The churches of Revelation:
Church of Pergamum:
“I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is;
and you hold fast My name,
and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one,
who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam…
So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Therefore, repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
To him who overcomes,
to him I will give some of the hidden manna,
and I will give him a white stone,
and a new name written on the stone which no one knows by the who receives it.”
This is a tough passage. First of all, let us identify where Satan’s throne is. 1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world. Therefore, we all dwell where Satan’s throne is. God gave Satan authority over this earth when Adam and Eve sinned. But! That doesn’t mean that we are all followers of Satan. Colossians 1:13 says that “…He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” And Ephesians 2: 1-6 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace are you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”
The saints at Pergamum were in the world, but not of this world. They held fast the name of Jesus and did not deny the faith even at the cost of death. Antipas is an unknown martyr, but possibly the first martyr there in in Pergamum. He lived during a time that the world began to enter into the church through false teaching and false religion. We too must hold fast to our confession and our faith to the point of death. God will equip us to do all that He calls us to do. If Jesus asks us to be a martyr for His name, then He will give us the grace and power to do so at that time. Until then, the harder part is being a witness to the name of Jesus and the faith in our everyday life. We must look differently than the world, responding in love, not seeking revenge, being people of forgiveness and reaching out with the good news of Jesus to others. Know God now in the times when He may be found so that when the world seems dark, you can find your way to God. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…” (Ephesians 4:1). The world must see the truth of God’s word lived out in your life. Learn it and live it.
God does condemn the church of Pergamum for two transgressions – the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The doctrine of Balaam was a doctrine of intermarriage with those not under God’s covenant leading to idolatry and fornication. In our time this would be marriage with the doctrines of this world and breaking your marriage covenant with Jesus and not staying pure in that relationship. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans was accepting foreign knowledge not taught in the word of God leading to a return to rituals and allowing the clergy to rule over the saints with “special knowledge”.
For the overcomers, Jesus promises them some of the hidden manna. Jesus, Himself, is the bread of Life, the manna and even though He is hidden in our day and time, the time will come when He is revealed and we will taste the goodness of that sweet relationship for eternity. The white stone suggests that believers are not blackballed in heaven. White is the color of purity and righteousness. This stone will have on it a new name. Perhaps a new name for our regenerated body or the new name of Christ Jesus – a name that only those intimately related to Him will know.
So, stay strong. Keep the faith even unto death and more so until that time. Stay pure (which involves quick confession when you mess up!) and stay in relationship with Jesus denying the doctrines of this world.