Summary: Even in the first century the church faced problems of political correctness
Churches of Revelation#2 - Smyrna
February 2006 • Chris Rowney
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“8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
10 ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until 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 by the second death.’”
Revelation 2:8-11, NAS95.
Letters from Jesus…
Most of the letters say something encouraging about the church in each city, and then have a BUT.. and point out an area of shortcoming..
Two letters have ONLY praise, and the letter today is one of those..
TODAY we look at a church about which only good things are said by Jesus, there is no BUT I HOLD THIS AGAINST YOU!
However that does not mean they had it easy, or that you would have liked being there!
Smyrna was another quite large city, and it is one that still exists today, known as Izmir… It was totally destroyed and abandonded in about 700BC and for more than 400 years was desolate. But then it was rebuilt as a planned new city
It is interesting how to this City Jesus speaks words of being dead but being brought again to life, appropriate in a city that prided itself on that part of its history.
I guess what we can take from that is no matter if your wilderness years seem to be 4 centuries, Jesus brings to life again the things in you that he is building.
Amongst all the various gods that were worshipped in the Roman world, one in particular had spent the previous few centuries growing, and was especially dangerous for the church.
For a few hundred years people had been in awe of Rome, and a cult had grown up honouring the ‘Spirit of Rome.
Smyrna was the first city to build a temple dedicated to this ‘spirit of Rome’ in 195BC,
Over time the ‘spirit of Rome; got identified with the Emporer, with the Caesar, And in AD25 cities competed for the honour of bulding a temple to honour the emporer Tiberious, and Smyrna won!..
At about the time of Revelation, the emporer Diocletian was the first to make emporer worship COMPULSORY.
In effect, who you worshipped now became a question of loyalty to the current governing power, and failure to worship was disloyalty, and even treason.
What they did was to “Sacricfice to the ‘genuis’.. put a pinch of incense on the flaem and say Ceaser is Lord.. get a piece of paper saying you had done so, and go off and do whatever else you then like!.
In a while we will see the trouble this cause the Christians.
The last interesting thing about Smyrna is the name itself.
SMYRNA comes form MYRRH,, and the appropriateness of that as Myrrh is used in death and suffering…