THE CHURCH THAT LIVED IN SATAN’S SEAT OF POWER
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Twice, our Lord made mention that the church at Pergamos lived where Satan’s seat was, Rev. 2:13.That in itself made the message most interesting. It was my privilege to visit this place several years ago. What I saw is burned into my memory for as long as I have one. Just what was the power of Pergamos. Think with me!
The city was characterized by politics, religion, industry, and health services. Located in western Turkey not far inland from the Aegean Sea, two rivers ran near the city, and one of the most complete libraries of the ancient world containing over 200,000 volumes was there. The word “Pergamos,” according to some linguists, means a high walled city, which Pergamos certainly had. It hosted a great walled citadel, with magnificent idol temples, and one of the steepest amphitheaters in the world. From this mountain part of the city one can see for miles in any direction, allowing ample warning of any approaching enemy. Others think the name comes from the Greek word for marriage with an intensive prefix meaning “thoroughly married,” as in full submission to the forces of the world (Satan).
The political winds of Pergamos were largely passive. They had pursuits of life more important to them than politics, especially on the international scene. So, whether Greeks, Romans, or whoever was in power, they acquiesced to them to continue their pursuits. Thus, it became a significant city to all. They were a city of much idol worship with temples rivaling those of Ephesus. They were also the first city to be known as a city of emperor worship, having a temple to Augustus Caesar.
In industry, they were the first producers of parchment. The very word “parchment” came from “Pergamos.”
In health services, they were worshippers of the mythological god “Asklepios.” It was symbolized as twin or two-headed snakes, a symbol that remains with the medical community. They were into Psychiatry and became a sort of hospital city. Roman soldiers suffering depression were sent there with a full year of leave to heal. Once there they enjoyed entertainment at the city’s two amphitheaters. bathed in the natural hot springs, and spent some time at night walking through great underground tunnels while required to shout constantly whatever was on their mind. “Psychiatrists” would listen in at strategic points and formulate a plan of therapy for them. If they were not well in a year, Rome would have the soldiers executed. It was quite an incentive to heal.
The church at Pergamos witnessed, was persecuted, and yielded up several martyrs, resisting the doctrine of Balaam, and actions of Nicolaitanism which The Lord said He hates. It sounds a lot like today. May God help us to do as well or better than this ancient church did. Satan’s seat did not die with ancient Pergamos.