When the work of the Father commences, the Book of Ether informs us that all of John’s revelations will be, “unfolded in the eyes of all the people.” (Ether 4:16)
The term “unfold” is used in the Book of Mormon multiple times to describe the revealment of a mystery of God by a prophet. (Jacob 4:18; Mosiah 2:9; Mosiah 8:19; Alma 40:3)
The Book of Revelation will be unfolded by a true prophet. But if so—what good is having the prophecy if we have to wait until the marvelous work is fulfilled and the work of the Father commences?
I believe a small group of elect will in fact have it unfolded to their understanding previous to the marvelous work and a wonder.
Another verse in the Book of Mormon uses the same phrase to expound on a different possibility: “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (1 Nephi 10:19)
Those that diligently seek will have the mysteries explained by the power of the Holy Ghost.
It is stated by John: “Blessed are they who read, and they who hear and understand the word of this prophecy.” (JST Rev 1:3)
This verse indicates that it is possible to understand John’s revelation by reading the words of the prophecy as it stands; achievable, of course, only through the accompaniment of the power of the Holy Ghost. Whether we have the full extent of that power is debatable, but my lack of surety in this matter does not deter me from diligently seeking to understand the mysteries nonetheless.
Jesus Christ proclaimed, “Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev 22:7) So regardless to whether or not we are capable of fully comprehending the Book of Revelation during the time being, we are to still be intimately familiar with its passages and prophetic sayings, for we will be blessed for so doing. An awareness of it will ensure our capacity to recognize the fulfillment of it coming to pass before us.
I have endeavored to identify the latter-day fulfillment of the seven churches John wrote to in the second and third chapter of his prophecy. In doing so, I feel confident that it has been not been an exercise in futility. I have always suspected that the message to each of the seven churches in Asia were shadows and representations of seven future groups of believers in the last days, beginning with the arrival of the Book of Mormon onward to the millennium.
The seven groups have arisen chronologically according to the order they appear in John’s prophecy.
Ephesus- The 1830-Church of Christ/Ephraim
Smyrna- The 1836-Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Judah
Pergamos- The rejected 1841-church/The House of Israel
Thyatira- The [future] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Wheat of the House of Israel
Sardis- Watchers/Friends of the Bridegroom
Philadelphia- The Church of the Firstborn/The Bride of the New Jerusalem
Laodiceans- The Remnant/The Jews of the Old Jerusalem
I will now provide the list of traits given by God for each church and expound why I feel these characteristics have accurately described the tribal group I’ve classified the church as representing.
[Editorial Note: To keep the flow of this paper I will not use references or quotations to Revelation 2-3 but hope the reader will read those chapters alongside this study. An extremely extensive amount of material will be covered as quickly as possible with little or no explanation in this post.]
Ephesus – The 1830-Church of Christ/Ephraim
-Cannot bear those that are evil, has labored for the name of Christ, but does not have faith
The early saints of the LDS church were indeed a righteous people. They could not bear to be surrounded by the evil wickedness of Babylon, which led them to separate themselves and gather out to Zion to labor for the name of Christ upon hearing of the Book of Mormon. However, these Gentiles would fail to truly believe in the words of the Book of Mormon, preventing them from receiving the greater things promised unto true believers in God’s revealed word. (3 Nephi 26:9-10) The Ephraimite Gentiles are not listed as possessing faith because they did not have the faith to fully repent and become clean before the Lord. [The few early Saints who did become sanctified are not being addressed to in John’s message.]
-Has the candlestick so long as they repent and return back to the first works by remembering where they first became fallen
The Gentiles became fallen a few short years after the establishment of the church by rejecting the law of the gospel and failing to live consecration as required by the fulness of the gospel.
The candlestick is referred to in Rev 1:20 as the churches themselves but in the message to Ephesus it is related to a man being moved out of his place. This is not Joseph Smith because he is one of the seven lamps connected to the candlestick. (Zech 4:2) The “seven lamps [which] are the seven servants of God” (JST Rev 4:5) are also referred to as the seven shepherds (Micah 5:5) and these seven are the elders to whom Section 29 and 84 have addressed and commissioned. Regardless of the Gentiles failure or success in reforming after rejecting the fulness of the gospel, Joseph would fall from his position to perform the atonement necessary in behalf of them for having rejected the fulness in the first place. If the Gentiles had hearkened to William Law’s warnings in the Nauvoo Expositor for the church to return back to its former works, the candlestick of Sidney Rigdon (the Elias-restorer of the third watch) would still have had his place and standing among the Gentiles in the second watch, for he is the light and standard to whom the Gentiles should seek after. (D&C 45:9) Although Sidney would be cast out by Israel’s fit man as the scapegoat of Leviticus 16, he could have organized the Gentiles into a legitimate Church of Christ—but due to the iniquity of the Gentiles, the eyes of Sidney Rigdon were covered and all his subsequent efforts made for the gospel were misdirected, all of which went by virtually unnoticed by the many Gentile-Mormon factions that inevitably popped up in response to their rejection of the leadership of the fit man, Brigham Young.
Although a potential Church of Christ could have been organized with humble followers of Christ, it would not have graduated to living the fulness of the gospel until the third watch. The Church of Christ would still have been a great blessing, for Rigdon would have been able to confound the many false doctrines that have arisen throughout all restoration movements. He would not have brought forth revelation, but he would have prevented false revelation. Before being cast out by the “saints”, Rigdon proposed himself as a guardian to the church. This is an accurate description for the role Sidney could have played to the Gentiles.
-Hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans and has tried those who say they are apostles, finds them liars
D&C 117:11 explains that the Nicolaitans are connected to a tradition of secret abominations. The Gentiles of the Ephesus church are those that do not embrace the secret rituals and practices that came among them before becoming fully embedded as they came to be in the churches of Smyrna and Pergamos. These saints were those who did not accept the leadership of the Twelve traveling council who claimed to be apostles while being steeped in dark practices which are hated of them. Although these Gentiles failed to return to their first works, they understood and recognized that the restored church was no longer led by the Spirit of God and that those professing to have authority within it were liars.
-If they overcome they will eat of the tree of life
D&C 101:3 refers to the early Gentile saints as God’s jewels. This connects us to the prophecy of Malachi which came to fruition in its entirety by 1836. (D&C 110:14) Malachi speaks of a book of remembrance containing those servants who are the jewels. D&C 86 tells us that those who did live the law of consecration and are found written in the book will find an inheritance among the Saints once Zion is successfully established. In other words, those of this church who did overcome and fulfill their obligations to the Lord will be among the celestial souls who will belong to the New Jerusalem.
Smyrna- The 1836-Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Judah
-Are the true Jews, rich in the eyes of the world while in spiritual poverty
Through the Lord’s mentioning unto them of the blasphemy of those that say they are Jews but are not, I conclude the church of Smyrna to be the legitimate Jews who—unbeknownst to them—are descendants of those of the Kingdom of Judah who were in Israel at the time of Christ’s ministry. The 1835-Twelve traveling council was prophesied to declare the gospel to the Jews (D&C 18; D&C 112) which assuredly occurred when the Twelve were sent on missions across the great waters. These Jews were gathered to the lands of their inheritance (the promised land of America) and restored into the fold of God (2 Nephi 9:2) after beginning to believe in Christ (2 Nephi 30:7) by having come to a mere knowledge of the fulness of the gospel. (3 Nephi 16:12) The majority of Nauvoo saints were these Jews who would not reject the fulness of the gospel because the fulness was never actually given to them in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the fulness was offered unto them—as well unto the remaining Gentiles who still associated themselves with the restored church—but this missed opportunity resulted in the rejection of the church in receiving a fulness.
As these Jews had only begun to believe in Christ through intellectual persuasion rather than through the revelation of the Holy Ghost, they are in spiritual poverty without the capacity to become sanctified and build Zion. Regardless, the Jews who soon composed the rejected church are God’s people and are blessed with intelligence and success as seen in the admirable yet worldly society they built in Utah.
-Goes through tribulation, but should not fear this; some are cast into prison by the devil
Because this group of believers in God do not build a true safe haven from the world, they experience the tribulation that comes by way of the wickedness of the world which infiltrates their soon-to-be rejected of God-church. However, they are told not to fear this tribulation in which they all experience. It appears the only thing they are to fear is the possibility that the devil will entice some of them deep enough into sin that they will be cast into spiritual prison and then experience the second death.
-They will have tribulation ten days, told to be faithful unto death
This is the other piece of evidence that indicates this group are Jews. The ten-day tribulation refers to the Jewish tradition of going through ten days of repentance until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in which they are to afflict their souls as part of an offering unto the Lord. (Lev 23:27) Because the Jews do not fully accept the the suffering of Christ in their behalf—not comprehending it—they must experience suffering themselves as did the ancient Jews under the law of Moses. Although their approach to God is not in harmony with the new testament, the Lord accepts their offering so long as they remain faithful to what light they have. Not living by grace, they are justified by the sufferings they bring upon themselves.
-If they overcome will not experience second death
The church of Smyrna is not promised the richer blessing given unto those who are made perfect through the mediator of the new covenant. But Christ loves them as they are “his own” (3 Nephi 9:16) and they will receive a terrestrial salvation to eventually become sanctified after their pain wherein they will dwell in the presence of Christ forever and ever. (D&C 133:35) Although their works in mortality were not grounded in celestial law, such as their practice of plural marriage, it is not held against them for they did not live by faith but according to the lesser law of commandments in which God approbated anciently and must continue to do so under conditions such as this, dealing once again with a group of believers who cannot fathom the true message of the gospel. The terrestrial souls do not receive a testimony of Jesus in the flesh (D&C 76:74) as seen in this group of believers, who are blinded from seeing the true source of salvation. If they remain honorable in their works—as misdirected as they may be—they will receive salvation after their tribulations and not experience the second death with the devil and his angels.
Pergamos – The post-1841 LDS Church/The unconverted House of Israel
-Holds fast to the name of Christ, does not deny the faith of Christ but does not have faith themselves
This church is composed of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples—who, like unto Epheus and Smyrna, do not posses the gift of faith but hold fast to the name of Christ and will not deny the portion of faith they have during the time of hidden darkness that preludes the marvelous work and a wonder. The church of Smyrna (Judah) is a sub-group of believers within this church, who go along for the ride after their church is rejected, wrongfully believing that the church of Pergamos represents the same church they joined previous to 1841. Although Ephesus (Ephraim) would not associate itself with Pergamos—most of them having already distanced themselves from Smyrna/The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the Jews of Smyrna remain in Pergamos as it casts an open net into the world and brings together a wide variety of believers from all the tribes of Israel as well as the remaining tares of the earth. However, the tares combined with Israel do not constitute the church of Pergamos within the rejected church, because Pergamos does not deny the faith of Christ. The church of Pergamos claims to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the name is not applicable because God did not consider the members to be Saints by March of 1841. (D&C 125)
-Dwells where Satan’s seat is and guilty of being connected with those who hold the doctrine of Nicolaitans
The LDS temple endowment ceremony is a shadow-representation of the doctrine being spoken of, as it is a ritual done in terms of secrecy in the manner of darkness. Although the ceremony no longer requires participants to covenant in agreement to having their throats cut open if they choose to reveal the secrets of the ceremony, it is still the obvious fulfillment of what was embraced by members of this church. For the time being, it appears as though even the humble followers of Christ are currently deceived and err in this instance (2 Nephi 28:14) although they themselves are not guilty of committing abominations. What is held against them is their allowance for these secret combinations to prevail among them instead of waking up to their awful situation. (Ether 8:24) They believe the temple to be harmless when Moroni has informed us that Saints have been murdered in connection to it. They are yet to realize they have been duped into making a covenant with death (Isa 28:18) and will need to repent of it before the overflowing scourge begins or they will be trodden down as the wrath of God begins—first of all, upon the House of Israel. (D&C 112:25) The temple in which they find “refuge” is a refuge of lies and the covenants made there have been made with hell itself (Isa 28:15) thus being the very the place Satan dwells. Paul prophesied that the son of perdition will be found sitting in one of the temples of God (2 Thes 2:3-4) which will surely occur in one of the LDS temples if it hasn’t already.
-Guilty of allowing individuals to bring forth stumbling-blocks which tempt the children of Israel into engaging with false idols and committing fornication
The list of false doctrines and erroneous beliefs about the nature of God over the entire history of the rejected church is endless. Each and every president of the church has agreed and disagreed with one or another, leaving the membership in a state of confusion where none see eye-to-eye. Although the church has stamped out many of its early-day heresies, the doctrine of the Father having once been a mortal man with a god above himself is still regarded as a foundational belief and paints a worldview of working towards salvation through eternal progression to become a god themselves. Thus, they walk in their own way in the image of their own god (D&C 1:16) putting their trust into a false idol.
Another stumbling-block is the spiritual-wife doctrine which originated in Nauvoo and ended before the turn of the twentieth century. Pergamos has not stamped it out completely, allowing for Section 132 to remain in their scriptures and continuing to believe in the “eternal sealing” ritual—the source of which was originally associated with the secret practice of marrying multiple women to receive a higher exaltation. The spirit of whoredom follows the church and is evident in the widespread consummation of pornography and the increasingly common occurrence of divorce/remarriage. Believing plural marriage to be connected to a fulness of glory has attributed to the development of deviant men who do not find refuge and strength in the bonds of monogamy.
The beliefs of spiritual-wifery espoused by the tares are separate and different from the practice of plural marriage that Judah would engage in. Smyrna/Judah would have been those that chose to live polygamy not out of lust but because they associated it with their effort to perform works to gain salvation. They wrongfully believed that plural marriage was a test by God to see if they would follow his commandments and thought their submission to it would prove their dedication. The Book of Hosea had a vision of the latter-day practice of polygamy; and prophesied that after Israel falls in their iniquity, Judah would also. (Hosea 5:5) What should be noted was that while those of Judah fall, their fall is not related to iniquity as it was to the rest of Israel. Their fall was due to their vulnerability in being blinded by the craftiness of the men, which is the inevitable destiny of all terrestrial souls. (D&C 76:75) The final word on Judah according to Hosea’s vision: “The house of Israel [is] with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.” (11:12)
-If they overcome they will eat the hidden manna (Christ) and receive the new name
If the House of Israel becomes converted for the marvelous work they will no longer have the name of their tribe of Israel (or their LDS temple-endowment name) but receive the name of the Father written on their foreheads as is seen of them who become the 144,000 on Mount Zion. (Rev 14:1) When the 144,000 are sealed as high priests out of the tribes of Israel they will be discovered to have originally been members of the rejected latter-day church. According to the Book of Revelation, the tribes of Israel who then must compose Pergamos are:
Notice that Dan is not listed. I believe this tribe is the tares combined with the rejected church who gain control and power over it. Latter-day Israel was told by Christ in 3 Nephi 16 that the Gentiles would not have power over them when they came to a knowledge of the fulness of the gospel. Because Judah is chosen of God to have authority over Israel, it is quickly assumed that this tribe has once again reigned over Israel in the latter-days. However it is inferred by Jacob that Dan seemingly takes it upon himself to be a judge without any apparent divine endorsement to do so. In fact, nothing good is said about this tribe at all. So although the Gentiles will not have power over Israel, Dan will, “judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.” (Gen 49:16) The best explanation for this verse is to conclude that the wicked leaders of the LDS church, who mingle their way up into positions of higher status to judge the members and bind them with heavy burdens, are of the tribe which has been excluded from being among the potential 144,000 of the House of Israel and is not being spoken to, addressed, or commended by John in his letter to Pergamos.
The tribe of Dan is prophesied by Jacob to be serpents (Gen 49:17) which is the same thing Christ called the Pharisees and scribes (Matt 23:33) who I imagine must have also been of this tribe and not Judah—for the tribe of Judah was approved by God to reliably fight against the enemies of Israel, not be an enemy themselves. (Gen 49:8) This correlates with Jeremiah 8:16 which informs us that the enemy will be heard from Dan—also said to, “publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.” (Jer 4:15) The “Jews” that lorded over the Jewish people were of the devil (John 8:44) and there’s no reason to doubt that the enemy has once again found a way to lord over God’s people.
Lastly, I’ll mention why Ephraim is missing from the list. This is because Ephraim is classified among the Gentiles; and all tribes of Israel will have a mixed lineage with Gentile/Ephraim after having been scattered among the nations. In other words, the House of Israel (minus Judah) can be considered as Gentiles.
Some believe the tribe of Joseph in Revelation 7 is meant to represent Ephraim—but if so, why wouldn’t it simply have been written as Ephraim? The Lord was hinting towards something. I believe the 12,000 high priests ordained from the tribe of Joseph will have come out of a new lineage of Joseph of Egypt through the mortal probation of Joseph Smith; who, in Section 124, received a special anointing upon himself and on the head of the posterity after him. (D&C 124:57) Joseph Smith’s posterity is referred to as a “house” (124:56) which is a term that can be associated with an individual tribe of Israel. (2 Sam 2:11) Thousands of descendants of Joseph Smith, whether they be in the church of Pergamos or in remnants of Ephesus, will be redeemed as members of the New Jerusalem and participate in the final administration of the everlasting gospel.
If the tribe of Joseph does in fact relate to Joseph Smith, this may demonstrate why Joseph married women wherein there was no sexual motivation to do so. The descendants of his plural wives, not of his literal seed, may still be members of his house. And because we know that Joseph has an extremely small group of literal descendants, this explains why there can yet be 12,000 of his tribe on the earth today.
Thyatira – The [future] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/The converted House of Israel
-Has works, charity, service, faith, patience; then lists “works” a second time
This is the first church said to have faith. It is also listed as having charity, the pure love of Christ which endures forever. (Moroni 7:47) This church will not go into apostasy—although some of its members will—for charity never faileth. (1 Cor 13:8) The first works of this church which prelude the charity and faith may have originally been “dead works” but Christ attributes works to them a second time, saying their last works will be of more worth than their first. The term “dead works” can refer to an invalid baptism (Moroni 8:23) that does not enable the believer to enter the strait gate (D&C 22:2) which makes sense in accepting this church to have originally belonged to the church of Pergamos whose baptisms were never accepted by God to result in subsequent baptisms of fire. Those in Pergamos who pray unto the Father to be filled with the pure love of Christ will receive a rightful second baptism of water in their scattered state before gathering together upon the land of Zion. The defining characteristic of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the condition of it being, “scattered abroad in all the world.” (D&C 115:4) The members of the LDS church today are scattered abroad but are not members of Thyatira until they are re-baptized as Nephi re-baptized his church upon the true establishment of Zion. Through re-baptism they will finally become Saints and “arise and shine forth” as said of them in Section 115 and Isaiah 60. The mormon-House of Israel will be first to receive the invitation to Zion when the times of the Gentiles comes in and the light shines among them; but as a whole, Pergamos will not receive it. (D&C 45:28) Thyatira consists of the converted Gentiles mixed into the twelve tribes of Revelation 7 who are the wheat of the Pergamos church who exit the modern worldly church when the prophets reveal themselves in time before the calamities are about to strike and the desolating scourge goes forth.
-Those who do not fornicate or associate with idols
The wheat of God’s harvest will believe in the celestial law of monogamy (D&C 42:22/49:16-17) and be pure of all sexual sin. They endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3) and dismiss the fables taught to them by false teachers. They will not be deceived in going after other gods but have faith in the true nature of God that has been declared by prophets in simplicity throughout all of scripture. Thyatira will be those that treasured up God’s word (JST-Matt 1:37) in stark contrast to their fellow brethren in Pergamos who reject the fulness due to the precepts of men (D&C 45:29) which are upheld over scripture.
-Allows a prophetess to seduce servants of Christ into fornication, and eat things sacrificed unto idols; told to hold fast to what they already have
So far I’m unaware of the details surrounding this narrative…in the meanwhile I am confident that it has not yet come to pass, because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not yet definitively on the earth. When it is, the elect should be on high alert: it is prophesied that a woman will come among them and seduce the servants of Christ to commit fornication and eat/consume/enjoy a false god. This prophetess will obviously be one who shows great signs and wonders (Matt 24:24) as said of Christ in regards to the false prophets and false Christs who come in the last days, which we have not yet seen. Although it is not possible for the elect to be deceived—the elect who are predestinated to be the 144,000—there will be true followers of Christ in Thyatira who will fall for the signs and wonders that Satan conjures. Jesus says unto his disciples, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt 24:4) His disciples can be deceived, and the elect will have this held against them because they have been entrusted as elders with oversight among the flock of God. (1 Peter 5:2) Sadly, the elect of the elders of Israel will fail in this. Those that are seduced by the prophetess are those who fall from grace and depart from the living God (D&C 20:32-34) after the power of the Lamb of God descends upon the Saints when they are still scattered upon all the face of the earth. (1 Nephi 14:14) The elect will hold fast to what they have—the fulness of the gospel—and the disciples who are deceived will be cast into hell with the false prophetess, although the Lord does indicate they have an opportunity to repent.
-If they overcome they have power over the nations, and receive the morning star
The term “power over the nations” that is used to describe those in Thyatira who successfully overcome their challenges and temptations, is used in only one other place in scripture—D&C 77:11, which informs us that once the 144,000 are sealed as high priests they will have, “power over the nations.” Section 77 proves that the faithful of Thyatira will in fact be the future 144,000 once they have been gathered to the cornerstone of Zion with the other Saints who are not part of the 144,000. Once they have been sealed unto this power, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will cease to exist because none of the Saints will remain scattered. The gathering from the four quarters of the earth will be accomplished when the elect arrive “unto the one place upon the face of this [American] land” where they will be “prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation is sent forth.” (D&C 29:8) The gathering of elect from the four winds which occurs next does not refer to those living on earth but to those “from one end of heaven to the other.” (JST-Mathew 24/JST Mark 13) The four-wind gathering is the elect who have died, such as those who overcame in Ephesus as well as the righteous in all other dispensations. Eventually another gathering from the four quarters of the earth will transpire, but the last to be gathered will not be classified as celestial-Saints.
The morning star is Joseph Smith, the angel that revealed the prophecy unto John (Rev 22:16) who is the “root” of David. (Isa 53:2) Sidney Rigdon is the “root of Jesse” (D&C 113:6); the morning star who comes at a later time to a wider group of elect. The 144 of Thyatira receive Joseph Smith who has the seal over them as the Elias-angel to “gather” the twelve tribes and “restore” the fulness of priesthood after “ascending” from spiritual prison. (D&C 77:9) With the fulness of priesthood they will redeem Zion as promised of Joseph when he gathers the strength of God’s “house [of Israel].” (D&C 103:21)
Sardis – The Watchers/Friends of the Bridegroom
-Has a name that they live, but are dead; works not perfect, although a few of them are already worthy
As I suspect there are individuals who live multiple lives within their single probation, I conclude this to be a reference to them.
Although the Watchers of Sardis have died in a previous life and will need to live again to have their sins blotted out during the times of refreshing (Acts 3:19) some return having already been sanctified, thus worthy—having already perfected their works
-Told to be watchful; if they fail to watch, Christ will come as a thief and not know the hour
It is accepted that none will know “the hour or day” (JST-Matt 1:39) of the Second Coming of Christ, and this is true. However the Lord comes secretly to the earth three times as a thief (JST-Luke 12:42-45) previous to the coming in glory in which every eye shall see. (Rev 1:7) The church of Sardis exists before the third watch, and this verse indicates that the watchers can know the time of the final preliminary coming. If they succeed in watching they will expect him down to the very hour he arrives and he will not be a thief unto them.
-If they overcome they will have white garments
White garments are given unto those of the New Jerusalem. (Ether 13:10) Although most members of New Jerusalem—the ones that will live in the last days and not previous dispensations—are those who do not experience the tribulation of the last days, the church of Sardis are the ones who die in martyrdom as recorded in Revelation 6 during the time between the opening of the fifth and sixth seal. In the Joseph Smith-translation, Sardis is told, “be watchful therefore, and strengthen those who remain who are ready to die,” which refers to Revelation 6: “And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (verse 11)
The Church of the Firstborn is referred to as the Bride of Christ, but John the Baptist differentiated himself from the bride and proclaimed himself to instead be a friend to the bridegroom. (John 3:29) Not all celestial souls are members of the Bride, for Section 76 does not outline the celestial as being required members of it, only that they come into company with it (as well as coming into company with the church of Enoch.)
Being a friend to the Bridegroom is not a lesser classification, for friends of God are those whose faith is made perfect through works (James 2:22-23) which is the very thing asked of the church in Sardis. Becoming a Friend of God according to James is through sacrifice. The friends to the Bridegroom must sacrifice their lives as did John the Baptist.
Those in Sardis said to be worthy were the ones who already sacrificed their lives in previous dispensations, who prepare the brethren to do the same: “strengthen those who remain who are ready to die.” (JST) Their fellowservants are “ready to die” as was Paul (Acts 21:13) and know it is their duty to do so. If they are not watchful, they will no longer be members of Sardis and become members of the future Laodicean church where they will overcome the same way Christ overcame (Rev 3:21) for having crucified Christ—so either they will die as martyrs or suffer the future wrath of God.
Those in Sardis that face martyrdom will have succeeded in taking up their cross and losing their lives for the sake of Christ and not their own sake. (Matt 16:24-25) It does appear, however, that those who are deceived by false prophets will be killed for the sake of Christ (JST-Mathew 1:5-7) which does infer that the Watchers are a group of believers that, in the past, made serious errors in their search for Christ. Yet regardless of their mistakes, the Watchers are described as holy ones who desire all to know the Most High (Daniel 4:17) and will speak out against the wickedness of the Danite tares. (Jer 4:15-16)
The members of Sardis who are Watchers (and know the hour of Christ’s third-watch) are the holy ones that are not deceived by the tares in sheep’s clothing but perhaps by others who claim to be anointed. These false christ’s will deliver them up (Luke 21:12) and the holy ones of them will be put to death, having already settled in their minds what answer they will give. They overcome by staying true to their testimony. (Luke 21:13/Rev 6:11) Before their deaths, they will see Christ and the Father as holy ones that did receive the testimony of Jesus while still in the flesh (D&C 76:51) even though they experienced deception previously, either in previous probations or during the time leading up to the opening of the sixth seal, before—and perhaps even during—the third watch.
Of course it is probable that not all martyrdom will be a result of past deception, that some will accept it because to them there would no greater honor than being martyred.
Philadelphia- The Church of the Firstborn/The Bride of the New Jerusalem
-Has an open door and the love of Jesus; has little strength, yet has not denied his name; kept the word
-Is told to hold their fast, they do not engage in idols
-Will be kept from the hour of temptation; the fake Jews will worship at their feet
-If they overcome will be a pillar in the temple of God with the name of God and the name of the New Jerusalem
The church of Philadelphia are the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem that are not members of the 144,000 that came out of the church of Pergamos and were the Smyrna-Saints. The Saints who are scattered abroad are separate from the other “covenant people of the Lord” (1 Nephi 14:14) who will leave Babylon in due time of the Lord to join the Saints when each group gathers to the land of Zion.
The covenant people of the Lord are members of the elect (JST-Mathew 1:22)—not of the prophesied House of Israel that are the wheat who gather out of the wheat/tare-infused rejected church, nor are they the martyrs of Sardis. The Philadelphia church are the repentant-Gentiles of the last days who will be numbered among the House of Israel (3 Nephi 16:13) to assist the remnant of Jacob (the first labourers of the last kingdom-D&C 52:2) in building the city of the New Jerusalem before it is raptured.
The Church of the Firstborn refers not only to Christ who is the firstborn of all (Coll 1:15) but to Ephraim’s status of being the firstborn before God. (Jer 31:9) This is why when the Ephraim-Gentiles were offered the fulness of the gospel in 1830, the church was organized on April 6th, the day which fell upon the Fast of the Firstborn.
Although the Gentiles rejected the fulness of the gospel, the times of the Gentiles comes in one last time (D&C 45:28-30) when the arm of the Lord is revealed to convince the heathen nations of the gospel of salvation. (D&C 90:10) The marvelous work of the third watch is directed unto the Gentiles (1 Nephi 22:8) who are considered heathens.
What I am unsure of, however, is their history before receiving their status and characteristics in Philadelphia. These Gentiles could be the true Christians who have rejected the creeds of apostate-Christianity—or could even be the current-day atheists. It seems more likely to me that atheists will be more reciprocal to the marvelous work when God’s word hisses forth as the Lord sets his hand again the second time. It will become apparent to them that the reason they did not find God during the time of apostasy was because satan was indeed the god of the world (2 Cor 4:4) and the religions of the earth belonged to him. They will have seen through the lies and not been brainwashed into believing they already possess the truth.
If they are Christians they will have been those who drifted from church to church, always suspicious of the complete lack of signs that should attend the true believers, the fruits of which are obsolete in all denominations. (Mark 16) These Christians will never be satisfied while they continue to sin and accept they have not been sanctified or truly born-again.
The past identity of Philadelphia will be irrelevant in terms of their future status as pillars in the temple of God. Once they receive God’s word they will keep it. The patience they have is that they refused to worship the beast (Rev 13:8-10)—or in other words, they refused to worship a false god. If they hold fast to what they have—keeping the commandments and having faith in Jesus—they will be kept from the hour of temptation where they would be killed for not receiving the mark of the beast. They will not be martyred for refusing to do so as the faithful of Sardis will—for the faithful of Philadelphia will be in Zion when the lamb-like beast of the dragon (the antichrist) arrives to force the inhabitants of the earth to worship the first beast (with seven heads and ten crowns) that he will give life to by the power of Satan.
The fake Jews will worship before the feet of this church. They will fall down before Ephraim and be crowned by their hands. (D&C 133:32)
Laodiceans- The Remnant/The Jews of the Old Jerusalem
-Neither cold nor hot; they are lukewarm, spewed from God’s mouth
-Rich in the world—but poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked
-Counselled to buy of Christ to be rich, to receive white raiment to not be naked, to be anointed to see
-Is loved of Christ
-If they overcome the same way Christ overcomes they will sit on the throne
This is the final church who can receive better than a telestial salvation. They have the opportunity to be redeemed after the second trump, before the third trump sounds.
This group is rich in the eyes of the world, a reference to them being the remnant of Smyrna, the other church to be rich. These are the Jews that began to believe in Christ in 1836 when God brought them to a knowledge of the fulness of the gospel. When they “begin” to believe they “begin to gather in upon the face of the land” (2nd Nephi 30:7) but this does not constitute their prophetic gathering to Jerusalem, the land of their inheritance.
The Jerusalem promised to them is not the New Jerusalem nor is it the Jerusalem located in Palestine; it is Kirtland (D&C 109:62)—a place designated for refuge that is not the land of Zion but a stake of it. (D&C 124:36)
While the Gentiles flee to Zion, Judah will flee to Jerusalem to the mountain of the Lord’s house. (D&C 133:12-13) However, Judah does not gather to Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (D&C 45:25)
The remnant gathers after the sun is darkened and the moon turns to blood, which occurs when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (JST Luke 21:25) and the elect have already been gathered from the four quarters of the earth.
After the New Jerusalem comes with those numbered among the seed of Joseph, then comes the Jerusalem of old. (Ether 13) Those of the old Jerusalem do not have white garments, but will be washed in the blood of the Lamb, for Judah will be sanctified after their pain. (D&C 133:35) The Jews are loved of Christ which is why even though the Laodicean church is spoken of so poorly they still retain his love.
After the marvelous work concludes and the first trump is blown (D&C 88:94) the wrath of God is poured out upon the great church (the tares) and then commences the work of the Father. (1 Nephi 14:17) According to Christ, the New Jerusalem is already built and he is in the midst of it before the work of the Father begins to prepare a way for “his people” to be “gathered home to the land of their inheritance.” (3 Nephi 21:26-28)
After the second trump, those who belong to Christ at his coming will be redeemed/sanctified. (D&C 88:99) This is the remnant who will not be the firstfruits of Christ who ascend with him at the Second Coming, but will be those in Kirtland who see him coming in the clouds. (D&C 45:43-44)
The remnant will also include those in Sardis who were cut off for not watching (D&C 45:44) and did not have their sins remitted during the time of refreshing because they missed out on the third watch. Their redemption comes later, after their pain, when they look upon Christ. They will “weep because of their iniquities” and “lament because they persecuted their king.” (D&C 45:53) This brings to pass Revelation 1:7—those that pierced Christ will be on the earth to see him coming in the clouds.
One last thing I’ll mention is that there are four and twenty elders that receive a celestial inheritance and yet belonged to all seven churches (D&C 77:5) which indicates that even members of the Laodecian church can receive the white robes of the New Jerusalem. (Rev 4:4) It is likely that the final gathering of the old Jerusalem will receive white robes once they are sanctified.
The curious thing asked of the Laodecian church is for them to overcome as Christ overcame inferring that their redemption is by treading the wrath of God. This is the pain of Judah which comes before sanctification.