The Word This Week

Revelation 2:8...

About 42 miles north of the church of Ephesus was the church of Smyrna. It is the second of the seven churches addressed by Jesus, as dictated to John.

Each of the seven churches are addressed in seven ways, following the pattern of sevens Jesus has “signified” from Revelation 1:1.

The first of the seven notifications Jesus provides each church is His chosen self-identification of Who He Is. In each case, Jesus is carrying forward one of His identifiable traits which were listed in Revelation 1:13-16. The self-identifications become identifiable with the traits exemplified by the church being addressed.

Each of the seven churches represents The Church in general, each Christian in personal, and eras of The Church historically.

The church of Smyrna represents the persecuted Church.

It is very interesting to observe Jesus’ view of these churches. The churches which think they are doing well are not as highly regarded, and the churches which think they are failing are very highly regarded by Christ.

Due to the persecution the church of Smyrna is experiencing, they obviously think they are not doing well in their representation of Christ. Because of persecution, this church obviously has less to offer than the church at Ephesus, in terms of outreach and programs and energetic ministry service.

To this church, Jesus’ self-identification is perhaps as significant as it gets. He tells them He is God, “the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.”

In the midst of the intentional slaughter of these faithful followers, Jesus reminds them there is great reward in being faithful even unto death – because for followers of Christ death is never the end but only the beginning of glorious eternal life.

This church, bereft of stimulating ministry programs, is committed to a far greater service to Christ than they could possibly have ever imagined – had Christ Himself not reminded them and encouraged them.

Since this is the case, we see NO criticism of the church of Smyrna from Christ. Though their physical accomplishments may be regarded as futile, to Christ they are of the highest honor to Himself, and His encouragement to them is great.

Pastor Bill