Study Lesson 3
A So-Called Compromising Church
Behind Enemy Lines
Scripture To Consider:
“And to the angel [messenger] of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the two-edged sword [Word of God].’” Revelation 2.12
Something To Consider:
Jesus, to the church in Pergamos, revealed Himself as He who has the sharp two-edged sword. Now, for those of us who believe the book of Revelation was written approx. 95-96 A.D., Jesus’ mentioning the two-edged sword should take the reader of this letter directly to the letter of Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 12. The mystery writer of Hebrews declared, “For the Word of God [Jesus] is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Jesus, in our text today is reminding those of Pergamos and all true believers in every generation that He, Jesus, the Word of God, is alive and powerful.
Therefore, no matter how dark or evil the world becomes as we approach the end of this age, the Word of God is alive and powerful enough to redeem and to restore the souls of men, women, and young people. The writer of Hebrews continued his expose on the two-edged sword, by further explaining, that the Word of God is able to pierce even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow and that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And that is exactly what Jesus is going to do in our next Scripture to consider.
More Scripture To Consider:
“I [Jesus] know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne [seat of power] is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas [an earlier spiritual leader] was My faithful martyr, who was killed [approx. 92 A.D.] among you, where Satan dwells.” Revelation 2.13
Something Else To Consider:
Because of the next Scripture to consider, Pergamos has questionably been described as the compromising church by many religious thinking individuals down through the centuries. But Jesus paints a most different picture of the Pergamos church in our present Scripture to consider, at least in its very recent past. If Antipas, a previous elder at Pergamos was killed for his allegiance to Jesus in approx. 92 A.D. as history reports, and these letters were written in approx. 95-96 A.D., we are looking at only a few years prior to Jesus dictating to John and John actually writing the book of Revelation.
Therefore, Jesus found that which was praise worthy concerning Pergamos and encourages this behind enemy lines church by revealing, “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” Jesus was fully aware of their residing behind enemy lines. Are we aware of the biblical fact that we as true Christians are also living behind enemy lines? The apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 4.4, speaking of Satan declared, “…whose minds the god of this age [Satan] has blinded.”
If we are aware of our living behind enemy lines, are we also aware that Satan has indeed blinded the eyes of the majority of humankind? The church of Pergamos was being warned to remain faithful by Jesus. We too have been warned! Therefore, Jesus encouraged this church at Pergamos, by His taking notice that they held fast to Christ’s name, and did not deny the faith of Jesus even in the face of evil death threatening opposition.
These Pergamos true Christians stood their ground even as their ordained by God spiritual leader, Antipas, was killed for his faith in Jesus. Though behind enemy lines these Pergamos believers were enduring the persecution of the enemy. What about us? Will we be found as those of Pergamos even in the face of death, standing firm, and enduring to the end? Or will we too be found by Jesus compromising our faith in Christ Jesus?
More Scripture To Consider:
“But I [Jesus] 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. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight them with the sword of My mouth [the two-edged sword of the Word of God].” Revelation 2.14-16
Something More To Consider:
Jesus explained the evil doctrine of Balaam as teaching falsely that which causes believers to stumble, or to depart from the faith, or to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to entice the children of Israel to commit sexual immorality, which in reality are all sins against God. Therefore, all of these evil acts of iniquity according to Jesus require repentance, both then and now! And these evils are still being allowed within the walls of the church of this 21st century generation.
And even if these sinful acts are not actually condoned by church leadership within the organized and established religious but not spiritual churches of today, these sinful acts are approved of by these same religious leaders’ silence or their refusal to teach what the living and powerful Word of God declares. According to Jesus, either we are with Jesus gathering souls unto Him or we are against Him in scattering the flock through the deception of non-truth or the spreading of disinformation that is in total opposition to the truth of the Word of God. And if this false and misleading avoiding of the truth is not stopped, there will be eternal consequences to be paid, according to Jesus.
Also, according to Jesus, “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” Many bible scholars attempt wrongfully to lump this doctrine of the Nicolaitans with the previously mentioned doctrine of Balaam. But Jesus separated these evil false doctrines for a reason, and I believe some of the many so-called religious leaders who teach them as the same doctrine may fully understand them to be different. I believe there is an evil attempt to create some misdirection by stating the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans to be the same.
What is it that religious leaders may not want to admit about the doctrine of the Nicolaitans? It begins with the word itself, Nicolaitans, which comes from the root word Nicolas. The name Nicolas means victor of the people or conqueror over the people. Therefore, the word Nicolaitans means followers of Nicolas or followers of a conqueror or one who lords over the people. Laitans is the Greek form from which we get the word laity or those of the congregation of religious people who are not part of the leadership.
Therefore, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans of which Jesus hated and still hates; is the lording over the laity by the victor or conqueror of a religious hierarchy that is so prevalent in the established organized churches of today. A cursory reading of the New Testament easily and rightfully reveals a plurality of elder’s style of leadership biblical example, with no one single personality lording it over God’s people. Of this evil practice Jesus demands repentance.
A Few Final Words:
“He [or she] who has an ear, let him [or her] hear what the Spirit says [is saying] to the churches. To him [or her] who overcomes [endures to the end] I [Jesus] will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him [or her] a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him [or her] who receives it.” Revelation 2.17
In this final verse of Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamos, He gave a command to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches. The word church is plural for a reason. These letters to seven 1st century churches extend beyond the early church. These letters, these words of praise, these insightful revelations of Jesus, these loving rebukes against sinful behavior, conditional commands and promises extend all the way to the end time church of the Lord Jesus Christ of this 21st century generation.
The call of Christ to repent is simultaneously linked to the conditional command to overcome by enduring to the end of our lives as did Antipas and millions of other true Christian martyrs since, as it is linked to our enduring to the end of this present age which is fast coming to an end. Will we be among those receiving a white stone with a new name only known to Jesus and to each of us? Or will we be made to stumble headlong into the false doctrines of those who hide the truth of the Word of God while hiding behind their Nicolaitan coat of covetousness and compromise?