Part 007 – Pergamos


A Study

Part 007

To the church in Pergamos …the hidden manna, and …a white stone… (Rev.2:12-17).

…where Satan’s throne is, where Satan dwells

Pergamos was a religious center filled with pagan cults, housing temples and shrines dedicated to the false gods of the Gentiles. Pergamos, at this time, was also a center for the Roman government in Asia. Satan, who ruled the earth through the Gentile nations (and continues to rule in this same manner today), was said to have his throne in Pergamos (v.13). This though could only refer to a prominent place for his rule rather than to the actual location of his throne. Satan, along with his subordinate angels is seated in the heavenly places and rules over the earth (Eph.6:12; Ezek.28:14; Luke 4:5, 6). Though Satan is disqualified, he will continue to rule from the heavens over the earth, till the Church is fully prepared to rule with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev.11:15). Satan’s throne will not actually be upon the earth until he, along with his angels, is cast out of the heavens near the middle of the Tribulation period (Rev. 12:7-12).

The great persecution of the early church

In addition to the Jews, the Roman Empire was the great persecutor of the early church. Numerous Christians during this period of Roman persecution were imprisoned, tortured, and killed. But the more widespread this persecution became, the more Christendom flourished and grew. The Lord greatly appreciated them saying, “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…” (v.13)

Satan changes strategy to ruin the Church

So Satan had to change his strategy not only to corrupt and weaken the Church from inside but also to merge it with the world outside. During the fourth century, when Constantine the Great became the Emperor of Rome, the persecuting edicts were repealed and Christianity was regarded as another religion of the Roman Empire. Then the day came when Constantine (for doubtful reasons) embraced Christianity, and subsequently in 395AD, Christianity was recognized as the official and only religion of the Roman Empire. This ultimately resulted in a complete merger of Church and State. The Church merged with the state, becoming a world power; and Satan with his agents simply moved in and began accomplishing that which, under Roman persecution, had not been accomplished. Where the pagan, persecuting emperors seemingly failed, the first so-called Christian emperors succeeded; rather than Christianity converting the world, the world converted Christianity. And out of this condition in which the Church found itself arose two major problems:

1) There were those in the Church in Pergamos who held to “the doctrine of Balaam.”

2) There were those in this Church who held to the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.”

The doctrine of Balaam

To this church, the Lord says, “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” (Rev.2:14). In 2Peter 2:15, we read about the false prophets “who have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” and in Jude 11, we read about the false teachers who “run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit.” From these, we can understand that “the doctrine of Balaam” has to do with monetary gain — monetary gain acquired through one’s willingness to compromise the principles of God and proclaim things contrary to the revealed Word of God.

Past teaching among the Israelites

Balak knew well that the power exhibited by the people of Israel was coming from their God; and that they can be defeated only by breaking their relationship with their God. And to achieve this, Balak hired Balaam; but on all the four occasions (Numb.23 & 24) Balaam could not pronounce any curse on Israel, instead only blessings proceeded from his lips (Numb.23:8). But, out of “the doctrine of Balaam,” came the counsel of Balaam,” (Numb.31:16) which resulted in God’s wrath against the children of Israel. What could be this counsel of Balaam? Simply stated, this counsel of Balaam could be — “Israel is a covenant people of God through the covenants made with Abraham and Moses. This covenant cannot be broken and the covenant promises and blessings cannot be withheld even if they fall in sin.” But this is not true. When we look at the promises and blessings associated with His covenants with Abraham and Moses (Gen.22:16-18; Exo.19:5, 6; Deut.28) we find that always a condition/requirement is stipulated — “if you obey my voice.” But in Balaam’s pronouncements in Numb.23 & 24, we cannot find the word, “if” anywhere. Although the Israelites were a covenant people of God, when they succumbed to the counsel of Balaam and committed fornication, and ate things sacrificed to idols and bowed down before other gods, the wrath of God came upon them; twenty four thousand were overthrown in the wilderness, short of the goal of their calling.

Present teaching among saved individuals

The doctrine of Balaam is one of the most widely taught doctrines in the Church today. The main facet of the doctrine of Balaam which is being promulgated in Churches today is the teaching that future blessings and rewards will be given to every saved individual, and it will be given solely on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary — regardless of their conduct during the present time. After we are saved, Satan’s main objective is to prevent Christians from qualifying for crowns and thus positions of rulers with Christ in His coming kingdom. Sin in the camp of Israel resulted in the Israelites being overthrown in the wilderness, short of the goal of their calling. And it will be no different for all the saved individuals. If we succumb to the “counsel of Balaam” and indulge in sin, we will fall short of the goal of our calling. Though we will not lose the free gift of eternal life, we will not be found worthy to receive crowns and positions of power and authority with Christ in the coming kingdom.

The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes

That which was “the deeds (or the practices) of the Nicolaitanes” in the Church in Ephesus (2:6) has become the doctrine (or the rule) in the Church in Pergamos. For detailed discussion on the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes” please see our earlier article, Revelation 005. Using the meaning of the name itself the Nicolaitanes would have to be identified as individuals (leaders) in the Church who had subjugated the remaining Christians to their self-imposed authority — individuals comprising a ruling, priestly class (the clergy over the laity), something condemned by Scripture in no uncertain terms. The “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes” is simply a corruption of delegated authority within the Church, exercising this authority after a forbidden pattern — after the pattern set forth by those in the world.

The Overcomers

“The Doctrine of Balaam” and “the Doctrine of Nicolaitanes” are principles and practices of the world but have permeated the Churches. And today, these are not simply accepted practices but have become the essential doctrines and indispensable rules of the Churches. Very few, among the saved individuals, are able to see the Authority and Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Church (Eph.4:15, 16), and make wholehearted commitment to deny themselves, take up the cross and obey the Lord in all matters (Matt.16:24). These are the overcomers, who alone will be allowed to partake of the hidden manna and will be given a white stone with a new name written on the stone. And these alone will enter into the coming glorious kingdom, become joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ and reign with Him.

Hidden Manna

Manna was the provision of God for the sustenance of the Israelites, for their journey, from the time they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt till they entered the Promised Land. Today our Lord Jesus Christ is the heavenly Manna provided for our sustenance in our spiritual walk (John 6:48-54). The Spirit of God will render this food fresh day-by-day; and Christians are to partake of the Living Word through the Written Word, after the manner in which it has been given. No supplementary food has been provided; nor is any required. Hidden Manna will be the provision for overcomers to sustain and equip them for the rigors of the office they are to hold in the Messianic Kingdom.

A white stone with a new name

At the time of our salvation, all our sins were washed away and we were justified — given a fresh, clean slate — on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary, but it is a past completed matter for all the saved individuals. But, now, when we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, all our works — performed after our salvation — will be tested by fire. The works of an overcomer — the works emanating out of faithfulness — will endure the fire, and he will be given a white stone, and a new name inscribed on the stone. The white stone will identify the overcomer as the one shown justified, victorious in conquest, and elevated to noble rank. Joseph was placed over all Egypt, and similarly the overcoming Christian will be placed over all the earth (“Egypt” is always a type of the world in Scripture). He will then be given “a new name …which no man knows, saving he that receives it.”

Concluding thought

When overcoming Christians go forth to rule with Christ in the coming kingdom, everything will be in a state of readiness. Through the provision of the tree of life, the hidden manna, the white stone, and the new name, Christians will be properly equipped for every facet of life in the kingdom as they rule the nations with Christ.