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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 5

Letter#2
To the Church in Smyrna
Revelation 2:8-11

Smyrna
“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.  Revelation 2:8-11
 Jesus starts this letter to the church in Smyrna by proclaiming Himself the First and the Last, the one who died and came to life again. As we go on and read this letter, I think it will become clear why He wanted the readers to remember that Jesus, Himself had tasted death and yet lives.

Again, He begins with commendations for the church. He said...
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!
 Seems like a real contradiction, doesn't it?  The people of Smyrna were under severe persecution by the large population of religious Jews in the area. They suffered both physically and financially because of their faith, yet Jesus declares them rich.  They were rich in the spiritual sense of the word. Their faith was strong in the face of opposition and they had a rich reward waiting for them as a result of their unwavering faith.


I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
 Part of the persecution they suffered was slander by the Jews, who were Jewish in name only, not in the practice of living according to God's will, for if they were, they would not have been persecuting people. It's interesting to note that in the book of Corinthians, God says this about believers in Jesus Christ...

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB
and in this letter to the church of Smyrna, He says that the religious Jews are...

a synagogue of Satan.
Persecution was coming from the Jews, but as with all acts of cruelty, the driving force behind the act is the evil one - Satan - forever trying to destroy God's people.

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Jesus knew what was ahead for this faithful band of Believers. Both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government were bent on wiping out the church (people) of Jesus Christ. They threw them in prison, tortured and usually put them to death. Jesus is telling the people not to be afraid. That seems humanly impossible. How can you not be afraid of being thrown in jail, tortured and put to death?  I believe what Jesus is saying is "don't be afraid for you future," because he goes on to say that He will give them life as a victor's crown. A victor is one who overcomes - in this case, those who do not deny their faith even in the face of affliction, poverty, persecution and even death.

Finally, he ends this letter with...

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
That "second death" part was confusing to me. We are born once (physically) and born a second time (spiritually). We die once (physically), but is there another death?  I went hunting for an answer and found this explanation...

The promise to the overcomer is that he shall not be hurt by the second death. The second death is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:1, 14). Believers may face physical death, but because they have had a second birth (John 3:3-7), no believer will ever face the second death (Eph. 2:1, 5; John 5:24; 11:25).
(Taken from The Message To Smyrna at Bible.com. You can read the whole article by clicking CLICKING HERE.)
How does this message to the Church of Smyrna apply to us today?
Have you ever faced persecution because of your faith?
Do you think persecution of Christians is increasing?

If you live in America, you have probably faced the only mildest form of persecution for your faith. Want to know how the rest of the world is treating Christians?

"In this past century alone, more Christians were murdered for their faith than any other century in human history, an estimated 200 million."  ~persecution.org
Learn more about what is happening to Believers around the world. Check out this link to

Persecution.org  

 Be forewarned - you will be moved to tears and moved to pray - and that is as it should be.

Watch a video about the ancient town of Smyrna - An Introduction to the Letter to the Church of Smyrna. (It takes a few seconds to start.)


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1 comment:

jesusandthebible said...

The same word for "afflictions" that is used in 2:9 is also used in 1:9, where John says he is on the island of Patmos, sharing in the affliction and kingdom and patience in Jesus, on account of the word of God and the witness of Jesus. John, like Jesus, spoke the word of God, like the prophets of the Old Testament, who also suffered from their fellow Jews.

I think American churches would be more like the church at Smyrna, and suffer for it, if it spoke more like true prophets, including Jesus' witness against the powerful and prosperous in his society. All around the world, including American society, powerful political and business leaders (most of which are not Jewish) promote their special interests--and slander poor and weak prophets who speak God's word against such human dominance and greed.