Deep in the book of Revelation, two churches are presented. They are somewhat hidden because of the symbolism used. This article will reveal these two churches: The Two Churches of Revelation.
The Problem of the Church
In 1882, philosopher Frederick Nietzsche declared that God is dead. Some may argue the church is dead or at least dying. It isn’t challenging to understand the reason for such pronouncements. In the West, extensive tumbling in church attendance is taking place. Societies are changing, biblical morality is being mocked, and a sense of sharing value is practically non-existent. In cities and towns all over the Western world, church attendance is on a downward trend. In the US, more churches are closing than opening each year. In Canada, one-third of churches may close in the future.
As secularism makes colossal advances in society, it is clear that churches are in decline. In October 2019, The Pew Research Center
ran an article that noted that in 2018, and 2019, 65 percent of American adults professed themselves to be Christians regarding their religious affiliation. That is down 12 percent over the past decade. [search for charts] In the meantime, the unaffiliated segment of the population that declared themselves atheist, agnostic, or non-religious is currently 26%, up from 17% in 2009. These percentages represent tens of millions who have shifted their religious priorities. This shift illustrates an enormously significant change in the American religious scene in just ten years.
The question becomes, what will the nation look like in a few more decades? The Pew Research Center estimates that in 2020, about 64% of Americans, including children, were Christian. Unaffiliated individuals accounted for 30% of the US population. Other affiliations, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, totaled roughly 6%. The projections show Christians of all ages declining from 64% to slightly more than half and a little above one-third of all Americans by 2070.
This trajectory is the same in other Western nations as well. For example, only 44% of Australians currently characterize themselves as Christians, down from 52% in 2016—the same for England and Wales. Canada has been on the border of woke culture in recent years. As a result, the number of church attendees has considerably declined. In 2001, 77% of the population professed Christianity. However, in 2021, the percentage dropped to 53%.
The question now becomes, why the shift? Why is this happening? For sure, the COVID-19 pandemic is a particular culprit. It was the cause of everything, including churches, to shut down. The marvels of technology stepped in and allowed churches to stream their services online.
Nevertheless, it has become a permanent solution instead of a temporary adjustment. It was easier for those on the border of church versus non-church to simply drift away altogether. Others are taking advantage of worshipping in the comfort of their homes. The advent of online worship has profoundly changed how individuals approach church worship. Choosing to worship online can be a trend that may be disturbing.
So, where is this heading? What lies in the future of churches in the Western world? More significantly, what does Jesus, the head of the church, think about this? Will the church eventually disappear?
In Matthew 16:18, He said, … “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” This statement means that His church will never die. The grave will not consume His church. There will always be someone(s), somewhere, who is a faithful disciple(s) of Christ up until His return.
Further, in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, in Matt 28:18-20:
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This passage tells us that Jesus will personally direct His church until his return.
In Matthew 24 14, Jesus also said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
It doesn’t appear that Christ’s church will disappear.
The Two Churches of Revelation
Christ’s church will not die! Therefore, there is no need to be concerned about the church ending.
However, there is one thing that we should be concerned about.
Biblical prophecy tells us that on the horizon, not one but two churches will exist in the end times. This prophecy breaks down all the dominations that have existed over time into two groups. This prophecy exists in the book of Revelation.
The First Church
Keep in mind that Revelation is highly symbolic. Floods represent armies, horns represent kings or kingdoms, and women represent churches. It is important to note that two different women are documented in Revelation.
To look at one, Rev 17:1-6 contains a description.
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
This description is one of the women in Revelation: a harlot committing fornication, making “the inhabitants of the earth…” “…drunk” with spiritual error. She is also riding on a beast. Beasts in prophecy represent political or religious power. Therefore this harlot is a politically powerful church directing the actions of a corrupt government or kingdom.
In verse 4, we see this woman, or church, as enormously wealthy. And in verse 5, she is “the mother of harlots.” Meaning she also has harlot daughters, other churches that teach the same thing spun from her.
In verse 6, we see that she has killed the true and faithful followers, “the martyrs of Jesus.”
Revelation shows us that this church will carry on and operate with great power for some time, but its downfall will be sudden, as we see in verses Rev 17:15-18
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
In verse 16, we see that this all-powerful church, represented by a woman, in the end, will be overwhelmed by the beast power she rode upon.
There is a warning not to ride this beast. Rev 18:4-5 says,
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Therefore, there isn’t an urgent need to be concerned about falling church attendance. The need for concern is not to fall prey to the false church that promotes false doctrine and leads to destruction, no matter how enticing it may be.
More detail is given about this woman—this church in Rev 13:11-15
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
Notice the two horns of a lamb. Jesus is portrayed as a lamb. Therefore, this leader will appear to be like Christ, a Christian and a man of God, but he speaks like a dragon. What does the dragon represent? None other than Satan the devil (Rev. 12:9). Therefore, this leader will not speak the words of Jesus, but the words of Satan, the devil deceiving copious amounts of the world’s population into thinking that they are following Christ.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
So that’s the first church.
The Second Church
There is another woman represented in Revelation. She is acknowledged as the faithful and obedient church that follows Christ. Rev 12:1-2, 5 reads:
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
This woman represents the true church, the saints of the Old Testament that grew into a nation
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
The child was Jesus Christ, whose destiny is to rule all nations on the earth when He returns.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
This verse speaks of what happened to the faithful followers of Christ. Early in the church’s history, there was a branch that didn’t follow Christ’s teachings, which grew into a powerful entity that outnumbered the faithful followers of Christ.
These true and faithful followers had to go into hiding during these “thousand two hundred and threescore days” to escape persecution. Days in prophecy represent years. Therefore, the actual time of this period was 1260 years. For more information on this period, read the article, What is 1844 about, on this website.
Although millions of Christians were persecuted during this time, there were others who survived in “a place prepared of God.”
But the war wasn’t over; Rev 12:17 says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The dragon is highly upset with the true church. Meanwhile, Satan has continued to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9 ).
There will be a mass deception by a false church in the last days. This deception will culminate in the operation of this church that has been operating for centuries.
Most individuals who profess Christianity are merely following the traditions of man, not the Christianity of Christ. Mark 7:9 quotes Jesus on this matter: “And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
Those of the true church “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
God offers protection for His true church. Rev 12:13-16 says:
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood the dragon cast out of his mouth.
After Christ ascended to heaven, Satan turned his attention to the woman to persecute her.
She is given two great wings to fly into the wilderness. This wilderness describes the place God prepared for the church to flee during the 1260 years of papal persecution from AD 538—1798, described as “a time, and times, and half a time.“
The flood waters in verse 15 represent persecution. He intended to destroy the woman or church, having it carried away by the flood and destroyed.
However, “the earth…swallowed up the flood” which “the dragon”
the devil “cast out of his mouth.” The earth represents the unpopulated areas of the world. The low-population areas were ideal for swallowing up the flood of persecution. The earth kept the woman from annihilation by Satan and the papacy during the 1260 years.
This false church is ongoing and will ultimately be destroyed (Revelation 18:1-8) just as the harlot (Rev. 17:16) that perpetuates it, and Christ’s true church will prevail. But tribulation must precede this act of Justice by God.
If we are indeed followers of Christ, if we obey all Ten of His Commandments, we are covered with the blood of His cross, being led by His Holy Spirit, He will protect us in the coming colossal tribulation.
Let us not be deceived by the harlot of the false Church!
Questions, comments, and concerns are welcomed below.