The Book of Revelation

The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)


A. Summary of Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev 1:1-8)
John’s Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1:9-20)
The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)

B. Text of Rev 2:12-17

“12Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: This is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword. 13I know where you live. It is where Satan’s throne is. However, you hold on to my name and do not disown my faith in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness. He was killed among you where Satan lives. 14But, I have a few things against you. Namely, that you have people adhering to the teaching of Balaam, who taught/told Balak to throw enticement to sin before the people of Israel, namely to eat food offered to idols and to commit sexual sin. 15In this manner, you have people holding to the same teaching as the Nicolaitans. 16Therefore, repent! If not, I will come to you quickly and I will wage war against you (namely, the Nicolaitans and Balaamites) with the sword of my mouth. 17The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: I will give to the one who overcomes manna which is hidden and I will give a white amulet. On the amulet is written the new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Rev 2:12-17)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own[/ref]

St. Antipas of Pergamum

St. Gregory of Agrigentum and St. Antipas of Pergamum

Church of Pergamum
“Church of St. Antipas of Pergamum” by Shakko/Wikipedia

C. History and Background of the City of Pergamum

The city of Pergamum had a long history of idol and goddess worship. There were four deities the residents of Pergamum worshipped: Zeus, Athena, Dionysos, and Asklepios. Zeus was seen as the “savior-god” and Athena was seen as the “victory-bearing” goddess. Each of those were a testimony to the Greek spirit and influence. Dionysos was the god of the royal family. Asklepios was more of an animal god associated with serpents, people would feed a living serpent in the temple (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 179). Worship of the emperor of Rome was very strong and active in Pergamum. Thomas writes, “Caesar-worship was the most intense here [Pergamum]. In other cities a Christian might be in danger on only one day a year when a pinch of incense had to be burned in worship to the emperor. In Pergamum, however, Christians were in danger every day of the year for the same reason” (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 180).


“Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: ‘This is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword.’” (Rev 2:12)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own[/ref]