LESSONS FROM HIS LETTERS (Part 2 - Smyrna)
Christ dictated a letter to John for the believers in Smyrna, here is what Jesus said,
"To the angel 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. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 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. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death." (Revelation 2:8-11)
In this study of the second letter to the churches, Christ says Smyrna is infested with falsehood. "I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not,". In fact, Christ goes as far as to state those individuals belong to the "synagogue of Satan".
Because of this deceitful environment and the people that have infiltrated the church, a test of suffering and persecution is applied for ten days. However, Jesus challenges the true believers to "not be afraid" and "be faithful, even to the point of death" and you will be rewarded greatly.
The reward for enduring this testing, this suffering, this persecution will be "life as your victor's crown" and not being "hurt at all by the second death". Life as your victor's crown could mean continual living at that point as well as a special recognition at the Bema Seat Judgment in Heaven. The second death that the victorious avoid is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.
To me this letter to the church in Smyrna speaks to difficult times this church, the individual believer and a specific church era will experience. Because of the falsehood within the community and especially the church, these believers are placed under at least a ten-day stretch of suffering and persecution while in prison. The believers are given a challenge to endure with faithfulness but promised a handsome reward. Jesus says that "the devil will put some of you in prison", not all of you in prison. So, those who are not in prison are best to avoid these false, slandering Jews from the "synagogue of Satan" and find out how to properly use the riches Christ says they own.
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