Author: Ron Graham
The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >Seven Churches >Second Message, Smyrna
We continue to study the seven messages to the churches of Asia in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In this lesson we look at the message to Smyrna, the persecuted church (Revelation 2:8-11).
Smyrna A port on the west coast. About AD 155, the bishop Polycarp, an old man, was killed there because he refused to renounce Christ his Saviour.
The First and the Last Jesus calls himself here "the first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life..." . The Christians in Smyrna are facing tribulation and possibly death because of their faith. They are reminded that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He has control. He has power even over death. He will give eternal life to those who remain faithful to him.
poverty... rich Sometimes one can fall on very hard times and suffer great material loss by following Christ, even become poverty stricken. However one is really rich because in Christ one has "every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies" (Ephesians 1:3) which Jesus pictures as a "crown of life". It is also true that "poverty" is softened by the providence of God and our Heavenly Father will take care of our most basic needs if we "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
Jews... synagogue There was a dispersion of the Jews across the world. In many places, like Smyrna, they persecuted Christians. They "say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan". The gospel teaches that a Jew is not a Jew outwardly but inwardly (Romans 2:28-29 Romans 9:6-8). Jews who rejects Christ are not considered by God to be true Jews, but are considered to belong to Satan. Remember that Jesus is a Jew, which adds poignancy to his comment about the Jews in Smyrna.
Tested... the devil... ten days It is clear here that whilst God allows the testing of faith, the devil (Satan) is the one who originates and carries out the tribulation, and he certainly does not do this as a service to God or at God's bidding. This was the case with Job, and Job did not blame God for his troubles. Nor should we. The tribulation was to last ten days. One way or another, tribulation soon ends, and glory follows. Remember too that "God will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to bear" (1Corinthians 10:13).
Not hurt by second death The first death is physical death. Christians may well have to suffer that death, although they have the sure hope of resurrection. The second death is explained in Revelation 20 where it is pictured as the lake of fire into which are thrown death, hades, Satan, and all whose names are not written in the book of life. This awful death cannot harm those who are overcomers in Jesus Christ.