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Lesson #08

RETURN TO SYLLABUS

REVELATION 2:12-17
LESSON #08
THE INDULGED CHURCH – PERGAMOS

  • MEMORY VERSE: 1JOH 5:5
  • READ REV 2:12-17 PERGAMOS
    • BACKGROUND:
      • NAME, PERGAMOS, MEANS “ELEVATED TO MARRIAGE” OR “BIGAMY/POLYGAMY”
        • THIS MEANING INDICATES THE MARRIAGE OF THE CHURCH TO THE WORLD.
      • ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE:
        • PERGAMOS WAS A VERY WEALTHY CITY
        • IT HAD A LIBRARY OF 200,000 VOLUMES WHICH WAS LATER GIVEN BY ANTHONY TO CLEOPATRA.
      • RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE:
        • THIS CITY WAS A PROVINCIAL CAPITAL, SO IT WAS THE SEAT OF EMPEROR WORSHIP WITH A TEMPLE DEDICATED TO AUGUSTUS. IT WAS THE CENTER OF 4 OF THE GREATEST PAGAN CULTS: ZEUS, ATHENA, DIONYSUS, ASKLEPIOUS
          • ASKLEPIOUS WAS THE GOD OF HEALING AND WAS HONORED HERE WITH A GREAT MEDICAL SCHOOL WHOSE COLLEGE OF MEDICAL PRIESTS WAS ASSOCIATED WITH THE WORSHIP OF THIS GOD. THE IDOL OF ASKLEPIOS WAS SHAPED LIKE A SERPENT, A SYMBOL STILL USED FOR THE MEDICAL PROFESSION TODAY.
            • PERGAMUS WAS THE LUXURY HEALTH SPA OF ITS DAY.
            • THE ACROPOLIS HAD A GIANT ALTAR TO ZEUS.
              • A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THAT WAS AN ELEGANT TEMPLE TO THE GODDESS ATHENA.
        • THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN PERGAMOS:
          • NOTHING IS KNOWN ABOUT THE CHURCH THERE OTHER THAN WHAT IS HERE IN REVELATION.
            • THE CHURCH ENVIRONMENT:
              • THIS CHURCH IS IN A DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENT. THIS IS WHERE SATAN’S THRONE DWELLS (13).
                • SATAN IS NOT ONLY PRESENT BUT HE “DWELLS” HERE. THE WORD “DWELLS” MEANS TO HAVE A PERMANENT ABIDING RESIDENCE.
                  • SATAN IS THE GOD OF THIS WORLD SYSTEM. HE DWELLS HERE AND HE IS RULING AS INFERRED FROM THE WORD “THRONE”.
                  • THIS MAY BE A REFERENCE TO THE GIANT ALTAR TO ZEUS ELEVATED 800 FEET FROM THE PLAIN BELOW AND VISIBLE FOR MILES.
                  • THIS MAY REFER TO ASKLEPIOS AND THE SERPENT IMAGE.
                  • THIS MAY REFER TO THE BABYLONIAN RELIGION THAT CAN BE TRACED BACK TO BAAL WORSHIP IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THAT WAS MOVED HERE AND EMBODIED IN THE FOUR PREVAILING CULTS.
          • BY THE END OF THE SECOND CENTURY AD, PERGAMUS HAD BECOME AN IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN CENTER. THE TEMPLE OF SERAPIS, DEDICATED TO EGYPTIAN GODS, WAS CONVERED TO A CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
      • THE PROPHETIC HISTORICAL PERIOD:
        • THE INDULGED CHURCH OF CONSTANTINE 312-606 AD.
          • WHEN EMPEROR DIOCLETIAN DIED IN 305, THE SUCCESSION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE WAS IN DISPUTE. ON THE NIGHT BEFORE A BATTLE, CONSTANTINE, THE LEADER OF ONE ARMY, HAD A DEMONIC VISION OF A FLAMING CROSS IN THE SKY WITH THE LATIN WORDS “BY THIS SIGN CONQUER”. CONSTANTINE WON THE BATTLE MAKING A BARGAIN WITH THE DEMONIC POWERS AND BECAME EMPEROR. IN 312 CONSTANTINE ORDERED ALL CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION TO STOP AND THAT ALL HEATHEN TEMPLES BE CONVERTED TO CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. CHRISTIANITY BECAME THE STATE RELIGION AND BY LAW EVERYONE HAD TO PROFESS TO BE A CHRISTIAN OR LOSE HIS JOB. INFANT BAPTISM WAS REQUIRED BY LAW. NAMES OF THE PAGAN TEMPLES WERE MODIFIED TO REFLECT NAMES OF CHRISTIAN SAINTS. APOLLO WAS CHANGED TO ST. APOLLINARIS. THE NAMES OF PAGAN GODS ON STONE IDOLS WERE CHANGED TO THE NAMES OF CHRISTIAN SAINTS. A COIN FROM CONSTANTINE’S REIGN HAD ON ONE SIDE THE PAGAN GODS AND ON THE OTHER SIDE CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS. PAGAN FEAST DAYS WERE CONVERTED TO CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS MAINTAINING SOME OF THE SEMBLANCES OF PAGAN SYMBOLISM. FOR EXAMPLE EASTER AND CHRISTMAS WERE ESTABLISHED ON PAGAN HOLIDAYS.
          • IN 325 AD, THE COUNCIL OF NICEA ARGUED THE DEITY OF CHRIST. THEY DECIDED THAT CHRIST AND GOD THE FATHER ARE EQUAL.
          • MANY RELIGIOUS PRACTICES THAT EXIST IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TODAY TRACE THEIR BEGINNINGS TO THIS TIME PERIOD.
  • THE INSTITUTION OF RELIGIOUS PRACTICES INCORPORATED FROM PAGANISM
300 AD PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD
300 AD MAKING THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
375 AD WORSHIP OF SAINTS AND ANGELS
394 AD MASS FIRST INSTITUTED
431 AD WORSHIP OF MARY BEGAN
500 AD PRIESTS BEGIN DRESSING DIFFERENT FROM LAYMEN
519 AD DECREE FOR OBSERVANCE OF EASTER AND LENT
526 AD EXTREME UNCTION
593 AD DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY INTRODUCED
600 AD WORSHIP SERVICES CONDUCTED IN LATIN
600 AD PRAYERS DIRECTED TO MARY
  • THE MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH:
    • CHRIST REVEALED:
      • HE HAS A “SHARP SWORD WITH 2 EDGES” (12) = THE WORD OF GOD IS THE ONLY MEANS OF DIVIDING BETWEEN SPIRITUAL THINGS AND WORLDLY THINGS.
        • READ 2TIM 2:15 AND HEB 4:12
          • 2 EDGES = JUDGMENT AND MERCY
            • CHRIST IS THE WORD OF AUTHORITY.
            • CHRIST IS SYMBOLIZED IN JUDGMENT HERE IN REV 2 WHEN HE SPEAKS THE WORD OF JUDGMENT DIVIDING TRUTH.
    • THE COMMENDATION: (13)
      • GOOD WORKS
      • HELD FAST CHRIST’S NAME
        • THIS IMPLIES THAT THE CHIEF BATTLEGROUND WAS THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
          • A NAME REFERS TO ONE’S CHARACTER AND ONE’S ESSENTIAL NATURE.
        • NOT DENIED THE FAITH
          • THEY DID NOT FAIL UNDER PERSECUTION. IN SOME CITIES EMPEROR WORSHIP PREVAILED AND NON-WORSHIPERS WERE PERSECUTED ONLY ON THE EMPEROR’S BIRTHDAY. HOWEVER, IN THIS CITY OF PERGAMOS PERSECUTION WAS YEAR ROUND.
            • A PERSON NAMED ANTIPAS WAS MARTYRED HERE. HIS NAME MEANS = AGAINST ALL, WHICH SUGGESTS HE HAD TO STAND ALONE FOR HIS FAITH. TRADITION SAYS HE WAS ROASTED IN A BRAZEN BOWL UNTIL DEAD.
      • THE CORRECTION:
        • “THESE THINGS AGAINST YOU” (14)
          • IN THE LETTER TO EPHESUS, IT WAS “THIS” AGAINST YOU INDICATING ONE BAD CHARACTERISTIC IN THE EPHESUS CHURCH. IN THIS CHURCH IN PERGAMOS, THE LIST IS LONGER INDICATED BY THE WORDS, “THESE THINGS”.
            • THEY HAVE 2 FALSE DOCTRINES:
              • THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM (NUM 22-25)
                • READ NUM 22:2-6,12 AND NUM 25:1-3
                  • BALAAM TAUGHT THAT PEOPLE SHOULD INTERMARRY WITH THE HEATHEN AND COMPROMISE IN THE MATTER OF IDOLATROUS WORSHIP AND THUS DWELL IN THE WORLD WHERE SATAN’S THRONE IS.
                  • THIS DOCTRINE IS SAID TO BE A STUMBLING BLOCK = A TRAP, SPECIFICALLY THE PLACE IN THE TRAP WHERE BAIT WAS SET.
              • DOCTRINE OF NICOLAITANS
                • IN EPHESUS, THEY HATED THE DEEDS OF THE NICOLAITANS, BUT IN THIS CHURCH IN PERGAMOS THEY HOLD THE DOCTRINE. IN OTHER WORDS THEY TEACH IT. WHAT IS THIS DOCTRINE?
                  • THE WORD, NICOLAITAN, HAS TWO PARTS. “NIKO” WHICH MEANS = TO CONQUER, AND “LAITY” WHICH MEANS = THE PEOPLE.
                  • THIS WAS A GROUP WHO TRIED TO SEPARATE LAYMEN FROM THE CLERGY OF HOLY MEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF POWER. THEY CLAIMED TO BE CHRISTIANS BUT LIVED IMMORAL UNCLEAN LIVES BELIEVING THAT THE BODY AND SPIRIT OF MAN WERE SEPARATE AND WHAT YOU DID TO THE BODY HAD NO EFFECT ON THE SPIRIT. (GNOSTICISM).
                • READ REV 2:15
                  • WHAT WAS “DEEDS” IN EPHESUS BECAME “DOCTRINE” IN PERGAMOS.
                • THIS DOCTRINE DESTROYS THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF THE “BODY” OF CHRIST AS A UNIT WITH EACH PERSON MINISTERING TO OTHERS.
      • THE COUNSEL:
        • REPENT OR CHRIST COMES QUICKLY TO FIGHT AGAINST YOU (16)
          • THE WORD, “QUICKLY”, MAY REFER TO THE EVENT OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AS THE ILLUSTRATION OF JESUS IN THIS PASSAGE IS HE THAT COMES IN JUDGMENT.
          • THE BELIEVERS WILL SUFFER IF THEY DO NOT DEAL WITH THESE FALSE DOCTRINES.
      • THE CHALLENGE:
        • “EAT THE HIDDEN MANNA”
          • THE WORD, “HIDDEN” MEANS = WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW NOW BUT WILL BE REVEALED LATER.
          • THE WORD “HIDDEN” MAY BE CONTRASTED TO WHAT ANTHROPOLOGY CALLS THE “MYSTERY” CULTS. THESE CULTS HAD HIDDEN KNOWLEDGE THAT ONE MUST MASTER TO GET TO GOD.
            • THE FOUR PAGAN RELIGIONS IN PERGAMOS HAD THEIR SECRET MYSTERIES OF KNOWLEDGE.
          • MANNA REFERS TO:
            • GOD’S WILDERNESS PROVISION FOR THE ISRAELITES.
            • THE POT OF MANNA HIDDEN IN THE ARK OF THE COVENANT.
            • JESUS CHRIST IN JOH 6:48-51.
              • CHRIST IS THE BREAD OF LIFE, AS OPPOSED TO THE MEAT OFFERED TO IDOLS.
        • “WHITE STONE” =
          • INTERPRETATIONS:
            • IN A COURTROOM SETTING A WHITE STONE WAS USED TO ISSUE A VERDICT OF NOT GUILTY, A BLACK STONE TO INDICATE GUILTY
            • STONES WERE USED AS COUNTERS IN CALCULATIONS SO HERE IT INDICATES THOSE WHO ARE COUNTED WORTHY TO ENTER THE KINGDOM.
            • IN PERGAMUS, PAGANS USED STONE AMULETS TO GAIN POWER. THESE AMULETS CONTAINED THE NAME OF A PATRON GOD. FOR BELIEVERS, GOD’S NAME AND POWER IS A NEW RESOURCE.
            • THE PRACTICE IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE GAVE FREE DOLES OF BREAD AND FREE ADMISSION TO ENTERTAINMENTS. THE TICKETS WERE IN THE FORM OF WHITE STONES WITH THE PERSON’S NAME ON IT. THE VICTORS OF CERTAIN ENTERTAINMENT GAMES WERE REWARDED WITH WHITE STONES HAVING THEIR NAMES IMPRINTED AS A TICKET TO A VICTORY FEAST. THIS LIKENESS MAY MEAN THE OVERCOMING VICTOR IS REWARDED WITH A TICKET TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB WHERE CHRIST, OUR MANNA, WILL FEED US
          • “NEW NAME” = IT DOES NOT IMPLY NEW FROM THE STANDPOINT IN TIME, BUT INSTEAD NEW IN QUALITY OR ESSENTIAL NATURE. THE NAME MAY BE A NAME GIVEN TO YOU INCORPORATING YOUR NAME WITH CHRIST’S INDICATING THE QUALITY OF AN ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP AND ONE THAT PERFECTLY REFLECTS YOU INDIVIDUALLY. (SEE REV 3:12)
      • THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF THIS CHURCH:
        • WORLD COMPROMISED
      • PERGAMOS TODAY:
        • A SMALL VILLAGE, NOW CALLED BERGAMA, IS NOW LOCATED NEAR THE RUINS OF THE OLD CITY. THERE IS A NOMINAL CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY CONTINUING UNTIL NOW.
      • THE CHURCH IN RELATIONSHIP TO A KINGDOM PARABLE:
        • THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD TREE AND BIRDS (MAT 13:31-32)
          • THE TRUE CHURCH STARTED SMALL AND GREW RAPIDLY BUT BECAME MORE CONCERNED WITH BUILDING THE LARGE INSTITUTION BY WORLDLY COMPROMISE IN WHICH SATAN IS PRESENT AND WORKING IN ORDER TO STOP THE TRUE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL THAT WOULD SAVE PEOPLE.
        • DISCUSSION: HOW DO YOU THINK THIS PARABLE APPLIES TO YOU AND YOUR CHURCH?
  • APPLICATION:
    • HOW TO BE AN OVERCOMER: #3 STAND FAST ON TRUTH NO MATTER WHAT.
    • REVIEW:
      • THE PROPHETIC ASPECT OF PREDICTIVE PROPHECY IN THESE FIRST THREE CHURCHES:
        • 30-100 AD APOSTOLIC CHURCH — EPHESUS
          • THEY HAD A STRONG DOCTRINE BUT THEY LACKED LOVE.
        • 100-312 AD PERSECUTED CHURCH — SMYRNA
          • PAUL WAS BEHEADED 54-68 AD
          • JOHN WAS EXILED 81-96 AD
          • IGNATIUS WAS BURNED AT THE STAKE 98-117 AD
          • POLYCARP WAS BURNED AT THE STAKE 138-161 AD
        • 312-606 AD INDULGED CHURCH – PERGAMOS
        • SATAN CHANGED HIS TACTICS FROM PERSECUTION TO COMPROMISE WITH THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS.
  • PERSONAL APPLICATION:
    • WHAT KINDS OF COMPROMISE DO YOU SEE THE CHURCH MAKING WITH THE WORLD TODAY?
      • SELF-HELP PSYCHOLOGY
      • SEEKER FRIENDLY CHURCHES THAT DO NOT PREACH SIN, DEATH TO SELF, THE SHED BLOOD OF CHRIST, ETC.
      • WORLDLY MUSIC INCORPORATED INTO MUSIC OF WORSHIP.

HOMEWORK
REVELATION 2:18-29
THIS IS A SELF-STUDY. PLEASE DO NOT SEND HOMEWORK ANSWERS TO THE TEACHER FORCORRECTION.

  • APPLICATION OF REV 2:12-17
    • WHAT ASPECTS OF WORLDLY COMPROMISE HAVE YOU INCORPORATED INTO YOUR WORSHIP OF GOD?
      • IF NOTHING IMMEDIATELY COMES TO MIND, PRAY AND ASK GOD TO REVEAL ANY AREAS THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WANTS TO CORRECT. IF, AFTER WAITING ON GOD, THE HOLY SPIRIT REVEALS SOMETHING TO YOU, ASK GOD TO FORGIVE YOU. ASK HIM TO HELP YOU KEEP YOUR WORSHIP PURE.
  • PREPARATION OF REV 2:18-29
    • READ REV 2:18-29
      • FOR BACKGROUND, READ THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES AND WRITE THE CHARACTERISTICS YOU FIND CONCERNING JEZEBEL.
        • 1KIN 16:31-33
        • 1KIN 18:1-4
        • 1KIN 21
        • 2KIN 9
  • MEMORY VERSE: REV 2:26

 

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About Joyce

Joyce
I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1963 giving my heart to Jesus in a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, CA. I have been teaching the Word of God since 1964, Usually two to three adult classes a week.

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