Summary: Study of Revelation, using "the Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible" as a guide. Includes work sheet for participants. boxes & underlined blanks may be missing
Study in Revelation:
Smyrna, The Persecuted Church
Rev. 2: 8-11
There have and will be times when the church is called on to suffer for Christ.
Smyrna was no different. The believers were under heavy attack from the community, as well as the city officials. According to verse 10, more was on the way. The church was standing fast for the truth and we will see that there is no condemnation in this passage. This is a church that love s the Lord enough to stand up for Him even when the community comes against them and attacks their witness.
We will look at 5 things in this passage.
1. The Recipients:
2. The Speaker:
3. The Commendation:
4. The Counsel:
5. The promise:
1. The recipients: v8
The letter is addressed to the Minister of the church.
We remember that the Greek word used here for angel is (angelos) and it means messenger. We also remember that it can mean an earthly messenger and in the case of the churches here that is the meaning.
This tells us that the minister is held responsible for the church. In Smyrna’s case the minister is to take the lead in standing against the persecution.
*The minister’s job is not standing behind the church encouraging them to stand firm, he is to be out front leading the people to stand.
* The minister can not buckle under the pressure and deny Christ, he is to lead the church in waiving the banner of Christ and never giving up; no matter how hard it gets.
Three facts about Smyrna:
1. Smyrna received the name from Myrrh. The name Smyrna means Bitter. , one of her chief commercial products. Myrrh is a gum-like resin, taken from a shrub and is very bitter.
It was used in making perfume. Ps. 45:8 * oil Ex. 30: 23 * for embalming Jn. 19: 39 * for purification of women Ester 2:12 * and for relieving dull pain Mk 15:23.
The church was experiencing just what the name meant, bitter sorrow, affliction and persecution.
2. Smyrna was proud of her culture, beauty, commercial wealth and social life. Everyone wanted to be in first place. They wanted to be one rung higher on the social ladder than their neighbor. They desired recognition. It was to these that Jesus said “I AM the FIRST and the LAST” (v8); “I am the one who has the crown of life” (v10).
3. Smyrna was persecuting the church severely. The city had a large number of Jews who knew and understood the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. Many of the first converts were Jews. Here in Smyrna the Jews had a great deal of influence in the politics of the city. Those who knew the truth were blinded to that truth and did everything they could to get rid of the church.
Because of a personal relationship with Christ, the believer could not participate in the festivals that held in honor of the god and goddesses of that day. Because of this the believer was a marked person and in some cases jobs were lost and they were all cut off from the social life within the city. To be a believer in Smyrna meant you would suffer abuse, scorn and persecution.
BUT when Jesus said that He was “the first and the last” He promised that He would be with the believer, from the start to the finish. (answers may vary)
Even when the threat of death comes to the believer, we can look to Jesus, He not only faced the threat of death but death itself. He did this for me.
2. The Speaker: v8
Jesus is the speaker here and He has a special message for the church. He says two things to the church that we need to look at.
1. Jesus calls Himself the First and the Last. In saying this He is claiming supreme authority over all.
Those who cause trouble for people, whether they are government officials or just regular citizens may believe that they have authority over all life, but they are in for a rude awakening.
They may claim that they have the final word but their day is coming. According to scripture Jesus will some day set in the seat of judgment. Not only will He be the Judge but He will be the Prosecutor and the chief witness.
Scripture proof: Jn. 8: 55 * Jn. 17: 24 * Rom. 8: 28 * Rom. 8: 35-39
2. Jesus said He was dead and is alive. The word was actually means became. Christ became dead. His death was just a passing thing. He experienced it, but only for a short time.
The word Alive, in the Greek is in the aorist tense; action word that means once for all. Once it was done it was completed and there was no changing it back. He rose from the dead and really is alive.