Friday, August 04, 2006
"The days of Antipas" means not only a period of persecution but a period of perseverance as well. It signifies the days of believers who withstood the pressures from outside to surrender.In the church in the city of Pergamum, there were some people who remained faithful to Jesus in the days of severe persecution. Apostle John calls these days of persecution "the day of Antipas" (Rev. 2:13).
The Antipas mentioned here should not be confused with Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Herod Antipas was a wicked ruler whom Jesus called "fox". He is the one who offered the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter to his daughter. He might have tried to kill Jesus and presided over Jesus' trial. However, the Antipas mentioned in Revelation 2 was the bishop of Pergamum, a pagan city in the first century AD. The name means "against all." There is a great contrast in the names--Herod was against all that was good, however, Antipas the bishop of Pergamum was against all that was bad.
Living in a pagan city and witnessing to the power of Jesus was not easy. The city of Pergamum was a center of pagan worship where sacrifices were offered to demons. That is why the Bible calls this city "... where Satan has his throne" (Rev. 2:13). An ancient writer, Simeon Metaphrastes records that the demons of this city appeared to the people there and told them that since the power of Antipas was casting them out they cannot live anymore in that city. The people approached the conservative governor of the city to restrain Antipas. However, Antipas refused to budge and had to pay a very high price of his defiance. The aged Antipas was thrown to the brazen altar alive and was roasted. His martyrdom is celebrated by some orthodox churches on April 11 every year.
Some members of the church of Pergamum "remained true" to the name of Jesus even in this difficult times. "The days of Antipas" means not only a period of persecution but a period of perseverance as well. It signifies the days of believers who withstood the pressures from outside to surrender. Believers in various parts of the world are going through persecution. We need the grace of God to turn this period of persecution to "days of Antipas", the days of those who withstand the pressure to surrender their faith.
Paulson Pulikottil is Professor of Biblical Studies at the Union Biblical Seminary and Pastor of the COMMUNITY OF THE REDEEMED (CORE) Pune, India (www.coreonline.info). I love writing, reading and gardening.
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