Summary: Seventh in a series on Revelation dealing with the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“The Compromising Churches”
John wrote this book under direct orders from Jesus. Jesus appeared to him and commissioned him to write what he saw, what was and what was about to take place. This forms a simple outline of the book. John wrote during a time of severe tribulation and testing among those who chose to follow Christ and His teaching.
I. Prologue 1:1-20 (Things which you have seen)
The Prologue in chapter one records what John the 90 some year old Apostle saw (and heard) including a manifestation of Jesus far different that what John had known previously.
The theme of the book describes the coming of Jesus and the events leading up to that return.
II. Messages to the Seven churches 2-3 (Things with are)
John wrote about the current condition of the church and Jesus’ message to seven specific churches in Asia that represent issues and struggles applicable to all churches in every age up till the return of Jesus.
Jesus followed a similar pattern in all seven messages.
A. The Message to the church in Ephesus 2:1-7
Church of solid doctrine without serious devotion
Church of perseverance without passion
B. The Message to the church in Smyrna 2:8-11
The Suffering Church
Jesus spoke to this church as the Ever Present One; the beginning and the end. He spoke as one who Himself had proven faithful to the end in the face of unspeakable suffering. He had no correction only instruction. Stop fearing future suffering. Be faithful to the unto death.
C. The Message to the church in Pergamum 2:12-17
Background of the city & church
Pergamum stood at an elevation of 1,000 feet, forty-five miles to the north of Smyrna.
It was known for its education, medicine, library of nearly 200,000 scrolls, and parchment production.
In the year 133 B.C., Pergamum (Pergamos, NKJV) became the capital of the Roman province of Asia. This city is forty-five miles north of Smyrna, and is built upon a high rock outcropping, a natural fortress. It had become, by the time of the first century, the center of emperor worship in the Roman world. There are many impressive temples in Pergamum—to Zeus, Athena, Nikephoids, Dionysus—but the city was most famous for its temples to Asklepios.
We have no information as to who evangelized this city. All we know is that a church had been established in this pagan capital right under Satan’s nose (if he had one). There is still a church there today.
In Pergamum, Christians daily faced the pressures of a pagan society. If they refused to accept an invitation to attend a feast in honor of a pagan deity, they would not only be shunned, but they would lose their jobs or businesses. People would call them outcasts not fit to live on this earth. But for faithful believers there is no one higher than their Lord, no human law that takes precedence over God’s law, and no teaching that supplants the gospel.
1. Characteristic 2:12
12 And to the angel (pastor) of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
Literally this would read: “the one who has the sword, the double-edged one, the sharp one.”
Jesus refers to the image He revealed in the first chapter (1:16). The symbolism of the two-edged sword in the secular world symbolized authority and power. It indicated that authority to authorize capital punishment. This image indicate that it was not the Romans or even Satan who held the power of life and death and government but Jesus who would wield that precision sword against the enemy. Even though Jesus identified this city as the location of
“Satan’s throne”, Jesus still stood as the absolute ruler. At His coming, Jesus will come with a two-edged sword (19:15) and execute His judgment on all and rule the world with a rod of iron.
In the Christian world, the two-edged sword symbolizes the “Word of God”. Jesus speaks the truth and discerns the very thoughts and intents of the heart.
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13
It is the truth that defeats the lies of the enemy (sword of the Spirit Eph 6:17).
2. Commendation 2:13
13 ’I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.