Message to the church: “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.” ‘ (Revelation 2:12-17)
Description: In many ways, Pergamos is the polar opposite of Ephesus. Ephesians put too much emphasis on doctrine at the expense of good works; inhabitants of Pergamos put too much emphasis on good works and downplay the need for theology or doctrine. If you find yourself saying, “Why does it matter what I believe if I’m doing good things for other people?”, you might be in Pergamos. The problem with this is twofold. First, faith helps you understand what deeds are actually good and what might in the end be harmful even if they seem good. Someone with the best of intentions can be manipulated into doing harm if they are not putting careful thought into how they serve others. Second, without faith, it’s easy to start feeling superior to others because of your good deeds, or even – like the Nicolaitans – that you’ve earned a heavenly reward. Good deeds like this lead to an attitude of superiority and condescension.
Call to action: If you resonate with the message to Pergamos, you are called to repent, to heed sword coming of the Lord’s mouth, i.e. the truth. Don’t discount the importance of learning the truth. It’s only through the truth that good intentions are made effective.
Promise: The people of Pergamos are promised “hidden mana” to eat. There’s something precious and deep here. If you’re one of these people, you won’t necessarily ever be someone who writes or talks in detailed language about theology. But when you add truth to your existing good intentions, you gain an unspoken, deep kind of wisdom that is more meaningful than any kind of academic knowledge.