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Friday, April 5, 2013

The church in Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘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. 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. 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.’ Revelation 2: 8-11 ESV

Smyrna today

As the letter begins Jesus tells John to write the words of the resurrected Christ. Think of the encouragement that comes from this statement not only for the church in Smyrna, but for us today as well. It is the risen Christ that is sending His message to the churches.

Jesus tells the church in Smyrna that he knows their circumstances. He knows that they are troubled and poor, but wants them to know that in spite of the lack of earthly wealth they are spiritually rich.

Jesus let’s the readers know that he knows that they are about to endure persecution and encourages them to not be afraid of what’s coming. He tells them to stay faithful unto death and they will receive eternal life. Words to encourage followers to not be intimidated by the threat of death for being a Christian.

Jesus ends His letter with a warning to listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say to the churches. To listen means to take the message to heart and apply it to ones life. In His closing statement to the church in Smyrna He reminds them that if they conquer in this life they will not be faced with the second death, the death of the soul. Jesus had something similar before, And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 ESV) to encourage His followers. Imagine the encouragement the church gained from this letter.

Today, we too can be encouraged. We can know that a life of faithful service to Jesus is a worthwhile endeavor. Eternal life awaits the faithful.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman