Peeling the Onion: Revelations 2:12-29

To the 3rd church, Pergamum, the figure self-identifies with his two-edged sword

I KNOW

He knows what? Where Satan’s throne is – too close to Pergamum for comfort!

The transpersonal entity called ‘Satan’ has apparently killed Antipas, an individual church member (who happens to share the name with one of Herod the Great’s sons)

AND

The rest of the congregation did not buckle

BUT

They are harbouring some divergent thinkers, leading to bad practices. We are left to speculate about Balaam and Balak style misleading, given the clue of the original story in Numbers. About the ‘Nicolaitans’ we have fewer clues.

The formula ends again with a threat “don’t make me come down there!” and an ultimate promise, of a ‘white stone’…

The 4th church, Thyatira, gets the figure self-identifying by face and feet of that colossus, to remind us of the earlier vision of the colossus.

I KNOW

There are lots of affirmations of this 4th church, and its love, faith, endurance over time renewed.

BUT

They are harbouring a ‘Jezebel’ – like the Balaam and Balak thing, this code at least has reference points in Kings, and the queen who opposed Elijah in her cosmopolitan affluence.

Threats of suitable punishments, promises of just exemption from punishment, and ultimate promises, end the message…

Have you ever had a job where the human resources expectation was that you should be giving or receiving ‘feedback’ to co-workers? Does this stuff seem familiar? Painfully so?

Download audio here,close your eyes to visualize imagery,or read along in NRSV below:

NJB Chapter 2:12-29 Message to 3rd and 4th of 7 Churches

12 'Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum and say, "Here is the message of the one who has the sharp sword, double-edged:

13 I know where you live, in the place where Satan is enthroned, and that you still hold firmly to my name, and did not disown your faith in me even when my faithful witness, Antipas, was killed among you, where Satan lives.

14 "Nevertheless, I have one or two charges against you: some of you are followers of Balaam, who taught Balak to set a trap for the Israelites so that they committed adultery by eating food that had been sacrificed to idols;

15 and among you too there are some also who follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

16 So repent, or I shall soon come to you and attack these people with the sword out of my mouth.

17 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: to those who prove victorious I will give some hidden manna and a white stone, with a new name written on it, known only to the person who receives it."

18 'Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira and say, "Here is the message of the Son of God who has eyes like a burning flame and feet like burnished bronze:

19 I know your activities, your love, your faith, your service and your perseverance, and I know how you are still making progress.

20 Nevertheless, I have a complaint to make: you tolerate the woman Jezebel who claims to be a prophetess, and by her teaching she is luring my servants away to commit the adultery of eating food which has been sacrificed to idols.

21 I have given her time to repent but she is not willing to repent of her adulterous life.

22 Look, I am consigning her to a bed of pain, and all her partners in adultery to great hardship, unless they repent of their practices;

23 and I will see that her children die, so that all the churches realize that it is I who test motives and thoughts and repay you as your deeds deserve.

24 But on the rest of you in Thyatira, all of you who have not accepted this teaching or learnt the deep secrets of Satan, as they are called, I am not laying any other burden;

25 but hold on firmly to what you already have until I come.

26 To anyone who proves victorious, and keeps working for me until the end, I will give the authority over the nations

27 which I myself have been given by my Father, to rule them with an iron scepter, and shatter them like so many pots.

28 And I will give such a person the Morning Star. 29 Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

Messages to 3rd and 4th of 7 Churches

12 ‘And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword:

13 ‘I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me* even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives.

14But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling-block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practise fornication.

15So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

16Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth.

17Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

18 ‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze:

19 ‘I know your works— your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first.

20But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants* to practise fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication.

22Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings;

23and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

24But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call “the deep things of Satan”, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden;

25only hold fast to what you have until I come.

26To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations;

27 to rule* them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered—

28even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star.

29Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.