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Called to Truth

Revelation 2:12-17

“‘Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:

‘I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.

‘But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

‘Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.’”


Ancient Pergamum

The inland city of Pergamum lay about sixty-five miles north of Smyrna, along the fertile valley of the Caicus River.
Built on a hill, a thousand feet high, it dominated the surrounding area.

The Greek name Pergamon means “citadel.”

The city maintained a 200,000 volume library, second only to the library of Alexandria.

The two main religions involved worshiping Dionysus, the god of royal kings symbolized by a bull, and Asclepius, the savior god of healing represented by a snake.

A spectacular part of the city was the upper terrace of the citadel with sacred and royal buildings, the most remarkable being the altar of Zeus jutting out near the top.

A sharp, two-edged sword

Pergamum was the official Asian center for the imperial cult, the first city in Asia receiving permission to build a temple dedicated to the worship of a living ruler. Of all the seven cities, Pergamum was the one where the church was most likely to clash with imperial cultism.

To the church Jesus is described with “the sharp, two-edged sword.” In a city where the proconsul was granted the “right of the sword”, the power at will to execute, the sovereign Christ reminds the threatened congregation that the ultimate power of life and death belongs to God.

A loyal church

Jesus commends the church for remaining a faithful witness in a pagan city. They had not yielded to the pressure of burning incense to the Roman emperor and declaring, “Caesar is Lord.”

In summary, the altar of Zeus resembled a throne, a cult used a serpent symbol, and the city was a cult center of emperor worship. Pergamum had become the seat of Satan’s activity, his throne within the region.

With believers and the chief adversary living in the same location, little wonder martyrdom occurred in Pergamum.

Living in difficult places

The church in Pergamum was located in a dangerous place but Jesus did not instruct them to leave. He did not want them to pack their bags and move to an easier location. Jesus needed the church to serve Him where they were.

Accomodating the world

Although the church at Pergamum had remained faithful in the midst of severe opposition, some church members were guilty of compromise. They had disregarded the apostolic instructions to, “abstain from eating food offered to idols…and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:29) When any church compares themselves with unchurched counterparts, they begin to justify a less then acceptable lifestyle.

The church is called to truth.”

All are guilty

The fault of Pergamum was having love but not upholding truth, the opposite of Ephesus. Unless the church returned to truth, Christ would fight against them with the sword of his mouth.

Only a portion of the church had compromised, yet everyone was guilty for not taking action against false teaching.

Truth and Love

Scripture blends love and truth together. John Stott writes, “Love becomes sentimental if it is not strengthened by truth, and truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love” (What Christ Thinks of the Church, pp. 51-52).

Too often truth is side-stepped to avoid conflict or controversy, yet truth spoken in love makes an eternal difference.

The promise

God provides for His people manna from heaven in place of food offered to idols.

The church is also given a white stone, a symbol of triumphant faith. The stone is marked with a new name and used as entrance to the marriage supper of the Lamb. A new name, marking a new age of eternal communion with the One whose Name is above every other name.

The message today

Have you compromised your faith? Are you finding it easier to “take-on” a life with worldly standards and neglecting to abide in biblical truth?

Stand firm in faith and live according to truth. The presence of Jesus should be cherished more than a compromising life.

The challenge

Stand up for truth with the knowledge of having entrance into full fellowship with Jesus for eternity.

What challenges have you encountered while standing up for truth?  Share your comments below.

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  1. Angela Oliver-Lott says

    I find the biggest challenge is to stand and not become judgmental. I have to remind myself not to place my value on situation. My continued pray is to have a heart for what breaks HIs heart. In doing this, I believe I can stand in a way that will show the world the heart for Jesus not a hypocritical Christian. Be blessed!

  2. That’s great Angela. Keeping your eyes on Jesus definitely helps keep the right balance between loving your neighbor and living in truth. Jesus is the answer.