“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suff*er: 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. 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 2:8-11).
The church at Smyrna, according to Easton’s dictionary means, “Myrrh, an ancient city of Ionia, on the western coast of Asia Minor, about 40 miles to the north of Ephesus. It is now the chief city of Anatolia, having a mixed population of about 200,000, of whom about one-third are professed Christians. The church founded here was one of the seven addressed by our Lord (Revelation 2:8-11). The celebrated Polycarp, a pupil of the apostle John, was a prominent leader in the second century in the church of Smyrna. Here he suffered martyrdom, A.D. 155.”
The glorified Christ is presented as “the first and the last” (v.8). He is the eternal God, the great “I AM.” He was before all things and will exist after all things have completed their purpose. He became the Son of Man in order to taste death for all men. His eternal existence was punctuated by His incarnation and death. He is the only one who has the “keys” of death and conquered it. In fact, He is the KEY! He gives this description of Himself to encourage faithfulness on the part of the remnant. Death cannot hold its prey. Their resurrection to eternal life was assured. The second death of verse 11, which is eternal banishment in the lake of fire, cannot touch those who overcome and are faithful to the end.
Some claimed to be apostles and were liars, and others said they were Jews but were not. To be a Jew “in deed” was to depart from evil and acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. No doubt it is this group John speaks of in his epistle (see 1 John 3:3-6; 9-11; 24. 4:1-4; 11-16. 5:2-5). The believing remnant will have a standard by which it will judge those who profess to be Jews. No doubt these are Abraham’s seed, but they are not his children. Their lack of truth and sincerity betray them (see John 8:39-44). Jesus called these Scribes and Pharisees, “children of the Devil.” They were the leaders of the synagogue and professed to sit in Moses’ seat, but in reality sat in Satan’s seat. They represented Satan and accomplished his purpose. Their goal was to destroy the righteous and all who professed Jesus as the Christ. As things were in the Acts period, so shall they be in the Day of the Lord. (The constant reference to things concerning the Old Testament, Jews, and Apostles ought to make it clear that these letters to these churches are not intended for the CHURCH, the body of Christ.)
Those at Smyrna were encouraged to fear none of these things because He was in their midst and secured them in His right hand. His victory over death assures their victory. The “ten days” are ten days and no other meaning should be sought.
John does not tell us what the “crown of life” is. The “overcomers” are to be “kings and priests.” Perhaps they will wear literal crowns. Their resurrection to new life may be the crown. Time will reveal the true meaning of what the many crowns are in Scripture. Note the ten crowns:
1. Crown of honor (Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 17:6; Esther 8:15; Job 19:9)
2. Crown of kings (2 Samuel 12:30; Esther 1:11; Esther 2:17; Rev. 19:12-16)
3. High Priest’s crown (Exodus 29:6)
4. Crown of pride (Isaiah 28:1-5)
5. Crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2-5)
6. Crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4; Proverbs 4:9; Proverbs 16:31; Isaiah 62:3)
7. Crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8)
8. Crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10)
9. Corruptible crown (1 Cor. 9:25)
10. Soul winner’s crown (1 Thes. 2:19)
John uses a form of the word, “overcometh,” eleven times in the book of Revelation! In 1 John, which is also a tribulation epistle, the word “overcome” or “overcame” is used six times. Entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven requires one to overcome persecution and the mark of the Beast in the Day of the Lord. In the Revelation, millennial salvation is only assured to the “overcomers.”
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.