Faithful in Satan’s Stronghold (2:13)
The Lord was aware (I know where you live) that the believers in Pergamum were surrounded by paganism and exposed to all kinds of coercion from the evil culture. Satan not only dwelt there, but he ruled (where Satan’s throne is). The anti-God forces were authoritative and powerful. Yet even amid Satan’s throne, this church was a faithful, working, and dedicated church.
Both Smyrna (2:9) and Philadelphia (3:9) have the presence of thesynagogue of Satan but Pergamum had Satan’s throne. Wherever there is a materialistic, sensual, and lustful city, Satan is always there in power. The message of the church defeats Satan; heresy can be destroyed by truth.
Our Lord knows where we live—our name, our address, our zip code, and the number of hairs on our head. Physical persecution is not the only form of opposition we will face. Immorality, compromise, false teaches, and false teaching stalk our churches every day.
Nevertheless, they were holding on to my name. They were loyal to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—His name is synonymous with the character and nature of God Himself.
They also had not betrayed the redemptive purpose for which the Lord Jesus Christ came. you…did not deny your faith in me. There had already been one believer killed because of his devotion to Christ—Antipas. He would not take an oath and burn incense to Rome. Jesus called Antipas my faithful witness.
Misunderstanding Christian Liberty (2:14-15)
While there were those who were holding on to Christ’s name (2:13), there were some who were holding the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. The same Greek word hold is used in all three instances. Some in the church were holding onto heresy.
The Church at Ephesus was commended for hating the practices of the Nicolaitans (2:6). In the Church at Pergamum they were holding theteaching of the Nicolaitans. The deeds had become doctrine. What was at first tolerated as an unscriptural practice is now accepted as an unscriptural principle.
There is uncertainty about the exact content of these false heresies. Many scholars have suggested that these two false doctrines were taught by the same teachers—both resulting in spiritual compromise. What Balaam had done against the Israelites in the OT, the Nicolaitans evidently had done in Pergamum and other locales in the NT. They considered their liberty in Christ as also a liberty to sin. In the name of benevolence, they had tolerated what should have been expelled.