‘Brethren’ and the Brethren Movement or Philadelpia

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Candle is taken away, Rev. 2:5

* Smyrna: the persecuted church 100 - 300

Doesn’t exist anymore but we can still recognize it
in the ‘underground church’ throughout church history

* Pergamos: Church and state joined 300 – 500

Doesn’t exist neither anymore but can be recognized
(for instance) in the Eastern Orthodox Churches

* Thyatira: Roman Catholic Church 500 - 1500

* Sardis: Protestantism 1500 - 1700

* Philadelphia: Pietism, Evangelical Movement 1700 – 1900

(Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening/Réveil)

* Laodicea: Pentecostal- and Charismatic Movement 1900 – 20..?

The last four segments (parts/stages) of Christendom do still exist next to each other.

• So, the first four are successional and do slide into each other up to Thyatira.

The last four do slide out of each other, out of Thyatira and all remain until the Lord comes.

• Compare Laodicea with Ephesus, Smyrna with Philadephia and Sardis with Pergamos.

The prophetical interpretation of Rev. 2 + 3 we can find for instance with Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202), Bonaventura (1221-1274), Johannes Coccejus (1603-1669) en John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). Of course they could not yet see what actually came after them.

A remark I also would add here is:
To see the two stages/phases in the R.C.C. before and after 1000 A.D.
A verse out of the parable about the ten virgins could well mark that turning point: “But in the middle of the night there was a cry, Behold, the bridegroom; go forth to meet him.” (Matt. 25:6). Then it started that many saints (Waldenses, Albigenses etc.) went out of this world again and for them in their time also out of the R.C.C.-system, which system had become totally mixed up then with the world. Millennial ideas and the return of the Lord Jesus again became important for them.
In 2 Cor. 6:17 we read: “Wherefore come out from the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord” and we find there the same Greek word for “come out” as “went forth” and “go forth” in Matt. 25:1 + 6.
As already stated above we roughly can characterize Philadelphia by the Great Awakening which happened in the 18th century and the Second Great Awakening which happened in the 19th century. Just like the period of the Reformation (Sardis) we can discern within it two ‘stages’. Both these periods also lasted two hundred years and the mentioned stages hundred years each (all approximately). We can see a deepening work in the mentioned second stages.

As a final note we have to see that already for quite a time evangelicals is being used as a broad term for believers who undersign Gods Word as authoritative. To be a little more accurate we actually see in our times many evangelicals who are better termed by neo-evangelicals, who unfortunately have to be qualified as more or less liberal1.

Douwe Scheepsma Szn

1 Some books about church history which follow the prophetic interpretation are: Church History, Andrew Miller; The Christian Testimony through the ages, T.W. Carron, available from www.bibletruthpublishers.com.

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