Thursday 01 September 2022

Bible Book:

To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it. (v. 17b)

Revelation 2:12-17 Thursday 1 September 2022

Psalm 37:30-40


Today's letter is to the church in Pergamum. It was the centre for the Roman cult in the eastern part of the empire – hence the phrase ‘where Satan’s throne is’ (v.13). In this provincial capital the Roman proconsul had the ‘right of the sword’, so the reminder that Christ has a two-edged sword (v.12) through the words from his mouth (v.16) encouraged Christians not to fear persecution, even when their leader, Antipas, was executed.

 As in Ephesus (Revelation: 2:1-7), there were diverse teachings within the Pergamum church, but in contrast they had not removed anybody from their community and were living with compromise. We can only speculate about the teaching of ‘the Nicolaitans’. However, the name ‘Balaam’ referred to the incident in Numbers when Israelite men engage in sexual immorality with Moabite women, and then are encouraged to worship the Moabite God; a devious plan which is later revealed to be from Balaam (Numbers 31:16). ‘The teaching of Balaam’ then became shorthand for any compromise with the surrounding culture. Perhaps some thought it possible to live peacefully by compromising to a degree –  by following a few local religious customs and by agreeing to call the emperor Lord. The letter is sternly opposed to such compromise. This continues to be a live debate: what is the best relationship between Christian faith and the surrounding culture in which it is lived out?

The letter promises 'hidden manna’ (v.17) for those who avoid compromise and stand up for their faith. Manna was the miraculous food supplied by God in the wilderness, and a tradition persisted that some was preserved for future generations (Exodus 16:32-34). The second promise is a white stone with a new secret name on it (v.17). There are numerous possible interpretations of this, but it seems that the white stone was a positive symbol for victory or success. The secret name could be about God and/or Jesus, or it could be a new name for the recipient. Either way, the secrecy points to the way that resisting the temptation to deny Christian faith to avoid suffering gives a new understanding which is hard to appreciate without experiencing that challenge.


To Ponder:

  • What do you think about the relationship between Christian faith and the surrounding culture?
  • To what extent do you agree with the view that holding different views together within the Christian Church is a problem to be avoided?


Loving God, help us when we disagree with other people in the Church, or with people in the communities around us. Give us grace and wisdom to understand different points of view. Give us courage and strength when we have to accept that separation might be the best way forward. Help us to maintain hope in your kingdom of peace and unity. Amen.

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