The church of Pergamos had a heart for the most part that was in the right place with Jesus Christ but outwardly they compromised with the world system and it caused many problems.
(12) "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges; (13) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (14) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. (16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (17) He that hast an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saying he that receiveth it." Revelation 2:12-17.
There were three worldly problems with the city of Pergamos. They had to much political power, pagan worship covered the city and their academic empathies was so strong that at one of their universities they had 200,000 books.
Once again Caesar worship was very popular and it was the law that everybody had to offer incense to the emperor and actually make a verbal conformation that he was lord. I will quote verses in the next paragraph to show you how the devil was copying Jesus Christ with incense and worship. In this case the human just happened to be Caesar. When we know the original we will never be deceived by the counterfeit.
The book of Revelation tells us that when we pray to God our prayers go to the throne room of God and a sweet smelling incense is made because of our sincerity and earnestly to God. (3) "And another angel came and stood at the alter, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden alter which was before the throne. (4) And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." Revelation 8:3-4.
A saint is a born again Christian. "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." 1 Corinthians 1:2. The Corinthian church did almost everything wrong yet Paul referred to them as saints.
The devil can not think of anything original on his own. We give adoration to Jesus Christ. We don't worship any sinful human being. What added insult to injury was Caesar was nothing but flawed in his character.
In all of the seven churches Jesus gives a description of Himself based on who the church was at the very core of their heart as a body of believers. With the fellowship of Pergamos our Lord describes Himself as having a sharp sword with two edges. There are other verses in the Bible that explain this is a discernment of the thoughts and motives of people. Let me quote one verse that is the most descriptive. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.
Pergamos was in the very heart of where the throne of Satan was and the Son of God who knows everything understood their sufferings and temptations because they were surrounded by a Satanic religion.
Our Lord likes to praise His children if there is commendation. The Pergamos church did boldly proclaim Jesus Christ and I am sure they received opposition even in the midst of danger. There were Christians in this church that were martyred but unfortunately that is what happens when you stand up for truth in an overwhelmingly pagan society that hates God.
There was one martyr that Jesus Himself commends and this man also was written in a couple of history books probably because he came back with such a one liner that nobody could forget what he said to the people that challenged him.
His name was Antipas and I can only assume that a couple of unbelievers did not like something he said/did but in all honesty in studying the culture he probably did not show up for his quota to declare that Caesar was lord. The Roman officers brought him to a statue of this evil man. They had the nerve to tell him that he had to proclaim he was God. Satan always has his servants to do his biding for him.
First Antipas boldly proclaimed that Jesus Christ alone is Lord. Let me just say that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God and when I see these so called messiah figures come along it personally makes me physically sick to my stomach. In our modern day people scream at rock stars in adoration, false politicians that are against Jesus Christ often times get extremely high ratings and even worship. Society for the most part sees this as normal and they just go about their daily routine but I take this very personal because this anti God pagan worship is the antitheist of keeping a devotion to Jesus Christ.
Antipas said Jesus Christ is God. Good for him because he stood up for the truth. One of the Romans that was in charge of this particular duty asked Antipas a question which was, "Antipas, don't you know that the whole world is against you?" He responded, "Then Antipas is against the whole world."
He was placed in a brass bull which heated up really hot as time progressed and Antipas of course died a martyrs death for Jesus Christ. He was an unknown man in history but will be heavily rewarded in heaven. It is not my intention to forget the other martyrs in the church of Pergamos but Jesus Christ did single him out.
Although the church of Pergamos was very convicted for Jesus Christ their downfall was compromise with the world. Their heart was in the right place but their behavior was bad. Usually it is the other way around.
They tolerated two teachings that were of the devil. The teachings of Balaam enticed Christians to fall into sexual sin with women. The teachings of the Nicolaitans overlapped Greek philosophy which is somewhat similar to the new age movement in our day. The premise is that people are inherently good which does not match the Bible. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. We are not inherently good because our sins need to be dealt with through the blood of Jesus Christ when we repent to God. The teaching also said that the material part is inherently evil. Money is only a medium of exchange. This in and of itself is not evil. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:10.
This teaching also taught that sexual sin did not effect the spirit and the Christians in the Pergamos church were to go to pagan temples. As we can see there was good and bad in this church and Jesus addressed them both. The good was they had a heart for Jesus Christ but the bad was compromise with the world.
Our Lord did have some things to say about this compromise because no sin can be committed in thought or deed without it effecting our fellowship with Jesus Christ. He told them to repent or He would fight the Pergamos church with the sword of His Word. Our Christian life often boils down to repentance before God through Jesus Christ. If there is no confession Jesus Christ Himself will step in and deal with His children through circumstances.
I believe the people in the Pergamos church were sincere and willing to change the bad to good through Jesus Christ. I like when our Lord said ... "To him that overcometh I will give him a white stone" ... which closely resembles the culture of that day. If a person went to court and was found innocent they were often given a white stone. As we can see God wanted this church to have acceptance and victory in Jesus Christ without being guilty in compromising with the world which lead many of the Christians into sin.
This is the third church out of seven and it is prophetically applicable to the time frame 312 A.D to 590 A.D. During this era the church merged with the state. Persecution did stop for the most part because Constantine made Christianity the official religion of this empire. Although his intentions may have been good believers in Jesus Christ committed spiritual adultery with the Roman Empire. As a result a great many Christians committed sin and became impure before God.
For those of you that do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord repent of your sins today/tonight and invite the Son of God into your heart. As we look around our world we see a lot of pagan statues and rituals that is straight from the devil. Determine that you are going to have a heart for Jesus Christ but don't compromise with the world because it is only going to lead into sin which will cause you to be impure. If we fall into sin we need to confess because, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.