Smyrna: The Persecuted Church

This series is based on the video produced by Appian Media. Trial & Triumph explores the seven churches of Asia from the book of Revelation. Travel with Jeremy Dehut and watch the video as we explore the seven churches.



Smyrna was an important city known for its exporting and beauty. Located on a protected harbor of the Aegean Sea just to the north of Ephesus, Smyrna was a thriving city. In addition, the city prided itself on art, intellect, and being among the first to have schools of science and medicine. On the slopes of Mount Pagos, "...the city erected a theater that sat twenty thousand people; the ruins of the theatre are still visible today."(1) Smyrna is also known as the birthplace of the epic poet Homer. Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two churches numbered in Revelation that did not receive admonishment from Jesus. Death is mentioned three times in this short letter penned to the church. A church about to be tested is encouraged to remain faithful.



A church about to be tested is encouraged to remain faithful.



To The Church In Smyrna

A bust of Homer from a Berlin museum | attribution: Narpas, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Revelation 2:8-11

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”



Planning


The church at Smyrna was about to undergo intense persecution. Jesus encourages them to be faithful. Christianity will never be the cultural norm. In following Jesus, Christians live "cross-cultural." How can we plan and prepare in advance to remain faithful?

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Prayer

The apostle Paul, writing to the Roman house churches, provides several action points for planning to remain faithful.





Romans 12:9-13

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality."


Among the many points listed by Paul, he encourages Christians to be steadfast in prayer. Prayer is a way in which Christians can talk with God. Plan and develop the habit of prayer, communicating with God.



Scripture

Psalm 119 contains elements of wisdom and lament. The psalmist in (v11), describes himself as having "hidden" God's word in his heart.


Psalm 119:11-12

"Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes."


In the opening Psalm, we learn that the person who meditates on the word of God day and night is blessed (ref. Ps. 1:1-2). There is no substitute for God's word. Meditate on His word so that we have it in our hearts during our time of trial.



Fruit of the Spirit

If we wait until trials come, it's likely we will not be prepared. Part of the warning to the church at Smyrna was that hard times were coming. We may not have such a warning, but we know that we will likely face hardships in our lives. Prepare before the trial. We can practice walking faithfully in our days to continue to walk faithfully when difficulties arise.


Galatians 5:22-23

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."


Paul encourages the church not to walk after the world's ways but to walk in the Spirit. Exercise the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as we practice walking faithfully.



Faithfulness