Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To the Church in Pergamos


   And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 
   “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 
   “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 
   “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 
   ‘Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 
   “He 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 to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. 2:12-17

 3. The Church in Pergamos (AD 313-538)

   
   Pergamos is now called Bergama, and has a population of some twenty thousand, of whom about two thousand profess to be Christians. Parchment (q.v.) was first made here, and was called by the Greeks pergamene, from the name of the city.  Easton Bible Dictionary

   It is He, who has the sharp sword, in 1:16, that will come and fight against the wrongdoers in the church at Pergamos as seen in 2:16.  It was in 313 AD, that Constantine removed the church from physical persecution.


Sexual immorality in the Church


   Pergamos…where Satan’s throne is. The city that was greatly addicted to idolatry, and it's grove, which was one of the wonders of the place, was filled with statues and alters...Pergamos became a city of temples, devoted to sensuous worship. Unger’s ++

   If sensuous practices were so prevalent in the city it is perhaps not surprising that the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which was based on sexual immorality, had attained such a strong foothold in the early church at Pergamos, as is shown in verse 15; you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  

   Peer pressure is not easy to withstand.  We find a somewhat similar situation in modern day churches concerning divorce and remarriage, which Christ condemned.  The church even accepts "alternate life styles".  The phrase, "alternate life styles" is really just a euphimism so that that which the church  allows does not sound as shameful or so sinful.

   Those who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitanes are given a warning; Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 2:15.  It is worth noticing that Christ says He is coming to you, but that His fight will be only with them who hold the false doctrine.  Christ loves His followers and He will not destroy them when He comes in vindication to destroy those who say they are Christians but do not live like it.


Hidden Manna and a White Stone for an Intimate Friend


   The statement, in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, seems like a straight forward thought but still it allows for several opinions. 

   Dr. McGee* puts it simply by writing, Antipas was a martyr about whom we know nothing at all.  However, Mr. Smith** sheds a new opinion on that Bible text by taking a totally different direction, by quoting William Miller.  It is supposed that Antipas was not an individual, but a class of men who opposed the power of the bishops, or popes, in that day. “Antipas” being a combination of two words, ‘anti,’ (opposed), and ‘Papas,’ (father), or pope; and many of them suffered martyrdom because of their anti papal beliefs at that time. 

  This, however, seems most unlikely because, in Christ's words it was one individual, not a group of people.  We must also remember that, even though some believe, that the different churches represent different church ages, these letters were actually written to churches in the first century, consequently people would not have been martyred for withstanding the pope, because the papal age did not come until a few hundred years after that.


     To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.   In John 6 Christ said, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 

    And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.  Dr. McGee* writes, it is helpful to learn that the people of Asia Minor to whom John was writing had a custom of giving to intimate friends a tessera, a cube or rectangular block of stone or ivory, with words or symbols engraved on it.  It was a secret, private possession of the one who received it.  Well, Christ says that He is going to give to each of His own a stone with a new name engraved upon it.  Such a stone is given only to intimate friends - can we imagine that he will give us one?

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++ Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger
*  Through the Bible with Dr. J Vernon McGee. 
**Daniel and The Revelation, Uriah Smith