Today our scripture comes from Revelation Chapter 2 vs. 8-11 as John writes the letter to the 2nd church – the church in Smyrna. (Note: Whenever you see red-lettering in the bible, that’s when Jesus was speaking.)
“Write this letter to the messenger of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
I know about your suffering and your poverty – but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say the are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.”
The city of Smyrna was about 25 miles north of Ephesus. It was nicknamed the “Port of Asia” because it had an excellent harbor on the Aegean Sea. The church in this city struggled against two hostile forces: (1) A Jewish population strongly opposed to Christianity and (2) the non-Jewish population that was loyal to Rome and supported emperor worship. Persecution and suffering were inevitable in this environment.
Persecution comes from Satan, not from God. Satan, the devil, will cause believers to be thrown into prison and even killed. But believers need not fear death, because it will only result in their receiving the crown of life. Satan may harm a believers earthly body, but he can do the spirit no harm.
That “their synagogue belonged to Satan” means that these Jews were serving Satan’s purposes – not God’s when they gathered to worship. “Ten Days” means that although persecution would be intense, it would be relatively short. It would have a definite beginning and end, and God would remain in complete control.
Pain is a part of life, but it is never easy to suffer, no matter what the cause. Jesus commended the church at Smyrna for its faith in suffering. He then encouraged believers that they need not fear the future if they remained faithful. If you are experiencing difficult times, don’t let them turn you away from God. Instead, let them draw you toward greater faithfulness. Trust God and remember your heavenly reward.
Jesus never says that by being faithful to him we will avoid troubles, suffering, and persecution. Rather we must be faithful to him in our sufferings. Only then will our faith prove to be genuine. We remain faithful by keeping our eyes on Christ and his promises for the future for all who call on his name.
Stand firm sweet friends – keep seeking Jesus – and one day you will receive the crown of life.
**Majority of commentary is from the Life Application Study Bible NIV