Summary: In Satan's camp they hold fast to Christ are commended for this. But, even such people have let errant teaching slip through and have not stood firm on sexual sin. Thank God for His mercy provided we repent.
THE CHURCH AT SATAN'S SEAT - PERGAMUM
Revelation 2:12-17 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city--where Satan lives. 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you 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. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
1. INTRODUCTION - THE ORDER OF THE LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES
As with all of the churches, a pattern describes what each church has to deal with:
* The Commission addresses the church by name, which is actually its location.
* The Character paints a portrait of that church's actions.
* The Commendation shows the favourable conditions that existed within this church.
* The Condemnation lists the adverse criticisms in sequence.
* The Correction comes in the form of varied commands of obedience for change of spiritual condition.
* The Call always begins with the words "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says."
* The Challenge is given to those who are overcomers and rise above the temptations and perils of the specific church.
2. THE CHURCH AT PERGAMUM
We now come to the third church in the series of churches listed by John. The church of Pergamum, the church at Satan's seat. This church is the northern-most of all the seven churches of Asia.
A. THE LOCATION OF PERGAMUM
The place of Pergamum had been the centre of an independent kingdom that had existed for centuries. It was only in 133 B.C. that it came into the possession of the Romans. Because of its geographical location, the Romans started a trend with this particular city. Sitting on the top of the highest hill in its surroundings, the city of Pergamum had a scenic view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Most historians make this location as the first place that an actual physical temple was built for the worship of the Caesars. Although all of the Roman Empire was to worship the Caesars as a deity, not all of them had actual temples.
So somewhere around 29 B.C. a temple was built in honour and worship to Augustus. This is perhaps why the warning identifies this place as the church at Satan's seat, because there was the double presence of both the civil authority of Rome and also the presence of religious authority that rendered worship to Caesar.
Not only was Pergamum a stronghold for Rome, it was also a very educated society. Within the city a library housed some two hundred thousand parchments that catered to some of the finest academic minds in the world during it's time. Yet for all of it's inclination toward academics and human reasoning, human atrocities were committed by the opponents of Christianity.
Revelation 2:13 mentions Christ's faithful martyr Antipas, who was slowly roasted to death in a bronze vessel.
B. THE CHARACTER OF PERGAMUM - 2:12
Commonly found on the coins in Pergamum was the serpent, identified as the god of healing (Asclepios), who was also worshiped there. The temples to Asclepious served as the hospitals of the day. The symbol of this serpent is still in existence today, with the coiled snake on the staff, prominent in the world of medicine.
It is only fitting that the description of the Lord Jesus Christ here is one who has a sharp, double-edged sword in His possession - the Word in the fight with the serpent.
Christ supplied just that, with His Sword. To the Romans, the sword was equated with power and authority. Now the overcomer can look to a powerful God who can use the Sword to expose, dissect, and destroy all false doctrine.
C. THE COMMENDATION OF PERGAMUM - 2:13
The commendation for Pergamum is found in Revelation 2:13:
* You live right in the middle of trouble, of Satan's nest and have remained faithful.
* You hold fast my name and have not denied the faith.