May 1, 2024

Revelation 2:12-18 "To The Church At Pergamum"

Preacher: Brian Henson Series: Revelation Topic: Eschatology Scripture: Revelation 2:12–17

Lesson Handout

Supplemental Handout on the Manna, Stone, and New Name

Background on Pergamum

            Pergamum was the northernmost city of the 7 churches of Revelation – about 16 miles off the coast of the Aegean Sea. It’s a very artsy city, had a large library that held 200,000 volumes, and was famous for its contributions to science and medicine. It was also an extremely pagan city and the imperial cult was deeply entrenched there.

Verse-By-Verse Notes

Verse 12

  • By identifying Himself as the “one who holds the two-edged sword” Christ affirms His ultimate power over life and death and the One who will execute vengeance on the wicked who persecute His people. This would have been encouraging to Christians who were dying by the sword of the Roman Empire.

Verse 13

  • “Satan’s throne” is most likely a reference to Pergamum as the center of Emperor worship in Asia. One could also read the implication of Satanic strongholds in geographic areas in this verse.
  • Christ’s commendation that the Christians at Pergamum held fast to His name means that they would not deny Him by confessing “Caesar Is Lord.” For the Christian, only Jesus Is Lord – exclusively Lord and Lord alone.
  • “Antipas” – very little is known about this individual besides being an early martyr. One legend claims he was roasted to death in a brass bull oven during Domitian’s reign (81-96 A.D.).

Verse 14

  • Christ’s first critique is that Pergamum has tolerated false teachers that led His church into compromise with the surrounding culture.
  • Robert Mounce: “Balaam became a prototype of all corrupt teachers who betray believers into fatal compromise with worldly ideologies.” How do some churches tolerate false teachers today?

Verse 15

  • Christ’s second of the Pergamum Christians – they tolerated the “teaching of the Nicolaitans” (antinomianism, hyper-grace theology, the belief that one could live in licentious ways because or grace.)
  • Robert Mounce:[The Balaamites and Nicolaitans] describe an antinomian group that had accommodated itself to the religious and social requirements of the pagan society in which they lived.”

Verse 16

  • The remedy for Pergamum’s problem is repentance – just like the remedy for the modern church’s problem is repentance.
  • This is the 2nd time Jesus mentions his sword – which is his word: the 1st time it was an encouragement as vengeance on those who were martyring the believers at Pergamum; the 2nd time it is a frightening warning against those who were tolerating false teachers and teaching in the church.

Verse 17

  • This verse contains: 1) the call to hear and respond;
  • 2) the “hidden manna” seems best interpreted in two-ways: Jesus will take care of the faithful and the faithful will feast at the Messianic banquet in the coming kingdom;
  • 3) the “white stone with a new name” likely represents his “admission ticket” into that messianic banquet – only the faithful overcomers get it. There is a lot of background cultural stuff going on here that leads most commentators to understand these unusual statements that way. See additional handout.

The Big Takeaway: “[The believers at Pergamum] are not openly embracing immorality and idolatry but are not closing the door to it either. . . . We need to be convinced that we must never flirt with evil.” (Jim Hamilton)


other sermons in this series

May 22


Revelation 3:7-13 "To The Church At Philadelphia"

Preacher: Brian Henson Scripture: Revelation 3:7–13 Series: Revelation

May 15


Revelation 3:1-6 "To The Church At Sardis"

Preacher: Brian Henson Scripture: Revelation 3:1–6 Series: Revelation

May 8


Revelation 2:18-29 "To The Church At Thyatira"

Preacher: Brian Henson Scripture: Revelation 2:18–29 Series: Revelation