Site Search:

 

The Easy Questions: The Seven Church Ages



William Branham taught that the Seven Churches of Asia Minor found in the book of Revelation were symbolic of seven church "ages," starting with the time of the Apostle Paul, and ending with himself as the "messenger" for the final age. According to Branham, he was given divine revelation as to these ages, dates, and messengers, and followers of Branham's ministry believe this doctrine to be scriptural truth.

This teaching is loosely based upon the doctrines of John Darby, well known to be the "father of dispensationalism." The teaching seems to have originated with a mystic named Jane Leade, who established a religious group that called themselves "The Philadelphia Society." Leade's teachings on the "dispensations of the ages" became more widely known through members of her following, and was ultimately spread by Cyrus Scofield and his Scofield study bible. Interestingly, Leade's prophecies were found among the posessions of Charles Price, a Los Angeles pastor whose church Branham frequented.

Branham's timeline for the "church ages" seems to be identical to the drawings of Clarence Larkin in his work entitled Dispensational Truth. The same dates that Larkin used for his drawings are used in Branham's teaching, with the exception of the last age, which Branham pointed to himself. And while Larkin did not list messengers for each age, Branham chose messengers to align with these ages,picking one messenger that was not alive during his church age.

Columba

The most obvious error in this "revelation" is the examination of the supposed fourth age messenger . William Branham claimed that the Thyatirean Church Age lasted from A.D 606 to A.D. 1520, and that the messenger for the age was St. Columba. These dates align with those in Larkin's Dispensational Truth but with the addition of messengers to each age, Branham failed to examine the lifespans of the men he claimed to be the messengers.

St. Columba (521-597) was not alive during any portion of his "Church Age". He was one of the so-called "Twelve Apostles of Ireland", taught under Finnian of Clonard, who is said to be one of the fathers of Irish monasticism.

Columba became a monk, and was later ordained a priest. Tradition has it that around 560, Columba got in a harsh quarrel over a psalter (scroll of Psalms). Columba copied the psaltery, intending to keep the copy, and St. Finnian disputed his right to keep it. This eventually led to the Battle of Cul Dreimhne (561) during which many men lost their lives.

Afterward Columba devoted his life to saving as many men as had lost their lives in that battle, and exiled himself from Ireland.

The main source of information about Columba's life comes from his writings of the Vita Columbae, which are essentially three books: One of prophecies, one of miracles, and one of apparitions. Interestingly, these books are the first mention of the Loch Ness Monster.

Some followers of Branham claim that messengers can live "outside" of Branham's (Larkin's) "ages," however this is in direct disagreement with William Branham:

"Each age has had its message and messenger. God has seen to that. Every... Even in the church ages, we find out that each one had a messenger, and each one lived their age"
63-0116 - The Evening Messenger


Before preaching the "Seven Church Ages," Branham admits to copying the dates for his timeline from the works of others:

And remember, as I've said before, sometimes on these things we might disagree upon them as far as—as the theology is concerned. And most of my dates I take from the authentic historians, which really not interested in any side, they just wrote down facts, whatever it was, what the churches did. And I... Of course, the Divine part of the interpretation, I try to place it upon there myself, the best that I know how.
-- Branham, 60-1205 - The Ephesian Church Age


But after years had passed, Branham claimed that his "church age theology" came from both divine revelation and physical handwriting from an "angel."

And, by the way, has anybody ever heard them tapes on the church ages? On the last time I had those ages drawed out there on the blackboard, and the Heavenly Father knows this is true, when I completed it with the best I could, under the inspiration that God would give me, that Angel of the Lord that you see in the picture (many have seen that picture, haven't you, that Light?), It came right down in the room, before about three hundred or four hundred people, went right over on the side of the wall (as a Light like that) and drawed those church ages by Itself. We all stood there looking at It, watched It draw the first church age, the second, third, and fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh.
-- Branham - 63-0116 - The Evening Messenger


Why did his story change?



Back To The Easy Questions



Resources
In-depth analysis of Branham's plagiarism of Clarence Larkin's works: http://www.branhamism.org/clarence-larkin/
Branham's accounts of the seven church ages:

And remember, as I've said before, sometimes on these things we might disagree upon them as far as—as the theology is concerned. And most of my dates I take from the authentic historians, which really not interested in any side, they just wrote down facts, whatever it was, what the churches did. And I... Of course, the Divine part of the interpretation, I try to place it upon there myself, the best that I know how.
-- Branham, 60-1205 - The Ephesian Church Age

And, by the way, has anybody ever heard them tapes on the church ages? On the last time I had those ages drawed out there on the blackboard, and the Heavenly Father knows this is true, when I completed it with the best I could, under the inspiration that God would give me, that Angel of the Lord that you see in the picture (many have seen that picture, haven't you, that Light?), It came right down in the room, before about three hundred or four hundred people, went right over on the side of the wall (as a Light like that) and drawed those church ages by Itself. We all stood there looking at It, watched It draw the first church age, the second, third, and fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh.
Branham - 63-0116 - The Evening Messenger

Each age has had its message and messenger. God has seen to that. Every... Even in the church ages, we find out that each one had a messenger, and each one lived their age
63-0116 - The Evening Messenger

Now, on this, I would ask each one of you who are really concerned about these things, would — would come every time that we are going to — to explain It. And I would not undertake, or did I think myself... [Blank.spot.on.tape — Ed.]... undertake to... [Blank.spot.on.tape.]... this great Book of the Revelation of... [Blank.spot.on.tape.]... Seven Church Ages. But I am depending solemnly upon God, for — for to reveal it to me just as I come to it. The natural history, which is of the... taken from the most outstanding historians that I know of. I have laying in my study room, right now, about five or six commentaries, Hislop's Two Babylons, Foxe's Book Of The Martyrs, and other great books; like the Pre-Nicene Council, about four books on that, around four hundred pages in each book. And there the Nicene Council, and all the history that we can. Because, behind this, from the magnetic tape, we're going to write a commentary on the Seven Church Ages, to send to all the world, that we can, because we are in the last days. We are at the end time. It never dawned upon my heart so much until the — the last election, and then I seen where we were at. Then the Holy Spirit begin to reveal to me, to — to warn the people, and to place this. And I cannot do it in a — a church like this, sufficiently. And then if I set down and just wrote the book... I feel that if I got to the pulpit, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amongst the Christians came upon me, to help me, then I would be more sufficient to write the book then, after I took it off the tape, because there we'd get the inspiration of it. The books, of course, will be kind of straightened up a little, because, in here, we put things in that we could not put in the book. And then we... And we take too much time on repeating ourselves, or I do. And then, in the book, it'll all be straightened out. But we're going to try to get it all, as much as we can, on tapes. Now, the tapes, each night, literature and so forth, the boys will have it just out the building there. Now, I may not be able each night, as we have taken upon ourselves to try for the glory of God, to — to bring these seven church Messages, or Seven Church Ages, in seven nights; taking each night, an age. Like, Monday night, Ephesus; Tuesday night, Smyrna; Wednesday night, Pergamos; Thursday night, Thyatira; Friday night, Sardis; and Saturday night, Philadelphia; and Sunday morning and Sunday night, the Laodicean, the church age that we're living in. Giving the historical of the original church, and the — and the writers and the historians, and the angels of that age, and — and the messages, and the run of the church, as it's come down through to this time. And it's amazing to see how every prediction of that Scripture hits solid with history, just exactly, to the thought of it. It even amazed me so much, till, yesterday, I had read till felt like my eyes were swelling out. And I come out and I said to the wife, "I have never dreamed of it being that way." See? How great it was!
60-1204M THE.REVELATION.OF.JESUS.CHRIST

Back at the beginning, at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon the Church. The Message come on down into Smyrna; there stood Irenaeus, the great saint of God, speaking in tongues, power of God, raising the dead, healing the sick, He was walking in the Light. After him come Columba, the great powerful saint of God. Many of the other great saints packing the Message on down, walking in the Light, the Gospel Light, the same Light that shined on the Day of Pentecost; Christ standing in the midst of His people, and them seven golden candlesticks reflecting His radiance like the sun in the middle of its heat.
60-1204E THE.PATMOS.VISION

When the first church age started, it was Ephesus. Paul, the angel of that church, one of the stars. There's seven stars which means seven angels, seven "messengers." This week I can take the Scripture and the history and prove to you each one of those are true in each angel, and every angel had the same Light. That's right. And then right between these ages, that great One to come.
60-1204E THE.PATMOS.VISION

Now the 3rd verse, He announces the blessing. Listen at this. 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. What time is at hand? The time these things take place, when this Revelation of Jesus Christ is completed in each church age.
60-1204M THE.REVELATION.OF.JESUS.CHRIST

Now, in the Bible they did not understand this Revelation. Because, what good would it do them to watch and wait if they knowed there'd be thousands of years before Jesus came? It was not give to them. And I say to this, to you people here, you Catholic people, to you Lutheran, to you Methodist, and so forth, it was not give to Martin Luther, the Light that's on the Word today. Neither was it give to John Wesley. John Wesley preached sanctification that Luther passed over. And the Light comes as we have need of Light. God says It, and It isn't opened up to us because It's hid to our eyes until the day that God is able to reveal It. Wonder what it'll be after we leave? Yea, I am persuaded that there's very, very much more that we know nothing about. That is right. There's Seven Seals, if we just take the complete Book of Revelation, that's sealed on the back of the Book. It ain't even... isn't written in the Book. And them Seals are to be opened during this church age, and the seven last mysteries of God is to be kno-... made known. Oh, I'd like to just keep it all winter and go through It. Yes, sir! The Seven Church Ages.
60-1205 THE.EPHESIAN.CHURCH.AGE

The angel of the church of — of Thyatira was Columba.
60-1205 THE.EPHESIAN.CHURCH.AGE

And, Father, we humbly bow our heads in respect of these great men down through the ages, those stars that You held in Your hand, which You said was, "angels of the Church Ages," the ministers. How we thank You for great Saint Paul, of Ephesus. How we thank You for Irenaeus, O Lord, Irenaeus the great servant of Yours; and for Saint Martin; and tonight for Saint Columba. Lord, how we thank You for these men. In the midst of dark Romanism, paganism coming in the church, they stood gallant for the pentecostal Message and blessing, speaking in tongues, and — and great signs and wonders, the healing of the sick, and raising the dead.
60-1208 THE.THYATIREAN.CHURCH.AGE

Now, this great saint here was Columba. He was a great man of God. Now, I've got his history kind of written down here. First, the fourth church age, Thyatira, it means to be "laxed, loose," or, "hazy." See? It was just a illegitimate time from 606 to 1500. The star was Columba, from Ireland and Scotland, which was a nephew to Saint Martin; and lived about sixty years after Saint Patrick, and so his ministry begin about sixty years after Saint Patrick. His... He never did accept the Roman doctrine. He was a great man of faith. He rejected the Roman teaching; never did go to Rome, and rejected it altogether. Is, I couldn't see where they ever canonized him. Like they did Saint Martin and them, they didn't canonize him and Irenaeus because they were still in that Church that had signs and wonders of Pentecost, but believed. He never took the Roman teaching, on their teachings. He took the Bible for the teaching after his godly mother, the sister of Saint Martin, and never took the Roman teachings at any time. He taught that signs of Mark 16 should follow every believer. Amen! I... That's the kind of guy I like; believes. Yes, sir. He — he heard God's audible Voice calling. That's another good sign to him, see. Then nothing could stop him after that, he was gone, uh-hum, uh-huh, he was on the road when he heard the audible Voice of God.
60-1208 THE.THYATIREAN.CHURCH.AGE

Now, this great saint here was Columba. He was a great man of God. Now, I've got his history kind of written down here. First, the fourth church age, Thyatira, it means to be "laxed, loose," or, "hazy." See? It was just a illegitimate time from 606 to 1500. The star was Columba, from Ireland and Scotland, which was a nephew to Saint Martin; and lived about sixty years after Saint Patrick, and so his ministry begin about sixty years after Saint Patrick. His... He never did accept the Roman doctrine. He was a great man of faith. He rejected the Roman teaching; never did go to Rome, and rejected it altogether. Is, I couldn't see where they ever canonized him. Like they did Saint Martin and them, they didn't canonize him and Irenaeus because they were still in that Church that had signs and wonders of Pentecost, but believed. He never took the Roman teaching, on their teachings. He took the Bible for the teaching after his godly mother, the sister of Saint Martin, and never took the Roman teachings at any time. He taught that signs of Mark 16 should follow every believer. Amen! I... That's the kind of guy I like; believes. Yes, sir. He — he heard God's audible Voice calling. That's another good sign to him, see. Then nothing could stop him after that, he was gone, uh-hum, uh-huh, he was on the road when he heard the audible Voice of God.
60-1208 THE.THYATIREAN.CHURCH.AGE

That's the reason in there, reading the history, I took Paul and Irenaeus and — and — and — and down to Saint Martin, Columba; every one of those men's (plumb down into this age here), had signs and wonders.
60-1209 THE.SARDISEAN.CHURCH.AGE

Now, we been reviewing these a little bit at nighttime, going back. And the church age first, was the Ephesian Church Age. Can anybody say right off who the angel or the Light was (minister) of that church age? Paul. The Ephesus Church Age, A.D. 55 to 170. The reason I picked up 55, that's when he started his missionary journey, and it was then when he established the Ephesian church and the — and the different churches along there. All right, the second church age was the Smyrna. Can anyone remember what the angel of that church age was, any of the class? Irenaeus, is right. All right, it was 170 to 312. The third church age was the Pergamos Church Age. Can anybody remember, in the class, who was the saint of that church age? Saint Martin, is right. From 312 to 606. And then the next church age was Thyatira. Can anybody remember the saint and the messenger, angel of that age? Columba, is right. And that's 606 to '515. The next was Sardis Church Age, which was last night. And anybody... course, you know what the angel of that church age was. Remember? Martin Luther. And then his was 1520 on to 1750. And tonight we're on the Philadelphian Church Age; which is John Wesley, the messenger of that day. From 1750 to 1906 A.D., and it's the age of "brotherly love." Now, we find out that each one of these churches, church ages, expressed the characteristic of that church. It — it told what the church was and the characters of the church, the characteristic, rather, of the church.
60-1210 THE.PHILADELPHIAN.CHURCH.AGE

And then the next church age was Thyatira. Can anybody remember the saint and the messenger, angel of that age? Columba, is right. And that's 606 to '515.
60-1210 THE.PHILADELPHIAN.CHURCH.AGE

Down for the first six hundred years after Christ, there was Irenaeus, Saint Martin, Columba, and all of those; every one of those saintly men. They preached the baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ. They preached the remission of sins. They preached speaking in tongues. They raised the dead; they healed the sick. Signs and wonders followed them plumb on to the Dark Ages, and through the Dark Ages. T here's been a little minority all the way down, keeping that Gospel Light shining. What was it? Messiahettes, ones holding forth the representation of the Messiahic Kingdom.
61-0117 THE.MESSIAH

And, by the way, has anybody ever heard them tapes on the church ages? On the last time I had those ages drawed out there on the blackboard, and the Heavenly Father knows this is true, when I completed it with the best I could, under the inspiration that God would give me, that Angel of the Lord that you see in the picture (many have seen that picture, haven't you, that Light?), It came right down in the room, before about three hundred or four hundred people, went right over on the side of the wall (as a Light like that) and drawed those church ages by Itself. We all stood there looking at It, watched It draw the first church age, the second, third, and fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh.
63-0116 THE.EVENING.MESSENGER

According to the revelation that the Lord Jesus gave me today (See?), or this morning, early; that is that the mystery of the church ages are already finished at this time. The mystery of the antichrist is revealed at this time. The antichrist took his last ride, and we found him on the pale horse mixed with his many colors, and rides all the way into perdition. (We get it on the trumpets and so forth when we — we teach that. I go into it now, but we get plumb off the subject again.)
63-0322 THE.FIFTH.SEAL

Now, remember, in the vision, He never told me one thing in the vision when He took me up. I was scared, afraid I was going to die, be killed in an explosion. You see, they could not do it. The interpretation come just as I had need of it; that was in the room. And I gave it out just as He give it. Now, you see, friends, visions doesn't fail; they're always perfect; they're just exactly true. Now, the vision, plus the Word, plus the history, plus the church ages; and all blend together. So I could truly say that to the best of my understanding and according to the Word of God and the vision and the revelation, the interpretation thereof is THUS SAITH THE LORD.
63-0324E THE.SEVENTH.SEAL



Back To The Easy Questions