The Church At Smyrna Series
Contributed by Thomas Swope on Jul 31, 2014 (message contributor)
Summary: A study of the book of Revelation chapter 2 verses 8 through 11
Revelation 2: 8 – 11
The Church At Smyrna
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation 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 shall not be hurt by the second death.”’
Our Lord's second epistle to the seven churches of Asia is addressed to the church at Smyrna. Of all the letters this one contains the most continuous and unbroken tone of praise for the recipients, for our Lord is in thorough sympathy with the congregation He is addressing.
In all probability the church at Smyrna was founded by Paul during his third evangelistic journey around 53 to 56 AD. This would seem a safe conclusion from the book of Acts chapter 19 verse 10 where we read that "all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."
Today the city of Smyrna is now known by it's Turkish name, Izmir, and has a population of three million people, making it Turkey's third largest city and second largest seaport.
As early as 195 B.C. Smyrna foresaw the rising power of Rome and built a temple for pagan Roman worship. In 23 B.C. Smyrna was given the honor of building a temple to the Emperor Tiberius because of its years of faithfulness to Rome. Thus, the city became a center for the cult of emperor worship -- a fanatical religion that later, under such emperors as Nero who ruled from 54 to 68 A.D. and Domitian who ruled from 81 to 96 A.D., brought on severe persecution for the early church. A man who was the Apostle John’s disciple by the name of Polycarp was martyred in the stadium at Smyrna in 155 A.D.
We will see in just these few verses how much our Precious Lord loved these people who went through immense persecution. We will read about their solid love for God Himself and witness their ability to endure tremendous suffering for Him. Our Holy King will tell us some facts on Who He Is; what He knows; what He commands; and what He promises to those who remain faithful to Him. The time frame of the brutal persecution ran from about 135 AD to 300 AD.
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life
This letter comes from our Lord Jesus Christ, "the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life". Christ Jesus our King was aware of the great affliction being suffered by the saints at Smyrna. He represents Himself to them as the One who was dead and came alive to give them strength in the knowledge of His sovereignty over death and life. These verses highlight the eternity of the One who addressed the church -- One Whom death itself could not vanquish. The risen Christ experienced the worst that life could do to Him -- He died in the agony of the cross, so no matter what happened to the Christians of Smyrna, our Precious King and Master Jesus Christ had already been through it. We understand from the book of Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15 - "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are..."
Our Great and Wonder Lord Jesus Christ conquered the worst that life can do -- He triumphed over pain and death and He offers us the way to victorious living. This letter was intended for the benefit of the Smyrna Christians to encourage them to be faithful unto death, or martyrdom, with no fear of the consequences.
These people like many today lived under constant threat of their very lives. Our Lord assured them and us that what ever happens here is not the end. On the other hand, you can compromise and live but in the end – lose.
9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.