Christ’s Speaking to the Local Churches in Revelation

To Pergamos

Pergamos, the third local church addressed by the Lord, denotes both “marriage” and “fortified tower,” signifying its union with and establishment within the fallen world system. In Revelation 2:12-17, the Lord Jesus therefore issues a strong warning as well as a promise to this local church. Witness Lee applies this speaking to Pergamos to the local churches today, warning the believers that if they compromise with the world, the church, as Christ's chaste bride will lose her purity. The Lord Jesus' word to the overcomers in the local church in Pergamos is explicit and direct:

And to the messenger of the church in Pergamos write: These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name and have not denied My faith, even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, that you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat idol sacrifices and to commit fornication. In the same way you also have some who hold in like manner the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore; but if not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war with them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and to him I will give a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knows except he who receives it.

Witness Lee comments on this epistle to the compromised, wordly local church in Pergamos:

In Greek Pergamos means “marriage,” implying union, and “fortified tower.” As a sign, the church in Pergamos prefigures the church which entered into a marriage union with the world and became a high fortified tower, equivalent to the great tree prophesied by the Lord in the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). When Satan failed to destroy the church through the persecution of the Roman Empire in the first three centuries, he changed his strategy. He sought instead to corrupt her through Constantine’s welcoming her as the state religion in the first part of the fourth century. Through Constantine’s encouragement and political influence, multitudes of unbelieving ones were baptized into the “church,” and the “church” became monstrously great. Since the church is a spouse to Christ as a chaste bride, her union with the world is considered spiritual fornication in the eyes of God.
This welcoming of the church by the Roman Empire ruined her, because it caused the church to become worldly. As we all know, the church has been called out of the world and has been separated from the world to God. However, by being welcomed by the Roman Empire, the church went back to the world and, in the eyes of God, even married the world. God considers this type of worldly union to be spiritual fornication….

(Witness Lee, LS of Revelation, 139-141)

Witness Lee goes on to address the issue of this local church's marriage with the world:

Due to this marriage, the church lost her purity and became worldly. Because the church had entered into union with the world, many worldly things came into the church. Worldly things are related to idol worship, for worldliness is always associated with idolatry. The church in Pergamos firstly became worldly and then idolatrous. Satan saturated her with the world and with idols. As a result, the church became absolutely different from what God intended her to be. God desires a church which is outside of the world, having nothing to do with the world. The church must be a golden lampstand, the pure expression of the Triune God, and must have no connections with the world. But after the Roman Empire had made the church a worldly religion, she became altogether impure, worldly, and idolatrous.

(Witness Lee, LS of Revelation, 139-141)

Witness Lee explains below, the Lord’s promise to give manna and a white stone as an incentive and reward to the overcomers in Pergamos:

Manna is a type of Christ as the heavenly food that enables God’s people to go His way. A portion of manna was preserved in a golden pot concealed in the ark (Exo. 16:32-34; Heb. 9:4). The open manna was for the Lord’s people to enjoy in a public way; the hidden manna, signifying the hidden Christ, is a special portion reserved for His overcoming seekers, who overcome the degradation of the worldly church. While the church goes the way of the world, these overcomers come forward to abide in the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, where they enjoy the hidden Christ as a special portion for their daily supply. This promise is being fulfilled today in·the proper church life and will be fulfilled in full in the coming kingdom. If we seek the Lord, overcome the degradation of the worldly church, and enjoy a special portion of the Lord today, He as the hidden manna will be a reward to us in the coming kingdom. If we miss Him as our special portion today in the church life, we will surely lose the enjoyment of Him as a reward in the coming kingdom.
In the Bible a stone signifies material for God’s building (Matt. 16:18; 1·Pet. 2:5; 1·Cor. 3:12). In our natural being we are not stones but clay. Because we received the divine life with its divine nature through regeneration, we can be transformed into stones, even precious stones, by enjoying Christ as our life supply (2·Cor. 3:18). If we do not follow the worldly church but enjoy the Lord in the proper church life, we will be transformed into stones for the building of God. These stones will be justified and approved by the Lord, as indicated by the color white, while the worldly church will be condemned and rejected by Him. God’s work of building the church depends on our transformation, and our transformation issues from the enjoyment of Christ as our life supply.

(Witness Lee, Footnotes, 1249-1250)

The local church in Pergamos received a strong, pointed admonition from the Lord Jesus due to her compromise, or "marriage" with the world. As Witness Lee makes clear, the issue of such a marriage is offensive to the Lord because it causes her, His betrothed, to become impure. This warning, together with the promised reward of the enjoyment of a special portion of Christ, pertains not only to the local church in Pergamos, but also to all the local churches.


















Summary Chart






Main | Ephesus | Smyrna | Pergamos | Thyatira | Sardis | Philadelphia | Laodicea | Summary Chart | Bibliography | Links

© 2001-2002. Living Stream Ministry. All Rights Reserved.