Summary: Encouragement to persevere
We started last month to look at the letters written to the Seven Churches in Asia as a series.
The book of Revelation was written by the apostle John whilst he was banished to the island of Patmos in traditionally AD 96 at a time when Christian Churches were being persecuted throughout the Roman Empire possibly under the Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96).
Let’s just quickly summarise the seven churches before going on to look at Smyrna the second of these churches in more detail.
1) Ephesus Rev. 2:1-7
It was an orthodox church, with good works, patience, sound doctrine, church discipline and hatred of evil. But it suffered from backsliding and loss of its first love.
Catchword: Loss of First Love
2) Smyrna Rev. 2:8-11
This was the poor, rich church that we are going to look at today. It had spiritual endurance and heavenly treasure and is one of the two churches (the other being that of Philadelphia) to have no reproof.
3) Pergamum Rev. 2:12-17
It was a church with a bad environment. Its virtues were perseverance in an evil environment but it is reproved for its tolerance of wrong doctrine and heretics.
4) Thyatira (pronounced Thy’at’ira)
Thyatira, the church of the evil prophetess, was commended for its love, spiritual service, faith and patience but reproved for its lax discipline and tolerance of a corrupt prophetess.
Catchword: Lack of Discipline
5) Sardis Rev. 3:1-6
It was the dying church. For most of its members there was nothing to commend it for, though some were commended for purity. It was reproved for extreme formalism, imminent spiritual death and inactivity.
6) Philadelphia Rev.3: 7-13
It was a weak but loyal church and was commended for its witness and faithfulness to God’s Word. It received no reproof.
7) Laodicea Rev. 3:14-22
It had nothing to recommend it. On the contrary it was condemned for its lukewarmness, spiritual conceit, no conscious need, spiritual poverty and spiritual blindness.
Perhaps this is the closest church to our churches in England today.
I believe it is good for us to read these letters so that we can watch for the pitfalls that other churches have fallen into and to take note.
It is also good for us to consider what the Lord requires from his church.
So today we’ll take a look at the Church in Smyrna.
I think that we will understand the letter better when we know something about the city and the people to whom the letter was written.
Smyrna is present-day Izmir in Turkey, about 210 miles south-south-west of Istanbul on the Aegean shore.
It is about forty miles due north of Ephesus and had a population of about 200,000 (two hundred thousand)
It was an important seaport at the mouth of the Hermus River for the ancient trade route through the Hermus valley.
It was wealthy and it was a city where learning flourished, especially sciences and medicine.