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 Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 21) (verses 8 – 10)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 21) (verses 8 – 10)   Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:15 pm

Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 21) (verses 8 – 10)

Now that we've covered the Overcomer statements, we can continue where we left off. We are now at the Church of Smyrna in Revelation chapter 2. Remember, the 7 churches mentioned in these early chapters are 7 literal churches of John’s day, but in Jesus’ praise or rebuke of each church, he prophetically tells the future of the Church. Each church represents a particular period in church history. All 7 churches are in order as they will happen in church history. The first church, the church of Ephesus, represents the Apostolic age. It represents the time that the New Testament was penned. Because of this, the best information we have to discuss that period is the New Testament itself. We now come to the church of Smyrna, which represents AD 100 – 300 approximately. Since this is during the post New Testament age, we have to turn to what history tells us and see that this passage is indeed an accurate prophesy.

Revelation 2:8 reads, “To the angel of the church of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.” Verse 9: “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but a synagogue of Satan.”

This Church of Smyrna represents the persecuted church, or the suffering church. This is one of the few of the 7 churches that Jesus does not give a word of condemnation. The city of Smyrna would be located today in Izmir, located in Turkey. The word “Smyrna” is an interesting word. It is the Greek word for myrrh, which is a burial material that was even used with the burial of Jesus. Myrrh was the chief export from this city. It was an aesthetically beautiful Asian city. The time period this church represents covers the time of Polycarp, who was John’s student and he pastored in AD 156. He was a bishop in Smyrna and was martyred in this city. How bad was Christian persecution during this time? Christians were thrown into lion dens, placed in torturing racks, and put on fire or killed at the stake. The Emperors during this time sought to be worshiped as a god and did not like Christians. We see in verse 9, Jesus says I know your afflictions and your poverty. Christians lived in abject poverty in an affluent society during this age. The Greek word used for “I know” means to know by experience. Jesus could personally relate to the sufferings of this church, and this church could personally relate to the persecutions of Jesus. Verse 8 mentioned that Jesus is the First and the Last. This church of Smyrna perhaps can best relate of all the churches to Revelation 1:7-8, which reads:

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be, Amen. “’I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, “Who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

We can thank God for Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin.”

Revelation 2:9 says that this church is in abject poverty, and yet they are rich. That is not how our society views poverty. There is a richness that one can have even in base poverty. One can be heavenly rich, and earthly poor. This verse is the exact opposite of Revelation 3:17 where, of the Laodicean church Jesus says, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” Jesus says of the materially poor people that they are rich because they set their hearts to Jesus. But he said of the materially rich people that they are poor because their hearts and minds have been set on wealth and Jesus takes second place. This Laodicean age represents us today in this age. We, for the most part, have our minds set on wealth and have given God a back seat. This doctrine is even in our pulpits: to seek God for wealth and do not worry too much about serving him. If we were more like Jesus we would not have our minds set on money as we do today. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Before Jesus came to Earth he sat enthroned over all things and owned it all. He temporarily gave that up when he came down to Earth so that we can become, not materially rich, but spiritually rich, which surpasses earthly riches because these riches do not rot or rust and we have them for an eternity. We need to be like Paul, who said in 2 Corinthians 6:10 that he was poor, yet made many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. Today we regard the poor as unblessed, and wealth as the gauge of being blessed.

Jesus points out the false church of Smyrna’s age. He calls it a “synagogue of Satan”—literally a demonic church. The religious order of the Jews of the day taught that the Christians were the enemy the enemy of God. He says that this particular slander comes from people who say they are Jews and are not really Jews. Perhaps this applies to Romans 2:28-29, where Paul says, “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly...” Don’t forget that these passages of Jesus speaking to these churches have a double meaning. Jesus is talking to the church of Smyrna that was standing in John’s day. We have not yet come to the key prophetic verse that applies this church of Smyrna to the period of AD 100 – 300, which is the period of high Christian persecution. That is within the next verse...

Verse 10 reads, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer, I tell you; the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.” Jesus says to Smyrna, this church of myrrh, that they will soon be suffering for 10 days. He already said up to this part, “I know your afflictions” and “I know your slander from those who say they are Jews.” But here Jesus projects into their future. He says, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer...the devil will put some of you in prison...and you will suffer persecution for 10 days.” Persecution for 10 days? What could that possibly mean? Whatever it means, it has something to do with the future of this church, which represents the entire Christian church during the particular age it is referring to. Don’t worry...I’ll tell you what it means. One thing “10 days” represents is brevity. He says you will suffer only 10 days. Keep in mind though, that this “10 days” really represents AD 100 – AD 300, which is 2 centuries. (Stay with me here.) You might say that is not brief!!! Compared to eternity, 2 centuries is very brief. This number 10 is very significant. It represents the time of greatest Christian church persecution. All together there were 10 Christian persecutions under 10 different rulers from Nero, ending with Emperor Diocletian, who is the tenth. Emperor Constantine follows Diocletian and he ended Christian persecution. Also, there were 10 years of persecution under Diocletian himself. And after Diocletian, ironically, it would be 10 more years until the last Roman Emperor’s reign would end. So Jesus, in a roundabout way, prophesies how long the Church would suffer persecution by predicting how many rulers would persecute them, and even the last and worst ruler would persecute them for 10 years. That’s not coincidence; that’s prophesy folks.

So Jesus says in the last clause of 2:10, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. We will study the many different crowns promised to faithful believers later on. But the particular Greek word for crown here that is used here is not the royal diadem crown that kings wear, but rather refers to the garland or wreath that was given to the winner in athletic contests. 1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Final note: this interpretation of the 10 days is very much in line as to how prophetic scripture is interpreted in the bible. Compare with the book of Daniel, where the interpretations are often given to us from an angel of God. Those are interpreted as the animals in Daniel’s prophesies representing successive rulers. In this passage from Jesus, the “Days” represent the successive rulers.

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Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 21) (verses 8 – 10)
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