© Copyright 2010-2015

Revelation 2:8-11
A message to the church of Smyrna!
By Brother Mike (2-14-19; 45 minutes)
   

8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive ;
9
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan .
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life .
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death .


INTRODUCTION    

In this study, we find a message to the angel of the church in Smyrna from the first and last, who was dead, and is alive (from Jesus Christ). He says to the angel of the church, I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, but you are rich! And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. And, with respect to what was just said, we ask the question, how can the angel, which we will learn are the elect in the church, be in poverty, but, at the same time, be rich? And, who are these who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan?   

Then, Christ further says to the elect of the church, Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. How do these things apply to us today? What does tribulation for ten days symbolize? And, what is the crown of life?  

Then, finally, Christ says to the elect of the church, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death. And, with respect to what Christ says here, why does Christ say to the elect of the church of Smyrna, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (plural); I thought this was a message only to the elect of the church in Smyrna (singular)? And, who is it that overcomes? And, why is it that they who overcome will not be hurt by the second death?   

These questions and more can be answered in this study. May the one who overcame sin and death, and this world for us, set our minds on things above that we might glisten the deep spiritual truths of His Word, Amen.  


Revelation 2:8
:  

8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive . . . 

In this verse, we first read, And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write. Here, the word translated as angel can also be translated as messenger, and this messenger of the church of Smyrna was the body of Christ, namely the elect or saved individuals who were in the church. It is they to whom the apostle John is commanded to write. And, we must remember that the seven angels of the seven churches, with the angel of Smyrna being one of those angels, symbolize the totality of all the elect in the totality of all the churches that would ever exist during the Church Age from May 21 in 33 AD to May 21, 1988 (see Bible Number 7 ). Therefore, this message to the angel (the elect) of the church of Smyrna is also a message to all the elect in all the various churches that would arise during the Church Age, which means that it is a message to us as well since many of us were born of God and part of a local congregation during the Church Age. 

Now, the first thing that Christ says to the angel (the elect) of the church of Smyrna is this: These things says the first and the last. By saying that He is the first and the last, Christ is saying that He is the first of all things, and He is the last of all things, which means He existed before all other things, and He still exists after all things are gone; therefore, Christ can be nobody else than eternal God Himself because only God could exist before everything else was created, and only God could exist after everything is gone. Furthermore, He must be eternal because He existed before everything else, and He continues to exist after everything is gone. Indeed, Christ is eternal God, which makes these things that He is about to say about the church of Smyrna authoritative beyond measure, and the elect everywhere must take these things to be written with the utmost seriousness and priority.  

And, not only does this message to the church of Smyrna come from Jesus Christ who is eternal God, but it comes from Christ which was dead, and is alive. Literally, it reads, who became dead, and lived. That is, this message to the church of Smyrna is from eternal God, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross in 33 AD to pay for the sins of His elect, and though He died, He lived because He rose from the dead on the third day to live forevermore and to guarantee that His elect from before the time of the cross and after would rise from the dead in like manner. So, this message to all the elect both in the church of Smyrna and in all the churches throughout the Church Age is from eternal God Himself, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the eternal salvation of His elect, which makes this message all important for His elect.   


Revelation 2:9
:   

9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan

In this verse, Christ, through John, continues His message to the elect by first saying, I know thy works. Here, the verb know in the sentence, I know your works is in the Perfect tense of the Greek language, which means that Christ knew their works in the past with the result that He continues to know their works in the present (see Perfect tense ). And, when Christ says that He knows their works, it is all encompassing to mean that He knows all their works. He knows their work of employment; He knows their works of prayer; He knows their works of worship; He knows their work of caring for their kids; He knows their works of making daily meals and cleaning up; He knows their works of scripture reading and study; He knows their works of getting out the word of God; He knows their works of obedience to the Word of God; indeed, He knows all their works, whatever they are.   

Yet, Christ not only knows the works of the elect in the church of Smyrna as well as in all the churches throughout the Church Age, but He says to them, I know your tribulation. So, Christ not only knows all the works of the elect, but He knows their tribulation amid all their works. That is, He knows their affliction, their burdens, their persecutions, their trouble, the pressure they are under, their distress, and whatever else is bringing tribulation into their lives, and He knows all these things amid all their works.  

And, then, we are also told that Christ knew their poverty. He knew how destitute they were of riches and abundance: How they had to work long hours to survive. How they struggled daily just to have clothes to wear, and enough to eat, and a roof over their heads. How they were looked down upon because they were poor and needy, and how they lacked the material goods of comfort and pleasure that others had. He knew how they had nothing extra for emergencies and vacations, and how they couldn't afford even the basic healthcare of the day. Yes, Christ knew their poverty, and all that that meant.    

But, even so, Christ says to the poor elect in the church of Smyrna, but you are rich. Now, how can those who are living in poverty be rich? We read in James 2:5, 

Jas 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him ?

So, it is the poor that God has chosen to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom. That is, the poor elect are rich because they have been chosen to faith in Jesus Christ for eternal life, and they are heirs of the eternal kingdom in heaven. They may be poor in this world, which lasts for a moment, but in so far as eternity is concerned, they are rich forevermore. In fact, they are kings, priests, and prophets who will inherit more riches, by far, than all the riches of the richest man in this world, for they have been given eternal life, and they will live in a new eternal heaven and earth in transformed new glorious bodies that will never die where there is no sorrow and sadness, no pain and suffering, no sin and death, but only unspeakable joy in the presence of Almighty God forevermore. So, although we, the elect, may be poor in this world, which is for a short moment, we are rich in the world to come, which is for all eternity. Which would you choose: to be rich in this life and then be annihilated, or to be rich in the next life and live forevermore? Well, for we, the elect, God has already made the choice from before the foundation of the world so that if you are elect, you are eternally rich, indeed. No matter how you may seem to be lacking in this life and downcast because of it, lift your head and see that your redemption draws near when sadness and sorrow, pain and suffering, sin and death shall disappear, and nothing but riches shall be manifest forever. Yes, we may be in poverty now for a moment, but we will soon be rich forevermore. For we read in Romans 8, 

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God :
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together .
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us

And, 

Romans 8:28 . . . we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose .
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified .
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?  

Now, Christ further says to the angel (the elect) of the church of Smyrna, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. In order to better understand what blasphemy is, let's look at Ephesians 4 where we read,  

Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking [blasphemy], be put away from you, with all malice . . . 

Here, blasphemy is defined as evil speaking, and evil speaking, of course, is any and all speech contrary or in opposition to the Word of God. We see another example of Blasphemy in John 10 where Jesus says to the Jews,  

30 I and my Father are one .
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me ?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God .    

Here, Jesus is said to have blasphemed because He made Himself out to be God by saying that He and the Father are one. Of course, in truth, Jesus did not actually blaspheme because He really is eternal God, but, nevertheless, the Jews thought He had blasphemed by what He said because they thought it was contrary or in opposition to the Word of God for an apparently finite man to say that he is infinite God. So, once again, we see that blasphemy can be defined as evil speaking. 

Now, given what we have learned, when Christ said to the elect of the church of Smyrna, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan, He meant that He knew the evil speaking of them which say they are Jews. And, we get a sense as to what their evil speaking was in that they said they were Jews, and were not, but were the synagogue of Satan. So, their blasphemy was, at least in part, that they said they were Jews when they were not.   

But, how was this blasphemy to say that they were Jews, but were not? To answer this question, we must first define who the Jews are. Most think of the Jews as being all those who have descended from Abraham of the Old Testament, and all those who have converted to the Jewish faith, and all who have been outwardly circumcised in the flesh. But, are all these really the true Jews? Absolutely not! For we read in Romans 2,  

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh :
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God .  

Therefore, people are not Jews because they have outwardly descended from Abraham, and outwardly identify with the Jewish faith, and have been outwardly circumcised in the flesh, but they are true Jews if they have been inwardly circumcised in the heart by the Spirit; whose praise is not of men, but of God

That is, people are not Jews by outward or physical descent from Abraham, and outward circumcision in the flesh, but they are true Jews by inward circumcision of the heart by the Spirit through the faith of Jesus Christ. For what does the scripture say? It says, 

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus

So, then, people are true Jews if they have been spiritually saved in Jesus Christ by the circumcision in the heart through the faith of Jesus Christ.    

And, now, we can begin to understand our verse: when Christ says, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan, He is saying that He knows the evil speaking of those who say they are Jews according to the flesh. But they are not true Jews because they have not come to faith in Jesus Christ, and this makes them a synagogue of Satan, for they are not saved in Jesus Christ, but they are under the rule of Satan as are all unsaved people no matter what they believe, or what faith they may be in. But, in this case, there were apparently those who were saying that they are Jews; that is, they were claiming to be the true people of God, but they were not because they had not come to faith in Jesus Christ. You see, ever since Jesus hung on the cross when the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom (Matthew. 27:51; Mark. 15:38; Luke 23:45), Yahweh did not consider the Jewish people to be His people unless they had come to faith in Jesus Christ through the circumcision of the heart in the Spirit. Those who had not come to salvation in Jesus Christ could not be considered Jews, but they were the enemies of Christ, and were under His Wrath. So, these ones who were claiming to be Jews, but were not, were not those who were saved in Jesus Christ by the gift of faith in the Spirit, but they were Jews according to the flesh alone, and these were not the true Jews, but they were a synagogue of Satan just as all the Jewish people in our day who do not believe in Christ as their Messiah are also the synagogue of Satan. 

But there is another way in which we can understand our verse as well: since we have learned that the true Jews are the saved Christians, those who claim they are Christians but are not saved would be considered the false Jews. So, when Christ says, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan, He is speaking about those who say they are Christians, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. This would apply to all those in the churches in our day because they all say they are Christians, but, according to the Word of God, they are not, but they are a synagogue of Satan, for the true Jews (the true Christians) have come out from the churches in obedience to their Lord (see Why leave all churches? ), which means only the false Jews (the false Christians) should be remaining in the churches. And, those who have remained in the churches are blaspheming God because they say that they are Jews (true Christians) when they are not.   


Revelation 2:10
:  

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life

In this verse, Christ first says to the church of Smyrna, Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. More literally, it simply reads as a command, fear nothing that you are about to suffer. That is, some of you in the church are about to suffer because Satan is about to cast you into prison, but don't be afraid. Why? Because it is all happening according to God's plan that you may be tried or tested to see if you will be faithful unto death. In other words, it is a test from God, and if you pass it, Christ will give you a crown of life.  

Now, let's look a little more closely at our verse: Christ next says, behold, which means tune in, pay careful attention, and listen closely to what I am about to say. Then, Christ further says, the devil shall cast some of you into prison. Literally, it reads, the devil [or it could be translated, the false accuser] is about to cast out of you [some of you] into prison, and, because it is the false accuser who will cast them out into prison, we can reason that the way that Satan or the devil will cast them out into prison is by falsely accusing them. But, notice that our verse, in the Greek, says that the devil is about to cast out of you into prison so that we must ask the question, what is the devil about to cast them out from into prison? Since the context of our verse is that of the church of Smyrna, what we are being told is that the devil is about to cast some of them out of the church of Smyrna into prison. So, we can reason that the devil may have been working in the false believers in the church of Smyrna to falsely accuse some of the elect therein, and that resulted in the elect being cast out of the church into prison.  

But, next, we are told why it is that the devil is about to cast out some of them from the church into prison: it is that you [they] may be tried. So, God has a plan to try or test His people, and He is going to permit the devil, Satan, to cast them out of the church into prison so that they may be tried or tested as to whether they will remain faithful. This is something that Yahweh did from the very beginning. Remember, He tested or tried Adam and Eve as to whether they would remain faithful and not eat of the forbidden fruit. Of course, we know that they failed the test, and plunged the whole human race into sin and death. But, here, Yahweh is permitting Satan to cast His people out from the church into prison to prove their faithfulness unto death, and God does this to His people even today. In fact, you may find yourself in a fiery trial of your faith right now. 

Well, our verse continues by Christ saying, and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Therefore, the amount of time wherein these elect in the church of Smyrna would suffer affliction, oppression, distress or hardship would be ten literal days. Yet, because our verse has a spiritual application to the elect in our day as well, the literal 10 days spiritually symbolizes the completeness of days of tribulation no matter how long that may be (see Bible Number 10 ). For instance, we, the elect, were spiritually cast out of the church by Satan during the Great Tribulation from May 21, 1988 to May 21, 2011 by those who say they are Christians, and are not, when we were spiritually killed (silenced) by them in the churches. That is, we were not listened to any longer, but were silenced as if we had been cast out into a prison and were no longer in the church. And, we have been spiritually cast out of the churches for 10 spiritual days; that is, for the completeness of God's plan, which is until the Last Day. So, in that we will have tribulation for 10 days, in this case, means that we will have tribulation for the completeness of God's plan, which is until the end comes; no matter how many literal days that may be. 

Now, Christ says to the cast out and imprisoned elect, be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. This is not only a message to those who were imprisoned and cast out from the church of Smyrna, but also a message to us today who have been spiritually imprisoned away and cast out from the churches in our day. We are commanded to be faithful unto death, and Christ will give us a crown of life. In other words, even though we have been spiritually cast out of the church into a spiritual prison wherein we are suffering tribulation in these last days, fear not and don't give up, for we are being tested by God to prove that we are one of His elect as we remain faithful even to the death of ourselves that Christ may be seen in and through us, and, so, we will be given the crown of life, which is the redemption of our sinful bodies on the Last Day when we will be rewarded with new glorious bodies of eternal life, and when we receive the new heaven and earth wherein we will dwell in righteousness forevermore.  


Revelation 2:11
:  

11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death .  

Here, Christ concludes speaking to the church of Smyrna by first saying, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Literally, it reads, The one having an ear, let him [or her] hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. This is the same thing that we found He said to the church of Ephesus in our previous study . In that study, we found that only the elect have spiritual ears to be able to hear what Christ says so that when Christ says, The one having an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, He is speaking to the elect in the churches who are able to spiritually hear what He is saying. It is another way of saying what Christ already said in our first verse, namely, unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write. The angel of the church of Smyrna refers to the body of Christ of the church in Smyrna who are all the elect in the church of Smyrna. So, at the beginning, Christ says to write unto all the elect in the church of Smyrna, and, at the end, He commands all those who have an ear (the elect) to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. And, notice that He commands the elect to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (plural); not just to the church of Smyrna. This confirms to us that the message unto the church of Smyrna is not just a message for the elect in that particular church, but it is a message for the elect of all the churches that would ever come into being during the 1955 years of the Church Age from May 21, 33 AD to May 21, 1988 (see Biblical Timeline ), which is exactly what we had previously concluded in an earlier study because the church of Smyrna is one of the seven churches of Asia, and these seven churches symbolize the totality of all churches that would come into being during the Church Age (see Revelation 1:4 ).  

Now, last of all, Christ says, He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death. And, who is it that over comes? We read in 1John 5, 

1Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith

So, whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And, those who have been born of God, of course, are all those who have been born of the Spirit (born again or born from above) through the gift of faith whereby we have come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, as we read in 1John 5,  

1Jo 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him

Yet, our verse says, He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death makes it sound like the only way to overcome while having been cast out of the church and imprisoned is to be faithful unto death. That is, it sounds like one must do something to overcome. Yet, we just learned that the ones who overcome are the ones who have been born of God; not by works that they have done, but by the gift of God. So, how can we reconcile our verse which appears to say that we overcome by remaining faithful; that is, by works, and our verse which says that we have already overcome if we have been spiritually saved through the gift of faith from God? Well, they become perfectly reconciled when we realize that the only reason that we will be faithful unto God is if we have first been born of God so that Christ can then work through us to make us faithful unto death. That is, if we have been born of God by the Spirit, we have already overcome the world because being spiritually saved guarantees that we will remain faithful unto death as Christ Himself will make us that way by His mighty power that works in and through us. So, we overcome not by our deeds of righteousness, but by His deeds of righteousness which work through us because He, at one time, had freely saved us.  

Now, what is the 2nd death that those who overcome (those who have already been spiritually saved) will not be hurt by? We read in Revelation 21, 

Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death .  

And, again, we read,  

Rev. 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works .
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death .
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire

Clearly, by careful examination of these two verses, the second death is when all the unsaved are cast into the Lake of Fire on the Last Day. The first death was when all humans spiritually died in Adam when he partook of the forbidden fruit, but the second death is when all the unsaved are judged and cast into the lake of fire both in body and spirit on the Last Day, which results in their annihilation forevermore. And, because the spiritually saved in Christ will not partake in this second death, for they have been granted eternal life, they cannot be hurt by the second death, which brings us back to now be able to understand our verse that says, He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death. This simply means that all we who have been spiritually saved in Jesus Christ, and, thus, according to 1John 5:4 have overcome the world, will not be hurt by the second death because we will not be annihilated in the lake of fire on the Last Day, but we will be clothed in eternal life with new bodies fit to live in the new heaven and earth forevermore, amen. 


CONCLUSION  

Now in bringing this study to an end, the question is, do you, as one of God's elect, wonder why you have had to now suffer tribulation ever since you were spiritually cast from your church; ever since you were spiritually killed (silenced) in your church as if you had been cast out into a prison? If so, you now know why: it is because God has been testing or trying you to prove that you are one of His elect. You may now be in poverty, but always remember that you are rich. In the light of eternity, your tribulation is but a breath. It will soon come to an end, but your riches will last for an eternity. So, fear not and be faithful unto the death of yourself, for it is Christ who works and wills within you, and by His power alone, you will be able to stand faithful even to death on a cross. And, then, you will be given a crown of life, which is the redemption of your body with a new body that can never die and will never sin; fit to live in the new heaven and new earth forevermore where there is no longer any pain and suffering, sadness and sorrow, sin and death, but joy and righteousness in Christ Jesus. Indeed, as the apostle Paul once said, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). And, finally, be faithful unto death in tribulation unto the end by the power of Christ that works in and through you, and you will not be hurt by the second death, which means that you will not be annihilated on the Last Day as will the billions of unsaved on the earth. Why? Because you had already overcome the world when Christ granted you spiritual birth from above, and, now, He will work through you, as you die to self, to ensure that you be faithful unto the end because he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6), amen.

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