Certain people were responsible for the wrong behaviour and wrong beliefs of some of Pergamumís church members. However, in the end, it was the devilís work (see Matthew 13:24-30 and Matthew 13:36-43). Satan was active, not just in their city, but also in their church (verse 13).
The result was a mixture of good and bad people, beliefs and behaviour among church members. For example, some church leaders were strong believers who taught the truth about God. Other leaders belonged to the group called Nicolaitans; they taught things that Christ hated (verse 6).
It seemed impossible to separate the sincere Christians from the church members who were not loyal to God. Some genuine Christians had acted wrongly because of weakness; some Christians were just confused.
Similar things had happened in the church at Corinth. There, some Christians were trying to show the freedom that God had given to them. For that reason, they entered the temple (house of a false god) to eat meat. They had not realised that they were allowing wrong desires to direct their lives (1 Corinthians 10:6). They did not understand that their actions would cause trouble for weaker Christians (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
Christ urged everyone in the church at Pergamum to turn back to God. They must stop their wrong behaviour and they must obey God. Christ wanted, by his words, to bless (show kindness) to them all. However, if they would not accept his kindness, his words would act in judgement against them. That is the meaning of the sword here: Godís word (Hebrews 4:12). As a sword cuts meat apart, so Godís word would separate people. It was probably impossible for Pergamumís church leaders to separate the people who were not loyal to God from their church. However, Christ, by his word, would separate them from the people who truly served him.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.