The Seven Churches do not represent seven ages of the Church
The greatest mistake many prophecy “experts” make about the Seven Churches of Revelation
is teaching that they represent seven ages of the Church. This is a false teaching
and a complete fabrication by John Nelson Darby without any evidence to support it
from anywhere in the Bible. The Church age is spoken of in the Scriptures only as
one complete age and never as more than one. “And lo I am with you always, even to
the end of the (Church) age.” Matthew 28:19.
A problem for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture
The seven ages were invented by Darby because these particular Scriptures posed a
problem for his fallacious Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine. If taken as clearly
stated, these letters portray a Church that is being warned and prepared for the
test of the approaching Tribulation period. Unless an alternative interpretation
was fabricated, the letters to the Seven Churches would destroy any notion that the
Church will not be here during the Apocalypse, hence no Pre-Trib rapture either.
Interpreting these as seven church ages pulls the Seven Churches back into history
instead of on the cusp of the Tribulation. A clever trick, to be sure, but wholly
unbiblical and contradictory to what the Seven Letters actually describe.
Freed to understand the real message of the Seven Letters
The problem with this false teaching is that it corrupts and hides the true purpose
of these seven letters to the Seven Churches of Revelation. Many believers have been
confused by Darby’s teaching on this and so don’t realize what the Lord Jesus really
wants to teach us here. The lessons we need to understand from these seven letters
is of vital importance to the Church as we approach the Tribulation period.
Much like a “State of the Union” Speech
The Seven Letters could be described as a “State of the Church” message. In these
letters the Lord is telling us as the Church (or churches) where we stand at this
time in history and what we need to do to become spiritually prepared for His Return.
The Letters to the Seven Churches are prophecies about the End Times Church. The
same way John the Baptist was sent to prepare Israel for Christ’s first coming, these
letters were written to the Church of the Last Days to prepare us for His second
Christ’s immediate Return is declared to the Seven Churches
The Lord makes it very clear to all Seven Churches that He is about to return:
“I am coming to you”...“I am coming to you quickly”...“hold fast until I come”...“you
will not know what hour I will come to you”...“I am coming quickly”...“I stand at
the door.” This is the true definition of imminence, that one short period just
before the Tribulation begins, not the false definition that supposedly has gone
on for 2,000 years according to the pre-Tribulation theory.
Revelation was written specifically to End Times believers
It is clear that the Lord is writing to these seven churches as if they were all
about to go into the Tribulation period. In fact the whole of the book of Revelation
is presented in this “futurity” literary style, as if John were seeing it all take
place right then. Much like the book of Daniel, Revelation has apparently been “concealed
and sealed up” until the End Times (Daniel 12:9), that is, a fully accurate understanding
of it would be given only to those believers who would be here when it all occurred.
This is why Revelation has been the most misunderstood and misinterpreted book in
The Apostles were told of the Lord’s Return, “It is not for you to know times or
epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” Acts 1:7. This makes perfect
sense because first century believers did not have to prepare for the Tribulation
because it wouldn’t happen for another 2,000 years. The Church through the centuries
didn’t have to understand the times of the Apocalypse but we do. We are the generation
that this will all happen to. Like giving a passenger their ticket just before the
plane departs, a full and accurate understanding of Revelation is now being disclosed
to believers that past generations were not privileged to see.
Only those who heed the words of Revelation will be blessed
“And behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy
of this book.” Revelation 22:7.
The prophecy “experts” who continue to reject Christ’s warnings to the churches to
prepare them for the approaching Apocalypse will remain in a state of confusion about
this book. Only those who actually heed the Revelation of John will understand it
fully and be blessed by it. Those who brush it aside by denying the Church will be
here during the Tribulation will be dangerously unprepared. They will easily fall
victim to the Antichrist and will not live to see the day of Christ’s return. Just
as those who do not heed the warnings of an approaching storm are the ones who will
be its victims. The people of Noah’s day did not heed his warnings and were swept
away. The people of Jeremiah’s day did not heed his warnings and were taken away.
“Behold I have forewarned you.” Matthew 24:25.
The Great Apostasy
Any believer can learn a great deal about the End of Days by studying the book of
Revelation, but only those who actually heed its words will fully understand it and
receive its full blessing. Those who don’t cannot expect to survive the Tribulation
and be here when Christ returns. The great Apostasy of our generation is the false
doctrine of the invisible Return and Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It’s a dangerous contradiction
to Christ’s straightforward teachings on the End Times. It will prove catastrophic
for the millions of believers who don’t expect to be here when the Antichrist arises.
The pandemic of “Darbyitis”
This “malignant power,” as Charles Spurgeon called Darbyism, is like a contagious
virus that is infecting most of the evangelical Church today. Our task is to do everything
we can to cure this pandemic of “Darbyitis” with prophetic doctrine that comes directly
and solely from the written Word, not filtered through some faulty system of theology
Time to wake up, repent and prepare
Revival is the theme of Christ’s letters to the Seven Churches. Nothing is sugar
coated. High praise and stern warning are given. Each church has its own set of shortcomings
or circumstances to address. Wonderful, distinctive rewards are promised to those
who heed His words. It is clear the Lord wants His Bride to be ready for His return
but He also wants to build her character and spiritual depth to face the unprecedented
challenges of the Tribulation.
Victory in the Tribulation will come from heeding Christ’s words
They (brethren) overcame him (the Dragon) because of the blood of the Lamb and because
of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life, even when faced
with death. Revelation 12:11. Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the
commands of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12.
The identity of the Seven End Times Churches
The exact identity of each of the Seven Churches may not be readily apparent. Whether
they describe churches in the seven regions of the world (the seven continents) or
seven types of churches found throughout the world or something else, may not be
clear as of yet. At this point I would personally see them as describing the seven
churches in the seven major regions of the world.
The Church of Philadelphia is unique in that it is the only one of the seven that
is promised to be kept from the test that is coming upon the whole world. “Because
you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name... I
also will keep you from the hour of testing hour which is about to come upon the
whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Revelation 3:8,10. They will
be spared the worst of the Tribulation period. This may be because they will have
already been tested by trials and have been proven faithful, even though they are
not a powerful church. Pre-tribulation advocates insist that only the Philadelphia
church is the church of the Last Days, and so is evidence that the Church will not
go through the Tribulation, but this contradicts what the text actually says. You
could hardly describe the Church in America as having little power. The Lord is telling
all of the seven churches that His is coming to them quickly. It it clear that He
wants them all to understand (not just the church of Philadelphia) that all seven
churches will see Him shortly.
The Seven Churches do not represent seven ages of the Church. This unbiblical theory
is a complete fabrication of John Nelson Darby to prop up his fallacious Pre-Tribulation
Rapture doctrine. Taken as clearly stated, the letters to the Seven Churches are
prophecies about the Church as it will be just before the beginning of the seven
year Tribulation. In these letters the Lord is instructing the Last Days churches
(our generation of believers) to prepare them for His imminent return and the test
of the approaching Tribulation. These seven letters, as well as the entire book of
Revelation was written specifically to the Last Days Church, but only those who heed
the words of the prophecy of this book will fully understand it and receive its full