Join us as we study through Revelation 2:12-17 verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, teaching points, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 2:12-17 Bible Study Lesson – The Church Of Pergamum
Revelation 2:12-17 Video Bible Study
Revelation 2:12-17 Audio Bible Study
I. Greeting (12)
II. Commendation (13)
III. Criticism (14-15)
IV. Counsel (16)
V. Promise (17)
I. Greeting (12)
- Who is the one who has the sharp two-edged sword?
- What does this sword represent?
- What will He do with this sword?
- Why was it important for the church in Pergamum specifically to know that Jesus had the sharp two-edged sword?
Ephesians 6:17 – And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Revelation 1:16 – In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
1.The angel of the church in Pergamum – The word for “angel” means “messenger” and this refers to a leader of the church in Pergamum.
2.The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword – Jesus shares a short description of Himself with each church. Each one is part of the more full description of Jesus in chapter 1. And the specific part He shares with each church is highly relevant to that specific church.
Here Jesus mentions the sharp two-edged sword which comes from His mouth. The Word of God is often described in the Bible as a sword. Jesus’ very words are a weapon. His words are powerful. With them, He created the heavens and the earth. His words cut into the heart, revealing motives and exposing sin.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Just as His words can create and build up, so they can judge and destroy. With a word, He can cut down His opposition.
Jesus highlighted this aspect of His character to them because they had strayed from His words. Having gone off the path of safety in God’s Word, they had allowed worldly teachings to deceive them. They needed to be reminded again of the truth.
Believers are supposed to be trained in the truth and therefore wield the sword of the Word of God ourselves. We are the ones who are supposed to be sharing God’s truth with the world. But instead Jesus was getting ready to wield this sword against them. They had not learned how to handle their own weapon. Instead of spreading the truth with the world, they were allowing the world to infiltrate them.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Application: God has given us spiritual weapons. One of these is the sword of Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let us be well trained in using this sword. And let us use it to destroy false teaching and strongholds in this world instead of ourselves becoming a target of this double-edged sword from Jesus.
In the world today, many churches have gone astray. They have accepted worldly ideas into the church instead of fighting against them.
Reflect: What are some areas that the church worldwide allows itself to be influenced by culture?
II. Commendation (13)
- Why was it encouraging for them to know that Jesus knows where they dwell?
- Why did Jesus say that Satan’s throne was there?
- Why did their proximity to idol worship and false gods make it more difficult to serve God faithfully?
- Is Satan’s throne also near where you or your church dwell? Why or why not?
- How can we protect ourselves, our families, and our churches from the influence of Satan?
- How did Jesus commend the saints there?
- Who might Antipas be?
Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 John 5:4-5 – Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:19 – We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
1.I know where you dwell – We remember that Jesus walked among the seven golden lampstands. He knows everything about the churches. He knows everything about us. Jesus recognized that the place they lived in was difficult to be faithful to Him. They were surrounded by temptations.
The fact that Jesus knows the temptations we face is encouraging. It reminds us that He is with us. And He sympathizes with the struggles we face in living a pure and holy life.
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
You do not face temptation alone. Jesus is by your side and He is ready to help and deliver you if you will turn to Him.
The fact that Jesus knows the temptations we face also removes any excuses for sin we have. He doesn’t say, “I know and it’s ‘OK’ to sin.” He knows and still expects us to live a righteous life.
Many people excuse their sin by saying, “You don’t understand what I am going through,” or “You don’t understand how hard this is for me,” or “I have no choice.” But that is wrong. Jesus does He understand. He knows exactly what you face. And He still expects you to be victorious.
Application: Instead of giving up when temptation becomes overwhelming and saying, “I can’t help it” turn to Jesus. He knows exactly what you are facing and will give you the help that you need to be victorious.
2.Where Satan’s throne is – On the acropolis in Pergamum was a giant throne-shaped altar to Zeus. And the god most associated with Pergamum was Asklepios, the god of healing. His snake-like form is still the symbol used for medicine around the world.
The church of Pergamum was established right in the center of Satan’s kingdom. Pergamum served as the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor. And in this city was built the first temple to Caesar. Many pagan cults flourished there. One of these was dedicated to Bacchus, the god of drunkenness.
So the church was surrounded by every type of temptation and evil influence you could imagine. And there war was not only against the visible signs of these false religions, but also against Satan’s invisible realm of evil spiritual forces. And he and his demons were active in this realm.
Application: Be aware of the evil influences in the world around you. What are some of the demonic and worldly ideas that permeate the culture you live in? How can you guard against these?
3.You hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith – Jesus commends this church. Even in the midst of spiritual opposition and being surrounded by evil influences, they did not give up the faith. The saints did not abandon the church and run to the world. They were willing to be called by Christ’s name, even if that meant persecution. And that was proved through Antipas, who gave his life as a martyr for his faith. We are not sure who he is, but he was probably a leader or pastor in the church.
It is exceedingly important that believers keep the faith. In fact, that is the most important thing for a believer. That is what it means to be a believer. When a person abandons the faith and chases the world, he cannot be called a believer at all.
In today’s world we regularly hear reports of professing believers, often well-known ones, who abandon the faith. Some are disillusioned. Some fall into serious sin. Some are convinced by the ideas the world is selling. Unfortunately this is the case with many young people in the church. Young generations are fleeing the church in massive numbers. Secular ideas are winning their minds. And they are not holding fast. Even in the face of very small opposition (in comparison to martyrdom mentioned here), many are quick to compromise and give in.
Reflect: How can the church address this issue and help the younger generation to hold fast? How can parents better prepare their children for the world “where Satan dwells?”
Application: Be faithful. He who is faithful in a little thing is faithful also in much. Dig your roots into the world of God. Continuously develop a personal relationship with Jesus because apart from Him we can do nothing.
III. Criticism (14-15)
- What did Jesus criticize the church for? What was their key problem?
- Share a short overview of Balaam.
- What was the teaching of Balaam that had influenced them?
- In what ways does worldly thinking often influence the church?
- How can a church promote sexual purity in a culture that celebrates immorality?
- How can you guard your own purity including in your thought life?
- Was it sin to eat food sacrificed to idols?
2 Peter 2:14-16 – They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
Numbers 22 – The story of Balaam.
1 Corinthians 6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
1.I have a few things against you – There were many believers in the church. Jesus already said they held fast to His name. But that doesn’t mean they were perfect. Some in the church were being influenced by the world.
2.Some there hold to the teaching of Balaam – For the whole story, see Numbers 22-24. Balaam was a prophet of the true God. The king of Moab wanted to hire Balaam to curse Israel. Instead of completely rejecting this, Balaam played around with the idea, trying some way to get a payday. He wouldn’t directly defy God and curse Israel, but he wanted the money. Balaam knew that a curse against Israel wouldn’t work because God had blessed them.
However, if the people fell into sin, then God Himself would punish them for this. His blessing would be stripped away. So he came up with a plan to get the people of Israel to fall into sin. Then he taught the plan to Balak, king of Moab.
In short the plan was to seduce the people of Israel. So Moab sent a bunch of women to seduce Israel’s men. They held parties and feasts. And the sexually immoral unions then led (as they normally did) to idolatry.
Not all of Balaam’s role in this is recorded in Numbers. Here Jesus gives a more full picture. Balaam was supposed to be a servant of God. But he didn’t stand up for truth. Instead he used his influence to devise schemes against God’s people. Using the worldly influences that were already there, Balaam seduced God’s people to sin. It wasn’t a direct attack by an army. Instead it was a different kind of attack, a more subtle one.
The Nicolaitans also taught license, which led to sexual immorality as well.
The church at Pergamum was facing the same types of attacks and seduction. Some were tolerating sexual immorality. The world was infiltrating the church. It wasn’t a direct, visible onslaught. Satan’s method of attack against this church was not primarily aimed at getting people to deny their faith, at least not right off. Instead he hoped to get them sinning and lusting after the world. Once that was accomplished, they would be vulnerable to even more attacks.
Sexual immorality is one of the top methods of temptation Satan uses against the church. And it is sadly often successful. Many well-known church leaders have fallen prey to these attacks.
The text is clear. Jesus is not happy with any type of sexual immorality. He says He is going to “war against them” if they don’t repent.
All types of sexual temptation assail against the church. Fornication, adultery, divorce and remarriage for all types of unscriptural reasons, and pornography are all not only prevalent but widely accepted in Western culture.
Application: As believers, we must stand strong against these temptations. We must understand that we are in a war. These are weapons of the enemy. We can’t surrender or give in. The battle first takes place in our mind. And every time lustful thoughts pop up, we must attack them. We cannot be complacent because it is war. Take every thought captive to Christ, both the wrong way of thinking which infiltrates the church and our own minds, which if we are not careful will allow themselves to be convinced by what the world is selling.
The world says for example about pornography, “you are not hurting anyone so it’s ‘OK.’” You are hurting someone. The pornography industry objectifies and hurts women. It promotes sex trafficking and child trafficking. It destroys lives. It corrupts your mind and hurts your relationships. It will rob you of intimacy in your own marriage. And it will prevent you from having a healthy view and healthy relationships with the opposite sex.
And what is more, it grieves the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 – Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
So you must be proactive in fighting the battle for purity.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Being proactive means guarding your heart. Victory is found at the cross. Jesus knows the temptation you face. And He will help you win. He already won at the cross. Rely on Jesus. Come back to the cross day after day after day. Continuously pray that He will transform your mind and your desires. And He will give victory.
Reflect: What are some practical ways you can guard the purity of yourselves and your family?
IV. Counsel and Warning (16)
- What counsel did Jesus give this church?
- What warning does Jesus to them?
- Who is the “them” that Jesus was going to war against?
- How might He use the sword of His mouth to war against them?
1.Therefore repent – Jesus’ counsel is simple and clear. All people who have allowed themselves to be soiled by the world, should repent. Repentance means turning away from that lifestyle. No matter what you have done in the past, God is forgiving. If you turn to Him, He will forgive you. And He will help set you free from the sin which entangles you (1 Corinthians 10:13, Hebrews 12:1-2).
2.If not, I will come to you and war against them with the sword of My mouth – Here is a strong warning for those who don’t repent. Jesus will come and wage war against them. His words will be the weapons. These are people in the church. They know the Bible. They know the truth. They know the warnings against sexual immorality. And His words which they are so familiar with will be the very ones to convict them for their sin. Scripture itself will be the basis for their punishment because they knew the right thing to do and did it not.
It is a strong warning, and one we would do well to heed. You don’t want Jesus to come to war against you!
Application: Don’t be a friend of the world!
James 4:4 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
When a person gives in to a worldly way of thinking about sex, he is making himself an enemy of God. Repent and come to Jesus for help. He is kind and compassionate. He will help you.
V. Promise (17)
- How can you develop an ear that is sensitive to the Spirit?
- What does this church specifically need to conquer?
- How could a person wage war against sexual immorality in their own life?
- What is the “hidden manna?”
- What type of message do you think is written on the white stone?
- What does this personal message show us about Jesus and our relationship to Him?
John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1.He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches – Spend some time in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you as to how you need to apply this passage. Be sensitive to His leading and make the appropriate changes.
2.To the one who conquers – In this passage, we see that believers need to conquer temptation, specifically sexual immorality. We can only conquer through Christ. There is no other way.
Then we see two promises for those who do conquer.
3.I will give some of the hidden manna –
John 6:31-35 – Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
The hidden manna is likely a reference to Christ Himself as the Bread of Life. The world cannot satisfy a person’s hunger. People chase sex as a way to pursue happiness, but it does not satisfy. Those who pursue it the world’s way are left feeling empty, guilty, and ashamed, more desperate and lonely than they were at the beginning.
Jesus is the only one who satisfies. He can fill us up in a way that the world cannot. The void that has existed in people’s heart since the time of Adam and Eve will be filled with His love.
4.I will give him a white stone – The stone is the medium for the name that is given from Jesus to the overcomer. A stone may denote the permanence of this message. The one who receives such a message from Jesus can keep it is a keepsake forever.
Here we see that Jesus longs for a personal relationship with each person. He didn’t just die for the world in general, but He died for you and for me. Attention is given to each individual because He cares for us as individuals.
What a special day that will be when we receive a customized message from our Lord Himself! And it will be so personal that no one else is allowed to even see or know it.
But only those who overcome receive it.
Application: Next time you are tempted by the world, remember these promises. Jesus will either wage war against you or bless you with the manna (spiritual food) and the white stone (a personal relationship). Which do you want?
7 Churches Of Revelation E-Book Study – If this study is helpful, you can download our letters to the 7 churches study in PDF or other E-book versions.
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