The Church at Smyrna
Some of the following text was paraphrased from Revelation: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament by Grant R Osborne, Baker Publishing Group, 11/01/2002. Liberty was taken to copy, paraphrase, and reformat the information to make points and present the information in an understandable manner.
It is natural that this church should be addressed next. This city lay only forty miles to the north of Ephesus and was second only to Ephesus in position and importance.
Because of the charm of its location and the attractiveness of its appearance it was known as "The Beauty of Asia."
It was wealthy, prosperous, dissolute (degenerate, immoral, depraved) and famed as a center of emperor worship.
Its large number of Jews were bitter opponents of Christianity. This church was known as the "suffering church"; so to this church (the martyr church) comes a word of cheer from the Lord who has triumphed over death and the grave.
Their "tribulation" was severe and probably produced their "poverty," open assault being united with a spoiling of their goods, with vilification (criticism, back biting, defamation) and slander.
This form of "blasphemy" is attributed to Jews who were such in name only. In reality they were a group which was the instrument of Satan.
Worse trials were to come. "The devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days."
Tribulation will deepen into martyrdom.
Revelation 2:8-11 (New King James Version)
The Persecuted Church
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’
What is the encouragement to them and to all believers because of their loyalty to Christ:
- Christ knows their works and is a sympathetic Savior.
- Their poverty is not real in that it is temporal. The real is that they possess the true riches.
- Special treasures which are true riches, never to be taken away.
- The comfort of knowing that the divine estimate reverses false claims of men.
- The real people of God are not those who are Jews by birth or by name (in the natural) but rather is the church who is the true heir of the promises (the super-natural).
- Israelites who blaspheme the name of Christ are mere emissaries (agents) of Satan.
- There is a set definite limit (ten days).
- Some who certainly faced death as martyrs have the assurance of the risen Christ, who himself has conquered death.
- That crown of royalty or that garland of victory will consist of life eternal, life celestial, life immortal, in fellowship with the living Christ.
Poverty: (Gk ptocheria) means "having nothing at all”. They were economically destitute, yet Jesus said they were spiritually rich.
The following is paraphrased from From Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible on Revelation 2, vs 9 (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/revelation/2.html) Liberty was taken to copy, paraphrase, and reformat the information to make points and present the information in an understandable manner.
Synagogue of Satan:
1. As Christ has a church in the world, the spiritual Israel of God, so the devil has his synagogue:
- those assemblies which are set up in opposition to the truths of the gospel, and which promote and propagate damnable errors.
- those which are set up in opposition to the purity and spirituality of gospel worship, and which promote and propagate the vain inventions of men and rites and ceremonies which never entered into the thoughts of God.
2. These are all [characteristics of] synagogues of Satan:
- He presides over them.
- He works in them.
- His interests are served by them.
- He receives a horrid homage and honor from them.
3. For the synagogues of Satan to give themselves out to be the church or Israel of God is no less than blasphemy.
- God is greatly dishonored when his name is made use of to promote and patronize the interests of Satan.
- God has a high resentment of this blasphemy, and will take a just revenge on those who persist in it.
SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN/SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST
This is a lying spirit sent forth from Satan to infiltrate the Church and give birth to the Harlot.
- It will rise in those who promote a life independent of Christ.
- The spirit that is anti-Christ will also promote doctrines of men:
- It promotes the belief that Christians do not need anyone else to advance spiritually and they should be responsible for dictating what is right for them.
In other words they can have it their own way; they can sit on the throne and guide their own lives. They can be as God!
These are worldly Christians (like Nicolaitans) who worship this world while claiming to be Christians.
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