The Seven Letters Pergamon

The Seven Letters Pergamon

The Seven Letters: Pergamos

Pr Edi Giudetti

18-11-2018

 

 

Holding Fast in the World

 

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest,evenwhere Satan’s seatis: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipaswasmy faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

 

Now here we have the voice of the one who John had heard that sounded to him like the voice of many waters, and he speaks to him yet again and yet again for the purpose of the dictation of a letter to one of the seven Churches.

 

This third Church is the Church of Pergamon, or Pergamos. This is no insignificant city in Asia minor.

 

In fact, what we will find out about this city is that it was indeed the Chief of all the Cities in the province of Asia Minor,evenwhere Satan’s seatis:it was Chief both in Politics and Religion to Rome in the province.

 

This voice again speaks, and again identifies himself at the beginning of the letter to this Church in Pergamos, that those who have an ear may hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.

 

Without such an introduction of the author there is no doubt even those who have an ear will turn it away.

 

These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

 

Nations ruled by the sword, it was a picture of their strength.

 

The value of such an instrument was inestimable. The Romans dispossessed nations with its short two-edged sword, they took pride in their skill and close combat from which the longer sword simply could not defend itself.

 

Those with the long sword were use to fighting from a distance, but who can defend himself when the insistence of the soldier is for close personal combatwith a short, sharp two edged sword?

 

The Romans dominated the Greeks with such an instrument and came to rule the world, not only politically but religiously.

 

Now a challenger to that political and religious government which hath the sharp sword with two edges dictates a letter to the Pergamon Church.

 

The phrase, just like each of the introductory phrases we have read in the first two churches, is taken directly from the 1stChapter of the vision of the apocalypse of John.

 

It is the one who he “turned to see” in verse 12 whom he describes in Rev 1:16

 

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenancewasas the sun shineth in his strength.

 

It’s interesting that this all-conquering weapon is not slung from the side but comes out of his mouth.

 

Hebrews 4:12

 

For the word of Godisquick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, andisa discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

 

Scripture seems to draw a parallel between that which comes out of the mouth and a two-edged sword.

 

What we find incredible in the Bible and especially when we look as such a book as the Book of Revelation, is that the symbolism that is found contained is explained in the same book.

 

God does use similes and metaphors, but he uses them in conjunction with synonyms and parablesto ensure we can learn what it is he is referring to.

 

Now the deep symbolism that we find in Revelation is not found in all the 66 books of the Bible, but it is found often enough and in context enough to help us learn.

 

WARNING: YOU ARE NOT TO COME UP WITH YOUR OWN PRIVATE INTERPRETATION!!!

 

God always explains what he means in the scriptures, to know it, you must read the scriptures!

 

God is always testing our faithfulness, always giving opportunity for us to trust him.

 

 

Turn to Psalm 55:21

 

21 The wordsof his mouthwere smoother than butter, but warwasin his heart: his words were softer than oil, yetwerethey drawn swords.

 

 

Again, here we see “his words” that is “Gods words” used synonymously as “Drawn swords”.

 

… yetwerethey (The wordsof his mouth)drawn swords

 

For confirmation lets look at the famous passage in Ephesians.

 

Ephesians 6:16-17

 

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

 

The words of God are the words of absolute authority, not only an authority that rules nations and governs peoples, but the very authority that SPOKE the entire universe into existence, and who’s laws continue to govern it.

 

 

This is the authority of he who writes to them;

 

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest,evenwhere Satan’s seatis:

 

Sir William Ramsay recalls that the City of Pergamon is the most regal of all the Cities of Asia Minor that he had visited. Unlike many cities who have an acropolis on a hill and the city beneath, this entire city was nestled on the highest hill in the region.

 

Not only this, but the highest honour was bestowed upon it no less than three times. It was given both the first, second and third time the honour of Guardians of the Temple called the Neokorate.

 

Sir William Ramsely notes:

 

The Imperial religion “was the keystone of the Imperial policy”; the official capital of the Province was necessarily the center of the Imperial ritual; and conversely the city where the Imperial religion had its center must have been officially regarded as the capital of the Province.[1]

 

An incredible series of Essays where written and collated in 1998 in a volume called Pergamon-Citadel of the Gods:

Where archeological descriptions are given that relate directly to the influence of the four patron Gods of the City, Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, and Asklepios.

 

Each had its role and its effect.

 

Zeus the Saviour and Athena the Goddess of Victory where celebrated for the victory the city had over its foreign enemies.

 

Dionysos, and Asklepios Celebrated in the daily life of the nation.

 

Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of wine, winemaking, grape cultivation, fertility, ritual madness, theater, and religious ecstasy. His Roman name was Bacchus or Liber.[2]

 

He was responsible for some of the greatest perverse celebrations in history. Some of which involved extreme violence upon the participants. Literally sending people mad in revelry.

Asklepios was the Greek god of healing. He was believed to be the son of Apollo and to have learned medicine from Chiron the centaur. He is usually portrayed with a beard, holding a pole with a snake entwined round it, called the rod of Asklepios.[3]

 

Interestingly this is the same symbol used outside of Chemists and Clinics and Hospitals to this day. I wonder where this tradition came from.

 

 

“He is usually portrayed with a beard”: Anybody remember the Brazen Serpent MOSES put on a pole in Numbers 21:9?

 

 

This was clearly where they dwelt, literally evenwhere Satan’s seatis:

 

 

Verse 13 continues

13….:and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipaswasmy faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

 

They did hold the name of the Lord Jesus faithfully but unlike the persecutions of the removal of rights and privileges of the Church of Ephesus, and unlike the popular hatred and dispossession and murder of the faithful of the Church of Smyrna, the Church of Pergamos suffered by Government decree.

 

Sir William Ramsey again picks that up for us writing;

 

…the Imperial government had ranged itself definitely in opposition to the Church of Christ. The procedure against the Christians was fixed and stereotyped. Their loyalty was now tested by   the one criterion recognized alike by public opinion and by government policy, viz., their willingness to perform the ritual of the State religion, and make offering to the Imperial God, the Divine Emperor. Those who refused to comply with this requirement were forthwith condemned to death as traitors and enemies of the State.[4]

 

To Hold Fast to the Name of Christ singled you out specifically for the performance of the ritual demanded. Without which death was certain.

 

We speak of this as history, but it continues today in countries around the world. Not only in the arab nations, particularly those things we had seen during the rise of Isis earlier this decade; but also in many other nations such as China, Nth Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, India, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Nigeria, all countries where Christianity has either vehement hostility or restrictions in place.[5]

 

But the Bible does teach it will return to that same level Globally during a period known to us as The Tribulation, specifically the last three and a half years, where the refusal to worship the beast will mean death.

 

People will be betrayed by family members as well as friends,

 

 

Jesus said in Matthew 10:21-22

 

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up againsttheirparents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of allmenfor my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

 

Question: Would you honestly hold fast to the name of Jesus, even as his faithful martyr Antipas who was slain among the church folk of Pergamos?

 

Perhaps not if you are willing to compromise with this world.

 

Compromising In The World

 

14 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.

 

It’s a joy to be faithful to the Lord in all things, but we so often think so little of compromising our faith. This we see here in the Church of Pergamon and we see it also continuing in the modern Church today.

 

Within the Church they certainly held fast to the name of the Lord. Some paid the ultimate price, but they also hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam.

 

We don’t have time to read the entire account but you can read the event in Numbers Chapters 23, 24.

 

In short, Balaam was individual who was known to have contact with God. He was employed by the King of Moab named Balak to curse a multitude of people who had just come from Egypt and was passing by the country of the King.

 

Balaam stated that only that which God tells him to do he will do.But in the place of cursing the nation of Israel, God had given Balaam the words to bless them three times.

 

This infuriated Balak the King, and he told Balaam that God had withheld Honour from Balaamand Balak himself will not give him the great honour and reward he promised him because he would not curse this people.

 

But something else occurred;

 

Turn with me to Numbers 25:1-3

 

1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

 

Something had occurred to cause the people of God to terribly violate the law of God, somehow a stumbling block was placed against the children of Israel and twenty-four thousand people perished by the hand of God for this great trespass.

 

Not only did they commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab and those of Midian, but they also sacrificed to the gods of the people of the land and even bowed themselves down to the idols of the nation they were in.

 

Turn forward now to Chapter 31

 

They warred against the Midianites and against the kings and they caught up with and killed Balaam that wicked prophet, and in verse 15-16 we see the detail of the transgression and how it came to pass;

 

15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel,through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

 

Balaam sought the honour and wealth from the King and, though he would not go beyond the word of the Lord in Cursing the people of the Lord, Rev 2:14 tells us he taught Balak what he might be able to do to the people of God that will cause them to stumble.

 

BACK TO REVELATION 2:14

 

14 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.

 

 

Ulrike Wulf-Rheidt in his essay titled, “The Hellenistic and Roman Houses of Pergamon,

 

Recognises that, based on the house designs and architecture that so well reflected the lifestyle of the population from Hellenistic through to Roman times, he said;

 

“the city included a substantial percentage ofwell-to-do residents.”[6]

 

Michael White in his own essay titled “Counting the Costs of Nobility: The Social Economy of Roman Pergamon,

 

Wrote of the “Quest for Nobility” (That is: high honour as well as wealth) and noted that there was a desire of the people of the city to continue to aquire a higher status through competing for the cities honours.[7]

 

 

Pergamos had the second greatest libraryin the known world at that time, a library that rivalled the famous Library of Alexandria.

 

It’s very name Pergamon lives on today as the Latin name behind the French word Parchment. It was largest producer of parchment in the world. Some have said in direct response to the deliberate Egyptian monopoly of Papyrus.

 

 

The competition in Pergamos to retain its title as the Politically and Religious exemplar of Asia Minor for Rome was part of the culture of the City. It did not have a great trade route, nor did it have a habour, so it would not and did not last as the primary City. But it was at this time.

 

The Point is, that the Church had many within its ranks that began to compromise their faith and they did so through the desire for Honour and Wealth through knowledge, education and religious fervour.

 

They began to mix their worship of the Saviour Jesus, with The Saviour Zeus (Zeus Soter). Their victory in Christ mixed with Athena.

 

They took the writings of Paul the apostle in 1 Cor 8 &10 and thought there was no problem eating things offered to Idols and thereby demonstrated their acceptance of the Pagan Gods to the Pagans, excusing their compromising of Christ.

 

Pauls statement “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In 1 Cor 10:31 they distorted and justified themselves.

 

They considered the teachings of Paul and thought themselves also free to fornicate. (Sex outside of marriage)

 

All this putting a stumbling block to the believers.

 

If that was not bad enough;

 

 

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

 

In Short it was believed to be the formalizing of what is known as Antinomianism, that is, living without Law.

 

We recall one of the patron gods of Pergamon was Dionysos. This was the god of liberty(Hence his alternate name ‘Liber’), the belief that we are free to do all things, living without the Law.

 

Eat something offered to idols here, burn some incense there, commit fornication etc. “All things are lawful for me” (1 Cor 10:23a) therefore there is no law.

 

Christians began to compromise their faith

 

Sir William Ramsay makes a great point with regard to the Nicolaitans;

 

“Especially, it is highly probable that the Nicolaitans either already had, or soon would have, reached the conclusion that they might justifiably comply with the current test of loyalty, and burn a little incense in honor of the Emperor.

 

The Church was not disloyal; even its most fanatical defenders claimed to be loyal; then why should its members make any difficulty about proving their loyalty by burning a few grains of incense? A little incense was nothing.

 

An excellent and convincing argument can readily be worked out;

and then the — whole ritual of the State religion would have followed as a matter of course; Christ and Augustus would have been enthroned outside by sideas they were in the compromise attempted by the Emperor Alexander Severus more than a century later; and everything that was vital in Christianity would be lost.”

 

 

What do you compromise about your faith? At home? In your workplace? In social activities?

 

Do you deny the Lord and his word just a little in order to get by?

 

We worry about saying too much or committing too deeply to things in our workplace because we might not get the hours we need, the promotion we desire, or even keep our jobs.

 

Yet many of the same people who do this turn their noses at the Pergamene Churches because they might“burn a few grains of incense” to keep alive!

 

We read an account in Foxes book of martyrs of one individual who denies the Lord to get off the torture rack,while we won’t even share the Gospel with someone because they might look at us funny!

 

How do you compromise your faith?

 

 

Turning From The World

 

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

 

If a timescale for this Church type was to be considered then from the reign of Constantine in 312 AD where Pope Boniface III declared the Church of Rome to be the Head of all the churches and himself as Universal Bishop in 606AD.

 

After the Edict of Galerius, AKA the Edict of Toleration, 304AD, came Constantine who conquered his foes under the sign of the Cross.

 

From 312 AD Constantine reversed, not only the persecution of the Christians, but established them on high.

 

According to William Jones in his History of the Christian Churchfrom the Birth of Christ to the Eighteenth Century, Including the Very Interesting Account of the Waldenses and Albigenses.1819 Vol1. p 308

 

Said of Constantine;

 

“He now built places for Christian worship, and shewed great beneficence to the poor. He encouraged the meeting of bishops in synods—honoured them with his presence, and employed himself continually in aggrandizing the church.”

 

Before the Church was despised by Emperors and now it was exalted. It seems that Satan had completely changed tack against the Church.

 

For three hundred years he tried to destroy the Christianity by murder.

 

But all this seemed to do is draw more people to Christ and give the gospel even greater impetus.

 

Satan Changed his tack.

 

In the words again of William Jones;

 

“:The extraordinary occurrences of the life of Constantine produced an entire change in the whole of the Christian profession. Its friends were now no longer called to endure patiently the hatred of the world—to take up their cross, and press after a conformity to Christ in his sufferings, and through much tribulation, to enter his kingdom; but they were to bask in the sunshine of worldly prosperity, enjoying the smiles of the great, and connecting with their profession the riches and honours of this present world—the baneful effects of which began speedily to develop themselves. So long as the Christians were persecuted by the heathen on account of their faith and practices, they were driven to the gospel as their only source of consolation and support; and they found it every way sufficient for their utmost need.”

 

He goes on and states that which actually came, not to the benefitof the Gospel, but to the loss of it.

 

“But now that the restraint was wholly taken off, by Constantine, the churches endowed, and riches and honours liberally conferred on the clergy; when he authorized them to sit as judges upon the consciences and faith of others, he confirmed them in the spirit of this world—the spirit of pride, avarice, domination, and ambition—the indulgence of which, has, in all ages, proved fatal to the purity, peace, and happiness of the kingdom of Christ.”

 

Honor and Wealth bestowed upon the Pastors/Bishops, nobility was given them, a stumbling block, and compromise came hot on the heals.

 

We hear the echo of the Lords words to Pergamos in verse 16 again;

 

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

 

“A Little Leaven leveneth the whole lump” Gal 5:9

 

When we begin to compromise, to turn our affections to the things of the world we too are prone more and more to enjoy the comforts of the world againstthe comforts and joys of Christ.

 

Those joys we glorify God in when we share the Gospel of Christ, or when we see the work of the Lord evident through prayer, is quickly forgotten and our hearts become hardened.

 

A semblance of the truth is retained in us, whether for the sake of posterity, tradition or appearance to others, but the true eternal joy of the Lord has been replaced by a fake temporary retreat in a world heading to destruction.

 

REPENT

 

The little leavenin the Pergamos Church, eventually leavened the whole lump

 

In the fifth century there stood up a man by the name of Vigilantius who wrote rebuking some of the foolishness of the compromising Church as it continued to absorb more and more of the foolish pagan practices.

Consider, this is only one hundred odd years after Constantine gave preference to the pastors of the Churches.

 

He said:

 

“That the honours paid to the rotten bones and dust of the saints and martyrs, by adoring, kissing, wrapping them up in silk and vessels of gold, lodging them in their churches, and lighting up wax candles before them, after the manner of the heathens, were the ensigns of idolatry. That the celibacy of the clergy was a heresy, and their vows of chastity the seminary of lewdness. That to pray to the dead, or to desire the prayers of the dead, was superstitious; for that the souls of the departed saints and martyrs were at rest in some particular place, whence they could not remove themselves at pleasure, so as to be present every where to the prayers of their votaries. That the sepulchres of the martyrs ought not to be worshipped, nor their fasts and vigils to be observed; and lastly, That the signs and wonders said to be wrought by their relics and at their sepulchres, served to no good end or purpose of religion.”

 

To consider for a moment what is meant by the signs and wonders said to be wrought by their relics listen to the words of Pope Gregory 1 when it was requested of him the Greek Empress to have the bones of Paul removed from Rome to special Church in Constantinople that had been built specially for it.

 

He wrote her that the for the body could not be granted, and explained;

 

“the bodies of the apostles Paul and Peter are so terrible by their miracles, that there is reason to apprehend danger, even in approaching to pray to them.

 

He says a number of other things but he concludes his letter this way; he wrote:

 

Wherefore, Madam, the Romans in granting relics, do not touch the saints bodies: they only put a little linen in a box, which they place near them: after some time they withdraw it, and deposit the box and linen solemnly in the church which they mean to dedicate.

 

This linen performs as many miracles, as if they had transported the real body!  In the time of Pope Leo, some Greeks, doubting the virtue of such relics, he took a pair of scissars, as we are assured, and cutting the linen, forthwith the blood flowed from it.

 

He concludes however, telling the Empress, that he would endeavour to send her a few grains of the chain, which had been on Paul’s neck and hands, and which had been found peculiarly efficacious, if they succeeded, in filing them off.”*

 

We could look at the foolishness of the Charismatic Church that has infiltrated many church bodies today, and we can well see the Compromising Church is alive and well in many areas.

 

Are you compromising?

A Name In Another World

 

17 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.

 

These clearly are not things easy to deal with. Compromising is by far the easier optionwith no excuse needed to give to most people who also are pleased to compromise their faith. But again we see blessing given to those who might overcome the temptations of idolatry, fornication and all the compromise that comes from the Pergamos Church.

 

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.

 

A new name is promised to those who have overcome. Who have kept the faith, held fast to the name of Christ and not turned against him for the perceived ease that seems to come through compromise.

 

Beloved can I let you in on the wonderful truth of standing firm on the Lord.

 

The scripture teach that when we honour the Lord he will honour us (1 Sam 2:30).

 

When you stand for the Lord in all you do, the first time you do it is seems like it will be the most difficult thing in the world to do. But when you do stand firm on your convictions and discover the blessing that comes from it, you are then encouraged to stand for him more and more.

 

You find you develop a greater love for the Lord because of his faithfulness to you, a greater courage for the things of Christ and a greater willingness to stand no matter the cost.

 

Why not do that, which most people who call themselves by the name of Christ, don’t do, STAND FIRM AND DO NOT COMPROMISE

[1]Sir William Ramsey, Letters To The Seven Churches,.

[2]https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/gods/dionysus/

 

[3]http://broughttolife.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/asklepios

[4]Sir William Ramsey, Letters To The Seven Churches,.

[5]https://vom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/VOMPrayerMap.jpg

[6][6]James Constantine Hanges, “Review of Pergamon, Citadel of the Gods: Archaeological Record, Literary Description, and Religious Development Edited by Koester, Helmut,”Review of Biblical Literature(2000),.

[7]Ibid

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