The Words of Christ to the Congregation At Pergamos
Revelation 2:12-17
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things said he which has the sharp sword with two edges;…

And to the angel of the Church in Pergamos, etc. "Few, if any, parts of the world present greater attractions than Pergamos to the student of nature, history, or art. It is associated with memorable names and wonderful exploits. It is the native land of Homer, the oldest of the world's poets, and of Herodotus, the father of history, and "three of the seven wise men here began their life. Among the wonders of the world it boasted its Temple at Ephesus, its Mausoleum in Curia, and its Colossus at Rhodes. The finest work of art, the celebrated Venus, is attributed to this people." Pergamos is not the least attractive spot in this important district of the globe. It is about three days' journey from Smyrna, on the banks of Caicus, in the province of Mysia, a little river famed in classic story. It stands under the modern name of Bergama. Though it has fallen from its original grandeur, it has not become a desolation, or an abode for wild beasts. In the passage before us we have the record of the language which Christ, from the deep silence of eternity, addressed to a congregation of his professed disciples there. In looking into this language we discover

(1) a tone of authority;

(2) a discrimination of character;

(3) a reformative demand; and

(4) a promise of blessedness. Here we have -

I. A TONE OF AUTHORITY. "These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges." A sword is an emblem of authority; a "two-edged one" may express authority as well as terrible force. In ver. 16 of Revelation

1. it is said, "Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword." It is a moral, not a material sword - the sword of truth; a sword that inflicts no wounds upon existence, but upon the errors and wrongs of existence. Two remarks are suggested.

1. Christ's truth is authoritative. The sword is an emblem of authority. In every utterance of his we have it. "Thus saith the Lord." It comes, not for mere study or speculation, but with a binding force. It is not merely to be studied, but obeyed.

2. Christ's truth is mighty. It is a "two-edged sword." It cuts in all directions, cuts to the central roots of error. What battles it has fought! what victories it has won! It destroys all wrong thoughts, all corrupt passions, all wicked resolves. "It brings into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

II. A DISCRIMINATION OF CHARACTER. "I know thy works." The passage suggests:

1. That Christ is fully acquainted with circumstances under which all moral character is formed. Christ describes exactly the moral position in which the Church lived. "And where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is." "Satan's seat" was there. It was the metropolis of a heathen divinity - Aesculapius, the god of healing. "In his honour a living serpent was kept and fed in the temple, while the serpent worship was so marked a characteristic of the place, that we find this reptile engraved on many of its coins. Again, the practice of the priests of AEsculapius consisted much in charms and incantations, and crowds resorted to his temple, where lying miracles of healing were vaunted to be performed, which were doubtless used by Satan to obstruct and counterfeit the work of the apostles and the gospel" (Revelation H.B. Tristram, LL.D., F.R.S.). Here, too, we are told that in this city was held 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." Also the "doctrine of the Nicolaitanes." The people holding these doctrines taught the people to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. "The eating of idol meats would, in such a city as Pergamos, be as great a stumbling block as caste at the present day in India. To refuse to partake of things offered to idols was not only to renounce idolatry, it was more; it was to abstain from almost every public and private festivity, to withdraw, in great measure, from the social life of the place." Here, too, we are informed, Antipas, Christ's faithful martyr, was slain. Such was the Satanic scene in which the disciples of Christ lived and wrought in Pergamos. Here they formed their character and accomplished whatever good they did. Here is one of the million proofs that man's moral character is not necessarily formed by external circumstances, however antagonistic those circumstances may be. Our benevolent Maker has invested all moral minds with the power not only to rise above external circumstances, but to subordinate the most hostile to their advantage.

2. That the eye of Christ recognizes every part of a man's character, whether good or bad. In all characters, even the best, there is a mingling of the good and bad, and the elements of each are recognized. Mark what is here said concerning the good of the Church at Ephesus. "Thou holdest fast my Name, and hast not denied my faith." Mark also what is said concerning the evil in them. It would seem that they did not sufficiently resist the wrong. "I have a few things against thee, because thou hast 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." It would seem from this that they might have done more than they did in expelling by moral force such base and pernicious characters from their midst. So far as they failed they were defective in faith, zeal, and courage. Thus Christ marks the evil and the good in the character of his disciples, approving the one and reproving the other.

III. A REFORMATIVE DEMAND. "Repent; or else I will come unto thee."

1. Repentance is moral reformation. It is not a mere change in theological belief, in outward conduct, or in ecclesiastical relations and rituals, but in the heart, in the master disposition of the soul. It is the turning of the whole from the selfish to the benevolent, from the wrong to the right. It is, moreover, a law binding on all men. His word commands man everywhere to "repent." It is the necessity of all men. "Unless ye repent ye shall all likewise perish."

2. Repentance is an urgent necessity. "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly." I will come in retributive justice, and that quickly - quick as the lightning. "I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Not a material sword, but a moral. His word has a power to destroy as well as to save. A word of his can annihilate the universe. He has only to will, and it is done. His word carries fatal pestilences, devastating storms, and blighting famines. What an argument of terror is this urging the duty of moral reformation!

IV. A PROMISE OF BLESSEDNESS. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." The promises here made by the Spirit are to a certain class - those who have conquered. Who are the conquerors in life's battle? Not those who by sword or bayonet or any deadly instruments have destroyed the mortal lives of men. Such are not the victors, but victims to their own vanity, ambition, greed, and brutal passions. The real conquerors in life's battle are those who conquer all the evils in their own nature, and get the mastery over all their impulses and passions. He is the sublimest conqueror who has crushed most of the wrongs and evils of life. Two blessings are here promised to such.

1. The choicest nourishment. The "hidden manna." "I will give to eat of the hidden manna." Though they absent themselves from the sumptuous feasts of idolatry, referred to in the previous verses, they shall have food far better - the "hidden manna." Food fulfils two functions - it satisfies and it strengthens. The best food is that which supplies the most happiness and the most vigour. This "hidden manna," which is Christ, does this.

(1) His doctrines are bread to the intellect. They are full of nourishment for the mental powers.

(2) It is fellowship - is bread to the heart. Loving intercourse with him will develop, strengthen, and gladden all the sympathies of the heart.

(3) His spirit is bread to the whole life. To partake of his spirit, the spirit of supreme love to God, consecration to the true and the right, and universal sympathy with man, is to get that which will invigorate every faculty and fibre of our being. His spirit is indeed the strength of humanity. It is the moral wine that gives at once the highest elevation to soul, and the strongest character. "He that eateth me" - my moral spirit - "even he shall live by me." It promises:

2. The highest distinction.

(1) The sign of distinction. "A white stone." "Perhaps," says Dr. Tristram, "the white stone, the pure and sparkling diamond, may be placed in contrast with the charms supplied to the votaries of AEsculapius, with the cabalistic characters inscribed on them, and which were worn as amulets to protect them from disease. This spiritual stone, inscribed like the Urim, with a name which no man knew, may set forth the revelation which the Lord will make to his faithful people, of mysteries hidden before from kings and prophets, like the hidden, manna and the Urim, seen by the high priest alone, but which revelation of the glory of God can only be known by those who have received him."

(a) This may be a sign of acquittal. In the ancient Greek courts of justice it was customary to signify the judgment pronounced upon the accused by throwing a stone into an urn; the black stone expressed condemnation, the white acquittal. Thus Socrates was convicted and condemned. There will be a public expression at the last day of the acquittal of those who have won the battle.

(b) This may be a sign of qualification. It seems that before the Levites and the priests under the Law were allowed to minister at the altar, they were examined, in order to ascertain whether they were ceremonially clean or not. Ritualistic purity was regarded as the necessary qualification for office. Those who were found to have this qualification had a "white" stone presented to them. He who came forth from the examination bore this sign of fitness for his sacerdotal vocation. Thus the "white stone" here may mean that he who wins the moral battle of life will be regarded as fit for the high services of the celestial world.

(c) This may be a sign of public honour. It was customary in the Grecian games to give a "white stone" to him who had won the victory. He who held this stone was entitled to be supported at the public expense, had free access to all the festivities of the nation, and was regarded as illustrious in all great gatherings. Thus he who wins the moral battle of life shall be publicly honoured. "A crown of glory is prepared for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give unto him at that day." He will have free admission into all the honours of eternity.

(2) The character of the distinction. What is the character? It is something new - it is a new name. "In the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." What is this new name, the knowledge of which is entirely a matter of individual consciousness with him who has it? This is it, "sons of God." No one knows anything of this sonship but he who is the subject of it. - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

WEB: "To the angel of the assembly in Pergamum write: "He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things:

The Words of Christ to the Congregation At Pergamos
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