Rev 2:12-17 KJV (12) 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.
From our previous lesson, we saw a very basic summary of the contents of these letters include:
|Church Location||Name Meaning||Areas of Faithfulness||Areas of Unfaithfulness||Possible Punishment||Reward To Overcomers (proof of genuine salvation)|
|Ephesus||Desired or Allowed||Many areas of faithful outward service. Hate doctrine of Nicolaitanes.||Left first love (Christ)Service not motivated by love for Christ.||Removal of candlestick (church no longer enjoying fellowship w God)||Eat of Tree of Life in Paradise|
|Smyrna||Myrrh||Spiritually rich||N/A||N/A||Not hurt by second death|
|Pergamos||Fortified Tower||Faithfulness in face of persecution||Allowing doctrine of Balaam and Nicolaitans(physical and spiritual fornication)||Will war against those who hold false teaching||Be given hidden manna and white stone with new name|
|Thyatira||Sacrifice, Offering, Corpse||Works of love, service, faith, patience||False Prophetess in midst. (sexual immorality and idol worship)||Sickness, tribulation and death upon her and her followers.||Be given power over the nations|
|Sardis||Depart, Escape, Exit||A few faithful areas of service remain. A few faithful members remain.||Testimony that they are spiritually alive but really dead. Their works not “perfect” before God.||Will come upon them as a thief (implied removing anything of value leaving spiritually destitute)||White garments. Name not blotted out of book, confess his name before the Father|
|Philadelphia||Love Of The Brethren||Kept Word not denied name of Christ. Persevered in trials||N/A||N/A||Permanent pillar in temple of God. Name of God and New Jerusalem upon them. New name given to them|
|Laodicea||Judgment Of The People||N/A||Lukewarm service. Blinded to their spiritual destitution.||Spew out of Lord’s mouth. Rebuking and chastening from Lord.||Sit with Christ in throne.|
Beginning in chapter 2 through chapter 3, John writes personalized messages to the 7 churches. Each message contains four basic parts:
- Description of Christ
- Commendation for faithfulness and consequences
- Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences
- Promise to Overcomers
The first of these personalized messages is written to the church at Pergamos.
1. Description of Christ (v 12)
2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences (v 13)
3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences (v 14-16)
4. Promise to Overcomers (v 17)
THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:
Revelation 2: –
(12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write;
This letter is addressed to the members of the local church at Pergamos. Pergamos was filled with citizens that worshipped the sun God Zeus (which had begun with Egypt with the worship of RA and then in Babylon with the worship of Baal). The altar dedicated to Zeus was located in the city.
It is believed by many that the pagans of Pergamos choose to gradually assimilate themselves (and their beliefs) into the church at Pergamos instead of opposing the church and seeking to overcome it with violence. Based upon the contents of this letter, it seems that they were successful in joining with the church, but unsuccessful in persuading the church to join them in their idolatrous beliefs and practices.
These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
Christ describes himself as “he which hath a sharp sword with two edges”. This points us to Christ’s Word and its ability to destroy the enemies of Christ. We find Christ using this sword in Revelation to judge and devour His enemies in Rev 19:11-21.
Many times we think of the Word as being an instrument used by the Lord to deliver salvation to His people. However, we need to also realize that, the very same Word that saves us from our sins is also a tool of judgment that is used by our Lord to destroy His enemies (Isaiah 11:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:8). This is the symbolism of the sword found in this letter (v 16).
The very same powerful Word that spoke all of creation into existence, is the same powerful Word that can work salvation into the hardest of man’s hearts and is the same Word that can defeat the most wicked of those who oppose Christ. This is the basic principle behind the Lord’s Word being pictured as a two-edged sword.
(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.
The Lord now lists for the church several areas of faithfulness that they are exhibiting in their service to Him:
1. works, – their acts of service to Christ
2. where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: – they were located at the seat the sun worship of Babylon and Egypt
3. thou holdest fast my name, – they retained the name of Christ and continued to associate themselves with Him even though efforts were being made to persuade them to worship Zeus.
4. hast not denied my faith,…who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. – They not only kept the name of Christ but also continued to keep the Bible truths and practices.
Antipas (“against all”) was a man who was willing to stand fast against all of the false worship taking place in the city. Because of that, he gave his life for the cause of Christ and the furtherance of the truths of God’s Word.
(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. Christ now exposes the sin that existed in their midst. They were allowing those who had never repented of their worship of Zeus to join and then continue in their membership. Instead of exercising church discipline to remove them from their membership, they allowed them to stay and continue in their heathen beliefs and practices.
Please note: the pagan worshippers are described as: 1. them that hold the doctrine of Balaam (“destroyer of the people”) – Balaam deceived the Israelite men (through use of Moabite women) to worship idols at Baal-Peor, leading them astray from the true God. (Numbers 25:1-18 and Numbers 31:16) 2. who taught Balac – Balac was the king who had been counseled by Balaam in the idolatry of Baal-Peor (Nums
- to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, – the teachings of these pagans was intended to “trip up” the Christians at Pergamos
- to eat things sacrificed unto idols, – the church at Pergamos was to abstain from eating meats sacrificed to idols due to their location among idol worshippers. By eating the meat, it would APPEAR as if they were approving of idol-worship and actually partaking of idol worship. This would serve to confuse those around them and trip up weaker Christians in their midst. (1 Corinthians 8:4-13) This is why the pagans were trying to persuade them to eat of the meat.
- to commit fornication. – to commit fornication with the temple prostitutes as a part of the idolatry. Also, by worshipping false Gods, the pagans would be enticing the Christians to commit acts of spiritual uncleanness.
(15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Nicolaitan (“conqueror of the people”), was the NT version of the OT Baalam. In both cases, the promotion of the idolatrous worship and teachings is in view. Those who believed in this sinful doctrine were included in the membership of the church. Instead of dealing with them, by removing them from the membership, they put up with them in their membership.
(16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
The Lord’s instructions to them was to “repent”, this includes changing their minds about those idolatrous members, then forsaking their sin by disciplining them in a Scriptural fashion, and finally determining in their hearts to properly guard their membership from this point forward. The Lord further explained that, if they ignore repentance for this grave sin, the Lord would take matters in His own hands. By doing this, He is saying He would deal with both the believing and unbelieving members of the assembly.
He describes His dealings with the believing members as “coming unto” the church, in other words, He would send His chastening hand upon them in discipline to bring them back to obedience. He describes His dealings with the idolatrous unbelievers as “I will fight against them”, in other words, He would actively oppose and judge them using the power of His Word. (Perhaps, this is speaking of the Lord raising up Godly teachers who would reveal their heresies which would eventually drive them out of the assembly.)
(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.
The wonderful promise given to the believing members of the church… For those who are victorious over the dark forces of the world, the Lord will give to them “hidden manna”. This is speaking of the Lord giving to His people a type of nourishment that cannot be seen in this temporal world…. a more intimate relationship with Him. In other words, in eternity the Lord will give to His people a much greater knowledge of Himself and a much greater communion with Himself (1 Cor 13:12).
He will also give to the overcomers a “white stone” with a “new name” written upon it. White and black stones were used to vote or choose. (Note In Acts 26:10 – “voice” is word for pebble). The white stone was a sign of acceptance, selection, or acquittal… the black stone rejection, to cast off, or guilty. In this case, the white stone given to the overcomer is an outward declaration he has been chosen by God to salvation and is given admission to eternal glory.
The “new name” is probably speaking of a new name for Christ, the One who selected and invited us into glory. It is displaying who “owned” or cast this vote. The name represents new titles for (truths about) Christ being revealed to His people in eternity. (Rev 19:12-13). He is given a new name in eternity as the veil is taken off our eyes and we see Him as He truly is (1 John 3:2).
Another popular view is that the “new name” is the name of the recipient of the stone. It would be the name of the one who has overcome. If this is the case, then it would be described as a “new name” that only the recipient knew because a person’s true spiritual standing before God can only be known by that person and God Himself. A person’s salvation can NEVER be known with CERTAINTY by another individual.
CHRIST REVEALED: In this section of Scripture, we can see Christ, as the ultimate Judge and Warrior who promises to come back to the earth someday judging the evil that is committed. We can also see Christ as the Holy One who cannot overlook evil, but deals with wickedness in the lives of the lost through His hand of wrath and in the lives of the saved by His hand of chastening.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)
Our Lord hates wickedness, we can see that through His promised dealings among the lost and saved in the church at Pergamos. Because of His hatred of sin, it is very important that His people are on constant guard to not allow it in our lives. But sadly, because we are fallen creatures, sin will slip into our lives. When it does, the Lord has given us repentance as the means with which to deal with that sin. May we all hate sin, reject it, and when it slips into our lives, repent of it. By doing these things, we can have confidence that the Lord’s hand of chastening will not come upon us.
May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.
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