The Danger of Compromise – Pergamum

Pergamum was one of the truly great cities of Asia Minor, It was a noted fashion center, extremely wealthy, with a widely varying religious life. Even to this day it is known in history for three outstanding achievements.

First of all Pergamum built a library of enormous proportions for its day and age with over 200,000 volumes on parchment rolls all of which were hand written. Though Ephesus and Smyrna may have been commercially superior, Pergamum was the center of culture and ancient information.

It was also religiously famous for two shrines. The altar to Zeus, built in front of the Temple of Athene, stood over 40 feet high and rested on a projecting ledge 800 feet above the city that made it appear as a throne.

Second was a shrine to the god Asclepios — (Asquelapus) “The God of Medicine.” The symbol of Asclepious was a snake on a pole. Still used by doctors in the world today. This may have some connection with the event in exodus where God told Moses to raise up a bronze snake.

This temple was full of snakes and people would come to this temple from all over the world, lay on its marble floors and hope the snakes would slither by, touch them and heal them.

Thirdly Pergamum was the administrative center of Asia, thus Caesar worship. The worship of the ruling government was one of the first things affected when the Church gained influence in a culture, this would ultimately lead to great persecution throughout the known world. It was to the Church in Pergamum, who was struggling to compromise with the culture, that Jesus would now direct his focus in Revelation 2.

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