The Church Of A Different Savor
If we look at this dispensationally; In the Church Age Smyrna represents the churches of the second and third centuries A.D.. That era was a time of great persecution for the Christian faith, and many was tried and died standing firm.
Smyrna was located 35-50 miles north of Ephesus. It too was a port city.
Smyrna means “Myrrh”. Myrrh was used for embalming the dead, and the crushing process unleashed its best fragrance. In the crushing of the church under persecution has been its purest and best seen evidence of power. Myrrh was also used in the burial of Jesus. It could be seen too, that at the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was the power of God unleashed, and all sins debt was paid.
Jesus reveals Himself as the Eternal One, “I am the first and the last, which became dead, and I am alive.”
I. THE IDENTITY OF JESUS IN SMYRNA (v. 8).
* Jesus died and was embalmed/prepared for burial with myrrh.
* Jesus identifies Himself as the Eternal One [Alpha and Omega, first and last] (1:17).
1. He also identifies Himself as the One “which was dead, and is alive”.
2. “Myrrh” does not seem like a promising name for a city.
* Since this church was greatly persecuted Jesus identifies Himself as the One who “was dead, and is alive”.
II. SMYRNA’S COMMENDATION (v. 9).
* Smyrna was a greatly persecuted church.
1. This was probably one of the seats of Roman emperor worship.
2. These Christians refused to bow to the emperor, and because of this they could lose their homes, businesses, jobs, and their lives.
3. They refused to bow to government oppression.
In John Walvoord’s “THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” he writes, speaking of Polycarp, “When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, he replied, ‘Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”. Polycarp seems to characterize the whole church at Smyrna.
* Notice what the world and Jesus says of the church at Smyrna:
1. By the world she is derelict, poor, and out of date.
2. Jesus says, she is rich and faithful
* They struggle against hypocrisy with those who say that they, are Jews and are not.
1. The false Jews show a hatred for God and His Son, most likely, by their false teaching and worship.
2. Jesus calls those in hypocrisy “the synagogue of Satan”.
” For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Romans 2:28-29 (KJV)
III. JESUS GIVES THEM ENCOURAGEING WORDS (v. 10).
* “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer…” His words of “Fear not”.
1. Those ten days have been said to be the suffering under the rules of ten different rulers through the years ahead:
They are as follows; from Nero in 64-68 AD., through Diocletian of 303-313 AD.. Nero 64-68 AD., Domitian95-96 AD., Trajan 104-117 AD., Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD. (According to some this is when Polycarp was martyred), Severus 200-211 AD., Maximinius 235-237 AD., Decius 250-253 AD., Valerian 257-260 AD., Aurelian 270-275 AD., and Diocletian 303-313 AD..
2. A time period of about 250 years.
* Jesus tells them, and us, “Be faithful unto death”.
1. Their faith was strong, and would be strengthened by the letter from their Lord.
2. During the 250 years of persecution many believers died for their faith.
His words to His Church today, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12).
* There is no word of condemnation, and yet they suffer.
IV. OVERCOMING THE SECOND DEATH (v. 11).
* All overcome the second death, by being born of God, ie., being born again.
* The “second death” is total and eternal separation from God.
* Avoided only through faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Rev 20:6; “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Rev 20:14; and then “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Rev 21:8 (KJV)
* Jesus calls for the Church and each individual to hear the Spirit speak.
1. The believer who trust Jesus Christ will overcome, and have no part in the “second death”
2. The “second death” is for the fearful and unbelieving…, the abominable…