Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | April 19, 2016

The Church of the Expectoration

Are We in the Laodicean Era of Church History?

The last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, is a book with deep prophetic significance including the first three chapters. The first three chapters are devoted to a summary of the seven church ages and culminate with the age of Laodicea. This church age is described by the Lord in Revelation 3:14-22 where it is written:

14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:

15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

22 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

I think we can all agree this is a rather scathing condemnation for that particular church age, wouldn’t you say? The Lord would spit it out of His mouth because it is lukewarm, neither hot or cold. I heard a preacher once refer to it as the church of the expectoration and thought that an apt description.

Also worth noting is the Lord’s description of the church as rich and self satisfied; even to the point of excluding the Lord Himself who is described as standing at the door of the church and knocking to see if anyone will invite Him in. This is a sad situation indeed, the Lord standing outside the church knocking on the door, waiting to see if anyone would invite Him in.

The Seven Church Ages

When Revelation was written John could refer to seven different churches that had distinctly different characteristics but were all active in the first century. The selection of these particular churches was in no way accidental but was part of the prophetic revelation our Lord was revealing to the church. Each church listed would also characterize a distinct era in church history.

While each of the church types would continue to exist throughout history the overall tenor of the age would vary and generally correspond to one of the seven church types and appear in the order presented in chapters two and three of Revelation.

The Lord does not specify the beginning and ending dates of the seven church ages but history provides us some insight into when these seven ages may have started and stopped. As with any study of history, eras of history may be more transitional in nature and not sudden, or abrupt. This is the nature of these changes with the exception of the beginning of the first age which started on a specific date, May 25, AD 33, Pentecost and the ending of the seventh age which shall terminate at the Rapture.

While I do not present the following dates as definitive and final, I have written them in the margins of my study Bible and believe them to be a close estimate to the years the seven ages started and ended with the exception of the final age which will be brought to a close by the Rapture of the Church.

  1. Ephesus, 33-100
  2. Smyrna, 100-312
  3. Pergamum, 312-590
  4. Thyatira, 590-1517
  5. Sardis, 1517-1750
  6. Philadelphia, 1750-1925
  7. Laodicea, 1925 to the Rapture

While year 33 is reasonably certain, based on the latest chronological scholarship, the other years are nothing more than rough estimates; the greater clarity of vision provided by hindsight would, however, suggest these dates are close approximations.

As with the first century, all seven types of churches have existed throughout church history but the overall age is characterized by the general characteristic of that particular age. Another factor to keep in mind is the regional variations to be found around the world. The church in the Middle East is a church under serious persecution such as described about the church at Smyrna.

Next time, a coming celebration and a coming judgment.


  1. I was just reading these three chapters this morning! Thank you Lord for the commentary from my wonderful earthly father.

    I love you, dad


    • Dearest Karen,
      Thank you, I am delighted to have you as my earthly daughter and also my heavenly sister in Christ!


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