What is the Synagogue of Satan?

Artist Facundus Beatus’ Depiction of Harlot of Revelation Cooperating with the Beast


Last night, I listened to the sermon by RCG”s David Pack titled “The “Synagogue of Satan” Identified—and Marked!”  (see RCG’s David Pack Says COGwriter, Dr. Meredith, COGs, etc. ‘Part of Synagogue of Satan’ for more details).

One point that I want to go into in more depth is what actually is the ‘synagogue of Satan.’   Here are the only two passages of scripture that use that expression:

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,  ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:  9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  (Revelation 2:8-10)

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,  ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  (Revelation 3:7-11)

Basically, those in the synagogue of Satan pretend to be Christians, but are apostates.  Here is what the late LCG evangelist John Ogwyn wrote about this in relation to the Church of God in Smyrna:

The great test of the Smyrna era lay in two areas. One was their ability to distinguish between the continuation of the true Church of God and what was, in reality, the emerging Synagogue of Satan. The other lay in their willingness to endure persecution and even death in order to remain faithful to God (Revelation 2:9–10). (GCA, LCG Booklet)

Back in the time of Smyrna, there were two groups.  The faithful and a group that apostatized–the apostates were not truly in the Church of God (for details, see Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries?).

Here are some of David Pack’s comments about who he considers to be “Synagogue of Satan” (note: I have tried to get his quotes verbatim, but as this is not from a written transcript, some specific words may be approximate):

The Synagogue of Satan…A blaspheming group of liars…that belong to Satan…it is really an evil, murderous group…They are utterly of the Devil…This is not talking about the Catholics affecting our time…This is not talking about the Catholics like we taught in the 60s…they are against Christ…they are antichrist.

Basically to justify this, David Pack states:

For Smyrna…the Synagogue of Satan meant death…to that group…The Smyrnaeans knew what was coming…The Smyrnaeans were absolutely unique.

Since David Pack brought about what “we taught in the 60s,” perhaps the following quotes from the late Dr. Hoeh will give some insight into this matter as a version of this is what would seemed to have been taught then:

They were the SCATTERED ones of whom John said: “Therefore the world knoweth us not,” I John 3:1.

But that did not mean the scattered individuals were not part of the Church. They WERE the Church because they were joined to Christ through the Holy Spirit. Those who drove them out became the FALSE church “the church of the god of THIS world” “the synagogue of Satan.”…

The prophesied “Church at Smyrna” arises next. Its people appeared physically poverty-stricken, yet it was spiritually rich and alive, though SUFFERING through PERSECUTION. This pictures God’s Church during the next three centuries under the persecuting power of the Catholic-dominated Roman Empire. Besides the true Church there was also a “Synagogue of Satan,” Revelation 2:9, dominating during this period.

The “Synagogue of Satan”: What Is It?

Now read Revelation 2:9. “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”

Notice, this is a SYNAGOGUE of Satan. A synagogue is merely the Hebrew word for church. Then Jesus is not speaking of a RACE, but of a CHURCH that belongs to the devil!

This church claims that they are spiritually Jews…

So here was a church made up of Gentiles, claiming salvation, claiming to be Jews inwardly, masquerading as a “Christian” church, yet the very tool of Satan himself!

This synagogue of Satan is the great apostate church which developed after 70 A.D. and ultimately became recognized as the State Religion of the Roman Empire. That Church has had many Protestant daughters which are also Satan’s churches, Revelation 17. (Hoeh H. A True History of the True Church1959 edition)

While I do not agree with everything that Dr. Hoeh ever wrote, he was basically correct about the above (though he left out various comments related to Philadelphia that I will try to address here).  Herbert Armstrong’s Personal Correspondence Department taught:

But the synagogue of Satan — the church that follows the teachings of antichrist…The “synagogue of Satan” is not referring to a race but to that great church and her daughter churches, who falsely profess to be “Christian” — Jews inwardly!

The old WCG essentially taught that the Catholic Church and its final revision would be that church.

Just because COGs differ from RCG, does not mean that they are following the teachings of Antichrist.  David Pack misunderstands this as well as the term ‘Jew.’

David Pack says the term “Jew” (which is mentioned in the two “synagogue of Satan” scriptures in Revelation 2:9; 3:9) does not now mean Catholics or apparently their end time supporters, but in modern times those leaders actually in the COGs (which differs from what he believes happened to Smyrna) that are separate from RCG–David Pack is in error.

David Pack seemed to me to indicate that currently it is those who David Pack considers to be Laodiceans that are part of the ‘synagogue of Satan.’  But according to his Director of Public Communications, Jeffrey Ambrose, “It is not possible for even a single Laodicean to be in this synagogue—not one!” and the following is what David Pack was trying to state:

The synagogue of Satan is comprised of leaders—primarily senior ministers, such as the ones marked within Mr. Pack’s sermon. Some lower-ranking ministers may be a part of this “assembly,” but many are not. And Mr. Pack also carefully qualifies certain others who are involved. As he stated clearly in this message, these individuals are “not lukewarm”—not part of the ekklesia, or called-out ones, of the Laodicean era of God’s people.

The above is most clearly a shift from what the old WCG/Radio Church of God taught.

In the sermon, David Pack also indicated that the COGs leaders have persecuted him and his church and that more intense persecution from the Laodicean groups and/or their leaders to the followers of RCG is expected.  And that is where David has a partially correct and somewhat incorrect understanding about the ‘synagogue of Satan.’

First, David Pack is correct that those in the ‘synagogue of Satan’ will play a role in end time persecution–they will betray many true believers (cf. Revelation 3:9; Daniel 11:32-34; Matthew 24:9-10).  Second, David Pack is correct when he indicates that those who were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God (or later COG groups) will be part of the ‘synagogue of Satan’ (cf. Daniel 11:32-34; Matthew 24:9-10)–yet, these would be apostates, as opposed to believers (though some believers could sin and do things that they should not and support that ‘synagogue’)–but apparently he is claiming that the leadership of the other COGs is sufficiently apostate so this applies to them.

Where he also gets this wrong is that he believes that the Laodiceans and/or their leaders are “murderous” (hinting apparently that they will persecute to the point of murder)–yet in his sermon he admits that the Laodiceans are Christians who keep the commandments as he alluded to Revelation 12:17.   And although he seems to hint otherwise in his sermon, the Laodiceans are part of the Church as Jesus stated the following:

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked —   18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  (Revelation 3:14-19)

If the Laodiceans were intense persecutors, Jesus would likely have said that they were cold and not lukewarm.

David Pack is wrong in suggesting that the bulk of Philadelphians are with RCG as opposed to LCG.   He was also wrong for teaching that the leaders of the COGs are “antichrist” (though the self-ordained “prophets” and “apostles” claiming to be COG could, however, somewhat qualify–David Pack perhaps should use a mirror).   The Laodicean leaders are for Christ as they are part of His churches, but are not as zealous, etc. as they should be.  David Pack apparently does not understand well what truly are the Doctrines of Antichrist.

Now, the Bible teaches that prior to fleeing to a place of protection, the Philadelphian Christians are going to be persecuted.  And some of those doing the persecution will be people who once were as well as those who pretend to be in the actual Church of God.  Here are some passages in Daniel related to that:

32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.  (Daniel 11:32-35)

In the above passage, apostates will cooperate with the King of the North and betray true Christians.  This intense short period of persecution happens prior to the time the Philadelphians flee, which is around the end of Daniel 11:35 (this is discussed in more depth in the article Who is the King of the North?).

This pre-fleeing persecution seems to occur for a relatively short period of time.  It needs to be understood that the expression “for many” in the NKJV is not in the Hebrew before the word “days.”   The MKJV (Modern King James Version), the LITV (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible), and even Douay OT did a better job with that part of this verse as shown below:

33 And those who understand among the people shall teach many; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by exile, and spoil, for days. (Daniel 11:33, MKJV).

33 And those who understand among the people will instruct many, yet they will stumble by the sword and by flame, by exile and spoil for days (Daniel 11:33, LITV).

33 And the learned in the people shall teach very many: and they shall fall by sword, and by flame, and by captivity, and by spoil of days (Daniel 11:33, DOT).

There will be some days where intense persecution of the Philadelphian Christians will occur before they flee and receive supernatural protection.  Regarding falling by the flame, there is a Catholic prophecy that indicates members of a small sect will be burnt, possibly in fulfillment of this verse.  There is small group that gets protected during the hour of trial (Revelation 3:10), but not completely before.

Revelation seems to show that those that flee will be persecuted just before they flee, and those that do not flee will later be persecuted:

Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:13-17).

The presiding evangelist of the Living Church of God (LCG), R.C. Meredith of the Living Church of God publicly has taught:

We will be persecuted before the Great Tribulation…We will be persecuted from time to time…But the Laodiceans will have it worse during the Great Tribulation (Meredith RC. Prophecy Overview. Sermon, July 19, 2008).

By “We” Dr. Meredith is referring to those who he believes are the Philadelphia Christians as they are the ones who will primarily bear the brunt of the 21st century persecutions which occur up until getting to a place of safety. The Laodiceans (see The Laodicean Church Era), who basically will have almost no intense persecution prior to that time (though historically, Satan is not real picky and does not seem to mind when others not specifically targeted are killed), will be then thrown into a period of intense persecution for three and one half years:

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:25).

The “He” above is an ally of the King of the North. This leader will press for terrible persecution, and normally attempting to kill, the Laodicean and other Christians that are not then in a place of protection (see also the article There is a Place of Protection for the Philadelphians).

The ‘synagogue of Satan’ will be composed of those who support the religion and political aspirations of the final Beast, the final King of the North.  Although David Pack hints otherwise, this is NOT a reference to the Laodicean leaders as many of them will be killed by that Beast power (Daniel 7:25) as they and others will strive to be faithful during the time of his reign (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:9-13).

David Pack’s new teaching on the ‘synagogue of Satan’ is false.  And hopefully those who follow David Pack will open their Bibles and believe it over him.

Some articles of related interest could include:

Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
Are the Laodiceans the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees? Discusses similarities of the Sadducees and Pharisees to various COGs in this end-time.
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer.
Who is the King of the North? Is there one? Do biblical and Roman Catholic prophecies for the Great Monarch point to the same leader? Should he be followed? Who will be the King of the North discussed in Daniel 11? Is a nuclear attack prophesied to happen to the English-speaking peoples of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? When do the 1335 days, 1290 days, and 1260 days (the time, times, and half a time) of Daniel 12 begin? When does the Bible show that economic collapse will affect the United States?
Some Doctrines of Antichrist Are there any doctrines taught outside the Churches of God which can be considered as doctrines of antichrist? This article suggests at least three. It also provides information on 666 and the identity of “the false prophet”. Plus it shows that several Catholic writers seem to warn about an ecumenical antipope that will support heresy.
Is There an Islamic Antichrist?Is Joel Richardson correct that the final Antichrist will be Islamic and not European? Find out.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory.
Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group, led by David Pack, claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise.
Unity: Which COG for You? Why so many groups? Why is there lack of unity in the Churches of God? Has it always been this way? What can/should be done about it?
There are Many COGs: What About  the Living Church of God?  Some comments about this group.

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