Pergamum: Where Satan Has His Throne

David Bast

Read: Revelation 2:13-16

I know where you dwell. (v. 13)

On the acropolis of ancient Pergamum stood the magnificent Temple of Zeus. Alongside it was another temple dedicated to Caesar—the first-ever building formally built for the worship of the Roman emperor. That hill and its temples dominated the skyline of Pergamum; you couldn’t escape the sight of it. Wherever you went, a sort of visual propaganda proclaimed: “Rome rules! Caesar is Lord!” It was as if Satan had settled in Pergamum and decided to make it his capital.

Tough place to be the church, for sure. But the Christians of Pergamum had been doing pretty well. The Lord commended them for holding fast to the faith, even though one of their members had already been martyred, Antipas the “faithful witness.” “Witness” in Greek is martys; it is because the early church had so many witnesses like Antipas who were “faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10) that martyr took on its present meaning.

But not everyone is an Antipas. There were some in Pergamum who were waffling on their spiritual and moral integrity—and inviting others to do the same. We’re not sure who the Nicolaitans (v. 15) were, except that they represented those in the church who suggested a more lax approach to the two ongoing temptations for the early church—idolatrous feasts and sexual immorality. That’s also what Balaam tempted the children of Israel to do (see Num. 25:1-3; 31:16). The Lord hasn’t changed. If the church doesn’t repent, he’ll use his two-edged sword on it.—David Bast

As you pray, ask for strength to hold fast.