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Ver. 12. Pergamos.] A city of great account, enriched and adorned by a long succession of the Attalian Kings. The last of these, Attalus Philometer, bequeathed his dominions to the Romans, and it then became the residence of a Roman pro
consul. Pliny the elder, who wrote but a short time before the date of this Revelation, describes it as the most famous city in Asia*. A heathen metropolis would naturally become a central seat of corruptive doctrines and morals; and in this sense it might be called “ the throne of Satan.” It might also acquire this appellation from being the seat of the pagan persecuting government, whence issued the edicts and instruments of persecution; and it appears that Antipas, the faithful martyr, was slain here t. It was also a grand seat of heathen learning, because its famous library of 200,000 volumes would necessarily attract the residence of the learned; whence also from this place would probably be derived that “philosophy and vain deceit,” against which, as corruptive of Christianity, the apostle warns his disciples † And the Bedm, or depths of Gnostical learning, are ascribed to Satan, in the address to the Church of Thyatira g. So, in more senses than one, Pergamos may have been styled the “ Throne os of Satan.” It is described by modern travellers as containing at present from two to three thousand Turks, who have converted its best churches into mosques. Yet there are some few Christians remaining, to whom a priest sent from Smyrna, occasionally officiates.
Ib. Two-edged skarp sword.] With this instrument of power our Lord bas been already described, in ch. i. 16, where see the note. The description is peculiarly proper in this place, because the supreme Head of the Church now appears against the “ Throne of
• Nat. Hist. lib. V. C. XXX,
Coloss. ii. 8.
+ Ver. 13.
“Satan,” against the seat of persecution, of corrupt morals, and of corrupt philosophy *.
Ver. 13. Antipas.] No account has been preserved to our times, of this martyr ; but Andreas Cæsariensis reports, that he had read the history of his martyrdom t.
Ver. 14. Doctrine of Balaam.] This Church is hitherto commended for its stedfast faith and perseverance, even in times of great trial. But she had in her bosom some who taught impure doctrines. By referring to Numb. xxxi. 16, and then to the whole 25th chapter of the same book, we learn that Balaam suggested to Balak the means, or stumbling-block, by which he decoyed Israel from their duty; and that the sin which they committed, when fallen into this snare, was apostacy from their God, by joining in the heathen sacrifices with the dissolute women, who were employed to seduce them. Hence, by the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Jude, a defection from the true religion, when united with immoral and lascivious practices, is called, “following the way, " or error of Balaam.”
Ver. 15. Nicolaitans.] See note, ch. ii. 5. These were followers of the doctrine of Balaam, as the name signifies both in Hebrew and Arabic. See Michaelis, Introd. to New Test. ch. xxviii. sect. 3.
Ver. 16. I will war against them.] Not against you the Church, but them, the corrupters of it. Yet, insomuch as many received these impure doctrines, and the rulers of the Church had not been vigilant to reclaim or eject them, all are called to repent. For the weapon with which their Lord threatens to
† Comm. in loc.
* See the last note.
attack them, see note ch. i. 16. It is with this powerful sword that Antichrist shall be slain, and the enemies of the church shall be finally subdued *. The word of God, advancing in its purity, and gaining dominion over the hearts and actions of men, shall in due time expel idolatry, infidelity, and the persecuting spirit of worldly policy and of insincere religiont. This “ word of God” is described as having a living efficacy, “sharper than any two-edged “sword,” penetrating into the inmost parts of man ; and it is represented as an object of terror to those of the brethren, who, from an evil heart of unbelief, shall apostatize from the living God g. And, in the subsequent verse, the whole congregation is directed to exhort each other daily, lest any of them be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Apply this to the Church of Pergamos, which the members of it might then have done, by having recourse to the same Sacred Scripture.
Ver. 17. Hidden manna.] This expression will become intelligible, by the perusal of the 6th chapter of Saint John's Gospel from the 26th verse. Our Lord declares to the multitude, who followed him in the expectation of being miraculously fed, that he himself is the bread of life, the manna from heaven, which shall support those partaking of it to everlasting life : and when they could not, or would not, understand him in the spiritual sense which he intended, he tells them that he is to be understood in a figurative, and not in a literal meaning. “ It is
* Is. xi. 4. 2 Thess. ii. 8. Rev. xix. 15, 21.
+ Matt. xii. 36, 37. John viii, 31, 37, 43, 47. xii. 47, 48. xv. 3, 7. Heb. i. 3. 1 Pet. i. 23, 25. Heb. iv, 12.
$ Heb. iii. 12.
“the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth no“thing; the words that I speak to you, they are “ Spirit, and they are Life.” The “ hidden manna” is this bread of life in its spiritual signification, of which the manna, free from corruption, laid up in the tabernacle, was only a type; namely, the benefits derived to the faithful followers of Christ by the offering of his body; forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. In the midst of a figurative discourse, our Lord presented his disciples with this plain interpretation : “ Verily, verily I say unto you, " he that believeth on me hath everlasting life; I “ am that bread of life*.” He who through faith in . his crucified Redeemer, follows him in his victorious career, unmoved by the temptations or threats of the enemy, is by his Lord's appointment entitled to this food of heavenly life. But this “ Life is hid “ with Christ in Godt.” “It does not yet appear “ what we shall be.” “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear “ heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, “ the things which God hath prepared for those that “ love himg.” Such appears to be the hidden manna, namely, the ineffable joys of a blessed immortality.
From the small remains of history, which are preserved to us of this church, she seems to have remembered these splendid promises of her Lord; for many of the Pergamenians underwent the fiery trial of martyrdom, at the time when Polycarp suffered at Smyrna ||
Ver. 17. IVhite stone.] Stones, by Dou, calculi, were used by the ancient nations, as the names import, to calculate and to vote with; and in criminal pro
* John vi, 47, 48. § 1 Cor. ii. 9.