Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

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

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.


MEMORY VERSE: For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. —Hebrews 4:12-13


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Pergamos, the third church Jesus addressed, was commended for not denying Jesus’ name and faith, but commanded to repent for allowing false doctrines and loose practices to remain among them.




Revelation 2:12 “Pergamos”: (the proper Greek or Latin name is Pergamum or Pergamon) a town of Mysia, situated on the river Caicus, north of Smyrna and Ephesus. It was the royal residence and seat of the Eumenes and Attalian (Hellenistic Greek) dynasties. It was anciently famous for its library, which allegedly contained two hundred thousand volumes; and was home to a huge temple of Aesculapius, the healing god, who was worshipped in the form of a living serpent fed in the temple and was called the God of Pergamon. He appeared on their coins with a rod encircled by a serpent. Pergamon was described as a sort of union of a pagan cathedral city, a university town, and a royal residence. It was said that here the membranae Pergameniae (Pergamenian skins) were invented; from which we derive our word parchment. Pergamon was the birthplace of Galen, a Greek surgeon, physician and philosopher. It is now called Pergamo and Bergamo, in what is now Turkey.

Revelation 2:13 “Satan’s seat” and “where Satan dwelleth”: Some manuscripts have, “I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is.” Some scholars maintain this description is because of the many temples to various gods which were in Pergamos, especially the temple of Aesculapius, where people from all over the world resorted for cures from their diseases; where lying wonders were performed and curious arts were practiced; where the god’s symbol, the serpent, was displayed and his name meant “Savior” or “Preserver.” It was a city sacred to the gods, and the very headquarters of idolatry. The title could also mean that the persecution here had already extended unto death, as it cited Antipas, called the ”faithful martyr.” Nothing historically substantial is known about Antipas.

Revelation 2:14-15 “doctrine of Balaam; Nicolaitans”: See definition in the July 22 lesson.




It seems that even under the duress of severe persecution, the Christians in Pergamos were still bold to take the name Christian and maintain their belief in Jesus. However, the poison working to corrupt the whole congregation was the dangerous looseness that was taught by the Gnostic sect, the Nicolaitans. We have said before: it is the mixture of truth and error that is so deceptive. The Gnostics, addressed by Peter in his epistles, warned against by Paul in his letters to Timothy, and by Jude in his epistle, and judged severely by Jesus’ message on Patmos, could only be dealt with by the Word of God, that Sword of the Spirit which convicts and chastens those who are tender and pliable; and condemns and cuts off those who resist admonition.

The Nicolaitans seemed to sway people with their schmoozy “have the world and Jesus too” talk. They were described as being lovers of pleasure, advocating a false freedom and a licentious lifestyle. Adultery, polygamy and fornication, so rampant among them, “furnished to the unbelieving heathen abundant opportunities for slandering the divine word, inasmuch as the reputation of these men brought infamy upon the whole race of Christians,” Eusebius said.

Jesus compares them to the Old Testament prophet Balaam, who, when not allowed by God to actually put a curse upon the children of Israel, showed King Balak how to seduce them into idolatrous worship. By placing beautiful young heathen women in view of the Israelite men, the resulting relationships led them, as prey to the slaughter, into total heathen practices. Balaam knew that when they fell into this, God would no longer bless them and they would fall to Balak in battle.

In this same way, “Christian” teachings that take “salvation by grace” way too far seduce people into thinking worldliness and loose living is “okay” with God, bringing them into satan’s snare and spiritual ruin and deception. We see this as professing Christians both approve, watch and partake in movies and other media which promote fornication and adultery, sports events where immodesty, pride and strife are on display, and immodest clothing which both leads to and encourages lust and pride.

Jesus put it simply and succinctly: God hates both the doctrines and the deeds.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




1. Satan’s Seat: Describe some things about Pergamos which might be the reason Jesus ascribed this name to the city.

2. Balaam’s Doctrine: Describe how his teaching is similar to the way the Gnostics/ Nicolaitans taught about Christianity. How are today’s false teachings similar as well?

3. The Spirit’s Sword: How is this the only way to truly combat these false doctrines? Discuss the importance of “rightly dividing” God’s truth.

4. The Overcomer’s Prize: Discuss what may be meant by each of these terms: hidden manna, white stone, new name.




The manna, as we can read in Exodus 16:32-34 and Hebrews 9:4, was laid up in a pot and kept in the most sacred place in the camp, deep inside the covered Ark of God, within the two vails, in the Holiest Place. This sample of the “angels’ food” which fell every morning, six days a week for forty years to feed the Israelites as they wandered through the desert, was to be a reminder to them of God’s provision and a token which pointed forward to the true bread from heaven, who was Christ. The concept of being able to eat of that portion which was so sacred that it could not be looked upon nor touched—how special, how privileged one must be to do so! What did it take to access that holy of holies? Was it not the death of the Lord Jesus which violently tore down that thick curtain which separated the sanctuary from unworthy man? To be able to touch; commune with God, upon that sacred ark, beneath the cherubim—isn’t that only afforded to those who have been blood-washed, redeemed, and have yielded themselves an offering and a sacrifice to God in holy sanctification? Here it is promised to those who overcome the temptation to loose and worldly living, the lure of fellowship with false gods and demons, and the pressure to succumb to the persecutors!

The white stone, I read, has several suggested meanings. White stones were used by ancient judges to signify acquittal, while when the judge handed out a black stone, it meant condemnation. In Roman times, white stones were given as badges, with their names inscribed, to conquerors in the games. Called tessarae, there were several different kinds.

One was a kind of contract between two parties, whose names were written on the stone, which was broken in half and exchanged, so that either party could come to the home of the other, and by producing the stone with the host’s name, the guest was admitted to partake freely of home, food and lodging. “But what does this mean in the language of Christ? (1). That the person is taken into an intimate state of friendship with him. (2). That this contract is witnessed to the party by some especial token, sign, or seal, to which he may have recourse to support his claim, and identify his person. This is probably what is elsewhere called “the earnest of the Spirit” (Ephesians 1:14). He then who has received and retains the witness of the Spirit that he is adopted into the heavenly family, may humbly claim, in virtue of it, his support of the bread and water of life; the hidden manna—every grace of the Spirit of God; and the tree of life—immortality, or the final glorification of his body and soul throughout eternity. (3). By this state of grace into which he is brought he acquires a new name, the name of child of God; the earnest of the Spirit, the tessera, which he has received, shows him this new name. (4). And this name of child of God no man can know or understand, but he who has received the tessera or Divine witness. (5). His Friend and Redeemer may be found everywhere, because He fills the heavens and the earth; everywhere he may, on retaining this tessera, claim direction, succor, support, grace, and glory; and therefore the privileges of him who overcometh are the greatest and most glorious that can be imagined” (Clarke’s Commentary).

My personal thought about the new name is that we are identified to the Lord by a name. It is who we are. When we come to Him for salvation and holiness, He works a great change in our very spirit and character, so that our spiritual name is changed, and we are no longer known to him by our old name, but by the new name. There are new gifts, abilities, and new ways of thinking and dealing with others that are entirely because of this new ID given by God. All of this is part of the overcomer’s prize!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




Living in Los Angeles, one of our nation’s larger metropolitan areas, I can certainly identify with the church in Pergamos and the evils that surrounded them, as well as the persecutions that befell them for holding to the name of Christ. In the so called “entertainment capital of the world,” the modern gods of pleasure, adult entertainment, licentious and profligate living are being worshipped daily in direct contradiction to the Word of God, and anyone holding to his or her convictions of morality, modesty, simple living, and humility are ridiculed for being hopelessly old-fashioned, and sometimes even considered “bigoted” for their beliefs.

Yet, I have noticed that being surrounded by such an environment can bring about a certain desensitization to the great evils pervading our society today, and if we are not careful, we can begin to make excuses for those around us, particularly our family and friends caught up in such filth, and possibly become less vigilant against the many doctrinal heresies pervading Christianity today that make room for such direct contradictions of scripture.

Jesus was sure to point out to the church in Pergamos that His two-edged sword was ready to make a distinction between truth and error, so if we want to be on His side, we must repent of any sympathies we have harbored, perhaps internally if not outwardly, and hold to the standard that what God calls wrong is still wrong. We can stay true to God, yet still exhibit love and gentleness for those who have gone astray, praying that He in His mercy will grant them the opportunity to come back to Him.

Let us remember that, as one of our songs says, if we would be pillars in the Church of God, we “must overcome the world,” and everyone that is victorious “shall be clothed in white” and “eat the hidden manna from the realms of light” and “reign on earth as king with Jesus.”

Lord, help us to stay true to You and to Your Truth!

—Bro. Fari Matthews