Smyrna: The Persecuted Church – Revelation 2:8-11
Revelation 1:19 “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.
I. THE CORRESPONDENT
Isaiah 41:4 (NASB) “Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’ ”
Isaiah 43:10 (NASB) “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.
Isaiah 44:6 (NASB) “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.
Isaiah 48:12 (NASB) “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. John 14:19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
II. THE CITY
Matthew 2:11 (NASB) After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Mark 15:23 (NASB) They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.
John 19:39 (NASB) Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.
“The wind blows through every part of the city, and makes it as fresh as a grove of trees.” – Aristides
III. THE CHURCH
Acts 19:10 (NASB) This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
IV. THE COMMENDATION
a. They endured persecution
John 16:33 (NASB) In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
We the representatives of the empire have seen you sacrificing
It was the time of the public games; the city was crowded; and the crowds were excited. Suddenly the shout went up: ‘Away with the atheists; let Polycarp be searched for.’ No doubt Polycarp could have escaped; but already he had had a dream vision in which he saw the pillow under his head burning with fire, and he had awakened to tell his disciples: ‘I must be burnt alive. His whereabouts was betrayed by a slave who collapsed under torture. They came to arrest him …. Not even the police captain wished to see Polycarp die. On the brief journey to the city, he pled with the old man: ‘What harm is it to say, “Caesar is Lord” and to offer sacrifice and be saved?’ But Polycarp was adamant that for him only Jesus Christ was Lord. “When he entered the arena … [the] proconsul gave him the choice of cursing the name of Christ and making sacrifice to Caesar or death. ‘Eighty and six years have I served Him,’ said Polycarp, ‘and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’ The proconsul threatened him with burning, and Polycarp replied: ‘You threaten me with the fire that burns for a time, and is quickly quenched, for you do not know the fire that awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. Why are you waiting? Come, do what you will.’ So the crowds came flocking with fire from the workshops and from the baths, and the Jews, even although they were breaking the Sabbath law by carrying such burdens, were foremost in bringing wood for the fire. They were going to bind him to the stake. ‘Leave me as I am,’ He said, ‘for He who gives me power to endure the fire, will grant me to remain in the flames unmoved even without the security you will give by the nails.’ So they left him loosely bound in the flames”
b. They endured poverty
Hebrews 10:34 (NASB) For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
c. They endured profanity
Matthew 5:11 (NASB) “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
V. THE COMMAND
a. Do not fear
Psalms 56:11 (NASB) In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
John 16:33 (NASB) “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
b. Be faithful
Stand up, stand up for Jesus! the strife will not be long; This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song; To him that overcometh a crown of life shall be; He with the King of glory shall reign eternally.
VI. THE COUNSEL