FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH
Apart from declaring the knowledge of their works, the glorified Christ in His message to the church at Pergamos also states “I know where you live – where Satan has his throne” (v13Niv). Evidently they were not living in easy surroundings, by no stretch of the imagination. They lived in a territory where Satan had established his throne. In the King James version it reads “even where Satan’s seat is” (v13). There in the city of Pergamos much evil prevailed. Paganism was rampant. Satanism was prevalent and demonism flourished. There they had all kinds of altars and temples set up to various gods. It was the imperial and administrative center of Asia.
Here they engaged in imperial worship, the worship of the State and its leader. They engaged in emperor-worship. They declared Caesar to be lord. They hated the true Christians because the true Christians refused to acknowledge Caesar as lord. A law was issued requiring every citizen throughout the empire to go to the temple once a year and bow and say, “Caesar is lord!” To prove that a man had performed this royal act to Rome, a written certificate was required to be in one’s possession. It seems like ever so often in the course of human history that leaders rise up demanding to be worshiped and revered as gods. How tragic!
However, the church knew back then what Christ meant when He claimed to be the one with the “Two-edged” sword (v12). They took great confidence in the fact that He knew “where they dwelt” (v13). They knew what it was to live where “Satan’s seat is” or at least they were consoled by the fact that He knew. They also knew what it was to suffer martyrdom because they refused to deny the Christ, as so vividly highlighted in verse 13.
It must also be pointed out that one of the most prominent features of Pergamos was its acropolis, rising about a thousand feet high in the midst of the city. There you had the temple of Asclepius – a serpent-like god of healing, reminding the individual of Satan’s seat or throne, where many came for healing and to worship the serpent. The fact is Satan has some strongholds all over the land, but Jesus said I know where you dwell where Satan’s seat is . . .” (v13). We refuse to worship the serpent. We worship the Savior.
Notice Jesus says “And I commend you for your faithfulness and your stedfastness – thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied the faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth” (v13). What a commendation! Rome could not tear up the church! Pergamos could not defeat the church! Satan could not unseat the church! The church remained loyal in spite of her environment, at least many did.
The church had been established in a cesspool of worldliness, in a city of people who were consumed with pleasures, possessions and the comforts of this world, right where Satan’s seat was. Nevertheless, they refused to deny their Christ. They stood fast. They held their ground. They refused to be shut down. They refused to bow the knee and make profession to any false god, even if that god was Caesar or the state religion.
Let us also keenly note that “martyr” (martur) is the regular Greek word for witness. A T Robertson states that Antipas was a witness, just as Jesus said we should be in Acts 1:8. Christ gave this dear man his own title “my faithful one” (Rev 1:5). He was faithful unto death. What a thought for us today! The word martyr and witness mean the same thing. The Early believers knew exactly what it meant to become a follower of Christ. It meant the commitment of all they were and had. It meant the possibility of death. Yes church, it still means the same today! Faithful unto death!
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Bishop – Northeast Region
November 21, 2020
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region
November 21, 2020