Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:7-13, Philadelphia


“the city of him who loves his brother”

Revelation 3:7-13


And write unto the Angel of the Church which is of Philadelphia, These things saith he that is Holy, and True, which hath the key of David, which openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth.

8 I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my Name.

9 Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, which call themselves Jews, and are not, but do lie: behold, I say, I will make them that they shall come and worship before thy feet, and shall know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, therefore I will deliver thee from the hour of tentation [temptation], which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come shortly: hold that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12 Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the Name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new Name.

13 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 

Rosa gallica purpuro-violacea magna, a painted engraving of a rose by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840).

The Church at Philadelphia –

the church of the city of him who loves his brother –

Pleasing Jesus,

hearing His commendation,

and receiving His certain and blessed promises.



International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or ‘inkwells’; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Roman poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st century. A.D. was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, ‘the city of God,’ but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of ‘Little Athens’ because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. . . As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. . .

E. J. Bank


The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“Christ addresses the church of Philadelphia as the One whose words are from ‘him who is holy and true’ (7a). ‘Who is like you – majestic in holiness?’ (Exod 15:11) ‘There is no one holy like the LORD’ (1 Sam 2:2). ‘He who is holy and true’ is a clear affirmation of the Deity of Jesus. The absolute holiness of Christ indicates that He is set apart as God from all imperfection and moral evil. As holy, His authority is unblemished and His promises sure. 

“Jesus walks among the churches as one who holds the keys to David’s theocratic kingdom. The concept is covenant-oriented. Jesus is the true Davidic king and the fulfillment of the theocratic kingship by which God rules over the hearts of believing men. He absolutely controls their destiny regardless of Satan’s opposing forces which have invaded the evil world, even at times Christ’s church, as at Philadelphia. 

“Because Christ holds the keys, the same keys He delegated to Peter and the Apostles (Matt 16:19; 18:18), He opened the door of opportunity to His church to be Christ’s servant and messenger to the world. As Pergamum is the gateway to Phrygia, so every local church placed by Christ has neighboring peoples who need the Gospel. Philadelphia was not a strong church but, in the face of opposition and with the enablement of the Spirit of God, they had remained faithful. They had not denied their Lord. There is no higher calling of the church of Jesus Christ in any circumstance than to obey the Word of God. With obedience there is ultimate victory and vindication.

“Christ is coming soon! Though the original readers in the Philadelphia church didn’t live to witness that event, their next moment of consciousness beyond death will witness Christ in his glory and introduce them into the blessed age to come (1 Cor 15:18-23; 1 Thess 4:15). Then they with us will be made perfect (Heb 11:39), and we will be crowned with life and immortality, for ‘our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:20).”


Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“An Open Door, which None Can Shut”, 3:8

“God had warned the churches of Ephesus and Sardis against boasting of their influential standing. Here, He cautions the Church in Philadelphia not to be discouraged because they are a nobody; for God is not dependent on worldly prestige.”

“Kept from Trial”, 3:10

“The Church in Smyrna had been told that they were to Suffer Persecution (2:10). Here, to the Church in Philadelphia, the promise is to Keep them from Suffering (3:10). Both Faithful Churches, God does not deal with all in the same way, but with each as He Himself knows best, beyond our understanding till we reach the other shore.”


Greek study for Revelation 3:10

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 3

Verse 10

Patience (υπομενηςhupomenēs). “Endurance” as in Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12 as also in 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Thou didst keep (ετηρησαςetērēsas) – I also will keep (καγω τηρησωkagō tērēsō). Aorist active indicative and future active corresponding to each other. For a like play on the tenses of this verb by Christ see John 17:6 (τετηρηκανtetērēkan), John 17:11 (τηρησονtērēson), John 17:12 (ετηρουνetēroun). From the hour of trial (εκ της ωρας του πειρασμουek tēs hōras tou peirasmou). This use of εκek after τηρεωtēreō in John 17:15, αποapo in James 1:27. Trial brings temptation often (James 1:2, James 1:13). Jesus endured (Hebrews 12:1.) and he will help them. There is still a church in Philadelphia in spite of the Turks. Which is to come (της μελλουσης ερχεσταιtēs mellousēs erchesthai). Agreeing with ωραςhōras (feminine), not with πειρασμουpeirasmou (masculine). Upon the whole world (επι της εποικουμενης οληςepi tēs epoikoumenēs holēs). The inhabited earth (γηςgēs) as in Revelation 12:9; Luke 2:1; Acts 16:6, etc.), not the physical earth, but the world of men as explained by the next clause. To try (πειρασαιpeirasai). First aorist active infinitive of purpose from πειραζωpeirazō probably to tempt (cf. the demons in 9:1-21), not merely to afflict (Revelation 2:10). That dwell upon the earth (τους κατοικουντας επι της γηςtous katoikountas epi tēs gēs). Present active articular participle of κατοικεωkatoikeō explaining “the whole world” just before.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Philadelphia is a little south of the center of the province.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.


Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon's Message Board.

Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.



Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:1-6, Sardis


Revelation 3:1-6


1 And write unto the Angel of the Church which is at Sardis, These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, I know thy works: for thou hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead.

2 Be awake, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy work perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou wilt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Notwithstanding thou hast a few names yet in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, shall be clothed in white array, and I will not put out his Name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels.

6 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.


Ephesians 5:14

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


The message to the Angel of the Church at Sartis contains a statement that leads to a troubling question: Can someone who is born again, in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells, have their name blotted out of the Book of Life? Here is help to answer this:

A problem has arisen in the minds of some. If the Lord states that He will not blot out the name of the overcomer from the book of life, does this not mean that other names can be blotted out of the book of life? In other words, does this verse not teach that it is possible for one who has really been born again to lose his salvation?. . . The problem will disappear when we realize the principle of Scriptural interpretation that no obscure passage should ever be quoted in contradiction to a clear line of Scriptural teaching for which there are plain statements and great masses of teaching.

Life in the Scripture is eternal life. Salvation is eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). This is the only kind of life and salvation the Scriptures know anything about. 

REVELATION: An Expository Commentary, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Zondervan, 1971

I’m grateful for light on this passage. The message to Sardis not only contains this difficulty but it is sad, or rather, somber. Do you agree that it is? May the Lord help us to live in the light of eternity and to let go of this world which is passing away!


Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“. . . Sardis was famous for arts and crafts, and was the first center to mint gold and silver coinage. So wealthy were the Lydian kings, that  Croesus became a legend for riches, and it was said that the sands of the Pactolus were golden. Croesus also became a legend for pride and presumptuous arrogance, when his attack on Persia led to the fall of Sardis and the eclipse of his kingdom. The capture of the great citadel by surprise attack by Cyrus and his Persians in 549 B.C., and three centuries later by the Romans, may have provided the imagery for John’s warning in Revelation 3:3. The great earthquake of 17 A.D. ruined Sardis physically and financially. The Romans contributed 10,000,000 sesterces in relief, an indication of the damage done, but the city never recovered.”



International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“Sardis is of special interest to the student of Herodotus and Xenophon, for there Artaphernes, the brother of Darius, lived, and from there Xerxes invaded Greece and Cyrus marched against his brother Artaxerxes. . . It was moreover one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor, and until 549 BC, the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. It stood on the northern slope of Mt. Tmolus; its acropolis occupied one of the spurs of the mountain. At the base flowed the river Pactolus which served as a moat, rendering the city practically impregnable. Through the failure to watch, however, the acropolis had been successfully scaled in 549 BC by a Median soldier, and in 218 by a Cretan (compare Revelation 3:2,3). Because of its strength during the Persian period, the satraps here made their homes. However, the city was burned by the Ionians in 501 BC, but it was quickly rebuilt and regained its importance. In 334 BC it surrendered to Alexander the Great who gave it independence, but its period of independence was brief, for 12 years later in 322 BC it was taken by Antigonus. In 301 BC, it fell into the possession of the Seleucidan kings who made it the residence of their governor. It became free again in 190 BC, when it formed a part of the empire of Pergamos, and later of the Roman province of Asia. In 17 AD, when it was destroyed by an earthquake, the Roman emperor Tiberius remitted the taxes of the people and rebuilt the city, and in his honor the citizens of that and of neighboring towns erected a large monument, but Sardis never recovered its former importance (compare Revelation 3:12). Again in 295 AD, after the Roman province of Asia was broken up, Sardis became the capital of Lydia, and during the early Christian age it was the home of a bishop. The city continued to flourish until 1402, when it was so completely destroyed by Tamerlane that it was never rebuilt. Among the ruins there now stands a small village called Sert, a corruption of its ancient name . . .”

E. J. Banks


IVP New Testament Commentaries

The Message to Sardis

“. . . The message to Sardis lists no specific enemies, internal or external. There is no name calling – no liars, no Balaam or Jezebel, no deep secrets of Satan, no synagogue of Satan, no throne of Satan. Consequently, of all the congregations in Asia, we know least about Sardis and its problems. Yet no other message is more damaging or more urgent than this one. . .

“[Sardis’s] greatest days were behind it, but. . . was still, under Roman rule, an important center of the woolen industry. Abundant archaeological remains include a temple to Artemis, a huge gymnasium and the largest synagogue yet found in the ancient world, suggesting a Jewish community numbering in the thousands (Finegan 1981:177-78). A sermon of Melito, a Christian bishop at Sardis, entitled On the Passover (see Hawthorne 1975:147-75), testifies to a spirited, sometimes bitter, debate with this Jewish community in the second century. Yet as far as we are told, the problem of the congregation in John’s time was not with the Jews, nor with the Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy, but solely with itself. . .

You are dead (v. 1) is a dramatic way of saying “you are spiritually asleep” (compare Eph 5:14), for the angel is then told, Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die (v. 2). The call to awake, and to remember, obey and repent (v. 3) assumes the real possibility of change. Yet the milder-sounding words that follow, I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God (v. 2), are deliberately understated, implying that the angel’s works are unacceptable to God, and therefore a failure (Beckwith 1922: 474; compare Dan 5:27, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting”). . .

“The message to Sardis reveals nothing definite about the church’s predicament beyond the fact that it is about to die. Only the metaphorical reference to those few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes (v. 4) offers a possible clue. They are promised that they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy (v. 4), a promise immediately reinforced by a word to those who ‘overcome,’ who will, like them, be dressed in white, whose names will not be blotted from the book of life, but rather acknowledged before my Father and his angels (v. 5; compare Mt 10:32-33 par. Lk 12:8-9). At Sardis, clearly, the few who had not soiled their garments were the ‘overcomers.’

“. . . It is likely that the problem at Sardis was a strong tendency to compromise Christian faith for the sake of conformity to social and cultural standards set by Asian society and the Roman Empire. This spirit of compromise was linked not to one particular faction in the Christian community (as at Pergamum and Thyatira) but to the majority. The ones who had not soiled their clothes had become marginalized. They were the small faction. This explains the severe tone of the message, but it is impossible to be more specific as to the exact nature of the compromises made at Sardis.”

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copywrite Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon's Message Board -

Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copyright: Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon’s Message Board.

Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:18-29 – Thyatira


Revelation 2:18-29


18  And unto the Angel of the Church which is at Thyatira write, These things saith the Son of God, which hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass.

19 I know thy works and thy love, and service and faith, and thy patience, and thy works, and that they are more at the last, than at the first.

20 Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to deceive my servants, to make them commit fornication and to eat meat sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit fornication with her, into great affliction, except they repent them of their works.

23 And I will kill her children with death, and all the Churches shall know that I am he which search the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according unto your works.

24 And unto you I say, the rest of them of Thyatira, As many as have not this learning, neither have known the deepness of Satan (as they speak) I will put upon you none other burden,

25 But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.

26 For he that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over nations.

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and as the vessels of a potter, shall they be broken:

28 Even as I received of my Father, so will I give him the morning Star.

29 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.


I’ve tried to find solid information relating to the message to “the Angel of the church which is at Thyatira.” Please forgive any repetition of significant facts.

The letter to this assembly is the longest of the seven. In it, the Lord condemns a woman who claims to be a prophetess and whom He calls “Jezebel”. The original Jezebel was the foreign-born queen of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who destroyed the true prophets of the Lord, had Naboth denounced, condemned, and stoned, and was in the end herself destroyed. The name of Jezebel is forever linked with idolatry and murder.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897)

“Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel. She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God. . . passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship. . .”

The deadly alliance of Ahab and Jezebel

1 Kings 16

30 And Ahab the son of Omri did worse in the sight of the Lord than all that were before him. 31 For was it a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, except he took Jezebel also the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians to wife, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him? 32 Also he reared up an altar to Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove, and Ahab proceeded, and did provoke the Lord God of Israel more than all the kings of Israel that were before him. 34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his eldest son, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

 1 Kings 21

Then Jezebel his wife came unto him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money, or if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: but he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. Then Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Up, eat bread, and be of good cheer, I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. . . 25 (But there was none like Ahab, who did sell himself to work wickedness, in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife provoked. 26 For he did exceeding abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.)

Jezebel’s words were smooth, “Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread?” But under her tongue was poison.

This was her justly deserved end:

2 Kings 9:30-37

30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. 31 And as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, which slew his master? 32 And he lift up his eyes to the window, and said, Who is on my side, who? Then two or three of her Eunuchs looked unto him. 33 And he said, Cast her down: and they cast her down, and he sprinkled of her blood upon the wall, and upon the horses, and he trode her under foot. 34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Visit now yonder cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a King’s daughter. 35 And they went to bury her, but they found no more of her, than the skull and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came again and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the field of Jezreel shall the dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.37 And the carcass of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the ground in the field of Jezreel, so that none shall say, This is Jezebel.


See the source image

Artist’s conception of a true prophet of the Lord, Elijah the Tishbite, whom Jezebel tried but failed to kill.

Study helps for the message to Thyatira

Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1965, p. 69

“Thyatira was a city in the province of Asia, on the boundary of Lydia and Mysia. Thyatira has no illustrious history, and is scarcely mentioned by ancient writers. Coinage suggests that, lying as it did on a great highway linking two river valleys, Thyatira was  a garrison town over long centuries. . . The city was a center of commerce, and the records preserve references to more trade-guilds than those listed for any other Asian city. Lydia, whom Paul met in Philippi, was a Thyatiran seller of “turkey red,” the product of the madder root (Acts 16:14). It is curious to find another woman, nicknamed after the princess who sealed Ahab’s trading partnership with the Phoenicians, leading a party of compromise in the Thyatiran church (Revelation 2:20, 21). Necessity for guild membership in a trading community must have strengthened temptation to compromise. Thyatira played no significant role in the later history of the church.”


Matthew Henry’s Commentary

“. . . Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be wrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes, which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing or allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them . . .”


The Final Prophecy of Jesus:

An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“26. To him who overcomes: as in each of the letters a promise is made to the overcomer. Here only, perhaps as a reflex on the preceding verse, it is expanded with an explanatory clause, and does my will to the end (cf. 1 John 5:4, 5). The promised reward follows in two parts: first, I will give authority over the nations . . . . The Savior quotes Psalm 2:9, which addresses the Messianic rule over the nations of the world.

Thou shalt crush them with a scepter of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. – Psalm 2:9

“The participation of the saints in the power of Christ’s throne is affirmed in the apocalyptic vision of Daniel 7:27: ‘Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.’ The theme is reiterated in Revelation 5:10 and 20:4, 6. It is also found on the lips of Jesus in Matt. 19:28 and from the pen of Paul in 1 Cor. 6:2-3.   27. Christ’s use of Psa. 2:9 in Revelation 2:27 implies the authority ascribed to him in the Psalm is, as stated in Daniel, given also to the victorious saints. To rule with an iron scepter denotes absolute authority to enforce the law, such as must be ascribed to Christ and to those who rule with him. Also implied is a condition where there is a plurality of nations and where moral perfection has not yet been realized. The promise belongs to the millennial age following the ‘the end’ and the Second Advent mentioned in verses 25 and 26. . .

28. The second reward promised to the overcomer is that Christ will also give him the morning star. The ‘morning star’ is identified in chapter 22:16 by Jesus, himself, where he says, ‘I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’ The Scriptural use of the figure is anticipated by Balaam’s prophecy in Num. 24:17, ‘A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.’ . . . Here the Old Testament text, has historically found a measure of fulfillment in David, takes on Messianic significance from the Davidic Covenant which promised a Son who would come to rule perpetually on David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:12-17). So Jesus identifies Himself as ‘the Root and Offspring of David.’ The saint who is called upon to rule need not fear for Christ will be with him. Christ in his physical presence will personally be seated on his throne as king and His indwelling Spirit will fully empower those who assist Him in that (see 1 Cor. 6:2). For the Thyatiran who had not adequately disciplined ‘Jezebel’ and her followers, there was a certain irony in this promise of the iron scepter to the overcomers. It stands as a testimony to the grace of God as revealed in the Gospel as accomplished in the person of the messenger, the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Barnes’ New Testament Notes

Verse 24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira. . . he addresses now all the members of the church who were not involved in the charges already made. He does not say how large a portion of the church had escaped the contaminating influence of those opinions, but to that portion, whether great or small, he addresses only words of exhortation and comfort.

“As many as have not this doctrine. To all who have not embraced it, or been contaminated with it. It may be presumed that there was a considerable portion of the church which had not.

“And which have not known the depths of Satan. The deep art and designs of Satan. Deep things are those which are hidden from view—as of things which are far under-ground; and hence the word is used to denote mysteries, or profound designs and purposes. The allusion here is not to any trials or sufferings that Satan might bring upon any one, or to any temptations of which he might be the author, but to his profound art in inculcating error and leading men astray. . .

I will put upon you none other burden. That is, no other than that which you now experience from having these persons with you, and that which must attend the effort to purify the church. He had not approved their conduct for suffering these persons to remain in the church, and he threatens to punish all those who had become contaminated with these pernicious doctrines. He evidently designed to say that there was some token of his displeasure proper in the case, but he was not disposed to bring upon them any other expression of his displeasure than that which grew naturally and necessarily out of the fact that they had been tolerated among them, and those troubles and toils which must attend the effort to deliver the church from these errors. . . A kind Saviour says, that he would bring upon them no other, and no weightier burden, than must arise from his purpose to inflict appropriate vengeance on the guilty themselves. The trouble which would grow out of that would be a sufficient expression of his displeasure. This is, in fact, often now all that is necessary as a punishment on a church for harbouring the advocates of error and of sin. . .”


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

“Thyatira. . . stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis. . . Other names which it has borne are Pelopia and Semiramis. Before the time of Nicator the place was regarded as a holy city, for there stood the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god, Tyrimnos; about it games were held in his honor. . . Another temple at Thyatira was dedicated to Sambethe, and at this shrine was a prophetess, by some supposed to represent the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20, who uttered the sayings which this deity would impart to the worshippers.

“Thyatira was specially noted for the trade guilds. . . Every artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. . . The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place. Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to Christianity. According to Acts 19:10, Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus, but this is uncertain; yet Christianity reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early church that no Christian might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to Christianity was presented.”

E. J. Banks

Artist’s conception of Paul and Silas at Lydia’s house in Phillipi.
Lydia was from Thyatira but came to the Lord in Phillipi!


Fox’s Book of Martyrs


“The ‘beloved disciple,’ was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.”

Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:16-17 – Pergamos, the Lord’s warning of judgment and promise of blessing

Revelation 1:12-16


12 Then I turned back to see the voice that spake with me: and when I was turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks,

13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks, one like unto the son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girded about the paps with a golden girdle.

14 His head and hairs were white as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire,

15 And his feet like unto fine brass burning as in a furnace: and his voice as the sound of many waters.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword, and his face shone as the sun shineth in his strength.


1 Corinthians 13:12


16 Repent thyself, or else I will come unto thee shortly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the spirit saith unto the Churches. To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the Manna that is hid, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it.

Some thoughts

The Lord’s thoughts are infinitely higher than ours – good and righteous, altogether!

Isaiah 55:9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. 

And He gives wisdom to those who ask for it, who want to understand His words and ways and those things which please Him.

James 1:5

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, which giveth to all men liberally, and reproacheth no man, and it shall be given him. 

Also, it takes countless words for us to express what He says in a few words, swiftly – His word runs very swiftly! – and powerfully.

He knows each human heart and so can warn or promise to each. (With Him actions are weighed.) So this is what He promised to those in the church in Pergamos and to all who hear, 

To fight them with the sword of His mouth,


To reward them with the hidden manna and the white stone with a new name!

Because “now we see through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12), we can disagree in interpreting Scripture. Please don’t let this keep you from enjoying the various beautiful things people have written on this passage.

Study Helps

Overview of Revelation 2:12-17 (Pergamos)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

“The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin and sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not fear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same causes. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had not denied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way so as to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrine and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of men, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together, should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of Christ, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support. This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is the name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the believer’s soul, this new name and its real import are understood by him.”

Warning of Judgment

Holding Fast the Faith

Charles Spurgeon, sermon on Lord’s Day Morning, February 5, 1888

“Specially note, dear Friends, at the opening of this morning’s meditation the character under which the Lord Jesus Christ presents Himself to the Church at Pergamos. ‘These things says He which has the sharp sword with two edges.’ Does the Lord Jesus come to His Church in that way? Does He, at the door of the Church, bear a sword? A sword unsheathed? A sharp sword? A sharp sword with two edges? Yes, even to His visible Church this is how our Lord Jesus Christ appears. To His own spiritual and faithful ones He is to each one a husband full of unutterable tenderness and love.”

Promise of Blessing

The Hidden Manna

Arthur Pink, 1944

“. . . as the manna was the food which God supplied from Heaven for His people of old, nourishing and sustaining them throughout their wilderness journey, it must be regarded as a figure of the written Word which is the Christian’s spiritual staff of life. And since the Word of God ‘lives and abides forever’ (1 Peter 1:23), does not the ‘hidden manna’ (Revelation 2:17) point to the inexhaustible riches of Divine wisdom, which are stored up in it, and of which we have at present—but a fragmentary knowledge. We cannot think that any of that treasure will be lost to us—rather, do we conclude it will be made known and afford part of our delectation [joy, rapture, happiness] in Heaven.

“Now we know the marvels of Divine inspiration and revelation ‘in part,’ but then shall we know them in full. 2 Corinthians 12:7 shows that Heaven is the place of ‘the abundance of the revelations.’ As the risen Christ expounded the Scriptures to His disciples and opened their understandings to understand them (Luke 24:27,45), will not the glorified Savior do the same for us (Hebrews 13:8)!”

1 Peter 1

23 Being born anew, not of mortal seed, but of immortal, by the word of God, who liveth and endureth forever.


Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1965

The Hidden Manna may be the Fruit of the Tree of Life (22:2). The New Manna may stand for a form of existence that will be satisfying beyond anything we have ever known or dreamed of in this life) . . .”


Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, 1871.

Bible Study Tools

17. . . . the hidden manna–the heavenly food of Israel, in contrast to the idol-meats (Revelation 2:14 ). A pot of manna was laid up in the holy place ‘before the testimony.’ The allusion is here to this: probably also to the Lord’s discourse (John 6:31-35). Translate, ‘the manna which is hidden.’ As the manna hidden in the sanctuary was by divine power preserved from corruption, so Christ in His incorruptible body has passed into the heavens, and is hidden there until the time of His appearing. Christ Himself is the manna ‘hidden’ from the world, but revealed to the believer, so that he has already a foretaste of His preciousness. Compare as to Christ’s own hidden food on earth, John 4:32 John 4:34, and Job 23:12. The full manifestation shall be at His coming. Believers are now hidden, even as their meat is hidden. As the manna in the sanctuary, unlike the other manna, was incorruptible, so the spiritual feast offered to all who reject the world’s dainties for Christ is everlasting: an incorruptible body and life for ever in Christ at the resurrection.

31 Our fathers did eat Manna in the desert, as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you that true bread from heaven.

33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

34 Then they said unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am that bread of life: he that cometh to me, shall not hunger, and he that believeth in me, shall never thirst.

“white stone . . . new name . . . no man knoweth saving he — TRENCH’S explanation seems best. White is the color and livery of heaven. ‘New’ implies something altogether renewed and heavenly. The white stone is a glistening diamond, the Urim borne by the high priest within the choschen or breastplate of judgment, with the twelve tribes’ names on the twelve precious stones, next the heart. The word Urim means ‘light,’ answering to the color white. None but the high priest knew the name written upon it, probably the incommunicable name of God, ‘Jehovah.’ The high priest consulted it in some divinely appointed way to get direction from God when needful. The ‘new name’ is Christ’s (compare Revelation 3:12, ‘I will write upon him My new name’): some new revelation of Himself which shall hereafter be imparted to His people, and which they alone are capable of receiving. The connection with the ‘hidden manna’ will thus be clear, as none save the high priest had access to the ‘manna hidden’ in the sanctuary. Believers, as spiritual priests unto God, shall enjoy the heavenly antitypes to the hidden manna and the Urim stone. What they had peculiarly to contend against at Pergamos was the temptation to idol-meats, and fornication, put in their way by Balaamites. As Phinehas was rewarded with ‘an everlasting priesthood’ for his zeal against these very sins to which the Old Testament Balaam seduced Israel; so the heavenly high priesthood is the reward promised here to those zealous against the New Testament Balaamites tempting Christ’s people to the same sins.

“receiveth it — namely, ‘the stone’; not ‘the new name’; see above. The ‘name that no man knew but Christ Himself,’ He shall hereafter reveal to His people.”

Zouloufi frozen lavas, Patmos - Νικολίτσα Τσίτσικα. Nikol Patmos at Greek Wikipedia

Zouloufi frozen lavas, Patmos – Νικολίτσα Τσίτσικα. Nikol Patmos at Greek Wikipedia.


Arki (Patmos) Strongyli - Photo: Waldviertler

Arki (Patmos) Strongyli – Photo: Waldviertler

Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:12-17 – Pergamos, the Lord’s commendation and rebuke

Revelation 2:12-17


12 And to the Angel of the Church, which is at Pergamos write, Thus saith he which hath that sharp sword with two edges.

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is, and thou keepest my Name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days when Antipas my faithful martyr was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that maintain the doctrine of Balaam, which taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, that they should eat of things sacrificed unto idols, and commit fornication.

15 Even so hast thou them that maintain the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

16 Repent thyself, or else I will come unto thee shortly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the spirit saith unto the Churches. To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the Manna that is hid, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it.


The Lord’s rebuke of the Church at Pergamos recalls Jude’s inspired words (KJV):

4 For there are certain men crept in, which were before of old ordained to this condemnation: ungodly men they are, which turn the grace of our God into wantonness, and deny God the only Lord, and our Lord Jesus Christ. . .

11 Woe be unto them: for they have followed the way of Cain, and are cast away by the deceit of Balaam’s wages, and perish in the gainsaying of Korah.

*Geneva Bible footnote, verse 13: The faith of them of Pergamos is so much the more highly commended because they remained constant even in the very heat of persecution.

Study Helps

Please forgive the repetition of certain facts.

Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1965

“Pergamum, Pergamos, was a city of Mysia in the Caicus valley, 15 miles inland; In KJV, Pergamos. Royally situated in a commanding position, Pergamum was the capital until the last of the Pergamenian kings bequeathed his realm to Rome in 133 B.C.  Pergamum became the chief town of the new province of Asia, and the site of the first temple of the Caesar-cult, erected to Rome and Augustus in 29 B.C. A second shrine was later dedicated to Trajan. . . The worship of Asklepios and Zeus were also endemic. The symbol of the former was a serpent, and Pausanias describes his cult image ‘with a staff in one hand and the other on the head of a serpent.’ . . . On the crag above Pergamum was a throne-like altar to Zeus now in the Berlin Museum (Revelation 2:13?). . . It is natural that ‘Nicolaitanism’ should flourish in a place where politics and paganism were so closely allied and where pressure on Christians to compromise must have been heavy. Pergamum was an ancient seat of culture and possessed a library which rivaled Alexandria’s. Parchment (charta Pergamena) was invented at Pergamum to free the library from Egypt’s jealous ban on the export of papyrus.”


The Final Prophecy of Jesus, An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007

12. . . . [Pergamum] was the place where the Roman Emperor was worshipped after the fashion of the ancient Babylonian mysteries. 13. The Babylonian cult was for centuries prior to the writing of the Revelation a focal point for Satan worship, including sexual orgies and the veneration of the serpent. At the death of King Attalus  III Philometer in 133 B.C., his will ceded Pergamum to the Romans. Attalus was the last to inherit the title, Pontifex Maximus, ‘Divine’ high priest of the cult. After a time the Roman Emperor took to himself the local cultic function and the title, Pontifex Maximus. In 29 B.C. the Imperial cult erected in Pergamum a temple to the Emperor Augustus. The provincial governor functioned as the local high priest of the cult. In the second century, a second temple was erected to Trajan and a third to Severus.

14. On the teaching of Balaam, see Num. 1:1-36; cf. 25:1-3. Balaam, a false prophet of the LORD, offended the kings of Moab who had hired him by blessing Israel whom he had been hired to curse. Apparently, to regain their favor and perhaps collect his pay, he then advised the kings to use their Midianite women to seduce the men of Israel into attending temple banquets, practicing sexual immorality, and worshiping Baal of Peor. Religious prostitution was common to much of the pagan worship in the ancient Mediterranean lands. It was practiced by the Nicolaitan cult in the name of Christianity. . . 15. The Nicolaitans, probably falsely, attributed their heinous doctrine to Nicolaus, the deacon of the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5). Their error was a variety of Gnostic philosophy, which held that, because the material and spiritual worlds are essentially separate, licentious conduct was not in conflict with the Christian faith. They therefore imported into Christian piety practices which were common to pagan temples (cf. Jude 3-16). 16. The Lord’s commandment was to repent. . . Indeed, repentance and purity are frequently reiterated themes in our Lord’s last prophecy. The Lord will fight against the unrepentant. . . The language of the text implies both temporal as well as eternal judgment. . . Through this text Christ speaks as the Divine Judge with absolute authority.”


History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325, Philip Schaff

§ 120. Schools of Gnosticism.

[These schools of heresy are categorized by geography, doctrine, and ethics: Nicolaitanism is from Asia Minor, belongs to the ‘Christian’ group, and is libertine.]

“The arbitrary and unbalanced subjectivity of the Gnostic speculation naturally produced a multitude of schools. These Gnostic schools have been variously classified. . .  The ethical point of view, from which the division might as well be made, would give likewise three main branches: the speculative or theosophic Gnostics (Basilides, Valentine), the practical and ascetic (Marcion, Saturninus, Tatian), and the antinomian and libertine (Simonians, Nicolaitans, Ophites, Carpocratians, Antitactes).

More than interesting!

REVELATION: An Expositional Commentary, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Zondervan, 1971.

[Pastor Barnhouse was committed to the Church-Age view of the letters in Revelation 2 and 3.]

“The very word ‘Pergamos’ has in it the same root from which we get our English words for bigamy and polygamy. It is the word for marriage. The particle which forms the first syllable frequently calls attention to something that is objectionable. ‘Pergamos’ signifies a mixed marriage in the most objectionable sense of the word, for it is the marriage of the organization of the church of Jesus Christ with the world in defiance of the distinct command of the Spirit, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?’ (II Cor. 6:14-16)”


Bible Study Tools – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Invalids from all over the province of Asia flocked to the temple of Asklepios and there, while they were sleeping, Asklepios was believed to reveal through their dreams remedies with which priests and physicians could heal them. Obviously, opportunities for deception were many. [Human nature, our folly, hopelessness, and wickedness, is the same in every era.]

There were  many Jews at Pergamos, and in 130 BC the people of the city passed a decree in their favor. Many were more or less assimilated with the Greeks, even to the extent of bearing Greek names. 


From ancient Pergamon to modern Berlin – CFI-USA

“. . . the Nazi Party’s chief architect, Albert Speer, was commissioned by the new chancellor, Adolf Hitler, to design the parade grounds for the party rallies in Nuremberg. Speer turned to the Pergamon Altar for inspiration. Using the altar as a model, Speer created a colossal grandstand, known as the Zeppelin tribune. In the following years’ mass rallies, Hitler descended down the steps like a tribune in ancient Rome. . .

Hitler’s Final Solution is known as the Holocaust, a word that comes from a Greek word meaning ‘a wholly burnt animal sacrifice.’ On the ancient Altar of Zeus in Pergamom, burnt sacrifice was practiced. Centuries later in Germany’s Nuremberg, in the redesigned Pergamon Altar, Hitler announced his Final Solution to the world and this time, the burnt sacrifice was six million Jews.”

site of the sparse remains of the Altar of Zeus at Pergamon as seen from the Sanctuary of Athena (the oldest structure on the acropolis dated 4th century BC).


Berlin’s Pergamon Museum: The Altar of Zeus – History guru

Berlin – Pergamonmuseum – Altar
photo by Lestat (Jan Mehlich)