Revelation 2:12-17 Part 3

12) And write the message for the Church in Pergamum:  The One   having the sharp two edged sword says these things.

13) I know where you dwell, in the place of Satan’s power, and you are laying hold of My Name, and you did not renounce My Faith even in the days of Antipas My witness My faithful, who was killed among you where Satan dwells.

14) But I have a few things against you, that you have there ones who are holding to the Balaam teaching, who was teaching Balak to lay a scandalous trap before the sons of Israel, to eat sacrifices to idols and to commit fornication.

15) As mentioned previously, you likewise have ones who are holding to the Nikolaitan teaching.

16) Repent therefore!  But if not, I Am coming to you quickly, and I    will make war with them arrayed with the sword of My mouth.

17)Let the one having an ear hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.  To the victorious one I will give to him the hidden manna, and I will give to him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name having been written which no one has known except the one who receives it.


In disobedience to the written Word of God, and disobedience to the apostolic council in Acts chapter fifteen (moderated by Holy Spirit), the false teachers in the Pergamum Church (called “nicolaitans” as a current nomenclature for the former “Balaam” teaching) were advocating antinomianism.  Antinomianism is the false teaching that, through the ultimate sacrifice of the Christ, Christians were “freed from the law of God”.  Since Jesus perfectly kept the law for us, it is said that those who believe in Him are “set at liberty”!  The antinomians at Pergamum were not only practicing their heresy, they were also teaching it to others (sincerely, I assume).  Antinomianism is, of course, completely opposed to Biblical truth.

So, you see, in the nicolaitan’s account, it was no longer a sin to commit idolatry and fornication, because the believer was no longer under any obligation to the Commandments of God.  He can live any way he pleases, because Jesus has died for him, kept the law for him, and paid the price for all his sin.

And, as Jesus makes clear in His message to the Church, these false “teachers” are seeking to spread their heretical doctrines among the other members of the Church.  But, you see, this is idolatry and fornication; and the Church must not permit this doctrine of antinomianism to persist – especially if it’s being taught.  It is a deadly offense to Christ; and the Church must hold fast to His Name.

Here is what the apostle Paul says in 1Corinthians chapter ten:


14) Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

15) I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.

16) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17) For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

18) Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19) What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?

20) Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.

21) You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.

22) Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?


So the apostle, writing to the Church at Corinth – the communion table being the subject matter – addresses this same heresy, doesn’t he?  The nicolaitans in the group thought it of no consequence to partake in both tables!   They “felt” (once again, I suppose sincerely) that they could go to the temples of the gods and goddesses and eat at the table of sacrifice with the pagans; and then they could come to Church and eat at the table of the Lord Jesus Christ!

But the Holy Spirit led apostles were very specific at the Acts fifteen general assembly; and Jesus is very specific here in His messages to the Churches.  He “hates” the works of the nicolaitans, and He will make war with them with the sword of His mouth lest they repent!

I’m at a loss to find a way to make that more clear.  The Lord Jesus Christ hates the works of those who participate in a pagan life-style, claiming belief in Jesus sets them at liberty!  And the Church can’t condone that life-style – especially if it’s being taught to the other members – placing snares and traps for them to be ensnared in heresy that is clearly condemned by the Christ Himself.

And our Lord, Who appears to John on the island of Patmos with the double-edged sword coming from His mouth, orders the Church to repent.  And He threatens the Church, that should they not repent, “I Am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth”!

In reading the account of Balaam and Balak in Moses’ book of Numbers, an angel of the Lord met Balaam with a drawn sword (Numbers 22), and he was killed with a sword (Numbers 31).  So all the Church has to do is to take down their scrolls of the Word of God and read that account in order to know what Jesus’ reference is.

And Jesus says to them, “I am coming to you quickly….”  As we’ve said several times previously, this warning from the enthroned Jesus is not a warning about His “coming” at the end of history.  It refers, rather, to judgment which is near – in history!  It is a judgment that was imminent in all the world; and it is a judgment also which is imminent to the Church at Pergamum.

The warning is explicit to the false teachers; but it is implicit to the whole Church.   And the warning is still good to the Church throughout the history of Christianity, isn’t it?  Wherever heretics are indulged by Christ’s Church, the appearance of Jesus to the apostle John is a dire warning to them that the Church is on the verge of condemnation in the jealous wrath of Jesus Christ.

The Word of the King is nothing to be toyed with; and it certainly shouldn’t be “shaped” or “configured” to meet current standards of human conduct.

In verse seventeen, the overcomer (or the victorious one) is promised three things.  Christ says that, first, He will give them “of the hidden manna”.  Let me read a couple of verses for you.

First is from Exodus chapter sixteen:


31) And the house of Israel called its name Manna.  And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

32) Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”

33) And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.”

34) As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

35) And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.


And now from Hebrews chapter nine:


1) Then indeed, the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.

2) For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;

3) and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,

4) which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;

5) and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.


And, lastly, from John chapter six:


30) Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?

31) Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

32) Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

33) For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34) Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

35) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

36) But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.

37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

39) This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

40) And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”


Jesus’ reference to “the hidden manna” is most appropriate here, isn’t it, after condemning eating from the table of the idols.  But Jesus says that He is the living bread which, if you eat, you’ll never hunger – all prefigured and prophesied by the manna from God in the wilderness, hidden in the Ark of the Covenant, and placed in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.  This is “the hidden manna” which is given to all who are victorious in the One Who has all authority in the heavens and on the earth.

The second thing the victorious believer in union with the Christ will receive is a “white stone”.  Listen to the apostle peter in the second chapter of his first letter to the refugees from Israel:


1) Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,

2) as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,  

3) if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.   

4) Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

5) you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6) Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.

7) Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”

8) and A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.”  They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

10) who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.


The apostle calls those of us united to the Christ “living stones”, and “a royal priesthood”.

The “stone” finds its origin in the garden of Eden, Genesis chapter two, where the garden’s beauty and glory were adorned by onyx, black stones, and bdellium, white stones – both mentioned prominently in the creation account.  The white stones were left “unnamed”, while the black stones were used on the shoulders of the high priest of Israel, and upon which the names of the twelve tribes were inscribed.

And, surely, the white, “unnamed” stone in the garden is referenced by Jesus as He recalls the earthly paradise which was created for the glory of God.  And, as paradise is restored in Him, the white stones will not go “unnamed”.  And all who are “victorious”, holding to His Name and not renouncing His Faith, will receive a paradise, white stone, which, as Peter said, would be the structure of the New Temple of Jesus Christ, built on the Rock foundation of the apostles – He, Himself, being the cornerstone.

Thirdly, and upon that white stone, will be written a “new name”!  Let me take you quickly to Isaiah chapter sixty two:


1) For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns.

2) The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory.  You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name.

3) You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God.

4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights in you, And your land shall be married.

5) For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.


The newborn babe in Christ is granted a new name, speaking of the new identity of those who belong to Christ.  And, as always, it is God Who defines us (as Isaiah says), calls us into being, and wholly interprets us in terms of His covenant.  We don’t call ourselves into being; we don’t define ourselves; and we don’t interpret ourselves.  As we’ve said often here, we must see ourselves with reference to our Lord … and from his perspective.

No one “knows” the new name, Jesus says, but the one who receives it.  The meaning here can only be discerned as we look at God’s Word as he revealed it – and not as we perceive the word from our own usage and human wisdom.  The receiver of the prophesied “new name” knows that name in the sense of knowing it comprehensively, or “owning” it.  The word is found numbers of times in the Hebrew text, revealed by Jahveh to man in its simplest form when a man takes unto himself a wife, and he goes in to her and “knows” her.

With regard to the new name here in our text, our Lord is using the word “know” in this sense of its well-known meaning.  And the point is not that the new name is secret; but that it is comprehensive and exclusive!  No one has a right to this exclusive name other than the victorious one who possesses it.  It is the divinely ordained definition of the one who receives it!  It defines him.  He belongs to the covenant of the Lord Jesus Christ by divine ordination; and no one else has a right to it!

The name belongs only to the “overcomers” – the ones who persevere in His Faith.  On the other hand, the nicolaitans, who by doctrine and lifestyle are traitors to the Faith of Jesus, do not “own” the new name, and they have no right to it.  They aren’t “defined” by it.

The victorious ones – the overcomers – are defined by the Lord and renamed.  And they are readmitted to the garden paradise by union with Him and His sacrifice.  That new name, once again, isn’t “secret” – but it is “owned” exclusively by those who are “known” by our Lord.  Only those who receive the name are defined by it and thereby “know” it.

And each of those white stones, with the exclusively-owned name written on it, is integral to the superstructure of the new holy temple of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Cornerstone of the foundation – the Rock upon which it is built.

“Let the one having an ear hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”

Lastly, before we come to the Table of our Lord, and since we’ve been dealing with heresy in the Pergamum Church, let me just make the connections that ought to be obvious to us all concerning the birth of our Savior/King.

The celebration of the King’s birth has been a great event in the lives of believers ever since the time of the holy Roman emperor Constantine.  And it’s fine.  God’s Word is fine with it as long as our festival celebration is for His glory.  We’re not enjoined from rejoicing about the grace of God toward His people, festivalizing with food and drink and family and gifts and decorations.  And the birth of the King of Kings and Savior of the world is a prophesied, premier event in the history of God’s grace and mercy toward His Own creation.  It is a wondrous time for the recognition of that event – and for gratitude from His people.  Time set aside for true rejoicing and enjoyment is time well-spent.

A couple of things, however, ought to be remembered.  Except for the first day of the week, there are no “holy days” prescribed by God in His Word.  The celebration of Jesus’ birthday isn’t a holy day.  It is a festival day – and a good one should the glory of God and His enjoyment be our desire!  The first day of the week is the day that God commanded that we gather in the body of Christ for worship.  And the way God created things, there are fifty-two of those!

Now, I said a “couple” of things… and this is the second one (and this one tales us back to the Pergamum Church).  There is a deep heresy in the Churches of the world as they feed off the world order view of Christmas celebration.  It’s the heresy of “incarnationalism” – that the birth of Jesus is the salvation of the world.  Folks seem to gravitate to the mistranslated verse, Luke 2:14.  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.  Please note that that is in the birth narrative of Luke’s Gospel.  But the translation is incorrect.  It should read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men in whom He is well-pleased.”

But you see, the human birth (incarnation) of the second Person of our Triune God, an incredible God-ordained event in the history of salvation, is not the “saving” event.  It is “Gospel”  But as much as the whole world order would like to believe that His birth is a saving blessing of peace to all mankind, it is the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and enthronement of Jesus the Christ of God that saves us!  The Word of God explicitly teaches that.

Incarnationalism (the teaching that the birth of Jesus – Savior – is God’s offer of peace to the world) is a subtle error with horrible consequences; and it must be exposed in Christ’s Church.  And then it must be rooted out and abandoned.

Jesus – Savior – suffered and bled and died so that His covenant people be united to Him in HIS death, burial and resurrection.  We who are preserved in Him are victorious overcomers who “feed” on His body; and His shed blood atoned for our sinfulness and our sins.

That’s what the “table” is all about, isn’t it?  Those of us who are newborns, united to the second Adam in His humanity, are white, paradise stones in His holy temple, with exclusive names; and we are nourished often through the preaching of His Word and the sacrament of His table.  And that was accomplished at His sacrifice for us.

I leave you this morning with the words of the apostle Paul as he writes to the Church at Corinth – 1 Corinthians chapter eleven:


23) For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was delivered up took bread;

24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25) In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come.


Not His birth – but His death.