When It’s Hard to Say No
Studies in the Book of Revelation
Dr. Jim Denison
Jesus’ letters are addressed in a circular route. From Smyrna, the road north followed the coastline some 40 miles before turning in a northeastern direction up the valley of the Caicus River. About 10 miles from the Aegean Sea stood the city of Pergamum.
Pliny, the Roman governor of the area, said Pergamum was “by far the most distinguished city in Asia” (Historia naturalis 5.30). For more than 300 years she was the capitol city for the entire region.
Built on a cone-shaped hill a thousand feet in elevation, Pergamum dominated the valley below. From this height the inhabitants of the city could see the Mediterranean Sea 15 miles away. “Pergamum” in Greek means “citadel,” an appropriate description of the city.
Her history began 400 years before Christ, and was a story of constant warfare. Attalus III (ca. 170-133) bequeathed his entire empire to Rome, so that Asia Minor became a Roman province with Pergamum as its capitol. The city retained this status until AD 130.