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Midweek Discipleship Study

Revelation 2:12-17 - Pergamum: The Compromising Church

Revelation 2:12-17 Pergamum: The Compromising Church

 

Pergamos was the capital city of the Roman Providence known as Asia the Less (Asia Minor as we call it today). Pergamos was a center for culture and education. It had one of the great libraries of the ancient world, and it was home to many of the great schools of its day (philosophy, religion, arts, trades and medicine). Pergamos was also a religious city and was home to four prominent Greek and Roman gods:

  • Dionysus: god of the vine and wine

  • Athena: goddess of strategic warfare

  • Demeter: goddess of grain and agriculture

  • Zeus: considered to be the king of all gods

Pergamos also had three temples dedicated to Emperor worship. It is important to remember that a person can be religious and still not know God (Matthew 7:21-23; Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8; 1 John 2:9; 1 John 3:6 & Titus 1:16). Religion is man attempting to obtain righteousness by what we do. Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Christianity understands that there is nothing we can do on our own to become righteous.

Pergamos was mostly known as the center for the worship of Asciepios, the god of healing and knowledge. Asciepios was represented by a serpent and the Temple of Asciepios housed the greatest and most prominent medical school of the day.

The church at Pergamos is often referred to as the church of compromise. Compromise is a mutual agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. Compromise is never a win-win situation. Compromise is most certainly never a win-win situation when a believer compromises what the Word of God says. Remember, compromise is how Balaam told Balak that he could defeat the Israelites. The church should never compromise with the world (on any level) when it comes to the Word of God. Look at the following scriptures and consider what God's Word says to us about compromising.

  • Psalms 119:1-4

  • James 4:4

  • Romans 12:1-2

  • Romans 13:14

  • Galatians 1:6-9

  • 1 John 2:15-17

Revelation 2:12 shows us how Christ described Himself to the church at Pergamos. Christ has the sharp two-edged sword. The sword, throughout scripture, is a reference to the Word of God. Christ confronts His people with His Word (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 18:30 & Psalm 33:4). This description of Christ speaks to His righteousness and judgment.

Revelation 3:13 talks about Pergamos being where Satan's throne is. There are five main theories as to how to understand this:

  • 1: Pergamos was a center of pagan religion, and it was.

  • 2: Pergamos had a huge throne-like altar dedicated to the Roman god Zeus.

  • 3: Pergamos was a center for the ancient Babylonian priesthood.

  • 4: Pergamos was the political center for Emperor worship.

  • 5: Pergamos was the literal seat of Satan's power at that time. Remember, Satan is not omnipresent, so he can't be everyplace at one time.

I'll let you decide when one (maybe all!) are the right way to view this phrase. However, let me ask you this; How is America today any different from the city of Pergamos? While we are at it, how is the church in America any different from the church in Pergamos?

Christ rebukes this church in Revelation 2:14-15 by saying that they were accepting false doctrines and immoral behavior. It mentions both Balaam and the Nicholaitans who were both guilty of leading the people of God into immoral practices. Make no mistake, sexual immorality marked the entire Roman culture. It was so prominent that it was simply taken for granted, and the person who lived by Godly standards of purity was the one that was considered strange. Doesn't that also still hold true in our world today?

Christ's one word of encouragement (Revelation 2:16) to the believers at Pergamos was to repent. In fact, five of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 are told to repent. Repentance is so much more than simply saying that you are sorry. Repentance means acknowledging that what you have done is sinful in the eyes of God. Repentance means making the decision to turn your back on that sin. Repentance means making the decision to run away from that sin. Repentance means making the decision to replace that sin with something that glorifies God.

Christ also issues a warning to those in the church at Pergamos in Revelation 2:16. Christ tells them that He is coming quickly. Coming quickly here is not the idea of coming quickly chronologically. It is the idea of coming swiftly (1 Corinthians 15:52). Christ also warns them that He will make war with them with the sword of His mouth. This is a reminder that Christ will come in judgment and that the standard for His judgment will be His Word.

In Revelation 2:17 Christ gives three promises to those who overcome (believers). The overcomer will receive hidden manna. This is a reference to God's provision. The overcomer will receive a white stone. This is a reference to God's protection. The overcomer will receive a new name. This is a reference to our new identify in Christ.

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