Rev 2:12-17 "And to the
angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the
sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works and where thou dwellest,
even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied
my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was
slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against
thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught
Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of
Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and
to commit fornication. 15 So hast
thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against
them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to
eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new
name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."
things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges."
In this message we find the church has some things that need to be cut out and
Jesus with the sharp sword with two edges is the one who will cut it out. There
are times that all of us as individuals and collectively as church bodies have
things that are amiss and need to be cut out: the Lord said in Matt. 5:29
"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it
is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy
whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend
thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one
of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into
hell." Thus whether it be things about our belief system or lifestyle or
offending members of the church that must undergo church discipline, they must
be cut out if the body of the church is to survive and prosper in the Lord's
know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is."
Again the Lord knows the works of every one of his children and the works of
every one of his local assemblies. He knows whether they are good works or evil
works. The church at Pergamos had not denied the faith, so there were at least
some good works present in this church. One of the great obstacles the church
had to overcome is that they dwelled in a less than ideal situation. They
dwelled where Satan's seat is. The seat is the place of government. As we view
the things that are happening and rapidly increasing in this country at this
time, it would not be far-fetched to say that we are dwelling where Satan's seat
is today. Wickedness is abounding and the laws of God have been greatly ignored
by God's people. In times of great wickedness there are many temptations to
evil and also much persecution against the good, especially against the true
worship of God.
"And thou holdest fast my
name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my
faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth."
The church at Pergamos was holding fast the name of Jesus Christ and had not
denied the faith of Jesus Christ. This was true, even though there was great
persecution taking place and great temptations present. The faith under
consideration is the "faith that was once delivered unto the saints." They held
fast to this faith and would not deny the name of Jesus and manifest their
belief in the grace of Christ and that eternal salvation was by grace and not of
works. Furthermore, because they held fast the name of Jesus and had not denied
his faith, they were holding to the government and order that Christ had given
to the church and is plainly taught in the word of God.
These things we need to
take heed to today, even though there are those who are given to change who have
walked among us. The church, its government, and its doctrine and practice need
no changes, for it was given to us by our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. No
doubt in the church at Pergamos there was some fearfulness as the faithful
witness, Antipas, was slain for holding and maintaining the truth. Another
example in the scriptures of a faithful martyr is Stephen who was stoned to
death and yet did not deny the name of Jesus or the faith of Jesus Christ. For
the true disciples of the Lord, the martyrdom of the saints just strengthens
their resolve not to give in to the world or Satan, but to be obedient to the
cause of Jesus Christ. While we might like to be in some isolated outpost
somewhere far away from the gross temptations and seat of Satan, yet it is
usually not possible to do so. However, this never gives us an excuse to stray
from the true path of righteousness that the Lord has set for us in the strait
gate and narrow way of discipleship. The Lord is our helper and deliverer and
we must constantly look to him and his word for the things that we stand in need
"But I have a few things
against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who
taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat
things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."
Balak, the king of the Moabites, had hired the prophet Balaam to come and curse
Israel, but God forbade the prophet to curse Israel, but rather blessed them
three times. Man could not put a curse on Israel, but Israel could bring a
curse upon themselves. Balaam in his teaching (doctrine) taught Balak to seduce
the Israelites to eat things sacrificed unto idols and to commit fornication.
As a consequence of Israel doing this we find: Num. 31:16 "Behold, these
caused the children of Israel,
through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter
of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD."
Thus Israel had brought a plague upon themselves because they had succumbed to
the seduction of the Moabites who took counsel from Balaam.
To eat things sacrificed
unto idols is another way of saying that they had fellowship with the idols.
The idols were images of the false Gods that the heathen worshipped at that
time. 2 Cor. 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath
light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what
part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath
the temple of God with idols? for
ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and
walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be
ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive
you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and
daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Thus the scriptures plainly teach us
that we are not have fellowship with any other god other than our God. The
church at Pergamos had some among them some that wanted to have fellowship with
other gods. They wanted to mix and mingle in fellowship with people who
believed differently than they did. They also committed fornication. Now
natural fornication is plainly taught against in the scriptures and I Cor.
Chapter 5 tells us to withdraw from such. However, the lesson being taught here
is spiritual fornication. When some in the church at Pergamos had wanted to
have fellowship with other gods, they by having fellowship in worship were
committing spiritual fornication with those false gods. Now we know that in the
Old Testament there are stocks of trees and molded and graven images that were
the images of false gods that people literally bowed down to and worshipped.
Today idolatry is oftentimes
much more subtle. John speaks of antichrists: 1 John 2:18 "Little children,
it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now
are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." The
antecedent, "anti," literally means "vice" or "one in the place of." Normally
most people think of the word antichrist as meaning one in opposition to
Christ. While this is true, yet the meaning is far more subtle in that the
antichrists are designed to appear as though they were Christ. In other words,
it is a false Christ dressed up to appear that it is Christ. This is part of
Satan's deception. According to 2 Cor. 11:13 "For such are false apostles,
deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the
ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
Also in 2 Cor. 11:4 "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we
have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received,
or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
Thus the scriptures speak of another Jesus, another gospel, another spirit,
false apostles, deceitful workers, Satan transformed into an angel of light, and
Satan's ministers transformed into ministers of righteousness. Today there is a
legion of antichrists, false ministers, false gospels, false spirits, and
deceitful workers. For the Lord's true church to join in fellowship with these
or to join worship with these would be to commit spiritual fornication. We
cannot commune with them, or accept their so-called baptism, or accept their
ordinations or any of their works. For us to accept any of their baptisms or to
commune with them or to accept their ordinations is to legitimize them in our
eyes and to accept their false Jesus. We cannot continue to be a true church of Christ and accept those
"So hast thou also them
that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate." In the letter to the church of the Ephesians we found that the church
at Ephesus hated the deeds of the
Nicolaitanes, which God also hated. The Nicolaitanes were a hierarchal or
layered form of church government. Today we find that form of government often
includes a layered ministry with priests, bishops and popes. Others have only
one layer for the ministry, but have organizations above the local church, such
as headquarters, mission boards, Sunday school boards, fellowship societies,
etc. The Lord said he hated such deeds. In this letter to the church in
Pergamos the Lord chastises the church because they had present some who held to
the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. The doctrine is designed to work in
conjunction with the deeds. This hierarchal form of organization arose because
of the pride of men in the ministry and because of the desire for filthy lucre.
There were and are those who preach things they ought not for filthy lucre
sake. Thus they were desirous of honor and money. To support their desires
they needed a money based organization. To accomplish this, they brought in the
Old Testament practice of tithing as a way of extorting money from the people.
Thru tithing they support a salaried ministry, foreign missions, and mission
boards, and organizations above the local assembly. To get the people to go
along with this scheme they designed a purpose for their gospel that is contrary
to the word of God. They made the gospel and the preaching of the gospel a
necessary means in the eternal salvation of people. Thus they could beg money
from the people and tax them thru tithes. This false gospel or as Paul called
it a perverted gospel in Gal. 1:6 "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from
him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which
is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel
of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other
gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Thus the
doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was to teach a false Christ and a false gospel,
teaching the people that they must hear the gospel (perverted gospel), believe
the gospel, repent, be baptized, and accept the Lord (antichrist) as their
personal savior or they would be eternally lost. They also taught the people
that they must give a tithe so that a ministry could be sent into foreign lands
to give people a chance to be saved eternally. According to the message to the
church in Pergamos, the Lord hates this doctrine.
"Repent; or else I will
come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
While it wasn't the whole church who held to above errors, but just a few in the
church, yet the church is said to repent. The error of the church was that it
was allowing those few to continue to teach their false fellowship and false
gospel. They were to be admonished to cease such teachings and practices. If
after two admonitions they continued then they were to take the action set forth
in Tit. 3:10 "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition
reject." Thus if they continued in their heretical doctrine and practices
after two admonitions they were to be rejected by the church (fellowship
withdrawn). The church was told to repent or else the Lord himself would fight
against them with the sword of his mouth. This would bring condemnation not
only against the offending parties, but the whole church would suffer
condemnation because they failed to take the proper action.
"To him that overcometh
will I give to eat of the hidden manna."
Manna was food that God gave to the children of Israel as they journeyed in the
wilderness. It appeared on the ground as hoar frost in the morning and the
people had to go out and gather it every day except for the Sabbath day. It was
their primary sustenance throughout their wilderness journeying. Today there is
manna that is not seen with the natural eye, but is designed to sustain God's
born again people who are journeying here in a world devoid of spiritual food,
except that which God gives. Often times we receive this in the preaching of
the gospel or in our meditations and studies of God's word. This is hidden from
the world, but revealed to God's obedient children. When we overcome the false
doctrines and practices of the world and hold to the true doctrine of the grace
of Christ and separate ourselves from worldly religions, we are permitted to eat
freely of this hidden manna that encourages and sustains us spiritually.
"And will give him a
white stone." While it is true that
God's elect are sometimes represented by stones, such as the twelve stones in
the breastplate of judgment of the High Priest and in the lively stones in 1
Pet. 2:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy
priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus
Christ," yet this verse doesn't say that the Lord would make them stones,
but rather that they would be given a "white stone." In olden times when an
army was taken captive by its enemy, the enemy would have a bag of stones and
the soldiers would draw stones to see if they were to live or to die. If the
soldier drew a white stone he would live, but if he drew a black stone he would
die. White is the bible color of righteousness, whereas, black is the bible
color for sin. Thus the giving of the white stone indicates that the one who
receives it would live, but the one who received the black stone would die.
When the Lord's disciples overcome the obstacles to true discipleship they live
in continued fellowship and true worship with the Lord. Contrariwise, those who
don't overcome die to the true fellowship and true worship of the Lord. Now we
know that none of the elect will ever lose their eternal life, yet they can die
to the fellowship of the Lord:
1. Luke 15:24 "For
this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they
began to be merry."
2. Luke 15:32
"It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was
dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
3. 1 Tim. 5:6
"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."
"And in the stone a new
name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."
There are examples in the scriptures of name changes:
1. Gen. 17:5 "Neither
shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a
father of many nations have I made thee."
2. Gen. 17:15 "And
God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name
Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be."
3. Gen. 32:28
"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but
Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God
and with men, and hast prevailed."
4. Is. 62:4 "Thou
shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed
Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD
delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married."
5. Acts 13:9
"Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes
6. John 1:42 "And
he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the
son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
A name is used in the
scriptures to identify and describe the person it is given to. With each of the
name changes above there was also a change in the individual or group to which
it was given. When a person overcomes a change takes place in his life and he
is a changed person as a result. Mk. 8:35 "For whosoever will save his life
shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's,
the same shall save it." Saul was a good illustration of this principle.
He was a product of Judaism and he prospered in the Jews religion to the extent
that he was the greatest persecutor of the Lord's church up until the day he was
struck down on the road to Damascus. Afterwards he was a changed man. He lost
his former life to live for Christ's sake and the gospel. When a person
overcomes and presses into the kingdom of heaven, he likewise has a change of
life, losing his former life, and living his new life in the kingdom of
God. While we may not undergo a
literal name change, yet we are changed and have a new name that only the one
who receives it knows.