Date written: January 30th, 2005
Scripture ref: Revelation 2:12-17
TITLE: Asian Churches -- Pergamum
PROPOSITION: In this study we will examine the letter to the church at Pergamum. In it we learn about Jesus. He is He who 1) wields the sword, 2) testifies of faithfulness, 3) rebukes evil, and 4) gives blessing to those who overcome.
OBJECTIVES: Each will be able to understand and explain the letter along with some significant historical information.
AIM: To better familiarize all with Christ's letter to Pergamum.
1. Read: Revelation 2:12-17
2. About the Text:
1) Pergamum was a town of around 160,000 people.
a. Of these 40,000 were native.
b. 120,000 were foreign.
2) It was located about 75 miles north of Smyrna and about 15 miles inland from the coast.
3) It's fame was in its culture, not its economy. It was known as Asia's most illustrious city.
a. It had a vast library with some 200,000 volumes of papyrus.
b. The librarians there also developed what is known today as parchment.
c. The city housed the treasury of Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great's generals.
d. Pergamum was famous for its "hospital," a pagan temple devoted to the physicians arts.
4) Because of the city's fame, it also hosted a variety of pagan temples.
f. Emperor worship.
5) After Alexander the Great, the city gained independence as it's own kingdom for a period of time.
6) After three monarchs, the city was given to Rome in the will of Attalus III in 133 B.C.
7) The city became the capital of the Roman province of Asia in 129 A.D.
8) This city not mentioned anywhere else in scripture.
3. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
I. Jesus, who wields the sword.
1. The sword
1) It is sharp.
2) It has two edges.
2. In Revelation it is said to come out of Jesus' mouth.
1) Revelation 1:16 "And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength."
2) Revelation 19:15 "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
3. Described in other passages as the word of God.
1) Ephesians 6:17 "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
2) Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to 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."
II. Jesus, who testifies of faithfulness.
1. Jesus knew where they lived – where Satan's throne is.
1) Some have suggested that this was where Satan had his headquarters.
2) The expression "Satan's Throne" (KJV "Satan's seat) however, could refer to the fact that Pergamum was the capital city of Rome.
3) It could also refer to the many pagan temples that were in the city as well.
4) Whatever it specifically referred to, there was much evil in the city.
5) Does Satan have a throne? Inasmuch as he is the god of this world (2 Cor.4:4) those who worship him set him upon a throne, though his throne holds no power but death (Romans 6:32).
2. Jesus knew that they held his name and did not deny the faith, even under great persecution.
1) In no other name is there salvation (Acts 4:12).
2) To hold Jesus name is to be a faithful Christian.
3) Revelation 22:3, 4 state "And there shall be no curse any more: and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein: and his servants shall serve him; and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads."
4) 1 Peter 4:14-16 "If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you. For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men’s matters: but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name."
3. Jesus knew that Antipas was slain for holding His name.
1) KJV describes him as Jesus' "faithful martyr."
2) ASV says "faithful witness."
3) Martyr is appropriate here.
4) Not much is known about Antipas.
5) Tradition holds that he was burned in fire for refusing the worship Caesar.
III. Jesus, who rebukes evil.
1. The doctrine of Balaam.
1) What was this doctrine? To cast stumbling blocks before the faithful.
a. To eat things sacrificed to idols.
b. To commit fornication.
2) We have the story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22-24.
3) However, what is reference here is found in other passages in Numbers.
a. Numbers 25:1-3
b. Numbers 31:16
4) Balaam could not curse Israel, so he found a way for them to be cursed.
5) Balaam's sin was to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel by counseling Balak to seduce the children of Israel to idolatry and fornication.
6) Peter also refers to those who followed Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15, 16.
2. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
1) This was likely a "Gnostic" group that practiced unrestrained indulgence.
2) They were named after a man named Nicolas who was a teaching in this heresy.
3) They were also found in the city of Ephesus as Revelation 2:6 mentions.
3. Jesus calls upon the church at Pergamum to repent.
1) Jesus calls upon them to repent or He will come quickly (i.e. in judgment).
2) Jesus threatens to fight against them with His sword.
3) The church cannot afford to be tolerant of those who teach false doctrine. Jesus made it clear that if they did not repent, then he would oppose them.
4) 2 John 1:9-11 "9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
IV. Jesus, who gives blessing to those who overcome.
1. Those who have an ear should hear.
1) Listen to what Jesus is saying.
2) Put what Jesus says into action.
2. Jesus gives to eat of the hidden manna.
1) Manna was what fed the children of Israel in the wilderness.
2) It was commonly thought that the Messiah would restore manna to Israel.
3) Jesus gave manna, but it was a "hidden" manna, a symbolic manna.
4) This was not physical bread, but the bread of life. John 6:35 "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
5) John 6:49-51 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world."
3. Jesus gives the white stone.
1) The stone.
a. This is the only time this figure is used in the Bible.
b. Historically, in the courts of Gentiles, the jury voted by stone.
c. Black stones were for condemnation.
d. White stones were for acquittal.
e. Those who overcome will be acquitted.
2) The name on the stone.
a. Upon this stone would be a "new name." Isaiah 62:2 prophecies of this. "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name."
b. Only those who had the stone could "read" it. Here, the word "read" likely means "understand."
c. The name "Christian" could be such a name (Acts 11:26).
d. Only Christians understand the significance of that name for their life.
e. It is not a name to be worn lightly.
1. From the church at Pergamum we learn more about Jesus. He is He who …
1) Wields the sword.
2) Testifies of faithfulness.
3) Rebukes evil.
4) Gives blessing.