I know where you dwell, where the throne of Satan [is located], and you have my name and you have not denied my Faith even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed in your presence, [there] where Satan dwells
. (Revelation 2:13)
Who is the “Antipas” mentioned in the text? Simeon Metaphrastes, a tenth century Christian who collected stories of martyrs, wrote that Antipas was executed by being sealed inside a hollow statue of a bull– made of brass– which had been heated until it was red hot and that Antipas called out prayers and thanksgiving from inside the bull. According to Metaphrastes, Antipas was martyred during Domitian’s reign (r. AD 81-96). If Metaphrastes can be trusted, this mention of “Antipas” helps to confirm the testimony of Irenaeus (AD 120-202) that Revelation was written “toward the end of Domitian’s reign.”
On the other hand, some historians– such as Philip Schaff– and Bible commentators– such as Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown– doubt Metaphrastes’ identification of Antipas. They note that Metaphrastes seems to accept fantastical and dubious accounts uncritically. Furthermore, no written record of Antipas exists from the time between Revelation and Metaphrastes; therefore, no one can check the sources of his account. For these reasons, those who argue for an earlier date of Revelation (during Nero’s reign, AD 54-68) do not accept Metaphrastes’ account as reliable evidence against their position.
“Antipas” is mentioned in this text as someone whose sacrifice was well-known to the entire Pergamene congregation. Antipas “was killed in [the] presence” of the Pergamene believers: this term probably indicates that the wicked authorities executed Antipas as an example and warning to other Christians. Yet even seeing Antipas slain, the Pergamene Christians refused to deny the “Faith” [Jesus says, th;n pivstin mou (tēn pistin mou) = “my Faith,” or, “the Faith concerning me”]; “Faith” is used here to indicate the gospel, or good news, about Jesus. Having died for his refusal to deny the Faith, Antipas has the honor of Jesus calling him oJ pistovV mou (ho pistos mou), “my faithful one.” Jesus also calls Antipas “my witness;” “witness” is a translation of the Greek wordmartuvV (martyr), and the use of this word in relation to Antipas’ death is one of the early indications for the reason why “martyr” came to mean “one who dies for his or her beliefs.”
Labels: Bible study