Revelation 2:12a And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
Ancient Pergamum today is essentially Bergama, Turkey. Today, not much is left of the ancient city but ruins. The city was located about 60 miles north of Smyrna. It is the northern most church in the Book of Revelation. The name means “citadel, height or elevation” per Strong’s Concordance. Pergamum was located in the ancient Roman province of Mysia.
This is the same region of Mysia the Apostle Paul was instructed to stay put.
Acts 16:7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them…
The Spirit of Jesus intervened and kept the crew in Mysia. Bithynia and Mysia are in Turkey. Jesus wanted them in Mysia. The region of Mysia is home to Satan and his capital, Pergamum (Revelation 2:13). Paul was forbidden by the Spirit of Christ from going into the region of Bithynia, home to modern day Istanbul, Constantinople, or Byzantium (synonymous names). The Holy Spirit and Jesus clearly had a plan for the gospel in Satan’s back yard.
Art and literature were very important to Pergamum. The city had a library of 200,000 volumes. Antony would later give this library to Cleopatra. The books were written on parchment. Pergamum was the city where parchment was developed. The word “parchment” or “pergamena” comes from the name of the town Pergamum. Because of this economic development, the city was very wealthy.
The Altar of Zeus is located in Pergamum. The statue was 40 feet tall. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Pergamum was a medical center of the ancient world. The worship of the medicine god Aesculpius took place here. The name Aesculpius is where we get the term “scalpel”. Surgery is a reminder of Aesculpius. The symbol for medicine, the coiled snake on a pole comes from Pergamum. The irony, this medical symbol is a counterfeit to the bronze serpent of Numbers 21:8-9.
Numbers 21:8-9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
Jesus would later refer to Himself as the serpent who would be lifted.
John 3:14-15 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
The ancient world and history to this day have a choice when it comes to healing, Jesus or Aesculpius. Aesculpius is a link to a scalpel that cuts and causes bleeding to the individual. Jesus bled for us and the result is eternal life for the individual. We can worship the god of medicine. Modern medicine is temporary at best. Or we can worship the Son of God. What He offers is forever.
The Revelation Record, Henry M. Morris, p. 57.