Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Church of Smyrna

Temple Baptist Church - 12-8-2019
Revelation 2:8-11


A.  Last week, we looked at the church history between 100-312 AD.  Apostasy and persecution attacked the church at the same time.

B.  Remember that this is a local church that is contemporary with the other six in the days of the apostles.  They were already suffering persecution and battling apostasy, and this was 2,000 years ago.

C.  The name Smyrna means Myrrh.  The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translated myrrh as Smyrna. 

1.  Myrrh was used as a perfume, incense, and medicine.  It was also used to anoint the bodies of the dead.  It was one of the three gifts brought when the Wise Men came to see Jesus.  Gold – Christ’s deity, frankincense – Christ’s life, myrrh – Christ’s death.

2.  Smyrna, The Persecuted Church or Crushed Church gave off a beautiful smell to the Lord.  Myrrh was a resin from a plant that, when crushed, gave its aroma.  Its association with death perfectly pictures the suffering church at Smyrna.  Like myrrh, produced by crushing the fragrant plant, the church at Smyrna, crushed by persecution, gave off a fragrant aroma of faithfulness to God.

3.  There are only 2 references to Smyrna found in the Bible, chapters 1 & 2 of Revelation.  Smyrna was located 35 miles north of Ephesus.  The city was originally founded in 1000 B.C but was virtually destroyed in 7th Century B.C. but was rebuilt as a new Hellenistic city in the 3rd Century B.C. by Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great’s generals.

4. Today, the city located there is named Izmir, located in modern Turkey.

5.  It was a very important city because of its location as a port city on the Aegean Sea.  Smyrna had a well-protected harbor, and the natural outlet to the sea and was along the major trade route which runs inland along the Hermus valley. 

6.  In the time of the writing of the Book of the Revelation, it was thought to have a population of app. 100,000 people. 

7.  Because it was under Roman rule and an important city, Christianity was rejected and treated as evil, as it rejected the Roman “gods” and the worship thereof.  Polycarp the martyr bishop of Smyrna, who died there in 155 a.d. 

1.  The Position of Christ In The Church – Verse 8 – “These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.”

a.  He is their Lord - "first and last," and everything in between.  During persecution and apostasy, Christ was placed where He belonged.

b.  He is their confidence - "First and Last."  They placed their faith in Christ.  They recognized that the battle was the Lord's and bowed to His sovereignty in tribulation.  They expected Him to do the impossible.

c.  He is their example - "dead...alive."  They knew that Christ suffered death, was buried, and arose victorious from the grave and the Servant is not greater than his Master.

2.  The Commendation of The Church – Verse 9.  “I know thy works” – They were faithful in tribulation.

3.  The Tribulation of The Church – Verses 9-10 – “tribulation … Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days” 

John 15:20  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

John 16:1-2 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

a.  Persecuted because of their salvation.  They were not ashamed of Christ and would not bow to the “gods” of this world!

b.  Persecuted because of their separation.  They were called Christians because they chose to live godly in this present evil world.
c.  Persecuted because of the scriptures.  They chose to unapologetically contend for the faith once delivered.

4.  The Poverty of The Church – verse 9 – “poverty (but thou art rich)!”

a.  Many of the local churches were in hard times as persecution kept them from working and earning a living.

b.  Though monetarily poor, they were spiritually blessed!  Spiritually rich; eternally rich.  “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

5.  The Apostasy of The Church – verse 9 – “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”                                 

a.  Professing believers who were the enemies of Christ had infiltrated the local church.

b.  “Blasphemy” – vilification (especially against God): - blasphemy, evil speaking, railing.

6.  The Exhortation of The Church – Verses 10 – Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” 

a.  Have no fear because God is your helper.

b.  Be faithful unto death.

c.  There is a prize that awaits you.

7.  The Promise to The Overcomer – Verse 11 – “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

a.  A separation is made.  “He that overcometh”

b.  An end to be shunned.  “second death”

8.  The 10 days were possibly a reference to the ten persecutions under the Roman emperors.  The "first" was under Nero, in the year 64 or 66; the "second" was under Domitian, about the year 93; the "third" was under Trojan, in the year 104; the "fourth" was under Hadrian, in the year 125; the "fifth" was under Marcus Antoninus, in the year 151; the "sixth" was under Septimius Severus, in the year 197; the "seventh" was under Maximinus, in the years 235, 236, 237; the "eighth" was under Decius, in the year 250; the "ninth" was under Valerianus, in the year 257; and the "tenth" was under Diocletian, in the year 303.

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