Revelation 2:12-17 – Pergamum, Holds to False Teachings
Pergamum is about 55 miles north of Smyrna. It was built on a high mountain with walls around it. It was the political capitol. It was famous for its education with schools, colleges, and a large library. There were around 100,000 people living there. There were 3500 theatres in Pergamum. Pergamum was the center of the government in Asia. Satan lived there. (Rev. 2:13) The people worshiped many gods. There was an altar to the Greek god Zeus. Caesar was the emperor and called himself a god and was worshiped by some of the people. (Note: there are no churches in Pergamum today.)
John wrote to the church at Pergamum and identified Himself as one who has a sharp double-edged sword. Jesus knows where they live – where Satan has his throne. Yet they were faithful.
The church was divided and He had some things against them. There were false teachings in the church. Some of the people practiced the teachings of Balaam who enticed the Israelites to eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. They also obeyed the teachings of the Nicolaitans like in Ephesus.
Jesus told them they needed to repent or He would come and fight against them with the double edged sword of His mouth. The sword is His judgment. Jesus will not tolerate rebellion forever. There will be consequences. Jesus words are important and true. They needed to change the direction of their lives. Jesus tells us we can fight against wrong teaching by putting on the armor of God in Eph 610-18.
Repentance begins in the mind. If you repent and change your mind, Jesus will change your heart. Repentance is a wonderful gift of God – to stop believing wrong and start believing what is right.
Do you need to change the direction of your life?
Do you profess a faith you do not practice?
Jesus says “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To Him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” – Rev. 2:17. Don’t stop listening to the Holy Spirit.
In Exodus when the Israelites were in the desert, God gave them manna to eat. When they no longer needed manna, they put in a jar and then into the ark. The manna was a picture of Jesus. He is the bread of life and the true bread from heaven. This manna is food from heaven. This probably means food for the spirit while we are on earth. This is a promise that we will dine with the Lord in heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever (John 6:48-51).
The white stone declares a person innocent. The new name represents a new person you become when you receive Christ as your Savior. You are born again. You are not defined by who you were or what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, but what Jesus has done for you. You are clean. You are loved. You are forgiven. Your old nature is gone. The Holy Spirit will begin to empower your life. You will have a change of mind. You are a changed version of yourself. You will get new desires. You will want to read and study your Bible. You will want to meet with God’s people. You will want to stop sinning. You will want to learn and grow.
Has God given you a new name?
How are you a new person in Christ?
Revelation 2:18-29 – Thyatira, Holds to False Teachings of Jezebel
Thyatira was a small city and the least important. It was about 35 miles from Pergamum. It was busy and wealthy and many trades were there.
Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and His feet are like burnished bronze. This shows Jesus is powerful, strong and holy. Jesus is aware of all that his people do and He knew all the things the Christians in Thyatira did. They believed and trusted God completely. They had love, faith, service, perseverance, and they were doing more than they did at first. Their faith had grown. He is pleased for the most part.
But there was a problem with this church, too. They tolerated a woman He called Jezebel. Jezebel in the Old Testament she called herself a prophetess. A prophetess brings a message from God, but her message was a false one. She was the wife of King Ahab. She was wicked and taught sexual immorality and eating of food sacrificed to idols making Israel turn from God. You can learn more about Jezebel in 1 Kings 16, 19 and 2 Kings 9.
Jesus said He had given her time to repent, but she was unwilling. He said He would soon punish her. He would cause her suffering and strike her children dead. These children could be her children or her followers. God is patient, but He will not tolerate sin forever. Jesus knows the hearts and minds and will repay each according to their deeds.
For the rest of them who were true believers, He will not put any others burdens on them. They are to hold on to what they have until He comes. This will be His second coming. That will be a great and wonderful day. There will be a great reward for all believers. Believers will have authority over the nations and will share in His power when He returns. True Christians will share the rule and authority with Christ. They will share His glory. (Ps. 2:8-9)
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Rev. 2:29. Not only does the church at Thyatira need to listen to the Spirit, but we do as well.
Revelation 3:1-6 – Sardis, The Dead Church
Sardis was about 30 miles south of Thyatira. It was on a mountain side and in a good position to defend itself. It was not as strong a city at it once was.
John wrote to the church at Sardis telling them that these are the words of Jesus who holds the 7 spirits of God and the 7 stars. What are these 7 spirits? “And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” – Isaiah. 11:2. The 7 spirits of God are the work of the Spirit in the churches. The stars are the angels over the churches. This all means that Jesus looks after the 7 churches.
Jesus knows their deeds and they have a reputation of being alive, but they are dead. They once had strong faith, but over time their faith had become weak. This is like some churches today. Faith became weak over time. It was a slow process and no one saw it coming. The church seemed to be full of life, but Jesus knew it was dead.
Deeds are your actions or your works. What do deeds have to do with our relationship with the Lord?
“For it is by grace your have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Eph. 2:8-10. James 2:14-26 tells us “… faith without deeds is dead.” The Sardis church heard the Word of God, but didn’t do anything with it.
When you hear the Word of God, what are you doing about it?
Jesus told them to “wake up” and strengthen what remains and was about to die. They needed to be aware of what was happening. They needed to be ready for His return. He commanded them to remember what they have been taught and heard. They must come back to the Lord and obey His Word. They must repent. If they don’t wake up, He will come and not announce His coming. He will deal with them and they will be judged.
Most of the people didn’t live like Christians should. They were only playing church. Their beliefs made no difference to their lives. There were a few people who walked with Jesus, dressed in white, and were worthy. These white clothes represent acts of righteousness. These are clothes of the faithful. Jesus gave promises to those who stand firm and who are victorious in Him: They would walk with Jesus dressed in white; God would never blot their names out of the book of life; Jesus would acknowledge their names before God the Father and His angels.
What is the book of life? God has a book of life. In it are the names of every person written before the foundation of the world. If your name remains in the book, you will all go to heaven. If you don’t accept Jesus as your Savior, you name will be blotted out of the book. If your name is blotted out of this book, you cannot go to heaven. We will see more about this book in Revelation 13, 17, and 20.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Rev. 3:6.
What will Jesus say about you – are you dead or alive for Him?
Do you need to wake up?
Are your clothes soiled or are they white?
Does your name remain in the book of life?
What can you do to be faithful?
Next week we will study Revelation 3:7-22 – the church in Philadelphia and Laodicea. Hope to see you here.
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