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A Rebuttal of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason

by David Bauscher

Thomas Paine wrote:

Paine was no atheist; neither was he a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, A Hindu or a Buddhist. He believed
in no Bible or holy books as a divine revelation of truth.

He also wrote:

What reason does he give for his position? Here it is in his own words:

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Paine’s argument is a powerful one. Such ideas as are contained in the Bible and other sacred books
of various religions demand more than second hand testimony for their confident reception. Blind faith
is an unreliable guide. For natural historical events, sufficient secondary testimony can establish the
truth in the minds of non-witnesses of those events being related. Often, one good historian writing
firsthand is sufficient to establish the historicity of his testimony.

When considering supernatural claims, such as the resurrection of Jesus, or that of Lazarus of Bethany,
an intelligent person requires, at least for psychological conviction, more than a host of second hand
witnesses (those who claim to be first hand witnesses). He or she requires a supernatural testimony- a
Divine revelation to the heart and mind that will be the equivalent of the claimed original revelation or
miracle.

I cannot speak authoritatively about religions other than Christianity, but the Judeo-Christian
scriptures state that direct personal Divine revelation is necessary for true faith to occur in an
individual. In fact, Jesus and The Apostle Paul taught that the scriptures themselves cannot bring a
person to true faith, knowledge and life.

37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard
his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
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38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify
of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. -John 5:37-42

Jesus was telling the Jews who opposed His claims to be The Son of God and Messiah that they were
trusting in written scripture for eternal life, but that such faith was not enough. They must come to Him
to have life, as it was He to Whom all scripture testified as God, The Source of Life and Life itself. The
scriptures cannot give life to us; only direct contact with The Living God can give us Life.

2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not
with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the
heart.
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God–ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of
God;
6 ¶ Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit:
for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2 Corinthians 3:2-6

Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the
Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a
God, and they shall be to me a people:
Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put
my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand
to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband
unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith
the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their
God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know
the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the
LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. -Jeremiah 31:31-34

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Christianity claims to be the New Covenant relationship with God written of by the Prophet Jeremiah
and proclaimed by Paul to the Hebrew Christians in his Epistle to the Hebrews. This means that
Christianity is essentially an internal religion- based on the personal revelation of God to the
heart and mind of each individual Christian, not upon written scripture alone.
Jesus taught Nicodemus this when Nicodemus came to Him by night, acknowledging Jesus as a
Teacher from God who performed signs which authorized Him as a proclaimer of Divine Truth:
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into
his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it
cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. -John 3:3-8

The new birth of which Jesus spoke was individual-“except a man be born again”. Every person must
be begotten of The Spirit (The Holy Spirit) in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God. Such a
conception and begetting changes a carnal person into a spiritual one – “Except a man be born of
water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” ;“That which is born of the flesh
is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”.
The Spirit of God begets one in His image, with His nature. “The Spirit is The Truth”- 1 John 5:6
Since He is The Truth, His children are infused with the Reality of His nature and of all Truth. The
“born again” spirit is divine in nature and possesses a new and spiritual mind whose very existence
is miraculous and heavenly, and requires divine bread for its sustenance- the Heavenly bread of
Truth.

25 ¶ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from
all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the
stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my
judgments, and do them. – Ezekiel 36:25-27
Hence, the Jewish Bible (The Old Testament) proclaims a New Covenant which will not rely on
external scripture written on stone tablets or animal skins, as the Law did, but internal writing on
the mind and heart of His covenant people with whom God made His promise, called The House of
Israel and the House of Judah, in Jeremiah 31, and here in Ezekiel.

4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
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6 ¶ Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of
the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before
the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified
the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the
things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep
things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the
things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we
might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the
Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of
Christ. –1 Cor.2:4-16

It seems to be true that most professing Christians depend on second hand or tertiary testimony for
their faith. That is not true Christianity or true faith, according to the Bible itself. Every true
Christian is a miracle, and has no real difficulty believing in the scriptures and in the miracles of
which they testify, because the Truth of God and the scriptures are written in his heart and mind,
and he is the child of The Truth, who recognizes his own Father and partakes of His nature. He is
born of the word of God:
Jas 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of
his creatures.

Dead religion is that of which Thomas Paine wrote. Dead religion is not the religion of The Christ. His
is Life itself, Truth itself, The Way itself, and, according to John’s Gospel, He said, “I AM The
Way,The Truth & The Life”. (John 14:6) Mere scripture cannot do what God and His Son can do
within a person’s soul, spirit and mind.

Christianity is “Christ in you, the Hope of glory”, according to Paul. (Col. 1:27) We do not need the
Bible in order to know truth; we need Christ in us. We know truth if we have Truth in us, and “we
compare spirituals with spirituals, discerning all things.” (1 Cor 2:13)
Ga 2:20 And henceforth it is no more I who live, but the Messiah liveth in me: and the life I now
live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.
Ga 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new
creature.

The scriptures testify of a new life and new kind of creature which obtains from the Spirit of Christ
creating and begetting a new person through the proclamation of the Gospel and the revelation of
Christ to the spirit & soul of a human being. This is called the new birth or regeneration by The
Holy Spirit in scripture. It reveals a definition of Christianity, knowledge & faith, which is scarcely
acknowledged and even less dealt with in the treatment of the Christian religion. The New
Testament writings present spiritual knowledge and understanding of truth as a function of The
Holy Spirit revealing God and Christ to the individual soul directly, not as a function of a man
reading or hearing words and giving intellectual assent to them.
In the passage quoted from John 5 at the beginning, Jesus reproved the Pharisees:

And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his
voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify
of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

He testified that they had not seen or heard God, nor had they His word abiding in them; if they had,
they would have trusted Jesus as The Christ. The way to Life is to come to Him, as He said. It is not
mere information or believing certain propositions that is called for; the Pharisees had the Bible
and supposed that they had eternal life by knowing the scriptures, but, like Nicodemus, a Pharisee,
they needed more than a conventional belief and training in the scriptures; they needed to come to
God in Christ Himself, personally & directly.
Nicodemus’ response was: “How can these things be?”

Our Lord’s answer in part, was, “You are the Teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things?”
He needed to see his lack and his need. Most religious people trust in their knowledge, efforts and
good deeds to give them approval before God. This is a deception, and it is as old as religion itself.
And yet, here was Nicodemus, coming to find Jesus in the dark of night, for fear what his colleagues
would think if they saw him acknowledging Jesus as a true prophet, rather than a heretic.
Nicodemus felt his lack and need for something he felt he could find in The Rabbi Yeshua.

John later wrote that Nicodemus defended Jesus before the Sanhedrin and even brought 100 pounds of
expensive spices to the tomb for the burial of Jesus’ body. He may have become a disciple, after he
later heard of Christ’s resurrection. Perhaps he was “born again”.

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It is the realization of our lack, need and inability that impels us to God and Christ, and that realization
is the first step toward eternal Life. He will give us all that is required that we may have life, for He
will make us into new beings, with new minds and spirits, and place His Spirit within us, teaching
and showing us all things concerning Himself, as we seek the truth.
He is transcendent and Holy, omniscient and “more than Almighty to do for us” whatever we need
done and whatever we truly ask in His Name.(Ephesians 3:20)

“Salvation is of The LORD”, said Jonah. Salvation is His Name, for He is Salvation.
Do you want to know if the Bible is true? Ask God if Jesus is able to give you eternal Life, and tell Him
you desire it, if such a thing exists and is possible. See what happens.
Or try this test: Ask God to give you The Spirit of Holiness.
Jesus said God will give the Spirit of Holiness to those who ask Him.

Ask Him. (Luke 11:13)

The Spirit is The Truth; The Spirit is Life; The Spirit is Liberty; The Spirit is The LORD GOD of Hosts,
and He testifies of The Christ, revealing Him to our heart.

13 For ye have heard of my former course of life in Judaism, that I persecuted the church of God
exceedingly, and destroyed it:
14 and that I went much farther in Judaism than many of my contemporaries who were of my nation,
and was peculiarly zealous for the doctrine of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased Him, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
16 to reveal his Son by me, that I should proclaim Him among the Gentiles; forthwith, I did not open
it to flesh and blood;
17 nor did I go to Jerusalem, to them who were legates before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned
again to Damascus:
18 and after three years, I went to Jerusalem to see Cephas; and I remained with him fifteen days.
19 But others of the legates I saw not, except James, our Lord’s brother.
20 In the things which I am writing to you, behold, before God! I lie not.
21 And after that, I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And the churches in Judaea which were in the Messiah; did not know me personally:
23 but this only had they heard, that he who before persecuted us, now preacheth that faith which in
time preceding he subverted:
24 and they glorified God in me. -Galatians 1:13-24 (The Apostle Paul’s testimony)

Jesus of Nazareth explained this principle to the Jews of His day, thus:

42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came
from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

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44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the
beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he
speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
46 ¶ Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
–(John 8:42-47)

A person who has been born of God loves, understands and believes Christ’s words; others do not.
Such cannot even hear His words properly.

Consider what The Christ said to Pontius Pilate:

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To
this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the
truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. –(John 18:37) Also, He testified to the
Jewish leaders thus:
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If
thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they
bear witness of me.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out
of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my
Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. –(John 10:24-31)

This doctrine is a stumbling block to unbelievers; it is intended as such, for it animates the spirit of a
man to reveal himself in response; he will either love and believe Christ’s words or he will despise
and hate them. God will never produce indifference or lukewarmness by His presence and words.
Our response reveals our condition as the offspring of The God of Truth or the children of the liar
Satan. No amount of worldly education or intellectual ability can bring us to the knowledge of The
Truth. God alone can do that.

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Joh 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might
see; and that they which see might be made blind.

Lu 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and
earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto
babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

Ro 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are
saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding
of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made
foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the
foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of
God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not
many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the
weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things
which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
2:1 ¶ And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring
unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
6 ¶ Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of
the princes of this world, that come to nought:
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7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before
the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified
the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the
things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep
things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the
things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might
know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy
Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of
Christ.

Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason is founded on a false premise. It assumes that the Jewish & Christian
religions affirm direct revelation only for a very few individuals, like Moses and Jesus. This is not
what Jewish and Christian scriptures affirm; rather, they affirm that direct revelation and God’s
Spirit is essential for anyone to obtain faith, righteousness and divine truth, which brings eternal
life. Dead religion is certainly false and misleading, but Paine’s polemic is erected against dead
religion only. His argument is powerless against the living power of revelation promised and
provided by The Spirit of Holiness sent in The Name of Jesus The Messiah, Who has spoken to and
indwelt men and women from the beginning of time until this day, and will continue to do so until
the end of time and into eternity.
False as his premise is concerning the scriptures, his assessment of conventional religionists is true.
Spiritual truth cannot be known by scripture alone, hence second hand testimony in itself is
insufficient to instruct and enlighten men of the truths of God. Since it appears that most religious
people are relying solely on second hand testimony for their beliefs and understanding, most are left
in the dark concerning the meaning of the words that they affirm and hence, they are deceived to
believe they have “salvation” while they remain in darkness and are spiritually dead.

Mat 13:51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is
like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

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Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is,
the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made
unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 ¶ For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto
all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in
him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

(The Peshitta Aramaic NT has:


anzrkm ald Nwemsn ankya wa yhwems ald whl Nwnmyhn ankya wa hb wnmyh ald anyal Nwrqn lykh ankya 14
Therefore, how would they call to This One unless they believed in him, or how would they
(Peshitta) -

believe him unless they heard him, or how would they hear without a preacher?)
This verse is misrepresented in the Greek manuscripts, and in most English translations, in my
opinion. The Greek is a translation of Paul’s original Aramaic epistles, and sometimes
misinterpreted a word or phrase from the original Aramaic to Greek. The Greek text is very
misleading, as it expresses the idea that secondary testimony is sufficient for faith-“How shall they
believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”According to the Aramaic reading, one must hear
God Himself in order to believe Him; even though God may speak through a human being’s mouth,
yet God Himself is the One doing the speaking! That is a highly significant and vital distinction!
Jesus taught His disciples this principle:
Mt 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Mr 13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall
speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it
is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

So Paul agreed with Jesus that direct revelation and speech from God to a human being was necessary
in order for one to believe in Him and be saved.

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them
that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith is from the hearing ear,
ear, and the hearing
hearing ear is from the word of God. (V. 17
is translated from The Peshitta Aramaic Bible)

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Listen to what the Apostle John wrote in his first and third epistles:
1Jo 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
3Jo 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he
that doeth evil hath not seen God.

Nothing less than seeing God and hearing His voice can change us from lost sinners to living children of God
who obey His voice and follow Him. The evil doer is one who has never seen God; if he were to see God,
he would be turned from darkness to light, from death to life, and from the power of Satan to the power
of God.

Whoever has an ear to hear, let him hear.


Mat. 11:15,13:9,43, Mark 4:9,23,7:16, Luke 8:8,14:35

He that hath an ear, let him hear


what the Spirit saith unto the churches
churchesA
esA
Re 2:7,11,17,29,3:6,13,22

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