Page 10 - February 2020 - Truth & Tidings
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ergamos was situated some 80 miles   Christ’s Assessment
              north of Smyrna. It was for a time   Once again, the perception of Christ is
        Pthe official capital of the Roman    noted when He said to them, “I know …”
        province of Asia, but Ephesus eventually   He commended all their best efforts, given
        overtook it in importance because of the   that they lived in a virtual stronghold of
        latter’s more favorable location for trade   Satan. The many temples to heathen deities
        and transport. Pergamos was known for   must have felt spiritually claustrophobic
        its culture and pagan religion, housing   as the Christians moved  around the
        a famous library and temples to various   city, and the power of darkness would
        heathen gods such as Zeus, Athene,    have been palpable at times. Certainly,
        Aesculapius and Dionysius. In the name   when someone like faithful Antipas
        of Aesculapius there were numerous    was martyred, the believers would have
        medical facilities in operation, and the   been deeply affected. Antipas practiced
        snake symbol became associated with   medicine but was condemned to death
        these. This symbol is still linked with   for being a Christian. He was shut up
        the medical fraternity today. The cult of   in a copper image of a bull and died a
        emperor worship was strong in Pergamos,   horrible death when this hollow structure
        and Christians could be persecuted if they   was heated until it was red hot. Despite
        refused to offer incense to the image of   all these hindrances, the believers in
        the emperor.                          Pergamos had sought to remain loyal to
                                              the name of Christ.
        Christ’s Authority                      Sadly, there were other things that could
          The Lord presented Himself to the   not be overlooked by the omniscient
        church as having a sword. This was a   Lord. The evil world around them had
        symbol of authority, power and judgment   made inroads into their lives. As John
        as seen in John’s earlier vision of Christ in   wrote of the “doctrine of Balaam,” he
        His glory (Rev 1:16). The word used here   was referring back to the Old Testament
        does not refer to the Roman soldier’s short   character who was bribed by King Balak
        two-edged “Spanish sword” worn high on   to curse the people of God. Through
        his right side and used for quick stabbing   divine intervention, Balaam was unable
        movements, but to a larger sword used   to curse the nation of Israel. However,
        to strike one mortal blow. The Proconsul   he was still able to compromise them
        of Asia was conferred with the “right of   through immorality and idolatry (Num
        the sword,” jus gladii, thereby having the   25:1-3; 31:16). The relevance of this story
        power over life and death.            to the Christians of Pergamos was that

        42   TRUTH kTidings   February  2020
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