The church in Pergamum. Could I comment, briefly, on that phrasing? John writes, “the church in ________” (fill in the blank; here, in Pergamum). In all places, these are believers who assemble or gather together regularly. And, so, when we speak of “Baxter Avenue Baptist Church,” though we do not all live on Baxter Avenue, we gather there. We are the body of Christ that gathers in a particular location. We are not the church building on Baxter Avenue.
The believers in Pergamum, like others, faced such harsh opposition even to death: “even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you” (2:13). Furthermore, this is a place “where Satan dwells” (2:13), a place that seems particularly loathsome and dangerous for followers of Jesus. Through it all, these have remained faithful. However, they have allowed to be present in their midst those who hold to “the teaching of Balaam” (2:14), a particularly pernicious matter, i.e., sexual and spiritual adultery. They must repent and remain faithful or face judgment. To those who overcome these teachings and practices, to them is given hidden manna, a white stone, and a new name” (2:17), rich blessings from God.
Hold fast when the world would allure thee to sin;
Hold fast when the tempter assails from within;
In sunshine or sadness, in gain or in loss,
To falter were madness; oh, cling to the cross.
Hold fast till I come, hold fast till I come,
A bright crown awaits thee; Hold fast till I come. -- Sophia T. Griswold (1876)