Study Questions – Revelation #5
Revelation CGS – Week 5
A message to Pergamum – Root out sin.
INTRODUCTION: Pergamum was a significant religious center and a place that was very comfortable with religious pluralism and the mixing of incompatible ideas. Jesus begins by telling the church at Pergamum that he knows where they live. In other words, he understands the pressures (v 13) and temptations (v 14-16) they face. And “where you live” is also “where Satan lives” (v 13). Pergamum was full of pagan temples dominated by a massive altar to Zeus on the hill above the city. The first ever temple in honor of a living emperor, Emperor Augustus, was built at Pergamum in 29 BC. This may explain the reference to Pergamum being where Satan lives and has his throne (v 13). It also had a temple to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, whose symbol was a snake, echoing Satan (12:9). This setting and the constant pressure to water down, compromise, or an attitude to simply not take sin seriously had entered into the church.
The seven messages (or letters) to the seven churches of Asia minor help to give us a picture of the spiritual life and struggles of the churches in the first century. Oddly enough, while the first century feels so different and distant from us today, we experience many of the same struggles that they did. For the church in Pergamum they weren’t in grave danger theologically speaking, nor were they doing exceptionally well. Instead, they were somewhere in the middle. Sin had crept into the church and into the community of believers. Sin that they had resisted at first, but over time they grew complacent, indifferent, or just worn out in the battle of resisting sin. Again, that is something that you and I can relate to. If we want to root out sin in our lives, we must remember this core truth, sin never delivers on what it promises.
GETTING STARTED – We’ve all been there, looking at something that we wanted, enticed by what it promised to only be filled with regret or disappointment when it was obtained. Whatever that thing (food, possession, relationship) promised didn’t deliver. As you begin your group time this week, share about a time that happened to you. This could be a tough lesson learned or something more humorous. We’ve all been there spending good money and having buyers regret or wishing we didn’t order that triple deluxe burger at 10 pm!
IN THE WORD – Let’s dig back into the passage. It is important to strengthen our muscles in reading God’s Word. On Sunday, we walked through the passage in the sermon. Hopefully, that helped you to see the landmarks of the passage with fresh eyes. Now, with your group, go back through it and see what God is saying to you specifically.
First, before you read the passage, take a moment to ask God’s Spirit to quiet your mind and heart and to illuminate the text to you. Second, read the passage aloud to the group. Then, follow the simple method below. (O.P.A)
Observe: Make 8-10 observations from the passage. Pay close attention to observe and note repeated words and phrases, names, places, and themes.
Principles: From your list of observations, what patterns or big ideas do you see emerging? Can you distill it down into 2-4 big idea truths?
Apply: Moving from your list of principles, it is time to apply God’s Word. Remember, we believe that God’s Word is living and active and that it can change the way we live Monday- Friday. What is one tangible way to apply a truth from your list above?
Note: Revelation can be a tough book. Here are some questions that might help with discussion.
- What stands out to you about this church’s situation and the image of Jesus that is presented to them? How does that apply or speak to your spiritual life?
- Sometimes sin can present in a bold way, that is, we know it is sin, and we are able to avoid it with relative ease. More often, sin is seductive and presents in ways that we tend to justify or explain away and then give into. What patterns or practices are in your life to help you see through the seduction of sin?
- Read 1 Cor. 10:13 and discuss how Paul’s words help inform your perspective on fleeing sin and dealing with temptation.
- If we are to not grow weary in our battle against sin, what are some practices that help to spur us on in that faithful work? (Think about Bible reading, prayer, musical worship, community, etc.)
- Is avoiding sin and perusing righteousness the same thing? If they are different, what is different about them? Or how do they go together?
 Chester, Tim. Revelation For You: Seeing history from heaven’s perspective (p. 39). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.