Summary: Part 2 of 7 in our summer series exploring the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3. Today's message takes a deeper look at the testimony of the church at Smyrna.
INTRODUCTION: The majority of Americans know very little about SUFFERING for the FAITH. The letter to the church at Smyrna is a reminder that God does not simply offer His ADVICE. God offers His COMPANIONSHIP.
Only one of the seven cities still in existence (modern Izmir, Turkey) Abt 35 miles North of Ephesus on the Eastern Shore of the Aegean Sea.
Had an excellent harbor with a narrow mouth providing protection in time of war
It was a city strong economically due to exports and second only to Ephesus
It was a beautiful city... coins = “First in Asia in beauty & size”
John reveals a beautiful PICTURE (v 8; 1:17-18)
• READ 1:17-18... beautiful picture of Christ... why this description?
• Smyrna was destroyed by the King of Lydia and 300-400 years after her destruction the city was rebuilt in 290 BC as a model city.
• It boasted a famous stadium.. library... largest public theater in Asia... birthplace of the great poet Homer
• Interesting that this beautiful picture of Jesus reveals Him as the Eternal One... the One who indeed died and rose again...
I. John reveals their BEWILDERING position (v 9) I know..
• Smyrna had a special relationship with Rome and the imperial cult... Smyrna was definitely on the side of Rome and in 195B it became the 1st city in ancient world to build a temple in honor of Dea Roma. in 23BC it was given the right to build a temple to the emperor Tiberius.
• in addition, Smyrna had a large Jewish population that was actively hostile to Christians
• The most famous martyr of the early church fathers was Polycarp (12th martyr in Smyrna)... he refused to acknowledge Caesar as Lord even though it was on the Sabbath Jews along with a mob gathered wood and burned him alive because He confessed Christ.
• Christ being present and aware knows the various kinds of trouble this church is facing... 1)”tribultations”/afflictions = singular = all kinds of trials and in this case includes 2) poverty prob related to their being Christ followers in a pagan city had economic impact... cost them something to follow Christ (but they are rich in the real world where Jesus is Lord). 3) slander = accusations against believers informants would make Roman overlords aware & incite action... not by true Jews descendants of Abraham but those whose father was the devil - synagogue of Satan (the slanderer)... regardless of their stated belief they had aligned themselves w satan
II. John reveals God’s bold PROMISE (v 10) do not fear what you are about to suffer...
• In MT 10 Jesus counseled His disc not to fear those who would kill his body but not spirit
• 2 Tim 3:12 Paul warned that the godly will be persecuted... yet in the midst of impending danger they are encouraged so that the threat of martyrdom not lose their faithfulness to Christ
• In the ancient world prison wasn’t a place to await a court date... accused awaited execution
• Believers will suffer 10 days (diff opinons) ref a prolonged but def limited period.
• Church is to continue faithful even though it may lead to death.
• Reward = not diadem (royal crown) but stephanos (victor) crown promised to the victor at the games (stadium part of culture known for games)
III. John reveals God’s BOUNDLESS protection (v 11) (strong double negative in Greek)
• Overcomers will not in any way be harmed by 2nd death (Rabbinic term for the death of the wicked in the next world. Rev 20:14 identified as lake of fire Rev 21:8 Over those who are faithful the 2nd death has no power for those who share in the resurrection (Rev 20:6)
Conclusion: For those who have not shared in resurrection (no protection). As a Christian
why sharing Jesus so imp. Why a decision for Christ is VITAL.