BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 4: Revelation 2:8-11

Summary of passage:  John’s letter to the church in Smyrna says Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty and knows of the false prophets.  He says they will suffer but encourages them to be faithful and they will earn the crown of life (eternal life).

Questions:

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”  Jesus was, is, and will always be.  What is important about Jesus is just that:  he has always existed and he died for us.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

12a)  Jesus knows their afflictions, their poverty, those who are of the synagogue of Satan, and he knows of their future sufferings and persecutions.

b)  Poverty is just a state of being here on earth.  What matters is after death and if you have Jesus, you have all the wealth in the world.  Jesus made himself poor (by being human and sacrificing himself) so that we all may be rich in heaven.

Conclusions:  Emphasis on Jesus’ character and persevering in this world.  Great reminder for all of us as we trudge through our days.

End Notes:  Very, very similar to the letter to the Church in Ephesus.  Smyrna was a very wealthy city similar to Ephesus.  It was a great trade city and lay at the end of the river Hermus and was a port city.  It was big and beautiful and known for its trade in wine.

Smyrna had multiple temples to the Roman gods but eventually the people began to worship the Roman emperor.  Smyrna built the first temple to the goddess of Rome in 196 BC and was the first city to build a temple to a Roman emperor in 23 AD.  It was the Roman emperor Domitian who first demanded to be worshipped as a god.  It was also probably him who banished John to Patmos.

Christians refused to worship the emperor; hence, the persecution Jesus is speaking of here.  All they had to do was burn incense and say “Caesar is Lord” once a year and be upon their merry way.  They refused and faced death.  How many of us would?

Smyrna comes from the word myrrh–the same gift to Jesus at his birth and the perfume used to cover the smell of dead bodies.

MAP of Smyrna

Jesus again echoes his appearance to John in these words he chooses to identify himself with.

Just like in Ephesus, Jesus knows their works and their hardships.  One form of persecution is economic and Christians lost their jobs and livelihoods for their belief.  The word “poor” here in the Greek means abject poverty.  They were dirt, dirt poor.

History tells us there was a large Jewish population here hostile to Christians.  Paul wrote thus they were not considered Jews in Romans 2:28-9, thus were labeled “a synagogue of Satan.”

Jesus tells them they are rich.  Rich in their eyes.  Often we don’t see this either.  All that really matters is how Jesus sees us.

We will see in Revelation 3 how the Laodiceans were rich but poor.

Jesus tells them to not be afraid; the devil (in the Greek the word is diabolos meaning accuser or adversary) will test them but only for 10 days.  God will limit their trials.  Prison in ancient times was a holding place for death.  Not like it is today.

Scholars will debate the number 10 here.  Was it literally 10 days or was it 10 years or was it 10 emperors?  The Greek word for 10 days was not literal and an expression of speech–it meant a short period of time.  The important thing here is that the persecution was limited by God.

Note:  Daniel was tested for 10 days as we’ll read in Lesson 8 Day 2.

God purpose was to test, to purify, to make His people more like Jesus.  This would prove how rich they were.  Out of the seven cities, this is the only city still in existence today (now called Izmir in Turkey).

We can be tested today and have a heart and live a martyr’s life.  Sadly, many Christians don’t.

MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM EPHESUS:  There is no corrections here.  No rebukes.  Only encouragements and praise.  Smyrna is the first of just two churches (the other being the church of Philadelphia Rev 3:7) Jesus has only words of praise.

The Greek word for crown here means the one given to an athlete (not one a king wears).  Winners.  The crown of life.

The second death is hell or lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

This letter is about persevering through persecution.  In the Western world, we are not persecuted as the first century Christians were.  Still, in other places in the world, Christians do face life or death over their faith in Christ.  It is estimated more Christians died in twentieth century for their faith than any other time frame.  Pray for an end to persecution.

Other interesting links:  Brief history of Smyrna with photos HERE

Great explanation of Jesus’ message to Smyrna HERE

Most famous martyr of Smyrna is Polycarp, a student under John the Apostle.  His story is HERE and HERE

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6 comments on “BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 4, Day 4: Revelation 2:8-11

  1. Lissette says:

    Making a public confession of their faith in that day meant poverty, hunger, imprisonment, and sometimes death.

    If we are not careful, we will be like these Jews. Jesus looks at the heart. We read in
    Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    The repentance and salvation that really counts is what goes on in the heart. It is like having a new regenerated heart placed inside of you, washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Being born again is having a brand new heart, having no desire to sin.

    I hate myself and it hurts me when I offend Jesus. Before I was saved nothing bothered me and yet I was miserable. That is the great difference between living a life of being saved and surrendering your life to Jesus.

    The greatest gift that we could ever receive is the gift of eternal life with Jesus. To know we would be separated from Jesus for all of eternity would be more hell than I would care to bear. The only life worth having is with Him.

    Atoz. my comments are always lengthy. Some are my words and some I have taken from other commentaries. Is that okay?

    • atozmom says:

      Yeah, should be fine. I would just caution from the commentaries not to copy whole passages and paste them in the comment section. If you do, give them credit.

      Thanks for your additions! Always welcome! God bless!

    • Julia says:

      Good comments, Lissette. Unfortunately, being born again does not give us a desire not to sin. I wish it would! We still have our sin nature even though Jesus paid our sin debt so He removed the penalty of sin which is death and separation from God. But the good news is that God has given us the Holy Spirit to give us the power to handle sin and temptation. We don’t do a very good job because we are still sinners by nature (1 John 1:8, 10). However, verse 9 gives us the assurance that if we confess our sins, He will forgive us and restore us back into fellowship with Him. As believers we don’t lose our salvation as we are eternally secure with the seal of the Holy Spirit, but we can get out of fellowship and closeness with our Lord if we don’t confess our sins. We eventually will lose our desire to sin when we get our glorified bodies and live continuously in the presence of Jesus. So in summary, we were saved from the penalty of sin and the power of sin here on earth, and eventually from the presence of sin in our heavenly state with God.

      • Lissette says:

        Thank you Julia for your reply. Thank God that it is so clear that we don’t lose our salvation. There are so many verses specifically explaining that. I am so grateful
        to God for making it so easy. There will be no excuses when that final moment comes. Someone asked me “what happens to the people that have never seen or read a bible”. My answer was that God is just and He would find a way to reveal themselves to them but that the ultimate choice is theirs.

        I received salvation through reading the bible. I did not know if I answered correctly or how to answer. After being saved I could look at creation and see the Lord in everything but before that I was blind.

      • atozmom says:

        Lissette,

        You refer them to Romans 1:20. God says that even without His word, you should know there is a God and believe in Him just by looking at Creation and all the miraculous things that only a sentient, omniscient, omnipotent Creator could do.

        I wrote a post on this a while back.

        https://atozmomm.com/2011/01/29/something-i-learned-from-romans-120/

        Hope that helps.

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