Revelation 2:8-11 – Smyrna

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What The Spirit Says To The Church of Smyrna – Fear None of The Things Which You Shall Suffer

Rev 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;
Rev 2:9  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.
Rev 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: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 2:11  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.

Introduction

“Keep the things which are written therein… every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

While all seven of these churches are in each and every one of us, this church of Smyrna within us is the first of two of these seven churches with whom the holy spirit finds no fault. The holy spirit finds no fault with either Smyrna or Philadelphia:

Rev 3:7  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:9  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:10  Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Rev 3:12  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, [which is] new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name.
Rev 3:13  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

We are not at liberty to pick and choose which of the seven churches have any personal application. We live by every word, and we keep the things written therein. Therefore we have all seven of these churches within us, and we are told “He that hath and ear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the [all seven] churches.” We will cover Philadelphia within us when we get to chapter three, but it is important that we understand that God did not create a sinning machine which could do no good things in the flesh. Adam was a sinning machine which was capable of “many wonderful works”, and the same is true of  His church. Even Babylon is full of “gold, silver and precious stones” and many good works.

Rev 18:12  The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

God Himself acknowledges that we can, in our flesh, do “righteousnesses… [and] many wonderful works.”

Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Christ does not deny this claim we all make. Rather, He affirms it:

Rev 13:14  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

But casting out demons, doing many wonderful works and having power to perform miracles are not “the love of God.” When the flesh redefines God’s love to fit its own stubborn agenda and then goes on to lay claim to “many wonderful works” or to any righteousness of its own, at that very moment those wonderful works and those righteous actions are considered by God’s own words as “filthy rags”.

Isa 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

We simply cannot do many wonderful works that we feel are helping our fellow man while we ignore God’s definition of love for His children or love for God Himself. God will simply not be party to our stubbornness and our rebellion against His words. Here is how we love both God and His children, our fellow human beings. Everything else is lacking in love and is destructive to life:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Which commandments?

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The commandments of God are “the things written therein”, including the things written about all seven of the churches of Asia, within us.

Is, Was and Will Be

Rev 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;

This is the sixth time we are reminded of this “My words will never pass away” characteristic of Christ and His Words. The holy spirit thinks this is a very important piece of information, and yet it is virtually unknown in application, until the lamb within us unseals the things which are written therein and give us eyes to see and ears to hear. But the multiple thousands of scholars who try to understand this book will never do so of themselves. It is all within and spiritual, and His spirit is not giving eyes that see and ears that hear to “the natural man”, so the natural man simply “cannot hear” what Christ is saying.

Joh 8:43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

1Co 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

So the world will never discern the things of the spirit of God, because those matters are spiritually discerned, and the natural man simply does not have a spiritual mind with which to discern them.

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)

So while we, as the other five churches within us, are so willing to tolerate our brother’s heresy in our spiritual house, the church of Smyrna within us realizes that we cannot serve two masters and that the commandments of God forbid such “wonderful works and righteousnesses” of the flesh. It is Smyrna within us which points out that the sum of God’s Word is Truth, and that these words are part of that ‘sum.’ It is ‘sum’ not ‘some.’

1Ti 6:3  If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
1Ti 6:4  He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Ti 6:5  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

‘Truth’ which rejects the sum of the Truth is not Truth at all. The church of Smyrna within us knows that our wealth is to be figured in our faithfulness to God’s Word. Remaining faithful to God may make us physically impoverished, in the number of friends and brothers and sisters in Christ we may have, but we will be laying up riches in heaven.

Rev 2:9  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.

Very few of our brothers in Christ are willing to live by these commandments which are an extremely vital portion of “the sum of thy word:”

1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

It is only those who “try the spirits who can help you avoid the depth of darkness which, according to this next verse, has been growing darker during the past 2,000 years.

2Ti 3:13  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Always remember that we live by every word of this “two-edged sword” called “the Word of God.” So the blasphemy of them “which say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” is first in us while we are in Babylon claiming to be spiritual Israelites and spiritual Jews, all the while denying this verse of God’s Word:

Rom 2:28  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

It is first in each of us who are of the synagogue of Satan, while we say physical Jews are Jews and are still God’s chosen people with no regard for Romans 2:28. It is only those who are “deceiving and being deceived” who are the synagogue of Satan, and who object to these words which, when we come out of Babylon, make us spiritually “rich” in the eyes of God and spiritually impoverished in the eyes of the world.

1Jn 4:2  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1Jn 4:3  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Wicked men and seducers got started while the apostle John was still alive, teaching the false doctrine of an immaculate conception, and it has only grown worse and worse with more and more varieties of this false doctrine. But whatever the form, it is still “that spirit of antichrist.”

Continuing with the ignored and despised “commandments of God” right here in this fourth chapter of John, we are commanded:

1Jn 4:4  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them [those who deny that Christ had the same flesh that Adam had]: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1Jn 4:5  They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
1Jn 4:6  We [who try the spirits] are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Now John is going to help us to see clearly the difference between those who “hear us” and therefore “know God” and those who “hear us not” and are therefore “the spirit of error.” How does he make that clear?

1Jn 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

This brings us to what we pointed out above. There is only one way to know who loves the children of God and who loves and knows God. How is it that we know who loves and knows God and who does not love and know God? How is it that we “know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error”? The answer is to be found in the very next few verses of the very next chapter of this epistle, and I repeat:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

As Christ Himself made it clear, He expects us to obey His commandments:

Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

How many of His commandments really matter to Him?

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

And He asks us this question:

Luk 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

“Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” includes these final commandments, which are virtually ignored by the “seven churches of Asia.”

Tit 3:10  A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Tit 3:11  Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

John simply cannot overemphasize this point, and he repeats it all in his next epistle. John was witnessing the apostasy before his very eyes and was simply dealing with that apostasy when he repeats in 2nd John, what he has already said in 1st John:

2Jn 1:6  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
2Jn 1:7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2Jn 1:8  Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Rev 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: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Contrary to the doctrines of “the synagogue of Satan”, which we are told wants to hear only smooth things, we are frankly told that if we follow Christ, we will be hated of all men, and we will through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges.

Mat 10:22  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Act 14:22  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

The “ten days of tribulation” is all of our time of suffering and being hated of all men while in this vessel of clay, known as a body of flesh and blood. It is necessary to spend ‘ten days in tribulation’ before we can be “given a crown of life.” Read our study on the number ten. There were ten plagues which God inflicted upon Egypt. There were ten nations to be cast out of the land. Joseph had ten brothers who hated him and sold him into Egypt, and the fading law of Moses, which “is not of faith,” has ten commandments. “Ten” is the number of the perfection of this passing flesh, and ten days of tribulation is the same as the “much tribulation” which is common to all of God’s elect while in these temporary clay vessels.

Rev 2:11  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.

Any time we see the words “He that hath and ear” we are being reminded by the spirit that these words will be understood by very few people. The only people with ears to hear are, according to Christ in Matthew 13, those to whom “it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” All others hear only the parable, and actually believe that the parable is the explanation. In other words, what the spirit is using as the veil is taken for the revelation. Notice how Christ concludes this parable of the sower in verse 9, just before He answers the apostles’ question, ‘Why do you speak in parables?’

Mat 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mat 13:12  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Mat 13:13  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear” tells us that “he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death,” which is a promise that will be understood by very few. So what are we being promised? What is this “second death”? Here is what the second death is:

Rev 20:6  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.
Rev 20:14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 21:8  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.

Twice we are told that “the lake of fire is the second death”, and we are told that only those in the “blessed and holy first resurrection… will not be hurt of this second death.”

But why is it called the “second death”? Is it second in number of deaths we must endure, or is this speaking of the order in which all men must die? That is, is this speaking of dying first or dying second? How can we know what this means?

We can know by simply believing the word of God and not trying to force our own doctrines upon God’s Word. Here is what the scriptures teach on this subject:

Heb 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Heb 9:28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

So there it is – we must die but one time, and that death is followed by judgment, and this is confirmed by all the rest of God’s word:

Rom 6:3  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

We are baptized into Christ’s death, and yet we are also “raised with Him”, and that is when the judgment begins:

Joh 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

2Th 1:4  So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
2Th 1:5  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

1Pe 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

The answer to Peter’s question “What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” and are not now being judged, is that they will be judged in the second judgment known as the “great white throne judgment.”

Rev 20:11  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Now let’s go back to Heb 9:27:

Heb 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Let’s also consider this verse:

1Jn 4:17  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

“The day of judgment… [is] in this world… [and] the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” God’s elect are being judged here and now because they are ‘dying daily’ and being ‘crucified with Him’ here and now. “It is appointed to man once to die, and after this the judgment.”

Gal 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

If God’s elect are being judged first, as Peter declares, then it follows that they are the first to die to their flesh and to their carnal minds. Therefore, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Here is another way of saying the same thing:

Rom 11:30  For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31  Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Rom 11:32  For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Those who die to their flesh now; those who judge themselves now, will be used by God to judge and redeem all the rest of mankind.

1Co 11:31  For if we would judge ourselves, [die to the flesh now] we should not be judged.
1Co 11:32  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world [To the second group being judged in the lake of fire, white throne judgment].

Conclusion

In review: the first thing we are told, for the sixth time, is that Christ and His Word is, was and will be and will never pass away. We saw that God considers us to be spiritually rich when we remain faithful to His commandments, even as the world sees us as being in spiritual poverty.  We have seen that Smyrna within us tries the spirits and is willing to “let God be true but every man a liar.” But we also saw that “the Lord has taken away the whole stay of bread and the whole stay of water” from the seven churches of Asia within us.

Isa 3:1  For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.

We also saw that Smyrna within us understands what is love for the children of God and what is the love of God, and what we saw is that the love of God requires our fidelity to His commandments in the face of universal apostasy which has only gotten worse and worse over the past 2000 years.

We saw that ‘ten’ is the number for the perfection of the flesh, and the ‘ten days of tribulation’ is the symbol for the time that is needed to judge our flesh. We all will spend ‘ten days in tribulation’. Only then can we be given a “crown of life”, and that ‘ten days’ is interpreted for us in this same verse as “enduring to the end.”

Ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Mat 10:22  And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Finally, we saw what it is that is being promised us when we are told that “He that overcomes will not be hurt of the second death.” We saw the word ‘second’ is referring to the second group of those who must first die in order to be judged, and we saw that “judgment must begin at the house of God” and that those who are first judged will then be used by God to judge all the rest of mankind.

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