Smyrna | Revelation 2:8-11
Revelation’s Devine Outline: Rev. 1:19.
In Chapter 2 and 3 we find 7 letters — Directed and dictated by Jesus to the 7 churches in Asia.
—Each letter follows the same pattern:
- 1) Introduction: (Jesus description taken Ch 1:12-17)
- 2) Commendation:
- 3) Critique: (Smyrna and Philadelphia)
- 4) Prescriptions: (improve or fix)
- 5) Promise:
The 7 churches Represent:
- The Church age. From the Apostles, till present day Represent
- The attitude.
- The heart and seasons of the church.
- Even their names are meaningful.
- All letters served as an encouragement and warning to all hearers (us) (Promise of ch 1.3).
1) The Introduction:
[TEXT>>] Revelation 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
The church in Smyrna is known as the Persecuted church. It represents the period in church history from A.D. 100 to A.D. 312., also —Physically 35 Miles North of Ephesus. Still around known as Izmir.
—Historically: —It was a large, beautiful city. —A center of learning and culture. “It claimed to be the ‘Glory of Asia.’ ” — A rich city. “Like Ephesus, was a city of wealth and commercial greatness.” (Barclay) —Their major trade was wine.
—A city deeply committed to idolatry: —The famous “Golden Street,” in Smyrna held temples to —Apollo, —Aphrodite, and —the great temple to Zeus… But the worship of those pagan gods was dying out. —The real focus was on Emperor worship.
This is something we still see today. We just don’t realize that we are doing. Political Party Worship = Politician Worship)
—In A.D. 23 Smyrna won the privilege (over 11 other cities) to build the first temple to worship the Roman Emperor. —“Emperor worship began as spontaneous demonstration of gratitude to Rome (Thankful for the PAX ROMANA security, roads, trade); —But toward the end of the first century, Caesar worship became Obligatory.
—Roman Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81–96) (send John to Patmos) was the first to demand worship under the title “Lord” >> from all the people of the Roman Empire >> as a test of political loyalty. —Once a year the Roman citizen had to burn a pinch of incense on the altar of Caesar; then proclaim “Caesar is Lord” and they were given a certificate to guarantee that he had performed his religious duty.” (Barclay)
The word “smyrna” comes from myrrh—a sweet fragrance released when the commi-phora tree is crushed. —The Church of Smyrna truly fit the picture. —For it was a heavily persecuted church.
—“All that the Christians had to do was to burn that pinch of incense, say, ‘Caesar is Lord,’ receive their certificate, and go away and worship as they pleased.— But that is precisely what the Christians would not do. —They would give no man the name of Lord; that name —they would keep for Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. —They would not even formally conform.” (Barclay)
—Out of their suffering, pain and troubles, a sweet fragrance was lifted towards the Lord.
The pastor of the church at Smyrna was a man named Polycarp, John’s last disciple. A man of prayer and faith.
As the persecution intensified, he stood firm. At his old age, they caught word that the Romans were gunning for him. His friends begged Polycarp to hide. He listened and he hid for a few months on a farm outside of town.
The night before his arrest, he had —a vision where he saw his pillow on fire. By this he knew that the Lord was telling him that he was going to be burned on the stake. The next day when the Romans soldiers arrived, — Polycarp prepared them a meal. —After the meal he asked them, let me just pray one last time. After praying about 2 hrs, he left with them..
The Roman Governor even begged him, to declare that Caesar is lord, burn the incense and move on. But he answered, “For 86 yeasr I have served Him and He has done me no wrong, How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” he asked.
Sentenced to burn at the stake. They tried to nail his hands to the stake, but he said, “Leave me as I am; for He that gives me strength to endure the fire, will also enable me, without your securing me by nails, to remain without moving in the pile.” —As the fire burned up, they notice, he wasn’t burning, a sphere of protection surrounded him. —When the fire failed to come near him, a frustrated guard pierced Polycarp’s shoulder with his sword—causing a great stream of blood to pour out which put out the flame.
—Upon the second ignition, a great sweet smelling cloud —of white smoke arose from the fire —as his flesh and blood burned up. Manny other Christians seeing Polycarp’s witness, stood up for christ.
[TEXT>>] 8b ‘These things says the First and the Last…: (Reff: Rev 1.11,17) Speaks of the Eternal Character of God The First and the Last are titles that belong only to the LORD, Yahweh, according to Is 41:4, 44:6.
“Who was dead, and came to life”: Jesus chose this title to remind the Christians in Smyrna that they served the risen Lord, —victorious over death. —Death could not hold Jesus, and— it cannot hold His people either.
2) The Commendation:
[TEXT>>] Revelation 2:9 9a “I know (oida: completely know, I see it fully >> ) your work/labored (exhaustion): These are Very impactful words for the suffering church, who suffer for the name of Jesus.
—The Lord says “I know how —hard you have worked, —It is not unnoticed. —It is not in vain. Others may not see it but I do”
Satan’s whispers: “What you do for Christ has no value! no one cares, it is unimportant!” —Yet the Lord says “I know your labor, I know completely your heart everything you do in my name does not go unnoticed”.
Even every cup of cold water that we give in Jesus name will receive a reward (Matt 10.42).
[TEXT>>] (I know) 9b tribulation,
= Pressed, persecuted, harassed, crushed, for my name sake = I know how you are living in an oppressive state. —This is hard for today’s church in America to relate. Because we enjoy such a wonderful freedom.
This is not the case in other countries. Christians have faced increasing levels of persecution in the Muslim world, and N. Korea. Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, etc.
[TEXT>>] (I know) 9c and poverty;
—According to history, Smyrna was a prosperous city. —Yet the Christians there were poor. —Not because of laziness… but because of persecution.
‘poverty’ is the word for abject poverty. beggerly poor.
The Christians of Smyrna knew poverty because they were robbed and fired from jobs in persecution for the gospel. —This kind of economic persecution is a common form of persecution against Christians today.
Their Poverty was material not spiritual. Jesus tells them… “But you are rich.” —This is the Opposite Jesus writes to the Church in Laodicea:
—Rev 3:17-18 “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
Secular riches have relative Value: You may be the wealthiest man today, and completely broke by next year. —Spiritual wealth is absolute, it never delouts. —What we do for Christ will last for eternity. EX>>Jim Elliot “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Spiritual wealth is a blessing: To walk with Him and enjoy this relationship with Jesus which will last for eternity. —Secular wealth most generally comes filled with stress, worries and anxieties.
[TEXT>>] (I know) 9d the blasphemy
(slander) from those who say they are Jews, and are not but are are a synagogue of Satan.
Jesus knew the abuse and slander these Christians endured at the hands of “religious” men. —He himself had experienced it.
Historically, there was a large and hostile community of Jews in Smyrna. They slander the Christians to the Romans. They would present Communion in a wrong light by accusing believers of drinking blood and eating broken bodies.
These Religious people were those “who said (self proclaimed) they are Jews, but in reality they are from the synagogue of Satan.” [Beware of Slander]
Is there a purpose for Persecution and suffering? Tribulation, poverty, Slander?
2 Cor 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Trials, temptation and test are the same word. Satan tries you, tempts you. God allows it that you may be tested and see how far you have come in your Spiritual growth. [What mess you up, no longer does.]
James 1:2-4 “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
For the Persecuted church of Smyrna and Today. This is a powerful letter. For Jesus is saying to them. “I know these hardships, not only —because I see what is happening to you. —But because I have personally experienced >> this hardships in my own life.”
God wastes nothing in our lives, even trials. —When Satan Brings Persecution, God Brings Distribution. Church of Acts. — Church in China.
3) The Critique:
No critique is given: —Because, out of great persecution, true Christians rise up. When it is a matter of life and death, only those who are serious about Jesus proceed forward. The cares of this world fade away! The Fundamentals of the faith prevail:
Persecution, purifies the church doctrinally:
Petty arguments and bad doctrines fall aside. EX>> Prosperity, helings, name it and claim it. — it helps us focus is on reality, all we need is Jesus cleansing Saving Power in OUR lives! ALL I NEED IS HIM!
Our challenge as the American church, A None Persecuted Church is: to remain focus and faithful on what truly matters.
- Being a light with our actions and words, even online.
- Sending ahead our treasures to heaven.
- Converting material to spiritual richness in Christ.
- Keeping our eyes in heaven.
1 Pt 1:4 “we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”
4) The Prescriptions: (How to endure!)
[TEXT>>] Revelation 2:10 10a Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. 10b Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.
[Do not fear: phobeo – phobia]
- Ptero-mer-hano-phobia: fear of flying. .
- Claustrophobia: fear of enclosed spaces. …
- En-tomo-phobia: fear of insects. ...
- Ophi-dio-phobia: fear of snakes. ...
- Cyno-phobia: fear of dogs. …
- Astra-phobia: fear of storms. ...
- Trypano-phobia: fear of needles.
—Remember this is command. STOP being afraid… —What is your Phobia? Bill-o Phobia – tax-phobia – isolo-phobia (Fear of being alone)
2 Tim 1:7 ” God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Don’t be frightened. —It is a command (present, active) —Yes you’ll face tribulation, persecution =
10 days of tribulation are coming.
—Prophetically, 10 waves of Roman persecution upon the Christians.
In the years A.D. 100 through A.D. 313, there were ten Roman emperors who correspond to the ten days spoken of here. They launched such massive attacks against the believers that between five and seven million Christians were killed during their rule.
In two millennia of Christian history, about 70 million faithful have given their lives for the faith, and of these, 45.5 million — fully 65% — were in the last century, according to “The New Persecuted” (“I Nuovi Perseguitati”).
“Today,” Open Doors wrote, “more than 260 million [Christians] face persecution for their faith” — “an increase of 15 million” “in only one year.”
Christians die daily, are raped or sexually harassed; churches, homes and businesses belonging to Christians, are burned or destroyed; Christians jailed — all of that simply for the crime of following Jesus.
that you may be tested: their faith would be tested. —Is your faith being tested? perhaps you think that random circumstances are happening in your life? Opposition persecutions.
—While Satan wants to destroy you, —know God will not allow you to experience more than what He has enabled you to overcome. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Jesus doesn’t promise —immunity to suffering, —Rather strength to see you through it.
[TEXT>>] 10c Be faithful ( imperative – present – active) until death, and I will give you the crown of life:
Be faithful until death… But what if I can’t? Today sitting here I may say yes. But what about in the moment of truth, when the rubber meets the road?
—At that moment the Lord will give you the Grace you need.
Corrie Ten Boom… Corrie’s father sat down beside her and gently said, “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you the ticket?” She sniffled a little, and replied, “Well, just before we get on the train.” “Exactly,” her father responded, “and our wise Father in heaven knows when we are going to need things too.
Don’t run ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need, just in time.”
—Corrie Ten Boom learned something that day that would hold true throughout her life.
Grace cannot be stored. It is given for the moment we need.
Hebrews 4:16 “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
We who are not facing critical persecution, —are also called —to be faithful until death. —Finish strong, be faithful till the end.
Don’t give up, no matter what you are facing, Jesus our High priest will give you the strength to persevere!
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no body wants to die. —I Am not afraid of dying. I am just concerned about how I am getting there.
The crown of life:
Two different words for crown in the ancient Greek language.
First the crown of a king would wear, a crown of royalty.
SECOND: The stephanos, (leafy) used here—is given as a trophy to a winning athlete. The stephanos was also the crown worn at marriages and special celebrations.
Jesus looks at the Christians of Smyrna, and says to them: “You are My winners. You deserve a trophy, you are addorn as my beautiful bride.”
5 Crowns to reach for.
- 1) THE INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN: to believers who faithfully run the race, ” 1 Cor 9:24-25
- (2) THE CROWN OF REJOICING: This crown has also been named the soul winner’s crown. 1 Thess 2:19
- (3) THE CROWN OF LIFE: to those who undergo severe hardship, testing, tribulation and/or physical death on His behalf” Rev 2:10
- (4) THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: love the appearing of Christ, 2 Tim 4:8
- (5) THE CROWN OF GLORY: to the ministers who faithfully feed the flock of God. include preachers, teachers, Sunday School teachers, 1 Pt 5:1-4
The crowns we wear in heaven must all be won on earth. Don’t show to heaven empty handed.
5) The Promise:
[TEXT>>] 11a “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches
(To receive God’s peace and strength in painful circumstance >> because our high priest understands what you are going through and knows how to intercede on your behalf).
[TEXT>>] 11b He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
What is it to overcome in this circumstance?
- Not deny Jesus
- Not give in to fear
- Not be afraid.
- Endure even till death.
We do not become over-comers in our strength.
To be an Overcomer is not an ability of Strength, faith and Spiritual Power.
But the Spiritual location of our faith. Our faith being placed in Jesus Christ’s Power to Save and His ability to carry us through till the end.”
Phil 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
Who overcomes, he who believes in Jesus Christ:
John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”
1 Jn 5.4 “Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the World”
Rev 12:11 “they overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony”
Those who overcome will never be hurt by the second death. —The second death is hell, the lake of fire (Rev 20:14, 21:8). Though Satan threatened and attacked their life, Jesus promises life.
A choice to be made: “Born twice and die once, or Born once, die twice.”
Kobe Bryant (Jan 2020). Was a terrible tragedy. According to news reports, the pilot of the star’s helicopter cleared the majority of the hill the helicopter crashed into. He missed it by 20-30 feet from clearance. So close to life, but not high enough.
In perspective, these 20-30 was a small fraction of the total hight of the hill, but enough to cause such devastation.
Sadly many miss heaven by a near distance of 14 inches or less. The distance between the brain and the heart. Letting our knowledge of Jesus be more than just head knowledge and actually trusting Him with our heart.