The “City of satan”? Or… “satan’s throne”?
Right along the Turkish coast are these ruins of an ancient city that is mentioned by Jesus in the Book of Revelation – they are known as Pergamon (or Pergamum). Some of the ruins do remain in place; however, many of them were shipped over to Germany to Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. The greatness of this city rivaled the great Alexandria, Ephesus, and even Antioch. Pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean region would engage in this city – especially having trade routes (because they were so close to sea and had plenty of land routes).
One of the key people there, who was mentioned in Revelation 2 was Saint Antipas (or called Antipas of Pergamum). Revelation 2:13 says, “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”
Did you catch that? ‘Where satan’s seat is…’ That’s right, which Jesus said, to see that one of the faithful there was true to Jesus even until the end. He was reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, being ordained during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian. Antipas eventually fell to martyrdom during the reign of Nero.
The city of Pergamon was a city of much idolatry, especially those worshiping demons. There was a structure there, which was the Great Altar of Pergamon – what some people have labeled/nicknamed as “satan’s throne.” Such structure has survived without being in too much of ruins. Many of the monuments and buildings from that time have survived in the Berlin museum mentioned earlier, which included its high quality white marble builds from the Hellenistic artistry, and the fame library and unbelievable publications from several physicians.
The believed or supposed destruction of Pergamon had come about as before 323 BC, they were known very little, but when Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, the prominence of this quaint place of Pergamon rose. Attalid kings who ruled the kingdom made the trading routes more secure and bountiful, which increased the wealth and power of this city, even after being annexed by Rome in 133 BC – therein becoming part of the Roman Empire.
As we have seen in the Book of Revelation, John relays a message from Christ to the Seven Churches, which are unsurprisingly all within Modern Day Turkey (did you know Turkey controlled all of those territories?). The Christians in Pergamon were praised for being faithful to Christ even while dwelling around satan’s throne.
Paul referenced many people in such regions, in 1 Corinthians 10:20, that the Greeks and Romans were pagans that were sacrificing to demons, not to gods. In the Book of Revelation and also in Mark 3:22-27, satan is known as the chief of the fallen angels, which corresponds to Zeus, the so called ruler of the gods. Nonetheless, such “throne of satan” is a false throne, one that was exalted, but we know that only God’s Throne shall reign eternally!
- Adela Yarbro Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (Harvard Dissertations in Religion 9; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press for the Harvard Theological Review, 1976; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001), pp. 176–190.
- Collins, Adela Yarbro. “Satan’s Throne,” Biblical Archaeology Review 32.3 (2006): 27–31, 33–34, 36–39.
- Martin J. Mulder, “God of Fortresses,” in Karel van der Toorn et al., eds., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden: Brill, 1995), p. 700.