Revelation 2:14
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
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.

King James Bible
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Darby Bible Translation
But I have a few things against thee: that thou hast there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a snare before the sons of Israel, to eat of idol sacrifices and commit fornication.

World English Bible
But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

Young's Literal Translation
'But I have against thee a few things: That thou hast there those holding the teaching of Balaam, who did teach Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat idol-sacrifices, and to commit whoredom;

Revelation 2:14 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

But I have a few things against thee - As against the church at Ephesus, Revelation 2:4. The charge against this church, however, is somewhat different from that against the church at Ephesus. The charge there was, that they had "left their first love"; but it is spoken in commendation of them that they "hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes," Revelation 2:6. Here the charge is, that they tolerated that sect among them, and that they had among them also those who held the doctrine of Balaam. Their general course had been such that the Saviour could approve it; he did not approve, however, of their tolerating those who held to pernicious practical error - error that tended to sap the very foundation of morals.

Because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam - It is not necessary to suppose that they professedly held to the same opinion as Balaam, or openly taught the same doctrines. The meaning is, that they taught substantially the same doctrine which Balaam did, and deserved to be classed with him. What that doctrine was is stated in the subsequent part of the verse.

Who taught Balac to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel - The word "stumbling-block" properly means anything over which one falls or stumbles, and then anything over which anyone may fall into sin, or which becomes the occasion of one's falling into sin. The meaning here is, that it was through the instructions of Balaam that Balak learned the way by which the Israelites might be led into sin, and might thus bring upon themselves the divine malediction. The main circumstances in the case were these:

(1) Balak, king of Moab, when the children of Israel approached his borders, felt that he could not contend successfully against so great a host, for his people were dispirited and disheartened at their numbers, Numbers 22:3-4.

(2) in these circumstances he resolved to send for one who had a distinguished reputation as a prophet, that he might "curse" that people, or might utter a malediction over them, in order, at the same time, to ensure their destruction, and to inspirit his own people in making war on them: in accordance with a prevalent opinion of ancient times, that prophets had the power of blighting anything by their curse. Compare the notes on Job 3:8. For this purpose he sent messengers to Balaam to invite him to come and perform this service, Numbers 22:5-6.

(3) Balaam professed to be a prophet of the Lord, and it was obviously proper that he should inquire of the Lord whether he should comply with this request. He did so, and was positively forbidden to go, Numbers 22:12.

(4) when the answer of Balaam was reported to Balak, he supposed that he might be prevailed to come by the offer of rewards, and he sent more distinguished messengers with an offer of ample honor if he would come, Numbers 22:15-17.

(5) Balaam was evidently strongly inclined to go, but, in accordance with his character as a prophet, he said that if Balak would give him his house full of silver and gold he could do no more, and say no more, than the Lord permitted, and he proposed again to consult the Lord, to see if he could obtain permission to go with the messengers of Balak. He obtained permission, but with the express injunction that he was only to utter what God should say; and when he came to Balak, notwithstanding his own manifest desire to comply with the wish of Balak, and notwithstanding all the offers which Balak made to him to induce him to do the contrary, he only continued to bless the Hebrew people, until, in disgust and indignation, Balak sent him away again to his own land, Numbers 22; Numbers 23; Numbers 24:10 ff.

(6) Balaam returned to his own house, but evidently with a desire still to gratify Balak. Being forbidden to curse the people of Israel; having been overruled in all his purposes to do it; having been, contrary to his own desires, constrained to bless them when he was himself more than willing to curse them; and having still a desire to comply with the wishes of the King of Moab, he cast about for some way in which the object might yet he accomplished - that is, in which the curse of God might in fact rest upon the Hebrew people, and they might become exposed to the divine displeasure. To do this, no way occurred so plausible, and that had such probability of success, as to lead them into idolatry, and into the sinful and corrupt practices connected with idolatry. It was, therefore, resolved to make use of the charms of the females of Moab, that through their influence the Hebrews might be drawn into licentiousness. This was done. The abominations of idolatry spread through the camp of Israel; licentiousness everywhere prevailed, and God sent a plague upon them to punish them, Numbers 25:1 ff. That also this was planned and instigated by Balaam is apparent from Numbers 31:16; "Behold these (women) caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord, in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord." The attitude of Balaam's mind in the matter was this:

I. He had a strong desire to do what he knew was wrong, and which was forbidden expressly by God.

II. He was restrained by internal checks and remonstrances, and prevented from doing what he wished to do.

III. He cast about for some way in which he might do it, notwithstanding these internal checks and remonstrances, and finally accomplished the same thing in fact, though in form different from that which he had first prepared. This is not an unfair description of what often occurs in the plans and purposes of a wicked man. The meaning in the passage before us is, that in the church at Pergamos there were those who taught, substantially, the same thing that Balaam did; that is, the tendency of whose teaching was to lead people into idolatry, and the ordinary accompaniment of idolatry - licentiousness.

To eat things sacrificed unto idols - Balaam taught the Hebrews to do this - perhaps in some way securing their attendance on the riotous and gluttonous feasts of idolatry celebrated among the people among whom they sojourned. Such feasts were commonly held in idol temples, and they usually led to scenes of dissipation and corruption. By plausibly teaching that there could be no harm in eating what had been offered in sacrifice - since an idol was nothing, and the flesh of animals offered in sacrifice was the same as if slaughtered for some other purpose, it would seem that these teachers at Pergamos had induced professing Christians to attend on those feasts - thus lending their countenance to idolatry, and exposing themselves to all the corruption and licentiousness that commonly attended such celebrations. See the banefulness of thus eating the meat offered in sacrifice to idols considered in the notes on 1 Corinthians 8.

And to commit fornication - Balaam taught this; and that was the tendency of the doctrines inculcated at Pergamos. On what pretence this was done is not said; but it is clear that the church had regarded this in a lenient manner. So accustomed had the pagan world been to this vice, that many who had been converted from idolatry might be disposed to look on it with less severity than we do now, and there was a necessity of incessant watchfulness lest the members of the church should fall into it. Compare the notes on Acts 15:20.

Revelation 2:14 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Love's Complaining
Hence our Lord's fitness to deal with the churches, which are these golden lamp-stands, for no one knows so much about the lamps as the person whose constant work it is to watch them and trim them. No one knows the churches as Jesus does, for the care of all the churches daily comes upon him, he continually walks among them, and holds their ministers as stars in his right hand. His eyes are perpetually upon the churches, so that he knows their works, their sufferings, and their sins; and those eyes
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 32: 1886

That There is no Security against Temptation in this Life
"My Son, thou art never secure in this life, but thy spiritual armour will always be needful for thee as long as thou livest. Thou dwellest among foes, and art attacked on the right hand and on the left. If therefore thou use not on all sides the shield of patience, thou wilt not remain long unwounded. Above all, if thou keep not thy heart fixed upon Me with steadfast purpose to bear all things for My sake, thou shalt not be able to bear the fierceness of the attack, nor to attain to the victory
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

Job's Regret and Our Own
I. Let us begin by saying, that regrets such as those expressed in the text are and ought to be very BITTER. If it be the loss of spiritual things that we regret, then may we say from the bottom of our hearts, "Oh that I were as in months past." It is a great thing for a man to be near to God; it is a very choice privilege to be admitted into the inner circle of communion, and to become God's familiar friend. Great as the privilege is, so great is the loss of it. No darkness is so dark as that which
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Of the Imitation of Christ, and of Contempt of the World and all Its Vanities
He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,(1) saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ. 2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy men, and such as have His Spirit find therein the hidden manna.(2) But there are many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel,
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ

Cross References
Numbers 25:1
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.

Numbers 31:16
"Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.

Acts 15:20
but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.

Acts 15:29
that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."

1 Corinthians 10:20
No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.

2 Peter 2:15
forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

Jude 1:11
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

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