Summary: A study of the letters to the 7 churches - Pergamos
Revelation 2: 12 – 17
If You Can’t Lick Them - Join Them
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’
Today we are going to look at the third church in which our Lord addresses – Pergamos. In a quick review we have seen that these churches represent a history of the world beginning around 31 AD. With the listing of the church at Pergamos we are looking at a time period from 450 AD to 1050 AD. Again as reference we see the church’s time period listings;
1. Ephesus – 31 AD to 135 AD
2. Smyrna – 135 AD to 300 AD
3. Pergamos – 300 AD to 538 AD
Pergamum or Pergamos was the capital city of the province of Asia mentioned in Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia. It was a celebrated city of Mysia in the Caicus valley, 15 miles from the Aegean Sea about 60 miles north of Smyrna. The river Selinus flowed through it and the river Caicus ran just south of it.
It was founded by Philelaerus, the lieutenant of King Lysimachus during his wars with Seleucus, it is now modern Berghama. In case you forgot or are not aware of Seleucus, he was one of the four generals who served under Alexander the Great - The Grecian Empire. When Alexander died he told his generals to spit up the world. The section of Pergamos came under Seleucus’s territory.
Pergamum was the famous site of the temple to Aesculapius, the Greek God of healing supposed to be the founder of medical science and immortalized in the sky as the constellation Ophiuchus. The city became the seat of Babylonian sun worship, a noble center of idolatry and demon controlled religions with splendid temples to Nature. People from all over the Roman Empire came to seek healing in this pagan temple and the shrine area was inhabited by thousands of harmless snakes. On the hills of Acropolis stood resplendent buildings, statuary, palaces and the great library as well as the temples and an altar of "Zeus the Savior." Medicine and science was worshipped here and the symbol of their worship was the serpent. The snake was carried down into our own day with a staff entwined with serpents called the caduceus, still using the snake as a symbol for the medical arts.
Noted for its great wealth and culture, Pergamos boasted of an immense library of 200,000 volumes. In the second century BC, the king of Egypt learned that King Eumenes II of Pergamum was amassing a library that surpassed the wonderous library of Alexandria. Eumenes had been importing large quantities of papyrus for the books copied and the rivalry caused The Egyptian King to put an embargo on the export of papyrus to Pergamum. Eumenes had his craftsman work to find a substitute and parchment was invented. This rivalry and jealousy over Pergamum and Egypt over the library was settled when Caliph Omar destroyed the Alexandrian library. The tragedy caused Antony to despoil the famous library at Pergamum in the 2nd century BC and remove it to Egypt as a present to Cleopatra to reimburse Alexandria for the volumes destroyed.
Pergamum became the chief town of the new province of Asia, and the site of the first temple of the Caesar cult, dedicated to the goddess Roma and the emperor Augustus in 29 BC. Pergamum, since 29 BC, had been active in the promotion of the imperial religion and became the provincial center of the Roman state religion. With this emphasis it was but natural that the Christians of Pergamum should undergo persecution for refusing to worship the emperor.