Read verse 13
Q: What is the first “good news”?
A: “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is…”
Application: Christ is always acutely aware of our situation. Just because it is the worst imaginable does not mean we are in the wrong place.
Q: What is the second “good news”?
A: “…you…did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas…”
Q: Why would this be such a big deal?
A: On those occasions when it appears that Satan has overcome a man or woman of great faith, it tests the faith of all those in the vicinity.
Point: Think of how the disciples and Apostles reacted in Gethsemane to Jesus’ arrest. In this case, those at Pergamum found themselves likewise tested and did not deny the faith.
Q: Who was Antipas?
A: All we can say based on Scripture is that he was an early martyr, a model of faithfulness, and that an English translation of his name is “against all”.
Point: Church tradition, which cannot be verified by firsthand accounts, holds that he was the head of the church at Pergamum who was martyred under Emperor Domitian by being thrown into a heated bronze bull, which stood at the temple of Diana, and roasted alive.
Q: But how does Christ characterize the actions of Antipas?
A: “My witness, My faithful one”.
Application: Antipas was a dual witness of faith both to believers and unbelievers. This is what is most important in times of duress.
Q: How could this be the location of “where Satan dwells”?
A: This was the center for worship of Asclepius and the Roman emperor, both as a god.
- Asclepius: He was someone worshiped throughout the ancient world in the form of a serpent, the same biblical symbol for Satan’s working through deception. Asclepius’ staff was intertwined with a serpent which is the origin of the symbol for medicine still used today. In the same character as the Nehushtan, the bronze serpent raised by Moses to bring healing to all who looked upon it in a symbol of the Messiah (Num. 21:8-9; Jn. 3:14-15), it was believed in the ancient world that healing could come by likewise gazing upon this similar-looking staff ascribed to Asclepius. Counterfeiting the authentic is always a primary tactic at the heart of the way Satan works spiritual deception.
- Emperor Worship: This is historically attributed as the first place to worship the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus as a god, equating him to Zeus. An enormous temple was dedicated in Pergamum for this purpose.
Q: How could this be the location of “Satan’s throne”?
A: “The Seat of Satan”, or “The Pergamon Altar”, was an archaeological discovery moved and placed on display in Berlin, Germany in modern times. It currently sits in a museum just outside Berlin.
Note: In Alexander Hislop’s book, “The Two Babylons”, he documents that the center of all false religion can be traced historically from its beginnings with Nimrod in Babylon, and its subsequent migration first to Pergamum and finally to Rome, which Peter also calls “Babylon”. (1 Pe. 5:13) He shows how nearly every false religion and cult can trace its origins back to Nimrod.
Point: The origin and foundation for the final “Babylon the great” to come in the final week of years has been animated by Satan beginning with Nimrod, the literal Babylonian Empire, and subsequent migrations to Pergamum and Rome. Each teach something about the final one to come.
Application: Although we may find ourselves in the worst location possible, we can still be a witness for Christ to both the saved and unsaved.