Though Satan has threatened and attacked their life, Jesus promises His overcomers that death is conquered for them. Pergamos was the political capital of the Roman Province of Asia the Less. When John wrote, Pergamos had been the capital city of the region for more than three hundred years. The city was a noted center for culture and education, having one of the great libraries of the ancient world, with more than , volumes.
Pergamos was also an extremely religious city. It also had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman Emperor. Some 50 years before Smyrna won the honor of building the first temple to Tiberius, the city of Pergamos won the right to build the first temple to worship Caesar Augustus in the Roman province of Asia. Pergamos was especially known as a center for the worship of the deity known as Asclepios.
Represented by a serpent, Asclepios was the god of healing and knowledge. There was a medical school at his temple in Pergamos. Because of the famous temple to the Roman god of healing, sick and diseased people from all over the Roman Empire flocked to Pergamos for relief. In the temple there were tame snakes. In the night the sufferer might be touched by one of these tame and harmless snakes as it glided over the ground on which he lay.
The touch of the snake was held to be the touch of the god himself, and the touch was held to bring health and healing. He who has the sharp two-edged sword: Now, Jesus "shows" this two-edged sword to the Christians in Pergamos. The description of the sword in Revelation 1: Jesus will confront this church with His word, and they will feel the sharp edges. This reminds us of the passage in Hebrews 4: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Jesus will use this sharp two-edged sword to make some separation among the Christians in Pergamos. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. Jesus has said this to each church. It is true of each one of us.
He knows our works , even if there isn't much to know. And where you dwell, where Satan's throne is: What does it mean that they lived where Satan's throne is? In many ways, Pergamos was a stronghold of Satanic power.
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What made it such a stronghold? There are many different opinions. Some believe it is because Pergamos was a center of pagan religion, especially of " Asclepios Soter " or "Asclepios Savior. Some believe it was because Pergamos had a huge throne-like altar dedicated to the Roman god Zeus. Some believe it was because Pergamos was a center for the ancient Babylonian priesthood but this is tough to prove conclusively. Others believe it was because Pergamos was the political center of the worship-demanding Roman government.
And you hold fast to My name: Despite the fact they live in such a difficult city, the Christians of Pergamos hold fast to their faith in Jesus hold fast to My name … did not deny My faith. Did not deny My faith: Jesus praises the Christians of Pergamos because they did not deny His faith. It is always important to make sure that the faith we hold on to is the faith that belongs to Jesus. Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you: One specific man among the Christians of Pergamos received a precious title faithful martyr.
This same title is held by Jesus also Revelation 1: Antipas was a man who followed Jesus, who was like Jesus. Antipas is one of the great anonymous heroes of the Bible. History tells us nothing about him except for here. Antipas lived where Satan's throne was. Yet he stood against the attacks and the evil around him. He fulfilled the meaning of his name, because Antipas means "Against All. Martyr is the ancient Greek word martus. In classical Greek martus never means a martyr in our sense of the term. It always means a witness. A martus was one who said: But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. I have a few things against you: The Christians in Pergamos were rightly praised for holding fast to the name of Jesus, and keeping his faith. At the same time, their difficult environment did not excuse the few things Jesus had against them. You have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam: What is the doctrine of Balaam? Balaam was a prototype of all corrupt teachers. According to Numbers and 31 , Balaam combined the sins of immorality and idolatry to please Balak, the king of Moab, because he could not curse Israel directly.
When Balaam counseled Balak, he taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel. The stumbling block was connected with idolatry to eat things sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality. If the church in Pergamos has those who hold the doctrine of Balaam , it shows they have tendencies towards both idolatry and immorality.
Sexual immorality marked the whole culture of the ancient Roman Empire. It was simply taken for granted, and the person who lived by Biblical standards of purity was considered strange. To paraphrase the Roman statesman Cicero, cited in Barclay: I am not able to deny the principle he stands on. But he contradicts, not only with the freedom our age allows, but also with the customs and allowances of our ancestors. When indeed was this not done? When did anyone find fault with it? When was such permission denied? When was it that what is now allowed was not allowed?
You also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans: But the Nicolaitans also have their doctrine , and some among the Christians held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. What is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans? The title Nico-laitans has the idea of a proud authority, and a hierarchical separatism. The name Nikao-laos literally means "to conquer the people. You have those there … you also have those: The rebuke is not only against those who hold the doctrines of Balaam and those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
The rebuke is also against those in the church who allow them to continue you have there those … you have those. They were too "tolerant" and "accepting" of false doctrines and immoral living, and Jesus had to rebuke them. Satan couldn't accomplish much by persecution, because many did hold fast , like Antipas. So Satan tried to accomplish his goals by using deception; first he used first violence , then he used alliance. A difficult environment never justifies compromise. It is easy for a church in such difficulty to justify this compromise in the name of "we need all the help we can get.
The simple word repent stands out. Five of the seven churches are commanded to repent. Repent is a command that applies to Christians, not only to those who first come to Jesus. Or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth: Unless they do repent , the Christians of Pergamos will face the Jesus who has the two-edged sword. Judgment will begin at the house of God 1 Peter 4: The sword of My mouth: The danger of false teaching and immoral conduct still faces the church today. But so does the danger of allowing false teaching and immorality, as was the problem with the Christians in Pergamos.
To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.
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The one who overcomes this spirit of accommodation to false teaching and living will receive hidden manna. This is God's perfect provision, the true bread from heaven John 6: And I will give him a white stone: In the ancient world, the use of a white stone had many associations. A white stone could be a ticket to a banquet, a sign of friendship, evidence of having been counted, or as a sign of acquittal in a court of law.
Jesus may have any one of these meanings in mind, but at the very least we know that it has the assurance of blessing. And on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it: What is the meaning of this new , secret name promised to him who overcomes?
Is it God's name, or is it the believer's name? This is probably the believer's new name, and the name itself is probably more important than the stone itself. One idea behind this new, secret name is that it shows what an intimate relationship we have with God. When a couple is close, they often have "pet names" for each other. This is the same idea. Another idea associated with the new name is simply the assurance it gives of our heavenly destination. Your name is there, waiting for you.
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It is as if your "reservation" in heaven is made. Thyatira was the smallest and least important of the seven cities Jesus addresses in Revelation 2 and 3. In history, we have no record that the Christians of Thyatira suffered any significant political or religious persecution.
But Thyatira was an important center of business and trade. It had many active trade guilds, each having their own patron deity from the Greek and Roman pantheon of gods. These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:. These things says the Son of God: Jesus first describes Himself with a title that emphasizes His deity. In Jewish thought, to be the son of a thing meant you had the nature of that thing.
The sons of the sorceress Isaiah The sons of thunder Mark 3: So the Son of God has the divine nature, the nature of God. Who has eyes like a flame of fire: Jesus chooses this description of Himself from the presentation in Revelation 1: His feet like fine brass: Jesus chose this description of Himself from Revelation 1: It also emphasizes His steadfastness , because brass was the strongest known metal in the ancient world, and feet like fine brass would be strong and unmovable.
I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Thyatira was the least significant city among the seven cities Jesus addressed. Yet they were not hidden to Jesus. Like each one of the churches, Jesus says to the church at Thyatira I know your works. Love, service, faith, and your patience: In many ways, the church at Thyatira was a model church. They had four great essential qualities. They had love , both for the Lord and for one another. They knew service , and had faith and patience worth mentioning. As for your works, the last are more than the first: This is another compliment to the church at Thyatira.
Not only do they have these works , but they have them in increasing measure - they are growing in love, service, faith, and patience. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Despite all the good Jesus sees in the church at Thyatira, there are significant problems. The problems are big enough for Jesus to say nevertheless , which means "despite all the good, I have a few things against you. Because you allow that woman Jezebel: The center of the corruption at the church at Thyatira is a woman Jesus calls Jezebel. This may not have been her literal name, but a "title" that clearly represents a self-styled prophetess within the church, after the pattern of Jezebel in the Old Testament 1 Kings and 2 Kings 9: The name Jezebel had a powerful association.
If we called someone a "Judas" or a "Hitler" it would means something strong. It's also a strong thing to call this woman Jezebel. Some ancient Greek manuscripts state the phrase that woman Jezebel as your woman Jezebel or your wife Jezebel. Based on this, some like Dean Alford have thought that Jezebel was the pastor's wife, or that Jesus meant Jezebel was the pastor's "woman" in a symbolic sense.
Who calls herself a prophetess: This " Jezebel " at the church of Thyatira wasn't really a prophetess , she only claimed to be one. Yet, it seems that the Christians there received her as a prophetess , and that's why Jesus gives them this warning. Jesus said this would happen in Matthew Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Those words were first spoken with a view to the end times, but there have always been those who call themselves prophets in the church, but are not.
To teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols: Here, Jesus describes the specific sin of this woman "Jezebel. Jezebel led others into immorality and idolatry. Because of the strong trade guilds in Thyatira, the sexual immorality and the eating of things sacrificed to idols was probably connected with the mandatory social occasions of the guilds.
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Perhaps a Christian was invited to the monthly meeting of the goldsmith's guild, and the meeting was held at the temple of Apollo. The draw to the guilds and their meetings was powerful. One ancient Christian named Tertullian wrote about Christians who made their living in trades connected to pagan idolatry. A painter might find work in pagan temples or a sculptor might be hired to make a statue of a pagan god. They would justify this by saying, "This is my living, and I must live. This shows how terrible Jezebel's sin was. She corrupted the servants of Jesus, and they belong to Him.
Jesus said, But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. Later in this letter, Jesus will also reveal a link to the work of Jezebel and false doctrine: It seems that this Jezebel led others in the church at Thyatira to discover depths of Satan. In the days of the New Testament, many non-Christian religions such as the Ophites and various Gnostic groups said they knew the "deep things of Satan. How could Christians ever fall for the depths of Satan? Perhaps the deceptive reasoning went this way: And I gave her time to repent … and she did not repent: Jesus' greatest accusation is that this "Jezebel" did not repent.
She apparently rejects the work of the Holy Spirit in her heart, calling her to repentance. In these words we see both the mercy and judgment of our Lord.
Time to repent shows mercy. God gives us time to repent , we should deal with others the same way. And she did not repent speaks to the judgment of God.
God gives time to repent , but it is not an unlimited time. There is a time when God says, My Spirit shall not strive with man forever Genesis 6: This means that when God gives us time to repent , we must take advantage of that time. This shows the sin of the church of Thyatira. On the outside, they were a model church, showing works, love, service, faith, and patience.
Yet there was significant corruption inside the church. The sin of the church was that they allowed this corruption. It wasn't necessarily a large group following Jezebel. A little leaven affect a whole lump of dough, and a few in immorality and idolatry will corrupt the whole church - especially if they influence others the way this Jezebel did.
Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. I will cast her into a sickbed: Before Jesus tells the Christians in Thyatira what they must do, He first tells them what He will do. Jesus will chastise this Jezebel, and cast her into a sickbed , along with those who commit adultery with her.
The reference to adultery is important. It speaks of both literal, sexual adultery and spiritual adultery. When these Christians honored other gods, they were unfaithful to the Lord who saved them. For this reason, the figure of a sickbed is fitting. They were guilty of adultery, both sexual and spiritual.
It is as if Jesus says, "You love an unclean bed. Here, I will give you one, and cast you into a sickbed. What was the sickbed? It could simply be an image of affliction. Or, it could be literal sickness that Jesus would allow in the lives of Jezebel and her followers as chastisement. We know from passages such as 1 Corinthians The ancient Greek word used here for bed "is also the word for a banqueting couch ; and if that meaning is taken, the meaning is: Unless they repent of their deeds: Jesus reveals the purpose for this chastening. First, it is to draw them to repent of their deeds.
They wouldn't listen to Jesus before, so He has to speak "louder" through a sickbed. Second, it is to give an example of holiness to other churches: Minds and hearts is literally "hearts and kidneys. Jesus says, "I know your every thought and your every feeling. I will kill her children with death: Hold fast what you have till I come: Kindle Edition , 57 pages. Published July 11th by Educational Publishing Concepts.
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So, how do we seek the Lord in our hard times? There is enough in this psalm to preach separate sermons on just about every verse. But briefly note three things:. As already noted, David is painfully aware of his sins, not only in the current situation, but going back to his youth. I was just a teenager! So if I made some mistakes, back off! Note again verse Then we read Exod. David was referring to this when he asks God to remember His compassion and lovingkindnesses v. Then he prays v. Thus the first step in seeking the Lord during your hard times is to examine your heart and confess your sins, relying on His grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
God is trustworthy and faithful vv. He is marked by truth vv. He is the Savior v. He is compassionate and loving v. He is good and upright v. He is just v. He reveals His truth to those who fear Him v. He is gracious and comforts the lonely v. He is powerful to rescue His people from their afflictions vv. He will redeem His chosen people from all their troubles v. Throughout the psalm, David asks God to teach him His ways or paths vv. God is consistent in His paths or ways, which stem from His holy nature. It would be ludicrous to ask God to teach us His ways or paths if we were not seeking to walk in them.
But, thankfully, God instructs sinners in His way v. It includes prayer the entire psalm is a prayer. It means to wait on the Lord vv. It includes humility v. It means to fear Him vv. It means to look to the Lord continually v. It requires walking with integrity and uprightness v. Running through all of these qualities is what David repeatedly affirms, namely, his trust in the Lord v. I have struggled to understand this, because it seems to me that shame-based cultures, such as currently exist all over the Middle East, are pride-based cultures.
To kill someone to maintain your honor is simply to act in sinful pride. So why is David so concerned about not being ashamed? Is he just being prideful? I think that the main idea is that David has gone public in affirming his trust in the Lord. Here is a man who trusted in the Lord.
Was he a fool to do so or is God worth trusting in? His way of getting the gospel to the Waodani tribe in Ecuador was to have them murder five choice young missionaries. Our duty is to affirm by faith, as David does here, that the Lord is always good, loving, and compassionate. He is fully able to deliver us from our trials, even when we were the cause of them because of our sin or stupidity, if we humble ourselves and seek Him. He will instruct us as sinners so that we know His wisdom to guide us out of our trials.
Our difficult circumstances should drive us to examine our hearts, confess and forsake all known sin, and cry out to the Lord for His gracious deliverance, all for His glory and our ultimate good. One final thought before I give a specific application: But it teaches us that our prayers must always include others.