A message to those who are physically poor yet faithfully following every Word of God and therefore spiritually rich. Jesus reminds us that he died for us and is now alive by the power of God the Father; implying that we too as flesh will die, but if we are faithful to God the Father and live by every Word of God as Christ did and does. we will also be resurrected to eternal life.
2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive [Jesus Christ];
Those who are faithful in their godly actions [works of faith] to zealously KEEP the whole Word of God may suffer physical poverty and persecution in this world, but they will become spiritually rich and will have riches in the world to come.
Those who claim to be Christians [spiritual Jews] and then follow men away from and contrary to the Word of God, are really of Satan. This includes the Church of God groups who idolize men and reject zealous obedience to live by every Word of God.
Does this seem harsh? The Spirit of God leads us into an enthusiastic passion to become like God, by learning and keeping the whole Word and Will of God; which is TRUTH.
It is the spirit of Antichrist, the spirit of Satan, which leads people to follow idols of men and to leave our first love of godliness to reject any zeal to follow the whole Word and Will of God.
Those who know better and even stoop to LYING to themselves and others, to justify idolizing men and the false traditions of men are not of God. Neither are those who call God’s Sabbaths holy and then routinely and deliberately pollute them, or those who reject any truth to maintain their false traditions.
2:9 I know thy works [works of faith], and tribulation [trials], and [physical] poverty, (but thou art [spiritually] rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are [converted spiritual New Covenant called out] Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
The faithful to God and his Word,will suffer in this life; even from the hands of their families and friends in their beloved Church corporations. God allows us to be tried so that we may grow in godliness and bring forth much fruit (John 15).
Jesus Christ encourages us that our trials will bring forth much fruit and are for our ultimate good; revealing that through patient endurance of trials we shall inherit a crown of eternal life.
2:10 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 [years]: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
This was not the Diocletian/Constantine persecution of 303 to 313 A.D. which affected the entire Roman world and effectively destroyed true Christianity so that Constantine could force the remaining lukewarm assemblies to adopt sun worship.
When Constantine became co-ruler in 306 he played a major part in persecuting the Christians until Diocletian died and Constantine played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire.
In fact that edict far from legalizing true Christianity only legalized those “Christians” who were willing to accept and adopt sun worship by renaming the things of the sun god with Christian sounding names.
Only Nicene Christianity [with the further changes established under Councils like that of Laodicea which outlawed the Biblical Sabbath] and forced the observance of Easter replacing the Passover and made other changes was permitted; all other Christians were to be considered heretical (Beard et al., vol. 1, 225: citing Pliny the Younger, Letters, 10.96.8, & Beard et al., Vol. 2, 11.11a: citing Tacitus, Annals, 15.44.5).
For these professing Christians Sunday was renamed the Sabbath, Passover was changed to Easter and so on, while any brethren remaining faithful to the scriptures were heavily persecuted, now by the professing Christian church as well as the sword of Rome.
Yes the Diocletian persecution was terrible and in fact it resulted in the complete subversion of any “Christians” remaining within the boundaries of the Roman Empire: But it was NOT the prophesied Smyrna persecution!
This was a different and earlier persecution specific to Smyrna when the faithful in Smyrna suffered a great persecution for ten years during which Polycarp was killed in 157 A.D. Polycarp had known and was ordained bishop of Smyrna by the apostle John. In his youth Polycarp also personally knew many other witnesses of the resurrection.
That persecution is analogous to the fact that all faithful Christians who are zealous to keep the whole Word of God; are persecuted in this world.
Whether or not one wants to argue that Smyrna was dominant for a specific period of time: Who among those trying to live by every Word of God has not had their faith tested by many trials? This message applies to us, as an encouragement that though we may have many trials in this life, if we rely on our great God and continue to zealously live by every Word of God, we shall become spiritually rich and have a good reward.
Hebrews 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
This is a promise from Jesus Christ that all of those who are adamantly enthusiastic and full of love for God and his Word, will suffer in this world for their zeal, but they will become spiritually rich forevermore!
John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
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.
15:21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
The message ends with the promise to Smyrna and to all those who are zealous to live by every Word of God; that if we are willing to suffer for our passion or even to die for the faith, we shall receive the gift of eternal life.
This is a particular encouragement for most of today’s Spiritual Ekklesia who will soon be in the correction of great tribulation. If we sincerely repent and overcome and turn to live by every Word of God, we will surely be persecuted, many to the death. But if we are faithful to God to steadfastly put God first above any trial and are even willing to die for love of God we shall receive eternal life and will be delivered from the second death.
The vast majority of today’s called out brethren are zealous for God and his Word; but they have been deceived into thinking of their leaders and elders as being between them and God; and they falsely believe that loyalty to these men is the same as loyalty to God: That is the sin of idolatry: And that is the lesson that God is teaching his people today!
Follow men ONLY as they follow God!
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
5:20 Despise not prophesyings [warnings and correction].
5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
3:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Revelation 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto [All the called out, the Ekklesia] the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
The Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, to divide the holy from the profane. If we loved the truth we would never knowingly lie to justify our own positions, therefore it is obvious that many today have no love for the truth.
Nothing negative is said of Smyrna, only encouragement to be steadfast in trials.
Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
The Pergamos attitude holds fast to the name [the authority of God the Father and Jesus Christ] even though they dwelt at the very seat of Satan in Pergamos [the Greeks moved the seat of the Babylonian Mysteries from Babylon to Pergamos] and were among the martyrs. These faithful people exalted the authority [name] of Christ and God the Father above all else even to death.
This is a prophecy that there are still some in today’s Spiritual Ekklesia who exalt the “name” the AUTHORITY of the Word of God, Jesus Christ and God the Father.
They accept the authority of the Word of God as their ONLY moral authority even under persecution for doing so; this applied in the first century and it applies today as many such faithful people are being cast out of the Assemblies of the called out for not bowing to the Nicolaitane governance used in much of the latter day Ekklesia.
2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name [God’s authority], and hast not denied my faith [by turning away from the works of faith], even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols [to accept false doctrines of idols of men], and to commit fornication [pornea; spiritually, disloyalty to our espoused husband Jesus Christ].
Balaam taught Balac how to entice Israel into sin so as to bring a curse upon themselves.
It is the same today, as Satan has enticed very many to follow idols of men and to commit spiritual adultery against our espoused Husband. Today many follow the false teachings of men, like the Nicolaitane Babylonian church governance system which puts the ministry as a layer of authority between the brethren and God, to be blindly followed and obeyed in place of God’s Word: And by teaching for doctrine the commandments of men we bring the curse of rejection from Christ and his correction down upon ourselves.
2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
Just as the ancients exalted men, placing them between men and God [the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes] today’s Spiritual Ekklesia is also full of the abominable doctrine of the Nicolaitanes and most maintain the doctrine of a layer of ministry between the brethren and God to this very day. Jesus Christ says he HATES this false doctrine, because it separates him from his people and attempts to give an authority that belongs to God the Father alone, to mere mortal men.
Jesus Christ says very clearly that this condition will exist when he comes and that Christ WILL FIGHT against those who hold to this abominable teaching when he comes.
2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth [the TRUTH].
We are commanded to REPENT of the spiritual adultery of following men in place of the Husband of our baptismal espousal. We are commanded by Jesus Christ to REPENT of the Nicolaitane church governance system of exalting idols of men above the Word of Almighty God!
I am NOT against godly leaders and governance!
Godly leadership points all men to obey and zealously Learn, Keep and Live By EVERY WORD OF GOD! Nicolaitane leadership says obey us because we are God’s appointed leaders; and so exalts men as little idols, placing men between the brethren and God!
Those who overcome the spiritual chains of exalting men and thinking of loyalty to idols of men as loyalty to God; will be delivered from slavery to men and will be fed the true heavenly manna of the Bread of Life, the whole Word of God!
Just as the physical temple was built of stones so the overall collective spiritual temple is built of the stones of the faithful chosen of humanity.
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Those who overcome the abominable church governance system of following men and not living by every Word of God, will each be given a white [white being a symbol of purity from sin] stone; a place among the stones [the spiritual stones of faithful overcomers] which will constitute the collective spiritual temple, the dwelling of God through the Holy Spirit.
They will receive a new name; that is a title [God calls things what they are] reflecting their new life and responsibilities in the government of God!
Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna [Which means to internalize the Bread of Life, the whole Word of God and to understand the things of God.], and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.