Hidden Manna, Hidden Name

The angel of the church in Pergamum is confronted by the living one who has the two-edged sword. The letter offers both affirmation and condemnation, grace and judgment. The church is struggling in the context of a city where idolatry flourishes, that is, the church is in constant conflict with “Satan’s throne.” The temptation is to surrender to idolatry and heresy, and some have already done that, while others remain faithful even though they may face martyrdom. The living one reminds the angel that the real danger is not from Satan’s throne, but from those within the congregation who are embracing idolatry and heresy. There is again a call to repentance, with the warning that the living one will come and wage war with the two-edged sword against those who want to destroy the community of faith from the inside. There is no indication that this congregation is under persecution from external powers. What is really at stake is the spiritual life of the congregation. There are those who are eating food that was sacrificed to idols before being sold in the marketplace. It is not just a matter of eating, but of embracing the idolatry and heresy behind this sacrifice. The living one comes with the sword of his mouth, that is, with a word of warning, admonition and promise. He offers to those who conquer this heresy and idolatry “some of the hidden manna.” The living one offers himself as the hidden manna, the sacrifice of his own body and blood, in contrast to food sacrificed to idols. The allusion is certainly to the Eucharist. In addition, the faithful will receive the revelation of a new name. Those around Satan’s throne do not know that name. It is the name of the living one, Jesus. Throughout the letter is the contrast between Satan and Jesus, pagan food and Eucharist. Hidden manna, hidden name. This is my Body, given for you.

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