To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 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 days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.
Nevertheless I have a few things against you…..
The description of Jesus with the sharp double-edged sword reminds us that following him is not a soft option but at the same time encourages us that, battling with the powers of Satan, we are on the victory side. Surely the description of the Pergamum Church as living where Satan has his throne applies in every age. For although he is temporarily ‘the ruler of the world’, hence the reference to his throne, he is an ultimately defeated ruler, for Jesus will prevail.
Until that day dawns we live in a divided world and a world that is opposed to those who bear ‘faithful witness’ to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the case of Antipas this led to martyrdom as it has for countless numbers since then and still does today. (The most recent accounts of the slaughter of Christians in Nigeria, brings this home in a powerful way).
We should learn from the stand of the Christians in Pergamum. In spite of Antipas’s death right where they were, they stood firm – they did not renounce their faith.
Are we as bold? What do we do in the face of opposition? Do we go into hiding? Do we do a Peter and say ‘ I don’t know the man’? Or do we stand firm? The Pergamum church did!
And God knew! v.13
But there was a cancer in their midst as some held the teaching of Balaam who led Israel astray. Some of their number held to the, unknown to us, teaching of the Nicolaitans, and the church and individuals were thus called to repent lest they too should be put to the sword of Jesus’ mouth.
This may all seem a bit distant and of another age, but tragically there are too many instances of failures in churches, church leaders and church members in such areas in our day.
We must not sit back and say ‘I’m alright! We’re alright’ for sin like a cancer, once seeded, so easily grows and gets out of control. Such things therefore need to be excised before they can grow, a further use of the sword which Paul in Ephesians 6 describes as the Word of God.
The reward for faithfulness promised here v.17 is not immediately as clear as in the previous two letters and this is not the place to conjecture on the meaning of the white stone and the hidden manna, but we can be sure that they mean blessing.
A prayer for this morning is that of David in Psalm 139
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.