Summary: We’re to stand firm & faithful in the midst of a fallen world, in spite of opposition.
"Pergamum--a compromised congregation", Revelation 2:12-17 Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts -Series on the 7 Churches of Rev 2-3
Do you have a mentor, someone with experience and expertise, who helps you learn to do a better job? Mentors care enough to tell us when we’re doing things wrong. The goal of a critique is to help, not tear us down. Christ is a role model for all mentors. He writes to the 7 churches out of compassion, offering both positive encouragement and negative appraisal of their ministries.
The city of Pergamum is located about 60 miles north of Smyrna and is set 15 miles in from the Aegean coast. The ancient historian Pliny called it "the most distinguished city in Asia Minor." Of all the cities of the 7 churches, Pergamum is the best-preserved archeologically. The name Pergamum means "a citadel", which is an appropriate description-the city rises like a fortress atop a huge hill in the Valley of Caicus. Key terrain with a commanding view of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding area.
In spite of its natural defenses, the city surrendered quickly to Rome rather than be conquered. The city elders saw Rome’s aggressive advance and realized that there was little hope of survival should they oppose the Legion…so they offered their service to Rome and in return became the official Roman seat of government, the provincial capital of Asia Minor-a quid pro quo.
Pergamum was practically overrun with pagan temples. The city was the center of worship of the deity Asclepius, the so-called "god of healing". An ancient coin depicts the Emperor rendering honor to Asclepius, raising his right arm in an exact gesture of the Nazi salute. The symbol of this god was a snake entwined around a staff. This image can still be seen today as the caduceus, or emblem of the medical profession. A constant influx of people came to Pergamum to be healed of their diseases. The city was also renowned for its temple to Caesar Augustus, the first temple ever built to honor a living emperor.
Pergamum got its name from its invention of vellum, a writing material made from animal skins. This invention aided its library, which contained over 200,000 volumes. Authors from all over were invited to contribute to the massive collection of writings, which was second only to the library of Alexandria. I wonder if this library had the most significant book of all?
The description of Christ in vs 12 refers back to how He is vividly portrayed in 1:16, "…out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword." Pergamum was granted by Rome the rare power of capital punishment, symbolized by the sword. Jesus uses the sword of His truth to oppose falsehood and advance His Kingdom. Hebrews 4:12 observes that the "word of God is full of living power, sharper than any double-edged sword; cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and intentions, exposing us for what we really are." Our Savior’s words are life-changing, cutting away our camouflage and penetrating our defenses. They lay bare our sin and need.