What is Satan’s throne? (Rev 2:13)
The mention of Satan’s Throne is found in Revelation in the letter to the church in Pergamum (or, Pergamos).
And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.Revelation 2:12–13.
Sarah Yeomans writes in Biblical Archaeology:
The Great Altar of Pergamon is considered to be one of the greatest surviving monuments from antiquity. Now located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, the altar is thought by many scholars to be the “throne of Satan,” referred to by the prophet John in the Book of Revelations. (Revelation 2:12–13)https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/pergamon-2
Prophets in Scripture often use their own current events to illustrate important principles. For example, in Luke 13:4–5 the Lord Jesus uses a recent collapse of the tower of Siloam to warn of the danger of delaying repentance. So, it is quite possible that the massive heathen altar in Pergamum served as a touchpoint for the Holy Spirit to bring before us a more serious lesson regarding the condition of the Church at Pergamum. To see this we need to look more closely at the words of Scripture quoted above.
The Lord as Priest and Judge always presents Himself to these seven churches in a way that is particularly suited to their condition and need. Here He is the wielder of the two-edged sword of Scripture (Heb. 4:12). The letter to Pergamum (from Greek per, or mixed, and gamos, or marriage) describes the general condition of the Church throughout the Roman Empire following the persecution of Diocletian. During this time the Church enjoyed the favor of the Roman emperor Constantine. Charles Ryrie has a particularly succinct description:
“In the next three centuries of the ancient period, chiliastic beliefs declined. There are several reasons for this. First of all, when Constantine (272-337) became emperor of the entire Roman empire, he ended the early persecutions of the Church and united church and state. Immediately the Church found herself confronted by new conditions. No longer poor but now overburdened with wealth and worldly honors, she saw that to maintain the doctrine of pilgrimage and separation and to hope for a coming King and an earthly kingdom would be extremely displeasing to Constantine. Thus patronage of the Church by the world and the resulting prosperity brought the great loss to the Church of the hope of the soon coming of her Lord.”Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, (Dubuque: ECS Ministries, 2005), p 22.
We can easily see why the sword of the Spirit would be needed to cut through the self-satisfying delusion brought by friendship with the world (Jas. 4:4; 1 Jn. 5:19). Settling down in the world is also the explanation for the language regarding “Satan’s Throne” and “where Satan dwells.” But, this passage yields a good deal more than a mere warning against worldliness.
The way this passage embeds the acknowledgment of their zeal for the truth between these two phrases is very solemn. In the time of Constantine, there was not just a joining with the world but also a zeal for orthodoxy in doctrine. This was the era during which the Nicene Creed was formulated at a council at Nicaea (325) and amended at Constantinople (381). As with all such creeds, it is the work of men and contains much truth and some error. The Nicene Creed was adopted to combat the Arian heresy, a doctrine claiming that Jesus was a created being, which was troubling the Church at that time.
There is no historical record of anyone named Antipas so it appears that the reference to Antipas is intended to commend all those who resisted the downward slide of the Church into worldliness. In this regard the juxtaposition between the mention of the zeal for truth and the mention of Antipas being killed “among you where Satan dwells” is very provocative. Would it not refer to the fact that those who would oppose the alliance of the Church and the State resulted in their “death” (probably by ex-communication) and that consequently, the Church itself becomes the place where Satan dwells?
What is most solemn about all this is that the declension is accompanied by a certain zeal for orthodoxy in doctrine. I believe there is a lesson here for every one of us. We need to be watchful of having a zeal for orthodoxy which is disconnected from a true love for Christ Himself. Compare Revelation 2:4 and Romans 10:2.
Quick notes on “Satan’s throne” – not to disagree with any points raised, but just to add a bit more scripture to the discussion.
Satan is, temporarily, the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14;30, 16:11). It is Interesting that John records this statement by the Lord Jesus three times, a “sufficient witness” (c.f. Deut.19:15, 2Cor.13:1) of what the devil is doing on earth. Thankfully, it is always in the context of his inability to touch the Lord’s holiness and/or his pending defeat. But until he is finally and fully cast out, he is the ruler of this present world-system and all it produces.
Satan is the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph.2:2). Some commentators suggest that the “power of the air” is to surround and permeate everything. This also seems to fit Satan’s activity in relation to the world-system: nothing in it is untouched by his activity in some fashion.
As I understand it, statements like these help us understand that the passage in Rev.2 is alluding to the Church-on-earth having settled itself into the world-system.