On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 5: The Churches at Pergamos and Thyatira

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On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 5: The Churches at Pergamos and Thyatira

Presenting the first part of Revelation chapter 2 and the messages to the assemblies at Ephesus and Smyrna, we had encountered and discussed several concepts that are contained in those messages which we believe are necessary to understand not only in relation to the Revelation, but also to the entire Bible as well as to our lives as Christians today. First, although we are not told what sin it was that they had been committing, because the Ephesians had left their first love, as it was described, they then began to accept or to commit some sin from which they were commanded to repent. Then Christ had threatened that if they did not repent, they would be punished. So it is evident that even Christians who profess Christ and endure in His Name, who reject false apostles and Nicolaitans, which we interpret as those professional priests who with pretense would rule over the people, and who are also even commended for not bearing evil, must nevertheless seek to maintain complete obedience to the Gospel of Christ or face the consequences of punishment from God. This is absolutely contrary to the general belief of most Christians today, who basically claim that all one has to do is to believe in Jesus and perform some rituals in order to be saved. Having rejected false apostles, the Ephesians clearly believed the Gospel as it was taught them by true apostles, so they must have believed in Jesus, as today’s denominational Christians would also claim to do. Yet Christ Himself had warned them that they would be punished if they did not repent of their sin, that their lampstand would be removed from its place.

Another thing which we have not yet discussed is an aspect of the words of Christ in regard to the works of the Nicolaitans which He had professed that “I also hate.” This situation also betrays the professions of denominational Christians who often claim that God is Love, that Jesus is Love, and that He is incapable of hate. There certainly are things which Jesus hates, deeds which Jesus hates, and even people which Jesus hates, as we shall see again later in this 2nd chapter of the Revelation.

Contrary to the criticisms of Christ directed at the assembly at Ephesus, we see that the assembly at Smyrna was not criticized, while they were commended for rejecting the Jews, those who claim to be Judaeans but who are actually the congregation of the Adversary, or synagogue of Satan. However in spite of that lack of criticism, and in spite of their earthly poverty, on account of their having rejected the Jews, who are not truly of Israel, they were warned that the False Accuser, or Devil, would persecute them, by which they would suffer significantly. Here and elsewhere, and especially in Revelation chapter 12, it is evident that Satan and the False Accuser are one and the same, and that both terms are also used collectively to describe the people known today as Jews. But for the assembly at Smyrna, abiding in Christ throughout those persecutions, they were promised the prize of life. Here we asserted that since the Greek word σμύρνα is ointment, that the key to understanding this message is the realization that the assembly at Smyrna acknowledged and maintained the anointing which the children of Israel had received from God, and for that reason they had also been able to recognize the Jews as the devils, which they truly, are and to reject them, as all Christians should.

We also demonstrated from the writings of Tertullian, Minucius Felix and even a remark by the earlier Roman historian Tacitus how those same Jews mentioned by Christ here in Revelation chapter 2 were indeed the instigators of the Roman persecutions of Christians, in a pattern which we also noted from the Book of Acts in our Bibles. The Christian apologist Minucius Felix referred to them as demons, just as Christians should continue to consider them today. In that manner the words of Christ here in the Revelation are demonstrated to have been fulfilled, and are also proven to have been completely accurate. In this message, we also see that Christians are destined to suffer even if they do not sin, simply for being Christians, which is a message found throughout both the Gospel and the Revelation.

As Christ had suffered for His rejection of the Jews, Christians should also expect to suffer, and in the end they shall please Yahweh their God and Christ. This we read in John chapter 15, in words attributed to Christ: “18 If Society hates you, know that it hated Me before you. 19 If you were from of Society, Society would have loved its own. But because you are not from of Society, but I have chosen you out of Society, for this reason Society hates you. 20 Remember the word which I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they have persecuted Me, they shall also persecute you.” Then in 1 Peter chapter 4 we read: “15 For not any among you must suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler in the matters of others, 16 but if as a Christian, you must not be ashamed, but you must honor Yahweh by this name, 17 because the time of judgment is to begin for the house of Yahweh. But if first for us, what is the end for those who are disobedient to the good message of Yahweh?” Once again, we read in Luke chapter 6: “22 Blessed are you when men hate you and when they separate from you and they reproach and they cast out your name as evil because of the Son of Man: 23 Rejoice in that day and leap, for behold, your reward is great in heaven! For in accordance with these same things did their fathers do to the prophets.” This is also absolutely contrary to the attitudes of denominational Christians today, who place Jews on pedestals, worshipping Jews rather than Jesus, and in turn they earn for themselves a small share in some of the comforts of this world. In the end they shall not please God.

Now we shall commence with the messages to the seven assemblies, the third of which is for the Christians at Pergamos:

12 And to the messenger of the assembly in Pergamos, write: Thus says He having the sharp two-edged sword, 13 I know [the MT inserts “your works and”; the text follows א, A and C] where you dwell, where the throne of the Adversary is, and you possess My Name [א has “your name”] and you did not deny My faith even [א and the MT want “even”] in the days of Antipas My witness, My faithful one [א and the MT have “Antipas My faithful witness; the text follows A and C], who was slain before you, where the Adversary dwells.

Pergamos or Πέργαμος, which is sometimes called Pergamon or Pergamum, was originally the name of the citadel of ancient Troy, but eventually the word came to describe any citadel. This later city called Pergamos was the seat of the famous Attallid Kingdom of the third and second centuries BC. However before Lysimachus, who was one of the successors of Alexander the Great, had enlarged the the city in 301 BC it seems to have been obscure, as it is not mentioned in any earlier writings. Later, around 230 BC, king Attalus I of Pergamos defeated the invading Galatae, who had occupied ancient Phyrgia several decades earlier and had been raiding and pillaging the Greek cities of Anatolia. From that time the Galatae were confined to the portion of the ancient land of Phrygia which they had already inhabited, which by then may have already become known as Galatia. The Attalid kings, Attalus I and his descendants, were very wealthy, and Pergamos was a treasury of great riches. The city was also a center of worldly learning, and Strabo states that it was well-populated with all sorts of philosophical sects. Marc Antony was said to have sent 200,000 volumes to Alexandria from the library at Pergamos.

Before the dignity was transferred to Ephesus in 27 BC, Pergamos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and it had a large and famous altar which was recently excavated by archaeologists, and believed to be dedicated to Zeus. With certainty it dates to the time of the Attalid kings, and its building is attributed to Eumenes II, who died in 159 BC. The staircase up to the altar was 20 meters wide. The structure is over 35 meters wide and 33 meters deep. The base was decorated with a frieze depicting the battle between the gods and the giants, a famous Greek myth which certainly seems to have been handed down from the Old Testament scriptures. Pergamos was also a center of the worship of Asclepius, the ancient pagan Greek god of medicine and healing, and it was therefore a center for pharmakeia, or sorcery. While there were more famous temples of Asclepius in Epidauros and in Kos, the Asclepius cult of Pergamos was very large, strong and influential. Even a casual knowledge of the history of these ancient cities may help one to appreciate the environment and the challenges which ancient Christians had faced in the pagan world, as true Christians face those same challenges once again today. Yet with all of this, there is not a meaningful reference to Pergamos, or any reference to the martyr Antipas, in the early Christian writings. Neither did Livy, Diodorus Siculus or Strabo have anything of particular significance to say about Pergamos which may give deeper insight into any of the statements of Yahshua Christ found here, such as the description of the city as the place where the throne of the Adversary was located.

Because of its circumstances as a capital city and the meaning of its name, this description of Pergamos seems to point to those international merchants and money-changers who have for many ages infested every significant city, and Pergamos was for a long time the principal city of Roman Asia, a very wealthy city in a very wealthy Roman province. Fittingly, since Pergamos derives it name from the word which the Greeks had used to describe a citadel, which was typically a towering fortress within a city, it may therefore evoke images of the Genesis chapter 11 account of the tower of Babel, and by extension it may also evoke an image of Mystery Babylon. This is even more fitting as Satan is said to have had his seat there, and since the assembly at Pergamos was warned not to tolerate those who teach men to commit fornication, or race-mixing: the way of Balaam which Mystery Babylon forces upon the entire world today through multiculturalism and diversity. These things are odious to God.

At the very least, in the name Pergamos, in the stature and history of the city, and in this description there is a warning that the powerful citadels of wealthy cities would be havens for Satan, for the international Jews. This evokes the words of Balaam in Numbers chapter 24: “21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.” As Christ had attested in Luke chapter 11 and in John chapter 8 and elsewhere, His adversaries certainly did descend from those same Kenites, the children of Cain. But the Jews who opposed Christ had also descended from Esau, as Paul of Tarsus explained in Romans chapter 9 and as the Judaean historian Flavius Josephus related in detail, and in an oracle concerning Edom we read in Jeremiah chapter 49, in part: “16 Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.”

This also evokes the words of Paul of Tarsus where he wrote in chapter 6 of his epistle to the Ephesians warning his readers to “11 Put on the full armor of Yahweh, for you to be able to stand against the methods of the False Accuser, 12 because for us the struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against realms, against authorities, against the rulers of the order of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places.” In the ancient world, heaven was an allegory for the seats of power an authority, which a citadel also represents. Furthermore, this evokes Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians chapter 10: “3 Indeed walking in the flesh, we do not serve in accordance with flesh. 4 For the arms of our warfare are not fleshly, but through Yahweh they are able to destroy strongholds, 5 destroying reasonings and every bulwark raising itself up against the knowledge of Yahweh, and taking captive every thought into the obedience of the Anointed; 6 also being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever you shall have fulfilled your obedience.” Once again, we see in those words the importance of obedience to Christ if we are to overcome the devil.

So even more importantly in relation to these observations is the statement made here by Christ that Pergamos, which means citadel, is the location of “the throne of the Adversary”, or as it is in the King James Version, “Satan’s seat”. The Revelation was recorded by John not any earlier than 96 AD, when he was released from his exile to Patmos and had returned to Ephesus. Both the city of Jerusalem and Herod’s temple had been destroyed by the Romans nearly three decades earlier, in 70 AD. But before that, as he wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians from Corinth around 50 or 51 AD, Paul had described Satan as having been seated in the temple in Jerusalem. Using verbs of the present tense, Paul wrote in chapter 2 of that epistle, in part, warning his readers that: “3 You should not be deceived by anyone, in any way, because if apostasy had not come first, and the man of lawlessness been revealed; the son of destruction, 4 he who is opposing and exalting himself above everything said to be a god or an object of worship, and so he is seated in the temple of Yahweh, representing himself that he is a god.” A little further on in that chapter Paul wrote that the presence of this entity was “9... in accordance with the operation of the Adversary...” So Satan, which we would interpret as a collective term for those Jews who oppose Christ, had evidently moved his seat to Pergamos after the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed.

As for the reference to Antipas the martyr, the name Antipas seems to have been at least somewhat common among the Greeks, as it appears in the writings of Josephus where it was also used by certain members of the family of Herod. In relation to this passage Bertrand Comparet and others have made the error of interpreting the name Antipas as having meant “against the father”, and extending that interpretation to claim that it meant “against the pope”. While that is quaint, it is also novel: the word has no such meaning in ancient Greek. The meaning was assigned by unknown lexicographers, but not until at least 1150 AD in a work known as the Etymologicum Magnum. We should not trust that the work was free of any interpretative clerical influences. There is no known earlier evidence that such a meaning of the word ἀντιπᾶς existed, and it should not be readily accepted. The Greek words πάππας and πάππος were used affectionately for father and grandfather, and πατήρ means father. In the large 9th edition of their Greek-English Lexicon, in two separate entries for the Greek word πᾶς, Liddell & Scott explain that in certain obscure instances the word πᾶς, which generally means all or every, was used in place of both πατήρ and παῖς, which means son. The citations they provide explain that the contraction of παῖς to πᾶς is found only in two inscriptions from Cyprus, but the contraction of πατήρ to πᾶς is found only in that 12th century Etymologicum Magnum. We reject the claims here that Antipas could have meant either “against the father” or even “against the son”, an interpretation for which there is somewhat greater evidence, as this particular Antipas is described as a faithful man, and even as a martyr.

As a digression, it is possible that Comparet may have gotten his idea from the Antipas mentioned in Josephus’ Antiquities, Book 14, who had changed his name to Antipater. The name Antipater was also used by certain Greeks. However if Antipas meant against or, more likely in this case, in place of the father, such a name change by Herod would not have been necessary.

According to Liddell & Scott, πᾶς is all or every, or of only one object, the whole, and the preposition ἀντί primarily means against or opposite, and then instead of or in the place of. So the more natural meaning of the name Antipas is in place of all, or perhaps against all. However here it seems to be a portrayal of the true Christian martyr who withstands all opposition to Christ, or who withstands the world which is opposed to Christ. But there is no specific records in the early Christian writings of an actual martyr named Antipas, so it seems that the name is used here as an example, and its actual meaning is the key to understanding the example.

Now, for another and more lengthy digression, and because Pergamos is a subject here, perhaps it is fitting to discuss the title Pontifex Maximus, which is still used by the popes of Rome, and an error regarding the origin of that title which has been frequently repeated by Identity Christians. Once again, Bertrand Comparet is among many others in Christian Identity who have made this error, following the 19th century Protestant critic of the Roman Catholic Church, Alexander Hislop, in his book The Two Babylons, where he claimed that the title Pontifex Maximus had come to Rome through Pergamos, with Rome having inherited it from Attalus III upon his death in 133 BC. This is easily disproven from the classical writers, and here we shall offer examples from two of them.

The first is Diodorus Siculus, from whom there are two citations. In chapter 5 of his 7th book (7.5.8), Diodorus explained that Iulius, the legendary founder of the Julian line and ancestor of the famous Gaius Julius Caesar and his kindred, had gained the title Pontifex Maximus after he was bested in an election for the kingship by Silvius, after the death of Aeneas. So we see that Diodorus believed the title to have been in Rome since even before its inception. Whether one wants to accept the myth or not is of no consequence, since our second citation from Diodorus is a historical account which is from about 202 BC, in the fragments of his 27th book (27.2) where he wrote that “As pontifex maximus he [meaning P. Licinius Crassus Dives] was obliged by reason of his religious duties not to absent himself from the vicinity of Rome.”

Our second ancient source is the Roman historian Livy, who mentions the title of Pontifex Maximus in many historical contexts long before the death of Attalus III of Pergamos, the first of which is in an account which includes a certain Quintus Furius, who had held the office around 447 BC. This is from Livy's Book III, Chapter LIV (3.54.1-5), in an explanation which also explains that one responsibility of the Pontifex Maximus was to hold elections. There we read in part, upon a revolt by the soldiers and plebians, which was the lowest class of free citizens: “A decree was passed by the senate that the decemvirs should abdicate the magistracy at the earliest possible moment; that Quintus Furius, the Pontifex Maximus, should hold an election of plebeian tribunes; and that no one should be made to suffer for the secession of the soldiers and the plebs.” This is long before the death of Attalus III, and there are other accounts which demonstrate that Pontifex Maximus was the title for the high priest, or the head of the pontiffs, which were the priests of ancient Rome.

Both Diodorus and Livy lived and died long before the Revelation was written, and neither had any reason to lie about the antiquity of the title. Julius Caesar was elected Pontifex Maximus of Rome in 63 BC and held the office until he was assassinated. After him, it was held by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and by Augustus Caesar after Lepidus died in 12 BC. It is quite clear that the Roman popes took the title of Pontifex Maximus from Imperial Rome, and that the title is not at all Christian, but it did not come from Pergamos, and it did not come from ancient Babylon, which was another claim made by Hislop. The word pontifex is from a very specific Latin compound word meaning bridge maker. In the Middle Ages many bishops of the Roman Catholic Church used the title pontifex or pontiff. Today the popes of Rome claim the title pontiff, or Pontifex Maximus. Variations include summus pontifex or Romanus pontifex, which are supreme pontiff and Roman pontiff.

By these titles the bishops and the pope make a claim to be the bridge-builder, and even the greatest or supreme bridge-builder to God. However the true Christian needs no such bridge to God, which is fully evident in many Scriptures, but plainly where Paul wrote that “God is One, and there is one mediator of God and men: a man Yahshua Christ.” That one passage, from 1 Timothy 2:5, negates any claims of legitimacy as Christians by either the popes or their priests. Furthermore, it is the word pope which comes from the Greek word πάππας, or father, in spite of the fact that Christ had warned His disciples that “you shall not call your father upon the earth, for One is your Father, the heavenly.”

Now Christ has a more severe warning for this assembly at Pergamos:

14 But I have a few things against you, because [C wants “because”] you have there those holding the teaching of Balaam, who had taught Balak [א wants “Balak”] to put a trap before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication. 15 Thusly you have also those holding the teaching of the people-conquerors in like manner.

The King James Version has “which thing I hate” rather than “in like manner” at the end of verse 15. In all of the older manuscripts, the word translated as “in like manner” is ὁμοίως, which is generally like or resembling and which may be translated in a variety of similar ways in various contexts. But the translators of the King James Version seem to have followed the minority of Koine Greek manuscripts from Andreas of Caesarea which have the phrase ὁμοίως ὅ μισῶ, and which they translated as “which thing I hate.” The phrase would better have been translated as “which I hate likewise.” But in any event, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans must have been something other than the teachings of Balaam. The Christians at Pergamos kept fellowship with men who held the teachings of Balaam, and in like manner they kept fellowship with men who held the teachings of the Nicolaitans, but the teachings themselves must have been different.

We have already discussed the Nicolaitans at length, so here it is fitting to discuss the teaching of Balaam. Here in this message to the assembly at Pergamos we see a warning concerning both things sacrificed to idols and fornication, of which race-mixing or miscegenation is a form. The connection of fornication to the teaching of Balaam here proves explicitly that race-mixing is the form of fornication which is being condemned here, once the substance of the counsel of Balaam is understood. We shall see a similar warning in the message to the assembly at Thyateira which is the very next of these seven messages. The fact that the word for fornication describes race-mixing here is evident in the account of Numbers chapters 22 through 25 where it is described that Balaam, a prophet from Pethor, was hired by the king of Moab to curse the children of Israel. However every time he tried to curse them, he could only utter blessings instead. This Balaam was certainly not an Israelite, and the actual location of Pethor is practically impossible to determine with current knowledge. Once Balaam failed in his attempts to curse Israel, having blessed them instead, he departed, as it is recorded at the close of Numbers chapter 24. Then immediately thereafter, in chapter 25, it is recorded that Balak the king of Moab had the women of his tribe go out to seduce the men of Israel, but the entire account – that Balaam had actually instructed Balak to do this, is not related to us in the Book of Numbers, except later where it is alluded to in Numbers chapter 31: “16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.”

Further details are filled in by later Scriptures. In Micah chapter 6 we read: “5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.” Then in 2 Peter chapter 2, where the apostle wrote of men whom he described as “natural brute beasts” and related to the fallen angels, we read of them: “15 abandoning the straight road they have wandered astray, following in the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who had loved the wage of unrighteousness...” The apostle Jude also wrote of the same fallen angels in verse 11 of his short epistle: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward...” So these things all being related, the true nature of all of these sins is descibed in Numbers chapter 25 where we can clearly see the references to a race-mixing event which was counseled by Balaam. Paul of Tarsus also affirms this in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, where he described the crime behind this event as fornication. There he wrote: “Neither should we commit fornication, just as some of them had committed fornication, and in one day twenty-three thousand had fallen.” The only event Paul which could have been referring to is that recorded in Numbers chapter 25. The children of Israel were to be a separate people, and that admonishment still holds true today (Exodus 19:5, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9).

The ancient Baal cults were fertility cults, and acts of sexual intercourse were integral to the pagan worship of such idols. Citing Part 1 of our 2006 essay, Broken Cisterns:

Herodotus writes of Bel, or Baal, whom the Greeks equated with their Zeus, and the “sacred precinct” of that idol in Babylon: “On the topmost tower there is a spacious temple, and inside the temple stands a couch of unusual size, richly adorned, with a golden table by its side. There is no statue of any kind set up in the place, nor is the chamber occupied of nights by any one but a single native woman, who, as the Chaldaeans, the priests of this god, affirm, is chosen for himself by the deity out of all the women of the land.” (The Histories, 1:181, G. Rawlinson’s translation). The historian goes on to relate an identical practice in Thebes in Egypt in the temple of “Theban Zeus”, or Ammon (ibid., 1:182).

Now it should be common sense to most men, Christian and otherwise, that Bel (Baal) himself certainly did not appear each night to some woman in this temple. Even Herodotus said of this “... but I for my part do not credit it – that the god comes down in person ...” (1:182), much to his credit. But evidently some man must have entered into these chambers. And quite possibly someone pretending to be Bel. Tertullian, the 2nd century defender of the Christian faith writes: “Then if I add – and the conscience of every man of you will recognize it as readily – if I add that in the temples adulteries are arranged, that between the altars the pander’s trade is plied, that, quite commonly, in the very vestries of temple-keeper and priest, under those same holy fillets, crowns and purple garments, while the incense burns, lust is gratified ...” (Apology 15:7, Loeb Library edition).

Later in that same book of his Histories (1:199), Herodotus described a custom upheld by the cult of Aphroditê at Babylon, which seems to be the Canaanite idol Ashtaroth of Scripture, where every woman was required by law to sit in the temple until she was chosen by an interested man. The man could give her any amount of money, small or large, and she would have to accept it and lie with him in intercourse, turning the money over to the temple of the idol. The account is corroborated in the apocryphal Epistle of Jeremiah (vv. 40-44), and also by Strabo of Cappadocia who wrote: “And in accordance with a certain oracle all the Babylonian women have a custom of having intercourse with a foreigner, the woman going to a temple of Aphroditê with a great retinue and crowd; and each woman is wreathed with a cord round her head. The man who approaches a woman takes her far away from the sacred precinct, places a fair amount of money upon her lap, and then has intercourse with her; and the money is considered sacred to Aphroditê.” (16.1.20, Loeb Classical Library edition).”

Citing Part 2 of our Broken Cisterns essay:

Further support for these assertions is found in The Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary On The Bible by Charles M. Laymon, on page 455, which makes the following comment concerning Hosea 4:10-19: “The Absurdity of Baal Worship. The whole harlotrous system of Baal fertility rites is utterly ineffectual as well as degrading. Its purpose is to provide fertility for human beings, flocks, and crops; but though the people play the harlot, i.e. carry on the sexual fertility acts at the shrine, they do not multiply ... Despite woman’s usual secondary place in ancient society, there will be no double standard, for the men are responsible for the shame of cult prostitution. It is they who require their daughters to become cult prostitutes, literally ‘holy women’ ...” And further on concerning Hosea 5:7: “In their Baal worship they give birth to alien children (vs. 7), the offspring of sexual cult rites ...” For Hosea 5:7 says: “They have dealt treacherously against Yahweh: for they have begotten strange children ...”

Now we may understand how the eating of things sacrificed to idols is directly related to the acts of race-mixing and other types of whoredom generally identified as fornication. Evidently, the church at Pergamos had men in its congregation who were advocating such fornication, which is condemned in the Gospel and throughout the epistles of Paul as well as those of the other apostles. Now Christ demands that this assembly repent of these sins:

16 Therefore [א wants “therefore”] repent, but if not I will come to you quickly and I shall make war with them by the sword of My mouth.

We cannot tell from history how such a war was waged, as we have already explained that there are no significant references to the church at Pergamos found in the writings of the early so-called Church Fathers. However Pergamos had ultimately suffered an even worse fate than that of Ephesus, as it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 262 AD, and shortly thereafter it was sacked by the Goths. But in spite of this, there is a message of encouragement:

17 He having an ear must hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies! To he who prevails, I shall give to him [א wants “to him” and inserts “from of”] the hidden manna, and I shall give to him [א wants “I shall give to him”] a white stone, and written upon the stone a new name, which no one knows except he receiving.”

The hidden manna seems to be a reference to the Bread of Life which Christ had described to His disciples in John chapter 6, where we read: “32 Then Yahshua said to them: ‘Truly, truly I say to you, Moses did not give to you bread from heaven, but My Father gives to you the true bread from heaven! 33 For the bread of Yahweh is He descending from heaven and giving life to the Society!’ 34 Then they said to Him: ‘Prince, always give to us this bread!’ 35 Yahshua said to them: ‘I am the bread of life! He coming to Me shall not hunger, and he believing in Me shall not ever thirst!’”

There is no pertinent reference which we have found in the Old Testament from which to describe the nature of the white stone. But the word for stone in this passage is ψῆφος or psephos, where everywhere else that the word stone appears in the New Testament it is from the words λίθος (lithos), or πέτρος (petros). In contrast to the common stones in Scripture, a ψῆφος is a small round stone, or a pebble. The word was used to describe gemstones, but more often, it was used to describe the stones which had been used from Classical Greek times for the purpose of voting. When a jury trial was held, each juror had a black stone and a white stone, and deposited one or the other upon deciding whether the accused was guilty or innocent. The verb ψηφοφορέω, which literally means to bear a ψῆφος, was used to describe the act of giving one’s vote. The white stone indicating a lack of guilt, where it is mentioned here it signifies the mercy of Christ which accounts each Christian who prevails as being innocent. While the stones which the Greeks used for voting had no names written upon them, neither can it be determined what name is being described here. This ends the message to the assembly at Pergamos, and the message for the assembly at Thyatira follows.

While Paul of Tarsus is not recorded as having been to Thyatira, it is very likely that he passed through the city in his travels. It was also the home of Lydia, the seller of purple whom Paul and Silas had first encountered in Philippi, where she had lived at the time, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 16. While it is not explicitly mentioned in the account, Luke having been in Paul’s company was left behind with Lydia as Paul and Silas departed from Philippi, and evidently Luke remained there with her for several years, not departing until he left to meet Paul in the Troad, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 20. From that time Luke evidently remained with Paul until his death nearly five years later.

18 And to the messenger of the assembly in [A has “to”] Thuateira, write: Thus says the Son of Yahweh, He having His [A wants “His”] eyes as flames [א has “a flame”] of fire and His feet like fine brass, 19 I know your works and your [א wants “your” here] love and faith and righteousness [א wants “and righteousness”] and patience, and your last works are greater than the first.

Here the assembly is evidently commended because its more recent works are even greater than its earlier works, which seems to indicate that they had gotten even more committed to their faith as time progressed. The name Θυάτειρα, or Thuateira apparently means heavenly sacrifice. Although Strong’s Concordance simply lists the word as being “of uncertain derivation” (2363), not venturing a meaning, and neither does Thayer, other lexicons define it to mean “odour of affliction”. We do not agree with that definition, even if odors rising up into the heavens were a product of the sacrifices. In Greek, thua- is a prefix form of thuos, or sacrifice. Liddell & Scott inform us that a θυάκτας is a sacrificing priest, and a θυάπαξ is a temple-robber. By itself, θύα is the feminine form of θύον, a burnt sacrifice. According to the Intermediate Liddell & Scott lexicon, the word τεῖρος is an Epic form of τέρας which was used by Homer but “found only in the plural [τείρεα], the heavenly constellations, signs”, and that is how we prefer to interpret τειρα here. However it may have been taken from the verb τείρω or teiro, which means “to rub hard, ... to wear away, wear out, distress...” (ibid.) So in Greek, Θυάτειρα may mean heavenly sacrifice, or perhaps distressed sacrifice or sacrifice of distress or something similar.

The city Thyateira, or in the King James Version Thyatira, was situated by the traditional borders of Lydia and Mysia. According to Strabo, who cited Homer, in the earliest times the Mysians were a Thracian tribe who lived near the Danube River. The Thracians, called Tiras in the King James Version of Genesis chapter 10, were a Japhethite tribe which dwelt in Europe north of Greece and near the Black Sea. So the Mysians were colonists in Anatolia who came from the Thracians. Ancient Thrace is now divided between modern Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. A 6th century AD etymologist, Stephanus of Byzantium, stated that the city was originally called Pelopia but renamed by Seleucus I Nicator early in the 3rd century BC after the Greek word for daughter, which is θυγάτηρ (thugater), a claim which is disputed and which we do not accept.

Strabo of Cappadocia mentioned Thyateira, and also described some of the region in which these churches were found, in Book 13 of his Geography where he wrote: “As one proceeds from the plain and the city towards the east, one comes to a city called Apollonia, which lies on an elevated site, and also, towards the south, to a mountain range, on crossing which, on the road to Sardeis, one comes to Thyateira, on the left-hand side, a settlement of the Macedonians, which by some is called the farthermost city of the Mysians. On the right is Apollonis, which is three hundred stadia distant from Pergamum, and the same distance from Sardeis, and it is named after the Cyzicene Apollonis [from the Palatine Anthology we learn that she was the wife of Attalus I, king of Pergamos]. Next one comes to the plain of Hermus and to Sardeis. The country to the north of Pergamum is held for the most part by the Mysians, I mean the country on the right of the Abaeïtae, as they are called, on the borders of which is the Epictetus [Phrygia Epictetus] as far as Bithynia” (13.4.4, Loeb Classical Library edition). So here we learn that Thyateira was at least mostly inhabited by Macedonians as a colony from the early years of the Hellenistic period. Now Yahshua Christ has a severe warning for the assembly at Thyateira:

20 But I have [א inserts “much”] against you that you allow that woman Iezabel who calls herself [א inserts “to be”, where the phrase would instead be read “who says of herself to be”] a prophetess, and teaches and deceives My servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I have given her time, in order that she would repent, yet she did not wish to repent [א wants the phrase “yet she did not wish to repent”, where the preceding comma would also be omitted] from her fornication.

Where the King James Version has the phrase “a few things” in verse 20, it seems to have followed a variation found in the Latin Vulgate and only a few late Greek manuscripts, including that of the Medieval scholar Stephanus which was published in 1550 AD and later having been used by the printer Elzevir, became known as the Textus Receptus.

So this assembly, like the one at Pergamos, was chastised by Yahshua for having a tolerance for fornication, and evidently some of its members had even been commiting fornication. The word fornication can be used to describe various illicit and deviant sexual acts, however as we have already elucidated, it can be fully demonstrated from scriptures such as those found in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and Jude 7 that fornication also refers to what we now call race-mixing or miscegenation. In Jude’s brief epistle, the apostle explained that fornication is the pursuit of strange, or different, flesh, which is how he described the race-mixing events of Genesis chapter 6 which had precipitated the flood of Noah. At that time, Yahweh destroyed all of the Adamic race except Noah, which demonstrates the gravity of the sin of fornication. Noah and his family were saved because Noah was perfect in his generations, which indicates that he had not committed fornication. In the Old Testament accounts of the counsel of Balaam, the idolatry having been associated with fornication was a full indication that race-mixing was the committed offense, and that can be established from Paul's statements concerning the account which we have already discussed here, and from the account itself, of the events found in Numbers Chapters 24 and 25 where the children of Israel had committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

This reference to a woman who is called Jezebel here is not necessarily a reference to the historical Jezebel, but perhaps Jezebel is a type for this woman who deserved to be called Jezebel, and therefore it is apparent that her sins are very much like those of the ancient Jezebel. The historical Jezebel was also a worshipper of Baal and therefore took part in all of the same fertility rituals associated with Baal. Jezebel, whose name means “Baal exalts” or perhaps “Baal is husband”, was the daughter of Ethbaal, whose name means “with Baal”. Ethbaal is known as Ithobalus in the histories of Josephus. Having had Menander's now-lost translation of the ancient Chronicles of Tyre as his reference, Josephus related that Ethbaal was a priest of the idol Astarte, the Ashtoreth of scripture (cf. 1 Kings 11:5, 16:31) who had taken the throne of Tyre by force from the descendants of the famous King Hiram. We have already described some of the fornication practised by the worshippers of Ashtoreth in Babylon. While there is no convincing proof that Ethbaal was of the stock of the Canaanites, that is a possibility. However even if Jezebel is only a type for this woman, whatever her true name may have been, we see here that even Jezebel was apparently given an opportunity to repent.

It is also apparent here, that Jezebel is the model whore, as Yahshua Himself has described her. This is a fitting analogy. When Israel plays the harlot, the nation is eaten by metaphorical dogs. So in Psalm 22:16, David, in a Messianic prophecy which was fulfilled in Christ, was surrounded by dogs because the children of Israel had played the harlot. If the children of Israel had not committed fornication, Christ would not have had to have suffered being surrounded by dogs in order to redeem them. In Philippians chapter 3 Paul of Tarsus warned his readers to “2 Watch for dogs, watch for evil workers, watch for the concision,” and the concision are the Jews while Christians are the true circumcision, which Paul professed in the verses subsequent to that one, as true circumcision is of the heart and not of the flesh. So quite appropriately, the body of Jezebel the harlot, upon her death, was eaten by actual dogs, as Yahweh had pronounced would happen to her (2 Kings 9:36). Because of their acceptance of race-mixing, this assembly would suffer great tribulation, and now on account of their fornication, their punishment is announced:

22 Behold, I cast her into a bed [A has “prison”], and those committing adultery with her into great tribulation if they do not repent from her [A has “their”, as do the King James Version and the Koine Greek manuscripts from Andreas of Caesarea] works, 23 and [A wants “and”] I shall slay her children with death, and all of the assemblies shall know that I am He who examines minds [literally “kidneys”] and hearts, and I shall give to each according to your [א has “the”] works.

The word for minds is νεφρός, which is literally kidneys, and often in the King James Version, reins. Thayer defines it in part: “as [in] the Septuagint for כליה [kilyah, which is also literally kidneys - WRF], used of the inmost thoughts, feelings, purposes, of the soul: with the addition of καρδίας [heart], Revelation 2:23, with which [compare] Psalm 7:10; Jeremiah 11:20; 17:10; Sapientia [Wisdom of Solomon] 1:6.” For that reason we have minds rather than the literal kidneys.

Here, by asserting that it is He who examines the hearts of men, Yahshua Christ once again asserts His identity with Yahweh God. We read in the 26th Psalm, in an example of the Hebrew word for kidneys which Thayer did not include, a prayer by David entreating Yahweh with a plea to: “2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Likewise, in a prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles chapter 6, Solomon spoke directly to Yahweh and said, in part: “30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)...” In the example which Thayer did use, in the 7th Psalm, we read in part the exclamation of David that “9... God trieth the hearts and reins”. Yahshua Christ is that God, as He is the image of His person, and it is He who examines minds and hearts, as He attested here in the Revelation.

So because of their fornication, Yahshua Christ had promised even to kill the children of these fornicators. Why would Jesus kill children? He did not threaten to kill the fornicators themselves, but only their children. This is also contrary to the beliefs of denominational Christians, who could not imagine that Jesus would kill children, yet that is promised rather explicitly here. Race-mixing corrupts the Creation of God, which was declared in Genesis to be “kind after kind”. The ancient children of Israel were warned that they would commit race-mixing on account of their disobedience where we read in Isaiah chapter 17: “10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips: 11 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.” So they would have no children in the harvest because if their children are race-mixed bastards they will never be accepted by Yahweh their God, whose law states in Deuteronomy chapter 23 that “ 2 A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” We learn in subsequent verses that “tenth generation” is an allegory which means forever.

The children of Israel were chastised for race-mixing where Yahweh had declared in Jeremiah chapter 2: “13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Then a little further on in the chapter the same sin is described with different euphemisms and allegories and we read: “20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. 21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.” This is why Christ kills the children of fornicators. Yahshua Christ answers verse at Jeremiah 2:21 where He spoke in Matthew chapter 15 and said “13... Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be uprooted!”

The distinction of bastard stands under the New Covenant as well as it did under the Old Covenant. As Paul of Tarsus had attested in Hebrews chapter 12, where we also learn that chastisement is not merely the suffering of evil, but rather, it is the suffering of evil in punishment for the purpose of correction: “4 Not yet have you resisted as far as blood, struggling against wrongdoing, 5 and you have utterly forgotten the exhortation which with you, as sons He converses: ‘My son, do not esteem lightly the discipline of Yahweh, nor faint being censured by Him. 6 For whom Yahweh loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’ 7 You endure discipline; as sons Yahweh engages with you. For what is a son whom a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which you all have become partakers, then you are bastards, and not sons.” Bastards may suffer evil, but they are never corrected, and Yahweh God does not intend to correct them as they themselves are violations of His law by their very existence. Here, where Yahshua attests that He will kill the children of those who commit fornication, He is promising to rid the world of bastards. Now Christ continues to speak in reference to the sin of fornication:

24 Now I say to you for the rest of those in Thuateira, as many who do not have this teaching, whoever has not known the depths of the Adversary as they speak [so again we see that Satan is a collective entity]: I do [א has “shall”] not cast upon you another burden, 25 but hold fast that which you have until when I should come.

So those of Thyateira who have not accepted fornication would be burdened no further. Interestingly, Thyateira was never destroyed in war, and although parts of the city lie in ruins today, and many modern structures have been built, it remained inhabited by Christians until the coming of the Turks, and now it too is inhabited by bastards. Of course, the modern situation is the result of the fulfillment of other prophecies, but we see that Thyatira lasted as long as the Byzantine Roman empire had survived.

More significantly, here in verse 24 it is apparent that race-mixing fornication comes from “the depths of the Adversary”, or Satan. One who has not committed such a sin “has not known the depths of the Adversary as they speak.” All throughout the ages, it has been the Edomite Jew who has been the promoter and instigator of the integration and mixing of the races, and this is even by their own admission, for they are proud of it. This is the first light in understanding mystery of iniquity! Once again, the message to this assembly ends with an offer of hope:

26 Now he who prevails and who keeps My works until the end, I shall give to him authority over the Nations, 27 and he shall shepherd them with an iron staff as it breaks ceramic vessels [or perhaps “as ceramic vessels are broken”], 28 as I also have received from My Father. And I shall give to him the morning star. 29 He having an ear must hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies!

Here in verse 27 the King James Version rendered the Greek verb ποιμαίνω, which is literally to be a shepherd, simply as rule. The verb for break, συντρίβω, is a third person singular form which is ambiguous without a pronoun. It may refer to he who is shepherding, or to the rod itself, which is the more likely intention. But there is further difficulty, as it appears in a passive form rather than an active form. So the King James Version interpreted the same verb as a third person plural, when it is a third person singular form. The Passive form more properly describes what is broken, but then one may expect a plural verb since the word for vessels is also plural. So because it seems that some rule of grammar is broken, either interpretation seems to be valid, ours or the one which is found in the King James Version. In another complication, the Majority Text actually has the verb in a future tense. Furthermore, the verse division here follows the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece rather than the King James Version.

Authority over the Nations: the children of Israel who overcome shall evidently serve as judges in the Kingdom of Yahweh. In challenging the Corinthians in chapter 6 of his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul of Tarsus professed knowledge of this same thing where he asked “1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, have it decided before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the Society? And if by you the Society is judged, are you unworthy of the smallest trials? 3 Do you not know that we will judge Messengers, let alone the things of this life?” This is also revealed in the 82nd Psalm, as the ancient children of Israel should have been judging the world of their own time, but they failed to live up to the obligation, so we read in the words of Asaph, which Christ Himself had later cited in John chapter 10: “1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” In John chapter 10 Christ reveals that the children of Israel themselves were the subjects of that passage, where we read: “34 Yahshua replied to them: ‘Is it not written in your law that I have said, Ye are gods? 35 If He spoke of them as gods to whom the Word of Yahweh had come, and the writing is not able to be broken, 36 He whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the Society, you tell that You blaspheme, because I said I am a son of Yahweh?’”

Here we must have one more digression, to discuss what is meant by the reference to the “morning star”. This is also an answer to the frequent claims, which are found even among Identity Christians, that the titles Ἑωσφόρος or Eosphoros in Greek and Lucifer in the Latin, both of which mean light-bearer, are descriptions of some sort of supernatural Satan. We would assert that in the Bible, where it appears only in Isaiah chapter 14, the term is used disparagingly of a single man who was the king of Babylon, and who made a claim for himself to be as a god. This practice was common in antiquity, and it was found among the emperors of Rome as well as the other great kingdoms and empires which had preceded. Similarly, Egyptian pharaohs and Hittite kings compared themselves to the sun, referred to themselves as the sun on earth, and claimed to be gods. Lawgivers, another role fulfilled by ancient kings, were also seen as bearers of light to the people. In that manner, every lucifer is a satan, as man sets himself in opposition to God by making his own laws.

While we discussed this subject at length in our Pragmatic Genesis series, in Explaining Two-Seedline, Part 25: More Myths Dispelled, here I will supply a portion of one citation from that presentation, from pages 307-308 of the book Kingship and the Gods – A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature, by Henri Frankfort, first published by the University of Chicago in 1948.

In Mesopotamia, as in Egypt, the ruler is often compared with the sun. Hammurabi stated in the preamble of his law (Code, V, 4-9): “I am the sun of Babylon who causes light to rise over the land of Sumer and Akkad.” The deified Amar-Sin calls himself “a true god, the sun of his land.” ... In Egyptian texts of the New Kingdom we find similar expressions.... Tuthmosis III is called “Ruler of Rulers, Sun of All Lands”; Seti I, “Re of Egypt and Moon of All Lands,” or “King of Egypt, Re of the Nine Bows”- the latter being the traditional formula for foreign peoples.... the Late Assyrian kings often styled themselves “sun of the totality of mankind....”

These few examples are representative of many other similar statements surviving in the inscriptions of the kings and emperors of the ancient world. Likewise, in Acts chapter 12, we see an account of Herod Agrippa I: “21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Herod was then struck dead for not denying the claim and giving the true God the glory. The king of Babylon in Isaiah chapter 14, who was described as lucifer or light-bearer, was in the same situation.

But Yahshua Christ alone is the true light-bearer, the only true giver of laws and dispenser of righteousness, and therefore He asserts the only legitimate claim to the title. Yahshua is “the life [that] was the light of men” and “the light [that] shines in the darkness” and also the “light [that] was the truth, which coming into the Society enlightens every man”, as he is described in the opening chapter of the Gospel of John (1:4, 5 and 9). Yet here He promises to share that same authority with those of the children of Israel who prevail over the depths of the Adversary: which is a collective term for the Jews.

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