“The Unveiling of Jesus”
III. Chp. 2-3 The vision of His Church: (1:19b) “The things, which are”
II. Vs. 12-17 A mixed marriage
Pergamos was located 20 miles from the Mediterranean Sea and called the greatest city in Asia Minor. Its importance was not commercial rather it was religious, as it was the first city to have a temple dedicated to Caesar. The name “Pergamos” in Greek is a compound word that means “mixed marriage” and it fits this church as it represents the time frame in church history from 300 A.D. to 600 A.D. After the death of Diocletian emperor or Rome two men contended for emperor of Rome, Maxentius from the west and Constantine from the east. In a daring military move Constantine crossed the Alps in hopes of dislodging the militarily superior Maxentius from Italy. It was a daring gamble they placed him just outside of Rome where he would have to face a vastly larger army at the Milvian Bridge. He turned to help from the God of the Christians and says that in a dream that night he saw a cross with the words, “in this sign conquer”. His victory convinced him of the power of the Christian God and as such he became Christian.
The facts of his conversion are in question as he still conspired to murder all those that opposed him and he was only baptized the day before he died. His brand of Christianity called a halt to all state run persecutions, made Sunday a legal holiday and by 312 A.D. he made the state religion as well as everyone in the empire a Christian. Thus all pagan religious practices were now called Christian practices. The historic effect of this was that Christianity was now mixed with the religions of the world including all the ancient Babylonian cults such as the worship of the dead, priests wearing different clothing the worship of the “mother of God”. Yet still there were those who refused to compromise with the world. In Smyrna Satan was outside the Church in Pergamos he has decided to join
it. The power the Church had was superficial as it came from man through compromise with the world and as such the world embraced the church.
II. Vs. 12-17 A mixed marriage
Vs. 12 Author: To the Church that had mixed its self with the world Jesus reveals Himself as the One who has a sharp two-edge sword. The sword was a sign of Roman authority and power but here it is used to describe His character. You will recall in Heb. 4:12 that the word of God is described as a “two-edge sword”, it is the weapon that Jesus used to defeat the devil at His temptation but it seems as though Jesus wants this church to know that it cuts both ways! Nothing but truth can defeat error and no peace can ever last through compromise!
Vs. 13 Approval: They are approved on three things:
Fruitfulness in spite of circumstances: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” Jesus knew the conditions in which this church had to serve in. They were living in the center of satanic influence and power in the world (Rome) yet there were those there who had still not compromised. The Church that seeks to be “popular with the world will not be popular with Christ!”
Fidelity in spite of opposition: “And you hold fast to My name”. Though they dwelt in the center of false worship, there were those that remained faithful to His name. In the Bible a person’s name represented their character and this remnant refused to compromise with Christ’s character though if they had they would have been spared persecution. A healthy Church is not to be judged based upon the numbers that gather but rather upon their conviction in whose name they have gathered! Jesus told us as much in Matt 18:20 where He said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Faithfulness in spite of persecution: “Did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” The remnant did not compromise in the area of doctrinal teaching even when it costs them their lives. Words and their meanings in the area of our trust in Christ are a matter of life and death. Their trust of Jesus’ words went far beyond mere intellectual assent to total surrender to the point of death. We know nothing of Antipas other than what his name means “against all” and that he lived up to his name even to the point of death.
Vs. 14-15 Accusation: There are two accusations but they both stem from a greater issue found in the words “you have there those” and “you also have those”. Though they were not all guilty of these two problems they were guilty of tolerating the two problems. There were those who had compromised the truth but the rest had compromised by allowing them to remain in their midst. Jesus mentions two false teachings that some held on to:
- Vs. 14 “the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.” Balaam’s failure is mentioned three different ways in scripture:
- 2 Peter 2:15 “The way of Balaam”: Which is the selling of God’s gift for money. He was a prophet spelled “profit”, as he had the word of God in his mouth but not in his heart, seen in the fact that he was willing to compromise for a price.
- Jude 11 “Error of Balaam”: This was his assumption that God would curse His own Children the nation of Israel.
- Rev. 2:14 “The doctrine of Balaam”: Jesus gives us the definition of what the doctrine of Balaam was as it is the teaching of God’s children to worship other gods and to commit sexual immorality. Simply put it is the seducing of the people of God to practice a false way of worship thus causing them to commit spiritual adultery. How were they able to accomplish this? Well those that held this teaching were placed in such high regards that they were above the word of God, they lord over the people.
- Vs. 15 “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans”: As we saw with the church at Ephesus the Nicolaitans were a group that stressed the separation between God and the common believer by placing the priest as the go between. The outcome was the blurring of moral and theological truths that made Jesus a created being. In 325 A.D. the heads of different churches met at Nicaea to establish what is now called the Nicene Creed which established the already established truth of the tri-un nature or trinity of the God head.
Vs. 16-17 Admonition: This church is to repent or else Jesus will come and fight against those who continue to compromise. They needed to be more concerned with the sword of the spirit then the sword of Rome! There is no other option given this church, either repent or be judged. Jesus will gather the wheat and burn the tares! Those who have an ear to hear “the over comers” are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Interesting that Jesus promises to give them hidden manna, which was the food, used to sustain Israel in the wilderness. Jesus in John 6:30-35 spoke of Himself being that “hidden manna” from heaven that gives life to the world. In other words the promise is that of more of Himself to those who turn only to Him! The white stone was used by the judge to acquit the accused of a crime and here we see that if they repent they will be not only acquitted but rather transformed!