Revelation 1-3: The First Facet
Week 3, Tuesday: The Church in Smyrna
The congregation in Smyrna was experiencing hard times – persecution. It was going to get worse before it got better. Jesus did not promise to relieve their suffering, at least, not for the moment. He had already told His followers to expect it (Jn. 16.33). He called His followers to be faithful, even if it meant dying for Him. He would bless them with the ultimate crown, the crown of life.
Read Revelation 2
Meditate on Revelation 2.8-11
1. Jesus begins His address to the believers in Smyrna by reminding them of His own suffering (v. 8). Is it a good idea for Christians ever to be mindful of how much Jesus suffered for us? Why or why not?
2. Jesus said that He knew the suffering of the believers in Smyrna (v. 9). But He also knew their “works” and their “poverty.” Based on verse 9, what works in particular does Jesus seem to have had in view? And how could He say that though they were impoverished, they were rich?
3. In the face of persecution and suffering, Jesus instructed His people not to be afraid. How can a community of believers help one another to be bold and faithful in the face of persecution?
4. Persecution of believers is motivated by the devil (v. 10). Knowing this should help to embolden us in the face of challenges and trials of every sort. Why? What would you say are the keys to being able to overcome (v. 11) and remain faithful (v. 10) in the face of threats or persecution?
5. Jesus makes two promises to the church in Smyrna. What are they? How would you explain to a new believer what it means to “overcome”? What is “the second death” (cf. Eph. 2.1)?
Would Jesus describe you as “rich”? Why or why not? Would you describe yourself as an overcomer? Why or why not?
The Glory of God
This letter to the church in Smyrna serves as a portent of things to come. What do we learn in this brief letter about Jesus’ relationship to Satan and those who persecute the Church? To Jesus, what seems to matter most in the life of discipleship?
Glory to Glory
“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)…” How can you see in this expression an echo of what John wrote in Revelation 1.9? The “tribulation” part is a straight connection. What should we focus on as our “riches”? What is involved in exercising “patience”? Where should the believers in Smyrna expect to know the glory of the Lord?
Let’s look more closely at our memory verse, Revelation 2.29. Recite your memory verse aloud. What kind of “ears” does Jesus want us to have? Pray this verse back to the Lord, as best you can.
Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon God?
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
T. M. Moore
The book of Revelation is the culminating episode in the story of God’s covenant. To learn more about that covenant, and to discover the way it integrates all of Scripture into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.