The Seven churches
of Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3)
Part Two (Pergamos)
In our last lesson we discussed the cities
of Ephesus and Smyrna covering Revelation 2:1-11. This week we will
look at another unfaithful congregation of the Lord’s people. We
will find out about a few doctrines that were affecting the church in the
first century. We will again see that Christ knows what is going
on in the church. Do to the depth of our study this lesson will only
cover one of the five remaining churches we have to look at.
I. Historical Facts of Pergamos
1. Northeast of Smyrna.
B. This city is known for it’s invention of
the writing material “Parchment”.
2. About 15 miles inland from the Aegean
1. When the educated world wrote
everything on papyrus produced in Egypt. But when Egypt cut off supplies
of papyrus, the scholars of Pergamum had to find another medium to write
on. Experiments subsequently led to the discovery that the prepared
skins of pigs and deer were excellent substitutes for papyrus and Parchment
C. Pergamum was the capital city of the province
of Asia in the ancient Roman Empire. After the break-up of Alexander the
Great's empire, the King of Pergamum, in his will, be-queathed the city
to Rome. The people of the city were happy enough to fulfil his wish; they
entered the Roman Empire by spontaneous choice, not by compulsion.
2. It held one of the most famous libraries
in the world, for one thing, numbering some 200,000 volumes of parchment.
Ironically enough, Cleopatra later took Pergamum's library away, by permission
of Mark Antony, and added it to the one in Alexandria!
D. Pergamum could not rival either Ephesus
or Smyrna in its volume of trade, but it laid claim to some distinction.
1. First, was the centre of the
worship of Aesculapias. Aesculapias was the god of healing. The temple
had its medical wards, its medical schools, and it attracted sufferers
from all over the Roman Empire. It was like an ancient Lourdes. The god’s
name was ‘saviour,’ and to the Christian, for whom there was but one Saviour,
the title was abhor-rent. More significantly still, the emblem of Aesculapias
was the serpent. It is still to be seen on the cap badge of the Royal Army
Medical Corps, or on the lapel of a Royal Air Force nursing orderly. The
temple of this god was infested with tame snakes. If you wanted healing
there, you were allowed to sleep the night in the temple, and the touch
of a snake as it glided over you was held to heal; its touch was regarded
as the touch of the god himself. But to the Christian, a god whose incarnation
took the form of a snake could only be that “old serpent the devil and
2. There was the worship of Zeus. His altar
stood on a hill 1,000 feet high, which rose behind the town. Eight hundred
feet up, a ledge jutted out from the mountain, and on it stood the altar
of Zeus, 90 feet square and 20 feet high. All day long this altar smoked
with the smoke of endless sacrifices. It dominated the city, like a pillar
of cloud by day and a column of fire by night. Could this be the origin
of the phrase, "Satan's throne," this thing looking like a great seat mounted
above the city? It certainly was the city of the worshipping of other
God’s! They also worshipped the God’s Apollo, Athene, Aphrodite,
Bacchus the god of wine, and of Dionysus whose worship involved obscenities
impossible to describe.
3. Yet again, Emperor worship in Pergamum
was as intense as in Smyrna. Is it any wonder that Christ called
this place "Satan's throne"? Here the highest capacity in mankind, the
capacity to worship, was degraded into corruption. The city reeked with
the stench of its heathenism; evil hung in its streets like a clammy fog.
II. Christ praises this
A. V.12 “…These things saith
he which hath the sharp sword with two edges…”
III. But, He has a few things
1. John penned in Revelation 1:16;
he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp
twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”
B. V.13 “I know thy works” – Again, like
we showed in our first lesson, Christ dwells among the church and knows
what is going on (Revelation 1:13; 2:1; Matthew 18:20).
a. Christ is the word (John 1:1-5).
b. The word is the sword (Ephesians 6:17).
c. The word / sword is sharp: Hebrews 4:12-13
C. V. 13 “…where thou dwellest, even
where Satan's seat is…”
1. The word “seat” in the KJV is
derived from the Greek word “Strong’s #2362 thronos”.
D. Even in this massive environment of evil
they were praised as Christ said: v. 13 “…thou holdest fast my name,
and hast not denied my faith…”.
a. Translated in the NKJV and the
ASV as “throne”.
2. Jesus warned that His work would be done
among the evil of the world:
b. Defined as: “1a) a chair of state having
1b) assigned in the NT to kings, hence,
kingly power or royalty - Thayer”.
c. The word shows us that Satan’s influence
(evil) controls the city.
a. In the “Limited Commission” (Matthew
3. Paul warned of this: (Ephesians 5:15-16)
b. In prayer (John 17:13-20).
4. Satan is our adversary (I Peter 5:8).
a. God gave us a plan to defeat
Satan (Ephesians 6:10-18 and James 4:7).
1. Domitian, the ruler of this time,
required men to confess him as: “my Lord and my God”.
E. v.13 “…even in those days wherein Antipas
was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”
a. Titus Flavius Domitianus Roman
emperor (81-96 AD); noted for severity, especially in reign of terror (93-96
2. Pergamos followed the commands of Christ
b. Only Christ wore this title: (John 20:24-28).
a. Matthew 10:32-33
b. Mark 8:38
c. Romans 10:11
1. Nothing is known of Antipas aside
from the fact that he was faithful and speculation surrounding that.
They had witnessed his death and that was surely a trial for them (I Peter
2. Again, a statement about this being the
dwelling place of Satan. The evil was so great that this is the language
a. Truly the Roman Empire had a
lot of saints blood on its hands (Revelation 17:16 and 18:4).
A. v.14 Christ has a few things
against this congregation. They held to the doctrine of Balaam.
Pergamos supported false doctrine.
1. The action Christ references
B. They also had those among them that had the
doctrine of the Nicolaitanes in which the Lord hates that doctrine (v.
a. Do not bow to idols (Exodus 20:1-5
& Psalms 135:15-18).
2. II Peter 2:12-16
b. Do not eat sacrificed meat: (Acts 15:28-29)
1. The Lord commended the brethren
at Ephesus for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitanes (2:6).
2. We cannot allow perversions among us
a. We learned last week that the
doctrine taught by these people was likely Gnosticism.
b. Like in Corinth, the church at Pergamos
needed a little purging (I Corinthians 5).
C. Repent – the word will judge you! (John
V. 17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I
give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in
the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth
A. Hear what is being told to you.
(Isaiah 1:18) “Come now, and let us reason
together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be
as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
B. Overcome and Christ will give of the
“hidden manna” (Matthew 4:4 and John 6:31-35 cf: Exodus 16:12ff).
C. A white stone of acquittal, acceptance,
and name recognition. (I John 1:9).
Continue to follow our next lessons on the
“Seven churches of Asia”.
by Brian Yeager may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes at no cost