Summary: Worldliness has swept into the church. There are some who still hold to the truth of separation, but the majority are content, like Lot to seek the best of both this world and the one to come.
By: Tom Lowe Date: 5-12-2015
Lesson 7: The Church at Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-17)
Revelation 2:12-17 (NIV)
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, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.
15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
After leaving Smyrna, a letter carrier traveled along the coast of the Aegean Sea for about 40 miles. Then the road turned northeast along the Caicus River. About 10 miles inland stood the impressive city of Pergamum, built on a hill 1000 feet above the surrounding countryside, creating a natural fortress. Rivaling Ephesus as the leading city in the region, Pergamum had become the capital of the province of Asia and the center of Asian culture. It was proud of its links with Rome.
The city of Pergamos had little or no commerce, but was revered for its institutions of learning. It was a city of refinement, and science—especially medicine. Many kings lived in Pergamos over a period of years. Bible history tells us that the library at Pergamos consisted of 200,000 books! It was in Pergamos that the art of curing skins for writing, was perfected. (The word “parchment” was derived from the process of curing skins to be used for writing.) Ephesus and Smyrna were evil and wicked cities of idolatry, but Pergamos was even worse. It was known as “Satan’s throne,” and also as the place “where Satan dwelleth.”
The letter to Pergamos was addressed to a church which was drifting into worldliness and carnality. There were some who were resisting the general flow of the tide, but the majority were being swept out to sea. The application of this message to our day must be obvious to all. Worldliness has swept into the church. There are some who still hold to the truth of separation, but the majority are content, like Lot to seek the best of both this world and the one to come. Marten Luther, with his resounding “Here I stand!” would be a misfit in many Christian congregations today. It is more popular to seek a comfortable compromise with the world.
It is significant that Christ begins His letter with the statement, “I know where you live” (2:13). He knows the environment in which His people live. He is not ignorant of the fact that His Church is in the midst of a religious, non-Christian world. In no other place did the Christians have a more difficult time than in Pergamos, the center of paganism in that day. In Smyrna it is a “synagogue of Satan” (2:9); in Pergamos it is the throne of Satan, his base of operations.