Summary: Churches Then & Now: Smyrna – When Suffering Strikes – Revelation chapter 2 verses 8-11 – sermon by Gordon Curley. PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). Address (8a).

(2). Attribute (vs 8b).

(3). Approval (vs 9-10a).

(4). Accusation.

(5). Advice (vs 10).

(6). Assurance (vs 11).



• “We don’t look alike, we don’t act alike.

• We don’t dress alike.

• We have different tastes in the food we eat.

• The books we read, the films we watch, the cars we drive and the music we enjoy.

• We support different football teams or have different leisure interests;

• We ascribe to different philosophies and differ over politics.

• Our weights vary, our heights vary,

• So does the colour of our hair and skin.

• But we all have one thing in common;

• We all know what it means to hurt!”

• TRANSITION: Suffering is a universal language.

• We all know what it means to hurt.

• And at some-time in our lives we will all ask the questions “Why me, why us?”

Suffering and persecution have always been the experience of the Church;

• Just think of the disciples of Jesus:

• According to tradition only the apostle John died of old age;

• All the other disciples were martyred for their faith.


• And today, according to the Christian organisation Open Doors;

• Each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith.

• 214 Churches and Christian properties are destroyed.

• 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians

• (such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages)


• According to the United States Department of State,

• Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments;

• Or surrounding neighbours simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Quote: I am reminded of Amy Carmicheal’s poem:

• Amy Carmicheal (1867-1951):

• Missionary in India for 55 years;

• Author of 35 books,

• Worked among girls who were victims of sexual-abuse, or temple prostitution.

• Help with the babies born as a result of the temple prostitution.

• On numerous occasions she faced legal charges of kidnapping,

• And often faced physical threats.

• Following a serious fall;

• She spent the last the last twenty years of her life as an invalid.

“Hast thou no scar?

No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?

I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,

I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,

Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?

Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend,

Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent

By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:

Hast thou no wound?

No wound, no scar?

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are whole: can he have followed far

Who has no wounds nor scar?”

• TRANSITION: The church at Smyrna understood such language.

• They had experienced first-hand hunger, loneliness, fear, and pain.

• So as we open this short letter;

• Feel the heartache and remember their pain as we try to grasp the message.

(1). Address (vs 8a)

“To the angel of the Church in Smyrna write…”

Question: What do we know about Smyrna?


(a). It was a beautiful city.

• Smyrna was a seaport located thirty-five miles north of Ephesus;

• In fact the two cities rivalled each other.


• History records that Smyrna was given a number of titles;

• They were called the "Pride of Asia," & "Glory of Asia” & the "First of Asia,"

• In 700BC the city was destroyed and lay in ruins for three hundred years;

• Then it was then restored, raised from the dead.

• So the city had died and come back alive again!

• At the time of Jesus Smyrna was nearly 100,000 in population.

• Today it is Izmir, Turkey, the third largest city in Turkey;

• With a population of over four million.

• So the city “was dead and is alive again”;

• No doubt you noticed that expression in the letter.

• Verse 7: Jesus described himself as the one: “…who died and came to life again.”

Smyrna was a beautiful city:

• They boasted of an excellent harbour, lavish temples,

• A famous stadium, and one of the largest public theatres in Asia Minor.

• It was one of the few planned cities of antiquity.

• In the middle of the city was a famous thoroughfare called the Street of Gold,

• Which was from beginning and end full of temples.


• In Blackpool (in the UK) they have ‘a golden mile’

• The seafront that stretches between the North and South piers,

• A ‘Golden Mile’ of sandy beach;

• As well as a ‘Golden Mile’ of amusement arcades, family attractions, theme pubs,

• Fish-and-chip shops, souvenir stalls, and in the winter the famous illuminations.

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