SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
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)
Our study of Jesus’ seven letters in Revelation truly began with the message to the church of Ephesus. Therein, Christ set the pattern for the six to follow: He gives a report to them of how they are doing as a church and then proceeds to give them commands to follow. The church of Ephesus was essentially a mixed bag. They were doing things right, but they lost the love behind their actions. Jesus, therefore, gave them a strong warning to repent or else they would cease to function as His church.
This week’s letter, addressed to Smyrna, is quite different than the Ephesian message. Only the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia receive no criticism from Jesus, only encouragement. Living in a city of strong devotion to the Roman Emperor, the Christians of Smyrna knew well what it meant to suffer for the name of Christ. The officials of the city were constantly against the Christians (who refused to worship Caesar as lord), and the Jews in Smyrna antagonized the Christian/government conflict in order to keep focus off of themselves.
Even though persecution was both regular and severe in Smyrna, Jesus encourages them to remain faithful until the end. By remaining faithful to Jesus even in death, the church of Smyrna would conquer and receive the crown of life. History lends further encouragement to this message because there is still a Christian presence in Smyrna (now called Izmir) to this day. The church in Smyrna is an excellent example of the gates of hell not prevailing against Jesus’ followers.
Read verses 8-9 and discuss the following.
- Jesus states that He knows the church’s poverty, but then He claims that they are rich. How can the God’s followers be rich even in the midst of material poverty? How does this message compare to the message to the church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22)?
Read verse 10 and discuss the following.
- The message continues with Jesus urging the Christians of Smyrna not to fear the suffering that they will encounter. As followers of Christ, how are we expected to stand firm in the midst of trials and suffering? What other passages of Scripture are encouragements in times of trouble?
- Jesus declares that the devil will put some of the Christians into prison and that the Jews of the city were acting as a synagogue of Satan. These clearly emphasize the underlining spiritual battles behind physical events. What does the Bible say about how Christians should engage in spiritual warfare?
Read verse 11 and discuss the following.
- The closing promise of this message is that the one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. What is the second death? What is the significance of this promise?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Though we may not relate much to Smyrna’s persecution presently, Christians around the world (Izmir, present-day Smyrna, included) are under near constant suffering for their faith in Jesus. Take time this week to pray specifically for these brothers and sisters around the world, that they would be faithful to Christ, even in death.