What makes the seven letters to the churches special is that they were dictated by the Lord Jesus Himself. It was a privilege to preach through all seven letters from October 27-December 8, 2019. What I have attempted to do here is not a formal exposition of the text. I have tried to simply summarize the text, its theology, and its application as an aid to study and meditation. I pray that you, dear reader, find it helpful as you ponder the text.
Revelation 2:8 - “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
Summary: Jesus tells the apostle John to write to the messenger of the church in Smyrna, and identify Jesus, the sender, as the first and the last, who was dead but has come to life.
Theology: Jesus is the first and the last, clearly identifying Him as God (cf. Rev 1:8; Isa 41:4; 44:6). He is also the one who was dead but has come to life, demonstrating that He truly is the life and offers it to those who trust in Him.
Application: We can trust Jesus in any situation, because He is God, having existed in eternity past and existing into eternity future; though He was for a short time dead, He came to life. We know that He is able and just to do all that He promises.
Revelation 2:9 - ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Summary: Jesus tells the church of Smyrna that He knows their tribulation and poverty, yet He asserts that they are spiritually rich. He also assures them that He knows the blasphemy they endure by Jews who are not Jews because they do not accept the Lord (but are really a synagogue of Satan’s perverse lies).
Theology: Jesus knows the tribulation that His saints endure. He knows their poverty, yet He knows when they are spiritually rich. He knows the blasphemy they endure by those who belong to Satan.
Application: Let us endure tribulation, knowing that Jesus suffered in the same way and knows are trials. Let us take heart that He knows our financial circumstances, but He is delighted if we are spiritually rich. Let us rejoice that He knows the blasphemy we endure by those who are children of Satan.
Revelation 2:10 - Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Summary: Jesus tells the saints at Smyrna not to fear what they were about to suffer, namely the imprisonment that the devil was about to test them with and the upsurge of tribulation they were going to experience for ten days. Jesus exhorted them to remain faithful unto death so they would receive from Him the crown of life.
Theology: Jesus allows His church to suffer greatly at the hands of the devil for their testing, and He desires His saints to be faithful until death so that they will receive from Him the crown of life.
Application: Let us not fear suffering, knowing that the Lord allows it for our testing; but let us be faithful until death, keeping in mind the crown of life that we will receive.
Revelation 2:11 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’
Summary: Jesus exhorts all those who have spiritual ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in this letter. He promises that all those who remain faithful until death (overcomers) will not be hurt by the second death.
Theology: Jesus desires all Christians to give attention to this letter. Believers will by no means be hurt by the second death.
Application: Let us heed the words of this letter, rejoicing that if we overcome, we will not be hurt by the second death.