To the Church in Smyrna
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
Jesus declares to the Church in Smyrna that He is aware of their struggles. Poverty, and slander by those according to the synagogue of Satan. This title, given to “those who say that they are Jews and are not . . .” should be to us a warning. You see this was written at a time when the Church was still meeting in the synagogues and Jews were still very much interested in the teachings of Jesus. However, this particular group was not even recognized as Jews for their hearts were far from God. It reminds me of 2 Timothy 3:5; “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” This can very easily apply to many in the Church today.
This passage as a whole fly’s in the face of those who would preach a prosperity gospel. Clearly, this group is about to suffer some tremendous tribulations. Yet, they are instructed to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Now to us, many followers of the Way are struggling in poverty, although they are rich, rich in perhaps faith, or rich in a way, as to be, not nearly as poverty-stricken as many others around the world. Regardless, it is easy to see that our prosperity will come with the crown of life. The reality of these Churches should reveal that yes some in prosper in ways others don’t. Still, other Churches will be successful while others struggle. For reasons that will be revealed only after this life. We aren’t called to worry about such things, only that we remain faithful with what we are given for as long as we are alive!
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.
You are loved,