Uncompromising with Truth
Pergamum was the first Roman administrative center in the province of Asia. The proconsul who resided there held the sword’s power to determine whether a person should live or die. Jesus, however, is the One Who holds the double-edged sword and wields the ultimate power of life and death. He is the definitive source of all truth. Therefore, believers should never compromise on the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, and avoid the rebuke Jesus spoke against the church at Pergamum.
Maintain a bold witness for the name of Christ. (12–13)
Pergamum, the center of emperor worship, pressured Christians to compromise their faith. We know very little about Antipas, but we know his death was connected to his bold witness for Christ. Likewise, John was exiled, refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord.
Similarly, this world wants you to compromise your witness for Christ. As with Antipas, you must maintain your bold witness. There is no room for compromise.
Don’t compromise by tolerating false teachings. (14–15)
The false teaching of Balaam dealt with idolatrous practices; feasting on sacrificial meat and immoral conduct often accompanied idol worship. Although not identical, the “likewise” in verse 15 connects the Nicolaitan false teaching to the false teaching in verse 14. In other words, we can infer the Nicolaitans’ error was similar to that of Balaam. False doctrine cannot be tolerated in the Church.
To honor Christ, one must adhere to the truth as revealed in Scripture. Compromising truth is much like the proverbial frog in the kettle — the frog doesn’t realize he is being cooked until it is too late. To be pleasing to the Lord, we must stand for truth in love.
Furthermore, when we tolerate anything other than biblical truth, multitudes can be led to a ruinous end, and we are held responsible.
God honors those with uncompromised faith. (16–17)
What must the Church do? Repent and commit to an uncompromised faith. Otherwise, Christ Himself will fight against it. This thought is terrifying. I cannot imagine the horror of someone thinking he or she is on God’s side, only to discover that God is against him or her.
Those who align with false teaching will find they are Christ’s enemies in the great battle. Tragically, they will perish at the hand of the One with the sharp sword coming from His mouth (19:15).
However, when we repent, we are promised God will honor us. Ancient Jewish writings teach that Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant with manna in a cave of Mount Nebo and sealed its entrance.
Jesus addressed this belief and said He will reward those with uncompromised faith with some of the hidden manna. This life-giving bread is indeed the Christian’s spiritual food, and the manna is available to all who put their trust in Christ (Matt. 11:25; Col. 2:3, 3:3).
There are numerous theories about the white stone. What is known is that Jesus as the Great High Priest grants those with an uncompromised faith a new name. This unique name connotes a new character and intimacy with God.
Admittedly, we don’t always like conflict and confrontation, but we must never back away from the truth as revealed in Scripture. When you stand up for truth, you are honored by God.
By Rob Jackson, Ph.D.
Jackson has served in a variety of ministry roles, including pastor and state missionary.