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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Letter to
The Church of Smyrna


< Revelation 2:8-11 >

"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 'I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.' He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'"



Exegesis

Verse 8: "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:'"

The Church of Smyrna was founded while Paul was ministering the Church of Ephesus. According to the above passage, the members of this church were rather poor, who, because of their faith, were antagonized by the Jews in their community. Just how persecuted this church was by the Jews can be seen by the martyrdom of Polycarp, an overseer in the age of Church Fathers. The saints of the Early Church faced constant persecution by the Jewish believers who rejected Christ as their Messiah.

The Church of Smyrna was founded by the Apostle Paul. By "the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life," John is referring to God, who created the universe. Our Lord, born of the Virgin Mary, took upon the sins of the world through His baptism by John and was judged for these sins by bleeding on the Cross. He then rose from the dead in three days and is sitting at the right hand of God. Jesus speaks to the angel of the church of God not only as our Savior but also as the Almighty God.


Verse 9: "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."

The Lord knew of all the difficulties and tribulations that the Church of Smyrna was facing. Although it was a poor church in material terms, the Church of Smyrna was spiritually rich. In Smyrna lived many Jews, whom God described as "those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." These Jews gave themselves up as the tools of Satan to be used to carry out his purposes, and thus became obstacles to the preaching of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, persecuting the church of God. They believed that they alone were orthodox Jews, and that they alone were the children of Abraham. But in fact they did not only fail to follow the faith of Abraham, but even worse, they ended up rejecting very God of their forefathers. Heavily persecuted by these Jews, the Church of Smyrna was poor, but still it was a church that was wealthy in its spirituality.


Verse 10: "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."

God told the Church of Smyrna to "not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer." He also told them to "be faithful until death," and promised that He will give them "the crown of life." The Lord knew beforehand that Satan would threaten some of the saints of the Church of Smyrna and try to break their faith. This is why He promised that if they remained faithful to Him until death, He would give them the crown of life.

What the Lord is telling us through this passage is that the servants of God and His saints who live in the end times will also be persecuted by Satan and his followers. But we will have the strength to be faithful to God until death, for this strength comes to us abundantly from our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and our hope for the New Heaven and Earth that God has promised us.


Verse 11: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."

The believers of the end times will engage in a battle against the Antichrist and those who stand against God. God tells us that those who have the hope for the true gospel and Heaven will triumph with their faith. By giving us His Word of truth and faith, God has enabled every believer to overcome His enemies. The only question remaining is whether or not we will be on the side of God and His servants.

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Romans 8:18 tells us that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Our persecution by the Antichrist and his followers will last only briefly, perhaps even just 10 days. Trusting in God, you can withstanding this short period of suffering, overcome the Antichrist, and glorify God and receive His Eternal Kingdom as your reward. God has given the saints the strength to win their battle against the Antichrist.

Let us all triumph over the Antichrist with our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and let us all meet again in the Millennial Kingdom and the New Heaven and Earth to live together forever. The first death here refers to our physical death, while the second death refers to the spiritual death by the eternal punishment of hell. For the saints, there is martyrdom, their physical death, but there is no spiritual death.

I thank God for giving the glory and honor of martyrdom to us, the believers in this last times, as He had given the martyrs of the Early Church.

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