What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.8-11 Part 1

“Message to Smyrna Part 1: Comfort to a Suffering Church”

Revelation 2:8-11

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.8-11 Part 1

Open Doors, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about the persecuted church, released its annual 2021 World Watch List. This report identifies the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Whether by violent attacks from non-state actors or government regulations, Christians face severe impediments to the free practice of their faith in many places around the world. As the threats to religious freedom mount, it is important to know the challenges believers face around the world.

Here are some facts about global religious persecution from this year’s World Watch List.

.

  1. More Christians are murdered in Nigeria than in any other country. 

.

Open Doors found that an estimated 5,678 people were killed in Nigeria from October 2019 to September 2020, making Nigeria the country where Christians endure the most fatal violence. 

.

4. North Korea has held the title of “world’s worst persecutor of Christians” for 20 consecutive years.

.

6. Approximately 91 percent of recorded violent killings of Christians for faith-related reasons took place in Africa.

7. China jumped to #17 on the World Watch List.

.

10. The world’s largest democracy, India, is among the top 10 most difficult countries to be a Christian.[1]

.

.

.

In just the last year*, there have been:

  • Over 340 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination
  • 4,761 Christians killed for their faith
  • 4,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked
  • 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned[2]

.

.

Christians are being persecuted today. Today, you may experience a harsh word because of your faith… slander because you’re a Christian. All who live godly will experience persecution.

.

What suffering Christians need is Christ’s letter to the Smyrna Christians. Whether your experiencing persecution or are suffering in general, this message will apply to you today.

.

TRANS: Christ writes a message through the apostle John to the messenger of Smyrna, the main pastor … to a persecuted church… in Smyrna, located in modern day western Turkey, just 35 miles north of the city in focus in the previous letter, the city of Ephesus.

.

Revelation 2:8–11 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.

.

.

No correction for this suffering church. This suffering church Christ didn’t correct. Just because you’re suffering, doesn’t mean you’re in sin. Don’t make that mistake… If you’re suffering, it doesn’t mean you’re in sin

.

But the encouragement Jesus gives to this suffering church is that they are to receive Christ’s comfort by knowing Jesus’ person and works and know that Jesus knows! [3]

.

We’ll limit our study today to verses 8-9.

.

EXP: The Smyrna church is suffering.

Revelation 2:9 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy [slander] of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

.

They are suffering!

.

Whether it’s persecution like the Smyrna church is experiencing or during the normal sufferings of life, …to find comfort, know 3 things: know Jesus character, know His works, and know that He knows!

.

Hear this: the Christian life is first about knowing, then about doing. You can’t do without knowing. Following Christ is first a matter of the heart, then a matter of doing His will. If it’s not in the heart first, it’ll never come out in the life.

.

So first, to find comfort in suffering know Jesus character…

.

  1. Knowing Jesus’ character

.

Jesus heart goes out to His people who is suffering and what does He want a suffering people to know…?

Revelation 2:8 8 … These things saith the first and the last…

.

He wants you to know who He is! Imagine being the church in Smyrna! You’re persecuted, poor, and slandered! Jesus cares, what does He say?

.

“I’m the first and the last.” You need this to find comfort.

.

Jesus is the first and the last…He is before all things and by him all things hold together. He is the first and the last… this is in reference to time.

In reference to time, He is eternal.

.

Isaiah 46:9–10 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure

.

He is the eternal one, declaring what will happen at the end of time all the way back from the beginning, from ancient times.

.

Jesus … Psalm 90:2 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

.

To ponder for a moment or two, the fact that Jesus is above time and lives outside of time and is not restricted by time, is to lose your mental faculties for a moment.

.

ILL: if you ask somebody for help, their character matters. If you send somebody to do a job, who they are as a person matters. Now, what if that somebody is eternal? They have the ability to help you your entire life and more!

.

So to get comfort in trials, you must know that Jesus is eternal.

.

Deuteronomy 33:27 27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: … He is your eternal help.

.

TRANS: But ironically, the first and last one dies! Know Jesus’ eternal person and know His death and resurrection.

.

  1. Know Jesus’ works: death and resurrection

.

Revelation 2:8 8 … These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

.

Why though? Why would the Christians in Smyrna have appreciated Jesus mentioning that He died and was raised? For one, in this gospel is their salvation of course. Trust in Christ and be saved forever and ever!

.

But also you have to imagine being persecuted. They have gone through great trouble, being mocked, some harmed physically, some killed for their faith. Greatly distressed!

.

How would Jesus mentioning his death and resurrection have affected those in Smyrna?

.

Two things…

.

  1. identifies/cares with them

    .

By mentioning His death, Jesus identifies with His suffering people.

.

.

Revelation 2:8 8 … These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

.

Jesus Himself experienced much torture at the hands of godless men. He was stalked, mocked, beaten, and crucified. But yet he is the first and the last, the eternal one.

.

God in flesh, sinless Son of God… dies!

.

’Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love Divine!
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

.

To wrap our heads around it … inquire no more!

.

In mentioning his own death and resurrection, Jesus is identifying with his people. He is expressing the fact that he cares for them and has gone through what they are going through. They are persecuted, he has been persecuted. They have been killed, he had been killed. He greatly cares for those who our suffering for him.

.

ILL: And this is emphasized in the life of Paul. Paul in acts Chapter 9 was persecuting the church on the road to Damascus and the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a vision. A light flashed from heaven and paul fell to the ground and he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus says, “why are you persecuting me?” But Paul was persecuting Christians; Jesus says, “Why are you persecuting me?” To persecute Jesus’ church is to persecute Jesus.

.

Jesus identifies with and cares for His persecuted church and His suffering people.

.

“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth or song;

As the burdens press, and the cares distress,

And the way grows weary and long?

Refrain:

O yes, He cares- I know He cares!

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.”

.

TRANS: When He says he “was dead” he identifies with His suffering servants. But He also “is alive.”

.

  1. His promises also give us resurrection

.

Revelation 2:8 8…These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

.

He’s alive!

.

ILL: The Christians in Smyrna would have found great comfort in our easter hymn…

Up from the grave He arose

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes

He arose a Victor from the dark domain

And He lives forever with His saints to reign

He arose! (He arose)

He arose! (He arose)

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

.

Why? Why would the Christians in Smyrna receive comfort from Jesus mentioning his resurrection? Just like he identifies with his people in their suffering, his people can identify with Jesus in his resurrection!

.

Jesus will raise his people from the dead! So no matter how much you persecuting them no matter how much suffering you experience, if you are trusting in Jesus he will one day raise you from the dead a glorified body!

.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

.

God will bring those who’ve died in Christ back to heaven with Jesus. This will happen at the resurrection.

.

1 Corinthians 15:51–52 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

.

Jesus conquered death; he conquered our death!

.

And so the Christians in Smyrna would have found great comfort in their suffering because of the promise of the resurrection! Since Jesus is raised, you’ll be raised to!

.

TRANS: So, to find comfort in trials: know Jesus person (eternal), know his works, and thirdly know that Jesus knows.

.

  1. Know Jesus Knows

    .

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.

.

Jesus knows their tribulation, He knows their pain, He feels it Himself. Jesus is comforting them… Know that Jesus knows.

.

What does Jesus know?

.

Their… tribulation, and poverty, and the Jews slander them.

.

Tribulation

Jesus says he knows their tribulation. The word has to do with “pressure.” He knows the difficulties that they are facing. He knows the trial they are experiencing.

.

ILL: “Jesus knows all about our struggles; He will guide ’til the day is done: There’s not a Friend like the lowly Jesus: No, not one! no, not one!”

.

TRANS: What specifically were the Smyrna Christians dealing with. What kind of pressure were they facing?

.

  1. poverty [world’s view]

.

Jesus says I know your tribulation,… Here it is, “your poverty.”

.

Even though Smyrna was a wealthy city, the Smyrna Christians didn’t get in on it. Very well could of been that they were suffering some sort of economic sanctions against them. The Jews were out to get them and the Romans were out to get them and so perhaps they all agreed that they weren’t going to trade with the Christians.

.

And so what would happen? They would be experiencing poverty.

.

Christians experiencing poverty. Obviously this is by no means any prosperity gospel as if you name it and claim it and you will be wealthy for ever and ever. As if Jesus is some gumball machine in the sky and you simply put in your prayer and get out whatever you want from him.

.

This is not all a picture of the Christian life. But be careful, this prosperity gospel is all over so-called Christian television and radio.

.

Clearly there are Christians, who need no correction, and they are poor and perfectly in the will of God. Suffering but in the will of God.

.

  1. spiritual prosperity

    .

But even though they are poor materially Jesus says that they are rich!

.

Revelation 2:9 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) …

.

They are spiritually rich! And Jesus says that you are rich, your rich indeed! It is God’s viewpoint that matters. And he says of these beloved Christians that they are rich. They took the wisdom that Jesus gave to the Laodiceans when he says in 3:18 …

.

Revelation 3:18 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

.

They would’ve laid up treasures in heaven and were rich toward God they would’ve been rich in good works…

.

And these Christians in Smyrna would’ve understood that in Christ through repentance and faith they are now call heirs with Christ and they have a glorious inheritance coming! They have a room in the Father’s house, they’ll receive the crown of life, and they will for all eternity experience the radiance of his glory!

.

So even though they suffer and have the spoiling of their goods they know in themselves that they have in heaven a better and enduring possession in heaven!

So they understood with James that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom which he has promised them that love him. And they understood that the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ is with in them a treasure.

.

Indeed all who are in Christ Jesus are rich for all eternity because God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ

.

TRANS: Jesus knows all about our struggles… he knows any persecution we might face or any financial strain. And … He also knows any slander that we might face.

.

  1. Slander from false Jews/synagogue of Satan

.

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.

.

EXP: the word blasphemy is often translated slander or railing. Here it is best to understand it as slander because if it’s just blasphemy and they are speaking against God only, that wouldn’t necessarily hurt Smyrna Christians.

.

So these Jews were wounding the Christians in Smyrna with false reports and denigrating them… slandering them. They were verbally abusive. And this was going on all over the book of Acts. The Jews were constantly chasing down Paul and seeking to discredit his ministry.

.

So what the Jews were probably doing is that they were denouncing the Christians to the Romans. So the Romans were against the Smyrna Christians and the Jews were against the Smyrna Christians.

.

These Jews were saying that they were Jews but they actually weren’t.

Revelation 2:9 9 … [toward the end…] I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

.

They were biological Jews, that was not at issue. But the fact is they weren’t truly “Jews” … Spiritual Jews in their heart of hearts.

.

As Paul says in

Galatians 3:7 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

.

True children of Abraham, true Jews are of faith… Faith in Jesus Christ.

.

Jesus could say of the Gentile Zacchaeus…

Luke 19:9 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

.

These Jews instead of being true Jews, were of the “synagogue of Satan.”

.

So they were involved in satanic religion. Anything that is a rejection of Jesus as the son of God, the Christ the one who died for our sins and is raised in his body from the dead, anything that rejects that is of the devil.

.

And so Jesus can say of Jews who were discrediting his ministry

.

John 8:44 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

.

Christian people were being slandered; Christians in Smyrna were being lied against. False reports were going to the Roman authorities about them.

.

You may not be experiencing actual physical persecution, but have you ever experienced slander because of your faith in Christ? Jesus said…

.

Matthew 5:11 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

.

Persecution is also what people say, not just what they do to you.

.

And Jesus knows.

.

Revelation 2:9 9 I know thy … tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy [slander] of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

.

Jesus knows. Jesus is omniscient, he is all-knowing. You remember that while he was on earth he knew the thoughts of man. He didn’t need anyone to testify concerning man, because he himself knew what was in man. Multiple times, he predicted his own death and resurrection. The triumphal entry, he told the disciples to go over to a specific village and as soon as you enter it you will find a specific colt who is tied and no one has ever sat on it. And if anyone says to you, “why are you doing this?” You’re to say, the Lord has need of it. And that is exactly what happened. And Jesus predicted that Peter’s denials which came true.

.

Jesus knows. Jesus knows all things actual and all things possible. And he knows your suffering and He identifies.

.

And of all people, He can say to you “I understand what you’re going through.”

.

ILL: God hears the groanings! When the people of Israel were groaning underneath their slavery in Egypt and right at the end of Exodus 2 right before chapter 3 when God calls Moses to deliver them it says , Ex. 2:25, “God saw the people of Israel and God knew.”

.

He understood their plight and saw their distress and turmoil!

.

Jesus says…

Revelation 2:9 9 I know thy … tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy … I know the slander you experience…

.

ILL: Amy Carmichael was an Irish Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for 55 years without furlough and wrote many books about the missionary work there.

.

.

In 1931, Carmichael suffered a terrible injury that left her pretty much bedridden for the rest of her life….

.

Shortly after her accident, Carmichael had voiced the fear that her injury had left her too great a burden to others. She was concerned she’d prove a hindrance to the work she had begun. A friend brought comfort by drawing her mind to Revelation 2:9-10 which includes the words: “I know” and “fear not.”

.

Revelation 2:9–10 9 I know thy … tribulation, and poverty, … and I know the slander … Verse 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.

.

.

Carmichael had the words painted onto a two-part plaque and mounted where she could always see them. Later, reflecting on them, she told in a poem what they had come to mean to her.

.

She writes…

“I know”: the words contain
Unfathomable comfort for our pain.
How they can hold such depths I do not know—
I only know that it is so.

“Fear not”: the words have power
To give the thing they name; for in an hour
Of utter weariness, the soul, aware of One beside her bed,
Is comforted.

O Lord most dear,
I thank Thee, and I worship—
Thou art here.

.

ILL: if someone comes alongside and says, “I know what you’re going through.” That’s comforting. Whether a spouse, a friend, …but what if it’s Jesus?

.

“I know”… “fear not,” you His child.

.

APP: Many of us could point to difficulties we’ve suffered in the past few weeks and months. Some in our church are going through difficulties as we speak. Know this to get comfort!

.

That Jesus is the first and the last, the eternal one. That He died for you and was raised for you so that in Him, you’ll have eternal life and a new resurrected, glorified body.

.

And to get comfort, know that He knows. That He identifies with your suffering and distress, tribulation or poverty.

.

.

.

.

Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Revelation Main Page

.

.

  1. https://www.frcblog.com/2021/01/10-facts-about-global-religious-persecution-2021-world-watch-list/

  2. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/

  3. to be faithful and not fear. And to do that they need to receive Christ’s comfort by knowing Jesus’ person and works. REPEAT

    .

103 views
103 views
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap