BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Bible verses about Smyrna, Church of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 16:18

Upon establishing His church, Christ affirms that it would not die out, but continue until His return. This means a body of true believers has continued from Pentecost AD 31 until today. Revelation 2-3 is written in such a way that any Christian in any century could examine it and conclude he had some characteristics of each era, just as we can today.

As described in Revelation 2:1-7, the record of the Ephesian church closely resembles what happened to the apostolic church. Research done in the early days of the Worldwide Church of God also showed a close parallel between Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira and the sketchy history of true believers until the modern age. This information indicates a possible succession of eras.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Eras?


 

Matthew 25:23

Christ shows that if we are not faithful in trivial matters, we cannot expect to be faithful when confronted with weightier matters. God tests our faithfulness in our day-to-day activities, and it is in them that real Christianity emerges. The Laodicean attitude, one of indifference to the things God considers important, often reveals itself as faithlessness.

Christ's words to the church in Smyrna show that faithfulness does not guarantee a life free of persecution. In fact, the more faithful we are, the more at odds with the world we become.

Martin G. Collins
Faithfulness


 

Revelation 2:7

The sense is that these messages for each church—for all Christians. This means that the attitudes and conduct described dominate the group accused or complimented by Christ, but they also exist in the other groups as well. Otherwise, the advice to whoever hears would not apply.

In other words, the Ephesian attitude might also be in Smyrna, Pergamos, Laodicea, Philadelphia, etc., but it dominated the church in Ephesus. The attitude that dominated in Smyrna would also describe, though with less accuracy, one or more of the other groups. The same would be true of Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

All the messages apply to all of the churches. All the messages apply to each of us as individuals, and it is a matter of "if the shoes fits, wear it." That is God's approach here. We are to live by every word of God. It is only under this principle that we can apply these messages.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 2:8-11

This letter to Smyrna is unique in that it contains no criticism or rebuke. The one to Philadelphia runs a close second in this regard: It contains more praise, but also a slightly negative aspect when Jesus says that they have but a little strength (Revelation 3:7-13). Smyrna's letter contains neither as much praise on the one hand, nor the slightly negative observation on the other.

The letter is also unique in its length, containing just four verses. (In contrast, the letter to Thyatira spans twelve verses.) It is so brief that it almost appears abrupt. Jesus gives neither a lengthy admonition to repent, nor much praise. To use a military metaphor, it resembles a commander's final instructions to his company of Special Forces. They are already focused and disciplined, aware of what is expected of them, wholeheartedly committed to their duty, and willing to go to their deaths for their cause, if need be. Unlike new recruits or infantry misfits who continually have to be reminded of the basics, these are seasoned veterans. This letter is from the Captain of their salvation to a unit that knows its marching orders and has been following them faithfully. Little needs to be added.

The letter to Smyrna also has death as a recurring theme. Death is directly mentioned three times in these four verses, and the name Smyrna contains a probable fourth reference as well. Jesus Christ refers to His own death, points to their death as a finish line, and also mentions the second death. While He is not warning that their deaths are imminent, these references combine to produce a sober message.

Smyrna means "myrrh," a highly valued spice. Many of its uses in Scripture fit with what we know of the church at Smyrna. For example, myrrh was a primary ingredient in the holy anointing oil that God commanded Moses to make (Exodus 30:22-33), which was used to consecrate the Tabernacle, the Ark, two of the altars, all of the utensils, as well as Aaron and his sons. In Smyrna, we likewise see a people who are set apart and consecrated, whose lives are dedicated in service to God despite the cost.

A second use is found in the book of Esther, where the eligible maidens were prepared for twelve months before they were sent to meet the king (Esther 2:12-13). For the first six months of their preparation, they were purified with the oil of myrrh. Looking at this spiritually, myrrh could represent purification before being able to meet the King of kings, Jesus Christ. From what we read of Smyrna, this also parallels their situation.

A third use of myrrh helps to understand why it is linked with death. In Mark's account of the crucifixion, Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh (Mark 15:23). Easton's Bible Dictionary points out that the Jews commonly did this for prisoners because it would render them insensible during their torture. The myrrh used in this concoction is thought to be a species that had many of the characteristics of opium. Here, then, myrrh was a drug given to dull the senses of those who were condemned to death—and Jesus rejected it. Considering Christ's letter to Smyrna in this light, we see a people who may not all actually be condemned to death, but who are still admonished to be faithful until death. Christ set the example of this, rejecting the option of compromise that would have eased His sacrifice.

A fourth use of myrrh also refers to death, as myrrh is a spice used for embalming bodies. More specifically, Nicodemus used it to prepare Christ's body for burial (John 19:39). For this reason, myrrh is often associated with bitter circumstances. Realizing what the people of Smyrna were going through, it is fitting that their name would mean myrrh.

After addressing His letter to the "church of myrrh," Jesus draws attention to the fact that He was dead but "came to life" (Revelation 2:8). In doing this, He encourages them by highlighting His own experience. To this church of bitter circumstances, He says, in essence, "I was martyred too, just as some of you will be. But I was resurrected, and now live eternally." He reminds them that He has overcome death, and that it is not the end (I Corinthians 15:50-57).

David C. Grabbe
Smyrna: Faithful Until Death


 

Revelation 2:9-11

Smyrna is the only one of the seven to receive no criticism whatsoever from Christ! Philadelphia does not receive harsh criticism, but Christ says it has "a little [spiritual] strength," while He mentions nothing at all negative about Smyrna.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Smyrna


 

Revelation 2:9-11

Apparently, a certain number of people today fit the Smyrnan category: They have no major flaws worth mentioning. They are not self-righteous, for that would be pointed out as a major flaw, as said of Laodicea. The Laodicean church is wealthy in physical goods and assumes spiritual wealth, but this is a false self-assessment. Smyrna is apparently of little material wealth, but rich spiritually, as Christ attests (Revelation 2:9).

However, Christ commands those of Smyrna to overcome just like the others if they will be in the Kingdom of God. No one is without sin (Romans 3:23), so Smyrna must grow in faith, love, and obedience like the rest. Some in Smyrna will be tried in tribulation and persecution—jailed and tried to the point of death. Some of them may even die as martyrs! As Christ says, He will prune even a good branch that it might bear more fruit (John 15:2).

Staff
The Seven Churches: Smyrna


 

Revelation 2:9-10

Both Smyrna and Philadelphia are beset by those who claim to be Christian but are not. Because Smyrnans are more truly righteous than some others in the end-time church, Satan hates them and brings heavy religious persecution on them (II Timothy 3:12). They may be some of those in Daniel 11:32-35 who show strength in the face of such persecution and "carry out great exploits."

Staff
The Seven Churches: Smyrna


 

Revelation 2:9

Who are these people who say they are Jews, but are not? Jesus also refers to them in His letter to Philadelphia (Revelation 3:9). Remember, these letters are written to the church of God. In His eyes, when there is true faith in Jesus Christ, there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Paul mentions this repeatedly in his epistles (Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). "Those who say they are Jews" does not refer to physical descent, as there is no spiritual benefit in being of one race or ethnicity. A church member has no spiritual reason to claim—truly or falsely—to be a physical Jew.

The key to this puzzle is found in Romans 2:28-29:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Applying this to the letters in Revelation, some claim to have a circumcised heart, but they really belong to Satan's assembly. The same situation appears in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The wheat and the tares look identical until fruit is produced. At that point, it becomes apparent which is genuine wheat and which is not. Thus, Jesus teaches that we will know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:16-20). Recall also that the workers in the parable are commanded to leave the tares in with the wheat. We see this in Revelation—people with circumcised hearts being troubled by those without them.

In Romans 2:29, Paul provides a trait of those who are converted, and by implication, those who are not. Those with circumcised hearts will have their praise from God. By contrast, those with uncircumcised hearts will seek the praise of men, and what God thinks is an afterthought (see John 12:43). The unconverted are more concerned with the appearance of righteousness before other men than they are with true righteousness before God.

The Pharisees are a good example of this. They made sure that people knew when they were fasting, the frequency and amount of their offerings, and all of their good deeds. They were quite concerned about prestige, honor before men, and the social pecking order. Much of their reasoning process revolved around how things would look or what other people would think. Obviously, these thoughts are not inherently wrong and are often good things to ponder. However, they become wrong when appearance rises higher in priority than righteousness and truthfulness—when it becomes a façade or a pretense.

The members of the Smyrna church, though, are facing persecution because they are more focused on what God thinks than what man thinks. If they sought praise from men—if they wanted to please the people around them—they would not be so readily targeted for persecution. Their beliefs, however, are solid convictions rather than mere preferences, and because carnal man despises the things of God (Romans 8:7), carnal men within—and without—the fellowship persecute them. These pseudo-Jews, as it were, seeking the praise of men rather than God, are verbally cutting down the converted members. Jesus says that He is aware of it—He sees what His people suffer—and He will make it right in His own time.

David C. Grabbe
Smyrna: Faithful Until Death


 

Revelation 2:9

Jesus declares, "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)." This contrasts directly with the church at Laodicea, which has worldly riches yet is spiritually poor (Revelation 3:17), while those at Smyrna are materially poor yet spiritually rich. God counsels the Laodiceans to buy gold that had been tried in fire, meaning to seek the true riches that come by accepting God's tempering and by rejecting compromise.

However, Christ points out that the Smyrnans are already enduring tribulation—already experiencing pressure, which is what the underlying Greek word literally means. They suffer affliction, anguish, persecution, and trouble. They are already buying the gold, tried in the fire of persecution. Because of their fidelity, they do not take the easy way out when it would mean being unfaithful to God.

Jesus then remarks that He knows "the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." The Greek word for "blasphemy" is primarily used in reference to blasphemy against God, but it can also be used with regard to blasphemy against men. In Matthew 15:19, Ephesians 4:31, and I Timothy 6:4, it means slander, abusive language, or evil speaking—what the King James calls "railing."

David C. Grabbe
Smyrna: Faithful Until Death


 

Revelation 2:10

Daniel and his companions ate vegetables for ten literal days (Daniel 1:12-14), so maybe this persecution will last ten days as well. On the other hand, God sometimes uses a day to represent a year (Numbers 14:34), so maybe Smyrna will face ten years of persecution. Daniel 11:32-35 indicates "many days," "some days" (The Emphasized Bible), or "for some time" (The New American Bible). The commentaries say it could be metaphorical, meaning "a short while." In such a case, we should hope for the best and prepare for the worst! Jesus says those who are His will suffer persecution, but we should not fear, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He will see us through it.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Smyrna


 

Revelation 2:10

First, He encourages, "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer." He does not say He will take away the suffering, tacitly acknowledging that they will suffer. He is admonishing them to reorient their focus so that they fear Him rather than their circumstances. Revelation 21:8 says that the fearful and the unbelieving will go into the Lake of Fire, and this happens because they fear the wrong things. Thus, they have no part with God.

In many ways, what Revelation 2:10 describes is entirely foreign to us, yet many passages warn us that God's people will face tribulation. Peter writes, "Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (I Peter 4:12). We are so unaccustomed to persecution that we do indeed think it strange, but Paul tells Timothy, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12).

Jesus warns us that we will be hated by all for His name's sake (Matthew 10:22), even delivered up to tribulation and death (Matthew 24:9). He prophesies that the time will come when whoever kills God's people will think he does God a service (John 16:2). John 16:33 is both cautionary and encouraging: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

In Revelation 2:10, Jesus says that the Devil is about to throw some of them into prison to test them. A test perpetrated by Satan may not make much sense to men. It may not be over anything as dramatic as keeping the Sabbath or holy days or refusing the Mark of the Beast. It could simply be that, because the society has become so litigious and the civil law so overbearing, these saints become entangled without actually having done anything wrong. Nevertheless, as a test of their faith, God will allow Satan to jail them, for whatever reason—legitimate or not. God does this so that He and they know where their convictions stand—to see if they will compromise to ease their captivity, to see if they will remain faithful to God and His truth, and to see if they will trust Him even in tough times. It is during tumultuous times like the present that a person's character is revealed.

However, God is also merciful, telling Smyrna that its tribulation will be of limited duration. The church there can expect persecution and tribulation, but God has set limits on it, just as He did for Job (Job 2:6). He will not allow His saints to be tempted—proved, tried—beyond what they can bear (I Corinthians 10:13).

"Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life," He says to conclude Revelation 2:10. Because this follows right on the heels of the Devil throwing some of them into prison, it almost sounds as if they will be in prison for ten days and then die, but it need not mean this at all. His exhortation to be faithful until death is universal, not just applicable for those thrown into prison. Whether we, like the apostle John, are allowed to die a natural death at an advanced age or, like Stephen, suffer martyrdom shortly after conversion, the command is the same: We must be faithful to our last breath. We cannot rest on the fact that we were faithful last year or last decade. Our faithfulness should be strong right to the finish line.

If we maintain our faithfulness, Christ gives us a crown of life. He similarly admonishes the church at Philadelphia to "hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11). Paul calls it an "imperishable crown" (I Corinthians 9:25) and a "crown of righteousness" given "to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return)" (II Timothy 4:8, Amplified Bible). James adds, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12, English Standard Version).

David C. Grabbe
Smyrna: Faithful Until Death


 

 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 140,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   
Leave this field empty

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2019 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.
Share this on FacebookEmailPrinter version
Close
E-mail This Page