t he end game. Church @ Pergamum 3 Points Focus of Revelation--JESUS Definition of Revelation Literal Interpretation Unless the passage indicates otherwise, take it literal. Scripture interprets Scripture.
Focus of Revelation--JESUS
Definition of Revelation
Unless the passage indicates otherwise, take it literal.
Scripture interprets Scripture
Tonight, we are going to continue our examination of the letters to the 7 churches of Asia.
Specifically we are looking what Jesus said to the Church @ Pergamum.
7 Divisions of Church History
Ephesus—Apostolic Church (AD 30-100)
Smyrna—Persecuted Church (AD 100-313)
Pergamum—State Church (AD 313-590)
Thyatira—Papal Church (AD 590-1517)
Sardis—Reformed Church (AD 1517-1790)
Philadelphia—Missionary Church (AD 1790- 1900)
Laodicea—Apostate Church (AD 1900--?)
In each of these letters, there is a 5 part pattern in how Jesus deals with the churches.
Description of Jesus —Jesus reveals a different aspect of His nature which that church needs.
Praise/Commendation – Jesus commends the characteristic He likes in the church.
Issues – Jesus calls attention to what displeases Him about the church.
Counsel/Directives – Jesus calls for repentance and what to do to make it right.
Challenge – gives the blessings of obedience or warnings of disobedience.
Revelation 2:12-17 – 12 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the One with the sharp two-edged sword: 13 "I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to Me. You refused to deny Me even when Antipas, My faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan's city. 14 "But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.
15 In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. 16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. (NLT)
Pergamum was very influential in the Roman world.
2 important points:
Captial – It was the capital city of the Roman province of Asia until about A.D. 100.
Ancient City of Sin – their slogan was probably, What happens in Pergamum stays in Pergamum.
It was commonly referred to as one of the most wicked cities of the Ancient world.
It was dedicated to the worship of several Greek gods.
The Romans became frustrated with all the infighting between the different temples.
There was a temple dedicated to the Greek god Zeus which is probably the seat of satan to which Jesus refers.
This temple has been completely reconstructed in a museum in Berlin, Germany.
Along with much occult, immorality and witchcraft activity.
Immorality and idolatry (occult) often go hand-in-hand.
It is not hard to see that this would have been a difficult city to live in and to be a strong believer.
I have been in cities overseas where the demonic presence was so strong that you could almost feel it.
It contains the same root word that our words monogamy and polygamy do.
It appears that this is a good description of what happened to the church here.
They married the practices of the world with the church.
This was what infuriated Jesus about them.
Thus, they became guilty of spiritual adultery—mixing 2 things that should not be mixed together.
The period in Church history which the Church at Pergamum refers to is often called the State Church (A.D. 313-606).
Perhaps it can be said that satan learned during the last period that persecution in essence kept the Church in a perpetual state of revival.
He changed his tactics to having the state to recognize it and lead it to compromise.
Tradition has it that Emperor Constantine had a vision of a burning cross in the sky, and he heard the words, Conquer by this sign.
He took it as a word from God that if he became a Christian, God would give him victory over his enemies.
He was soon baptized as a believer, but his actions make you wonder whether he really had a true conversion experience.
But, what happened is that in order to please the emperor, the masses became Christians.
Many of the former temples dedicated to false gods became churches and some of the practices were adopted by the Church as well.
It has been said that the Church in the West became more Roman and less Christian at this point.
Persecutions, by and large, ended, but compromise crept in and robbed the church of its fire and evangelism.
Postmillennialism – belief that the Church will hand a Christianized world to Jesus.
It is Post—Millennial because Jesus will not return until after the 1,000 years.
Correlation to this belief & a lack of evangelism.
Became popular in this era.
Premillennialism– Jesus will return before the 1,000 years after a 7 year tribulation.
Those who believe this exhibit:
Enthusiasm for Evangelism
Desire to live pure lives
Not all was lost during this period when Christianity became the State Church of the Roman Empire.
There were some great missionary advances during this period.
Patrick – He was neither Catholic nor Irish!
He was an Englishman and a Celtic believer.
By the time of his death, he had planted over 200 churches and led more than 100,000 people to Christ!
Columba – an Irishman who was credited to opening Scotland to Jesus.
12 Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the One with the sharp two-edged sword.
As I stated last week, Jesus selects an aspect of His nature which He revealed in Revelation 1 that each specific church needed to hear.
To Pergamum He chose to emphasize the two-edged sword coming from His mouth.
This is a picture of Judgment.
Hebrew 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV)
The two-edged sword is the Word of God, but this picture is one of judgment.
This passage even says that the Word judges our thoughts and attitudes.
He is saying, Judge yourselves by the Word of God lest you be judged.
Revelation 19:11-16 – 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.
14 The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords. (NIV)
This is definitely consistent with the vision we saw of Jesus in Revelation 1.
The point is: this is a sign of Judgment.
By using this picture to the compromising church at Pergamum, Jesus is saying that they need to cleanse themselves of all worldliness.
And, if they didn’t He would.
Had the Church heeded this warning, the Dark Ages would have been avoided.
What Jesus stated in v. 16: Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
13 "I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to Me. You refused to deny Me even when Antipas, My faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan's city.
His praise falls into 3 categories:
"I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne.
As Jesus said to the Church of Smyrna, I know…
what we are going through
where we live
how hard it can be for us.
It is just good to know that He knows.
What did He know?
They live in an evil city—the Throne of Satan.
How difficult it is to live in such a hard place.
But He doesn’t cut us any slack either.
His standard is still the same, but He makes available what we need to overcome.
In the midst of all the pressure to give in and deny their faith in Jesus, they remained true to the Lord.
This is often hard to do in the midst of intense pressure from the world.
Council of Nicea (Nicean Creed)
Arius vs. Athanasius
Jesus is 100% God & 100% Man.
You refused to deny Me even when Antipas, My faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan's city.
No one knows who Antipas was, but his name means against all.
He stood against all satanic worship in Pergamum and was martyred.
They were commended for not losing their faith when this happened.
14 "But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. 15 In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.
These fall into 2 Main Issues:
Teachings of Balaam – Balaam’s story is found in Numbers 22-24.
4 times Balaam tried to curse them, but each time the Lord caused a blessing to come out.
So, not unlike satan, he changed his counsel.
He advised Balak to get God to curse them.
Have the young girls of Moab to entice the men of Israel into immorality and ultimately to worship their false gods.
The plan worked and many Israelites were killed by a plague (spiritual adultery).
Instead of being separate, they were coexisting with it &lowering their standards.
They hadn’t denied their faith, but you could not tell much difference in them and the world.
Can people tell a difference between us and those who are not believers?
How we talk, dress, movies and TV shows we watch and so on?
15 In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.
This is the same group that the Church at Ephesus had not tolerated, but Pergamumwas allowing to stay around.
Ultimately the Nicolaitans would influence them.
Ireneus and Hippolytus, 2leaders in the Early Church, both wrote that the Nicolaitans were the spiritual descendants of Nicolas of Antioch, who had been ordained as a deacon.
Acts 6:5 – Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith).
His teachings can be summarized in 2 points:
Message of Compromise with the world.
No need to be separate from the world.
Separation of the Clergy from the Laity – Note that Jesus stated twice that He hated this doctrine!
Ephesians 4:11-13 – Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Jesus is saying—change or be judged!
17 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
Manna – God will provide for those who take a stand for the Lord.
Those who did, often lost their jobs and were kicked out of their families and the Lord promises to take care of them.
White Stone – a white stone meant 2 things in the ancient world:
Acquittal– when a jury came with a non-guilty verdict, they gave the accused a white stone.
Membershipin a private club,a sign of acceptance.
We will be accepted in heaven not because of our righteousness.
But, because of what Jesus did for us.
We are acquitted of our sins because of Him.
New Name – a new name in the Bible represents a change in life.
Jacob to Israel
Abram to Abraham
Can you think of any area of your life where you have allowed yourself to be compromised by the world?
If so, has that compromise hindered the power of God from operating in your life?