Revelation 2:14 Index
"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."
Research Material

PROBLEM: The problem(s) the church was and is facing - "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." (KC 44)

"...against thee..." (Revelation 2:2)

"...thou hast them that hold the doctrine of Balaam..." (Numbers 22-24)

  • Christians marrying pagans was a constant threat to the believers. That is why God refers to Balaam, from the Old Testament. Balaam recommended to Balak that he send the daughters of Moab into the camp of Israel to seduce the sons of Israel into immorality, leading the people into idolatry and rebellion. "And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab." (Numbers 25:1). "Behold, these 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." (Numbers 31:16). (KC 47)
  • This continued to be a problem, even in the days of John. When the Apostles had the council in Jerusalem, they warned them about these areas. "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well." (Acts 15:28, 29) (KC 47)
  • The analogy with Balaam suggests that there were some at Pergamum whose purpose was to divide and ruin the church by encouraging practices that were forbidden to Christians (Acts 15:29). Balaam was concerned about advancing his own interests, not those of God's people. (7BC 749)

"...to cast a stumblingblock..."

  • ...the trigger that springs a trap. Thus to "cast a stumblingblock" before some one is to trip him up. (Matthew 5:29). (7BC 749)

"...to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication."

  • The two practices here mentioned had been expressly prohibited by the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:29; Romans 4:1; 1 Corinthians 8:1). Balaam influenced Israel to commit "whoredom with the daughters of Moab," and to sacrifice to Moabite gods, and to "eat," presumably of the meat sacrificed to these gods (Numbers 25:1, 2; Numbers 31:16). (7BC 749)
  • These two sins led to a mixture of paganism with true religion. Applied to Christian history, this portrayal is peculiarly appropriate to the situation in the church in the period following the legalization of Christianity by Constantine in A.D. 313 and his nominal conversion ten years later. This emperor pursued a policy of blending paganism and Christianity at as many points as possible, in a studied attempt to unite the diverse elements within the empire and thus strengthen it. The favorable, even dominant, position he accorded the church made it a prey to the temptations that always accompany prosperity and popularity. Under Constantine and his successors, almost all of whom continued his favorable policy, the church rapidly became a politico-ecclesiastical institution and lost much of its former spirituality. (7BC 749)