Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 2:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The angel of the Church in Pergamos - See the description of this place, Revelation 1:11.

Which hath the sharp sword - See on Revelation 1:16; (note). The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, cuts every way; it convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment; pierces between the joints and the marrow, divides between the soul and spirit, dissects the whole mind, and exhibits a regular anatomy of the soul. It not only reproves and exposes sin, but it slays the ungodly, pointing out and determining the punishment they shall endure. Jesus has the sword with the two edges, because he is the Savior of sinners, and the Judge of quick and dead.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos - See the notes on Revelation 1:20.

These things saith he which hath the sharp sword, … - See the notes on Revelation 1:16. Compare Hebrews 4:12; Ecclesiastes 12:11; Isaiah 49:2. Prof. Stuart suggests that when the Saviour, as represented in the vision, “uttered words, as they proceeded from his mouth, the halitus which accompanied them assumed, in the view of John, the form of an igneous two-edged sword.” It is more probable, however, that the words which proceeded from his mouth did not assume anything like a form or substance, but John means to represent them as if they were a sharp sword. His words cut and penetrate deep, and it was easy to picture him as having a sword proceeding from his mouth; that is, his words were as piercing as a sharp sword. As he was about to reprove the church at Pergamos, there was a propriety in referring to this power of the Saviour. Reproof cuts deep; and this is the idea represented here.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 354

Verse 12

Against the church of Smyrna, which has just been considered, there was no word of condemnation uttered. Persecution is ever calculated to keep the church pure, and incite its members to piety and godliness. But we now reach a period when influences began to work through which errors and evils were likely to creep into the church.DAR 354.4

The word Pergamos signifies hight, elevation. The period covered by this church may be located from the days of Constantine, or perhaps, rather, from his professed conversion to Christianity, A. D. 323, to the establishment of the papacy, A. D. 538. It was a period in which the true servants of God had to struggle against a spirit of worldly policy, pride, and popularity among the professed followers of Christ, and against the virulent workings of the mystery of iniquity, which finally resulted in the full development of the papal man of sin.DAR 354.5

Where Satan's Seat Is. — Christ takes cognizance of the unfavorable situation of his people during this period. The language is not probably designed to denote locality. As to place, Satan works wherever Christians dwell. But surely there are times and seasons when he works with special power; and the period covered by the church of Pergamos was one of these. During this period, the doctrine of Christ was being corrupted, the mystery of iniquity was working, and Satan was laying the very foundation of that most stupendous system of wickedness, the papacy. Here was the falling away foretold by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.DAR 355.1

Antipas. — That a class of persons is referred to by this name, and not an individual, there is good reason to believe; for no authentic information respecting such an individual is now to be found. On this point, William Miller says: —DAR 355.2

“It is supposed that Antipas was not an individual, but a class of men who opposed the power of the bishops, or popes, in that day, being a combination of two words, anti, opposed, and papas, father, or pope; and at that time many of them suffered martyrdom in Constantinople and Rome, where the bishops and popes began to exercise the power which soon after brought into subjection the kings of the earth, and trampled on the rights of the church of Christ. And for myself, I see no reason to reject this explanation of this word Antipas in this text, as the history of those times is perfectly silent respecting such an individual as is here named.” — Miller's Lectures, pp. 138, 139.DAR 355.3

Watson says, “Ancient ecclesiastical history furnishes no account of this Antipas.” Dr. Clarke mentions a work as extant called the “Acts of Antipas,” but gives us to understand that it is entitled to no credit.DAR 355.4

The Cause of Censure. — Disadvantages in situation are no excuse for wrongs in the church. Although this church lived at a time when Satan was especially at work, it was their duty to keep themselves pure from the leaven of his evil doctrines. Hence they were censured for harboring among them those who held the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes. (See remarks on the Nicolaitanes, verse 6.) What the doctrine of Balaam was, is here partially revealed. He taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel. (See a full account of his work and its results in Numbers, chapters 22-25 and 31:13-16.) It appears that Balaam desired to curse Israel for the sake of the rich reward which Balak offered him for so doing. But not being permitted by the Lord to curse them, he resolved to accomplish essentially the same thing, though in a different way. He therefore counseled Balak to seduce them, by means of the females of Moab, to participate in the celebration of the rights of idolatry, and all its licentious accompaniments. The plan succeeded. The abominations of idolatry spread through the camp of Israel, the curse of God was called down upon them by their sins, and there fell by the plague twenty-four thousand persons.DAR 356.1

The doctrines complained of in the church of Pergamos were of course similar in their tendency, leading to spiritual idolatry, and an unlawful connection between the church and the world. Out of this spirit was finally produced the union of the civil and ecclesiastical powers, which culminated in the formation of the papacy.DAR 356.2

Repent. — By disciplining or expelling those who hold these pernicious doctrines. Christ declared that if they did not do this, he would take the matter into his own hands, and come unto them (in judgment), and fight against them (those who held these evil doctrines); and the whole church would be held responsible for the wrongs of those heretical ones whom they harbored in their midst.DAR 356.3

The Promise. — To the overcomer it is promised that he shall eat of the hidden manna, and receive from his approving Lord a white stone, with a new and precious name engraved thereon. Concerning manna that is “hidden,” and a new name that no one is to know but he that receives it, not much in the way of exposition should be required. But there has been much conjecture upon these points, and an allusion to them may be expected. Most commentators apply the manna, white stone, and new name, to spiritual blessings to be enjoyed in this life; but, like all the other promises to the overcomer, this one doubtless refers wholly to the future, and is to be given when the time comes that the saints are to be rewarded. Perhaps the following from the late H. Blunt is as satisfactory as anything that has ever been written upon these several particulars: —DAR 356.4

“It is generally thought by commentators that this refers to an ancient judicial custom of dropping a black stone into an urn when it is intended to condemn, and a white stone when the prisoner is to be acquitted; but this is an act so distinct from that described, ‘I will give thee a white stone,' that we are disposed to agree with those who think it refers rather to a custom of a very different kind, and not unknown to the classical reader, according with beautiful propriety to the case before us. In primitive times, when traveling was rendered difficult from want of places of public entertainment, hospitality was exercised by private individuals to a very great extent, of which, indeed, we find frequent traces in all history, and in none more than the Old Testament. Persons who partook of this hospitality, and those who practiced it, frequently contracted habits of friendship and regard for each other, and it became a well-established custom among the Greeks and Romans to provide their guests with some particular mark, which was handed down from father to son, and insured hospitality and kind treatment whenever it was presented. This mark was usually a small stone or pebble, cut in half, upon the halves of which the host and the guest mutually inscribed their names, and then interchanged with each other. The production of this tessera was quite sufficient to insure friendship for themselves or descendants whenever they traveled again in the same direction, while it is evident that these stones required to be privately kept, and the names written upon them carefully concealed, lest others should obtain the privileges instead of the persons for whom they were intended.DAR 357.1

“How natural, then, the allusion to this custom in the words of the text, ‘I will give him to eat of the hidden manna!' and having done this, having made him partake of my hospitality, having recognized him as my guest and friend, I will present him with the white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, save he who receiveth it. I will give him a pledge of my friendship, sacred and inviolable, known only to himself.”DAR 358.1

On the new name, Wesley very appropriately says: —DAR 358.2

“Jacob, after his victory, gained the new name of Israel. Wouldst thou know what thy new name will be? The way to this is plain — overcome. Till then, all thy inquiries are vain. Thou wilt then read it on the white stone.”DAR 358.3

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The word of God is a sword, able to slay both sin and sinners. It turns and cuts every way; but the believer need not fear this sword; yet this confidence cannot be supported without steady obedience. As our Lord notices all the advantages and opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so he notices our temptations and discouragements from the same causes. In a situation of trials, the church of Pergamos had not denied the faith, either by open apostacy, or by giving way so as to avoid the cross. Christ commends their stedfastness, but reproves their sinful failures. A wrong view of gospel doctrine and Christian liberty, was a root of bitterness from which evil practices grew. Repentance is the duty of churches and bodies of men, as well as of particular persons; those who sin together, should repent together. Here is the promise of favour to those that overcome. The influences and comforts of the Spirit of Christ, come down from heaven into the soul, for its support. This is hidden from the rest of the world. The new name is the name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the believer's soul, this new name and its real import are understood by him.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 265.5

In meeting the enemy in the wilderness, Christ's response to his wicked insinuations was, “It is written.” When Satan presumed to claim the ownership of the whole world, and asked Christ to worship him as God, He who with a word might have called to His assistance legions of angels, merely said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). The intensity of this conflict we but partly understand. It seemed as though the Saviour would die on the field of battle, but He withstood the wily foe. His words so carefully chosen, were as sharp as a two-edged sword. Satan was thoroughly repulsed. He realized that the Prince of Life could not be deceived by any sophistry. TDG 265.5

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