Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 13

THYATIRA: The Church’s Age of Adversity: The Dark Ages  


   18  And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass 19  I know thy works and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the  last to be more than the first.  Revelation 2: 18, 19, K.J.V.


All great alterations in human affairs are produced by compromise.

SYDNEY SMITH, Catholic Question


Thyatira. “The origin and meaning of this name is uncertain. Some have suggested that Thyatira means “Sweet savor of labor,’ perhaps on the basis of the ‘works’ of the church set forth in v. 19.” . . . As applied to Christian history, the message to Thyatira is particularly appropriate to the experience of the church during the Dark Ages [538- 1798, A.D. of 1,260 years]. The Dark Ages proved to be a time of surpassing difficulty for those who truly loved and served God, and the Thyatira period of the church history may well be called the Age of Adversity. Because of persecution the flame of truth flickered and nearly went out.”

     “Trends that began in earlier periods [Smyrna and Pergamos stages] became dominant during the Dark Ages. The Scriptures not being available to the ordinary Christian, tradition was exalted in their place. [see details below on the Bible and the Reformation].  Works came to be considered the means of attaining salvation.A false and human priesthood obscured the true and divine priesthood of Jesus Christ. See Additional Note on Daniel 7. The Reformation consisted essentially in a revival and restoration of the great truths of the gospel. It proclaimed that man are only saved by faith in Christ, that their only standard of faith and practice is Scripture, and that every man may appear on his own behalf before the great High Priest Jesus Christ, without human a human intercessor.” Footnotes on ch. 2: 18, Thyatira, “An Exhaustive E.G. White Commentary on Revelation,” Vol. 2, pp. 554, 555.

An Era of Spiritual Darkness

     “The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, foretold the great apostasy which would result in the establishment of the papal power. He declared that that the day of Christ should not come, ‘except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.’ And furthermore, the apostle warns his brethren that ‘the mystery of iniquity doth already work.’ 2 Thessalonians 2: 3, 4, 7. Even at that early date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.

     “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit ofcompromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecution which the church endured under paganism [of the Roman emperors]. But as persecution ceased [largely through Constantine’s edict] and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of the kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.

    “The compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a giant masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.

     “Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands, if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the bishop of Rome.

     “It is one of the leading decrees of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. Moe than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity! (see Appendix), and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage.

    “But those who fear and reverence God meet this heaven-daring assumption as Christ met the solicitations of the wily foe: ‘Thou shalt worship thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ Luke 4: 8.  God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.”- Ibid, pp. 49-51.

      “In the sixth century the papacy became firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to the head of over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the Papacy. The dragon had given to the beast ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority.’ Revelation 13: 2. And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Dan. 7: 25; Rev. 13: 5-7. Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: ‘Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends, and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.’ Luke 21: 16, 17. Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the [then known civilized] world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet [Rev. 12: 6 quoted]. The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. ” – Ibid, ” Great Controversy,” 1911, pp. 54, 55.

The Bible and Reformation

     “In preparing for the Reformation, the Lord had worked in marvelous ways to provide protection for the Reformers.  [The following are little known facts showing God’s hand and provisions for the Protestant Reformation.]  “‘The night before Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, the Elector Frederick of Saxony had a remarkable dream. In relating it to Duke John the next morning he said:

     ‘’ ‘I must tell you a dream which I had last night . . .  For I dreamed it thrice, and each time with new circumstances . . . I fell asleep, . . . I then awoke . . . I prayed . . . .God to guide me, my counsels, and my people according to truth. I again fell asleep, and then dreamed that Almighty God sent me a monk . . . All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come to contrive any plot . . . They asked me to have the goodness graciously to permit him to write something on the door of the Castle of Wittenberg. This I granted to my chancellor. Thereupon the monk went to the church, and began to write in such large characters that I could read the writing at Scwheinitz. The pen which he used was so large that its end reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of a lion that was crouching there [in prophecy the lion is the beast symbol of Babylon–ancient and spiritual], and caused the triple crown of the Pope to shake All the cardinals and princes, running hastily up, tried to prevent it from falling . . .  I awoke, . . . it was only a dream. [Again he fell asleep].

    “ ‘Then Then I dreamed that all the princes of the Empire, and we among them, hastened to Rome, and strove, one after another,, to break the pen; but the more we tried the stiffer it became , sounding as if it had been made of iron. We at length desisted. . . . Suddenly I heard a loud noise— a large number of other penshad sprung out of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time; it was daylight.’. . . ..

     “So passed the morning of the 31st October, 1517, in the royal castle of Schweinitz. . . The lector has hardly made and end of telling his dream when the monk comes in with the hammer to interpret it.’ – ‘History of Protestantism,’ J.A. Wylie, L.L.D., Vol. !, pp. 263-266; quoted in Facts of Faith by Christian Edwardson, p. 13, Southern Publishing Asso. Revised: 1943, p. 13.

          “One can hardly wonder that the Elector of Saxony became Luther’s protector during his long struggle with the Papacy. The greatest work that was accomplished by these ‘pens’ of the Reformation was the translation of the Bible into the language of the common people. True, there had been some attempts made before this time to produce the Scriptures in the vernacular, but without much success, as the language was almost unintelligible to the common people, and the price prohibitive.

      “After Martin Luther had spent much time in the homes and company of the people [like Christ] that he might acquire their language, he with his co-workers, translated the Bible into a language that, while it was dignified and beautiful, was so natural and easy to be understood by the ordinary mind [seeking the truth] that it made the Bible at once ‘the people’s book.’ The New Testament was translated in 1521, and fifty-eight editions of it were printed between 1522 and 1533; seventeen editions at Wittenberg, thirteen at Augsburg, twelve at Basel, one at Erfurt, one at Grimma, one at Leipzig, and thirteen at Strassburg. The Old Testament was first printed in four parts, 1523 to 1533, and finally the entire Bible was published in one volume in 1534.

    “In 1522, Jacques Lefevre translated the New Testament into French, and Collin, at Meaux, printed it in 1524. In 1525, William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English. All these New Testaments were translated from the original Greek, and not from the imperfect Latin Vulgate, used by the papal church.

      “Printing Presses were kept busy printing the Scriptures, while colporteurs and booksellers sold them to the eager public. The effect was tremendous.

       “ ‘ Every honest intellect was at once struck with the strange discrepancy between the teaching of the Sacred Volume and that of the church of Rome.’ —‘ Historical Studies,’ Eugene Lawrence, p. 255. New York: Harper Bros. 1876 Quoted in “Facts of Faith,” pp. 13, 14.

     “In the Book of God there was found no purgatory, no infallible pope, no masses for the dead, no sale of indulgences, no relics working miracles, no prayers for the dead, no worship of the Virgin Mary or of the saints! But there the people found a loving Savior with open arms welcoming the poorest and vilest of sinners to come and receive forgiveness full and free. Love filled their hearts and broke the shackles of sin and superstition. Profanity, coarse jests, drunkenness, vice, and disorder disappeared. The Blessed Book was read by young and old, and became the talk in home and shop, while the [Roman] Church with its [unintelligible] Latin mass lost its attraction.” – Facts of Faith, p. 14.

(To be continued next week; more on the Thyatira stage of the Church)