Revelation 2:12-17: Pergamum
It is good military practice to use part of your force to press the attack against an enemy so that they bunch up their resources in one area spreading themselves thin in other areas, thereby creating a weakness, and you can then breakthrough in the weakened area. All of us struggle to fight a war on two or more fronts. Many of us are able to stand up to a trial, but we tend to crumble when all sorts of things of all sorts of types come against us. This was the problem at Pergamum. Pergamum had been faithful under trial, not denying the faith even in the face of death, but they were tolerant of false teachers. They seem in some ways to be the opposite to Ephesus. Where Ephesus was strong on doctrine to a fault that they had closed hearts to the world and each other; Pergamum was weak on doctrine and the world leaked into the church. Ephesus was on the extreme of too much doctrine and became loveless; Pergamum was on the extreme of laxity towards doctrine and was infiltrated with false teaching. One was too guarded; the other was not guarded enough. They put enough effort in the face of persecution and did their duty, but they failed when it came to standing against false teaching and administering church discipline.
Christ’s letter to Pergamum reveals the difficult conditions they faced, their infiltration of false teachers and failure to discipline and the consequences for those who do not repent and those who overcome.