Author: Ron Graham
Message to Pergamum
The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >Seven Churches >Third Message, Pergamos
We continue with our study of the seven messages to the churches of Asia in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In this lesson we look at the message to Pergamum, the compromising church (Revelation 2:12-17).
1 From Christ to the Pergamenes
Pergamum (Pergamos, Pergamon) The northernmost of the circle of seven cities. Some ruins remain. A town dedicated to Zeus, other gods, and emperor worship.
[Pergamene, of or relating to the ancient city of Pergamum —Merriam-Webster dictionary].
The One who Jesus calls himself here "the one who has the sharp two-edged sword" . That sword, we have seen, is "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9 Ephesians6:17).
The main problem at Pergamum was false doctrine, and they had to be called back to the sword of the word.
2 The Exhortations
Where Satan dwells Pergamum appears to have been a centre for idolatry and thus for the immorality that goes with it. It is pictured as the city "where Satan’s throne is".
The Christians in Pergamum not only had to put up with the presence of this evil, but of its persecution against them. They had seen one of their number Antipas killed for his faith and his witness for Jesus.
Teaching of Balaam This is a reference to the Balaam and Balak of the book of Numbers chapters 22-24. In Pergamum, the enemy without, namely the idolatrous religions, were being helped by the enemy within, the false prophets who were introducing idolatry and its immorality into the church.
Nicolaitans This appears (as noted at verse 6) to be a sect whose deeds and doctrines were abhorrent to Jesus. Unlike the Ephesians who hated the doctrine, the Pergamum church tolerated it.
Sword The sword, as we have seen, is the true gospel, and it is Christ’s weapon of war against false doctrine.
3 The Promise
Hidden manna etc The promise to the faithful is "the hidden manna... a white stone... a new name".
The hidden manna stands for eternal life. Manna gave life to the Israelites in the wilderness. Eternal life is not something you can presently see. It is real, but it is hidden. We see it only by faith. But we have a share in it.
The white stone, a symbol of immortality, has "a new name written" on it, which in Isaiah is called "an everlasting name which shall not be cut off".
This is the name which Jesus has (Revelation 19:12 Philippians 2:9). The name is secret only in the same sense that the manna is hidden. We cannot see the glory and power of Jesus represented by the "name" he holds. But we believe in it and live by it.