The Church With A Compromising Problem
Pergamum was a city of compromise. There were many temples of worship there. From emperor worship, there was also Dionysus, Esculapius (the healing serpent god), and Zeus. These were worshipped as well as others. It was legal to worship anything you please as long as you bowed first to worship the Roman emperor. I you did not bow to the emperor, then, you most likely would die.
I. JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF AS THE ONE WHOSE SPEECH IS AS A TWO-EDGED SWORD (1:16; 2:12).
* He is in fact the living Word of God.
“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even o the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
* The Church of Pergamum needed the Word of God.
* When there is error in the Church the true Word of God is needed for correction
II. THE CHURCH STILL HELD TO THE NAME OF JESUS AND HAD STRONG FAITH (v. 13).
* Jesus’s commendation was that they had held fast to My name, and have not denied the faith.
* The lived in the midst of the power of darkness – the seat of Satan
1. Pergamum was the place of devout emperor worship.
2. It was the place where the largest altar to Zeus could be seen.
3. The worship of Eskulapius (the healing serpent god) was worshipped in Pergamum.
* Antipas (v. 13) was a martyr among them, and notice Jesus commendation of this one faithful man, who denied not his faith.
III. THE CHURCH ALLOWED THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM TO EXIST THERE (vv. 14-15)
* The doctrine of compromising the truth and join it with the truth.
1. The joining of godly and ungodly together – for the sake of peace.
“Ye adulterer and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.” James 4:4.
2. Being unable to curse God’s people [Israel in the wilderness] Balaam taught them to compromise.
“Behold these caused the children of Israel, throught he consel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD,, in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” Numbers 31:16 (Read Numbers 25, and 31).
* They were also allowing the doctrine of Nicolaitans, the same doctrine which the Ephesian Church hated (1:6).
1. This city was a place of a plurality of religious pracitce.
2. Pergamum tolerated this doctrine and others within the Church.
3. This seems very much like the doctrine of Acts 29, and the emerging church movement of today.
There are two views of this doctrine: First, there are some who hold that the Nicolitanes were a group of church leaders who got together and decided to exalt the leadership of the church to Priesthood, and rule over the people: Secondly, is the belief that this group believed that God was more concerned with just the soul of any individual, the body was evil anyway, so just live as you please. My summation is that I have no problem with them being together. The first will produce the other. The two doctrines fit “hand in glove” with the other.
IV. JESUS RECOMMENDS REPENTANCE, LEST HE COME WITH THE SWORD IN JUDGMENT (v.16).
* Their repentance as the Church of Pergamum would be to rid the Church of the false teachers and their teaching.
1. It is sad to say, but far too many times there is a patriarchy or matriarchy within a local congregation; they may have family members who are teaching, and it be false teaching; and these are sometimes difficult to be rid of.
2. It still must be done if the Church is to be the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
* There must be a house cleaning
* When there is no repentance.
1. Jesus will come and judge suddenly/quickly.
2. Jesus will fight against the false ones with the “Sword of His mouth”.
3. The one’s who are teaching falsely will find themselves standing in sharp contrast to the Word and will be judged by it.
* These are most generally people who have no faith in the verbal inspiration of God’s Word – only that the Bible “might contain the Word of God”
You might hear some of them say something like, “…there is no hope for those kind of people” speaking of a perverse, or cruel act some people have committed. They have no faith in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of the Gospel changes any sinner into a Saint in God’s sight, by His declaration.
V. JESUS CALLS FOR THOSE TO HAVE AN EAR TO HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES (v. 17)
* It is a message to every individual within the churches.
* Overcomers promised “hidden manna” and a “white stone” with a new name written in the stone.
1. They overcome the doctrine of Balaam by standing against it without compromise.
2. They also oppose the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes by standing true to the teachings of God’s Word
3. They oppose all false teachings by interpreting Scripture with Scripture, and not by the times or the seasons of men’s understanding, people’s moods or “higher criticism”.
* To partake of Jesus in eternity is the ‘hidden manna’ the overcomer’s will receive; Jesus said, “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.” John 6:32-33 (KJV).
* In Olympic games or the games of the day, a white stone was given the winner, and this his pass to the winners celebration following the games.
1. For the Christian we have “a white stone” in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
2. It is given to all who have finished the race and run for the glory of Jesus Christ.
-Tim A. Blankenship
For further reading by this author you may go to The Cutting Edges