8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said the first and the last,
which was dead, and is alive;
Jesus, but perhaps also a reference to Smyrna which was rebuild after being totally destroyed.
9 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.
The Greek philosophers that were claiming to be 'spiritual Israel'. Consider the words of the Greek philosopher Ageans, who said; “We philosophers who embrace this faith, gain the whole of truth, and enter into spiritual Israel. Thereby we become the true and perfect Israel.”
10 Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.
11 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
Nickname: The Persecuted/reborn Church.
Reward: Crown of life.
Feast: Unleavened bread.
The early church was severely persecuted by the Roman Empire as the church grew
The letter to Smyrna notes that Christ "died and came to life again", just as Smyrna had done in the past, and just as the earth died and came to life again during the great flood of Noah‘s day. This occurred in the middle of the 2nd millennium, around 1656 years after creation according to Genesis.
Smyrna is the Greek translation for the Hebrew word ‘myrrh’. Only when myrrh crushed (persecuted) is emits its typical smell. They where crushed, persecuted by the Greeks and Romans. Smyrna, the persecuted church, was crushed as myrth and showed their endurance (smell)
Their affliction also typified the experience of the overall church from about 100 A.D. to 313 A.D., where 5,000,000 saints were martyred for Christ’s name during the greatest period of persecution the church has ever known. And beyond that, it was similar to the persecution experienced by God’s people before the great flood, therefore Noah is the patriarch of this church, and the second signatory of God’s divine ‘ketubah’ with man.
Smyrna has approximately 3500 years of recorded history in the Mediterranean, with archaeological digs revealing pottery shards that date back to 1000 B.C. In those days, Smyrna was one of the Ionian Federations most important cities due to its tremendous protected harbor on the Aegean Sea.
"who died and came to life again."
This description of Jesus also fits Smyrna quite well because in the 7th century B.C. the Lydians conquered Smyrna and completely desolated the city. The city died; but came alive again 3rd century B.C. when Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s four generals, rebuilt Smyrna due to its strategic and economic location on a natural protected harbor, and it became an important Roman port in the 1st century B.C. This rebirth began its second so-
Notice how this also relates to Noah and the entire earth, because Noah witnessed the earth as it died during the flood, and he also saw it come back to life again afterwards.
“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!”
Because the citizens of Smyrna were constantly persecuted the hid in catacombs to live a life of poverty (their affliction). But they are called rich because of their strong belief in Jesus. Affliction leads to growth:
James 2:5 “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”
So despite their persecution and poverty, or perhaps because of it, Christ viewed them most favorably as co-
“I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
The Greek philosophers that were claiming to be 'spiritual Israel'. The Greek philosopher Ageans, wrote; “We philosophers who embrace this faith, gain the whole of truth, and enter into spiritual Israel. Thereby we become the true and perfect Israel.”
The verses below seem to indicate Israel is still very much in the game.
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer..”
This statement seems to look forward from the point Revelation was written.
“..the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.”
Is this persecution of ‘ten days’ was fulfilled with Diocletian’s ten years of persecution from 303 to 313 A.D.?
Or a literal 10-
“Be faithful, even to the point of death..”
A very significant statement for a city who saw 5 million people martyred between 100 A.D. to 313 A.D
One of them was Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John. To make an example of Christians, Polycarp was brought into the stadium before a Greek mob, and when he refused to deny Christ or blaspheme His name, he was killed. But I believe this statement was also pointing to an event in the distant future, which Christ alluded to in the Gospels;
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:21-
Christ also spoke of this time in Matthew chapter 24, in the Olivet Discourse, and he detailed a coming time when the saints would be persecuted horribly until Christ returned to claim his Bride. This is when they would receive their 'crown of life';
"..and I will give you the crown of life."
Smyrna became known as the ‘Crown of all Asia’ because the city was renowned for its crown of flowers, hedges and myrtle trees that encircled the Acropolis, which featured temples to Zeus, Diana, Aphrodite, and Apollo. The city also had a large theatre, amphitheater and music center, and it was well known for its music.
Today Smyrna is known as 'Izmir', which by the way also means 'myrrh', and it is the third largest city in Turkey, and its second largest port city. It’s been nicknamed 'The Pearl of the Aegean' since it is the most westernized and modernized of all Turkish cities.
2Timothy 4:8 “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
“He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 20:6 “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
Parallels with Noah
1) Smyrna died and came to life again, just as the earth died and came to life again during Noah’s life.
2) Smyrna was counseled not to fear what they would suffer, just as Noah was counseled.
3) Smyrna was severely persecuted, just as people in Noah’s day were severely persecuted.
4) Smyrna endured to the end, even as Noah endured to the end of the first world.
5) Smyrna would receive the ‘crown of life’ signifying resurrection, just as the earth was resurrected during Noah's life.
6) The synagogue of satan are false teachers/philosophers, like the Nephilim in Noah valley.