Choices of Church Age Messengers
Church Age Angels: Prophets v. Reformers
Church Age Angels and the Trinity
The 7 Church Ages: WMB and Clarence Larkin
Choices of Church Age Messengers
In the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, we read of 7 churches and their 7 angels. William Branham (WMB) taught that each of the 7 churches represent a specific period in Church history (known as a Church Age) and each of the 7 angels was a Christian leader who had the most influence on the Church Age in which he lived. The following is a list of the 7 Church Ages and the Angel to each Age, according to WMB:
Ephesus (53-170 AD), The Apostle Paul
Smyrna (170-312 AD), Irenaeus
Pergamum (312-606 AD), Martin
Thyatira (606-1520 AD), Columba
Sardis (1520-1750 AD), Martin Luther
Philadelphia (1750-1906 AD), John Wesley
Laodicea (1906-Present), William Branham
Although WMB did not identify himself by name as the Angel to Laodicia, he strongly implied it and allowed his followers to believe it.
WMB said that he was enabled by the Holy Spirit to determine the dates of the Church Ages and decide who the Angels were for each Age. This is difficult to believe based on at least two of his choices for Angels.
In the book of Revelation, the Lord instructs John to write to each Angel. The first he was to write to was to the Angel of the Church of Ephesus. As indicated above, WMB chose the Apostle Paul as the Angel to this Age. The problem with this choice is that by the time John was instructed to write to the Angel at Ephesus, Paul had been dead almost 30 years.
A second poor choice of Angels was the one he chose for Thyatira. WMB chose Columba as the Angel to this age. Columba died in 596 AD. If you look at the dates for the Thyatira Church Age, you'll notice that Columba died about 10 years before his Age began.
And here's an interesting quote from John Wesley, WMB's choice for 6th Church Age angel:"For the seven churches with their angels represent the whole Christian church, dispersed throughout the whole world, as it subsists, not, as some have imagined, in one age after another, but in every age."It's hard to imagine that that God's chosen messenger to the 6th Church Age Angel would contradict the theology of the 7th messenger.
(from Wesley's notes on the Revelation of Jesus Christ)
Church Age Angels: Prophets v. Reformers
William Branham reveals the meaning of the Lamb with the seven horns and seven eyes in Revelation 5:6. Note that he clearly states that the seven eyes represent the seven Church Age Messengers which he said were prophets:The seven eyes--eyes mean seeing. Seeing means prophets, seers. This Lamb had seven horns, and on each horn had an eye: seven eyes. What is it? Christ and His Bride. Seven Church Ages, out of there was seven prophets that went forth, seven seers, eyes. So the last one must be a seer. All right.The next evening he speaks again of the Seven Church Age Messengers, only this time it is not in the context of the Lamb with the seven eyes:
BREACH.THE_ JEFF.IN SUNDAY_ 63-0317ENotice. This last message of the last church age is not a reformer; he is a prophet, not a reformer. Show me where one prophet ever started a church age. He's not a reformer; he is a prophet. Others was reformers but not prophets. If they would've been, the Word of the Lord comes to the prophet; that's the reason they continued on in the baptism in Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and all these other things, because they were reformers and not prophets.Here he is clear in saying that the first six Church Age Messengers were only reformers, but the seventh would be a prophet.
The First Seal, March 18, 1963 (tape #63-0318)
In the Church Ages book, WMB once again contradicts himself by saying that the Apostle Paul was a Prophet:The messenger (angel) to the church of Ephesus was the apostle Paul. That he was the messenger to the first age of the Gentile era cannot be denied. Though to Peter was granted the authority to open the doors to the Gentiles, it was given to Paul to be their apostle and prophet. He was the Prophet-Messenger to the Gentiles.In the space of less than 3 years, WMB taught that:
An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages, page 73
- All seven Church Age Messengers were prophets.
- The first 6 Church Age Messengers were reformers, but only the 7th is a prophet.
- The 1st and 7th Church Age Messengers were prophets while the 5 remaining were only reformers.
Finally, here are some serious questions I think Message believers should be asking themselves when it comes to understanding what WMB was talking about:
- If William Branham was a reformer comparable to Luther, Wesley and others, what did he reform that other men of God did not before him (in other words, which doctrinal concepts did he restore or correct that the Church seemed to have lost before he came on the scene)?
- Do we have examples of legitimate Christian reformers who appealed to Christians to follow their teachings as the only true Word of God for their day as William Branham did?
- Did the true reformers of the past continually prophesy inaccurately in the name of the Lord, preceding it with "Thus saith the Lord" as William Branham often did?
- Did the great Christian reformers of old teach a biblically incorrect depiction of the Godhead as William Branham did? Mr. Branham's teaching of the Godhead is so confusing that not even his followers--or even his critics--can agree on what he believed.
Followers of the Message would be wise to reconsider what constitutes a true prophet with the Word of the Lord in light of such ambiguities as appear in WMB's teachings.
The Church Age Angels and the Trinity
It's an incontestable fact that of the 7 Church Age Angels according to William Branham's Message, the first 6 were Trinitarian. The 7th angel, however, was vehemently anti-Trinitarian. A question I would exhort Message believers to ask themselves is, Why would God send messengers to each of the first 6 ages that didn't have a clue to His true nature? Here are some statements made by each of Branham's 7 Church Age Angels on the nature of our God:
The Apostle Paul: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
(2 Corinthians 13:14)
Irenaeus: "This is the rule of our faith, the foundation of the building, and what gives support to our behavior.
"God the Father uncreated, who is uncontained, invisible, one God, creator of the universe; this is the first article of our faith.
"And the second is: The Word of God, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who appeared to the prophets according to their way of prophesying and according to the dispensation of the Father. Through him all things were created. Furthermore, in the fullness of time, in order to gather all things to himself, he became a human being amongst human beings, capable of being seen and touched, to destroy death, bring life, and restore fellowship between God and humanity.
"And the third article is: The Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied, and our forebears learned of God and the righteous were led in the paths of justice, and who, in the fullness of time, was poured out in a new way on our human nature in order to renew humanity throughout the entire world in the sight of God."
(The Christian Theology Reader edited by Alister McGrath, p. 93, quoted by The Surprising God)
Martin: Although I couldn't find any direct quotes made by Martin, I did learn that he was a disciple of one of the supreme defenders of the doctrine of the Trinity against Arianism in his day, Hilary of Poitiers. Martin went on to become bishop of Tours in the religion that was definitively Trinitarian: Christianity.
(See, The Story of CHristianity, by Justio L. Gonzalez, pages 147-150, and Monk and Hermit)
Columba: Again, it is difficult for me to find any writings in English of this Church Age Messenger, but I did find an interesting biography on Columba. In it, the author says, "Several other books attributed to Columba and his personal relics are fully described by Reeves (Adamnan, Vita Columbes, p. 353). Adamnan mentions no original compositions of Columba, but several works in prose and verse are in middle Irish literature attributed to him. Colgan (Trias Thaumaturga, p. 471) gives a list of several works in Latin and in Irish attributed to Columba, and has printed three Latin hymns which are perhaps the most likely of the list to be authentic. Two are on the Trinity, and are said to have been composed on the island."
(See, Columba, by Norman Moore)
Also, there is a brief prayer common among the Irish which is attributed to Columba. In it, Columba says, "May the Trinity protect me wherever I stay, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
(See, Columba: Pilgrim and Penitent, 597-1997, by Ian Bradley)
Martin Luther: "Today we celebrate the festival of the Holy Trinity, to which we must briefly allude, so that we may not celebrate it in vain. It is indeed true that the name "Trinity" is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scriptures, but has been conceived and invented by man. For this reason it sounds some-what cold and we had better speak of "God" than of the "Trinity." This word signifies that there are three persons in God. It is a heavenly mystery which the world cannot understand. I have often told you that this, as well as every other article of faith, must not be based upon reason or comparisons, but must be understood and established by means of passages from the Scriptures, for God has the only perfect knowledge and knows how to speak concerning himself."
(A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil, 1522)
John Wesley: "I dare not insist upon any one's using the word Trinity, or Person. I use them myself without any scruple, because I know of none better: But if any man has any scruple concerning them, who shall constrain him to use them? I cannot: Much less would I burn a man alive, and that with moist, green wood, for saying, "Though I believe the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; yet I scruple using the words Trinity and Persons, because I do not find those terms in the Bible." These are the words which merciful John Calvin cites as wrote by Servitus in a letter to himself. I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained, just as they lie in the text: "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: And these three are one."
("On the Trinity", sermon 55 by John Wesley)
“Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God.”
(Quoted by Burk Parsons, Ligonier Ministries)
William Branham: "Now, don't get excited. Let me say this with godly love, the hour has approached where I can't hold still on these things no more, too close to the Coming. See? 'Trinitarianism is of the devil!' I say that THUS SAITH THE LORD!"
("Revelation, Chapter Four #3," January 8, 1961, sermon #61-0108)
I would like to finish this topic with a wonderful statement I discovered on a Lutheran YouTube page (the video is very instructive, and funny, as well):"The Trinity is a mystery which cannot be comprehended by human reason, but is understood only through faith and is best confessed in the words of the Athanasian Creed, which states that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the Persons, nor dividing the substance that we are compelled by the Christian truth to confess that each distinct person is God and Lord, and that the Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is One, equal in Glory, coequal in Majesty."
(From “St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies,” by The Lutheran Satire)
The 7 Church Ages: WMB and Clarence Larkin
This page on the Church Ages wouldn't be complete without an account of William Branham's blatant plagiarism of Clarence Larkin's own treatise on the 7 Church Ages. To learn more about it, see
A Refutation of William Marrion Branham, by Ken Jacobsen (January 19, 2009)
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