The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE CHURCH IN PERGAMOS
- Pergamos was considered one of the finest cities in
Asia. It had a famous library, second only to Alexandria, consisting of 200,000
- W.A. Criswell said that according to legend, the city of
Pergamos was built by a son of Hercules on a hill near the Aegean
- Pergamos was a very wicked and idolatrous city – it was
well known because the temple of Aesculapius was located there. Aesculapius was the demigod of medicine
- In honor of Aesculapius, snakes were often used in
healing rituals. Non-venomous snakes were left to crawl on the floor in
dormitories where the sick and injured slept.
- That is why to this day, the caduceus is the symbol of
medicine. The caduceus is a winged
staff with two snakes wrapped around it.
- Today when doctors take the Hippocratic Oath they say,
“I swear in the presence of the Almighty and before my family…” But the original oath began like this,
“I swear by Apollo the physician, Aesculapius, and Hygieia (a daughter of
Asclepius and the goddess of health), and Panacea (another daughter), and all
the gods and goddesses…”
- It is no coincidence that snakes symbolize the heathen
god Aesculapius, and Revelation 2:13 says, “I know thy works, and where thou
dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is…”
- Twice in Revelation 2:13 we are told that Satan seat was
(at that time) located in Pergamos.
- Alexander Hislop, in his famous book,
The Two Babylons, says that after the death of King Belshazzar, and the expulsion of
the Chaldean priesthood from Babylon by the Medo-Persian kings, Satan’s seat was
moved from Babylon to Pergamos.
- Hislop wrote that when Julius
Caesar, became both Pontifex Maximus as well as the Roman Emperor, he became
both the supreme civil ruler of the Romans, as well as the head of the Roman
- Later on, during the rise of
the papacy, Satan’s throne was moved from Pergamos to Rome (cf. Rev.
- This is a
great location for a Bible-preaching church. CT Studd was an English missionary to
China, India, and Africa. He said,
to live within the sound
Of Church or Chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue
Within a yard of hell.”
THERE IS THE NEED TO
HOLD FAST (2:12, 13).
- We need to hold fast to Jesus’ name (2:13). Our Lord is “He which hath the sharp
sword with two edges” (2:12; cf. 2:16; 1:16; 19:15, 21).
- Notice in Rev. 2:13:
- “my name” “my faith” “my faithful
- Our Lord told the church at Smyrna, “Be thou faithful
unto death” (2:10). Antipas was
faithful unto death (2:13). We know
nothing about Antipas. His name
means, “Against All.”
- Antipas “held fast” even unto death. Antipas held fast in the face of
Satanic opposition. Satan’s seat
(throne) was in Pergamos.
- Today, Satan’s seat could be right here in New York
City. He may not live here but he
certainly spends a lot of time here, and he has many demons stationed
- New York has more homosexuals, more prostitutes, more
drunkards, more dope addicts, and more vicious criminals than any city in
America. Probably more than
anywhere in the world!
- Recent statistics from the New York City Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene reveal that New York City has a 41% abortion ratio –a
rate almost twice the national average of 23%.
- Some of the neighborhoods with the highest abortion
rates are in Southeast Queens -- St. Albans 60%, Laurelton 60%, Rosedale 58%,
Jamaica 57%, Rochdale Village 57%, Cambria Heights 55%.
- These statistics also revealed that in 2009 48,627 of
the 87,273 abortions in New York City, or 56%, were repeat abortions. 33,401
(38%) were paid for by Medicaid.
- New York is a very wicked city! Our
mayor lives in concubinage with his girlfriend, and so
does the governor. In many ways,
NYC is far worse than Pergamos!
- Pergamos was also a stronghold of
- And what about NYC? The Jehovah's Witnesses have their
international headquarters in Brooklyn.
New York is a city dominated by every type of cult and false religion –
Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Romanists, liberal Protestants, Scientology, Moonies,
voodoo and Santeria, etc.
- There are even many
Satan-worshippers here in NY. Years
ago, my family and I were thinking of buying a house in East Rockaway – until we
went upstairs to the second floor. There was a huge pentagram drawn on the floor,
along with other Satanic symbols.
THERE IS THE NEED TO
- I heard a preacher say this one time: “We often hear
preachers say that our Lord’s last words were: 'Go ye into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). But that is not true. His last words were “Repent, or
else…” (Rev. 2:16; cf. 2:5, 21, 22; 3:3, 19).
- Strictly speaking, “Go ye into all the world, and preach
the gospel to every creature” (the Great Commission) was the last thing our Lord
said before He ascended into heaven.
- However, the resurrected Christ’s last words were
“Repent, or else…” (Rev. 2:16).
- The church at Pergamos was tolerating “the doctrine of
Balaam” (2:14). They did not
necessarily believe the doctrine of Balaam, or endorse the doctrine of Balaam,
but they were tolerating it.
- But there are certain things Christians should not
tolerate. Our lord says in Rev.
2:16, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee (church members) quickly,
and will fight against them (those who held the doctrine of Balaam) with
the sword of my mouth.”
- What is the “doctrine of Balaam”? Balaam is one of the strangest men
who ever walked across the pages of the Bible. We are introduced to him in Numbers
- A few chapters later, we read that Balaam was killed by
the Israelites when they defeated the Midianites. His death is recorded in
- His life and death are spread over a few chapters in the
book of Numbers, but he is also referred to in the book of Deuteronomy (23:4,
5), the book of Joshua (13:22; 24:9, 10), the book of Nehemiah (13:2), and the
book of Micah (6:5).
- Furthermore, he is referred to three times in the New
Testament (cf. II Peter 2:15, 16; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14).
- Numbers 31:16 refers to “the
counsel of Balaam” (cf. Rev. 2:14).
Here in the book of Revelation, we see that 1,500 years later “the
doctrine (i.e., the “counsel”) of Balaam” had infected the church at
- Down through the ages, this
wicked doctrine of Balaam has been polluting churches and hindering the work of
God. Peter refers to “the way of
Balaam.” Jude refers to “the error
of Balaam.” And here in His letter
to the church of Pergamos, our Lord refers to the “doctrine of
- Going back to Numbers 31:16 we see
“the counsel of Balaam.” The
counsel of Balaam refers to Balaam’s suggestion to ruin by fleshly
seduction the people who cannot be cursed by divine
- Revelation 2:14 applies it to
corruption in the local church – modern day Balaams advocate an unholy alliance
with the worldly and with the ungodly. This worldly alliance has
corrupted many, many churches.
- Remember Pergamos was “where
Satan dwelleth” (Rev. 2:13). It was
a wicked city known for occult activity.
Balaam had a great reputation as a soothsayer (fortune-teller), and he is
referred to as a soothsayer in Joshua 13:22.
- Numbers 24:1 tells us that
Balaam used “enchantments” (magic spells, sorcery).
- Divination, sorcery, and
fortune-telling are very popular today, but is strongly condemned in the
Bible. Peter refers to Balaam as a
“mad” prophet (II Peter 2:16). Balaam gave Balak, the king of Moab (Rev.
2:14) certain subtle and immoral advice, which nearly ruined Israel (Numbers
- This horrible sin is referred
to several times in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The apostle Paul refers to it in I
- “Neither let
us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and
- Balaam was behind this
horrible sex scandal recorded in the book of Numbers (cf. Num. 31:16). He told Balak, “Listen, I cannot curse
Israel because God has already blessed them….but here’s my advice…let your
beautiful Moabite women come around at night and before you know it the
Israelite men will be worshipping Baal-peor, and committing adultery with them”
- When a church tolerates sin,
they need to repent (Rev. 2:14-16).
- In addition to those holding
to the doctrine of Balaam, in Revelation 2:15 our Lord says, “So hast thou also
them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”
- We need to remember that
there are certain things God hates and therefore so must we. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of
the LORD is to hate evil.”
- God hates false doctrine
(2:15), and God hates false deeds (2:6).
False deeds and false doctrine go together.
- God hates sin (2:6, 15). Just recently I read about a lady who
was visiting a bad neighborhood.
She saw a filthy little girl playing in the dirt. She said to her guide, “Why is this
little girl so dirty? Why doesn’t
her mother clean her up?”
- The guide said, “Her mother
loves her, but she does not hate dirt.
You hate dirt but you do not lover her. She needs someone who loves her
and hates dirt. Otherwise
she will remain dirty.”
- Here is the point: we must
love the sinner, and hate sin. Otherwise we will never be an effective soulwinner.
THERE IS THE NEED TO
- Every letter concludes with the same promise: “He that
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that
- How do you know if you have “overcometh” (2:17). See I John 5:4, 5.
- Three things are promised here:
- “The hidden manna,” which represents fellowship with
Christ. He is “hidden” from the
- “A white stone.” This represents pardon. In ancient
courts of law, a white stone meant acquittal and a black stone meant
- “A new name written” (cf. 3:12). Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I
make all things new.” In the book
of Revelation we see a new name, the new Jerusalem, a new song, and a new heaven
and a new earth.
- Regarding our Lord’s promise in Revelation 2:17, Christ
Himself made it clear that the manna from heaven was a type of Himself. He said
in John 6:48, 51, “I am that bread of life…I am the living bread which came down
- Have you received this living