Grace and Peace
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” (Rev. 2:12–13).
The church at Pergamum was a church that was already experiencing persecution. In the course of these letters, the Lord has been warning all the believers in Asia Minor of this impending reality, but in some places it had already begun. Pergamum was one of those places. John says that “Satan’s seat” was there, which is likely a reference to emperor worship. Even though the emperor was in Rome, the most organized location for emperor worship was in Asia Minor, where these seven churches were. The cult of Rome had been planted in Pergamum as early as 29 B.C. and there was no quicker way for the Christians to prove their lack of patriotism than to refuse to go along with worship of the emperor.
The church there was characterized by faithful witness in the face of hostility, and John mentions one martyr by name, a man named Antipas. The church was characterized by the same faithfulness that Antipas had shown. This was a sound church, a faithful church.
There are two striking things about these words of exhortation. The first is that Satan is mentioned twice. He had his seat there, and he made his dwelling there. But the same thing is said about the believers there. John says that they dwelt where Satan’s seat was, and then in the next breath says that Satan dwelt there. In other words, these faithful Christians dwelt where Satan dwelt, and hence the conflict.
The other striking thing is that both sides are armed. We don’t know how Antipas died, but he did shed his blood. He was killed. But how were the Christians armed. In his address to this persecuted church, Jesus is described as the one who had the sharp, double-edged sword. In the earlier vision we saw that this sword came out of His mouth. That meant that the pagans would fight with material swords, and the Christians would fight with the sword of Christ, the word of God.