The Berean Expositor
Volume 7 - Page 81 of 133
Index | Zoom
wicked one introduces his "tares," and among the true worshippers at Ephesus are those
who practice the abominable deeds of the Nicolaitames. It would also appear that an
attempt had been made to impose upon them an order of false apostles; these had been
tried and found to be liars. The deeds of the Nicolaitanes had been also treated with
commendable hatred. It would seem from the words of the Lord to the church in Smyrna,
that Satan, defeated in his first attempt, resorts to more violent methods. Those who said
they were apostles, and were not, are replaced by those who say that they are Jews, and
are not; this seems to indicate an attempt to swamp the faithful by numbers of false
professors. There is also evidence that persecution is to be stirred up against these
faithful ones; the devil is to cast some into prison, and a ten days' tribulation, culminating
apparently in the martyrdom of many, will prevail.
At Pergamos we have Satan's throne; there he will dwell.  The "deeds" of the
Nicolaitanes have now become the "doctrine" of Balaam or of the Nicolaitanes. It
appears that prison and persecution having failed to promote the design of the false
Christ, persuasion is next attempted. Balaam, who failed to curse Israel from the top of
the mountain, taught Balak a most effective way to ensnare that separate people. The
church at Pergamos is to be enticed through the medium of the flesh; they will be enticed
first of all to eat things sacrificed to idols, and then to the most abominable excesses that
have ever been cloaked under the title of religion. By the time we reach the central
church we reach the period when the dread covenant with hell and death will be made,
and the covenant with Israel broken. The harlot nation is exalted by the beast and is fitly
typified by the false prophetess, "that woman Jezebel." Verse 20 compared with verse 14
shows the plague spreading: here we reach the `depths of Satan."
Death and defilement are visible in the church at this time, a name to live, and ready to
die, are the words of the Lord. A few had not defiled their garments, but it seems that
many had fallen into the snare. The church in Philadelphia and the church in Laodicea
seem set in contrast as indicating the end, the one faithful and overcoming is kept out of
the hour of temptation, the other is about to be spued out of the Lord's mouth. No greater
picture of their moral rottenness could be presented than is done by this reference to the
nausea caused by the condition of the church.
Both Peter and Jude refer to the "error of Balaam" as prophetic of the end, and while
there are many things dealt with in these epistles, the gradual leavening of the churches
by the evil doctrine and deeds of the "conquerors of the people" seems to underlie most
of the failure and the opposition.
A composition between the story of these churches with the history of Israel in the
past is very helpful, and readers will find much profit in studying the work of the late
Dr. Bullinger, "The Apocalypse, or the Day of the Lord," on this subject. The progress
also of the promises, starting with the tree of life in the paradise of God, including the
wilderness by the references to the manna, and Balaam, and ending with the kingdom,
throne, city, and temple, is also helpfully treated in the same work.