MESSAGES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
Revelation 2:1- 3:22
Pergamum – The Compromising Church
Good News Christian Fellowship
BUCAS, Daraga, Albay
August 13, 2006
In the last two weeks we studied the messages of the Lord to the Church at Ephesus and to the Church at Smyrna. The Lord exhorts these churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (2:7).This is a loving call to hear what the Holy Spirit is teaching in these seven messages. Remember this is not just a history of these churches but they have tremendous importance for the church of Christ today because they reveal the qualities that make up the church. They represent all types of churches and Christians.
To the Church of Ephesus, they have forsaken their first love. To the Church of Smyrna, they suffer persecution.
Now, let’s take the message of the Lord to the Church at Pergamum.
The Recipient (2:12a)
A. The Minister - "And unto the angel…”
The letter was addressed to the minister or pastor of the church. No one knows who is the elder or minister of this church.
B. The Church - ” the church of Pergamum.
1. Its Beginning. The Gospel probably reached the city at the time of Paul’s extended stay in Ephesus during his third missionary journey (52-57 AD) and, by the end of the 2nd century AD, Pergamum had become an important Christian center.
2. The Name. Pergamum is a pre-Greek name presumably meaning "height" or "elevation." The earliest city was built atop a cone-shaped acropolis rising over a thousand feet above the surrounding valley (www.ourfatherlutheran.net/pergamum) The city’s citizens could see the Mediterranean Sea some fifteen miles away.
Sir William Ramsey stated: "Beyond all other cities in Asia Minor, it gives the traveler the impression of a royal city, the home of authority; the rocky hill on which it stands is so huge, and dominates the broad plain so proudly and so boldly."
3. The History. The site of the celebrated city of Pergamum, also known as Pergamon and Pergamos, is located 16 miles from the Aegean Sea and about 40 miles northeast of Izmir (ancient Smyrna) in the old region of Mysia (northeast Turkey). It was situated between two small tributaries of the Caicus River (Turkish Bakir Cayi)--the Selinus to the west and the Cetius to the east. Fertile, self-contained and easily defended, it provided the perfect setting for a major city-state. Part of the ancient site is now covered by the modern village of Bergama.
Pergamum dates back to 1000 BC, perhaps earlier, but there is no written evidence until 399 BC when the city emerged as a power during the struggle for territorial control following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. (www.ourfatherlutheran.net)
Pergamum was the imperial and administrative center of Asia. As such, it was the first city in Asia to openly support imperial worship. Pergamum was overrun with pagan temples. Aesklepion, a therapeutic and healing center dedicated to Aesklepios, the Greek god of healing. The city was a center for the worship of Aesklepios, so much so that he was known as "the Pergamene god."
The Attalids of Pergamum built an impressive metropolis boasting beautiful temples, roads, a library rivaling that of Alexander’s in Egypt, and even a school of medicine founded in the fourth century BC , the Asclepeion, which survived over the centuries and continued as a spa into the second century after Christ, attracting all sorts of travelers and patients from the known world( http://www.usd.edu/~clehmann/pir/asiamysi.htm)
Imagine how sophisticated, cultured, and educated the city of Pergamum.
The temples of Athena, Dionysus (better known as Bacchus), and Zeus, can also be found in this city. !8th century excavation has found an altar with the inscription, “Zeus, the savior.”
An inscription over the entrance of the Temple of Aesklepion read, "In the name of the gods, death may not enter here." Within the complex was a round marble altar depicting snakes, the symbol of Aeskelpios. Snakes were sacred to Aesclepius because of their power to renew themselves by the shedding of their skin. (www.ourfatherlutheran.net)
This gives as an idea of the city of Pergamum...the city where the Church of Pergamum was located. Just imagine what it will be like in the midst of the city with so many pagan temples.
The Author (2: 12b) “These are the word of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.” Who is the one speaking here?
Read Revelation 1:16
The one speaking is no other than Jesus Christ himself. And note how He describe Himself: He is the One who has the sharp double-edged sword in his mouth.
What does it mean by sword in His mouth?
1. His Word – (A) The Word of God is sharp. It separates a man from his sin. It will convict men of their sins and cut through mostly hardened heart. (B)The word of God is a sharp double – edged sword. It proclaims the judgment of God into the unbelieving world. On the other side it proclaims the love and grace of God.
2. His Power and judgment – Jesus is proclaiming He hold the power of life and death over all men. If the Word of Christ is all powerful, then Christ can look after and take care of us no matter what confronts us; His power, His Word, is able to strengthen, deliver, and save us.
." Our Savior’s words are life-changing, cutting away our camouflage and penetrating our defenses. They lay bare our sin and need.” (Robert Leroe)
The Commendation (2:13) The Church is commended for two things
1. They remained loyal – The Lord fully aware that the Christians at pergamun are living in the midst of pagan worshipers. ; He is well aware of the continuous pressure of pervasive, anti-Christian influences.
How true it is for us today. We too live in the midst of pervert society: liberalism; humanism; idealism. We too have been pressure in such kind of philosophies. Look around. We didn’t see pagan temples like that in the city of Pergamum. But what have you seen in your neighborhood; in your workplace; in the marketplace; in universities and school? I hope you know what I mean.
We, in this Church, is in the midst of this pervert and sinful world. If we are in this kind of society or world, what shall we do?
Verse 13 Reads “…they remained loyal to the Lord.
That is the answer. Stay loyal to the Lord.
In spite of opposition, the church was committed to Christ; they did not deny their faith. They refused to bow their knees and make a false profession to a false God. They had neither renounced Christ nor His word.
“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8)
2. They hold fast in persecution – One believer had been martyred, Antipas. Nothing has been recorded about this beloved brother other than what is recorded here in verse 13.
According to tradition Antipas was place inside a brazen bull and slowly roasted to death (A.T. Robertson, Word in Pictures In the New Testament, vol.6, p305, as quoted by Preachers Outline)
Antipas, who opposed the idolatry of the Empire remained faithful even unto death. How would He describe us?
Just think: the word witness and martyr mean the same thing. The early Christian know what it is mean to be a follower of Christ: it means the possibility of death.
William Barclay says: “ In the early Church to be a martyr and to be a witness were one and the same thing. Witness means so often martyrdom… The Christian must remember that the word martus means equally martyr and witness, and that Christians witness can be, and often must be, a costly thing.”
Read John 15:20-21.
Remember the message we have last week? None of us here, in this congregation, have been imprisoned for sharing the Gospel. However, I know, some of you here faced ridicule, insult, slander from those people you want to share to Gospel. They even call us crazy. Isn’t it? That’s the kind of persecution, suffering we have. And we suffer much when the persecution comes from our own relatives. And even from your own family.
The Condemnation (2:14-15) In spite of their faithful stand, all was not well with the church. There is the complaint. However, perhaps only few people are involved. There are those who compromise. Satan wasn’t able to destroy the church by persecution, he try to destroy the church through compromised.
Look at that word, COMROMISE. Have we done it here? I tell you there are some Christians, not in this congregation, who have a relationship with the unbelievers, thinking that he/she may bring him/her to the Lord. However, it doesn’t happen as they think it is. They gradually found themselves in the situation wherein he/she can no longer often regularly attend the worship service. They reap what they sow.
What happened to Pergamum will happen to us if we don’t take seriously the counsel of God.
Verse 14 reads,…” you have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam..”
Who is Balaam? He is a renegade Jewish prophet, but he was a prophet for hire. He would prophesy for whoever paid him the highest price (Num. 23:1--24:10). Three times he cursed Israel, but with no results. However, Balaam advised the king to corrupt the Jews by tempting them to intermarry with pagans and accommodate the worship of idols. The scheme worked. And Israel, though rooted in God, become unequally yoke together with wordliness and was thereby corrupted.
How true it is today. The scheme of Satan still at work: corrupting the mind of Christian through compromises.
Christ’s absolute condemnation of such a union in Israel or in Pergamom is clear testimony to the fact that Christians must, at all costs, remain pure and separated from the world (2Cor. 6:14-17)
How can the Oxen and a donkey pull together? Pulling them together will cause problem. In the same way, it’s a mistake to hitch together a believer and a unbeliever in a relationship that requires pulling together.
The Counsel (2:16a) The counsel of the Lord is to repent. The church and the believers need to repent and to change their ways. The need to stop allowing the wordly to seduce, deceive, and mislead other believers in the church.
Christ know where we are in. Christ know we are in the midst of Pagan system of beliefs.
WE need to deal with those who were wordly and lead them to repentance.
The Warning (2:16b). Do you know what will happen to those who will not repent? He will come quickly and make war against the wordly. The Lord is not going to punish the faithful believers who are spiritual minded. He is going to punish only those who refuse to repent of their wordliness.
His word is strong enough to judge all the wordly, no matter who they are or how many there may be.
Hebrews 4:12-13 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (NIV)
The Promise Reward (2:17) The overcomer is given a right to eat the manna or bread of heaven. What is it?" It is the spiritual sustenance that Christ gives us every moment of every day. The world doesn’t know anything about it. Hidden manna is the refreshing food of fellowship with Jesus Christ. It is hidden from the eyes of the world, but we enjoy it.
John 6:58 reads, “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
The Physical and material bread last only for a short while. Once consumed, it is gone. Its satisfaction passes and man’s gnawing hunger arises again. But the bread that God gives last forever.
The overcomer is given a white stone with a new name written on it. What is that? Only one thing is clear in this reference: It is used to indicate that someone is admitted or accepted into heaven.
“The hidden manna takes care of us for today, and the white stone is our promise for the future. For the man who puts his faith in Christ, there is sustenance for today and the promise of an eternal heritage. The white stone with his name written on it symbolizes that eternal life.” (John MacArthur)
The message of the Lord to the Pergamum is very clear. But what about the message of the Lord to the Good News Christian Fellowship?
The message for us is very clear: Don’t compromise in the system of this world. Instead let our light shine in the midst of this dark world:
• in our schools
• in our shopping centers
• in our neighborhoods
• in our workplace
Whenever we are, we are surrounded with things that will lure us in compromising. Let our light shine.
Illustration: The advance of Internet.
God want our church to be pure. Believers and unbelievers have different goals, different outlooks. They’re always going to be pulling against each other as a result of differences.
A saved person is different from a lost person. We may have fondness, compassion and kindness for an unbeliever. But if the relationship goes deeper than this, we are making a lot of trouble that will lead to compromising of our convictions.
Lets read 2Corinthians 2:16-18
Let us pray