The New Covenant in Christ’s blood – Hebrews 9



Thoughts

Because of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are acceptable to the Father. He is “entered into very heaven, to appear now in the sight of God for us.”    


Hebrews 9

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9   2 Comparing the form of the Tabernacle, 10 and the ceremonies of the Law, 11 unto the truth set out in Christ, 15 he concludeth that now there is no more need of another Priest, 24 because Christ himself had fulfilled these duties under the new covenant.

Then the first Testament had also ordinances of religion, and a worldly Sanctuary,

For the first Tabernacle was made, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread, which  Tabernacle is called the Holy places.

And after the second veil was the Tabernacle, which is called the Holiest of all,

Which had the golden censer, and the Ark of the Testament overlaid round about with gold, wherein the golden pot, which had Manna, was, and Aaron’s rod that had budded, and the tables of the Testament.

And over the Ark were the glorious Cherubims, shadowing the mercy seat: of which things we will not now speak particularly.

Now when these things were thus ordained, the Priest went always into the first Tabernacle, and accomplished the service.

But into the second went the high Priest alone, once every year, not without blood which he offered for himself, and for the ignorances of the people.

Whereby the holy Ghost this signified, that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet opened, while as yet the first tabernacle was standing,

Which was a figure for that present time, wherein were offered gifts and sacrifices that could not make holy, concerning the conscience, him that did the service,

10 Which only stood in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal rites, which were enjoined, until the time of reformation.

11 But Christ being come an high Priest of good things to come, by a greater and a more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this building,

12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves: but by his own blood entered he in once unto the holy place, and obtained eternal redemption for us.

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling them that are unclean, sanctifieth as touching the purifying of the flesh,

14 How much more shall the blood of Christ which through the eternal Spirit offered himself without fault to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?

15 And for this cause is he the Mediator of the new Testament, that through death which was for the redemption of the transgressions that were in the former Testament, they which were called, might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a Testament is, there must be the death of him that made the Testament.

17 For the Testament is confirmed when men are dead: for it is yet of no force as long as he that made it, is alive.

18 Wherefore, neither was the first ordained without blood.

19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to the people, according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and purple wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

20 Saying, This is the blood of the Testament, which God hath appointed unto you.

21 Moreover, he sprinkled likewise the Tabernacle with blood also, and all the ministering vessels,

22 And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.

23 It was then necessary, that the  similitudes of heavenly things should be purified with such things: but the heavenly things themselves are purified with better sacrifices than are these.

24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places that are made with hands, which are similitudes of the true  Sanctuary: but is entered into very heaven, to appear now in the sight of God for us,

25 Not that he should offer himself often, as the high Priest entered into the Holy place every year with others’ blood,

26 (For then must he have often suffered since the foundation of the world) but now in the end of the world hath he been made manifest, once to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men that they shall once die, and after that  cometh the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to take away the sins of many, and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.


 

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

 



Revelation 2:18-29

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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.


Thoughts

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.”

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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 . . .”

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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.”

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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. . .”

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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!


Interesting!

Fox’s Book of Martyrs

John

“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

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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.

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1 Corinthians 13:12

GNV

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,

or

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.

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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) . . .”

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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

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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.


Thoughts

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.”

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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.”

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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)”

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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. 

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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)

Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:8-11 – Smyrna



Revelation 2:8-11

gnv

¶ And unto the Angel of the Church of the Smyrnians write, These things saith he that is first and last, which was dead and is alive.

9 I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer: behold, it shall come to pass, that the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto the death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

11 Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.


Thoughts

Through His message to the angel of the Church in Smyrna, Jesus warned these believers that they were about to suffer. This reminds me of Paul’s statement to the Philippians (1:29, KJV),

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ,

not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.

His message was that they were not to fear the ordeal – none of it. That Satan was at work against them, and that the ordeal would have strict limits. Praise Him forevermore for His goodness and kindness!


Geneva Bible footnote, verse 10: “That is, of ten years. For so commonly both in this book and in Daniel, years are signified by the name of days: that God thereby might declare, that the space of time is appointed by him, and the same very short. Now because Saint John wrote this book in the end of Domitian the Emperor his reign, as Justin and Ireneus do witness, it is altogether necessary that this should be referred unto that persecution which was done by the authority of the Emperor Trajan: who began to make havoc of the Christian Church in the tenth year of his reign, as the Historiographers do write: and his bloody persecution continued until Adrian the Emperor had succeeded in his place: the space of which time is precisely ten years, which are here mentioned.”


Study Helps

Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1965

“The Suffering Church. No word of fault, but only loving comfort. Smyrna, about 50 miles north of Ephesus, was a splendid city, of rare beauty, on a fine bay, rival of Ephesus, with the proud tradition that it had been the birthplace of Homer. Its bishop, at the time, was the beloved Polycarp. Irenaeus, who had talked with Polycarp, said that Polycarp was appointed bishop of Smyrna by John. The Church was composed of poor people, with nothing like the number or prestige that the Church in Ephesus had. They were ‘poor, but rich’ (2:9).”  Pp. 702-703.

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Bible Study Tools – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Like many other cities of Asia Minor, Smyrna suffered frequently, especially during the years 178-80 AD, from earthquakes, but it always escaped entire destruction. During the Middle Ages the city was the scene of many struggles. . . Smyrna was the last of the Christian cities to hold out against the Mohammedans; in 1424 it fell into the hands of the Turks.”


More than interesting!

“Smyrna vied with Ephesus and Pergamum for the title ‘First City of Asia.’” ~ Wikipedia

Though it has passed through many bad times, Smyrna still stands today (Izmir, Turkey). Ephesus lies in ruins.

Smyrna was a center of Caesar worship, and a temple to Tiberius and his mother was built there.  ~ Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 696.

Also, Halley states that after Nero’s persecution, in which the Apostle Paul was martyred, there were 10 Imperial persecutions.

Domitian A.D. 95

Trajan A.D. 98-117

Hadrian A.D. 117-138

Antonius Pius A.D. 138-161

Marcus Aurelius A.D. 161-180

Septimius Severus A.D. 193-211

Maximin A.D. 235-238

Decius A.D. 249-251

Valerian A.D. 253-260

Diocletian A.D. 284-305

Halley records the following about the first of these, 

Domitian (95 A.D.). Domitian instituted a persecution against Christians. It was short, but extremely violent. Many thousands were slain in Rome and Italy, among them Flavius Clemens, a cousin of the Emperor, and his wife, Flabia Domitilla, banished. The Apostle John was banished to Patmos.  P. 761-762.

The name ‘Smyrna’ most likely comes from the word ‘myrrh’, one of its important exports. It was “the port of myrrh” (Donald Barnhouse, Revelation, p.44). Myrrh is a word that has holy and beautiful associations. Not only was it a gift to Jesus when He was a young child (Matthew 2:11), but it was offered to Him mixed in wine when He was on the Cross (Mark 15:23) and He was buried in this way (John 19):

38 And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take down the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave him license. He came then and took Jesus’ body.

39 And there came also Nicodemus (which first came to Jesus by night) and brought of myrrh and aloes mingled together about an hundred pounds.

40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wrapped it in linen clothes with the odors, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

41 And in that place where Jesus was crucified, was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid.

42 There then laid they Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation day, for the sepulcher was near.

Ignatius of Antioch visited Smyrna and later wrote to Polycarp. Both men died a martyr’s death.


Seven churches of Asia