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Jesus’ Words to the Church at Smyrna

February 7, 2011

Ruins at Smyrna

If you have a red letter edition of the Bible all of Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are in red! Jesus’ words to the seven Churches of Asia Minor are also applicable to us today. We need to hear “what the Spirit  says to the Churches”

Last week we looked at the message to the Church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7). Tonight we will focus on the Church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11).

Smyrna was located on the shore of the Aegean Sea to the NW of Ephesus. It is said to be one of the spiritually darkest cities of Asia Minor. Cities had pagan gods and goddesses. Ephesus had Artemis[Greek] Diana [Roman], (Acts 19:28,34).The patron goddess of Smyrna was Cybele which represented one of the most grotesque forms of paganism.

Smyrna, known today as Izmir, is the chief city of Anatolia and one of the strongest cities in modern Turkey. The word Smyrna means “myrrh”.  One of the first bishops was  Polycarp a disciple of John, martyred around 156 AD at the age of 86. His testimony below:

And when the proconsul pressed him, and said, “Swear, and I will release thee, revile Christ; Polycarp said, Eighty and six years have I served him, and in nothing hath he wronged me; and how, then, can I blaspheme my King, who saved me?” Polycarp

The poverty experienced by the believers from Smyrna probably resulted from the fact that they were Christians. As such they would not sacrifice to the gods, participate in drunken orgies, or other immoral activities. Many of the trade guilds (similar to our unions) would not welcome or tolerate Christians as members or friends; this affected their earning capacity. A reference in Hebrews 10:34 may show us the way Christians were treated by unbelievers and how Christians are supposed to respond.

Jesus promises a crown of  life to the faithful at Smyrna. Below are other references to crowns in the NT.

5 crowns: incorruption 1 Cor. 9:25, rejoicing 1 Thess 2:19, righteousness 2 Tim 4:8, glory 1 Pet. 5:4, life/martyrs James 1:12, Rev 2:10

The Bible talks about physical and spiritual death. There is a saying that “if you are born only once you will die twice. But if you are born twice (born physically and born again spiritually) you will only die once! Below is a reference to the “second death”

Second death: Rev 2:10; 20:6, 14; 21:8 This spiritual death refers to dying in your sins (John 8:21,24). It is the result of not believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is also the lake of fire.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer

persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

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