Summary: This is the martyred church. Jesus had no condemnation only encouragement for the suffering they would experience. Many still suffered in and for their faith. Christ is still with us.
THE 2ND CHURCH OF REVELATION:
The first letter was to Ephesus … representing Apostolic Church – the church from Pentecost until about 110 a.d.
If you recalled … Jesus commended that church highly … but warned it about drifting away from its first love:
· The love of Jesus … and
· The rich fellowship;
that permeated the church at its beginning.
Smyrna represents the Martyred Church – the Church between 110 a.d. and 314 a.d.
Jesus expressed commendations of this suffering church. He had no word of condemnation, only a word of encouragement that he suffered everything they would have to endure.
This was a time of increase persecution …
1. From vigilant Jews trying to rid themselves of what they considered a heresy within their own ranks
2. And then from Rome after the Caesars found it to be popular sport blame Christians for everything.
Constantine ended the persecutions when he became Caesar & embraced the Church.
And then, he elevated bishops to be equal to provincial governors.
SMYRNA, The name means suffering ... comes from myrrh, perfume base also used in embalming.
Still exists today as IZMIR, a port city of 200,000 on the west coast of Turkey.
It’s an ancient city … founded 2000 B.C. by Hittites, same as Ephesus.
That’s about the time God called Abraham to father a unique people as a living testimony to the one true and living God.
In time, Smyrna became the jewel of Asia …
· A beautiful city and seaport …
· A planned city with wide streets surrounded by hills … each topped by temples for every known heathen god …
· A city swept and refreshed constantly by a western sea breezes …
· A city of culture as well as commerce.
Just what did Jesus have to say about the church at Smyrna?
2:8 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; “
Jesus again identifies himself as being eternal – alpha & omega … the first and last.
The reference is not only his eternal existence … but also to his preeminence.
We are humbled in his presence.
Here, he adds to his description that he "was dead, and is alive."
In the Greek, this in not a mere statement of fact.
It is a declaration that he voluntarily "became dead & became alive again.
Death did not just come.
It was not the Romans … nor the nails and spear … that took his life.
He gave up his life … when his job was done – when our sin was transferred from us to him.
Nor is He merely alive!
But, rather, He returned to life.
The emphasis is on voluntary death and resurrection.
It was all on purpose!
It was according to a plan!
It was the way the whole Godhead determined that a holy God could accept sinful people back into his fellowship.
It, also, is interesting to note that Smyrna died and returned to life also.
In 600 B.C., Lydia invaded & destroyed it.
About 200 B.C., Smyrna was rebuilt.
It found new life as a planned city.
It became a center of Caesar worship.
9 “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
AS used here, "tribulation" means pressure as in a press: To be pressed flat!
“Poverty” means absolutely nothing at all – complete destitution.
The pressure was from apostate Jews, who were stirring up Roman officials.
They were searching out Christians then just like they’ve searched out Nazis ever since the holocaust.
“Synagogue of Satan” was the way Jesus described these as Jews by blood … and not by faith.
They worshipped their religion … not the living God.
In Rom 9:6, Paul told the Jews, "Not all Israel is Israel."
Jesus, told the Church: "Many shall call Lord, Lord. And I will say depart from me for I never knew you."
It was just another way of saying not all church members are Christians.
We are born dead: Spiritually dead.
It’s a genetic trait that we all inherit from Adam … after his fall.
Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.”
If we ever hope to profit from our faith … we must be born of the Holy Spirit … just as we were born of our mothers.
This is the mystery that occurs at the moment we accept Jesus as our Christ.
Recognizing Jesus as THE Christ doesn’t cut it.
Surrendering self to Jesus in full faith and trust … allows him …
· To totally invade our lives …