“I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells,” Revelation 2:13
Long before the Romans proclaimed Pergamum the capital of Asia, it had been a royal city. When Alexander the Great died, this portion of his empire was willed to his general, Lysimachus. The general left his fortune in Pergamum under the care of his trusted treasurer, Philetaerus. However, Philetaerus was anything but faithful. He absconded with the funds, proclaimed himself king, and began his own monarchy!
When the Apostle John wrote Revelation, Pergamum was one of his “Seven Cities of Asia,” and it was the only one of the cities built on a hill. The Great Altar of Zeus was built into the side of that hill and dominated the skyline of the capital. Its horseshoe shape looked like a giant throne. This gives special meaning to the words of Christ, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” That could describe either the altar of Zeus, which looked like a throne on the hillside, or it might describe Pergamum as the capital city, the seat of the Roman government, and the attendant worship of the Emperor. Jesus also said he knew the Christians there held fast to his name. That wasn’t easy to do in the capital city. In fact, Antipas, one of the Christians in Pergamum, had recently been put to death!
We don’t know much about Antipas except he is called “my faithful witness” (Revelation 2:13). The Greek word translated “witness” is martyr. The term has become a particular English word for a witness who testifies at the cost of his life. (Tradition says he was roasted to death in the belly of a bronze bull for his faith.)
Jesus calls Antipas “faithful,” which means “being worthy of trust,” and so our devotional comes to a conclusion. What it would require for you to be a “faithful witness” for Jesus? Does your faith run “hot and cold” or are you reliable? In these days of change, we need Christians we can count on!