Revelation 2:12 Index
"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;"
Research Material

"...to the angel of the church in Pergamos..." (Revelation 1:20)

  • GREETING: Salutation to the church - "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write" (KC 44)
  • IDENTIFICATION: Presents an aspect of Jesus's life that will be an encouragement to the church - "These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges" (KC 44)
  • HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
    • Means "height" or "elevation" (KC 44)
    • Pergamos was the old capital city of Mysia, in Asia Minor. It was located at an elevation of 1,000 feet, giving it a natural defense, and making the city appear impregnable. The river Selinus flowed through and the city, and the river Cetius ran past it.... Pergamos was the seat of the Attalus III and Eumenes II dynasties, and the birthplace of the physician Galen. It was also famous for its Temple of Zeus, dedicated to the worship of the serpent god, Aesculapius. This god of healing is the origin of the emblem of the medical profess io in - a serpent twined around a pole. Kings also deposited their wealth for safekeeping in this temple. Lysimachus placed his fortune of $10 million in the city.... During the time of Eumenes II (197-159 B.C.), a library was founded, which grew to house a collection of 200,000 manuscripts. It aroused the jealousy of Ptolemy V of Egypt (203-181 B.C.), and fearing it would soon surpass the library of Alexandria, he imposed an embargo on papyrus, the most common writing material of the ancient world. Since Egypt was the only country in which papyrus rolls were made, he hoped to curtail the production of books in foreign countries. But this emergency turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for it led the bookmakers of Pergamos to invent parchment, the finest writing material ever produced. (KC 45)
    • (Pergamum, Pergamus, Pergamos), formerly capital of the Attalid kingdom, but then a Roman center, probably the seat of provincial administration, was headquarters of the emperor cult in the province of Asia. The first, and for a long time the only, temple of the imperial cult was that of Augustus at Pergamum. There were other temples there, including the huge Altar of Zeus, which was famous for its relief sculptures. The characterization of the city as "where Satan's seat is" (Revelation 2:13) seems eminently suitable in this connection.... Nothing certain is known to church history of a martyr named Antipas, although the Catholics have a martyr Antipas in their Acts of the Saints. But the persecution here "where Satan dwelleth" (Revelation 2:13) would fit the increased enforcement of emperor worship. There are varying traditions, but nothing positive is known of the Nicolaitans except from the Revelation. It would seem from this description to be a group in the church which was advocating a compromise with paganism, and which it was necessary to denounce in the strongest terms. (Froom 92-93)
  • CHURCH AGE:
    • The church of Pergamos covers the period of time from 323 AD to 538 AD, the period in which the Church became accepted by the world. The word "Pergamos" comes from two Greek words, pergos, which means castle or tower, and gamos, which means marriage. Combining the two words, their significance becomes "elevation through marriage." Persecution of Christians ended during this period as Constantine accepted Christianity and paganism was introduced into the Church. Satan has repeatedly discovered that when persecution will not work, popularity will. In the history of humankind, it has never failed. Consider the Jewish people, the time of the Early Church, the time of the Reformation, and our present time. Popularity has always been effective. (KC 45)
    • By 300 A.D., almost half of the Roman Empire was Christian. Constantine becoming the emperor of Rome was favorable to Christianity. There are many fables about Constantine having a dream in which he saw a cross, meaning he was going to become a Christian. There's also a story about how he took his soldiers down to a river where he had them march through it, telling them they'd all been baptized and were now Christians. However, there are no historical records of these events. Constantine wanted to make Christianity more appealing to the Pagans, so he enacted a law called the "Edict of Constantine." This law substituted Sunday, the Pagans's day of sun worship, for God's seventh-day Sabbath. "On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest and let all the workshops be closed." (Constantine, 321 A.D.) (KC 45-46)
    • History records the period of time from this point forward with these words: "Christianity became an established religion in the Roman Empire and took the place of Paganism. Christianity, as it existed in the Dark Ages, might be termed Baptized Paganism." (Wharey, Church History, Chapter 2, Section 7, p.24.) (KC 46)
    • Inspiration has characterized the Pergamos period as a time of compromise, apostasy, and popularity, the time during which the Church of Rome was consolidating its power and authority. Accordingly, the close of the Pergamos period should find imperial Rome out of the way and the papacy fully formed and ready to embark on its career as ruler of Western Christendom (Daniel 7). (7BC 753)
    • Any one of various events might serve as an acceptable boundary marker for the close of this period. The deposition of the last Roman emperor in 476 marks it as one such date The conversion, in 496, of Frankish king Clovis, the first Germanic ruler to embrace Roman Christianity and to ally himself with the interests of the church in the conquest of other Germanic peoples, is another. In 538 the decree of Justinian according the pope plenary political power in the West became effective. (7BC 753)
    • Historians generally take the pontificate of Gregory the Great (590-604) as marking the transition from ancient to medieval times, and his reign as pope might be considered another such boundary marker. Gregory is considered the first of the medieval prelates. He boldly assumed the role of emperor in the West, and his administration provided the foundation for later claims to papal absolutism. (7BC 753)
    • The year 756 marks the consolidation of papal political power and the accession of France to the role of so-called "eldest son of the papacy." In that year Pepin of France subdued the Lombards of northern Italy and ceded their territory to him. This grant, commonly called the Donation of Pepin, marks the beginning of the Papal states, which the pope governed as an absolute monarch for more than 1,000 years. (7BC 753)
    • However, the importance of 538 as the starting point of the 1,260 years (Daniel 7:25) suggests it as a more appropriate terminal date for the Pergamos period than any of the others. (7BC 753)

"...Pergamos..."

  • Or, "Pergamum." This city had been the capital of the Roman province of Asia for two centuries after its last king, Attalus III, bequeathed it, together with the kingdom of Pergamum, to Rome in 133 B.C. Since the early 3d century B.C. the city of Pergamum had been a chief center of cultural and intellectual life of the Hellenistic world. Although by John's time Ephesus was beginning to supersede it as the leading city of Asia, Pergamum continued to retain much of its former importance. The two cities long contended for this honor. (7BC 748)
  • The meaning of the name Pergamos is uncertain, but "citadel," or "acropolis," seems to be one of its derived meanings. The characteristic experience of the church during the Pergamos period was one of exaltation. From the status of a proscribed and persecuted sect it rose to a position of unchallenged popularity and power (Revelation 2:13). (7BC 748)

"..sharp sword with two edges." (Hebrews 4:12)

  • A two-edged sword cuts both ways. This is also true of God's Word. Even as the reading or hearing of Scripture awakens us spiritually, we begin to see the sinfulness of our lives. We feel the cut of God's Word as we are convicted of our sins. The sword continues to cut as we confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness from God and those we've hurt. (KC 46)
  • Like the descriptive titles that introduce the messages to the churches of Ephesus and Smyrna, this is drawn from the description of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1:16 (Revelation 2:1). (7BC 748)