Presentation on theme: "The Seven Churches of Asia... SMYRNA Revelation 2:8-11 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who."— Presentation transcript:
The Seven Churches of Asia... SMYRNA Revelation 2:8-11 “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: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blas- phemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 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. 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.’” Smyrna, the Glory of Asia It Was a Great Trade City 1. Located on a deep gulf 35 miles north of Ephesus, with a magnificent harbor. 2. At the end of a road which served the valley of Hermus.
3. It had a specially rich trade in wines. It Was an Outstandingly Beautiful City 1. Built in the fourth century B.C., and was a very well-planned city. 2. Straight, spacious streets ran from one end of the city to the other. 3. At the sea end of “Golden Street” stood the temple of Cybele, and along the way were temples to Apollo, to Asklepios and the temple of Aphrodite. 4. At the other end of the street and on the mountain slope stood the temple of Zeus.
5. The Christians in Smyrna lived in a situation in which the splendors of heathen worship met their eyes on every side. 6. Smyrna had a famous stadium and library, and it claimed to have the largest public theater. 7. It claimed to be the birthplace of Homer, the Greek poet who wrote “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Smyrna Was Politically Important 1. Like Ephesus, it was a free city. 2. The intellectual pride of the people would cause them to look down on the poor Christians.
3. Smyrna had two characteristics that made life difficult for the Christians and in constant peril. a. It was a great center of Caesar worship. (1) Instituted to unify the Roman empire. (2) Accepted because of “Pax Romana.” (3) Once each year the citizens of Rome were compelled to burn a pinch of in- cense on the altar to Caesar, and, hav- ing done so, he was given a certificate to guarantee that he had performed his religious duty.
(4) All the citizen had to do was to burn a little bit of incense and say “Caesar is Lord,” and he could get his certificate. (5) Smyrna erected in 196 B.C. a temple to “Dea Roma,” the goddess of Rome. (6) In 26 B.C. it erected a temple for the worship of Tiberias, the Roman em- peror. b. There was a very large Jewish population in Symrna. (1) They would often inform the rulers against the Christians.
(2) These Jews were responsible for the martyrdom of Polycarp, who was burned at stake. (3) When asked to worship Caesar he said: “Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and he has never done me wrong, How can I blaspheme My King who saved me?” 4. The Christians in this city and these circum- stances were of such heroic proportion that Jesus could only bestow upon them unadulterated praise in His letter to them.
The Letter to the Church at Smyrna Verse Eight – “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:” 1. Letter was written by one who describes Him- self as the “First and the Last.” (see 1:17). a. Similar to “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End” (see 1:8). b. A statement of Jesus’ eternal nature, “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1).
2. The author also describes Himself as the One who “was dead, and came to life.” a. Even death could not take Jesus away from His disciples. b. These Christians faced death every day, but found assurance in the resurrection of Jesus that they, too, would be raised from the dead, 1 Cor. 15:22 – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” 3. There will never be a time when the followers of Jesus will be separated from His love, Rom. 8:38,39.
4. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: “I know not where His islands lift Their fronded palms in air; I only know I cannot drift Beyond His love and care.”
Verse Nine – “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich), and I know the blas- phemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” 1. Jesus knew their works, and yet He had only praise for them. 2. He knew their tribulation (from a Greek word which means “pressure”). a. The pressures of trying to live the Christian life in a society that was antagonistic toward Christianity.
b. “It is the sign of a real man that he can pass the breaking point without breaking,” G. K. Chesterton. c. God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.” And then Ezekiel answered, “And the Spirit entered into me, when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet” (Ezek. 2:1,2). d. In New Testament terms this is to say that Jesus Christ enables us to cope with life, to meet the pressures of life erect and on our feet..
3. Jesus was also aware of their poverty. a. It wasn’t that they were just poor; they were destitute. The word indicates they had nothing at all. (1) Which was true of many first century Christians. (2) But these Christians were living in a city of great wealth and luxury. b. But they were rich spiritually! (2 Cor. 8:9) 4. The Christians in Smyrna were always in danger of the blasphemy of the Jews.
a. In the same way the Jews stirred up the authorities against Paul in Corinth (see Acts 18:12-17), the Jews in Smyrna were slander- ing the Christians of their city to get them in trouble with the authorities of that city. b. Jesus referred to these Jews in Smyrna as “the synagogue of Satan.” Verse Ten – “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.”
1. Jesus was being honest with them; instead of offering them a life of ease and comfort, He offered them suffering, imprisonment and tribulations. a. They were not to be afraid of those who would harm them: Matt. 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” b. The example of Polycarp indicates they had great fear of God and very little of those who could just destroy their bodies.
2. Some of those Christians who were slander- ed by the “synagogue of Satan” would be imprisoned as a result. a. God allows us to be tested (as in the case of Job), but He is never the source of tempta- tion, Jas. 1:13 – “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Him- self tempt anyone.” b. Imprisonment would be a “test” of the Smyrna Christians, but any temptation would come from the devil.
c. Again, they would have “tribulation” ten days. (1) Same word as in v. 9 – “pressure.” (2) “Ten days” is a symbolic number indi- cating a short period of time. 3. Jesus promises these faithful Christians in Smyrna that He would give them “the crown of life” if they would be faithful until death. a. They were not to be faithful just until they happened to die a natural death; b. But even until and if they were to die as the result of their faithfulness.
a. They would be given, not the royal crown to be worn by a king (diadema), but the crown of victory (stephanos) given in the games. b. Rom. 8:36 – “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Verse Eleven – “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.”
1. All who have ears; that is, every individual has a responsibility for hearing and heeding what the Spirit reveals in this letter. 2. Those who remained faithful in spite of all the pressures and trials are promised another reward. a. They will not be hurt by the “second death.” b. Rev. 21:8 – “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
c. “The man who is faithful unto death dies to live, but the man who saves his life at the cost of principles and at the price of his loyalty to Christ lives to die” (Wm. Barclay). CONCLUSION Would Jesus write this kind of a letter to this congregation? 1. He knows our works; would He have only good things to say to us? 2. How faithful would we be when pressured by absolute destitution?
3. Would we yield to the pressures of persecu- tion motived by the slander of the enemies of Christ? 4. Would we be afraid of those who can kill our bodies or imprison us? 5. Would Jesus promise us the “crown of vic- tory”? 6. Do we take heed to what the Spirit says to these churches?