Revelation Explained

This site contains my personal views on Revelation. I will be teaching through the book verse by verse. My teachings will be from a conservative evangelical background.

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Location: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Christ's Comments About the Church at Smyrna

"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:9,10 - King James Version)

Jesus begins this letter by stating that He knows what is going on in Smyra. Jesus assures this church that He is aware of their suffering. It has not gone unnoticed by Him. He is with them.

Jesus says that they are poor. The Greek word translated “poor” means “possessing absolutely nothing.” Smyrna was a center for the Roman Imperial Cult. The people worshiped Caesar as God. Refusal to acknowledge Caesar as a god could result in exclusion from the powerful guilds, which controlled the trades in the city. Unemployment and poverty would result for most Christians. Physically they had nothing.

Jesus goes on to say that they are rich! What He means is that they had great spiritual riches. They had no earthly treasure but they were storing up a huge treasure in heaven, an eternal reward for their faithful stand under persecution.

This church was also suffering as a result of slander. We are told that people were saying bad things about these Christians. They, like Jesus, were probably being falsely accused of being rebels against Rome. Their refusal to worship Caesar would be used as evidence to support this.

Those spreading these accusations were Jewish. They did not worship Caesar, but their religion had his approval. Often in the New Testament, we find Jewish people leading out in persecution against Christianity. In 196 AD, the Jews in this same city of Smyrna were among those who demanded the death of Polycarp, a highly respected Christian leader of his time.

Jesus says that these people are not true Jews. They were of Jewish descent, but for at least two reasons they were not worthy of the name.

First, their hatred and persecution of Christians was contrary to the spirit of the Old Testament. Under the Old Testament law, foreigners living in Israel had equal civil rights to the Israelites. There were certain laws they were required to keep if they lived in Israel.

However, no where in the Old Testament were the Jews commanded to attack those living in other lands on religious grounds. I should mention that what has been said about Jews applies with even greater strength to those who claim to be Christians. Those who have persecuted others in the name of Christ are not true Christians. They are a Church of Satan.

The other reason why these Jews were not true Jews is that the New Testament says that the true children of Abraham are those who have placed their faith in Christ. They are spiritual Jews not physical, since they have accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.

Jesus says that those doing the persecuting were a synagogue of Satan because they were serving Satan not God. This should not be taken as an attack on all Jewish people. It is applied to these individuals because they, like people of many different faiths have done, were using their religion as an excuse for wicked deeds.

In verse 10, Jesus encourages these suffering Christians of Smyrna. Jesus has no words of criticism for this church, only encouragement. Humanly speaking they had much to fear, however, Jesus tells them not to fear but rather to trust Him.

He warns them that the persecution they face will continue and even increase. Many of them faced the possibility of imprisonment and even death for their Faith.

This was a church that had many problems. Jesus did not promise to remove their difficulties. He did not promise that they would not suffer. He did not promise that they would be rich. He did not promise that they would die in peace and comfort.

Most of them would remain poor their entire lives. Many would suffer for Him. Some would even be tortured and brutally slain. The promise of Jesus was not an easy life bu a glorious resurrection.

Jesus Christ, Who defeated death, waits to give a crown of life to those who die for their faith in Him. All that He requires is that you remain faithful to Him and He will give you a great reward. What Jesus offers those who trust Him when they reach heaven makes any suffering in this life seem insignificant.


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