The church of Pergamos is the third of seven prophetic messages to the Christian Church. During the Pergamos era the union of church and state compromised the purity and mission Jesus had given His followers.
The influence of Constantine the Great
When Constantine the Great became emperor, he recognized the need for a new policy. While on the battlefield Constantine claimed to have a vision in which he saw a cross with the inscription, “in this sign conquer”. Taking this to mean that he should embrace Christianity, he “baptized” his troops by marching them through the river, and then went on to win a great victory that helped to strengthen his hold on the empire.
He soon began to pass laws favoring Christianity over other religions. Huge churches were built, and the wealth of the empire supported the church leaders and their projects.
Constantine the Great organized great church councils to deal with heresy. He banished and persecuted those who were declared enemies of the church. Representatives of the church were involved in the affairs of the state, and the state was involved in the affairs of the church.
Dream come true?
For the official church, it seemed like a dream come true. They were finally not only legal but favored, so they could get on with the mission Christ had given them to preach the gospel in all the world.
New “believers” were pouring into the church, and the wealth and power of the empire were at their disposal to create the kingdom of God on earth. They never dreamed of what a corrupting effect the union of church and state would have, or what kinds of heresies and idolatry the half-converted idolaters would bring with them into the church now that everyone was considered a Christian.
The message to Pergamos shined a light on developing idolatry. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14).
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