Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Church at Pergamos - Part 1

Temple Baptist Church - 12-15-2019
Revelation 2:12-17


A.  As with the Church at Smyrna, Pergamos is mentioned only twice by name in the Bible: chapters 1 and 2.  Therefore, our history of Pergamos must come from sources of Church History and Tradition.  Once again, we must be careful at this point because history is normally written by the survivors and can be biased.

B.  The 4 Interpretations of the Church at Pergamos.

1.  The Practical Interpretation – “The Wedded Church” – The “church” becomes wedded to the state.

2.  The Perennial Interpretation – “The Clerical Church” – The “church” becomes more structured and ritualistic.

3.  The Parabolic Interpretation – “The Mustard Seed” (Matthew 13:31-32) – The “church” grows into a state that God never intended for it to become.

4.  The Prophetical Interpretation – “The Patronizing Church” (313-606 A.D.) – The “church” provided aid and support to the state.

C.  At the time of the writing of The Book of Revelation, the city of Pergamum (Pergamos) had been the capital of the Roman province of Asia for two centuries.  Pergamum was the chief center of cultural and intellectual life of the "Hellenistic" world. Christ says to the church that He knows where they dwell, "where Satan's seat is". Pergamum had distinguished itself in 29 B.C. by becoming the site of the first cult of a living Roman emperor. A temple was built and dedicated to the joint worship of the goddess Roma (a personification of the spirit of the empire) and the emperor Augustus. At the very time John wrote these words, Christians were suffering persecution for refusing to worship the emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96), who insisted on being worshiped as "lord and god." Pergamum was also the religious capital of Asia Minor. It was a center of Hellenistic thought and emperor worship and had many pagan temples. Its designation as the place "where Satan's seat is" was appropriate!  The Pergamos period of church history is thought to begin about the time of Constantine's acceptance of the Christian cause, in A.D. 313.   It was during this time that the papacy began to win religious and political leadership of Western Europe and that Satan established his "seat" within the churchThe papacy (Roman Catholic Church) was a skillful and deceitful blend of paganism with Christianity, truth and error.

D.   Christians in the second and third centuries had to fight what every strategist tries to avoid—a war on two fronts.

1.  While the church was fighting to preserve its existence in the face of attempts by the Roman state to abolish it, it was also fighting to preserve purity of doctrine within the church as heretics could now join local churches and infiltration was much easier.

2.  Around 230 A.D., local churches were opened to the public, an unbiblical principle as the church (ecclesia) was meant to be a “called assembly” of saints for worship and teaching.  It was never meant to be a public assembly where anyone could come.

3.  Converts to the Christian faith either came from a Jewish background of salvation by works or from the intellectual environment of Greek philosophy. Many of these converts, until the church could instruct them properly, tended to carry their old ideas into their new environment. Others tried to make Christianity appear intellectually respectable to the

E.  Historical Timeline.

1.  100-312 A.D., Persecution went from sporadic and aimed more at individuals to blanket persecution against anyone or anything that rejected the worship of Roman “gods.”  The persecution became so great that “traditores” were common among professing believers.  Euseibius, wrote that Christians were punished by loss of property, exile, imprisonment, or execution by the sword or wild beasts.

During the second and third centuries the church expressed its emerging self-consciousness in a new literary output—the writings of the apologists and the polemicists.

a.  Apologists - Justin Martyr was the greatest of the former group; Irenaeus was the outstanding man of the latter group. The apologists faced a hostile government, which they tried to win with the arguments of their literary productions. They tried to convince the leaders of the state that the Christians had done nothing to deserve the persecutions being inflicted on them. Apologists used the pagan literary form of the dialogue and the legal form of the apologia.

b.  Polemicists - The polemicists, such as Irenaeus, tried to meet the challenge of heretical movements. Whereas the apostolic fathers wrote only to and for Christians, these writers wrote to and for the leaders of the Roman state or to heretics to win them back to the truth of the Scriptures by literary argument.

2.  306-337 A.D., Constantine the Great was Emperor of Rome.  Constantine is said to have seen a cross in the sky with the Latin words for “in this sign conquer” before the battle at Milvian Bridge near Rome in 312. He won the battle. The next year he granted freedom of worship, ending the persecution of the Christians.

3.  313 A.D. – The Edict of Milan.  After other periods of persecution, Galerius issued an edict from his deathbed in 311 that gave toleration to Christianity, provided the Christians did not violate the peace of the empire. Persecution did not cease completely until Licinius and Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313. This edict brought freedom of worship, not only to Christianity but to all religions until 381 A.D.  Constantine and Licinius then rebuilt the destroyed church buildings of the early church and restored all possessions confiscated during the persecution.  With persecution suspended, the “church” no longer wanted to do or say anything that would bring persecution back.

4.  325 A.D. – The Council of Nicaea.    Almost as important as the council itself is the fact that Constantine sat as a moderator. This intimate interaction between emperor and early churches would carry on into the middle ages without cessation.  The official beginning of the Roman Catholic Church took place.

5.  331 A.D. – Constantine the Great had 50 copies of the Alexandrian Text (also called the Neutral or Egyptian Text) made.  The Westcott and Hort Text, the Codex Vaticanus (known to scholars since the 15th century), and the Codex Sinaiticus (discovered in 1859), upon which the new versions of the Bible are bases are dated as 4th-century (300-400 A.D.) manuscripts,

C. I. Scofield, as most Westcott-Hort Text followers, did not do his “homework” when inserting his note on Mark 16:9-20 - The passage from Mar 16:9 to the end is not found in the two most ancient manuscripts, the Sinaitic and Vatican, and others have it with partial omissions and variations. But it is quoted by Irenaeus and Hippolytus in the second or third century.

Polycarp (69 – 155 A.D.)) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna.Both Irenaeus, who as a young man heard Polycarp speak, and Tertullian[3] record that Polycarp had been a disciple of John the Apostle.[4] Jerome writes that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna.[citation needed]

Irenaeus (125-202 A.D.) was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France. Irenaeus was born in Smyrna in Asia Minor, where he studied under bishop Polycarp, who in turn had been a disciple of the Apostle John.

Hippolytus (170—235 A.D), Hippolytus, a Greek, was a pupil of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was disciple of John the beloved disciple of Jesus.  The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome was composed in approximately 215 in Rome. It apparently preserved older second century practices which were in danger of falling to disuse or innovation.

These two men quoted these verses prior to the age of the so-called “two most ancient manuscripts” because they knew the Word of God that came from John the Beloved to Irenaeus to Hippolytus!  The King James Bible is correct and the Wescott-Hort Text is in error.

6.  313-606 A.D. – The establishment of the Roman Church continued to permeate the empire.  The “church” is “wedded to the state” and the Whore is now riding the Beast!

Revelation 17:1-9  And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:  (2)  With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.  (3)  So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  (4)  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:  (5)  And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  (6)  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.  (7)  And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.  (8)  The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.  (9)  And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

7.  The true churches in this period of history had to keep a low profile and biblical separation from the Roman Church to maintain their integrity.

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