Revelation 2:8 KJV 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.
Through the Apostle John, Jesus is writing letters to His church and this letter is a word of encouragement to a severely persecuted church.
Before we move forward it helps if we know a little about Smyrna.
It was one of the top cities of the Roman Empire, that is, they loved Rome and Rome loved them. The Roman Empire had done alot for them and in return they were loyal subjects. So, when it was time to bow before Caesar and call him a god and join in the feasts to worship their many gods, they did. But that all changed when the gospel reached Smyrna from the city of Ephesians. Believing in Jesus as the living God in flesh, the Son of God, brought change to every part of life, including the basics. How?
In order to work you had to belong to a union which included giving sacrifice to and worshipping their gods. But once someone became a believer that was something they would no longer agree to and they lost their job. Their life of ease and pleasure became a life of hardship, poverty, and bad reputation. They were hated, survival was day to day, and they were tortured and killed for their faith.
This attitude toward Christ Jesus has not changed to this day and since Jesus has been killed and can’t be killed again the hatred is directed at those who love Him.
Jesus says, I know and I see everything that is happening to you.
I will point out here Jesus did not say, I will stop your suffering and give you whatever you want, instead He said the suffering will be intense but keep your faith even to death.
A far cry from what is preached and taught in mainstream “Christianity.” They were to keep their faith and be courageous. But how to still the fear. Jesus started this letter by telling them He was dead but He is now alive, that’s how.
The letter of the Smyrnaeans or the Martyrdom of Polycarp
This is an eyewitness account of the death of Polycarp the pastor of this church who was martyed. God revealed to Polycarp how he would die. God was with him the entire time. It shows how to have courage in the face of death.
Question: “Who was Polycarp?” Answer: Polycarp was a bishop of the early church, a disciple of the apostle John, a contemporary of Ignatius, and the teacher of Irenaeus. According to Irenaeus, Polycarp “was instructed by the apostles, and was brought into contact with many who had seen Christ.” He lived from the latter half of the first century to the mid-second century. Polycarp was martyred by the Romans, and his death was influential, even among the pagans… read more by GotQuestons
This brings in the question, do you believe Jesus died and actually came back to life? Do you believe the resurrection power of God lives in you and death for every believer is to change where you live? Jesus says not only am I alive but I have something for you, a crown of life and your name is in the book of life, and you do not have to fear the second death. Do you believe to die for Christ’s name sake is to your gain? Is Christ your life view?
Philippians 1:20 KJV According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: