The Church Of Pergamos
Revelation 2:12 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges."
This church is described in Rev. 2:12-17.
Pergamos was from 313--A.D. -- 606. This spans the time from Constantine's Edict of Toleration for Christians to what is considered the first actual true pope and the beginnings of the Catholic Church. This is the root system building up to the Catholic Church.
"Pergamos" means "much married". They've been married very much. The symbolic reference is to the fact that Christianity in this church age was being married to paganism through the things that Constantine did and supposed church fathers, etc...
This was an age of compromise and spiritual decline. Satan is as a roaring lion, but here we see him as a deceptive serpent w/ his deceptive doctrines and compromising in the church. Satan could not destroy the church, so he infiltrated it w/ pagan worship, etc...
"These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges"
The revelation of Jesus to this church age is of Jesus as He which hath the sharp sword w/ 2 edges. He says this because this was a time when compromise was rampant. False paganistic ideas and philosophies were being incorporated into the church-- they were married to it.
And Jesus says he will come and fight against this falsehood w/ the sword--the true Word of God proceeding out of His mouth. His Word will divide asunder between what is really flesh and what is really spirit (Rev. 1:16;Heb. 4:12).
The sword also shows Jesus' authority to conquer all.
Historical background for Pergamos--see end of study.
Revelation 2:13 "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." Shows the condition of the church.
Again "works" is omitted. "I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat (literally--throne) is..."
The main reference here is to this god Esculapias, this serpent god. God says serpents are a type of the devil. Where Satan's throne is, where the center of this ungodly worship is he says, that's where you are.
Satan's throne was established in the whole church age in the name of Roman Catholicism at Rome. It becomes Satan's seat in that age. That's the interpretation for the church at large, 313-606. The bishop of Rome got more and more power until he was recognized as the head of the church.
We find if we look back in church history, it's sketchy because the people that the established church considered to be heretics couldn't publish their works and we don't have that much record of them, but we have some spotty evidence that the truth of who Jesus was continued even up into this period of time, especially among common people. There were still those who knew who Jesus was and the fact that God is one. Jesus is telling His people, you are holing fast my name (speaks of His nature) even in all the darkness that's encroaching more and more.
This is a period when God's name was in question. It was a period when there where all kinds of different opinions of who Jesus was. So when Jesus says, Thou art holding fast my name, He's not talking to heretical churchmen and church fathers "so called", but He's talking to His remnant-- those who know Him in an intimate way. "Thou Holdest fast my name," You have not denied my nature that I am the only one that saves, heals, forgives, etc.-- not Mary, or the pope, or the church, etc... Its not by works, but by my grace. Acts 4:12;Matt.1:21-- no other name to be saved by, you shall call his name Jesus = he is the savior.
"Thou hast not denied my faith." That is, the true faith of Jesus Christ. "Even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr who was slain among you where Satan dwelleth." Tradition tells us that in Pergamos, the city itself, that this martyr was slain by being cooked inside a brazen bull over a fire. Antipas means "against all", so this man found that in order to hold fast his name and not deny his faith that he had to stand against all. It's a spiritual lesson for us in the last days. He stood against all this compromise. He held on--no matter what others believed!
Revelation 2:14 "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine (or teaching) of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."
The accounting of this seducing of Israel into idolatry through Balac, who was a king of Moab, is found in Numbers 25:1-9;31:16. It shows there how Israel was seduced into those licentious rites in the worship of Baal and that many of them committed fornication and began to take women from the Midianites and Moabites and committed fornication-- 24,000 Israelites were slain in a plague as a result.
Now Balaam was a man of God but he fell into compromising. What it says here we don't find written in the O.T.-- how Balaam taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel. It isn't recorded there, but God is adding a further Revelation here. The thing he tells us is what Balaam told king Balac. Balac was afraid of the Israelites because they were passing through his land and he feared that they were going to attack him. So he called for Balaam, this prophet, to come and he said, curse them for me, pronounce a divine curse on them for me that God will destroy them and Balaam said, well all I can say is what God gives me to say and all he could do was continually pronounce blessings upon Israel. So finally Balac was tired of this whole thing and said, I hired you here to curse and you've blessed them these 3 times, now I want you to curse them. So all Balaam could tell him, as the Book of Revelation reveals, is I can't curse them because God has blessed them. However, if you somehow can tempt them to sin, God will forsake them and curse them. He says there are people in this church who hold the doctrine of Balaam. So this doctrine of Balaam has to do in some way w/ seducing God's people into sin so that God will forsake them.
Balaam's teaching = seduced into false religion and brought them into teaching and compromising w/ the world. Titus 2:11,12-- grace to give us power to overcome. 1 Cor.10:21-- I would not that you have fellowship w/ demons. Spiritually sacrificed to idols = teaching them false doctrines, i.e., veneration of Mary, the pope, etc... Commit fornication = worshipping the pope or praying to Mary as deity--the mother of God, etc...
So we find in this church age that there were apostate churchmen, false men of God, who taught Balac who represents civil rulers. (Balac was a king of Moab). Constantine was a civil ruler to cast a stumbling block before God's people by marrying, causing them to commit fornication w/ paganism. When Constantine came forth w/ his Edict of Toleration, he said O.K. there's no more persecution of Christians, in fact we're all going to be Christians. Nobody's allowed to not be a Christian, and so multitudes of people were admitted into the church who weren't Christians at all, and in fact they were given money and clothing to become Christians. And we find that Christianity was married w/ paganism. Constantine's reason was to unify his empire. Why did he use the churchmen? The reasoning in their hearts was so that they could gain control of God's people for their own gain, so they could set up their own religious dominion backed by secular power-- so they could have a hand in the whole pot. They could keep their influence in there and gain a name and authority for themselves over the people.
And we find at the same time that the attitude was prevailing that sin could be excused because of grace, and many of these men were men of God. They started out as men of God-- born again men who loved God, but they compromised w/ the system for the sake of their gain and influence and they backslid. Jude 11 shows us how that many of those Balaamites had been true men of God. (Read Jude & 2 Peter chapter 2). Now this ties right in w/ the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, Rev.2:15.
Revelation 2:15 "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate."
Nicolaitanes, as was seen, meant conquerors of the people or having power over the people and we find that it's the same doctrine. It's a doctrine to deduce the people into sin. And it's possible that this Nicolaitane word also has a reference to the fact that there were church leaders setting themselves up in positions of authority that God had never given them and that there were false concepts of authority beginning to come in. Bishops ruling over whole government districts and the Bishops of Rome claiming that he was over all the Bishops and that God had set him as the head of the entire church.
Gaining power over the people in this whole big compromise soup of sin and false doctrine and mix-ups concerning the nature of God and men's whole motive was to control the people, not to bring them to Jesus at all. So history tells us that this conquering of the people succeeded only slowly and there were pockets of resistance that continually had to be dealt with. The result of conquering the people is what we're going to find again today in the church--one big pot of compromise, a religious system w/ a form of Godliness but denying God's power.
Revelation 2:16 "Repent; (present tense) or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them w/ the sword of my mouth."
Jesus tells them concerning these things: repent or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them w/ the sword of my mouth. He says I will come unto thee--the whole church, quickly and I will fight against them, these false men of God in particular, w/ the sword of my mouth which is God's Word judging and destroying false doctrine and sin and cutting down the false claims that men were making.
Revelation 2:17 "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."
Jesus promises a reward in v.17. The meaning of this reward is as follows: He talks about the hidden manna, the secret hidden manna. We find that there were men bringing in, as God said, bringing in false doctrines secretly into the church--secretly in their councils they're bringing these things. So Christ says, I'm going to give you my hidden doctrine, my hidden truth-- it's me, the truth, you are going to have me. You are going to possess me if you hold on to my truth and not compromise w/ this thing; you're going to have a hidden manna which they don't know about.
1.) It's a hidden incorruptible manna, just as the manna was placed in the ark of the covenant w/ the mercy seat on top of it and that manna didn't corrupt in the Holy of holies. Jesus said you're going to possess me in heaven, in a secret place w/ me: incorruptible manna. The manna was in the ark, as truth is in Christ. This hidden manna is hidden from the world, and is only revealed as we live in the Holy of holies (Heavenly places w/ Christ).
2.) John 6:48-56 shows us the hidden manna is Jesus.
3.) John 6:51-- He tells us that those who partake of this hidden manna will live forever. And so he is promising them here, access to Jesus, the bread of heaven, and access to eternal life. And he's telling them until that time walk w/ me and your life will be hid w/ Christ, and you'll have food that they know not of. And we find that Christ is withdrawn from the non-overcomer, the one who will not stand true for Him; he will not partake of this hidden manna.
He also promises a white stone. There's several possibilities and it may be that all of them are meant to be taken into account as to what this white stone means.
1.) It could be a reference to the Urim and Thummin in Exo.28:30 and Leviticus 8:8 which probably had Yahweh's (Hebrew word for LORD) name engraved on them, on these stones which were put on Aaron's breastplate, on his heart, showing that God was to be next to his heart and he was to have God's heart. We find that Jesus came in his father's name, and so Jesus, in the anti-type, was this high priest w/ his father's name next to his heart. He tells us that before the throne we will have that same name upon us. There's a new name we're going to possess. Concerning this new name, we have references in Revelation 3:12;22:4;Isaiah 62:2;65:13-15. Possibly this new name has to do w/ a new identity as the bride of Christ (a new nature or place w/ God) for the overcomers in Christ.
2.) The second possibility concerning this white stone could refer to a custom they had of acquittal. Now when there was a trial and there was a jury, they would cast in stones or they would put stones into a pot or some vessel and they had black stones and they had white stones, and if all the stones were black, then the person was convicted of the crime and punished. However, if there was even one white stone among them, then that was an indication that the issue wasn't clear and someone in the jury thought this man was innocent and they wouldn't convict him of the crime. So he's showing that you are going to be acquitted if you walk w/ me and hold true to me; you're going to be acquitted from all this compromise and all this sin that's going on around you and I will approve you before my Father which is in heaven.
3.) It may refer to a custom of being admitted to a banquet or a special occasion where only certain people were admitted and to get in the door, you had to present a white stone which had been sent to you as a token that you were invited. So he's telling them you're invited to a feast on the hidden manna which is in heaven.
Now the spiritual lessons for us from this Pergamos church age
1.) We see that Pergamos was where Satan's seat or throne is. That's what Jesus said about it. That's where Satan's throne of power is. So we know this corresponds to the founding of the Roman Catholic pseudo-church of Jesus Christ, and for us today, we also live in a time when there's going to be world government and there's going to be a world church and even now there's an anti-christ spirit building and getting stronger. Eventually, it's going to culminate in the Antichrist himself being revealed and being shown forth.
2 Thesseslonians tells us that he will be revealed in some measure before the Rapture of the saints, and therefore, he must be alive on earth at this time, considering that we're living in the last generation. Because Israel was going to become a nation again in the last generation, so were living in that period of time.
Also we find that the snake symbol that was used in the medical university at Pergamos is used by the U.N. today, and so we see this false world system building and we see that it's Satanic. Now God sees us in the position that we're in, in the midst of all the strength in the pillars of Babylon rising round about us, and He's telling us to be encouraged to resist this evil because if you hold steadfast and trust in me; you will be partakers of me.
We also find a lesson under the same heading of dwelling where Satan's seat is that there was a martyr Antipas-- against all. So we find that we too will be coming against, will be forced to come against all who are compromising w/ this world church system and w/ false doctrines that are leading people into sin, and we find that we're going to have to stand and be light amidst all of this deception, etc...
2.) The second lesson is concerning the doctrine of Balaam. Today we find physical fornication. See, Balaam taught this king who was named Balac to cause the Israelites to commit fornication. We find physical fornication and illicit sex of any kind rampant today and that's bad enough but even more than that he's talking of spiritual fornication. He's saying don't compromise w/ the harlot. Don't go into spiritual fornication w/ this system for the sake of unity and peace; just believe me, that I have a plan and I'm going to bring it about in my own way. That's the lesson for us in this doctrine of Balaam. We find that 24,000 were slain in the plague because they married themselves to that idol, and also today we find that there's going to be a great apostasy. In 2 Thess., we read that the day of Jesus Christ shall not come except there come a falling away 1st, an apostasy, and many will turn aside and become a part of this system who could have had their names written in heaven. And Jesus is telling us, repent of compromise or it's going to lead to your destruction.
3.) The third lesson is as follows: we find that there is a new name revealed to us. There's a new name he promises to overcomers. So Jesus is saying, hold onto me and look to me and go further in me, because I'm going to grant you a further Revelation of myself. You see, the name indicates the nature and the characteristics of the one possessing it. And so he says, you're going to know me in a new way. And when we overcome and stand in that position before Him; we'll have a new Revelation of Him.
Capital of Asia until second century A.D. In beautiful district on north bank of the Caicus. Filled with idolatry; rivaled Ephesus in temples. Had temples to Caesar, Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, etc. A center of Emperor worship along with Smyrna. Aesculapius (Asklepios), god of healing, worshipped in form of live serpent in temple. Coins show Aesculapius bearing serpent-wreathed rod. "Satan's throne" (Rev. 2:13)--- worship of serpent (or possible of Caesar). Home of a medical university. The city's library (200,000 volumes) was second only to Alexandria's. Manufactured ointments, pottery, tapestry, and parchment (from "Pergamos").