When Christians repent from sinning, from backsliding or from an apostate condition on any level. Making that covenant commitment to Jesus Christ with all our heart, totally surrendered unto the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Being in one mind and in one accord with Christ our Lord, being one flesh with Him, if you will, spiritually. Taking a firm stand in righteousness, even in the face of adversity. Then, expect persecution to come because it will.
When you are fully committed and sincere in faith and real with God, satan will try your stance, your commitment to God as if in a furnace of trials and testing’s. Just as the church of Smyrna went through.
Every Christian and church body, who are right, faithful and loyal to God through Jesus Christ will go through the fiery trials of the devil. Because satan will not allow anything that opposes his kingdom or agenda.
And he will try to shipwreck your faith. And if he can’t, he will try to snuff out the fire of the Holy Spirit in you one way or another, just as he tried to with the church of Smyrna.
And Jesus Christ personally commends and encourages His church body to stay steadfast in faith and stance against the wiles and schemes of the devil at all cost.
In fact, we will clearly see in this study that the church of Smyrna not only were hearers of the holy word of God, but doers of the holy word of God also.
A Quick Background of Smyrna
Now before we begin, we will go through a brief history lesson about Smyrna, in order to get a deeper understanding why Jesus Christ says what He says to this church. And not just for this church only, but His message applies to all churches He has built throughout all the church age.
For He knows all committed Christians will be going through the fiery trials, similar to what this church body went through. So this is an encouraging word from the Lord directly to you, the persecuted.
The City of Smyrna, or commonly known today as Izmir, is located on the West Coast of Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey; in the Modern region of Anatolia), about 49 miles North of Ephesus. Its ocean harbor made this city an important commercial center. And still is the chief city of Anatolia today.
Smyrna was known for its pagan worship, prior to the rise of Rome, in around 195 BC. It was home to several temples of the pagan mythical deities of cybele; apollo, asklepios, aphrodite and zeus.
And in the first century, another temple was built in honor of Tiberius; the second emperor of Rome known as the temple of Tiberius. This temple was strictly for the cult of Roman Emperor worship.
Despite all this, the original holy church of Smyrna, whom the Apostle John established unto the Lord (refer to our past study of: Revelation 1:9-11 (The Testimony of The Apostle John), was home to Holy Ghost filled and anointed ministers of early Christianity; such as Polycarp and Irenaeus of Smyrna.
The city of Smyrna was also known as a Jewish settlement where a synagogue was built. And though Christians were heavily persecuted here, the church was destroyed and rebuilt several times after war, earthquakes, fires and plagues through the millennia.
It has recovered time and time again. And still thrives today as a light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Withstanding the test of trials and time because of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ our Lord.
Revelation 2:8-9 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive;
Again, this is proof that Jesus Christ is speaking. Because He is “The First and the Last,” which He proclaimed in Revelation 1:8;11;17. Showing us through the eye witness of the Apostle John, that Jesus Christ was once dead (past tense; raised from the dead, and is alive forevermore).
For He is the One Whom is speaking, Who died on the cross for the remission of our sins; for those who believe. And arose from the dead and ascended back into Heaven in bodily flesh, where John saw Jesus Christ alive in His full eternal glory in Revelation 1:10-18, “the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive;”
The Incomparable Riches We Have In The Lord On Earth And In Heaven
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.
And because Jesus Christ walks among the seven golden candlesticks, He sees, and knows all the business of His churches. So, He knows all that is going on in the church and in the city of Smyrna in great detail.
When you think about this for a moment, since He sees and therefore knows all what’s going on, He knows, meaning He understands our concerns and needs. He knows the deep thoughts of our heart and also knows and understands by experience everything we will ever go through.
He also knows what we are feeling and thinking as we go through the fiery trials and tribulations of everyday life and ministry. This should be a comfort to us, knowing that Jesus Christ sees and knows thy works and tribulation and poverty.
He knows everything in great detail, because He not only sees what’s going on, He Himself has experienced all these things first-hand.
This is why it is written about Him in Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
You see, He understands all we will ever go through. Not just because He has experienced it, but also because He is there with us every step of the way as Psalms 23 The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
He also promised, persecution will happen because of Him. John 15:18-25, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own:
but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
He that hateth Me hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause.
So here in this passage of Scripture, Jesus Christ see’s their work, the ministering of the Gospel in this city. And as a result, He sees their tribulations. Namely the persecution they endured. Also mentioning their physical poverty, yet the Lord adds “(but thou art rich).”
He’s reminding them, even though they are poor and maybe destitute on this earth. Yet, they are rich Spiritually and Heavenward. Which is a reflection of Jesus Christ’s teaching again in,
Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Jesus Christ is teaching here, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” That sounds a little selfish, doesn’t it? He says this to His children, giving each of us an incentive to keep our eyes fixed in the Spirit on Jesus Christ, and Heavenward.
Because if we store up treasures on earth, we will be earth bound and never make it into the kingdom of Heaven. This is why He concludes with this statement “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
So, as we store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven, not only does this prove where our heart is, but as we do, we will be rich in rewards in the kingdom of Heaven as well.
He also is reminding us that there is nothing on this earth that’s worth staying for or comparable to the incorruptible riches of God in all eternity with Him. Just knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Having salvation and being right with God Most High, having Fellowship with Him and with His Holy Spirit in prayer and in studying His word; having joy unspeakable and full of glory, peace within that doesn’t fade away; love and a sound mind.
Knowing and living the truth in a world full of lies and deception is being rich on earth in a morally and spiritually bankrupt world. Because not everyone has these simple blessings in life. And this is what Jesus Christ is reminding, not only the church of Smyrna, but all of us today what we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.
“and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of satan.”
This is a specific mention of Jews in the region. And they were persecuting Christians of The Way. Much like Saul was doing, before his conversion experience with Jesus Christ (Acts 9).
They were going from place to place, city to city. Sweeping from one region to another. Hunting down Christians to death or scaring them out of Christianity by imprisonment, of whom were sent by the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jerusalem (Acts 7:57-8:4).
In fact, Jesus Christ is pointing out that these blasphemers who claim to know God but do not, because they have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah; Therefore, they are not Jews by New Testament standards, but children of the devil; satan’s disciples.
This Biblical standard goes back to what Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 8:33-58 They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill Me, because My word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with My Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill Me, a Man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father.
Then said they to Him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.
Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
And because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not. Which of you convinceth Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
Then answered the Jews, and said unto Him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour My Father, and ye do dishonour Me. And I seek not Mine own glory: there is One that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.
Then said the Jews unto Him, Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and Thou sayest, If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest Thou Thyself?
Jesus answered, If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing: it is My Father that honoureth Me; of whom ye say, that He is your God: Yet ye have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know Him, and keep His saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and He saw it, and was glad.
Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am.
And even the Apostle Paul teaches that real Jews are one inwardly because of faith in Jesus Christ and not by the observance of the law,
Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Therefore, going back to Jesus Christ’s statement in Revelation 2:9, I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of satan.
So, the Lord Jesus is pointing out that satan influences so many classes of people including the “religious,” who are not the children of Jesus Christ, who do not have the Spirit of Christ nor the Holy Ghost.
In our last study, Jesus Christ dealt with heretics who crept into the church. In this study, Jesus Christ is dealing with the “religious.” People who claim to be a Jew, or a Christian, but do not have a relationship with God Most High through Jesus Christ, and have settled for empty vain religion.
The Lord speaks about the religious directly in all of Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
And why is Jesus Christ so down upon the religious? Because they ultimately have nothing in common with God. And that Jesus Christ did not come to earth to die on the cross to create a so-called “new religion,” or give humanity more religion.
Jesus Christ died on the cross and raised from the dead in bodily flesh for the remission of sins, so He can reconcile us, (meaning to restore a real close relationship with God to them that believe). And religion has nothing to do with a relationship with God.
Religions are full of self-righteous, zealous people with only surface knowledge about God, but don’t really know Him as Jesus Christ had pointed out to the Pharisee’s back in John 8:33-58.
In fact, all religion hates Christianity and hates Jesus Christ. And as Jesus Christ pointed out, anyone who hates Jesus Christ, hates God His Father also, who sent Him to earth (John 15:23). So, the religious are truly satans followers, satans disciples. And world religion is the synagogue of satan.
And that’s what the Christian church of Smyrna were dealing with then. And that’s exactly what we are dealing with today as well. There’s no difference between two thousand years ago and today. (The world is one huge satanic cult! Of all that’s going on today is the working of the antichrist spirit, grooming the world for the antichrist (1 John 4:3).
With this spiritual revelation, He also comforts Christians with this instruction, Revelation 2:10, “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.
Jesus Christ reveals what’s coming up ahead and comforts with a promise of a reward, not only to the born-again believers and followers of Jesus Christ of Smyrna.
But He is also saying this to all churches throughout the church age today as well, who are going through persecution for the cause of Christ; the promise of the crown of Life, if we remain faithful to Him unto death.
What is the crown of Life? James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.
The Crown of Life is given to those who endured temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil; and loves God with all their hearts as commanded by God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and taught by Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37).
I’m sure you are also wondering what Jesus Christ meant when He says, “and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death.” “ten days” is code for ten waves of Christian persecution, trials and testing. From the time the Lord spoke this, until the rapture of the church age.
This Word Is Not Just For Smyrna, It’s For All Christians Today
And how do we know this promise is not only to the church of Smyrna, But also for persecuted Christians throughout the church age, around the world today? The answer is in the last verse,
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
He didn’t say church, but “churches;” plural. Churches throughout the church age. Because again, this is a common problem among the faithful in Christ…Persecution.
And notice, He not only says that to the church of Smyrna only, He has concluded His judgments to every church with this exact same statement, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;” in Rev. 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22
So again, these judgments and instructions are not just for these specific churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation only. These are for all churches; of every generation throughout the church age.
Because these are the common problems throughout. And Jesus Christ points them out to us, while He also gives us the solution to each and every common problem the church body will ever face before the rapture of the church age.
All we have to do is, identify the problem with what Jesus Christ has revealed in Revelation chapters 2-3; and do what He instructs. Otherwise, if we don’t, then the consequence of what He warns will follow and the fires of the Holy Spirit will be snuffed out in churches all throughout the world who did not heed and repent.
And many churches today have been lost because Jesus Christ’s judgment stands to the end of this church age, and many have not heeded these warnings of correction.
And the Lord is merely pointing out that He sees everything we are going through and what’s coming up ahead; and comforts all Christians with the reminder of the promise of eternal rewards that are ahead, if we would just repent and overcome.
Quickening our spirit with the word of truth, while showing us all, we can put our complete trust and faith in God Most High and in Jesus Christ also.
The Blessing of Overcoming
Revelation 2:11 He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
First of all, what does He mean by “overcometh.” Overcome what? The church of Smyrna was not in sin. In fact, there was nothing Jesus Christ had against this particular church of His. So, what does He mean?
All Christians have been tempted one way or another; at one time or two, to deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Especially in times of great persecution, and this instruction to overcome is following what He has revealed about what is going to happen.
Verse 10, 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
Jesus Christ is saying here, ‘He that overcomes fear and the temptation of denying Me as Lord and Savior, and staying faithful to Me unto death, shall not be cast into the Lake of Fire.’ Because remember the warning He taught about denying Him in,
Matthew 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven.
The root of denying Jesus Christ before men is simply fear. Fear of what people might think or say. Fear of persecution, fear of death. Kenneth Copeland once said, “Fear tolerated is Faith contaminated.” and that is absolutely true.
This is why He instructs, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:” You overcome fear, you’ll overcome much of what satan can throw at you, and you’ll stay faithful and dedicated to the Lord to the end of your life.
Believe it or not, a lot of Christians fall away because of fear, hurts, offence and even eventual unbelief. Any one of these things can cause you to miss out with God and salvation.
He means what He says here… He’s not messing around! If we deny Him before men, Jesus Christ will deny us before His Father. That means, if we die without Christ because we denied ever knowing Him out of fear, then we will be cast into the second death called the Lake of Fire! Bottom line (Revelation 20:14-15).
it is also written in warning, Revelation 21:8, But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
This is why He says what He says to all the churches all throughout the church age, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;