Revelation 2:12

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Revelation 2:12 

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: – Revelation 2:12

Over the seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor.  In these seven letters, God gives a message to each that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history.  It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these. 

Now we come to the Church in Pergamum.  Pergamum (modern Bergama, Turkey) was a major city located about sixty-five miles north of Smyrna by road and fifteen miles from the Aegean Sea. The heart of the city was the acropolis, which rose above the valley below. Although the city had been settled long before, the Pergamene rulers of the third and second centuries BCE transformed it by building impressive walls, temples, palaces, and a renowned library that was second only to that of Alexandria.

In our focus verse, Christ is said to have a ‘sharp two-edged sword coming from His mouth.  This is referring to the Word of God.  “And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.” Revelation 1:16.  Then He next tells them of their strengths. “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas, my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” Revelation 2:13. They were a Church that remained strong even while residing  in a place known as a center of pagan cults.  The idea is probably a reference to the fact Pergamum was the center of the worship of the Roman Emperor.  Rome was the most recent and most powerful agent of Satan because of its demands for absolute allegiance, as well as the presence of the alter to Zeus which looked like a throne. And through all this they remained faithful. “And you hold fast My name and did not deny My faith.” Revelation 2:13b. 

Then after this, He brings up areas He has against them. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality.” Revelation 2:14.  Balaam was a seer, perhaps from upper Syria, who was called by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse Israel. (See Numbers 22-24).  The positive side of Balaam’s legacy is that he pronounced blessings instead of curses. His promise that a star would rise from Jacob was understood to anticipate a messianic ruler and the image is used this way in later Jewish sources and Revelation. The negative side of Balaam’s legacy is that he was implicated in Israel’s sexual immorality and worship of Baal (See Numbers 25:1-5).  And within the Church were people who followed the teachings of Balaam, who by doing this put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality which were abominations to God. And because of this there were some who held to the beliefs of the Nicolaitans. (The Nicolaitans were a Christian group that considered it acceptable to eat what was offered to Greco-Roman deities.)

 He then tells them, “Repent therefore or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” Revelation 2:16. He is not speaking of when He returns at the end times.  However, It is best to construe it as a limited disciplinary visitation before the end. Here his coming is conditional: He will come if people refuse to repent, which implies that if they do repent, he will not come. His coming is also limited to people at Pergamum, whereas his final coming will defeat God’s opponents everywhere.

Note the final part of the message. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Revelation 2:17.  He who overcomes the temptations that exist are promised three blessings.  “The precise explanation of these three items is disputed; however, all three blessings must concern the believer’s victorious reign with Christ, consistent with the blessings bestowed on the other six churches. The “hidden manna” is likely an allusion to the manna hidden in the Ark of the Covenant representative of God’s faithful presence and sustenance.  The white stone could be a reference to the stones used for entrance into temple events in ancient times or to one of the stones on the high priest’s breastplate, although the exact meaning of the stone is uncertain.

The Church in Pergamum had many pagan and sinful practices to reject and teach the same.  They were persecuted by pagan cults and Rome.  As they did, it is important that we reject the ways of this world and focus on what is pleasing to God in all things.  We must not fall for the trickery of false prophets, and we must say NO when it is demanded of us to participate in sinful practices.  When we do this, we will be blessed with eternal fellowship with the King, Jesus the Christ.  Therefore, stand strong no matter what.  It is worth the suffering that may come our way.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Ephesians 6:17b

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Ephesians 6:17b   

“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17b 

I want to start again with the several verses that introduce this idea Paul is putting forth.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13.  He is telling us to put on the full armor of God for the following reason, that we can stand firmly against the powers of the enemy, namely the sly schemes of the devil. 

The phrase “sword of the Spirit” is found only once in Scripture, here in our focus verse.   The sword is one of the pieces of spiritual armor Paul tells the Ephesian Christians to put on as part of the full armor of God that will enable us to stand our ground against evil.  The sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon used by soldiers or warriors. In our case here, it is a weapon belonging to the Holy Spirit.  Swords were used to protect oneself from harm or to attack the enemy to overcome or kill him. In both cases it was necessary for a soldier to get rigid training on the proper use of the sword to get maximum protection. All Christian soldiers need the same rigid training to know how to properly handle the Sword of the Spirit, the sword that Paul refers to here as the Holy Scriptures.

This sword is useful for every good work we do.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  The scriptures are from God written through men.  And as stated above, it is both defensive and offensive.  Since every Christian is in a  spiritual battle with the satanic and evil forces of this world, we need to know how to handle the Word properly. Only then will it be an effective defense against evil, but we will also be on the  offensive to demolish strongholds of error and falsehood. And this is very much needed for there is an abundance of false teachings going around, and we need to, first know what is error as opposed to truth, and secondly we need to know where in scripture this is laid out.  And we must be bold in pronouncing all falsehoods and wrong teachings, providing for them the truth that is found in the word of God.

We see this analogy also in the book of Hebrews.  “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.  Here the Word is described as living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword. The Roman sword was commonly made in this manner. The fact that it had two edges made it easier to penetrate, as well as to cut in every way. The idea is that of piercing, or penetrating; the Word of God reaches the “heart,” the very center of action, and lays open the motives and feelings of those it touches.

It is because of this that it is important for us to study His Word and plant it deep within our hearts.  “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  1 Peter 3:13-15.  Note the words “always being ready to make a defense.”  This is important for we are those called to bring the gospel to all.  And how can we do this if we do not know His word. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 


Proverbs 12:18

Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 12:18  

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18  

Have you ever heard someone speak words that caused the recipient to feel terrible or embarrassed? Sometimes it is hard to determine why they hurt so much.  These words can be as sharp swords, cutting and wounding, dividing and killing.  They have been known to cause incredible hurt and damage to whom  they are spoken to as well as those who are intimately close to them.

So, what kind of words are alluded to?  Well first, they can be angry words like sharp rebukes.  Phrases like, “That was really stupid of you to do”  or “how could you be such an idiot” or “how could I have thought you could do this right”.  These are insulting to the person and does nothing to help any situation.  Then there are backbiters and gossipers.  These say similar things about the person, but to others with the one they are directed at are present or not.  Then there are those who present testimonies that are false and perjurious.  This causes others to assume guilt where no guilt exists.  This can have a serious and negative effect on them.  There are other examples, but the idea is that anything that produces a negative impact on someone, whether anyone else knows or not can cause harm.  David wrote of  this in the psalms during his issues with King Saul.  “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows And their tongue a sharp sword.” Psalm 57:4.

I understand what this is like because I experienced these things throughout my childhood, both at home and in school.  My parents were extremely harsh in their dealings with us.  And at school, I found myself the brunt of everyone’s jokes.  However, my dad gave his life to Christ several years after I left to join the Air Force and when I visited after this event, he was a much different man.  He was much more loving and kind to everyone which ultimately made a difference in my mother as well.  But needless to say, I understand some of the damage that can occur because of the above.

However, the last part of this verse points out how we are to speak to others: using wisdom.  “But the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Proverbs 12:18b.  The idea presented here is the sharp and insulting words spoken to others is not wise, but in the language used by Solomon throughout Proverbs, it is foolish. Wisdom is found in love, and in this verse’s context, loving people through kind and uplifting words.  “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18. 

And finally, wisdom also calls for us to think of things that are positive and good.  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”  Philippians 4:8. By focusing on the positive and shunning the negative, by thinking of things that are good and Godly, we will be more inclined to treat people as we should, not with words that hurt like a sword in the flesh, but by encouragement and love that brings healing to whatever hurts they are enduring.  We must be wise in how we treat people, showing how much we care and love them, thus bringing healing rather than pain.  So much good will our results in the lives of those we treat as such.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Matthew 10:34

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 10:34 

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” –  Matthew 10:34

Some people read this verse and are confused because throughout the scriptures Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace, one who brings peace.  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.   The angels declared this at His birth.  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:14.  Note here that on earth, there will be peace among those who please God. 

Now, Christ was not saying that the purpose of His coming was to produce discord and content.  For He is called the Prince of Peace.  What is meant is that it is one of the effects of His coming.  Unfortunately, persecution would come.  “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;” Matthew 10:16-18.  And then continuing this thought, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22.

Jesus did not come here to cause division but to bring salvation.  The wickedness of men, not the teaching of Christ and the gospel, is the cause for all the hostility.  It is the evil that exists in this world.  We as Christians are to strive to bring peace.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9.  We are called to bring peace to everyone.  We are to do everything we can to prevent contention and strife.  Paul put it like this.  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18. 

When He returns, and His kingdom has arrived, then we will be in perfect peace with no end to this peace,  for all will be made right.  “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;  they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5.  We can live at peace here because Christ is always with us.  However, eternal,  unending, and perfect peace will happen when He comes to take us home.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.