The next correction (judgment) Jesus Christ reveals, directed not only to the church of Pergamos (Pergamum), but also to every church in the church age today; the apostate condition of compromise.
This passage of Scripture shows us in spite of the good works the church of Pergamos were doing faithfully in evangelizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ; they compromised holy and righteous living before God according to the doctrines of the Apostles… i.e. The New Testament.
Some Bible scholars today would call the church of Pergamos “The Heretical Church.” I wouldn’t. All because the church of Thyatira fits that description better than this church.
And second of all, as you will see in this study, there was some heresy going on in this church, because they allowed it in. But they were not taken completely over with heretical teachings. This church was not even the source of heresy either. So you really can’t call this “The Heretical Church.”
But compromise is the first step to heresy as was uncovered in our past study: Revelation 2:6-7 (Nicolaitanes And The Blessing of A Penitent Heart). The church of Pergamos is guilty before Jesus Christ of compromise, in living the truth of the New Testament. And this is why they are known as the compromising church, as is another common problem of the church age today as well.
This is a lesson to all churches, who are right with God, just like the church of Smyrna are. Who did everything right and Jesus Christ has nothing against you, lavishing only blessings.
The lesson we can take home from Jesus Christ today is, “Ye think ye stand firm, take heed lest ye fall (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).” If this happened to them, it can also happen to any church or born-again Christian today.
A Quick Background of Pergamos
The city of Pergamos, (modernly known today as Bergama) sits about 69 miles north of Smyrna, near the Caicus river (Bakırçay; Latin: Caicus, Ancient Greek: Κάϊκος) in Northwest Asia Minor (modern day Turkey); just 15 miles from the Aegean Sea.
Pergamos was a symbol of Greek superiority as a city-state around 241-159 B.C. It’s home to a magnificent library which rivaled the Egyptian library in Alexandria. The “Pergamena Charta” was invented in this city as a type of parchment back in those days to replace papyrus; as a result of the Egyptians revolt to ship papyrus scrolls to Pergamos,
During the days of the Roman empire, Pergamos became the capital of Roman province of Asia Minor, which was eventually home to three imperial temples (of the cult of emperor worship), the temple of asklepios; a medical center and also home to one of the wonders of the world; “Pergamon Altar.” Also known as the “throne of zeus.”
As a side note, “Pergamon Altar” is no longer in the city of Pergamos. It was successfully excavated and removed in 1886 by a German Archaeologist (Carl Humann). It was reconstructed and sits on display today in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin Germany.
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;
Jesus Christ is testifying to us all here, another characteristic about Himself. That He not only has the written word of God, He is the Word of God made flesh. “The sharp sword with two edges” has a four-fold revelation to it.
- Sword of the Spirit is the written word of God (Ephesians 6:17)
- Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-14)
- The written word of God and Jesus Christ speaks sharp convicting words (Hebrews 4:12-14)
- Jesus Christ speaks with sharp, deadly authority (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19:15-21)
So, these truths revealed in God’s Holy Bible, showing us Jesus Christ is not only the Word of God made flesh, He corrects with sure convicting doctrines and He also judges in powerful authority of God His Father, as King according to God’s holy and righteous standards of God His Father’s written word.
There Is Only One God
Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where satan’s seat is:
Once again, this passage of Scripture proves that no one can hide from Jesus Christ. Even though He died on the cross; risen from the dead and ascended back into Heaven in bodily flesh. Doesn’t mean He doesn’t know what’s going on, on earth.
Jesus Christ is not disconnected, He knows in great detail all that is going on in every city, town and village of every county of every state in every nation of every continent on the whole face of the earth. No one and nothing can hide from the eyes of Him we must give an account to.
And Verse 13 is proof of this fact, “even where satan’s seat is:” Jesus Christ is referencing one of the historical wonders of the world, that was in Pergamos known as the “throne of zeus” or “Pergamon Altar.”
The Lord calls it, “satan’s seat” because there is only one source of all fictitious mythical deities and world religions. And they all come from the perverted imagination of satan. And the Lord is calling it out sharply!
And notice also, Jesus Christ never spoke the name zeus, because there is only One God, The God of the Jews and that is His Father; El Elyon. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The One and Only true God that spoke the Holy Bible; Who inspired holy men to write by the inspiration of God Most Highs’ Holy Spirit.
There is only One Lord and that is Jesus Christ. There is no other god nor lord above, beside or beneath. There’s only one body (The church body of Christ without sectarianism/denominational divisions or factions) There is only one faith and that is Christianity (Ephesians 4:4-6) and anything else comes from satan.
There is only one way to God and Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6)! All other polytheistic; pagan, new age-coexist religions are all from satan, the devil, that serpent of old, that deceiver who had deceived the whole world for thousands of years, away from the One true God of the whole entire universe!
And this be also known, all world religions of goddesses are the transgender version of satan. He is the one who has invented and influenced the world by his deceptions, to flood the earth and the minds of humanity with confusion, while promoting pride, sin, and self-indulgences.
Murder, evil behaviors and perverse speech to separate humanity from the One and Only true holy God, in order to one day rule the world. And this has been satans agenda all along.
It was satan who inspired humanity all over the world to invent fictional deities and false religions. Causing nations to rise and fall because of sin. Nations to fight against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. Idolatry, hatred witchcraft, sorcery, abominable perversions, sexual immorality, wickedness, false doctrines and the list of evil goes on and on and on!
And he even tried to tempt Jesus Christ in promising to give Him the kingdom of the world in which the devil had influenced, if only Jesus Christ would bow down and worship the devil (Matthew 4:8-9). But…Jesus Christ destroyed the works of satan at the cross (John 19:30/ 1 John 3:8). So that people can be saved from the grip of the world, the flesh and devil.
And that’s what Jesus Christ is preaching here in a few words. This is why He taught, Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
You cannot serve both God and the love of money! You cannot serve both God and self! You cannot serve both God and the devil! You cannot serve both God and sin! You cannot serve both God and the world at the same time!
Jesus Christ’s teaching also is revealing, there are only two masters in all the heavens and the earth, and they are either God or the devil! Light or darkness. Righteousness or sin, holy or evil and there is no other master.
There’s only 2 eternal destinations; Heaven or Hell. There are only two paths to travel in life; The broad way or the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). And each path determines where you are eternally heading; and who your master is and what you will be; based upon your choice in life on earth now to the end.
Revelation 2:13 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.
Here, Jesus Christ is pointing out the good works the church of Pergamos were doing, “thou holdest fast My name,” they did not deny knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in the face of opposition and adversity.
“Hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you,” they didn’t deny being Christians publicly; even when facing death. They were standing against those temptations of denying Christ and keeping silent, just like Antipas was doing that caused his death.
In fact, Antipas is a Greek name and it means “against all.” And according to Jesus Christ he truly lived up to the meaning of his name to the end of his life. A faithful Christian of the first century who stood up against all satanic influence and all sinful debauchery while preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Who still to this day, stands as a real testament to all born-again Christians today to learn from. Fearless with a backbone! Who bore the price of true Christianity.
Antipas: There’s not much written about Antipas of Pergamos, other than what is contained in Revelation 2:13. Historically speaking, he was a bishop, perhaps the first bishop of the church of Pergamos. Whom the Apostle John had ordained after establishing this church for Jesus Christ. And was martyred for the cause of Jesus Christ our Lord during the rule of the Roman Emperor Nero (54-68 A.D.).
“Where satan dwelleth” Jesus Christ is specifically referencing Pergamos as a metropolis of heathen deities. Temples were built and dedicated to jupiter, zeus, athena, dionysius, and asklepios. As well as the three Roman imperial temples.
With this magnitude of gross paganism, blasphemy, rebellion, idolatry, and debauchery, it’s apparent that the presence of satan’s influence was very strong here.
The Lord reveals next, a few things He has against this church. In spite of their tenacity, He’s about call out 2 anti-Christ doctrines that the church body was allowing into their church
- The doctrines of Balaam
- The doctrines of Nicolaitanes
Revelation 2:14 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.
And it’s no wonder. Heretical teachings are one of the tactics of satan. If He cannot keep you from standing against his influences and from preaching the gospel, then he will try to corrupt the church from within to destruction.
And he still uses these same tactics and methods today. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll then try to render the church powerless against his kingdom by causing a compromise of truth with false doctrines and sins, just like Balaam did to the children of Israel.
Doctrines of Balaam
The doctrine of Balaam is a rebellious, covetous and compromising way against God; and Jesus Christ is referring to Balaam of the Book of Numbers 22-24.
Balaam was not a prophet of God; in fact, he did not know the One true God of the Jews. He was an abominable medium, a Gentile diviner and a pagan enchanter according to God’s holy standards (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). He was hired by Balak the King of Moab to conjure up curses against the Hebrews who were passing through Moab (numbers 22:4-7).
And of course, God Most High intervened on behalf of His treasured possessions (The Jews/Hebrews/Israelites). He came unto Balaam and gave Him specific instructions, “Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people; for they are blessed (Numbers 22:9-12).”
And at first, Balaam seemed to obey God (Numbers 22:13), but was given greater riches than before to curse God’s people and rebel against what the Lord God of the Jews had commanded him (Numbers 22:14-35).
As Balaam went with Balak to a high place (where baal is worshiped), God put a word in the Balaam’s mouth to bless the Israelites (Numbers 23:1-12). And again, it seems all was well between God and Balaam.
But as you read on, to Numbers 31:15-16, we see that when Balaam went back home (Numbers 22:25), apparently Balaam gave evil counsel to the Israelites to sin against God in order to destroy them from within.
And this is what Jesus Christ was specifically pointing out to the church of Pergamos, “who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel.”
So, in essence, the doctrine of Balaam teaches in a nutshell, rebellion against God. And that it’s okay to sin a little despite what the Holy Bible teaches as the gold standard of holiness. Jude warns Christians about this dangerous movement and their pending judgment from God if they do not repent from this heresy, in
Jude :11-15 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
Jude describes people’s spiritual condition after they were led astray from the doctrines of Balaam as you continue to read here
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
The Apostle Peter also discerned this same problem for all the church age as well and also warned Christians about the consequence for believing and following false doctrines
2 Peter 2:1-15 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
The Doctrines of Nicolaitanes
Even though the Lord does not specifically give address to the Nicolaitanes in correcting the church of Pergamos, He does, however, mentions something that sound a lot like the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes, “to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”
Referring back to our study in Revelation 2:6-7 (Nicolaitanes And The Blessing of A Penitent Heart), Nicolaitanes were adulterous fornicators, who rebels against God’s instructions and insults the Spirit of grace; and teaches other to do what they do
“And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continue to offer insults to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offer to idols”excerpt from: Hippolytus’ book: ‘Refutation of All Heresies’ Book 7; Chapter 24 sub-titled “The Melchisedecians; The Nicolaitans,”
The Lord Jesus Christ here is pointing out that He hates the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. Here He shows us that He doesn’t change His mind. If the deeds of the Nicolaintanes He despises in one church, He despises in all His churches all over the world in all the church age, regardless.
Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
He is speaking this to the church body to repent, to turn away from allowing these compromising doctrines of demons into the church. To throw it all out completely.
He is also addressing those who teach these corrupt doctrines to repent from ministering things that are not of God, or else judgment will come swiftly by the word of His mouth.
Since Jesus Christ was there at the beginning of Creation with God His Father, and spoke all His creation into existence (refer to the study Revelation 1:4-6 (Jesus Christ Who Is, Was, And Is To Come) He can likewise take life and bring destruction by a spoken word also. And that’s what He is warning here.
The Blessings Promised To Penitent And Overcoming Christians And Churches
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.
The Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t leave anyone hanging with the fear of judgment pending. He speaks this to all churches throughout the church age who recognize themselves in this apostate condition of compromise. He ends His warning with blessings, ‘To him that repents and overcomes,’ “will I give to eat of the hidden manna”
“The hidden manna” is the deep hidden mysteries contained in the word of God (The Holy Bible). He gives this blessing to replace the knowledge of lying doctrines of satan with The Absolute Truth to them that repents and overcometh.
A deep close fellowship in the literal presence of Jesus Christ Himself is also promised here as well. Because after all, Jesus Christ is the manna that came down from Heaven. He is the Bread of Life
John 6:31-35 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from Heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from Heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from Heaven.
For the Bread of God is He which cometh down from Heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said unto him, Lord, evermore give us this Bread. And Jesus said unto them, I Am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.
The Lord also promises another blessing to them that repent and overcome the apostate condition of compromise, though it seems to be strange at first glance, “and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it”
What is this white stone? And how is it a blessing? Why does Jesus Christ make it into such a big deal? Remember, the city of Pergamos was founded and governed first by the Greeks and eventually the Roman empire as well.
Therefore, Pergamos is a Gentile city whom the Greeks and Romans lived together in, and this “white stone” has an important significance among the Greeks and Romans.
According to Greek and Roman custom, if a person in court was found guilty of a serious crime, they were given a black stone. Likewise, if a person in court was acquitted, they were given a white stone. So, how does this cultural concept relate to Christians today?
The “white stone” signifies God’s forgiveness of this specific sin of compromise. And, “a new name written” on this white stone also signifies God’s adoption as His child. A commentary written by Matthew Henry puts this in perfect perspective. He wrote
“This white stone is absolution from the guilt of sin, alluding to the ancient custom of giving a white stone to those acquitted on trial and a black stone to those who are condemned. The new name is the name of adoption: adopted persons took the name of the family into which they were adopted. None can read the evidence of a man’s adoption but himself; he cannot always read it, but if he persevere he shall have both the evidence of sonship and inheritance.”excerpt from: Matthew Henry’s Commentary Volume VI “Acts To Revelation” published by Revell; Pg. 1128
But again… this is only given to those who are guilty of these sins; repents and overcomes them.