My dear Brethren: – Grace and Peace through our Beloved Master!
...."in his right hand seven stars" – Rev, 1:16. "As for the secret of the seven stars, which thou sawest in my right hand .... the seven stars are messengers of the seven congregations."–Rev. 1:20, Dia. The "seven congregations" described and addressed in the first three chapters of Revelation actually existed at the time the Revelation was given to St. John, but it is clear enough from vs. 1 – "things which must shortly come to pass" – and from other expressions in chapters two and three that this prophecy reached far into the future and anticipated segments of the Gospel-Age Church of far greater Import than those small assemblies of the Apostle's time.
The same would apply to the "seven stars," as there is no record of a specific "star" (angel or messenger) coming to those small congregations, bearing in mind that all the Apostles, except St. John were dead at the time the Revelation was given. Much that we shall set forth herein is from Brother Johnson, but we shall not mention his name for each specific instance. Suffice to say here that he interpreted the "seven stars" as composite groups of men (not seven individuals, as some Interpreters have assumed) that were special teachers to the Gospel-Age Church from its inception to the end of the Age.
Be it noted here that in many instances the Bible is its own Interpreter; that is, to understand properly the interpretation of a certain Scripture, the key to that understanding will be found in some other section of the Bible. This is the case for a proper interpretation of the "seven stars." In Rev. 12:1 we are told "the woman invested with the sun" had on "her head a crown of twelve stars." That these "twelve stars" are the twelve Apostles needs no argument; therefore, the first epoch of the Gospel-Age Church had twelve special messengers to the "Church at Ephesus," and not just one individual; and those "twelve stars" were the composite "Star" to "the congregation at Ephesus," which our Lord held "in his right hand" – eleven members of that "Star" already dead when Revelation was written. Also, Micah 5:5 speaks of "seven shepherds, and eight principal men." These "seven shepherds" are the same as the "seven stars" of Revelation; whereas, the "eight principal men" are a part of the "seven shepherds," proving again that the "seven stars" are comprised of more than just seven individual men. It was Brother Johnson's interpretation that the seven composite groups included a total of 49 individuals – 12 in the first epoch, a total of 35 in the next five epochs, and two in the last epoch; and it is our purpose here to name those 49 Individuals, show the epoch of the Church in which they officiated, with some limited comment on certain outstanding parts of them. A number of our readers have asked the questions at various times, which we shall endeavor to answer herein, and we trust this exposition may prove a blessing to all who receive it. Thus, we proceed to:
THE CONGREGATTON IN EPHESUS – (Ephesus meaning "first, desirable" – a fitting name for this epoch), this first era being from 29 to 69 AD, with St. Paul as the Principal Man, the "angel" or "star" including all twelve of the Apostles as explained above. It should be noted, too, that although this epoch embraced forty years, the twelve stars officiated in the "church which is His body" for only 36½ years.
THE CONGREGATION IN SMYRNA – (Smyrna meaning "bitter," in allusion to the bitter and excruciating persecutions of the Pagan Roman Empire into the early part of the fourth century) continued from 69 to 313, the Principal Man being St. John. Here it is well to remember that John is the only one of the "stars" who was a "star" in two different epochs of the Gospel-Age Church, although he was the "principal man" in the second epoch only. He is presumed to have lived until about 100 AD The other "stars" of the Smyrna period are:
POLYCARP – a disciple of St. John, his ministry extending over more than seventy years. He in turn tutored the third "star" –
IRENAEUS – of whom no certain trace can be found after 190 AD –
THE CONGREGATION IN PERGAMOS – (Pergamos meaning "earthly elevation," having reference to that period in which the Papacy became greatly elevated as it united with Pagan Rome to form "The Holy Roman Empire") continued from 313 to 799, the principal Man being –
ARIUS, who was presbyter at Alexander from AD313 – "a man of clear intellect." At the Council of Nice in 325, which was attended by Emperor Constantine himself and 318 bishops from all parts of the Roman Empire, he was banished into exile, and his writings condemned to be burned. Of all that pompous throng assembled, only two Egyptian bishops, Theonus and Secundus, chose to "suffer affliction" with the "man of God," and went into exile with him. Arius went to North Africa, where he continued for eleven years until his death (being over 80 years of age), at the end of which time there was a flourishing Christian colony there. And what did they name themselves? Why, Arians, of course! When the deeds of some of these grand "stars" are properly described in book form by some competent Ancient or Youthful Worthy, then will truly be fulfilled the words of Jesus, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." The other "stars" of the Pergamos period were:
TICHONIUS (about 400 AD) – an outstanding opponent of "Saint" Augustine on apostolic succession and of the one church as being based in its unity on its bishops.
ADELBERT DESIDERIUS of France and Germany (about 745 AD)..
THE CONGREGATION IN THYATIRA – (Thyatira meaning "the sweet perfume of a sacrifice" in allusion to the elevating sacrifices of the true church during the drunken revelings of the apostate Roman Church) continued from 799 to 1309, the Principal Man being Claudius of Turin, who ministered from 799 to 839. He was the first Protestant Reformer, and wrote on almost the whole range of Scripture; but only his commentary on Galations is still extant. When Pope Paschalis became displeased at his preaching, he countered that the Pope is to be honored as an Apostle only when he does the works of an Apostle; otherwise, Matt. 23:2-4 applies to him. Other "stars" of the Thyatira period were:
RATRAMNUS, the "monk at Corbie" (about 850 AD) – DUNSTAN of England. He was the most conspicuous figure among the English clergy in the tenth century, became Archbishop of Canterbury in 959, died in 988; and was the most influential counselor of the four successive English kings ...
HUGH CAPET of France (about 972) –
ADALBERT of Prague, who first brought the message of salvation into Prussia, and was martyred In 997 ...
BERENGAR of Tours (about 1050) –
PETER ABELARD (1079 – 1142), the ablest teacher and theologian of the twelfth century – ministered for 28 years –
PETER de BRYS – He taught the true or invisible church is in the hearts of believers; contended God could be worshipped in a stable or other common structure; burned crucifixes in the cooking stove. He was burned at the stake by a raging mob in 1126.
HENRY of LAUSANNE – who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1148, and died there the following year. He had been the close companion of Peter de Brys, succeeded to the leadership at his death – seemingly much the same as Brother Johnson had done at the death of Brother Russell.
ARNOLD OF BRESCIA – He was condemned in 1139, banished and enjoined to silence. He then joined Peter Abelard in France; was excommunicated by Pope Innocent II in 1141, and imprisoned in a cloister. He escaped and went to Switzerland, where he taught for some years. He was strangled in 1155.
JOHN WALDO (1173-1220).
THE CONGREGATTON IN SARDIS – (Sardis meaning "that which remains" in reference to the brief period just before the Reformation by Sects) continued from 1309 to 1479, the Principal Man being Marsiglio, who officiated from 1309 to 1343. His book, The Defender of The Peace, routed the claims of the entire papal hierarchy. Other "stars" of that period were:
JOHN TAULER, born at Strasbourg, studied at Paris, eventually returning to Strasbourg, where he died in 1361. A Dominican monk, his most important work was "The Imitation to The Poverty of Christ."
JOHN WYCLTF – much persecuted and his books often burned.
JOHN HUSS – After a tumultuous career, he was finally thrown into prison (after having been promised safe-conduct by the Roman Emperor Sigismund). After many months in prison, he was finally granted a public trial, which was in reality a revolting farce. His prosecutor addressed Sigismund, "By destroying this heretic, thou shalt obtain an undying name to all ensuing generations," At this Huss appealed to his promise of safe-conduct, which made Sigismund wince and blush. Kneeling down, he prayed to God for his enemies and unjust judges. Then seven bishops dressed him in priestly robes in order to strip him of them one after another amid solemn execrations. After this they put upon his head a pyramidal hat, painted with figures of devils, and uttered the words, "We give thy soul to the devil," at which Huss replied, "I commend it into the hands of our Saviour Jesus Christ," That same day he was burned at the stake, expiring amid prayer and praise, joyfully, courageously and confidently, showing himself worthy to rank among the martyrs of all time who had sealed their Christian confessions with their blood. His ashes were scattered on the Rhine River, June 8, 1415,
JEROME OF PRAGUE, a close friend of John Huss, had come to attend his trial, was also seized and thrown into prison, In May, 1416, he was granted a public trial; and on May 30 also suffered the fate of his beloved friend Huss – died at the stake, joyfully and courageously, as Huss had done. The Florentine humanist Poggio was present and gave enthusiastic expression in a letter still extant to Jerome's heroic spirit,
THE CONGREGATION IN PHILADELPHIA – (Philadelphia meaning "love of a brother," indicating the strong brotherly love that prevailed especially among persecuted Protestants during this epoch) continued from 1479 to 1874. We have timed the beginning of the "sixth angel" at 1479 because Rev. 9:13-15 says this angel "sounded his trumpet" for "an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year." Inasmuch as the "hour, day, month and year" are symbolic years, they would total slightly more than 391 literal years. If we should deduct this from 1374, it would give the beginning of the sixth epoch at 1483; but we have set the date forward four years, because the last member of the "sixth star," William Miller, had already been dead 21 years at 1870, and Brother Russell was already aggressively inquiring for the Truth which eventually made him the more prominent Principal Man of the two Principal Men that appeared in the Laodicean period of the Gospel-Age Church. The Principal Man of the Philadelphia epoch was John Wessel, who died in 1489. He preached "justification by faith" and that such justifying faith made active in Divine love was sufficient unto salvation. His deathbed words were, "I know only Jesus the crucified." The next "star" of this epoch was –
JEROME SAVONAROLA – He was born in Florence, Italy, in 1452, became a Dominican monk at San Marco, practiced rigid self-discipline, denounced the depravity of the clergy of his day, preached salvation by the Grace of God and justification through faith. "The ascetic monk became the man of the people," says the record. He was hung on the gallows May 23, 1498, then burned by a raging mob.
MARTIN LUTHER quickly followed Savonarola as the next "star" of Philadelphia. He was the outstanding hero of the Reformation-by-sects period, and rated by historians as one of the 25 greatest intellects of all time; yet he had that sublime humility which enabled him to say, "It could plausibly be said I borrowed everything from Wessel."
The other "stars" of Philadelphia were ULRICH ZWINGLI – (a contemporary of Luther, and founder of what was subsequently perverted into the Reformed or Presbyterian Church);
BALTHAZER HUBMAIER – (founder of subsequent perversion into the Baptist Church);
MICHAEL SERVETUS – (the Unitario-Universalist Church). He was also burned at the stake in Switzerland at the instigation of John Calvin in one of the most atrocious crimes of all history, the date being October 27, 1553;
JOHN WESLEY – (the Methodist Church);
THOMAS CRANMER – (Episcopal Church – burned at the stake in England in 1556 at the command of "Bloody Mary," England's queen);
ROBERT BROWNE – (the Congregational Church);
GEORGE FOX – (the Quaker Church, et al);
THOMAS CAMPBELL – BARTON W. STONE (the Campbellite Church); and
WILLIAM MILLER – (the Adventist Church).
THE CONGREGATION IN LAODICEA – (Laodicea meaning "justice for the people," in allusion to the rebellion of the masses against the classes, which speedily leads up to Armageddon). This period began technically in 1874, still continues, and contained only two "stars" – Brother Russell and Brother Johnson, the same being also the seventh and eighth principal men of Micah 5:5. We shall refrain from detailed comment about them here, just as we have done with a number of the Philadelphia "stars", because Brother Johnson has offered very elevating eulogies on these various men in his Epiphany Volumes. However, we believe it fitting at this time to consider St. Paul's narration of the persecutions of the Ancient Worthies, as he presents it in Heb. 11:35-38 (Dia.): "They were beaten to death...received a trial of mockings and scourges, and also of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted; they died by slaughter of the sword; they went about in sheep-skins and in goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (of whom the world was not worthy)." The Apostle then makes sublime appeal in Heb. 12:1 to all Gospel-Age believers, based upon his outline of those Ancients in the preceding chapter:
"Having such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us ... we should run with patience the course marked out for us." The "us" in his appeal are the Gospel-Age Saints, of course; but his words have an application to all justified believers who endeavor to "follow in His steps." And we today may make double appeal of his words, because we are not only surrounded by the "great cloud of witnesses" of previous Ages, but we also now have a "great cloud of witnesses" in the Gospel Age as our examples, and especially so in the "seven stars" to the seven churches." May their blessed memories ever be an incentive that we "give all diligence" .. "to run with patience the race before us,"
In conclusion, it is in order here to relate the proximity of the "seven congregations in Asia," which fact would also discount the thought of a special "star" to each of those churches. Ephesus was located on the River Cayster, 35 miles southeast of Smyrna, the same being the seaport of Asia Minor. Ephesus contained the Temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Of the Church in Smyrna there is no censure, but they were admonished to "fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer" – a very applicable reference to the terrible persecutions which ended with Diocletian in 313 AD The third church, Pergamos, was fifty miles north of Smyrna on the River Caicus, about fifteen miles from the sea; while Thyatira was about 27 miles from Sardis on the northern border of Lydia and on the road from Pergamos to Sardis. Sardis was about fifty miles east of Smyrna on the River Pactolus. Philadelphia was 65 miles east of Smyrna and 28 miles southeast of Sardis; while Laodicea was 42 miles east of Ephesus on the River Lycos. It is mentioned in St. Paul's letter to the Colossians (Col. 4:13-16), which had been sent by Onesimus, a runaway slave of Philemon, in whose home the Colossian congregation seemingly was wont to meet. Colosse, Laodicea and Hierapolis (See Col. 4:13) constituted a triangle whose sides were about six miles each; thus, all three places could be visited by an 18-mile walk. All of the "seven congregations which are in Asia" could be contained in a circle whose radius was little more than fifty miles.
It was Laodicea of whom it was written, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Rev, 3:17); and there was excellent visible reason for this at the time St. John wrote the Revelation. The city had warm springs, the bathing in which was very beneficial to the health. People traveled great distances to partake of the healing baths, and this influx of tourists gave Laodicea much wealth and an easy life in the mild Asia Minor climate. This made it an excellent model for the present-day "church in Laodicea," which, since 1874 has especially become "increased of goods, and neither cold nor hot." It is truly no problem to discern the truth of this at every turn; the real problem for God's people today is that they do not succumb to the flattering ease of prosperity and turn aside to "heap treasures together for the last days."
"Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Having specially this thought in mind, we have compiled this treatise on the "Seven Stars"; and it is our hope that all our readers may heed Rev. 3:22: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,"
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION: – J. W, Krewson states that the "scarlet cord" of Josh. 2:18 types the Sin-Offering; that the stones of Joshua's altar type the "twelve chief graces"; that he is a parallel to Wm. Miller's special helper. Would you please give your comment on these and others of his contentions that seem out of harmony with the Star Members?
ANSWER: – (1) On page 9, No. 23, par. 1, he describes the "scarlet cord" of Joshua 2:18 as a type of the Sin-Offering, The Berean Comments say it is a "symbol of the blood of the ransom," It should not require great intellect to determine the correctness of That Servant here as against J. W. Krewson. While we cannot improve upon God's Plan ("all his works are perfect"), it is well to consider that His Plan could have been carried out without a Sin Offering; whereas, God's attributes would make it impossible to consummate the human plan of salvation without a ransom.
(2) Then on page 14 of No. 23, he says the twelve stones of Josh. 4:1-9 are the "twelve chief graces." Let him show any Bible precedent where uncut and unpolished boulders (stones of the field – in this case boulders from the river bottom of Jordan) are ever used to symbolize graces. In due course we hope to prove that these twelve boulders represent the "twelve tribes of Israel" (one for each tribe), thus depicting all_the consecrated – in harmony with what we have already written on Joshua,
(3) He's already admitted concerning his Do-You-Knows that he doesn't believe them himself (he's asking for information); therefore, any one who places any reliance upon them shows himself as foolish as their writer. Also, it will be noted he often quotes from the Weymouth translation. That Evil Servant also used it extensively; but Brother Johnson told us personally that Weymouth was nothing more than a paraphrase – a very untrustworthy work but the one now occupying the "teaching position" in Brother Johnson's place apparently accepts it as reliable. And when J. W, Krewson says on page 42 of his No. 29 he does not need to "read detailedly" our writings, we would answer by saying he apparently feels the same way about Brother Johnson's writings, too – as evidence his Do-You Know at top, of page 44 of No. 29, that he is a parallel to Brother Miller's companion helper (Bro. Wolf) in J. W, Krewson's relation to Brother Johnson. On page 492 of Vol. 10 Brother Johnson states he was the only Star Member of the entire Gospel Age who would not have a companion helper. Brother Johnson offers a second contradiction to his "parallel" in E-13-13 "Star-member Brother Miller and his special helper (Bro. Wolf of England, or Brother Hines of America, we are not sure which)." J. W. Krewson's exposition of his "parallel" bears that close relationship to the "proofs" contained in the writings of R. G. Jolly, which links then as very, very close "first cousins." And the "maker" of this parallel is crass enough to accuse JJH of "speculation"!
Of course we realize such teachings by the Epiphany Messenger bother J. W. Krewson not at all, as he changes one thing after another to suit his whims – just as does his "cousin" R, G, Jolly. The both of them are a unit in insisting the Epiphany Camp in the finished picture will contain the "consecrated"; whereas, Brother Johnson always insisted they would be the "unconsecrated," And, since 1554-56 (before which time even he admits there was no class of quasi-elect consecrated), it will be interesting to know if his quasi-elect consecrated are in the Epiphany Camp, or the Apokalypse Camp. These two "cousins" seem to have as hard a time with their non-existent classes as did JFR with his Jonadabs,
It shouldn't surprise us very much at anything he attempts, or what teachings of Brother Russell and Brother Johnson he sets aside to suit his whims, when we consider his heading on No. 29 – "Second Smallest Antitype" (of Joseph). Brother Johnson says in Vol. 10, that he himself was the "smallest antitype of Joseph"; now comes J. W. Krewson making himself more important here even than the Epiphany Messenger – because the "second smallest" of anything must self-evidently be larger than the "smallest." In due course we shall probably say more on these and kindred pieces of "folly" by J. W. Krewson; but for now time and space deter us. He is indeed "seeing visions" – is having delusions of grandeur!
J. W. Krewson still contends that "error must be defended, but Truth can stand on its own." Note Brother Johnson's sharp contradiction of this in E-11-708: "Epiphany-enlightened saints (as Jerusalem) striking terror into the hearts of the Levites (terrible) by her defenses of the Truth against Levite attacks and by her refutations of Levite errors by the standards of the Truth" Here again J. W. Krewson tosses aside the sound and sober teachings of the one he claims is now working through him, just as he has done with his Apokalypsis set-up, with his quasi-elect consecrated concoction, with his rejection of Brother Johnson's analysis of Ezra 7:25 re Epiphany pilgrim appointments, etc., etc. Some of us remember when he gave R. G. Jolly the position of defending the Truth from all attacks, while reserving the office of "teaching" advancing truth (?) for himself. It now seems clear enough that this is just an adroit way of avoiding any response to our "extinguisher fluid" (the Truth) that has been presented so effectively against his false teachings (as presented particularly in our Three Babylons tract). The "cousins" just keep on repeating, repeating and repeating their errors, just as did That Evil Servant against Brother Johnson's attacks.
With his own teaching, Brother Johnson did what any true Pastor and Teacher would do: He defended his Truth teachings against all attacks (particularly the Epiphany doctrines), and effectively so – just as we also do with the Truth teachings we promulgate. Since we especially attacked this quasi-elect consecrated false doctrine in our Three Babylons tract, it is "strange" neither of the "cousins" has attempted an answer to it – in their publications, that is (although we understand they do considerable "whispering"). In our Three Babylons tract we "extinguished" their "strange fire" on Joel 2:28,29 with the help of Brother Johnson's sound and Scriptural analysis of this Scripture (will they attempt to refute Brother Johnson's interpretation of this Scripture?) – a point which neither of them has even attempted to answer. And our prediction now is that neither of them will attempt to do so; rather, they will prefer to continue their "whispering campaigns" on inconsequential and unprovable items against us (even as the Scribes and Pharisees did with Jesus in regard to the 'letter of the law') – just as JFR conducted his "avoid them" deceit against the beloved Epiphany Messenger, as he "gnawed his tongue for pain" against Brother Johnson's exposures of his many devious and revolting errors. Such has ever been the method of all self-appointed Pastors and Teachers, so we need not be surprised at the two "cousins.
LETTER OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle: – Greetings of love and peace through our dear Lord. I am very much in need of each tract.... This winter has been hard, especially on elderly people. One day I counted thirty widows among my addresses. Usually all leave relatives. I am thankful for this privilege of service – even though my heart sinks at the new columns each day, which prove the prevalence and sorrow of the curse.....
It was told to me that one brother who has great confidence in the Executive Trustee "Blew his top" when he read the Babylon tract. This proves that it has explosive power.
Many of us older ones love and pray for you both, for we have the assurance of faith that your message is true and timely.
Sister --------- Mass.