Church of Smyrna

The church of Smyrna represents the persecuted church.  These precious believers were under severe persecution from the Jews as they were led by Satan.  We see from these verses in the book of Revelation that persecution arises from the devil’s hatred of God and His children.

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, tribulations, 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.”’” Revelation 2:8-11

God’s Word reveals to us that His children have always suffered persecution and been put to death for their faith.  Jesus revealed this to us in the twenty-third chapter of the book of Matthew.

32 “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.  33 Serpents, brood of vipers!  How can you escape the condemnation of hell?  34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes:  some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.  37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  38 See!  Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes I the name of the Lord!’”  Matthew 23:32-39

Jesus Christ, God the Son of God, was persecuted and killed because He reproved these sinners who always rejected God’s offer of forgiveness and reconciliation because they wanted to “serve God” on their own terms based upon teachings of men handed down by traditions, and thus they rejected the true knowledge of God and service rendered to Him through rejecting the revelation of God given in His Holy Scriptures.  The same has been true from the start of the church and down through the ages.

After the Jews murdered Stephen there arose a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem and the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  At this time a Pharisee by the name of Saul arose to persecute believers, dragging both men and women into prison. (Acts 7:60-8:3).  Saul, not satisfied with this sought letters from the high priest so he could bring believers from Damascus and have them thrown into jail in Jerusalem.  While He was journeying to Damascus, the Lord Jesus Christ met Saul on his voyage and confronted the evil he was doing (Acts 9:1-4).

5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”  Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”  6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  Acts 9:5-6 

From these verses, we can clearly see that persecution of Christ’s children is persecution of Himself.  Even though Jesus Christ was killed by the Jews, it was all part of God’s plan of salvation, and He didn’t stay in the grave but rose from the dead.

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words:  Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know—23 Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”  Acts 2:22-24

Saul confronted with the living and risen Christ, immediately repented of his sins and asked Christ what it was He wanted him to do, and then he did it; and so the persecutor became a born again believer in Jesus Christ.  Saul was named Paul and also suffered persecution for following Jesus Christ.  Believers in Jesus Christ, those who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Him, being born again by the Holy Spirit, that suffer persecution and death at the hands of those who hate them have the Word of Christ that they will live.  His promise to the believers in the church at Smyrna is His promise to all of His children who suffer persecution.  If God’s children suffer death for their confession of Christ, they must know and be comforted by the fact that Jesus Christ also suffered death because of His commendation of the truth.  Just as Christ arose from the dead, so will all genuine believers in Christ.  Death isn’t the end; it is the translation from this world to the home of God, Heaven.

54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look!  I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”  And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  Acts 7:54-60

Stephen followed the example of our Lord and Savior when He died upon the cross, when He committed His Spirit to God, and prayed to His Father to forgive those who persecuted and murdered Him.

34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”….46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.  Luke 23:34, 46

Jesus calls His children to be faithful and true to Him, even to death.  Because He rose again from the dead, they will too because He will give them the crown of life, and they will not be subject to the second death, which is eternal punishment in the lake of fire.  We must fear God rather than man and stay faithful even to death, because death is not the end but the beginning.  May God bless us with sincere faith, that is faithful even to death, and courage to live and die as Christ did, following His example and the example of His saints through the ages.

51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears!  You always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you.  52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”  Acts 7:51-53 

27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  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.  29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.  32 Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.  34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:27-39

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7 Responses to Church of Smyrna

  1. tjustincomer says:

    So, your main objective was simply to say that the Jews killed Jesus so we should hate the Jews? Did you know that Stephen spoke of the church that came out of Egypt and stood before God at Sinai (Acts 7:38)? Did you know that the Greek word for “Jew” a generic term? It could mean the Pharisees, it could mean all of the Jewish people, or it could simply refer to those dwelling in Jerusalem. How do you interpret Jesus’ words where He Himself says, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down on my own accord”? How do you interpret all of the persecution that comes from Muslims, Hollywood, or the atheistic community? Are they all Jews?
    Your post seems too vague and general to have much any truth in it.

    Like

    • Eliza says:

      Hello,
      Well, no, that wasn’t my intent. Did you know that Jesus, Paul and Stephen were all Jews, as were the apostles? I quoted Scripture for the encouragement of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution and death at this time. Those who belong to God the Father through repentant faith in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution by those, whoever they are, and whatever mindset they have, who are led by Satan to attack God’s children. Yes, that is somewhat generic, but it is also true as disclosed to us by God through His Word the Bible.

      3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne…9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:3-5, 9-11

      At the time that Jesus, Stephen and others were persecuted and murdered, they ones driving the persecution were the Jews. Persecution is coming from different quarters today, by the Muslims, atheists, and liberals. Regardless of its origin, humanly speaking, we must be faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knowing that He has overcome death and so we will too, even if murdered for our faith. God bless us.

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    • tjustincomer,
      I didn’t think that this article was anti-Jewish. I found it to be very encouraging as the time of persecution even to death comes across the body of believers. You know, we are all in this together? Jew and Gentile, all believers. We are both hated by satan and this world…Galations 3:27 – 29 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Eliza says:

    Yes, through repentant faith in Christ we are all one, as we are united into His body. Praise, God the Jews are still His chosen people, and will repent and put their faith in Christ when He returns. Our God is so amazingly gracious and loving. Praise Him for His great mercy. God bless us.

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  3. gracealone1 says:

    tjustin,
    Never was it said or even hinted at that our mindset should be to hate Jews. Never. How you came to that conclusion is known only to you. It is always encouraging to read of our Savior’s trials, persecutions, and death at the hands of those who claimed to serve His Father, but were just like their own fathers that killed the prophets sent to them by God warning them of the consequences of their sins. Things are no different today. The unsaved Jew still hates the Lord Jesus Christ and takes every opportunity to curse, blaspheme, and insult Him (and those who love Him). Acts 2:23 as quoted above tells us that Jesus suffered His death because of the “determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.” It was no accident, it wasn’t that things got ‘out of control’ and man had his way with Jesus despite the supposed wishes of His Father to the contrary. The Father never lost control of the situation because everything went according to His plan, that is why Jesus said that He laid down His life and no one took it from Him.

    There are many verses that give encouragement to the persecuted believer such as heb.12:3&4; 1Peter 1:6; and 2Tim. 3:12. May the Comforter comfort the hearts and minds of those who suffer for His sake.

    Liked by 1 person

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