Exegetical look into Revelation 2: 12-13

Jesus knows us intimately; He knows our situation, our struggles and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love so we can focus upon Him and lean on Him both in our jubilations and also in our struggles. The key in this passage is to stay faithful in our Christian identity and our leadership of others, and to remain loyal to Christ. We are not to allow our doubts, fears, or state of affairs to occupy His place in our hearts and minds.

· Pergamum, now modern Bergama, has two meanings in the Greek. One is “citadel,” as in the capital of Asia Minor at one time, and also is the root word for paper as in “parchment.” It also has a nickname that means “sword,” which Jesus uses to make His point (pun intended). Pergamum was built on a hill that was at an elevation of 1,000 feet and that was cone-shaped. Pergamum was a strongly pagan city with perhaps a few Jews living there. It was famous for having the second largest library in the world at that time; only the one at Alexandria in Egypt was bigger. At the time, it was prosperous and also famous for inviting the Romans in, giving them a foothold in Asia Minor. Thus, they were not conquered, but placated, just as compromise does with our faith.

· Double-edged sword refers to a small offensive “Thracian” dagger. It symbolizes God’s ability and right to perform judgment (Isa 49:2; Heb 4:12; Rev. 2:12; 6:4, 8; 13:10, 14; 19:15, 21). For the Romans, this sword was the image of power, control, and used to enforce its laws and for capital punishment. In Scripture, sword also symbolizes war and refers to God’s ability and right to make war on those who seek to fight against Him (Rev. 1:16; 2:16; 19:13).

· Satan has his throne. This referred to either its pagan practices or the seat of the Roman throne for Asia. Pergamum worshiped the god Asclepius, who was Apollo’s son, the god of medicine. In addition, this city was the official center of emperor worship and Rome’s representation for Asia. They also had a huge100 foot+ altar for Zeus. Perhaps Jesus referred to this as Satan’s throne because they worshipped what was false. All its citizens were expected to worship these false gods, including worshiping the emperor. If they refused, they were persecuted by not being allowed to participate in the city life, festivals, and trade. This escalated to the Christians being executed for disloyalty to the emperor. And, this trend was exported to the other providences. Perhaps it was here in Pergamum that martyrdom started for Asia.

· Antipas was the first martyr in Asia. According to the Early Church Fathers, he was slowly roasted alive in a bronze kettle during the time of Domitian. (Another proof for a late date for Revelation.)

· Faithful witness is a name for Jesus, referring that Jesus is reliable. It also refers that Antipas was faithful to Christ in character and disposition, as we are all called to be (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:5; 2:10-13; 3:14).

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part III

Vs.15-28: Abomination of Desolation, refers to the most vile reasons (apostasy and sacrilege) causing the desolation of the holy place of the Temple. Daniel predicted this would happen after the death/rejection of the Messiah, which was also fulfilled at the crucifixion and the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. (Dan. 9:25-27; 11:31).

· A lot of prophecy, such as this example, is fulfilled in stages! The Temple was defiled (Abomination) and became empty (as the Romans took all the sacred things) and useless because it was destroyed as a result (Desolation). Some have said this is a name for Satan; it is not, although he uses this tactic.

· Most Jews thought this was fulfilled when, in 168 B.C., Antiochus Epiphanes built a pagan altar to Zeus on the altar of the Temple and slaughtered pigs on it, which was, according to God, the most disgusting and revolting thing that could be done to the Temple! A warning for us today is not to become apostate, so to mess with God or His Holy people and places (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15)!

· Zealots stormed the Temple in 66 A.D., killing priests and Romans and starting the siege and destruction of Jerusalem! They also desecrated the alter by shedding human blood on it. This was the ultimate sacrilege before God, and possibly the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” causing judgment to commence.

· Flee. Jesus basically says, when it comes, leave, and leave fast (1 Sam. 23:26; 1 Macc. 2:28)! Early church fathers said the Christians fled to Pella in the Judean hillside.

· Housetop. Houses then had flat roofs, and people entertained, slept, and lived there when it was too hot to be inside. Also, it was considered the best place for prayer by reverent Jews and early Christians.

· Clothes. This refers to the outer garment worn by field workers when it was cold, and then taken off when it was hot, but not referring to being naked.

· Pregnant referred to being expectant when traveling is difficult. My wife says, “Imagine what it must have been like before modern conveniences and in the midst of persecution!”

· Winter makes anything a source of exasperation, from severe cold to rushing rivers without bridges, especially before industrialization!

· Sabbath referred to the “Sabbath Year.” Because of food regulation, they would run out of food quickly (Lev. 25:1-7).

· Shortened referred to Daniel’s 1,260 days; maybe the time would be shortened to preserve life (Dan. 12:11-13).

· Look, here is the Christ. This was a call to be aware of false prophets and false teachers, even when they seemingly perform miracles! People are easily deceived; just watch a good magician!

· I told you referred to advance warning and the need to heed it (Isa. 48:5).

· Lightening, produced on command, was something a false prophet could not do; only God could (Zech. 14:3-8). Jesus’ second coming will not be as subtle as His first; it will be spectacularly noticeable!

· Carcass for the eagles. Being eaten was considered the worst fate for a dead Jewish body; the best was to be buried (Duet. 28:26; 1 Sam. 17:44; Psalm 79:2; Ezek. 32:4-6; 39:17-20).