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.”’ Revelation 2:8-11
This second letter is to the local church that meets in Smyrna. The city of Smyrna was located 40 miles north of Ephesus. Polycarp who was a well known disciple of the apostle John was located in Smyrna and would be martyred in 155 AD.
Jesus is the first and the last, who was dead and came to life. In each of the seven messages the Lord introduces Himself and in this message the Lord refers to Himself as the first and the last. Everything begins with God and He is the one who brings all things to an end. We know that Jesus went to the cross and died upon the cross, but He overcame the grace and rose from the dead.
The believers in Smyrna were severely persecuted and the Lord high lights the persecution and the suffering they are facing. But through it all the Lord calls them rich. In this world we have it backwards. We think if we are loaded with material goods that we are rich. But the richness that the Lord speaks of is richness in His kingdom. For those who suffer upon this earth will be greatly rewarded in God’s kingdom. We must always remember that this world is not our home. We are here for a very short period of time.
There are those who were persecuting the believers in Smyrna who claimed to be Jews, but the Lord referred to them as a Synagogue of Satan because their actions were empowered by the demonic. Their persecution was authored by Satan and they were deceived by Satan believing they were doing the work of God by persecuting the believers in Smyrna.
The Lord told the believers not to fear the persecution they were about to face. They would be thrown in prison and their faith would be tested for a short time. Those who endured until the end were promised a crown of life. Believers today are being martyred on a daily basis because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They suffer greatly in this world, but in God’s kingdom they shall receive a great reward. For all those who endure until the end shall receive the crown of life and will rule and reign with the Lord for all eternity.
Again the Lord speaks of having ears to hear and speaks of having spiritual understanding of the message being given hear. For this message not only stood for the church in Smyrna, but for every church and believer who suffers persecution there is great comfort in this message. For those who endure until the end will not face the second death. The second death is the lake of fire where all those who rejected Jesus Christ will spend all eternity. May we endure until the end and keep our eyes and hearts fixed upon Jesus Christ.