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The Church of Pergamos

By Greg Rangel 

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write...” (Revelation 2:12a). 

Jesus Christ begins his message to the church that was in Pergamos. The city of Pergamum was about 70 miles north of Smyrna. It was a city that was famous for its love for political power. And it was also known to be one of the most famous cities in Asia. Pergamum became the site of the first temple of the Caesar-cult, erected in honor of Augustus Caesar. 

Pergamum was also a city with many idols and temples. You could say that it was just an average pagan city with many pagan gods in it, with people that worshipped them. 

Jesus tells John to write unto “…the angel of the church in Pergamos…” According to Christian tradition, Gaius who is mentioned in 3 John 1 became the first bishop (leader). 

Jesus begins His message to the church of Pergamos by saying that “…These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges” (vs. 12b). Now, why does the Lord mention the sharp sword with two edges here? 

We know that the “two edges” is a reference to the Word of God because Hebrews 4:12 says that, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing assunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” But why is this reference to the sharp sword given to the church of Pergamos? I believe that it is a threat to the church to repent or else it will be judged because the reference to the sharp sword is used as a threat towards the nations (see Revelation 19:15). Also, Jesus does command this church to repent (see 2:16). 

Pastor John MacArthur states in regard to the way that Christ introduces Himself to this church, he says, “This is not a positive, promising introduction; it is a threatening one. It is the first negative introduction of Christ because the Pergamum church faced imminent judgment. Disaster loomed on the horizon for this worldly church; it was and is but a short step from compromising with the world to forsaking God altogether and facing His wrath.” 

The Ephesian church was known as the church whose love grew cold (2:4). The Smyrna church was known as the persecuted church (2:9-10). And unfortunately, the Pergamos church was known as the worldly church, and that for good reason. 

I would say that the spiritual compromise of Pergamos still exists today because that is what part of the Christian church is doing today as well. It has compromised with the world. Instead of the church affecting the world, the world has affected the church. 

Jesus then tells this church “I know thy works…” (verse 13a). Even though this church was a worldly church, it was still involved in doing good works. They perhaps thought that it was o.k. to continue doing whatever it was that they were doing because their good works outdid their manner of living. 

Jesus then says, “…and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is:…” (verse 13b). Bible Commentators identify Satan’s seat as the magnificent altar of Zeus that once stood there, which actually is now in the Pergamum museum in Berlin. Others identify Satan’s seat as the worship of the god Asklepios, who was the ancient god of healing, the god of medicine. In Greek mythology this god had daughters named Hygieia (Hygiene), Laso (medicine), Aceso (healing), Aglaea (healthy glow), and Panacea (universal remedy). The rod of the god Asclepius was a snake that was wrapped around a staff, which remains a symbol of medicine today. 

It could be that Satan’s seat is a reference to the godless society that existed back then in Pergamum and all its idolatrous worship. In all of their idolatrous worship, and in all of their love with Greek and pagan culture, they were actually worshipping Satan. We do know that behind every idol is a demon as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 says. 

Pergamum was a place that was in love with religion, even though they were living very wickedly and immorally. They were not aware that their idol worship was an act that the God of the Bible considered, and considers today, blasphemy. Jesus Christ has much to say to this church, but the message still applies to churches of today. 

Greg Rangel
Borderland Calvary Chapel
www.borderlandcc.org

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