A couple of weeks ago, in my prayer time, I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper Revelation and the seven churches. I was to study the seven churches and glean all I could from these churches. What lessons are there for me to learn? I’ve looked at the first church, Ephesus, in Revelation chapter 2:1-7. In case you missed my notes from Ephesus, no worries – click on the link below. Today, we will look at the second church – Smyrna.
What do we know about the church In Smyrna? My Bible footnotes say:
“Smyrna was a proud and beautiful Asian city (modern-day Izmir) closely aligned with Rome and eager to meet its demands for emperor worship. This, plus a large and actively hostile Jewish population, made it hard to live there as a Christian. Polycarp, the most famous of the early martyrs, was the bishop of Smyrna.”
I don’t know how long the Apostle Paul spent in Smyrna.
As a reminder, here are some things to keep in mind as we read these passages on each church in Revelation.
The words in red are the words of Jesus Christ in the Bible.
In Revelation, Chapter two, we begin to see Jesus break down each church. He starts each address to the churches this way,
“To the angel of the church in_______________________ write: These are the words of…”
“Some take the seven letters as a preview of church history in its downward course toward Laodicean lukewarmness. Others interpret them as characteristic of various kinds of Christian congregations that have existed from John’s day until the present time. In either case, they were historical churches in Asia Minor.”
Remember, what we know as Turkey today was Asia Minor back when this letter was written.
A general pattern in the letters to the churches is:
- the character of Christ
Let’s look at the second church – Smyrna, and see if we can point out the character of Christ, his commendation, complaint, correction, and conclusion.
8 “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. 9 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.
Do we see the character of Christ? Yes.
We are told he is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. That’s our Savior!
What about commendation? Does Jesus say anything specific about this church? What are they doing?
Jesus knows their affliction and their poverty. But he says they are rich! Not as in financially rich, but spiritually rich.
Jesus also knows about the slander of some who say that they are Jewish but are of the synagogue of Satan.
Remember what the Bible footnote says? There was a large and actively hostile Jewish population that made it extremely difficult to live there as a Christian. Polycarp, the most famous of the early martyrs, was the bishop of Smyrna.
Does Jesus have any complaints?
I don’t see any complaints. It’s one of the only letters without a complaint. He does warn them they may suffer. The devil will put some of them in prison to test them and persecute them for 10 days.
What are they supposed to do? What is the right course of correction, according to Jesus?
There’s no course correction from what I can see. Jesus tells them to be faithful despite the persecution, even to the point of death.
What does Jesus offer as a conclusion to the church at Smyrna?
Jesus offers them life as their victor’s crown. He goes on to say the one who is victorious will not be hurt by the second death at all. My footnote says the second death is the lake of fire.
Thank you Jesus for the lesson on the church at Smyrna. While the church suffered and was in poverty, the most important attribute was their spiritual well-being. Their focus was on the Lord and not on earthly things, and that made them rich. While they suffered from afflictions, they stayed the course and stood firm in their faith.
We are living in a country today that is suffering financially and spiritually. I don’t know that the Lord is looking at the church today in this country and counting us spiritually rich. Many churches today suffer from spiritual poverty and affliction. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you and me.
Stand firm in your faith.
Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate, For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”