12“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. 14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TELL US ABOUT JESUS?
v. 12 “him who has the sharp double edged sword”
the sword represents judgment in the Old Testament. if you consider Hebrews 4:12-13 specifically, the double edged sword is the word of God (that makes sense as earlier in revelations a sword is pictured as coming out of Jesus’ mouth) that can judge heart. Either way its related to judgment, which Jesus has the authority, right, and power to administer.
*we like to think of the bible in the words it gives us of comfort but we must not forget that the words of the bible also serve to judge. God made us so He of all people, has the right to judge us. We (I) need to let His word do the work of examining and cutting our hearts, and not be so casual or flippant about it. I got to really hear it and let it sink deep in me or there will be hell to pay.
WHAT IS GOING RIGHT WITH THIS CHURCH?
In the midst of a very worldly city, the church in Pergamum (which interestingly means “thoroughly married”) still holds on to Christ. They still go to church. They have not denied him even in the face of persecution and danger.
*its crazy that Jesus says that this church is in the city where he says Satan’s throne is. that satan feels at home in this city. its where he rules. imagine that: the city where you live is where satan lives. to hold onto ones faith in such a place is hard but good.
WHAT IS GOING WRONG WITH THIS CHURCH? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
The church may be true to Christ, but there are people that hold on to false teachings and evil practices. As a whole they may hold to Christ but are trying to hold on to other things too that are not of him. they are mixing. they have other loves and lovers.
* its interesting and scary to me that Satan has his “throne” in a place that is not completely pagan. it’s a city where he also has crept into the church. his influence is everywhere, and even undetected where he most should be. Has Satan’s influence crept into our churches, our lives without us being aware of it?
Both sins Jesus addresses (food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality) are sins of mixing and have to do with not being solely faithful to God. holding onto him and another is actually not really holding onto him (we cant wholeheartedly serve two masters).
– Eating food sacrificed to idols – although Paul in 1 Corinthians 8 essentially doesn’t have a problem with it per se, this seems to be a people who still somehow associated it with worship of other things. So they were in essence participating in pagan worship of false gods.
– Sexual immorality – the greek word for this word is porneo. the more equivalent word for it in our English language is fornication which means any sex outside the covenant of marriage. this covers a whole host of sexual behaviors, not just what society considers “deviant” sexual behavior. it means having sex with anyone / anything you are not married to. So this would cover pre-marital sex too. people do it all the time in this day and age and Christians are not exempt. in this area for sure the church isn’t blameless. this sexual immorality could be physical unfaithfulness as well as spiritual unfaithfulness (especially from the context of worship of idols, giving our love to other things)
*physical unfaithfulness – by the grace of God I haven’t physically been unfaithful. However, that doesn’t mean im off the hook. Jesus says just looking at anyone lustfully, that im not married to, is the same as unfaithfulness…its in the heart. im guilty. to be honest, i struggle with this more than I’d like to admit. more than even my slothfulness, this is what i hate most about myself. i adore my wife, but sometimes my eyes and mind wander. why is faithfulness so hard for me? for guys? for humankind? the divorce rates loom over our heads, like a fearful echo of a deeper flaw. i’ve told my wife my problem. it hurts her. obviously. when i see my wife shed these tears it feels like my chest is caving in. she’s my best human friend and my lover. but even more than that, it hurts God (see Hosea). i expect and take for granted that God is faithful to me. why do I forget this so quickly? why do I not value faithfulness like Joseph, who loved God so deeply and recognized his goodness so profoundly that it was unthinkable for him to go against God? i have a problem and i want to change. one thing i know for sure is that i can’t just make my desires go away; i must fill my heart with a greater person on which to pour my desires…God…the greatest, highest, worthiest that I could give my heart to and indeed the source of all beauty. God fill my heart up with you, so much that I would want nothing else but you and what you give.
*spiritual unfaithfulness – In what ways am I mixing up my faith? I may say I am Christian but in what ways am I compromising my faith and what He treasures by participating in the impure ways of the world? Now we know he wants us in the world but what does it mean to not be of it? as we live in a secular society under a secular government we ought to be good citizens (as God expects us to submit to the governing powers he has put in place to the extent that they do not contradict His law, as well as examples like in Jeremiah 29 where believers live in a pagan society God directs them to seek the shalom (peace) and prosperity of the city). This does not mean however that we participate in everything. So what activities/practices/teachings of the world should we abstain from then? from what the world adores instead of God. or more specifically, from what draws our hearts away from adoring loving Him. why is that i can get more excited about a movie then spending time with him? why is that people at church are totally down to hang out and talk but once it’s a prayer meeting people split like the plague has come? are we more about what the world values or about what he values? Do I love him most? What else may I, and as church, be giving my (our) hearts too?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE?
He will come to us in judgement. We ought to cut off whatever is drawing us away from him, or he will cut it off…or worse we will have been cut off without knowing it.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO DO CHANGE?
(All of the following interpretations have been found in Fruchtenbaums commentary)
they will recieve:
Hidden manna can mean
– messianic reference (keener), true spiritual sustenance without labor
– Christ himself, the true bread from heaven
The White stone can mean
– symbol of acquittal, not guilty in ancient courtrooms (keener)
– membership into a private place in the roman world (mcarthur)
the New name can mean
– transformed identity
those who are truly faithful to him will receive all the special benefits of intimacy with Him, the one they have loved most.