Revelation 2:12-17 Pergamum
Letter to Pergamum [PUR guh muhm]
Characteristic (Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 38)
Pergamum is fifty-five miles north of Smyrna, but it is fifteen miles inland from the Aegean Sea. The city was a cultural and religious center. It has been ruled by Persians, Greeks, and Romans. In 133 B.C. Pergamum became the official capital of the province of Asia. It served Rome. It is now called Bergama, Turkey. (Easley, 47)
Pergamum was the capital city of Asia which is in Western Turkey today. (McGee, Thru the Bible: Volume V. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 906)
The Church in Pergamum is representative of church history during the period of approximately A.D. 314 to A.D. 590. I call it paganism unlimited because during this time the world entered into the church and it began to move away from the person of Christ. (McGee, 906)
“Worldliness is any preoccupation with or interest in the temporal system of life that places anything that is perishable before that which is eternal” (MacArthur, New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999], 82)
Today Pergamum is The Turkish city of Bergama. (MacArthur, 84)
The city had 200,000 volumes in its library making the city an important city for culture and learning. (MacArthur, 85)
“The people of Pergamum loved books so much they invented parchment, a way of using animal skins as paper.”¹ (47)
12. “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
Each church as an angel – the pastor or other spiritual leader. (Easley, 54)
The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
The church in Pergamum [PUR guh muhm]
We have no record of how or when Pergamum was organized. The church in Ephesus may have started it.
The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
This sword is held by Jesus.
What is this sharp two-edged sword?
Why is it two-edged?
The Word of God is powerful and potent.
It exposes and Judges the thoughts of the heart.
Throughout history churches have been compromising the Word of God.
Is your church one of them.
“In A.D. 313 the emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, granting religious freedom to the Christians and ending two and a half centuries of savage persecution.” (MacArthur, 83)
This is when Christianity changed from being a personal matter and identified with the Roman Empire.
Worldliness became synonymous with the church.
Today, in some ways, worldliness is still rampant in the church. Churches, even entire denominations, have departed from the true faith and embraced the world philosophically and morally. … Like the church at Pergamum, they fall under judgement by the Lord of the true church. (MacArthur, 83)
Compliment (Easley, 38)
13. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is;
While living in a city where Satan’s throne is, what did the believers do?
They held fast to the Name of Jesus.
There are ruins of an altar which could have been called “Satan’s throne” but we are not sure of the exact location.
Many gods were worshipped in Pergamum, so it could have been one of the temples for these gods.
Nevertheless, the believers did not deny My faith.
Even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Believers did not deny Jesus even when Antipas was martyred.
Do you believe that Satan dwells among us?
Do you realize why he is among us?
He does not want us to believe in Jesus and do what He asks!
Criticism (Easley, 38)
14. But I have a few things against you,
“In the Old Testament, Balaam’s name appears about sixty times.” (Easley, 48) After the Israelites left Egypt they were traveling to the “Promised Land” Canaan. The residents of the surrounding area heard about them and were watching them as they traveled. Residents of Moab requested their leaders to do something, so the king sent messengers to Balaam requesting he put a curse on the Israelites. Balaam told them he could only do what the Lord told him to do. There is an interesting story in Numbers 22 about a talking donkey. Read Numbers 22-24 to learn what happened. Balaam was mentioned in other Biblical Scriptures most of the time it was negative.
I have a few things against you
False teaching: Some believed in false doctrine.
Some believe that biblical and theological error are not important.
Our Lord does not want us to believe or practice what is an error.
Some kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel
Here is one stumbling block.
“While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.” Numbers 25:1
Some eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
Israelites were taking women from Moab as their wives. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
15. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Nicolaitans [nik oh LAY ih tuhnz] came “from Nicholas, one of the seven men chosen to oversee the distribution of food in Acts 6”. (MacArthur, 89)
Nicolaitans allowed Christians to enter pagan orgies.
Most of the believes in Pergamum did not follow this error.
But they condoned it. They let it continue instead of telling those in error to stop.
Command (Easley, 39)
16. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly,
Repent, take an about face and turn from your sin!
Confess 1 John 1:9
Failure to repent produces consequences: I am coming to you quickly
I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
Praise the Lord that I will miss that war!
No church has the authority to decide what is right or wrong.
God has decided and it is recorded in the Bible. It needs to be read.
Commitment (Easley, 39)
17. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
We need to hear Him today.
To him who overcomes
“We overcome by the blood of the Lamb.” (McGee, 909)
Promises: (MacArthur, 90)
1. Give some of the hidden manna
a. Manna was given to the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to Israel.
b. “Hidden manna represents Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.” (MacArthur, 91)
c. John 6:32-35
2. I will give him a white stone
a. White stones were awarded to victors in athletic contests.
b. Special awards banquet ticket (MacArthur, 91)
3. A new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.
a. Believers will have a new name which will serve as entrance into heaven
Our choices are to repent and receive our white stone with our name on it.
Refuse and face Jesus declaring war.
Which will you choose?
( Chart A ) is a Summary of the Churches in Revelation 2
( Chart B ) is a Summary of the Churches in Revelation 3
( Chart C ) Messages to the Seven Churches Revelation 2 and 3
In this article Scripture quotations taken from the NASB1995. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983