“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells“
I know your works
Jesus is knowledgeable about everything the church does; He is omniscient. No one fools Him. He takes note of our successes and our failures and appraises the church for what it truly is.
and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.
Satan’s throne here is not located in hell but in Pergamum. Satan’s throne may link Rome with its Satanic influence in persecuting Christians. Emperor worship was the central religion of Pergamum. The Roman governor alone possessed the right of capital punishment. The sword of Jesus may stand in contrast to the sword of Rome. Satan’s “throne” was probably the Roman court. Satan ruled in this city.
And you hold fast to My name
Jesus commends the Pergamum church for its perseverance in persecution. Jesus’ name represents His person. This church did not deny their relationship to Him. They were glad to identify with Him.
and did not deny My faith
The Pergamum church was true to their faith, the body of doctrine. They were orthodox. There is a direct corollary between our faith and our faithfulness. Our faith inspires faithfulness. When we shipwreck our faith, we may shipwreck faithfulness.
even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr
People at Pergamum martyred Antipas for his faith. He probably would not sacrifice to the gods of the emperors. He refused to renounce Christ and embrace the gods of Rome. He got his name in the Bible for martyrdom.
There is a legend that Tertullian said that they placed Antipas in a brazen bull and slowly roasted him to death.
who was killed among you
Evidently, the readers of Revelation were present when they martyred Antipas. They saw it with their own eyes. The purpose was to intimidate them.
where Satan dwells
Pergamum was the location of a complex of pagan cults such as Zeus, Athena, Dionysus and Asclepius. Antipas flew in the face of all this. He took a stand against false religion.
The word “dwells” indicates that Satan had a permanent residence in Pergamum.
This verse began with the church living where Satan was. The verse ends with Satan living where Christians were.
Conviction makes a difference.
Many of us feel that it would be easier to live for Christ in some other city where people are more sympathetic to Christianity. “It will be easier to witness there.” We want a convenient Christianity.
The Christian life is not escape but conquest. Christians with great conviction willingly stand alone. They will face down any foe. Some will go to the point of death for their Lord.
Our witness can be costly. This may mean that we live as a speckled bird in our society, so we don’t buy into the values of our society. Another analogy is this: the ship is supposed to be at sea but the sea is not supposed to be in the ship. The reason the church has little power is that no one can tell the difference from the world. There is no conviction that makes the church distinct from the world.