Fifth Seal

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William Branham preached a series of sermons in March 1963 on the Seven Seals of the book of Revelation. His followers are nearly unified in their belief that William Branham’s sermons on the seven seals are the most important messages of his entire ministry. He and his followers believe the revelation and true understanding of the seals were hidden from the church prior to his ministry, and that the true understanding of the seals only be revealed through his ministry as God’s special endtime prophet.

This article is one in a series of studies on the Seven Seals - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:

Why is William Branham always pointing to himself?

In his sermon on the Fifth Seal, William Branham stated:

You know, a angel is a messenger, but do you know the messenger was a prophet? You believe that? Let's prove it. Revelation 22: let's see if it was a eagle. See, he was… Sure he was an angel; he was a messenger. But it was a prophet that revealed this whole Book of Revelation to him. Revelation the 22nd chapter and the 19th verse, I believe that's right if I've got it written down here: 22:19. I may be wrong. No, 22:9. That's what it is, I was looking at 22:9. That's right. Oh, yes, here.
Then said he to me, See thou do it not:… (No true prophet would be worshipped or messenger of any kind. See, see?)… Then said he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keeps the sayings of this book: worship God.
Now, watch. Isn't the prophet that we're looking to come, some man anointed with the—with the Spirit like Elijah? It won't be Elijah, of course, but it'll be a man like that will come down, and his very ministry is to send, to restore back to this fallen people through these denominational twists, back to the original faith of the fathers.[1]

The KJV is the easiest to be twisted; therefore it is often used by self-appointed "prophets". Here is a more accurate translation:

But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”[2]

This Angel simply compared himself to other servants, prophets, and ALL WHO OBEY what's written in the book; thus declaring that he must not be worshipped. Scripture never says that this angel is a man and never states that he is a prophet who walked on the earth either in the past or future. Why would William Branham think that this was referring to him? Doesn't that come across as being just a little presumptuous?


William Branham compared Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:9-11 with the Fifth seal.

Matthew 24:21 - 24

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Revelation 6:9-11
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Jews under the Altar

The Fifth seal is souls under the altar, slain for the Word of God. These souls called for judgment, were given white robes, and told to wait while their fellowservants on earth were killed.

Because there is no beast (lion, ox, man and eagle), William Branham concludes that the church is raptured at the time of the fifth seal. He says, “These beasts are correct. It’s THUS SAITH THE LORD. See?” Instead, he identifies non-Christian Jews as the souls under the altar, and says that more will be martyred when Rome breaks its covenant with Israel.

Christians under the Altar

William Branham then tells a story of how he went to a heavenly place, and saw his own converts under the altar:

’’Tells of the white-robed saints in “that heavenly place” that he saw in a vision. But Jessu was not there! It was a mixture of purgatory, and souls under the altar. “I want to see Jesus…You can’t see him now, He is still higher….You mean, by being a leader, that He’ll judge me? Said, “Yes” I said, “what about Paul?” He said, “He’ll have to be judged with his.” “Well” I said, if his group goes in, so will mine, ‘cause I’ve preached exactly the same Word.”…and millions screamed out, all at once, said, “We’re resting on that!” …See, we was right under the altar.”

The most notable person absent from this place was Jesus, making “that heavenly place” a waiting place, or purgatory, while the people wait for William Branham to be judged.

It must have been another altar?

Later in the sermon William Branham talks about two altars in heaven, so diffuse the confusion between the Jews and his followers:

“The Bride, she was not under the martyrs’ block, not, the sacrifice altar of the martyrs; but had received white robes, by accepting the pardoning grace of the living Word.”

What William Branham does with this statement is commit some major errors:

  1. He ignores the fact that Revelation 6:9 says that the souls were under “THE” altar (there is only one altar mentioned in this scripture, and a 'martyr's altar' is never mentioned in scriptures).
  2. He ignores the fact that there were many Christian martyrs, and that the Bride will include many people who were martyred.
  3. He ignores what he previously said about the souls being Jews, and
  4. He refers to the “pardoning grace of the living Word”. Just one night prior he had called his own words “spirit and life” as evidenced by his ability to create squirrels (though no-one was around to witness this). That means he is making his own words the door to pardoning grace.

Jesus' Warning of False Prophets

In this sermon William Branham ties Jesus’ warning about “False Prophets” to the time after the rapture. As such, this scripture naturally does not apply to him.

William Branham also tells a story about Joseph giving his brothers white robes in this sermon. It is likely from this story that some Message Believers think that Moses and Elijah will arise and translate the sermon of the Seven Seals into Hebrew after the rapture. So, perhaps his message really is one of the false ministries to watch for.

Other controversial comments

William Branham also makes some off-topic statements during this sermon that are very strange:

  1. He talks secretly to the Masons in the crowd when he says, “You Masons, I’ll call your attention. You remember the sign of the cross? Now you – you know what I’m talking about.“
  2. He brings out a non-Biblical doctrine that Moses resurrected. “Moses actually died. But he rose, ‘ cause he was a perfect type of Christ. ”
  3. He denies that his vision of heaven was like the Mormon version of Soul Sleep.
  4. He states that children are bundles of muscles until just before birth, at which time they are given the breath of life. This doctrine is why many Message Believers think that still-born babies will not be in heaven, and why the anti-abortion movement isn’t worth their voice.


William Branham’s secret source of information for this sermon was the writings of Clarence Larkin. Here is a comparison:

What William Branham Said [3] What Clarence Larkin Said [4]
They were killed for the Word of God's sake, not for the testimony of Christ. Did you understand that? But remember, the church come in. Also the martyrs of the church was for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. How many knows that here too? All right now... But these didn't have the testimony of Jesus Christ "… Now, notice. These Jews... I have to do this in order to--to let you see the revelation of this Seal, see what it is, these souls under the altar and who they are. When the Lamb had opened the “FIFTH SEAL,” John saw under the “Sacrificial Altar,” corresponding to the “Burnt Offering Altar,” the “SOULS” of them that were slain for the “Word of God” and for the “testimony they held.” The fact that their “SOULS” were under the “Sacrificial Altar” is proof that they had been offered as a “Sacrifice,” that is that they were MARTYRS. But they were not the Martyrs of the Christian Church... These Martyrs are those who will be killed for the “Word of God”
Notice, they asked for revenge. See? Now, if that had been the Bride, it'd been like Stephen: "Father, forgive them," you know. See? But these are Jews that just come in. See? They asked for revenge. “How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and avenge our BLOOD on them that dwell on the earth?” The character of their cry is further proof that they are not the Martyrs of the Christian Church, for they would not cry to be avenged, but like Stephen would say—“Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Acts 7:60.
for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held," as Jews. Their cry is that of the Imprecatory Psalms (Psa. 35, 55, 59, 94, etc.) and indicates that these Martyrs whose SOULS are seen are mainly JEWS.
Now, notice. In the time of Daniel, now, the second half of the seventieth week... Now, remember, Messiah was to be cut off in the midst. That's the middle. Well, what's half of seven? Three and a half... But there's determined yet to the people what? Another three and a half year. These martyred SOULS were comforted, and told that they should rest for a “little season,” about 3½ years, until their fellow servants also, and their brethren (Jews) that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled.
It disproves it, the opening of this Seal in this last day; it just takes soul sleeping plumb out of the way. See? They're alive. They're not dead. That there is no such thing as Soul Sleep, and that disembodied SOULS are conscious and can speak and cry, is clear from what John saw and heard, for these “SOULS” cried with a loud voice

Questions to ask yourself

William Branham tells that he understood the Fifth Seal that morning:

“Today, not knowing one thing about that Fifth Seal, It came in that same mysterious way, this morning, just about an hour before daybreak.”

Then he asks God to break the Fifth Seal that evening:

“O Lamb of God, come forward, we pray. We call on You, Lord, the great Redeemer. Come forth and show us Your plan of redemption that’s been hid through the years, breaking this Fifth Seal for us tonight, Father.”

Why did he ask God to break the Seal when he already knew what he was going to say?
Why are the Seals God’s plan of redemption, when Jesus already redeemed us on the cross?
Why is he calling on the Lamb of God the way a Magician would call out to a spirit behind a curtain?


  1. William Branham, 63-0322 - The Fifth Seal
  2. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Re 22:9.
  3. William Branham, March 22, 1965, The Fifth Seal
  4. Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture, 58-59 (Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1919)