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Revelation 2:12-17 | Free Grace Bible Study

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“When my brothers and I were in Junior High, we often played in the woods near our house and we had a big secret. Next to the muddy little creek that snaked through the trees at the bottom of the ravine, we had our boyhood pride and joy hidden away for no prying eyes to see. 

“I don’t remember how we originally acquired them, but we had a cache of machetes, hidden away in the nook of a tree. We were afraid my parents would take the dangerous swords away from us if they knew we had them. 

“Having a sharp machete made us feel powerful. We could reshape the woods to fit our own imaginations, even bringing down medium-sized trees. Although it never happened, we imagined ourselves able to fight off wild dogs, or bears with those metal woodsman weapons. Those wannabe swords were a source of strength. 

“Our silly little machetes are laughable compared to a real, double-edged sword like those used in battle. Even more impressive than the battle-beaten implements of old, will be the sword that Jesus has. It’s talked about in the passage we’re covering in this session. 

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Lesson Description

In today’s session, we’ll cover Revelation 2:12-17. We'll explore Jesus's messages to the church in Pergamos. We’ll look into His warning against the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, and His call for repentance and faithfulness in the middle of persecution. This study highlights the promise of eternal rewards for overcomers, emphasizing the importance of discipleship and a closer relationship with Christ.

If you would like to lead a group through this Bible study, this page gives you the basic tools to help your friends, family, small group, or church grow in God's word. We encourage you to take what is written and make it your own. If you have any questions please contact us through the contact form on our website: freegrace.in. Whether you are leading a group or going through the material as an individual, we're glad you've joined us, and hope you enjoy.

Passage | Revelation 2:12-17

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,

‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 

“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 

But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 

Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 

Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’

Bible Study

2:12 Jesus introduces Himself to the church in Pergamos as "He who has the sharp two-edged sword." This imagery is deeply symbolic, representing the power and authority of Christ's word, which is able to judge and discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The two-edged sword appears again in Revelation 19:15, where it is used to strike down the nations, showcasing its role in executing divine judgment and establishing His kingdom. By presenting Himself in this manner to Pergamos, Jesus emphasizes His authority to both protect and judge, reminding the church of the serious and penetrating nature of His word, and the importance of living in accordance with it.

2:13 Jesus acknowledges the challenging environment in which the believers of Pergamos live, a place He describes metaphorically as where "Satan's throne is." This reference likely points to the city's deep-rooted pagan practices and its significant political and religious importance in the Roman Empire, possibly highlighted by the presence of several temples dedicated to Roman gods, including a grand temple to Zeus, which could be referred to as "Satan's throne." 

Jesus commends the believers in Pergamos for their steadfast faith, particularly noting their loyalty in not denying His name or faith, even amid severe persecution. This is exemplified in the mention of Antipas. According to early church tradition, Antipas was a beloved leader in the early Christian community, who was martyred for his unwavering commitment to Christ, in a gruesome public execution that was intended to deter others from following the Christian faith.

The specific mention of Antipas by Jesus underscores the personal nature of His knowledge and care for His followers. It serves as both a commendation for those who have remained faithful under pressure and a powerful reminder of the cost of discipleship. The reference to "where Satan dwells" not only speaks to the pervasive evil in Pergamos but also highlights the believers' courage in maintaining their faithfulness in an environment hostile to their beliefs.

2:14-15 Jesus addresses the presence of individuals who adhere to "the doctrine of Balaam." This reference to Balaam, a prophet from the Old Testament (Numbers 22-24), who was later cited for leading the Israelites into idolatry and sexual immorality by advising Balak, the Moabite king, on how to entice Israel into sin. It illustrates how similar temptations and compromises were infiltrating the Pergamos church, with some members engaging in idolatrous practices and immorality.

The mention of "the doctrine of the Nicolaitans" in verse 15 ties back to Jesus's earlier admonition to the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:6), where the Nicolaitans' practices were also condemned. The Nicolaitans promoted the participation in pagan feasts and sexual immorality, similar to the enticements of Balaam. Jesus's hates this!

2:16 Jesus calls for repentance from the believers in Pergamos, emphasizing the urgency of correcting their course. This call to repentance is directed at a community that, despite its challenges, has notably not denied their faith, indicating they are indeed believers. He is not questioning their salvation, but instead calling them to get their discipleship back on track. 

Jesus’s warning that He will "fight against them with the sword of My mouth" underscores the serious consequences of failing to align with divine truth, highlighting the power of His word to judge and correct. This emphasizes that while salvation is secure for those who have believed in Jesus, ongoing repentance and right living are crucial aspects of discipleship that affect one’s effectiveness in the world, and the eternal reward they will receive in the kingdom to come.

2:17 Jesus extends a profound promise of eternal rewards to those who overcome. Remember the overcomer is the Christian who fights for victory during their earthly life. For the Christian who doesn’t succumb to the world’s temptation, there are some mysterious and amazing eternal rewards waiting. 

The "hidden manna" represents a unique, spiritual sustenance, signifying a deeper, more intimate fellowship with Christ in the kingdom to come, beyond the basic provision of salvation. It’s a reminder of the manna that the Israelites fed on in the desert (Exodus 16:14-35). 

Some have speculated the "white stone," may be a kind of New Kingdom Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim were objects used in ancient Israel to discern the will of God, used by the high priest. (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21). This could be a reference to the fact that overcomes will be made priests to God (Revelation 1:6, 5:10). If that is right, then this white stone would signify an ability to know God’s will and decisions on a personal level, without having to consult with any intermediaries. Whatever the white stone is, it must represent intimacy with the Lord, since only that overcomer and the Lord will know the name written on it. 

These rewards underscore the essence of eternal rewards as not merely tokens of achievement, but as representations of a closer relationship with Christ Himself, making them invaluable. 

I hope we may take the promise of these incredible rewards to heart, letting them motivate us toward a life of committed discipleship. 

Discussion Questions

  • What does the "sharp two-edged sword" symbolize when Jesus introduces Himself to Pergamos?
  • How does the environment of Pergamos, described as "where Satan's throne is," challenge the believers there?
  • Who was Antipas, and why is his story important for understanding faithfulness under persecution?
  • What is the "doctrine of Balaam," and how was it affecting the church in Pergamos?
  • Why does Jesus hate the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and how is it similar to the doctrine of Balaam?
  • In what way does Jesus call for repentance from the believers in Pergamos, and what does it mean for their discipleship?
  • How does Jesus emphasize the importance of aligning with divine truth in His warning to the church?
  • What are the eternal rewards promised to those who overcome, according to Revelation 2:17?
  • How does the "hidden manna" and the "white stone" signify a deeper relationship with Christ?
  • How can the promise of eternal rewards motivate us toward a life of committed discipleship?

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