The Revelation of Jesus Christ

iii. The church at Pergamos

(Rev 2:12-17 NRSV) And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword:[13] “I know your works and where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipass my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the the hidden manna and will give white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

>The city of Pergamos

Pergamos was one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world. It was famous for all year, almost perfect weather, well named “the city of eternal spring”. Everywhere was a combination of scenic beauty and perfect weather. Everywhere flourished more different religions than any other city of the ancient world. Romans like Mark Anthony came to visit Pergamos quite often because of its great natural beauty. The city was noted for many heathen temples. Famous shrines of the gods dominated the skyline and the great altar dedicated to the saviour-god, Zeus, was located in front of the temple of Athena one thousand feet upon the conical hill of Pergamos. Covered with elaborate carvings the altar was 123 feet long, 113 feet wide and forty feet high, Like a great throne it stood on a projecting ledge of rock on the side of the hill with a view of the valley for at least twenty miles each way.

There was also an altar to Athena, patron goddess of Athens. Emperor worship was practiced in Pergamos, its first temple being erected in 29 B.C. Citizens were required to burn a pinch of incense at the foot of Caesar’s statue, honouring him as a god. Those who refused to do so were immediately arrested and imprisoned. They also worshipped Dionysus, the god of vegetation, and Aesculapius, the god of healing. (Aesculapius was the most powerful god of Pergamos, whose licentious and debased worship included a huge serpent in the temple and a serpent image on many of the coins of the city. The well-known symbol of the medical profession—a serpent twined around a staff—was the dominant symbol of the god Aesculapius

>He who has the two-edged sword

And by the angel of the church in Pergamos write; these things say He who has the sharp sword with two edges. (Rev. 2:12).

The Lord stands in the midst with the sharp sword with two edges&mndash;not to destroy us, but to circumcise our hearts and minds.

>Satan’s throne

I know your works, and where you dwell, even whereSatan’s seat is [In the original text the word is “throne”] (Rev. 2:13).

The typical and symbolic church at Pergamos was dwelling where Satan’s throne was located. A symbol of dominion, the centre is from whence the authority of the king emanates throughout his entire kingdom.

Although we use the singular pronoun when referring to Satan, this “being” does not manifest as a singular person, but is the evil spiri tthat works in and through the minds of the children of disobedience.

(Eph 2:2 KJV) Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:

Christ is crushing Satan under our feet. Satan is one of the enemies, along with sin and death, that is being defeated, first in the lives of God’s elect, and ultimately in all of creation.

The Holy Spirit declared that “Satan’s throne” was located where the church in Pergamos dwelt. About one hundred kilometres south is Ephesus and about one hundred and twelve kilometres north Pergamos. These three were in New Testament times, the royal cities, and they vied with one another. Smyrna was the great commercial centre, Ephesus the great political centre, and Pergamos the greatreligious centre

Pergamos took the lead as the centre of cultic worship. The priesthood of Babylon made their way to Pergamos and found a new home there. Pergamos became a centre of paganism. Through idolatry, the worship of Caesar, Zeus, Dionysus, Aesculapius, and other pseudo gods the Satanic spirit was firmly established. In the centres of learning and the healing arts it controlled peoples’ souls, bodies and spirits. This plethora was aptly named Satan’s throne.

Religion is big business, in Pergamos or any other place. The ruling power of the satanic is exercisedin religion. Satan as the satanic spirit has never been in a supposed hell of myth and legend. It may be thought that the strongholds are in the drug world, in the sex and pornography industry, in military despotism, in the harlot’s house, in terrorist organizations, in Hollywood, in gangs, murderers, and child molesters. Not so. These are all the works of the flesh, not the power of Satan.

The Holy Spirit used the symbol of Pergamos, a centre of religion, to identify the location of Satan’s throne/seat/stronghold. Wherever the centres of religious systems are found there can be found Satan’s throne.

Pergamos (“strongly united, elevated, height, citadel a marriage”) Symbolic of the high places of the carnal religious mind, where the satanic spirit dwells. “I know where you dwell, The comfort zone of a religious system, where human senses are satisfied to settle down and comfortably remain. I know that you love the pageantry, the beauty, the forms, the sacraments, the rituals, the programs, and activities. That place is Satan’s throne. (Jesus understood this very clearly… He never condemned the prostitute, the fornicator, the tax-gatherer, the thieves or murderers. He never demonstrated holy anger against the Romans, the world, or the wicked. It was the religious leaders that He denounced. His anger was focused on the hypocrisy of the so-called carriers of God’s word. He condemned those who appeared clean on the outside, but inside were full of greed and wickedness.)

Satanic activity is in a religious realm, a spiritual dimension concealed in the dark shroud of religion. Satan is religious. It is in the heavens of God’s Spirit that the man-child encounters the great dragon. There is a very fine line between the highest truth and the darkest error, between bond-slave to God and the self-godhood as taught by all the streams of “New Age.”

>Antipas the faithful martyr

You hold fast my name, and have not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells. (Rev. 2:13).

There is no historical evidence of a person named Antipas being martyred in Pergamos . Antipas is a compound word made up of the prefix “anti” meaning “opposed to” or “instead of,” and “pas” a Greek abbreviation for “pater” (“father.”) Opposed to, or taking the place of Father may be describing some aspect of the Pergamos Christian that opposes the Father.

Antipas was martyred (There is some question about the translation: “Killed”, “witness”, “martyr”?) “where satan’s throne is”; he was slain in the realm of religion—a place where most of the Lord’s martyrs have been slain. In most believers the carnal mind and the religious spirit seeks to usurp the place of Christ. The name Antipas may be suggesting all that is contrary to the way of the Father must be slain in us, before we are able to present ourselves as a spiritual martyr for the kingdom of God.

Those in whom everything that is antagonistic to the mind, nature, purpose, and will of the Father has been brought to the cross, are then able to take up their cross and follow him. The implication is that Antipas presents the symbol for the work of the cross in the lives of God’s overcomers.

This old self is to be put to death, with its wills and desires, giving Jesus complete Lordship over our beings. Believing on Him and claiming by faith the “finished work” does not bring an end to the Adamic mind. Paul needed to say, “Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are upon earth, It requires complete and absolute surrender to the Christ within; the “putting off” of the old man and the “putting on” of the new. Christ Himself must become the new head. This is to be beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and the word of God. Christ can only testify out of our life as the living word of God when His Headship is established in our life.

>Shortcomings of Balaam

The Old Testament prophet Balaam has long been an enigma. He lived near the Euphrates river in the land of Pethor. His prophecies were totally accurate; his language the most eloquent of all the Old Testament prophets; his allegories the most poetic; and his deception, by the love of fame and money, the most cunning. His notoriety had spread so far abroad that it seems his name was known in all the courts of pagan kings, soothsayers, and magicians. Yet he had conversations with the true and living God. His name is mentioned sixty times in fifty-seven verses in eight of the sixty-six books of the Bible—more than any other prophet. Yet his was an ignoble end.

Slain by the Israelites as a traitor of God, an adversary of righteousness and an open advocate of uncleanness this one so greatly gifted ended in disgrace—an outcast of both the people of God and the pagan peoples to whom he prostituted his prophetic calling.

O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteousness of the Lord” (Mic. 6:5).

Do not forget, this life is a lesson for God’s overcomers. The New Testament mentions him three times in connection with apostasy.

II Peter 2:15: “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor.

>A warning concerning the “way of Balaam.”

Woe unto them. For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam ” (Jude 11).

Jude warns of the “error of Balaam.” The error of Balaam and the way of Balaam are not the same. Finally, in the message to the church in Pergamos, Jesus says, “I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam. These three, error, way and doctrine sum up Balaam’s influence on some members of Pergamos.

Balaam erred in deviating from the will of the Lord. Typically Balaam represents a ministry or relationship with the Lord that brings a true word from God. Balaam was a prophet, a prophet of God bringing a true word from the Lord. He was also a teacher and as such what he was proved to be much more powerful and expressive than what he said. His teaching to Balak was not only by his words, but out of his character and state of being. The word of the Lord was in his mouth, but carnality, deceptiveness, greed, and rebellion were in his heart. That is the error of Balaam.

Woe unto them. For they have gone in the way of Cain, and run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward…” (Jude 11).

The way of Balaam is preaching, prophesying, or ministering in any capacity for money. The “wages” of unrighteousness are monies received by departing from the perfect will and plan of God to accommodate, please and gain profit from others. Some of the most covetous people are in the Lord’s work. In such ministry there is always a price on everything. There is always a plea for money for this project and that. The need of your money is the object of every meeting, every magazine published, and every letter written. They will send you a book for your money, a tape for your money, some gold-coloured trinket for your money, pray for you for your money and with a thousand other crafty schemes make merchandise of the gullible people who blindly follow them. Ministers like Balaam know the way of faith, but rely on carnal methods to raise finances. They coddle and flatter people for profit at the expense of declaring the full counsel of God. There is always a gimmick to entice you to send your hard-earned money to fulfil a grandiose scheme to save the world or bring in the kingdom. Religion can be a racket (illegal enterprise carried on for monetary profit). Balaam had a message from God, but he was covetous.

Who have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness: but was rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbade the madness of the prophet (II Pet. 2:15-16).

The doctrine of Balaam is satanic and subtle with the same deception as appeared in the Garden of Eden.

But I have a few things against thee, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. (Rev. 2:14).

God would not permit Balaam to curse the people of Israel. The prophet understood his limit in disobeying the word of the Lord but he still coveted the favour and the money of king Balak. He needed to adopt a different approach to get the silver and the gold. No going back empty-handed however; he coveted wealth for his personal agenda. A more devious plan was needed.

He advises Balak: I can’t curse Israel, but I can tell you how to destroy them. Go down and join them. Take the good-looking women of Moab down to the camp and get acquainted. The Israelite men will find the Moabite women attractive, and will commit whore-doms with them. Some of them will love your women so much they will marry them. Your women are so beautiful, so sensuous, so enticing, so caring and loving, that the Israelite men will do anything for them. They will yield to your customs, they will compromise with your gods, they will adopt your traditions, they will pollute their worship of Yahweh. They will commit trespass against the Lord, and God will no longer fight for them.

Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab” (Num. 25:1).

As a result of Balaam’s counsel the Moabite women, “”caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord” (Num. 31:16). With this fornication idolatry came into the camp of Israel.

The doctrine of Balaam was a teaching and method to corrupt a people who could not be cursed. They became corrupted by defiling their separation to the Lord abandoning their holy character and having union with the mind, ways, methods, and spirit of the world—spiritual fornication. This kind of union with the world, union with the flesh ways of the carnal mind, becoming a mixture and defiling the pure walk in the spirit and by the spirit is the doctrine of Balaam.

The Lord’s called and chosen people can only be corrupted from within. The richest years of the early church were during its persecution. While they were being imprisoned, beheaded, fed to lions, burned at the stake, boiled in oil, their property confiscated, and all the rest, there was great boldness, glory, and power upon the people of God. They increased by the thousands and shook kingdoms. Yet history shows that the ways and doctrine of Balaam has contaminated much of today’s church.

This apostasy began when Constantine, emperor of Rome, out of considerations of state, in order to consolidate the empire under his control, made Christianity the official religion of his empire. At the point of the spear he forced whole nations in a day into the communion of the church. Eusebius, an early church historian, had an enthusiastic conviction that the holy kingdom of heaven had come and that the kingdoms of this world had become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ—the carnal armies of the earth were now supporting the church and bearing it onward to the full conquest of the world.

The church and the world were married together, the church and the world formed an adulterous relationship in which the church was kept and supported by human government. It still is in many, many, ways.. The government-chartered, tax-exempt, non-profit religious organization, by which carnal government dictates that you choose a name other than the Lord’s name, that you appoint a board and do business contrary to the government of the Holy Spirit, and by which the government of carnal men confers upon you the “right” to marry the young and bury the dead as a servant of the civil government. “By the authority invested in me as a minister of the gospel, and by the State I pronounce you man and wife.” Human government and fleshly armies are not the kingdom of God. With that first union of the church with human government all sorts of pagan rituals, pagan holidays, idols, cathedrals, doctrines, and practices were brought into the church. The formation of a religious organization chartered by the state is the first step into religious Babylon. The church couldn’t be cursed, so it was corrupted. This is the doctrine of Balaam in modern society.

All they who follow in Balaam’s way, who have erred from the pure walk in the Spirit of God, and yet make a profession of serving and doing the work of Christ and yet run greedily after the error of Balaam for rewards, and seek money for their preaching, prophesying, programs, books, and tapes; and that admire men’s persons, flattering the people for gain, and take titles to themselves of “Reverend,” “Doctor,” and others of this world’s recognition—are these of whom the Lord spoke when He said,

But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

>Eating things sacrificed to idols

… eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:14).

Spiritually we eat and feed upon the word; the ideas, teachings and doctrines we take into our spirits. Balaam taught Balak to seduce God’s people to eat such food leading them into disaster.

Throughout the spiritual Christendom of today a polygot of words and ideas present food of all kinds. The Baptists preach one word, the Catholics preach another, the Pentecostals preach a different word, the Mormons preach something else, and so on and on. Two millennia ago the apostle John wrote

Little children, keep yourselves from idols (I Jn. 5:21).

Idols are false gods, or false ideas and representations of the true God. Keep yourselves from false ideas about God, John says. The world and the church seem filled with contradictory and scripturally unsupported ideas.

Many people view God as a schoolboy did: ” … the sort of person who is always snooping around to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it. Others make God out to be a tyrant, or a vengeful, wrath-filled fiend. Some paint a God so weak that the will of man is stronger than the will of God. Then others speak of God as always trying to do this and that, but the devil is ever hindering and thwarting God’s purposes, getting the upper hand, defeating God’s best laid plans, tripping up and overcoming the saints, until it would seem that the devil is himself the omniscient and omnipotent one.

Some have a God so capricious that He will only save you if the correct formula is repeated over you in water baptism.

Vast numbers blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the devil, contending that if you speak in tongues, prophesy, heal the sick, or do miracles you are satanic. They dispense that perverted word into their offspring (spiritual children) who do truly trust Jesus as their Saviour.

Some say that Christ can only be ministered to you through the sacraments, or a particular ritual, or the ministry of their group, or membership in their movement, or by believing only the doctrines of their church and listening to no one else.

Others teach their people that they cannot go to heaven if they use tobacco, drink wine, wear jewellery, put on make-up, cut their hair, go to movies, or wear or not wear certain kinds of clothing.

Then in endless variety there are “end-time” teachings about the so-called “rapture” of the saints, about a revived Roman empire, the antichrist sitting in a temple in Jerusalem, wrath, judgment, and tribulation poured out upon the inhabitants of the world.

To this add pagan holidays, customs, rituals, ceremonies, liturgies, works, and philosophies that have been introduced into the church realm and have become such an established part of her practice and teaching until the whole world believes that these things are surely taught somewhere in the scriptures or were established by the apostles or by Jesus Himself.

All these flights of fancy men have created out of their carnal minds portraying a false image of God which is a religious idol. To partake of any false and polluted teachings and doctrines which misrepresent God and distort His truth is eating things offered to idols—eating a word which is offered upon the altar of a false idea and image of God. This following the error of Balaam, teaching the doctrine of Balaam, does indeed seduce the Lord’s people to eat a word which is offered upon the altar of a false god—a false religious system which has usurped the truth and spirit of our heavenly Father. Smoking, cussing, and drinking are stumbling blocks to avoid but the major defects an overcomer is to conquer—negative spiritual conditions existing in the realm of the seven churches—these are the serious defects within ourselves. Every overcomer of God repents and is repenting in the light that the Spirit brings to them personally their path through this realm.

>Spiritual fornication

I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication (Rev. 2:14).

Spiritually, fornication (voluntary sexual intercourse outside of the married state) is a symbol, not the physical fornication of the flesh, but a joining to that which is not Christ. This may be found in ministries and believers, who symbolically daily sow their spiritual seed, their spiritual life of Christ, into man-made religious systems, mingling the reality of Christ with the commandments of men, joining themselves to carnal programs, promotions, methods, and worldly religious activities, satisfying their own soul appetites in the name of the Lord.

(Galatians 3:3 and Philippians 3:3-4.)Are you so foolish? Having begun in the spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh? / We are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

“The flesh” designates our human consciousness—soul and body. The soul at creation was placed between the spiritual or divine and the sensible or worldly, that both soul and body might, in due time be raised up into that perfect union in the spirit which would result in man attaining his destiny, a spiritual body. When the soul yielded to the temptation of the sensible it came under the power of the body—this union of soul and body became “flesh”. The flesh is not only without the spirit, but even hostile to it:

the flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17).

The antagonism of the flesh to the spirit has two distinct strategies. On the one hand, the flesh wars against the spirit by committing sin and transgressing God’s commands. This is the evil of the flesh. On the other hand, its hostility to the spirit is no less manifested in its seeking to serve God and do His work. This is the good of the flesh. The good and the evil of the flesh are represented in the Garden of Eden as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” When man sank into the flesh realm he then walked no longer in the spirit, but after the knowledge of good and evil. In yielding to the sensual realm of the body, the soul sought self instead of the God into whom the spirit could have raised it. Self-knowledge, self-effort, and self-development prevailed over the life of the spirit.

So subtle is this spirit of self that the flesh, not only in sinning against God, but also when the soul learns to serve God, it still asserts its power, refusing to let the spirit alone lead. In its effort to be religious, flesh wants to serve God independent of the spirit and is a great enemy that ever hinders and quenches the Spirit.

Unless the soul is brought into absolute submission to the spirit, the surrender to the spirit being entire as a bride to the bridegroom, thus bringing about the marriage of the bride-soul to the bridegroom-spirit, which is the marriage of the Lamb, what has begun in the spirit, very early and very speedily passes over into confidence in the flesh.

>The Hidden Manna

To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna. (Rev. 2:17)

The phrase, the hidden manna, may refer to the ark of God which resided in the most holy place of the tabernacle of the Lord, which accompanied the children of Israel during all their wanderings in the wilderness. It contained a golden pot of the manna miraculously fed given to feed Israel. Placed within the ark in a golden pot it was preserved ever fresh. The hidden manna is exampling the possibility of incorruptibility.

Under the old covenant Israel had an outward ark and in it they put the pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the law given to Moses. Christ in His new covenant puts His spiritual law of His divine nature, the rod of His appointment by the Spirit, and the manna of His incorruptible life, into the hearts of His called and chosen ones. They that ate of the manna in the wilderness died, but they that eat of the incorruptible life of Christ, the spiritual bread from heaven, are filled with divine and eternal life.

The ark represents Christ. The secret manna is not on the ground, in the lowlands of the corruption of our earthiness, or of carnal man-made religion; it is not manna displayed—It is manna in the secret place, in the secret depths of Christ in our spirit. It is not surface and shallow, it is not for the multitudes, not even the multitudes of God’s people. This goes beyond the veil, hidden in the ark of Christ. Hidden manna is from heaven, truth unfolded, enlightenment and quickening from the throne of God.

Not only is the manna hidden in the golden pot, but this pot is hidden in the ark.

For ye are dead, and your (new) life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

Not an in faith believing of the words of scripture but an overcomers hearing and eating of the hidden manna quickened to hear the heartbeat of the Father, to directly receive the words of God in and by the Spirit.

The hidden manna is Christ speaking words of spirit and life from the sanctuary of our innermost being.

The showbread was shown and seen of men. The incorruptible manna is hidden in the golden pot in the ark. Multitudes today eat of the showbread in the holy place. In gatherings, in meetings, in conventions, on radio and television, in books and magazines, they eat of that bread of life that is displayed, that all can see and hear and be strengthened thereby.

The hidden manna is Christ is a deeper way, in the most holy place, in the inner chamber, in the secret place of the Most High, Christ in the heavens of our spirit.

>The white stone

To him that overcomes I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it (Rev. 2:17).

The “white” is not meant as a description of appearance or colour, but of nature. It stands for a flawless purity, the beauty of holiness. The white stone is the white of spiritual radiance. Biblically, white is frequently describes righteous, spiritual, divine, and heavenly, and significantly the book of Revelation. It is written of the Christ of God,

His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.

There is also white raiment, white robes, a white cloud, fine linen clean and white, white horses, and a great white throne. Jesus when transfigured on the mount,

His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light(Mat. 17:2).

Not the dull white of paper but shining as light. Not of simple purity but the radiating glory emanating from a divine nature.

The word stone is psefos. This word appears in the New Testament in only one other instance,

(Acts 26:10) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice (psefos) against them.

The Emphatic Diaglott renders the word as vote. Paul gave his consenting “vote” to the death of the saints. This same wordpsefoswas translated stone in Revelation 2:17.

Liddell and Scott’s Greek Dictionary considers that stone, or pebble,psefos is not any stone or pebble randomly picked up from the ground, but is a balloting stone used by the ancients in casting votes. Elections and other decisions of the people, as well as decisions of the judges, were expressed by the use of this particular kind of stone—psefos. The stones were painted white to express a favourable vote, or black to express an unfavourable decision.

Conquerors in the public games had a white stone given to them, with their name inscribed on it; which badge entitled them, during their whole life, to be maintained at public expense. Other white stones had to do with instruments of hospitality, or friendship, or alliance. A stone could be inscribed and then broken so that the two parts, when fitted together, formed a sort of validation of the bearer. A white stone was given to a man who had been tried and acquitted. Sometimes, the white stone was given to the man freed from slavery and made a citizen.

All these uses of the white stone give rights, privileges, status or identity A metaphor to suggest the shining vote (white stone) is the placement of the overcomer as inheritor and partaker of the heavenly calling.