Stumbling in the Way, Part 18

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Although we only need Verse 13 here to confirm to us whom the Lord’s third messenger was nevertheless a careful consideration the whole context in which it is placed will better serve us. So, we present here, the letter to the third Church in its entirety.

Revelation Chapter 2

VERSE 12And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things say he who has the sharp two-edged sword:

THE SHARP TWO-EDGED SWORD — Jesus’ introductions of himself to each Church are so very appropriate.

This is the period of the first UNIVERSAL CREED. It is as if Jesus is asking us,

Which authority do you want, the Nicene Creed, or the two-edged sword, (i.e., the Bible, the Word of God)?
(Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12)

Verses 13-16: Verse 12 has opened the description by introducing the hero of truth (Arius), the nature of the period (exultation of earthly glory), and the source of all truth (the sword). In 13-16 we find that the reality of the period is doctrinal controversy.

VERSE 13I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. 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, where Satan dwells.”

I KNOW YOUR WORKS, AND WHERE YOU DWELL:Whereis a PLACE. Places in scripture represent conditions. The condition in which the brethren of this period dwelled was that of a growing hierarchy in the church mixing itself with the state. Therefore, Jesus describes theWhereas:

WHERE SATAN’S THRONE IS.

Satan is a symbol of Rome and, of course, of the literal devil behind the scenes.

The brethren dwelt in the midst of the fornication between church and state — where the church and Rome become one THRONE — one rulership or authority. From this they had to flee to another condition, the wilderness (separation from the accepted way of doing things.)

IT IS MOST INTERESTING to trace the growth from Rev 2:9 to 2:13. In Smyrna, there is only thesynagogue of Satan.” The apostate brethren had formed within Christianity their ownSynagogue” — their own (false) Church Organization. But now in Pergamos they are ELEVATED: the Synagogue has become a THRONE.

AND YOU HOLD FAST MY NAME.

This may be subtle, but it is lovely. Arius did all he could to hold fast the identity and character of Jesus until he was murdered by his enemies. Likewise did his followers. A Trinitarian, of course, could NOT hold fast this name.

AND DID NOT DENY MY FAITH.

While councils were REPLACING the faith of the Scriptures with creeds, these brethren held fast to the Scriptural teaching which usually resulted in their excommunication.

EVEN IN THE DAYS OF ANTIPAS.

Antipas means Against the Father. Arius and his followers were rabidly opposed to the rise of the fatherhood of the Bishop of Rome, and to the calling of the priests (later in the period) by the title ofFather.” All of this, of course, is part of the hateful doctrine of the Nicolaitans which the Lord HATES.

As an option, Antipas might well mean that Arius taught against Jesus’ being equated with the Father
.

MY WITNESS, MY FAITHFUL ONE.

This phrase is much like Rev 3:14 except that Verse 14 applies to Jesus while it here applies to Arius.

It is interesting to note that these two verses apply to the TWO times in church history when the Trinity doctrine is under attack. (The second takes place during the Laodicean stage of the church, the present time). This might lead us to think thatMY WITNESSmeans specially a witness to WHOM Jesus really is, and that faithfulness in either of these two periods relies on doing this.

WHO WAS KILLED WHERE SATAN DWELLS. Arius waskilled” (excommunicated) not just as others were, but by Constantine’s own direction. What an honor!

VERSE 14
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.”

BUT I HAVE A FEW THINGS AGAINST YOU.

This phrase and the “REPENT” of Verse 16 suggest that the brethren of the time might have been falling into a defensive posture rather than an offensive one. They may have not openly criticized the growing apostasy with sufficient vigor. The true saints were, in this period, without question outnumbered and out-powered. It would have been easy and natural to begin a retreat. But the Lord was not pleased to see this in his saints.

BECAUSE YOU HAVE THERE THOSE WHO HOLD THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM,

WHO TAUGHT BALAK TO PUT A STUMBLING BLOCK BEFORE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL


A reading of Numbers 22-25 and 31:13-16 will be helpful in understanding this lesson. While the “doctrine of Balaam” usually refers to catering to the flesh with material rewards of pleasure, it is important to dig a little deeper here. Balaam proposed to Balak a non-sanctioned marriage of Moabite daughters to Jews which, among other things, resulted in adultery and idolatry. Thus, the type here of a marriage of the Lord’s people to subjects of a gentile king has its antitype in the attempt to marry Christians to the state. This was a real stumbling-block for Christians who might be tempted to do so as they remembered the terrible persecutions of the previous period when church and state were enemies. Thesons of Israelin the type are theJewsof Revelation which represent Christians.

TO EAT THINGS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS.

What was the proposed idolatry?

It was the union of church and state
.

What was being SACRIFICED to accomplish this?

The truth of the Scriptures which forbade such a union. The saints were being asked to eat
(swallow) the twisting (sacrificing) of Scripture in order to live under the new idolatrous order of things and, thereby, to

TO COMMIT IMMORALITY (FORNICATION)
. THIS was the point of the religious rulers from the beginning of the Pergamos period. They wanted Christians to give in to the church-state union arrangement.

We will continue with Verse 15 in our next post.

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