Lessons from Revelation: The church at Smyrna

After Ephesus, Jesus addresses the church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:9-10:

9’I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  10’Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

The church in Smyrna was a church undergoing some persecution, even as Jesus spoke to John.  But His message to Smyrna is not a comforting one:  there’s more tribulation coming.

But Jesus also mentions that the church in Smyrna might be poor (by worldly standards), it was really rich because of their faith.  In James 1:2-4, James tells us

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

It seems like the church in Smyrna had already gone through these sorts of trials and tribulations, and come out on the other end with a purer, stronger faith.  And Jesus tells them that there’s yet another crucible through which they will be tested.  His ultimate message, though, is to keep the faith!

In Romans 8:18, Paul tells us

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, he says it a slightly different way:

17 For momentary , light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Life is hard.  Human existence is marked by its ups and downs, and Jesus tells us that, as his servants, the world is going to persecute us (John 15:20).  But Jesus message to the church in Smyrna is just as true today as it was then:  Keep the faith!  Be faithful unto death, and we will receive a crown of life.

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