Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Throne of Satan

In the Apocalypse, Pergamum is designated as the place where Satan's throne is. What is in mind by such a designation? Let's explore the matter.

Pergamum was a city familiar with hosting the throne of a kingdom. One developed there with Pergamum as its capital after the fall of Lysimachus (one of Alexander's generals) in 281 BCE. Until 133 BCE, Pergamum was the throne of this Attalid Kingdom when it was peacefully deeded to the Romans because its king died heirless. I find that more than an interesting crossing of paths between the Roman and Hellenistic worlds.

Under Roman hegemony, the city continued to prosper, and became noteworthy for two inventions: parchment and Emperor worship. We can be thankful for the first, not so much for the second. The imperial cult had its very first temple dedicated in Pergamum in 29 BCE, and so the city became the trailblazer in the development of emperor worship. In much the same way that the Whore of Babylon is a prophetic image that is indicative of the genesis of idolatry in Babylon, the Throne of Satan is a prophetic attribution which is indicative of the genesis of emperor worship in Pergamum.

John doesn't leave it alone at that, however, he further states that Pergamum is the place where Satan dwells. In speaking an eschatological word to the church which will be without Apostolic voice thereafter, John says Pergamum is not only the birth place of emperor worship, but is as well the very base of operations for Satan on earth. Given that the focus of the Apocalypse is the return of Christ, John's attributions necessarily focus our attentions on that place as significant in relation to Christ's return.

What do you think that might mean in locating the base of operations of the Antichrist, who will be the ultimate emperor demanding the ultimate worship? For me, it means I must look to Pergamum.


Anonymous said...

We live in Turkey and toured the ancient ruins of Pergamum on this very day you wrote about it. I just thought it was interesting to see your site come up after my google search for "pergamum throne of satan" because I was just there 5 hours ago, walking through the ruins, down the steep steps of the theatre, and standing at the site of the Altar of Zeus. I don't have any special insight about what John meant with these words but the meaning and how it related to the people living in Pergamum in that day and age is certainly something to contemplate. God Bless, Rachel McAdams (Izmir, Turkey)

SLW said...

Welcome to the Sound. Great name, hope your not a mean girl! ;-)

You live in Smyrna. I bet you're seeing some very interesting sights.

Onesimus said...

Interesting about Pergamum being the place where Emperor worship started. I'd like to look futher into that.

A few points on Pergamum being Satan's home and the location of Satan's throne:

1) It was not John who said Pergamum was Satan’s residence. It was Jesus in His letter to that church as recorded by John in Revelation.

2) Pergamum was revealed to be Satan’s residence at THAT time, which does not necessarily mean that is the case today.

3) The reference to Stan’s throne was also significant because there was a massive open air altar to Zeus on the mountain above Pergamum that resembled a giant throne, with a back and two “arms”, but open at the front where steps led up to it. With continual burning sacrifices made at the altar, the place must have been an imposing and threatening sight from the city below.

The following link includes a photo. The altar still exists, but in a museum in Berlin where it was reconstructed after it was dismantled and moved from Turkey.

SLW said...

Welcome to the Sound.

I realize within the prophecy Jesus was speaking to the churches, but that doesn't change the fact the John was the vessel through which the information came. I suppose most properly any citation of scripture would be "as God said" but I think it sufficient to cite the proximate author.

I was aware of Zeus's altar, but I do not think it is what was meant by the phrase so I didn't mention it. Why muddy the waters? I have seen it posited as the fulfillment of the prophetic description, but I don't think it fits ("it kinda looks like a throne," etc.). There was lots of temples in Pergamum, as well as a really large library, but what is germane to the Apocalypse is the imperial cult and how it models what the Antichrist does at the end of the age (Rev. 13).

The scope of the Apocalypse was not the second century (unless you're a preterist). It is a prophetic overview of the ages from John's day to the new heavens and earth. Whatever it says has got to be seen in its connection to that context. I suppose the Devil could get up and move (any good real estate in Australia?), but it is not just this reference that makes me look to this location as what's in view prophetically.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing some thoughts. Nice to have you.