Pergamum: Repent and Recevie A New Name
Rev. 2:12-17says, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges 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. 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. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 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.”
THE CITY OF PERGAMUM
This church, located in the city of Pergamum, was known as the University City and was a church of great compromise. This city was infamous for it library that contained 200,000 parchment scrolls and was also the home of a large medical school that attracted people from all over the Roman Empire. Due to this type of popularity in the empire, Pergamum became a home to many false gods of the Roman Empire with numerous temples and idols scattered all over the city. This was a religious metropolis, and it would have been difficult for any church in a city like this.
A REVELATION OF CHRIST AS THE DIVIDING WORD OF GOD
Christ reveals Himself to the pastor of this church in Pergamum as, “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” Christ was revealing Himself to be the living word of God. (Heb. 4:12; John 1:1; 14).
The Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God which teaches us all about the fall and salvation of man. To add or to subtract from God’s Word is strictly forbidden, and do so is to be labeled as another gospel, which is not another. In fact, if you ever add to or subtract from this gospel, not only is it to be considered another gospel, but it would place that individual under a curse (Gal. 1:6-9). Christ is the Living Word, the Bible was inspired by Him through the power of His Spirit. Genesis to Revelation is the story of the Cross of Calvary, the loving redemption of a merciful God! It needs no additions and certainly no subtractions. Christ, by writing this letter, is attempting to drive a sword between the truth of His gospel and the false doctrine that was being permitted within this church.
THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLATIANS AND OF BALAAM
This church—in the epicenter of false doctrine and false prophets—was no doubt under much ridicule. Jesus commended them for keeping the faith and holding to His name, living in the middle of “Satan’s seat.” Despite the fact that they had not completely overthrown their faith, they certainly were in danger of doing just that. False doctrine and false teachers had worked their way into this church, and it was slowly destroying the testimony of Christ in this congregation. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans literally means “laity—conquerors.” It is a type of doctrine that promotes ecclesiastical hierarchy, which means that the leaders of the church were ruling the members of the church. The doctrine of Balaam was a doctrine that promoted the satisfaction of selfish desires. It was a doctrine that basically stated, “If you want it, then go get it.” This was destroying the church in Pergamum.
REPENT AND RECEIVE A NEW NAME
We are also given a new name! Abraham and Sarah both had a name change in Genesis 17. When you and I come into identification with Jesus Christ, we are made new—old things pass away, and behold all things become new! However, Abram did not have his name changed to Abraham until his physical body came into contact with the covenant of circumcision. Abram was already in covenant with God, yet he was still referred to as Abram. However, in Genesis 17, after he was circumcised, the Lord calls him Abraham, adding the “H” from Jehovah! Abraham was now bearing in his body the marks of the covenant of God and representing what God had done in His heart through spiritual circumcision. When we come into a state of victory, we, too, are given a new name. When we start to bear the marks of the dying of the Lord Jesus Christ, people no longer see the old Paris, they see the new Paris—the name connected to change by Jesus Christ! What a glorious promise to those who overcome by repenting and turning their faith back to the Cross of Jesus Christ!
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