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Ver. 12. Pergamos.] This city is described, by Strabo, Pliny, and Livy, to have been in their times a splendid metropolis, honoured and enriched by a long succession of the Attalian kings. A heathen city, of such description, must be supposed to have been corrupt in doctrine and morals, and thus to have merited the appellation given to it by our Lord, “ the throne of Satan.” Its famous library, of two hundred thousand volumes, had rendered it a seat of oriental learning, whence sprang the “philosophy and vain deceit condemned by St. Paul, (Col. ii. 8); and the Baon, or depths of Gnostical heresy, ascribed to Satan in the address to the Church of Thyatira, (ch. ii. 24,) and this circumstance may have contributed also to its designation under this title. Before such a city, the supreme Visitor of the Church appears armed, most appropriately, with the sword, or penetrating word of God, (see Note, ch. i. 16, and Isa. xlix. 2. Vitringa.) It is with this powerful weapon that Antichrist shall be slain, and the enemies of Christ and of_his Church be finally subdued. Isa. xi. 4; 2 Thess. ii. 8; Rev. xix. 15, 21.
Pergamos is described by modern travellers as being inhabited by two or three thousand Turks, who have converted its best churches into mosques. There are yet some few Christians remaining, to whom a priest, sent from Smyrna, officiates occasionally.
Ver. 13. Antipas.] No account has been transmitted to our times, of this martyr; but Andreas Cæsariensis reports, that he had seen the history of his martyrdom. However, we plainly collect, that a persecution unto death had raged against the Christians in Pergamos, and that in defence of their faiththey had nobly undergo ile the fiery trial; and
the praise of their virtue is enhanced by a consideration of the corrupt society around them,
66 where Satan dwelleth.
Ver. 14. Doctrine of Balaam.] The reproof of this Church is, that she had in her bosom some, who, like Balaam, (described in the 25th and 31st chapters of Numbers,) held such doctrines, as would “ turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.” This by the apostles Peter and Jude is called following the way or error of Balaam. 2 Pet. ii. 10--15; Jude 4.
Ver. 15. Nicolaitanes.] These (see ch. ii. 5) were followers of the doctrine of Balaam as described in the last note. So the name signifies, both in Hebrew and Arabic, says Michaelis, (Introd. to New Test. ch. xxviii. sect. 3.)
Ver. 17. The hidden manna.] Our Saviour had declared to the multitude which followed him, in expectation of being miraculously fed, as their forefathers had been with manna in the wilderness, that he himself is that “ bread of life, which came down from heaven, of which if a man eat, he shall live for ever,” (John vi. 26, &c); and he calls them to attend to its spiritual signification.
“ The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.” The hidden manna is this bread of life in its spiritual sense, of which the manna, hidden and laid up in the tabernacle, free from corruption, was a type; namely, the benefits derived to the faithful followers of Christ by the offering of his body, forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting.
A white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it.] The researches of the learned have abundantly
shown, that beans, and counters in the form of beans, were used by the ancients, wherewith to give vote, or judgment, or military honour and reward ; the white mark being favourable, the black one unfavourable, to the pretensions of the candidate. In conformity with such customs, the white stone, given by our Saviour, to him who should overcome his spiritual enemies, would be easily understood to signify his acceptance of such person as absolved from sin and rewarded. And since it appears also from scripture, that the favoured servants of God were frequently honoured with new names, (as were Abram, Jacob, Simon, &c. Daubuz,) it may be concluded, that the new name written on the white stone is a token of spiritual benefit, and of so surpassing a kind and character, that it can only be known by being enjoyed. In short, it seems to be that supreme felicity, destined by the Lord of Heaven for his true followers; of which no adequate notion can be formed on this side the grave. “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” &c. (1 Cor. ii. 9.)
Address to the Church in Thyatira.
CHAP. ii. ver. 18 to the end.
18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass ;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication ; and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your
works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations :
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers, even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Ver. 18. Thyatira.] This was a considerable city on the road leading from Pergamos to Sardis, and about fifty miles distant from the former. Lydia, who at Philippi received St. Paul and Silas, was of this place; and, being a person of note, and divinely called to the Christian religion, she might probably become the means of establishing a Church at Thy atira. In the remains of this city, no Christians are said to be found at this time.
The Son of God, &c.] For an explanation of this description, see ch. i. 14, 15.
Ver. 19. Thy last works to be more than the first.] This excellent commendation is the reverse of the reproof of the Ephesians, (ver. 4,) and of that lamentable state described in Luke xi. 26, and 2 Pet. ii. 20, “ the last state worse than the first.
Ver. 20. Jezebel.] This has been understood by Grotius, and some other commentators, to signify a person of rank and influence at Thyatira, who seduced the Christians in this city to intermix heathen impurities with their religious services; and that she is here called Jezebel, as acting the part of that idolatrous queen, 1 Kings xvi. 31. But in scriptural allegory, it is not unusual for the collective body of a nation, or people, to be designated under the name of a woman. The woman Jezebel has therefore been supposed, by other learned expositors, (Hammond, Durham, Vitringa, &c.), to represent a sect or body of misleading teachers who were harboured in the church of Thyatira. And it appears that in this interpretation they followed the ancient commentators, Andreas Cæsariensis, (who professes to give the explications of Papias, Irenæus, Methodius, &c.), Arethas, and Venerable Bede. Whichever was the true meaning of this figurative name, it would be clearly comprehended by the members of the Church, to which it was addressed. The state of the Church, at that time, would immediately direct the right application of the metaphor, by indicating the criminals, and the nature and extent of their crime.
To commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.] Both these crimes are expressly for bidden to the Gentile converts, in the edict of the apostles, (Acts xv.) 1. Ilopvela, under which expres
Πορνεια, sion are comprehended all those carnal impurities which were so common among the heathen, and in some instances were admitted to be part of their sacred rites. 2. Ειδωλοθυτα, Αλισγηματα των Ειδωλων, meats offered unto idols, to partake of which, when avowed to be such, was to partake of the idolatry. The two sins were nearly connected in the heathen
1 See below, the Notes, ver. 23, 24.