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;
9 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.
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.
11 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
Jesus, who is the first and the last, was dead and is alive, and by whom we can overcome the second death, offers words of comfort to Smyrna.
Smyrna is a gathering of believers who do not neglect the suffering of a Christian. They know that “it is not given to us only to believe on Jesus, but to suffer for His sake.” This is a “take up your cross” kind of church.
They die to themselves and to this world, and as result, they go through many difficulties in this life. They put Jesus above riches in this world, esteeming riches in the Kingdom of Heaven to be far greater. They also view themselves to be “poor in spirit,” always seeking the Lord for more of Himself so that they can better conform to His image in this present world and live faithfully to Him.
Though they are poor in this life and consider themselves to be “poor in spirit,” Jesus says to them, “you are rich.” They have treasure in Heaven, both in this present world through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His works in them and also in the Kingdom of Heaven to come. Jesus will reward them for all the suffering they endure for His Name’s sake.
Yet, more suffering is to come. As they have always suffered for the Name of Jesus, so will they suffer when the False One and his Whore Bride come into full power. These will persecute Smyrna, cast them into prison, put them on trial, and sentence them to death because they refuse to accept the False One as Lord.
Jesus tells them to expect more suffering, but do not fear. Jesus knows all things and your reward in Heaven is waiting for you, even everlasting life.
Who is the Synagogue of Satan mentioned here?
This is the hard truth we are exploring and one of the main reasons why we are considering the messages to the churches. The Synagogue of Satan carries the name of Jesus, but they do not follow Jesus as they should, but the things of this world and the princes thereof.
They are given time to repent, and if they repent, they will join in with the spirit of the faithful churches, one of which is Smyrna.
If they do not repent, then they are at risk of falling away (having their candlestick removed) during the time of great deception when the Son of Perdition (I like to call him the False One) will appear and reign “for a short time.” He will cater to the unfaithfulness of the churches and lure many into worship of himself. Many will think he is God and they will forsake the brethren and persecute them to death. Once it goes this far — once they are found “drunken and smiting their fellow servants” — Jesus will return and count them among the unbelievers.
How does this apply now?
I believe that we all have something in part to repent for within the household of the Christian faith. However, I also believe that it is Jesus’s faithfulness we trust in. If we love Him of a truth, He will open our hearts so that we can see how we have gone astray in the many generations since He left. Through Him and the Spirit, we will “rebuild the wastelands and desolations of many generations.” Yet, we will be persecuted by those who fall away into full apostacy.
As of now, there is a spirit of apostacy that we all must face honestly. The “synagogue of Satan” is not a physical or genealogical church, but a spiritual church. In Christ, a Jew is not a Jew outwardly, but inwardly as the scriptures say.
If Jesus is Lord of our life, then we are grafted into His house and His church, New Jerusalem. We are grafted into the natural olive tree, as Paul the Apostle said. As Jesus said, if we abide in Him and He in us, we will bring forth much fruit as a fruitful branch that abides in the True Vine of Jesus Christ.
Abiding in Christ means suffering in this world. We suffer because the world hates what Jesus stands for. We suffer when God chastises us as sons for our sin. We suffer sometimes simply because we live in a fallen world, but through patient endurance and praising Jesus we bring glory to His Name all the more because of our suffering.
Christian teachings that deny suffering are not of God. Remember what Jesus said when He spoke to Peter who rebuked Jesus when He said He must die. Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan. You savor the things of man and not of God.”
To all who expect a Christian life to be one of ease and comfort, worldly prosperity, popularity in this world, and claims “I sit a queen and am no widow and shall see now sorrow,” we say, “Get behind me, Satan.” Lord willing, these will repent and turn their hearts to Jesus and away from the false security and comforts of this world—security and comforts that lead to only one outcome: death.
Is a Christian who might be considered rich in this world barred from being of a Smyrna spirit? I don’t think so.
Jesus said that is not good for a man to be rich in this world but not rich towards God. You can have both. However, worldly riches can be a distraction and lead to a false sense of security that values the world’s security over Jesus. Jesus said that few rich would find the Kingdom of God, but with God, all things are possible. Paul the Apostle said that he had learned to both abound and be abased. Both are good in their season as the Father wills it.
If a person is financially well off, understands that this is from the Lord, and does not condemn the poor as being forsaken of God but understands that the Lord blesses us all in His own way for His own purposes; if they are compassionate towards the poor and themselves “poor in spirit” — which is the real poverty that matters here for Smyrna — then I see no reason why they should be viewed as outside of the spirit of Smyrna.
However, in the last days when no man can buy or sell without worshiping the False One, we may find that we are all made poor in this world, but this is blessing. We can see the Lord work and provide for us, most importantly, in the Spirit as we are strengthened of Him.
Am I as Smyrna? Not as much as I’d like. For more, see I Could Be More Like Smyrna Too