THE PERGAMON & THYATIRA LETTERS
Walls appear to be closing in as we wander further into the labyrinth of the mystery of the 7 churches of Revelation and pore over ancient letters. (Revelation Chapter 2 & 3). These 7 cryptic letters were written to 7 churches, and are infused with rich and unusual imagery. The letters beg the question…Why have 7 churches been singled out to hear from God in a vision given to John of Patmos? After reading the first two letters, we think we have a few answers. We will now read two more letters written to churches in the ancient cities of Pergamon (or Pergamum), and Thyatira. Who knows? Perhaps these letters will deepen our understanding of some of the mysteries of God which we are beginning to realize is part of this journey. Each of these letters was wondrously and strangely revealed to John in a vision. The One bringing the vision was mysterious in appearance… “…looking like Jesus, He called Himself ‘The Son of Man’, and was wearing a long robe, with a gold band encircled around his chest…and His face shone like the power of the sun with unclouded brilliance…” In this profound setting, John trembled in fear, yet he began to record the letters, and was no doubt uplifted by positive words from Jesus as he began. But suddenly the mood has changed. Ominous warnings begin to unfold in Revelation Chapter 2: 12-29 , warnings which were not so evident in the two earlier letters to churches in Ephesus and Smyrna.
To the Pergamon Church, Jesus declares: I AM FULLY AWARE THAT YOU LIVE IN THE CITY WHERE SATAN’S THRONE IS…YET YOU HAVE REMAINED LOYAL TO ME AND REFUSED TO DENY MY NAME…HOWEVER, I HAVE A FEW THINGS AGAINST YOU…(Wait a minute..if this church is loyal, what’s gone wrong?)
And to the Thyatira Church: I AM AWARE OF ALL YOUR GOOD DEEDS, YOUR KINDNESS TO THE POOR, YOUR LOVE AND FAITH AND PATIENCE…YOUR CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT IN ALL OF THESE THINGS, BUT I HAVE SOMETHING AGAINST YOU…(No! Wait… I was certain this church was on the right track…)
Pergamon…was the site of the martyrdom of the first bishop of the church, Antipas in 92 AD. The city of Thyatira…(today known as Akhisar) was a famous ancient centre for trade. Both sites were ‘home’ to early Christian churches. These churches seemed to endure and keep a strong faith up to a point. But we learn that the culture around them was like a raging storm of idolatry and greed, and the Pergamon and Thyatira churches were not unlike ships at sea, tossed about and rapidly heading for a treacherous coastline. These churches were being lulled into a perilous trap. They were being led astray by a ‘spirit’ of Balaam, (an Old Testament figure who practised divination or witchcraft and promoted sexual immorality)…and by a ‘spirit’ of Jezebel, the ultimate self-serving, ‘Bible bad girl’ who lured Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry. In the letters to the 7 churches, Jesus knows the danger the Pergamon and Thyatira churches are facing. He throws out an urgent spiritual lifeline, a plea —Change your mind and attitude…now!
Read through these letters again in Revelation 2: 12-29. Why was it so important for these two churches to change their mind and attitude and to repent? What difference does repentance make in a believer’s life? What might have taken place if these churches refused to repent? Is there a similar challenge facing Christ- followers today?
Collect #3 and #4 of 7 clues here. The same inheritance offered to the Pergamon and Thyatira churches can also belong to you.
“Store up treasues in heaven…” Matthew 6:20
(Coming next: No. 5 The Sardis Letter)
© 2011 S. Michaels