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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 6


Letter#3
To the Church in Pergamum
Revelation 2:12-17


12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
Pergamum - creative commons image
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

This letter goes out to the church in Pergamum, referred to here by Jesus as where Satan has his throne and  where Satan lives. Wow, that's a pretty strong indictment  against this city. How would you like to tell someone where you're from and have them say, "Oh, that's where Satan lives and sits on his throne...ruling throne." Yikes! I'd be packing up and moving, pronto!

So, why did Jesus use such harsh words about this city? First of all, they were killing Christian believers (Antipas was martyred there, among many others.). It was home to many idol temples and worship of false gods. History tells us that there was a large worship center built in Pergamum to
Asclepium, who was considered a god of healing. Add to that the mention here of the teachings of Balaam, who encouraged eating food sacrificed to idols (taking part in idolatrous rites) and committing sexual immorality. 

He also mentions the teachings of the Nicolaitans...
It seems that the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans was that it was alright to have one foot in both worlds and that one needn't be so strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. This, in fact, was the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans that Jesus "hated." It led to a weak version of Christianity that was without power and without conviction - a defeated, worldly type of Christianity. (Taken from Who Were the Nicolaitans, and What Was Their Doctrine and Deeds?)
 Jesus exhorts those who practice these things to...

Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Revelation 2:16
 Look back at verse 12, where Jesus says who is writing this letter...

To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. Revelation 2:12
 And remember the description John gave of his vision of Jesus back in chapter 1...


In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Revelation 1:16
In Hebrews, it references a double-edged sword...

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
The sword represents His justice and his judgement.

 Whew! Now that we got all that bad stuff out of the way, I want to focus in on what Jesus commended the church (believers) at Pergamum for...

I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Revelation 2:13
 In the midst of all this pagan worship of false gods, in the face of people who were trying to influence them to include false teachings and evil practices in their beliefs, in spite of the fact that followers of Jesus Christ were being killed for their faith, these Believers remained faithful to the teachings of Jesus. Faithful to Him.

We live in a fallen world where people worship every kind of god imaginable. Sexual immorality is rampant and encouraged. Christians are being persecuted and even murdered for their faith. We must be strong and faithful, just as the Believers in Pergamum were. Satan and his evil schemes against mankind lives. We need not live in fear, for God tells us over and over again in His word "fear not,"
but he also tells us to be aware of the schemes of the enemy. Stand strong in your faith. Remain faithful to God, no matter what, because He always remains faithful to us.


Do you allow things of the world to creep into your life?
Are you grounded enough in the Word of God that you can recognize false teaching?
Are you as faithful to God as you want to be?

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your faithfulness toward us. You never give up on us and you're always willing to forgive, even when we fall for temptation, even when we allow the culture we live in to creep into our hearts and behavior. We pray that you will help us to recognize false teaching and be strong in the face of temptation and persecution. We are grateful for your steadfast love. Amen

An Introduction to the Church at Pergamum

 


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