Balaam was a Midianite prophet, depicted in the book of Numbers, who knew and served God. However, he chose greed and his own desires over what God had gifted him with, and he used his gifts inappropriately. He lusted after riches and thus became a mercenary of greed who enticed the Jews to sin and compromise their faith and virtue, for which they were judged. His rational was that war could not defeat God’s chosen people, but if his people were subverting them to compromise and dishonor God, God would take away the Jew’s blessing and then they could be defeated. Balaam symbolizes gluttony and the seeking of evil, and was considered worse than an invading army. He was a man who wanted God’s and his. This was just what the church at Pergamum wasit both ways struggling with. Thus, this church, as did Balaam, engaged in what was futile and foolish (Num. 17; 22-25—especially 23:7; 24:5-9; and 31:1 -18; 31:8-16; Deut. 23:4; Josh. 13:22; Micah 6:5; Jude 11; Rev. 2:14).
· To the teaching of refers to following a person and not the Lord, or following human reasoning, pleas, rational, or logic, and not God’s Word. No matter how good or bad a Bible teacher might be, we are always to test the word of people against His Word. We are to follow Christ and not people; we are to learn from people, team up with and honor them, but not venerate them so that we take our purpose and direction from them rather than from God. Here, the Christians were being taught to compromise and placate to the city rules, forsaking God’s precepts and call.
· Balaam was also a Jewish proverbial saying for being foolish, seeking greed, and dishonorable character. He is the archetype of a false or corrupt teacher who deceived people and/or caused others to bow to worldliness.
· Entice means to subvert and manipulate someone to do what is against their values, usually from personal agendas and bad motives that are against God.
· Food sacrificed to idols referred to participating in pagan religious festivals and immorality (Acts 15:20, 29). Whereas, in 1 Corinthians 8:1-8, just eating the food left over from a sacrifice (which was freely given or sold in the public meat market) to avoid starvation was not wrong.
· Sexual immorality was common in paganism, and was reprehensible to pious Jews and Christians. It also refers to spiritual unfaithfulness.
· Otherwise, I will soon come to you refers to if you do not get right with God, you will be judged. It does not refer to the final judgment; rather, it involves chastisement, discipline, or censor. This does not mean if we fail at our churches, God will come back and usher in His Kingdom sooner!
· Sword of my mouth means to fight with the Word of God (Heb. 4:12).
· Who overcomes means to not fall prey to temptations or compromise one’s faith, and to abstain from pagan practices. By forsaking evil feasts, we can participate in heavenly feasts (1 Cor. 10:14-22).
· Hidden manna refers to the contents of the Ark of the Covenant that was lost in 586 B.C. (Jer. 3:16). Jewish tradition says that the jar of manna was hidden by Jeremiah, and in the final days, would be found. (From apocryphal literature, 2 Macc.4; Book of Baruch). This also refers that Jesus is the Bread of Life (Ex. 16:33-35; Psalm 78:24; John 6:32-58; Heb. 9:4).
· White stone means acquittal. In courts, a black stone was used to write out a person’s guilt and a white stone meant the person was innocent. It was also used for medical prescriptions, referring to healing and restoration. This also meant a pass for special festivity like an expensive ticket to a special event. The theme here is that God wants us to repent so He can acquit us and restore us. He does not want to judge us unless that is the only way because we refuse Him and refuse to change our wrong ways and sin (Gen. 17:5-15).
· New name denotes the authority God has over us. By renaming us as He did with Peter, He restores us to being new (Gen. 2:19-20; Isa. 62:2; 65:15; Matt. 1:25).