Pergamum: Spiritual Corruption Third Seal: Church/State 313 CE – 537 CE
“I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast my Name, and did not deny My faith…But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam…So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth…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.” Rev. 2: 13-17
In 313 CE, the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which stopped the persecution of Christians and made all religions legal within the Roman Empire.
For the most part the church remained faithful to the teachings of Jesus. However, some who had the traits of Balaam and the Nicolaitans had infiltrated the church. Balaam was supposed to be a prophet for God way back when the Hebrews were leaving Egypt and entering the Promised Land, but he was really in business for himself and eventually led the Hebrews astray (Num. 31: 16; 2 Pet. 2: 15; Jude 11). The Nicolaitans were “Christians” who compromised their beliefs so they could justify taking advantage of sinful practices. Jesus promised that those who did not get trapped by the teachings of these false believers would attain heavenly rewards.
“When He broke the third seal…I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice…saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.” Rev. 6: 5, 6
During this time the church was growing rapidly as Christianity was replacing paganism. But those who had infiltrated the church and who had the traits of Balaam and the Nicolaitans were intent on having the best of both worlds. They believed in God and wanted eternal life, but they also wanted all the power and pleasures the world had to offer…even if it meant compromising their faith. So here we see, in the history of God’s church, the beginning of the unifying of church and state, of religious and political (secular) powers. The black color of the horse represents the spiritual darkness in which the church found itself, and the scales denote shared weight given to both the church (religion) and the state (politics). Even though much of the Christian purity was being bartered away, the oil and the wine (see Appendix 2) was not damaged because there were still many faithful followers of Jesus who refused to go along with the corruption entering the church.