TOP 

Church of Smyrna

By Janice Brandli

Revelation 2:8-11 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death”.

The church of Symrna is only mentioned two times in the bible, in this passage and Rev. 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Symrna represents the period in church history from 100AD to 312AD. The order of these seven cities, representing congregations of the Church of God, is that of an ancient mail route that connected these cities. What is the message was and the importance of Christ’s instruction to this congregation for us today?

Geographically THE CITY OF SMYRNA/ ITS LOCATION

Smyrna lay just 35 miles north of Ephesus on the west coast of Asia on the Aegean Sea. It was the loveliest of all the cities and was sometimes called “the Ornament of Asia,” “the Crown of Asia,” or sometimes “the Flower of Asia.” It was beautifully situated. It stood at the end of a road that journeyed westward across the lands of Lydia (western Asia Minor) and Phrygia (a land in the center of Asia Minor, our modern Turkey) and traveled out to the east.

In relation to the sea, it stood at the end of a long arm of the sea which ended in a small land-locked harbor in the very heart of the city making it one of the safest harbors. It controlled the trade of the rich Hermus Valley and was a great, wealthy, and important city.

The city itself began at the harbor and traversed the narrow foothills. Behind the city rose a hill covered with temples and noble buildings which encircled a hill named the Pagos, but the hill was also called the “the Crown of Smyrna” because of the way the buildings formed a crown around the hill.

ITS HISTORY Smyrna had been a Greek colony as far back as 1000 B.C. Around 600 B.C. it was invaded and destroyed by the Lydeans and for 400 years there was no city there at all. Then around 200 B.C. Lysimachus had it rebuilt as a planned and unified whole. It was built with streets that were broad, straight, sweeping, and beautifully paved. The city had experienced death and had literally been brought back to life. It is undoubtedly because of Smyrna’s historical past, Christ refers to Himself as, “He who was dead and has come to life.”

But there were other significant facts about Smyrna. It was a free city, one that knew the meaning of loyalty and fidelity to Rome unlike most cities. Cicero called it, “one of our most faithful and our most ancient allies.” It was the first city in the world to erect a temple to the goddess Roma and to the spirit of Rome. Her fidelity to Rome was famous in the ancient world. So again, Christ said to the church there, “be faithful unto death.”

Similar to Ephesus, Smyrna had many visitors. Boasting an excellent harbor and the beginning of a well-traveled road to the interior, Smyrna regularly had travelers passing through it. This great trading city, founded by Alexander the Great, continues to this day as the modern Turkish city of Izmir with a population of approximately 2.8 million.

“In Roman times, Smyrna was considered the most brilliant city of Asia Minor, successfully rivaling Pergamos and Ephesus. Its streets were wide and paved. Its system of coinage was old, and now about the city coins of every period are found. It was celebrated for its schools of science and medicine, and for its handsome buildings. Among them was the Homerium, for Smyrna was one of several places which claimed to be the birthplace of the poet.

“On the slope of Mt. Pagus was a theater which seated 20,000 spectators. In the 23 AD year a temple was built in honor of Tiberius and his mother Julia, and the Golden Street, connecting the temples of Zeus and Cybele, is said to have been the best in any ancient city” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1939, “Smyrna”).

Smyrna was a large, important city on the western coast of Asia Minor, famed for its schools of medicine and science. The words of Jesus to the church in Smyrna offer insight into the life of a first-century congregation, and there are many applications for today’sbelievers.

In all of this there existed what was called “municipal vanity” and it was known for its “municipal rivalry and pride.” Everyone there wished to exalt Smyrna. So, it was not without reason that Christ spoke of Himself as “the first and the last.” In comparison with His glory, all earthly distinctions are pure emptiness and strife for being first in something pales into insignificance in view of His eternal glories.

Another fact of importance concerns the Jews there. There was a population of Jews in the city who were not only numerous, but influential and who did everything they could to hurt the church in Smyrna. So, the Lord also addresses this issue in this letter as well (vs. 9-10).

In any case, the first three cities (Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum) were rivals for power and prestige. Smyrna (the modern Turkish city of Izmir) laid claim on its coins to being the "first city of Asia in size and beauty" (Ramsay 1904:255), and it was indeed a city of great natural beauty. Well over a century after Revelation was written, the traveler Apollonius of Tyana urged the Smyrneans "to take pride rather in themselves than in the beauty of their city; for although they had the most beautiful of cities under the sun, and although they had a friendly sea at their doors, which held the springs of the zephyr, nevertheless, it was more pleasing for the city to be crowned with men than with porticoes and pictures, or even with gold in excess of what they needed" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 4.7; translation from Loeb Classical Library edition, 1.357). Smyrna had also a long history of loyalty to Rome, having dedicated a temple to the goddess Roma as early as 195 B.C. (Tacitus Annals 4.56).

There is no record of how Christianity came to Smyrna. Like the other Asian cities, Smyrna was probably reached as a result of Paul's ministry in Ephesus (compare Acts 19:10). The message to Smyrna accents the contrast between the Roman city and the congregation of Christians who lived there. If the city was rich (as Apollonius implies), the Christian community was poor, yet had its own kind of riches (v. 9). If the city was crowned "with porticoes and pictures, or even with gold in excess of what they needed," the angel of the church in Smyrna was promised the crown of life (v. 10), or (in the words of another New Testament writer) the crown consisting of the "life that God has promised to those who love him" (Jas 1:12). By the early second century (a decade or two after John's visions), the congregation at Smyrna had a pastor or bishop named Polycarp. Ignatius of Antioch wrote letters, which still exist, to both Polycarp and his congregation. Polycarp himself wrote a letter to the Philippian Christians in Macedonia and (according to an account in the Martyrdom of Polycarp) was martyred in Smyrna in the year 155. Nowhere were the words be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life, more aptly fulfilled than in the life and death of Polycarp.

Another interesting fact is that the city received its name from one of its principle products, a sweet perfume called myrrh. This was a gum resin taken from a shrub-like tree. Though it had a bitter taste, the resin of the tree was used in making perfume (Ps. 45:8), was one of the ingredients used in the anointing oil of the priests (Ex. 30:23), and in the embalming of the dead (John 19:39). Smyrna is Greek for myrrh, a fragrant perfume used in burial. Its association with death perfectly pictures the suffering church at Smyrna. Like myrrh, a fragrance released only when crushed, the church at Smyrna, crushed by persecution, gave off a fragrant aroma of faithfulness to God.”2

Many believe this church represents the martyrs of all time and the sweet smelling fragrance of their devotion until death (cf. 2 Cor. 4:14-16).

As you all remember, at His birth, Jesus was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold was for kings, frankincense for priests, but myrrh was a burial spice.

This was a message meant to encourage them in light of what they were facing presently and were about to face in the future. The church at Smyrna was to undergo some intense persecution and tribulation. Jesus wanted to encourage them to stand strong, even if it meant physical death. Be encouraged as you study the message sent to this church. Ask God to strengthen your faith so that you can endure the suffering in your own life more victoriously.

Revelation 2:8 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, "These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life
The identity of the first and the last and the resurrected one could only be Jesus Christ (see Revelation 22:13).

The first verse of the address to the Church at Smyrna give us a clue as to what the issue in this Church is about. Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of the World, died on the cross and after three days, arose from the dead. So we have here the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. The "first" is in reference to the work He did in the PAST - - - Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (Jesus) might be the FIRSTborn among many brethren.

1 Cor 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the FIRSTfruits of those who have fallen asleep The "last" is in reference to his work NOW - - - 1 Cor 15:45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The LAST Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving spirit. This parallels the Adam in Genesis because as that Adam was created in the Flesh, the second Adam (Jesus) first became Flesh, and then "LAST" became a "LIFE-GIVING" Spirit. The author and finisher of our faith. 1 Cor 15:46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. What he is saying is that - - - FIRST IS FLESH - - - SECOND IS SPIRIT This describes the "Born Again" experience. He is the first and last, the eternal God who became man, died and rose again (1 Pet. 1:3; Acts 2:24). Literally, the Greek says, “He came to be dead and began to live or came to life again,” an obvious reference to the cross and the resurrection. It describes what we might call an experience, an episode, a passing phase He went through for us, death. He passed into death, through death and out of death, and came to life in a triumphant event, the resurrection.

I know your works, tribulation, and proverty (but you are rich)…

He knows your tribulation (2:9) The word “tribulation” means “pressure, a literal crushing beneath a weight.” The pressure of events is on the Church at Smyrna, and the force of circumstances is trying to crush the Christianity out of them. He knows your poverty (2:9) The word “poverty” describes absolute poverty or complete destitution.

From the message to Smyrna, we note several important points. First, God knew their works. Similarly, He knows our works. In fact, He even knows our thoughts (Psalm 94:11) KJV The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

Additionally, God told the members of the church at Smyrna that He knew the tribulation and poverty they had suffered. And He also knew there were Jewish pretenders. Regarding this reference to those falsely claiming to be Jews, it appears that these people were the cause of much hardship for the members of the church of Smyrna.

The statement regarding “poverty (but you are rich)” indicates that even though the members were financially poor, they were rich in their relationship with God. Paul spoke of this concept to the members of the church at Rome saying that the Lord “is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

2 Corinthians 8:9 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich). In spite of the trials the members of church of Smyrna would face, Christ urged them to remain faithful to death in the face of tribulation and poverty. History shows that there were people such as Polycarp who followed this admonition.

In their physical poverty, the church of Smyrna was “rich” that it, they had spiritual wealth that no one could take away Matt. 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

In the flesh, this church is not rich with a lot of material blessings. This statement is in contrast to the church at Laodicea and churches of today who preach that a believer is entitled to material blessings because they are a child of God.

Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ:” The saints were faithful in spite of suffering at the hands of their Jewish persecutors and I am sure they thought they were poor, but in contrast to Laodicea, which thought it was rich and was poor, these saints were rich (3:17).

Application: Our Lord, so faithful to know and observe our lives and needs, first assures them He knows and cares for their condition and the great suffering on His behalf, and then commends them for their spiritual wealth in the midst of their physical poverty and suffering, much of which was brought about by the religious Jews of Smyrna. So, while poor, they were rich. They were rich positionally in Christ (Eph. 1:3) which, of course, was by grace. They were also rich in that God had counted them worthy to suffer for Him (1 Pet. 3:14-17; 1:6; 4:13-14). Finally, it appears they were rich in their spiritual lives because they were living close to God by faith.

***What are some ways YOU are rich in Christ? (Ephesians 1 is a good reminder of how rich we are in Christ)

…and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Note: Jesus’ use of the strong term blasphemy, which was usually reserved for hostile words against God, indicates the slander’s wickedness, intensity, and severity.4 Many Christians ask, "Does the Church at Smyrna exist today?". The answer is definitely – Yes! Not only does this Church exist, but it is the easiest and most readily identifiable Church among the seven Churches listed in Revelation. This has been true not only throughout Church history, but also at this present time as we shall see. No other Church in the world today displays the character, description, and doctrine to which both the parable and the Revelation letter point.

The relationship between the Parable of the Wheat and Tares in Matthew 13 and this message to the Church at Smyrna is that they are a direct correlation.

Matthew 13

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 "but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 "But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 "So the servants of the owner came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?" 28 "He said to them, "An enemy has done this." The servants said to him, "Do you want us then to go and gather them up?" 29 "But he said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 "Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."

The idea of this parable is that there are Saved and Unsaved members within the Kingdom, the Church. The tares in many ways resemble the wheat, but with one important difference - TARES DO NOT PRODUCE FRUIT.

While the apostles and members of the Church of God in the first century came in contact with many Jews, we do not know why these people claiming to be Jews at Smyrna were identified by Christ as having blasphemed and as being a synagogue of Satan.

In the following century, however, we see what might be a continuation of this hostility directed toward the Christians at Smyrna. Albert Barnes explains: “In the time of the martyrdom of Polycarp—the Jews of Smyrna were among the most bitter of the enemies of Christians, and among the most violent in demanding the death of Polycarp. Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 4:15) says, that when Polycarp was apprehended, and brought before the proconsul at Smyrna, the Jews were the most furious of all in demanding his condemnation” (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, Revelation 2:9).

Although many look at this condemnation of people claiming to be Jewish from a literal perspective, meaning these people were descendants of the tribe of Judah, there is another way to understand this point. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29, emphasis added). In this sense, all Christians regardless of their ethnic background are considered Jews, spiritually speaking.

If the reference to Jews in the message to Smyrna—people “who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9)—is meant in this way, there is a clear correlation with what was taking place in church history. People claiming to be Christians were beginning to abandon the foundational tenets upon which the Church of God was founded. (One such foundational tenet was the observance of the Passover.) They retained the name “Christian” while abandoning the Christianity that was delivered by Jesus and established by the apostles in the first century.

In Smyrna, as in other places, Jews would sometimes take the heat of persecution off themselves by inciting the Romans against the Christians They would present communion in a wrong light by accusing believers of drinking blood and eating broken bodies, Thus in God’s economy they were no more His people in reality than were the Christians who, in the Name of Christ, slaughtered Jews by hundreds of thousands during the Crusades.

The statement regarding “poverty (but you are rich)” indicates that even though the members were financially poor, they were rich in their relationship with God. Paul spoke of this concept to the members of the church at Rome saying that the Lord “is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

also see 2 Corinthians 8:9 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich). In spite of the trials the members of church of Smyrna would face, Christ urged them to remain faithful to death in the face of tribulation and poverty. History shows that there were people such as Polycarp who followed this admonition.

As for the identity of the “synagogue of Satan,” there are a couple of views. One is that this was a group of Gentiles who called themselves “Jews” (i.e., the chosen people of God). Instead of following Judaism, however, these self-proclaimed “people of God” worshiped the Roman emperor and spoke out against the Christians in Smyrna.

Another view is that the “synagogue of Satan” was a group of physical Jews who followed tradition and the Mosaic Law yet in reality did not know God. They were “not” Jews in the sense that they did not have the faith of their father Abraham (Luke 3:8; John 8:40), and they were “of Satan” in that they had rejected Jesus Christ (John 8:44). Jesus dealt with many such religious leaders, as did the apostle Paul (Matthew 23; Acts 18:6). In fact, Paul differentiates “true” (spiritual) Jews from those who can only claim a physical connection to Abraham: “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Romans 2:28-29).

Adding weight to the latter view is the fact that Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna around A.D. 155. At Polycarp’s trial, the unbelieving Jews of Smyrna joined with the pagans in condemning him to death. Eusebius writes that “the Jews, being especially zealous . . . ran to procure fuel” for the burning (The Ecclesiastical History 4:15).

Polycorp, as pastor of the church, the last man personally disciple by John, at 86 years old, amidst one of the numerous waves of persecution, was ordered to burn incense at the altar of Caesar. “how can I deny Him who has bee faithful to me the six and eighty years?” he asked. Consequently, he was sentenced to burn at the stake When the fire failed to come near him, a frustrated guard pierced Polycarp’s shoulder with his sword, inadvertently drawing blood, which put out the flame. (At times, the only substance powerful enough to extinguish the fire of persecution was the blood of the saints).

William Barclay in his Daily Study Bible adds that when Polycarp was martyred by being burned by fire and then stabbed to death on Saturday, Feb. 23, 155, “the Jews, even although they were breaking the Sabbath law by carrying such burdens, were foremost in bringing wood for the fire” (comments on Revelation 2:9). “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” - Psalm 37:7 He knows your persecutors (2:9b). These were the religious Jews who claimed to be the seed of Abraham. They were, but only physically. Spiritually they were of Satan and under his power and control (John 8:33-34). In Numbers 16:3, Israel was called the congregation of the Lord, but here Christ calls these unbelieving Jews, the congregation of Satan *** In these last days, what ways has the “synagogue of satan” explosed itself?

10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days… The above verse should have parenthesis around (Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison) because this is what happens to the Wheat who join the Tares in their Blasphemy ! ! ! The Wheat who do this are deceived and are in effect going from Freedom from tribulation and poverty into Prison.

Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the LIBERTY by which Christ has made us FREE, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures TEMPTATION; for when he has been approved, he will receive the CROWN of LIFE which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

THE COUNSEL AND ADMONITION (10) Concerning fear and suffering. “Do not fear” is literally “fear nothing.” No matter how small or how severe, the One who has overcome death says, “fear nothing.” They could cast their burden on the Lord. He cared and He had overcome (Phil. 4:6-8; 1 Pet. 5:7; Isa. 41:10).

6 Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

After commending the church in Smyrna for their spiritual victories, Jesus warned of coming persecution: “You are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days” (Revelation 2:10). Some of the church members would be imprisoned, and this wave of persecution would last for ten days. However, Jesus gives hope to His church: “Do not be afraid,” He says. The Smyrnan believers would have the courage to face the trial (Matthew 5:11-12).

Concerning the future and testing. Some would face prison and severe testing, even death. It would be for ten days, a rather short period, or perhaps a reference to ten principle persecutions under the Roman emperors from Nero to Diocletian from 100AD to 313AD. They launched such massive attacks against the believers that between five and seven million Christians were killed during their rule.

But note the connection of this with Satan. This persecution is attributed to the Devil. It is a continuation of the serpent’s battle with the Lord Jesus Christ and those who belong to Him (Gen. 3:15; John 15:18-21). Human means and men are those we see persecuting the church of Jesus Christ, but invariably, behind the scenes is the old arch enemy, the prince of the power of the air. But never fear, the binder of believers in prison shall be bound, he is a defeated foe (Rev. 20:1-3; Rom. 16:20; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15).

But note the connection of this with Satan. This persecution is attributed to the Devil. It is a continuation of the serpent’s battle with the Lord Jesus Christ and those who belong to Him (Gen. 3:15; John 15:18-21). Human means and men are those we see persecuting the church of Jesus Christ, but invariably, behind the scenes is the old arch enemy, the prince of the power of the air. But never fear, the binder of believers in prison shall be bound, he is a defeated foe (Rev. 20:1-3; Rom. 16:20; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15). Pastor Steve spoke about this on Sunday.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:13

There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

*** How have you seen God use trials and suffering in your life?
***Which attributes of God most comfort you in the midst of trials and why?
*** Christians are not exempt from suffering. What are some reasons God allows suffering in our lives? Romans 5:3-5 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Hebrews 5:8 Be encouraged when you study the message sent to this church. Ask God to strengthen your faith so that you can endure the suffering in your own life more victoriously.

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life

The promise: “I will give you the crown of life.” The reward here is not eternal life. Eternal life is a gift through faith or personal belief in Jesus Christ (John 1:11-12; 3:16; 1 John 5:11-12). This is a special reward for endurance under persecution.

This was a message meant to encourage them in light of what they were facing presently and were about to face in the future. The church at Smyrna was to undergo some intense persecution and tribulation. Jesus wanted to encourage them to stand strong, even if it meant physical death.

Here a specific crown is mentioned for those who die as a result of suffering for Christ. This same “martyr’s crown” is also mentioned in James 1:12 “Blessed is the an who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him”

Jesus calls them to remain faithful in their suffering: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Here, a specific crown is mentioned for those who die as a result of suffering for Christ. This same “martyr’s crown” is also mentioned in James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Looking Reflectively

“Suffering either gives me my self or it destroys my self. If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.” – Oswald Chambers5 As believers, we should expect persecution and suffering in this life. Allow it to deepen your relationship with Christ, not push you away from Him. The “crown of life” is one of several “crowns” mentioned in Scripture. What are the other “crowns” and to what are they referring? 1.a circular ornamental headdress worn by a monarch as a symbol of authority, usually made of or decorated with precious metals and jewels.synonyms:coronet, diadem, tiara, circlet, chaplet, fillet, wreath, garland, headband, coronal, taj 1 Thessalonians 2:19 2 Timothy 4:6-8 1 Peter 5:4 Rev. 4:4

According to Revelation 4:9-11, what are “crowns” ultimately for? Revelation 4:9-11 New International Version (NIV) 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The heart of the message was not “repent” but BE FAITHFUL, even to the point of death. The command was reinforced not by a threat, but by a promise – I WILL give you the crown of life, matching the promises to those who “overcome” in all seven messages. In the message to Smyrna, the angel is a “conquering” angel, and the Christians there a whole assembly of “conquerors.”

Jesus makes a final promise to the believers in Smyrna: “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Revelation 2:11). The overcomers, or “conquerors,” refer to all believers (1 John 5:4-5). The second death is a reference to the final judgment of the wicked (Revelation 20:6, 14; 21:8). Believers will not be hurt “at all” by that judgment; their sin was judged at the cross, and, in Christ, there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).

***What might be some ways you could encourage someone who is being persecuted for his or her faith or going through a tough time?

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches Similar to His concluding words to Ephesus, Jesus again advises us to heed all of the messages given to the churches in order to receive eternal life. Isaiah 64:4 For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.

Deuteronomy 4:36 "Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire. ***What are some ways that you hear the Lord speaking to you?

He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (THE CHALLENGE AND ASSURANCE) The promise to the overcomer is that he shall not be hurt by the second death. The second death is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:1, 14). Believers may face physical death, but because they have had a second birth (John 3:3-7), no believer will ever face the second death (Eph. 2:1, 5; John 5:24; 11:25). This advice to Smyrna remains valid for us. We, too, must remain faithful in spite of tribulation or poverty. To remain faithful to God, we, like the people of God in Smyrna in the early centuries, will need to resist pressure to reject “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3-4). God has an exciting future for you if you will only respond to His instructions. Remember the timeless lessons in Christ’s message to Smyrna. Remain faithful no matter what, and don’t let detractors deter you!

Eph 6

14 Stand therefore, having GIRDED YOUR WAIST WITH TRUTH, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; The Faithfulness of Polycarp to the end seems to have characterized this church in Smyrna in its entire testimony and resulted in this church’s continuous faithful witness for God after many others of the early churches had long lost their lives. The purifying fires of affliction caused the lamp of testimony to burn all the more brilliantly. The length of their trial, described here as being ten days, whether interpreted literally or not, is short in comparison with the eternal blessings which would be theirs when their days of trial were over. They could be comforted by the fact that the sufferings of this present time do not continue forever, and the blessings that are ours in Christ through His salvation and precious promises will go on through eternity. Note that victory in this present life is closely associated with occupation and orientation to the weightier things of eternity and the glories which shall follow (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Here is one of those things which should distinguish believers from unbelievers. Believers are to be sojourners who live with a view to eternity, while unbelievers are scripturally classified as earthdwellers (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11; Rev. 3:10;

The overcomer (that is, the faithful Christian) will be more than amply repaid for whatever sacrifice he may make for Christ’s sake. His experience will be truly wonderful—far, far beyond the reach—the touch—of the second death. That is to say, this conquering Christian is as far above the experience-level of eternal death as it is possible to be. In a masterly understatement, the Lord Jesus says in effect: “The first death may ‘hurt’ you briefly, the second not at all!”

Application:

The risen Christ is one who has experienced the worst that life could do to Him. No matter then what might happen to the Christians at Smyrna or to us, our Savior has gone through the worst life can bring. As such, He is one who feels for us in our suffering with special love and compassion and is ever present to come to our aid and comfort (Heb. 2:15-18; 4:15). The risen Christ has conquered the worst that life can do. He triumphed over pain, the cross, the devil, sin, and death. He defeated all the enemies and He offers victory and the conqueror’s crown.

Finally, Smyrna, unlike the city of Ephesus, stands today. Though many of these believers died a martyr’s death, Satan could not stamp out their testimony. Suffering has a way of keeping us pure in our devotion to Christ and it was evidently so with this church.

The overcomer (that is, the faithful Christian) will be more than amply repaid for whatever sacrifice he may make for Christ’s sake. His experience will be truly wonderful—far, far beyond the reach—the touch—of the second death. That is to say, this conquering Christian is as far above the experience-level of eternal death as it is possible to be. In a masterly understatement, the Lord Jesus says in effect: “The first death may ‘hurt’ you briefly, the second not at all!”

But this calls for our loyalty and commitment to Him, not simply for rewards, but because of what we have in Him and love Him. Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Update Notifications

 

 

* indicates required