“These are the words of him who has the sharp, double - edged sword. I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.” (Rev. 2:12-13).
The book of Revelation talks about the 7 churches of Asia Minor out of which the third church is that of Pergamum. Jesus represents this place as the ‘throne of Satan’ (Rev. 2:13), a place where Satan resides (Rev. 2:13).
Let us have a look at what kind of place this was. Pergamum was a city built on a hill 1,000 ft above the surrounding countryside. It was the centre of Greek education and culture; considered to be a sophisticated city. In the modern world, Pergamum remains are in the North and West of the city of Bergama in Turkey. Rick Renner, the author of ‘A Light in the Darkness, a study of the seven churches of Asia Minor’, tells in his book that Pergamum was one of the most influential cities of the Roman Empire and being a political centre all the rulings over Asia Minor were made from here. People of Pergamum were inventers and innovators and well known for their art work. The city was known for its 2,00,000 volume library which was second largest in the ancient world, for its theater which had a sitting capacity of ten thousand people and is one of the steepest ones and also for the marble temple of Trajan, dedicated to the emperor. The city indulged in idol worshipping; where their main god was Asclepius, considered as god of healing whose symbol was serpent. People used to come from all over the world to seek healing from this god.
Renner in his book explains that word ‘throne’ is used for a personal private chair; a chair for the master of the house. So Pergamum was a place where Satan felt at home; it was his territory and he felt at home there, and so God called it as the ‘throne of Satan’. The people of Pergamum were known to worship Asclepius whose symbol was a snake twined around a staff. This snake twined staff remains the symbol of medicine even today. One of Asclepius’ daughters was Hygieia ("Hygiene", the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), who’s symbol was a bowl. The symbol of pharmacy is this ‘Bowl of Hygieia’ which has a cup shaped structure on the top, having a lower stalk twined with a snake (symbol of Asclepius). This symbol was adopted by pharmacy professionals in the year 1796 and since then it is been used all over the world.
There are many things which we are ignorant about, things which have a history which Christians should know. This was one of them.
This article written just with an intention to create awareness of how things are there admits us from the Biblical times. However, the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in this world (I John 4:4). So, even though these symbols are used commonly in our culture they carry no powers. God fixed everything for us on the cross.