7 - Pergamum
Rev 2:12-17 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; (13) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (14) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (17) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Intro.: As we leave the Smyrna on our journey. Shortly we would come to them to the small Turkish town Pergamum. About 20,000 in population and in a small valley, said he sits on an ancient hill. And in this very attractive city of small band of Christians worship the savior. It is to that church that the third letter is addressed.
- The proper form of the name is Pergamum. The name Pergamum means thoroughly married. It is a compound of two Greek words meaning thoroughly, and marriage. So per gamun means thoroughly married.
- The original city was built on a lofty hill, which afterward became the citadel as houses sprang up around its base.
- The local legends attached a sacred character to the place, which, together with its natural strength, made it a place of deposit for royal treasure.
- The city was mainly indebted to Eumenes II. (b.c. 197-159) for its embellishment and extension. In addition to walks and public buildings, he founded the library, which contained two-hundred-thousand volumes, and was second only to that of Alexandria.
- The kingdom of Pergamum became a Roman province b.c. 130; but the city continued to flourish, so that Pliny styled it by far the most illustrious of Asia.
- All the main roads of Western Asia converged there. Pergamum was celebrated for the manufacture of ointments, pottery, tapestries, and parchment, which derives its name (charta Pergamena) from the city.
- It contained a celebrated and much-frequented temple of Aesculapius, who was worshipped in the form of a living serpent fed in the temple. Hence Aesculapius was called the God of Pergamu you m, and on the coins struck by the town he often appears with a rod encircled by a serpent.
- There was also in this city, a temple to the god Zeus. Zeus was believed to be the father of all gods, and this will become significant, because we are told that in this city Satan’s seat dwelled.
- There is also in this city the first temple that was built to Emperor worship. Add this to the two previous mentioned temples, and you see that this city was a city wholly given over to idolatry.
- And again in knowing this, we begin to appreciate why the Lord referred to Pergamum as the dwelling place of Satan's seat.
- All false religion is satanically inspired, satanically motivated, some religions are openly satanic, while others reveal their satanic origins as they fail to teach the truth of Scripture.
- The city also had springs which had mysterious healing powers. Much like Lourdes, France. The healing that was experienced in Pergamum was not divine, but satanically enabled.
- The city has been described as a sort of union of a pagan cathedral-city, a university-town, and a royal residence, embellished during a succession of years by kings who all had a passion for expenditure and ample means of gratifying it.
- The Description of the Lord - The sharp sword with two edges
See on Rev_1:16.
a. A two edged sword was used by the Roman army in a devastating way. Using this sword as a sledge hammer meat cleaver. The Roman soldier would bring it down forcefully slicing men, in half.
b. The use of the word here portrays the Lord as Judge, defending his children and judging his enemies.
- The Commendation Rev 2:13 –
- Dwellest (κατοικεῖς) See on Luk_11:26; see on Act_2:5.
i. Satan's seat is in a scholarly, religious, miraculous healing, cosmopolitan area.
ii. The Christian Church was dwelling, where Satan exercised his dominion.
iii. Seat (θρόνος) rightly, throne, which is a transcript of the Greek word. it is intended to represent Satan as exercising dominion there. The word is used in the New Testament of a kingly throne (Luk_1:32, Luk_1:52; Act_2:30): of the judicial tribunal or bench (Mat_19:28; Luk_22:30): of the seats of the elders (Rev_4:4; Rev_11:16
- Holdest fast (κρατεῖς) See on Mat_7:3; see on Act_3:11.
i. My name See on 1Jo_1:7. - right in the midst of Pergamum is a group of Christians who are holding fast to the name of Jesus.
ii. In the midst of that idolatry, hedonism, are those who are convinced that Jesus is the son of God, the savior of the world.
iii. While Satan captures the multitudes of small remnant faithfully cling to Christ. This must have brought great pleasure to the Lord.
- My faith See on Act_6:7. i. When pressed by their society, they would not surrender the faith that was delivered to them.
ii. Antipas - There is no other record of this martyr. Some of them martyred here in Pergamum because of their faith in Christ.
- Satan's dwelling i. he again recognizes that they live where Satan exercises his dominion.
- The Complaint - Rev 2:14 – Pergamum tolerated false teaching.
- Doctrine (διδαχὴν) teaching. i. Balaam - See Num_25:1-9; Num_31:15, Num_31:16. Compare 2Pe_2:15; Jud_1:11. He was hired by Balak to curse the children of Israel. Using God to enrich yourself.
1. A stumbling-block (σκάνδαλον) Is offend, Mat_5:29, and see on offense, Mat_16:23.
2. Before (ἐνώπιον) Lit., in the sight of. See on Luk_24:11.
3. Things sacrificed to idols (εἰδωλόθυτα) In times of persecution, tasting the wine of the libations or eating meat offered to idols, was understood to signify recantation of Christianity.
4. Rev 2:15 – So Even as Balak had Balaam for a false teacher, so hast thou the Nicolaitan teachers.
ii. Nicolaitans - See on Rev_2:6.
1. It is impossible to know what this doctrine is.
2. There is some speculation, however, some believe it's the doctrine of self-indulgence, living as you please, because we live under grace.
3. Others speculate that this is the beginning of the clergy and laity dichotomy.
4. Nico - to conquer, laitans - the people. The name means to rule over the people.
- The Counsel - Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
- Repent, change your ways put out of your church.
i. Do not tolerate false teachers.
ii. John does not command them to convert the false teachers
iii. He does not say show Christian love to those false teachers.
iv. He does not say to be patient with them, they are unlearned.
v. False teachers are never to be tolerated in a church.
vi. Change your attitude towards false teachers. If churches today practiced this command, they would not be in the state they are today..
- Will fight against (πολεμήσω) - The words fight and against occur oftener in Revelation than in any other book of the New Testament. “An eternal roll of thunder from the throne” (Renan).
- The Call - Rev 2:17 - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
- The Challenge - To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
- The allusion may be partly to the pot of manna which was laid up in the ark in the sanctuary. See Exo_16:32-34; compare Heb_9:4. That the imagery of the ark was familiar to John appears from Rev_11:19. This allusion however is indirect, for the manna laid up in the ark was not for food, but was a memorial of food once enjoyed.
- Two ideas seem to be combined in the figure:
i. Christ as the bread from heaven, the nourishment of the life of believers, the true manna, of which those who eat shall never die (Joh_6:31-43, Joh_6:48-51); hidden, in that He is withdrawn from sight, and the Christian's life is hid with Him in God (Col_3:3).
ii. The satisfaction of the believer's desire when Christ shall be revealed. The hidden manna shall not remain for ever hidden. We shall see Christ as He is, and be like Him (1Jo_3:2). Christ gives the manna in giving Himself “The seeing of Christ as He is, and, through this beatific vision, being made like to Him, is identical with the eating of the hidden manna, which shall, as it were, be then brought forth from the sanctuary, the holy of holies of God's immediate presence where it was withdrawn from sight so long, that all may partake of it; the glory of Christ, now shrouded and concealed, being then revealed to His people” (Trench).
- A white stone (ψῆφον λευκὴν) See on counteth, Luk_14:28; and see on white, Luk_9:29. The foundation of the figure is not to be sought in Gentile but in Jewish customs. “White is everywhere the color and livery of heaven” (Trench). See Rev_1:14; Rev_3:5; Rev_7:9; Rev_14:14; Rev_19:8, Rev_19:11, Rev_19:14; Rev_20:11. It is the bright, glistering white. Compare Mat_28:3; Luk_24:4; Joh_20:12; Rev_20:11; Dan_7:9.
i. It is impossible to fix the meaning of the symbol with any certainty. The following are some of the principal views: The Urim and Thummim concealed within the High-Priest's breastplate of judgment.
ii. The new name he regards as the new name of God or of Christ (Rev_3:12); some revelation of the glory of God which can be communicated to His people only in the higher state of being, and which they only can understand who have actually received.
- A new name – i. Some explain the new name of God or of Christ (compare Rev_3:12); others, of the recipient's own name.
ii. “A new name however, a revelation of his everlasting title as a son of God to glory in Christ, but consisting of and revealed in those personal marks and signs of God's peculiar adoption of himself, which he and none other is acquainted with” (Alford).
iii. Bengel says: “Wouldst thou know what kind of a new name thou wilt obtain? Overcome. Before that thou wilt ask in vain, and after that thou wilt soon read it inscribed on the white stone.”
Closing: the church of Pergamum represents any church today who tolerates false doctrine. The church of Pergamum represents any church, whose is thoroughly married to politics or the state.