Bill Medart wrote:
Again we see the words TRADITION brought into play so I guess that we have to rely on hearsay and word of mouth to bring Antipas into play. I have read in other documents that Irenaeus' accounts of "history" were not very accurate and he had been proven wrong in other instances.
I have seen that arguement a lot. I have some study notes on Revelation from some of the brown trail preachers who addressed the Iranaeus arguement. I don't have the exact quote in front of me. Apparently the Greek words used in his account can just as easily mean "being seen in the time of Domition" as being "in the time of Domition".
I'm not real big on hearsay and traditional arguements. I tend to cross reference them from numerous different sources before I use them in my study. I read tons of historical documents when I'm researching these things and if it isn't verifiable, I shy away from even mentioning it. One of the ways I determine this is that if it is mentioned in the works of one of the scholars whose works I am relying heavily on such Hailey, West, Jackson, Swete, Sessions, Coffman and others. If they don't mention it I am real careful about using it at all.
As for Antipas. There is very little we know about him from scripture. We know he was faithful and favored of God and we know he was slain among the Christians of Pergamos. Now there is one thing we can infer from this and I believe rightfully so from a study of the pattern Jesus used in addressing the individual churches. In every church Jesus addressed, He mentioned something that was unique to each one. Something that was well known to them and that they could relate to personally and directly. For example, we have a glaring one in Jesus' address to the Laodicean church where He told them to anoint their eyes with eyesalve. Eyesalve was made in Laodicea and everybody knew it. The Christians in Laodicea would take one look at that and say to themselves.... "He means US".... "He's talking to US"
I believe we can infer from the pattern Jesus uses in addressing the congregations that Antipas was someone they all knew. Likely a leader in the church or someone they all looked up to. We don't know how big the church was in Pergamos but we know Pergamos was a major city in Asia at the time and the church could have been enormous. We just don't know. Jesus had a lot of good things to say to them so it stands to reason they were doing a pretty good job, hence the church may have been a sizable group. When Jesus mentioned Antipas and the fact that he was slain among them, I believe we can rightfully infer that this was a public thing, well known and that Antipas may have been slain as a public example and warning to the rest of the Christians in the Lord's church of what to expect if they continue to resist.
Can you imagine how demoralizing it would be to have one of the elders or the prominent leaders of your congregation slain in the streets? Tradition places his execution as being burned in a bronzen bull by the priests of Aklepios. I'm not sure I believe that. I believe the only religious group with the license and authority to persecute citizens to this extent was the concilia who had their headquarters right there in Pergamos. I don't know for sure, but I'd say it's a safe assumption to say they were behind his execution in some fashion. If the priests of Asklepios killed him, I'd say they did it with the approval of the concilia. Irregardless of who was responsible, Antipas was mentioned. Certainly he was not the only martyr. There were plenty. But Antipas was mentioned specifically. This leads me to assume he was well known and held some position of prominence within the church.
You want to hurt a group? Kill the one they look up to. The Romans couldn't kill Jesus again. So they picked someone as close to the top of the ladder as they could find and killed him. Jesus made sure he mentioned Antipas to them and did it in such a way that he would have been an example for the Christians to look to even in death.
As mentioned earlier, much of this is conjecture on my part. But this much is certain... Antipas was a slain Christian that Jesus mentioned favorably. That means Antipas is residing in paradise right now. Resting and awaiting the judgment. Antipas' eternal inheritance is recorded in our Bible. He's going to heaven and he's going to live in glory in the pesence of God forever. He made it. My path there is still before me. His race is run, my race is in progress. And that's where I intend to go. I want to go where Antipas is. God's message was to the living Christians then and now. The dead Christians serve as our shining examples of what lies ahead for those who overcome.