We’re back studying Jesus’ messages to the seven churches. In the last post, we read the messages Jesus gave to the churches in the cities of Ephesus and Smyrna. This post we’ll study the messages to the churches in the cities of Pergamos and Thyatira. Enjoy!
REVELATION 2 AND 3
THE MESSAGES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
Second in a Four-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
3) The Church of Pergamos
The city that the King James Version of the Bible calls Pergamum is also called Pergamos. During the Roman era, Pergamos was a wealthy city located 15 miles from the Aegean Sea and 60 miles north of Smyrna. The temple to Aesculapius was in Pergamos, the Greek god of healing. It was the center on sun worship, as well as demon controlled religions having temples devoted to nature. It also had the altar of Zeus.
A fun fact to know about Pergamos has to do with the ancient altar dedicated to Zeus; it was a massive structure built in the 2nd century BC during the reign of King Eumenes II. In 1878, Carl Humann, an engineer from Germany, excavated the altar. The German government negotiated with the Turkish government to bring the entire structure to Berlin to be put on display in what is called the Pergamos Museum. You don’t have to go to the museum in Germany to see it; you can simply look it up online. It’s worth the few minutes of your time!
Rev. 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; these things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.
To the saints in the church of Pergamos, Jesus let them know that this message was coming from the One who has a double-edged sword. This is the sword that John saw in his vision of Jesus in chapter one. Verse 16 says, “out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” Revelation chapter 19 also says this double-edged sword proceeds out of Jesus’ mouth, and with it He will “smite the nations” (v. 15).
Rev. 2:13 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.
Right away, Jesus said something very unusual to the believers at Pergamos: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is….” They live where Satan’s seat is? The word “seat” here is the Greek word thronos which means “throne.” Pergamos was where Satan’s headquarters was, so to speak. Of course, it’s not talking about Satan literally and physically dwelling in the city of Pergamos. It means his throne was located in the heavenlies, in the atmosphere, above the city of Pergamos. That doesn’t mean Satan’s throne is still located in that same area today. Scholars believe Satan moves his throne from place to place in the heavenlies, depending on what is happening on the earth. You could compare it to how an army sets up camp closest to where the battle is being fought. And when the battle moves, they pick up and move their camp to the next contested place. It’s believed Satan moves his throne to the “hot spots” in the nations.
Let’s look at the last part of verse 13: “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.” He praised them for their faithfulness in their faith. Even when the persecution became so intense that one of theirs, Antipas, was martyred, they still held onto their faith.
Rev. 2:14 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 Nicolaitans, 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.
The Lord said He had a few things against them. They had allowed not just one but two false doctrines to enter the church: the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. These false doctrines were stumbling blocks for the believers, in that they were eating food that was sacrificed to idols and they were engaging in fornication, most likely in connection with religious ceremonies.
In verse 16, they were told to repent; if they didn’t, Jesus would come quickly and use that double-edged sword to fight against those that were polluting the church with these false doctrines. Wherever Satan’s throne is located, you will find an increase of demonic activity on the earth below. Pergamos was, no doubt, full of demonic strongholds. The church of Pergamos, most certainly, suffered because of these strongholds. It was evidenced by the false doctrines that managed to infiltrate the church. Churches today are very much in the same predicament as the church at Pergamos in that they must be vigilant to keep out cultural and worldly ideas that would spiritually pollute and dilute it both in purity and power.
The Overcomer’s Reward
Rev. 2:17 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.
To those who overcome, He will give them the hidden manna. Manna was the supernatural bread that God provided for the children of Israel when they were wandering in the wilderness. Deuteronomy chapter eight says the Lord fed the Israelites with manna to humble them, so that they would know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
In addition to the hidden manna, they would receive another reward: “and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” The overcomer would receive a white stone with a new name written on it, a name that no one knows except the person receiving the stone. The stone with the overcomer’s name written on it will be white, the color for righteousness. No doubt, these stones will be used to build some sort of building or structure in heaven.
4) The Church of Thyatira
The city of Thyatira was located 42 miles from the coast of the Aegean Sea. It was not a great city, but it had more guilds than any other city in the Roman province. It was home to those who worked with linen, wool, leather, bronze, as well as dyers, tanners, potters, bakers, and slave dealers. It was most famous for its dyeing. One of Paul’s converts by the name of Lydia is mentioned in Acts chapter 16 as being a seller of purple fabrics from the city of Thyatira. By the beginning of the third century, almost all of Thyatira had been Christianized.
Rev. 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; these things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.
To the saints in the church of Thyatira, Jesus let them know this message was coming from the One who has eyes like a flame of fire and feet like fine brass.
Rev. 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
The Lord praised them for their charity, service, faith, and patience. They were doing more than they did at the very beginning. The Amplified Bible puts it this say: “and that your recent works are more numerous and greater than your first ones.” This is high praise. Very often, churches are more zealous in the beginning and then taper off after they’ve been established for a while. But much to its credit, this was not the case with the church at Thyatira.
Rev. 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
The Lord had not just one thing against the church at Thyatira; He had a few things. They allowed an evil personage to gain access into their fellowship. In verse 20, He said, “because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Did you notice something familiar here? This was the same problem the church at Pergamos had where they allowed the doctrine of Baalam to enter the church which caused the saints to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication (Rev. 2:14).
She was a false prophet who seduced the saints of God into committing fornication and eating things sacrificed to idols. (There is no information about this woman; she must have been known only locally.) This is the sort of thing that provokes God to wrath. Listen to the strong language He used about her: “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not” (v. 21). He is merciful and always allows people time to repent of their sins, but this Jezebel did not repent. And because of that the Lord said, “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (vv. 22–23).
This is strong language. The bed is where she committed fornication, causing others to follow her there, so into the bed will He cast her. This was, perhaps, a bed of sickness where she and her unrepentant followers will die. The Lord said He had given her and her followers time to repent and to change their ways but they did not. The Lord whose eyes are like a flame of fire said He would send judgment and tribulation to Jezebel and her followers.
The Lord said by this judgment all the churches will know that He knows what is in a person’s heart and soul. He said according to what is in your heart, “I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (v. 23). That is another way of saying they will reap what they have sown; it is a measure-for-measure judgment. To the rest of the believers in Thyatira who didn’t get involved with the false doctrines of Jezebel, He would put no other burden upon them. They were to hold fast until He comes.
The Overcomer’s Reward
Rev. 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The next overcomer’s reward is given to those who keep His works to the end. To the overcomer, He will give “power over the nations,” to “rule them with a rod of iron” (vv. 26–27). Speaking of the nations, He says, “as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.” Not all nations will be broken into shivers; just those nations that had become enemies to God and His people.
This is one of several instances where we are told the believers will rule and reign with Jesus. In fact, there are five more references in Revelation of the believers ruling and reigning with Him. In Revelation 1:5–6, for instance, it says that He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father. (See also 3:21; 12:5; 20:4; 20:6.)
Also, the overcomer will receive the morning star. What is the morning star? It’s not a what… it’s a who. At the end of Revelation, Jesus tells us, “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16).
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