Sunday, 13 September 2020
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,
‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:’” Revelation 2:12
The words of the Lord are next directed “to the angel of the church in Pergamos.” The name Pergamos is properly, Pergamum. It is derived from the Greek word purgos, meaning a tower or fortified structure, such as a castle. Charles Ellicott gives a brief description of the location –
“Unlike Ephesus and Smyrna, Pergamos was not distinguished as a commercial city. Its importance was due to other causes. A striking cone shaped hill rose from the plain which bordered the northern banks of the Caicus. The hill was considered sacred. Its value as a strong natural fortress was early recognised, and it was used as a keep and treasury where local chieftains deposited their wealth. Its greatness as a city dated from Eumenes II., who was given by the Romans a large surrounding territory, and who fixed Pergamos as his royal residence. Under his auspices a splendid city—rich in public buildings, temples, art galleries, and with a library which rivalled that of Alexandria—rose into being. It has been described as a city of temples, ‘a sort of union of a pagan cathedral city, an university town, and a royal residence.’ It retained its splendour even after it passed by bequest to the Roman Republic, and was declared by Pliny to be a city unrivalled in the province of Asia.”
For a longer and more detailed description, Vincent’s Word Studies can be referred to. The address to the angel of Pergamos begins with “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword.” The meaning of this was explained in the commentary on Revelation 1:16, which can be referred to.
Life application: As recorded by an ancient witness, Pergamos was “given to idolatry more than all Asia.” There were temples, including the one dedicated to Zeus who was called Soter Theos, or the Savior God. When Caesar worship became acceptable, it was the first city in the area to build a temple dedicated to Augustus. Pergamos was also famous for its medical schools. The god of health, Asclepius (symbolized by a serpent), was noted there as well. It is into this setting that the church is addressed.
The two-edged sword, as noted in Revelation 1:16, is representative of an instrument that is effective in cutting in both directions. It is also effective in deep thrusts. As noted in the commentary on 1:16, the Old Testament Hebrew uses a term similar to the Greek, “the mouth of the sword,” for its edge. The New Testament describes the sword as both the Spirit of God and as the word of God (the Bible). Jesus is getting ready to explain the symbolism that goes along with the sword and how it pertains to the church – both internally in the church (cutting in one direction) and externally (cutting in the opposite direction) in the surrounding area “where Satan’s throne is” (Revelation 2:13).
God is an impartial judge. When the church errs, it receives judgment too. We can’t openly flaunt sin in the church and expect to get away with it. The Bible notes, in both testaments, that judgment begins at the house of the Lord. Only after wickedness and disobedience are taken care of in God’s house does He turn to remove it elsewhere. Let us remember this lesson as we conduct our lives in His presence!
Righteous and holy is the Lord God Almighty. Just and true are His judgments. May we, the sheep of Your fold, be obedient to Your word and both walk and act in line with what You determine for each of us. Help us to live our lives as honest and faithful Christians – to Your glory. Amen.