men.

Secondly: Paul's ministry was not in "word only" but in power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit, thereby making manifest the spoken and written Word.

Thirdly: Paul had the evident fruit of his God-given ministry. The Word accomplished that which God pleased for the Age in which he ministered.

Using this rule Brother Branham, without hesitation declare that Irenaeus was exalted by the Lord to be the Messenger to this Second Church Age. He was the disciple of that great saint and warrior of faith, Polycarp. And it is no doubt that as he sat at the feet of that great man he learned the Christian graces that flowed from his consecrated life. Polycarp was one of the truly illustrious saints of all ages when viewed in the light of a blameless life.

In his old age Polycarp was martyred. Too sincere a man to allow another to hide him and then suffer a penalty for doing so, he gave himself up to death. He stood firm, refusing to deny the Lord, and died with a free conscience. When he was placed at the steak and the fire lit, the flames bent away from his body, refusing to touch him. He was pierced through with a sword, causing water to gush from his side, drowning the flames. His spirit was actually seen to depart in the form of a white dove released from his bosom.

A wonderful testimony of the faithfulness of God to His servant. Polycarp was a student of John the Revelator but when confronted with the "deeds of the Nicolaitanes" which started in the First Age, he did not take his stand against it. On the contrary, he himself leaned toward a more organized form of Christianity, not realizing that the desire for fellowship and what appeared like a good plan to foster the work of God was really a trick of the enemy.

But Irenaeus was militant against any form of organization, with "man over man" controlling the Church. Also, his life, wherein be served the Lord, was one of great Holy Spirit manifestations, glorifying God. He clearly taught the Word, always conforming to its original precepts. His churches in France were known to have the gifts of the Spirit among them, for the saints spoke in tongues, prophesied, raised the dead, and healed the sick by the prayer of faith.

Recognizing the danger of the "deeds of the Nicolaitanes" Irenaeus opposed any organized brotherhood among the elders, pastors etc. He stood solidly for a unified, Spirit-filled church - manifesting the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He stood for a Sovereign God, working Sovereignly in the power of the Holy Spirit in each local body of believers.

He was also clear on his understanding of the Godhead. And since he was the disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was the disciple of Saint John, we can know for sure he had as perfect teaching as is possible on this subject. In Vol. 1, page 412 of the Ante Nicene Fathers we have this statement by him on the Godhead.

"All the other expressions, likewise, bring out the title of one, and the same being, the Lord of Power, the Lord, the Father of All, God Almighty, Most High, Creator, Maker, and such like, these are not the names and the titles of a succession of different beings, but of one and the same."

Irenaeus understood clearly that all these "titles" were not referring to different "persons", but as other titles, such as the Rose of Sharon, Bright and Morning Star, Fairest of Ten Thousand, etc., all point to ONE God. His Name is Lord Jesus Christ.

The Messenger to the Smyrnean Church Age was steadfast in his allegiance to the WORD of God. This characteristic, along with his wonderful understanding of Scriptures, and the manifestation of the power of God upon that ministry, vindicates him to have been God's choice for the Age. Irenaeus possess a balance of fruit, power, and leadership in the Holy Spirit and the Word. In this Age he was the one who influenced the age for God by means of a ministry which was solidly based on the WORD - in the Power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit.


THE BIBLE REFERENCE

Revelation 2:8-11:

"And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, Which was dead, and is alive;

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."

Quickly we note the following about this Age - Christ graciously acknowledges that He is aware of the sufferings of His Elect children in this Age. He encourages them to "Be faithful unto death" He then points out the "false ones" who are still very active in the Age - identifying them as of "The synagogue of Satan". Of course, they're not proclaiming themselves to be thus - just the opposite - they're professing to be "True Believers".

It almost seems impossible that the Church should go so quickly from Holy Ghost control to Satanic control, through "false brethren" who bring in damnable heresies [2nd. Peter 2;1]. To understand this scenario we need only to remember what happened to Israel in it's Exodus. In less than five months Israel went from worshipping Jehovah on the shores of the Red Sea to worshipping a "Golden Calf" in the wilderness. But in verse 11 God gives the "overcomer" a promise.

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Smyrna - The City
The False Vine Church Gains Ground

Just a little background information on the City of Smyrna - information about the City, it's people and it's religious practices. This will help us to better understand the content of the Message - in it's local and prophetic application.

The City of Smyrna was a little north of Ephesus at the mouth of the Smyrna Gulf. Because of its very fine harbor it was a commercial center renowned for its exports. It was also distinguished for its schools of rhetoric, philosophy, medicine, sciences, and fine buildings. Many Jews lived there, and they were bitterly opposed to Christianity, even more so than were the Romans. In fact, Polycarp, the first bishop at Smyrna was martyred by the Jews and it is said that the Jews desecrated their holy day (Saturday) to carry the wood that would make his funeral pyre.

The name of this city means, "bitter," being derived from the word, myrrh. Myrrh was used in embalming the dead. Thus we have a two-fold significance found in the name of this age. It was a bitter age filled with death. The two vines within the framework of the church would in this Age drift further apart with the "false vine" harboring an even increasing bitterness toward the "true vine". Spiritual death reigned in the false vine, causing them to persecute unto physical death the remnants of the true vine. Thus the admonition of the Lord to His Elected children in the Smyrnaean Age: "...Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

In this city there were two famous temples. One was the temple erected to the worship of Zeus [a false god], and the other was erected to Cybele [a goddess]. And between these two temples was found the most beautiful road of ancient times, called the Golden Street. To Brother Branham, these two Temples, connected by an elaborate street was an indication of the greater influence which paganism would have within the framework of the Christian church - strengthening the false vine but weakening the True Vine.

Paganism was known to flourish greatly in Rome, and in Rome, the false vine, riddled with Paganism would find it's resting place. From there the false vine church would spread it's false doctrines around the world.

The joining of the two Pagan temples of a god and goddess would [in a later age] influence the false vine church to introduce "mother [Mary] AND Son [Jesus]" worship. Mary would be elevated to a position of co-equalness with Jesus Christ and given the title of the "mother of God". Seeing these [little by little] things overtaking the Church, was "bitterness" indeed to the heart and soul of the True Vine. Taking a stand against it would cost them their lives. What transpired in the local church and in the City was but a reflection of what was to transpire in the Smyrnaean Age.

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THE MESSAGE TO THE SECOND CHURCH AGE
- SMYRNA -

"And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive;  Revelation 2:8

Addressing the Messenger to this Second Age Jesus adds to the Revelation of His Deity given to the Ephesian Age. Now, He declares Himself to be "the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive;" To John in Revelation chapter one Jesus affirmed His "Absolute Deity" saying, "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 ...I am He the liveth, WAS DEAD, and, behold, I am alive for evermore". 1:8, 18. He's not a first, second or third person - He is the One and ONLY Person - The Almighty.

He who now reveals Himself to John and to His Church as the ONE and Only God, also expressed Himself to Israel in the Old Testamant as being the ONE and Only: "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God." Isaiah 44:6. He was the same one who called Abraham out from among his kindred, saying, ".......I [am] the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Genesis 17:1. When He became manifested in flesh and was called "Jesus" He reminded the Pharisees of His Deity, saying, ".....Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58.

In Exodus 3:13-14 we find the Lord instructing Moses to go down to deliver Israel out of Egypt. Moses responds by asking this question: "Behold, [when] I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What [is] his name? what shall I say unto them?" Notice what Jehovah said: "I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." And of course, there's only ONE "I AM that I AM".

Salvation is in "receiving" and "believing" on Christ for WHO He "IS". He said to the Pharisees "for if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins." John 8:24. In the KJV the word "He" was inserted by the translators. In verse 28 He again said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am." Later, when instructing His disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus said, "Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am." John 13:19.

The Great I AM became flesh, shed His blood to pay the penalty for sin, experienced death in the flesh and conquered it. Thus could He say, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: 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." Revelation 1:17-18.This is Deity!

The first Adam took "life" and through disobedience turned it into "death". Jesus Christ, the second Adam, through a sinless birth [by-passing the curse], and absolute obedience to EVERY WORD, takes "death" and turns it into "Eternal Life". The first Adam took innocence and turned it into guilt. On the basis of our "faith" in what He did, Jesus Christ takes "our guilt" and turns it into "innocence", giving us the Power [the Holy Spirit] in our lives to rise above the dominion of the World, the Flesh and the Devil. "Behold, I give unto you power .....over all the power of the enemy:" Luke 10:19. And "...sin shall not have dominion over you:" Romans 6:14. Praise the Lord!

He promised His children that, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." And here He is, walking in the midst of those whom He has redeemed, even His church - All sinners saved by the Grace of God. All brought back from the dead - All made ALIVE in Christ Jesus, the Lord. "And you [hath he quickened][made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins;" Ephesians 2:1. As the seed of the fruit is in the midst of the fruit, so is He, the Royal Seed, in the midst of the true church - He is her life and reason for living.

Seeing other influences at work in the church, taking the leadership and authority of "man" over and above the Leadership and authority of the Holy Ghost, the Lord Jesus Christ issues these messages to each Church Age, re-affirming His Deity and His claim to His Elect Church which He has purchased with His own Blood. He warns the false vine, but comforts the true vine.

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The Message To The Smyrnaean Age Continued.......
Jesus Comforts His Own
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)..."  Revelation 2:9

Jesus comforts His children with the knowledge that He KNOWS the tribulation and poverty they are called to endure in this Age. He encourages them with the revelation that though they be enduring tribulation, and suffering poverty, yet they are rich - Spiritually. In the Gospels it was to this "spiritual treasure" that Jesus pointed the rich young ruler, saying, "If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me." Matthew 19:21.

Regardless of the "portion" appointed us on earth - tribulation and/or poverty, etc., our Spiritual well-being should be our number one concern. What is the condition of our relationship with Jesus Christ - NOT with the church, the creed, the rituals, but with Christ? In His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 Jesus instructed the people against putting emphasis on earthly treasures. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,...But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,...For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

The Smyrnaean Saints had their treasures in Heaven. Their daily "portion" on earth, in this Second Age was "tribulation" and "poverty". For thus is it written: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. " 2nd Timothy 3:12. Godly living and Tribulation go together - more often than not, it is accompanied by "poverty". Living a Godly life bears witness of the WORD [God] making Himself manifest in the flesh of His children. Such a life is a rebuke to those who only live a "form of godliness" religious life, according to the creed, but fall short of measuring up to God's standard, according to His Word. Thus, are they moved to brand the Godly as being fanatical and persecute them. Under the strain of persecution and poverty Jesus encourages His own to be faithful.

In the Smyrnaean Age the Elect of God are under pressure from "within" and from "without". From "within" they feel the pressure of the "deeds of the Nicolaitans" brought over from the First Age, and the pressure of the "false Jews" in the "Synagogue of Satan" here in Smyrna. The "false" ones in their midst, under a religious anti-Christ anointing are attempting to introduce a "man-made" order of clergy over the laity, into the True Church of Christ. The faithful are trying to resist this and at the same time "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3.

But from without, the Christian Church [both the True and False Vine] is being persecuted by Jews and Pagans. To the Jews, the Christian faith was a "threat" to Judaism. To the Pagans, the Christians were a rebuke to all that paganism stood for - idol worship, the worship of emperors, pagan customs, festivals, immorality, etc.. Therefore, the faithful were in a warfare against "deception" from "within" and "persecution" from "without". They were indeed experiencing "tribulation", but Jesus was fully aware of what they were enduring.

Thus Jesus does NOT say, "I know the persecution you're experiencing", but rather "I know thy "tribulation"...and thy poverty". He was aware of what was going on, NOT just from outside the "body of Believers", but also that which was working in the midst. In this Second Age the "weakened" church was pushed aside, put down, deprived, imprisoned, and persecuted even unto death. And every Age would have it's martyrs for the Gospel's Sake.

In this Second Age the persecution is at the hands of the Jews and Pagans. But in future Ages paganism would merge with the "false vine" within the Christian Church and persecute the True Vine. In the face of persecution, tribulation, poverty and even death, the Words of Paul in Hebrews 10:32-38 are a wonderful source of comfort:

".....after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

For yet a little while, and He That shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."

The Lord God Almighty says, "I know thy works"; I know what you're going through. But He does not hold back the persecution, nor stem the tide of tribulation. What a stumbling block this is to so many people - not understanding the suffering of God's people through the ages. In this modern age of "reason" man is even more blind to the understanding of why God permits so much suffering. The question is often asked: How can God be just and loving if He stands by and watches His people suffer? There were times wherein Israel also questioned "the Love of God".

"I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet we say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness."   Malachi 1:1-3

God sees the "end" from the "beginning". Before either child was born God knew the choices they would make in life. He knew Jacob's "love" for the birthright and Esau's "couldn't-care-less" attitude toward it. Thus the declaration, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated". Man "looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart". 1st. Samuel 16:7. God sees what man doesn't see. Much of the suffering we see in today's world is the result of sin, man's inhumanity to man. I assure you that God sees it ALL; and every act will be brought into judgment - NOT in our time but in God's time.

He, Himself, in the days of His flesh, SUFFERED tribulation, persecution, poverty, thirst, hunger and death. In it all - hanging on a Roman cross, he cried out, "Father, forgive them....." This was LOVE! Hebrews 5:8 tells us that " Though he were a Son, yet [in the flesh] learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." The very character of Jesus [the flesh-man] was perfected by suffering. And according to Paul He has left His church a measure of suffering that they, too, by their faith in God while suffering for Him, would come to a place of perfection. Why did He want this?

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."   James 1:2-4

From the suffering of a child to the aged life that has no apparent quality - God SEES it all - and BEYOND. This is proven in the life of God's servant, Job. In his experience we learn that "tribulation (suffering) worketh patience". In Romans 5:3-5 Paul said, " And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Job KNEW that God did not afflict un-necessarily. "For he doth not willingly, or from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men." Lamentations 3:33 - AMP.

There was a "reason" for Job's suffering. Rather than accuse God foolishly [Job 1:22], he said, "But he knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined." Job 23:10-11. In the greatest test of his life Job lost his sons and his daughters, his wealth, his friends, but he found a greater than ever relationship with Jehovah - he experienced the LOVE of God.

Such was the Love Christ had for His children in this Second Church Age. He had already, through the Apostle Peter encouraged them to "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trials that are to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." 1st. Peter 4:12-13

God knows that only through suffering [for the Gospel's sake] will we develop a Christ-like character. We all have trials. We are all tried and chastened as sons. Not one but goes through that. The church [or individual] that does not experience suffering [for the Gospel's sake], and is not being tried, doesn't have the real kernal of the Gospel in it and is therefore NOT of God.

"For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."  Hebrews 12:6

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."  Matthew 5:11-12

But to His persecuted Children Jesus has promised a "Crown of Life".

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The Message To The Smyrnaean Age Continued.......
False Jews And The Synagogue of Satan Exposed

".....and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."   Revelation 2:9

Now, for a moment, Jesus turns His attention to focus on the source of the tribulation and poverty of His children. Finding the source, He accuses them of "blasphemy", branding them as being of the Synagogue of Satan. This scenario reminds of the confrontation which Jesus had with the Pharisees - the religious leaders of that day. The confrontation ended with this rebuke:

"Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."  John 8:44

The Pharisees were "claiming" to be the seed of Abraham, saying "Abraham is our "father". Jesus responded by saying, "IF ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." True - they were Abraham's "natural" seed but NOT his "faith" seed. In a further attempt to justify their "faithless" form of godliness religion they claimed God as their Father, declaring, "We have one Father, even God". Re-acting to this claim, Jesus made the "blunt" statement: "Ye are of [your] father the devil..," Their "faith" did not in any way compare to that of Abraham.

Isaiah 29:13 clearly describes that generation of Pharisees which Jesus dealt with, and the "false Jews" of the "Synagogue of Satan" which the Smyrnaean Saints were contending with. Jesus' biggest battle was with those "from within", claiming to be of the "faith" of Abraham. For the faithful in the Smyrnaean Age, their greatest test was with those "from within" who were claiming to be Christians [spiritual Jews], but were of the Synagogue of Satan. Jesus had already warned his disciples: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

During the days of Jesus the Romans could kill the body but not be able to touch the soul. But the poison and leaven [traditions and false teachings] of the Pharisees would destroy both soul and body in Hell because it gives people only a "form of godliness". Likewise, in the Smyrnaean Age, the Jews of Judaism [opposing Christianity], and the Pagans could kill the body but not be able to touch the soul. But the poison and leaven [traditions and false teachings] of the "false Jews" would destroy the body and soul of many a professing Christian in Hell.

"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"

This perfectly describes the false Jews and those of Satan's Synagogue in this Second Age. Many of them are righteous men. But, like the Pharisees, there is "unbelief" in their hearts, and their spiritual WORKS (or lack of them) testify of that unbelief. Their fear of God is "taught by the precept of men". Be honest - What would you think of any man, who would, in this day, say [like Jesus] that the relgious leaders were of the "Synagogue of Satan" and "of their father, the Devil"?

But like the "false Jews" in this Smyrnaean Age the Pharisees [in Jesus' day] were claiming to be "True Jews", representing the "faith" of Abraham. But Jesus KNEW what was in them: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness." Matthew 23:27. Jesus also knew what "spirit" motivated the "liars" and "false apostles" in the First Age, and the "blasphemers" and "Synagogue of Satan" in this Second Age - it was the spirit of anti-Christ, impersonating Christianity.

If we're going to understand and recognize the "two spirits' at work through these Seven Church Ages, we need to recognize that "both" spirits are religious in the sense that both profess to be of God, from God and for God. We need to be able to discern "the One from the other". Jesus, in Matthew 24:24 warns us: "For there shall arise false Christs [anointed ones], and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect." One is TRUE and the other is False. And all it takes to make it "false" is to deliberately "mis-place, mis-represent or mis-interpret" ONE Word of God.

Again we reminded of the Scripture wherein Jesus spoke of those under the influence of the false religious spirit would persecute those under the influence of the true Holy Spirit anointing. In John 16:2 Jesus warned His disciples that the time would come when the true Seed-children of God would be put out of the synagogues and killed; and those putting them out and killing them would think that they were doing God a service.

Remember, the deception that started in the Garden of Eden continues all the way through the Ages. In the Garden, Satan [entering into the serpent] began "preaching" the Word to Eve. He deliberately mis-represented and mis-interpreted the Word. To undermine the absolute Truth of what God said he "added" just ONE WORD which God had NOT spoken. In Genesis 2:17 God said, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". In Genesis 3:4 the serpent [inspired by the Devil] said, "Ye shall not surely die:" He only changed just ONE Word, and that's all it took to get Eve to "disobey" God and bring sin, sickness and death into the world, making man subject to the ravages of "time".

We find that "same spirit" working [all through the Ages] in God's New Testament Garden of Eden. The new Eve is the Church but the devil's tactics are the same - change a word here, and a word there, to undermine the Saint's FULL "obedience" to the Word of God. The serpents in the Church Ages are "false apostles". Beginning with the Ephesian "deeds of the Nicolaitans", it evolves into the Smyrnaean "Blasphemers" and "Synagogue of Satan"; and in another Age we confront "Jezebel, the false prophetess". It's all working in the Name of Christianity, using Christian theology but changing a Word here or there [and injecting paganism] as it pleases them, "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye." Mark 7:13.

REMEMBER, it is written:

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."  Deut. 8:3;  Matthew 4:4

In this message to the Smyrnaean Church Age, in Revelation 2:9b, Jesus said,"I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." He's speaking to "religious" people, and basically saying to them as He said to the Pharisees, "Ye are of [your] father the devil...," What a deception - professing to be the "True Church" they are discovered to be, NOT of God's gathering, but gathered by Satan - thinking they're under God's banner. It's just another "ploy" of the Devil "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." 2nd. Thess. 2:4

We will come in contact with these "false Jews" and those of the "Synagogue of Satan" again in the Sixth Age. But here in this Second Age they're making a "false" claim as to their true "identity". They claim to be "Jews". What does this mean in the light of the fact that these Messages are addressed to Gentile Churches only? The word "Jews" must fit into the overall Revelation of Christ to this Gentile Church and the Age.

Considering it's a Message to Gentile Christians dealing with a "false" influence "within" [and a part of] the Gentile Church, we can only conclude that the reference to "them which say they are Jews, and are not" can only be "figurative" referring to false or hypocritical Christians. The "figurative" term "Jew" is used because the Jews were once the only Church of God. But, in their rejection of the Messiah "the orthodox Jewish church gave birth to the Gentile Church. That's right." Bro. Branham said that "A Jew, a real spiritual Jew is a man who believes God's Word just like Abraham believed it..." Paul, in Romans 2:29 said, "But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God."

Denying their claim to be Spiritual Jews [True Christians], Jesus identified them as being, "the synagogue of Satan". Like the Pharisees in John 8 they were not only "of [their] father the devil," but "the works of their father they were doing" in attempting to set up, in the church an "order of clergy over the laity" [Nicolaitanism] - a doctrine of the "Synagogue of Satan".

What does it mean "Synagogue of Satan"? The word "synagogue" is not unlike our use of the word "Church" - it is the "gathering together" of the people. The Synagogue of Satan is a "church under Satan's control". The deception is [as already stated above] that the people "think" they're "doing God a service" [John 16:2], when in reality, there works, creeds and dogma is a dis-service to God. In fact God called it "blasphemy" [evil, slanderous, arrogant speech]. Proclaiming themselves to be the "true" church, they attempt to pressure the faithful ones into submission to the Nicolaitan spirit - a ruling hierarchy in the church.

That same religious spirit is right among us today? Practically, all churches claim to be the original and true church. Pointing to a particular church or religious group, they proclaim that salvation is found only in that church or group. Of all the churches, the most blatant in their claims to be the "one and only" is the one that claims to possess the keys of the kingdom which they [supposedly] received from Peter. Of course, they have ABSOLUTELY NO SCRIPTURE or HISTORICAL PROOF for such a claim. Like the false ones in the Smyrnaean Age, they claim to be something that they're not.

I say again, what began as "deeds" in the First Age no longer fears exposure but is openly organized in a group of its own assembling, and will in another Age fight against the true church in undisguised hostility and brutality. Yes, an organized antichrist church - astounding but no less the Truth, backed up with history. The first large scale organized church was founded in Rome (we'll cover these facts in the Pergamean Age). They would turned the truth of God into a lie by introducing into the Christian church, pagan forms of worship with Christian names and meanings. It's amazing that the anti-Christ spirit was able to so quickly infiltrate Christianity.

By this Second Age it was so pagan (though claiming to be Christian) that Polycarp came about 1500 miles at a very old age to plead with them to turn back. But, having tasted of the power of "organized religion", these false Nicolaitans apostles refused to obey the command to "repent" and "do the first works over again".

Under Satan's influence {like Eve in the Garden] they continued to "add to" and "take away" from the Word. This then, is Satan's synagogue, full of blasphemy, in which the seeds of the doctrine of Nicolaitanism are already deeply rooted. Just a few more years and this "Synagogue of Satan" would enthrone a "man" as their leader, and give him a "triple crown", FALSELY signifying his influence in Heaven, Hell, and a so-called purgatory.

The Bible commands us thus:

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."   2nd Corinthians 6:17-18

You might call yourself a "Christian" because you are a member of a particular denominational, inter-denominational, or non-denominational church or group; but church membership does not a Christian make. To belong to a church is have the 'spirit' of that church and be "like that church" or what that church teaches. But to be a "Christian" is to be "Christ-Like". If you are "Christ-Like" then your life will dovetail with what HE says in HIS Word.

If indeed you are a Christian you will GROW spiritually. There's more to being a Christian than just saying "I believe IN God". That doesn't make you a Christian. Going to Church doesn't make you a Christian. ONLY a personal EXPERIENCE with Jesus Christ can make you "Christ-Like". And if you have had that EXPERIENCE you will "walk in the Light of His Word as He reveals it to you. By Grace, you will Endeavour to BELIEVE, OBEY and LIVE BY EVERY WORD. It is written: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:" 1st. John 1:6.

The Blood will only atone for our sins as we "continue to walk in His Word" John 8:31. Failure to "walk in the Light" takes us out from under the atonement. Notice this Scripture: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1st. John 1:7. This is serious. It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul gave instructions to "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [not approved]? " 2nd Corinthians 13:5.

As soon as the True Church started on it's journey, carnal, un-regenerate people, calling themselves Christians, thought they could improve on God by "organizing" things - their way. They drifted away from the pattern of the Word. All it takes is just one word changed and that little leaven then leavens the whole lump. He that offends in one point of the law is guilty of all. Eve just changed one word and plunged the world world into chaos.

The very fruits of "organized religion" shows that it's not of God. Notice how organization separates brethren. It destroys fellowship, causing bitterness to spring up. And the Smyrnaean Age [meaning "bitter"] experienced much bitterness. In Hebrews 12:15 Paul warned the Saints to: "[Beware] lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;" Defiled by organized religion, every Age would feel its scars. It's unfortunate that in all ages the "true Seed" has always been mis-understood and condemned by the organized churches and religious groups.

In the Smyrnaean Age the church became hybrid - a mixture. Even today, the church nominal is a hybrid product. People say, "I am a Baptist." It wasn't so in the beginning. "I am Methodist." It wasn't so in the beginning. "I am Pentecostal." But it wasn't so in the beginning. A church creed has replaced the straight Word of God. Instead of saying what the Bible says, the people just recite a creed. Ritual, programs and ceremony have taken the place of spontaneous praise in the Holy Ghost and Holy Ghost filled men, preaching the WORD in it's Power. Intellectual learning in Bible Colleges and Seminaries has taken the place of revelation by the Holy Spirit. Reason has replaced faith.

Hybrid religion reject portions of the the Word, saying that "it's not for this day", OR "we don't have to do this and that". They believe the church but not the Bible. Have you ever consider this fact: no organized religion has ever had a "life-giving" Word revival? Once they organized they died. No hybrid product can "reproduce" LIFE. They've had "membership" revivals like the "Million More In '44" by the Baptist. But that's only adding to the church, not to the Body of Christ. In the "Progressive Revelation" of Himself through the Ages, our Lord Jesus has always had to move "outside" the organized churches of the day to bring Revival. WHY? Because the "Creed" of the church would NOT allow Christ to reveal more than what the creed spoke.

The best example of hybreeding is the "mule". He's part horse and part donkey. The mule is great at "works" but possesses a stubborn nature and can never be trusted. He can't "reproduce" himself - he's dead while he lives. It's a perfect example of hybrid religion which is part Truth and part error - a sterile, formal religion, with no seed of Life. It can talk about Christianity but it can't produce it. There's no redemption in the mule or mule-like religion.

The ass can be redeemed. Every miserable sinner can be redeemed by the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, or in rejecting Christ be rejected himself. But you don't redeem the mule. There is no redemption for him. There is no blood for him. There can't be because the mule takes refuge in the church while the ass takes refuge in the blood. There's "no seed" in the mule that can be quickened, but the ass has seed.

Note this Bible example:

"And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck; and all the first-born of man among thy children shalt thou redeem."  Exodus 13:13

In this Smyrnaean Age the roots of the "false Nicolaitan apostles" and the "Synagogue of Satan" go deep into the church, gaining preeminence among the people. And as mentioned above, it will eventually in other ages excommunicate and/or exterminate all who opposes it's teachings. It is a powerful force, imposing it's rule in the Name of Christ. Soon, their leader would take onto himself the title of "The Vicar Of Christ", or Christ's representative on earth, usurping the Authority of Christ's True Representative - The Holy Spirit.



The Message To The Smyrnaean Age Continued.......
Encouraging The "Faithful" In Their Suffering

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

Knowing what fate awaited the "faithful", the Lord Jesus admonishes them to "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer". As it was with Paul, so it would be with these Saints, the "Grace of God would be sufficient for them", even in the face of death. No doubt they were aware of Paul's encouragement to the Saints in Rome:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 8:35-39

The Saints in this Smyrnaean Age would need much encouragement. In verse 10 of His Message to them Jesus advises them of their fate: "the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death..." The Jews and the Pagans persecuted, imprisoned and tortured the Christians, even unto death. They were fed to the lions, given to the gladiator's sword. It was Satan expressing his hatred against God.

Exactly as Jesus had said, they were cast into prison, they were severely tried and tested. But He spoke of a "span of time - ten days" wherein they would suffer "tribulation". This is a prophecy. Taking a day for a year this prophecy refers to the last ten years of the reign of Diocletian, the most cruel of all the emperors. He launched a ten year reign of terror against the Saints of God. But for the mercy and Grace of God, he would have wiped out all the Saints. But supreme faith gave supreme power for the supreme hour of their lives. Praise the Lord!

Their wonderful Lord and Saviour was mindful of them and of their sufferings. He gave them this promise: "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." They were indeed faithful UNTO, [NOT UNTIL}, but UNTO death - their faith and faithfulness led to death. But not without hope. Jesus had promised "a crown of life." A crown given to the winner of the Olympic race was a garland of olive branches - it would pass away. But the crown spoken of in Scriptures, given to those who "strive" in the race of life, and to the martyrs, is the crown of Eternal Life. The one crown is for those who have "striven" faithfully; the other is for those who have "given" ALL {unto death] for the Gospel's sake.

Thank God for the Faithful in the Smyrnaean Church Age.



The Message To The Smyrnaean Age Continued.......
The Overcomers Reward

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."

We note again that the exhortation is to "He that hath an ear" to hear Spiritual revelation by the Holy Spirit, let him hear what is being spoken. Also, once again the Spirit is talking to all the ages - it is a reward which the overcomers of all Ages will inherit. This message is to comfort us today even as it has comforted our brethren of all the other ages. And He says to them and to us that "the second death will not hurt us".

What is this "Second Death"? The answer is found in Revelation 20:14: "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." The overcomers in all ages, receiving a "Crown of Eternal Life", will escape the "second death". Death in the flesh comes to all of us [except the raptured Saints], but "whosoever" was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" [the second death]."

Thank God for the Hope which we have in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thank God for the Revelation of Him in His Word.

The Next Church Age is Pergamos. It will give us further insight into the Deity of our Lord Jesus, the faithfulness of the Saints, the Synagogue of Satan, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans and the doctrine of Balaam. May the Lord, by His Grace, continue to unfold the Truth to our hearts.



The God Given Rule
Identifying the Messenger for Each Age:

God's Rule for identifying the Messenger of each Age is found only in one place. God in His sovereign will has seen to it that neither the history of Israel (Old Testament) or the Church (New Testament) was not lost. Brought together in one Book - the Bible, we have been given accurate accounts of God's dealings with man "through" man, spanning a period of just over 4000 years.

For many years unbelievers and make-believers questioned the accuracy of the Bible record. But through science, archaeology, secular historical records, multitudes of scrolls, earthen vessels and other artifacts, the Bible record of people and events is being proven accurate. Of course, the Lord attested to it's accuracy when He warned man not to "add to" or "take away from" what He had so inspired.

From a study of the Inspired Scriptures [both the Old and New Testaments] Brother Branham identified "men of God's choosing", highlighting the nature, attitudes, attributes and character of each man and his ministry - from Abel to Paul. There are certain "characteristics" which are common to all "God-called" men.

In the New Testament we have many God-called men. But only the ministries of John the Baptist, Peter, John, the Beloved Disciple, and Paul are highlighted. The only one who came close to qualifying as "The Messenger" to the First Church Age was Paul. Through his ministry the Lord brought forth the many revelations which are to this day the basis for most Christian theology. It is impossible to discuss the Christian Gospel without making reference to Paul.

Thus in considering the history of the Church, Bro. Branham sought out those men who in their particular Age were the closest to God's original pattern in the New Testament - the Apostle Paul. His focus always came to rest on those who's first love was the Word, and whom God used to bring His people back to the Word of Truth for that Age. Then, from among all the others Brother Branham identified that man (in each Age) who's ministry was the closest [to Paul] in Word pattern and power - That man was the Messenger.

Identifying the ages also are found by a study of history. You need only to read the prophetic account of the ages as found in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 - it all patterns perfectly with history as INDEED IT MUST. The Lord foretold of each Age, revealed the conditions that would exist in each Age; and history unfolded exactly as it was set forth in the Bible.

Yes, it's that simple - but of course, simplicity is the key to the Word. God is "hidden" and "revealed" in simplicity. You can be sure that Brother Branham DID NOT recklessly or intellectually set forth the Ages and the Messengers. He, himself, said that he had sought the mind of the Lord, endeavoring to be Spiritually-minded, and NEVER setting forth an Age or it's Messenger without the definite approval the Spirit of God. he said, "This is true as God knows my heart."

 

 
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