The Church at Pergamum, or Pergamus depending on the version you are reading. The lessons learned from the seven churches can make a congregation better. Some have said that the churches of Asia found in Revelation 2 and 3, can depict every type of church you may come into contact with. There are things to consider with each of the congregations.
History of Pergamum
Pergamum was located in what is modern day Turkey, about 25 km from the Aegean Sea. Now sits in rubble, ruin and dust. It is located in the Ismear province, of Turkey.
- Political center of Asia Minor
- Influential Inventors
- Developed Parchment from Cattle Skin
- Held the world's first psychiatric hospital
- Had a theater which seated 10,000 people
- A center for literacy, with a great library 2nd only to the library at Alexandria
- The people were well educated
- An Idolatrous Religious Center
- 1st Temple Built to Caesar
The Church at Pergamum
Outside of the book of Revelation, we do not read about the church at Pergamum. In Acts 16 beginning in verse 7, Paul traveled to Troas through Mycea the very region where Pergamum was located. And, likely because of Paul's long stay at Ephesus, this is why the church at Pergamum was established.
"And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." - Acts 19:10
When you look at the name; Pergamum, or Pergamos comes from the Greek word, , meaning marriage. It's interesting when looking at the church at Pergamum, as it seems there were more married to the world than to Him.
Revelation 2:12 - The Sharp Sword with 2 Edges is most closely associated with Jesus. Hebrews 4:12 - "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." The Word of God delivered by John carried divine power and authority.
I Know Thy Works - Pergamum
Revelation 2:13 - How terrified would you be to hear that God knows your works?
- Proverbs 5:21
- Proverbs 15:3
- Zechariah 4:19
God sees everything. Even the thought of knowing that God knows our deeds, actions, every thought that runs through our mind can be terrifying. We need to know that a God who knows our thoughts so intimately can be encouraging as well.
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15
How comforting it can be to know that Jesus knows every single thing that can tempt us. Because, he was tempted in the same ways that we are. And the hopeful thing we can take away from that is that we can do the things that Jesus did, and don't yield to temptation.
He Knows Where Pergamum Dwells
This word dwells come from the Greek words, Cota, Oiku, which means He knows where they are settled down, taken permanent residence. He knows where they are at home, comfortable in their living. It has nothing to do with their physical location. But, it has everything to do with their mentality. In contrast to how Christians should view themselves while on the earth.
- 1 Peter 1:17
- 1 Peter 2:11
- Philippians 3:20, 21
As Christians we should know that our permanent residence is not here, concerning the things of this world. But, our citizenship is in heaven.
He Knows Where Satan's Seat Is in Pergamum
He knows about the presence of idolatry and it's effect upon the church in Pergamum. It would make sense that the reference is spoken against Rome, given that this city was the first city to build a temple to Caesar. There is condemnation for the Roman empire throughout the book of Revelation. Some suggest that it was a condemnation for the Greek god Zeus, who was considered the chief god of the Grecian gods.
It was to show the extreme idolatry of that city, and it's effect on the church. We should care about the cares of the world slipping into the church today. Is it possible that God could write the letter to the church of Oak Grove? If the things of the world are being allowed into the church it could be reflective of that situation.
He Offers the Church at Pergamum a Commendation
Revelation 2:13 Holds fast My Name
The church at Pergamum was able to hold fast to the name of Christ in the midst of a city filled with idolatry. While we can't understand what it was like to be surrounded by the type of idolatry they faced. We can know that no matter how dark our world becomes, it is possible that God's people can remain steadfast in upholding the truth.
It is certain that the church was met with great persecution. Antipas is mentioned as a faithful martyr. It's important to know that they would have recognized his name, his great faith. It is believed that he was put to death by the Romans because he refused to bow down to the Roman altar. History concludes that he was burned alive after being put inside a brass bull.
The Abomination of the Church at Pergamum
Revelation 2:14,15 Them that hold to the doctrine of Baalim
There were some in the church that held to this false doctrine.
- Numbers 22-25
Balak wanted the children of Israel to be destroyed. He attempts to bribe Balaam into delivering them into his hands. Balaam says he will say whatever God tells him to say. But, God instructs Balaam to bless the Israelites. They repeat this 3 times. Still, Balak is not happy with what God is telling Balaam. In the end, Balaam convinces God's people to commit sin, by eating meat sacrificed to idols, and commit fornication with the women of moab, to intermarry which was strictly forbidden by God. And when they did there was great punishment because of it.
Revelation 2:15 them that hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans is only mentioned twice in scripture, both in Revelation. In 2:6, to the Ephesians, "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." and then in 2:15 to those at Pergamum, " Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate."
Some believe that this doctrine of the Nicolaitans is closely related to the doctrine of Balaam. It is uncertain whether this is true or not. One known doctrine of the Nicolaitans is the doctrine of Gnosticism. Which says that whatever you do in the body, you can do whatever you want to do, because it doesn't affect your spirit. This sounds much like
A Call to Repentance for Pergamum
A call to repentance for those who were stumbling in these false doctrines which surrounded them. This was a warning to the church as a whole. If they couldn't separate themselves, or remove them, the church as a whole could face judgement.
He said He would fight against them with the sword of his mouth. In John 12:48 we learn that the Word is the judge that comes out of His mouth. It is the same word that judges us today. They knew the words by which they were to be living. The words of Jesus would judge them.
It is possible to Overcome
To receive the blessings of God.
Three things are promised to those who overcome.
“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.” ’ - Revelation 2:17
- Hidden Manna
- White Stone
- A Name Written which No One Knows Except Him Who Receives It
When you consider the overall theme of the book of Revelation. God's promise to destroy the Roman empire and that He would keep secure those who died that are faithful to Him.
God has laid out a very specific way that He wants man to live. In the New Testament we learn that you have to hear the word of God, that you must believe that Jesus is the son of God, the savior. You have to repent of your sins recognizing that sin separates us from God and be willing to remove the sin from your life. You must be willing to confess the name of Jesus, and be washed in water for remission of your sins in baptism.
Guest Speaker: Nathan Cozort, Member Chipman Road Church of Christ, Lee's Summit, Missouri