Continuing to look at the letters Jesus had John write to the churches, we look at the church in Pergamum, the compromised church. To Understand this better, I sourced a book I studied many years ago, Revelation Unveiled by Tim Lahaye.
Pergamum was the capitol city of Asia until the end of the first century. There were several different religions and it became difficult to control. Many of these worshiped idols.
In Rev 2:12-17 is where we find this letter. Jesus says to them, “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, even in the day of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives.” v 13
Jesus is reinforcing the fact that he sees what good they have done. In the midst of all the evil and corruption surrounding them, they have for the most part, remained faithful. The church and state became intertwined and this corrupted the church. Here comes the condemnation…
“I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” v 14-16
Even though their theological doctrine was sound, they didn’t necessarily live by that doctrine! I find this last part to be interesting, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” v17
Two things in that passage warrant a closer look. We know that God supplied manna for nourishment while the Israelites wondered in the desert. So, this is a declaration that they will be provided for if they overcome their evil ways. (At least that’s how I see it.)
The white stone isn’t as easily deciphered, but Mr. Lahaye’s theory makes sense. In the Bible, white represents the righteousness of God. In ancient times, a white stone cast as a vote, meant acquittal. Could it be that Jesus is telling the church that each person who overcomes will receive this kind of forgiveness. Perhaps the new name is the name written in the Book of Life? I’m not sure, but I kind of like the symbolism there.
I’m not an expert and realize I may not have everything right, by many great theologians don’t see eye to eye. It’s a work in progress to understand God’s Word as much as I can. Thanks for reading.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the fourth church.