[Rev. 2:12] ¶ “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write the following: ¶ “This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: [Rev. 2:13] ‘I know where you live—where Satan’s throne is. Yet you continue to cling to my name and you have not denied your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was killed in your city where Satan lives. [Rev. 2:14] But I have a few things against you: You have some people there who follow the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel so they would eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. [Rev. 2:15] In the same way, there are also some among you who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans. [Rev. 2:16] Therefore, repent! If not, I will come against you quickly and make war against those people with the sword of my mouth. [Rev. 2:17] The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give him some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on that stone will be written a new name that no one can understand except the one who receives it.’
Some churches have lost their first love for Christ (Ephesus). Other churches are pandering to the pressures of culture and are compromising their obedience to Christ (Smyrna). The church at Pergamum had two problems.
Firstly, they had people advocating open disobedience to Christ through sexual immorality (2:14). Secondly, they had the problem of good leaders who were too afraid to do anything about it.
Courage is an admirable virtue that beautifies the believer. But courage in one way is no guarantee of courage in every way. The Pergamum believers had shown marvelous courage in the face of external persecution (2:13) but no courage in the face of internal strife (2:14).
It seems that Christ was expecting the pastor and elders to not only show courage in the face of external opposition, but to also show courage in the face of open disobedience by publicly correcting the wayward and the defiant within the church.
This rebuke from Christ destroys the notion that Christ is indifferent to sexual activity. Sexual activity is one the most obvious indicators of a person’s alignment to, or rejection of, the Bible’s moral standards. Those who understand that mankind uniquely bears the image of God will understand that it was established by a marriage of the first man and woman who celebrated this united divine image bearing through sexual union. Sexual activity was established as an intrinsically spiritual activity which is why sexual immorality is such a serious assault on God’s character, God’s Word and the image of God which a man and a woman bear.
For leaders within a church to deal with this kind of sinful activity requires great, overcoming, courage. If you are a leader within your church, I pray that you will be a courageous one. If you serve a leader within your church, I hope that you will pray for them to be courageous.