TO THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA
Leslie M. John
”He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:11)
The seven letters sent to seven churches in Asia Minor were literal letters in different periods of time of church history. After first letter was written to the church in Ephesus, John writes second letter to the church in Smyrna according to the will of Lord Jesus Christ.
Smyrna was a city on the west coast of Asia Minor and the modern city is known as ”Ismir” in Turkey. Christians in this city suffered persecution and stood for the Lord. God, who is eternal, knew their works, sufferings, and poverty but He calls them rich because they stood for the Lord. They will have their rewards in due time.
The Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees were the main sects whom Lord Jesus had to confront during His earthly ministry. The Pharisees called themselves as the descendants from Abraham and therefore, they claimed to be the Jews. Jesus confronted them by saying that He, who is the Son of God, was with the Father, even before Abraham was born. Then they took up stones to throw at Jesus but He went out of the temple going through the midst of them and they could not do any harm to Him (cf. John 8:59)
These Pharisees, who claimed as Jews because they were the sons of Abraham, did not realize that Abraham was a not a Jew (the term came to be known only after Jacob was named as Israel) and he was from ”Ur” of the ”Chaldees”. He believed in God and His faith was counted as righteousness for him. Isaac was the promised son of Abraham and Jacob was the chosen son of Isaac and Jacob was called ”Israel”. The tribe of Judah, and Benjamin were collectively called the ”Jews”. Some Levites, who assimilated into Southern Kingdom of Israel, have the blessings to be called as ”Jews”. The Lord calls all those who call themselves as ”Jews” and are not Jews as ”Synagogue of Satan”. Synagogues were the places of worship for Jews. Jesus taught in Synagogues, and likewise Paul went first to Synagogues to preach the Gospel to Jews and then to Gentiles.
”Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:56-58)
Lord Jesus came down heavily upon Pharisees and Scribes and said:
”Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44)
The Lord encourages Christians at Smyrna not to be afraid of anyone, who persecute them or kill them because they can only harm the physical body and not the soul. This assurance from the Lord is applicable to us also. Fear the Lord who has the authority over your soul. Authorities, who are controlled by the devil, may throw the believers into prison for standing for the Lord, but it would be for a very short period as ten days. Short period is usually referred to as ‘ten days’ in scriptures.
”And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go” (Genesis 24:55)
”And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died” (1 Samuel 25:38)
The Lord encourages that they should be faithful unto death and if they remain faithful until the end He will give a ‘crown of life’. The second death will not hurt the one who overcomes fear of death for the sake of the Lord.
Everyone will have to die once on this earth. However there are some exceptions like Enoch and Elijah who were taken up alive into heaven and those believers, who will be caught up into heaven when ”the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” when ”the dead in Christ shall rise first” and then the believers who are alive and remain ”shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” to be with the Lord for ever (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
”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” (Revelation 20:6)
Blessed are those who have part in the first resurrection. There will be a general resurrection of all unbelievers at the end who rise only to face judgment before the ”great white throne”. All those who are judged at the ”great white throne” will be cast into ”lake of fire” and that is the second death. The Lord saves all the children of God from suffering the second death which is to be cast into ”lake of fire”.
”And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”. (Revelation 20:14)
”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” (Revelation 21:8)
Repent and be saved of the ”second death”. Confess Jesus is the Lord and believe in heart that God raised him from death.