Summary: In your difficulty if you ever start to wonder, does anybody really know what I am going through, be assured Jesus does.
Maybe right now you are undergoing suffering and hardship. You may recently have had the painful experience of being slandered. It may have come just for the simple reason you are a Christian standing on God’s principles.
In your difficulty if you ever start to wonder, does anybody really know what I am going through, be assured Jesus does.
The church in Smyrna was in desperate poverty. They were slandered for their faith and they experienced great affliction. Jesus says I know all about it.
I know your affliction
I know your poverty
I know the slander spoken against you.
Jesus calls the church at Smyrna to be faithful. Jesus walked among them at the church at Smyrna and He was well aware of their situation and how they remained faithful in those difficult conditions.
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what 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. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
This message to the church in Smyrna is the second of seven messages to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2-3. We find that Jesus walks among the churches and observes and evaluates each one of them.
At the church at Ephesus Jesus walked among them and found a hard working and doctrinally pure church. The problem was that they lost their first love experience with Jesus.
In his letter to each church he addresses them; to the angel. Here in Vs 8 we find, to the angel of the church at Smyrna write. The angel was the messenger of the church, most likely the pastor. History tells us the Pastor at the church at Smyrna was Polycarp.
The title for Jesus in this message to the church at Smyrna was the title found in Revelation 1:17 of the exalted Jesus. The first and last who died and came to life.
The Evaluation Revelation 2:9
There is no condemnation for the church at Smyrna. There is for the other churches six that received messages. But even though there was no condemnation for this church it was undergoing extreme difficulty and affliction.
Smyrna was the central place of Caesar worship. Because the Christians refused to bow to Caesar they were afflicted, imprisoned and sometimes even put to death.
The pagans who worshiped Caesar were against this church and so were the Jews. The Christians were being slandered by the Jews. It was the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not. These Jews may have been physical descendents of Abraham, but not spiritual descendents of Abraham. In this message Jesus refers to them as a synagogue of Satan.
These Jews would spread vicious lies about the Christians and join in with the pagans to see Christians put to death. Life is precarious for a follower of Christ in a city of emperor worship.
This church was in poverty. Smyrna was a rich prosperous city, but the Christians isolated themselves from the prosperity by refusing to participate in the politically correct Caesar worship. They lived in destitute poverty in a rich city.
These conditions exist today for some Christians. Standing for Christ in some places can mean affliction, slander and poverty, rejection by family much like what Smyrna experienced. Take comfort in the fact that Jesus says, I know about your affliction and poverty – yet you are rich!
The riches in God’s Economy is faithfulness.
Laodicea Christians did have material wealth. But they compromised with the world and Jesus called them a church of spiritual poverty. They only thought they were rich but they were poor. The irony is the church that thought they were rich were poor and the church that thought it was poor was rich.
The Christians in Smyrna were poor and had a very hard life but they possessed true spiritual riches. When you face affliction, poverty and slander because of your Christian faith it is good to remember Jesus definition of riches.
The Challenge Revelation 2:10
What kind of message does Jesus have for the poor, afflicted and slandered Church at Smyrna? Does he say; just be faithful and you will be rich and comfortable, healthy and wealthy? No. The challenge for Smyrna is: you are faithful and get ready because you are about to really suffer. The devil is behind your intense persecution.