See the discussion concerning the identity of the angel at Revelation 1:20.
the church of Pergamos
See Seven Churches of Asia.
Pergamos, now Bergamo, the ancient metropolis of Mysia, and the residence of the Attalian kings, is situated on the river Ciacus, about sixty miles north of Smyrna, in long. 27 degrees East lat. 39 degrees 11 minutes North. It still retains some measure of its ancient importance; containing a population of about 15,000 souls, and having nine or ten mosques, two churches, and one synagogue.2Pergamos served as the capital of Alexanders successor, Lysimachus and was bequeathed to Rome by Attalus III. At one time it had a vast library of 200,000 volumes, which was moved by Antony to Egypt and presented to Cleopatra.3
Pergamum was a university city, famous for its library of 200,000 parchment scrolls, second only in size to the library of Alexandria in Egypt. Indeed, parchment was invented in Pergamum, for when its king decided to establish a library and enticed Alexandrias librarian to head up his library, the Egyptian king banned the export of papyrus to Pergamum. This forced Pergamums scholars to find an alternate writing material, and they invented parchment. Parchment lasts much better than papyrus, so this invention played a big part in preserving the Bible for us.4
It used to be common to credit Eumenes II, king of Pergamum shortly after 200 B.C., with the invention of parchment. Eumenes was building up his library to rival the great library of King Ptolemy in Alexandria. The king of Egypt moved to cut off the supply of papyrus to Pergamum, and in response Eumenes was forced to develop parchment. This story is true if taken in the sense that Eumenes was the first to make use of parchment or leather; for long before the second century, animal skins for writing were unquestionably in use. In Egypt, for example, mention is made of leather documents as far back as 2500 B.C. . . . So Eumenes was by no means the first to use animal skins for writing, although he may have developed and perfected a better process for treating the skins. Whatever the case, Pergaumum and parchment are indisputably connected, the word parchment being derived from the Greek term pergamene.5
The fame of Pergamum rested chiefly on its religious preeminence. A tetrad of local deities, Zeus Soter, Athena Nicephoros, Dionysius, Kathegemon, Asklepios Soter, presided over the city; the temple of Athena almost crowned the acropolis, and beneath it, on the slope of the hill and visible from the agora, stood a great al fresco altar of the Pergamene Zeus. Still more celebrated was the Pergamene cult of Asklepios, to whose temple there was attached a school of medicine which attracted sufferers from all quarters. . . . What Artemis was to Ephesus, such was Asklepios to Pergamum.6Asklepios was the deity of medicine: Num. 21:8-9).7
the sharp two-edged sword
The significance in Christs title can be seen in the doctrinal errors of the Balaamites (Rev. Rev. 2:14+) and Nicolaitans (Rev. Rev. 2:15+) which are being promoted by some in the church at Pergamum. These doctrinal errors are judged by the teachings found in the Word of God. It is the first negative introduction of Christ because the Pergamum church faced imminent judgment.8 See commentary on Revelation 1:16.
4 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 2:12.
8 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 83.