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Letters so far PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Letters so far. Ephesus was doctrinally pure but lacked heart. Smyrna faced severe persecution and needed steadfast courage. Pergamum…. Pergamum. This letter is amazing that it has a clear teaching on the Lord’s Supper not so evidently obvious at first. Invented parchment.

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Letters so far

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Letters so far

  • Ephesus was doctrinally pure but lacked heart.

  • Smyrna faced severe persecution and needed steadfast courage.

  • Pergamum…


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Pergamum

  • This letter is amazing that it has a clear teaching on the Lord’s Supper not so evidently obvious at first.


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Invented parchment

  • Prior to the creation of parchment, manuscripts were transcribed on papyrus, which was produced only in Alexandria. When the Ptolemies of Egypt refused to export any more papyrus to Pergamum, King Eumenes II commanded that an alternative source be found. This led to the production of parchment -- a thin sheet of sheep or goat skin. Parchment reduced the Roman Empire’s dependency on Egyptian papyrus. The introduction of parchment also greatly expanded the holdings of the Library of Pergamum.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • Pergamum was the center of emperor worship and had many other shrines to various gods. It was a beautiful city built to be an impregnable castle. It’s major claim to fame was its library. Scribes at Pergamum used expensive sheep and lambskins. They were called pergamenacharta. The name for Pergamum and our word for parchment come from this luxurious writing material in the city’s renown library.


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Invented parchment

  • Prior to the creation of parchment, manuscripts were transcribed on papyrus, which was produced only in Alexandria. When the Ptolemies of Egypt refused to export any more papyrus to Pergamum, King Eumenes II commanded that an alternative source be found. This led to the production of parchment -- a thin sheet of sheep or goat skin. Parchment reduced the Roman Empire’s dependency on Egyptian papyrus. The introduction of parchment also greatly expanded the holdings of the Library of Pergamum.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • This city was actually an ancient fortified city from Thrace.

  • The Thracian descendants in the region became known as the Attaliads and established a kingdom that covered Asia Minor. This period established Pergamum as a wealthy and important city.

  • The city always supported artisans.

  • They believed low taxes were an incentive to stimulate the economy and the arts.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • Emperor Tiberius invested heavily into Pergamum and enjoyed his ego boosting worship. He used the serpent as his own personal motto. He died in 37 A.D. but forthcoming emperors continued the worship of the emperor for themselves at Pergamum. Tiberius’ many serpent reliefs remained. To those who were familiar with the Scriptures, the serpents were easily identifiable as symbols of Satan.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The reference to Satan in this letter is the self-proclaimed god, Caeser.

  • Domitian reigned from October 24, 51 AD until September 18, 96 AD.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The city required emperor worship among its citizens. At times, persecution followed as this law was enforced.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • Temples to the emperor, Zeus, Athena, Dionysus, Ascelepis, Serapis, Demeter, etc. have been found.


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Letter to Pergamum


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Sanctuary of Asclepius

  • Three kilometers south of the Acropolis in the valley, there was the Sanctuary of Asclepius (also known as the Asclepium), the god of healing. The Ascelpium was approached along a 820 meter colonnaded sacred way.


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Sanctuary of Asclepius

  • In this place people with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients' dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness. Archeology has found lots of gifts and dedications that people would make afterwards, such as small terracotta body parts,


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Sanctuary of Asclepius

  • no doubt representing what had been healed. Galen, the most famous doctor in the ancient Roman Empire and personal physician of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, worked at the Pergamum Asclepium for many years.


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The Great Library

  • Being the world center of parchment and home to many who worked to transcribe works, pergamum was home to a library said to house approximately 200,000 volumes, according to the writings of Plutarch. Built by Eumenes II and situated at the northern end of the Acropolis, it became one of the most important ancient libraries. Legend has it that Mark Antony later gave Cleopatra all of the 200,000 volumes at Pergamum for the Library at Alexandria as a wedding present, emptying the shelves.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • NIV Revelation 2:12 "To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live-- where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-- where Satan lives.


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Two Edge Sword

  • Pergamum was famous for words, but Christ has THE ULTIMATE WORDS to pierce the heart.

  • Pergamum was famous for its hidden knowledge in books, but Christ has the WORD that can pierce the heart.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • According to Christian tradition, John the Apostle ordained Antipas as bishop there during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian. The traditional account goes on to say Antipas was martyred around 92 AD by being burned in a pagan brazen bull-shaped altar. This would be four years before John received this revelation.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • Balaam taught Midianite women how to lead the Israelites astray with sex (Numbers 25:1-2; 31:16; Jude 11). Pagan worship often involved prostitutes who would be paid for services. This is why it is mentioned that followers of the Nicolaitan sect were also at Pergamum.


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Nicolaitans???

  • Eusebius writes that Nicolas was a moral man (Ecclesiastical History, 3.29). Here is the gist of Nicolas. He believed that the sexual libido was a hindrance to spirituality. Since many could not rid themselves of it, even with the greatest of piety, one ought curb these desires as best as possible.


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Nicolaitans???

  • Nicolas taught that one could use a woman to curb these desires so that one could focus on spirituality. This is why church members were visiting the temple prostitutes.

  • In other words, though he held himself up as sincere and devout follower, Nicolas taught that faith was a matter of the heart and that bodily actions were an entirely separate matter.


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Nicolaitans???

  • Over the years, however, this teaching took on a more Gnostic spin: Since the flesh is unimportant, even contemptible, what one does in the flesh is of no consequence. Spiritual life, growth and ultimately salvation occur in the soul, and since God is spirit, He has no regard for the flesh or its animalistic desires that need be released and curbed.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 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. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • Sword of the mouth.

    • The Word of God would not stand for this.

    • The congregation might be danger of the Word no longer shared.

    • The members who did not repent might be excommunicated.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The hidden manna is taken by many to mean the Lord’s Supper which is a gift to sustain those who journey to the promised land. Only those who repent would now be allowed to the Lord’s Supper at Pergamum. Exclusion from the Lord’s Table for open and unrepentant immorality was common in the early church.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The White Stone looks like a piece of bread in Communion.

  • Once the litigants and men speaking in their behalf made their presentations—the number and length of the speeches varied with the sort of case being heard—the jury proceeded at once to cast their ballots. In the Athenian system, jurors were ordinary local citizens.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • There was no formal deliberation, though the unruly shouting might have served as a primitive substitute. “Cast” is no metaphor, since Athenian jurors voted by dropping ballots into baskets.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The jurors marched past two urns, and dropped the ballots to be counted into one basket, the ballots to be discarded into another. By holding thumb and forefinger over the axle ends, the jurors were able to conceal their vote from onlookers. The ballots were immediately counted and the totals announced.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The White Stone…

  • Token of Innocence - A white pebble was placed in a ballot box by (an) appointed judge(s) pronouncing a sentence of acquittal (a black pebble indicated condemnation).

  • BUT THIS VERDICT WAS KNOWN TO ALL.

  • “This is known only to him who receives it”


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The White Stone…

  • Token of Privilege - A tesserawas given at Olympic games to the victor. This exempted him from any future harm. Many such tokens survive. They bear the name of a man, the letters ‘SP’, and the day and year, often incised in sequence on the four faces.

  • THIS VERDICT WOULD BE REVEALED AS REQUIRED.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The White Stone…

  • Token of AsklepiosSecret Society – If someone was received into the secret cult of Asklepios, they would be handed a white stone on January 1st. This special stone would identify them as one of their own. With the reference to mysteries in this letter, there is strong support for this understanding.


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Closed Communion?

  • Just as 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, says Communion is not for those who worship other religions, here we see that Communion (the Manna with the promise of new life) is not to be received by those who are sexually immoral and not desiring to repent.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • The new name has a few possible meanings. Someone is free from their old life.

    • Abram to Abraham.

    • Sarai to Sarah.

    • Jacob to Israel.

    • Yeshua to Joshua.

    • Saul to Paul.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • 1. A literal new name.

  • NIV Isaiah 62:2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. See also Isaiah 65:15.

  • Examples of this are Abram – Abraham, Sarai – Sarah, Jacob – Israel, Simon – Peter, Saul – Paul.


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Letter to Pergamum

  • 2. And the new name of the Lord which is revealed in the New Testament. The Triune name is placed upon a person in Baptism and is experienced (known by familiarity) by the elect.

  • NIV Revelation 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.


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Application

  • The Church should not condone or license sexual immorality. Each Christian should learn to control himself or herself in a pleasing way.

  • Communion identifies repentance and shares forgiveness received in Sacrament so that previous guilt does not remain (the white stone).


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Application

  • What sexual immorality is overlooked in churches?

  • NIV Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.

  • NIV Acts 15:20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.


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