Seven Churches: Pergamum

Revelation 2:12–17 (ESV) — 12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. 13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Jesus commended the church at Pergamum for standing strong in the face of persecution. Even in the face of death and in the presence of God’s enemies, the people had held fast to the name of Christ. However, the church had failed in another way. They had accepted false teaching, including the teaching of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans. As a result, Jesus warned that if they did not turn from such teachings that he would war against them with the sword of his mouth. This completes the picture of Jesus who is the one who has the sharp two-edged sword.

In every era, Christians must learn to face pressure from two sides. There is the side of persecution that causes great harm and pain for those who identify with Christ. This can range from mocking and ridicule to loss of social standing and employment opportunities to even imprisonment and death. There is also the constant pressure to abandon the true teachings of Christ and wander away from the true Christian faith. We see this with counterfeit “Christian” religions like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses that deny central doctrines of the faith like the Trinity or the full humanity and divinity of Christ. We must continue to stand in the face of both of these attacks on Christ’s people and his teachings as we wait for our Lord to return.

Lord, help us to remain courageous and faithful even in the midst of mounting pressure from the world. We desire to bring honor and glory to your name. Help us to do that, we pray. Amen.

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