Seven Churches – Pergamos: The Compromising Church
Pergamos was the chief city of Mysia, near the Caicus River in northwest Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). The city was 15 miles from the Aegean Sea.
Great buildings were erected. The city was noted for its vast library, containing 200,000 volumes. The Egyptians, concerned with this library which rivaled their own at Alexandria, refused to ship papyrus to Pergamos. As a result, a new form of writing material, Pergamena charta, or parchment, was developed.
In the days of Roman dominance throughout Asia Minor, Pergamos became the capital of the Roman province of Asia.
Pergamos was a government center with splendid temples built to Athena, Zeus and Asklepios (The Greco-Roman god of medicine and healing).
In the Book of Revelation, John spoke of Pergamos as the place “where Satan’s throne is” (Revelation 2:13). This could be a reference to the cult of emperor worship, because Pergamos was a center where this form of loyalty was pledged to the emperor of the Roman Empire (Nelson’s Bible Dictionary). Some suppose “Satan’s throne” to be in reference to the worship of Aesculapius, from the serpent being his characteristic emblem (Smith’s Bible Dictionary).
Pergamos was noted for its wickedness, insomuch that our Lord says “Satan’s seat” was there. The church of Pergamos was rebuked for swerving from the truth and embracing the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Antipas, Christ’s “faithful martyr”, here sealed his testimony with his blood (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
The modern name of the city is Bergama.
Revelation 2:12: “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword”
The sword is the Word of God spoken out of the mouth of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 1:16). We are to have a two-edged sword in our hand according to Psalm 149:6. “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.” The sword brings either mercy or judgment.
“I know your works” – your deeds
“And where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is” – living in a place that is the center of cult worship and much Satanic activity
“You hold fast to My Name” – did not deny the Lord
“And did not deny My faith” – even when Antipas was martyred they did not deny their faith
“There are those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam” – Numbers 22:5-7; 31:16; 25:1-2.
- Associating with the evil one
- Eating meat sacrificed to idols
- Committing fornication
“You also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which I hate” –
- Unrestrained indulgence
- Abusing the grace of God
“Repent or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” – turn quickly to God to avoid certain judgment. You don’t ever want the Lord fighting against you.
“I will give some of the hidden manna to eat” – spiritual food, rhema, revelation in the Word
“I will give him a white stone” – a stone of acquittal
“On the stone a new name written” – a new name denotes a change of character (such as Jacob to Israel, and Saul to Paul).