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These excerpts are from
Natural, Grammatical Outlines in
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
by Dr. Richard Hughes
"Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are,and the things which shall be hereafter; [write] the Mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right handand the seven golden candlesticks." [Rev. 1:19, 20a]
Each of the New Testament epistles is directed toward a specific group; yet, each is applicable to all believers throughout the church age. This is true of the Revelation more so, since it gives among its contents the record of Christ`s glorious return [Rev. 19], as well as the fabulous description of the long awaited city: the New Jerusalem. These events, along with many other startling revelations, will come "after this" [Rev. 4:1]. They will come after the last of the churches has shined its light.
A reading of the history of the Church reveals periods of great occurrences, for example: the missionary outreaches of the 19th century and the Reformation of the 16th century. And Church history reveals great periods of trials, such as the Inquisition of the 13th and 15th centuries and the Imperial persecutions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Since dates can vary as to which major event characterizes certain movements, the dates given here may differ from others. However, the Church Age can be divided as follows:
EPHESUS [ca 30 - ca 200] - "Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles" - from the crucifixion of Christ [ca 30] to the rise of a stable, sizable group of believers in the capital of the Roman Empire itself [ca. 200], the seed of the gospel has been sown; and the good ground is bringing forth the promise of a bountiful harvest.
SMYRNA [64 - 313] - "The devil shall cast some of you into prison" - beginning with the persecutions of Nero , who blamed the burning of the city of Rome on the Christians for their having troubled the gods of the empire, to the close of imperial persecutions by Constantine  through the Edict of Milan, there resides on the pages of history ten "days" of tribulation under the following emperors:
- 1st Day: Nero [64 - 68], who accused Christians of burning Rome.
- 2nd Day: Domitian [94-96], under whom John is banished to Patmos.
- 3rd Day: Trajan [98-117], who condoned local persecution (as under Pliny of Bithynia): "No Christians were to be sought out; but if someone reported that a certain individual was a Christian, the Christian was to be punished unless he recanted and worshipped the gods of the Romans" [Cairn`s, p.91].
- 4th Day: Marcus Aurelius [166-180], who was inclined to ascribe the natural and man-made calamities of his reign to the growth of Christianity [Ibid.].
- 5th Day: Septimius Severus [202-211], following a campaign in the East in which he had gained great victories, he "passed a law which forbade, under severe penalties, that any of his subjects should become either Jews or Christians." "It left its deepest traces in Egypt and Africa" [Miller`s Church History, p. 192]
- 6th Day: Maximinus Thrax [235-238], "after the death of Septimius Severus - except during the short reign of Maximin - the church enjoyed a season of comparative peace till the reign of Decius" [Miller`s, p. 195]. Maximin ordered the death of the bishops, and particularly those who had been the intimate friends of Alexander, the previous emperor of whom Maximin had been the "chief instigator, if not the actual murderer" [Miller`s, p. 197].