The church in Pergamum had 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 herein should not be confused with Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Herod Antipas was a wicked ruler whom Jesus called “fox.” He offered the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter to his stepdaughter. He might have tried to kill Jesus and presided over Jesus’ trial. But the Antipas mentioned in Revelation 2 was the bishop of Pergamum, a pagan city in the first century AD. The name means “against all.” While Herod Antipas was against all that was good, Antipas the bishop of Pergamum was against all that was evil.
It was not an easy task to witness the power of Jesus in a pagan city like Pergamum. The city of Pergamum was the center of pagan worship where the citizens offered sacrifices to demons. That is why the Bible calls this city “where Satan has his throne” (Revelation 2:13). An ancient writer, Simeon Metaphrastes records that the demons of this city appeared to the people to tell them that they cannot live any longer in the city since the power of Antipas was casting them out. The people approached the conservative governor of the city to restrain Antipas. Since Antipas refused to budge, he had to pay a high price of his defiance. The authorities threw aged Antipas to the brazen altar alive and roasted him. Some orthodox churches celebrate his martyrdom on April 11 every year.
Some members of the church of Pergamum “remained true” to the name of Jesus even in these 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 world are going through persecution. We need the grace of God to turn this period of persecution to “days of Antipases”, the days of those who withstand the pressure to surrender their faith.