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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Letter to
The Church of Pergamos


< Revelation 2:12-17 >

"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 'I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. 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. 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. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.' 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 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.'"



Exegesis

Verse 12: "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:'"

Pergamos was an administrative capital city in Asia Minor, whose inhabitants worshiped many pagan gods. In particular, it was a center of emperor worship. By "He who has the sharp two-edged sword," it means that the Lord fights against the enemies of God.


Verse 13: "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. 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."

While Pergamos was a stronghold of emperor worship, it also was the place where a servant of God named Antipas was martyred for refusing the imperial idolatry to defend his faith in the Lord. The time will come once again when the people will be coerced to worship the Antichrist, but the saints and servants of God will defend their faith until the end, just as Antipas had defended his faith with his own life. To have such a bold faith, we must start to put our faith into our action now, even if we begin with small steps. When the time of persecution comes, the saints and servants of God must especially rely on the Holy Spirit. They must trust in God and willingly embrace their martyrdom in hope, so that they can give glory to God and receive the New Heaven and Earth from Him.


Verse 14: "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."

God rebuked the Church of Pergamos because some of its members held the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam was a false prophet who led the Israelites away from God and made them commit idolatry by tempting them to have relationships with the Gentile priestesses who worshipped idols. The Lord rebuked those whose faith had left God. The people's hearts had left Him and instead worshiped the false idols. And the sin of idolatry is the gravest sin before God.


Verse 15: "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate."

The words "Nicolaitan" and "Balaam" in the Bible are basically synonymous, meaning "those who prevail over the people." When God said that there are "those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans," this was another way of saying that the church of God must reject "those who hold the doctrine of Balaam." Those who followed these doctrines of the Nicolaitans and Balaam were those who pursued material gains and idolatry. Such people must of course be driven out of the church of God.


Verse 16: "Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth."

God therefore told the Church of Pergamos to leave from their worship of false gods and their pursuit of the worldly gains and return to the right faith, warning them that unless they repent, He would fight against them with the sword of His mouth. This is, in other words, a severe stricture in which God warned that He would punish those who do not repent from following the doctrine of Balaam, even if they were believers. Those who heard this warning of God and returned to Him were to live, both physically and spiritually, but those who did not were to brace themselves for their physical and spiritual destruction. For the saints and servants of God to be blessed on this earth and beyond, they must hear the Word of God and follow the Lord with their faith.


Verse 17: "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 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 true saints will embrace even their own martyrdom. God tells us that to those who are martyred in His name, He will give the foods of Heaven and record their names in His Kingdom. For us to live physically and spiritually, we must listen to what the Holy Spirit has said to the church of God. To those who overcome-that is, those who win their battle against the followers of Satan-God will give the righteousness of faith that delivers them from sin, and, for their faith, He will write their names into the Book of Life.

The Bible tells us repeatedly in several different passages that those who persevere until the end will receive salvation. The saints, in other words, need to be patient in the end times, so that they can defend their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The names of the born-again are written in the Book of Life. The believers must, therefore, enter the Kingdom of God by not pursuing material and worldly gains but overcoming them by faith, until the very day when they will finally stand before God.

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