Letter to Smyrna [SMUR nuh]
This is a Bible Study. Have your own Bible handy to look up the references mentioned.
If you do not have a Bible, I invite you to go to BibleGateway.com or another online Bible.
Smyrna was on the Aegean Sea ( Map A )*. It was about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus. Rebuilt after an earthquake in 178 A.D., the city is known today as Izmir in Turkey.
Easley tells us that “Jesus created a letter-writing formula:”
1. Characteristic of the sender
2. Compliment to the recipients
3. Criticism against the recipients
4. Command to the recipients
5. Commitment to all who overcome. (Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 33)
8 Each church as an angel – the pastor or other spiritual leader. (Easley, 54)
Characteristic (Easley, 36)
Acts 19:10 tells us that Paul’s preaching reached all who lived in the region “heard the word of the Lord”.
The citizens of Smyrna worshipped the emperors of Rome.
Smyrna is described as the “martyr church.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 904)
You might want to search Smyrna and Izmir on Wikipedia to learn more.
The letter to the Christians in Smyrna was the shortest of the seven churches.
The first and the last
This identifies the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember that Jesus is dictating to John what to write.
This is an Old Testament quote from Isaiah 44:6 for God. Jesus is our first and last.
Which was dead, and is alive
Christ arose. He can save those enduring persecution and are being martyred. (McGee, 905) See 1 Peter 3:18
Smyrna was Rich
Compliment (Easley, 36)
9 I know thy works
Tribulation This is NOT the Great Tribulation but here maybe it is great trouble! (McGee, 905)
Poverty They are struggling to meet basic needs (not wants).
Thou art rich Spiritually rich
I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not
These were Jews who hated and rejected Jesus.
Could we add “Christians” here?
But are the synagogue of Satan.
Their actions proved where their hearts were.
Do Not Fear
Command (Easley, 36)
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:
Only Smyrna and Philadelphia did not receive criticism.
Even without criticism I would hate to hear these words.
Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna. (you might want to search Polycarp on the internet)
Jesus is telling us (today too) not to fear.
He wants us to have peace when there is tribulation (John 16:33).
Psalm 56:11 tells us not to be afraid.
The devil shall cast cast some of you into prison
Did you notice that it is the devil who will put some into prison?
Maybe the devil is causing you problems.
That ye may be tried;
Why does Jesus test Christians?
For us to grow in Him.
Satan is trying to destroy a Christian’s saving faith.
Remember what satan did to Job.
God was with Job.
But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. 10 So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Amplified Bible (AMP)
You shall have tribulation ten days:
There were ten intense periods of persecution by ten Roman emperors (these dates are approximate):
1. Nero—64—68 (Paul was beheaded under his reign)
2. Domitian—95—96 (John was exiled during that period)
3. Trajan—104—117 (Ignatius was burned at the stake)
4. Marcus Aurelius—161—180 Polycarp was martyred)
10. Diocletian—303—313 (the worst emperor of all). (McGee, 906)
Macarthur says, “there is no exegetical reason to interpret them as anything other than 10 actual days. Satan’s major assault on that local church would to intense, but brief. ” ( MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999], 78)
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life
Simple, remain faithful until death and receive the victor’s crown and not the king’s crown or eternal life.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12
Listen to the Spirit
Commitment (Easley, 37)
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches;
Do you ever hear but not really listen to someone speaking? (spouse, child)
Here the verse is saying to listen and to act.
It is important to listen to what the Spirit says unto the churches and to each of us (you and me).
Be someone overcometh and not pass into the second death which is eternal damnation in hell.
Then death and Hades [the realm of the dead] were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire [the eternal separation from God]. Revelation 20:14 Amplified Bible (AMP)
But as for that seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word with a good and noble heart, and hold on to it tightly, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Be faithful like Smyrna and listen and hear the word.
Therefore, the one who confesses and acknowledges Me before men [as Lord and Savior, affirming a state of oneness with Me], that one I will also confess and acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32 Amplified Bible (AMP)
( Chart A ) is a Summary of the Churches in Revelation 2
( Chart B ) is a Summary of the Churches in Revelation 3
( Chart C ) Messages to the Seven Churches Revelation 2 and 3
In this article Scripture quotations from the Holy Bible, King James Version.
Scripture quotation marked Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.
Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983